My passion is to make people discover their musical emotions Interview with Raffi Garibian, expert in acoustics, high fidelity, and owner of Video-Hifitec, Geneva

In today’s world, driven by consumerism, where you are easily disoriented by a flood of advertising for so many different products, it’s nice to meet somebody who is there to sell you quality, who can give you advice and help you to find the right thing for you, your style and your budget.
We are surrounded by sound and, according to Raffi Garibian, we can only hear a fraction of the sound around us. He was trained as a mechanical engineer and has become one of Geneva’s most well-known sound and acoustics expert. Just on the corner of rue de Lyon and rue de la Servette you can find his business ‒‒ Video Hifitec store. Most of us listen to the radio, have a hifi stereo chain and do not think any more about it, but after a visit to Mr Garibian we quickly learn that there is sound and sound ‒‒ there is more to this subject than most of us could dream of. The experience was a terrific eye opener, and if you are looking for emotions when you listen to music, that’s the place to go. Now we leave the floor to Mr Garibian …
Q : How did it all start ?
I started studying mechanical engineering, then I went on specializing in the physics of waves, and from there I also specialized in acoustics, and I have always been working with acoustics. Since 1976 I concentrated on re-creating music emotion through the products that I propose to my clients.
Q : Can you explain what wave physics is all about ?
In the field of acoustics, there are sounds that we cannot hear but that our body can intercept, and this is part of the emotions that the music transmits to us.
What is important about perfect sound is that every detail counts. This is the reason why I spend so much time with each client. I prefer that he/she comes to see me with his/her own music because if you want to create emotions, you need to listen to something that you like and know well. The aim is thus to listen to what the client wants and to identify the equipment according to the music he/she likes, or a combination of the equipment that is best suited to fulfil their needs and, of course, also to fit their budget.
However, there are people with a big budget but to whom I would not sell equipment that they do not need. In other cases, there may be people with a very limited budget and to whom I say, your music equipment we can do it step by step. I think that for each extra franc you spend, you should obtain something in return, otherwise it is not worth it.
Q : What is most important : the player, the amplifier or the loudspeakers ?
It is in the loudspeakers that will provide the biggest difference. When I start to work with a client, during the first listening session, I know if I can go in one direction or another. The first thing that I will try to choose is the loudspeakers, as that’s the area where there is the most to be gained in terms of difference. But it’s not the sole factor. After we have chosen the loudspeakers, we go into depth about the electronics that are best suited for the equipment, the music that the client likes, etc. It goes without saying that the cables also play a very important role.
The smallest details count. The smaller the budget, the less we can make it sophisticated. If somebody comes to see me with a budget of CHF3,000, we will concentrate on the loudspeakers, the amplifier and the equipment that goes with it. I have cheaper systems to propose, but in these cases you cannot personalize the system ‒‒ that’s the difference
Q : Is it possible, for instance, to improve a music system over time ?
First of all let me say that the equipment that I sell is timeless ‒‒ it’s not a fashion thing. The product I will sell you today will be valuable or in five years’ time. We make an overall assessment of your equipment. If I believe that your speakers are not good, I would suggest that you change these first, and then one year later we could change the electronics, and finally we renew the cables. This will enable you to obtain a music system of high quality over time.
You can find most of the equipment I sell in other places, but for a similar budget I get a better result in terms of sound. That’s my particularity.
I work especially with tailor-made solutions, all based upon your personal taste. Searching for a hifi system is like a discovery journey and each one must discover for his own truth, the sounds that affect that person the most. Each one of us has his or her own preferences, something that’s unique to each person.
This is the reason why I spend so much time with my clients, and it’s really my passion to make them discover their music, the sound. All the different parameters must be taken into account, even the size of the room where the music system will be placed, the type of furniture, etc. When you look at the profit made in comparison with the hours spent, it’s very meagre, but my personal satisfaction is huge when a client comes back to me and says : “Thank you so much for all your efforts. It’s really wonderful to listen to this music, and I’m very happy about this system.”
Q : Diva serves the international community. Can people contact you if they need assistance, even if they are no longer in the area ?
Of course ! I often give advice to clients who are far away. They can send me drawings and photos and then I can give them advice. It is sufficient to contact me.
Q : Do you accept consultancy work in terms of acoustics, for instance in conferences, meeting rooms, etc. ?
Yes, often in meeting rooms or video-conference rooms there are acoustic problems, and of course I can intervene as a consultant.
So if you are looking for a new music system or to get some advice about your home cinema equipment or music system, or to upgrade a system, go and see Mr Garibian. He offers special discounts to the international community in Geneva.
Video Hifitec SA Artisan du son 1, rue de Lyon 1201 Geneva Email