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Pacific Stereo History

Discussion in 'Solid State' started by SoCal Sam, Jun 10, 2007.

  1. SoCal Sam

    SoCal Sam Lunatic Member

    I was Googling Pacific Stereo and found this info:

    Pacific stereo was owned by CBS from 1972 to 1983.

    Pacific Stereo purchased in January 1983 by Burk Mathes.

    Number of stores reduced to 64 by 1986.

    Pacific Stereo files for Chapter 11 on May 15, 1986.

    On Sept 25, 1986, Pacific Stereo reorganization plans fall through.

    Oct 1, 1986. Liquidation begins.


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  2. bully

    bully member

    Near Lafayette, Indiana
    Interesting. I do remember their catalogs in the early 70s.
  3. Celt

    Celt Peanut Head Staff Member Super Mod

    Paragould, Arkansas
    I think there's an old thread here that has a few of their ads. By that time Sony had bought up CBS. Wonder if selling them off was a result of faltering sales or new management deciding to sell them off as they did with Fender.
  4. ferninando

    ferninando Lunatic Member

    San Jose Ca.
    spent many an hour at PS auditioning speakers, amps and such. They usually had the stuff in stock, had lay away plans, gave trade-ins for stuff and had lots of the good stuff we all lusted after back then. Adequate listening rooms, often abit crowded so you had to wait your turn at the speaker selector switch. Heard some awsome speaker low frequency output there, the whole building would tremble. Then all kaput and black junk was all the rage and vinyl was no more thanks to CDs. Thank god I had all the good stuff by the time that happened.
    jobrewer1983 likes this.
  5. SoCal Sam

    SoCal Sam Lunatic Member

    Here is a message I got from member BillW. He cannot post in AK because of a technical issue with his internet access.


    You jogged my memory with that article. The warehouse (a big mother) was
    down in Emeryville just a few miles west of the Berkeley store. It had
    a big CBS logo on the front. I don't recall seeing the P.S. name
    anywhere tho. They had a really big sale there once. Might actually
    have been when they were closing the place. Can't recall now. They had
    literally tons of stereo gear they were dumping cheap. The section of
    used stuff they had taken in as trades was what we would now consider a
    literal treasure trove of equipment. I remember wanting that damned big
    Marantz tube amp I couldn't lift off of the shelf. I didn't buy it
    because they wouldn't guarantee it. Silly boy, I've always regretted
    that decision.

    The first time I saw the place was when I bought a Sony portable tape
    deck from the Berkeley store, and all they had was the demo model
    without papers. I was paying for a new one, and damnit, I wanted a NEW
    one. I was leaving on a trip and needed it that day, so the salesman
    called down there, and got permission for me to pick up a NIB model
    there. I was truly imporessed with the size of the place. Pallets
    stacked on racks to the rafters with new merchandise. Business must
    have been really good at that time. Good memories.

    Athalwolf and jobrewer1983 like this.
  6. Njord Noatun

    Njord Noatun Super Member

    Gawd, it would have been nice to back in time to revisit those PS stores in their former glory. Thanks to BillW for posting his memories, and for Sam for posting those historical fact tidbits.

    Most of you probably know this already, but there is some further PS information in the Concept interviews I have linked to in my signature.

    All the best,


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  7. Mike Petrik

    Mike Petrik New Member


    As has been mentioned, Pacific Stereo had a number of house brands. TransAudio was considered an entry level line and Quadraflex was more or less mid-market. I owned a Quadraflex receiver and Quadraflex speakers at various times and, despite the criticisms launched in these forae, always found the products to be perfectly servicable. And of course they later launched the Concept line of receivers which receive good reviews to this day, and deservedly so. But am I the only one who remembers Spectrasonic? My younger brother owned a pretty cool looking Spectrasonic receiver that put out some decent sound as I recall. It had some outstanding specs for its era, though I have no way of knowing whether it really measured up. I think there is an old issue of Stereo Review with a cover photo of Julian Hirsch holding the receiver, though the issue had nothing whatsover to say about it. I assumed it was a promo since I think the mag was owned by CBS at the time as was Pacific Stereo. Anyway, does anyone recall Spectrasonic? Recall the receiver? Opinions? Thanks from a newbee.
  8. Duffinator

    Duffinator Spin The Black Circle

    Roseville, CA
    Both my Pioneer SX-1250 and CTF-1000 were purchased there. They are just a faded memory for me but a good memory for Concept fans.
    jobrewer1983 likes this.
  9. pahtcenter77

    pahtcenter77 Well-Known Member

    My brother gave me the "remains" of his stereo system he bought in 1977, along with the literature and receipts. There are two Pacific Stereo receipts dated 12/02/77 and 12/08/77. The first is #11704, the second is #11976 (computer generated). That's 272 sales in 6 days, over 45 per day average. One of the receipts is for $1256.10.

    Just a little trivia.

    I wouldn't mind having sales like that every day, providing the profit margin was there.
  10. Njord Noatun

    Njord Noatun Super Member

    Yes, you are right - CBS owned both Stereo Review and Pacific Stereo: For reasons related to perceived credibility and conflicts of interest, this was one of the main reasons why the Concept products, and possibly along with the other PS house brands, were never submitted to SR for full review.

    Most importantly, welcome to AK, Mike!
  11. TomSc

    TomSc Active Member

    "For reasons related to perceived credibility and conflicts of interest, this was one of the main reasons why the Concept products, and possibly along with the other PS house brands, were never submitted to SR for full review."

    These days it seems odd for an audio mag to take the high road like that! No wonder thay didn't make it. Well....and the fact that they never met a piece of gear they didn't like and all amplifiers sounded the same!



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  12. Estring

    Estring Shepherd

    Los Angeles
    Bought a Marantz receiver and speakers (Transaudio?) from the Pomona store in 1976.
  13. retrokeeper

    retrokeeper Well-Known Member

    Yep...the memories do linger,I remember Pacific Stereo well,they were my "brochure source" for many years,could'nt afford a nice stereo back then,but I could dream...can't I!!They had some really cool audio gear on display,and I spent a few hours at their store's listening rooms near the University District in Seattle.Yes...the memories :yes::music: Rob
  14. crooner

    crooner Tube Marantzed

    San Diego, CA
    Actually, Stereo Review still exists today. It was renamed "Sound and Vision" in 1999, IIRC. Julian Hirsch retired in 1998 and passed away 4 years ago.

    David Ranada, is still there along with Ken Polhmann.
  15. stereodctr

    stereodctr Houston we have a problem

    Texas Gulf Coast
    I worked for Pacific Stereo in Houston when they first came to Texas in 1977. Ended up being the manager of Recycled Stereo on Kirby Drive which was their lone used/demo equipment outlet in the city. Saw some interesting vintage equipment go through the doors like original Quads, Infinity QLS, AR LST's, assorted Mac gear, Kenwood 700C's and a lot of other highend gear I wish I had now. Didn't make much money then but I did snag a pair of LST's and a Kenwood 700C with my 50% employee discount. They were starting to close stores in other states in '79 so I moved on rather than wait for the Texas stores to start closing. I remember the Regional Manager in Arlington, TX was always predicting that the Texas Region would start turning a profit with each upcoming quarter, unfortunately they never did.
  16. tcdriver

    tcdriver AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Valley of Heart's Delight
    I remember.

    I remember the Pacific Stereo Spectrasonic receivers. They were sold back in the days of “fair trade” laws. Pacific Stereo would bundle them with other house brand components and offer steep discounts off the “retail” prices. The Spectrasonics did not have a good reputation which is probably why Pacific Stereo changed house brands to Quadraflex and later Concept.


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  17. dougp

    dougp New Member

    SpeakerLab had some realtionshop with Pacific Stereo? I have some Spreakerlab S30's that I enjoy greatly.
  18. Negotiableterms

    Negotiableterms Administrator Staff Member Admin Subscriber

    Depends when.

    I went to PS's original store on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley for the first time in... ummm... 1967, maybe?

    At that time, they had just introduced Quadraflex speakers as their only house brand, including their TOTL Model 1000, which were gigantic cubes containing four 15" woofers and a whole bunch of other drivers. When my parents dropped me off (I was 13) they were ABing them against Bozak Concert Grands. To my young and untutored ears, the Quadraflex were much more impressive...

    Today, of course, no one has ever heard of Quadraflex 1000s and the Bozaks are considered an iconic American product. So, it goes to show you... I had no taste then either. :D
  19. LBPete

    LBPete Rolling Along Subscriber

    Long Beach, CA
    Calibre was another Pacific Stereo house brand. I think it was offered concurantly with the Concept line. I have a Calibre receiver. It is a nicely made piece.

    - Pete
  20. bully

    bully member

    Near Lafayette, Indiana
    Sumbitch but the Concept line was primo gear by any measure.

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