What were your humble beginnings on the path to high end audio?

Recently there has been a discussion as to the “price point where mid fi tops out and hi end systems begin”. I’d be willing to bet that there are not many folks who started out in this field of interest spending $100K, $50K or even $10K. Going back to your very beginnings, what was your first serious audio system?

I’ll jump in the wayback machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman and give you a look at my beginnings.

My journey began at around age 13. I started out with a Lafayette KT-630, stereo tube amp that I built from a kit in my 9th grade, “electronics shop” class. The speakers were built at home from plans in the 1968, July issue of Mechanix Illustrated. I upgraded the cabinet construction from plywood, to solid mahogany. The twin woofers in each cabinet were also upgraded to 5” from the specified 4” units and the tweeters were also upgraded from the specified 2-3/4” units to the deluxe 3” units. The inductors in the 6db per octave passive crossovers were hand wound and the caps, terminal strips, L-pads, magnet wire and grill cloth were from Lafayette Radio Electronics as were the woofers and tweeters. The turntable was a purchased Garrard SL72B with a Shure M91E magnetic cartridge.

Check out the amp specifications on page 42 of the Lafayette 1968 summer catalog #648.

The raw speakers are shown on page 55 of the Lafayette 1971 catalog #710. Woofers, 99-F-01554, figure D. Tweeters were at the bottom of page 55, 99-F-00499. The Garrard SL72B is on page 69 of the same catalog.

I still have the speaker systems and the amp and they all still work! Alas the SL72B is long since gone. I mowed a lot of grass and shoveled a lot of snow in the neighborhood to buy all that high end gear at age 13! :-D By todays standards, not very impressive, but to a 13 year old in 1968, it was awesome!

So to reiterate, what was your first serious audio system?

P.S. - If you are interested, check out some select old Lafayette, Allied Radio, Heathkit, Radio Shack, Olson and other old catalogs from what I think of as the “good old days” of electronics and my youth.

Summer of 1959, built Eico Kit 12 Watt mono tube integrated. Speaker was Stevens bookshelf model. It had a single 8" speaker and was made from real wood. Weighed a ton. Garrard changer with GE cart. Later added HeathKit FM tuner.
I don’t believe ‘high end audio’ or better term ‘high quality sound’ should be measured by the amount of dollars spent..
1980--finally got some money and bought a McIntosh MA-6200 integrated amplifier, and a MR74 FM tuner. I later gave the amp to my mother but still have the  Modaferri modiifed MR74 tuner. Not many years later I bought a pair of Apogee Duetta II loudspeakers. I still have them and they sound great.
I'm old :-)

For me, it all started when I was in the seventh grade (1958). Some friends and I used to go down into the finished basement of one of the guys homes after school to listen to our rock n roll records on this dads system, which consisted of a Dynaco tubed mono amplifier, preamp, and tuner and a Red-O-Kut Rondine Jr. 'table and arm with a Pickering cartridge, and a home-built corner speaker cabinet that he built from plans found in a magazine. featuring a poured concrete front baffle and housing a 15" EV coaxial driver.

I got hooked!

By 1959 I purchased my first system, also mono, from one of those stores located on "Radio Row" in lower Manhattan. It consisted of a Harman-Kardon tubed integrated and matching FM tuner, a Garrard Type A changer with a Pickering cartridge, and an Electrovoice "Leyton" single box "bookshelf" speaker system.

And so it goes :-)
Thanks vintage_heath for the great starter thread!
My first venture into the high end (late 70’s) was a pair of KEF 103.2 speakers and I think I recall a Onkyo receiver and can’t remember the turntable, Shure cartridge; probably $1,200 all in. A nice starter system. I still have my first speakers which I use as my surrounds in my video setup. In the early 80’s I would go to a small record shop and talk to the owner about the “good stuff” audiophile recordings. That store owner later opened Nuts About HiFi a true hi end store. I was able to sit at leisure and listen to the best the hi end had to offer which formed the ear education. Thanks for the education Bill!