I have been fascinated by sound reproduction since my parents bought our first cassette tape recorder back in the 70’s. I used it to record rain, the sound of waves at the beach, and even vinyl. Of course, back then my idea of a good “needle drop” was to kick my sister out of the room and set the recorder’s mic next to the speaker in my Fisher Price turntable before pressing the mechanical “Record and Play” buttons.
Fast-forward ten or so years, my first exposure to quality sound reproduction was at a high school classmate’s home. His father, Larry, worked for AMPEX and had the most amazing sounding stereo that I had ever experienced. Loudspeakers were Pioneer HPM 100–the 200-watt version! These were driven by a 45wpc Pioneer receiver–the kind with wood side panels and a tuner nob that is both weighty and buttery smooth. Sources included an open reel deck, stereo cassette deck, and a Pioneer turntable. The music–I’ll never forget: Manheim Steamroller’s Fresh Aire II and III, Stravinsky’s Firebird (Telarc), and Frederick Fennell conducting The Cleveland Symphonic Winds.
Oh, that sound…that glorious sound! I’ve been striving to build a system that lives up to my aural memory of Larry’s system ever since–which is impossible, of course. Nothing can ever match, much less exceed the emotional impact of one’s first ear-opening experience. It’s a singular event that kicks off a lifetime of passion for sound and sound reproduction.
My current system echoes what I learned from Larry…buy the best loudspeakers and phono cartridge you can afford since it is the transducers in a system that will have the greatest impact on its sound quality. Although my playback system falls far short of that seminal memory, my mission is no longer to match that experience but to build a place where such memories are produced for others–especially those younger than me. If I can help just one or two people have their first ear-opening experience the way that Larry did for me, it will all be worth it!
My wife and I moved to the bay area from a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia in June of 2014, so we’re relatively new Californians. I’m a somewhat introverted computer nerd by trade, and besides quality sound reproduction, I am into digital photography and experiencing fine wine and great food with my amazing wife, Deb.
David’s System: David & Deb’s Digital Loft