I first got involved in Hi Fi in the mid 1970’s. As my regular’s will know I really got involved with music in the late 1960’s / Early 1970’s. It took a long time to get to being a Hi Fi person though. Those who were around at the time will recall that even the cheaper stuff was pretty expensive. In the days when most people used autochangers like the ubiquitous BSR turntable, it was easy to just follow the crowd. But some people wanted more from their music – and there was much more there in the grooves of the album, it just needed the right kit to bring it out. Whilst the kids, myself included in 1970 (ish), experimented with putting a penny on the head of the arm to improve the bass, others were doing genuine experiments into improving the sound from the LP.
By the 1980’s some serious kit was available and, as a result of the improvements in workers pay during the previous decade, many of the improvements were within the grasp of the single person with a penchant for good quality music. So I found myself, sharing experience with some friends who also wanted the best from their records, gradually upgrading my Hi Fi to a point where it became by the early 1990’s just about one of the best combinations you could get without spending stupid money. Even so my selection was, as usual, a little individual – My best mates all wound up with the Linn Sondek. A masterpiece of Scottish engineering – well, outsourced to the far east once the design had been finalised. I on the other hand, after initial doubts, possibly because of my friends preferences, went with the Roksan Xerxes deck – Persian design and Welsh / Far East engineering.
The key part of any record playing system is always the deck – so if you had one of those two or possibly the Oracle or Pink Triangle decks, you were in amongst the best unless you had a NASA budget to spend. The Choice of arm was also very important – a rigid mount for the stylus is critical. I could go on a lot more on this (and NASA budgets play a part in the selection of components) but keeping it simple, we all chose different Amplifiers and Speakers – more on those on a different occasion.
Time moves on – we had many great evenings as friends, families and music lovers. Speakers are great – they allow us all to share the music. They also allow the music to fill the room. With a well set up system the sound in a living room is great. Headphones are different. For starters, they can’t really be stereo – binaural certainly, but stereo is a no. I would never have used Headphones in my early Hi Fi days because I felt that they corrupted the sound (a little like the Graphic Equalizers that were popular on the ‘Ghetto Blasters’ of the period).
This perhaps illustrates the difference between the Hi Fi enthusiast and all those people who just want a sound track to their lives – Hi Fi enthusiasts want the closest sound to the original recording that they can get. My amplifier in those days had an on-off button, a switch between inputs like deck / Cd and a volume control – no graphic distortalizer as I used to call them 😉
Time moves on – Families happen along with technological changes. Also, we grow older. The best sound possible is ideal for the younger people – ironically when it’s hardest to afford (a bit like high performance cars). I no longer find the time to sit in front of my EPOS ES14 speakers and listen to music – I did it in the first years of my son’s life and he now has a love of music. I’m not alone in this and we’re all trying to get to grips with the passage of time that we no longer seem to have.
So now I find myself using Beats Headphones with a Sony Walkman – it’s very convenient but there is a different sound to headphones and it ain’t stereo. I guess you get used to it…I’ve used a variety of ‘Mono’ headphones over the years though and you may be familiar with the names of some of the best headphones in the business – David Clark, Peltor, Yaesu and Heil. Good headphone makers for communications but not for Hi Fi 😉 I should add that I have been very pleased with the Beats / Walkman combination.
So… That 1st date that I referred to? Well, it was the first at home (we had already been out a couple of times), and I fed my wife to be with a nice meal (ok – I made a mess of the dessert but the mains were good!). We sat down to listen to some music together and she drifted off to sleep. So, time’s ticking on and it’s nearly home time and I’m thinking… ‘How do I wake her without frightening her?!!!’ Then I hit on the idea of pouring myself a Whisky – Glen Laphroig. It has a very strong smell of smoked peat and salt water and I mean strong. It’s like smelling salts and that was exactly the effect it had. Honour satisfied, my young lady went home un-sullied (well I assume that the dress wasn’t partly disintegrated by the fumes!) until nature duly took it’s course in an honourable way 😉