I was thinking the other day about all the audio stores that were around when I was a kid


I know we all grew up in different places so the experience shared here all will not relate to. Though I am sure there will be stories that some can relate to. I grew up,in Detroit Michigan and starting going to Audio stores at the ripe old age of 14 years old. Of course I didn't drive at the time so my father would take me. He loved music but wasn't really into audio equipment. Here are some of the stores I used to go to.

1. Tech hi-fi in Royal Oak
2. Audioland In Roseville
3. Audio Dimensions in birmingham
4. Absolute Sound in Royal Oak
5.Stereoland in Detroit

Of course there were other stores but my father would only take me so far. Everything was so new to me and fresh at the time it was really exciting. I still go to audiophile shows today and some audiophile meetings. And though I still enjoy it I had the most excitement when I was a kid.


taters
taters,

are there any Audio shop(s) still in your area?
If not, what are the closest operation(s) ?
Have you visited Audio Dimensions recently? Awesome place, haven't been for a few years...
taters, this one really hit a chord...  Way, way back when, growing up in upstate NY, I stumbled onto Stereo Sound in Schenectady (I was already driving so could go wherever).  They had phenomenal stuff and there was one sales guy there who was so knowledgeable and patient and eventually helped that kid buy Dynaco and then my Advents and then everything just grew from that.  Later (way after college) I moved to SE PA and there were several shops (the HiFi House chain, etc.) in the area.  I probably (no, definitely) spent way too much time and money in those places.  My ongoing acquisitions were cut back just a bit as all those places have eventually closed.  There are still a few alternatives in the area but to me they're nothing like those original shops - those are sorely missed.
Ji35,

I have not lived in Michigan for 30 years. I am glad they are still in business. I still remember going into the store and seeing names like Audio Research, Mark Levinson and Quad. That way my first really high-end experience and I will never forget it.

Jafant,

I live in Southern California now and there are still a lot of brick and mortar stores. I rarely frequent them because I don't buy new audio gear nowadays. If I purchase something it is on this website. Luckily I haven't had a problem so far. 
I understand how you feel Mr. Hosehead.

Still owned by Harry, ARC - Magnepan - Vandersteen,  lots of great stuff...
I hear there is a new high-end store in Royal Oak. I don't know the name of it but I have heard they are carrying a lot of esoteric gear. Do you know the store I am talking about?

There used to be a bunch around here (DC) but that was thirty years ago. Excaliber in Alwxandria, Myer Emco, Audio Associates, Paragon of Sound. There are still one or two. I'm guessing they didn't get the memo.

Lived in Los Angeles Area

Jonas Miller near Robertson on Wilshire
Shelleys was on Wilshire in Santa Monica now in San Fernando Valley
Pacific Stereo had three or four stores in Los Angeles and Orange Co
Stereo Hi Fi had two stores Culver City and Los Angeles

This was in the late sixties and early seventies. Thanks for the memories






there are still a few good stores there, but I haven't been in the others a long time.  But visiting Harry is always a treat...
needfreestuff,

I grew up in L.A. area in the 60's/70's too. Do you remember...

Audio Mart in Burbank,
Radio Lab in Glendale,
Westlake Audio in Encino (Walt Lewsadder),
Rogersound Labs in Panorama City,
All-McIntosh store on Ventura Blvd in Studio City (forgot the name)?

All are gone now. Those were the days, gone forever I'm afraid!

tonykay

Yes I remember Walt, he had a great love for audio,  at Westlake audio. He modified a Citation preamp for me. Rogersound Labs bought a direct drive turntable from them on Black friday they open up at midnight that day. They also had a division called Upscale audio in that store and thats where Kevin with Upscale Audio today worked if I'm not mistaken. I believe that store on Ventura blvd might have been called 2001 audio and he used to be in torrance old town mall but thats going way back as I remember their were 2 or 3 stores on ventura blvd. Best of Luck 



When I was a kid high end to me was a Sony integrated stereo.   in my town the best selection was at Jewelcor.   There was Glick Audio that sold McIntosh and Yamaha and others but that was way out of my price range.   Radio Shack and Lafayette Radio helped fill the gap.   As a teen there was also the "Groove and Tube" hifi shop.
Taters, the new store is David Michael Audio in Royal Oak.  He does indeed carry a number of high end brands, Magico and Constellation Audio being a couple I have heard, but will probably never afford.  It's a pretty nice store, still a work in progress last time I was there (about 18 months ago).  It is open by appointment only, but there are occasional new product demonstrations which is when I went.  I have yet to buy anything, though he is now the local VPI dealer so I may need to visit him for parts or accessories.  

ji35, I've been in Harry's place many times, including when he was in Birmingham, but the last time was at least eight years ago.  I only live a mile away, but as he has gotten older he has gotten more detached from his love of audio.  Most times when I visited it was just Harry there and the conversation quickly moved from audio to politics, I didn't mind it so much but I would spend a couple of hours there and never get to the point of why I visited.  Our conversations were also frequently interrupted when another customer came in, which is totally understandable, but the "new" guy would get the audio attention I couldn't seem to get.  He also took exception to my buying used equipment off Audiogon, can't blame him for that, but he made me feel unwelcome, even though I had bought quite a few things from him, so I haven't gone back.  Last time I saw him was at the Audiokharma show about five years ago.  The new Magnepan 1.7 were the only speaker he had on display, which coincidentally, were what I really wanted to hear.  No one else was listening so I asked him to play something he had brought.  He played it and then began talking loudly to several other people about 20 feet away.  After a few minutes he said "enough of this crap" and changed the CD without saying anything to me or even acknowledging me.  Guess I knew where I stood with him...
Here in northern Ca. we had a store with a great owner and staff that where very friendly. Would encourage you to take a item home and demo it. Would let you listen to equipment way out of your budget even tho they knew you could not afford it. All ways made you feel welcome, even if you did not purchase any thing. Audio FXs is missed in northern Ca. 

My experience is the exact opposite of pmotz . I live a few hours away. But always plenty of music of various great equipment. Haven't been in about 3 years 
Mine was the speaker shop in amherst ny. They didnt mind a preteen and his dad spending a few hours listening to great gear. Nice guys. Havent been back to buffalo in years but they seem to have moved to home theater while still keeping a good lineup of hi fi.  

Lived in NYC and would always go to AudioConnection first in Verona NJ.
Tweaks and wires I've always purchased in B&H on W34th and 9thAv in NYC. I've also purchased DJ gear in B&H.
Moved to Raleigh NC and my choice would be Moon audio. They have best headphone choices at great prices.

Who's from the Chicago area? I can remember Pacific Stereo, Musicraft, Paul Heath, Victors, HiFi Hutch, Columbia Audio, Saturday Audio Exchange and Audio Consultants, the latter two still going strong. 
Victors which was down the street from Musicraft is now Quintessence and Mick is the only owner now. He also has the BIG rooms at Axpona. Simply Stereo in Hoffman estates is still there too.

From the Los Angeles area and I remember just about all of the stores mentioned above from LA.  wow!  all gone.

Christopher Hansen also.

I started out thinking that Yamaha was the best with KEF speakers.

Most of the high end stores ran into the same problem that dealers are experiencing today.  Most people really don't have discretionary funds lying around to justify spending on "audio equipment".  At least in their minds.

So, they would by lower end stereo equipment.  Well, most times they listened as background music anyway, so most didn't notice it anyway.  But, interestingly enough when higher end cd players came out or the magic Sony upper end TVs came out, they had to have them. 

Unless the stores sold lower end equipment along with high end equipment, or were thoughtful enough to transition over to home theater in addition to stereo, they went out of business.  Especially when Circuit City, Sam's club, Costco came along with lower equipment prices that these other stores couldn't compete with. 

Funny, sort of, that Circuit City put Pacific Stereo and many other stores out of business and Best Buy, Walmart, Costco, etc. put Circuit City out of business.

I do like the occasional discussion and list of stereo stores in various locations posted here on Audiogon. it is good information to have.

enjoy

The Music Box in Wellesley Ma. Bill Bell was the owner.. Kind of a crotchety old New Englander but he always has the best you could buy. I spent many hours and many, many dollars there.. Great memories.

needfreestuff,

Walt sold me an early pair of Infinity Servo-Statik 1's in the early 70's. The crossover developed a buzz and quickly failed, so I took it in to Walt and he sent it to Infinity in Chatsworth. After waiting about four months and complaining to Walt, he offered to take them back. So I returned them to the store and Walt gave me my money back. They were Mediterranean-looking and Walt admitted to me later that Infinity had eventually given him a brand new crossover and he took that pair home as his personal speakers. I was sad to read in the audio press (Stereophile or Absolute Sound) that he passed away some time ago. Also, a profile of Arnie Nudell in a later issue mentioned Walt and his early involvement selling early versions of Infinity Servo-Statiks and I realized that I had owned a piece of audio history.
Anyone remember Manufacturer's Marketplace in West Roxbury  Mass ?    
tonykay

My friend Howard who lived in Pasadena, had a stacked pair of  
Infinity servo statiks 1A's I believe, only five were made, and they were supposedly made for family members. One of the best sounding speakers I've heard. Sorry to hear about Walt, spent a couple of afternoons at his shop listening to music, learned alot from him. Thanks for the memories.
We moved to Northern California in 1986 from Southern California. I have always spent time in stereo stores so I visited many in the bay area. The names that come to mind are:

DB Audio, in Berkeley;
Music Lovers, in Berkeley;
Audible Difference, in Palo Alto;
House of Music, in San Francisco;
Audio Chamber, in Berkeley;
Soundwell, in Berkeley;
Sound Shack, in Berkeley;
Century Stereo, in San Jose;
Analogue Room, in San Jose;
Stereo Plus, in San Francisco;

So many places, so little time! Most are gone or under new management.

Century Stereo! I used to go there all the time in the late 60’s-early 70’s. The Audible Difference in Palo Alto too, where in 1971 I heard the Infinity Servo-tatics driven by SAE electronics (Audio Research hadn’t made it to the West Coast quite yet). The most important High End shop in the South Bay was Garland Audio (John opened the shop in ’74) in San Jose, who had a pair of Wilson WAMM’s driven by the original Levinson amps. I bought a pair of Fulton J speakers from him.

David Fletcher, before he designed The Arm for Sumiko and the Sota turntable, had a retail store in Berkeley, and sold Dayton Wright Electrostatic Loudspeakers. Walt Davies, now the maker of Last record care products, had a store in Livermore, Audio Arts. I bought my ARC/Tympani system in '72 from Walt, a great guy.

Cal Stereo, Leo's Stereo and Federated Stereo, all in the Los Angeles area.

CAL STEREO NOWWW!  (that was their commercial)
Born in L.A., moved to S.F. in my mid-20's, on to Houston mid-40s'.  Remember all of those names and places, where I'd go to with 'itchy ears' but a anemic wallet.  Got to hear nearly all of the legendary 'super toys'...the first Ohms, big Infinity's, Maggies, the goes on.  At one PacStereo I was mistaken for an employee, because I knew how to operate their 'switchboxes' as well as the 'real' salesmen did.  But every time I moved, the number of 'dedicated' audio stores diminished. Now, here in AVL, there's just the 'big box' stores that sell 'typ-fi' that's available everywhere 'On Sale NOW!'
But, in the meantime...
I've become non-plussed by the esoteric, unless it's something like the MBL's which are Truly a step ahead.  My hearing isn't what it used to be, either.  Frankly, I couldn't tell if one's $100 a foot cables are better than the ones I bought from PE on sale, unless experienced in a 'prepared sonic environment'.....which I don't live in, own, or ultimately want to have.
I do agree with Linkwitz....'ignore the room'.  I do.  I 'do' room correction with eq, and have done so long before it became more 'SOP' for those that cared enough to try it.  Going 'flat' into the room works for me...
My 'system' these days looks more like 'test equipment' than 'fancy esoteria'.  Not high dollar, but selected to do what I want to accomplish, rather than the diminishing zeros behind the decimal points....I can't hear them anyway, anymore...('Jitter'...hmmm, too much caffeine? *L*)
In this era, we have the 'Net, the ultimate shopping center.  If it floats your boat, you can get it, here, there, Anywhere.  Pay the freight back if it's not what you dreamed it was or could be.  Audition in your home, your media, your way.  That's what you'll have to live with, anyway.
In short, cutting to the chase:
I like Now, better.  My 'opinion' rules my selections.  (I don't get to audition audio for a living.)
Does yours, too.
Enjoy your 'hobby' Your Way.
Should always be thus. ;)
...and Please, don't flame...MHO, you can have yours, Peace.
taters-

tell me about the current Audio operations there in SoCal.
Was at USC in '88, used to go to Optimal Enchantment in Santa Monica. The guy was way cool, knew I was a punk ass college kid and still set up a California Audio Labs CD player, Audio Research amp/preamp and these huge Vandersteen's. Incredible sound.
Taters!  

i'm in los angeles and usually go to shelley's in woodland hills, ahead stereo in weho, AVcity in santa monica and m.i.r. audio+video in westwood.  sometimes i'll go to the magnolia/best buy stores.

there used to be a great place on ventura in encino i think on the north side of the street.  forget what it was called but they really knew their stuff.

where do you go?
Thanks! for sharing- jjhunsecker-

of the places that you listed, can you tell me more about the brands that are represented? Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
Taters,

where do you frequent?
Jafant,

I really don't go to stores anymore because I don't believe in buying new gear nowadays. The prices are just to high and the depreciation is even worse. I bought a current model ARC pre-amp a couple of years ago on here for 40 percent less than retail. It only had 600 hours on it. When I buy gear nowadays I buy it on this website. If I don't like a piece I can usually sell it for what I paid for it. I don't want to go to stores and waste their time when I know I will not pay retail for it. Buying used makes the most sense to me at this time. Sure, If I got a big windfall I would not mind going Into the stores and buying retail. But at this time I can't afford to do that. Even buying high-end audio at 40 percent off is still a good chunk of change.

jjhunsecker,

I stopped going to retail stores about 10 years ago. The prices on new gear is just to expensive for me. When I buy I find mint condition used gear. And there is plenty of it around because audiophiles always need the latest and greatest. It's the same reason I don't buy new cars. Let the original owner take all the depreciation. Then I buy it used with low miles at 30 to 40 percent of M.S.R.P.

Jjhunsecker,

If you are talking about the Sound Factor in Encino they closed about 4 years ago. The only store I know about in the valley is Shelleys. Though they even gave up their high profile location on Topanga Blvd to locate to a store on a side street. I guess the high rent was killing them.

I always see Optimal Enchantment at the audio show in Newport Beach every June. He always has one of the best sounding rooms. He is a dealer that really loves music. I can tell buy his great collection of music he brings with him. Mostly vinyl.

It seems like once our economy started making the transition to the "corporate model", lots of "mom & pop" stores went out to business when Walmart, Target, etc. came along and displaced them.  Same thing happened with many of those wonderful audio shops staffed by knowledgeable (commissioned) salespeople, where you could get some real help in making equipment selections, in showrooms where you could do some realistic comparisons, and have service after the sale.

In the DC area we had the Myer-Emco & Audio Associates multi-store operations, and lots of other independent, single-store shops.  Now we have some independent shops which typically sell the more esoteric brands, but no where near the selection we had a few decades ago.
Me as well- taters.
I always buy used/demo. Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
There was a store in New Brunswick, NJ when I was getting my PHD in the 70's or so called HiFi Haven.  A guy named Jerry was the manager.  I LOVED the place.   It was a combination of a club and a family.  Its greatly missed.
String I'm Rutgers class of 81.  Remember hifi haven.   Bought an omni sonic imaging gadget there once as a poor college kid.  I worked at the nearby tech hifi on George Street  part time as well.  
FWIW, I just remembered that the all-McIntosh store on Ventura Blvd in Studio City that I mentioned earlier was named Eamon's Audio (or Emmon's?). Just wanted to clear that up (LOL)!
I lived in Brooklyn, NY. Mid to late Seventies, my FUN Saturdays were spent taking the Train into the City to Times Square and walking over to 'Harveys' on 45th Street off of 5th Avenue.  Then I would walk down to Stereo Exchange in Greenwiich Village.  Stereo Exchange was INCREDIBLE for a 15 year old addicted to hifi.  You would walk in and on one side were racks and racks and racks of used gear - the suff right out of the magazines.  Hafler, Citation, Dynaco, Threshold...  It was amazing.   I can smell that store if I close my eyes...
Nice memories-guys!
there is nothing like a B&M Audio shop.
Does anyone remember Acoustic Image? They had a storefront on Ventura bl in Studio City around 1990. They carried a lot of esoteric gear for that time. They only had the store for a couple of years. I think the guy might work out of his house nowadays but I have not spoken to him in years. His salesman used to work for Christopher Hansen in Beverly Hills.

Wow, I don’t normally hang out in Audiogon forums (maybe I should) but stumbled on this thread surfing monitors for sale--brought back a rush of memories. I grew up in Oak Park MI and worked briefly at HiFiBuys in Ann Arbor in 1979 in their service department (I was an electronic tech). They also had a store in Lansing MI (maybe East Lansing?). First time I ever heard Maggies, Nakamichi and Stax. Got the bug for quality 2-channel gear that has lasted nearly 40 years.
Welcome! jsl1234
Taters

Elliot Midwood owner of acoustic image still works out of his house in studio city.