This website features vintage Phase Linear stereo equipment manufactured between 1970 and 1983. Brief descriptions of the components are given along with photos. Decades after this equipment was manufactured, Phase Linear amps, pre-amps and other components are still being sought due to their inherent excellence.
Phase Linear was founded by Bob Carver in 1970. (NOTE: See 6-15-2015 update added at the bottom of this page.) He had grown up in Washington state, and had received Bachelor's and Master's degrees in physics after attending the university there. A brilliant and iconoclastic engineer, Bob Carver was also a lover of music, and had his own opinions regarding audio amplification. He had tinkered with amplifier designs all through college and was constantly prototyping his designs. Legend has it one amplifier he designed became known as the "earthquake amp" for its tremendous power.
Carver believed he could manufacture this amp. Like most pioneering entrepreneurs, Carver was able to put together a team of financial backers and engineering associates to realize his dream. With the help of Carver's partners Steve Johnston and Jack Goodfellow, Phase Linear was launched in 1970 in a small building at 405 Howell Way in Edmonds, Washington. The first component to be manufactured was the model 700 power amplifier, with 350 watts per channel. It turned the audio world on its ear, and it quickly became a reference amplifier used by recording studios, jazz and rock bands and discriminating--and power hungry--audiophiles. The model 400 power amplifier, with 200 watts per channel, and the famous 4000 pre-amplifier followed.
Demand for Phase Linear components grew dramatically as the company's reputation grew around the world. In August 1973 the 700 B was introduced. In 1974, the company moved into a new building on 48th Avenue West in Lynnwood, Washington. Several years later, however, Carver felt the urge to change direction. He believed the best way to do this was to leave Phase Linear in 1977 and launch a new company. Carver Corporation was founded in 1978.
A.P. Van Meter joined Phase Linear in 1974, bringing with him his design experience working at Macintosh and University Sound. When Carver left Phase Linear in 1977, Van Meter became the Chief Design Engineer and the Engineering Manager. Under his direction the Series II models were designed and built, and introduced in 1978.
Phase Linear was purchased by Pioneer Electronics Corporation in 1979. Pioneer choose to expand the Phase Linear line of components, adding a turntable, cassette deck, equalizers and new speaker designs. Pioneer then sold Phase Linear to Jensen in 1982. Jensen announced its decision to close the Lynnwood plant in December of that year, and production was moved to Texas.
Jensen's involvement with the traditional market niche Phase Linear had carved out for itself was short-lived. The last Phase Linear home and professional stereo component equipment was manufactured in 1983. Jensen moved Phase Linear into auto sound, where it remains to this day.
At this site you will also find relevant links related to Phase Linear components giving more detailed information, recommended upgrade modifications, even an interview with Bob Carver himself as president of his current company, Sunfire.
Anthony Young, Webmaster (Last Anthony Young update 2-13-2004
6-16-2015 Update by Rick Stout
I resurrected the Phase Linear History Reference Site in 2006 after my friend Anthony Young lost control of it (and lost the site files) due to a glitch with a free web hosting domain. The republishing and hosting of his site was done with Anthony's blessing. Over the years I made no attempts to do any type of updates or editing of the original site files. That changes today after receiving an email from Dave Ladely, a long-term friend of Bob Carver, he founder of Phase Linear. It started:
I am presently using the computer at Bob's lab. Incidentally, Bob is sitting here in the same room, writing about his latest product, the ALS stereo speakers, which appear to exceed performance of nearly all competitors up to a half million dollar pricetag, for less than $20,000.00 (I haven't yet heard of a final price). They have been reviewed, one short review has been published in Absolute Sound, with a couple more to come.
He continued with...
Actually, Bob Carver started Phase Linear in his home in Richmond Heights, Edmonds area, north of Seattle, WA in about mid 1969. Once he sold some amps, he needed more room of course, and moved his factory to a facility under a Safeway store in Edmonds, as you note.
In the spring of 1966, a few years prior to actually starting his Phase Linear company, Bob built a very high power stereo tube amplifier at my request for an stereo audio amplifier which would be much more powerful than existed for home audio at the time (150 watt stereo McIntosh and Marantz amps). The performance of of this amplifier, providing more realistic sound, inspired Bob to build a transistor version for commercial sales. Once the cost of power transistors made such an amp affordable, Bob began assembling at his home in Richmond Heights in small quantities. At that time, Bryan Morrison and Steve Johnston were helping him. I don't recall anyone else there at that time.
Well I found this interesting and since Dave provided his phone number to me, I decided to call him. We ended up having a relatively long conversation about many things, which I enjoyed. But very much paraphrasing, to the point... he told me that in 1966 he asked his friend Bob (Carver) to build him an amp. Bob gave him a list of parts to buy. Instead of buying just what Bob said, he purchased the most powerful versions of the parts, the most tolerant, the highest rated, etc., etc. and delivered them to Bob. Instead of rejecting the project, Bob engaged himself to design to the limits and see what would happen. What happened was an approximate 300 watts per channel amp which was enormously more powerful than anything available at the time. I really forget precisely what all he told me, but I think he said this 1966 monster amp was a 3-chassis unit and very heavy.
Regardless, the point of it was that in the process of building the amp Bob Carver's balls-to-the-wall, who-knows-what-we-can develop design philosophy began to develop. Apparently Bob also sort of gives credit to Dave regarding the early development of his design philosophy and they have remained friends all these years later.
I hope you have enjoyed this bit of Bob Carver /Phase Linear trivia.
Dave's email address is: