R.I.P. Armando ("A.J.") Conti (Updated 10/13 10:22 PM)

I am so sorry to report the passing of Basis Audio's Armando ("A.J.") Conti, one of the audio industry's nicest, most interesting and talented turntable and tone arm designers.

This comes as a shock to all. A.J. was 59 years old and seemingly in excellent health. He was a cyclist and fit and trim. On Saturday October 8th while attending his son's soccer game, he suffered a massive heart attack and could not be revived.

Shown in the photo is his top of the line "Work of Art" turntable, exhibited for the first time with a metal alloy platter instead of the usual acrylic.

For more about the man, please read this just published obituary.

This afternoon I spoke with Armando's wife Jolanta and his brother Anthony. These are incredibly resilient, strong people. Here is a statement Tony emailed me late this afternoon:

"It is with deepest regret that we inform the audio community of Armando (AJ) Conti’s unexpected passing. AJ’s lifelong passion was designing and manufacturing precision audio products in pursuit of “The Truth”, as he called it, for the most accurate sound reproduction.

We first want the industry to know that AJ has left Basis on extremely strong financial ground as confirmed by the company’s CPA. We are in deep gratitude to Basis long term employees, both present and past, who are committed to the company’s continued success. As many of you know, Basis is an industry leading organization, but also a close ‘family’.

There will be little to no delay in fulfilling all of the company’s obligations to customers, suppliers, and business partners, although there may be some interruptions over the next few weeks. Please do not hesitate to contact Basis senior management for any pressing matters, specifically, Jolanta Conti, AJ’s wife, and Anthony Conti, AJ’s brother, at Basis. They will be assisted by AJ’s longtime engineering colleague, Jim McAndrew, who has deep knowledge of Basis technology and products.

Jolanta’s professional experience includes practicing commercial and corporate law for 10 years in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Jolanta has expertise in complex commercial matters including contract negotiations, business development, and patent and intellectual property. Jolanta has worked with global companies including Morgan Stanley, Shell, BP, BHP and many others. Prior to meeting AJ, she was carefully evaluated and selected to be Bristol-Myers Squibb’s lead attorney for all of Eastern Europe.

Anthony, like AJ, is an engineer educated at both Georgia Tech and Northeastern University. He has extensive experience managing and scaling technology companies for over 30 years. Anthony’s experience has included Managing Director of European Operations based in London, England and senior executive positions in Toronto, New York, Atlanta and Boston where he now resides.

We are excited to continue AJ’s pursuit of the most ‘truthful’ and accurate sound reproduction, extreme precision and uncompromising commitment to quality in all Basis products.

Further, AJ has a number of products in the company’s pipeline that are ready for release. All design, testing and prototyping work is finished with completed units and parts already in inventory.

We are so grateful to the many industry friends who have already reached out to Basis and the management team to support the company and its continued success.

For funeral arrangement details go here."

luvvinyl's picture
Blbloom's picture

Such a kind and generous man. I had hour long phone conversations with him about audio, photography and anything else that came up. He was such a fan of my Revel Salon 2s. Very sad that he is gone.

Trace's picture

I got up way early checked this site. I had bought a table and went to him by phone and email for insight. I got much more than that. His background, why things were as they were with his product, ideas, he obvious pride in the Basis turntables. I kept all the emails as they became reference points. My introduction to "Distortionless Transmission Line" theory.He was proud of his knowledge and accomplishments but did not outwardly demean competition but I could tell he knew he had a superior product. He was a main reason for my going to the 2017 Audio Show. He was a genius at what he did and I will miss him greatly.

Jeff Miller's picture

I will truly miss him. I had many over one hour conversations with him on the phone and enjoyed every one of them. I'm glad his company is in good hands and will survive. I just talked to him a month ago. May you rest in peace my friend, a really wonderful man and a true loss.

volvic's picture

That his poor son witnessed his Father's passing that way. A lovely man, emailed him many times as I trusted his opinion and even though I was never a customer he was always willing to answer emails or answer any questions. This day has suddenly become very sad.

Michael Fremer's picture
He wasn't feeling well during the game and went back to the factory for an antacid. He never returned to the game so the family assumed he'd gone home. When he wasn't there they went to the factory and found him on the floor. By that time he was cold. You know, heart attacks can often mimic gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux. It's such a shame he either didn't know that, or didn't want to consider that possibility. However it's a familial problem. He lost a younger brother to a heart attack. Just a shame all around....
volvic's picture

Been setting up this turntable I bought and thinking about him all day. He was a good man who always answered his emails and was always patient with any queries I may have had. 2016 can't end soon enough. Spin some tunes in his memory and hug someone you love is all I can say.

Gandt10's picture

Can't remember exactly how I struck up an email conversation with him but I ended up buying a refurbished 2100 with a vortex arm it is utterly fantastic and he was charm itself despite my being one of his most poverty stricken customers ever.

hifitommy's picture

of all the personable and intelligent people in the audio business, let alone mankind, he was a gem. i had a nice, lengthy conversation with him and he was so gracious. my only wish is that he had lived much longer if only for the chance to have another chance to talk with him.

my warmest wishes go out to his family for their loss.


IR Shane's picture

Michael, I hope you don't mind that I also shared this on TAS's obit page. Just trying to share with as many people as I can, and tell them what a wonderful friend we all lost this week.

I met A.J. Conti in person the first year of the THE Newport Audio show, 2011 or 2012. I then worked for AudioQuest, which is based in Irvine, right around the corner from the show. AudioQuest, Vandersteen Audio and Audio Research share a great dealer in the LA area with Basis Audio, Randy Cooley’s Optimal Enchantment in Santa Monica.

My early morning ritual while staying in Irvine was always to hit the Whole Foods for a little breakfast and a big veggie juice, and then walk across the parking lot for some coffee at a place called Peet’s. The first morning of THE Show, as I’m walking from Whole Foods to Peet’s I see someone riding a “longboard” skateboard in the parking lot, a board very much like the one I used to ride when I was in my early 20s. As I get closer it dawns on me the person riding it was taller, and um, older than the teenager or 20-soemthing I was expecting to see. It was AJ!

I ran over and we started talking skateboards, and then I asked AJ what he was doing there. He said he didn’t know the area but had called around to find out where he could get fresh veggie juice, and that it so happened that there was also a good coffee shop across the parking lot. It really tickled me that he had dialed that in right away as a total out-of-towner, but of course figuring things out is what AJ was all about!

As we had espresso together that morning I was flabbergasted to learn that AJ used to build espresso machines, and I was even happier that the machine I have at home met his hard-earned approval. We started talking about the benefits of juicing at home, and I told AJ I wanted a machine at home but couldn’t decide on a Vitamix or a straight juicing machine. Guess what? AJ had also come to this fork in the road and the way he solved it was by getting both a Vitamix and a juicer and experimenting meticulously for months with each before deciding the Vitamix was the winner!

Robert Harley, Michael Fremer and certainly others in the industry will recall AJ’s level of knowledge and ceaseless dedication to learning more and more about all things audio. Certainly Basis Audio and its future is the extraordinary legacy of AJ’s professional life. I relay the above to share with people who weren’t fortunate enough to know him that AJ was an amazing person I knew through “work” who I could talk to for hours without ever having work come up. I will miss my friend immensely. Thank you AJ, I am truly fortunate to have known you!

Shane Buettner
Intervention Records

Jeff Miller's picture

Michael your right. I also have a family history of heart disease. Many people pass stress tests at their Cardiologist office, but still have 90% blockage in the arteries. There now is a new Cat Scan machine that takes many very fine slices that can be used to check for blockage instead of using cardiac caths. My own internist has me set up for this cat scan. Michael its such a shame if AJ didn't go through this route as a preventative measure. We still don't know with out having an autopsy if he had an aortic aneurism (that is what John Ritter had) which really has very low chance of survival. Even so a terrible loss for such young man and his family.

Wimbo's picture

From what I've read here,a true lover of life. Also,a pioneer in his turntable designs.