Our first one

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Each of us remembers our first love affair, puppy, day at school. What was your first encounter with high end audio? What was the first track you heard on a great, resolving, three-dimensional stereo system? I remember mine well. It was 1974, the system was owned by a local merchant and "audio nut" named Norm Little. Norm had a tri-amped Audio Research system driving a pair of Cerwin Vega 18" woofers, a set of Jantzen electrostats, and tweeters I cannot remember ever paying attention to. The preamp was also Audio Research, SP3A4. I don't remember the turntable but I do remember the arm, a Rabco straight tracker, the cartridge from Decca. And Norm had a freezer full of hash. It was the 70's, after all. He played for me Stevie Wonder's Living For The City and I think I may have been drooling—which happens when you can't pick your jaw up from the floor. In front of me was an image! A sonic picture, the city, instruments separated and placed within a magic tapestry with clear locations from front to back, side to side, as if they might be playing in the same room. This was a revelation to me, soon followed by yet another similar experience on an entirely different system, but of lesser magnitude. Like the first time in a fast car, a pretty girl, holding your newborn—trying to keep tears from falling. There's only one first for all new experiences in our lives. What was yours?
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Paul McGowan

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