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Old Man Hi-Fi


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Everyone called him 'Old Man'.

 

Soft-spoken and mature in years, he lived in an ancient bungalow disguised as a hi-fi shop. The location was not in the main thoroughfare. However, spaces along the bungalow’s garden driveway offered convenient parking for visitors.

 

Known well by those in the know, Old Man’s Place was frequented by quite a number of people who enjoyed hi-fi as much as they liked driving expensive cars.

 

The entrance was through two solid wooden doors which opened into a receiving room. Here, CDs and LPs lined the walls, arranged categorically, then alphabetically.

 

Past the ‘music library’ were three listening rooms. Room 1 was stocked with relatively affordable gear. Room 2 was for upmarket products. Room 3 was simply known as Old Man’s Room.

 

Somewhere upstairs, people looking to build a home theatre would find Room 4. In the HT Room, advice would be provided, and auditions staged, by Younger Men hired by the Old Man.

 

Old Man much preferred to host his ‘guests’ downstairs. It was his knees, he said. All the regulars knew this was a lie.

 

Hi-fi wise, he paid as much attention to new visitors to Room 1 as he did those who strode confidently into Room 2, where the goods were not price-tagged.

 

If Old Man considered you a ‘friend’, he would get a Younger Man to lead you into Room 1 whenever you expressed interest in a hi-fi purchase or upgrade. He would then personally step into Room 1, and play a CD for you. While doing so, he would gracefully ask for a few moments to settle matters in Room 2.

 

As far as possible, Old Man made it a point to not let anyone wait for longer than 30 minutes before coming back, if just to buy more time, offer you a drink, or play more CDs. Although, some days, you might have enjoyed keeping your eyes closed for a few moments longer.

 

If Old Man knew you well enough (in terms of your system, music tastes and hi-fi aspirations), he would not sell you something he felt you ‘did not need’. It did not matter which watch and what shoes you wore.

 

Whenever he was feeling especially ‘righteous’, he was known to exercise the right not to sell. He would say an item was not in stock… and unfortunately, it would take 6 months or more for new stocks to arrive.

 

Most people knew Old Man liked to have his eccentric way. Some said he was too willful or too scrupulous a man to run a business profitably. Yet, for a decent number of years, it was said that not many visitors with serious intent had left his shop empty-handed.

 

A friend had the privilege of visiting Old Man’s Room once. As the story goes… it was during a festive occasion, after gracious amounts of brandy, beer and hor d’oeuvres had been shared.

 

A well-heeled and suitably serious audiophile proclaimed, ostensibly a little too loudly, that his multi-hundred watts (RMS) ‘high-end’ system, fronted by a CD transport with off-board DAC, sounded better than any vinyl system he had ever heard.

 

Old Man kindly invited Well-Heeled Audiophile and the friend into his Room.

 

Amidst a personal collection of vintage electronics and classic speakers, Old Man had wired a pair of 130cm high speakers to his system. The speakers were tucked tightly into corners.

 

The speaker cables were attached to a pair of valve-driven power amplifiers. These were connected to a pre-amplifier with more than a fair share of push buttons and knurled knobs.

 

On the tier immediately above the powertrain was a new CD player, looking diminutive. Above it, a turntable sat on an air-supported plinth which sat on a marble slab.

 

Connecting cables were impressively thick. Power was delivered from two black boxes with lever switches and red LEDs. From these, two fat cables ran towards hidden power sockets behind heavy drapes.

 

Flanking the system were shelves filled to the brim, mainly with LPs, and not more than 100 CDs.

 

Facing the system was a low table, two side tables and a couch for three. On, under and around the tables: old-style o-ring files and catalogues, a liquor tray, a few pipes resting on a huge ashtray and a jar of sweets. There was a faint aroma of sweet tobacco.

 

Old Man bade his guests to, please, sit on the heavy leather couch with brass rivets.

 

He stepped away flick on some switches. He poured drinks for three. They chatted for about music, and musicians, and hi-fi technology and other such matters of great import.

 

When about 30 minutes had passed, Old Man walked over to the LP shelves. Whistling softly, he picked out three LPs and showed them to his guests. He slipped one LP out from its sleeve, flipped it, placed it on the turntable and dropped the needle.

 

Skillfully, Old Man slipped out of the room to attend to others and other needs. He returned with some bites, in time to play the second LP instead of Side B of the first. He left the room again. His timing was impeccable in re-appearing to spin the third LP and to pour a last round.

 

The listeners had enjoyed a few Brandenburg Concertos, as well as tracks from King of the Delta Blues Singers and Abraxas.

 

A week or so later, Old Man said a customer had placed a big order for a turntable and a tonearm, a phono amplifier, valve amplification, horn speakers… and a significant number of LPs. He would later post an apologetic note on the notice board, to excuse himself for two days from the shop. The Younger Men said Old Man had gone out to personally set up a system for someone.

 

Everyone in the know knew this story.

 

******************************

 

Oft times, while travelling along the road of life, people get side-tracked. They lose touch with things, with interests, with people worth remembering.

 

The bungalow and gardens have faded away. A developer has turned the property into a stylish showroom complex.

 

One would like to picture Old Man somewhere… on a well-worn leather couch, rotating a snifter with one hand, cradling a pipe with the other. His eyes should be half-closed as he listens. With a knowing smile.

 

Was his system ‘high-end’? Perhaps. The man was.

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I'm not a big fan of analogue or horn speakers nonetheless I've enjoyed the story very much.

Thank you!

What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

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Yes... Well' date=' found you a photo to show...[/font']!
Doesn't it look slightly.. vaginal.?
What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

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I was wondering why I found the speakers so welcoming...
If so I guess you won't find this sofa ..unwelcoming ;)

f42a0c0ca3303082bde078dc7ad08b0f.jpg

What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

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Was his system ‘high-end’? Perhaps. The man was.

 

Great read! Sadly not too many high end men to be found these days.

Win10 Transport + Fidelizer 8.7 + JRMC 28 & HQPlayer | Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB |  Job INT | Green Mountain Audio Eos HX

 

 

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A beautiful story beautifully written

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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Incidentally, is today the tomorrow I was promised yesterday ?

Seems like mono, one channel...
Seems like yesterday ?

And :

Andrew Everard's heads-up :

« This afternoon's 'back to mono' experience comes courtesy of the gorgeous Applewood Road set from Linn Records – single microphone' date=' straight-to-tape, and amazing harmo[/font']nies.

 

 

 

«

an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,

 

ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »

 

 

 

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Theme and variations' date=' call :

[/font']

 

Response :

e3408efaba0fcc2ac39600b948728dac.jpg

 

WWI vintage "sonic rangefinder" to pick up on distantly approaching aircraft. Notice it's 100% acoustical. No electronics. The Brits actually built a number of "big ears" installations on the coast that had parabolic reflectors made out of reinforced concrete. Some are still there. They weren't used in WWII I don't believe because the Brits had the "Home Chain" radar network by then which gave them a lot more warning than an acoustical detection system. The big disadvantage to the concrete parabolic sound detectors, was that unlike the one shown above, the concrete ones couldn't be aimed... BTW. I'm not maintaining that the installation in the picture is British or even taken during WWI. This picture could have been taken most anywhere including Japan or China.

George

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Its description :

« A two-horn system at Bolling Field, USA, near the Army War College at Fort McNair (in the background), 1921 »

 

This picture could have been taken most anywhere including Japan or China.

 

Take a look at douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/COMMS/ear/ear.htm for more...

czech%20horn%201a.jpg

 

«

an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,

 

ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »

 

 

 

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