Idealism, Audio and Lost Youth

Do any of you yearn for the magic of systems that you may have owned many years ago -- or still cherish older components when you could afford to replace them with supposedly more sophisticated, newer designs? Is is possible that they actually sounded better, or am I just romanticising my youth? I would swear that my heavily modified Kenwood KD 500 with SME III and Dynavector Ruby into an Audio Research pre amp and Hafler DH 500 and Magneplanar MG-1bs in 1980 sounded better than several mega buck systems I have had recently. I have similarly blissful memories of a Nakamich 250 (!) and bi-amped ADS "Mobile Fidelity System" circa 1975 even over the road noise roar of my cheap first car. Maybe it's all about analogue but I just don't listen to music as much anymore.
Speaking for myself,I can explain what's going on.Lost innocence comes into play as well as other factors.My first pizza was the best I ever had. Many things in life work this way;other than pizza.In audio,you don't listen as deeply at first.Back then I wouldn't have known what to listen for.So,I just listened to the "big" things.If you brought back the system/s you thought were the cat's meow;you'de be dissapointed.--Because you got to be a better listner/and thus your perception changes. In life so much can be summed up as ; compared to what? Well compared to not owning anything; moving up to "something" is the biggest step you will take. Am I close ???
Right On Avguy, I suspect you are closer than some would like to admit. An actual encounter with "The Good Olde Days" would most likely bring us to a place that we remembered differently. "The Persistence of Memory" is usually a long shot from the reality but it can be comforting.
I have fond memories of listening (in the dark)to my first real system in my college apartment. Spent my life savings in 1979 to purchase Linn LP12, Hafler DH-200 amp, Hafler DH-100 pre-amp (both built from kits) and Fried W speakers. I lost count of how many times the neighbors asked me to turn the volume level down from the 2 O'clock position that it seemed to like best. I can't say that I have heard anything recently that I like better. I agree with Tubegroover about selective memory, but my memory of those times is stronger than my hearing is lately.
I think you memory is relative to your surroundings. You dont remember how that sysytem sounded as much as you remember how much better it sounded then everything else. On top of that you dont notice the slow climb of improvements of all electrionics sort of like you dont notice yourself getting older day to day.
Interesting subject, a slight twist would be apply the same questioning to the type of music you liked better at the beginning and what you prefer nowadays. In my case I have broaden my tastes to classic, jazz and other from the beginning progressive rock only (this way before getting into hi-fi) . What do you think?
I think that the system CwLondon described would actually blow away many modern systems, especially those using less than the best digital front ends. On the other hand, with the advances made over the last couple of decades, it is now possible to assemble systems that will soundly trounce the best older systems. I am particularly impressed with the most recent advances in digital technology, such as upsampling. With affordable digital speaker and room correction just around the corner, I think we are on the verge of taking things to the next level, and I'm very encouraged by these developments. The potential of vinyl-based systems is virtually maxed out, while things in the digital arena are just starting to cook. If this offends anyone, I apologize, but it's the truth.
Since I started to get into audio in my teens,I've always thought whatever system I've had sounded great,until I upgraded or got something new. I bought my Sansui integrated in 1978, and it sounded infinitely better than what I had before. In 1984 I bought some Klipsch KG4's, and my 1st cd player, and I thought I was in audio heaven. This lasted through 1993. At this time I wanted to add speakers to another room, and I figured the impedance on the Sansui wouldn't be right. Bought an Adcom GFA545II and GTP400. They just never sounded the same. There were more things I was hearing, but the Sansui had a kind of warmth I liked. I thought tubes would fix it, and after trying a few different tube preamps, I discovered a Golden Tube pre. Even my wife noticed a favorable difference. But it still wasn't the same as the Sansui. Now I have 2 systems with Anthem electronics, and newer Klipsch speakers. In most cases I'm very happy with these systems. One thing I have noted is that a lot of music originally released on CD sounds great on my current equipment, but older recordings that were originally vinyl, and later released on CD, don't have the sound I remember. This may be in part be an explanation for this sense of nostalgia in our hearing. Although, on many occasions I compared the vinyl to the CD, I just can't listen to the vinyl version anymore. And of course, my 49 year old ears may be hearing things diffrently. But believe it or not, when I see a Sansui AU517 integrated or KG4's on a audio or auction site, I still consider buying or bidding. Nothing like the old days, huh?
I agree with you Plato. Digital although inferior is in its infantcy. Digital speakers and computer intergration are the future. Digital will also let us make any room with any furnishings the perfect soundroom. Its just a matter of time before we match a live performance and maybe even go beyond.