What started you on your audiophile journey .

Was it a friend or family members great system , the love of well recorded music , or just needed a hobby .
record players fascinated me and i shocked myself once playing around with a phono as a kid.
I'd say my audiophile journey has consisted of 2 phases.

Phase 1 was self-started.

At an early age, very early age, I liked music. I gravitated to buying records, record players, transistor radios. At least in part, I was invited to parties probably because I was the one that had all the music.

Then, I guess I'd say I became somewhat dormant in terms of being an audiophile.

Phase 2 was started by my brother and sister-in-law.

By brother and sister-in-law gave me an Ipod for my birthday one year. I knew about Ipods and what an Ipod was but never really paid them much attention. But once I got the Ipod and became familiar with it I became kinda fascninated with it and understood better why and how it had impacted the world.

This woke up the dormant audiophile in me.
My dad bought me an expensive Concord mono cassete recorder in the 60's and I started tapeing songs off my am/fm portable radio. When I turned 16, I bought my first component system: Sansui receiver, BSR turntable, Sony cassette deck, Teac Dolby B adapter and Rectilinear speakers. Set me back 6 months of work at 500.00. Still have the receipt to this day.

Exactly a year later, I traded up all the equipment, well you know the rest.........

I walked into Esoteric Audio in Scottsdale, many years ago.
I heard a sytem that sounded better than anything I'd ever heard before. That system was:

SOTA turntable.
CJ preamp wth phonostage.
CJ amp.
Spica Angelus speakers.

I couldn't believe how good it sounded!
I had heard the big Sansui & Pioneer receivers, Cerwin Vega speakers, several turntables & even Yamaha NS10M speakers, before.
The CJ system was in another league!
I too had always loved music as a kid. As a young paper boy, part of our salary was put into a bond for us when we quit. On that glorious day, I took my "bond" money and rushed with my mom to the local "stereo" store. I ended up purchasing an all in one panasonic unit - that is what the budget got me at that time. I was exceptionally happy with my first stereo. No longer did I have to take my turn on my parent's Hi Fi! Later in my college years, a friend had a great system for a college kid consisting of a Micro Seiki deck, which I thought was to die for! He was probably the biggest influence on the journey towards quality reproduction of the music I loved. He introduced me to used gear at a local shop, and encouraged me to move into an NAD integrated. I teamed that up with my roommates turntable, and later was able to get a pair of Maggies. Both of which I still own - sentimental to the core.
My father had a Grundig receiver and 2 little Grundig speakers and then got a Dual turntable which he still has though doesn't use and switched to Noresco (Canadian rebranding of Philips) bookshelf speakers that were big enough to use as end tables.

When I was 14 I got my first LP's and played them on that system, loud when my folks weren't home. I think I was 14 when I saw my first stereo magazines and realized there was more out there than the little stereo store my dad bought stuff from. Hooked ever since.
My father is a professional musician, so I had a love of music from a very early age. I could sing the opening of Chabrier's España (the Mercury LP of the DSO and Paray) on pitch before my dad put the needle down when I was three years old. I always knew I was going to be a professional musician as well. However, my father did not have high end equipment, though he did have pretty much the best of mid-fi. It was my uncle who introduced me to the audiophile world. I first heard his Altec A7 Voice of the Theater speakers when I was eight. Couldn't afford my own high end system until many years later, though. Used to get by in college and afterwards with a pair of Cerwin Vega's, a Harmon Kardon receiver, and a Technics table. Still have the first two items, though they haven't been in my system in years.
There were many influences before that, but once I heard my new friend's stereo which was a great mid-fi, I got into it more seriously.
It was from a Sony transistor Radio from the 60's my mother had, which had bass and treble tone controls.. I was always trying to equalize the sound of the music the radio was producing.. The bass was always thin, so I boosted it to around the 2:00 position, then set the treble around the 12:30 position or slightly higher... then, would adjust the volume to where she liked it.. My Mom always like the way I set those controls... but hated it when I got too obsessed with playing around with her radio!
My hostel mate during university days back in the late 80s.
Music was always part of who I was so my dad brought home a Garrard turntable and Eico integrated amp from a yard sale when I was 14 or so. He did this to keep me away from his console stereo in the living room. I had to build my own speakers from some MDF and a pair of eight inch speakers.
Enjoyed that for a couple of years before buying a Harman Kardon receiver with a BSR turntable and Tech Hifi's branded speakers.
The love of music.
My journey started with a fascination for electronics . When I was 12 , about 1970 I started building crystal radio kits then AM radio kits then started to design my own circuits . I was amazed at how much better my designs sounded than the receivers of the day , it added fuel to the fire . I even took apart my parents new console stereo , really mono , needles to say when they found out the whole thing ended with much discord . When I was 17 , about 1975 , I heard my first real audio system , Mac separates , it knocked my socks off . I new at that point that I would newer reach that level on my own and started buying audio gear and have been upgrading ever since , still not done .
When I heard equipment from Great American Sound, otherwise known as GAS, back in the late '70s. I still have a Thoebe preamp and Son of Ampzilla.
My father...He was building speakers back in the 50's and he just loved music of all kinds and enjoyed reading about and owning the latest equipment. He got me started and I'm still playing. He's 95 years old now and still sneaks new components into the house even though his hearing isn't what it used to be. I learned from the best!
The first real "audiophile" system I heard was running Klipschorns and Magnepan Tympanis I believe they were circa 1977. They left quite an impression!
I heard an AR 2A.
I've got 3 uncles and a godfather who are are serious audiophiles. I would visit their houses as a kid and listen to the wonderful music from their systems and then marvel at their gear. One uncle had these immense looking Threshold and Audio Research gear. His speakers were these tall Magneplanar speakers. They would sometimes bring me to stereo stores when they were buying or auditioning gear. Everything looked so expensive I just sat and looked at gear. My dad has some gear from my uncles to. My Dad's bedroom system had a McIntosh receiver, a Reel to Reel and DIY speakers. His main system was a Nikko stack with Shure pro speakers.

In addition to that I've also always liked to listen to music. From taping music from the radio stations as a kid to buying tons and tons of CDs, to digitally downloading or buying. I always to listen to music. When I finally got a house I was more into HT but then when I found I didn't have as much time for HT I got back into 2 channel listening after just listening to music via headphones.
Lent my first and only album to a friend at school. After a few days went to get it back, walking up to his dorm room heard the record playing, it sounded so different then on my modest system. Once in his room hearing the full effect it was marvelous. I have been hooked every since.
My interpretation of the word "audiophile" is to mean "high end" audio. When I was in "mid fi", I was simply a music lover with a stereo. After my mid fi pre went "belly up", I wandered into a high end emporium. I could not believe the music that could be derived from a black disc if you had a Koetsu cartridge, with Sota, ARC and B & W. Carmen McRae was so real on the soundstage, I wanted to walk up and kiss her. That's when I became an audiophile.
Music was always playing at our house. My systems started with my Dad buying me a suitcase styled orange and white turntable with built in speakers at about age 10. Been upgrading ever since and no plans to ever stop!
my parents were professional pianists.

my father had a decent stereo system (mono) and i was constantly exposed to live piano music.

i developed my interest in classical music while i was in elementary school.

i played in a hs band.

my first purchase was a magnavox phonograph, followed by a sony tape deck. i taped many concerts (live) from carnegie hall, the frick collection and the ny phil, whenever possible.

my first serious stereo system was in the 60's.
Nothing in particular. I just like music. I heavily regret not being a musician. I blame myself as being too lazy as a kid and having music teachers that were so boring and who didn't give a toss about kids. My mistake was getting to heavily into sports. I guess if I were a small skinny nerdy runt then it would have been a natural direction for me instead of sports. Currently, I am working hard to be able to play in a band one day.
Jack Roberts and Ken Askew, 1973...mesmerized by stacked Quad 57s while sitting in a doublewide outside of Waco listening and watching the inner and outer arcing lights during a thunder storm...spinning vinyl of course; I believe the first platter was the Al Kooper-Super Session album.
The first tape I remember playing over and over again was David Bowie's "Golden Years," a compilation. I was also really into the Police. This was around 1984-85, before I entered high school. Music was always a part of my psyche, I'd go to sleep with headphones on, I'd crank my Dad's old Credence vinyl to deafening levels. He was an electrical engineer and built his own speakers. I always had a decent cassette player and a backpack full of tapes, and I went to CD as soon as it came out, because it was so easy to get to my favorite song. I had that metal stalk with the spring platform connected to my front seat in my car, had to use that cassette with the wire that had the mini-plug on it to get the CD sound into the tape deck, remember those...?!?
My college roommate opened my eyes to hi-fi, he ran a pair of Paradigms with a Luxman integrated and a SonyES changer. I never knew music could sound so good. I'm still trying to upgrade the sound in my system, I'll never stop.
In my early childhood my folks had a Zenith console I used to play their 45's on. In my mid-teens I heard a set of JBL L100's a friend had powered by a Kenwood amp. Used to dream of Marantz separates.
Joined the military in the 70's and thought I had the best when I bought most of Pioneers top of the line stuff, along with a Teac A6300 RTR. Still a greenhorn.
Then I walked into Sound World many years later to pick up my amp (Marantz 1250 integrated) which was in for repair, and was placed in front of a $45K system which was comprised of CJ, Classe, and B&W. Was blown away. Thought that soundstage and imaging was all BS, just something the big spenders said to justify the cost. Now my system was garbage and the quest was on.
A friend of mine in junior high playing me Flim & The BB's "Big Notes" on the Dynaco/AR setup his father passed down to him.

Ahh, those were the days. :)
Lots of interesting stories to say the least .
My journey started when I was about 5 years old; sitting on the floor in front of an old Magnovox mono record player console with a single 6 inch speaker as I was banging away on an old tattered paperback book with a pair of drumsticks while a Beatles album was spinning. It was off to the races! 48 years later, I still get chills sitting in the sweet spot in my listening room.
No kidding. We had an old tv, which needed an upgrade and needed a radio or iPod dock to play music in the kitchen.

Quite rapidly I found some interesting hd tv, and thought it might make sense to hear it with a small 5.1 surround system,...however during the reviewing and testing process, I noticed huge differences in the sound of the same cd depending on the speaker set. I ended up buying a relative low end energyb5.1 surround system and onkyo 805 receiver for my tv and bought an extra set of used spendors s8es with radioshack 12 gauge cables. then came the grado i80 for night listening, the sonos system, the w4s dac, Lfd ncse integrated amp, chord cables. The latest purchase is the Logitech touch for my hi-Rez files. Somewhere in the middle I also purchased a stinky "dingee" for great computer listening.

I wonder what is next? Probably a speaker upgrade.... Love the spendors though. Still hard to beet in that price range.
I had a Yamaha/Mirage mid-fi setup since college (10+ years), and at many times did a lot of dedicated listening on it. A year ago the wife said, "Hey, what do you think about getting rid of our TV?" I said, "Sure, Babe. Think we could upgrade the stereo?"

Shortly thereafter a tube integrated appeared on Craigslist. "Honey," I said, "a series of events are about to unfold..."

At the age of 7 or so I would put my ear near the speaker of my parents early 70's Panasonic-FET Compact system. My mother would ask what are you doing? I told her I was trying to hear the words better(lol).
Music has always been in integral part of my life. But journey into high end equipment began when my mid-fi CD player broke. I began searching for a replacement. At the same time I considered upgrading my speakers as well. I found www.axiom.com and got interested in their speakers. Almost bought a pair, but through them, then discovered a whole world of high end audio I had never known existed. The race was on!
If I had to blame one person for giving me the giddyup down the “audiophile” path, it would have to be Bob Carver and those crazy Silver Sevens on the cover of some audio magazine.
Like most people, I had an interest in music, a basic record player. I did'nt know HiFi existed. I was working as a junior doctor, intern in US parlance and a colleague had a pretty good system, Linn SME based of course, being the UK in the late 70's. I was just knocked out by how good music can sound. That was 34 years ago. Still toiling away, with a long break for young kids.
My kids love music to and I hope one of them will take on my system and collection, when I eventually head for the great record fair in the sky
Back in the mid 70's my older brother purchased an all in one unit (Tuner,amp,turntable,and 8-track)from Sears. We would listen to music and mess around with ways to help it sound better for hours.
Then in 1982 a friend asked me to come over and listen to his stereo system. We played a half speed master of Ghost In The Machine and I was blown away! This was the first time that I could hear the separation of instruments and the pure impact of the recording.
That was the moment that solidified my desire to have high quality sound. I was 17 had no money, but the seed was planted. Now 30 years later I may have achieved that goal of very good high quality sound. The journey continues as I'm starting to look at getting back into vinyl, the place were it all started.
Go figure?
I always had a stereo but after I installed an A/C system in a hi end stereo store and got the bug.
I always loved music, and some of my friends introduced me to this hifi world on the 1900's.
My dad had a Pioneer "spec" system when I was growing up. I still hoard vintage equipment because I love the old sound!
At the age of 9 my mother insisted that i learn to play the clarinet...ugh!
But it turned into the best thing (culturally) my folks have ever done for me.
when i was in high school in late '70s/early '80s I wandered into a store called Nantucket Sound in the Boston area and saw a beautiful but simple pair of Snell J II's oak cabinets. The sales rep asked if I wanted to hear them and tabled Aja. First song was Black Cow and I was hooked. Of course I could not afford the Snells but started with Boston Acoustic BA 40's and then tried a pair of (if I recall correctly) the Allison D6's (square black box with top firing woofer and those things imaged amazingly with a basic Onkyo Integra receiver. BTW anybody know where I can pick up a pair of those vintage Allison's (where they A6's or D 6's?) thanks
Lots of interesting stories , it's very enlightening to see how it all began for other members , thanks for the responses .
Won a stereo in 1984 at Hudsons Audio in Albuquerque N.M. I am still a customer and am grateful for the journey. I was 18 years old when I became an audiophile. Thanks again Hudsons!!
Hard to pin it on one cause. Some early memories that are possibly relevant:
*My mom teaching me how to play yellow 45s on this portable record player with a mechanical arm. Kind of scary to a pre-school kid, as I recall.
*A couple of different "crystal" radios
*A transistor radio, WABC out of NYC and the Beatles happening in the '60s.
*An H.H. Scott receiver, Superex headphones and "Underground" FM radio in the late '60s/early '70s.
Around 1959 or so I remember my parents having one of those big pieces of furniture that had a roll out turntable and one big speaker. My father had a rather good sized fishtank sitting on top. One morning, we woke up to an empty tank and the record player ruined. It had sprung a leak and everything was wet. That Christmas, I think it was 1959 or sixty, my father bought my mother a Webcor stereo. It looked like a suitcase. You unlatched it and the top opened. Then you could unlatch the speakers and swing them out on hinges or take them off and put them further apart or in another room. I remember that it came with a set-up record that would tell you how to balance the speakers. You would hear a ping pong ball rolling from one speaker to the other. That was the beginning.
1969, when I inherited my grandfather's Arvin table radio:


and listened to Triad Radio every night I could get away with it:


I was 10 years old, and have loved music and audio ever since.

Was gifted a cheap system in 1974 dad built the speakers they had issues so started correcting those and built others never stopped.
A Zenith Royal 500 am radio when i was 12 yrs old.
A Grundig-Majestic console stereo at my Godparents house when I was still a tot. It had doors that swung open so I could play records on my own. I inherited it when they passed on and still have it to this day. It still works!

I kept on my parents to get one and after being a major annoyance to no end, off to Sears we went. Shortly after a used Silvertone console was delivered. I was so excited to finally have my own stereo to play records on. This unit had a flip top to access the record changer. My parents remember me playing the first few records (at 4 years old no less) and telling them that it didn't sound as good as my godparents unit....

Needless to say I still have a huge appreciation for nice reproduction of recorded music.