What is the scariest audio thing that's ever happened to you?

Stereophile's picture
Your amp blows up, with flames licking the underside of your wood equipment rack—or you see the flood waters approaching your LP collection. What is the scariest audio thing that's ever happened to you?
What is the scariest audio thing that's ever happened to you?
Here it is
91% (87 votes)
Nothing scares me
9% (9 votes)
Total votes: 96
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Denny's picture

Hooked up 2 pairs of speakers to my parents' stereo 30 minutes after they went on vacation. Poof, see you genie! That's what trying to impress a girl with your stereo will get you - grounded for a month!

Bob Marley's picture

I was playing my stereo really loud, and the sound all of a sudden lost the high frequencies. Turned out, the protection devices on my tweeters had tripped. No permanent damage.

Geoffrey S.'s picture

Plugged the CD player into the amp's phono stage (by mistake!). Cranked up the volume and pressed Play. The speakers survived, but only just. Not sure if my hearing did, though.

willie's picture

In 2001, I purchased a new Arcam FMJ CD player. While walking to place it on my rack, I tripped and fell with it in my hand. The tray was damaged as a result of me falling before I could enjoy the unit on the day I picked it up from the audio store.

Louis P.'s picture

Once when my preamp was in the shop, the dealer lent me a Cary Audio unit (I don't remember the model) as a loaner. It was truly scary in operation. The mute switch was on the input, so there was always some signal flowing to the amplifier. And the unit was extremely microphonic as well. Twice in the two weeks it was in my system, the protection circuitry on my Proceed BPA2 amp kicked in, which it has never done over the rest of the 10 years I have used the amp. Fortunately nothing caught fire, but I was very happy to return the preamp when I got mine back.

Chris's picture

I've got three instances that will make your skin crawl... First, when I first got into vinyl, I was using my dad's old turntable with an aging Ortofon needle. One day while playing Black Sabbath, the sound became distorted, then the stylus was pulled out of the cartridge. Second was on my first record player, an aging Panasonic radio/turntable my grandfather used. The mechanics were so far gone that while playing it would sometimes start spinning backwards and drag the tonearm across the record and back to the cradle, slashing the record all the way. Third was when I bought my first real turntable, an early USB table for $70 and a Grado Labs Gold cartridge for $200. My idiot friend decided to play mixmaster with it and popped the needle out when he back-cued a 10-inch so hard the needle jumped the groove and landed on the felt mat. Yeah, that guy's no longer allowed in my house.

r veal's picture

When I moved, my mother (who didn't know any better) put all my vinyl albums, about 1000, in the garage. Water got into the bottom of the boxes! The vinyl on some stuck to the paper covers.

Jordan's picture

a few years ago when I turned on my tube power amp, it started to emit a bright blue electrical flame and lots of smoke. A loud screeching noise came from my speakers. So I ran across the room and hit the power off button as fast as I could, getting a slight burn on my hand. Thankfully the speakers were not damaged. I no longer use tube power amps.

Don Bilger's picture

I've never had an amp or receiver literally go up in flames, but I have had two give off smoke when they failed. The first one was an NAD 7020 that blew a channel. I smelled a burning resistor, heard the sound go fuzzy in one channel, and dived for the power switch, shutting off the receiver before it damaged the speaker. The second one, a Pioneer SA-500 integrated amp, did much the same thing, but the coupling caps at its output kept it from applying any DC to my speakers. It was definitely disconcerting to see a wisp of smoke coming out the vent holes in the Pioneer's top cover, and I hope I never see that sight again from any piece of audio electronics.

Xavier's picture

My wife's cat had a "gastric correction" into my Aragon amplifier (you know, the ones with the cool V-shaped vent along the top). Anger doesn't even begin to describe it!

Dr.  Joseph Lee,Toronto,Canada's picture

The scariest audio thing actually happened in my home theatre, measuring 25 x 16’. The front centre portion of the home theatre, about 16 x 12’ was actually dug down, sunken 3’ with lateral ridge on each side about 2’ wide accommodating the two front left and right speakers, the two lateral speakers, and two subwoofers. This lateral ridge is continuous to the back, forming the back roll of three chairs with my remaining 4 rear speakers (all Wilson WATT/Puppy 5.1 speakers). All the gears are in the raised area. In the sunken area, there are three specially built chairs together with my centre WATT/Puppy 5.1 speaker, put horizontally, with the WATT on the top. Underneath the cement floor of the sunken area was filled with weeping tiles connecting to a well in the furnace room next door, with a sump pump pumping water from the well to the outside. After a few rainy nights a few years ago, I decided to go to the home theatre to pick up a DVD to watch upstairs in the bedroom. When I opened the door, I noticed that there was a reflection in the sunken area. Turning on the lights revealed that there was at least 6" of water in the sunken area, covering part of my WATT/Puppy speaker, the carpet, wall panels, and my three chairs. It turned out that the pump was not functioning, and water from the well backed up onto the sunken area of the home theatre!!!! It was a really scary moment and my heart sank. Luckily, the rest of my gears, and 8 speakers plus all the gears were on the “raised” area of the home theatre, thus not affected. And to my relief, my home insurance covered the damage amounting to $53,000. But now I have a new Wilson WATT/Puppy 7.1 centre speaker, new carpet (now changing to completely black), new dry-walls and panels, and three new chairs (now with leg-rests). And I have added a battery-powered pump in addition to the regular pump, in case there is a power failure. So far so good.

John L's picture

My amp went bad and toasted a loudspeaker. We smelled smoke and called the fire department, but didn't find the destroyed speaker till later.

Will W's picture

It is scary, "horrifying" really, just to think about it; but it happened. This might be the ultimate in WAF horrors. After being thrown out of my house during an ugly divorce, I returned later to retrieve some of my stuff. Long ago, when young and fearless, I had built a 450lb, fridge-sized, folded corner-horn bass; think Klipschorn on steroids. The beast had two 15" field-coil activated drivers, cross-fired into a 16Hz-cutoff exponential labyrinth. It could blow out candles from across the room with just a few watts input. You wonder if this thing was actually musical? Oh my!! I humbly claim that I have never heard such clean, timbrel, and dynamic bass anywhere ever, period. My friends (and distant neighbors) confirmed this; many times. So OK, I returned with a truck and rigger gear to get it along with the rest of my system, all customized horns. Well, the big bulky bass was chunked into T-Rex bites. I can't imagine how she did it; it could have survived a skydiving attempt with a 2' 'chute, being 2.5"-thick lamination and braced with 2" angle iron. But there’s no higher motivation than a scorned woman. Maybe she thought I hid the stash in the compression chambers? My heart (and legs and gut and. . .) would throb no more.

Dennis's picture

About 25 years ago, they threatened to replace my vinyl with computer software on shiny small discs. I still cringe at the thought.

Steven's picture

Bumping a tonearm carrying a $2,500 cartridge at a high-end store and watching it bounce across the record hoping it didn't snap along the way.

chuck johnson's picture

I turned on my amp one morning, and both speakers burst into flames. Talk about catastrophic failure.

sheraton's picture

Found a rat near Transparent Audio cables looms.. nothing happened yet, rat ran away and gone.

Earth-quake's picture

My new German made Adam Audio Tensor Gamma active speakers ($20k) been sprayed by my cat !

Kevin's picture

Blew a tweeter in long out of production speakers Infinnity Kappa 7.1a (10+ years), thought I was hosed. My heart sank. Fortunately with an hour, found a company that carried them on the web, ordered, and within in a couple week, were good as new. And man, I love these speakers.

Al Marcy's picture

Whenever I hear recorded music, I listen enough to determine if I like the performance, then, I forgot all about the sound of whatever source I am listening to. It is almost like this hobby has freed me from this marketing machine... the Horror!

dream assassin's picture

When I was a kid, instead of Circuit City, my dad took me to a local dealer to get this thing I wanted called a "CD player." That was the first time I heard Magnepans, separates, etc. From then I on, I was determined to get the best. I saved and scrounged, bought used, and built a system piece by piece for over 6 years. By the time I was ready to leave for college, I had DCM Time Windows, ADCOM separates, a Nakamichi Dragon, etc. We packed the U-haul the night before. Next morning, we discovered the lock had been cut. It's taken me over 15 years and good renters insurance to get over the moment when we slid the door up and everything was gone. The worst part, they left one speaker.

Jarod Reddig's picture

Many years ago while I had some friends over to have some drinks and listen to music we were all setting on an L-couch listening to music at a fairly loud level. During a song the dustcap flew off of the 10in sub of my old Bostin Acoustics floor standers and knocked a drink into the lap of my friends unamused wife. One in a million shot it was.

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