Out of Touch

There was so much more to listening to the stereo than just the music. I remember on two occasions in my life spending months deciding on just the right combination of audio components–receivers, amplifiers, tuners, speakers, turntables, etc.–to assure the widest range of sound and the most exacting differentiation of the exacts tones and pitches. Although cost was often a consideration in this quest, my so-so hearing ability was never a factor. So I made my choices, contacted the best and biggest electronics store in the North-East, wrote the check, and in no time had several boxes of components strewn across the floor waiting for me to translate the various manuals and tie it all together with wires and cables. Special furniture had to be arranged so as to avoid anything interfering with the pure sound I would soon be enjoying; the multi-band equalizer had to be accurately calibrated to overcome the shape and size of my living room; the stylus cartridge had to be carefully inserted and adjusted for optimum balance; the precious vinyl disks were slipped out of their cases and the paper sleeves were replaced by sturdy protective sleeves with a clear window to allow the label of the disk to be seen; an expensive formula spray was applied to the disk and a tool made from teak and black fabric was brushed around the surface of the disk which was then carefully set on the turntable (only one disk at a time); a small brush attached to the arm just ahead of the stylus was lowered to the surface of the record and the stylus began picking up the sounds of the music. After readjusting the controls (volume, balance, fade, equalizer) I could then sit back and enjoy the music. Since I preferred listening to opera which generally required three to five disks (six to ten sides), I was called back to change the disk (including the extended cleaning ritual), readjust the controls as required, and settle back to enjoy the next twenty minutes of music. So it is obvious that the music is only a part of the listening experience. The ritual is what makes it choice.

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