How did you get into the hobby of HT? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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12-09-2005, 02:03 PM
I'm just wondering how everyone got into the hobby of HT? If you call it that.

Just for fun. :D

12-09-2005, 02:09 PM
Are you sure that you want the whole story?

12-09-2005, 02:14 PM
Are you sure that you want the whole story?

Sure! Especially if there's a story behind it. I got a little story myself, I'll tell it later.

12-09-2005, 02:33 PM
Back in the 70's I had a friend going to college to be a sound engineer. One summer when he was home on break he got a job at Genesis Audio. Back then they had a guaranty on their speakers that they would never blow out no matter what you pumped through them. Needless to say, plenty of them blew out. So they had large quantities of replacement components on hand. My friend bought up a few at cost to build his own speakers. The end of summer came along but he never assembled his project. He talked me into trading him my Pioneers for this big box of "better" components. So I needed speakers that worked. I put them together as per the plans he left me. They worked great up until last winter. We had a flood in our basement and the particle board these were made out of gave up. I went on-line to find the best way to re-build them. They came out better this time. They sounded so good that I bought more component speakers and started another design. I wanted more, tighter base. Genesis is now long gone so I bought Legacy components. 12" subs in each sealed box 48"x15"x12". They look great! But they turned out way too bright. And my old 80wpc receiver couldn't drive them well. So now I had to upgrade the receiver. Hey, how about this new thing called home theater? Why just hook-up my VHS to a 2 channel receiver? Surround sound I think it's called. Looked at the Bose. They seemed ok but I wasn't going to jump in without researching. Seems they charge too much and give back too little. Better off with real speakers and a receiver I thought. First I wanted the Denon. Then Onkyo or HK. After a couple of months I had narrowed it down to either the Denon 3805 or the Yamaha RX-V2500. Went to Tweeter and listened to both. Heard a few others while I was at it. Ended up walking out with the Yammie in hand(s). Got it home and thought, "am I going to hook this bad boy up to my home made speakers?" No way, had to buy new ones. Enter the Infinity's. Throw in a new DVD/R with a hard drive and now I'm ready for real surround.

And that's how life began.

12-09-2005, 02:33 PM
Sure! Especially if there's a story behind it. I got a little story myself, I'll tell it later.

OK, your turn. Spill it.

12-09-2005, 04:11 PM
OK, your turn. Spill it.

After I got married and moved into my first little apartment, I wanted some music. I went to a Sears type store in the bay area called Wards. My intentions were to buy a all in one unit(CD,Tape,Tuner). I get into the electronics section and didn't know where to start so I asked for help. You see, my world had pretty much consisted of a couple of boomboxes. Anyways, the salesman starts a little speech about buying separate components vs all in one units and gets into surround sound. First apartment = small budget. I left Wards with a open box Panny HTIB (Pro Logic) for $300. I hooked it up to my VCR and WOW. I thought it sounded so good. This was about 8 years ago.

About a year after I got my Panny setup, my wife and I took a little trip to her dad's in AZ. Well I thought I had a nice little setup until he showed me his Pioneer Elite system. We watched Matrix and Saving Private Ryan. My little Panny setup was not a HT. He showed me what a DVD player was and talked about how to set everything up. As soon as we got back to Cali.....ZOOM.....straight to Circuit City. I picked up a JVC AVR and DVD player, Kenwood tape and CD player and a Yamaha speaker setup with a powered sub. My first DVD was The Matrix. I bumped my TV from a 27" to a 36".

I was happy for a while but the little voices started talking to me. I started spending more time at CC and BB and wanted some tower speakers. I replaced my 3 front Yamaha's with Sony towers and a Sony center. And about 2 years after that I upgraded to another JVC AVR and upgraded all my speakers to Sony. I know, bad moves, but I had no clue. After about two years of that setup, I still felt something was missing. I had a buddy who got into HT and he was in love with Energy speakers. He also explained what I should look for in AVR's and quality brands to go with.

About a year ago I started upgrading again little by little. This time around I had a good idea about what to look for. I started with my AVR. I researched and narrowed it down to Denon, Onkyo and HK. Well we know how that ended. I noticed a difference in sound but nothing like night and day. Next I went through a bunch of DVD players. I wanted a player with SACD playback and at the time only Marantz, Samsung and Denon offered it. (Well as far as I knew). We know how that ended. Lastly about 5 months ago I made the best upgrade of all, my speakers. This time I knew to check my options at stores such as Good Guys and Magnolia. I auditioned Boston Acoustics, Klispch and Energy. I had heard Energy at my friend house and liked em, plus the C-series was being replaced by the RC line, so I got my C-series setup at 50% off. A Energy sub got worked into the deal and there you go.

After finding this site and learning soo much, I was able to calibrate my system correctly. The new speakers are still amazing to me. The biggest difference by far came from upgrading to some quality speakers. I've gone through most of my CD collection and DVD collection. It's so crazy, hearing all this stuff I never heard before. I threw a 57" TV in there and I'm one happy camper. So that's my story.

12-09-2005, 05:22 PM
I'm not a very good writer or typist for that matter but here is my brief tale....

Ten years ago or so I bought a Denon 45 watt receiver, 5 disc carousel cd changer and a pair of floorstanding Klipsch speakers. I was completely satisfied with this "huge system" up until about 2 years ago when I discovered a place on our new first computer called Audiogon.
I was fascinated by all the guys who talked about speakers, amps, and audio in general so after a couple months of reading and reading I signed up to become a member and have access to bluebook prices.

A year ago I bought a 100 watt Denon stereo receiver with preouts as an upgrade in power so I thought, a couple months later my nephew hooked up my stereo and speakers to the tv and it was much better than the tv speakers. Next was the cylinder SVS subwoofer, couple months later two Klipsch RF7's, and a couple months later a used 120 watt Conrad Johnson Sonographe amp for a couple hundred bucks from our local dealer.

Right now this sounds pretty darn good at lower to mid volumes and I once borrowed a 200+ watt Carver amp from the dealer and it sounded mucho better but the amp was old and cut out at lower volumes, so back it went. For the time being I'm on a restricted budget and daily I still drool over all the Gamut, Krell, McIntosh and many other amps and equipment at Audiogon. I would really like to try a tube preamp and a very high power S.S. amp.

Our 1600 sq. ft. house has a smallish 12'X17' living room and two channel is plenty...and cheaper...... :)

12-09-2005, 06:42 PM
Great stories guys.

Who's next? Step right up and tell us your story. Short stories & long stories are both welcome. The first step is admitting you are an HTaholic. I'll go first.

Hi, my name is Michael, and I am, uhm, uh... an HTaholic. Oh man that feels good. What a relief.

12-09-2005, 07:07 PM
Interesting story GM. Building some speakers seems like a nice little project to get into. I may have to try it one day.

Funny about the Bose. I listened to a Batman demo once at CC. It sounded OK to me, but the first thing I noted was the price. A couple of thousand for that. I just didn't care for them. I have never gave Bose a chance and it's always been due to the price. Later I find out, that everyone has that same opinion.

12-09-2005, 07:23 PM
Once upon a time, there was a little boy who annoyed the hell out of his parents because he insisted on going to the nice big movie theaters with the 70mm projectors and six-track sound systems.

That was me, and I was 11 years old.

My early experiences with movie theater sound are what eventually got me into the HT hobby. I was already a budding audio fanatic, messing around and tweaking with my parents' vintage Marantz/JBL system at age 9.

When my dad inadvertently took me to the local big theater showing Superman: The Movie in 70mm six-track, little did he know what kind of a monster he was creating! I instantly noticed that the picture was bigger and clearer, I could actually understand all of the dialog, and the sound effects were not only shifting clearly from left to right, but from front to back as well. That was the first time I ever heard a movie in anything other than low fidelity analog optical, and how much better the sound made the moviegoing experience was very obvious to me.

I did not know anyone with a Laserdisc player (which in 1978 really was the birth of the modern home theater because it was the first source available to consumers with almost full bandwidth stereo sound -- predating both stereo TV and hi-fi VCRs by five years), but a friend of mine was handy with a soldering iron, so he patched the leads from the little 3" speaker on the front of the TV into his parents' rack system, and instantly, you had a dramatic upswing in sound quality. (Of course, little did we know how dangerous it actually was fiddling around the innards of a TV set)

Fast forward to 1979, when another friend's mom decided to splurge and spend $800 on one of Mitsubishi's early VCRs. The thing weighed about 50 lbs., was a top-loader and had this bizarre design where the remote had to be detached from the front of the unit and doubled as its only set of buttons (of course, this meant that if you lost the thing, you no longer had any access to the VCR's functions). Well, that VCR also had a little bit of magic called an "AUDIO OUT" plug. Wow! A plug that allowed us to hook the VCR up to the stereo system and enjoy full range sound from all 10 of our local TV channels, WITHOUT having to break out any soldering irons or disassemble any parts of the TV!

Go forward now to 1983. By now, I was a nuisance/occasional paying customer at local audio stores, and Stereo Review subscriber. In one of the issues, I saw Julian Hirsch's review of Sony's first hi-fi VCR. I'd heard demos of the first stereo VHS VCRs when they came out the year before, and even though they had mediocre sound quality, I wanted one because my first demo was Star Wars and I wanted to hear space battles going from one ear to the other! Well, my parents decided to go with Betamax in 1982, which had no stereo models at that time. I was incredulous when they did that! I couldn't believe that we were stuck with a mono-only format!

THEN came Beta Hi-Fi ... oh my, I dropped to the floor when I read about that format -- not only stereo, but full bandwidth with a higher dynamic range than every other consumer audio format available at that time (CDs had not yet come to the U.S. at that time). So, I sold my parents' Betamax and contributed $200 from my savings, and now, I had my first full-fledged home theater component.

Right around this time, something started entering the movie theater rhelm and it was called THX. Now, I thought that the sound quality at my local 70mm movie theaters was already impressive with the big subwoofers and arrays of surround speakers. But, my first exposure to THX was mindblowing. Once I got over the "Audience Is Listening" THX trailer (in 1984, that trailer opened up a LOT of ears!), I was stunned by what I heard. Not only was the imaging as precise and sound quality as clean as a good home stereo system, the sound from the back was seamlessly blended into the front soundstage with clear directionality in the surround channels. I was now spoiled for life -- watching movies in stereo would never be good enough again.

Living in L.A. and constantly watching movies in 70mm at state-of-the art THX theaters (at that time the certification meant a lot more than it does now) meant that I was never impressed with the two-channel matrixed Dolby Surround/Pro Logic-based home theater systems that were introduced in the mid-80s. To my ears, it never represented enough of a leap over stereo to invest in it, so I kept a two-channel setup at home, hoping that something better would come along. And it would take a while before that something came along.

Fast forward to 1992-93, this was the introduction of theatrical Dolby Digital and DTS. Considering that I'd already been feasting on the plentiful 70mm six-track presentations that screened around L.A. for about 14 years, DD and DTS were no big deal to me because the sound quality of 70mm mag striped prints was every bit as good if not better than those lossy digital formats. In fact, I thought it was a step backwards because the theaters formerly showing 70mm mag striped prints were now going with 35mm digital prints, reducing the image quality. But, for parts of the country that did not regularly get 70mm prints, DD and DTS were a huge deal because for the first time, moviegoers in just about any town could now experience full range 5.1 surround sound. This led to the big breakthrough ...

My countdown to home theater began in 1994 when I picked up an issue of a then-new publication called Widescreen Review and read about the pending introduction of Laserdisc players with Dolby Digital output. THIS was what I was waiting for! Full bandwidth, six discrete channels, split surrounds, oh yes! But, the enthusiasm was dampened when I read the prices on the disc players, the DD-encoded movies, and the receivers needed to decode the DD signals (not to mention all those extra speakers). After the components came out, I went to a local store, got the Terminator 2 Laserdisc demo, and that was that. My next audio upgrade would include 5.1 ... once the prices went down far enough.

Well, the Laserdisc prices never came down too far, and neither did the receiver prices. It wasn't until the introduction of the DVD in 1997 that 5.1 DD began to move its way into the midlevel price points. At that point, I was waiting my turn for the DVD format to mature a bit more in the market. Then in 2000, the price points on DVD players dipped below $400, it was time to go shopping! The two-year process of building my system is outlined below.

12-09-2005, 08:49 PM
Wow Wooch, that's one heck of a story. You are a very patient person. I learned the hard way and wasted some money, but O well, that's been my life story anyway.

12-09-2005, 09:17 PM
When I was in high school back in the 70's my father bought a drop-front stereo record player with detachable speakers (4" woofer and horn tweeter). Later that year he bought a stereo cassette recorder and I discovered I could make direct recordings to the cassete by connecting directly to the record player's speakers and not have background noise. That started a lot of experimentation. Later I discovered I had an uncle who was into audio. He gave me my first raw drivers which went into my first speaker project.

Several years later, after purchasing my first stereo system (Kenwood 4070 receiver, Sharp 3388 computer-controlled cassette deck, Large Advent speakers with rounded Pecan trim) my uncle died leaving me his audio equipment including DIY speaker systems. He said I could sell anything I wanted, but had to use the proceeds only for audio-related gear or media. I decided to purchase a pair of Legacy Focus speakers, Legacy Silver Screen center, Yamaha RX-V2095 receiver and T&A P-30 for rear speakers. With this system I was in love with Home Theater.

My interest in audio led to a job with CBS as an electronic's technician responsible for audio alignment of the 1/2" and 1" mastering sytems, and EQ of QC playback and A/B eqiuipment (compares masters to product). After CBS left the Terre Haute, Indiana in area 1981 I went into computers, but never stopped my interest in audio, only now it's a very enjoyable hobby.

12-10-2005, 05:29 AM
Wooch, great story!

Bfalls, Legacy huh? nice! What's not to love?

12-10-2005, 06:26 AM
Geez, if your life passes before your eyes like this, does it mean that it's almost over? I don't do dates well. But through the 70s and into the 80s, I still passed much of my time as a musician. Like a lot of musicians (not the smart ones), I had exposure to good audio equipment, and appreciated it like crazy, but didn't pursue it. I was, however, always a huge film buff, even as an idiot teenager. Like Wooch, I was absolutely floored by 70 mm films--Lawrence of Arabia, Mutiny on the Bounty, How the West Was Won, 2001.

By the mid-80s, When films entered the household via tape, I was hooked--bad. I went on a quest to get the best video equipment that I could afford. At that time, a 32-inch TV was considered HUGE, and I went through them like wildfire, looking for those with the best picture and the best connection suite. NEC made a solid monitor in those days. Proton followed. The Proscans, however, were considered the cream of the readily available crop. And so onward went the equipment parade through the revolving door. So far as audio for film was concerned, I took to wiring my livingroom with a 5 speakers and a sub just as soon as it became possible, with all sorts of Rube Goldberg-ish mounting strategies for surround speakers, which were then a novelty and rarely the same as the fronts. NEC made an early Dolby Pro Logic processor that suited me well until someone stole it, but it wasn't long before I heard the siren song of Lexicon and other dedicated audio companies as the quest continued. As I tried to squeeze as much quality out of my monitors as possible, I couldn't resist tweaking; I have the shocks and burns to prove it.

I adopted the laserdisc format within minutes of its arrival, and was immediately transported to heaven. We had a wonderful place to buy disks in my area (the late lamented Sight & Sound) run by two enthusiasts (one of them a classical musician), and it had EVERYTHING, supplying a lot of the professional film community--at least until California became a hot spot as well. I followed every technical improvement of the format, until laserdisc breathed its last, which wasn't too long into the DVD era. Particular high points that I can recall were James Cameron's The Abyss, which came out in various versions, but had a look and sound that set the standard, and Ridley Scott's Alien, which came out first in a version so visually dark and sonically muddy that when its final incarnation on LD arrived, it was like another film altogether, a true revelation. Criterion was the most respected name in LD, not only for offering consistent quality but also for bringing out obscure films that often had no other outlet. Criterion almost singlehandly invented the extras that DVD lovers take for granted now. Criterion's 2001 and Blade Runner packages are still legendary. In those days, we couldn't afford to be blase. The incremental changes were pioneering.

At this time, I was well into high-end audio, part of a technical and listening community associated with a particular store. We delved into what made audio and video products tick, and sampled many different A/V components in blind, and not so blind, listening and viewing tests. Sometimes we just listened to music and watched films on the best equipment at hand. Vidikron, Wadia, Meridian, Krell, and others got a huge workout in those days. The CRTs with the 9-inch guns will not fade easily into memory.

I'm tired now.


12-10-2005, 09:04 AM
Sounds like I started much the same as the above posters. Loved the movies (theater....the bigger the screen the better!), and loved quality sound. My first car ('76 Camaro) was "decked-out" with car stereo. And some of my earliest (and most vivid!) recollections of movies on the BIG screen were from the mid '70's (Bonnie & Clyde and Return to the Planet of the Apes). I was facinated with audio & big screens (theater).

The '80's MTV revolution. I saw a friend connect 2 speakers to his TV (via external reciever) and MTV IN STEREO! I tried and.....I liked! That really began the quest for a Multi Media Room.

Enter MANY years and MANY upgrades. My first EARNEST attempt was much the same as L.J.'s & happened in the mid-'90's. Mongomery Wards, clearance rack, I didn't know what the hell I needed. Came home with Sony (seperate's) "rack" system consisting of AVR (5.1 DD), Dual-Cassette, 4-head Hi-Fi VCR, 5-Disk CD carousel. They "threw-in" a pair of Sony Surrounds, and I found a pair of JBL Towers (blow-out clearance!) for L/R, and bought a Best Buy "special" no-name Center Channel. Now comes the REALLY GOOD PART......a 27" Sony Trinitron!!!!!!!!!! That was a BIG SCREEN in the mid 90's! I will never forget coming home that night with my back seat full of gear......I really thought my wife was going to kill me. Little did she know what lay ahead, for this setup mearly tweeked my appetite.

I slowly upgraded all the sound system, and upgraded the monitors when I moved to different houses: Mits 46", then Mits 65" (which I now have in my bedroom).

3 yrs ago I got 133" 16:9 Screen with HD Projection, which I have in a dedicated Multi-Media Room with 7.1 Surround, Flagship Denon AVR, Flagship Definitive Technology L/C/R, HD-VCR, HD-Satelite (more than 20 HD-Channels), DVD-Audio, and 4 subs that deliver than 5k watts.

This is a hell-of-a-hobby, I have had fun beyond belief during the journey, I love where I have gotten to and feel contentment. I am FINALLY satisfied and happy to say that I am no longer bitten by the "upgrade bug"! Now I can look forward to "adding" components as they enter the market ie, HD DVD.

Great question GM, and enjoyable reading how others stories are not that different than mine.


12-10-2005, 10:29 AM
Thanks, all the stories have been fun to read. But the credit for the question goes to L.J.

Thank you L.J.

Who's next? Don't be shy. Old regulars to first time posters are welcome. Maybe even a moderator or two might grace us with a story.

12-10-2005, 11:06 AM
Thanks, all the stories have been fun to read. But the credit for the question goes to L.J.

Thank you L.J.

Who's next? Don't be shy. Old regulars to first time posters are welcome. Maybe even a moderator or two might grace us with a story.

Nice Stories. They all seem to have happy endings too. HT is a great hobby to be into.

12-10-2005, 12:17 PM
A long time ago in a galaxy.... actually my father while not an audio buff always had a decent setup, I remember the large reel to reel tape player which he recorded what seemed like 8 hours of music on each tape. Then he had a basic Technics receiver which he would play on one half of one on the volume setting. And then while I was in high school got my own mini seperate component Pioneer system which was actually sounded good and looked even better which I took to college.

After a few years in college circa 1985 a new roomate had a high end system with seperate amps placed on the floor next to each speaker. He had ESS two ways not sure of the model a $900 Denon turntable we always teased him about because it was so expensive and he was so anal about it, he also had a seperate dbx sound processor anyway a great system for college parties etc... Another college friend had yamaha seperates B&O turntable and the very large Maggies which look like room partions in the small living room anyway I was hooked after listening to these systems.

My method for buying my system while still in college was to go the best high end stores and buy there cheapest stuff and even some used items. I ended up with a Luxman integrated amp (couldn't quite get into seperates yet) a B&O turntable (very cool) a luxman cassette deck where the hole front panel recesses as soon as you turn it on (even cooler than the B&O turntable) and then finally a Bozack satellite speaker setup with subwoofer remember subs were very uncommon in the mid 80's. It took me two summers of work but this was a great set up but was also a compact system for all the moving you do in college. I still have all the components although only the luxman integrated amp is hooked up and still use weekly.

My first purchase after college 1987 while in an apartment was a 20" Mit tv and a sony 5 disk cd player. I still use the Mit tv in the bedroom daily it is almost 20 years old but even more amazing the Sony CD player is still going strong in my rec room. Is this where that saying they don't build them like they used to comes from?

So now I was in my first house and had what back then in 1989 was a home theater with a hifi NEC vcr and a 27" Mit TV. Playing Pink FLoyd The Wall with 12 people over one day nobody had heard home theather that good or maybe it was something else that added to the experience that day however this was still with all my old college components and I was still very satisfied as the pro logic at the time didn't really seem all that great and laserdiscs were sooo expensive and I couldn't rent them so my system stayed as it was for many years. I only purchased about 5 vhs movie tapes as I didn't think they were worth buying.

Now into a new house duel income no kids it was time to upgrade in 1994, so I went with parasound seperates with the biggest amp they made and the big paradigm studio monitors speakers. was I compensating for something? This was still a 2 channel setup and movies still sounded great even without surround sound. Parts of my old college setup where now in the bedroom and I started my electronics graveyard of components that I loved but alas would not use again. this included the old bozack speakers, the lux cassette deck etc...

Well finally in 2000 I got a dvd player center channel and processor and a Marantz 60inch TV and added my parasound preamp to the electronic graveyard in the office. I also added DISH was is great.

And finally just this year I downsized the large studio monitors with bookshelf speakers and got a nice wall unit for all the equipment and got a new dvd player that will play all my discs I record on the computer jpeg's etc.. and to simplify my system I added my parasound cd player to yes the electronic graveyard. also added my first DISH reciever to the graveyard as I upgraded to their digital recorder.

So this is my mature adult setup and my only other upgrade I plan on for a long time will be a HD TV, but I imagine we have all said that before.

What makes this post fun it that it is great to reminise about your early days with stereo. I still have all my old receipts even though there is no point in keeping them except for the memories.

12-10-2005, 01:14 PM
Nice story! Some of the things you brought out are so true. I'm still using my original JVC VCR, my original JVC DVD player in my kid's playroom, my first little Panny pro logic system and first Kenwood CD player have garage duty and my 36" JVC TV is in my bedroom. All these products are anywhere from 6 to 11 years old and they all still work perfectly fine.(Yes I use to have a thing for JVC). Your right, they don't make em like they use to. I've had several DVD players go bad on me, but I'm still using my one orginal VCR thats 11 years old. How crazy is that.

What's funny is that I have all my receipts too.

12-10-2005, 01:26 PM
I was always a 2-channel until I heard, of all things, a Bose HT system that totally blew me away. If memory serves it was only a pro-logic system, and I think Braveheart was the demo. I'll say 1996, but I could be off by a year or two...saved up my money and bought a Sony, then later a Technics a/v receiver and some PSB alpha speakers. Wicked.

12-10-2005, 04:02 PM
Great stories everyone!

Anybody else gotta nice lil story to tell?

How did you get into HT?

12-10-2005, 04:46 PM
My first recollection of HT was "Midway" presented in "Sense-Surround" (sp). Ha! We had some sweet quadraphonic 8-tracks, too.

Jeez, get me going... Since I can remember, I was always tearing into radios. Old tube portables and the big furniture consoles. We opened them up and messed with them. When I found an old turntable was missing a needle, I literally bent a straight needle and wedged it in. It worked. I was sure to make it nice and sharp on the grinder first. We destroyed a nice collection of original 45's that way. The little wisps of vinyl should have told me someting. I ripped the speakers/doors off one of the units, cut them down to size and stuck a tweeter in them. Stripped the paint off and put some varnish on. Early DIY project with parts from Radio Shack. My brother got a transistor radio, which was really cool. I ripped the drivers out of any garage sale consoles I could find. Eventually, I ran wires down the hall so I could run my bedroom speakers du jour off the parents stereo. I would put the radio on while running the turntable. The auto-off function would turn off the whole thing when the record was over. That was my nite timer.

I did lawns and saved money. My first receiver was a Realistic model that was the receiver match to the Minimus-7. Remember those? It was sweet. I went through a number of speakers. I always read the local papers for equipment for sale. I was a whore at the stereo stores. I remember a HUGE Fisher control amp and a Marantz "gyro" tuner. My big moment was the day the top-of-the-line Realistic tower speakers went on sale 2-for-1. I got mine and had Mom drive them home in the back of the station wagon. Those lasted a long time, eventually going to college, where they were melted down repeatedly. I learned to have driver re-coned and up-sized the inductors in the crossovers. I eventually got a Carver amp and Peavy cabinets with dual 15-inch drivers and horns. College.

I treated myself to Vandersteen 2Ci's when I graduated college in 1991. Same Carver amp. I had the same until recently. Growing up and getting married does little for your toy collection.

I am still a 2-channel music guy. I cannot help it. However, I do like the occasional movie and want it to sound great as well.

a long, strange trip indeed.


12-10-2005, 07:58 PM

based on a true story! (long version)

I guess you could say I was born into the audiophile two channel audio world. In the early sixties, after my father graduated from Purdue as an electrical engineer, he enlisted in the military (not much choice at that time). He was transferred from Chicago where he was born and raised to what was then called Sandia Base in the Alburquerque, New Mexico area. He worked in White Sands, Los Alamos, and other sites that were at the time, unmentionable except by the native ranchers. This spawned a background in nuclear work and after his second go with the "army", my father went to work at the Southwest Research Foundation. What a fascintating place for a young boy. The research here was in every area imaginable and I probably had some of the most fascinating pets of any kid in the neighborhood (lab animals up to and including baboons!!!!)

My fathers career was taking off and he was offered a job for a new upstart company called Computer Corporations of America, here in Houston Texas in 1968ish. (Don't worry, I am getting there soon.....) I was only five or six and oblivious to the risks my father was taking with this new venture. Once again, incredible cutting edge technology for the time. Radioactive isotope applications, the first CAT scan hardware for the Veterans Administration, Radioactive isotope sterilization programs of the medfly in S. America, low level analog to digital signal conversion, etc., etc. , etc.

I do not recall what exactly happened (not too much was ever said to date) but the company started having financial problems and eventually dissolved. My understanding was that my father had options in the company, in lieu of a high salary and so he went almost a year towards the end without a pay check.

Well, at the time, they were also doing work for G.E.\Altec (now I have your attention) and had two Valencias and an early version of a Harman Kardon tube amp receiver (very rare even then) on site. My father took the audio system, in compensation for lost pay when the company finally collapsed.

I too was a movie buff and living in Houston also provided some of the earliest experiences of surround sound. TV's were still far behind and very expensive. I recall only one TV in the house until I was about 10 or 11. The second tv went in the kids room (a 13" B&W Zenith that still works today!) As pointed out earlier, no real way to hook up to a receiver to get sound from your speakers but I kept my eye open for technologies and would put a bug in my fathers ear about the new 4 track (yes, I said 4 track, not 8 track tape for you young folk) tapes coming out and other audio "revolutions".

Now, it did not take me too long to realize after doing some research to find out more about the Altecs (since no manual was provided) and to discover that the awesome sound I was hearing in the theaters was probably a very similar design that was sitting in my family's family room. The H&K probably did not put out more than 15 X 2 watts, but that was more than sufficient to make my parties the hit of the neighborhood (or the bain of the neighbors, depending on your viewpoint). Needless to say, my parents were never informed of these forays but I am sure they suspected it.

Well, I grew up (depends on who you ask) and moved away from home. Audio and Video took a back seat to a little thing called survival. For several years I struggled (worked as a light engineer and traveled with several bands) until I got married, went to college, and got a job. Really a good time to be poor in terms of timing. Video was still far from perfect or inexpensive. My wife and I upgraded our second Zenith 19" color to a Marantz 27", my first good TV. I also bought a VCR and hooked it up to an Akai receiver I had and enjoyed it for what it was in stereo.

My next upgrade was a Proscan 27" and a matching VCR with TV Guide PLUS!!!!! I had been eyeing some of the new receivers with Dolby Prologic and when my father called me to ask what he should buy to replace the unrepairable H&K for his house, I suggested the Technics GA SX-910 receiver. Now this was cutting edge at the time and was way out of my budget, but it was fate that my father needed a replacement. I went over the technical specs with my dad and told him that I was speculating on the digital optical inputs and the digital video tape inputs but the phantom center was going to make his system really shine when watching tv\movies.

Now you have to remember that tube amps were the norm before I left home, but solid state was becoming the thing to have. I helped my father install the new receiver and I have to say that it was a completely different sound. One with unperceptable distortion and what I considered a leap in sound quality over that old tube amp component!

Blasphemy, you say?

Back then, there was no such thing as a clean tube amp. Some would argue there is no such thing at all now!!!! I have to admit, I have not listened to some of the latest tube amps available today but to me, I will take SS over a tube any day. Horn speakers do not like distortion, and with what little electronics knowledge I have, a tube will always generate distortion, no matter how "new" the technology. But, if that is what you like, to each his own. I liken this discussion to those I have had with my dad over which caliber of hand gun is more effective for self defense. My father, being old school will argue that the 45 semi automatic 1911 Colt military issue is the best. I point to evidence to the contrary, pointing out that the new, lighter ammo and the high capacity 9mm or 357 magnums are the way to go (no over-penetration for better energy transfer). In both instances, they are well suited for their jobs and it really boils down to preference.

As my career advanced and I became economically secure, I agreed to remodel the house for my wife if I got a home theater. I was at an audio\video boutique store and saw my first front projection system with a 100"+ screen. That was the turning point for my latest design.

My father has since taken ill and I now have the Altecs and the Technics receiver in my upstairs bedroom. It was my primary audio system for a while until this remodel. I tried to find a solution that would incorporate the Valencias but to no avail. So, I did the next best thing, I purchased a complete Klipsch Reference Series system including the RSW 15.

A-B comparisons are incredible. The new Klipsch speakers give the Altecs a real run for their money on the top end. I regretfully report that the Klipsch system edges out the Altecs on the bottom end. I guess I would have to clarify that this is not a fair fight, six speakers against two, but it does say something about both mfgs.

I love the sound of a horn loaded speaker and every time I listen to either system, it brings back fond memories of my childhood, the movie theaters, traveling through every college town in the US playing small venues, and my father.

Thanks Dad!!!!

P.S. I want to thank everyone in this forum that helped me through this latest project. Your advice and guidance has really made a huge difference and I can not thank all of you enough. I have attached a link for those who would like to see the finished product.

Happy Holidays!!!

12-11-2005, 05:36 AM

What a beautiful house and room. It takes your breath away. Congratulations.


12-11-2005, 07:49 AM

What a beautiful house and room. It takes your breath away. Congratulations.


I really appreciate the acknoledgement from those on this forum. Only you guys can truly appreciate what it took to design and build this room. I am glad my wife insisted on hiding all the wires. It really makes the room look clean.

12-11-2005, 07:53 AM
WOW!! Wescott, I just finished your book, (JK) and that's one heck of a story. You have a beautiful home. Thanks for sharing your story and pics.

12-11-2005, 01:20 PM
WOW!! Wescott, I just finished your book, (JK) and that's one heck of a story. You have a beautiful home. Thanks for sharing your story and pics.

I apologize for the long winded story. I thought the background history would give more perspective.

I appreciate your kind words. My wife and I made several compromises and we are not completely finished, but I think we both won!!! I am a lucky man to have a wife that would let me use the family room for such a venture. No other room in the house was adequate, IMO.

12-12-2005, 06:14 AM
Great story & pics Westcott.

12-12-2005, 08:57 AM
Great story & pics Westcott.

Your comments are greatly appreciated! Makes all the hard work all that more worthwhile.
My wife and I did every bit of it except for the roller hurricane shutters.

Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes!!!

12-12-2005, 09:27 AM
since i'm at work...i gotta make this brief...(enjoyable thread)

back in 1997, my girlfriend and I rented a DVD player from Hollywood video and selected a few movies from their lot of 10. We were the first to rent from this particular store and they were excited as were we. Well, i only connected the player directly to an old 27" tv with 2 BOSE 301 for audio. We were simply blown away by the quality! Over the next year, Best Buy began to sell DVD players with freebies...after laying down $350 for Toshiba's cheapest model we began our HT journey.
As my income increased, i began to add Polk towers, center, etc....
Fast forward til today and my then girlfriend is now my wife, we have a house with a full size basement and i'm running a full 7.1 surround system with a 50" RPTV. We love HT and really enjoy our time there with/without the kids.

Now, i gotta get back to work so i can pay for the next upgrade...a HD projector.

(by the way, the Toshiba is still working great and is now my bedroom player.)

12-12-2005, 02:02 PM
ive always been a 2 channel sort of feller. but my foray started in the mid seventies when my grandmother gave me an old record player witha bunch of old records. rip things apart and then put them back together. most of it stayed apart as i couldnt remember to put them back together.
had a few console systems that i pulled apart and started making components from those. without much luck. i did find an old record player and an old amp in a rumble sale ( cant remember the make) and started from there. bought some radioshack speakers minimus and had 4 channel for a while. early to mid 80's i mucked about with some pioneer/radioshack stuff jbl h/k jvc bose and too many more to remember.
got mostly into car stereo for the next few years as there is no sense having a stereo for home viewing when you only get one t.v. channel where i was living and only one video store 45 miles away (northern b.c.)
moved a few times got into satellite systems had rotel/ nad/ h/ basically had them all( 2 channel) got into ht about 10 years ago with a h/k setup that i have upgraded to another hk with customs. guess you could call it a 5.4 setup but for what it is its pretty good for my needs. and mostly carver and phase linear now (main system)
people who live near the big cities dont know how good they have it when it comes to comparison shopping for the newest and neatest gadgets. all us others have to wait until it trickles down the pipe before we can give it a whirl. and with items changing so fast by the time you find something you like they have allready replaced it with next years model.
oh well i guess there something to be said for the price of product advancement. im definately happy now with what ive got and am tired of chasing that golden note for awhile. time to enjoy the noise. but there was a t.v. i was looking at.......

12-12-2005, 02:34 PM
When i was in Jr High, my brother was in high school. He had a bunch of buddies who were the dorks with with ridiculously obnoxious car stereos. They were constantly switching out parts, so there were always old drivers, crossovers, speaker cabinets, and electronics around. i was always fooling around with this stuff, mixing and matching drivers, crossovers, putting drivers in goofy enclosures, trying every and any wire i could find as speaker cable, taking things apart, etc.

Mainly, I just detroyed a lot of really crappy components, but i got the bug. I worked all summer when i was 13 and bought a sony receiver and cd player, and some cheap speakers that i quickly destroyed. I found some solid old fishers somewhere that had hefty cabinets, and could take a lot of abuse, and played loud.

I kept this system through college, and then when i got my first job out of college, i decided to get some new speakers. On my hunt, I looked up some hifi mags at the bookstore, and it was all over. I don't want to think about how much stuff I've been through since then!

I guess what I want to know is not how you got into this hobby but how do i get out!


12-12-2005, 02:40 PM
I guess what I want to know is not how you got into this hobby but how do i get out!


Thanks for the story Ericl. Short but fun.

As for how to get out of this hobby? My guess is in a pine box. Or do you prefer planers?

12-12-2005, 03:12 PM
I guess what I want to know is not how you got into this hobby but how do i get out!

Probably until your hearing goes. :eek:

12-12-2005, 03:14 PM
I must say, this thread is making me feel very young. Not that I'm complaining. Everyone is like"back in the 70's or 80's. I was born in 76. I have alot to learn and alot to look foward to.

Thanks for the great stories everyone. I did not think I would get such great replies. Keep em comin. :)

12-12-2005, 03:22 PM
I'll lay blame with my obsessions on my dad. If he wasn't tweaking his Hafler, building tubes amps, or messing with AR speakers he was waxing the E-Type or SL (the last two are cars for the heathens amoung us). Lo and behold, guess what I'm in to? When I was 6 years old, I got my first drum kit and practiced in our game room. This only intensified my love for music and music reproduction.

Over the years, I inherited my dad's throw-aways as he upgraded. Various Wharfedale and AR's followed. I still use and love his Marantz 2230 in my bedroom rig. This went on until college (Fight On!) when I used my first bonus from an internship to purchase my first rig: a PS Audio 4.6 pre, B&K ST140 amp, and Mission 780a Argonauts.

This basic rig served me well for over a decade. I'm rarely bit by the upgrade bug and tend to keep my gear for a good, long time. In fact, my progression from 2 channel to multi-channel was instigated by the gift of a Denon AVR for Christmas 3 or 4 years ago from... guess who? To this day, I'm still not sure if that was blessing or curse. I went from being completely content with my old 2 channel rig to needing a few stiff drinks after gazing upon the back panel of a modern AVR. For a guy used to a simple passive stereo preamp, the sheer number of RCA's on the Denon was enough to yell "Elizabeth! This is the Big One! I'm comin' for ya, darlin!"

After months of auditioning, out went the Missions (hey, you try finding a matching cc for 15 year old speakers!) and in came the B&W's. Music sucked in 2 channel with the Denon so I added the HCA2, a solution that has worked famously. Just recently I added a 52" JVC DILA set, upgraded to a DirecTV HD-DVR, and replaced my Sony dvd player with a Denon 2910 universal. When you're stupid enough to have $1200 surrounds, you should at least listen to hi-rez through 'em.

Through it all, music has always been the priority. When I buy my next house, there will be a music room. In this room will be a dedicated two channel rig, my drum kit, and whatever instruments my kids want to play.

Huh, why does this sound so familiar?

12-12-2005, 04:12 PM
I must say, this thread is making me feel very young. Not that I'm complaining. Everyone is like"back in the 70's or 80's. I was born in 76. I have alot to learn and alot to look foward to.

You're older than me LJ.

12-12-2005, 04:18 PM
You're older than me LJ.

Why thank you! I feel so much better now. I have not hit the big 30, just quit yet. I have a another whole year of being in my 20's.

12-12-2005, 04:33 PM
Wow Wooch, that's one heck of a story. You are a very patient person. I learned the hard way and wasted some money, but O well, that's been my life story anyway.

Well, stubbornly sticking with my equipment is kind of my story! It helped that a lot of my friends were also into the audio hobby and/or worked at various audio/video stores. That gave me an opportunity to do a lot of listening and viewing, particularly when the first Dolby Surround processors started showing up in stores in the mid-80s.

Living in Westwood with all those huge single-screen theaters and state-of-the-art sound and projection systems, and constantly seeing movies with six-track soundtracks set the bar for my movie enjoyment ridiculously high. Any home theater format without full range split surrounds wasn't going to be good enough, and that probably saved me from buying at least one or two other home theater systems in the meantime. Dolby Surround/Pro Logic just never provided a big enough upgrade over two-channel for me personally to justify investing in an all-new system at that time.

Like I mentioned, it wasn't until DD and DTS made their debut on the Laserdisc format that I even considered going to surround sound. That was the first time that a home audio system could give consumers access to the exact same movie soundtracks that the best movie theaters got, with true discrete multichannel sound. The chance to create a home theater system that can rival all but the very best movie theater systems did not come about until then.

To me, the two most important milestones in home theater (at least on the audio side) were full range two-channel audio (starting with the Laserdisc in 1978, and stereo hi-fi VCRs in 1983) and the debut of 5.1 Dolby Digital with Laserdiscs in 1994. Those were the biggest jumps in audio quality that we got with home video. The debut of the DVD in 1997 made 5.1 multichannel sound the norm, rather than the exception.

Interesting that most people responding to this thread seem to have gotten into the HT hobby relatively recently.

12-12-2005, 04:49 PM
I grew up listening to my dad's stereo, a big old monolithic-looking Yamaha and some old Pioneer speakers. I loved the way that thing sounded, and it still sounds great.

Anyway, when I was about 12 (circa 1986 or so), I wanted my own stereo, so my dad took me to some local AV store and got me a bare-bones Yamaha two-channel receiver, which I used with some Realistic speakers my uncle gave me. When I got old enough to work, I saved up and bought my first CD player, also a Yamaha. A year or so later, I bought some of those monstrous Cerwin Vega speakers with the 15" woofers and adjustable tone controls. Man, those things were beasts.....and still are. That system is in my bedroom now. Amazingly, the receiver and CD player are still gloriously ticking along, although I expect the CD player will bite the dust pretty soon.

That served me well for a long time, until a few months ago, when I got the Star Wars original trilogy box set. One of my friends came over after work to watch it, and suggested that since I already had a big TV, I should think about getting a home theater to make the sound as big as the picture.

I kinda dismissed it, thinking that what I had was good enough, but then I wandered into Circuit City one day while waiting for my wife. After that, as the kids say, it was ON.

12-12-2005, 05:04 PM
Interesting that most people responding to this thread seem to have gotten into the HT hobby relatively recently.

Well speaking for myself, it was my budget that held me back. If I would have knew back then, what I know now, I would have been patient and made wise, meaningful upgrades, instead of a bunch of unmeaningful small ones. Upgrading from one HTIB to another did not accomplish much of an improvement, but I could swear I heard a big difference in sound. Funny how the mind plays tricks on ya. Only after upgrading to my current setup and finding this site, have I realized some truths about this hobby. The difference in sound, when I upgraded to my Energy speakers, proved to be a huge jump. Proper calibration and setup also made big differences. I can see all the money threw away, easily now. At least I can go into the future well prepared.

12-12-2005, 05:20 PM
I'm just wondering how everyone got into the hobby of HT?
While I've been a two channel guy for thirty plus years, I'm a recent convert to HT. Sure, I always enjoyed watching a good film (or IMAX), but most home theatres with large screens just accentuated the pixel size like a giant pockmarked face. Not better, just bigger. Which looked worse. What changed that for me was the introduction of HDEF.

I clearly remember the first thing I saw on a HDEF monitor - the winter olympics a few years back. What amazed me was the ability to make out individual faces across the arena at an ice skating event. Now that was more like film. It was like the first time I heard Magneplanars driven by Audio Research amplification back in '74. The illusion of reality was there - it was not like watching a TV.


12-12-2005, 05:38 PM
I guess what I want to know is not how you got into this hobby but how do i get out!


Thanks for the story Ericl. Short but fun.

As for how to get out of this hobby? My guess is in a pine box. Or do you prefer planers?

You will never get out, but if you get married, that just may slow you down a little! Have children and it might just kill you!!!!!

12-13-2005, 05:50 AM
"You will never get out, but if you get married, that just may slow you down a little! Have children and it might just kill you!!!!!"

Kids do not kill the hobby...they promote it...sure you may be watching Cinderella for the umph-teen time, but it's still nice to enjoy your hobby with the 3 year old only knows 5.1 TV and movies.

12-13-2005, 06:35 AM
I grew up poor in the 40 Projects of New York City. They got their name from P.S. 40 which was one of the biggest buildings in the neighborhood. Needless to say, audiophilia took a back seat to staying employed getting fed etc. We had a variety of HiFi units including one of those godawful black/cream/pnk combo's that play 33's 45's and 78's. Wow. The only thing I knew about stereo is that we didn't have one. Fast forward through High School, College, the Army, College and finally I landed a job that paid me a wopping $14,000 a year... Wooo Hooo!!

I immediately went out to "Mon's stereo and bought some cheap JVC 3 ways (still being run by an ex-girlfriend to this day) that I mated to a used Pilot 300 Watt amp that I bought used from a pawn shop round the corner. I put these on milk crates and they did me fine for almost 15 years. I could never crank the thing anyways as I always lived in apartments. However as I earned more money and matured, I finally bought my own place. Around 2000 I got a house and decided to get a home theatre system... I came here, did a leetle research and put together my Frakenstein system... a mismatched affair that I bought on the cheap on the bay and other places. That's how I got started...

Da Worfster :D

12-13-2005, 06:37 AM
More and more great stories. Thanks to everyone for sharing.

Anyone else?

12-13-2005, 06:43 AM
Kids do not kill the hobby...they promote it...sure you may be watching Cinderella for the umph-teen time, but it's still nice to enjoy your hobby with the 3 year old only knows 5.1 TV and movies.

I second that. Being a big kid myself surely helps. Plus some of the best soundtracks can be found on animation(Monsters Inc, Lion King, Incredibles & so on).

12-13-2005, 07:35 AM
Listening to the Beatles and Monkys on a Hover portable,trying to figure out if indeed that was really a bad word we heard{not},i knew i needed something better and it was on. About a year latter i upgraded to a am/fm 4ft tall standing radio from someones garage and went down to the high school and borrowed a loud speaker from the football field and put it on my roof. I have advanced sinse then.

12-13-2005, 10:25 AM
great thread LJ, and awesome stories everyone!

i pretty much got my first taste of solid music at my best friend's house, where he was running a pair of mirage m3's with a parasound amp and preamp. he was big into audio and pretty much put the bug into me as well. he convinced his parents to spring for the mirage/parasound set up and we definitely took advantage of it more than they did. we'd put in peter gabriel's passion soundtrack and just dive into tracks 6-7 (that's still a disc i always take with me to audition things) or pop in aliens and fall in love with the director's cut. made me appreciate two-channel first and foremost, although those m3's could really create an enveloping soundfield. growing up we had a pretty simple stereo and record player, and i only remember listening to two records, one was a superman record where he was fighting against mtzlplckd (sp? the guy with no vowels in his name) and a batman record where batman went in to ape city to fight grod. i'd listen to those records a million times, till i had them memorized. flash forward to college and my first jobs and the process of building my own HT began! kept saving up and slowly building a ht piecemeal with some pieces taking longer to acquire than others! started out with two channels and denon, and thought i liked klipsch, but in less than a year, the klipschorn technology grew very tired to my ears, i switched to nht/marantz and never looked back! (although i've flirted with mirage again since then, i'm still in a healthy, committed relationship with nht.) :)

viva la casa teatro!


12-14-2005, 07:35 AM
Great stories everyone. There's alot of patient guys out there.

Anybody else gotta story?

Come on, don't be shy. :D

12-14-2005, 10:59 AM
"You will never get out, but if you get married, that just may slow you down a little! Have children and it might just kill you!!!!!"

Kids do not kill the hobby...they promote it...sure you may be watching Cinderella for the umph-teen time, but it's still nice to enjoy your hobby with the 3 year old only knows 5.1 TV and movies.

Hey Tarhell,

If you knew me, you would no I was just making an attempt at humor.

I love children, as long as they belong to someone else!

12-14-2005, 03:44 PM
Great stories everyone. There's alot of patient guys out there.

One of the nicest parts of the home theater hobby is that it inherently rewards patience, and provides ample opportunity for incremental upgrades along the way. Just think of how many times people have come onto this board inquiring into HTIB systems. Almost all of the more experienced posters respond by preaching patience, because they either have first hand experience or have observed other newbies making similar decisions.

I think the biggest dilemma comes when people decide between a complete 5.1 speaker setup up front, or only buying the best pair of speakers available for the same budget. With a complete 5.1 setup from the outset, the complete surround functionality is there from the beginning. But, at the end of the day, expending more of the budget to fewer speakers at first and incrementally adding on will eventually result in a better performing system, provided that the buyer's willing to go with less than optimal virtual surround and nonmatching speaker setups in the interim.

And with upgrades, there are so many different options available that the hobby provides. In my case, with every additional speaker I added to my initial two-speaker setup, I got that much better sound quality from my system. And upgrades don't even have to involve buying new components. Just learning how to properly align the speakers, level match and time align the speakers, equalize the subwoofer, use the receiver's menu options, calibrate the video display, etc., can have its own set of rewards.

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