When Did You Become an Audiophile? First Audiophile Experience?

When was the first moment you realize that you heard sound differently and became an “audiophile?” I’m interested in everyone’s story. I’ll go first:

I was in my early twenties. My wife and I were at the home of some older friends of ours, they had invited us over for dinner. Up to this point, I knew about turntables and such, but hadn’t really had any personal experience with it all. After dinner, I saw that they had a system tucked away in a closed AV cabinet. They hadn’t used it in years - they actually thought it didn’t work any more! I was curious so I got down in the floor began to rummage through their LPs and started spinning.

In hindsight, it was very much an el cheapo system - some sort of Sony plastic components and turntable. The speakers were literally tucked behind a Lazyboy chair - they may have even been facing the wall. It was seriously the worst setup ever!

Even with how much was working against it, it was the best sound I’d ever heard. I put on one of Elvis’s gospel albums, and my God, it was like Elvis was standing in the corner behind the couch. I had never had that kind of an experience. I went out the next day and begin buying my first system. I’ve been hooked ever sense. I can still close my eyes and remember everything about that moment.


I was probably 7-8 years old in the early 70’s, my grandma and grandpa had a big console stereo that she would absolutely rock the place with every Elvis LP made to date. I think it had a couple 12" woofers and a few paper cone tweets/mids.

That was it, my journey continues to this day. My journey of music and sound exploration thanks to my Grandma Leah.


I grew up with a Dynamo system a parishioner of my Dad’s who was an electrical engineer built and modified a bit and gave to my Dad when he got a job overseas. I was 6. This had a tuner, preamp, amp, an AR turntable and a pair of full-range EV speakers. My Dad splurged on his minuscule minister’s salary and bought a beautiful cherry wood full cabinet that he still uses (paid 200 dollars in '62, I have seen the receipt) and the speakers are mounted in these. He has had the speakers re-coned and re-foamed, and he no longer uses the Dynaco, he has a Sony receiver that is not the same. . . . The Dynaco system went away in the early 'nineties; I was living 1400 miles away and didn’t have a hand in that.

I loved the sound of that system. I lived with it and then experienced other systems out in the world. When I realized very few systems out there sounded as good as Dad’s. . . that’s when I realized I was an audiophile in the making though I didn’t have those words. . . probably when I was 16 or so.


I was a teenager in the late 70’s and early 80’s and an older cousin had a quadraphonic receiver (don’t recall the brand - Panasonic maybe) and he played Hotel California (the album, not just the title tune :slightly_smiling_face:) over and over (I can’t even remember the source). I had never heard anything like it! 40 years later and I am still “cueing up” Hotel California (sometimes over and over again).

Great thread suggestion,



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 :slight_smile:

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.


In 1964, on headphones, I hear stereo for the first time. Hooked!


Expo ‘86 Vancouver, BC Canadian Pacific pavilion and the movie Rainbow War. The production was absolutely creative, colorful and heartwarming. But the music made it for me. No dialogue, only pure unadulterated’ glorious music. It was a complete revelation that music could be (and was) the most powerful aspect of a multi-faceted production. The music was the emotional thread masterfully woven. Sound so clear, pure, so lifelike. I would love to know more about what, who and how that sound system came into being.

Upon returning home I promptly set out to buy my first ‘audiophile’ system. I still own the Magnepan MGIIIa’s, crossovers, Adcom GFP555, and twin GFA555’s (biamped) I bought that year. Gone are the Sony ES two box CD transport, and the Velodyne ULD15 sub that completed what was my first attempt to recapture the magic of that Rainbow War experience.



When I was 14-15 my older brother gave me a set of Heathkit amps (above). He also supplied me with a preamp and some bookshelf speakers. I really started to get into music listening and have been continuing this hobby for the last 45 years. When I got a car, I expanded to upgraded Alpine and Concord car stereos, and made my own cassette tapes. 8-track players were a passing fad, but I had one of those too.


College, early 1990s.

A professor my roommate knew invited us to come hear his stereo. We decided to accept not knowing what was in store.

As we entered a large ranch style house, we saw a basic stereo and TV in the large living room and I thought this was going to be stupid. The professor’s wife said to head on down to the basement and, at the bottom of the stairs at the end of a short hallway, was what I remember to be a large room (probably 20x40).

About two thirds into the room were Apogee speakers I think reached 6 ft in height and two huge Krell amplifiers with cables leading to a rack full of Krell and Wadia components. We were also told about how this was a room within a room plus an interesting narrative of the design and construction process.

I think the only recordings allowed were from Chesky and Dorian CDs which, even then, seemed absolutely silly but the complete immersion in a dead dark room was sort of life changing. It is really burned into my memory.

We returned a few times for long, late night listening sessions and I was never less than completely fascinated and infatuated.

Looking back, the group of audiophiles we met definitely believed that live music, in a home setting, could be reproduced or at least chased; something I doubted then and have ever since.


At age 10, took mom’s old AM radio to my room and bought a $30 cassette machine that had a wired microphone which I laid on top of the radio speaker to record off the radio. Hooked as a music lover. In high school bought a pair of JBL L44 speakers (large monitors with 8 inch extended range driver and 8 inch passive radiator). That hooked me as an audiophile and a speaker guy. Note that they were connected to a cheap Panasonic AM/FM/cassette unit.

Now 45 years later have gone back to JBL: 708P (active, controlled directivity) reference studio monitors.


Surely in the womb. My father was a musician and a real audiophile. My mother also loved music and it played in our house constantly; Dad was jazz and big band and Sinatra, etc. Mom was either Chopin or Perry Como.
I wish I still had Dad’s Scott receiver and JBL’s.
I remember clearly when he walked in carrying some all-in-one thing. He told me: “this is HIFI”. Wow!


I decided to build my first stereo in 1968. I cannot remember actually having heard a stereo before that! A Garrard autochange deck with crystal cartridge, Sinclair Z12 amp modules and preamp with an unregulated PSU in an aluminium channel, twin double cone 10" drivers in boxes made from floorboards and plywood (but tastefully disguised using Rexine and silver speaker cloth), and the cabling was only a step up from bell wire using jack plugs as connectors. How did it sound? Compared to a transistor radio with a 2" speaker, or even my parents’ old radiogram, absolutely fantastic. Over the next 8 years I definitely became a Hi-Fi buff; building ever more sophisticated amps and speakers. Then a move abroad put a stop to it. I didn’t really get serious about audio again until about 8 years ago. I still wouldn’t class myself as an audiophile, although I would probably pass as such to the man in the street, but you guys know better!


All great stories… after the war my dad played in Frank Fontaine and Jackie Gleason’s big band for a couple years and then formed his own 1946-52, cut a few 78s my mom would play on end, when i popped into their world in 53, plus her favs, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, and my dad never gave up his Harry James and Glenn Miller… Fast forward to 1973 as I was running two sets of Klipsch box speakers in A-B tandem trying to simulate surround sound of The Who’s rock opera, “Quadrophenia”, :wink: pretty much knew at that point, there was more to hear in those spinning black discs…


Early eighties drinking St Pauli Girl beer on THU evening at Take Five in New Haven, CT… auditioning all kinds of speakers… components…

First system at 21 years old after my first good paying job.
Nachamechi Dragon cassette player w/ Dolby module, Threshold S-150 stereo amp, Threshold Preamp, Transaudio Oracle TT w/ Dynavector ruby cartridge and VPI record cleaner, KEF Reference II floor standing speakers, hand-made oak cabinet.

Those were the days -


1 - Started as child… dad had a custom built Hi Fi Speaker and amplifier. Had to be custom built in the 50s.
2- Hippy neighbor and his dad… all Macintosh tube equipment… listening to Jethro Tull at 15 (my first record I purchased was Thick as Brick)
3 - Some store in West side of Cleveland… heard beautiful sound… was a Luxman integrated amp with two tubes glowing… wow. I thought the sound was from the speakers… sales guy smiled and pointed to the Luxman.

Looking at what I just wrote… all tube quipment… hmmm… never realized the thread… these were my most significant experiences. Today, I am all tube.

Bruce in Philly


In high school, prolly 15 yrs old. Had saved and saved and got a Harmon Kardon receiver, Onkyo turntable, and a pair of Polk Audio Model 10’s (remember those?). Really nice sound, esp the Polk’s (Polk USED to make really nice speakers in the late 70’s/early 80’s). Then life happened and I melded into a long list of box store commercial audio (receivers, cd’s, etc). Then I started watching Paul’s videos and got the bug back. Ordered a Sprout100 and a pair of Martin Logan 35XT’s. Was absolutely floored by the quality of sound I was getting. Beautiful, presence, depth, soundstage…and this was with a Sprout! Don’t get me wrong, I think the Sprout is one of the best things to happen to audio in awhile, but it got me to planning for my new system (Hopefully a Stellar monoblock and Maggies). So yeah, a long time, but also just recently. Loving my Sprout system right now.


At 9 years old, when I became fascinated by hearing an old radio’s paper speaker hooked to the RCA outputs of a black and white TV. The TV didn’t have a working volume knob, it was stuck on high but no sound from its own little speaker. Years earlier I remember my uncle’s turntable having those same jacks with those “weird” cables coming out of the back and without knowing what would happen, I hooked such 3 inch speaker, found in a dumpster, to said TV. Big Buzz sound, but for a millisecond I heard voices from what the tv was showing and figured where to touch the RCA jack with the red and black thin cables to get sound. The tinkering hasn’t stopped since that day. I became my family’s electronic’s handyman advisor since those days over 35 years ago. These days simplicity and shortest path from source to ear is where I live.


I was 11years old (1968) when my parents bought me a Ross am/fm stereo receiver with a built in 8 track player and separate stereo speakers for Christmas. I had previously hounded them for months to no end for that beautiful setup as a Christmas gift…and with money being so tight with four other siblings…they were both so very kind to bless me with my very first music making machine. Man…I was in music heaven all day long and staying up late into the night enjoying my window into that oh so beautiful ear candy we call music. When in high school all of my money from my first paying summer job went to…you guessed it…a Radio Shack quadraphonic system…Man those were the days!!! Thanks Mom and Dad.