Memorex Memories

courtesy of swishphotos

My entertainment complex hasn’t changed all that much since my humble beginnings with the audio experience back when I was a teenager. (Isn’t that when most guys get involved?) Of course, by that time, I’d been “indoctrinated” with piano lessons since I was 5, impromptu drum lessons by my uncle when I was 11, clarinet when I was 12, and sax when I turned 16. Add in string bass at 17 and you’ve got the idea.

I was a band / music geek. I did concert / wind ensemble, marching band, jazz band, musicals. Name it, I played in it.

Ok, so when I turned 15, my parents bought me my first “cabinet stereo”. Up to that point, I’d been suffering with a cheap-o Sears boom box that had detachable speakers and a tape deck. The sound was horrid, but it was my first stereo. So I got really excited when I saw the size of the gift…I had done some research and wanted a Blaupunkt ensemble – the best there was at that time, in my opinion. Alas, no.

It was – yep – a Sears model cheap-o all-in-one cabinet stereo. With phonograph (no CD). And the speakers, again, sucked. Please note – I did NOT own any LPs at this time. Just tapes. Lots and lots of tapes.

Still, it was all I had.

I used that stereo (abused, is more like it) into my freshman year of college. Even saved up and bought a Sony CD player for it. And when the first stereo war erupted on the dormitory’s floor….I promptly lost. Badly. It was like a cricket playing at a Metallica concert.

I suffered shame and humiliation – and determined to junk that piece o’ crap first chance I had.

In the meantime, my dorm roommate (#2) introduced me to a wonderful little trademark called “Dolby” and a button called “surround sound”. I was enthralled. Never had Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader sounded so…so…COOL.

I added such distinctions to my wish list.

After Christmas of my sophomore year, I went audio shopping. I NEEDED something to play my tunes, and not the ancient system my parents guarded. So I ended up compromising for price and sound, and bought a Fisher receiver, with dual video, 5 aux, 300 watt internal amp and Dolby surround sound. Added two floor speakers, each rated at 150 watts (and I think, 8 ohms), a 200 watt sub woofer, and two 50 watt “front channel” side speakers.

Yes, I dominated stereo wars for the next year and a half, and I only made it to ‘6’ on the volume dial. And *I* was the Resident Assistant! So we would borrow my setup for our weekly Floor Movie Night in the lounge….. Ahhhhh….. I should’ve charged admission…but my supervisor wouldn’t let me. So I settled for two cans of pop per person, which got put into a community ice tub for everyone to mooch off of.

That system traveled with me when I moved into the Real World and my wife “inherited” it on our wedding day. [Aside: She still kids that she married me more for my stuff at the time….] I kept all of it intact until the sub woofer finally failed in 1997, the side channel speakers in 1998, and we ‘traded’ the floor monsters to my father-in-law when we moved to D.C. He gave us his 250 watt custom-built shelf-mounted speakers instead, as they were more compact for our now-smaller living room. (Those are now residing with a friend as we ‘graduated’ to a full surround-sound setup.)

The Fisher got company in 1995, when I replaced the single-tray Sony CD player for a Pioneer 6-track cartridge one. Added a nice Sony VHS Hi-Fi that same year for a better “theater” sound (the mono-line RCA wasn’t cutting it anymore). Also dropped in a Panasonic dual cassette deck, at my wife’s insistence. Then added a Sony DVD player in 1999, but that failed in 2001, so it was replaced with a nice Toshiba model. An additional Allegra DVD/VHS component was added in 2003, though it split time between the bedroom TV and the main setup, for additional recording options (I was dabbling in video editing for a while).

Still have all of it, though we’ve since added a dual-tuner satellite DVR to the happy mix – and next week, we’ll add a HDVR. No matter what type of entertainment we want to watch or listen to, it all went through that reliable Fisher. I’ve never had to crank it past ‘2’ on the volume dial in years.

When we moved ‘up’ to a full 5 speaker + sub surround system, I donated that venerable Fisher to a friend. As far as I know, it is still working…

The only thing missing is my PC hooked up to the whole shebang, but that’s a tad difficult, seeing as the PC is in another room. I did have them mated a long time ago and played the entire Doom game on it….talk about creepy! Best time I ever had at 3 in the morning. Well, almost….

I *do* listen to music a lot in the car as well, but sadly, I don’t spend as much time or energy on it as I do at home. Considering I’m not in the car as often…. Well, I *did* splurge and replace my VUE’s in-dash deck with a nice CD/mp3 radio. No need to replace the speakers, though – they sound just fine cranked up to 11.

So next time you guys visit, allow me to show you how the Memorex commercial REALLY works, okay?

One thought on “Memorex Memories

  1. Fun stuff, Ben! I still have the bookshelf speakers I got at 16 in my surround setup, plus an awesome Yamaha subwoofer and some Costco surround speakers. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge, but it’s nice that it has some history to it. Cannot foresee getting larger/more powerful main speakers until we own a house to encase them in as opposed to an apt. in which we’d annoy the neighbors!

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