Thinking about the good old days...


I'm definitely  an old geezer, and have a lot of experiences and memories to reflect on.  Lately, I've been remembering the enjoyment of "audio" back when I was just starting down this path: the music was just so amazingly enjoyable and fun.  I think my greatest satisfaction with my own audio stuff was when what-passed-for-my-system was a Fisher 90T tuner/preamp, Fisher 80AZ amp, a University speaker enclosure that I built ftom a lot fitted with 12" University woofer and some University tweeter (I forget what).  The only source was a Lenco turntable with a GE VR2 cartridge.  Dang, that stuff was just so wonderful to my young self!
pinkyboy
Yep,  my 1st system was the entry model Kenwood integrated amp and a pair of Scott speakers.  I went through a Girard and a Dual turntable, and finally scraped together enough cash to buy a Pioneer PL 51 direct drive table.  Still have that baby, which I recently pulled out of the attic.  Thinking about firing it up again.  Unfortunately, the cantilever is broken on my Shure M120 HE and I can't find a replacement.  May try an Ortofon 2M Blue.   Lots of sweet memories.
Back then, once your system achieved the level of dynamics and tone that suited your tastes, it became all about the music.

I spent more than a few happy years with a Sansui 5000 series receiver (i.e.,
pre, amp, tuner), Phillips 212 turntable (later upgraded to Thorens TD160), and DIY speakers consisting of large, ported, birch-ply boxes with heavy front baffles, 12-inch Jensen Triaxial drivers, and add-on Phillips dome tweeters. Nowhere near what I have now in terms of extension, clarity, drive, and sound staging, but it sure got the tone right and had sufficient dynamics to sound good from low-level dorm listening to rock-out parties. I still have the speakers and would like to find a reason to have them reconed so I could give them a spin again!

Thanks for the post, it was fun to think back to a simpler and, in many ways, more satisfying time of life.

Oh Yeah, I’m 72. Retired, physically limited, home too much, too much time on the computer obviously. Beats watching the news.

I remember the tough decision, 1964, age 16,:

Mono LP $2. or Stereo Version $3? My budget was $6./week, so 3 albums or 2 albums. Played on my brothers POC portable suitcase flip down TT

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/514747432383927703/?autologin=true

Got some wedding money, 1967, age 19, off to Sam Goody’s near Grand Central, big escalator upstairs: we got a Fisher 200T transistor receiver, AR2x speakers, and a not too special TT.

I got robbed one Christmas Eve, I missed those AR2x’s the most!

https://www.ebay.com/i/333632804579?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-0&am...

Prior beat up LP’s, some new LP’s but college student, married, child, paying my own way, borrowing money, working part time, so not much new stuff for many years. Cousin Brucie all night long when studying/doing projects at Pratt Institute. The Night Bird, Alison Steele

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Morrow

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alison_Steele

anybody remember "Money Talks, Nobody Walks, Denison Clothes, Route 22". over and over all night long.

I’ve got 3 of those fisher 80z mono amps, used them up until 2 years ago. all working perfectly. I added front toggle power switches and replaced 3 burnt resistors over their 62 years, that’s it, dead quiet still.

they came out of a Fisher President II I inherited. That’s what threw me into higher awareness of possibilities.

http://www.fisherconsoles.com/President%20II.html

It was new in the very brief period of Live Binaural Radio Broadcasts, just prior to Armstrong’s multiplex.

Console was dual mono: tune in fm mono tuner, CBS, left side of the stage. tune in am mono tuner, CBS, right side of the stage. Snap the console to ’Stereo Radio’, listening to live binaural broadcast. does anyone here have any experience with that?

current speakers are new enclosures with those drivers from that console, also 62 years old, horns original, re-coned 15" woofers twice.

It had a 2 track stereo tape deck, Viking, and I inherited some tapes as well. Wow, those 2 tracks are still the best source I have, now moved to Teac 4 track X2000R and new dual arm TT this year. Bought about 500 pre-recorded tapes on eBay, not much money, these things are 50-60 years old, still sound awesome.

I tested all of the tubes from that console every year just before thanksgiving. Paper bags, off to the electronic store, big tester, flip charts, people behind me waiting a looonnng time, my feet and back hurt it took so long.

my wife got me a birthday present, a compact tube tester, awesome

https://www.ebay.com/i/224025403851?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-0&am...

Inherited a Thorens TD124 with SME 3009. Rubber in arm shot, I wrote SME, they sent me new rubber and instructions.

Got Fisher Tube receivers along the way, a few 500c receivers and one 800c (same, added AM tuner)

8 Track in the car primarily, then dual cassette, then wait till CD players became affordable.

now, any chance I get, I go for high quality vintage, mixed with new when needed.  not memories of my personal equipment, but memories of the era, pieces I certainly could not afford then.

Tube Tuner/Preamp 1962, McIntosh mx110z

SUT, Fidelity Research FRT-4

JVC large plinth TT81, new arm, vintage acos lustre gst801 arm

R2R Teac X200r

Office all vintage

B&W bookshelf speakers, Velodyne Sub, Carver Cube Amp, traded Bill my fisher 800c for a vertical tt Mitsubishi LT-5V, got it going perfectly

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mitsubishi-LT-5V-Turntable-Original-Magazine-AD/133531898298?hash=item1f171...









You all are bringing back the memories! First Album - "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and second - "The Doors" in like 68 or 69 in Grand Rapids, Michigan..

First real speakers were smaller Advents. Traded up to Large Advents in early seventies In Elkhart Indiana and thought I was in heaven.

Kenwood and Onkyo integrateds. Luxman turntable with Shure V15 Type IV cartridge. I wore that baby out! Still have it, as a keepsake, I guess.

Radio Doctors on Third and Wells In Milwaukee, Wisconsin. $5 per album. One Saturday a month I would buy 4 albums and then meet my buddy for beer and listening while watching football.

Then the glory days ended and I moved on to California. First CD player  was in the 80's and I thought it is was not near the quality of the Luxman and Shure for vinyl.

The on to New York and Ohio with no upgrades still using the Luxman and Shure..

Finally got back to Indiana and then heard my first Magnepan speakers, which started my true audiophile madness - six different speakers in about nine years.

I guess my holy grail would be the Advent sound in a modern day speaker. Just something about those Advents was so smooth and the bass!

Dsper


@dsper Ever shop at Dodd’s Record Shop, or....Believe in Music (records and paraphernalia) back in the day in GR?
In the very early 1960s, I worked for a radio, TV, appliance store in downtown Fort Worth.  They were also dealers for the various Fisher "hi fi" consoles.  At some point, we also began carrying Manny of the Fisher components.  And, at the ripe age of 19 or 20, I got to demonstrate and sell those products.  Dang, that was fun.  
@dsper Ever shop at Dodd’s Record Shop, or....Believe in Music (records and paraphernalia) back in the day in GR?
I checked out Believe n Music but never hit Dodds. Probably missed a good one.

I attended Aquinas College and spent a lot of time in a record store, don't recall the name, close to campus near Wealthy Street.

However, I do have a distinct memory of listening to  "Brown Eyed Girl" in that store and thinking there was no stadium at Aquinas so I needed to figure out plan B, which was a real problem in that I lived at home while getting my degree!

Thanks for listening,

Dsper
It’s not just our hearing and vision that deteriorate with age. When we were in our 20s, we were bursting with energy and hormones, we felt immortal, the world was in front of us, and everything was new. Whether at a live concert or on the stereo, music to my ears at 70+ less often gives the shocking delight and emotional connection it so often did at 20. It’s not impossible now, but it’s a lot rarer.

The fault, dear Geezer, is not in our gear, but in ourselves! (with apologies to WS)
Hey Mike, I'm 65, my first LP purchased was More of the Monkey's. In all those years only my second wife from 86 to 2009 understood my connection to music. Only she could understand catching me with tears running down my face. It could either be just great musicianship or lyrics. Recently finding videos on You Tube from performances from my favorites and concerts from back in the day put me always into a crying episode. 
dsper My first system was from Flanner & Hasoos in Mayfair Mall, Milwaukee in 1973. A Pioneer 939???, Thorens TD160 that as I got back into vinyl 2 years ago I took it into the shop for a $400.00 tune-up. More than I paid for it. A pair of Jensen 6 speakers. The JBL's were the rage at that time but the 15" woofers in the Jensen's did the trick. Thank God for warranties, There were many Mondays after all-nighter weekends taking them back to Flanners for service. Those two knobs on the back were fried, you couldn't turn them. If I remember that Pioneer only put out 70W. If you remember Flanner's they are now mostly a TV store. Audio Emporium in Brown Deer is one of the only High End stores. 
Retired, physically limited, home too much, too much time on the computer obviously. Beats watching the news.

I resemble that sentence (grin).

Additionally, as mentioned by "dsper", "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"  was one of my first album purchases. Later, I saw the Iron Butterfly in concert with Stepenwolf -- good time! 

In my pre-teen years, my fascination with improving sound found me buying raw speakers and trying to installing them in empty car model boxes. Before installing the drivers, I would poke in sound holes and spray paint the boxes.  Along with aesthetics, the paint stiffened the boxes. Obviously, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But they sounded better than the speaker installed in my Hallicrafters short wave radio.  Placing the in-box speakers in various containers like waste baskets, seemed to also improve the sound (go figure)!

I lusted for my own in-bedroom record player. But alas, my dad thought the console stereo in the living room was sufficient.  For some reason my dad allowed an AIWA 3” portable reel-to-reel recorder to be bought. I used that to record songs from AM radio. 

Additionally, I convinced my dad to allow me to tear into out TV.  My plan was to patch into the TV's speaker wires to directly connect my AIWA recorder (a direct connect was much better than using a lapel mic). The goal was to record the Beatles' U.S. premier on Ed Sullivan.  It worked like a champ. 

In high school and college, I poured over the stereo magazines of the time. I found myself sending in the manufacturer card at the back of the magazine’s to request literature. I couldn’t afford any equipment. But boy did I have fun dreaming about Marantz receivers with their beckoning glowing displays and FM tuning wheels and McIntosh's gorgeous blue glowing displays seen at a local electronic store.  But both, particularly McIntosh, were unobtanium. 

Still having only the AIWA, I met a fellow student who returned from the Navy bearing a Pioneer quad system he bought while overseas. For obvious reasons, I sought him out as a roommate. He introduced me to many new groups and albums; not the least which were Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” and The Moody Blues “In Search of the Lost Chord” and Emerson, Lake & Palmer's debut album using the "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" name.  All 3 remain some of my favorites, with the tune "Lucky Man" being frequently used as an audition track.

Within a year after acquiring my first job following college and married, I saved up enough for my first system. It consisted of ESS Heil AMT-3, “Rockmonitor’s”, a JVC Integrated 80w/ch amplifier and Dual 1229 TT with a Shur cart. I still remember hearing Pink Floyd's DSOTM at the audio dealers.  After I got home, I called and asked what the heck was the album I heard and the rest as is said, is history...

After this, I just listened to music and remained with the same ESS Heil speakers for many years. A Tandberg reel-to-reel was added. But when we were burglarized, the Tandberg was taken, along with the JVC Integrated. A Revox B77 replaced the Tandberg and a Phase Linear 400 amp and 4000 "Autocorrelation" preamplifier replaced the JVC Integrated.

Thereafter, with family expenses, equipment stayed static for quite some time. In middle age with more disposable income, I jumped back into the highend audio world with vigor. 

Since then, I’ve acquired many different items, finding several small boutique manufacturers in the process.  But I have not strayed far from the original Heil AMT (Air Motion Transformer) sound, moving to panels and then electrostats.





MY "SYSTEM" consisted of a Concord 220 reel to reel connected by alligator clips to the 4x6 speaker of my Dad's Blaupunkt tube radio. 
There was classical and jazz shows on public radio, phone-in request stations for pop-tunes, and late at night when the parents went to bed, there was the "Underground Railroad" playing 60's rock bands (the extended songs). It wasn't much, but I had a lot of fun and enjoyment.
I never missed a chance to go to stores and listen to demo systems. I remember hearing a pair of Empire round-pillar shaped speakers playing the Beatle White album and couldn't believe how good they sounded.
$600 a pair! Aye, but Dad said "no- too expensive!" What can you do?
I bought a cheap pair of headphones, that's what!
Good ol' days?   I'm still living them with my long-standing high end anachrophile system.
And the music was better then too....
elliottbnewcombjr... I enjoyed your post very much,  thank you for adding links to the gear as I am a few decades removed from the era and it adds to the story.

My parents bought me a cheap all-in-one from Montgomery Ward when I was 8 or 9 because I wouldnt stop messing with my Dad's more expensive stereo. It had a particle board stand and the main stereo was meant to look like stacked components but it was all one piece. Turntable, tuner and dual cassette in one plastic box. In retrospect it was junk but I loved it as a kid. I listened to all my Dad's old records and I have no doubt this shaped my addiction to this hobby early on.

When I left for college I took my Dad's Sony stereo (another Montgomery Ward purchase)  and his vintage BIC Venturi formula 4's and I really thought I had something. I had a Sony discman hooked up to the aux-in and it was all I needed at the time. 
Infinity Rsb speakers driven by Marantz 2025 receiver with Sony PS-T2 turntable. Still have them all and all still in good working condition. First album was Three Dog Night greatest hits. Still have the album too.
My first real stereo (not counting the cheap all-in-one Electrophonic) began at age 16 with a Pioneer SX626 receiver I asked for and received for Christmas — was very pleased!  My initial speakers were a pair of Realistic Nova 7’s, but I upgraded to large Advents.  Then came a low-price Gerrard TT and a used Sony Reel-to-Reel.  That Sony was very nice! — a couple of interrupted hours of music that sounded better than my turntable.  I enjoyed this set-up until my mid-20’s, when my apartment was burglarized and most of it was stolen.  

At that time, I was using my brother’s Onkyo receiver, as the Pioneer was getting muddy-sounding. I felt really bad about his receiver getting stolen, and I didn’t have much money to replace it.  I finally donated the Pioneer to Goodwill when I was in my late 20’s.
Audiophile disease is a long journey.  I've been in it for 50 years and I'm always learning something new.  For the first time I tried a tube preamp with a solid state power amp and I really dig it.
I built my first system. Dynaco PAT4 and stereo 80 amp, AR turntable, and AR 4x speakers, tandberg reel to reel.. Took them to college with me! Everyone came into my room for the music. I spoofed everyone into thinking I was receiving WOR fm 250 miles away in Ithaca! I was playing the reel to reel....
I grew up in Ft Worth, first “system” was Heathkit fold up “record player in a suitcase” I got for Christmas.
Can’t remember now which Beatles album was the first, “upgraded “ to Radio Shack BSR turntable, receiver & speakers, I remember drooling over gear at Marvin’s Electronics on University Blvd, but couldn’t afford anything, bought used Tecnics gear when I was at A&M- loved it, have up - graded over the years- I’m happy w it, but damn- does anything really live up to the memories of your youth- on any level?
Dog , these are the good old days now !!! 
Very little was better in "the good old days" except age. Medicine, cars, household conveniences and audio were all grossly inferior to today. Nostalgia creates a massive and cloudy filter. Back in my youth I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if the world could be like Scotty on Star Trek and I could just tell a computer what to play?" Well guess what? Now I can. And no snap, crackle, pop or hiss.
Very little was better? How about 1950's Fender, Gibson, and Martin Guitars. Gretsch and Radio King drumsets, K. Zildjian cymbals made in Turkey. Big ol' Cadillac El Dorados and Lincoln Continentals (just yesterday I saw one with a black paint job and white leather interior, dropped a few inches. Wicked cool!
I got a paper route for TheWashington Post, bought my first system
Lafayette 30w amp, Garrard turntable, Criterion 25 speakers. I was in heaven.
Sold the 25’s after a few years, bought Criterion 100B’s ,big mistake. Got rid of those, then Dynaco A25’s and a larger Lafayette amp.
Back in heaven. Wish I still had the Dynaco’s.
Moved up to a AR system ,turntable amp, AR3a’s. Wow this was the bomb.
The AR’s were amazing, I still have the amp, but back then I got a Phase linear 400 and a HK citation preamp, only problem was the AR’s tweeters could not handle the power. Moved on to Klipsch LaScala and Macintosh. That  system rocked but the bass was nothing compared to the original AR’s.
However the LaScala’s  were always a party time favorite!

@bdp24 Very little was better? How about 1950’s Fender, Gibson, and Martin Guitars. Gretsch and Radio King drumsets, K. Zildjian cymbals made in Turkey. Big ol’ Cadillac El Dorados and Lincoln Continentals (just yesterday I saw one with a black paint job and white leather interior, dropped a few inches. Wicked cool!



Like I said ...
I’ve played guitar since 1985. Vintage guitars are only sought after because of nostalgia. They are inferior to today’s guitars in almost every way. Those old baseball bat necks were awful. And the lacquer finishes broke down. CNC’d guitars are way more accurately made than old hand-made ones. Today, the choice of guitars is infinitely better. The choice of pickups is infinitely better. The choice of finishes is better. Tremolos are way better. And the overall playability is better. And today’s guitar’s are cheaper and the cost point of diminishing returns is way lower than the old days.

I’m about to sell a Marshall head I bought over 30 years ago. Some sucker’s going to give me almost $3,000 for this one-trick pony. Why? Nostalgia. Meanwhile my software amp simulator sounds better, cost 1/20th the price and has thousands of times more versatility. Or going analog, I can use my $100 power amp and my $250 Amptweaker distortion pedal to blow it away in sound quality.

Old cars were lucky to reach 100,000 miles. Today that’s a baseline. Old cars were rust buckets, had finnicky carburetors, weak brakes, crappy bias-ply tires that lasted, at best, 25,000 miles, spark plugs that lasted 20,000 miles, finnicky distributors, rotors and points, exhausts that rusted away (remember when Midas used to be a muffler shop?) and if you got in an accident above 40 MPH you were pretty much dead. Heck, a new Corolla puts out more horsepower than that Cadillac. The only thing inferior about today’s cars are all the plastic parts.

When I saw Ry Cooder live, he was playing his (old) guitars through a jumble of old (1940’s/50’s/60’s) combo amps. My old bandmate Todd Phillips plays his 18th Century German upright bass when he gigs with David Grisman and Joan Baez. Steve Earle owns Hank William’s 1940’s Martin acoustic. Yeah, a real piece o’ junk ;-) . Modern violin players are still trying to recreate instruments that sound like the Stradivari and Guarneri’s, and rich players are willing to pay millions for them. Out of nostalgia, prestige, or bragging rights? No.

The comparison of old cars to new ones sounds like the argument for CD’s over LP’s. A Toyota Prius is a very efficient automobile. Does that alone make it "good"? I wouldn’t be caught dead in one (it’s hideously ugly). To each his own! Frozen food is easier to make edible than is a gourmet meal. Which would you rather eat?

I wouldn’t trade my 1950’s Radio King or 1960’s Gretsch drumsets for ANY modern kits, regardless of price. The K.Zildjians made in Turkey in the 1940’s and 50’s, and heard on a lot of the old Jazz records (and some new ones. Jazz cats still revere them), though quite variable sample-to-sample, fetch a small fortune amongst the players who value their unique sound (they produce a very percussive "click" when played with the tip of a drumstick, a great "splash" when struck with it's shank, and have a very "musical" spread of overtones). It has NOTHING to do with nostalgia.

Oops, It's Neil Young who own Hank's Martin. Martin's are well known to sound better as they age. As for old pickups, guitarists are willing to pay big money for pickups taken out of old guitars (ask Ry Cooder ;-) . Seymour Duncan does a great job of replicating old Fender pickups.

Fender switched from lacquer to polyurethane as the finish on their guitars and basses in '66 and the lacquer-finished '66 and earlier examples are worth considerable more than the poly-finished ones. Why? They sound better. Bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Carole King, Phil Collins, Toto) bought the P-bass body of his "Frankenstein" with no finish at all---unfinished wood is more resonant.

@bdp24  Modern violin players are still trying to recreate instruments that sound like the Stradivari


A blind test already debunked the Stradivarius myth. People, including elite violinists, actually preferred the sound of the modern violin*. Again, it's all about nostalgia and status.

There's an actual term for this longing for the past called Rosy retrospection. Even pro musicians are not immune to it.

The most technically-proficient guitar players (Vai, Govan, Malmsteen, Batio, Buckethead, etc.) all play guitars of their own design, not vintage ones.

Your Prius analogy is flawed. In keeping with your original cars, I'd take a new Lincoln Continental over a (new) old one. The new model will ride better, handle better, stop quicker, last far longer, be safer, have a better sound system, have more comfortable heated seats, have tires that last at least twice as long, an exhaust that will never rust, a body that will take far longer to rust, and be quieter.

As far as CDs, almost all mine have been sold. Why waste the space and suffer the inconvenience when I can stream and play almost any album in existence, by voice-control no less, for $150/yr? As for LPs, I gave those away in 1990. 

Time marches on.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/million-dollar-strads-fall-modern-violins-blind-sound-check

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/04/elite-violinists-fail-distinguish-legendary-violins-modern-f...

Blind testing? I'm going to guess you're not a "tube guy". ;-)

Roger Modjeski (of Music Reference and RAM Tube Works fame), though a completely "modern" amplifier designer, considered the OTL design of Julius Futterman---created in the 1950's---a work of genius. He DID find ways of making it more practical and dependable (a priority of yours it would appear @jssmith. It was for Roger as well), but not a way to improve the sound of it. Some feel the same way about the Quad ESL, another design from the 1950's (a great decade!).

@jssmith ... you wrote, " Your Prius analogy is flawed. In keeping with your original cars, I'd take a new Lincoln Continental over a (new) old one. The new model will ride better, handle better, stop quicker, last far longer, be safer, have a better sound system, have more comfortable heated seats, have tires that last at least twice as long, an exhaust that will never rust, a body that will take far longer to rust, and be quieter."

All of that may well be true, but I'm sticking with this 34 year old: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rfpd300/28380971501/in/album-72157648991024725/  
Since listening at night when all had to be quiet in the house, headphones was my first foray to “better” audio.
i knew nothing about placement (Martin Speakers made in NJ). So the separation of instruments on headphones allowed me to listen toELP well Into the late hours of the night. Yup, Koss headphones with a little slide lever to attenuate bass. I was KING of my 6’x9’ boy cave.
after a listening session I had to massage the pain out of my ears, Koss were heavyweights!   Someone turned me on to Sennheisers, barely weighed a couple of ounces, no sealed design yet they put out bass....had to have them.
@bdp24 

Blind testing? I'm going to guess you're not a "tube guy". ;-)

No. I prefer my music to be undistorted and my amps to be no more expensive than necessary to produce audible accuracy, which in the case of solid state is very cheap. Although I have no problem with people who like the sound of tubes' particular distortion when it's audible. Whatever floats your boat. Just don't call it more accurate. BTW, I have participated in two blind tests for amps.

Roger Modjeski (of Music Reference and RAM Tube Works fame), though a completely "modern" amplifier designer, considered the OTL design of Julius Futterman ...
Is that the same OTL that failed blind testing against a $220 Pioneer receiver in the infamous 1987 Stereo Review test?

Some feel the same way about the Quad ESL, another design from the 1950's

I remember hearing the Quads in the mid/late 80's, but I don't remember what it sounded like. A speaker that did stand out to me at the time was a Magnepan MG-III(?) for acoustic instruments and an Ohm F(?). Magnepan was the only speaker that could fool me on acoustic guitar. No other speaker I've heard sounds "real" with that or other instruments. But if someone was going to give me a set I'd chose Revel Salon 2. Dolby Labs agrees.