I can’t remember just how old I was when I became an audiophile. This would be during the 1950’s, so I was probably only 7 or 8. The thing was I just did not know I was doomed to become one; I am not sure that the term was even mainstream back then.
I can remember sitting on the floor in front of a massive radio. Tube driven, manually tuned, and AM only. I would listen to the station my parents tuned in, but every now and then they would let me “play” with the dial. That was very special. I would sit close to the speaker, and take it all in, including opera! I can recall wondering at the time how was it possible to get all those people inside that radio!!
So, lets fast forward 9 or 10 years. Does anyone out there remember crystal sets from Radio Shack ? My own little private radio with an ear bud. You had to position that “cats whisker” just right on the crystal to get it to work. Still not Hi-Fi, but little did I know, I had the “bug”.
I guess the whole thing really took off when my uncle and a friend put together a stereo console for our home in the early sixties. Powered by a Trio receiver, and equipped with a Garrard turntable, replete with full range speakers in the bottom.
This is a model of that console I made in the 60’s. I still have it.
You could stack a number of LP’s on the turntable and be rewarded with over an hours worth of music, all in glorious Hi-Fi stereo. For the first time in my life I was treated to FM stereo. That sound blew me away; and you could turn it up, all without tubes, but before the digital age.
Fast forward again to when I was working and could afford to buy my own equipment. My favourite “toy” was a four channel reel-to-reel tape recorder, which of course married nicely with my four channel receiver. Wow, sound all around me. I could change sound venues at the push of a button. Concert hall, rock, stadium, it was all at my finger tips. I just had to sit back and let those glorious sounds wash over me, transporting me to another place. And what warm and exciting sounds they were.
That is what I really enjoyed about audio back then, it was very much hands on. I felt very much like a techy, pushing buttons, spinning dials, loading tape, and watching the VU meters on the tape doing their thing, getting them dialed in just right. There was something romantic and very satisfying when my efforts were rewarded with glorious sound filling the room.
Audio today is very slick. Being a computer geek does help. All digital, computer driven applications; set up can require an expert from the audio store to get it working. Now all I have to do is sit back with my remote control in my easy chair and hope I push the right button. My level of involvement has been reduced to that of “audience”, not participant. My ears tell me that the sound has changed; for the better? Some would say yes, but I would say, maybe not. I grew up with audio that was warm, rewarding, and required my personal involvement. I grew up with analog.