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Thread: 1955 Life magazine article that made Jim Lansing famous?

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    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    1955 Life magazine article that made Jim Lansing famous?

    I tracked down the Life magazine article that named the Jim Lansing "Hartsfield" as the "money is no object" dream hi-fi speaker of it's time.
    The "How to Buy Hi-Fidelity" article has been credited with putting the early JBL company on the map in the public mind, instantly turning a small struggling speaker manufacturer into the recognized leader in it's field.
    The article was published in the February 28, 1955 issue featuring a young and lithe Shelly Winters taking a bubble bath on the cover. As she's talking on the telephone (audio content) I've included the cover here.
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    glen

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    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    "How to Buy Hi-Fidelity" scans

    Here are scans of the 5-page article. Sorry they are hard to read, remember LIFE was a large format magazine and these pages were originally 14x10.5 inches.
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    glen

    "Make it sound like dinosaurs eating cars"
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    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    Text of "How to Buy Hi-Fidelity" first page

    A PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER BEMUSEDLY PUZZLES OVER-AND UNDER-SOME OF THE APPROXIMATELY 60 FINE HIGH-FIDELITY AMPLIFIERS AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET TODAY





    HOW TO BUY HI-FIDELITY


    A corps of experts chooses good sound equipment for the readers of LIFE

    The popularity of high fidelity phonographic reproduction, which was increasing when LIFE initially reported on "hi-fi" 20 months ago (LIFE, June 15, 1953), has increased even more sharply since. As a result, because of manufacturers' competition and widening public knowledge, poorer "components" have been weeded out and the problem confronting today's purchaser is simply that of selecting, from a wide variety of good equipment, items that best suit him.
    To help him LIFE recently collated the views of a number of experts on the basic components at various price levels-the record changer that spins the records, the amplifier that intensifies their sound, the speaker that reconverts electrical waves into sound waves, the enclosure that houses it and finally the radio tuner or receiver. These appear on the following pages, and the views expressed are the experts', not necessarily LIFE's. The prices were supplied by some of the nation's larger, old-line, specialized hi-fi dealers and so may vary with the locality and the store. To a novice the text that follows will explain some of the odd lingo he hears from hi-fi friends and dealers. The accompanying drawings are fanciful, intended not so much to describe the components as to suggest some of the attributes they possess and prospects they present.

    CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


    (from the chart on the second and third pages)
    DREAM SET

    McINTOSH 50 W-2
    We are now in a realm where money is no object. We have a preamplifier (the part of the amplifier having the tone and equalizing controls) separate from the rest, because this offers a more precisely built mechanism and remote control. With the McIntosh 50-watt amplifier, the Marantz Audio Consolette preamplifier is recommended. Consultants agree this provides
    the finest performance. Price of both: $405
    ALSO RECOMMENDED: Fisher 50-C preamp and Fisher 50-AZ 50-watt amplifier, $257.

    JIM LANSING D-30085-M
    At this point instead of one speaker which serves several functions a set of different speakers is used. They come housed in specially built enclosures. The Jim Lansing speaker, which is part of that manufacturer's "Hartsfield" system, consists of a 15-inch woofer and horn type of tweeter which together make use of a newly developed type of acoustical lens. "Hartsfield"
    speakers and enclosures together cost 726
    ALSO RECOMMENDED: the justly famed Klipschorn system, price of which is $696.

    JIM LANSING 30
    The enclosure for Lansing "Hartsfield" speakers is of unique construction which cannot be tampered with. It includes an acoustical lens that disperses high frequency sounds with great efficiency. The result is enormously rich. This enclosure comes as unit with speakers, and price of the whole system is in caption above.
    ALSO RECOMMENDED: the K-357-7 Klipschorn enclosure, designed to fit in a corner, using the whole room as an extension of its horn. Price is in previous caption.

    GARRARD RC 90, REK-O-KUT B-12H
    The dream set includes two record players. One is a Garrard changer and the Pickering cartridge 260DD and two diamond styli were selected to go with it. The other player is a Rek-O-Kut Rondine B-12H turntable on which each record has to be changed manually. Similar to transcription turntables used in radio studios, it outperforms any changer. With it goes a Pickering 190D arm (which minimizes "tracking error" by the needle), a diamond and a sapphire stylus. Total cost: 329

    FISHER 50 R AM-FM
    This is a tuner in keeping with the foregoing equipment. It is among the most sensitive of all in "fringe areas" and conjoins beautifully with the Fisher amplifier. Its six-position selector includes such ultra-refinements as FM reception both with and without automatic frequency control (for use when the weak station you want to receive is adjacent to a very strong one). It also gives AM-Broad and AM-Sharp for best AM reception under varying conditions of interference. Price: 165

    TOTAL $1,625


    CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE




    STYLE FOR SOUND
    In its early days hi-fi was the hobby only of "sound-hounds" who rejected handsome cabinetry as an unnecessary luxury. In a way they were right. Amplifiers work equally well in or out of cabinets. Speaker performance is affected not by being housed in mahogany rather than plywood but by the housing's rigidity and size.
    Today, however, furniture makers and custom decorators offer fine cabinets appropriate to fine sound, in a variety of styles and for many decorative uses. Some hold only the basic things, some are marvelously complete. In samples shown here the prices quoted are for cabinets only, not the equipment in them. Points to remember in buying: make sure the cabinet ventilates properly, affords ease of repair and will hold components the size of those you want.




    TAPE RECORDERS

    As the high-fidelity enthusiast advances, he often goes from ordinary vinyl records to magnetic tape recordings, making his own or buying them already recorded. Tape plays longer without interruption than records (as much three hours), has equal range, makes no surface noise and it shows no wear. Here are some good tape recorders.
    glen

    "Make it sound like dinosaurs eating cars"
    - Nick Lowe, while producing Elvis Costello

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Is there a misprint or did Harmon/Kardon change the way they spelled their name somewhere along the way? Thanks for taking the time to post the article.

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    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    Kardon Korrection?

    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA
    Is there a misprint or did Harmon/Kardon change the way they spelled their name somewhere along the way? Thanks for taking the time to post the article.
    I expect that is just a misprint as Harman Kardon was a relatively new company at the time. Quoting from a August 4, 2003 press release on the occasion of their 50th anniversary:
    "Marrying an Appreciation for Music and the Arts With Innovative Technologies
    Dr. Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon founded Harman Kardon in 1953 based on a shared passion for
    music and the arts, and helped to create a new industry: high-fidelity audio."

    The entire press release is here:
    http://www.harmankardon.com/news_rev...nniversary.pdf

    I found a picture of their 1954 receiver, the logo looks the same as later versions, but it's too small to make out the spelling. I did find a close-up picture of a circuit board that shows the correct spelling in 1956. I don't think they would've changed the name.


    Does anyone know if this Bernard Kardon is the same person who was related to Peter Kardon and helped build the Kardon camera company (1945-1954)?
    http://shutterbug.com/equipmentrevie...l/0106classic/
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    glen

    "Make it sound like dinosaurs eating cars"
    - Nick Lowe, while producing Elvis Costello

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    Member intotubes's Avatar
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    Wow. Great post Glen. Thanks!
    I really enjoyed looking at the retro Life pages.
    Post more if you have them.

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    Senior Member DavidF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by intotubes
    Wow. Great post Glen. Thanks!
    I really enjoyed looking at the retro Life pages.
    Post more if you have them.
    Ditto from me, Glen.

    All-American line up from the '50's.

    I see Paul Klipsch in there for $700 just under Lansing. Big money for those days. Can you see why stereophonic sent shivers up many a devote in those days?

    Davidf

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    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by intotubes
    I really enjoyed looking at the retro Life pages.
    Post more if you have them.
    That was the complete "How to Buy Hi-Fidelity" article.

    There didn't seem to be any similar articles in the life magazines I have. I thought there might be more Hi-Fi ads in the issue with this article, but what audio ads there were tended to be from more mainstream makers like RCA and Magnavox.
    glen

    "Make it sound like dinosaurs eating cars"
    - Nick Lowe, while producing Elvis Costello

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Thanks Glen... that is really cool.


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    Senior Member Phil H's Avatar
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    I really appreciated article. I never had an avatar, so I took the liberty to clip a small portion for an avatar. I hope no one minds. But, the pic doesn't seem to be uploading well.

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    Senior Member edgewound's Avatar
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    I love that stuff. Thanks, Glen

    Seems to have been a better time. More style...more quality...more innocence.

    OK....except for the cigarette ads
    Edgewound...JBL Pro Authorized...since 1988
    Upland Loudspeaker Service, Upland, CA

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    Senior Member Steve Schell's Avatar
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    Margaret Thomas, wife of long time company president Bill Thomas, talked about this article in a phone conversation about six years ago. She told me to be on the lookout for the issue with Shelley Winters taking a bubble bath on the cover!. She said that it "...really put us on the map...", establishing JBL as the premium manufacturer of loudspeakers. Mrs. Thomas said that they were swamped with orders for some time after the article's publication.

    Note that the Klipschorn is mentioned as an also-ran, at a lower price than the Hartsfield. Hal Cox has mentioned that Bill Thomas intentionally priced the Hartsfield a bit higher than the Klipschorn, as part of the strategy to establish it as a premium product. The Klipschorn had previously been regarded as the best hi fi speaker on the market. According to Hal the Hartsfield was developed in response to requests from himself and other dealers for a JBL product to compete with the Klipschorn.

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    RIP 2013 Rolf's Avatar
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    Thanks Steve for posting this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Schell
    According to Hal the Hartsfield was developed in response to requests from himself and other dealers for a JBL product to compete with the Klipschorn.
    I can believe that. I have never been so lucky to heat the Hartsfield, but I doubt is was any better than the KH. Whit later models we all know what is better.

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    Senior Member JBLnsince1959's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil H
    I really appreciated article. I never had an avatar, so I took the liberty to clip a small portion for an avatar. I hope no one minds. But, the pic doesn't seem to be uploading well.
    try putting it in an image editor and see if the contrast can be incressed. Looks good tho

    Thanks for the thread...really cool to see it

  15. #15
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil H
    I hope no one minds. But, the pic doesn't seem to be uploading well.
    Hi Phil, I took the liberty to replace your avatar pic with a different version of the same image... I hope you don't mind.


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