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When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
1950's  57%  [ 33 ]
1960's  31%  [ 18 ]
1970's  12%  [ 7 ]
1980's  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 58
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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Fri 13, 2017 7:13 am 
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Johnnysan wrote:
Hi-fi for tube audio peaked in the 1957 to 1965 era; this coincided with a push to make audio better and therefore more expensive. After that, there was a very disappointing trend towards cheaper audio "for the masses" and true high fidelity suffered horribly unless you were willing to dish out the big bucks. Many manufacturers, that were known for high quality, started producing garbage. Sorry to be blunt, but this is the truth.

Hi-fi for solid state did not come about until the 70s. Face it, germanium sucks. Silicon from Japanese manufacturers, and their major efforts for decades to produce quality, brought about very nice audio (some of which are highly sought-after today).

Today, there isn't much quality audio by comparison. Most "devices" today make me want to vomit. Excuse my truthfulness; that's just the kind of guy I am.


I think there's some truth in the above, but not entirely. Every era has had their good and their cheap.

Again, the push for high fidelity began with the introduction of the 45 rpm record. The first LP's were not considered high fidelity, but it didn't take long to improve them. So during the 1950's, the "serious" consumers bought components rather than console radios -- even though the consoles stayed with us through the 70's. When stereo began to take shape, some people used the terms "hi-fi" and "Stereo" as if you had to choose between one or the other. The fact is, you could buy some really nice stereo components that were definitely high fidelity in the early 60's, but you really had to pay for them.

Then came transistors. The beginning of the transistor age saw three problems -- high cost, high noise levels, and distortion. Yes, the early transistors were mostly germanium, but the problems didn't necessarily fall between germanium vs. silicon. Both were expensive in the beginning. Transistors were economical if you didn't use that many, meaning portable radios were affordable. A high quality all-transistor stereo was out of reach. But that was not the only problem. Transistors (germanium and silicon both) were noisy. For low-level preamps and sensitive tuners, tubes were a must. They even developed peanut tubes, the idea being smaller like transistors but the advantage of tubes. Although transistors improved greatly during the 60's, it wasn't till the FET's that a high-end solid state tuner was practical.

The third problem fell somewhere between pseudo-science and reality. It began when lots of people during the 60's complained that transistor amps didn't have the "warmth" of their tube counterparts. It was a very subtle issue that most people didn't notice, but those who did insisted there was a difference. So the laboratory guys grabbed some of these people by the ears and brought them into sound rooms for listening tests. Sure enough, in every case they could tell which amps were tube and which were transistor, and they described the tubes as warm while the transistors were rough and raspy -- even though the lab machines measured the transistors as more accurate. They finally figured it out -- transient intermodulation distortion, or TIM. These were little spikes that appeared right at the beginning of a musical note. Transistors were NOT the culprit, it was transistor CIRCUIT design. With tubes, you pretty-much sent the audio from the plate of the first tube to the grid of the next. Transistor circuits, for the sake of controlling gain and widening frequency response, had negative feedback and more component stages. It was the negative feedback that created the TIM. By the early 70's the issue was licked, but that still hasn't eliminated the notion among some that tubes sound better. Most who insist on this are not audiophiles, but consumers listening to cheaper hardware.

As for the 80's and beyond, indeed component stereos got cheaper in quality. Fisher went from high-end to crap. Zenith and others also abandoned quality components and went to cheaper. The reason was consumer demand -- less interest in the good stuff, would rather shop by price for something small to stick in the bedroom. Sure, the good stuff was, and is, still available, but you won't find it at Wal-Mart -- you gotta go upscale.

So why the deterioration in quality? I think it's the same as with furniture, and with many other consumer products. A desk, a stereo, a car, or plenty of other things come on the market and people buy them. They dish out the money and bring them home. Then someone else builds a cheaper one, and people flock to that -- and complain that it's not as good as their older one. Inflation masks some of it, and makes you think that products are continually being made more cheaply. Once upon a time you had to go to a furniture store to buy a desk. You still can, but the price will drive some away, especially since a cheaper kit-version is available at Target. So you buy it at Target, and complain the wood isn't real, it's not as sturdy, etc. Same with stereo -- fewer people are buying high-end, so they don't make as much of it, but it's there if you look and want to pay.

Enough rant, but hopefully this gives you some insight.

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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Fri 13, 2017 10:35 am 
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Johnnysan wrote:
Hi-fi for tube audio peaked in the 1957 to 1965 era; ...

Today, there isn't much quality audio by comparison. Most "devices" today make me want to vomit. Excuse my truthfulness; that's just the kind of guy I am.

John,

"Yes", and "Yes". My feelings too. I have a fondness for HH Scott, not to say that others are not good as well. Let's just say that it is extremely easy to bring a Scott vacuum tube amplifier "back into the fold".

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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Fri 13, 2017 1:52 pm 
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Gary Tayman wrote:
Johnnysan wrote:
Hi-fi for tube audio peaked in the 1957 to 1965 era; this coincided with a push to make audio better and therefore more expensive. After that, there was a very disappointing trend towards cheaper audio "for the masses" and true high fidelity suffered horribly unless you were willing to dish out the big bucks. Many manufacturers, that were known for high quality, started producing garbage. Sorry to be blunt, but this is the truth.

Hi-fi for solid state did not come about until the 70s. Face it, germanium sucks. Silicon from Japanese manufacturers, and their major efforts for decades to produce quality, brought about very nice audio (some of which are highly sought-after today).

Today, there isn't much quality audio by comparison. Most "devices" today make me want to vomit. Excuse my truthfulness; that's just the kind of guy I am.


I think there's some truth in the above, but not entirely. Every era has had their good and their cheap.

Again, the push for high fidelity began with the introduction of the 45 rpm record. The first LP's were not considered high fidelity, but it didn't take long to improve them. So during the 1950's, the "serious" consumers bought components rather than console radios -- even though the consoles stayed with us through the 70's. When stereo began to take shape, some people used the terms "hi-fi" and "Stereo" as if you had to choose between one or the other. The fact is, you could buy some really nice stereo components that were definitely high fidelity in the early 60's, but you really had to pay for them.

Then came transistors. The beginning of the transistor age saw three problems -- high cost, high noise levels, and distortion. Yes, the early transistors were mostly germanium, but the problems didn't necessarily fall between germanium vs. silicon. Both were expensive in the beginning. Transistors were economical if you didn't use that many, meaning portable radios were affordable. A high quality all-transistor stereo was out of reach. But that was not the only problem. Transistors (germanium and silicon both) were noisy. For low-level preamps and sensitive tuners, tubes were a must. They even developed peanut tubes, the idea being smaller like transistors but the advantage of tubes. Although transistors improved greatly during the 60's, it wasn't till the FET's that a high-end solid state tuner was practical.

The third problem fell somewhere between pseudo-science and reality. It began when lots of people during the 60's complained that transistor amps didn't have the "warmth" of their tube counterparts. It was a very subtle issue that most people didn't notice, but those who did insisted there was a difference. So the laboratory guys grabbed some of these people by the ears and brought them into sound rooms for listening tests. Sure enough, in every case they could tell which amps were tube and which were transistor, and they described the tubes as warm while the transistors were rough and raspy -- even though the lab machines measured the transistors as more accurate. They finally figured it out -- transient intermodulation distortion, or TIM. These were little spikes that appeared right at the beginning of a musical note. Transistors were NOT the culprit, it was transistor CIRCUIT design. With tubes, you pretty-much sent the audio from the plate of the first tube to the grid of the next. Transistor circuits, for the sake of controlling gain and widening frequency response, had negative feedback and more component stages. It was the negative feedback that created the TIM. By the early 70's the issue was licked, but that still hasn't eliminated the notion among some that tubes sound better. Most who insist on this are not audiophiles, but consumers listening to cheaper hardware.

As for the 80's and beyond, indeed component stereos got cheaper in quality. Fisher went from high-end to crap. Zenith and others also abandoned quality components and went to cheaper. The reason was consumer demand -- less interest in the good stuff, would rather shop by price for something small to stick in the bedroom. Sure, the good stuff was, and is, still available, but you won't find it at Wal-Mart -- you gotta go upscale.

So why the deterioration in quality? I think it's the same as with furniture, and with many other consumer products. A desk, a stereo, a car, or plenty of other things come on the market and people buy them. They dish out the money and bring them home. Then someone else builds a cheaper one, and people flock to that -- and complain that it's not as good as their older one. Inflation masks some of it, and makes you think that products are continually being made more cheaply. Once upon a time you had to go to a furniture store to buy a desk. You still can, but the price will drive some away, especially since a cheaper kit-version is available at Target. So you buy it at Target, and complain the wood isn't real, it's not as sturdy, etc. Same with stereo -- fewer people are buying high-end, so they don't make as much of it, but it's there if you look and want to pay.

Enough rant, but hopefully this gives you some insight.


The 1980’s also brought CD’s, factory chrome cassettes and affordable linear tracking phonographs. The 1980’s were the pinnacle of analog music. Sony, TEAC, Nakamichi, Aiwa and Marantz made some fantastic tape decks in the 80’s that blew away the decks they made in the 70’s. Dolby HX and Dobly S makes early 90’s decks worthwhile.

CD’s are really the blame for cheap audio equipment.


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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Fri 13, 2017 3:07 pm 
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Johnnysan wrote:
Hi-fi for solid state did not come about until the 70s.

I don't think that's quite accurate. Some of the high end Magnavox and Fisher SS stereo consoles from about 1963 on produced exceptional fidelity, as did some other mfgs. Where it started to decline was when mfgs became more interested in hyping watts (the power wars) than producing fidelity to the point where the govt had to step in because of the fudging of the power numbers. That's where the R&D money was spent, and still is. I have a Sony home theater, for instance, rated at 600 watts. That's insane and I can quarantee my 1980 Technics SA-303 at 40wpc has infinitely better fidelity, especially at a listenable volume level.

By the way, if you want to perform an interesting test of mono vs stereo, do this; tune your stereo to a strong signal FM station, something listenable, not a heavy rock or a so-called "jazz" station that only plays screeching noise. Now, listen in stereo for a while and then flip the switch/knob from FM Stereo to FM (mono) and listen for a while. Switch back and forth a few times if you want. Which way do you hear the music better? Try it. :)

Larry

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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Fri 13, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Nice Bogen Hi-Fi amp. A close look at the IF cans on the right looks like extensive is,ver mica issue repair would now need to be done.


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Last edited by decoflair on Oct Fri 13, 2017 4:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Fri 13, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Quote:
CD’s are really the blame for cheap audio equipment.


Uh, yes and no.

There seems to be a continuing debate over vinyl vs. CD's, which one sounds better. The fact that there IS a debate tells you that both can provide good sound. The difference, an LP sounds wonderful IF you use a really good turntable, and IF the record is in good condition, and IF the needle is good, and clean, and set up just right, with the proper tracking force, and anti-skate, etc., etc., etc. A CD, you can stick it in a cheap portable player and connect it to a good amp and it sounds great. The CD is smaller, less prone to wear, has much better indexing, and you can even rip your own if you wish. So even if you love your vinyl, you have to admit the CD has its advantages.

What the CD did, and later the iPod and other types of digital media, was take the audio out of the living room and stick it in your pocket. With earbuds it sounds okay, but forget speakers. For THAT sound you have to go back to your living room, and it probably means getting out your vinyl. Whereas the marketing for stereo was that "perfect" sound back in the 70's, the emphasis today is portability -- and who cares what it sounds like. The only thing today with any fidelity at all is the car stereo, at least for the average public.

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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Fri 13, 2017 9:28 pm 
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rocketeer wrote:
Johnnysan wrote:
Hi-fi for solid state did not come about until the 70s.

I don't think that's quite accurate. Some of the high end Magnavox and Fisher SS stereo consoles from about 1963 on produced exceptional fidelity, as did some other mfgs.

Agreed. Late wife worked at Marantz as a test tech for their solid state receivers in the late sixties.

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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Sat 14, 2017 12:06 am 
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I still play my `64 Scott that runs off 7591 tubes that I rescued out of the junior college theatre dept dumpster in 1991 along with the four chest high blond-wood Voice of the Theatre speakers rescued out of the gym-torium.

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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Sat 14, 2017 4:54 am 
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rocketeer wrote:
...
1950s - audio fidelity
1960s - stereo seperation
1970s - amp power & features wars
1980s - cost cutting hardware degradation... Larry
Permit me to add: 1990's - "badge engineering"... no longer able to trust a brand name! Who make what now, and where?
Sorry to be cynical.
Cheers,
Roger

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 Post subject: Re: When was the era of 'Classic Hifi'?
PostPosted: Oct Sat 14, 2017 1:37 pm 
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engineer wrote:
rocketeer wrote:
...
1950s - audio fidelity
1960s - stereo seperation
1970s - amp power & features wars
1980s - cost cutting hardware degradation... Larry
Permit me to add: 1990's - "badge engineering"... no longer able to trust a brand name! Who make what now, and where?
Sorry to be cynical.
Cheers,
Roger

I’d say cheapening and rebadging starts becoming true after about 1993-94. Some of the equipment made in the early 90’s was quite good for the price. Digital cassette dubbing and Dolby S produced the best sounding cassettes ever and CD mastering became a lot better. Some of the CD’s I own from the mid 80’s sound terrible due to the compression they used at the time. Everyone had a Walkman and later a Discman. Music started to become more personal. You didn’t play Perry Como in your living room, you blasted Kidneytheives on your discman so your parents couldn’t hear the crazy, nasty stuff you listened too.


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