Impressing friends with your rig


I don't have any friends into hi-fi so it was a rare occasion when I had a musician friend over who loves music but has no clue about "stereos" or formats or equipment AND who wanted to hear the system.

First off, they were very impressed with the fact that some of my gear is vintage. That the slate plinth weighs 70 pounds, and that the table, speakers and amps are over 50 years old. They were intrigued by the tubes, blown away that a 6SN& could cost $150, and stunned that the cartridge replacement cost was around $2000.

After showing and explaining the equipment, I demoed a few tracks on some 60s analog vinyl. It was pretty cool to watch their reaction when the needle dropped. Live jazz with lead trumpet, female blues vocals - you know the drill!

All they could say was how real it sounded, how they’d never heard anything like it. It was also one of those days when the rig sounded really good.
What experiences have you had like this?


128x128noromance
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@elizabeth - I have avantgarde's and exactly the same reaction - "they must play loud". So I always start with something soft :-)
@tpreaves - I've also built a stereo for my tastes and needs - I find that I need music in my life. But I love sharing it too, and am lucky enough to have a small number of good friends, male and female, who have a passion for music and enjoy coming around for an afternoon and a beer. Even better if they bring some new vinyl.

But most of my non-audiophile friends see my stereo as a bit of an indulgence, and don't really get it. They are intrigued to start, but rarely hear what I hear. In my experience it takes a certain sort of person who can sit in front of two speakers, close their eyes and allow themselves to be transported. Most are quickly bored, fidget for a while, and eventually need to start a conservation. So I've stopped offering to turn on my gear for most of my family and friends, and for casual acquaintances - only if they ask. Each to his or her own.
I've done this quite a lot over the years. Its almost always much more enjoyable, with by far the better reactions, doing it for regular people than anyone even aware of the word audiophile.

Not that there haven't been some notable exceptions. One time at a party this one guy wanted a listen. Turns out he had put a fair bit of time and money into one of his own. I did what I always do and asked what kind of music he likes. Which of course I almost never have what they say, but find something similar. When the song ends I look at the guy and his reaction is, "Please play another one." The guy was beside himself with pleasure. 

Just one of many great reactions over the years. Before the projector there was a TV between the speakers, kept covered with a thick blanket to dampen reflections. One friend from work kept asking how many speakers? Over and over again I told him, "Just the two." But he kept looking around at where the "extra" speakers "had to be". Finally he gets up, walks up and looks under the blanket. "What are you doing?" I ask. "I was sure there was a speaker under there!"

One of my favorites was the wife of this hard core audiophile. This guy had made it his mission to buy all the best most Class A gear he could find, used of course to "save money". Just to judge by the names you would have to think nothing could be better. I brought a CD one time, popped it in, jumped out of my chair. Had to check. Had to. He must have switched and put another CD in there. No, it was mine. Damn. Would never in my life have imagined anything could sound so bad.

So one night we're playing tunes and after a while his wife comes up to me and with the most beautiful look of incredulity says, "I could listen to his all night!"

One of the more common things that happens is people want to know why, how, is it possible??? Of course I am honest and tell them we don't know. All we can do is try and compare and select what works. Which is true. Or sometimes I tell them well there's big differences in recording quality and the ones you're hearing are way better than average. Which is also true. Which is what I was telling this one work buddy when after some Terry Evans he says you know I think that last one was even more clear and detailed than the others. So we pulled the jacket and looked and sure enough, that was the one track on the side that had been recorded direct to two-track.

Another work buddy thought I was nuts telling him flipping off breakers improves the sound. I said bring your wife over I'll prove it- only she has to bring a CD of her favorite music. Garth Brooks or something like that. So I ask her is there one track you won't mind hearing twice? She has no idea why. I go flip the breakers, come back in, still no clue, play it again.

Soon as it's over, "What did you do?!?!? It sounds so much better!!!" I look at Ron. "I didn't tell her! And I can't believe it but you're right its a lot better!"

I put on a movie one time and the first thing the guy heard was the MGM lion roar. It startled him!

I'm telling ya folks, I got a million of em!


@millercarbon Good stuff. I had a girl over once many years ago. I'd just bought a new AAA record Talk Talk Color of Spring which sounded so good through my massive homemade speakers with 12" Mckenzie's, she stayed the night.