What started you on the path to being audionut?

I was 14 and visited by 26 year old neighbor. Went to his room. He fired up his Thorens table with some Chicago running through a Carver preamp/cube amp into Heresy horn speakers.
At the time this was leaps and bounds better versus anything else I heard. I was hooked from that moment.

He also played trumpet in a Chicago tribute band. I use to sit outside on my mom's front steps listening to his band practice as the music flowed out from the open, cellar hatchway doors.
My parents went shopping for a console in the 1960s. (They settled on a Magnavox.) While shopping, they asked the salesman about some components on a shelf in the corner of the store, and they were told they were very expensive but sounded good. This piqued my curiosity.

In high school, I had to walk past an audio store. I went in and eventually bought a cheap Fisher 3 piece combo system (turntable mounted on top of the receiver) which I thought was much better than our Magnavox.

In college, a lot of guys had much better stuff in their rooms, and I learned a lot more about good sound. By the time I graduated, I had collected a decent system and the bug was in my blood.

My pride and joy were my Rectilinear 3 highboys. But years later when I read a column by Julian Hirsch about how modern speakers had surpassed them, I started upgrading again. Like I replaced the Rectilinear 3s with Thiel 3.6s and then with Wilson W/P 6s. etc etc.
Back around 73-76 I was a teenager ,and had met older guys coming back from the service with some very nice systems . I was hooked on getting a better system ever since.
It was 1977-78 I was 13 years old and I walked into my Sister's much older boyfriend's condo, and there was a whole McIntosh system complete with all the goodies, tuner included. McIntosh XR7 speakers and top of the line Sony TT with a Tandberg cassette recorder. The lights on all the components at night were incredible.Everything was sitting on a really wide and low chrome and glass rack. Prior to that day I thought Pioneer was High-Fi.(lol) Today I own a McIntosh MC352 stereo amplifier. (go Figure)
A visit to the Electronic Workshop in Greenwich Village when I was 16 years old. The K-Horn (mono days) and tube electronics, and Thorens took my breath away. Soon I was buying Marantz and McIntosh. I still remember that visit.
"Jameswei: My pride and joy were my Rectilinear 3 highboys. But years later when I read a column by Julian Hirsch about how modern speakers had surpassed them, I started upgrading again."

My pride and joy were my Rectilinear 3A's. I read the same article by Julian Hirsch and traded them in for something different. I still wish I had kept them as I truly loved their sound.
I found records fascinating as a kid and listened to and studied them intently. Then one day i received a shock while playing around with a record player and the rest is history.
My story started like Jameswei's. My folks bought a large Magnavox console in the sixties with 15" woofers, horn highend and 100 watt amp. I thought it sounded better than anything I had ever heard, until the guy in the room next to mine in the dorm played his bookshelf system. It was a three-piece system with the turntable on top of the receiver and small speakers. When I went home at Easter that year, my Dad's Magnavox sounded terrible with overpowering, boomy bass.

The next year, another college friend showed up with his new "college speakers" that he had constructed during the summer. These were 8 cubic foot cabinets with a 15" JBL pro woofer and a 15" passive radiator in each, actively biamped to a pair of 5" JBL mids and a JBL tweeter. A revelation in what recorded music could sound like.

The bug bit hard.

My uncle gave me his collection of Danny Kaye albums (books of 78's). Grandma bought me a Webcor phonograph... the result is a depletion of my bank account.
I was chatting with neighbors in their living room when someone started playing a trumpet over in the corner. I looked to see who it was but the only thing over there was a Vienna Acoustics Beethoven.
Stereo5, I really liked the way the Rectilinears sounded too. In my mind, they had a sense of the sound of electrostatics, which were out of my price range. They were airy and the sound seemed to be emitted from the entire baffle, given their 4 tweeters. And the ported woofer went lower than most others.

Looking at Wikipedia, a list of key people at the company has notable designers: Arnold Schwartz, James Bongiorno, Marty Gersten, Jon Dahlquist, Richard Shahinian
Stumbled into it when had to replace a CD player. Started poking around the 'net and discovered this whole new (to me) crazy world of high-end audio. Been insane about it ever since.
I built a few Heath kits as a lad. Later, when older, I was a salesman then a Manager at Radio Shack. That was during the time when Radio Shack merged (purchased) with Allied Radio and became Allied Radio Shack for a time.
We sold all brands of Audio gear. Such as, Sansui, Tandberg, Pioneer, Kenwood and many others.

Oh, to be that young again...
What started you on the path to being audionut?
Listening to music and wanting it to sound better.

As a youngster, I simply lusted after my own record player, but my Dad insisted that the console stereo that he was buying was sufficient. Yeah, it sounded better than AM radio, but it wasn't in my room, but in the family room where everyone watched TV. When could I listen to "my" music?

Somehow I talked the old man into buying me a 3" reel-to-reel portable recorder popular at the time. And I recorded music off the radio and even hard-wired it to the TV's speaker wire to record The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. But good sonics, nah, just convenient -- the ability to kinda' play what I wanted, when I wanted.

For better sonics, having no clue what I was doing, I bought raw speakers, bolted them into cardboard boxes with holes punched in their tops which I spray painted to look more finished. My AM radio sound better, but...!!

I really didn't hear a decent component system until I was in college; when I heard my music appreciation prof's system in his office. It sounded like what I pictured in my mind and my reading in the hi-fi rags at the time. Man, at that time, did I lust after just my own record player, let alone a Marantz receiver (simply because of how it looked)!
While in college, I even “courted” a friend to be my roommate in the apartment I was renting, because he had just returned home from the Navy and had bought a Pioneer Quadraphonic component system in Japan.

Thereafter, while dating my soon-to-be wife, I did manage to help her spend her money on a Zenith "Circle of Sound" record player (like this: https://www.google.com/search?q=zenith+circle+of+sound+record+player&espv=2&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=pbmgU7bZNdOqyASzloHYDA&ved=0CBwQsAQ&biw=1920&bih=1067#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=idpZCl6fEfWeuM%253A%3Bz5LDDCV0Xnl2kM%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fs3.amazonaws.com%252Fassets.svpply.com%252Flarge%252F1417297.jpg%253F1402563512%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fsvpply.com%252Fitem%252F1417297%252FVtg_1965_Zenith_Circle_of_Sound%3B500%3B375-- hardly hi-fi, but ALL either of us could afford.

After college and my first "real" job and with money for other than necessities, I bought my first fairly high-end system and the rest is hist......

But it all started with just wanting to listen to music -- the music I liked. And when I eventually realized that I could not only listen to music, but actually recreate the performance in my own environment....what a revelation!!!! One that every time I fire-up the big rig, remains with me today....