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Last updated on September 2, 2021
An ode to my hi-fi stereo system…
I’ve not shared this, but since Covid hit, my family and I have put ourselves on a different path than most folks. We decided to release the stability of our life and home in Oakland, and embrace our wandering spirit. In July I packed up our everything we own and movers brought it to long term storage. I remember staring at my belongings and thinking what is this stuff? And yet, I couldn’t throw enough away… I guess I’m a bit of a pack rat.
We set sail in our Toyota Sienna October 10th, and nearly 20 states and 15,000 miles later, I can say with confidence that the only thing I own that I miss is my stereo.
Over the years I’ve put together rather nice hi-fi system… actually by stereophile standards, it’s more of a mid-fi system… but I digress. Anchoring my rack, is a is a Line Magnetic 211ia integrated tube amplifier available on ebay here.
This Chinese made amplifier punches well above its weight and drives my Paradigm Studio 60 V.5’s to a place of both warmth and clarity that in thinking of it, has me smiling ear to ear. I swapped out the factory tubes and added some NOS (new old stock) tubes to give it even more sweetness.
Later, I replaced a vintage bargain record player with a beautiful Rega RP3 turntable with and Ortofon Blue cartridge. I run that in to a Rolles Bellari tube phono stage that really “ties the room together… thank you Big Lebowski”.
I decided to explore digital music and so found a used from Arcam and an Oppo blue ray player capable to playing SACD’s.
This is all to say, that I love this hobby… researching gear, tracking down records, and most importantly listening.
Being a lifelong musician I loved that each time I found a new piece of gear, it could show me a new angle of a treasured recording. I’m talking, records I’ve listened to hundreds of times, and all of a sudden I’m thinking, “I never noticed that bass line”.
During the best listening sessions I would turn off all the lights and set up my comfortable chair as the tip of a triangle between my speakers and put on a favorite side. I would be transported, as though the music were occurring live in my room as it happened. I could see the players in relationship to one another on the stage and I could imagine myself in the audience listening.
Now, more than ever, we need to learn how to listen. How to turn the rest of the world off and receive the messages from our sage musicians… who speak truth, often without words. I sure wish I could put on some Stevie Wonder tonight… but I suppose it’ll be worth the wait when we finally settle down and I can dig out my gear from all those boxes.
So there it is… why I love hi-fi so much. If this peaks your interest, perhaps you’ll enjoy these resources that have helped me.
I love Audiogon.com for their online marketplace and amazing user forums. There is truly an incredible amount of expertise being give for free… just put in question and you’ll be drowning in good answers. I’ve also had success buying quality second hand gear there.
Lastly, don’t forget to check out your neighborhood audio shop when it comes time for you to shop… they will let you listen and that makes a huge difference. Shout out to Music Lovers in San Francisco.
Ari Brown is a husband, father, teacher, cook, and musician with a little knowledge about a lot of things.