Crossroads Audio had its beginnings in the fall of 1971 when Chuck & Diane Conrad and Jim Fitzgerald worked for Showco, the legendary professional sound, lighting and touring production company based in Dallas. At that time Chuck was Showco's R&D manager, and Jim managed the metal shop.
While at Showco, Chuck began to develop a concept for an efficient mobile concert sound system consisting of compact, easy to set up, self-powered full range speakers - as opposed to the large, heavy, cumbersome bass bins with a variety of separate mid/high horns that comprised typical systems of that early era. He proposed the idea to Showco's owners, but at that time they were committed to the big visual impact and high SPL of their existing system design.
In order to prove the concept, Chuck, Diane and Jim independently designed and built a prototype of the proposed "mini-system" all-in-one speaker cabinet. Having become well-acquainted with the band Rare Earth and their manager during an adventurous Venezuelan tour for Showco earlier that year, the opportunity arose for the three to show Rare Earth the prototype after their concert in Dallas. The band liked what they saw and heard and the manager liked the potential of significant labor and trucking cost savings. Shortly after returning to their Detroit home, Rare Earth's manager called the Conrad's to ask if they would be interested in starting a new sound company with Rare Earth as their client. The Conrad's said yes, and Crossroads Audio was born!
By the first of December, 1971 the three rented a small office/shop in Dallas and began designing and building a dedicated stage monitor system for Rare Earth's and other artists' use - a radically new idea at the time. In those days, top touring bands usually got locally sourced sound systems - often with poor results and virtually never including anything like a dedicated stage monitor speaker system. Crossroads Audio was one of only a very few live sound pioneers of that early era that designed and built reliable, dedicated stage monitor systems - including one of the first dedicated/independent monitor mixing consoles featuring 16 mic inputs, 1 line input, a talkback microphone (for communication with the artists and crew on stage) and 2 discrete mix output busses (yes, an independent monitor mixing console with, count 'em - TWO discrete monitor mixes, a significant technological advance in early 1972). In those days, only Crossroads Audio, Showco and a very small handful of the top sound companies in the world provided dedicated stage monitor speaker systems with independent monitor mixing consoles.
After the successful launch of the stage monitor system in the spring of '72, the team turned their attention to completing the design and then building a house sound system. The full range speaker cabinet design consisted of a pair of 15” Gauss bass speakers and a stacked pair of handmade wooden horns that used a pair of 1” Electro-Voice compression drivers (please see black & white photos in our "Gallery"). Each loudspeaker contained its own Crown DC-300 amplifier - which represented a big power increase compared to most other large scale speaker systems of that time. The amp was kept cool by deflecting air from the bass port past the heat sinks. The cabinets were bi-amplified with audio processing and equalization built into the active crossover, which was packaged inside Crossroads Audio's proprietary mixing console. Load-ins/set-ups and strikes/load-outs were quick and efficient with this well thought out all-in-one cabinet design. And the system was loud and sounded great. Throughout the early 1970’s, Crossroads Audio provided concert and touring sound for countless legendary groups, including The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Cat Stevens, Rare Earth, Arlo Guthrie and many more.
While Crossroads Audio's Concerts and Event Services operations grew and prospered in the 70's, customer demand for equipment rentals began to develop (aka "dry'rentals" - excluding comprehensive services such as professional audio crew). Thus was Crossroads Audio's Rental Department created. Then as now, customers can rent top quality/major brand professional audio, DJ, lighting and small-scale video equipment and install and operate the equipment themselves - with expert professional guidance and support from the Crossroads Audio team.
Renting equipment to the public gave people the opportunity to try out various products before committing to buy them. Before long, Crossroads Audio's customers were saying, “That worked well. Can I purchase it?” But there weren’t many places in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that sold that kind of equipment, especially to the general public. It seemed there was a big hole in the market, so Crossroads Audio decided to venture into retail sales of pro audio equipment. Because they had a wood shop, the company also built and sold their own brand of speakers and even built and sold custom road cases. One of the most popular offerings was a stage monitor cabinet which was marketed as the “Stuff-It” kit. This allowed the struggling musician to invest sweat equity to get a decent sounding stage monitor at a reasonable price. A variety of components were offered, depending on how much the purchaser could afford. Also offered were a small three way general purpose PA or club/disco speaker. Known as the “C-33” it could be loaded with a variety of components to fulfill many different applications. An even larger speaker, “The Blue Box” AKA the “C-48” was offered as well. It was based on the same cabinet that the company provided for major touring clients in that period. Crossroads also manufactured a variety of custom speakers for other local area music stores and sound companies. Some of those speakers are still out there serving clubs, churches and bands to this day.
As all three divisions of the company continued to grow, a search was launched to find a new and larger home. The answer was found on Myrtle Springs Avenue, in Northwest Dallas. The company continues to operate at that location today - with significant space and upgrades added to the retail and shop areas over the years.
In the 1980’s, Crossroads Audio expanded into the rapidly growing corporate and special events markets - serving a wide variety of major clients including: the Republican National Convention, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Xerox, Mary Kay, Home Interiors and Gifts, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell-Tagert, Piper Aviation, Dr. Pepper, Frito Lay, Miller Brewing, Walt Disney, Wilson-Art Plastics, President H. W. Bush, and many more.
After operating Crossroads Audio for 30 years, the Conrad's sold the company to the trio of Robin Magruder, Ed Spoto and Stewart Bennett on December 1, 2001.