Nestled in a combined residential and commercial section of Burbank, CA is a unique haven for audiophiles and musicians alike. ‘Perfect Circuit Audio’ is a musical instrument store with an eclectic vibe and it’s their attention to detail that sets them apart in the niche market of drum machines, synthesizers and effect pedals. Located on Empire Ave, ‘Perfect Circuit Audio’ shares the block with neighbors such as post-production facilities ‘Deluxe,’ ‘Modern Video,’ the ever so naughty ‘Playboy’ and West Coast Customs (of ‘Pimp My Ride’ fame). Despite being in the midst of preparation for their Aug. 1st grand opening, one of the first things I noticed was the smooth layout of Perfect Circuit Audio’s showroom and the simplicity in which the synths and drum machines were on display. As I took in the sights while touring the facility I imagined this is what the offices of Twitter and Facebook must be like, because it had that ‘start up,’ ‘dot com’ vibe. If you are into modular synths, hardware controllers, vintage drum machines and music software, this is the place for you. I was able to catch up and sit down for an interview with Brad Berry, the man that holds it all together along with his wife Tanya (a major driving force of the company) and their support staff. Brad himself, a musician/ DJ with a taste for all things electronic, definitely has his hand on the pulse of the industry.
Q: There are a number of post-production and music studios in the city of Burbank. Was that a deciding factor in opening a store here?
A: Post-production was not a huge factor, but allot of guys that work in post-production happen to be musicians. I use to be in post-production myself for a few years. It definitely drove us here (Burbank, CA), there are a great deal of media companies near this location and it seemed like a good place. It’s not in the middle of LA (Los Angeles), but is still accessible to people and just happened to be the spot where we landed.
Q: You were originally located in Chatsworth, CA?
A: We originally started in an apartment in Sherman Oaks, CA and eventually grew out of it. I use to buy and sell predominantly used and vintage gear and we started filling up the apartment, then we moved to a storage facility. Once we outgrew that space we then moved to a house in Northridge, CA and eventually filled up the house and garage, so we moved to a facility in Chatsworth. We eventually outgrew that facility and moved to our current location here in Burbank.
Q: What sets ‘Perfect Circuit Audio’ apart from other musical instrument stores, such as Guitar Center or Sam Ash?
A: We focus on niche products; we specialize in boutique hand built pedals, synths and modules. We focus on the manufactures that the larger corporations may overlook. Also we have allot of product in stock and don’t rely on large distribution centers like other stores. If you see it on our web site then there is a 98 to 99 percent chance it is here in our warehouse. Also it is our attention to detail, the gear we carry, the brands we support and the product on hand that sets us apart from other stores.
Q: Are your employees also active in the music industry?
A: Yes, we have electronic artist, deejays, producers and sound designers. Our employees are definitely people that focus on electronic instruments.
Q: I notice a great deal of hardware on your showroom floor. Soft synths and plug-ins have a strong following, however it appears that hardware is making a strong comeback. What are your thoughts?
A: I think it is great. We actually sell allot of software online. Obviously, it is a little different, people don’t walk in necessarily to buy software titles, but I think they kind of go hand in hand. Software is still going strong, but people want to be able touch units. As for myself, there is not as much gratification clicking a mouse as actually grabbing a physical knob and altering parameters. Also, if you ever get sick of that piece of gear, you can always trade it in or sell it and revamp your studio or creative process and you can’t really do that with software.
Q: Please tell me about the ‘Electric Sunset’ event on Aug 1st.
A: It’s our ‘Grand Opening’ event. We wanted to make a splash here in town and let everyone know we’re open for business. Our goal is to showcase a variety of electronic artist that will be performing live. For example we have ‘Kid 606’ who is more experimental, well actually all the artist booked are experimental, but they represent different genres of electronic music. We want to pull people in that are into modular stuff, as well as people that are into the type of dance music played by ‘John’ (John Tejada, headline of the event). I want to see people from the 90s ‘Rave’ era and some of the younger guys that are into the experimental electronica scene to come out as well. If anything I want to bring people out for free tacos. Everyone loves free food!
Q: You will be using a ‘Funktion One’ sound system for your ‘Electric Sunset’ event. Will ‘Perfect Circuit Audio’ be a North American distributor of ‘Funktion One’ sound systems?
A: I’m currently working out the details with ‘Funktion One.’ Their sound systems are great, so I wanted to have them come out here and do it. There is a guy here locally from ‘Funk Works,’ he does events like ‘Lighting in a Bottle,’ ‘Burning Man,’ the festival circuit, things like that. Ultimately, ‘Perfect Circuit Audio’ is looking to be a distributor or becoming an outlet where you can get ‘Funktion One’ sound systems.