Building The Perfect Beast

Building the Perfect Beast is the second studio solo album by Don Henley, the lead vocalist and drummer for the Eagles. The album was released on 19 November 1984 on the Geffen label.
– Wikipedia

My affinity for Mr. Henley is well-documented. And so I felt that it was apropos to code-name this little endeavor: “Operation Perfect Beast”. You see, ever since we purchased a home back in the autumn of 2013, I’ve nursed this incoherent vision of the perfect music appreciation room. I’ve seen thousands of digital silver-gelatins featuring fantastic altars to the Gods of recorded music. Much of this renewed interest in vintage audio (mine included) has come on the heels of the vinyl revival. More than jealousy, envy or even mild hatred, these snapshots spurred me to eschew my incoherence and actualize the opaque schematic in my mind.

We finally moved into our new-to-us home this June after an endless renovation. Long before (and ever since) the move-in day, I’ve been frantically putting each thing that clutters our lives into its ideal newest final resting place. Afflicted with Precision Arrangement Syndrome (PAS)–I’m incapable of simply putting stuff away. Instead, I incessantly jockey, jostle and jell the artifacts of a lifetime into some illusory paragon known only to me. This often requires numerous iterations to complete depending on the primary task-at-hand and each accompanying sub-task-at-hand. My wife finds this ailment baffling, as does practically everyone else.

With the stuff that necessarily comprises a home, like cookware, software and underwear, this is not a particularly difficult process. Sure, it can be arduous, but not-so-much difficult. However, when it came to the space that would be my music appreciation chamber, my “man cave” (a term I loathe), my Rumpus Room, the PAS metastasized. I can recall numerous moments staring out into the landfill occupying my garage stalls and thinking…It’s out there somewhere – that thing I need. I wonder if I’ll ever find it? Shit, who cares if I ever find it at this point? It’ll turn up someday; it has to. The garage can’t stay like this forever. Fuck it–I see some vodka in the corner.

I’ve probably spent more time locating, constructing, arranging the various components of this solitary 12′ x 10′ x 7′ x 6′ (it’s L-shaped) room than all others in the house combined, squared. Throughout all of the iterations, I always knew that I had to build a custom stereo rack. And yet, I also knew I needed to listen to my music like yesterday–dammit! Hence, I just threw the old rack into the new room and proclaimed: “That’s good for now!”

On or about August 9th, Rumpus Room v1.0 looked like this in pano mode…


And while the trusty old (hacked/modified) gray metal tempered glass rack was surely functional (after I dealt with the uneven floor issue), I still could not abide the impostor occupying the space where my dream rack was meant to stand. I did my best to ignore this uncomfortable, disappointing and glaring anomaly in an otherwise ecclesiastical sonic arcade.

Meanwhile, back in July, amid dueling 5x eBay bucks promotions and PayPal Credit no-interest deals, I purchased 100 1/2″ steel floor flanges. In case you haven’t priced these out at a big-box hardware establishment, they are about $5 each. Thankfully, I found a bulk dealer on eBay that was offering them at a considerable discount. I had to strike fast, as there were only a pair of 50-flange lots remaining costing less than half of the big-box price-tag. I took a photo, not only as inspiration, but also to remind me I had just dropped $170 on 50 lbs. of steel that was decaying somewhere on my garage floor. Now, I had to build that rack; I had committed to it, at least financially…


Meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to find the penultimate rack for my Pioneer Silver Stereo components and save myself weekends of painstaking construction, I Googled hundreds (possibly thousands) of pre-fab racks. I perused racks of every shape, size and dimension. As I evaluated rack after rack in full LCD color, the same issues persisted:

  1. I wanted each component on a separate shelf
  2. The height of each component varies
  3. Therefore, I need numerous infinitely adjustable shelves

You’d think such a rack exists, right? Well…it does if, like most sane individuals, you have four components + one turntable. If instead you are slightly less sane and have eight components + a pair of turntables, the prospects shrink considerably. It’s like a minivan that works great until the fifth kid is born…and then you’re looking at a minibus. I promise you—with one exception, I was not going to spend $600 + shipping on a rack I could not first see in-person—no such rack exists.

OK, I’m kinda not telling the whole truth. If you are willing to compromise and purchase a modular horizontal rack system, you have plenty of options for an 8×2 component system. Here’s an example…


All long, I wanted a wall—nay a monolith—of sound. I had little interest in a pony wall of sound. Thus, it was settled: I would build the wall! Only there was no chance “of course Mama’s gonna help build the wall” or daddy, or anyone else for that matter.

So for starters, I constructed a miniature prototype. Surprisingly, it seemed like a plausible design—I was gonna build the bitch!



Over the past few weekends, my kids have endured countless trips to big box hardware establishments, hours of me in the garage and countless profanities floating through the air. But at least the project was well underway, and there was certainly no turning back. My daughter lent me her bear “Bubbles” for moral support. His assistance in that capacity was incalculable. Bubbles has a unique talent: he can sit on anything and not fall over. This was key to his ability to offer me moral support from numerous locations throughout the garage and basement.




This was not an easy project (to be brutally honest). In fact, if I had to do it all over again, I’d buy the two racks from Target, screw them together and take up quilttng. But last night, the build was (mercifully) complete. I swear this rack weighs 150 lbs. I managed to lug it down the stairs without assistance. I was beyond determined to get this thing hooked up and the minor detail of getting it down the stairs all by myself was sure as hell not going to be my Waterloo. 13 stairs and a gallon of sweat later, I had the thing in my Rumpus Room. I loaded each component into its allotted space, and spun it around to meticulously hook everything to everything else.



About three hours, much splicing, some shimming and a lot of cussing later, I had it level and lit. My dream rack was alive!




The journey of 1,000 steps is on or about 998. Sure, there are a few accouterments in the Rumpus Room that could be painted to look more ravishing. Yea, the floor could use an additional coat of concrete paint to make its sheen shine. And yup, I need to file a few LPs currently residing in crates on the floor. But I shot a new panoramic this evening of the Rumpus Room v2.0. It gave me pause…then, bliss.


In case you are curious, Part 1 – The first notes to pour over the wall of sound were from the Sturgill Simpson masterpiece “Turtles All the Way Down“ – on vinyl, of course. It was fucking fantastic…!

In case you are curious, Part 2 – allow me to introduce the band (right side to top to bottom):

  • Dual 1019 Turntable / Record Changer (da Beast)
  • Pioneer PL-560 Quartz-PLL Full-Automatic Turntable (da Plow)
  • Pioneer DT-500 Audio Digital Timer
  • Pioneer RG-2 Dynamic Processor
  • Pioneer SR-303 Reverberation Amplifier
  • Pioneer SG-9800 12-Band Graphic Equalizer
  • Pioneer SA-9800 Stereo Amplifier (da Heart)
  • Pioneer TX-9800 Quartz Locked Stereo Tuner
  • Pioneer P-D070 CD Player
  • Pioneer CT-F1250 Stereo Cassette Tape Deck
  • Pioneer CS-T7000 210W 8Ω Speakers
  • Pioneer CS-520 60W 8Ω Speakers

© 2015 – ∞ B. Charles Donley



A Pioneer CT-F1250, A Rebuild, A Saga


Blake Donley
Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 2:06 PM
To: Tim

Hello Tim!

I was referred to you from the fellas at Pacific Stereo.

I have a CT-F1250 that was finally diagnosed by a local vintage audio repair shop as having a bad motor. My local shop tried to replace it with one that would fit and found it was not a perfect fit. I know these motors can be rebuilt, but I am not confident enough to undertake that task in a DIY manner. Do you offer any type of service in regards to CT-F1250 motor rebuild or replacement? If so, do you accept units shipped to you (I’m in Minneapolis). If so, what’s a ballpark on the cost of such an undertaking? Thanks for your time.

Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:33 PM
To: Blake Donley

Yes, I can repair or replace that motor if you ship the unit to Music Technology.

To do that repair would be about $250 .

The cost could be more if it needs new belts (3), new pinch rollers or an idler tire.

Also, the heads in theses decks often have some wear and that means it may not be 100% as far as specs. New heads are not available. The record calibration system on this deck is not well designed so if you want to record on this deck, it’s best for me to set the deck up internally for a tape so you don’t need to use the cal system.

Blake Donley
Wednesday, July 06, 2016 3:06 PM
To: Tim

Tim –

10,000 thank you’s for your reply!

So I had this deck serviced three separate times by the same techs up here at Alex Audio & Video. I believe they replaced belts and rollers and rebuilt the idler. That said, you come highly recommended, so I trust your judgement.

Basically, I want this baby as close to new/spec as possible for a 40-year-old deck. As long as you give me a head’s up as to what the repair and cost will be after you give it the once-over, I’ll be happy to have you work on it.

I will likely never record on this system, so no heroic measures are needed along those lines.

My next questions is: so how does the process work? Do I just mail you the deck, you assess it and send me an estimate? I’m cool with whatever your preferred approach. Just let me know.

This deck is the sound-loop anchor of a stack of Pioneer silver I’ve been collecting for six years. Plus I have over 400 cassettes that I can’t currently play. I really just want is serviced and serviced by someone that knows what they’re doing. I’m quite excited you will work on it.

Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 9:32 PM
To: Blake Donley

You just mail it in with a $75 deposit check. That 75 gets applied to the repair bill once the deck is finished.

And as I mentioned, that deck will very likely have a fair amount of head wear, so it won’t be “like a new deck” when I’m done.. It will sound decent, however, and be reliable As long as you are ok with that. New heads are not available.

Pack it well! No hard styrofoam or peanuts. Lots of soft padding.

Blake Donley
Sat, Jul 9, 2016 at 10:11 PM
To: Tim

Sounds most excellent.

It’ll be in the mail Monday morning.

Thanks Tim!!!
Blake Donley
Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 12:49 PM
To: Tim

The unit shipped today UPS Ground; they said Friday it will arrive. I told them no Styrofoam. It is insured in case they goof up the shipping. There is a $75 check enclosed along with a printout of the page with your instructions.

If you needed to officially enter my information as a customer, it is as follows:

Blake Donley

Just let me know the grand total for getting her back to fightin’ condition—thanks Tim!
Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 7:21 PM
To: Blake Donley
Sounds good. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Blake Donley

Estimated total is $530 with an estimated balance due of $455 (since you already paid 75).

-new reel motor
-2 new pinch rollers (they are 100% shot)
-3 new belts (they are the wrong size)
-repair tape guides (deck is damaging tapes)
-you would have to buy the belts from Marrs for $30 (not included in estimate)
-playback only

Let me know if you want to proceed.


Blake Donley
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 10:41 PM
To: Tim

So if I buy the belts would I have them shipped to you?
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 11:01 PM
To: Blake Donley

Correct. Have the belts shipped to the shop.

Blake Donley
Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 8:25 AM
To: Tim

Sounds like a plan. If you can get me the info on which belts to purchase and the website where I am to purchase them, the rest sounds good. I am already invested in getting this deck to work, so let’s do it.
Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 6:43 PM
To: Blake Donley

Go here:

Now in the box that says “brand/model” enter Pioneer CT-F1250 and then hit “buy”

Hopefully they can ship direct to my shop. Perhaps email them first about that.

Blake Donley
Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 12:21 PM
To: Tim

I ordered them to be shipped to:

… c/o Blake Donley

Hopefully you will receive them this week or next.
Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 8:13 PM
To: Blake Donley

Sounds good. I have the new reel motor on order.


Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 9:19 PM
To: Blake Donley

Still waiting on the belts.


Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:04 PM
To: Tim

I know they were having issues with flooding down there. I’ll ask for a status.
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:11 PM
To: Blake Donley

The new reel motor has arrived, but not installed or tested.. I’m going to wait for the belts before I do that.

Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:13 PM
To: Tim

Sounds good. I sent them a request for status. They did update their site to say as of 8/30, orders were taking 7 days. I assume mine got lost in the chaos, but I forwarded them the paypal transaction. Hopefully you’ll get the belts soon.
Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Blake Donley

Have they received payment form you? As in your CC or Paypal has been deducted the cost of the belts.


Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 10:52 PM
To: Tim

Yep, I paid with PayPal and have the receipt. I have sent them the receipt each time I have inquired (which is not five times). Today I simply asked them to email back and acknowledge the receipt. I have not heard anything as of yet. I’m assuming I won’t until they finish their move.
Blake Donley
Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 5:42 PM
To: Tim

I finally heard from Marrs today via email. Someone there forward my inquiry to someone else there and copied me. I have not heard from the someone else yet…
Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 6:46 PM
To: Blake Donley

If you want to just get your money back, I can install belts from another company. Or you can wait for Marrs. Either works.


Blake Donley
Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 12:41 PM
To: Tim

I’ll wait…for now…only because it took them six weeks to acknowledge the order. Lord knows how long a refund would take…

I’ll let you know when I hear from them–nothing as of yet.
Sat, Oct 22, 2016 at 9:22 PM
To: Blake Donley

I have the belts from Marrs now. Will proceed with the repair. Perhaps a week to finish it all.


Blake Donley
Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 7:52 AM
To: Tim

Thanks for the update!
Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 10:21 PM
To: Blake Donley

BTW, the new reel motor modification works great. You will have the first CTF1250 with a brand-new, higher-quality reel motor installed. It is not NOS (new old stock). The original reel motors were very unreliable and rebulding them often did not work at all or it was something that would eventually fail again. It was not a good-quality motor to begin with.


Blake Donley
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 7:44 AM
To: Tim

I’m giddy! I have over 800 cassettes just waiting to be heard again. Thanks for all the hard work and patience!
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 7:03 PM
To: Blake Donley

Another first for this 1250 repair is that it will have new Teac pinch rollers. Previous pinch roller options were poor: 1 recover the original rollers at Terry’s. Those did not work well due to the small size. Option 2 was new rollers from Germany. Those are poor quality and super-expensive. These new Teac rollers are very high quality and have a good price.


Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 11:37 PM
To: Blake Donley

It is done, but I should test run it for two days before you pick it up. I will let you know.

Recommend you keep Dolby off and EQ switch set to STD. This is to compensate for the play head wear issue that I told you about (that all old 1250 decks have). It will give you more highs (treble).


Blake Donley
Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 5:18 PM
To: Tim

Awesome! Thanks for everything!
Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 8:56 PM
To: Blake Donley

Also, it depends on which type of tapes you are playing. If they have Dolby B encoding, they may sound better with Dolby off. If they were recorded with CrO2 EQ, they may sound better with STD EQ. Again, this is due to play head wear.


Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 12:52 AM
To: Blake Donley

It’s ready for pickup. See hours below.


Blake Donley
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 9:47 AM
To: Tim

Thanks Tim!

If you recall (and it’s been forever, so you probably don’t), I shipped the unit into y’all from MN. I will need it shipped back…

Blake Donley

Just let me know the balance (plus return shipping), and I can call in and pay it.

Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 8:48 PM
To: Blake Donley
Yes. I forgot it was mailed in.

It is packed and ready to go.

Kat will call you for payment.


Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 2:24 PM
To: Tim
Hey Tim,

I got the deck back today and put it back into the stack. When I went to fire it up, nothing much worked on it. Here is a video of FFWD/RWD/Play

I just hooked up the RCA cables and plugged it in. Was there something else I needed to do?
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 9:20 PM
To: Blake Donley

Make sure the tapes are good. If you put a Bic pen in the tape hub and verify that the tape turns freely.

If the tape turns freely, then the deck must have been damaged in shipping. Unfortunately, that happens one or twice a year when we ship things out.

I test ran the deck after repair for about 20 hours with many different tapes and they all played flawlessly, so it was 100% functional when packed.

If your tapes all test good, then ship the deck back. Use a much bigger box with more packing this time. The box and packing you sent the deck in with was marginal.


Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 9:30 PM
To: Tim

I tried about a two-dozen tapes in hopes it was a bad cassette. All the same…

I too noticed the half-assed packing job. I walked into a UPS store (with the bare deck) and said: “This needs to make to VA w/o a scratch on it. Please pack it carefully.” I paid for them to pack it. What I got back, which I can only assume is what you received and sent back to me, made me ever so sad. I’m going to pack it myself—so much for leaving it to the “professionals” (a pair of college kids on summer break from the looks of them).

I’ll be in the mail on Monday. Thanks!
Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:40 PM
To: Blake Donley

I found a brake lever was knocked off it’s track. A strong jolt during shipping likely caused this. I have fixed it so that won’t happen again. Deck plays tapes perfectly now.

I want to test run the deck for about 5 days to be sure everthing else is good and stays good.

I will not ship it back to you it that box and packing. I will see if we have a good shippng box for it in our shop


Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Tim

Awesome! Thanks so much!
Blake Donley
Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM
To: Tim

Just an FYI. I am leaving for vacation on Tuesday 11/22, and I will be gone for 14 days. If possible, could you ship it in time to arrive on Monday 11/21. I’ll sacrifice a full 5 days of testing for having it arrive before I depart.

Thanks so much!
Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 8:02 PM
To: Blake Donley

Sorry. Can’t do that. It needs a full 5 day test and then another full bench test before I ship. Also may take a while to find or buy a new shipping box.

I don’t want you to have another defect show up when you get it back. This is a very old deck and they must be checked carefully.


Blake Donley
Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 2:31 PM
To: Tim

OK, I appreciate the diligence. Is it then possible to delay shipment until 11/30? I’m just worried that the unit will be delivered when I am not there and after three attempts they will send it back.

Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 8:46 PM
To: Blake Donley

Yes, I can delay shipping till 11/30.


Blake Donley
Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:55 AM
To: Tim


Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 8:14 PM
To: Blake Donley

I was test-running the deck and it ate one of my tapes for the first time ever.. It has not repeated that, however. I have run about 12 tapes through it with zero problem. I need to run it some more to find the problem. May take about a week to find the problem because it is very intermittent.


Blake Donley
Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 8:25 PM
To: Tim

Sounds good. Thanks for the update.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 12:22 AM
To: Blake Donley

I could not duplicate the tape-eating incident. I lubed and adjusted some items, but never did see the deck eat a tape again. Played about 20 tapes in a row with no problem at all.

Unit is packed in a new, larger box with better packing.

Re-boxing fee is $60. We will pay for return shipping.

Kat will call you for CC payment very soon.


Blake Donley
Saturday, December 23, 2016 9:25 PM
To: Tim

IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t thank you enough for everything. So I have a wonky CT-F900…interested?


Copyright © 2018 – ∞ Blake Charles Donley


#RSD17, Mine

The scene of the crime…



Once inside…


My haul…


It’s on days like these—Record Store Day ’17—where the utility factor of my hilariously garish basement really smiles up my soul. Spinning the RSD version of Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage (complete with alternate mixes of “Gypsy”, “Hold On” and “Oh Diane”) is a truly decadent indulgence when it emanates from some extraordinary vintage Pioneer Hi-Fi gear.





Now for the standard disclaimers (the list grows each time I post a photo)…

  • Yes, I know my EQ settings are like the stupidest ever on earth in the history of humanity and dinosaurs and aliens. It’s been duly noted. Many times. I promise. Really. Obviously no human should EVER set their EQ as I have. Let this be a lesson to everyone: do the opposite of what I have done.
  • Yes, I know the speakers are too close to the components. It is an L-shaped room in the basement, and I am lacking the requisite space to properly triangulate the speaker stacks and the component monolith. I promise I’m shopping for larger basements to remedy this issue. In fact I think basements are on sale this weekend at Lowe’s, and I have a 10% off coupon somewhere.
  • Yes, I know only a noob would stack HPM-100s in such a amateurish manner (see: doing my best with the small L-shaped space, shopping for larger basement, etc.). I’m too weary to debate this one again.
  • Yes, I realize the SA-9800 (my amp) is only rated at 100 WPC, so each speaker is only getting like maybe 1.73578 watts of sound once you factor in all of the wattage loss inherent in my configuration (I’ve done the measurements and calculations on a scientific calculator, not a crappy regular calculator). What a waste of speaker(s), right? I don’t even deserve these speakers—I know, I know. I’d be better off with a pair of Realistic Solo 4s, yep, roger, got it.

Despite all this, it sounds fantastic…even with the shitty EQ settings 😉


Yes, those are VHS tapes on the left. Yes, VHS was the worst format for movies ever! I was born in ’72, I was deeply affected by VHS in my formative years. Going to Video Update (later: Movie Gallery) or Blockbuster was a treat for us geezers. It’s nostalgia more than anything else. I’ve heard of Blu-ray, I swear.

Yes, that is a wall of ~700 compact cassette tapes to the left of the Pioneer gear (I have LPs and CDs also). I realize other than dime-store music boxes, compact cassettes had the worst sound ever! (see: child of the ’80s, nostalgia)

Copyright © 2017 – ∞ B. Charles Donley

Pioneer Vintage Speaker Listing

1960 >> CS-201L
1960 >> CS-250R
1965 >> CS-51
1966 >> AT-16A
1966 >> CS-24
1966 >> CS-52
1966 >> CS-61
1966 >> CS-62
1966 >> CS-71
1966 >> CS-72
1966 >> CS-73
1966 >> CS-91
1966 >> CS-A23
1966 >> DN-5
1966 >> DN-7
1966 >> DN-10
1968 >> AS-305A
1968 >> CS-33
1968 >> CS-52T
1968 >> CS-53
1968 >> CS-55
1968 >> CS-81
1968 >> CS-88
1968 >> CS-A31
1968 >> CS-A50
1968 >> CS-A88
1968 >> IS-60
1968 >> IS-70
1968 >> IS-80
1969 >> AS-303A
1969 >> CS-5
1969 >> CS-7
1969 >> CS-10
1969 >> CS-20
1969 >> CS-66
1969 >> CS-90
1969 >> CS-100
1969 >> CS-A22
1969 >> CS-A55
1969 >> CS-A77
1970 >> AS-200
1970 >> AT-8B
1970 >> CS-07
1970 >> CS-5F
1970 >> CS-8
1970 >> CS-11
1970 >> CS-12
1970 >> CS-15
1970 >> CS-15A
1970 >> CS-22
1970 >> CS-23
1970 >> CS-24B
1970 >> CS-44
1970 >> CS-54
1970 >> CS-63
1970 >> CS-63A
1970 >> CS-63DX
1970 >> CS-77
1970 >> CS-99
1970 >> CS-A500
1970 >> CS-A700
1970 >> CS-E200
1970 >> CS-E201
1970 >> CS-E300
1970 >> CS-E301
1970 >> CS-E500
1970 >> CS-E700
1970 >> DN-6
1970 >> DN-20
1970 >> DN-21
1970 >> DN-30
1970 >> DN-31
1971 >> CS-05
1971 >> CS-20B
1971 >> CS-30
1971 >> CS-40
1971 >> CS-50
1971 >> CS-60
1971 >> CS-80
1971 >> CS-410
1971 >> CS-610
1971 >> CS-810
1971 >> CS-900
1971 >> CS-3000
1971 >> CS-E400
1971 >> CS-E600
1971 >> CS-E900
1971 >> CS-H9
1972 >> AS-16A
1972 >> AS-20A
1972 >> AS-22
1972 >> AS-E400
1972 >> AS-E500
1972 >> AS-E700
1972 >> CS-06
1972 >> CS-22A
1972 >> CS-33A
1972 >> CS-66A
1972 >> CS-66E
1972 >> CS-77A
1972 >> CS-88A
1972 >> CS-99A
1972 >> CS-A770
1972 >> CS-E350
1972 >> CS-E450
1972 >> CS-R10
1972 >> CS-R30
1972 >> CS-R50
1972 >> CS-R70
1972 >> CS-R100
1972 >> CS-R300
1972 >> CS-R300-1
1972 >> CS-R400
1972 >> CS-R500
1972 >> CS-R500-1
1972 >> CS-R600
1972 >> CS-R700
1972 >> CS-R900
1972 >> CS-X100
1972 >> CS-X100-1
1972 >> R-300
1972 >> R-500
1972 >> R-700
1973 >> AS-30
1973 >> CS-06A
1973 >> CS-30A
1973 >> CS-40A
1973 >> CS-50A
1973 >> CS-60A
1973 >> CS-301
1973 >> CS-330
1973 >> CS-500
1973 >> CS-500G
1973 >> CS-700
1973 >> CS-701
1973 >> CS-770
1973 >> CS-801
1973 >> CS-901
1973 >> CS-3000A
1973 >> CS-E45
1973 >> CS-E220
1973 >> CS-E320
1973 >> CS-E420
1973 >> CS-E530
1973 >> CS-E730
1973 >> CS-E830
1973 >> DN-25
1973 >> Project 60
1973 >> Project 80
1973 >> Project 100
1973 >> SCS-11
1974 >> CS-44G
1974 >> CS-66G
1974 >> CS-313
1974 >> CS-700G
1974 >> CS-701A
1974 >> CS-801A
1974 >> CS-901A
1974 >> CS-955
1974 >> CS-F25
1974 >> CS-F45
1974 >> CS-F51
1974 >> CS-T8
1974 >> CS-T61
1974 >> SCS-12
1975 >> CS-311
1975 >> CS-313A
1975 >> CS-411
1975 >> CS-511
1975 >> CS-515
1975 >> CS-550
1975 >> CS-711
1975 >> CS-811
1975 >> CS-911
1975 >> CS-F75
1975 >> CS-T7
1975 >> CS-T66
1975 >> CS-T88
1975 >> CS-W5
1975 >> HPM-40
1975 >> HPM-60
1975 >> HPM-100
1975 >> HPM-200
1975 >> Project 60A
1975 >> Project 100A
1976 >> CS-511A
1976 >> CS-711A
1976 >> CS-811A
1976 >> CS-911A
1976 >> CS-E321
1976 >> CS-E421
1976 >> CS-E531
1976 >> CS-E731
1976 >> CS-F6
1976 >> CS-F7
1976 >> CS-F8
1976 >> CS-F9
1976 >> CS-F300
1976 >> CS-F500
1976 >> CS-F700
1976 >> CS-F900
1976 >> CS-T3
1976 >> CS-T5
1976 >> R-300B
1976 >> R-500B
1977 >> AS-202
1977 >> AS-252
1977 >> AS-302
1977 >> AS-304
1977 >> AT-8S
1977 >> CS-12D
1977 >> CS-27
1977 >> CS-100A
1977 >> CS-200A
1977 >> CS-400A
1977 >> CS-516
1977 >> CS-522
1977 >> CS-616
1977 >> CS-655
1977 >> CS-722
1977 >> CS-755
1977 >> CS-770A
1977 >> CS-822
1977 >> CS-880
1977 >> CS-922
1977 >> CS-F77
1977 >> CS-F99
1977 >> CS-F330
1977 >> CS-F550
1977 >> CS-F660
1977 >> CS-F770
1977 >> CS-F990
1977 >> CS-X1
1977 >> CS-X3
1977 >> DN-8
1977 >> DN-200
1977 >> DN-300

1977 >> HPM-150
1977 >> HPM-1500
1977 >> PS-3
1977 >> PS-5
1978 >> CS-323
1978 >> CS-323/W4
1978 >> CS-424
1978 >> CS-424/W4
1978 >> CS-506
1978 >> CS-525
1978 >> CS-525/W4
1978 >> CS-F1000
1978 >> CS-F5000
1978 >> CS-F6000
1978 >> CS-F7000
1978 >> HPM-40
1978 >> HPM-60

1978 >> HPM-100
1978 >> Model 2301
1978 >> Model 3301
1978 >> Prelude 80
1978 >> Prelude 100
1978 >> Project 80
1978 >> Project 100B
1978 >> Project 120
1978 >> S-180
1978 >> S-X4
1978 >> S-X50
1978 >> XD-11
1979 >> CL-30
1979 >> CL-35
1979 >> CL-40
1979 >> CL-70
1979 >> CL-100
1979 >> CS-99aa
1979 >> CS-333
1979 >> CS-410
1979 >> CS-434
1979 >> CS-510
1979 >> CS-535
1979 >> CS-610
1979 >> CS-636
1979 >> CS-710
1979 >> CS-A1
1979 >> CS-A3
1979 >> CS-A5
1979 >> CS-A7
1979 >> CS-A9
1979 >> CS-F77A
1979 >> CS-F99A
1979 >> CS-F3000
1979 >> CS-X2
1979 >> CS-X4
1979 >> CS-X5
1979 >> EN-907
1979 >> HPM-30
1979 >> HPM-50
1979 >> HPM-70
1979 >> HPM-110
1979 >> HPM-110X
1979 >> MCL-3
1979 >> Model 3401
1979 >> Model 3401w
1979 >> S-X20
1980 >> CS-343
1980 >> CS-444
1980 >> CS-522A
1980 >> CS-545
1980 >> CS-646
1980 >> CS-722A
1980 >> CS-822A
1980 >> CS-922A
1980 >> CS-A33
1980 >> CS-A44
1980 >> CS-A66
1980 >> CS-A77
1980 >> CS-A99
1980 >> CS-AV55
1980 >> CS-AV88
1980 >> CS-X3II
1980 >> HPM-300
1980 >> HPM-500
1980 >> HPM-700
1980 >> HPM-900
1980 >> HPM-1100
1980 >> Promusica 80
1980 >> Promusica 120
1980 >> S-100
1980 >> S-110
1980 >> S-140
1980 >> S-160
1980 >> S-180A
1980 >> S-570
1980 >> S-922
1980 >> S-933
1980 >> S-955
1980 >> S-F1 (Custom)
1980 >> S-X2
1980 >> S-X3II
1981 >> CS-103
1981 >> CS-203
1981 >> CS-303
1981 >> CS-329
1981 >> CS-353
1981 >> CS-403
1981 >> CS-420
1981 >> CS-454
1981 >> CS-520
1981 >> CS-529
1981 >> CS-603
1981 >> CS-620
1981 >> CS-629
1981 >> CS-656
1981 >> CS-703
1981 >> CS-720
1981 >> CS-757
1981 >> CS-803
1981 >> CS-903
1981 >> CS-7100
1981 >> CS-V70
1981 >> Prelude 130
1981 >> S-170
1981 >> S-X4G
1981 >> S-X10
1981 >> S-X21
1981 >> S-X30
1982 >> CS-03
1982 >> CS-05
1982 >> CS-363
1982 >> CS-439
1982 >> CS-530
1982 >> CS-565
1982 >> CS-730
1982 >> CS-767
1982 >> CS-930
1982 >> CS-939
1982 >> CS-3100
1982 >> CS-5100
1982 >> CS-9100
1982 >> CS-G100W
1982 >> CS-G200W
1982 >> CS-G300W
1982 >> CS-G1000
1982 >> CS-G1011W
1982 >> CS-G1022W
1982 >> CS-G2000
1982 >> CS-G2011W
1982 >> CS-G2022W
1982 >> CS-G3000
1982 >> CS-G3011W
1982 >> CS-G3022W
1982 >> CS-V700
1982 >> S-33X
1982 >> S-55X
1982 >> S-77X
1982 >> S-99X
1982 >> S-170II
1982 >> S-180III
1982 >> S-310
1982 >> S-310L/R
1982 >> S-510
1982 >> S-510L/R
1982 >> S-710
1982 >> S-710L/R
1982 >> S-910
1982 >> S-910L/R
1982 >> S-922ii
1982 >> S-955iii
1982 >> S-1010
1982 >> S-1010L/R
1982 >> S-X6
1982 >> S-X33
1982 >> S-X55
1982 >> S-X77
1982 >> S-X99
1983 >> CS-210
1983 >> CS-300W
1983 >> CS-400W
1983 >> CS-575
1983 >> CS-600W
1983 >> CS-777
1983 >> CS-800W
1983 >> CS-979
1983 >> CS-A1000
1983 >> CS-A5000
1983 >> CS-A9000
1983 >> CS-C3
1983 >> CS-C7
1983 >> CS-C11

1983 >> Model 2401

1983 >> Model 2402
1983 >> S-9500
1983 >> S-T5
1984 >> CS-055
1984 >> CS-100Z
1984 >> CS-101Z
1984 >> CS-201W
1984 >> CS-201Z
1984 >> CS-205
1984 >> CS-305
1984 >> CS-405
1984 >> CS-539
1984 >> CS-549
1984 >> CS-559
1984 >> CS-585
1984 >> CS-605
1984 >> CS-705
1984 >> CS-787
1984 >> CS-805
1984 >> CS-905
1984 >> CS-949
1984 >> CS-959
1984 >> CS-989
1984 >> CS-B1000
1984 >> CS-B5000
1984 >> CS-B5000D
1984 >> CS-B9000
1984 >> CS-B9000D
1984 >> CS-G101
1984 >> CS-G101W
1984 >> CS-G201
1984 >> CS-G201W
1984 >> CS-G301
1984 >> CS-G301W
1984 >> CS-G401
1984 >> CS-G401W
1984 >> CS-V70
1984 >> S-5PC
1984 >> S-5PG
1984 >> S-7MB
1984 >> S-7MS
1984 >> S-180D
1984 >> S-200X
1984 >> S-500X
1984 >> S-700X
1985 >> CS-222Z
1985 >> CS-569
1985 >> CS-650W
1985 >> CS-797
1985 >> CS-850W
1985 >> CS-969
1985 >> CS-999
1985 >> CS-C1000
1985 >> CS-C5000
1985 >> CS-C9000
1985 >> CS-C9900
1985 >> CS-G101WA
1985 >> CS-G201WA
1985 >> CS-G301WA
1985 >> CS-G401WA
1985 >> CS-G500W
1985 >> CS-G900W
1985 >> CS-V12
1985 >> CS-V70A
1985 >> CS-V900D
1985 >> CS-V9010
1985 >> CS-V9910
1985 >> CS-VX50
1985 >> DSS-5
1985 >> DSS-5R/L
1985 >> DSS-7
1985 >> DSS-7R/L
1985 >> DSS-9
1985 >> DSS-9D
1985 >> DSS-9R/L
1985 >> DSS-E6
1985 >> DSS-E6R/L
1985 >> DSS-E10
1985 >> DSS-E10R/L
1985 >> S-180DV
1985 >> S-300X
1985 >> S-313X
1985 >> S-1300DV
1985 >> S-1800
1985 >> S-1800DV
1985 >> S-9500DV
1985 >> S-V707X
1985 >> S-V909X
1985 >> S-X200
1985 >> S-X300
1985 >> S-X500
1985 >> S-X700
1986 >> CS-407
1986 >> CS-607
1986 >> CS-707
1986 >> CS-D1000
1986 >> CS-D5000
1986 >> CS-D9000
1986 >> CS-D9900
1986 >> CS-G101WAII
1986 >> CS-G201M
1986 >> CS-G201WAII
1986 >> CS-G301WAII
1986 >> CS-G401WAII
1986 >> CS-V90
1986 >> CS-V9020
1986 >> CS-V9920
1986 >> S-X1A
1987 >> CS-E9000
1987 >> CS-E9900
1987 >> CS-V910
1987 >> CS-V9930
1987 >> CS-VX110
1987 >> S-55T
1987 >> S-3000
1987 >> S-X7
1988 >> CS-590
1988 >> CS-790
1988 >> CS-907
1988 >> CS-990
1988 >> CS-F9000
1988 >> CS-F9900
1988 >> Prologue 10
1988 >> Prologue 50
1988 >> Prologue 70
1988 >> Prologue 100
1988 >> Prologue 100-W
1988 >> S-W1000
1989 >> CS-C300
1989 >> CS-G515
1989 >> CS-G915
1989 >> CS-G9900
1989 >> CS-V55
1989 >> CS-V99
1989 >> S-1000twin
1989 >> S-T100
1989 >> S-T300
1989 >> S-T500
1989 >> S-Z82V
1989 >> TZ-7
1989 >> TZ-9
1990 >> CS-997
1990 >> Prologue S-55
1990 >> Prologue S-77
1990 >> Prologue S-110
1990 >> Prologue S-330
1991 >> CS-300
1991 >> CS-557
1991 >> CS-777
1991 >> CS-G103
1991 >> CS-G203
1991 >> CS-G303
1991 >> CS-G403
1991 >> CS-X50
1991 >> CS-X58
1991 >> S-1000twinA
1992 >> CS-C150
1992 >> CS-C250
1992 >> CS-M555
1992 >> CS-M751
1992 >> CS-M755
1992 >> CS-V935
1992 >> CS-X300
1992 >> CS-X500
1992 >> S-3D
1992 >> S-4D
1992 >> S-C55
1992 >> S-P70
1992 >> S-P320A
1992 >> S-P520A
1992 >> S-P720V
1992 >> S-SR55
1992 >> S-V301
1992 >> S-V401
1992 >> S-Z15
1992 >> TZ-7LTD
1992 >> TZ-9LTD
1994 >> S-C5
1995 >> S-5000twin
1997 >> CS-301
1997 >> CS-701
1997 >> CS-901
2003 >> Model 2251
2003 >> Model 2404
2003 >> TAD-M1
???? >> CS-G204
???? >> CS-J150E
???? >> CS-J600E
???? >> CS-STONE
???? >> CS-T5100
???? >> SPEC-15L
???? >> TZ-F700
???? >> TZ-MC05
???? >> TZ-SW05

© 2014 – ∞ B. Charles Donley

Status Update: Upper Midwest’s Most Dangerous Pioneer Silver Stack

It has been a while since I got the upper Midwest’s most dangerous silver stack assembled.  I am not sure how many blog entries or blogs of mine you read on a regular basis, but it is likely none.  Anyway, assembling this monster was quite a process.  I was an odyssey of near-biblical proportion across eBay, Craigslist, Alex Audio & Video, The Needle Dr., my dad’s storage closet and back again.

I just blew the woofer on one of my speakers, and it got me to looking into the current prices of the various pieces to my wall of componentry.  Hey, if you don’t blow a woofer every now and then, you are clearly not putting much gusto into your music listening, right?  Anyway, here is the market price for guaranteed working components on eBay now-a-days:

  • Pioneer PL-400 Quartz Turntable – $150
  • Pioneer DT-500 Digital Timer – $100
  • Pioneer RG-2 Dynamic Expander – $175
  • Pioneer SG-9500 Equalizer – $350
  • Pioneer TX-8500II Digital Tuner – $125
  • Pioneer SA-9500 2 Channel Amplifier – $450
  • Pioneer CT-F900 Cassette Deck – $175
  • Pioneer P-D70 Compact Disc Player – $500
  • Pioneer CS-703 Speakers – $250
  • Pioneer ST-001 Logo Speaker Stands – Priceless

Grand Total – $1,650!!!

I think I have actually seen an appreciation on my investment of about 15% since my initial purchase.  Not bad at all; I wish my other investments were clocking in at 15% annually.
Anyway, once I get my woofer fixed, I’ll be back in action…fully!


Copyright © 2013 – ∞ B. Charles Donley

Let Us Begin Where It All Ended

Your very own personal musical innocence, do you remember when it was last in your possession?  Probably not – innocence lost is innocence (long) forgotten; such is the nature of innocence.  I do, however, recall the days when my musical vernacular consisted of an endless stream of little ditties that were sung amidst the genesis and demise of my vocal heyday – second-grade choir.  Songs that were generally sung during holidays–like Halloween–while sitting cross-legged on a gymnasium floor.  The songs that echoed across the cement block walls and basketball backboards while 200 cherubic voices sang lyrics to Have You Seen the Ghost of John from the glow of a toasty overhead projector. Musical innocence – it’s akin to hanging on tightly to a steadfast belief in Santa.  Your jackass-yet-somehow-cooler-than-you’d-ever-hope-to-be friends are trying to convince you that your parents are actually Santa, yet you plug your ears and close your eyes and remember last year’s wonderful Santa gifts.  How in the hell did he know that you wanted a 12″ Chewbacca?  That was a truly fucking amazing guess, right?

And then one day…it all ends–with a loud, thunderous and rhythmic series of thuds!  You catch your parents listening to actual, real, authentic music.  Not the music that you played on the triangle in second-grade music class, but music made by folks who had somehow figured out how to get paid to make music.  And then all of the little musical notes randomly dancing around in your head aligned and you began to comprehend the greater cosmic significance of music.  It was more than just a rote exercise in reading and singing (chanting) lyrics off a toasty overhead projector screen.

The first non-children’s song I can remember consciously experiencing was the Spinners classic:“Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl”.  By way of web research, that song first appeared on the Spinners LP: Love Trippin.  I remember Chuck Donley–doing his best Deney Terrioimpersonation–slicing and dicing the brown/yellow shag carpet into small bits in our family room with “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl” banking off every inch the gold foil and faux-cork wallpaper that adorned the walls.  I swear I could see miniature carpet fibers being thrown into the air–screaming in horror–as the razor-sharp 1″ heels of his navy blue alligator loafers separated them from the rest of their carpet family. For me, that was where it all ended – my musical innocence.

I was forever tainted from that point forward.  Renditions of “Row Row Row Your Boat” never sounded the same, even if done in a round.  For I knew that the great wide world of music had much more to offer than a grouping of cherubic vocalists belting out the classic children’s fare of the day.

Plus, the grass sounded a hell of a lot greener coming out of the Marantz 33/330 speakers back at the old man’s new component stereo system–that was for DAMN sure!!!

Charles “Chuck” Donley (my old man) would nary discard anything that would possibly elicit some future value.  Along those lines, he saved–bless his bypassed heart–the receipts from this first component stereo system.  Just as he may have been unaware of how significant it was that he passed on to me an appreciation of music, he will never comprehend how important it was that he somehow managed to preserve these historical artifacts–the components themselves–which spawned my love of music.  10,000 thanks dad, it is one of the most amazing things, however inadvertently, you have ever done…

Here is what he preserved from the time I was eight years old to the eve of my 39th birthday, when the eventual stewardship of these historical artifacts was passed on to me:

Pioneer SX-780 Receiver

Silver Stack 2010_03_02c

Silver Stack 2010_03_02d

Pioneer PL-400 Turntable

Silver Stack 2010_03_02a

Silver Stack 2010_03_02b

Marantz 33/330 Speakers

Silver Stack 2010_03_02e

Silver Stack 2010_03_02f

By Halloween of 1980, my old man had replaced his Hi-Fi console–that was destined to become a over-sized combo: buffet/coffee table/Christmas knick-knack staging area–with a real live component stereo system.  And, as far as I know, the Spinner’s “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl” may have been the first song to pass through the Marantz LS-33-330s…I would describe my memory as solid, not photographic.

With my musical innocence lost; my fate as a music infatuationist was sealed–forever!  I believe every new experience in this life “hits” everyone with a different degree of impact.  For some, seeing their first in-person sporting event sears an unquenchable lust for their favorite sports team into their brains.  For some, their initial experiences with a pet brands them as an animal-lover forever.  For me, there would be no event–in the grand scheme my eventual reality–that would ever hit me in quite the way watching my old man give his new component stereo hell by way of the Spinners’ “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl” would.

Soon after the stereo purchase, Chuck added a pair of Koss K/A6LC Dynamic Stereophone Headphones into the mix.  And with that addition, I began to realize that enjoying music could be accomplished on a singular level.  Jamming to the Spinners did not require group participation and mass carpet-fiber homicide.

So, at the ripe-old-age of eight, I had been inadvertently converted to a music infatuaionist by my father. And there were three LPs in heavy rotation during that first formative year:

  • Juice Newton – Juice
  • Dr. Hook – Greatest Hits
  • Beach Boys – Super Hits (“As Seen on TV” – a Ronco records release)

In doing the research, all of these LPs came out around 1980.  So, it all makes sense in the grand scheme of the greater cosmic significance–phew!

All of a sudden, by way of the of Koss K/A6LC Dynamic Stereophone Headphones, I had musical freewill–it was immensely liberating!  At that same time, my old man seemed to have become more interested–at least in an aesthetic sense–in acquiring the aforementioned stereo components than actually enjoying them.  His “musical” taste had inexplicably shifted to the talk radio (WCCO) that was constantly blaring out of the cheap transistor radio in the kitchen.  Coming from the man that once played records and danced around the family room with the grace of a shadow-eyed ninja, the man that took lessons on how to dance “the Hustle“, this was sort of an abrupt shift – in my eyes anyway?

The happy accidental upshot of Chuck’s shift in “musical” taste, was that I basically had his spanking new component stereo system to myself; or so I assumed.  This was a magnificent turn of events to be sure!  I had a pair of Koss K/A6LC Dynamic Stereophone Headphones, a Pioneer SX-780 Receiver, a Pioneer PL-400 Turntable, and all of my old man’s LPs at my disposal.  And so I began to dispose of as many LPs as I possibly could.  It is akin to giving a man who has just completed 40 days and 40 nights in the desert a Thanksgiving feast.  I would quickly “devour” anything that existed in the old man’s record collection…and move on from there…

From there, life unfolded before my very eyes, musical formats evolved (media and style) and I would frantically fold the evolution of music into my own existence.  But is was not until the eventual stewardship of the musical artifacts of my youth was passed on to me, that I paused and once again contemplated raw, organic musical enjoyment.  Just like every other drone, I was immersed in a minutia of a digital music goo – more concerned with acquisition than experience.  I fell victim to all of the conventional “improvements” in the arena of musical enjoyment to such a degree that music enjoyment had become tedious.  I had become prodigiously jaded toward music.  I had completely lost track of the experience of watching goosebumps rise off my arms as the initial notes of musical excellence whizzed past my eardrums and beyond.

I realized it had been a long time since I had had any ear-shattering aural sex – a sad realization, indeed…

So, after some (significant) procurement and juggling of vintage stereo equipment, I assembled the world’s most dangerous Pioneer Silver Series stack this side of the Mpls./St. Paul border.  I foundationed it with a pair of Pioneer CS-703 speakers acquired from some dude in Ohio by way of eBay.


With the [ confl (uence conv) ergence ] =  conflergence of three events:

  • Stewardship of the musical artifacts of my youth
  • Realization it had been a long time since I had experienced ear-shattering aural sex
  • Journey of assemblage of the world’s most dangerous Pioneer Silver Series stack this side of the Mpls./St. Paul border

I felt it incumbent upon me to go back to the future and retrace the steps of my musical journey in a effort to give music a chance to once again recapture my imagination.  In the spirit of that notion, I walked into a thrift store and began flipping through the LP bin.  In 2010, I bought my first LP in 17 years, and I once again discovered the sheer joy of musical blissful nirvana.  With that, I decided to go back to the beginning and acquire the LPs that heralded the onset of the end of my musical innocence.

  • Juice Newton – Juice
  • Dr. Hook – Greatest Hits
  • Beach Boys – Super Hits (“As Seen on TV” – a Ronco records release)

I will listen to each intently, and in future episodes, provide my thoughts on said LPs.  With each new LP that I procure, I will perform a similar exercise of discovery and review.  And in the process, I hope to seamlessly weave together the two great loves of my life – music and writing.  I figure if I can’t create art (music) in the same manner as the musicians I admire, I’ll create art in the manner I can (writing) and hopefully provide a few moments of joy for anyone soul who takes the time to read this rambling.

Ramble on…

Copyright © 2012 – ∞ B. Charles Donley