I believe I qualify @ 52. I've had three systems since 1970. System #1 was Audio Research/Thorens/Klipsch, #2 was Naim/Linn, #3 All Linn.
If I'm allowed 10 Consecutive years as a decade I would choose 1965 thru 1975 for music. If I must choose a decade as most would describe it, I would choose the 60's.
Audio in general keeps getting better and better regarding hardware. Since 1975 music is not as innovative and inspired as years past. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of pearls that have been dropped along the way since '75. They are just harder to find than before.
My current system is the most enjoyable I have ever experienced. If I had to explain, you couldn't possibly understand.
I'll check in at being really into it beginning in 1972.
I wouldn't trade my exisiting setup for an earlier one, but I must say the music was just as much fun then as it is now.
My favorite decade was the 70's in undergraduate school. I had a Sansui AU6500 integrated/Thorens TD165 TT/Pioneer 2 way speakers, and my buds thought I had the best sounding tunes at school (Northeastern Univ).
The downside to this hobby is that it's like an Oroboros (Mexican tale of a creature that chases/eats it's own tail, I believe). Someone- please correct me if I'm wrong on that. Sometimes I feel that we're chasing the grail, looking for that last bit of "something" which is just around the corner with the next purchase. That 1970s system of mine had a total retail of less than 600.00 and I was immersed in the music.... I love my system now, love the music that flows from it, but it seems like it's always evolving and changing. My college system was packed, unpacked, moved, stolen, and recovered (Thank you Boston Police!), beat up, scuffed, covered with stickers, and did one simple thing: Produced beautiful music.
Been into it since about 1970 and I definitely have the best system now, that I've ever had. Things have gotten better over the years for sure.
I think right now is the best time I've ever had in audio, partly because of what I've said above. I think the audio hobby, in general, is in a bit of disarray, but if you do your homework, you can really assemble a great system, and enjoy it to the fullest.
My favorite decade was 1965 thru 1975, but that was because of the music, not the audio gear. I still listen to the music from that era more than anything else. The music from today is much slimmer pickin's.
I started my search for the Holy Grail back in the mid 60's when I was in high school. My father introduced me to "Hifi." I had a Heathkit amp and a pair of KLH 17's. I used a Garrard turntable at first and switched to a Dual both with a Shure M91.
My favorite system from the past was purchased in about 1977-78. It consisted of a Dynaco PAT 5 preamp, Dynaco Stereo 150, a pair of "New Advents" and a Dual 1229 turnatable with a Shure V-15II. I also had a Dynaco FM tuner and a Wollensak reel to reel. I also bought one of the first Advent cassette decks with Dolby at some point in there.
Since, I have had all kinds of stuff. I remember my first pair of Vandersteen Model 2's in 1978.
Fast forwarding to now, I have by far the best system I have ever had. No, the old stuff isn't even close. I now have a pair of Vandersteen 3A Signatures, Vandersteen 2Wq subs(a pair), Audible Illusions L-1 preamp, Theta Dreadnaught in a 4-ch configeration for vertical biamping and a Meridian 508-24. I still mess with different wire from time to time but at present, I'm using Tara Labs Master Generation II speaker cables in a bi-wire and Harmonic Technologies interconnect. I have never had a system so pure that just sounds right. This may be it for me. My ears will not hold up forever and I'm ready to retire from the race(more than one.)
Sorry, I forgot the last couple of questions (senior moment.)
My favorite time was the late 60's and early 70's. College was a blast. I loved the music and I loved the equipment that played it. It was nice looking and well built for the most part. North Carolina was the place to be! James Taylor, now that's my man!
These days, audio has become a race for who can spend the most. A lot of the equipment today is not worth anywhere near what they are asking for it. Businesses remind me of car dealerships! So many salesman have so much hot air and think they know everything(especially the young guys.) It takes a long time to figure this stuff out. You may be an "Audiophile" but it takes a lot of experience to learn what is important and what is hype.
I developed an interest in audio around 1959, my senior year of high school, but didn't buy my first true "hi-fi" equipment until the summer of 1964 when I bought and assembled several Fisher kits (tube preamp and tube power amp). I then added a Garrard turntable with Pickering cartridge, and a pair of Jensen or AR speakers (can't remember which ones I bought first). There has been a lot of equipment come and go since then, including Marantz electronics; Nakamichi and Tandberg tape recorders; Dual, Thorens, and VPI turntables; speakers by Bozak, Fisher, Klipsch, Bose 901's, Acoustat, and Vandersteen; etc. I think my current system is quite good, but nothing I have ever owned brought the excitement of those 1960's components.
I started thinking "audiophile" in the mid '70s with the emphasis on music. this was approaching the end of the LP era and the advent of CD's. Up until that time i was listening to mid fi and only heard the music (in retrospect that wasn't such a bad place to have been). I got some cash so I checked out some high (?) end stuff. PSA pre amp, Hitachi mos fet amp, Rogers ls35a's, etc and the trip began. I won't list all the stuff that has come and gone but the conclusion started in the mid 80's when I got my SP10, and an Oracle TT and finished in the Mid 90's when i settled on the above with Paragon Jubilee/Gems (think Dynaudio 3.3's w/better bass and imaging) Sonic Frontiers SFM 160's monoblocks, a BAT CDP, a glider cartridge, and a new room for my primary system. since thin i have focussed on collecting music. For me that past 10 years have been the best years - all of the music i missed in the 60's & 70's has come out on CD's. LP's of the old stuff are available (with some effort) and i have the time and disposable income to buy the music now that i no longer seek to "improve my system".
Much as i hate to believe it, i think this hobby as it has existed is dying - look no further than the state of the music industry and the contraction of retail audio outlets. they aren't closing their doors because there it a high demand for product. too many MBA's in charge of the businesses, not enuf musicians. and IMHO it ain't just the economy! Enjoy it while you can.
Q>What was your favorite decade and why?
Well they tell me the 60s were great and that I had a hell of a system but I can't remember anything about it.
Q>What are your thoughts of the current state of Audio?
I can only hear to 12khz so I can't tell but all the Audio mags have that glossy wannabe look like GQ or Cosmopolitan or something.(my eyes are still good)
Q>Would you trade your current system for a past system?
No, I've been working on "half range" drivers that get a few octaves above A (440hz) that really do the job for me. All those full range drivers and speakers...who needs em?
Shouldn't Audigon have a senior discount and a Card or something? The "Double AA" (Audiogon Assoc. of Aging Audiophiles). We can play shuffle board games with old cds and stuff like that.
I object strenuously to the "senior" label, but I've been interested in the quality of playback systems since the late 60's. As a college freshman what I could afford was not high-end, but it was interesting, a KLH Model 11 in walnut. Record player with built in amp and little speakers. They made a version in a suitcase style that Sandy Koufax used to take on road trips to listen to Sinatra. (Because of his demeanor, people used to assume he was listening to classical.) I was so fond of that littel all-in-one "system" that I think of it all the time when I see the little shoebox sized LS3/5a's and Harbeth HL-P3's.
It wasnt until the early 70's that I became aware of the high-end and started listening to a guy named Skip Weshner on KFAC in LA. (Skip was married to Ronnie Gilbert of the Weavers.) It was a classical station but he played whatever he liked that sounded good, on high end equipment lent to him as demos by his high-end retailer advertisers. From him, I learned about a store called Dimensions in Stereo, where I used to hang out, but couldnt afford to buy much. I even did some market research for a high end rep firm as a field study project for my MBA.
Maybe we simply show our age when we say the music of the late 60's and early 70's is our favorite, but it was the desire to get as close to the real in-person sound of Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth), and my endless quest for copies of the Barbara Keith lp that Warner Brothers pulled and deleted when she gave back her contract and abandoned the business (it was and is the best album ever made by a girl singer) that really got me hooked. I liked classical too and went to a lot of concerts, but the music of people our age at that time just resonated with all of us, I think. I wonder if 18 to 25 year olds feel the same way now?
I suppose the happiest time was when my kids were babies and toddlers and Alison Krauss was just a few years into her career and my wife and friends and I would go to performances at McCabe's guitar shop in Santa Monica Cal on a fairly frequent basis.
But, I really think that now is the best time. I know that some high end equipment is ridiculously overpriced, but there are a lot of good values out there. You can get really good sound for not much money, and my current systems give me the best sound I've ever had in my home.
Furthermore, all the music you liked in the 60's and 70's can be found on cd. I even bought a cd of the Barbara Keith lp that I can play over and over without worrying about wearing it out. Great performers from the early 70's continue to put out good work, Los Lobos, John Hiatt, Irma Thomas, Merle Haggard to name some of my favorites. Barbara Keith even returned to the business with her husband and stepson as a little family band called the Stone Coyotes.
And, 30 years ago, we didnt have the music of Alison Krauss (a gift from above), Gillian Welch, Eva Cassidy, Mary Black, Maura O'Connell, Lucinda Williams or Iris Dement (like Barbara Keith, an absolute genius). Or name your favorites who weren't around back then.
These are the best times.
I started in 1969 - My father gave me an old Bogen integrated tube amplifier, an old Garrard turntable, and Radio Shack speakers to take to school - Now that's a great Dad - paid to send me to school and made sure my audio needs were being met. I also always enjoyed listening to music with my Dad. Anyway, I went next to a Dynaco SCA-35 integrated tube, AR turntable, and brand x speakers. Next couple of years were lost with a couple of receivers, then I tried a Dynaco PAT-5 pre-amp and Stereo 120 amplifier. Then to a Radford pre-amp and Phase Linear 400 and Bozak Symphonies. Then I moved to Audio Research SP3A and D75A amplifier to D76 to D76A and Magneplanar Tympani 1Cs and, then in the late 70s, Audio Research SP4 preamp and D100A amplifier and then D100B. And then came the dark ages after my first divorce and my second marriage where audio became a dirty word. The dark ages lasted about 10 years but the torture did not affect my hearing! To make a long story a little bit shorter - I am now with Audio Research VT100 MKII and LS-25, Altis Audio Reference DAC and CDT III transport, Dunlavy SC-IVs, and a significant investment in cables, vibration control, etc., etc. (And third marriage....) Certainly my best system ever. I should have bought stock in Audio Research, obviously. Now I am looking at single driver speakers and SET amplifiers??? My favorite time period for equipment is now. The massive exchange (forums and reviews) of information on the internet on the vast variety of equipment is just fascinating to me. Also, back in the 70s when there were much fewer brands of high end equipment and models, many folks were very hung up about their system being the best - everything else was junk... One of the reasons I lost interest in the early 80's was because this "audio macho psychosis" was taking away from the enjoyment. Today, audiophiles for the most part are more astute to the variety of tastes and options available. They recognize and accept more readily that everyone's opinion is valid. The discussion of whether cables make a difference or power conditioning or vibration control is important does get a little old. My favorite music period was the late 60s thru the late 70s. Rock music was certainly more cerebral - went better with the drugs. I liked classical also but at that time I was not overwhelmed with the massive inventory that exists now. Now I almost get frustrated trying to learn and hear all the classical music available - plus all the different versions - conductors - symphonies - soloists - but then again that is the type of problem we enjoy having. However, regardless of whether you are talking about equipment or music, sharing your ideas, system, and music with fellow audiophiles is the greatest enjoyment!
Yep the old Magnavox console in the den in the 60's when I was growing up was the best. Spent hours listening to the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, the Byrds, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. Got into some jazz with Charles Lloyd. Got inspired by the music to teach myself to play songs off the Dylan Blonde on Blonde album. Had a basement band with friends and got some heavy jam sessions going with "Gloria", "Louie, Louie" and "Get off my Cloud" playing a crappy bass through a Fender bassman, picking up drums at times. Hey, still friends with the drummer! (We've been friends 45 years!) After that it was always a matter of what I could afford, buying and selling stuff to keep going. The big dive into audiophilia started with Magnepan II's then Acoustat III's, a Linn turntable and Apt preamp. Owned that stuff for nearly 20 years. Then the upgrade bug hit me, but can't really say I've found the perfect sound yet.
You guys are making me feel young! I started in '97. That's 1997.
This is an interesting thread -- I thought everyone here was younger than me, but now I see that I have a few peers.
My audiotrek began around 1963 (age 11). My first "system" was a handheld AM transistor radio and I let Scott Muney, and Cousin Brucie introduce me to the Beatles and some of the other great '60s bands. I was too young to know the sound quality sucked; it was all about the music back then.
Later on in high school, I started experimenting with my first component systems, which I bought mainly at my local Lafayette Radio store. I remember looking through the catalog and eying all the cool-looking reel to reel decks that I couldn't afford. A little later, I moved on to Dyna solid-state amplification with an AR XA turntable and a pair of AR 3A speakers, which I really liked. Next I added a pair of AR 2AXs for rear channels in a passive "DynaQuad" setup. Oh Yeah, it rocked!
As the years turned, I tried tube electronics, and speakers from Infinity, Magnepan, and Acoustat. One of my favorite systems (had a great room at the time!) used Acoustat 2+2s with a tube preamp made by Dan Fanny (AHT) and his direct-drive tube servo-charge amps (based on the Acoustat amps). I had an AR ES-1 turntable with a Monster Alpha-2 MC cartridge and that combination really kicked butt. It's one of the few systems that I'd consider trading back for today. It was a full-range crossoverless electrostatic system that had good bass, a lush, dynamic midrange, and could play LOUD without self-destructing. It was clean, fast, and natural sounding. I have to wonder how great it would have sounded hooked up to the more expensive gear I now own.
I would have to say that the years from the mid 60's through 1985 were the best for me in terms of the music. In the mid '80s, the advent of digital playback screwed things up for a decade or so. Now, the quality of CD recordings and players is generally acceptable, but originality and creativity has been stripped from today's artists by recording companies who seem to strive for homogenity. And being raised in the digital era with digital instruments and recording technology has not helped today's artists in my view. Some bands seem to have no concept of what makes sound pleasing to the ear.
So I just bought a competent reel to reel deck and I have a nice collection of tapes from the late 60s and early '70s to go through. So far my sojourn back to the past has been extremely gratifying. And if the future of audio playback is something similar to MP3, then I just might not return.
Doesn't it suck that we have the technology in place to create a format/system superior to all others in history -- yet due mainly to greed and political issues we could actually end up with something inferior to what was available 40 or 50 years ago?
My Dad owned a TV & Radio repair shop in Brooklyn (Chief Radio & Appliances), so I have had good sound systems around for most of my life.
In the past, I considered myself fortunate to have (and to afford) one system. Today, I have a system in any room that can accomodate one. I am also drawn to vintage equipment, especially the items that I could not afford to acquire along the way (i.e.: Marantz).
1. My favorite decade for music was the 10 year period from 1965 to 1975. My next favorite 10 year period for music was 1970 to 1980.
2. The current state of audio finds that we have achieved technical precision, at the expense of musical excitement. It is not all audio's fault, though. Music from 1982-2002 is just not as good as the music from 1955-1980. Yes, it is a generalization. Yes, there are exceptions. But, am I the only one buying more re-issued/re-mastered music "from the vaults," than new releases? When you read equipment reviews from the British press and look at the choice of music that is used to base the review, audio's job has become reproducing the sound of computer engineered music.
3. I would not trade-in my current system for past systems, because I have usually traded up in equipment quality. The music is the key ... the music is what excites me ... and in a way, makes me whole. Today, when I play an album like Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" or the Stones "Let It Bleed" or any of the Sinatra albums from Capital, it is an incredible, moving experience ... made better by good equipment.
In terms of equipment, my system progression has been:
1971 - 1975: Philco tube Compact with a Voice of Music turntable;
1975 - 1981: SONY HTP 100 solid state Compact;
1981 - 1989: Pioneer 626 receiver; DUAL 1019 turntable; EPI 100 speakers;
1989 to Present: The equipment that has survived:
System #1: ADCOM Tuner/Preamp/Amplifier; SONY 555 ES SACD changer; Acoustic Research 302 speakers;
System #2: NAD integrated amp; Pioneer Elite PD65 cd player; AR 302 speakers;
System #3: Marantz 2216B receiver; Music Hall CD-25 cd player; AR 15 speakers;
Equipment that did not survive: 2 Onkyo & 2 Denon receivers; KEF Q 55/ EPOS 11/ B&W 302/BOSE 100/POLK speakers; Magnavox/Proton/Yamaha/SONY ES CD players.
Like many others, I would not trade my current system for any I had before. Even though I started listening to the Beatles when we lived in Germany before they came to the states, my favorite time frame is from '67-'77. I started high school in '69 & began hanging out at the local audio shop to learn about audio gear. The reason this is my favorite decade is both the coming of age & the last two years of this time frame, as explained next.
From '76-'77 I ran sound for a rock band & there's nothing like having your own "live" stereo system. That's how I felt when running the board. I'll never be able to duplicate that sound or the feeling. It's more than a Rick pounding your chest or the licks from a Les Paul running through a Marshall head. The Orange was pretty cool too. I was always amazed that these guys, as well as many other musical talents, could produce such wonderful music.
So my final answer is...it's about the music. Having nice gear is a plus.
My answer about the current state of audio (gear) is that it's really very good but a lot of it is very overpriced. Then again I can remember when a $5,000.00 car was top of the line. The current state of audio in regards to music is that most of the music that most of the people hear is commercialized. I used to laugh (quickly turned into a groan) when a local radio station touted itself as album rock saying it went deeper into the album than the other stations. It was all the same. I stopped listening to the radio & sold all my tuners. I have a receiver in the garage for background music but mostly listen to the radio when I travel. I've found the small college stations & independents that don't have corporate sponsorship play the best selection of music I've ever heard. It's just like it was when I was younger. If you hear a great tune on the radio you go buy the album, or if your buds play it for you or recommend it you go out & buy it. I still see that happening, although the recommendations are from people like you who have a wide & varied background & provide the info via the net. As far as I'm concerned, you can never get too many musical recommendations.
All you youngsters make me feel REALLY old. I co-owned a record store while in college in the late '40s, got into components iun the 50s (Collaro changer, Bogen DB-20 amp, Revere R-R tape deck, University 620l speakers, the first Harman Kardon tuner, etc), went to solid state, went back to tubes and am now making the move to SET amps. Sources in my curent system include vinyl (of course), R-R tape, SACD, CD, cassettes and tuner. Oh, and 78 rpms too. Great hobby, isn't it?
I refuse to accept that I am a senior. Period. Full stop. The end. Best decade? Way back when people were not so neurotic about a record player. Bring back consoles, have the whole damn thing hard wired, listen to the music, and let's stop the craziness about cables, synergy, sun spots and everything else in the Universe affecting what we actually hear out of those speakers. Do you know how many miles of ordinary cable are used in the recording process? I love the folks who are of the Linn-type persuasion and firmly believe that the source is of paramount importance, since you can't improve anything further down the line. The source starts at the microphone, not the tt. or cdp. Yeah a Telefunken console, those were the days... From the mid-fi trenches, good day.
I thank all the posters so far, and hope there are more in this category; I read your responses with great interest, twice.
One pattern rings true throughout these posts, most believe music was “better”, for the most part, before the 1980’s. If I think back to that time, there was far less of a variety at that time as well, at least it seems to me.
I also feel that when most of us were just getting into it, we just enjoyed music, never knowing much of the difference in sound. It seems, possibly, that becoming an audiophile can take some of the fun out of enjoying music. Most mention that they prefer their current setup, but almost unanimously have fond memories of some early system they just had fun with. What is interesting, as mentioned, everyone prefers their current system but chose a past decade as their favorite, there were a few exceptions.
Slipknot1, your comments are very interesting to me. I had mentioned in the thread “Your personal amp evolution”, that I had a little Denon integrated years ago that I really enjoyed; I sold it and went into separates for over a decade, nothing against separates, then in 2000 I went to a No. 383 and I like using this amp a lot, just as I did with the Denon. Like all of us, I start thinking of moving up the chain, but I question if it I will really be any happier.
Jimyyork, you mentioned your current system is your best ever but didn’t say if your third wife is the best?
at age 56 and gone through analog to digital it has been a true roller coaster ride. i now own all linn ,not to sponsor, the 70's for me was the best in music , believe that today's manufactuers have aviously gotten better, i remember the old advent speakers and phase linear amps,etc. they should sounded great those days..it's still about the music and recording has upscaled and that is good. certainly interested to where computer programming is going in the future in streaming and will manf. get involved to bring computer disk together with audio , real audio sound. thanks for listening....the 70's in music and old hafler,vandersteen,linn tables,are true legends.
1. Audio Enthusiast since my first decent system purchased in about 1975.
2. That's a tuff one. Probably the seventies for the vast vinyl offered including audiophile 'Heavy Vinyl' recordings. The nineties for tremendous advances in all areas of analog and digital equipment.
3. Too many expensive components out there that are not worth the additional cost above those products that are at the point of diminishing returns.
4. Not a chance!
I first developed an interest in hifi when in high school during the late 1960's. My first system included a Harmon Kardon integrated tube amplifier. Purchased Large Advents in 1975 and Micro-acoustic tweeter arrays for them shortly thereafter (anybody remember those?). However, what I considered my first audiophile system was bought in 1980 (RGR Preamp, Sanyo Mosfet amp (later BRB) and DCM Time Windows. Bought a Kenwood KD-500 TT with Grace tonearm shortly thereafter. One regret I have is that I did not keep that particular system longer. I do not have a favorite decade for the equipment as it has steadily improved. I do miss the days when there were more hi-fi shops around such as Audio Guild (the ultimate hi fi salon if there ever was one) and Eardrum but there was no internet in those days. I think the late 60's to late 70's was the best time for rock music and also enjoyed the development of new age and smooth jazz in the 80's. Have also enjoyed classical music since the early 80's. I do not think there is as much good, new music today but that is only my own opinion.
Of course my third wife is the best! Although she doesn't have the same appreciation I have for audio systems, she does enjoy lots of different types of music. Most importantly, she appreciates my perspectives on life and my sense of humor - we laugh together.
I think the more senior group of audiophiles (not that we are old by any stretch of the imagination) have combined our life experiences and our audio experiences (just understanding audio and experiencing the music coming out 30 years ago) to gain a perspective that cannot be understood by the younger audiophiles. There have been alot of developments in audio over the last 30-40 years, not all necessary successful. But overall, audio is much better and, of course, most of us have more money than we had in our earlier days to spend on our hobbies. Anyway, I look forward to the further evolution of new concepts, new horizons, new technologies, that will continue to take us closer to audio nirvana. Not every new development will be a step forward. Hopefully, via these forums we can continue to share our experiences - maybe save each other from taking some unnecessary and expensive paths.
In that light, it appears to me that there is much promise in the single driver field. It appears to be a subculture right now but it appears that it may be possible to build very accurate and musical speakers at a fraction of the cost of some of the current designs. At the same time, that might bring back some of earlier experiences many of us had in the 60's and 70's of building speakers on very tight budgets.
Anyway, we move on and must look for the good...... Hopefully, the music will blossom again....
I may have memories that predate any of the prior responses. Although I am 60 years old, I became interested in audio at about the age of 10. My father was an attorney who represented a number of the pioneers in the audio industry, when it was in its infancy. I still have a recollection of a system which he built in the mid 1950's with a Radio Craftsman tuner/preamp and amplifer, a Garrard changer with a Pickering cartridge, a Pentron tape recorder and an Electro-Voice 12TRX triaxial speaker in a Carlson cabinet. (Now, how many of you remember this stuff?)
My first taste of the "high end" came in the late 1950's, when I helped my father build, from kits, the Harman-Kardon Citation I, II and III. He had a system that was state of the art in its day. As a source, he had a Garrard 301 turntable with a Shure/SME arm-cartridge combination (what a beauty!) and a pair of AR-3a speakers. To that he added a Sony 777 open-reel recorder, which was way ahead of its time (back in the days when Sony was referred to as "Sony-Superscope").
My own first system was built in the mid 1960's, with a H-K tube receiver (which I built from a kit), a Garrard changer and a pair of Fisher speakers. I got stuck in "mid-fi" during the 1970's (I read Stereo Review back then and believed what I read), and had Sony receivers, direct-drive turntables and JBL speakers.
I was first exposed to the "high end" in the early 1980's, when I graduated to a Tandberg 3012 amp and 3011 tuner, with B&W DM14 (and later DM2000) speakers. I was one of the first to jump on the "digital" bandwagon, with one of the original Magnavox CD players. I remember paying $25 for CD's--in 1983 dollars! I talked myself into thinking they sounded great. They didn't--they were thin and screechy.
I have steadily upgraded over the past 20 years to the point where I feel I have nowhere farther to go. I'm currently running a Mark Levinson 380S preamp, a pair of Mark Levinson 33H amplifiers, a Sony SCD-1 for digital and SACD, and a Michell Orbe, SME IV.VI, Spectral Reference and VTL phono preamp for records. Speakers are B&W Signature 800's.
In terms of quality of sound, today's equipment is without question the best there has ever been. In terms of quality of source material, I have to go back to the early days of stereo, from the late 1950's to the late 1960's, with the RCA Shaded Dogs, Mercury Living Presence, Decca/London ffss, and Everest LP's. These were often definitive recordings, as music, and the engineering was superb. (Have you ever heard an original 1S/1S copy of Pines of Rome? I have one! You would never believe that this record was pressed in 1960.) It continues to amaze me how the great engineers of the day, such as Lewis Layton, Robert Fine, Kenneth Wilkinson and Bert Whyte, could have captured such amazing recordings at a time when the reproduction equipment couldn't possibly reproduce what the recorders were actually recording on tape. The advent of 32 and 64 track recorders, effects processing, Pro Tools and the like, were the worst things that ever happened to the making of recordings. It allowed everyone to become sloppy. One of the great things about SACD today is the fact that, because the number of channels available to the recording engineer is limited, the engineers are forced to rediscover what Layton, Fine, Wilkinson, Whyte, etc. figured out over 40 years ago, and the results speak for themselves. Also, SACD allows today's engineers to go back to these great 30-40 year old recordings, play them back on top-notch analog recorders (such as Ampex ATR-102's and Studer A80's), without intermediate processing, and capture the full glory of the original master tapes on a state of the art medium.
So, we really are in a golden age of audio. We have the best equipment today, and the ability to reproduce both the latest in recording technology (SACD) and the great LP's from the 1960's.
Got my first "serious" system in 1957, at the age of 12, thanks to an uncle in the business. It included a gigantic pair of Stromberg Carlson horns in beautiful solid wood cabinets. HH Scott, KLH, Advent, Heathkit were my bosom buddies.
I've enjoyed every decade, 1970-1980 perhaps the most for the emergence of some really good gear unaccompanied by astral nonsense and astronomical prices.
I watch the current state of audiophilia with amusement that occasionally mounts to hilarity. Oops, hold on, I have to go wind my Tice clock.
Would I trade what I have now for what I had then? No way.
My first "serious" speakers were Bozak -302 in 1965,I have no time nor you the interest in all the systems I had.There is no doubt in my my mind that the last decade brought us excellent,i.e. superior speakers and electronics.I do not agree that the current cost of high end equipment has risen dramatically.An Levinson ML-2 Amp,was priced at around $3000. (if my memory serves me right) a loaded ML-6 preamp was about 6,000.that was thirty years ago when you could buy a house in La Jolla, Ca. for 100,000 plus.and you were lucky to earn $30,000 a year.Today you can get superb amps for a few thousand etc.The old marantz,and macs, simply dont cut it.
Nice thread Brian-- I've enjoyed the respones. I was 13 years old in 1956, and along with my slightly older sister, we wore out 45s by Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ricky Nelson and many other early Rockers. I consider myself very fortunate to have been that age and actually witness and be part of the "birth of Rock and Roll".
Our equipment was lousy-- a portable Magnavox record player, but it had TUBES. My favorite decade stretched from about 1955 and Buddy Holly (my hero) to 1969 and CCR. IMO, those years encompass the heart and soul of R&R. We then muddled along with mid-fi gear for 20-25 years, but still loved the music.
I didn't learn what an audiophile was until about 1990 when I got the disease and became one. My present gear is the best I've ever had-- or heard, and wouldn't trade it for any other, but the "magic" decade of R&R was 1955-1969 for me.
Music nowdays is better and worse than those early years, and now that CDs have matured, good digital music can be found, and there is huge variety today compared to the 50s and 60s. I don't like what the huge music companies have done to music though, ie the merging of country and pop-- it all sounds the same.
But if you look around, some really good music is available, ie re-issues of blues, R&B, and some new age like Enya, Enigma, Mai're Brennan, Clannad, and Waleala. And there are some unique modern artists that I really like, ie Cowboy Junkies-- who can classify their music? Also Melissa Etheridge and George Thorogood. GT may be a dinosaur, but if so, he's a T-Rex!! Cheers. Craig
Well then Brian, I guess I am something of a mixed bag then. I've been into audio since 1977 (which qualifies me as a "senior" audiophile), but yet, at the ripe age of 39 (and turning 40 next April) so, I am guessing that being close to 40 years of age doesn't qualify me as a senior citizen yet, does it???
During the summer of 1977, visiting my aunt and uncle on a regular basis and listening to their system (which will be listed below) has started me on my lifelong journey (which continues to this VERY day) of seeking my version of audio's "holy grail".
But I also must say that during the time of which I have entered the world of audio as my one and only hobby, I believe that the audio industry was on the verge of transition. Technologies being developed at that time was for the eventual emergence of digital technology, and slowly but surely, by the ensuing decade, digital audio was coming into being, and analog audio was slowing dying and becoming extinct. So, with that said then, audio was at a crossroads by the mid 1980's. So then, when I started assembling my first system (also to be listed below) back in the early 1980's, I did not know where to begin. I did not know what source to pursue, be it the new and "exciting" compact disc, or the "tried and true" lp. Being that a lot of people was making a big stink about digital audio back in them days, I became convinced that digital audio was here to stay (BIG MISTAKE!!!!), and thus, I begin assembling my first system accordingly.
But now, if there is an upside to had out of all of this chaos and mayhelm as the audio industry was going through something of an identity crisis during the 1980's (the decade of excess, constant changes in audio technology, and of course, Reaganonics), I must say that my favorite decade during the time of which I began pursuing my hobby was 1985-95. Back then, there was the release of such vauted classics such as the Adcom GFA-555 Power Amplifier and the NAD 2200 "Power Envelope" Power Amplifier. With the release of these two amplifiers, they gave meaning and perhaps hope as to what was to come for a person of limited means such as myself, of what was possible and perhaps, on the horizion for the ensuing decade to come. Those two amplifiers gave me hope that because these two amplifiers were low in cost, they didn't have to be on the low end as far as quality, fit and finish, and sound quality was concerned. These two amps have given the big boys at the time a serious run for the money, and since that time, that alone, has given me a ton of inspiration. My all time favorite pieces of hi-fi gear that has ever existed include the Vandersteen 2 Speaker System (all incarnations), the Nakamichi 680ZX (the "pre" direct-dirve transport model), ZX-9, CR-7A, and Dragon Cassette Decks, the Magnum Dynalab FT-101 FM Tuner (for which I am the proud owner of one today), the Pioneer Elite PD-91 Compact Disc Player (very good sounding, looked very elegant and classy, and built like a tank...... too bad I never owned one), the Accuphase 80/81 Two Piece Compact Disc Player (I believe it was one of the first two piece transport/dac player combinations to appear on the market at the time....... and at about $12,000.00 to about $15,000.00...... certainly the most expensive), and the Mark Levinson No.26 Preamplifier and Mark Levinson No.20, No.20.5 and No.20.6 Class A Mono Power Amplifiers, and later on, the Adcom GFP-750 Active/Passive Line Stage Remote Control Preamplifier (which I also happen to own). In my humble opinion, I feel that these are the greatest pieces of audio gear of all time and should rightfully deserve to get a place in audio's hall of fame.
But now, fast forwarding to today, I feel that I have assembled what is to be my best audio system (which will also be listed) to date, and even then, that's not a finished product yet. And right now, to tell you the truth, I don't know if it will ever become a finished product or not. As I am expecting to get married sometime within the next two years, my audio system seems to be in a state of flux at the moment, as I don't know whether to disassemble it and simplify it with newer and more integrated componentry, or keep what I have, add a few more pieces to it (STILL!!!!), and try to convince my "wife-to-be" (and later on, my wife) that this is the system that I want to stick with, and perhaps enter our married life together with. Definitely, compared to the first system I have assembled almost twenty years ago, the system I have today is definitely far better, as not only, audio gear has gotten better and better over the last twenty years, but over the years, my gear has gotten better and better as it has gotten more and more expensive as well. And with the availability of better equipment being a available now (and that is..... the availability of such high resolution of SACD (which is something I plan to add to my system in the "not too distant" future) as well as separate and high quality phono ampification systems and high quality turntable/arm/cartridge systems), we're about to enter what I consider to be one of the best decades of all time in audio. Now is definitely a good time to be an audiophile. Welcome to the golden age of audio. High-End Audio is making a comeback. Don't let anyone else tell you anything else otherwise.
And now, for the systems below which as started my lifelong journey of audiophilia:
Aunt's and Uncle's System (from 1977):
Speaker System: ESS Acoustic Suspension Speaker System
Stereo Receiver: Pioneer SX-434 Stereo Receiver (15 Watts Per Channel)
Turntable: Technics SL-1300 Direct-Drive Turntable
Phono Cartridge: Pickering Magnetic Cartridge (forgot what model number)
Tape Deck: Radio Shack 8 Track Player/Recorder
My First Audio System (Circa 1978):
Sears AM/FM Stereo/8 Track Player/Recorder Component Set
BSR Record Changer with Ceramic Phono Cartridge
My First Hi-Fi Audio System (1983-90):
Speaker System: Polk Model 4 Bookshelf Monitor
Stereo Receiver: JVC R-30 Stereo Receiver (30 Watts Per Channel)
Compact Disc Player: NAD 5255 (purchased in 1985)
Cassette Deck #1: Luxman K-220 (1984-87)
Cassette Deck #2: Nakamichi BX-300 (purchased in 1987)
Inteconnect Cable: Monster Cable (forgot model number)
Speaker Cable: Monster Cable (forgot model number)
My Second Hi-Fi Audio System (1990-97):
Speaker System: KEF Reference 102 with KUBE Equalizer (purchased in 1988)
Power Amplifier: B&K ST-140 (105 Watts Per Channel)(purchased in 1990)
Preamplifier: Perreaux SM2 (Dual-Mono/Class A)(purchased used in 1992)
Stereo Receiver: NAD 7225 (preamp and power amp sections can be separated..... 25 Watts Per Channel)(purchased in 1989)
Compact Disc Player #1: NAD 5225 (retained from original system..... died in 1993)
Compact Disc Player #2: JVC XL-M509TN 6+1 (purchased in 1994)
Cassette Deck: Nakamichi BX-300 (retained from original system)
Interconnect: Monster Cable (forgot model number)
Speaker Cable: Monster Cable (forgot model number)
My Current Audio System (1997-Present):
Speaker System: KEF Reference 102 with KUBE Equalizer (retained from previous system)
Power Amplifier: Adcom GFA-545 MkII (100 Watts Per Channel)(Purchased in 1998)
Preamplifier: Adcom GFP-750 (Active/Passive Remote Control Line Stage)(Purchased in 1999)
FM Tuner: Magnum Dynalab FT-101 (purchased in 2000)
AM/FM Antenna: Terk AM/FM Q (purchased in 2000)
Turntable: Thorens TD-165 (not yet hooked up)(purchased in 2002)
Phono Cartridge: Grado Prestige Gold
Compact Disc Player #1: Pioneer Elite DV-37 Progressive Scan DVD/CD Player (purchased in 2001)
Compact Disc Player #2: JVC XL-M509TN 6+1 Compact Disc/Changer (retained from previous system)
Cassette Deck: Nakamichi BX-300 (retained from previous system)
Interconnect: MITerminator 2 (purchased in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001)
Interconnect: MITerminator 3 (purchased in 2000)
Speaker Cable: MITerminator 2 (Single Wired)(Purchased in 1998)
Power Conditioner: Monster Cable HTS2500 (purchased in 2002)
Any of you 'seniors' go on a hiatus from audio for a time? If so, how long and did you feel much changed? Did you pull out old gear? Do you regret coming back (wink)?
Hiatus from audio? How would I be able to listen to the music? Hiatus from audiophilia (spending money on tweeks & equipment at least) is an ongoing project.
Graduated from Polk Model 10A to Rogers LS3/5A in late seventies; worked at Goddard SFC in early/mid 70s when they still used military grade audio tubes for some equipment - an audio buddy worked in maintenance heheh; bought prototype Berning 30 watt tube amp in 1980, graduated to BWS tube gear.
Man, you guys are young! Have any of you snuck through your mother's and two grandmothers' houses stealing every sewing needle you could find, just so your two pound arm could have something other than a cactus needle. I was doing this at age seven, so I could play the old mono tubed record player given to me by my grandfather. At least it was powered-didn't have to crank it up. Had grandpa's old classical 78s and my dad's old big band 78s (he actually loaded and unloaded commercial jukeboxes and got to keep the used 78s). Dad's old Philco was really nice for good mono FM.
Then at age 15 rode my bike two miles carrying a full sized accordion which I traded (unbenownst to my family) for RCA's first stereo record player - second speaker in the lid, ceramic flip needle. Grounded for a long time, but the music sure sounded a lot better.
Used Sears and Penneys all in ones until I got out of college - just about the advent of solid state times. Then in graduate school went to an all Dynaco system with a Garrard. It's been uphill ever since with hardware and software. Still buying vinyl (7-9000), RTR tapes, CDs (yuck), and SACDs --- make cassettes and OTR tapes. No interest in HT or surround sound. Semi-retired and finally get to listen a lot, including FM stereo.
I really get upset with the youngsters who are interested in CONVENIENT music -- analog is "just too much bother".
In my day we just banged rocks against our ears, and we liked it! Stoned head banging rockers we were. It was just a fad though. After a while the novelty wore off. No matter how hard we banged rocks against out selves we just couldn't hear anything anymore.
...............With appologies to the 10,000 year old man
In had Dyna mono gear in undergraduate schools. I bought Radio Shack electro static speakers and a Thorens 124 and Fisher 440T in 1961 during my brief period of working in business. The Thorens at least was okay. I bought some old tube gear in grad. school, and later Rectilinear 3 with a Dyna 120 and a Crown 150 preamp on getting out. Everything was cool for a while until I heard Infinity ServoStatic 1s playing through the open door in a stereo store. I had to have them and ARC SP3, and Dual 51 and Dual 75.
Since then I have had 14 different speakers and probably as many amps, preamps, turntables, cd players, dacs, cartridges, and cables. I have also had 35 different ac filters and tried at least 27 different power cords.
There is no question about my favorite era-today's. I would not trade by present system for any in the past, although after once abandoning Klipshhorns, I went back to horns with fervor after hearing low power SETs.
I think many have abandoned audio for video and MP3 and computer crap, but present day designers know more and have better parts to make great stuff. Fortunately some good music is available. Most pop musicians cannot play and few singers can sing on key. I remember my grandfather and father saying that and vowed to never say it myself, but hey I saying what I hear.
I first became interested in Hi Fi about 1953. It was a totally different hobby then. We built our own amps and speakers, and not from kits. Schematics were published in the mags, and in the RCA Tube Manual, and we would go to the electronics parts store (like Harvey radio in NYC) and buy a bunch of resistors, capacitors, transformers, tubes...etc and go to work with the soldering iron. We were creative: for example I built more than one amp using a bread baking tin for a chassis!
Of course we constructed all kinds of enclosures for loudspeakers, and we even modified drivers by doing things like glueing stips of balsa wood onto the cone to control breakup.
Of course there was always Heathkit, RIP. When other kits were introduced, like Dyna Kit, and Eico, you didn't need to know anything about how the electronics worked, and the nature of the hobby changed.
Today audiophile skills relate to knowing how to best allocate financial resources in the purchase of ready-made equipment. That's OK, but it really is not as interesting as the old days. It is a bit like flying an airplane today (I am a private pilot too). In the old days it took some physical coordination and skill to fly a plane like a J3 cub. Today, it's about as challenging as driving a car. In the case of jetliners, the pilot's job is to program the computers that fly the plane.
My first system was around 1975 (I don't remember exactly) Harmon Kardon reciever, and pair of KLH speakers and a Sony (I think?) turntable. I still have the reciever the rest is long gone.
I can remember sitting in the Bedrooms or Basements of friends listening to music and think one day I would have a system like that! My system now isn't anything special, but I've had much better stuff. If I could get the tax man off my back maybe I could get something better again.
I think everyone's favorite era of music is when they were in high school and College. I even find myself listening to music from my high school days that I did not like then, but has nostalgic value today. Some of it I would not want to put into print! Yes, I'm ashamed!
I can remember in the mid 60s walking through Alco-Paramount in San Jose California and seeing high end Scott receivers and seperates built into consoles, and Marantz 10Bs and 7s on the shelves. The EV Patrician speakers were there as was a JBL Paragon. Those were the days!
Hello to all. I built my first amp in 1959 (Eico kit). Except for the minor diversion caused by the "newer is better transistor" it has been tubes all the way. This is an exciting time. Better parts. Renewed tube manufacture.
Desire to explore forgotten avenues of audio electronics. More worldwide tube interest. Yes, there is hucksterism. There will always be hucksterism. But, there are interesting things being discovered and rediscoverd. My voyage into triodes ( 2A3 45 50 300B 845 ) has yielded the greatest musical surprises and experiences of my audio journey. Don't just settle for what commercial products there are, although there are some very good ones. Take your adventure into learning and understanding. You will find a much deeper satisfaction when the music you reproduce transcends the hardware, touches the emotions, and can take your breath away.
I started in 1957 with a Webcor changer/GE magnetic cartridge, Harman-Kardon Prelude(?) and a no-name speaker. Soon added an RCA 12" coax in a RiverEdge bass reflex and later an Eico HFT-90. Went on to Dynaco and Empire TT with Altec A-7s and never looked back. Too much over the years to itemize.
Allegedly, my musical trips started as a baby, when my mother would play an LP (on repeat) on an old changer -- to keep me quiet.
I was first smitten by "audiophile" sound in the '60s. I still remember that experience: friends of my parents had HUGE Tannoys (at least they looked huge to me), a Garrard and tubes. I was mesmerized. All I had then was a portable Philips gramophone -- that I tried to improve playing around with the arm weight, etc (that's before I knew the official term: tweak)
My first "stereo" was a Philips with two detachable speakers, in the late '60s. It took me 5-6yrs of savings after that to purchase my first detached system: Thorens 125TT, Luxman integrated, Kef 2-way speakers. I was ecstatic, and immediately set out to "improve" the sound (changing wires, making wooden "stands". I wasn't really sure of what I was expecting to happen; this was well before I caught on to cables, stands, etc. I was hoping for magic, I suppose.
I've come a long way since then, only to end up recently with termination-less wire as I/C (so much for my Valhalla's...).
B) For me, the '70s were very exciting musically. Possibly because I was in discovering mode?
C) Current state of audio: good to v. good. The market is opening up, many offerings and some good value/price ratios (think of TT engineering nowadays and 20 yrs ago vs the asking prices).
D) Yes, I would trade my present system for a past system -- my immediately previous one. However, I can't afford to -- which is why I no longer have my previous system in the first place!
My audiophile days started 1958 when my shop teacher helped me build a 3 watt Heathkit amplifier with acid core solder. What a disaster! However, there was no turning back after that. I then graduated to building larger Heathkits, Knightkits, and Lafayette amplifiers. These were the days when the fun was in building the kits. Enjoying the music was secondary.
I was facinated with Klipschorns from day one. I could not afford them at first, so I built a cheap Khorn enclosure imitation called the Aristocrat using Electovoice speakers. I finally got my Khorns in the mid 70's, and have not thought once about replacing them.
I was never happy with records regardless of player. The pops, scratches, and low dynamic range were unbearable. Pleasure in listening came with the arrival of CD's in the 80's.
The same goes for tubed amplifiers. I could not wait for the transistor amplifier to be perfected. While I was enthralled with the fast bass and dynamic range of the Khorns in the 70's and 80's, it wasn't until the 90's that I heard real quality in music using Mark Levinson amplifiers to power the Khorns.
The new millenium started with a bang introducing new standards in recording medium: SACD, DVD, DVDA. The future looks bright with all this competition trying to perfect recorded music. At last the advantages of both vinyl and CDs can realized in one medium. May the best of the above media win.
In conclusion, the speaker was perfected fifty years ago, however, it took fifty years to figure that out. Expensive high tech speakers of today can't compare to all of the qualities of Khorn. Amplifiers were perfected in the past decade. Any improvements in this category will be expensive and probably well beyond the point of diminishing returns. The peak in recorded music media has not yet been realized, but it won't be long. Frankly, I can't wait!
I date back to '56 and have been in audio sales (60-61) mfg
(80s). Loudspeaker technology has increased performance in time and phase coherence while tubes still rate top billing in music reproduction. SS is clearly better for bass performance. Vinyl is king even over SACD but that's a very close call/
( I date back to the early fifties 52 or there abouts.
No I would not trade my Altec Lansing A7 Sperakers which I have had since the early 60s they still sound very good infact I found a third A7 for the center channel in my theatre. In the back I have two Altec lansing "Monitors: with 12 inch speakers and they too sound better and more pleasant than any other speakers I have heard. The new speakers seem so "brittle" and not at all warm.and that is in comparison with a very very efficient and sharp present sounding speaker which the altecs are. But I would like to find a speaker that will play low frequency organ music better and with more "feeling" than my current cerwin vega 15 inch sub woofer inbcluded in my present system even tho it is good I think I need to move more air to give good organ recordings the massive large (not loud ) sound which you feel when attending an organ concert in a church with a real large pipe organ. Does any one have suggerastions on how to get that "LARGE" Massive Sound ??? what speaker do I need?? I was thinking the old EV six foot tall I think Patrician double corner speaker from the fiftys. Would like any suggestions. Thanks
Thell Woods e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been doing this since the 70s. I am constantly exploring new music, and always upgrading the system. I do have some affection for the big juicy sound of some of the 80s MC cartridges and turntables, with big class A amps, but today's stuff is so much more like the sound I hear at live events. In particular the last few years have seen an end to the need to use warmed-up cables and preamps to overcome the harsh coolness of CD sound and solid state amplifiers. The latest gear lets you pick components that throw the window wide open and avoid unmusical sounds. I am really looking forward to the development of these new amp technologies (I have Rowland 201s), and the ditching of CDs in favour of downloads to music servers (and I don't mean downloads of MP3s), as I reckon these are both big break-throughs. So I can say there is not much looking back.
I started working at Quement Electronics in September of 1962, my senior year in high school..the company moved to S. Bascom Ave around Jan/Feb of 1963..I was interested in the Eico Kits and Eric amplifiers..Garrard turntables, specifically the LAB-80...then bought a Fisher 500C to go with ElectroVoice 12TRXB speakers in Custom Craft cabinets! Loved Jazz in those days..which was considered weird for someone of my age, during the Beach Boys/Beatles/ etc time period...Alco was our competitor in those days..and they handled JBL and other top of the line components..we had Marantz/Dual/ Altec speakers....along with Sherwood, Fisher, Scott, Harmon Kardon and others..what a wonderful memory I have from those days...still love my music..jazz first and foremost, blues and pre 1960s rock and roll... Love to discuss any of this with anyone...
Okay I will throw my hat in the ring. Been at this since 1957 now I am 62. At the time it was all tubes and mono as well. Owned a high end shop from 1975 to 1982, plus was in the entertainment business with CBS and later with TV Guide. Has been a life long interest will continue to be. Have made life long friends in this hobby,like no other.
No since going into a lot of detail here, as I would just be mirroring some previous respondents to this thread.
However the greatest joy of this hobby/business has been intoducing this high end adventure to the uninformed and watching them get into the high end.
I can't join in on this thread, as I am a spry 46. But, just wanted to say that this is the best thread I have ever read on Audiogon. Keep it coming guys!
In 68 while in Nam,I bought for 400$,a Pioneer TT,and Sansui speakers and integrated amp.They were waiting for me when I got home 11 months later.Heavenly!! Life is good,or as we used to say on line,stay high,keep low...Bob
Guys, humor me a little. I remember when most of us had limited internet or long distance contacts, but when we interacted with other audiophiles it was more collegial than is the case now. Everyone was more constructive.
Today with the internet and on Audiogon and Audio Asylum you mainly get negative and caustic responses frequently from people who know nothing that would give them that authority.
I guess what I wonder is if others have had that experience or if I am just being an old man unchanging with the times.
Another more interest question that I have wondered about is whether you all think your present system is the best you have had.
Tbg...Yes, things have changed. It used to be that the "experts" were those with the best technical skills, and experience, but nowadays it seems to be those with the most money to spend. Ok, but it aint the same, and leads to a lot of snobishness.
I'm 51 but my Dad gave me his giant home made labyrinth 2way coax loudspeaker when I was 14 and I've been at it from then on. It was mono driven by a 40's vintage Bogen integrated and a 45 player. Never saw another tube set until the late 90's, now I'm all tube top to bottom.
The rock music of the late 60's and 70's was the best but I live in the here and now and there is good music all around. I crank up the big bands when I'm thinking of Dad's old hi-fi!