A/V System of DOOM!

The setup you see above is merely the current stage in a continually evolving and mutating assemblage of audio and video equipment and is entirely (aside from the occasional modern video game system) comprised of things I've purchased at garage sales, thrift stores and the occasional splurging on eBay.

The "heart" of this system is the beefy Pioneer SX-1050 Stereo Receiver, c. 1978 which I've had for a couple of years. I bought this on eBay for $220. Seriously, they just don't make 'em like this anymore. I think it weighs about 50 pounds, most of which is from the huge toroidal transformer that powers this system. The build quality is superb, the knobs and switches all have a very solid feel to them and the tuning knob has a big flywheel on it so it spins freely. And it sounds good, too. The SX-1050 puts out 120 continuous watts per channel and it has other various statistics associated with it which I'm sure are very impressive, but the main thing is: I like the way it sounds. Call me crazy, but I think that's the best measure of any piece of audio equipment. I don't need oxygen free unobtanium wire at $300/ft or one of these (Random babbling and handwaving about Quantum Physics makes audio come alive! Adds "dimension" and "depth of field" to your DVDs! Makes us a lot of money!) to convince myself that I've made a good investment.

The speakers shown here are a set of AR-3a speakers (top) and a set of AR-2ax speakers (bottom). The 2ax's aren't hooked up, they're merely acting as speaker stands for the time being -- the midrange speakers on these are completely shot (and the tweeters are notoriously inefficient). The 3a's are seriously sweet speakers which were top-of-the-line in the late 1960s. Interestingly these have the old-style AR-3 12" woofers with the absolutely huge magnets and not the typical 3a woofer, which is fine by me. The midrange and tweeter need to be replaced with something better as they're now 30+ years old and getting tired. For now they're OK, but there are upgrade kits for these speakers that should improve the sound considerably. I hope to purchase one of these in the near future.

Sitting to the right of the SX-1050 is my turntable, a Dual 1019 from around 1970 which I purchased for $20 at a garage sale. It's a very nice turntable, certainly not Audiophile quality, but good enough for my needs. I have the owner's manual for this thing and amongst its instructions for configuring and using the turntable, it offers suggestions to "show off" to your friends by demonstrating how crazy-awesome the 1019 is. One of these suggestions is to start a record playing and then, as the record continues to play, tilt the player on its right edge at up to 85 degrees. The record will continue to play without skipping. This sounded completely insane and impossible to me, but I gave it a shot and to my amazement it actually works! The motor has a bit of trouble turning the 7 pound platter when it's tilted at such obscene angles, but it's still pretty amazing. That's engineering :).

On top of the SX-1050 are my cassette deck (a Pioneer CT-W505R) and my equalizer (a Technics SH-8010). Neither of these are particularly exciting. I don't listen to cassettes too often, but if I ever need to, there it is. The equalizer is used as a substitute for the SX-1050's built-in Bass and Treble controls.

The television is a 25" 1985 RCA "Lyceum TV." It's some sort of commercial-grade television that was used at MSU in Berkey Hall, one of those televisions strapped to a cart for watching educational videos, etc... It has 4 sets of A/V inputs as well as coax for cable. Good for hooking my plethora of AV and video game equipment to. I got it for $25 at the MSU surplus store (ah, how I miss it...). For a $25 TV, it's worked remarkably well for the past 3 years. Personally, I'm hoping it dies soon so I have an excuse to buy something better. Maybe even something new. Who knows, crazier things have happened.

On the shelf below the TV (rather hard to make out) are my Laserdisc, DVD, and VHS decks. The Laserdisc player is a Pioneer CLD-D503 which is so advanced that it can play both sides of the disc without needing me to flip it over. Wow. Now I only have to get up once (or twice, or possibly three times) during the course of a movie to change discs! The DVD player is a Toshiba SD-1700 and was an xmas gift from my parents a couple of years back. It plays DVDs. Crazy, huh? The VCR is an RCA POS. It was the cheapest stereo VCR I could find at Best Buy in the fall of 1998 when I started college. It plays VHS tapes and amazingly it still functions.

I also have a wide variety of video game consoles as you may or may not be able to see in the photo. I currently have an NES, SNES, Sega Genesis/32X/Sega CD monstrosity, Sega Saturn, XBox, PSX, Gamecube and Dreamcast hooked up. I also have an Atari 2600 and 7800, an Intellivision, a Colecovision and Super Pong, but I lack the space (and outlets) to hook these up currently.

Media

This is where I have most of my audio and video media stored. Yes, in a big ugly red shelf thingy. No, I have no taste in furniture whatsoever. On the bottom two shelves are the majority of my LPs, around 400 of them, mostly of the "Classic Rock" persuasion. On the floor on the right are the rest of the records and maybe 40 laserdiscs that wouldn't fit on the shelves. Looks like I need to invest in some new shelving technology. The two shelves above the records hold my video games -- about 60 NES games, a dozen SNES, about 80 Atari VCS cartridges, a couple dozen Genesis/32X titles and a smattering of Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, GameCube, XBox and PSX games. The topmost shelf holds DVDs and VHS tapes which I really don't have that many of. And on top of the shelves is my VirtualBoy which only comes down on days when I feel the need to induce a head-splitting headache quickly. Which isn't as often as you might think.

The barely-visible CD rack behind the red shelves of ungodly tackiness holds my meager CD collection and about 150 episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 burned to CD-R. See, I have this thing for really bad movies. I need them or I will explode. Thanks to this thing called the "Internet" I have been able to get my fix and as a result I haven't exploded in months.

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