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Christmas Gift Guide

Brian's beasts

McIntosh MC275 power amplifier

VPI Classic turntable

1953 Les Paul guitar

McIntosh C2600 preamplifier

1943 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar

Bob Crites Cornscala B speakers

Okki Nokki record cleaning machine

The collection

Pretty in pink

1938 Martin D-18 guitar

Music selection

That VPI turntable again

Chillin' out

This is Brian -- his installment of Show Us Yours comes to us courtesy of Steve Guttenberg, who writes CNET's Audiophiliac column. He became acquainted with fellow Brooklynite Brian through a mutual friend and was promptly blown away by Brian's setup -- "It's one of the more outrageous audio systems I've seen in a long time," Guttenberg reports.

Brian teaches 7th grade English, and in addition to being an audiophile, he's also a guitar player and collector. He got the audio bug from his grandfather, who once owned amps just like the ones in Brian's system.

Brian's big speakers play loud with remarkable ease. "When we listened to a bunch of LPs, the sound had a live, you-are-there presence," Guttenberg says. "You want 'slam,' drama, and visceral kicks from your tunes; no small speakers at any price can deliver what Brian's beasts can do."

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

This is the Mark VI version of McIntosh's legendary MC275 amp, which first went into production in 1961. It's a natural match with big horn speakers like Brian's.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Brian started his turntable journey with a Technics SL-1200, then bought a Pro-Ject Xpression, and then got this VPI Classic, which is from the last production run of that turntable. (Guttenberg says he owned one of the first VPI Classics, which he got nine years ago).

Brain recently added a Lyra Kleos moving-coil phono cartridge. He doesn't play CDs, but does stream music from Tidal.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Brian bought this Les Paul guitar in 2009 and had it tweaked by Neil Young's guitar tech, Larry Cragg, who put on the Bigsby tremolo.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Like Brian's MC275 amp, this McIntosh preamp is a tube design, and it's hand-crafted in Binghamton, New York.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

This Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar was made during the years World War II was raging, and due to wartime restrictions of consumer use of metal, it doesn't have a steel truss rod. It's one of the first batches of mahogany SJ's ever made. Brian got it two years ago.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Bob Crites modifies and repairs big Klipsch horn speakers, and designs and builds his own speakers in Hope, Arkansas. Brian's speakers sound like live music, and they really came alive with rock, so Neil Young and Pearl Jam's "Mirror Ball" album kicked butt!

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Spotlessly clean LPs are an audiophile obsession, and removing every last bit of crud from deep in the grooves makes music sound better. The Okki Nokki gets the job done. 

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Brian's record collection is impressively tidy and organized.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Brian's turntable spinning a pink LP. Some might say it's a piece of artwork.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

He's owned this 1938 Martin D-18 guitar for five years.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Long listening session: Brian was always ready with another LP.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The VPI factory is in New Jersey, and the metal work is sourced both locally and from nearby states.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The guy really loves music. Thanks, Brian!

Want to see more of CNET's Show Us Yours showcases? (You know you do!)` Click here.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Guttenberg/CNET
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