US hi-fi source shuts down

US hi-fi source shuts down


norman lebrecht

February 06, 2015

The long-running, rough-and-ready Radio Shack, with 2,400 stores across the country, has finally gone bust. It never bothered much with display and marketing and customer comfort, but where else would you find that missing accessory? Now, you’ll have to throw out the whole system and start over.




  • Mike Schachter says:

    US retailing is in almost as good a shape American classical music. Still missing Tower Records, specially the one near the Met.

  • micheal strumovsky says:

    Dear Norman,
    Please educate yourself on a subject before posting to avoid reactions such is this! RadioShack to Hifi is the same as Walmart to organic food store. I assume you never visited one but the last piece of hifi in that store was probably sold bedore my time. The store “specializes” in sales of cheap cell phones, chinese tvs cheap dvd players and usually had a shelf or 2 for radio enthusiasts with printed boards and wire connections. Since recently there was really nothing you could buy there that could not be as well picked up in a supermarket while waiting in line, or same walmart or staples, they went belly up. Cant think what was holding them afloat so long…

    • norman lebrecht says:

      In my NY time, admittedly a while back, it was the go-to for hi-fi … and I did pick some leads up there not that long ago.

    • Doug says:

      You do realize that WalMart sells organic food items. You might want to “educate yourself” before issuing such Fatwas.

    • william osborne says:

      Radio Shack has tons of odd cables, adapters, and electronics parts one often can’t find anywhere else. Wal-Mart pushed Radio Shack out of business by selling its top 20 core products at lower prices. Now the more rarely used products will be unavailable except through web orders.

  • Anne says:

    Radio Shack was HiFi? Are you sure?

    Components and general electronic gadgetry, surely. A bit like the UK’s Maplin.

    • Gene Gaudette says:

      While most of their gear was strictly mid-fi, the couple of components I bought for my old office sounded better than expected for the money. And their Optimus LX5 speakers with the Linaeum tweeter, an astonishingly great (if bass-shy) deal when they were available, have acquired a cachet among a segment of the sudiophile community.

  • avraham says:

    I am not sure that it tells much except the irrelevancy of the CD. I am not sure that it tells anything about classical music in terms of public engagement and even money-spending.

    It is hard to compete; with Youtube, now seeing-hearing Zimerman playing a Mozart Sonata as a Zimerman is always playing.

    Again, you have the immediacy of Itunes.

    It is not of good quality, I know.

    But there are many options out there for an online streaming, which would do for an audiophile as well. Berlin Digital Hall, Pristine Classical, CSO radio, to name only a few (or those which I use everyday).

    Most of the above are legitimate ones; and some costs money.

    How many people buys classical music through Itunes, could anyone tell?

    To say nothing about all those “free” hi-fi downloads out-there.

    • Anon says:

      Berlin Phil digital concert hall, CSO radio… these are far from audiophile.
      All heavily data compressed. It’s a sufficient sound at the higher bandwidths, but it’s not audiophile.

      Sony is doing some pioneering DSD streaming transmissions in the next weeks. That could be considered audiophile.

  • Martin Haub says:

    Radio Shack has been irrelevant for decades, but in the 60s and 70s had some clout before the era of the big box stores like Circuit City (also gone) and Best Buy. When I was a kid, RS was the place to get electronics parts to build hobbyist circuits, ham radio gear, and yes, they did have Hi Fi – their line of stereo gear (Realistic) was very, very good and their speakers were excellent.

    But less well-known is that they also offered LP boxed sets, mostly licensed from Vox, that were cheap and were a decisive influence on at least one person – me. I still have that old 4-record set, Great Russian Masterpieces, that had all the familiar (and some not so) Russian classics: Russian and Lyudmila, Russian Easter Overture, 1812, the Liadov works, etc. There were several other sets in the series.

    But nowadays no one build ham radios, much less computers, and RS couldn’t compete on price or selection. There are better places to buy components (Jameco or Fry’s) and “hi-fi” gear.

    • Brian says:

      I inherited a pair of floor-standing Realistic speakers from a friend of mine and still use them in my auxiliary system. They sound very good though not within leagues of my main system B&Ws needless to say.

  • Anon says:

    There’s a lot of credit being given for the demise of Radio Shack to their 2014 Superbowl
    ad. In it, Radio Shack makes fun of themselves for being stuck in the 80’s. It was hailed by ad experts as being top notch ad-wise , but it must have had a negative impact on the public. Radio Shack’s bankruptcy came not much later.

    Here’s the ad. It genius, actually, and very funny!

  • Brian says:

    But if you needed something like a Y connector or cable, it was a good bet. But their house brand of open reel (remember?) audio tape never was, even the top tier.

  • Barbara says:

    OK – apologies. The heading does say it is a US store.