The Scariest Story Ever Told?

What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you while listening to your high end audio system? Your story can involve anything, from buying an outrageously expensive component that sounded terrible when you turned on your system or a mishap that cost you lots of money to repair or buying tubes only to discover that the boxes were empty.

Last night, while I was talking to a good friend of mine over the telephone, I heard a loud "pop" through my left speaker and soon thereafter, some static. I immediately inspected my amplifier only to discover that one of my left channel output "vacuum tubes" was on fire (internal flame within the tube, believe it or not!) Now, that blew my mind! Fortunately, it only turned out to be a tube going bad and my amplifier did not short-out. Thank God!

I must admit that I nearly had a heart attack and felt lost without my trustworthy and extremely loved Berning amplifier.

The scariest thing that happened to me while listening to my system was about 12 years ago. I was listening to a track from "The Weavers at Carnegie Hall" late one night with the lights dimmed. For a few fleeting seconds I completely forgot that I was listening to my stereo. I could have sworn that were in the room performing in front of me. Everything sounded so right. It was truly like istening to them live. Since then, I have come close to the audio nirvana I had experienced but not quite the same. Incidently, my system at the time consisted of Sota Star Sapphire turntable, Krell KSA-200, Apogee Duetta II and Straightwire cables. Everything tweaked to give the best sound it could.
My buddy had what was described by Atma-Sphere as a "catastrophic, cascading output tube failure" with his OTL mono bloc. All eight output tubes spontaneously combusted before he had a chance to shut off the amp. He was told this NEVER happens, although they had a term to describe the failure already!! I'm sure there was a diaper change needed after that experience.
I'd just moved into a new apartment and installed a ceiling fan in my listening room. This was in an ancient Chicago brown-stone building and the overhead wiring was very complex. Apparently, I'd combined two 115 volt lines into one. I reactivated the power and turned on my tape player for some casual music -wrong! Poor little thing; All of it's bells and whistles going off at once. It's dials and guages whipping and flickering and "poof" that infamous puff of blue smoke... Took three months to fix the little fella.
I can speak to what i once witnessed. When I was a kid, we were visiting some fellow's house and he let me see his room, which would have competede with the most outrageous of virtual systems I have seen posted here.

Anyway, he put his wine on the shelf and told me to touch nothing. As he reached over to flip a switch he bumped the wine which poured into the biggest tube amp I had ever seen.

The kitchen fire extinguisher averted an even bigger catastrophy.
Sometimes late on sunday nights I like to listen to the Hearts of Space and Pipe Dreams broadcasts over the radio. I turn off all the lights, crank up the music and lay on top of my bed like a Haitian zombie waiting to be resurrected.

Sometimes that freakin' pipe organ music is down right scary, especially late at night in total darkness. It feels like Dracula or some demented Catholic ritual is occuring.

Space music in those conditions can be eerie as well. A couple times I felt like I was being levitated off the bed while entranced in some other-worldly synth nebulae sounds.

About 15 years ago, I was looking to purchase a new amp to replace my trusty old Conrad Johnson MV 50. I had a contact at a stereo shop in San Francisco who would lend you an amp, as long as you gave him a credit card payment (just in case of course). I borrowed a Counterpoint hybrid amp to try out with my Counterpoint preamp. I then fired up the amp to do do some testing with a friend. The term "fired" up quickly became the operative word when the amp made a large pop and flames shot out of the amp toward the ceiling!! I quickly turned it off and did my best big, bad wolf impression and blew the flames out!
I then had the unfortunate task of bringing it back to the store and informing him of the problem. Like the true gentleman that he was, he did not bat an eye, took it back and gave me back my credit card slip. (I wish he was still in business, as he was a credit to his profession!)
I had just installed a black diamond racing shelf underneath my turntable. Turned on my tubed preamp, and power amp to settle in for a long night of spinning vinyl. All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a shotgun blast coming from the vicinity of my fairly expensive Audio Research amplifier. Then I smelled sickly sweet smell of burning electronics. Along with a tell tale column of gray smoke. I immediately developed a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and a dull ache in the vicinity of my wallet. My Christmas vacation was just starting and here I was with no way to play my tunes.

Fortunately, it didn't turn out to be too expensive. And they had my amp back to me within a week. Thank you Nicholson's.
Lotta problems here with audio research fires!

I was 12, my dad wasn't home. he had two arc d-60 amps in mono and acoustat speakers, etc. i loved the sound.

i was getting a suntan (san diego) outside playing neil young as loud as the stereo would go. i came in for a drink of water and the amps (in a wood cabinet!) were on fire and the music was still playing! neighbors happened to be banging on the door to tell me to turn the stereo down at the same time. why did i pause to open the door? no idea. i told them the stereo was on fire. the look in their eyes was priceless...their house was VERY close to ours. i ran into the kitchen filled a large bucket of water and threw it on the entire system - the amps, preamp, nak 700zxl, splashing a little bit over the oracle delphi.

sorry, dad.
My story is a little different and less expensive. When I was in highschool many moons ago, my friend had a rockin' party one saturday while his parents were out of town. He put his stereo outside and we drank and... we were having a very good time. A live Frank Zappa album blaired out of his marginally mid-fi system as his dad pulled up. His dad was getting out of the car just as Frank was addressing the croud " if your not here to have a F-ing good time...
Sheesh. All of these stories about tube products belching out smoke, blowing up, spitting fire, etc... makes me want to run right out and buy more tubed gear. If i remember correctly, i made mention of this kind of stuff in what turned out to be a tube vs SS thread. People were busting my balls saying that i was full of it. According to those folks, tubes are just as reliable as SS and almost as convenient / easy to use. You would never know it by reading threads and multiple posts like this. Thanks for proving my point several months later.... Sean
hearing a loud pop from my left speaker and watching blue flames shot out of the bottom left of my mc2000 tube amp. and i still have not taken it to get fixed. may this week though.
Your comment
I must admit that I nearly had a heart attack and felt lost without my trustworthy and extremely loved Berning amplifier.
made me wonder if you might be a victim of the infamous "Berning Scam." Apparently some guy on eBay has been selling "Berning" amps which actually turn out to be "Burning" amps!

Check the label carefully and report back....
Rel, thanks for your recommendation. However, I purchased my amplifier directly from the one and only David Berning!

Many thanks to everyone for your stories, some are hilarious, spooky or catastrophic.
I was sharing an apartment with this Jewish kid for half a year. He seemed like a good kid even my mom told me not to beat him up or mess with him. My mom some how thought I am a bully. Anyhow, my bedroom was too small to hold my stereo, so I put it in the living room thinking the Jewish kid won't do too much harm to it.

During the first week, the Jewish kid and I got along. We studied when we had to study and even had a few late night drinks together. Then one weekend, he asked me if it was OK to have a party. I ofcourse couldn't object since the apartment was half his...

He invited every other Jewish kid from college and crammed them into our 900sqft apartment with patio. They used my TV to play Independence Day and have the part where the Jewish dad says "well we can't all be perfect" in reply to someone saying he's not Jewish. And, worst of all, my stereo was blasting Adam Sandler songs all night. I didn't know kids can get down to music like that.

The aftermath of the party... the only part of the apartment that wasn't plastered with puke or alcohol was my room since I locked it so no one can enter. My poor TV... my poor stereo... needless to say I didn't renew that lease.
Hey Viggen, careful on the ethnic stuff.
Yes Uncle, and I will turn my stereo down.
I don't think my system would ever be the same again after playing Adam Sandler songs!
Personally, i think large quantities of vomit being introduced into your system at various points would do more damage than any quantity of Adam Sandler recordings : ) Sean
Unclejeff - for the record i found viggen's post a little odd as well.
I was in the military, Stationed at Misawa AB Japan, and I had just maxed out my credit card buying a THX certified AC3 ready Technics SA-TX50 reciever. A real powerhouse. 125W/chan
Not being very technically inclined with stereo equipment (this was my first reciever) I hooked the reciever up to a couple very low end technics floor standing speakers and used some hand-me-down wire that you might see connecting the speakers to a cheap theater-in-a-box setup.

Well, the wires were used and worn and in pretty poor shape. I threw a little shindig that night and invited over all my drinking buddys to check out and envy the new hardware (I was so proud), and the booze started flowing freely.

Well, one of the wires went behind a dresser and there was a bottle of Bacardi 151 on the dresser, which of course got knocked over. There must have been some bare wire exposed because once it fell over my reciever shut down and displayed "Overload".

I started to smell something burning and my immediate fear was that my brand new $700 reciever fried itself. It did not take long to realize that the burning was coming from behind the dresser. When the 151 hit the speaker wire and caused the short which overloaded my reciever, a spark ignited the booze and the carpet lit on fire behind my dresser.

Worried that my butt would be in a real sling with the Barracks manager and my First Seargent, I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a glass and filled it with water to put out the fire, as I ran back to the dresser to extinguish the fire I lost my footing and tried to catch myself as I fell and ended up trying to brace myself on my reciever, which I ended up shoving off the table it was on and it went crashing 3 feet down to the floor.

In the end, I had to pay $300.00 in damages (nearly a paycheck for an Airman of my rank) to the wall and carpet, I got a letter of reprimand, had to go to alchohol classes, and present a fire safety briefing to the rest of my squadron at the next squadron meeting.

But the reciever lived, and still works today!
Hey Kublakhan, thanks for the support. But then again, I too have dispatched to odd post I would have liked to take back. The stranger thing here, is that Viggen often has great posts.
Unclejeff, i bet i have you beat by far for stupid posts i'd like to take back so rest easy that you're way down on the totem pole,even if only second to me.

With that post, I is outta here and off to a dear-old bottle of Cabernet.
2 friends where setting up a Michell gyrodec they installed the cartridge(can't remember the make very 'spensivo tho)
one was carrying the heavy table into the living room and had to step over the homeowners sleeping Large Shepard in the narrow hallway.The dog awoke startled at mid step.It did not go well at all,scratch one tonearm/stylus/gyrodec
and bad knee injury resulted from attempted save.
I can't remember which board I read it on to link it but there is a story of a three year old waking up early and going to town with a Sharpie. Plasma, all components, leather couchs, walls, and all the appliances in the house.

Being a chef and having about three Sharpies for each the chef jackets I own floating around and a three year old. I immediately cleaned house and locked them all the chemical cabinet in the garage. Next day at work the phone lines were burning up with co-workers calling home as the story spread. A few days later there was a fairly large bain overflowing with the sharpies people had brought back to work.
Hey Newbie, you read it here on A'gon. roughly three months ago.