Whatever Happened To SAE?

I remember in the seventies walking into a Cal Stereo store in the LA area and seeing the SAE equipment. I was a college student back then and owned a reciever. The SAE stuff with it's black metal and white graphics looked sooo imposing and impressive. Amp, preamp, tuner and EQ all in one stack....man, if I could ever own something like that one day! By the time I could afford decent equipment, SAE has been long gone.

Was their stuff any good?

What happened to them?

The went bankrupt more than twenty years ago.
Actually, the SAE stuff that preceded the black stacks was their really good stuff and they were already being diluted in your time. Long, long gone.

Yup, the Bongiorno-designed, Mk IIICM was a nice amplifier (before the black stuff).

Didn't they become ATI?
I remember feeling as Mitch4t did back then, that SAE was the bitchin-ist looking gear there was. Then Phase Linear. Never did own any of either.
I don't know what happened to SAE...did it not become ATI? I had some SAE gear years ago driving my DQ-10's...lots of meters, looked cool!...was not to impressed with the sound though, somewhat bright and cold sounding.

Shortly after I graduated college, I bought that huge rack of SAE components from my stereo buddy. It was like new condition and worlds beyond anything I could have imagined at the time. Cannot remember just how good the sound was, but I was thrilled to own it. I think I paid an "unreal" high price of $2000 cash for the entire rack. Some cables cost that these days - ha!
Cal Stereo, I remember that place? I forgot where it was located though.
I bought my real first system at Cal Hi-Fi in 1968. I made poor choices for the most part.
Oh yes, the Cal Stereo days. Tom Campbell and the constant commercials on KMET and KLOS. The cool rock days. What about Pacific Stereo, University Stereo, Federated Group, Music+, Licorice Pizza, The Wherehouse, etc? What we all wanted back then we would demote to using today as a door stop. Man oh man how things have changed.

Oh yes, and SAE made a cool parametric equalizer that I owned for a short while. It was fun to play with and alter the sound but even on my midfi setup at the time, it was clear that it did more harm than good. So I sold it through the old "recycler". Does that even exist any more?

I grew up in the South Bay and remember when Licorice Pizza, the Wherehouse flagship store and a great little stereo shop were all on the corner of Sepulveda and Hawthorne Blvd.

I'll never forget one Saturday in the late 1970s walking around that area and I heard Star Wars blasting from that stereo shop from across the street. I went inside and a bispectacled young salesman had the Star Wars theme blaring from a single Altec speaker with a horn tweeter and a 24" woofer. I remember him smiling and yelling, "doesn't it sound great?!!!!" Yes, it did.

Cassandra Peterson [Elvira] and Shadoe Stevens [FredRated] were both on KROQ, Frasier Smith was on KLOS and Jeff Gonzer was on KMET. Ahh, the days.
Didn't Bongiorno then go on to GAS "Great American Sound" then on to Sumo which effetley was SAE anyway? after they all at some point in time went BK.
KSAN in 1970-1 was playing all the good stuff at the time and when some squares bought the station,they handed them a square playlist which the DJ's refused to play.So,they locked and boarded up the studio door and kept playing the Dead,Janis,Quicksilver,Airplane etc. and they kept it up as the cops were breakin down the door.You could hear it all as they were still on the air!Ahh,the days....
There's still a big following for SAE gear out there. I still own some great pieces and also use two sae 2600 400 watt amps to drive my infinity rs1b's. If you want to refresh your memory on this classic gear take a look at this website:
Got an SAE cassette deck..late '70's? It was a black unit, but had the coolest blue fluorescent horizontal VU meters that could be switched between peak, and peak hold...the peak hold display was like a mini-light show...ah, the memories are thick!
I remember Tom Campbell yelling at the end of his commercials...CAL STEREO NOW!!

Betcha don't remember RogerSound Labs....
I do!
Betcha don't remember RogerSound Labs....
Mitch4t  (System | Threads | Answers)
I was in the Van Nuys store almost every Sunday for several years beginning in 1983. In fact, until three years ago, when I bought my first really audiophile-grade loudspeakers, I still used my RogerSound Labs 3600 Monitors that I purchased sometime around 1988. Loved those speakers.
RogerSound Labs was the mid-fi appendage to Upscale Audio.
One was next door to the other.
I bought a Sony ES 10-disk CD changer at RogerSound for $725 around 1987. I still have it and it works like new (had to change the laser about 6 years ago).
Actually, Tom Campbell said (big inhale): "Bellflower, Torrance, Long Beach, Costa Mesa, West Covina, Reseda, Van Nuys, CAL STEREO NOW!!!"

When I first went to Rogersound Labs (Van Nuys only) in 1973, their top speaker design was a large 4 ft. tall transmission line model a la IMF.

I was happy just to go to places like Now Sound, Federated, University, etc., until I visited the Jonas Miller (Beverly Hills) store in 1974 and heard stacked pairs of Quad 57's. That experience and hearing double KLH Nines at Hi Fi House (Pasadena) sent me down the road to perdition and ruin.
Remember Quintessence? I had their preamp for a little while back in around 1973 or so. I worked for a dealer and tried a couple of them- each one sounded a little different. I remember putting the preamp to the 'challenge' of an ARC SP-3. The ARC sounded so much more musical. That was my next preamp.
Roger Sound Labs had their own line of oak audio stands. Twenty five to thirty years ago I thought it was the coolest, classiest stuff I'd ever seen.

Remember Paris Audio in Torrance and West LA? I used to go in there all the time and stare at the stuff I couldn't afford. Perreaux MF2150, KEF 104.2s, and that Carver Cool Cube.
How about "Dimensions in Stereo" in the Old Towne Mall. Threshold, Dalquist, Tanberg and Revox. Remember the old guy in the bean bag chair?
04-15-06: Gunbei
Roger Sound Labs had their own line of oak audio stands. Twenty five to thirty years ago I thought it was the coolest, classiest stuff I'd ever seen.
I owned one of those too. Bought it in their Going Out of Business Sale.

Sold it a year and a half ago when I replaced it with the Salamander Synergy cabinet.

How scary is that?
Paris Audio was so intimidating to me that I only went in there once. I never went into Upscale Audio for the same reason....I had a copy of Upscale's catalog that I used to drooll all over though. At the time I owned a Sansui 771 receiver with generic speakers, Technics turntable and a Superscope cassette deck. The stuff in Paris Audio and Upscale Audio was light years out of my reach.

Rogersound Labs speakers had a lifetime warranty.
04-15-06: Mitch4t
Paris Audio was so intimidating to me that I only went in there once.
Agreed. I own a Sony ES 6 disc changer that I bought as a demo from Paris Audio during their Going Out of Business Sale, too. 1991 I believe it was. I thought I had way overspent for my budget...but that player has been my favorite piece of gear for 15 years. I still have that changer, and it sounds terrific.
Jafox....the Recycler is still going as strong as ever. You can still buy it at the newsstands and at your local 7-11 in Southern Cal. It is also on the web. I bought my first pair of Infinity Kappa 7 speakers out of the Recycler about six years ago. I didn't find out that I had paid waay too much until I joined Audiogon.
My visit to Rogersound Labs was in 1972 or 1973 when I was a student at UCSB. At the time, the serious speakers in my limited view were the JBL L100 (which to this day I just don't "get"), the AR 3a, and maybe something from Rectilinear. Rogersound had some "angle", but I don't remember what it was -- the driver cones didn't move, or they moved a lot, or something. I remember the demo focusing on something like that. And of course it was all factory direct, cut out the middleman. Didn't buy a pair, nor did my friend who took me there, but it was fun.
For some info about James Bongiorno and SAE you might be interested in:
Old Towne Mall?! Dimensions in Stereo? I remember that place! Old Towne used to be such a happnin' place thirty plus years ago when I was in high school.

There are still two places in Redondo Beach right next to each other. Systems Design Group and Definition Audio. It cracks me up that they've been duking it out in the same little strip mall all these years.

I remember going to an audio show about 25-30 years ago in LA. All I remember was the Dahlquist room and the Penthouse Pet sitting in a bar stool signing her pictures.

That James Bongiorno interview is hilarious! I always admired those SAE and Sumo chassis. And he always used the same square extended font on the faceplates for both. But for the life of me, I can't think of that typeface.
Whatever happened to Christopher Hansen in Beverly Hills? He had a beautiful store on Olympic Blvd.
I remember sitting in the car waitting for dad at Leo' s stereo..I didnt understand what in the world would he take so long in the stereo shop..
Yes, and that big color organ in the Dimensions in Stereo back room. Mighty cool.
I had a SAE integrated (remember the "U" design, as well as their two parametrics eqs and finally the big 400 watts, ornage VU meter power amp.

I recall not-a-bad sounding gear from SAE, were well built and had a high re-sale factor.

It would be great to assamble a SAE rack for the office... hmmm.

I went from Phase Linier to all SAE?Ininity Quantum in high school.Still have the "digital" tuner.
I remember SAE well...Friend of mine had a full rack setup and I went to the Pioneer Rack setup..still have all my Pioneer stuff..I have a few SAE..5000a pop and click,4000 crossover,4200 speaker switch box...SAE was cool stuff and really put on a light show..
Some of the principals that were managing SAE now build ATI amps.

I don't know what happended to SAE, but the fellow who owned it was Morris Kessler. Very nice guy. I met him when I visited Arnie Nudell and John Ulick at Infinity Systems in Canoga Park, Ca back in 1970 or 71. I was in the army at the time and I used to sell stereo gear out of my house on the side. I carried Infinity, SAE, Klispch among others. Oh, those were the days.
You can find Morris Kessler here: http://www.ati-amp.com/

I know this is an old thread, but I thought I'd share this link with you of a collector who has some interesting SAE gear.



Wow that must be the Holy Grail of SAE gear;nice doggie!!
This stuff used to be the bomb!

I used to covet SAE stuff but could not afford it and had limited space. By the time I could perhaps, SAE had gone its way.

Still way cool looking stuff!