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October 2004 Editorial

Kids and HiFi - Survival guide - Part I

Author: Lucio Cadeddu
Published: November, 2004

[Silvia & Pathos]
Silvia with...Pathos, passionately

As announced on the June 2004 Editorial here I am to tell you how kids and HiFi systems can friendly live together, without headaches and heart attacks.
I can still distinctly remember what my friends told me as soon as I announced 'em I was going to become a "daddy".

Geeee, my friend, start sellin' all of your HiFi gear NOW! Not only you'll need money (kids are expen$ive, ya know) but your precious gear will be trashed, scratched and broken into pieces, way before you can yell...NOOOOO!".

This was the leit-motiv of my discussions with friends and fellow audiophiles. Suggested scenarios consisted of finger-pushed tweeter domes, woofer dustcaps used as small punching-balls, cantilevers and stylii broken into pieces before natural break-in, turntables used as fancy merry-go-rounds for Teletubbies, CD drawers filled in with strawberry marmalade, cables used for jumping practice and amplifier grids used as secret repositories for any kind of object, possibly ...of metallic nature (cf. Murphy's Laws).
And what about those horror stories on your beloved CD and LP collections? Precious Sheffield Labs CD cases used for storing the latest Snowball's music compilation, LP covers used as breakfast tablecloths, rare MFSL OMR Gold CDs used as frisbees...
All I needed to buy was a lifestyle Audio system with tiny, cubic speakers...and, of course, even my car had to be sold immediately in favour of a diesel-powered monovan or SW. I couldn't believe my life was going to be destroyed that way. I had to find solutions, alternatives, countermeasures. And that's what I did.

First things first: I put my (2) turntables far from children's reach, better to be safe than sorry, I thought. Now they are placed so high that my daughter won't be able to put her hands on 'em until she is well grown up (18, say). Then, I hope I'll be able to make her understand how damn expen$ive those turntables can be :-)
This is the only thing I modified, indeed. The rest of my system(s) remained virtually untouched. Everything else is still within Silvia's hands' reach. Oh yes, of course, the dust covers of the loudspeakers are always safely "in place"...

Switches-mania. The first thing that attracts and stimulates kids' curiosity is....switches! It's something they can't avoid: pushing a button or turning a knob must be something written deeply into our DNA code. Of course, leaving on/off switches "unprotected" can be very dangerous. Hence, when Silvia is dangerously walking around in search of something to "touch", the mains cables of my HiFi components remain...unplugged. Hence, pressing switches and turning knobs produces no interesting effects. After the first hundred of attempts, her curiosity decreases dramatically...and my components are safe. Well, almost.

This is the easy part. Sooner or later your kids will learn how to turn on your components and operate with these. That's the moment when all of your patience is mostly needed. The golden rule is: never forbid. Forbidden things are the most attractive ones...even for adults, right? ;-)
All you need to do is gently teach your kid(s) how to turn on and off the HiFi system and how to select CDs and tracks. I'll leave vinyl out of this discussion for a moment, if you don't mind :-)
Kids learn very quickly and after a while they can become almost 100% independent. Your supervision is still needed, though.
Once the mechanism has been acquired and all the procedures learned, the interest for that new "toy" decreases and you enter a safer zone.

False targets. Anyway, don't think you can leave your kids without control near your stereo system. The "switches-mania" can explode again without notice, dramatically. For this reason I have placed a couple of vintage Hifi components, mainly from the Seventies, within my lovely daughter's reach. Soooo many noisy switches, knobs, levers!!! Things so attractive that these components have quickly become my daughter's main target. When the "switches-mania" raises its ugly head, she goes directly to these "targets" and...express herself!
It is a system successfully used by submarines ever since! I think these auto-defense devices are called false targets. When a submarine is under attack, it launches the so-called false targets, to cause confusion to enemy's missiles :-)
Anyway, you're not still 100% safe: false targets may help but....always keep an eye wide open when kids are around.
The best HiFi components to be used as false targets are cassette decks. Many switches and knob, plus the cassette loading mechanism and that eject switch! What can be more attractive than that?

The cables phase. After some time kids discover cables and connectors. It's a fact of life one can't avoid. My daughter tried to connect/disconnect cables several times but - luckly - many of these were of the locking type so...almost impossible to pull out!
Mains cables - luckly again - never stimulated her curiosity. Anyway, the "cables phase", as I called it, didn't last for long. This seems to confirm what audiophiles know to be a God-given fact: women and HiFi cables don't live well together! ;-)

That's all for now, folks. Here's the Part II of this "Survival Guide".

Note. In the pic above, a smiling Silvia (2 years old, at that time) gently caresses the two big red power supply caps of a Pathos New Classic One integrated amplifier. These caps were incredibly irresistible for her. Even nowadays she asks me to see this pic again and again. A big smile graces her lovely face when looking at it. I always wonder why.

© Copyright 2004 Lucio Cadeddu - www.tnt-audio.com

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