Home Stereo Shake-up


Ever since I got that JVC CD player/cassette combo boombox (not the one pictured because I couldn't find an image of the model I had back in the early 90s, where are you now, old friend?!), I have been refining and upgrading my home stereo system. Well, to be honest, that's mainly been the job of my husband, Mike, which is weird because I am the audio engineer in the family, but he knows much more about home audio components. I obsess over gear at work, but at home, I just want to put on some tunes and not think so much about imaging and balance and clarity. Except that's not how it works. I do obsess, and then a piece of gear goes and another one comes in.

The boombox left shortly after college, replaced by a big box store receiver and 5-CD changer and a pair of Bose bookshelf speakers. (I didn't know any better at the time!) Those are long gone, replaced by Mike's far superior tube amp and Vandersteen speakers, so massive they dwarf our children, and our living room. The tube amp exploded one too many times and was replaced by a vintage Yamaha 2020, meticulously restored by one of the only guys who still does it. The Vandersteens were swapped out for smaller JM Reynaud Twin Mk II speakers, but those didn't have the low end power to match the Yamaha, so the Vandersteens came back and the Reynauds are on our bedroom floor, unplugged. The 5-CD changer was donated to the Archive of Contemporary Music for one of their twice yearly record sales and replaced with an excellent OPPO Blu-ray player with upgraded converters. (It's so great to be married to someone who cares about audio conversion quality!) The Music Hall MMF turntable that always developed a buzz before the second side of a record finished was sold and replaced by a KAB modified Technics 1200, one of two such turntables in the family. (The second one is in my mastering room at the Magic Shop). The Dynavector 10x5 cartridge was nearly destroyed by an eager toddler, retipped, and then, possibly, damaged again by the same kid. (Pro tip: keep heavy books on top of your turntable so the kids can't open the lid).

And now? We are selling the Vandersteens and the Reynauds and searching for a better, smaller set of speakers that suits the small scale of our apartment but can handle the power of the Yamaha and, yes, has superior imaging, balance and clarity.

Clearly, we will never finish the process of assembling our home stereo system.

So, what speakers should we get?