Remembering the Quintessential Hi-Fi Shop

Are you old enough to remember when hi-fi shops were abundant and a visit to your local store was an event — especially when a new product or technology was introduced?

Or maybe you remember it differently…

Sound&Vision’s Tom Norton recently passed along a hilarious video from the British television comedy show Not the Nine O’Clock News that was broadcast on BBC2 from 1979 to 1982. We thought it was worth sharing here.

In the sketch, an unsuspecting customer (Mel Smith) walks into a ‘70s-era hi-fi shop and is ridiculed by two wise-cracking salesmen (Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones).

Share your most memorable hi-fi shop stories.


Flashback 1958: If Not for Charles…

Iamhoosier1's picture

I live in a region with an approximate population of 1 million. There isn't a good place to go other than Best Buy(I know as much or more)or a Home Theater contractor that only wants to spend time if you are building a whole new room and system. It sucks.

sndchaser's picture

I remember earning 2 dollars and sixty five cents and hour shuttling new Subaru's at the seaport and going to the salon and listening the the new equipment i could not afford and having a layaway on Polk model 7"s that were 300 hundred a pair and it took a small eternity to be able to take them home you can't do that at best buy i loved that audio salon the speakers i heard maggies, dalquist,ohms,Walshs.

mns3dhm's picture

For a magazine whose circulation is one tenth of its predecessors, this is rich.

pgbinder's picture

I worked at Pioneer Electronics (not the Audio Company) on 55th Street in Cleveland, Ohio in the late 60's, while in college. They were primarily a commercial parts house, but had a Hi-Fi (Stereo) showroom in the Cleveland store. They sold Macintosh, Marantz, Bozak, Dual, and JBL, along with mid-price Fisher, Scott, etc. I still remember longing for a pair of B-4000s, that I never got. I helped run the McIntosh Audio Clinics several times, where good old Dave O'Brian would come to the store with a car load of test equipment and parts and test your Fisher/Scott amps and compare them to Macs. He would also repair any Mac amps, for free! I could not afford new Macintosh, but ended up with a pair of used MC-30s for my system. Several friends played in bands, and had Fender Amps, that were in two cabinets, a Amp unit, and a Speaker Cabinet with two 12" or even 15" speakers. You weren't supposed to set the amp on top of the speaker cabinet, due to the vibration caused by very loud base, but everyone did, because there was typically nowhere to set the Amp cabinet. Both the MC-30 and the Fender Amps used good old 6L6 GB (Glass Bulb) output tubes (as does my 1954 Juke, even today). Since the MCIntosh clinics ran about every 6 months, we discovered that we could swap the 6L6's out of the Fenders, into the MC-30s, and bring them into the clinic. The first thing good old Dave would do was tap the 6L6's with his finger nail, and they would ring like a bell, from the Fender Amp sitting on top of the speakers, vibrating the daylights out of 6L6s. He would give me a knowing look, but would swap the "ringing" 6L6s for brand new ones! We had no money in those days, but wherever Dave is (I'm sure it's the Good Place), I owe him a least a dozen (probably more) new 6L6 tubes!

pw's picture

About a Dozen Stereo/Audio stores around Shattuck and Haste until about 1995..
The best was The Sounding Board.. Now we have nada..
Not having a Tech at a store to do repairs is the worst..

I now deal exclusively with a Tech at Deltronics in Illinois and buy/sell from HiFi Heaven in Wisco..

weaselriot's picture

I guess I am fortunate to live in the Chicago area, north suburbs. In Evanston we still have Audio Consultants, where I have shopped since 1969. A bit further south, in the Ravenswood neighborhood of north side Chicago, there is Music Direct. It is mostly mail order, but a customer like myself can stop in as well. A good resource for audiophile vinyl LPs. Back north and not far west of Audio Consultants is the venerable Abt Electronics. It is a big box appliance store to be sure, but their A/V gear is not half bad at all, certainly several cuts above, say, Best Buy. Audio Consultants is still my go-to after all these years. Just google it and visit their website to see that what once was, still is.