“You’ve Absent that Lovin’ Feelin’ ”
— Righteous Brothers, 1964
The amusement of high-fidelity is fascinating. You accept to understand, this is a abnormally alone hobby, like no other. Audiophiles who came ‘of audio age’ in the Aureate Era of the 1960’s-1980’s had a accord with the accessories and ambience of audio that artlessly doesn’t abide today. Absolutely not to the aforementioned degree, anyway. Today’s equipment—whether it’s a multi-channel amphitheater bureaucracy or a 2-channel music purist system—is so analogously accomplished that a lot of the attitude and “skill” of acrimonious out one’s claimed arrangement is aloof not there anymore. That accomplishment is not needed. Speakers, amplifiers, music-delivery devices, they’re all so acceptable these days. The era of blind-luck, accidental architecture has continued aback passed.
Consider that 40-60 years ago, this is how it was:
Audiophiles absolutely put calm their music-playing arrangement one basic at a time. They chose the electronics of the system, they called the turntable, they chose the absolute armament and the speakers. This was accepted as a “component” arrangement because the audiophile best out every basic themselves, based on reviews they’d read, speakers they had heard and liked, added audiophiles they’d announced to and the recommendations of salespeople in the stereo store.
There is annihilation like that today. Let’s say you appetite a toaster oven for your kitchen. You go to Walmart or attending on Amazon, acquisition one that looks nice for the amount you appetite to pay, and you get that one. Appealing simple.
But….let’s brainstorm you’re absolutely into toaster ovens. You’re amorous about them. You apprehend aggregate you can about them. You’re a absolute able on aggregate there is to apperceive about toaster ovens. So, here’s what you do: You appraise and analyze six altered sets of heating elements. You analyze how hot they get, their accepted lifespan, their concrete size, their “speed to best heat” time, etc.
Then you attending at aluminum enclosures. Aforementioned thing—you appraise and analyze their size, architecture method, articulation accumulation action, price, knobs, temperature acclimation range, heating options (bake, toast, broil, accumulate warm—does it accept all those? Do you need/want all those?), etc.
But wait, you accept to attending at choleric bottle fronts for the door: cast color, calefaction resistance, accident resistance, thickness, opacity, cost, size, availability.
Then you accumulate your called apparatus into one complete, customized-just-for-you toaster oven system. It’s the best toaster oven for the money ever—because you advised it and put it together.
That’s what a basic hi-fi arrangement was in the 1960’s through 1980’s—every alone basic was called by the audiophile. No two systems were alike. Every arrangement was a absorption of that person’s likes, tastes, biases, influences, etc., all choleric by their account and the amplitude in their den or active allowance that was accessible to fit the system. You’d go over addition else’s abode in the 1960‘s or 1970’s and guys’ eyes would instantly bound to that homeowner’s hi-fi system. “Oh,” the company would anticipate to themselves, “They accept a Pioneer receiver, the SX-727. Not bad. But I accept AR-3a speakers and he alone has KLH 6’s. My system’s better.”
Those are conflicting considerations today. Two 20-year-old guys arguing over which speakers were best in the academy cafeteria doesn’t appear anymore. Heck, walking into a stereo abundance doesn’t appear anymore, never apperception accepting complex in some knockdown-drag out action with a smarmy, adamant abundance salesguy who capital to advertise you alone EPI speakers, alike admitting you insisted on audition the Advents, because your roommate’s Baby Advents articulate so acceptable to you.
Then, a little afterwards on, those 20-year-old academy kids accelerating school, got decent-paying jobs and kept their absorption in audio gear. They became audiophiles. Stereo Review, Aerial Fidelity and Audio magazines chaotic up their coffee table, in animosity of their wives’ affirmation to apple-pie them up and put them away.
Once audio accessories was in your blood, it was there to stay. You consistently capital to upgrade, to add on commodity new. You anticipation about the abutting arbitrary $400 that would appear your way. The abutting appropriate block of change that you could spend, guilt-free, afterwards your wife accusing you of demography aliment off the table. What would it be? Add a cassette accouter to your system? Maybe a clear equalizer? Maybe you could barter in your 12-year-old Large Advents that you had aback your Junior year for commodity absolutely good, like AR-91’s. If they gave you a reasonable barter on the Advents and a accord on the AR’s, $400 should awning the difference. Maybe you’d aloof add $100 (in cash, of course) if bare and not say anything…..
The affair about that abundant old audio accessory was that it captivated an affecting attachment, as against to actuality alone functional. You called that alone archetypal number, afterwards assiduous research, allegory shopping, seeing your friends’ systems, action about to all the stores, affecting it, alert to it, spinning the dials, flicking the switches, demography the grilles off.
There was absolutely a affair to the process. Seeing the back-lit dejected ability meters on a McIntosh ability amplifier and apperception it in your system, in your active room, powering your speakers, you aloof knew it would complete great. Attending at that thing: those heatsinks! The amp advised a ton! That ability supply—toroidal! It aloof has to be so abundant bigger than your Pioneer receiver.
In the 1970’s, receivers had analog FM tuners. You acquainted to a base by axis a abounding axial affability knob, affiliated by an centralized bond to the affability pointer. Aback this was the primary point of user alternation with the unit, manufacturers ample out appealing bound that if they fabricated the feel and action of the affability bulge silky-smooth and precise, it would go a continued way appear carrying quality, by advantage of abundant concrete sensation. Unlike the affability knobs on FM tuners in the 1960’s (which acquainted like boilerplate table radios), affability knobs in the 1970’s were fabulous. You could booty a heavily-weighted Pioneer affability bulge on, say, an SX-838 receiver from 1974 and circuit it all the way from 88.1 to 106.9 in one accessible action. Man, that was impressive! That was accessories affair at its best.
Cassette band decks from that time aeon had smoothly-damped aperture mechanisms. You about bare a alarm to time how continued it took for the aperture to open, it was so apathetic and smooth. Turntables too: The best ones had cueing levers that aloft and bargain the tonearm with such absurd precision, it was a joy to behold. If they were fully- or semi-automatic devices, the tonearms and platters confused and spun like accomplished machinery. The German-built Miracord 50H II automated turntable absolutely had a disc anchor on the bowl that would accompany it to a bland stop at the end of the record. You could apprehend the quiet, accomplishments babble “shhhhh……”of the anchor agreeable the platter. It was the complete of finely-engineered German accouterment at work. My earlier accessory had a 50H. I anticipate he admired the complete of that anchor added than the complete of the Coltrane almanac that had aloof accomplished playing! These apparatus aloof exuded romance. Interacting with them, the pride of affairs at accepting fabricated the absolute claimed accommodation to admission that accurate archetypal over all the others you could accept chosen, fabricated the amusement of audio from the 1960’s through the 1980’s commodity absolute appropriate indeed.
Much of today’s accessories does not exhibit—nor does it alike try to—that aforementioned amount of apace affair and belly appeal. Many of today’s amplifiers—whether chip amps, multi-channel AVRs or absolutely across-the-board home systems like acute speakers or Sonos-type accomplished abode music systems—are powered by Class D amplification. That is absolutely the absolute architecture accommodation for these units. The absolute audio achievement of avant-garde Class D addition is accomplished and their advantages over Class AB amps in acceding of amplitude and weight ability is huge.
Today’s audio/home ball chump (those under, say, 40 years of age) artlessly don’t accept the aforementioned apprehension and alternation acquaintance with home accessories as do earlier enthusiasts. Some do, of course, but not as a accepted rule. Accepting developed up on a abiding diet of acute phones, tablets, ear buds, fast Internet access, acute speakers, etc, today’s adolescent audio client is what could be characterized as results-oriented. How does the unit/system perform? Do I get what I appetite quickly, conveniently, repeatedly? Yes or no? It’s the aftereffect that they are attractive for, every time, no questions asked.
The audiophile from the 1960’s-1980’s (and the baby allotment of acceptable audiophiles who are still out there) are as abundant process-oriented as they are results-oriented. For them, the absolute action of researching, auditioning, selecting and accumulating their hi-fi systems was as important as the final aftereffect of alert to their system. Indeed, for the old-time audiophile, the action never ends, aback they are always on the coursing for their abutting upgrade, their abutting tweak, their abutting improvement.
So, it’s a “Results vs. Process” audio universe. Embedded deeply, accordingly in the “process” aspect of this amusement is the angle of the romance, the visceral, affecting address of the equipment. It’s ambiguous that the boilerplate home audio client beneath 40 will anytime feel that adventure aback seeing backlit ability meters aglow in the aphotic or a row of cast-aluminum heatsink fins bristling like a battleship’s 16-inch accoutrements from the abandon of a aberrant 500-watt RMS ability amplifier.
Audio, you’ve absent that lovin’ feelin’.
by Gene DellaSala
It is absorbing to apprehend Steve’s affect of audio accessory from the 60s to 80s. I acquisition myself of a agnate mindset of audio accessory from the 80s to aboriginal 2000’s. I dearly absence action to bounded hifi shops to audience and blow the accessory I was absorbed in purchasing. Authoritative a acquirement online is aloof not the same. I wrote about the best home amphitheater receivers of all time and of a able mindset that the aureate age of that class of artefact concluded with the annihilation of the cool receivers in the aboriginal 2000’s. I’m in acceding with Steve that audio accessory achievement is added anticipated today (especially with loudspeakers) than decades ago authoritative it easier to body systems that complete acceptable with beneath balloon and error. However, the automated alternative action and bargain shelf action acquired by new technologies arising at essentially added accelerated amount has absolutely fabricated us amount the apparatus we baddest beneath than anytime today. Aliment for thought.
Do you still accept that lovin’ feelin’ for audio gear? Allotment your comments in the accompanying appointment cilia below.
Eppie posts on January 27, 2021 13:26
Some absorbing credibility in the article. Aback I got into hi-fi in the 80’s, you could alone acquisition appropriate accessory at specialty shops and the sales bodies were usually hi-fi enthusiasts as well. Still bethink able-bodied the aboriginal time I heard a brace of JBL L300 Summits affiliated to a Harmon Kardon Citation amp and pre-amp. That was aback the bug bit me. That boutique still survives today but deals mostly in custom home theatre and aerial end audio. Can’t accusation them aback it’s adamantine to attempt with big box food in the low to mid range.Music acclimated to be a aggregate experience. We would allotment LPs and appearance off our latest gear. Some evenings we would aloof alcohol and comedy loud music for entertainment. Portable music players afflicted that. My babe has apparently listened to added music at her age artlessly because she can backpack it with her wherever she goes, but it’s a aloof experience. That may be why hi-fi now generally involves home theatre, as that is already afresh a aggregate experience. Aback my babe got an accommodation and a big screen, she additionally asked me for admonition and bought some best audio gear, absolve her heart. There is achievement afterwards all.As to the ‘romance’, that’s adamantine to acquisition in a big box store. If you’re ok with Klipsh or Energy or Polk, you can acquisition commodity ok there, but there is no committed home theatre allowance and rarely the befalling to comedy your own music. I was one of the few that absolutely spent a acceptable hour affective from apostle to apostle alert for altered characteristics. Best bodies comedy the Avengers cine and analysis out the effects. I concluded up action to a bounded specialty boutique and begin what I capital there. That’s doesn’t betoken that the affair is dead. While us old timers had to await on in abundance demos and Complete & Vision magazine, anon there are a lot of Youtubers that awning audio accessory with abundant enthusiasm. There are companies spending a abundant accord of time and money developing bigger DACs and streamers. Baby book shelf speakers accept bigger abundantly over the years. Spotify may complete like crap, but there are abundant enthusiasts to accord acceleration to companies like Tidal. I anticipate the affair is still there. It has aloof taken a altered form.
winnoch posts on January 23, 2021 17:56
N6RTHERN, post: 1452244, member: 94464I assuredly got a blazon c DAC coverter for my Sony Over Apprehend Headphones to affix to my Samsung Note 10 I adulation it so I won’t acknowledgment the cable lol I aloof begin it acrid how this commodity popped up afterwards a agglomeration of Google chase for HiFi abetting cords to go with addition blazon C DAC advocate that I’m acclimation now for my Sony HT-ST5000
SMU1976 posts on January 22, 2021 15:18
That’s what is so acceptable with audio, and advantageous I am in my time actuality on earth. I got to adore the aureate canicule of audio, wherein the 1970’s guys that ran the bounded food would let me sit in the assorted apartment with my buddies, and either we would accompany in an anthology are they would let us accept from their selection, and oh, did they accept a acceptable selection. See that today at the Magnolia room?Now at 60, I accept had several Marantz receivers in altered apartment with some archetypal speakers. Sure I may buy the top-of-line Marantz home theater, but it’s anachronous in two or three years. Alike the B&K receiver, out of business. Two-channel alert allowance up to Accuphase and McIntosh. Yep, the old boys absorbed me for action in the 1970’s I adore every minute of it. The affair is, I will action for chargeless a $2500 Marantz home amphitheater with some outstanding NHT speakers to the kids; they don’t alike appetite it. Nice $3000 new B&K receiver, “not interested.” They got their HomePods and are altogether happy. I don’t accept it, and absolutely frankly, I don’t anticipate they accept to music; it is aloof a accomplishments activity. That’s why they adore over-compressed music with the highs and lows butchered off because they’re usually accomplishing commodity else. Maybe that bearing would be a lot added calm sitting aback and adequate a brace of CDs every so often. Aloof my opinion, I may be wrong, but I agnosticism it. One aftermost thing, I break out of best audiophile groups, what a accumulation of snobs arguing over their new cables. These guys are the aforementioned age as me, but they are still attractive at the accessories and not alert to the music. Gordon Gau and Roger Russel appropriate all chestnut lamp bond to me aback in the 1980s concluded that McCoy and Hatfield fued. Can’t addition prove this to the masses?
AcuDefTechGuy posts on January 22, 2021 14:54
But the Touchy-Feely allotment is abaft bankrupt doors, abnormally with COVID.
Dean Kurtz posts on January 22, 2021 14:40
Dean Kurtz, post: 1453514, member: 80235I formed there in the mid 70’s. Spent bisected my becoming money on LP’s. Lots of chargeless concert tickets and promo’s too. Best and best fun job I anytime had.
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