What's changed in 50 years (equipment)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Fast996, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Fast996

    Fast996 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    RENO,NEVADA,USA
    Straight up I'm not trolling here.

    For the past year I have worked scrubbing the audio signal in my electronics ie preamp,amplifiers,dac,transport,electronic crossover,ect.
    I have not touched my speakers since 1990 and they are custom dynAudio towers.
    I also have 2 large subwoofers.

    I have gained a boatload of resolution (clarity).
    My question is asked because if I play a living Stereo or Columbia Mastersound or a DG recording done in the late 1950's...60's or 70's the resolution is not any less than a current recording.
    They have all the Dynamics,Tonality,clarity,PRAT or any other descriptor you can choose.
    I can hear the players turn pages,seats creaking and conductors moving.
    So if the recording equipment and microphones had that level of resolving power using paper and oil capacitors and carbon resistors,a long with so called vintage transformers and belden cable....

    What's really changed?
    What did recording engineers do in their systems that we at home don't do in our systems?
    Btw I posted this here rather then many high end industry biased forums...This forum has always had a good mix of people who are knowledgeable and love music. Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
    Max Florian likes this.
  2. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I've heard it said that the hifi equipment of c.1960 was not able to extract all of the information contained in c.1960 recordings.
     
  3. Johnny Action

    Johnny Action Forum President

    Location:
    Tacoma, WA, USA
    $20,000 cables.
     
  4. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Forum Resident

    Back in the day, Recording Engineers were actual degreed acoustic and electrical engineers. So from what I've read (a long time ago) they had the knowledge and ability to extract everything that was possible from the available recording equipment. And their gear wasn't junk...
     
  5. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    The tube based systems which they had back then necessitated a level of simplicity which isn't done anymore. They'd only used 3 very well placed extremely high quality MICs, a mixer, probably a tube compressor, and then a tape deck running at (probably) 30 ips.

    Analog when done this way can sound amazing. The more devices which are added to the signal chain, the more clarity which you lose.

    Also, properly functioning PIO caps sound AWESOME! Some of the most expensive boutique caps out there are PIO caps. Most polypropylene caps do not sound better than PIO caps IMO. The closest sound that I have found to PIO caps is from plastic film caps is from polystyrene caps IME. The only reason to replace PIO caps in vintage equipment is because these degrade and become leaky over time, not because these sounded bad originally.

    And carbon resistors (especially when new, like they were back then) don't necessarily sound bad either, although these are noisier and do lose some clarity when compared to MF resistors. Plus they were using tubes that most of us can only dream about buying NOS today.

    Yes I agree, in many ways we really haven't advanced all that much. Although digital technology has come a very long way since CDs first came out around 1983. And IMO that, and speaker design, are the only areas which have experienced significant sonic advancement in the last 50 years.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
    DPR, Salectric, JimSpark and 2 others like this.
  6. Fast996

    Fast996 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    RENO,NEVADA,USA
    Maybe or maybe not...I think you missed my point. There is some material engineering fact that recording engineers did to achieve a tremendous level of resolution in days before all the modern innovation.

    I'll say something bold here accept for coloration of transformers or different tape machines....I really don't think we have made much progress in audio signal integrity.
     
    Optimize, sturgus, SirMarc and 5 others like this.
  7. Fast996

    Fast996 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    RENO,NEVADA,USA
    I know it wasn't junk....I own quite a bit of it.
     
  8. Fast996

    Fast996 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    RENO,NEVADA,USA
    I agree with everything you say.

    A side from digital.
    There had to be a fundamental difference between the recording setup then and the way most home audio systems are engineered now. If the equipment is all capable what's left that can effect the quality of the audio signal?
     
  9. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Location:
    Brooklyn





    A very good post. Those early stereo recordings with 3 mics, some of them sound absolutely stunning. Ive heard some Big Band albums made like that, and it is like you are sitting in the middle of the band. Tube technology, when done right, cant be beat for a 3D experience.
     
    The FRiNgE and TarnishedEars like this.
  10. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I see what you're saying now...

    Perhaps there was a simpler signal chain utilized back then?
     
  11. Fast996

    Fast996 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    RENO,NEVADA,USA
    Anyway....to cut to the chase I think Spin Doctor....pointed to the solution...except in generalities...they did something and still do that most
    consumer systems don't.
     
  12. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I suspect that in the earlier days of a few tracks, the engineer was a recordist, not an auteur. Sure, I'd think mic placement and gain settings, as well as instrument placement, room, all had an effect, but wasn't their job to memorialize what they heard, not to create a work of art through the use of the equipment during mixing and post production? I think that made for some good sounding records, but if you were after a natural acoustic, it was hard to find. (I would guess with the prominence of electric instruments, that mattered less too. Do you really hear the acoustics of the room on Led Zep I?). And even with that, some of the early hard rock sounds better than other stuff. I asked Olav Wyper why some of the early Vertigo Swirls sounded so good. He said it wasn't just the simplicity of the gear- the bands were pretty capable of getting a track laid down quickly without a lot of overdubbing. And that helped make it sound fresh, not over-rehearsed or processed.
    Simpler may have been better in some cases.
    As far as home playback gear goes, perhaps the same can be said. I think solid state amps sound better today than they did in the early '70s. But, there are a lot of vintage tables, arms, even cartridges that people swear by-- and not just because it is cheaper-- to the contrary, some of that stuff is more expensive and harder to find than new state of the art gear.
    Point to point wiring is nice. In terms of noise, I don't know. Maybe new stuff is way quieter. But there's often something very lively sounding about vintage based systems.
    I raised this very question after I got my old Quad ESLs restored- they certainly can't do bass, or loud, but when you listen to them anew (mine had been in boxes since 1990), it makes you ask- how far have we really come since 1957 when that speaker was first made available? Sure, better bandwidth (though I guess big subwoofers could rectify that, along with ribbons or electrostatic super tweets- I always had a hard time making all that cohere); power handling and the ability to do serious dBs. But, when you can get all the music at a lower volume level, maybe even that isn't so important. And there were certainly speakers back in the day that could play loud with a few tube watts.
     
    Salectric likes this.
  13. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire

    Location:
    MI
    For the most part better speakers last 15-20 years. I also say better tube amps due to some manufactures pay attention to using better audio coupling capacitors and better filtered power supplies with the newer and smaller electrolytic capacitors that fit on the chassis.
     
    tubesandvinyl likes this.
  14. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    I use an Adcom GFA 555, which is probably almost 30 years old, and I really don’t feel like I’m missing much. I use this over the power section of my newer NAD M3 integrated.
     
  15. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    I use a restored EICO ST-40, which is 58 years old.....just like me!
     
  16. Fast996

    Fast996 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    RENO,NEVADA,USA
    Is there a electrical engineer that sets up Recording studios in house? Just wondering....
     
  17. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Paul MN
    First, they are recording with balanced line connections, which eliminate a lot of interconnect cable artifacts. Plus, that Ampex 351 tape machine they used was brand new and it did use some precision resistors, excellent quality tubes as well as Teflon in the tape head interconnect cables. It was not as humble as some people like to make it out. Same with the Neumann U-67 microphones used to make the recordings; it was an all-tube state of the art signal train. Nice.

    We didn't start with any sort of balanced line connections in the home (excluding semi-pro studio gear) until the introduction of the first balanced line preamp, the Atma-Sphere MP-1. That preamp is still a bit unusual in high end audio as its still (its still in production) one of the very few home audio preamps that supports AES48 (the balanced line standard). If the standard is supported (and the old pro audio gear most certainly did) then the interconnect cables had almost no effect on the sound and ground loops (and attendant noise) weren't a thing. Once you've heard what balanced line set up properly does, there's no going back to single-ended.
     
    bullmkt3 likes this.
  18. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    One regard in which things have changed, dramatically is in terms of all of the additional generations and processing which have been inserted into the modern recording process. With the exception of classical recording, it is rare for any recording to not undergo some significant processing as well as multi-tracking during the recording and mastering processes.

    The technology behind all of that activity has the potential to be dramatically better than it was back was when multitrack recordings were constantly getting bounced between tracks, and multiple tape generations were regularly being inserted into the mix. Digital technology, on average, has improved the sound quality of these kinds of recordings quite a bit IMO due to how much less lossy these activities are now than they once were. However, purist recordings really haven't advanced much, exactly as I said before.

    Also, while that old studio tube equipment did indeed sound wonderful. If one is completely honest, despite how great it sounded, it was still somewhat colored. And in this regard, I think that it is possible to get a more honest recording today than it was back in the 50s. But that does not mean that it sounds any better. It merely means that it is less colored.
     
    Dr. Bogenbroom and anorak2 like this.
  19. heathen

    heathen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Colorado
    It's not so much the tubes that create that 3D experience, though. It's more the configuration of those three mics with respect to the band.
     
  20. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    On a side note, if I am comparing digital classical recordings from say 1989 and 2018, I have to say I can not detect any striking differences, apart from the obvious differences in location acoustics, playing style, etc. Remarkably similar sounding recording technology over the last 30 years.
     
    anorak2 likes this.
  21. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Location:
    Brooklyn


    Nah......disagree with you there. My 1960 restored tube amp creates a 3D experience with a bunch of my albums.
     
  22. Louis Grignon

    Louis Grignon Active Member

    Location:
    Montauk, NY
    I am waiting for my new Rogue Cronus Magnum III amp to be delivered. It will be hooked up to a beogram 9000 w/smmc2 cartridge pushinga pair of wired Kef LS50s. Connected with Mogami red river cables. Clean enough analogue?
     
    500Homeruns and Echoes Myron like this.
  23. heathen

    heathen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Colorado
    So you're saying that for recreating a "3D experience" it's less important where the microphones were placed for the original recording than it is that the playback is through a tube system? Seriously?
     
    showtaper, bever70 and mongo like this.
  24. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    IMO the best new audio products relate to AC power/electromagnetism - IAW double regeneration systems that are quiet and put out pure AC. The second significant improvement is in manufacturing tolerances which are much tighter. Third, speaker design has been aided by CAD CAM software. Fourth, for digital systems there have been room correction algorithms/components. I don't know if higher sampling rates is off topic here or not. Fifth there was the development of Moving Coil cartridges

    In terms of recording the major advance has been in surround sound recording techniques.

    There have been negative trends related to declining build quality and an increasing tendency towards U shaped tonal balances with deep bass and enhanced treble detail at the expense of upper bass and lower midrange.

    To the OP's point, excellent stereo recording equipment already existed in the late 50s. Also the current major speaker types existed by the 50s as did the essential amplification circuits still used today.
     
  25. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Location:
    Brooklyn


    Heathen: Question for you. Do you own a tube amplifier?
     

Share This Page