Warren Gregoire – Turning Hobbies Into Businesses

I first met Warren back in 2006 when I had him perform the Vacuum State Electronics SACD Modification on my Sony SCD-777ES SACD Player. Later, I discovered he was a fellow London Decca phono-cartridge lover, and he procured a London Reference for me to review. Along the way, I also discovered his wonderful Ikonoklast speakers and owned a pair of the Ikonoklast 3HOs for a couple of years. Warren became a friend because he lived just over in Oakland and because he could fix most anything that needed repairing. So, when Becky and I started making a list of audio people we wanted to visit and write about, Warren was high on our list.

Warren Gregoire
There are two things that quickly become obvious when talking to Warren Gregoire. First, he is a man of many interests, and second, he learned early in life how to turn his interests into businesses. Warren is the driving force behind Warren Gregoire and Associates LLC located in Lafayette, CA, and his varied pursuits include avionics, amateur radio, and audio.

The first thing we spotted when we walked into the company’s offices was a heavy-duty sewing machine. Now, that’s not normally something you find at an audio company, so Becky asked him about it. It turns out that he uses the machine to sew the lambskin avionics control yoke covers that are part of the company’s line of avionics accessories. Warren, who is a pilot, taught himself to sew and enjoys the craftsmanship of working with the leather. “It’s just four straight seams,” he says referring to the control yoke covers. The avionics accessories line also includes boom microphone headsets, intercoms and push to talk systems.

As the conversation moved along, we begin to get a grasp of just how many things Warren has mastered over the years. According to him, there’s always been either someone who could teach him what he wanted to know, or he could find the information in a book somewhere. As an example, he recalled that as an 8-year old boy, he built a one-tube radio using the information he picked up from an adult friend who was an electrical engineer. He later went on to build two solid-state radio stations and at one point was the Chief Engineer for KGO radio in San Francisco. WGA has developed and brought to market a boom microphone headset and accessory push to talk, for use with modern amateur radio transceivers, and Warren also does a good bit of customization and repair work for amateur radio enthusiasts.

Then, there is Warren’s high-end audio work. He sells the London-Decca line of cartridges. If you’re not familiar with these cartridges, The London Reference, previously known as the Decca Cartridge, has been in production longer than stereo has been around. As a stereo cartridge, it had its beginning in the seventies as the Decca Phono Cartridge. The most unusual thing about the London-Decca cartridges is that they have no cantilever and thus no cantilever haze. Warren also sells his own line of Ikonoklast speakers.

I’ve never met another audiophile who listens to music at as low a level as Warren does. So while his newer speakers play very loud, they also are some of the best speakers I have ever heard at low volumes. The Ikonoklast 3HO speakers use Warren’s handmade Walsh type tweeters, which I can tell you from experience sound wonderful. His Ikonoklast 2DX4 is a single-driver speaker that uses the Lowther DX4 drivers. For both speakers, he uses a 3/4-wave transmission line enclosure for the Mid/LF driver. He feels his advanced technology of backloading the system does what many would consider impossible. It enables a lightweight driver not to begin roll-off to near 30HZ. The Ikonoklast uses a larger, scaled up version of the original Ikonoklast cabinet. This cabinet is available separately if you already have eight-inch Lowther drivers. Warren also offers repair services, and he is really talented with vacuum tube equipment.

After visiting for a while, we sat down to listen to music on Warren’s system which consists of the Ikonoklast 2DX4 speakers driven by his own three chassis integrated vacuum tube amp with built-in vacuum tube phono stage. The source was Warren’s modified Thorens  TD125 with a Dynavector tonearm and a London Reference cartridge. We were listening just for fun, so we played the soundtrack for the musical Chicago and an Ella and Louie LP. There’s not much better on a Sunday afternoon than good conversation and great music!