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Video: A musician's home audio system

A longtime musician talks about his listening gear

Charlie has played music most of his life, and his home stereo system reflects that experience. He gives us some history behind how he assembled his system, plus reflects upon his Crutchfield tenure in this video.

Read video transcript

Hi I'm Charlie Pastorfield, I'm an editor at Crutchfield. I've been working at Crutchfield for 24 years. Before that I was a professional musician, played up and down the East coast, as far as Indiana for many many years, and I just want to start off by saying I'm not really an audiophile but I am a musician, and that's the most important thing to me is to have great sounding music in my house.

I was playing the band with my friend Corky for years, and Corky worked at Crutchfield. As I was putting together my last band, I used to got to borrow money from him and other people that work there, and I'd slowly noticed that every bartender, every musician, every restaurant owner that I knew was working at Crutchfield. They love to hire people who've been in the food business or in the music business, cuz they like working in a situation like this, and not having to travel.

So as soon as I found out I came out for my interview, the guy interested in me starts off by saying, tell me about your previous work experience, and I said, well I really can't cuz I've never had a full-time job. And he picked up his pad and said, you mean to tell me you're 44 years old and you've never had a full-time job? I said yeah, that's correct. He said, dude you are so hired! I got the job, but that doesn't happen anymore you have to go through some tests and stuff, but it's been a beautiful place to work because all my friends work here. There is a lot of music people here, and we just talked about music stuff all day long, nothing better than that.

So this whole thing started a few years ago when I got a set of Polk LSI 25 Tower speakers, and I got a great deal I couldn't pass it up. What I did know this if they're going to ruin my life, cuz once I got them home and turned everything on and heard the sound that was coming out something inside my brain said, find other things that sound this good. And a friend of mine Rick sold me an old Dual turntable that I hooked up, and that got me listening to records again for the first time in decades. I needed a preamp for my NAD that I had, my integrated amplifier. My Polk Tower speakers have built-in subs at the bottom, so you don't need a ton of power. And then I got a great deal on an Oppo disc player.

So I had the Dual turntable for a couple of years, listened to records, and then I got the chance to get a Pro-ject Debut Carbon Esprit turntable, and I bought that and I brought it home and I was really impressed by the sound of that. And after a few weeks of fiddling with it I called my audiophile buddy Bill and he came over and listen to it, said yeah, that's a great sounding turntable system. The next day he calls me and says, I really hate to do this to you but I got a deal and I got to tell you, and it turns out he'd worked in a music store up here in DC in the 80s, and it sold a Linn Sonndek LP12 turntable to this guy who owned ever since and over the years he put over $7,000 of upgrades into it, and that includes separate power supply and upgraded suspension, a new tonearm, new low output moving coil cartridge and a bunch of other stuff. You know, who in the world would spend that kind of money upgrading a turntable, but Bill said it's it's an amazing deal.

So I saved up some money, bought the turntable, and he and his friend Carl came down to install it, and they set it up and went through my system, checking the phase on everything and demagnetizing this and doing all kinds of stuff. So when they're done Carl puts on a record that he knows really well, repositions my speakers to the point that he actually adjusted the height of the spikes so they were identical on both sides, and he finally said, all right, take a listen to see what you think. I said, well what I really want to play first is an old James Brown cut that's a really well recorded cut, and he turned iton. I was not going to know what to do cuz it's only played classical music all its life, but have at it.

So I put it on, and I'm not exaggerating...anyway I cranked it up and I the feeling just came back as strong as it could be a being at a live show. The sound of it was identical, and I know that just sold me right on the spot. I've always had moderate decent stereo systems in and really no desire in fact when I run into friends of mine who bought ridiculous stereo systems, I thought what a waste of money, you going to want what, what can I possibly hear that I don't hear with my system? But at my advanced age of slowly finding out what is possible with audio and it's you know, like when I got that new turntable it wasn't a life changing moment really so much as just every time I put a record on that I knew it was just presented in the whole different way and it's hard to put into words what the differences are, but it has to do with every instrument being cleanly and clearly reproduced. When you're kind of accustomed to their all being kind of jumbled together.

I started playing music at high school a long long time ago, and I was fortunate I live next door on my freshman year to a guy Farleigh Staunton Dickinson the Third, The same Fairleigh Dickinson as the university, and he was an amazing guitar player even when he was 14. And he kind of carried me and a couple of other guys on his back through high school. He would show what to play and so I learned a lot and I played in a really good band in high school and we all planned on continuing to play together in college. We applied to the same school but I didn't get in, and I went to UVA instead and started making great money playing frat parties down here, and realized you have my friends in New England were not doing so well playing music. So I decided to stay here, and I've been playing music professionally ever since the day I got out of college.

In 1826 when UVA was getting ready to open, somebody in North Carolina sent a little tree to Thomas Jefferson, and he planted it on the lawn and it grew up to be called the McGuffey Ash. It was a gigantic tree that 20 years ago unfortunately was hit by lightning and it died, so they hired my friend Dave who was a furniture maker to make little tables and chairs and other things they can put in the houses on the lawn. He had one board left over in through in the scrap pile, so years later I go by to visit him to see about putting a guitar together made out of chestnut. Right before I got there he was arguing on the phone with someone, threw a tool over shoulder went into the scrap Olivewood and when you dug down just as I was walking the door he picked up the piece of wood from the McGuffey Ash, and I had my Telecaster with me and and Dave said it might be a great thing to make you a Telecaster. I was so we took out my Telly, measured it and measure the piece of wood, and it was exactly the size of the Telecaster, so I ended up making the world's only Thomas Jefferson Telecaster for me and gave it to me, which is the greatest thing that anyone has ever done. And it's a great towards the only guitar he's ever made, and he's never made another one, but it is an amazing Telecaster.

Okay so that's my home audio system. Thanks so much for watching, and if you're thinking about putting together a system like this for yourself give Crutchfield a call, we got advisors who really really know what they're talking about.

  • James Robertson from Montevallo, Al.

    Posted on 11/15/2022

    I have to comment on this video. The audio system seems fine. But the Telecaster is absolutely brilliant! Whilst is looks fantastic, the sound was spectacular. No electric guitar quite like a Tele.

  • Ziv Gillat from Mountain View

    Posted on 4/21/2022

    Beautiful video. Extremely well done. I've been a customer for decades but never realized how special you guys are. I knew you guys were extremely knowledgeable but it's hard to relay the passion and heritage, through such a short interaction. Thank you for putting it together and for inspiring us!!!

  • AWB

    Posted on 1/10/2022

    Very cool story! Thanks for sharing.

  • LynnS from Strawberry Plains, T

    Posted on 6/11/2020

    Wondering if you were running the Thomas Jefferson Telecaster through a HiFi receiver or a guitar amp. You were using both pickups but still more of a throaty sound but with the bite of a tele. were you using any pedals?

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