My First Audiophile
I remember during my teenage years back in the mid-late 70’s one of my most exciting activities was visiting any one of the well stocked record stores in my city. Many of the LP's were on sale such that I could buy several $4.99 albums at a time – My weekend part time job enabled me enough cash flow to keep the records flowing – over the course of my teen years I managed to assemble a collection of around 300 record albums which I was very proud of! (that record collection travelled with me through my 30's and 40's) I was lucky enough to make use of my parents’ early 60’s Harmon Kardon Tube pre & power amplifiers and ElectroVoice speakers (click here to read about my parents' stereo system). Great sound was always at my fingertips and I took it for granted! It was all I really knew…. So my main focus was on acquiring and enjoying lots of music! Lucky for me the recording quality of those vinyl records in the early and mid 70’s on that tube studio equipment was probably the pinnacle of audio recording.
My collection still going strong
Harmon Kardon Tube pre & power amplifiers
Around the age of 17 I met up with another music fanatic in my high school. His name was Jeff – He was the go to HIFI guy in the school. He had a big audiophile system, played a Les Paul electric guitar through a Marshall stack and had a huge immaculate record collection of every top band. He paid for it all with his job selling ice cream bars in the summer and some babysitting – Like me all of Jeff’s disposable income went directly to music related items – Now I always thought that I was “into” music but I quickly realized after Jeff invited me to his house that I was not in this guy’s league. Little did I know that I was dealing with my first AUDIOPHILE!
Through our mutual interest in all things rock Jeff and I became fast friends and I started to play guitar following in Jeff’s footsteps – I was just a beginner and Jeff would play his 100W Marshall and Les Paul for me along to our favorite records! Boston, Styx, Kiss Kansas, Yes, Jethro Tull, Starcastle, Lake... When I bought my first electric guitar and took it over to Jeff’s house – he cranked it through his Marshall stack and wailed away for an hour while I stood in amazement at the rock concert DB levels we were experiencing in his parents’ living room -watching the living room window shaking! - His bedroom was small but beside the bed he had a pair of Tannoy Ardens which took up about 1/4 of the room – We sat in that bedroom for many an hour with his system cranked as we listened to all our favorite bands of the 70’s.
He discussed at length with me everything from his Decca Gold Cartridge to his Dolby tape deck to the strings on his Les Paul Guitar - Jeff and I spent many an hour discussing the intricate details of music, equipment and all things ROCK! He was unusual compared to any of my other friends – he was totally devoted to his passion MUSIC – spending 1000’s of dollars on gear from his school boy allowance and odd jobs. He was a clean-cut guy – one you might find in the Science Lab but the Led Zeppelin posters on his wall told the real story. I laugh when I think back to the time that a friend overheard us in the library whilst listening to the Kansas Left overture album on the library headphone stereo system. As we were deep in discussion over the intricacies of one of the guitar solos on one channel –our friend just shook his head like we were both crazy - He just didn’t understand... I don’t think anyone understood except me & Jeff!
It was the summer of 1978 and high school was over. Jeff told me to get up to his house right away because he wanted to play a new record from a band that he said would blow my mind – a new band called Van Halen – We sat there in amazement listening to Van Halen 1 - the most mind blowing guitar sounds through his Tannoy Ardens and top of the line vinyl setup – all that gear was well worth it! His system shined that day like no other I have heard since! Maybe it was our 18 year old brains and the memories of 30 years ago.
After High School ended - College was now the next phase – Jeff was headed off to electrical engineering – I took a year off and worked and then followed Jeff into electrical engineering – really for the same reasons as Jeff – for one reason - to learn all about the gear that we so highly sought!
Upon graduation Jeff moved away to another city and got a job in the video/sound production industry – I ended up at a small company making computer hardware –We were both in electronics but far from audio world where our passions lay - We kept in touch and I visited him in his new city several times after college – On a typical weekend when I went down to visit the weekend would include a few hours of listening to his audio system, a visit to the local record stores where several purchases would usually be made, some guitar jamming followed by going out to see a band in the evening – as you can see not much had changed in us!
A couple of years later Jeff got married and asked me to be his best man! Over the following years as I got busy with my career and Jeff with his life we didn’t see each other very often – once a year, then once in 2 or 3 years and then maybe no contact for several years.
Quite a few years went by and we were both in our 30's - I moved to the same city with my work where Jeff lived and I made contact with him again – I visited him at his house and he started telling me about this new amplifier that he bought – He said it was the greatest sounding amp he had ever heard – Well it was the AudioNote Kit1 300B SET – Driving those Tannoys from the high school days it was a glorious sound – He went on and on about this amplifier - about how amazing it was. I had actually moved away from actually listening to music - I was into guitar playing and recording and I think I had never been able to attain the magic of listening that I had found in high school - Well over the years I thought about that kit and started do some research on the internet.
I decided eventually to buy the AudioNote Kit4 – I sent off the money and a few weeks later an amplifier kit arrived at my house – I can’t tell you how excited I was – Building my own amplifier kit – seeing all those parts in bags – this was really exciting! This was the real reason I had gone into electrical engineering and now I was going to live my dream by actually building my own amplifier! Oh what a feeling... It was an exciting project - several more months later I decided to buy the Kit1 and now yours truly is in the AudioNoteKit business trying to bring excellent products to the masses of DIY people out there...