A friend asked me to write this. I'm a sucker for requests. He meant for me to send an email, but I bet this will do. It begins with my amplifier breaking down.
Writing yesterday about how I want things to last, my amplifier drastically lost volume in the right channel and cranked the left to distortion. This is what it did shortly after I bought it in 2015 when it was already forty years old. The Kenwood KA-5500 has beautiful power meters, more power than I'll ever need, a silver front panel, and a huge volume knob. I just loved the thing right away. I took it back the day after I bought it and the shop guy needed two different tries to sort the problem out. Turns out, he's a nice guy but can't fix hi-fi equipment. When the problem came back yesterday, I knew I couldn't take it back to him but didn't have a clue where else to go. Then I remembered: David will know a place.
David has a bunch of vintage hi-fi. He got me back into records by inviting me to his vinyl party a little over a year ago. He's been my friend for a dozen years and we have a lot in common: writing, teaching, records, and hi-fi equipment. I figured he would know a good shop and I was set to see him this morning. Sure enough, he had recommendations. Then he did me a favor, something I'm pretty used to from him.
"I have a few extra amps if you want to borrow one."
My first thought was to thank him but decline. I have another amp hooked to speakers in the kitchen. I can get by until the Kenwood is repaired. I had "no, I'm good" ready to say when I remembered how alike we are. Situation reversed, I would like nothing more than to lend him something of mine. I heard myself say, "that would be great!"
That's David's 1975 Onkyo TX-670 above. It is a beast and a half and just too damn pretty. Check out that illuminated tuner scale, those knobs, the buttons. That's classic design right down to the woodgrain top. It weighs thirty pounds. The sound is good. A bit of crackle when changing volume or balance, but that settles down and there are fixes for that. It can handle three sets of speakers, two turntables, two tape decks, and an auxiliary device. There's even a bypass for using a power amp instead of the 56-watt internal amplifier. Like I said, a beast.
I cleaned it and got set to hook things up. There are few tasks I enjoy more than hooking up stereo equipment. I pulled the Kenwood out and rested on the arm of the couch, all wires still in place. (This is why I leave slack in the wires.) I lifted the Onkyo onto the shelf and turned it ninety degrees so the connections were easy to see. One by one, I transferred each wire and line from the Kenwood to the Onkyo. Simple work done right, methodically and with care. I rotated the Onkyo into place and powered it on. I dropped the needle on a record and there was music. It sounded just right.
This whole thing has me thinking again about self reliance which doesn't mean going completely alone like Chris McCandless heading into the wild. Self reliance is about taking care of myself and knowing when to rely on others. I knew David would have a repair shop and knew also that when he offered an amplifier, he wanted me to borrow one. He knows I'm a good caretaker. He knows I'm grateful for the loan and for our friendship.
I'll call the shop Monday and see about getting my Kenwood fixed. I appreciate David's loan but want my Kenwood working. Until it is, the Onkyo sounds just right, looks beautiful, and reminds me that I have good friends.
Thanks, David. This is great.