NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Martin “Marty” Borish, a Rutgers University electrical engineering grad who opened the cult audio shop HiFi Haven in New Brunswick in the 1950s and went on to found NAD Electronics, died last month. He was 89.
Borish met his end after a “quiet and dignified battle with cancer” on July 11. That followed a long and illustrious career in electronics, which made him something of a legend among audiophiles, according to an announcement from NAD Electronics, which builds and sells speakers and other audio equipment.
“His passion for audio changed the course of Marty's life and influenced our industry,” NAD wrote. “His vision to build affordable audiophile level products encouraged broader introduction into the world of high-end audio.”
But longtime New Brunswick residents will remember Borish mostly for his electronics shop, HiFi Haven, on Easton Avenue.
Opened in 1956, HiFi Haven became a home for people interested in top-notch sound. Borish ran the store while finishing his bachelor's degree at Rutgers and raising his fledgling family, according to NAD.
“HiFi Haven was just what it sounded like,” Mayor James Cahill said in a statement to TAPinto New Brunswick, “a great place for audiophiles to get the latest and greatest equipment and advice.”
While HiFi Haven is no longer around, the store occupies a special place in New Brunswick's past.
Over the years, audio lovers have typed many memories of HiFi Haven on online message boards. They recalled the quality of the speakers and amps and the friendly environment. As recently as last year, one user wrote that speakers purchased there in the late 1980s could still rock.
Perhaps HiFi Haven's knack for popping up in online conversations is due to the ever-changing face of New Brunswick. Online writers often reflect on HiFi Haven with great nostalgia, quickly listing other long-gone neighborhood institutions: a sandwich shop named Greasy Tony's, a go-go bar called the Showcase Lounge or Somogyi's watering hole. For them, HiFi Haven is one more reminder of what was.
Borish eventually sold the store to jump to the manufacturing end of the business.
He went to work for Acoustic Research, an early HiFi speaker company, in Boston. In his 11 years there, he climbed the ranks to president and CEO, making a name for himself in the industry.
By 1972, according to NAD, he led a group of audio distributors in talks that would ultimately birth NAD Electronics. (NAD stands for “New Acoustic Dimension.”) Four years later, he left his day job and began to work on its vision and products out of his London, England apartment.
A year later, NAD released the NAD 3020, a groundbreaking amplifier and the first to use full disclosure power, according to the company. It was an immediate hit that went on to sell millions of units.
From there, NAD grew into an electronics powerhouse. It has since pumped out hundreds of different kinds of products, taking the HiFi universe by storm.
“The name Martin L. Borish is perhaps understated and unknown in the music/electronics industry,” NAD wrote, “but his ongoing influence is monumental.”
In 1999, he sold the business but continued on as an advisory board member, according to NAD. To this day, the company sells its gear in more than 80 countries.
Borish lived nearly half his life in London with his wife, Elaine. They were married for 66 years, according to NAD.
He returned to the United States to be near his sons, Larry and Jeff, and their families.
Along with audio, Borish loved musical theater and opera, according to NAD.
“Marty will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on,” NAD wrote. “He lived a life full of love, travel and of course music, and would be the first to say that he lived a dream life, reminding those near to him that 'it was a wonderful ride.'”
And along the way, he taught a few locals how to listen—and listen well.