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Sunday, August 21, 2011

This Mornings Epiphany: I Have Never "Bought" A Stereo

Those who know me really well will appreciate this little anecdote...others may find it interesting as well.

I woke up this morning thinking of stereos for some reason, and had the epiphany that in all of my years, I have NEVER gone to a store and bought a stereo for myself.  The only close exception to this pattern is during the 80s when I started making a little money, I splurged on great car stereos, BUT, being resourceful as I am, most of the gear that I put in that car went into two or 3 other cars before I was done with it, LOL!!  Growing up poor has shaped my sensibility in regard to this subject.

I assessed all of the home electronics that I am currently using, other than TVs, and realized I had bought NONE of it in stores.  The gear I have, and have used,  was either gotten as hand me downs, or generously donated by others who had obsolete gear.  Mind you, I am not WANTING, what I have sounds great...I have no desire for better.

As long as I have been alive, I have been surrounded by electronics.  Keep in mind kids, electronics now get better and cheaper as the years go by.  Back in "the day" electronics were NOT cheap.  You could not buy a component for what a whole system costs today!!!  My first stereo was the family hand me down Western Auto True Tone AM/FM/Phono cabinet with detachable speakers...with orange cloth covers and woodgrain and black finish.  The whole think sat in a cabinet that you could put on a TV cart.  (KIDS:  A tv cart was a metal and wood cart on wheels for moving a medium sized TV from room to room.)

The True Tone was replaced by my brothers Radio Shack Clarinette 97 that he left at home when he went into the service.  This upgraded me to 8-track recordability!  During this time I had TONS of transistor radios, earphones, headphones, bookshelf radios and other gear that I either got from hand me downs or gifts.

Moving up from that, I got a Panasonic Tuner and 8 track player from another brother in the military who was not taking it along.  This had aux inputs.  I got a component cassette player from a friend.

About this time, I got my first car am/fm/cassette player by Kraco for $55 at Zayres.  It was a complete POS, but my moms car only had an AM radio, so I snuck it in on the premise of an upgrade.

When I got my own car, I had a knack for reading the specs on CHEAP gear, and piecing together car stereos that sounded REALLY GREAT for no/low money.  When all my friends were rocking Jensens and Altecs, I was the guy with Tancredis, Sparkomatics and cheaper gear that sounded better than yours.

About this time (age 18) I worked part time in a Holly Hill stereo shop called The Electronics Den.  I never took a paycheck, just worked for gear.  Got great turntables, cassette players and more, just for minding the store.  (This job also provided me with connections to life long friends!!!)  I had the family Chevette at this time, and met the guys at the Den when I splurged and got a Pioneer tuner installed.  When that car went away, the tuner got sold to the Durlings who put it in their Firebird.  The Den was also where I got my infamous AFS Kriket speakers that went in MANY of my cars...but I never paid for them.  Just worked them off.

I spent a LOT of money on the stereo in the Capri, and had the most fun with that.  BUT, when the Capri went away, the stereo stayed and all the components showed up in my later cars.  I still have an amp and crossover and equalizer from that car here somewhere.  YES, we put equalizers in our cars, LOL.  What were we, cavemen??

I had a buddy hit hard times and he sold me his house stereo...this was about 89ish.  I was still using this stereo up til last year or so.  I still have it and the speakers are still in my living room.  In my LR I have a 5.1 surround system I got for a gift several years ago.  The main speakers are the ones I got from my buddy, and some other speakers I got from a friend in the 90s that became obsolete to them.

The stereo in my office is a high power AIWA bookshelf system, with surround and sub.  I got this for free because the CD player does not work.  I use it for my computer speaker.  Incredible sound, incredible price.

I have a friend who recently told me his neighbor had some sound gear to give away.  I was the lucky recipient of a wonderful Onkyo system that I use for the home theatre in my bedroom now. Spent no money and incredible sound.

I am looking around and am hard pressed to find any gear I got in a store, and it amazes me after all of these years.  I have a lot of old gear here too. I think it is hard wired in me to not get rid of it because it was expensive, LOL!  When I was considering going into the karaoke business, I could not justify buying the gear new to go into business...and gave up on the karaoke idea...then found all the gear used from a host leaving the business.  I have NO problem spending top dollar on work gear, BUT I am still using a lot of the gear that I got used 13 years ago too!!

It is funny how growing up poor will dictate behavior that will probably last a lifetime.

AN ASIDE ABOUT TV'S: While I have no problem buying TVs, if they come along used or free, even better.  I am pretty good about buying TVs now, but I MUST MUST MUST mention the Gold Star TV that I previously blogged about.  I got it used for free in 88, used it for years until I moved to DeLand, donated it to a friend in Orlando who is STILL using it, LOL!  Absolutely amazing!!    Here is a link to THAT blog post:  THE TV THAT WONT DIE BLOG



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