Oct 21

Readers Remember: Warehouse Sound


Today’s guest post is from Mr. Bill.
He remembers when the image of the old railroad warehouse was a form of nirvana for people across the United States.
When my family had moved away from California in the 1970′s we would get odd windows back to the Central Coast. A story about the Madonna Inn shows up on TV, an advertisement for California Cooperage redwood hot tubs or a picture of the railroad warehouse in San Luis Obispo, home of Warehouse Sound.
Today the building is being earthquake retrofitted, one of the few surviving buildings from San Luis Obispo’s railroad era.
In the 21st century we can accidentally leave our music players in our pockets and run them through the washing machine. I’m not saying this happened, just saying it is theoretically possible.
And now Mr. Bill will turn the clock back to 1974:

I grew up in Birmingham Michigan, a Detroit suburb, back in the 60s
and 70s. When I was a sophomore in high school in 1974, I was very
much into the high fidelity stereo and electronics scene. I regularly
received catalogs from Warehouse Sound Co., and dreamed of one day,
not only being able to afford to buy everything in the catalog, but to
live in sunny San Luis Obispo.
Were stereo systems important in those days? Oh my gosh, yes!

warehouse-sound-slo-sign.jpgWhen I was a teenager in the 1970s, music enjoyment was far less
portable than it is for today’s iPod generation. Radios, record stores
and friends’ homes were my only means of discovering the latest bands
and songs.

The 1970s brought many technical innovations, including ubiquitous
stereo, music synthesizers, and electrostatic loudspeakers.
Transistors replaced vacuum tubes in the equipment, eliminating the
hum, noise and distortion in the sound. “Hi-Fi” was all the rage.

I was what you’d call an “enthusiast.” I had an ever-growing pile of
Stereo Review magazines in my room (so I knew the difference between
RMS power and peak power), and about four times a year, I’d receive a
catalog from Warehouse Sound Company of San Luis Obispo, California. I
could only dream of owning the equipment I read about — with names
like “Phase Linear”, “McIntosh”, and “Bang and Olufsen” adorning the
softly-lit, brushed metal faceplates of tuners, amplifiers and
turntables, and with price tags that approached an average family’s
monthly income. Still, I managed to get a part-time job working in the
service department of “World, Camera & Sound”, a high-end audio
retailer in Birmingham, Michigan, so I was frequently able to liberate
myself from my proletarian, tinny, monaural world of vacuum tubes, and
listen at close to 100 decibels with near-zero distortion the awesome
synthesizer lead in Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Lucky Man”… or the
intro in Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City”… or the booms of the
cannon in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture…


The kids today don’t know how good they’ve got it.

It took me another 13 years to get to SLO County…. but sadly, by
that time, Warehouse Sound was long gone, and I was doing other
things, like software development.

The first and only time I’d set foot in that building was when the SLO
Blues had their office there.

I scanned my last surviving catalog, which I still have.

If you have a photo you think other readers would be interested in attach the photo to an e-mail with a few sentences we can use as the caption. By sending me the image you give The Tribune/Photos from the Vault permission to publish the image but you would retain ownership of the image.

Contact me at: dmiddlecamp[at]thetribunenews.com
(Replace [at] with the usual symbol, trying to make it hard on the spambots.)

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