First System (Early 1980):
Hafler DH-101 Preamp
Hafler DH-200 Amp
DCM Time Windows (original) Speakers
Linn LP-12 Table
Infinity Black Widow Tonearm
Grace F9E Cartridge
Then I got into the High-End business and all bets were off. I've owned so much different gear since then that there's no way I could even make a list.
I had two systems at around the same time, circa 1973-74. Both used a Panny SP 10 table, an Audio-Technica arm, and a variety of cartridges. (I still have the turntable though I haven't used it in decades.)
The 'solid state' system used a Quintessence preamp (anybody remember those?) and the original Phase Linear 700 amp, with double Advents. That lot got sold shortly after the 'tube' system made its entrance.
The 'tube' system used an ARC SP 3-a-1 preamp, an ARC Dual 75a amp (which I still own!) and a pair of original Quad ESLs (which I also still own). I stayed with variations of this system for many, many years, replacing the turntable, preamps, amps, adding woofers, ribbon tweeters and eventually upgrading to the Crosby Quads (still have those too, along with the Decca ribbons). None of the Quads or older tube amps are in active service, but I still have them, along with a pair of vintage Quad II amps.
Late 70's in college
Marantz 1060 Integrated
Garrard Zero 100 Table with Shure cart
@Dpatterson, in the 70's I had almost the same system ... except TT (don't remember cart). That was some great sound!
This will give away my age. While in college in 1966 I built ST-70, PAS-3, and FM-3 Dynakits, to go with AR-4 speakers and a Dual 1009 w/ Empire cartridge. That system might be MOR today but at that time it was not far below Macs and Marantz.
Actually I expect with appropriate maintenance and new tubes it would still be quite musically satisfying today.
@Dpatterson, a friend of mine had the 1060 with a pair of large Advents that sounded great! I loved that little blue light on the 1060. I eventually ended up owning about a dozen of the '70's Marantz units over the years. Tuners, receivers, amps, loved them all. Still have a 2252 receiver in my basement system where I switch out various speakers...JBL 166's, large Advents, Wharfdales, Cerwin Vegas...still like the vintage sound.
Back in about 1975 I had a Stromberg-Carlson integrated tube amp hooked to some very large plywood boxes with 18" Radio Shack guitar speakers inside. No tweeters.
The source was a Gerrard TT with a nickel taped to the top end of the tone arm. This gave more bass and helped keep the needle in the groove while playing to death my Rolling Stones Honky Tonk woman 45 rpm record. I eventually bought Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti and Doobie Bros Captain and Me LP's
This system was a vast upgrade over what most of my contemporaries had at the time. 'hi end' for sure ;-)
1970 - 1975 back in University
-- JBL L88 speakers (identical to the foam cube grill JBL L100s w/o the midrange third speaker)
-- the original MARANTZ 2245 receiver
-- ELAC MIRACORD TT with Shure V15 cartridge
(geez... I think that General Washington entertained the troops at Valley Forge with the same kit ..)
OK....good for its time; but looking back now, none of this fare served up back then would remotely qualify as "hi-end" based on today's available modestly priced gear. "Vintage" as referred to today does not necessarily (rarely) mean "Good".
It was a heavily coloured "California sound" with the treble/midrange/bass controls cranked over; tailored for 60s and 70s LP rock albums in the U dorm with an acrid smell of Maui Wowwee floating down the hallways mixed in with a whiff of stale beer.
1970 or something KLH Model 20 system...the one without the tuner. Killed.
A lovely simple system:
Advent Powered Loudspeakers
Then a friend got an LP12 and it was all over for me.
When I was 6 in 1978 I got a big Philips 'tube' stereo recorder from my Dad. I remember the smell of the tubes when I started it.
In the late '70s/early '80s, I used Kef Corelli speakers with Audire electronics and a Dual 'table.
Obviously "hi-end" is relative:
Early 70s - Minerva receiver, Webcor turntable w/nickle tonearm tweak, groovy Craig (?) 8 track player, Utah speakers
I just thought of another early system...hooking my Altec A7s (look 'em up) I used in the 70s for live band stuff to my KLH system sounded amazing...rare, but man...something about those Altecs was so sweet.
The one I have now. I call it vintage "Hi-End" Infinity RS-1s run by a Threshold S/300 and Pioneer Spec2. Just waiting for some nice VTLs to try on the top end. Even my CD player is "vintage" 10 year old Pioneer Elite DVD player. All sounds good to me.
1978 with a pair of Kef 105/2, Meridian 105 monos, Oracle Alexandria/FR-14/Dynavector Ruby. Still have the Kefs and Meridians in the closet. Sold the Oracle.
1977- Tannoy Cheviots, Technics sl 1700, Ortofon m20 super E, Yamaha cr 1020, and the most expensive lamp cord I could buy. Very musical, simple and fun as all get out.
Back in early 1970s -- Crown IC-150 preamp; Crown DC 300 amp; Infinity 2000a speakers with ESL tweets; Thorens TD 160 Mk II table and $80 Ortofon cartridge; hardware store lamp wire for the amp/speaker connects.
This was a good system in the day. I recall that the 2000a speakers were on J Gordon Holt's Class B list for speakers. I'm pretty sure J Gordon was a fan of the Crown gear too.
Fast forward funny story. I set my kid up with a small stereo rig for his apartment. Rega R-5 speakers (about $1000/pair); Crown DC 300A factory reconditioned amp and my first ARC SP-9 Mk I preamp.
The SP-9 has been at a local ARC service station for a check-up and for preventative replacment of some caps and resisters for a week or so. I lent my son my Crown IC-150 pre to use while the SP-9 was getting spit-polished. He reported back that his little rig sounds like he's got a sock stuffed in his ears. I guess that says something about the ARC SP-9.
Well ... just picked up the SP-9 today. Looks good. It'll be interesting to know whether my son can really tell the difference.
My first hi-end system was in the early 80's and I didn't know what to do with it. An older neighbor with family problems very unexpectedly brought over a McIntosh C-22 preamp, MR-71 tuner, a Dyna Mk 2 amp, and a Thorens TD-124 TT w/SME tonearm all in pristine quality. (He had a pr of Marantz 9's still in the house that he didn't grab) He had boxes to all this stuff but didn't have time to box it all up. Instead, the IC's were hanging out of all the gear like he just unplugged it. He said use it, enjoy it, I'll be back in 6 months, maybe a year, maybe never to get it back from you...
I didn't even know what tube equipment was as I had a HK 330C receiver, Dual 1225 TT and Advent speakers. I plugged in all his stuff and turned it all on. Didn't know you had to let tube gear warm up.
1st Impression: What's wrong with this stuff? The music doesn't even come on when you turn the power on.
2nd Impression: This stuff sounds like crap (I expected it to sound great in the first 5 seconds after it was on)
3rd Impression: (after 10 minutes) This stuff runs so hot, I'm going to burn my house down.
...so I unplugged it and never used it again....how dumb was I? Don't answer that :)
Apt Holman Pre, Acoustat TNT-120, larger Maggies.....heaven in the 80's. 70's was not bad with Nikko Pre, Mistubishi Power, and small Maggies.
First attempt was an all Lafayette system with integrated amp, tuner, and Heil AMT speakers.
Second attempt shortly after was a Hitachi Class G receiver, Philips 312 table, Aiwa ad6550 cassette deck, and OHM L speakers (which I still own). The Class G Hitachi was very nice in many ways but the weak link sonically. AN upgrade to a Tandberg TR2080 a few years later set things up nicely at last.
When I purchased my Oracle Delphi Mk I turntable, I knew that I had arrived.
Wow, where do we draw the line? My first really "high-end" maybe was a McIntosh 5100 integrated amp and a pair of the original Bose 901 speakers. AR and Dual 1219 turntables, with Shure V15 and Stanton 681EE cartridegs, and a Sony 355 reel to reel tape deck. That system morphed quickly starting with McIntosh 2100 and C26, then second Mac 2100, then Thorens TD-125 with SME arm, an assortment of Shure, Stanton, and Ortofon cartridges. The Bose speakers were replaced with Bozak Concert Grands and I was off the deep end. All this "high end" thing started in 1970 for me. In the ensuing years a lot of stuff has come and gone.
By 1982 I'd worked my way into Klipsch Heresy pro monitors, Halfler DH200 power, RGR Model 4-1 pre-amp, Marcoff PPA-2 pre-pre amp, Rega Planar 2 turntable, Dynavector Karat 23RS, TEAC A3440 reel-to-reel, Tandberg TCD440A cassette, DBX 224 Type 2 noise reduction system, DBX 3BX Series Two dynamic range expander, MXR 15 band stereo equalizer, assorted Vampire Wire and Monster Cable ICs. Still have the RGR, Tandberg and Vampire Wire. The RGR is stored and needs a lot of work, but the TCD440A and VW still sound as good as the day I brought them home.
When I turned OFF Dolby C on my 3 head cassette deck.
Kenwood LO7C, Gas Grandson of Ampzilla, Kenwood, KD600 table with Audio Technica arm, Technics SB7070.
I've had worst since....
Denon PMA 720, bought new in 1990 from Purdue Audio in Montclair, NJ, some kind of really (in it's day) heavy and expensive Kenwood CD player, and Advent Heritage speakers. I still have the amplifier. It's had some switches replaced, but otherwise it's been bullet proof and is still doing daily duty in my bedroom. Occasionally when something is out for repair I'll stick it in my main system and I'm always amazed at how good this 24 year old, $350 amp sounds.
Noromance...you're bringing back nightmares. Cassette decks and Dolby noise reduction...such despicable devices.
Harman Kardon 330C receiver
Dual turntable of some type
No idea as to cartridge (likely Grado) or cabling
Large Advent speakers
1977 Scott 477 reciever + audio analyist speakers. 1979-Yamaha CR2020 reciever,turntable + NS 1000 speakers. Time sure flew by didnt it. Ted