Hey kids! Buy yourself a great stereo

Author and one of his speakers. Photo by Zachari George

I’m old. It’s cool. I can say it. I’m proud to be old, just not as happy about the physical part as I was in my late 20s! Being old accords me choices that young people don’t have. I get to relish my old technology and some old ideas. New ideas are better.

I spend time around home quite a bit, even though I’ve traveled far and wide. My home is my sanctuary. It’s where I eat, work, relax and luxuriate. I spend tons of time with the music on. A great stereo is essential because I was raised that way. Soon enough, I’ll find a girlfriend that’s a better decorator than me, and she will love music too. My stereo will be important to her (gasp!).

It’s no surprise that my home stereo (yes, I said home stereo, not Bluetooth speaker, Airpods, or my laptop speakers), is both old, and powerful.

Like the Gandalf of home theater.

In my young childhood, I probably judged a man by the kind of stereo he had. Maybe I estimated what his music said about him. What if he played classical records on vinyl? Jazz, soul, blues, bluegrass, on tape? Hard rock, pop, disco, electronic music, or hip hop on CD?

There was always one guarantee of a real man. He played music on a real stereo. Maybe you didn’t like it if you thought he was just being a jerk, a fool, or a faker, but the magic was always powerful. He either gained your trust and had you boogying with him, or made you want to find Mom if she wasn’t already jamming herself. Such was our idea of manhood at the time.

That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t foolish for cranking it up too loud, oversharing with the neighbors, or dancing in the window of his well-lit home. No shame, nor should there be. We all get to be fools, and it’s fun.

There is a pride in listening to loud, good music. The visceral feeling of the bass, the trebles tickling the brain, the vocals howling down the street.

This type of exhibition is of course an overshare sometimes, and that’s not what I’m about, yet I’m still strangely in love with my stereo, my music, and music other people share with me.

For geeks like me, my setup includes Bose (studio reference monitor quality) main speakers, and an old Polk (not crappy new Polk) surround sound with added powered sub (courtesy of the uncle who introduced me to The Cure, thank you, eternally, Brad). I can lay down on my floor and the bass will nearly make me puke. That’s not where it’s set, but I can if I want. I can turn it up so loud that the vocals can be heard outside my house with every opening shut.

It’s loud. Sometimes I turn it up, though I’ve rarely broken quiet hours with it, 11 p.m.-7 a.m., strictly. It sounds very good at a medium volume, but enough of my sentimental attachment to equipment.

I’ve talked to my neighbors and told them they could tell me if it’s too loud. No objections, just a simple turn down of the knob and then re-assessment for their satisfaction. I respect my neighbors and my front yard easily can become a gathering place for the neighborhood kids, their parents, pets, and friends. We look out for each other, and despite the reputation city-wide for my side of town, this place is usually like a restorative campground at night, nice and quiet. I love my silence too.

I know the people on both sides of my street four houses deep, and even more in my neighborhood through my lawn business. I won’t bother them with an obnoxious quality stereo.

My stereo isn’t a problem. I do need to shut up about it though. What’s important to recognize is what it does for music. It makes the good stuff great, and the great stuff…well…spiritual.

For example, here are three musical pieces that send me off into la-la land, make me think very deeply, help me work, clean, meditate or work out. Sometimes I’m “dropping it like it’s hot” so hard that my house isn’t just shaking from the music. That’s the best.

These pieces inspire me, and on lesser equipment, they just won’t get the gravitas they deserve. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to enjoy them otherwise (just that it isn’t “right” to play them on inferior speakers/wattage).

That’s one old man’s opinion- formed early. My parents bumped Led Zeppelin and Herb Alpert when I was a kid. Love them both still. My bio dad was an audiophile. When I finally met him much later in life, he had a giant steal your face flag hanging in his living room. It’s important to play the Grateful Dead on the good stuff too.

The bottom line is: give yourself the pleasure of connecting with this music on a good home stereo, with no distractions. Let the world melt away through the power of distraction. Shake. dance, dream, and dare.

If you don’t like it, turn it off and play something you do like, please!

“But Zachari, what kind of stereo is a good home stereo?”

In grade school, I sat with a friend of mine from my neighborhood every Saturday in Paducah Kentucky. Her mom had a record player with both 45s and 78s. Godira would play DJ and we listened to soul, R&B, disco, and blues while her Mom made KYs, otherwise known as chitlins.

We sat on the floor in her thinly carpeted living room with no cushions. The floorboards would creak when you walked anywhere. We’d sway back and forth and sing and play our air instruments. It was like we were famous. Godira got to play it loud, too. Couldn’t tell you what brand it was, didn’t care. She had floor speakers that were as tall as we were.

I hope you can experience the music I’m going to share on a similar stereo. One that is beefy, bold, and a bit old. A soul-stirring piece of equipment.

There is one limitation here-that not all of this can be obtained on CDs, which is sad. I prefer raw audio with all the spectrum built-in. Analog if I can get it. For some, I have to listen through YouTube right now, which is connected to my stereo, duh! Having a subscription helps deliver uninterrupted music. I don’t get commercials. Sorry if you do!

Each piece is different and pretty long. Give them a chance and let me know what you think about them.

It’s important to know I receive no compensation for mentioning these, either. I just think they’re solid and deserve massive credit.

DJ Etonika (courtesy of DJanes.net) Live at DJanes.net, 12.8.2021/Progressive House and Melodic Techno Mix

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPnhVxNAVh4

Etonika has over 275k views- on this set alone. That doesn’t count her body of work to date. I’m not sure that makes her as popular as Drake, but she should be more popular than him soon if I have any say. Atmospheric, moody, and thought-provoking, her sets are layered on top of many of my activities. I share her music with anyone who will listen. True, deep, progressive house.

Etonika currently lives in Ukraine with her husband. They perform as a duo. She’s an attorney and a DJ. She is also a phenomenal singer and her partner a soon-to-be-nominated, live keys and programming genius. I correspond with them via Instagram, and I’d love to help them with some kind of benefit. They’re that talented. So far, it’s mainly her who gets the most exposure, though I promise you this will change as they share new music.

She and her husband are one of many in the region who now have to protect their lives while we consume their art. As they attempt to find safety, their work remains secret. To boot, DJanes.net supports and broadcasts all-female DJs from all over the world. Most of it is very good in this old-school raver’s opinion, and I went to warehouse parties for years- totally underground if that helps.

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard- Nonagon Infinity.

King Gizz as I call them, is an exceptional band. They defy a category because they have put out 20 albums, and they’re all only about 30 years old. Pups with chops! If you have ever liked psychedelic rock, punk, metal, jazz, avant-garde, indie, pop, or hundreds of other genres they dabble in, you will love this.

Each album they’ve done is very different from the others, so if you don’t like this one, keep searching through their sounds. They’re my favorite band because of their talent and versatility. I saw them live in Ohio, and I wouldn’t have missed it because they don’t stay far away from Australia for long. KEXP represented them well also.

King Gizz has an ever-growing following all over the world, and for good reason. If you truly love all types of music, this band will make your jaw drop.

Peter Gabriel- Secret World Live

Peter Gabriel’s music has long been a staple in my collection. Everything I have from him and the equally as incredible artists he works with from around the world is on CD. I highly recommend listening in this media format wherever possible, because this was the predecessor to MP3s. Having gone to audio engineering school, we learned that MP3s strip off the high and low frequencies to make them a smaller file size and portable. You don’t get the same feel from the music.

Secret World Live reminds me of the best concert I’ve ever been to (aside from Foster The People and The Kooks with my daughter, or a close second, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club). In 1993 I got to see, hear and feel The Drummers of Burundi, Shankar, Geoffrey Oryema, James, Lenny Kravitz, Ziggy Marley, and more. People brought their kids, the weather was perfect and I was with my best friend.

I got to see Sinead O’Connor do “Blood of Eden” with Peter, and I swear I saw tears streaming down his face as he stood behind her with hand outstretched. It was sublime. I met the lead singer of the Stereo MCs, who later drifted into obscurity, and danced to the poppy sounds of PM Dawn. Yes, I’m showing my age here, yet there’s a reason Peter Gabriel has been around so long. This album is some of his best collaborations with international musicians. Give it a try.

The preceding list is by no means exhaustive, there are hundreds of other artists I wish I could tell you about, but these are just three that have been in my rotation lately. I grew up on music from everywhere, and that’s what I crave. I’m always learning and welcoming. If I don’t like it, I’ll tell you. If I love it, I’ll rave about it!

I wanted to call this article “Why having a good home stereo is important to the old and the young.” Then I thought more about the music than just the stereo itself. These days, it’s hard to find good stereos outside of clubs and concerts, or every once in a while, in a car. Whenever someone says “Oh! Send me a link to that!” I always say, “Ok, what are you going to listen to it on?”

Great stereos and great music truly make a difference. I love to share and receive music. Let me know what you’re into, send it to me, and trust I’m really going to give it a good listen.

Zachari George

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Practically Social

Practically Social

Licensed clinical therapist and social worker. Host of the mildly edited Practically Social channel. https://bit.ly/3cjg5j4 Catalyst, deep diver, Dad.