The bug bit me in the mid to late 70’s. This was when I took control of my parent’s console stereo and started playing their records. That console had a tape out jack and my father bought a cassette recorder to allow me to recod music from the FM radio.
I used to sit there for hours listening to music, changing the stations, trying to find my favorite songs to add to my mix tape. I would record the counter for the start of each song so I could fast forward (or reverse) to whatever song I wanted to listen to. I was thrilled that I could get all this “free” musc off of the radio and listen to any song that I wanted, whenever I wanted by inserting the correct tape and fast forwarding to the index.
As I got older, my parents got tired of me monopolizing the family stereo console in the living room and told my Uncle about it. It turned out that my Uncle was an audiophile from the '50s & '60s, He found an old H.H. Scott tube FM receiver and 30 watt H.H. tube integrated amplifier pair that he had stored in his basement and he gave them to me for my 13th birthday. That year, my parents regained control of their console stereo and the tape deck came upstairs to my bedroom, with my new stereo. If you know anything about tube receivers and amplifiers from the '60s you will understand that I never needed the heat vent opened in my bedroom while I had the stereo playing
The speakers I initially had looked like those old wooden PA speakers that they used to have in the classrooms in school. A good description of the speaker is that they hung against the wall up by the ceiling and the face of the speaker was angled downward to direct the sound into the room. These speakers were open air in the back and had no bass unless they were hung on the wall. So, I hung them on the wall at the perfect height so that the downward sloping face would cause the speakers to point directly to my bed across the room.
When I got home from school I used to crank the system up and listen to the radio or one of my mix tapes as I did my homework.
The next addition to the system was an MCS 6502 turntable from JCPenney that I bought with the money that I made from my paper route. With all of the homework and studying that I did that year, my school grades improved and as I bought the MCS turntable, my parents offered to buy me my first set of hi-fi speakers. So, off to Lafayette we went and I picked out a pair of Criterion 2001 loud speakers (http://hificollector.blogspot.com/2009/11/speakers-lafayette-criterion-2001.html). Compared to the PA speakers I had been listening to prior, those Criterion 2001’s sounded glorious!
It was with those speakers that I first discovered the phantom center channel and the ability to hear the location of instruments across the sound-stage between the left and right speakers. While they didn’t provide much in the way of depth, or height, I was completely amazed and enamored with the ability to understand the location of things in the sound-stage. It was that discovery, that turned me into an audiophile.