Satan put a spell on me in the 70's .
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Great story- Danoroo, I too am an Air Force guy.
here is my story;
In the Summer of 1986, I visited the local stereo-shop-in-the-mall. It was a nice store and in a large space for both big screen tv(s) (remember those?) and various electronics.
Anyway, The only "sound" room was in the back ot the operation. I never knew the exact dimensions of the space, but, I did learn about the new stack of gear from Yamaha.
CD player, pre-amp and power amp on a rack in a dim-lighted
room. This effect was to show off the red meters on the power amp and pre-amp. I do not recall the speakers nor the cabling involved. What I do recall w/o hesitation was the remarkable sound being produced via The Rolling Stones "Hot Rocks" CD.
At the time, I knew this release very well, indeed.
I was hooked and began my personal journey down the road to sonic nirvana.
I walked into Northridge Audio one day and heard someone playing a tenor sax in one of the listening rooms. Well, always being a jazz sax fan, I asked the guy behind the counter who the sax player was. He said, "oh, that's just the FM jazz station. He asked me to go in for a listen. What I found was a pair of Quad 57s, driven by Quad electronics including that little FM tuner they had. I couldn't leave, I was stuck in my seat for the entire afternoon. After I got into it years later, I was looking for a good preamp. I visited Randy Cooley's store in Santa Monica. I wanted to audition the first incarnation of the Audible Illusion preamp. If I remember correctly, it was $1100. I didn't care for it all that much. So .. Randy told me that he had this other preamp made by a company called Audio Research. It was $3500. I was astounded. I looked at Randy and said ... "who in their right mind would pay $3500 for a preamp?" He said with a smile ... "guys like you!" It's been downhill ever since.
I'm an Air Force guy too!
But way before that, back in the early 70's when I was in high school, my Uncle Joe was a college professor who lived 200 miles north of us. I'd look forward to visiting all of my cousins and being able to go into his study ( the precursor to the man cave ) and listen to his album collection, especially "Demons and Wizards" and "Survival".
He had an AR turntable, a tubed receiver and Empire marble topped speakers. I had played in the grade school and high school bands, basically being around music all of my life since my mother played the piano. But from the first time I heard "The House of the Rising Sun" on the radio in the middle 60's, I've been a rocker.
When I went to college in the early 70's, Marantz, Sansui, Pioneer, AR, Advent, ESS Heil Motion Transformers and EPI were the big names in the stereo stores around campus.
I worked extra, and have had nice systems ever since.
Around '73 or '74 I walked into High Fidelity, Inc. in Austin and walked out with a Mac 2300 power amp for our band's PA. I had a pair of Advent speakers and then graduated to Mac ML1's and Mac preamps. I loved their "thump" for loud rock but was never sold on their overall "sound of reality" when it came to acoustic sounds, especially classical music. I fell away from audiophilia in the 80's and re-entered around the turn of the century. I can't speak for all brands but I like my newer stuff better, whether vinyl or digital format.
Was High Fidelity, Inc. the store located on the corner of Guadalupe and 24th, adjacent to UT campus? There was a really nice hifi shop there but I can't remember it's name. There was also a high end audio dealer on I35 near 12th street or MLK. That shop had the very first JBL Paragon I ever saw.
I remember it as clear as yesterday. 1988 and 15, I walked into Audio Alternative in Columbia, SC and the smell of NADs, Denon, and Paradigms was as sweet as any perfume. Then I became a true addict when I moved to Charleston at 18 and saw the real stuff at Read Brothers (VTL, Cary, Fried, Spendor, etc.) It was over...no looking back since.
High Fidelity, Inc., was on Lavaca St. in Austin, just south of what was then 19th St. and is now MLK Blvd.
I walked in there in 1966 as a 19-year-old impoverished college student and walked out with a Dynaco SCA-35 kit with strict instructions to bring it back when I'd finished building it to let them put it on the bench before powering it up.
When I did bring it back and they tested it I got the 1966 equivalent of high-fives all around, since it tested way above spec, so they found a way to let me have, at a great discount, an AR turntable and a pair of AR speakers that had been sitting on a shelf in the back room after another customer had backed out of a special order deal.
I spent many, many hours there, just hanging out, listening to equipment I couldn't afford and trying to help customers who came in when there wasn't an actual salesman available.
It was a great, great store with wonderful, generous people and it was an amazing introduction to how music could be reproduced so that you had some idea of what the performer intended.
Danoroo, you're thinking of Audio Concepts--it was in Dobie Mall at 21st and Guadalupe. As Sfar pointed out, HiFinc was on Lavaca, around the 1700 block I think. Later they opened another store on Anderson near MoPac and eventually closed the Lavaca store. Now both HiFi INC stores are long gone. As is Audio Concepts. But we've still got some brick and mortar stores with some fine equipment to offer.
I was a big music fan in high school in northern NJ and record listening sessions with friends were a weekly event. Eventually, that included a friend who had a high-end system. Five minutes into my first listening session with that system and I was stricken.
It only got worse as I began to explore local high-end shops. There was a dealer in Englewood (10 miles from my home) that had the original Wilson WAMM on display (with Crown amplification). One afternoon, I stopped in and they were kind enough to provide a listen (even tho I had no prayer of affording such a system at the time). It was probably the late '70s, but I remember the song:
"Under the Moon and Over The Sky" - by Angela Bofill.
Any chance of recovery died that day.
Those listening sessions with friends in Jr. High School were great. It was the early 50's and we'd be all sitting around listening to a one-box hifi record player spinning Gerry Mulligan and Dave Brubeck albums. Some Joe Houston, Earl Bostic and Big Jay McNeely too. As they say ... "them's were the days." And now ... we are still having record listening sessions with our friends. Some things never change.
My ex brother in law came back home during the Viet Nam war with some great audio gear he got at the PX. It was so neat. I was just 1 1/2 years younger and though not looking forward to having to enlist, having a PX to shop at was something I was eager to see. Six months later the war was over but my interest in audio was cemented. After that, it was all the audio shops I could go to and all the magazines I could read.
All the best,