Audio/Video Darwin Awards (Things not to do) [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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01-16-2009, 12:59 PM
Now Hear This, literally:

I just got an email from a friend of mine in Canada who simultaneously destroyed two Antique Sound Lab tube amps, fortunately not very expensive ones, and nearly caught his house on fire. He had read that he needed to keep the cables short, so he had placed the amps on top of his NHT speakers (the big ones with the bass drivers). Well you can guess what happened.

Now I'm sure he wasn't the first, but it was the first time I had heard of this. Anyhow, in light of that (and in honor of my friend's infinite wisdom) I thought it might be fun to have an Audio/Video Darwin Awards list here. If you know someone who has, or if you have the courage to admit that you yourself have done something absolutely deserving of ridicule with your gear, then let's hear it. Better yet, post a picture of the carnage.

P.S. In good fun, of course.

01-16-2009, 01:18 PM
I was at a friend's house for a party in the summer of 78. Parties being what parties are, we were drinking and partying all night. Around 3 AM a few guys decided that there wasn't enough room inside for all the people. My friend gave them permition to toss out all the furniture to make more room. Yup, you guessed it. Some fool picked up one of his huge JBL speakers and tossed it off the second story deck. It cut out about half way down.

Duh.... What happened to the music? Who turned it down?

01-18-2009, 10:04 AM
Dunno if this is Darwin worthy or not, but it's amusing, unless you were me.

Back in '76 when I first ot married. my best friend stopped over with his brand-new puppy doggie. Doggie was adorable until he offered his opinion of my JBL L-55 speakers by lifting his back leg and started to christen the grilles.

I don't think the neighbors ever saw a flying dog before...

But, for any newbies here, I must add that anyone who kerfutzes with interconnects or speaker cables while the units are powered on is campaining for a "winnie"

01-26-2009, 10:55 AM
I just read that Michael Fremer from Stereophile lets his cats sit on his amps - apparently they like the warmth. It reminded me that I once received a second-hand amp that was rather dusty so I thought I would clean it out before plugging it in. When I opened it up to clean it it was filled with cat-hair (I presume it was from a cat!). Anyhow, it took me two days to clean it out before I dared to turn it on. Maybe not Darwin Award worthy, but definitely not something good. Keep animals away from your gear!

01-26-2009, 12:27 PM
Believe it or not, I can't think of any bonehead moves I've made with my A/V equipment over the years, but I do have one of an electrical nature. One day, in my pre-teen years my brothers and I, after my "Big Bruiser" toy tow truck broke, decided to take the 1.5 volt DC motor out to see if it still worked. I connected some wires to the red and black leads, put a plug on it, plugged it into the switched AC outlet and told my brother to turn it on. :yikes: Big spark, scared the snot out of me and to this day I can clearly visualize my blacked fingers. What I don't remember though is if it stung or not. My dad was sitting in his recliner, reading the paper then looked over at me and in a very calm voice said, what are you doing? Then he continued reading the paper.

That was my first experience with electricity, and I've been hooked ever since.

01-26-2009, 12:46 PM
In '85 I bought my first amp, a Yamaha M-2, and my first CD player (Sony 501 ES). A friend loaned me a wee pair of AR bookshelf speakers and I was set to play....I bought Telarc's Star Tracks and plugged in. Well, the volume at the beginning of the set was dead, quiet so I bumped it up a bit. Still very little there, just an eerie sound. Then, the whine kicked in. Louder and louder and still louder....Before I realised what was happening, KABOOM! Cymbals crashed! Star Wars and Han Solo and the Milennium Falcon descended and the tweeters and woofers were killed instantly.

At that same time, my (ex) friend went deaf. No apologies or explanation would sway him...

And that was when I knew that CD's, Hifi and me would have a very wonderful relationship.

01-26-2009, 01:15 PM
I have two shocking stories.

1) When I was about 7, my parents got me a small train set. The number one rule was that it was never to be left plugged in unattended. I was playing with it one night when I was summoned for dinner. I tried to pull the plug from the wall, but as some here may remember, back in the 60's, not all wall plugs were created equal. It was in there tighter than a (well, let's not go there). I pulled and pulled while my dad got louder and louder. Finally the plug was about half way out. Oh good (I thought) I can get a better grip now. So I wrapped my little fingers around the plug and everything went black. Next thing I knew, dad was at the door screaming at me. The plug was out of the wall but still in my hand. Dad wanted to know why the h.ll I wasn't answering him and drug my @ss by the arm to the kitchen. Never told dad for fear of a beating.

2) Around 1991 we had a couple of big snow storms. They were in the range of 18 inches each within a few days. Then it warmed up to 50 and rained like Noah had just finished his ark. We were sent home from work at about 1 PM. It took me 8.5 hours to travel those 55 miles as most roads were closed due to flooding. The ones still open shouldn't have been. Not sure how my car kept running in water that was up to the door handles. Finally got home and stepped out of the car into the 6 inches of water in the garage. Wondering why the sump pump wasn't doing it's job, I splashed my way over to it. There was the problem. The float was stuck. So I reached over and "un-stuck" it. Seemed like a good idea at the time. The pump kicked in for about a second. The motor was under water and shorted out. I have been told that this can't happen, but it did. Luckily, the circuit breaker did it's job and cut off all the power. Lights out. But the real problem was, I was standing in the water. It didn't knock me out, but did send me splashing into the water. Talk about shrinkage! I was in a rather fould mood for the rest of the evening.

01-26-2009, 04:27 PM
Geeze, GM! Yer dad must've been PO'd!

Did he ground you?

01-27-2009, 06:21 AM
Oh hardy, har, har.

I do still glow a little in the dark though.

01-27-2009, 06:50 AM
Geeze, GM! Yer dad must've been PO'd!

Did he ground you?
Stink... stank... stunk :nonod:

01-27-2009, 08:06 AM
Back in the day, when I had NAD C352 Integrated amp, I set up my first music server using a Mac Mini... I connected the Mini to one of the RCA inputs on the NAD, but could barely hear anything (though I knew the music was playing)... so I put the volume up to full and switched inputs... tried again with another.. heck I even thought about using Phono (but decided against it)... I couldn't figure why the output on the Mini was so weak... then I saw a flashing light on the Front of the NAD and realized the volume protect button (or whatever it was called) was on... so I pressed it... not thinking to turn the volume on the amp down first... Let's just say that I didn't listen to music for about a week after that...

01-27-2009, 08:11 AM
Had to re-cone your speakers?

01-27-2009, 08:26 AM
Yeah, he probably launched them across the room. :lol:

01-27-2009, 09:22 AM
Back to the Future flashback.

01-27-2009, 09:43 AM
The funny part is that the speakers survived... though I think I might have gone flying across the room... it's all kind of a blur now, but at least the ringing in my ears has stopped...

01-27-2009, 10:26 AM
Isn't NAD supposed to have some kind of protection circuit for that?

01-27-2009, 10:42 AM
Isn't NAD supposed to have some kind of protection circuit for that?

Ummm.. I'm sure that's what caused the volume to be so low in the 1st place... but I stupidly clicked that button off (after raising the volume even higher)...

01-27-2009, 10:57 AM
Good thing you weren't wearing headphones.

01-27-2009, 11:04 AM
Good thing you weren't wearing headphones.

I would have been permanently deaf, instead of having a mild ringing in my ears for a few days...

01-27-2009, 11:36 AM
When I was in my freshman year, my roomate and I shared my old Fisher "boom box". It was around a 10w system, and woefully underpowered for a dorm room.

That Easter, my dad came across a sweet deal on some Marantz system (I still have). He brought down the equipment, and helped me set it up. For a room the size of a locker, it was WAY overpowered. I had 2 120W speakers with 15" cones, and 2 bookshelf speakers. The amp put out 110W per channel, so we were in business.

One day afternoon we were studying, and my roomate had it cranked up. So loud, I'm suprised we are not deaf. The bass was booming so loud, that it was literally shaking the room. It ended up shaking one of my roomates bottles of cologne off a shelf, and smashing it on my desk. He couldn't even hear me yelling at him to get towels to clean up.

I killed the stereo, and we proceeded to clean up. However, the cologne had worked itself into the floor, and the furniture. After about a week, neither of us could smell it, but the entire dorm of 160 rooms, had a faint odor of Drakar, or whatever crap he wore on the weekends.

The next year, he knew one of the guys that moved into our old room. The guy mentioned one time that the room smelled like cologne. We both found that funny, that the stink was still there over a year later.

01-27-2009, 01:44 PM
I knew this guy who bought a Vizio LCD.....

sorry, had to do it... :)

01-27-2009, 01:49 PM
good catch :)

I fixed that one for ya.

01-27-2009, 01:54 PM
I dont get it!

audio amateur
01-27-2009, 02:14 PM
good catch :)
I want to know what I missed!! ROFL at the vizio thing:D

01-27-2009, 02:23 PM

01-27-2009, 03:28 PM
Years ago when I was in college, I worked for the old Pacific Stereo chain. They had a weekend promotional that advertised their house branded Quadraflex speakers for $10 a pair. It was the "bait" item to lure customers into the store in hopes they would buy other items. It was sure to generate a lot of traffic.

When I arrived at the store prior to the sale, my managers were taking each one of the $10 speakers out of the box, hooking up speaker wire, and plugging them directly into the AC outlet on the wall at which point they would promptly burn out. They would then put the speakers back into the box and designate them as DOA and place them back on the truck!

When I asked what they were doing, they told me the $10 speakers were going to cause more trouble then they were worth. Rather than deal with a flurry of angry customers trying to return sub-quality speakers and disappointed expectations, they felt it was better to just tell them the shipment was bad and they didn't have any in inventory!

01-27-2009, 03:37 PM
Another Pacific Stereo story. We had several sound rooms and numerous systems setup around the store. Since the store was hands-on, it wasn't uncommon for customers to fiddle with adjustments on demo gear.

I was dusting in one of the sound rooms one day and noticed a turntable was still turning with the tonearm in the center groove. It wasn't connected to an active power amp so it was completely silent and had been spinning for an undetermined amount of time in the center groove.

I turned off the spinning platter, lifted the tonearm, and tried to lift the LP off the platter. To my surprise, the label stayed on the platter while the remainder of the LP was lifted off. The needle had worn through the vinyl completely! Apparently someone had mis-adjusted the tracking force and the excessive needle down force machined its way through the spinning record.

01-28-2009, 06:12 AM
go check out some of the threads in the HDTV should be able to figure out the inside joke :)

I want to know what I missed!! ROFL at the vizio thing:D

01-29-2009, 10:05 AM
I had to learn about impedeance and bridging the hard way. :(

Smoke Check Fail.

I are way mo' edUmuhcated now! ;)

01-29-2009, 10:07 AM

01-29-2009, 11:39 AM
It's been a popular story that some well built Class A amps, like the old Pass Aleph amps, will take a straight short across the speaker terminals and won't fry. Anybody ever tried? If so, what happened?

I had a single strand of wire make the connection on a receiver once, but the safety circuit shut everything down - no sparks or smoke.