Creation date: 6/28/98
Updated: Aug, 2014

 

An Illustrated Guide to My History as an Audiophile

Walter M. Scott, III July, 2013

Revised Aug, 2014

 

 

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I have been an audiophile for the last 45 years. It actually started in 1954 or ‘55 when my Daddy bought a Webcor 2791 tape recorder. It was the most fascinating thing (at five years old) that I had ever seen. When I actually got to use it he gave me advice that I pass on to people to this very day: “Inputs go to outputs, and outputs go to inputs.” I've hooked up many an audio system with that in mind!

 

Fast forward to the spring of 1968: Daddy gave me a copy of a magazine (Consumer Reports, I think) that had a big spread on audio receivers. Prior to reading that article I thought a receiver was something you used to tune in short wave and ham radio. My interest, and lust, was sparked.

 

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My first system was a very modest Lafayette receiver and speakers. I can still remember the thrill when I fired it up for the first time and heard the authoritative “thump” of a powerful (to me anyway) audio amplifier coming to life. Then I tuned in WCHD-FM (105.9 MHz in Detroit), and everything changed; that was how stereo was suppose to sound!

 

I graduated from high school that summer and carried my trusty system to the dorms at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where I was a freshmen engineering student.

 

It did not take long for me to get my ears opened to the reality of good high fidelity audio. (I can still remember a guy that lived down the hall who had a Harmon Karman receiver and a Dual turntable. He stole a tray out of the cafeteria to support the HK. I remember him saying “prepare your ears” before playing some Rolling Stones.

 

Fortunately, after my freshman year I was able to get a summer job at Ford Motor Company’s HQ in Dearborn. The result was a year’s tuition and my first real audio system.

 

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ar table

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I became the proud owner of an Acoustic Research Model R receiver, an AR turntable and a pair of (wait for it) AR model 3A acoustic suspension speakers. I had died and gone to audiophile heaven!

 

old socks

 

The first album I played on my new system was, Old Socks, New Shoes...New Socks, Old Shoes by the Jazz Crusaders. This classic was released on the Chisa label in 1970 and distributed by (whom else?) Motown. I wore my copy out! Eventually I added a Sony tape deck to the system (ultimately a mistake).

 

As the months and years passed, I got better equipment. An engineering student who knew electronics could make fair scratch in the 1970s in A2. I got on with Cooley Lab and later with Tape Recorder Specialists.

 

trs

 

(If I could go back in time I’d tell myself to knock off the small time sh-t and graduate and get a “real” job, but I digress.)

 

 

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walls

 

I ended up with a used McIntosh C-24 preamp which drove an equally used MC-250 power amp which in turn drove a pair of Fairfax Wall of Sound speakers. 

 

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thorens

 

I also had a Tandberg 6000x deck and a Theorems TD-125 Mk II turntable. When I found a used Shure SME arm for $90 the system was complete…and when it spoke my neighbors listened (probably because they had no choice).

 

maranzt

 

This happened and that happened, and I got a Marantz 240 power amp and a set of Advents and fiddled around with four channel sound for a while. This was a waste of time, except it was sort of the predecessor to surround sound.

 

I finally graduated in 1975 and moved to (shudder) Knoxville, TN. For reasons I now can’t recall I sold the walls (mistake) and got a pair of Altec Lansings. (Maybe it was temporary insanity caused by having to live in Tennessee—but, hey, you go where the work is. And besides, I met my wife there!)

 

phase lin

 

I came to my senses and got rid of the Altecs and got a set of Phase Linear Andromeda III speakers. A few years later I moved to Baton Rouge Louisiana. (Work, what else?) Shortly after the move my beloved Mac C-24 came to the end of its life in spite of my desperate attempts to keep it alive. I got a Sony TA-ESD1000 preamp and set up a primitive home theater with a Sony TV and a pioneer LD S1 laser disc player.

 

sony

carver

 

The Marantz died and I got a Carver Magnetic Power Amp. I still used the faithful Mac power amp for the rear channels. Widescreen CAV LDs with surround sound rocked pretty well!

 

The cones in the Andromedas rotted and I replaced them with Paradigm Eclipses, which of course are mounted on points.

 

At the end of the century I discovered mp3 compression, and everything changed again. My wife and I spent over a year ripping all of our CDs, LPs, cassettes and reel to reel tapes into digital files. Finally, I had true random access to all of my music, and everything was in a compact digital format. No more analog for Walter!

 

pjb100s

 

I bought PJB-100 hard disc based mp3 players for each of us, and we could carry a whopping 6 Gigs of music in a jacket pocket.

 

pioneer

 

Next, the old Sony preamp began to die as did the Carver. In 2004 and 2005 I upgraded, and thus was born "Science Fiction Theater," our home theater system.

 

media room new cam

 

A Pioneer Elite VSX-54TX audio/ video digital 5.1 surround receiver and a Panasonic industrial plasma display panel (like you’d put in a chem plant) are the heart of the system. Media is delivered with a Sage network media player, a Phillips disc player, an old Pioneer LD1 LD player and a Panny VCR. (The latter two don’t get much use these days.) In 2014 I changed speakers. Everything is now Poke except the front left and right. I was going to get Poke towers but got a deal on some big Klipschs. I know they are a mismatch with the Poke center channel but everything sounds good, so who cares!

 

 

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Left and Right K-towers holding up some action figures

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Poke wall mounted surrounds

 

SAGE HD200

Sage is gone but my player continues to rock.

 

ATH-M50

When I want privacy, I've a set of Audio Technica ath-m50 cans, which the Samsung phone drives wonderfully.

 

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For music I plug my Samsung Galaxy SIII phone into an ART 355 1/3 octave equalizer which in turn feeds the Pioneer. All of my tunes are LAME encoded MP3s and my entire music collection fits on a 64GB micro SD card in the phone.

 

pronto

 

Many years ago my wife bought me a Philips Pronto programmable remote for my birthday. It is so old it has a SERIAL port to download the programming! The salesman offered to program it for me for $250. I chuckled and told him I'm a control systems engineer; if I can program Modicon PLCs and Honeywell TDC 2000 (remember configuration “words”?) I can handle a frakking remote control! Today I only have one computer with a serial port on it, so someday the Pronto is going to have to go and I ain’t looking forward to the reprogramming!

 

I am very happy with my system, but neither the Pio nor the Panny have HDMI. Someday a change is gonna have to come.

 

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My Portable Music History

Things have changed a lot since 1968. After 30 years in my chosen profession I retired. But my love of high fidelity music is still strong and my home theater and audio system remain a major part of my daily life.

 

 

Audio and Home Theater Humor, 1974 to 2014

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cathy1

 

sound

music2

cathy2

 


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