What's changed in 50 years (equipment)

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

  1. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Ever hear an old Quad ESL driven by a pair of Quad IIs?- really very 'clear' @tmsorosk - lots of other shortcomings- no super deep bass or ability to play loud but one thing they are is see-thru.
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  2. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    You also have union issues in NY. Big time.
  3. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    Another thing about digital: signal levels are higher, which improves S/N in many practical situations. I've never had a hum problem in an all-digital system, nor any audible noise.
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  4. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Excellent point. Before digital, pitch and timing of recorded media was, to some degree or another, varying. Now it can be perfectly stable. Personally, I'm not hyper sensitive to small pitch variations. In fact, I probably have a lesser than average ability to hear small differences of pitch at all, more like 12-15 cents for sine tones or worse, not 5-10 cents difference, so it's rarely something that jumps out at me other than going back to pre tape music and playback (or really poor recording or playback gear or, most commonly for me, off center vinyl pressings). But yeah, that's an excellent point, and I know some people who are very sensitive to this. Luckily that's not one I'm cursed with.
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  5. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    When you think about all of the modern day technical advances. It is kind of amazing that audio gear, speakers, microphones, amplifier's records and such often sounded better back then then most modern consumer gear today.

    Shame, Google like it when you talk to him. He remembers every work that you say and how you say it.

    Most people today have not ever heard "high fidelity", they would have no point of reference. They are so used to listening to the crappy little speakers that are in flat screen TV's, that they think that sound bars are impressive.

    Today, these people have never even heard a quality horn speaker and an SET amp.

    Only the stuff that the big box stores sell, at the very best case scenario.
  6. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Very true. When I recently told an acquaintance that stereo is my "hobby," he smugly replied, "I have a pair of good speakers from a brand you've probably never heard of: Paradigm." :laugh:
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  7. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I rarely mention "the hobby".

    I do run into others from time to time, who talk about their audio gear to me.

    I usually just smile and nod my head.

    They just would not understand. :sigh:
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  8. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    Oregon, USA
    Hey, he could be talking about the $35K a pair Persona .:p

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  9. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    Well, the ESL's and 57's were good in there own way, yes I heard them many times in many different systems. I was never impressed with the II's.
    Regardless of what I heard back when the ESL's had a one note rightness that was/is miles away from whats available today.
    Sorry Bill, I'm an old timer too but the clarity and tonally correctness of todays instruments makes that gear sound somewhat incomplete.
  10. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I don't know if that's true on the average. I always use the example of the system I grew up listening to in the '60s and '70s -- a GE Trimline suitcase style all in one record player. Pretty typical consumer audio gear. As was the various transistor radios I listened to and with the tiny speakers and mono earphones, or the car audio I grew up with then. Today, streaming high resolution digital audio to the Riva Festival I bought for my wife, delivers enormously better sound than the old GE Trimline did: it plays with much greater detail, enormously lower noise and distortion, it plays louder cleaner, it's just much, much better. I don't think older audio gear necessarily "often" sounded better than most modern consumer gear today at all. Much of the average consumer gear from back then couldn't hold a candle to a lot of the average stuff today. There are great pieces of gear from back then. And there are many of us who like the sound of older tech like tube gear despite (or maybe because of) its relatively higher distortion and often frequency response modifications related to its interaction with loudspeaker impedances. But I think even a new LG phono playing a high bit rate lossy compressed digital file over half decent headphones of today, are better than my dad's Trimline.

  11. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    More likely that it was their most entry level stuff. I only thought it was amusing because while Paradigm isn't a household name, just about every audiophile knows of them. Like asking a watch enthusiast if they've heard of Tag or Omega.
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  12. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Certainly, and that was almost my exact response. Anything beyond that is usually a waste of breath.
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  13. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    It is incomplete, no doubt. The II wasn't very impressive to me, either, but hooked up to the old ESL, with GEC glass, it is pretty special. Still limited in many ways, I agree. I do think they are 'clear' but I take your point about the full bandwidth + clarity + punch. Certainly one out of three for the Quad thing.
    Tim 2 likes this.
  14. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    Point taken.
  15. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Sure, there was plenty of not so high end audio.

    My point is that technology was sufficiently advanced 50+80 years ago, that allowed for some excellent sounding audio equipment.

    I am not disagreeing that we have had digital audio and other advances since then.

    I used to listen to compressed Pandora over good quality audio components every day and I'm fine doing it.

    While we realize that equipment today may technically have a more extended range and other things that can be technically measured.

    That doesn't necessarily mean that new gear will necessary sound better.

    More guitar player's I know that would rather be playing old guitar's through old amps, than the gear that was made last year.
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  16. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Guitar is different than hifi though. Guitarists are choosing to make a certain kind of sound for aesthetic and artistic reasons and one thing or another might produce that sound, in this case probably they're chasing a familiar sound of the past, so they might turn to tech of the past (also they're tolerating and even looking for high levels of distortion, even with "clean" tones), but in truth, I see lots and lots of modeling amps in use by guitarists too. With hifi the goal is to faithfully reproduce the input signal, not artfully create a particular sound for personal aesthetic reasons. They're really two very different things.

    "Sounds better" of course is a wholly personal and subjective standard, so there may well be just as many or more people who think some piece of modern gear sounds better than a SET amp and Klipschorns. Lower distortion, flatter frequency response, lower noise -- those things aren't subjective. And really, I don't know if you're old enough to remember the days of things like the GE Trimline I posted a picture of, or some of the other average consumer gear of the '60s and '70s, but having lived with that gear and hearing today's modern consumer electronics, I gotta say, the old stuff often didn't not outperform the new stuff. Some of it did and does, but you gotta compare apples to apples. Comparing yesterday's highest hifi to today's cheapest, more common consumer electronics doesn't really do that. I like vinyl, I like tubes. I listen to that stuff today. But I wouldn't trade something like a Riva Festival for something like a Trimline suitcase record player -- and those are products that serve kind of similar niches in their eras: one piece playback units, able to be moved from room to room, not the cheapest things on earth but not the most expensive.
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  17. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    My first stereo was like the Trimline. It was an all in one, suitcase design with a pull down TT and fixed speaker's. I was about nine back then.

    Sure, the average consumer did not have high end audio, but high end audio was out there.

    K-Horns could do things back in 1960, that most systems can not come close to reproducing today.

    Today, in exchange for something that measures well and has extended range, we have lost the magnificent midrange that we had so many years ago.

    You can go into a Magnolia store inside a Best Buy or similar audio chain and you will not even come close to the the natural sounding midrange that I can reproduce with my vintage gear.

    One of my observations on vintage audio gear is that they did not take things far enough, but what they did, they did well.

    My vintage Altec Lansing A7's are excellent in the midrange (with the proper amplification), but they are rolled of in the deep bass and HF. I supplemented the bass cabinets with a horn loaded subwoofer and added s super-tweeter to the horn's. Now, I have a full range system, along with the nice midrange.

    Regardless of the different SS amps I have used with the Altec's, I have yet to find any that can do the justice that just about any class A/B tube amplifier can. Nothing SS even comes close, when running with an SET or SEP (Single Ended Pentode).

    I have modern gear and I have vintage gear, both home stereo and commercial audio gear, SS and tube. I don't say that necessarily vintage sounds better than modern, because I do have and enjoy both.

    But, often times, making changes means giving up something that you once had and valued for what it was.
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  18. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    St. Paul MN
    I know and knew how everything worked. I built some of the equipment like the mic preamps and some of the LP mastering gear.
  19. VinylSoul

    VinylSoul Forum Resident

    Lake Erie
    The various companies that sell MC cartridges priced higher than what a really good system/turntable cost even now let alone 50yrs ago have to be laughing all the way to the bank!
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  20. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    south florida, usa
    What's changed in 50 years (equipment)?

    A lot of great stereo companies went broke.
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  21. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Brisbane Australia
    I can only comment on from early 80's to present. Convenience/accessibility, mostly in regards to the source equipment. Advances in digital technology also made possible to achieve decent (good enough) sound fora very little money. This also allowed for audio to be integrated into multi purpose audio/visual devices. This lead to the near extinction of the traditional mid-class hi-fi audio gear/companies.

    I could go on, but haven't had a breakfast yet.
  22. Fast996

    Fast996 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Ralph...the gear was rack mounted I would imagine and the rack grounded to mains supply? Was the gear in the rack bonded together?
    Just wondering.... thanks
  23. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    St. Paul MN
    Yes, but its all balanced. In a balanced system, ground is ignored so no ground loops.
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  24. musicera1969

    musicera1969 Member

    What's changed??? From an Sansui 8080DB and 9090DB point of view - nothing.
  25. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    I was there back in the 50s and 60s as high end equipment was used by the wealthy parents of my prep school pals in Palm Beach and Westchester County.
    I heard the Marantz, McIntosh, Warfdale, JBL, AR3a systems back in the day playing recordings made on condenser and ribbon microphones by guys that spent their entire LIFE learning exactly what each mic did when used in a recording.
    The care and knowledge was first rate and the results were of a timeless high quality.
    Then TRANSISTORS came along and ruined everything.
    My first clue was when my pal got rid of his dual Bogen power amps and stuck a 40 watt transistor integrated in their place.
    It sounded AWFUL. Flat, Dead. Dull. No life.
    It too YEARS before transistor products came anywhere near close to what tubes were capable of doing as far as sonic qualities we all treasure.
    Meanwhile the studio guys were still using tape and tubes mostly.
    Big Ampex rigs, Studers, Neumann mics, the guys who recorded KNEW what sounded good and were not impressed by cheap junk even if the home consumer was hoodwinked and seduced by "easier maintenance" that transistor junk offered.
    Slowly we have fought our way back to the golden days by improving transistor design and using what we now know are better circuits like class "A" transistor power amps.
    Slowly the home audio amateurs have discovered little hookup secrets like balanced lines, star grounding, low capacitance interconnects and a continuous mantra to "listen to EVERYTHING" and treat the entire chain with care.
    Just like the big boys at the studios.
    Today's gear is a better balance of affordability AND quality.
    That's about ALL that has changed.
    So don't be surprised if the old stuff can give your new setup a run for its money.
    Great sound has been with us for about 75 years.
    It is nothing new.
    My two cents.

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