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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I thought it would be fun for us who have been tinkering with home audio for a long time (48 years for me) to share our experiences, especially during the early years of our hobby.

I suggest subjects such as "I remember my first system" or "I remember when I first heard." Tell us about what equipment you bought when, what was going on in your life at the time (high school, college, etc.), audio legends that you have met and what you learned from them, etc.

Its OK to tell about some not-so-smart things we have done also (I once drove 300 miles with my right foot in a cast to pick up a subwoofer, then one-footed it up the stairs with crutches and a hand cart). We will laugh with you. After all, we are among friends.

So, dig up the old memories and let's have some fun...
 

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I fondly recall the late 1970s and 1980s when we had such a variety of products and interest in high end audio was at its peak, at least in the market I was in, Baton Rouge, LA. We had speakers from a wide range of makers and of various types, from Klipsch, Acoustat, Snell, Thiel, Advent, ADS, Dahlquist, Boston, B&W, Mirage, Paradigm, Rogers, Yamaha and a constant flow of others as samples trying to get onto the shelves. Same with the electronics. Crown, Phase Linear, Threshold, PS, Eagle, McIntosh, Yamaha, Denon, and others...always something new to play with.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
At age 9 or 10 I received my first Allied Radio catalog. What a truly wonderful book that was, full of fancy electronics from H.H. Scott, Dynaco and Fisher. Mono FM tuners and the very first "transistor" amplifiers, touting circuits that would never fail. I often wondered what it would be like to own such truly fine equipment.

At age 11 my Dad gave in to my whining and we ordered our first amplifier (a Knight Kit 40 watt stereo tube integrated), the very cheapest Garrard changer (don't remember what brand cartridge), two Knight 12" speakers with "whizzer cones" good up to maybe 4kHz (or kilocycles back then.) It was all to go into a walnut stained console on spindle feet, I think also mail ordered from Allied, with a flip down door for the changer to slide out onto.

When I put the amplifier kit together, I had not perfected the fine art of soldering. I did my best, but when I turned it on, it did not work. I remember telling Dad that "it smoked" - something he reminded me of many, many times over the years.

We shipped the amp back to Allied who repaired it saying something about cold solder joints and solder bridges. While it was gone for repair, I remember hooking up a pair of Superex headphones directly to the phono cables from the changer. Very faintly I could hear the Polyvetsian (sp?) dances in real stereo on the demo record that Allied sent with the amp.

Many hours of music were played on that old thing, gassy blue output tubes and all. I always wondered why I never could get any bass. After all, the console had a speaker baffle board that was open to the back. Little did I know that speakers had to have enclosures.

After I moved to college, Dad sold that whole thing and bought a Curtis Mathis console, something he had wanted for years. It was a giant boomy bass thing about 5 feet long; pull out amplifier and pull out record changer. It sounded awful, but he did not care; after all it was a Curtis Mathis.

More later...
 

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In the mid to late 70's I bought a used system from a guy who was stationed overseas in the army. I did not know much about Sansui at the time but I went ahead and bought it anyways. It came with a huge amp and a tuner and a turntable and something I had never seen before a reverb. This system sounded great back in the day and all my friends would get a kick out of that reverb. It was a party favorite for many.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I remember Sansui. They were one of the major players in the receiver high power race along with other brands that are still around like Pioneer. I wonder how one of those older receivers would sound now that we are used to more sophisticated gear.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My first exposure to a real hi-fi system was a fella in my home town town who had a pair of Fisher XP-15 speakers with Dynaco tube preamp, a Dynaco Stereo 70 tube amp, and an AR turntable (remember the AR's synchronous motor? It would happily turn backward if you spun it around that way upon startup). Wow, what a step up from the old Knight system! I can still remember hearing Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66's version of "Daytripper."

1967 saw a new stereo system for me. I graduated from high school and made enough summer job money to buy a Heathkit AR-15 receiver, a pair of Wharfedale W40 speakers, and a Garrard Lab 80 turntable. This was to be my college and early working days system. I hauled that stuff between college and home for every holiday so that I would not be away from my music.

By that time, my soldering skills had improved immensely and the receiver kit building was almost a 100% success. Everything worked when powered up except for the FM tuner - one missed solder joint on a FET was the culprit.

The FM stereo tuner in the AR-15 was pre-PLL. It had a "phase" control. To get max stereo separation the control had to be pulled out and rotated for a sound null. Of course, every station's "phase" relative to the tuner was different, so to get separation the control had to be adjusted each time the station was changed.

The big thing back then was to receive the hard rock FM station in Memphis. The university was in Starkville, MS, so Memphis was about 100 miles away. This was in the days of the late '60s hard rock music (Hendrix, Doors, etc.) and that station was the best around. I built FM yagi antennas for friends using coat hangers for elements and scrap wood for a boom. The elements were cut to length using formulas in the ARRL Amateur Radio Handbook. Of course, reception came and went and was noisy, but it was worth it to hear that rock music.

I am sure that system would sound absolutely horrible to me today, but it served the purpose for many years. It was my "garage" system well after moving into my second house in 1985.

Next post - my introduction to Klipsch speakers and my day with PWK himself.
 

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I have always been a picky audio guy because I mix Front of house as well as some studio mixing. I already started running sound at our large church when I was 14 years old using a Kelsy pro-tour 48channel sound board:bigsmile:.
My first experience in purchasing something decent was in 1984 when I saved up and bought a Panasonic boom box that had honeycomb speakers along with a fully automatic auto reverse tape deck, 5 band eq and spectrum Annaliser. It is actually still in use today at my parents house.

My next purchase was in 1987 it was an LXI (Sanyo) component system with a 100watt amp, duel tape deck, and CD player. The speakers were actually very good with decent lows and nice highs. one of my close friends still uses the speakers on one of his systems today and the CD player is still working.

I think my best purchase in my early years was buying my Carver Receiver 6250 and the Mission 765 speakers that I still have today. The receiver had a 180watt per ch magnetic field amplification section and built in sonic hologram and was a real serious system for years. I tried out this device (cant remember who made it) but it had a DBX processor and digitally enhanced the subsonic frequency range that gave my system some serious low end (into the low 30Hz range) however it often would thump for no apparent reason and became an annoyance so I returned it.
I added a Yamaha DSP e300u surround processor to the setup in 1991 giving me Yamahas famous theatre and hall surround modes as well as Dolby prologic. The e300u only had powered centre and rear channel speaker outputs and used the tape loop on my Carver to supply the signal for the mains. In 1993 I added a 10' A/D/S sub to the mix. I kept that setup right up until 2002 when I bought a Yamaha rx v995 that I still use today in my livingroom.
 

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I remember actually being the first universal remote in my family's house ....

my grandfather would ask me to turn the set to channel 7, I would get up and walk over to the wood furniture piece that had the big Zenith built in... I would grab onto the Vice-grips with both hands and ... clank ...clank...clank my way to the desired channel 7 and then shut off a couple of the room lamps to "dim" the lighting to watch the afternoon movie.




it's funny that I now program remotes for my profession.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Spring, 1971 was my senior year in EE school at Mississippi State University. I was a member of the student IEEE chapter and for one of our meetings we had a very special guest - Paul W. Klipsch. He was invited by the Starkville, MS Klipsch dealer at the time (Ideal Acoustics, Steve Shepard). I had the pleasure of cutting classes that day to spend time with PWK.

I was his driver between the local Holiday Inn, the campus, and the Shepard's home. I had a 1969 Plymouth GTX at the time, and I remember PWK telling me of someone who had mounted Heresy's thru the back deck of a car. Surely he was impressed by my 8 track factory player and 6x9 Jensens:bigsmile:

I remember him telling me that his doctor had just made him quit running 5 miles a day - he was 65 at the time.

The IEEE meeting was held in the physics hall. Dr. Shepard had brough over 3 channels of Klipsch speakers - don't rememer what they were, likely LaScalas or Cornwalls since K'horns require corners. I remember that he used Marantz electronics. Source was likely vinly, although he did have a Crown reel-to-reel and a high end Nakamichi cassette deck at the time.

I was really embarassed when the chapter chair introduced PWK as Mr. Kleesspff. Did not faze him; he ran down the aisle and took one leap onto the stage.

PWK spoke on some of his favorite topics: efficiency, doppler and IM distortion, etc. Of course, most of what he taught was over all of our heads.

I am sure that there were future Klipsch customers in the audience; I had decided long before then that I would one day own K'horns. I bought my first pair in 1978.

That is the only time I have met an audio legend. Has anyone else a story of meeting an industry leader?
 

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I guess it was 1958 or 1959 that my dad got our first stereo system. His best friend had just gotten the Hi-Fi bug and dad needed to keep up, although he wasn't as inclined to spend the big bucks. His first system consisted of University drivers in cabs from a kit. It was my older brother who had to assemble the cabs. The signal source was a Garrard changer, the one with the bent spindle and the side mechanism that pushed the next record down. Between the turntable and speakers was a Bell Amp. We also had a Bell AM/FM tuner. Back then stereo radio was a simulcast over an AM and FM station; the Bell had two tuners and a switch to allow playing both AM and FM. I think I heard one broadcast of cheesy elevator music. I still have the tuner!

I still remember adult bridge night with Morton Gould's recording of Ravel's "Bolero" playing in the background. My dad moved out in 1964 and I sort of inherited the system. We'd "upgraded" to Knight speakers by then and Dad gave me an Elac Miracord TT for Christmas. I also replaced the Bell amp with a horrid Scott 299T. I wanted a McIntosh, but it was about 5 times more expensive. Along the way I also obtained a Voice of Music reel to reel. In 1966 I replaced the VOM with a used Viking rtr.

That remained the setup until I was in college. In 1971 I built a Heathkit AR-19 receiver. I still have aircheck tapes of Dr. Demento on KMET recorded from the Heathkit by the Viking. It's amazing how good they sound!

In 1973 the Elac was replaced by a Dual 1228. I'm only one turntable beyond the Dual, a Technics SP-15.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I forgot about AM/FM simulcast; TV/FM stereo simulcast, yes, but not that.
 

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TV/FM stereo simulcast
That was a real feat! the delays had to be timed just right and still sometimes the TV video and the FM audio would not be in sync. Talk about lip sync delay issues:bigsmile:
 

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That is the only time I have met an audio legend. Has anyone else a story of meeting an industry leader?
I've had the pleasure of meeting, both professionally and soscially mr. Lars Worre, the lead designer at Dali on several occations. Really a nice guy, typical dane. He also design and research some of the finest speakers I've had the pleasure of lending my ear to.

I've also been on a two day seminar with mr. Joe Kane. He was also a very nice guy, and he's forgotten more about video than most ever knew. We were in a small group of AV salesmen, and the discussions ran hot and deep at times. We also had the pleasure of taking him for dinner. I think those two days are some of the more educational days I've ever had.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
back in the day i saw a system with the standard left and right channels and one in the middle,,,,,that blew my mind,,,,,a third channel??????
Paul Klipsch was a proponent of a center channel long ago. A separate amp channel was used with a mono blend of the left and right with the level set lower (3 or 6 db down, I don't remember.) The idea was to provide right channel "support" when sitting off to the left and vice versa. The idea was to broaden the "sweet spot" for listeners sitting off center. I never implemented it, but listened to a couple of systems that had it and it was quite effective.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I just remembered that I did try adding a center channel about 30 years ago. I had just purchased my first pair of Klipschorns and still had my Klipsch Heresys. I put both of the the Heresys in the center and paralleled the connections to the L/R Klipschorns - did not have a separate amp channel then. Problem was that the efficiency of the Klipschorns was so much higher that I could not even hear the Heresys. I ended up selling the Heresys, but later on when surround sound became a reality, I wished that I had kept them.
 

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1971 was my first introduction to music. I was 14 and a freshman in high school. I had just joined an "album club" and for $5.00 got 3 albums and was committed to buying ? more over the next 2 or 3 years lol. One of the albums was Woodstock. I put it on my mom and dad's "hi fi" record player and dug through the little compartment for a needle that wasn't too badly rusted lol. Jimmy Hendrix's version of the National Anthem just started playing when my father walked in from work. He heard it for 5 seconds before his head exploded and he started yelling at me to take that "commie " off his record player and get it out of his house. It wasn't funny then but it is now.

I kept buying and playing albums but was more circumspect on when I played them.
My first hardware purchase was an FM Converter for my car. Just bolted it under the dash, connected a few wires and I had FM radio in my car. Not bad for a kid from a poor working class family/neighborhood. Next came Craig and Jensen "wedge mount" speakers screwed directly to the rear deck...LOL they made more noise from vibrations than music but they were so cool.

I was hooked at that point and have been ever since on home/auto sound.
It's a wonderful trip through memory lane to remember all the changes in gear, music, attitudes, society, etc. that all merged and flowed through that period and continues now. I tell my children, in their 20's, and nieces/nephews to remember and pay attention to these days for someday they will be where I/we are now and it can be a wonderful set of memories.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I had just joined an "album club" and for $5.00 got 3 albums and was committed to buying ? more over the next 2 or 3 years lol.
That sounds like the Columbia Record Club. I was in and out of it several times over the years, I think even the videotape or DVD club variation.

I was thinking today about how "good" AM radio used to sound in the car. Put a Jensen 6x9 in the rear deck and it was a real system. I lived in south MS when I was growing up and the big thing was to get WNOE AM in New Orleans on the car radio. Of course, forget it on stormy days when static from lightning 60 miles away could be heard. Power lines always buzzed when you went by one with bad insulators.

Now, it is CD changers, Ipods and Sirius/XM in the car. My, how far we have come...
 

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LOL yes it was Columbia. I bought quite a few albums from them before finding other sources.

At one time, before I had any idea of what I was doing, I had 6 pair of speakers, varied sizes, all connected to a Pioneer Super Tuner under dash unit. It made more noise than sound...all the speakers just spliced together lol what a mess. I eventually learned and did much better. My favorite head unit was an Alpine that fit in the stock am mount in the dash. It boasted 1 watt of power but was cleaner and louder than anything I had ever owned. I have been an Alpine fan and owner ever since and have never regretted it.
 

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1st introduction:
My dad had a very nice Mid Century Hi-Fi cabinet. Inside was a turntable with a detachable stylus. I remember because us kids (5 of us) often accidentally dropped the tone arm and broke the stylus right off. On the upper right side was a Bogen tube amp and AM/FM tuner. (Does any one recall Bogen?) The entire lower section of the cabinet was for albums.

My first stereo was one of those combo's where the turntable with a smoke plexiglass cover was on top of the unit and the stereo/amp/Am/Fm was incorporated below.
 
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