I’ve never been the religious type, but on May the 23rd, 1976, I was, albeit only for a few hours. It was the day of my confirmation and during the previous months, anticipation had been building to a bursting point. Not because the whole family (a rare occurence) would come together that day to celebrate me, not because a confirmation is an important ceremony; no, because I knew I would get enough money (presents) together to buy my first stereo.
Up until that week, I had had one of those nifty and, when compared to what many others had, pricey Grundig portable cassette radios which allowed me to tape stuff off the radio, but some of my friends had already been upgraded to small stereo systems and I had been left in the dust. Already way back then I was quite the music freak and I remember endless hours, to the distress of my parents sometimes until late at night, listening to all kinds of music programmes and, especially very late at night, radio dramas.
My favorite radio programme was Robert Weston Smith’s (known commonly as Wolfman Jack) syndicated rock & roll show which was broadcast by Armed Forces Radio (in my case from Frankfurt, Germany, if I remember correctly) that I was able to tune into easily. It was my first exposure to real English (as opposed to the absolutely useless school English we were all subjected to day in and day out) and, to be quite honest, I didn’t understand more than 30% of what was going on. Didn’t matter, because often enough I heard stuff on that show that was either not popular in Germany or wouldn’t arrive until a few months further down the timeline, if at all.
So, the wish to rid myself of the constraints of a comparatively tinny-sounding machine as my only music source grew exponentially while regularly tuning into Wolfman Jack. I wanted the LPs of what I was hearing and I wanted something to play them on.
For months, I had tried to guess how much money I might be able to get together and as it turned out, my complicated calculations hadn’t been far off the mark. It wasn’t a fortune, but it was just enough to get the Dual HS-130, a teenager’s dream machine, especially if he or she resided in a small room like I did. Compact, stylish (well, for the 70s it certainly was), pretty decent sound, despite its plastic speakers. A supreme upgrade from what I was used to. 2 x 6 Watts amplifier, automatic 33 1/3 and 45 record player, extremely nifty record changer thingie, headphone connection, stereo speakers (with the possibility of hooking up four speakers for quadrophonic sound), plus the ability to adjust bass and treble separately. When it was finally installed in my room, I think I played around with the settings for an entire day, just because I could.
Don’t get me wrong: there was certainly tons of better stuff available at the time, especially because today I know that the HS-130’s cheapo system ruined most of my LPs since it was a budget-friendly stereo, but it was a dream come true for me. When compared to what I had previously owned, it was the sh*t, and until 1980, the year of the next major upgrade that many of you might remember and will be able to read about here in the future, that machine was abused, in the positive sense. Whenever I went to my room, it was fired up and I fed my slowly growing LP collection to it. And my Dual HS-130 was turned up to air-raid volume most of the time, especially because I thought that the rest of the street should be privy to what good music sounded like (as opposed to that German oompah crap most of the elderly neighbors were listening to. So, Simon & Garfunkel, Status Quo, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Santana, The Siegel-Schwall Band, the early Queen stuff, the Stones, especially the Beatles, lots of (big band) jazz as well as odd men out like, for example, Bo Hanson, must have become subjects of heated debates in the neighbourhood, especially in summer when I kept my tiny window open for all to enjoy those wondrous sounds.
Although my parents tolerated the constant noise seeping from my room, it was understandable that at some point my mom insisted on another upgrade to relieve the pain.
But that’s another topic. 🙂
The Dual HS-130: Technical Specifications:
Note: I found the catalog scan for the Dual HS-130 in “Rolling Stone” magazine’s German forum. A copyright wasn’t mentioned there, but I guess the scan came from somewhere. I hope I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes by posting a slightly modified smaller version of it here.