First time you were blown away by a stereo?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by birchoak, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    Ok, I'll go first.

    1980-something. I was attending an exclusive prep school, on full scholarship, and was completely unaware of what a good sound system could sound like. Unable to afford the transportation portion of the tuition, I dutifully pedaled my bike to school in all kinds of weather, frequently urged on by fellow students whizzing past me in their own Jeeps, Camaros, Trans-Ams, etc.

    One day, a few hours prior to a school dance, I heard the opening drums & guitar to Tom Petty's "Refugee" coming from our theater room, which seated perhaps 150 people. It sounded more clean and powerful than anything I had ever heard in my life, including several live junior high bands, and I was drawn to its source like a moth to flame.

    Enter Mike G--------. No one knew much about Mike. He wore a brown leather jacket, drove his own, perfectly restored '69 Camaro convertible, and was considerably rougher around the edges than anyone else in our class. He came from a town nobody had heard, coughed incessantly, and nobody messed with him.

    Mike had brought what I have come to believe was a Pioneer SX-1980 to power that night's school dance, and hooked up to it were the largest speakers I had ever seen in my life. I believe they were Pioneers but beyond that I have no recall. The sound hit me in the chest, enveloped my entire being, and permeated my brain. I had no idea Tom Petty could sound this good, this loud, and I could not get enough. It was an instant addiction that has never truly left me.

    The receiver looked impossibly complex to me; never before had I seen so many amazing silver dials, switches and levers. What did they all do? What if you pushed the wrong one? How could a mortal human being, let alone a man-child of Mike's provenance, possess such a glittering, fantastic machine erupting with power second only to Krakatoa? If it was a powerboat it would have been sending rooster tails of superheated water two hundred feet high; as it was, Mike was politely asked to turn his music down, lest he disturb the adjacent science wing any further. One poor soul dared peer into one of the shipping cartons strewn about the room and was promptly cuffed on the chin by Mike, with the remonstration "Don't touch my f**kin' stuff!" No one else looked into any boxes.

    Oddly, I don't remember the music that night. Most likely I was distracted by Kara M-------, who had professed a deep, undeniable passion for me earlier that week but was somehow unavailable for even a fast dance. I was heartbroken, and although I later learned that her perennially golden skin was actually spray-on tan, no amount of powerful classic rock could raise me from my blue funk that night. Eventually, I got over Kara, but I have never outgrown good music played through a good system. It's not quite as exciting as kissing a girl, but it's damn close.
     

     

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  2. Ds2000

    Ds2000 All About every cool stereo component. Subscriber

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    My neighbor was a media engineer of sorts and loved gear. He had the ADS L-810-2, the Mitsubishi 30 series separates, a killer Sony ‘table and a Shure V-15 type V-MR on it. He played some super dynamic classical with uncompressed bass at high level. I was permanently tilted toward the better side of sound repro in the home.
    The second time was when my finger found its way over to some weird resistor network in a tube socket on a Dynaco PAS-3X preamp. It was supposedly an early Van Alstine mod, not sure. I am sure it was very high voltage as it blew me up real good, and partly melted from the energy transfer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
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  3. johnebravo

    johnebravo I should be practicing

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    I went into a local stereo store (Purchase Radio, long gone of course) and they were playing the first Led Zeppelin album on a pair of Altec 19s, with the volume cranked up. I'd heard that record a million times before, but it certainly had never sounded like that! I was bitten.
     
  4. beat_truck

    beat_truck Super Member

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    When I went to buy my early '80s Technics silver-faced rack stereo. I had never owned anything very good before that. Especially nothing like the Quartz locked DD TT with adjustable tonearm and MM cartridge.
     
  5. Fleischer

    Fleischer Active Member

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    285
    August 1972. The AR Listening Room in Grand Central Station in New York City. An AR representative demonstrated the AR-XA table, AR integrated amp, and a set of AR-3a speakers for me. Previously, I had never heard anything more sophisticated than my parents' all-in-one Admiral record player with ceramic cartridge. My first acoustic epiphany.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  6. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Playing the Klipschorn copies that I built at age 19 in my first apartment (shared with roommates). I was pretty pleased, although our first time really cranking it put my friend's amp into protection. I soon re-did the crossovers to prevent that.

    However, it wasn't a total surprise, so maybe 'blown away' is an exaggeration. I'd heard nice systems before, and never went from total ignorance to 'blown away' as some others may have in their experience.

    This was just as 'you are there' cone and dome speakers started becoming popular, as designers pursued the virtues of electrostatics using dynamic drivers - think Dahlquist DQ-10s and DCM Time Windows. I'll always wonder what those K-horn copies would sound like to me now. Probably very complimentary! :)
     

     

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  7. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Actually, hearing Quad ESLs on a trip to NYC, playing a record I'd never heard of (Jazz at the Pawnshop), using a $230 integrated (the new-at-the-time NAD 3020) probably qualifies as 'blown away'. It seemed like Pawnshop restaurant patrons surrounded me, clinking their glasses and silverware while the music played for them in the club. I'd heard Sound Lab electrostatics by that time, but hadn't really heard that surround-sound kind of imaging from them. I was so suspicious of that sound coming from the NAD that I gave its volume knob a good twist, turning heads in the rest of the store. The salesman just laughed.
     
  8. prighello

    prighello Super Member

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    On a trip to Ireland I was stuck in Limerick for a few days; not the pinnacle of what Ireland has to offer. Anyway, I happened upon a hifi shop and decided to check it out. The owner was just setting up some, then new, KEF LS50s. He had them hooked up to some Denon gear. An integrated and CDP which I guess were only available in the EU as I've never seem then here in the US. Anyway, we got to talking and he fired up Hotel California...we were both like holy @#$%! Sounded like the Eagles were there in the room with us.
     
  9. Harvestor

    Harvestor Super Member

    When my brother came home one summer day in 1978 from Tech Hi-Fi with a brand new Technics SA 500 & Technics Turntable and a set of OHM model H .... and I heard what a quality Sound system really sounded like, i was used to AM radio Quality..lol... cheap Cheap cheap generic "Radio" before that moment.

    I just recently after many years of looking aquired a Receiver like his but one model up from his ... The SA600 & miraculously because of the generosity of an audiokarma member Markus111 I aquired the Ohm H's , no turntable yet... I'm still looking.
    After many years all of this came together starting with the aquisition of the set of OHM model I on April 4th, then the receiver a few days later, then 3 week's ago a pair of OHM C2's... and then the big miracle came after Markus111 responded to my questions about a set of OHM model H he had aquired back in 2010 and then the realization of my dream realized on Memorial Day...
    A great day with Special Extra meaning now in memorial of my brother...
    IMG_20180529_164351941.jpg
    It all started for me with that day
    in the Summer of 1978......
     
  10. Lavane

    Lavane AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Two times for me. Friends of my parents had some killer gear. The first wow moment was when I was about 10 years old and I heard a Marantz system. Model 9 mono blocks and a 7C preamp. I remember the speakers being huge with horns but don't remember the brand. There was a dual TT if I remember right. The second time was years later with a modded Dynaco ST-70 connected to an active crossover with a SS amp running a passive sub bult into a granite cabinet. Mid bass up went to a pair of hand made speakers. Even the drivers were custom made.
     
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  11. Superampman

    Superampman AK Member Subscriber

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    I've owned/own some great gear but the only time I've ever been 'blown away' is the first time I played that Charlie Byrd direct to disc jazz album I picked out of a bargain bin for $3.00 in in 1979. I threw it on my new Oracle Delphi/FR-14/Dynavector Ruby/ Kef 105.2/ Boothroyd Stuart Meridian 105 monos. Lesson learned was that potential means squat. High end gear needs high end source material to realize it's capability. Until then I did recognize obvious performance differences that I thought were about as far as it goes. Anyone who heard that record on that system declared it sounds like they're right there in front of us. However, it is a clever trick record in that it's actually recorded at 45rpm and labeled 33. But so what?

    How many other clever tricks are out there?:)
     

     

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  12. the_nines

    the_nines AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    In 1973 (or so)...

    Listening to Santana Abraxas on a pair of these:

    [​IMG]

    If memory serves me well, amplification was courtesy of Phase Linear. This baby:

    [​IMG]


    Spoiled from the get-go. :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  13. Zekeman

    Zekeman Super Member

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    Freshman year high school I went to my new friends house on a Friday night and he had in his bedroom a Sansui 771, Pioneer PLA-45D turntable, Jensen speakers. He put on Hibernation by Nugent. It was such pure clean effortless power that just enveloped the room. I have been hooked ever since...
     
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  14. trinhsman

    trinhsman AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    1976. Audio Etcetera in Gainesville, FL.(out of business now). Heard Tympani Magneplanar 1C’s, with Audio Research SP3A, and Audio Research D76A, with a Rabco ST7 turntable, and Shute V15 Type III. 2 weeks later a 24year old was financing a stereo system like you would a car. Ah, to be young again.
     
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  15. Lavane

    Lavane AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I so lusted over the first and second gen. Phase Linear equipment. I did have a 200 series ll for awhile.
     
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  16. NAD80

    NAD80 Super Member

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    Early 80's visiting a friend. Listening to good music, Denon TT, MC cart, Snell Type A's. Can't remember the amp he had. Steely Dan AJA. But the sound was the first time the wall behind the speakers disappeared. The soundstage was that good. Felt like I was there. Then we changed the amp to the NAD 3140. It was almost as good. Felt I made a good choice on the Nad. Those Snell's were something else. Better than anything I had heard before. Loved that MC. Had to get a Dynavector HO MC 10X4 for my Dual.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018

     

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  17. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    What a great story, and well told! When I’m in front of a keyboard next, I’ll see if I can at least match it.
     
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  18. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    A couple months after JFK was taken out, my cousins best friends older brother came back from Germany with some German Stereo equipment. Don’t remember what kind of equipment it was as I couldn’t pronounce it, but I do remember him complaining about not buying any voltage transformers at the PX. So finally he gets everything set and plays “Spooky” from the group “Classics IV”, the sound gave me goose bumps and tingling up and down my spine. That was my first audio fix. Two years later I was repairing and painting a large porch on a Victorian home and the woman gave me her grandsons (he died in Vietnam) AR stereo equipment because I was doing allot more work than she paid for. I swapped out the door knob on my bedroom door for a locking type before my sister found out what I had.
     
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  19. red 111

    red 111 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    as a teenager...when Marantz was still being made in Long Island City in Queens,NY...A pal from the basketball court (which was always packed back then) invited a bunch of us up to his apartment & blew us away with a full tilt Marantz rig...playing Classical music...everyone in the room had never heard a system like that before...made my humble KLH Model 35 all in one system sound like a toy
     
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  20. jcamero

    jcamero If you get confused just listen to the music play Subscriber

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    My friends brother had a Yamaha CR-2020, Original Large Advents, and a turntable I can't remember. We got stoned on Acapulco Gold, and were listening to Traffic's John Barleycorn. It all came together right there.
     
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