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#91416 - 04/18/05 08:22 PM How did you start?
spiffnme Offline

Registered: 04/01/03
Posts: 5233
Loc: Los Angeles
With all the posts we get around here with questions about what to get for their first HT setup, I'm curious to hear everyone's story on how they started with the HT bug.

Here's mine...

I remember being, hmm, I dunno, 13/14 years old, still in Junior High, wanting my own stereo system. My father told me to buy just a receiver and speakers at first. Buy what I could afford now, and add pieces as I saved money. I'd end up with a better system.

So I bought a Yorx all-in-one stereo system for $99.99. Similar to this one, only not as nice.

What do dad's know, right? I had it all! DUAL cassette deck, record player, tuner, seven band EQ, and two big tower speakers! I enjoyed that system for quite some time, and then started asking questions..."how do I get it to sound better?"

Then one christmas I got a CD player! A sharp single-disc player. I ran upstairs to my room and hooked it up to the Yorx. (Unbelievably it had a single aux input that could accept the cd player!)

I was BLOWN away at how much better cd's sounded than cassettes. (Even then I rarely listened to records. I was a child of the cassette age.) That had to have been about 1988, because I remember listening to David Lee Roth's "Skyscraper" over and over and over again in my bedroom.

But now the bug was set. Now I knew things could sound ever better! So I talked to my dad and he suggested he head to Radio Shack and see what they had. (Back then they actually had a nice listening room, and sold some decent equipment!) I found a nice Onkyo reciever that I wanted, and saved up my money and eventually bought it, along with a pair of very inexpensive Radio Shack "Optimus" bookshelf speakers.

That receiver paired with the cd player and "real" speakers blew me away once again. The disease had really set in by this point. There was no turning back now.

Next into the fray would be a "stereo" VCR. Much to my delight they actually had VCR's with stereo input and output jacks on the back that you could play through your receiver! Wow! Movies in STEREO! A massive collection of video tapes began to be bought. (Thanks in part to a local store which sold used vhs tapes for $5/each or 3/$10) With the collection of videos, it was only natural for me to want a nicer tv. Thanks to SEARS and this magical invention called the credit card, I could own a brand new 27" panasonic "superflat" tv for only $15/month! (I'm likely still paying for that tv)

While in our local mall's "Suncoast Motion Picture Company" looking for new videos to add to my collection I came across what I thought was movie soundtracks on vinyl. Upon asking, I was told they were this new thing called "laser discs". CD quality sound AND picture. Light years ahead of vhs. I had to have one. Not only was the quality better, but new titles only cost between $25 and $40, as opposed to the $100 they wanted for the same thing on VHS! What a bargain!

So now I've got a nice 27" tv, onkyo receiver, optimus speakers, pioneer ld player and stereo vcr. It's obviosly time for upgraditus. The weak link is obviously my speakers. I listened to a bunch of speakers, at a bunch of differnt stores before making my final decision. I was entering the big time now. These speakers would be with me for the next decade, and I wanted to get it right. I ultimately bought a pair of Snell Accoustics Type K/II bookshelf speakers. Crystal clear highs, and the cleanest mid-range I heard. They were the crown jewels of my system. By this time I was curious what this "Dolby Surround" was all about too. So I of course had to get a center channel to go with my new Snell's. Then I was talked into a subwoofer. Probably the biggest stinker purchase I'd made since that Yorx system, I got a yamaha YST-60 subwoofer. (Once again, I got what I could afford at the time, rather than wait and get something good.)

That current setup, the tv, the onkyo receiver, the snells, the center channel, ld player, cd player and the yamaha sub stayed with me for about 2-3 years unchanged.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I got the itch again, and went looking at more powerful receivers. Got myself talked into an Onkyo Integra SV-919THX receiver. The unit was a monster. Again, slapped down the plastic and went home with the mother of all receivers. Quite possibly the top of the line receiver in it's day.

Not long after that I walked through a local Good Guys, and they had some surround speakers from Polk on sale. Open box. Cheap. I of course bought them.

So with the added surrounds and monster receiver I was all set for another two years.

Then came DVD. Unlike many nay-sayers that said dvd would die on the vine, I knew it would be huge. It promised the quality (if not better) than laser disc with the convienience of the cd. I had to have one! That was 1996.

2003. years without an upgrade! I discovered and hopped on their boards. I was a bit disapointed in the intelligiblity of dialog in movies. A new center channel was suggested, and a company called Axiom was highly recommended. During the time I was preparring to purchase the VP150, I took the grills off my beloved Snells and discovered the foam surrounds had completely dry rotted. They were falling apart! Shocked and terrified I looked into buying some new bookshelf speakers, and put the center channel idea on hold. After a lengthy process of research I boiled it down to the Energy C-3 or the Axiom M22ti. I bought a pair of both, and listend to each in my own living room. (The A/B switch on my onkyo came in very handy!) The Axiom's won, hands down. Both my brother, and Roger agreed. The Energy's were returned and the Axioms replaced the Snells in my living room. The Snells were moved to my bedroom and only played at very low volumes.

I then ordered the VP150, and was immediately shocked at how much better dialog was. I could actually understand what people were saying without having to crank the center channel volume up!

For now the Polk surrounds would have to do. The QS8's just seemed too pricey.

All the research into new speakers sparked my interest in home audio again though. I kept reading. I kept visiting hi-fi disease, though dormant for many years was flaring up again.

That old Onkyo had to go. It couldn't even decode Dolby Digital or DTS! Now the question was do I go with another top-of-the-line receiver, or go the separates route? Financially it actually made sense for me to get separates. Flagship receivers were $2000+. I found the Rotel RSP-1066 processor (having read numerous positive reviews on it) for under $1000 (used), and the RMB-1075 amp (also highly rated) for about $800. Thinking ahead, I realized I'd want to upgrade again some day, and the amp could still be kept, and I'd only have to upgrade the processor. Seemed like a no brainer to me.

It's now 2003. I have Rotel separates Axiom M22ti mains, the VP150 center and the Polk LS/fx surrounds. We're currently using Roger's sony dvd player. (which would soon die)

Then one day I was playing some music rather loudly and the M22's sounded a little strained. (Granted it was quite loud, but it got me wondering about M60ti's.) As luck would have it, our very own Curtis had a pair as an in-home demo!

I bought a pair two weeks later.

But that's only 5.1. The hip thing these days is 7.1! Bring in the RB-1070 amp, and a pair of M2i's for rear duty. While you're at it Amie, throw in a pair of QS8 surrounds. Long story short (well, it's a little late for that...) 7.1 didn't float my boat, but the QS8's dazzled. M2i's are now on my computer and I sold the RB-1070. Need I even mention the Odyssey Audio Stratos amp that lived with me for a short time? Or the, nah...

4/18/05 - awaiting the arrival of a Denon dvd-2900S. Still trying to figure out the best way to break it to Roger that I just bought a $500 dvd player when the one we have works perfectly fine.

Next stop...giant tv.

I'm sick. Please help me.

"A nation cannot prosper long, when it favors only the prosperous." -President Barack Obama

#91417 - 04/18/05 08:49 PM Re: How did you start?
curtis Offline

Registered: 05/28/03
Posts: 1501
Loc: Manhattan Beach, CA
Yup...I take pride in knowing I contibuted to his madness.

I am very good at spending other people's money.

#91418 - 04/18/05 08:54 PM Re: How did you start?
St_PatGuy Offline

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 7463
Loc: Glendale, Arizona

No way! I had two Yorx stereos. Received the second one for high school graduation present. Instead of the record player on top, the new one had a 5 disc cd changer. Best part of all was the little tray that popped out to hold the remote control. That way I could walk up to the machine, get the remote, go sit back down, and then turn it on. Way cool. . .
Man, thinking about all the stuff I've bought over the years--I'm gonna need more time to write this.
"Nothin' up my sleeve. . ." --Bullwinkle J. Moose

#91419 - 04/18/05 09:12 PM Re: How did you start?
spiffnme Offline

Registered: 04/01/03
Posts: 5233
Loc: Los Angeles
The record player on mine was on the bottom in a nifty tray that would automatically slide out with the touch of a botton. Yorx preys on young, easily impressed, yet dumb teenagers. I fell for it.

"A nation cannot prosper long, when it favors only the prosperous." -President Barack Obama

#91420 - 04/18/05 09:23 PM Re: How did you start?
St_PatGuy Offline

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 7463
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
I thought the more buttons and flashing lights and pop-open compartments something had the better it was! Never mind how bad the music sounded, it looked awesome. I mean radical. Or whatever. . .

Oh well. My parents were members of the Price Club, and that's where Yorx stereos dwelled.

I think the stereo still lives, somewhere out in depths of the garage. You don't want to go in there after dark, might get attacked.
"Nothin' up my sleeve. . ." --Bullwinkle J. Moose

#91421 - 04/18/05 09:38 PM Re: How did you start?
RickF Offline

Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 5210
Loc: Vero Beach, Florida
Actually I stsrted out good, over the years I somehow went downhill untill just recently!

While in the Army I bought a Pioneer SX-1080 reciever (120 watts per channel, I think), Technics turntable, Teac cassete deck and two pair of big 'ol Pioneer speakers that really and truely kicked out some very nice tunes.
Just as I was telling Rick a few minutes ago, I sure would love to have the ole SX-1080. I sold it at a garage sale just a year and a half or so ago.
Our Room


#91422 - 04/18/05 09:57 PM Re: How did you start?
littleb Offline

Registered: 08/03/03
Posts: 1235
Loc: Moorhead, Minnesota/US
I purchased an admiral portable stereo with a fold down turntable back in . . . well let's just say Rod Serling was still alive then. I thought the hinged speakers were pretty good. They ended up in the back seat of my '61 Catalina when I installed that kick ass under dash 8 track player. I later purchased a Harman Kardon receiver which came with some cheap ultralinear speakers. The HK went poof in a couple years. I was without tunes for about a year. I couldn't stand it any longer, went into Team electronics and picked up a Technics stereo receiver, and replaced the speakers with some Ultralinear 5 way towers. This all took place before 1980. In the mid 80s, the Technics receiver, which was showing signs of age went to son #1 along with the towers. I picked up a cheap Pioneer receiver at BB paired with some Technics floorstanders which I thought sounded better than the Ultralinears. The Pio was an early dpl receiver, but I ran it 2 channel. Another decade went by and son #1 talked me into purchasing a Yamaha receiver, which I ordered from J&R. He also told me that the Technics just didn't cut it, since he had purchased PSBs. He had also added a PSB sub, from that time on I have been itching to upgrade. HE DID THIS TO ME. I ordered a JBL sub to go with the Yamaha, so, of course I needed some quality speakers to complete the scenario. I tried a pair of B&W 602s3 bookshelves feeling certain they would be my dream mains. That was a big oops! I was down in the dumps and all set to live the rest of my natural life listening to a pair of paper coned Technics(ca 1978} I entertained PSBs for awhile, but didn't want to purchase from the same store that had sold me those awful B&Ws. I found this crazy website with looking wedge shaped speakers, which I though were really cute, found a message board and received some good advice from the likes of Spiff, Cheeseroo, and Alan. I slowly, but surely, was hauled in and now I own a 5.1 setup for the first time in my life. Oh yeah, I forgot about those Yamaha NS-555s I had for 3 weeks before I ordered the m22s. I still get a chuckle everytime I read an online message detailing the strengths of the 555s.

#91423 - 04/18/05 10:26 PM Re: How did you start?
F107plus5 Offline

Registered: 01/24/05
Posts: 2034
Loc: Fla. Orig. Mich.
I started getting interested while I was getting replacement needles for the record player off of the tree in the back yard out by the barn-the needles on this tree were about an inch long and sharp as a real "needle". They would play 78s for quite a while til they finally got dull. Then I got into Hi-Fi with one of those consoles the size of a coffin on legs. Followed by a "Stereo" that was a near-cardboard box with two speakers that looked like "ears" on either side.

Then I discovered "Separates" in the mid 60s. I had a Teak 7010(I think)reel to reel with tin foil auto-reverse. A Sony PL3000 turntable with a tone arm that reminded one of a Bofors anti-aircraft gun. And a matched Sony tuner and amp that looked like it was hand made by Japanese Doctors in a clean room-it was an immaculate set. Also a glorious set

Guess I'll get married now-back in '67

Let's jump ahead some thirty years or so to "Home Theater"(in a box) A fabulous Aiwa Z-VR55 with 5-disc cd changer and dual(noisy)tape drives, real 5.1 with Dolby pro-logic! Teency rears and a tiny center with good sized mains that produce a soundstage like orchestral soup.

I thought I'd replace the speakers first-let's see, who's on-line making good speakers these days?

#91424 - 04/18/05 11:36 PM Re: How did you start?
nickbuol Offline

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 5316
Loc: Marion, IA
I was in college and I had an old (funny, we still have it stored away in our basement) 19" TV that my parents got for me from some hotel that was getting new TVs.

I had a sinple 2-head VCR. Then came the upgrades. I got a 4-head VCR. Woohoo. What a better picture!
Then I got my first "receiver." OK, so it was a "boom box" with detachable speakers that I used instead of the single TV speaker. The boombox has an "aux" in that used RCA jacks from the VCR. Wow. Stereo....

Then I added a CD player. Don't recall the brand. It was cheap, that is all I know.

After college, I got some good graduation money, so what did I do, I bought a cheap Pioneer surround receiver, and some massive (with 15" woofers) KLH speakers. Bigger speakers are better, right?
Wow. Now I can watch movies really loud... (Still on a 19" TV)...

Then I added a cheap KLH "surround" package with a little center channel, and the two surrounds. A little while later, I added a passive subwoofer, and a second center channel. They were cheap, and two is better than one, right?
Then I added some crazy single unit rear surround speaker that was shaped like a trapezoid and had one speaker on the right and one on the left with seperate inputs. The idea was that the single speaker could replace the normal two surround speakers.

Oddly enough, though, these speakers made it into my first home theater. I just kept throwing more speakers into the mix. I had the thing wired for the 2 center channels, the two fronts, two surrounds, and then did my own "matrixing" of the rear surround trapezoid speaker (I had rear surround before there was such a thing). Oh, then I added a Front Left/Center and Front Right/Center as a matrix of the center channel and front channels. smoother front sound field, right?

Oh, don't forget the 150 watt 10" KLH powered sub. Bass, yippy!

My TV was now a 48" RCA rear projection, and I had a nice Pioneer Dolby Digital/DTS receiver, and my first DVD player (a good Pioneer player). I fell in love with DVDs. I still had the old Pioneer receiver too that I was using to power my bass shakers. I also swapped out the single disc CD player for a 25 disc Pioneer CD player.

It was the DVD player (any DVD player would do) that really got me thinking about the purchasing decisions I had made over the years. I looked for what was cheap, and spent a ton of time tuning and tweaking to get things to sound as good as cheap speakers could sound.

So I have a whole horde of KLH (I came to later call them Krappy Like Hell) speakrs. Once I learned more about home theater, I was ashamed of what I had. I told myself that my next home theater would be better. I wouldn't go nuts and spend $30,000 or something on it, but I wanted good, respectible gear.

SO that home theater was built some 6 years ago, and we moved from that house 2 years ago. Now here I am with nice Axiom speakers, Pioneer (did I mention that I like Pioneer?) THX receiver, Panasonic S97 DVD player, Sanyo Z3 projector, Carada 104" screen, SVS 20-39 PCi sub, etc.

It is about time. I can't imagine going back to those crappy KLH speakers.

So that is the story.

Check out my cheesy web site, and you can see both photos of my new home theater and the old one...

2-M60s, VP180, 8-M3s, SVS 20-39PCi, DIY Sub, 8-Shakers, JVC RS45, Anthem MRX-1120

#91425 - 04/19/05 01:04 AM Re: How did you start?
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 18044
Loc: NoVA
I first purchased a G-something minisystem--similar to that Yorx, but with record player, tape decks, bookshelf speakers, and a CD player--at a church rummage sale when I was a teenager. Hadn't really thought about it before then, but boy was I thrilled to get it. A few months later, I got some "tower" speakers from the same source-8" woofer+tweeter.

A little later, some family friends were getting rid of a Marantz 2252B, and I jumped at it. I remember being afraid I might blow it up if I wired the speakers out of phase... It was dying, so I eventually supplemented it (somehow or other; I can't remember) with my Dad's old Marantz 2220B, which was also dying in a different fashion. I hooked up the minisystem speaker outs (RCAs) to the AUX input.

Somewhere along the line, I got some Fisher speakers (10" woofer, 4" mid, 3" tweeter) from another family friend, then a Technics SA770 receiver which was actually fully functional (the novelty!). I set up the Fishers and the old towers to play at the same time. This in a bedroom the size of a postage stamp.

I bought a 5 disc JVC CD changer as a graduation present to myself after high school. I've still got it--and I still use it!

Somewhere in there, I decided to replace the woofers on the bookshelf speakers (I was still using them in the dorms), and discovered how much better that sounded. When Peter and I started rooming together, we quickly blew the tweeters (probably annoying the hell out of our dorm neighbors), so I replaced those with Radio Shack tweeters, and I replaced the 18 gauge cable I had been splicing together for ages. Wow. That sounded better!

Briefly in there I had a Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble 3 setup (and that was the most amazing thing I'd ever heard) but I had to return it so I could get a new computer.

Anyway, I ended up buying the Cambridge Soundworks Subwoofer 1 I'm still using after getting somewhat drunk (and without having a job), and ended up paying back various people (Peter included) for awhile on that one. Bought the Ensemble 1 sub/sat system off of eBay a year or so later.

A few years later (after getting married), I convinced my lovely bride that the Toshiba was pretty much dead. Which is was. So I bought the H/K 525 (I had a pretty good handle on what I was doing by then). Still using the CS speakers and sub.

I had heard Peter's M22s before doing this, so I knew I wanted Axioms at some point, but my wife told me that I had to build her an entertainment center before I bought the speakers. That only took me a year... And here we are!

Note: if you made it all the way through this, you have a much longer attention span than I do...
I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

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