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bobedaone
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Beginnings

I thought it would be fun to ask everyone how they got started in this hobby. I always enjoy hearing the histories of the more senior forum members; It helps me understand where everyone is coming from. Also, Stephen has me thinking about common themes, like being the child of a musician, as I am (see Stephen's March 22 entry for part of my story).
Feel free to share anything you like. I'd love to hear accounts of the first time you considered yourself an audiophile, or decided that your system was very important to you. Biographical tidbits about family, friends, or experiences that shaped you would be great. If you have professional experience in audio/music, definitely include that, too.
I'm really looking forward to hearing your stories!

Your friend in sound,

Erik

CECE
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Re: Beginnings

In prison, they had a pretty good sounding PA system. Attention INMATES. Lights out in 5 minutes!!!!!!!1 From then on, I said to myself, if I ever get outa here, I want to get teh best damn PA system I can find, so allow me to relive the experience of incareration, to it's most realisitic ,natural lifelike (that's a PUN, since I got LIFE) way. I think BullFrog industrys make the best.

bifcake
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Re: Beginnings

We always had music playing at my house. We never had hi-fi equipment, but music was always playing. I remember sitting as a kid, watching my dad's reel to reel deck play various music from the 40's and 50's. I was also fascinated by this ancient radio we had that my dad (who was an electrician) cut the top off and installed a turntable on it and fed it through the radio. I don't know how he did it and what he used as a phono stage, but he did it somehow. BTW, both of these machines were mono.

My cousin would come over once in a while and bring his portable stereo reel to reel deck with small bookshelf speakers. I thought that was the ultimate ultimate.

My sister bought a stereo system for her birthday. It was a Vector research receiver, tape deck and a Technics turntable. I heard it and my jaw dropped. I didn't think sound like that was possible. This event was the beginning of a lifetime of drooling.

When I became a teen, I bought a Sony receiver when Crazy Eddie went out of business and that was a major improvement over the whatever crap we had at the house at the time. I also bought a CD player and headphones (I couldn't afford speakers at the time). It was a MAJOR improvement over anything I had heard before.

Fast forward about 12 years. I decided to get a receiver for home theater. I was working with this guy who was a big time audiophile. He had a $60k stereo, which he bought in 1990. I thought he was insane. He said, you have no idea what's possible. I insisted that a receiver will be just fine. So, he took me to Sound of Singer. They played the receiver for me, but then they suggested that B&K receiver would be better. It was. Then, they suggested that if I were to buy the B&K receiver, I should consider getting better speakers. I said ok. They asked how much I was willing to spend for speakers? I said about $2k, which I thought was a good number. They said ok. They let me listen to $2500 speakers (the f'ing dealers never allow you to listen to anything within your budget). These were Hales. I didn't like them. They were cold and lean. They said, if you want something warmer, you would have to spend more. I asked, how much more? They said $3500. I said ok. They let me listen to the Avalons. I hated them. The bass was sloppy and I heard sibilance in the highs. They said that if that type of a thing bothered me, I would have to spend a bit more. I asked how much more? They said $4500. I said ok. They played the next level of Avalons. They were better, but I hated them none the less. The salespeople at Sound of Singer told me that if I was going to be this critical, I would have to spend more. I asked how much more? They said $6000. I said ok. They played the next model up of the Avalons. I hated them. I was beginning to get pissed off. I thought that $6k for a set of speakers was absolutely outrageous and if this is the kind of stuff that I was going to get for that kind of money, I may as well walk. They told me that I was way too critical and that I would have readjust my thinking. I said: Readjust my thinking???? To what tune do I have to readjust my thinking???? They said to the tune of $10,000. I said, I'm curious to hear what $10,000 set of speakers would do. I figured that at that price, these speakers would have to pleasure me and clean my house. They brought me to another room where they let me listen to the Eggleston Works speakers. They were ok, but nothing to write home about. I told them that. I said, you know, for $10k, I would expect the speakers to sing to me. They said: Sing to you??? Oh, well, you didn't say THAT!! Come. They led me to another room where they had JM Lab Utopia (the original ones) set up driven by the Krell KPS-25s preamp/CD and Krell FPB-600c monoblocks. I sat down and they played... Oh my! The damn thing sang to me! It sang to me like nothing I had ever heard before. I was immersed in the music. I mind melded with it. It was an experience like no other I've ever had. I had no idea something good sound this good. It was glorious! It reached out and touched my soul.

I wiped my sweat and asked them how much this would run. They said that the speakers were $30k, the preamp/CD was $25k, The amps were $11k and about $5k for cables. The whole thing ran about $70k. At the time, I could afford it, but I couldn't fit the whole thing in my apartment and I wasn't about to spend another $700k or so on a house and another $100k on a listening room.

I thanked them for the demo and I bought the receiver I originally decided to buy. Now, I'm just waiting for that system to come down in price enough to pick it up on Audiogon.

I heard other speakers and systems throughout the years and the only one that has moved me as much was the Avantgarde Trio driven by the Lamm 1.2 monoblocks. That was an experience of listening to live music. That was head and shoulders better than anything I had ever heard before. A real reference system. Alas, at over $100k for the whole thing and being so huge and unwieldy, it's impractical for a regular living room.

So, there you have it.

CECE
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Re: Beginnings

If you didn't like the soudn of any speakers till you hit teh $70K system, yet you have continued to listen to an inferiro system with and inferior setup. sounds to me like you are just not really interested in listening to teh best, but complaining about what you hear at teh dealer?And maybe Sound by S..just sells stuff for too much and the system ain't really worth $70K, but more like 430K if you got teh right stuff. Why would anyone buy a system out of an NYC showroom anyway. they have to pay some absurd rents that is in their absurd prices.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: Beginnings

When my brother came home from Vietnam and went to work for the Naval Air Station in Alameda he built his own amplifier and had a pair of those Quad ESL speakers. I was just a kid. He made fun of me one day listening to "Monster Mash" on 45 using one of those little record players that looked like a suitcase. I started paying attention to his stereo system after that. Stereo equipment has been very important to me ever since.

bifcake
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Re: Beginnings


Quote:
If you didn't like the soudn of any speakers till you hit teh $70K system, yet you have continued to listen to an inferiro system with and inferior setup. sounds to me like you are just not really interested in listening to teh best, but complaining about what you hear at teh dealer?And maybe Sound by S..just sells stuff for too much and the system ain't really worth $70K, but more like 430K if you got teh right stuff. Why would anyone buy a system out of an NYC showroom anyway. they have to pay some absurd rents that is in their absurd prices.

I've heard systems for a lot less that I liked since then. In fact, I bought one. However, nothing moved me the way that setup did.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: Beginnings

Stop typing like a raccoon.

CECE
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Re: Beginnings

I go tomorrow for another rabbis shot, sorry. When I start foaming I can't type, teh drool makes my fingers slip (paws) Not nice to make fun of teh handicapped! I don't make fun of teh supernatural on this forum do I? Oh, wiat, yes i do. Wall outlet hearing capable, and wires. OK, continue on then. But wy disparge those lovely coons anway?

Lamont Sanford
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Re: Beginnings

You're no John "Cannery Row" Steinbeck. It's just the AlexO Show. Reading that fifth paragraph was the equivalent of monkeys flying out of my butt. Painful.


Quote:
The party didn't slow down 'till dawn. The crew of a San Pedro tuna boat showed up about One, and was routed. The police came by at Two, and stayed to join the party. Mack took their squad car to go get more wine. A woman called the police to complain about the noise, and couldn't get anybody. The crew of the tuna boat came back about Three, and was welcomed with open arms. The police reported their own car stolen, and found it later, on the beach. Things were finally back to normal, on Cannery Row. Once more, the world was spinning in greased grooves.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: Beginnings


Quote:
I go tomorrow for another rabbis shot, sorry. When I start foaming I can't type, teh drool makes my fingers slip (paws) Not nice to make fun of teh handicapped! I don't make fun of teh supernatural on this forum do I? Oh, wiat, yes i do. Wall outlet hearing capable, and wires. OK, continue on then. But wy disparge those lovely coons anway?

Rascal?

ohfourohnine
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Re: Beginnings

OK, Erik, I'll fill you in a little on "beginnings" where I'm concerned. I certainly qualify as one of those old guys you're curious about. I mean old in the literal sense as well as involvement in this forum.

The only beginning for all of us is the love of music - so strong, that you just can't live without it. Gotta have it in one form or another all the time. If there was no music in church, I wouldn't go.

My parents were not themselves musicians, nor am I in any significant sense, but they both loved music and it was around all the time. When I was about six, I found my mother's old banjo uke. She put new strings on it, tuned it and taught me half a dozen chords in the first position as well as the lyrics to lots of catchy tunes from the twenties and thirties. They would shut me in a back room so that my struggles to learn to play were less painful for the rest of the household. I played for me - still do, but the instrument now is either a Martin guitar or less frequently a banjo I picked up in a pawnshop in Boston years ago.

The musicians I remember from the days before there was rock and roll included Eddie Condon, Earl Hines, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, - guys whose names and whose music no other kid in my neighborhood knew anything about. By age ten I knew that The Dippermouth Blues and the Sugarfoot Stomp were the same song. I didn't have any trombone players in my family, but I had Jack Teagarten and knew that his version of Beale Street Blues was probably the best ever. God, I loved Dixieland - still do.

My first personal record player was a little RCA product - all contained in a little cube about 12" on a side with a fat spindle that played stacks of 45's without any fillers in that big hole they had in the middle. Along came Bill Hayley and "The House of Blue Lights" and all the rest that became Rock and Roll. Following that, in terms of sound equipment came the Dynaco mono period and saving for mono LP's instead of 45's..

I was lucky to have grown up just outside Chicago. The Red Arrow Jazz Club brought me Dixieland for only a three dollar minimum, Fritz Reiner conducted the Chicago Symphony when I was a kid and the gallery seats (though they did threaten to cause nosebleeds) were dirt cheap, and later, when I had the money, The London House and other great Chicago jazz clubs brought me jazz headliners of the fifties and sixties. I took a prom date to the London House before I was able to buy booze. They treated us well and I never forgot them. It was there over the years, that I heard Zoot Sims, Henry Red Allen, Charlie Byrd, and many others.

My first real stereo system came after the Navy when I was out on my own. It consisted of an Empire TT, Shure V15 Type I, Sherwood Receiver, and Wharfedale two-ways. It was wonderful - or so I thought and so did my neighbor who was twenty years older than I and played pretty good saloon piano for a night job. I thought I was really a bona fide audiophile and so I had to subscribe to that little magazine from New Mexico called Stereophile. I went through a couple of speaker upgrades worshipping at the altar of Henry Kloss, but kept the front end of the system constant. Some years later,my stereo system went the way of many possessions and many dollars in a divorce (those are to be avoided if possible), but that really bad experience let me know that I was really hooked.

My first expenditures in the following days when I had little or nothing to spend were on a cheap guitar (the original Thirteen Dollar Stella for those who know the reference), a used AR turntable, used dynaco amp, and a pair of Smaller Advents. The rest is history. I still spend more on music than on gear, and yet I still upgrade my system in some way every couple of years or so. There are worse addictions.

bobedaone
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Re: Beginnings

Thank you, Clay, and others who have responded. I enjoy the stories so much that even DUP's single-minded refuse is tolerable. I wanted this topic to be a place for fond memories and tales of discovery, and it largely is. Thanks again!

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Re: Beginnings

I'm in my early 40's. My father and mother bought a Magnavox console. You know the one- it blended in with the rest of the furniture. They purchased lp's and 45's, so there was a study stream of music. It could range from 50's and 60's rock, to BB King, to popular Mexican singers.

Since I was tearing apart every toy that had a motor, I would tear apart cassette players and the innards of old radios that my folks didn't want.

When I went to college, I saved some cash and bought a full JVC stereo. I was jazzed! I had read the marketing lit on how it had new exclusive circuitry with a pretty girl on the glossy. Wow! It had turntable, receiver, cassette deck and speakers. Well, one day I noticed that the turntable arm was twisted, so the stylus was positioned at an angle and tore up some of my lp's along one groove. The factory authorized repair shop didn't want to replace the table. Instead, they tried to bend it back into shape!!! Eventually, the cassette deck gave up the ghost right after the 1 year warranty expired. That is when I decided that if I was going to pay serious cash, I was going to go to a serious shop. After that, I hung out with the guys that sold the serious stuff, which led me to better (but not necessarily bigger $$$ things).

Oh, and I enjoyed music enough that me and my good buds had a garage band back in high school. I thank my lucky stars that my hearing wasn't too badly damaged!

Buddha
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Re: Beginnings

Hi, Sonidos!

I had an early Magnavox influence, as well. Maybe even the same sort of console! Sliding cover on the left, with tuner dial and controls sitting flush below the cover. Another sliding cover on the right, with the turntable under it. Stereo speakers with a big paper cone woofer and horn high frequency drivers.

We also had a neighbor who was into monophonic jazz and classical, with an old tube amp and one big Klipschhorn in the corner. My recollection is of how clean and dynamic the sound was. He had a huge turntable, but I never thought to check the make. He didn't need room treatments, either, 'cause his room was lined by record shelves. Even opera sounded good on that big ol' rig. I'd sit and listen to music and he'd recount the history of a piece of music or tell me tall tales. Great early Hi Fi motivator, for sure.

Then, I had a gap until I was a freshmen in high school.

I went to a party at Tom Carpenter's house, and we were playing his dad's stereo. It LOOKED like an old fashioned console, but his dad had installed a Dual turntable and put some AR speakers where the old speakers had been. I didn't notice the electronics, but it had a Pickering cartridge. It sounded notably better than my Magnavox experience.

Then, I met this girl, Megan, and in her basement her dad had a McIntosh preamp and amp and, I'm sure, but possibly wrong, an early pair of B&W speakers.

He also had a huge Garrard turntable with, I think, an S-shaped SME arm. I think it had a string with a weight on it for anti-skating.

This was late 1972. I don't know if B&W was making speakers yet, but my mind has that brand slotted in that system.

There are days I still wish I could hang with her and "play records."

Anyway, those freshmen year systems ignited my Hi Fi spark and it's been going ever since.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Beginnings

I grew up around music constantly. As the youngest in my family by at least 10 years, I was exposed to a variety of genres that my contemporaries would probably not discover until much later. My mother loved Flamenco. Sabicas and Montoya were always spinning on the tubed record player. She was also into Glen Campbell and Tom Jones. Every Sunday, we watched the Ed Sullivan Show and the Tom Jones Show. My Mom never seemed to tire of watching Tom Jones toss pieces of clothing into the audience. My brother Dan was into Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, Ike and Tina Turner, the Moody Blues, and the 5th Dimension. My brother Tim, had Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Cat Mother and the All Night News Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles in constant rotation. My brother Erwin loved Simon and Garfunkel and the Mamas and the Papas. My Dad played acoustic guitar a little, but, not much, and certainly not that I can remember witnessing, although, there are photos of him doing so. We had a Wilson organ in the basement and I would play by numbers from the various sheet music books we had. I used to practice "Delilah" and "Lara's Theme" and was especially good at the opening notes of Johnnie Ray's "Just Walking in the Rain". We had a reel to reel tape recorder I used to practice Gerry Anderson's Captain Scarlet intros on. I loved looking at the flashing orange lights in the little window when recording.

In the early 70s, Tim bought a Panasonic Quadrophonic system and got heavily into Classical Music during this period. We would listen to WQXR and WNCN and any time he heard a piece he liked, he would add it his list of LPs to find. I would accompany him to places like the Record Hunter in the city on LP hunts, and watch him cross off the microscopically hand printed titles as he found another gem. When he moved out, he bought himself a Sansui AU-717 and TU-717 integrated amp and tuner and I inherited the Panasonic. In the mid 70s I got into Queen (all the kids were after "Bohemian Rhapsody" ruled the airwaves) and was buying records whenever possible. In the late 70s/early 80s, I got a Technics SA-203 receiver, a Technics SLD2-02 turntable with ADC cartridge, and some Lafayette Criterion speakers, and a Numark EQ. I used the little Panasonic quad speakers in parallel with the Criterions which provided a fuller, richer sound that I liked. After Brian Eno's Ambient 4 On Land was released in 1982, I always had an extra speaker or two hooked up (to the L & R positive leads only) for pseudo-stereo in any position in my cramped room. In the early 80s, I accompanied one of my record collecting buddies to a high-endish shop on 8th Street in Manhattan. He was auditioning some floorstanding Polk speakers. Hearing these was a revelation to me. It was the first time I heard music as if it were solid shapes moving in space. I was impressed, but, didn't have the means to move beyond my current system.

I used my setup for many years and in 1995, the father* of my girlfriend at the time introduced me to the world of high-end audio. He gave me all of his old issues of Stereophile, and The Abso!ute Sound. This is when I first read Robert J. Reina and his love of Creek gear. RJR's review of the Creek 4240 appeared in the new Stereophile and my girlfriend and I went to a bunch of different shops in the DC area and NY. I checked out the Creek, the California Audio Labs Delta transport and Alpha DAC and the Audio Alchemy DDE v3.0 DAC and DTI v2.0 jitter reduction unit. I also listened to a Linn combo that seemed dull, polite, and lifeless at the time -- it was probably the most accurate of the gear I checked out, but, just wasn't hyped and etched like my then ignorant ears were used to. Hearing jitter reduction was a real ear opener. Without the jitter unit in place, the music seemed like it existed in a small sphere between the speakers. With the unit in place, the music expanded and opened up like a blossom. I was sold on the Audio Alchemy gear. I bought the Delta, a Creek 4240, and Vandersteen 2Ces. Very shortly after I bought the Creek, the SE version came out. I returned the regular version and paid a restocking fee and suffered my first bout with upgradeitus.

*My girlfriend's Dad died and she inherited his Linn LP12, Threshold amp, CAL Icon CD player, and Audio Research preamp. We later bought her some B&W 601 speakers.

bobedaone
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Re: Beginnings

Wow, thanks for the tale, Jeff! I'm a fan of the AA gear, myself. I just got a DDE v1.2 for my computer-as-source project and it sounds pretty good. A friend of mine is lending me his powered cable so I can compare (my computer outputs optical).

ohfourohnine
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Re: Beginnings

So, Jeff, you also played the game of L+R positive leads on a couple of extra speakers. Looking back on the days I did that - and then quit, I suspect, may be why I've not been much interested in "surround sound".

Jeff Wong
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Re: Beginnings

Erik - I've since moved on from using the AA DAC, but, still use the jitter units I have in my headphone setup. I've toyed with hooking up the DDE v.3.0 just so that I can have HDCD decoding.

Clay - Yep, it was fun for awhile (several years in fact). It allowed me to hear music I was familiar with in a new way. But, once I entered the high-end fold, out went the EQ and other less purist approaches. My 2 channel setup suits me fine. I have no HT and no real plans to explore it as of now.

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