How Did You Officially Get Into Audio?


Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2019
I was in Japan working on F-16's when a supervisor had an issue of Stereophile in his pocket. I asked to borrow it and fell into the rabbit hole(1991).

In a two-year span, I purchased B+W CM-2's/802's, Adcom GCD-575/Pioneer PD-75 disc player's, Adcom GCD-575's, three Teac tape decks, Kimber,
Van Den Hul and Audioquest Clear cables, Kenwood Dat player.
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My love of audio equipment actually began thanks to my ex-wife. An athlete and a DJ, she had a real passion for music.
The day before our wedding, she insisted we pick out a new stereo setup together. It sparked an interest in audio that I haven't shaken since.
My dad had some nice kit (Quad QC2 Control Unit, FM tuner and one Quad II amplifier feeding a single Tannoy Chatsworth II speaker with 12" DC driver (mono days) and I decided to build kit that I thought would rival his.

Heathkit FM-4 tuner, USC-1 preamp and MA-12 power amp first then, after buying Gilbert Briggs's speaker books, a concrete drain pipe and a 12" full-range driver, I built my first speaker per his drawings - not my best effort!

Later I built, again per Briggs' drawings his Wharfedale Airedale six-sided system (15", 8" and 3" drivers) and later a second one, giving me stereo - ahead of my dad!

This was funded by a conscious decision to give up smoking (I never did smoke after leaving school) and to put the cash saved towards hi-fi. College friends were envious as most were smoking and living on the bread line!

I kept this stuff (plus record player and Wearite tape deck with Heathkit tape preamplifier) until I got a paid job and gradually upgraded the electronics. Many years later, the "Wharfedale" speakers that I kept changing (ending with KEF units - B139, B110 and T27, now all forward facing) were sold and I eventually bought a pair of KEF 107 Reference speakers..
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I lost a bet and this is where it's gotten me. No turning back now.

Some years ago I was challenged to write one article a day for one week about my history with Hi-Fi and music. This thread is as good a place as any to share it

Growing Up with Hi-Fi and Music
At the beginning of 1976 I was 12 years old. My sister and brother in law were in the US Army stationed in Germany and started buying audio equipment on the base. They got reassigned back in the states, shipped it home, and let me set it up in my bedroom for about 4 months. I was hooked and worked all summer pulling weeds in Arizona cotton fields to buy my first stereo set up. Yamaha/Pioneer gear.
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About 1974 I bought a Philips portable cassette player from a friend at school. Getting tired of buying C-cell batteries, I found a 220V to 6v transformer, and used the half-wave rectifier from a Scalextric transformer to run it. Then I connected a salvaged loudspeaker to the earphone output. I figured out how to record borrowed LPs with this by connecting it to the Philips record player my brother had left at home when he went off to med school, though the 50Hz hum from the half-wave rectifier was wretched. Later bought a used Toshiba cassette deck, and rewired a set of headphones from the school language lab to put both channels into my one ear. Things got better after I could misspend my grant for medical school on hi-fi. And of course, since then it has been a steady downhill course of excessive expenditure.....but of course, I am now sitting pretty and have no desire to buy anything else at all, except for more LPs! ;)
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Went through college in the sixties so that in itself should explain a lot. We all had our Haffler, Dynaco , Marantz Systems and of course listened to music either live or recorded for hours on end. Visited a good friends house one night and heard a pair of McIntosh, 75s AR3, AR tt, Shure v15 in a great room, hooked.
Got my own great system, JBL 250s, Strapped Mc 275s, AR tt with Rabco arm after grad school. Also got a divorce and two kids to raise so for 30 years had little to nothing.
Things got better in '14, got the itch and realized Jim Smith lived an hour away so went to hear his Room Play system and took his advice about things. Discovered a huge rabbit hole in my basement and down I went.
I wandered into a stereo shop in greater Atlanta looking for home cinema gear in 1994. It was a slow day so the owner gave me a tour and took me to his stereo room. He ha a Mark Levinson Reference CD Transport, a ML reference DAC and preamp, a Krell KSA 250 and B&W Series 3 Matrix speakers all connected with Transparent Audio cables. I was floored. I never hear music played like that before. I've been chasing that sound ever since.
In my senior year of high school in 1973 I had a job delivering TVs and the guy I worked with had a friend who owned "Wright's World of Sound" on El Cajon Blvd in San Diego. On a break he took me there to listen to some music. They carried McIntosh and other brands I can't remember but when the music started I was hooked. I was making about $1.50 an hr so there was no way I could afford anything that I was hearing. I went back often and year or so later the owner felt sorry for me and sold me a Kenwood receiver, turntable and some ATC speakers for about his cost. I have been involved off and on since.
At age 16, my father bought me a Yamaha CD Player and Receiver powering a pair of Tannoy C8 bookshelf speakers from a local hi-fi shop. I actually had the system set up at a perpendicular angle to my 'listening' chair (how little I knew back them). However, I had always been listening to music for hours everyday.
Four years later, my sister was moving and was buying a system for her apartment. At that time, I thought that I should upgrade my speakers provided my passion for listening to music. The owner of the hi-fi shop recommended (to my surprise) that I purchase an NAD c540 player for $700 CAD rather than new speakers. I proceeded as recommended. Once I heard new details emerging from discs that I heard hundreds of times, I was committed to upgrading my audio system for life.
In a previous life, I was/am a musician (B.A. Music Ed. in Piano, Flute, Clarinet and Sax). Was tired of the Pioneer/Sansui/Kenwood crap that Rent-a a-Center was pushing. Got my first taste of "great" equipment when I went to a high-end shop back in the late 70's early 80's. Picked up a Hafler amp, Apt-Holman pre, Denon turntable and Revox R to R and a Sequerra tuner all connected to a pair of Magnepan MG-1 speakers. Total bliss...
In 1976 all kids at school were into punk...
Some even brought at school the singles they'd bought to show them off or sometimes exchange them.
I remember being slightly envious, not having a stereo at the time, but I was too embarrassed to ask my parents for one.
Then we visited a friend of my dad's, whom as it turned out was not into music at all, but had an old 60's Dansette record player with integrated (single-ended tube ) amp in storage, which he donated to us.
He demonstrated that it was in working condition by playing his favorite record: Wings at the speed of sound...
For a "young punk" this was certainly an ordeal of the highest magnitude and after leaving his house I couldn't help but feel I had somehow liberated that machine from musical slavery...!
A couple of days later I even bought my first single off a classmate: Pere Ubu's, Final Solution...
The rest is history...;)
My father and brother are who I blame! Was reading High Fidelity and Stereo Review at about 14 got my first system real system from paper route money @ 17.

Rob :)
When I was very young, my father had his setup in my parents' bedroom. He replaced the closet door with a hollow one with a round cutout for a Bozak coincident driver. There was a very thin wire hanging from that with a one-component crossover. The wire was connected to a very large cabinet with a very large woofer. It had a cutout for a port and some kind of damping material inside.

The amp, preamp, tuner were built from kits. He had a Weathers turntable with an arm that magically floated (and tracked at not much more than a gram, if I remember correctly). On Sundays, he would blast (and I do mean blast) classical music. My dad was always busy earning a living, so those Sundays were precious to him. That taught me the power of music and I eventually tried to find that sound again.

The system was also quite realistic. My dad had an audiophile train record that was meant to demonstrate dynamics. One day he played this at realistic levels. We learned later that our closest neighbor had gotten up from this throne in the middle of...well you get the idea... because he thought a train was coming through his walls. I'm still processing what this taught me. :)
Years and years ao, I first started getting acquainted with audio equipment through working in a music instrument & audio store.

(Not everyone whoever get to work in an audio store eventually becomes an audiophile.)

However, my mentor at that time introduced me to the concept of soundstage and imaging. Whoa. that was it. I was hooked.

So a few years ago, when I was asked to make a training video DVD - for totally newcomers to the audio industry, I commissioned (funded, script and story board) the creation of this video with CG graphics. I figured what hooked me then will spike their interests too. The female narrator is a local television actress (paid) and the male narrator is myself (unpaid amateur!). Sorry for the slowness in the narration, but we needed to ensure our colleagues in the middle east countries find it totally intelligible.

I usually follow up this video by playing CDs of the unplugged version of the Eagles' "Hotel California" or Rosemary Clooney singing "thanks for the memory". Both these songs contain very vivid imaging spread across the entire width of the soundstage. It works pretty well to help newcomers to understand the concept of making a recorded performance come to life into the living room.

Consider this video my homage to my first audio mentor!

More on the subject of soundstage and imaging.

Most of us have learnt quite early to automatically map out a holographic image in our mind each time we listen to sound reproduction through audio equipment.

During this process of mapping out each voices and instruments in the music that is streaming through our ears, they are laid out in a map-like grid, allocating a certain position in space in front of our view so that each of the voices and instruments are laid out like an ensemble of musicians playing live in front of us, suspended in space like a 3d hologram.

This imagined holographic "soundstage" does have a size. There is perceived width, depth, and height. Within this soundstage, the various voices and instruments occupy a certain space - though sometimes their separation from each other is not well defined and articulated.

And most of us have had experiences that taught us that better made equipment tend to help us perceive a wider, deeper, and taller soundstage and each sonic images within soundstage to be well delineated, focused and stable. And poorer equipment tends to do otherwise, reproducing soundstages that tend to be smaller, narrower, shorter, and flat and very forward.

We have also learned that it is not just equipment quality, but often, the quality of the setting up also matters. For example, we learnt that if interconnects were to be connected in the wrong direction, the resultant soundstage we perceive from the whole system will tend to sound narrower and shorter. The soundstage will also tend to sound as if it is positioned in front of the speakers. If we were to reverse the cable's direction so that we are using it in the way the manufacturer want us to use, the resultant soundstage will blossom to more wider size with real life like height and each musical element will seem to sound more distinct from each other in their own space and position within the soundstage. The same also go with the AC orientation of the powercord and how they are plugged into the power grid.

During the comparison, most of us have been actively mapping out the different soundstaging we perceived in our minds. Any changes, whether is it the height of the main vocals that is being changed is instantly compared to against earlier soundstaging maps we had remembered so that is automatically registered as a "change" in our mind. Some people can recognize changes within 5 secs, as they tend to focus on only one or two elements like the main vocals or maybe a certain percussion passage. Some people prefer to listen a bit longer so that they can perceive more varieties of changes from different voices and instruments. Whatever way works.

We can tell if a listener is applying this method while listening to sound reproduction from audio equipment via the language/vocabulary that they later use to describe their listening experience. They will tend to use "visual" terms to describe their listening experiences.

Case in point:
A listener may describe a particular equipment that is brand new and just taken out of the box as sounding "smallish", "narrow", and "forward", "hazy", or "vague" and "unfocused"
And after an extended run in period, he may describe the resultant sound as "spacious", "cavernous" or "having wall-to-wall soundstaging", and "hall ambience that extend as high as the ceiling" and "solid focussed imaging" or "palpable image that I could touch with my fingers".

Using the visual mapping method, even the most subtlest of sonic changes can be easily detected and remembered. So that even after an interval of hours, days, or even weeks, the listener can still remember what he had perceived and be able to recall it for use in another comparison. That is how we can have long aural memories. Ha!
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1975, Musician and went to the Full Sail workshops in Chicago during the summer to learn production. In college was a sound man for bands in Chicago. Finished my engineering degree and stopped working club and bar scene, next progression was home audio. Only one of my many passions.
1978, age 5.
My dad pulled a real prank on us kids by sitting behind the door with a mic connected to a stereoz
‘Help I’m a little person just an inch tall living in the amp. Give me food. So My sis being 3 years at the time put food there. I’m shy said the voice . Go out of the room while I eat. So we did. Then we went back and the food was gone. It took like a week for My dad to convince her it was just a joke… me? 10 seconds…
And I was hooked from that moment… sound was a magical world…
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In 1971, when I was a pre-teen, my dad bought a JVC stereo console which had a LP changer and a AM/FM radio. It provided countless hours of family entertainment. Real journey started in elder brother and I traded the JVC in for a Sansui integrated amp, a turntable, a Sony cassette deck and two little speakers. Dad was livid :) The turntable sounded wonderful after I changed the cartridge to a Shure. Hooked on hifi ever since.Nivico.png

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