Were you an audiophile in the 1980s and 1990s?

If so you will probably recognize a lot of the anecdotes in my new book about the music, the equipment and behind the scenes in some of the audio journals.  It's "The Lucky Audiophile - Anecdotes from High End Audio".

"Mike Kuller’s book, part autobiography, part musical history, chronicles his life and journeys in the world of high-performance audio during the 1980’s and 1990’s with Harry Pearson and The Absolute Sound magazine. His reminisces bring back memories of what could be considered the “Golden Age” of audio. His concert lists document many of the important and influential artists of the last thirty years. If you ever wanted to peer behind the curtain of The Absolute Sound during its heyday, give Mike’s book a read."  Steven Stone, reviewer and columnist for The Absolute Sound and FutureAudio.com

"It's a fascinating and engrossing tale of the journey he has taken.  An enjoyable read."   John Atkinson, Technical Editor Stereophile



I had a turning point in 1968 when I heard my first pair of KLH-9's at a house in the West Portal neighborhood of San Francisco. A teenager at the time, I had no idea such things existed. Reading Audio, Stereo Review, and such had not really prepared me for that.

I later ran through equipment like nobody's business. Name it, I had it. I got into repair and everything breaks. Repair people get everything. Dynamic Specialties in Redwood City with Jay and Bob was in it's heyday. What a place.

Those were fun times. I loved JGH (IWEWT) and could not read the pompous HP.

To me though, the most important HiFi writer at the time has not been mentioned.

That's because he wasn't a HiFi writer at all. He wrote music reviews for the Chronicle or the Examiner, I forget which. One was the morning paper, one the afternoon. Anyway, unlike most reviewers, he would write not about what was wrong but what was right.  Oh, he wasn't any Pollyanna, he was a realist but he wrote about what he liked and didn't quibble about the trivial.

A lot of HiFi to me has long revolved around the "analytic" side of things. Which hair should we split as opposed to what do we actually find pleasure in. That leads to the "Amplifier of the Month Club" that I've often opined about. One gets the newest and shiniest in the living room, finds fault, and seeks another.

The cycle repeats.

That way leads to madness.

Such is audio folly.

I should know. I've been there. It's a sickness.

I don't know exactly what turned me around. One day or should I say one evening I realized that just sitting back with a good single malt in the quiet of the evening and relaxing beat all the heck out of stressing about silly details that I didn't care about.

Why look for flaws that are inevitably there and force myself to be dissatisfied?

it's been a long road. More missteps than anything else to be sure but that's the story of most journeys.

That Writer that I mentioned earlier? Ralph J. Gleason was the guy. At the time he was just the music reviewer for the local fishwrap.

In my era of HiFi misadventures, he was the voice of common sense.

Yeah, I know, common sense in a HiFi environment. What a maroon.

Ah, the good old days.

Lance Cochrane

An aside as to typical example of a bad reviewer. Robert Harley reviewed a Counterpoint 400? amp. He gave it a negative review indicating that the sound was problematic and told the manufacturer that it could be defective. They asked for it back, told him that they repaired the problem (did NOTHING) and sent it back to him. He re-reviewed it and stated it was so much improved and sounded great now that it was repaired. Typical foolish reviewer.  P.S. I purchased a highly modified version of that amp and it was good at the time but I only kept it for less than a year.  See next post.


I also greatly enjoyed Art Dudley's reviews on Listener and later pubs.  He introduced me to EAR (I own the 890, 864, 324 and used/sold the Acute for 15 years).  However, I did not use the 890 and 864 for more than a year back in 2006 as it was inferior to my new monoblock tube amps and subminiature preamp.  Then in 2022, I installed Synergistic Research purple fuse in the 890 and blue fuse in the 864, put Ultra SS Stillpoints under the 864 and SR MigSx under the 890-transformed my system into high end (good became great without SOTA cost).  I don't know how Art (and others) decided that the EAR equipment was so great using stock tubes, standard glass fuses and listening on their small rubber feet.  The 864 was given so-so initial reviews which I can verify as being accurate (forward sounding/in your face, lacking depth/flat soundstage).  Also, changing to NOS tubes (Mullard 4004/RCA cleartop 12AU7 line stage) were essential to elevating the 864 as well.  Too bad I couldn't share my enthusiasm with Art for the EAR gear sooner.   

@fleschler or for that matter w Tim P…. my prayer is he and Art are laughing at ALL of us from the stars… RIP

All: even when making the simplest of field recordings in reverberant space of unamplified instruments, Microphone choice and placement have…. already cast the skewing die…..


The Sensible Sound…. i miss that rag also….

i am greatly enjoying the thread….

If you are enjoying all this reminiscing, you will enjoy reading my book - “The Lucky 🍀 Audiophile”. I mention a lot of this equipment and the audio journals. And i discuss a lot of the live music I saw. Flashback for sure.