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Bloor Street: Annex – Sonic Boom Review

By on April 6, 2012
A guy holding a vinyl record

Of the biggest news to come out of The Annex this summer is the relocation of one of its most popular shops.

Sonic Boom, the place to go for used Music, Movies, and Video Games, has been one of Bloor Street’s landmarks for the last 10 years.  With the landlord refusing to renew their lease, the owners of sonic boom were forced to relocate.

They now occupy a large space of the Honest Ed’s block they used to compliment, located off Bloor, which opened doors late July.

Open until midnight, every night, 364 days a year, it’s a destination haunt for the late-night music connoisseur, offering live music events and an extensive library of even the most fringe titles.

How do the new digs hold up?

Character:

You used to drive down Bloor and find the large, two-floor building occupying a large chunk of retail opposite Honest Ed’s ‘old Vegas’ lightshow.  By the end of this year, that space will be occupied by the latest addition to the Dollarama chain.

Sonic Boom’s engraved wooden sign now floats on a window facing Bathurst.  It’s a short hop from its previous location, so return visitors won’t have far to go to find it.

First thing they’ll notice once they do: straight up, the Honest Ed’s lights cast a big shadow on what to be its own marquee.  Annex regulars knowing the story may frown from the shrink in its former presence.

Walk in, however, and find comfort in the fact that the sprawl still holds its same scale of epic: a field of CDs, organized in the same pine wood fixtures, laid out in long rows through the large open space.  The feel is still the same, with a minimal level of compromise.

New is the placement of their analog records: no longer having a basement, vinyl is now at the far end opposite the entrance.  Mirrors line the upper half of the open-concept ceiling, making the place look even more spacious than it already is.  The old chandeliers, native to the new location, add a nice touch – a ‘watermark’ for their version 2.0, of sorts.

Same color scheme, same layout, same sections – patrons will be happy to note that the décor has maintained its familiarity.

Content:

Sonic Boom’s offerings have always been impressive.  Browse their music aisles and find extensive sections for genres that most other stores dismiss by integrating them with their closest next-of-kin.  It’s not surprising to find the Angel single from Jam & Spoon you haven’t seen in over a decade, or the Livin’ Proof album from Group Home, or a serving of With the Tides from British Rock band South…

Movies and TV get a fair shake here, as well.  The wall opposite the cashier desk houses an impressive array of box set Blu Rays and DVDs; there’s an impressive international selection, as well as spots to find more rare specialties like Disinformation, The Corporation, and The Work of Chris Cunningham.

Music-related books, equipment, T-shirts, and other novelties can also be found here; while their selection has always been small in these categories, it’s apparent that the selection offered on-hand was hand-picked for quality.  And like most everything else music-related, if they don’t have it, they can probably order it.

It has to be mentioned that vinyl has been impacted by the move: the selection is smaller, with the lion’s share of it moving to their new, second location at T.O.’s Kensington Market.  This may disappoint some again, with location change being the biggest gripe.

Service:

The staff hasn’t changed: it’s still the accommodating, knowledgeable group of peeps maintaining the store and answering questions.  The listening station layout is still there, allowing visitors the opportunity to sample any CD before they buy.

Lineups at the register clear up fast, and the gang is still quick and energetic about their work.  The spirit of the place hasn’t changed at all.

Summary: 

While the outside display doesn’t attract as much attention as it used to, something to remember is that they’re just getting started on the new locale; given time, they’ll wear in their groove on the Bathurst couch.  A set of condos being built across the street will give more excuse for foot traffic to pass it, but it’s a decent bet that Sonic Boom will continue to hold its own in the new locale.  Visit and check out the new page in its history.


Jonathan

About Jonathan

A contributor to the ēgō Magazine movement, with one goal in mind to bring insight to aspiring minds.

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