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Does Anyone Miss When Audio Was More Conservative?

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Certainly don't miss the old days we have come a long way since. Its the same with cars, the car has evolved to the best I've ever known and I worked on them in the 70's. The evolution in technology has now rendered the modern car to be the most reliable, comfortable, low maintenance, powerful, economic vehicle. I can not go back to the old days but only for nostalgia, sure the old V8's etc had class and I do admire the variety of designs but travel in a late model car is a dream in comparison.

 

My Hi-Fi back in the 70's had no low bass to speak off, mind you it wasn't on any records I owned. Good quality gear has never been cheap. My first Linn LP12 was $1200 and I was earning about $200 a week then 1980. I ended up with a Sota TT $2000 and a VdHull hand made cartridge worth $3000 by 1990. There has always been hype in the Industry and you have to wade through it.

 

The fact that today the price of some gear is beyond what we ever could have imagined back in the 70's and 80's is commenced with the wealth people have accumulated since. A guy like Jeff Bezos Amazon its all affordable for him and many others with billions. Doesn't have time to tweak doesn't want to.

 

There are still tremendous bargains to be had in Hi-Fi and honestly its never sounded better in comparison to old. I never cease to be amazed at what the kids can get out of a sound box with simple construction connected to a mobile phone walking down the street.

 

Robert

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 I guess I am a bit different. I do miss the old days. Even if the equip Isn't quite as good as some of today's top gear (and some of it was), there is something about the beginning of a journey. Lots of hope, most years of your life still in front of you and the exuberance of youth. The sky was the limit; at least we thought so. I do enjoy my older years, even though I consider myself somewhat young yet,  & try not to live too much in the past. 

 

  I have not heard the latest and greatest, but have been UN-impressed "usually" at dealers show rooms, at stuff that got great reviews. I think "newer is better" is what a lot of people would like you to believe. On YouTube there is a  trio of guys who come on with their videos who discuss high end audio products, who have a store in Canada. The one non-Asian gentleman who has seen and heard more things come through their door than most any of us ever will, says that double electrostatic Quad 57's from the 1950s are the best speaker he has ever heard, and they carry top of the line Sonus Faber and things of that quality.

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Time moves on, things change. Sometimes it is for the better, sometimes not. The only constant is change so I have learned to embrace it. Might as well as I nor anyone else can stop it.

 

And no I don't miss the "Good Old Days" of audio or anything else.

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Re:fas42. May I ask what make and model speakers you have that you say you are so pleased with? I have pair of Linnaeum speakers in my second system in the bedroom and despite having good drivers and pretty good sound, you can hear a little too much of the box. I thought of either bracing them or buying another set of bookshelf speakers.

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These beasts, Edifier S2000Pro,

 

7.jpg

 

Don't have the stands; driven by the digital optical link - do note that the setup is quite sensitive to mains quality; will be helped significantly by conditioning the power in.


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Thanks for the speaker ID and pic. I will look into those. My Linnaeum speaker I bought on a whim. I figured any company who went to the trouble of developing a new kind of tweeter must be seriously dedicated to good sound. They are a 2 way also, using a 6 inch Peerless bass/mid. They use a mono pole tweeter (not the lesser 360 degree Omni tweeter that they llicensed to Optimus). It possibly is the cleanest tweeter I have ever heard, but it is confusing. Its a little soft sounding. Reversing the phase helps. Sometimes it sounds like it lacks extension and at other times not. It can sound "big" on massed violins but for instance on a triangle strike... well you've never heard a triangle sound so tiny. Some people with high end Magneplaners have added the Linnaeum tweeter to the top of their speakers and they say it improves their sound. For me any serious flaw detracts too much from potential near realism.

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I'll have to check out that YouTube channel. Thanks. Anything which results in a more direct connection probably sounds just that; more direct. Some of the most liked preamps of the past like certain versions of the Audio Research SP3 probably in no way compares to modern designs in that way, but the sound of it is so darn likable that some people prefer it anyway. Some people connect their CD player directly to a power amp thinking the more direct hookup will give better sound. If they have a real good preamp they might at some later time try hooking the player to their preamp and then going from preamp to the power amp. I doubt if doing this ever equals the transparency they were getting, but some people could kick themselves for not trying it earlier. The sound is often nicer in most other ways. 

 

  Even though tape with all its problems, they don't mass produce artists titles anymore of course, but it is still alive and well on the used market. Reel to reel in particular has made a comeback. I just got a cassette delivered today that I bought off ebay. Best Of Pat Metheny. It's a rare import. There are no Best Of Pat Metheny CDs or LP that I have ever seen. When I play it I will be lucky if it doesn't squeal, or if the highs aren't rolled off or if the previous owner didn't leave it lying on the floor for years in a virtual static field. I agree though, that tape is not a very secure medium. The way I look at it is if I pay 50 cents for a used cassette at a flea market and it doesn't play good... oh well. Most of them do and if even only a fourth of them play well, its still a great deal. About 1 in 5 are junkers. I should take a portable CD player to the swap meets. One of my favorite old bands is The Allman Brothers. There is no best of reel tape of them, only CD and cassette. For years I wanted to hear their music clean sounding and searched around a lot. The CD best hits had terrible unnatural sound quality. Then I stumbled onto the cassette and on first hearing I knew my search was over. Who would've thought!

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Nostalgia colors perception, or memory of it. There is little doubt that today's gear is superior sounding to my ears than yesterdays gear and that is across the price range.

 

The first revelation into the high-end and what that might bring to SQ came in the 90's with the then SOA Levinson products, Transport and DAC. I had good gear before but it wasn't in the same league. There was hype aplenty in Stereophile and elsewhere and the cost was obscenely staggering, more than a fancy car. Now, I had a very skeptical negative expectation bias but an audiophile friend and I enjoyed doing the rounds of dealer showrooms and checking out gear. The fact that I couldn't afford the MLs nor had ANY intention to purchase obscenely expensive, waste-your-money on stupidly expensive gear, shamelessly did not make me hesitate to "audition" them. "Why, certainly I'll have a listen, don't mind if I do". My jaw dropped and my eyes swelled with tears. I did end up owning them and still own them. Great memories and great nostalgia, and I will never sell them.

 

Then one day my laptop playing dig files over usb was sounding as good as my ML transport playing CDs. Again, I had massive negative expectation bias against the laptop but times move on.


Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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 With all those decades and these crazy prices now, there certainly should be some improvement. I have some very rare vintage Focal 7v7 midrange drivers which I occasionally screw into something. Even though Focal is still in the business of making drivers, its pretty common knowledge that the 7v7 is one of the best cone midrange drivers ever.

 

I've heard Levinson on several occasions and they usually sounded like they lacked openness and some other qualities. The one time Levinson impressed me was when I was in Michigan around 1987 and I heard a limited edition Levinson amp which cost I believe $28,000 Whew! It did impress with large Magnepans.

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43 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

've heard Levinson on several occasions and they usually sounded like they lacked openness and some other qualities. The one time Levinson impressed me was when I was in Michigan around 1987 and I heard a limited edition Levinson amp which cost I believe $28,000 Whew! It did impress with large Magnepans.

 

I'm only talking about the Mark Levinson 31.5 transport/30.6 Dac combo. Touted to be the best at that time and I agree. Then again others disagreed preferring Wadia or the belt driven top model CEC model at the time. For amps it has always been Gryphon I have returned to, but owned and auditioned many


Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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Heh, if you have Gryphon you have some great amplification! That is one of the amps I would like to hear along with T+A, LFD and top of the line VTL. Which of those could I afford. None. In my past post I was just implying that to my ears Levinson was overrated not matter what category of component. He was impressive in that he married starlet Kim Cattrell. 

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2 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Heh, if you have Gryphon you have some great amplification! That is one of the amps I would like to hear along with T+A, LFD and top of the line VTL. Which of those could I afford. None. In my past post I was just implying that to my ears Levinson was overrated not matter what category of component. He was impressive in that he married starlet Kim Cattrell. 

 

While I have auditioned a great many Levinson products over the decades it is only the Mark Levinson 31.5 transport/30.6 Dac combo that I ever purchased. It was to my ears way better than their other gear.

 

You need to also remember that by the time these products came out Mark Levinson the man had sold the company and was making other stuff, none of which I bought. AFAIK Mark Levinson had nothing to do with Madrigal which produced the Mark Levinson 31.5 transport/30.6 Dac reference products. Harman bought Madrigal in 1995 but abandoned the "Mark Levinson" 31.5 transport/30.6 Dac reference products. Some of the team responsible were reunited by an ex Harman employee who co-founded Bricasti. The bricasti has similarities to the heyday ML of old, striving for excellence.

 

Gryphon is simply awesome.The Mephisto unbelievably awesome. I also like VTL....and Kim Cattrell !


Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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3 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

 Even though tape with all its problems, they don't mass produce artists titles anymore of course, but it is still alive and well on the used market. Reel to reel in particular has made a comeback. I just got a cassette delivered today that I bought off ebay. Best Of Pat Metheny. It's a rare import. There are no Best Of Pat Metheny CDs or LP that I have ever seen. When I play it I will be lucky if it doesn't squeal, or if the highs aren't rolled off or if the previous owner didn't leave it lying on the floor for years in a virtual static field. I agree though, that tape is not a very secure medium. The way I look at it is if I pay 50 cents for a used cassette at a flea market and it doesn't play good... oh well. Most of them do and if even only a fourth of them play well, its still a great deal. About 1 in 5 are junkers. I should take a portable CD player to the swap meets. One of my favorite old bands is The Allman Brothers. There is no best of reel tape of them, only CD and cassette. For years I wanted to hear their music clean sounding and searched around a lot. The CD best hits had terrible unnatural sound quality. Then I stumbled onto the cassette and on first hearing I knew my search was over. Who would've thought!

Mixing tracks from LP, radio tracks to cassette was a favourite pastime, since there was no playlists! Time and again, tapes were chewed, even the TDK Chrome tapes, one after the other, finally go t sick of using cassettes, and welcomed in Car CD players. Was easier to create mix tapes, but used them less often, so they survived longer. 

 

Over the last 12 months or so, have trawled ebay and HiFi shark for a suitable reel to reel tape recorder but reality is particularly unpleasant due to:

 

- No new reel to reel tape machines are made now, used great machines are > USD 3000

- Mechanical spare parts are available only from wrecks

- Modern methods of motor speed regulation to less than 0.5% using induction motors don't exist

- Reference and alignment tapes are difficult to come by

- Tape shedding can occur at any time, this is not just particles, but strips of oxide

- Tape now needs museum quality air conditioning to avoid deterioration

- NOS tape can suffer the same fate

- The Akai Glass heads last a 'long' time, but they strip the oxide from the  tape formulations and create squealing tapes

 

It's a sad reality, the sonic quality maybe great, but the road to get there and stay on it, is very rocky indeed.


AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Re: reel tapes. Its easy to look for reasons not to do something you don't feel like. There is an occasional problem with a tape, an occasional problem with a deck but overall things go smoothly. Tape shedding or the sticky shed syndrome does not occur with a few vintage tape formulactions;  brands like Maxell for some reason. The other brands, its only an occasional. BASF cassette tape impressed me about as much as the coronavirus. There are many unreliable tape deck brands. One you mentioned, Akai I did not have much luck with. Others are built like a tank. Many tape decks likely to be used in a studio setting, the manufacturer knows they need to be a reliable workhorse and they see to it that they are built well. Tape is not the ideal storage medium because of occasional problems, but its fun and has a big smooth dimensional liquid sound that other formats don't sound like. Also you get to re-visit your long ago cartridges and preamp(s) that you made the tapes with. You might be surprised how good they were, if what you play those tapes back on now is much better than what you were using then

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29 minutes ago, One and a half said:

Mixing tracks from LP, radio tracks to cassette was a favourite pastime, since there was no playlists! Time and again, tapes were chewed, even the TDK Chrome tapes,

Hi Gary

wow that brings back memories. I had a draw of TDK Chrome mix tapes I threw out a few years ago. I probably should not have but it was probably 20 years since I had touched them and no way of even playing them....if they still played.


Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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 Talk about conservative. The long defunct magazine Stereo Review took the stance that all properly designed amplifiers of similar power all sound the same. Julian Hirsch was their main technical honcho. It's like some people couldn't hear, and others kind of could hear but were deathly afraid of being wrong. But I do believe honesty was better in those days, and the prices were saner. Could you imagine today, someone walking into a high end store, looking to buy a speaker,  listening to a record side or two, deciding to buy said speaker, getting out their checkbook and being told by the salesman " that will be twelve thousand seven hundred dollars with tax. Seeing the shocked expression on the customers face would be priceless. Or comments like "I only came in here to buy a basic record player." What's weird is that most people don't even know and would find it hard to believe that stereo equipment can be that expensive. Most people pretty much can estimate a range of what a dining room table or kitchen set or a refrigerator might cost. But audio equipment can be a horse of a different color they discover. A patron at an audio show reportedly remarked, "Isn't $80,000 a bit expensive for a turntable? The salesman said, "maybe so,  but $80,000 is cheap for a time machine." Recreating a musical event from long ago or trying to can get expensive.

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I don't think that audio was more 'conservative' (prejudicial term), but comparisons were less dependent on the variations in human perception.  The quality of equipment has generally outstripped the ability for the general consumer to do reliable ad-hoc comparisons.   We have a lot better equipment, but our math, scientific and electronics skills haven't kept up for the correct observations, evaluation of observation, creation of results/conclusion.  0.001% accuracy doesn't help if the measurment isn't done correctly, or the results fully understood.  (Worst case: "sounds a lot better" is not a useful observation when a bunch of ear-wax has been cleaned out.)  This is NOT intended to claim that audiophiles are less competent, but instead nowadays, there is greater precision and fewer/smaller differences that need to be discerned.

When comparisons are done, the person is LOOKING for differences.  Since the 'difference' is the goal, and hearing is so variable, even from minute to minute, then 'differences' will be found.   One area where audio hobbyists have generally not kept up over the years, that is with experimental and statistical methods.  Closer-to-scientifically valid methods really need to be used because todays equipment is so very good.

I do believe a lot of the 'esoteric' equipment nowadays is intended to A) make money (relatively undeserved) B) exploit varations in perception, including 'emperors new clothes' syndrome.

 

So, IMO -- best to listen to music, don't try to be a frustrated EE or DSP person unless trained.  This stuff is complicated and without experimental rigor will confuse the best of us.  Existence proof of my own experimental confusion in recent days -- it REALLY DOES happen to the best of us.

 

John
 

 

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Technicality and measurements have never been particularly interesting to me. I just want to hear a good impersonation of music sounds. All music is really, is someone plucking something, hitting something or blowing air into something. That's all I need to hear a good impersonation of. I like to keep things simple and basic. At a simple basic price if possible.

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50 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Technicality and measurements have never been particularly interesting to me. I just want to hear a good impersonation of music sounds. All music is really, is someone plucking something, hitting something or blowing air into something. That's all I need to hear a good impersonation of. I like to keep things simple and basic. At a simple basic price if possible.

That impersonation or  replication of reality is a laudible goal, but VERY FEW systems that I have heard could really replicate the real, intimate sound of Blues in a bar, or like Bluegrass like my family played.  I think the best that we typically can get is 'plausible.'.

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Didn't know that or that anyone was expecting me to cover every type of item there is. The look on my face might have been priceless if shopping for an item like those and being told the price. But there isn't literally hundreds of different saucepans and refrigerators at those prices.

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