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Thread: Origins of high Fidelity in first Life Magazine article on the subject from 1953

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    Origins of high Fidelity in first Life Magazine article on the subject from 1953

    This is the initial LIFE magazine article "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" from the June 15, 1953 issue which was probably the first exposure to “High Fidelity” for millions of Americans. Opening with a big two-page spread, it is an in-depth article exploring different facets of the Hi-Fi hobby and it’s origins. About twenty months later the “How to Buy Hi-Fi” side bar in this article was expanded into the 1955 Lifemagazine article "How to Buy Hi-Fidelity" that named the JBL Hartsfield speaker as the "money is no object" dream hi-fi speaker of it's time, which put the early JBL company on the map:
    http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/s...ad.php?t=11917
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" scanned pages

    Here are the scanned pages of the first part of the article.
    I will follow these up with easier to read searchable/editable text of the main article and the sidebars.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" scanned pages

    The rest of the scanned pages of the article.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    FACES OF ADDICTS LISTENING TO HI-FI ARE RAPT, THE CONCENTRATION ALMOST PAINFUL. PICTURES WERE MADE IN LAFAYETTE'S DEMONSTRATION ROOM IN NEW YORK CITY EXCEPT FOR SECOND FROM LEFT WHICH SHOWS ROBERT HUMPHREYS IN HIS COMPONENT-LITTERED WA'SHINGTON, D.C. LIVING ROOM
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    THE ‘HI-FI’ BANDWAGON
    People who like music and ‘bugs’ who just like sound have started U.S. craze for high-fidelity home systems
    By HERBERT BREAN

    MORE than the citizens of any other nation, Americans almost from birth are besieged by artificial sound. The farm boy milks to broadcast music, the city boy studies his lessons to the accompaniment of recorded bop. Almost every American grows up within sound of a radio, and the record purchasing craze is a recognized and accepted stage of adolescence. The U.S. spends $300 million a year for radio sets, almost $200 million for phongraphs, $150 million for records and almost $2 billion for TV. But nearly all of this money goes for equipment which produces characterless parodies of the original sounds it is supposed to reproduce. As a consequence the average man has become accustomed to hearing one thing in the theater or concert hall and something else from his radio or phongraph. It simply does not occur to him to expect the latter to sound much like the former.


    Today, however, thousands of Americans are learning that the two kinds of sound can be identical. Systems are now available which reproduce music and speech so exactly that, with the eyes shut, it is often impossible to tell whether the violin one hears is on a record or actually in the house. The name most generally used for this new kind of sound reproduction is high fidelity or "hi-fi." Like the crystal-set radio in 1921 and miniature-camera photography in 1935 hi-fi promises to become a major American enthusiasm. Currently it is working a revolution in the phonograph industry.
    In the past few years, particularly under the impact of TV, sales of the big, familiar radio-phonograph have slumped to almost nothing. Meanwhile, in the last eight months sales of the hi-fi "rigs" have grown to the point where estimates of 1953 sales now range from a conservative $60 million to an optimistic $100 million. Whereas high fidelity units in the past have been made mostly by small manufacturers, the big mass producers are now launching into it. General Electric has been manufacturing hi-fi parts for some time, and Stromberg Carlson started turning out both parts and complete sound systems last fall. Late last year Columbia announced an assembled table model phonograph with twin speakers which is the closest low-cost approach to high fidelity now on the market. This spring RCA-Victor, the behemoth of the industry, made a significant announcement: it is marketing a full line of components for assembly into high fidelity systems, as well as "package" hi-fi systems. This month Philco, Zenith and Admiral announced new hi-fi lines and Magnavox, Hallicrafters and Motorola are known to be working on similar projects. The syrupy, "bass-heavy," unrealistic sound of the old-style living room phonograph is dying out. What is replacing it is easy to distinguish by ear but hard to describe in words. Perhaps Harold Weiler, author of High Fidelity Simplified, one of the several books on the subject to appear in recent months, does it as well as anyone:


    "Do you [when listening to your radio or phonograph] hear cymbals as a crashing sound followed by a sustained shimmering? Do you hear the triangle as a clear ringing sound? Can you actually feel the vibrations of the tom-tom? . . Can you always differentiate between the violin and violoncello? Can you tell the difference between string bass and brass bass?"


    If you can't -and if you care- you are ready for high fidelity. Once you have heard some of it you will probably never again be satisfied with whatever radio-phonograph equipment you now have. Hi-fi's ability to convert listeners into addicts was illustrated during World War II on New Guinea. Irving Greene, a sergeant in Air Force communications, was sent a hand-wound mechanical phonograph and an assortment of records with which to entertain the troops. This was in 1943 when almost no one outside the engineering profession had ever heard of high fidelity. Disdaining the phonograph sent him, Greene, a radio and sound engineer, scrounged the components of an adequate, if not necessarily regulation, sound-reproducing system. He rigged a series of six loudspeakers out of pie plates and other improbables. From them came recorded concerts of such tonal quality that when some very expensive commercial phonographs were later "liberated," the soldiers-their ears now educated refused to listen to them until Greene had improved their quality.

    The stores are jammed

    SUCH experiences, whether in Army camp or civilian living room, spread the hi-fi contagion. Since the war the number of, addicts has multiplied so fast that a basic hi-fi language is developing (box at right) and it has been estimated the components, or parts, for virtually one million hi-fi systems have been sold. Since addicts are notorious rebuilders of sets -one Philadelphia veteran admits to having completely changed his system 20 times - a part of this total is undoubtedly replacement business. Even so, the demand for hi-fi equipment is impressive.
    When a new shop devoted exclusively to high fidelity opened in Los Angeles recently, it did $12,000 worth of business in. the first three weeks. When a similar store in San Francisco announced its opening for a Wednesday, a sound-hungry public stormed its doors on Monday, trying to get at merchandise that was not yet uncrated. In March two partners erected a new hi-fi Shop on Philadelphia’s Main Line. They sold nine rigs totalling more than $5,000 before they could formally open their doors. Dealers such as Lafayette and Harvey in New York and the Radio Shack in Boston publish catalogs containing brief courses in hi-fi to save their salesmen from having to give lectures to eager but ignorant customers.


    The new sound received an unusual tribute when the Electro-Voice Company, which manufactures high-fidelity speakers and headphones, sent out a demonstration room mounted in a trailer truck. When it reached a New York town the driver-technician in charge was stopped by two tough-looking characters who said they were from the truckers' union and demanded to see his union card. The alarmed technician explained that he was not a union truck driver because his job was demonstrating hi-fi equipment and played some music for them. The two challengers listened respectfully removed their hats and invited him to proceed. .


    High Fidelity, a magazine devoted exclusively to the subject, was launched only two years ago and has almost doubled its circulation despite the forbidding price of $l a copy.
    It is still growing and the publisher is planning a second magazine, just for hi-fi retailers and repairmen. High Fidelity subscribers include residents of Taiwan, the Kenya Colony, Thailand, New Zealand and Iceland, since high-quality sound is especially popular in remote areas where entertainment is limited. Anchorage, Alaska, numbers some 30 hi-fi addicts. A local problem in Alaska is finding the favored corner location for speakers in the rounded Quonset huts in which many residents live.


    Though the "sound hound" holds the conventional radio-phonograph in contempt, it contains the same basic components that are found in the hi-fi rig. These components are a record turntable, a pickup to convert the mechanical, movements of the record needle into electrical impulses, a radio tuner to receive broadcasts, an amplifier for strengthening the weak signal that comes from the tuner or pickup and a speaker with its enclosure. But there all similarity ends. The “commercial" set is primarily a piece of furniture, a handsome cabinet often made of costly, hand-rubbed wood. Itcontains minimal and mass-produced electronic equipment incapable of reproducing all the sound frequencies on a modern record, and its speaker is usually improperly housed (drawing, p. 152). The mass manufacturer should not be blamed for this. Over the years some larger makers of commercial sets have experimentally introduced costlier, truer-toned components only to discover that what the public wanted was furniture, not good sound.


    Hi-fi components, on the other hand, have been made mostly by relatively small manufacturers to very exacting, custom standards. They are sold unit by unit, each selected to suit the individual taste of the purchaser (box, top of page 148) and then wired together. The components are not necessarily housed in a cabinet at all, which helps keep cost low, but often are merely placed in a bookcase. The speaker, which usually consists of two units - a tiny one called a tweeter, which reproduces the high frequencies, and a larger; one (woofer) for the lows - can be put anywhere. No matter how it is arranged, the hi-fi system reproduces every nuance on the record, including virtually the full dynamic range of the original sounds, from softest pianissimo to thunderous fortissimo, and it does this with virtually no distortion at all. The chief reason for this performance is the fact that high fidelity reproduces the higher-frequency sounds, or overtones, some of which were potentially available on even the older, 78-rpm records and are present in abundance on good modern recordings. Even old records usually sound better on hi-fi, despite their heavy surface noise.


    Sound, considered objectively and without reference to the animal or human mechanism that hears it, is a vibratory or wavelike disturbance in the atmosphere, the number of vibrations, or sound waves per second, determining the sound's frequency (pitch). On a piano, for example, the keyboard of which has a range of from 27.5 to 4,186 vibrations or cycles per second (c.p.s.), middle c consists of 261.6 c.p.s. When the middle c piano key is struck, it causes the corresponding piano strings to vibrate 261.6 times per second, which starts an atmospheric vibration of 261.6 c.p.s. This in turn induces exactly the same vibration in the ear's sensitive cochlea. But besides having a fundamental vibration, every note on every musical instrument has an infinite number of overtones, or harmonics. These are additional and high frequencies that are simple multiples of the fundamental. Thus the fundamental (it is also called the first harmonic) of middle c being 261.6, the second harmonic is double that or 523.2, the third harmonic is 784.8 c.p.s. and so on. It is these harmonics which are the important factor in creating an instrument's timbre or characteristic sound this is the reason the same note played on flute and French horn -is a thin piping on the one and a sonorous blare on the other. Most authorities agree that reproduction of at least the first four harmonics is necessary for adequate recording of, and differentiation between, the different instruments. The average human ear can handle around 15,000 cycles, but the average commercial phonograph does not reproduce above 6,000. Thus it is easy to understand why such a phonograph sounds muted, and why a reproductive range of 15,000 cycles is essential for realistic sound.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    LOW TONES of 100 cycles, shown on an oscilloscope screen, achieve about the same height through a commercial amplifier (left) and a hi-fi one (right).
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    HIGH TONES of4,000 cycles reveal hi-fi's superiority over the commercial set (left) in the greater height of scope's light pattern on the rig at right.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    With its extended range, a hi-fi sound system produces music of almost hallucinatory realism. There is nothing ghostly about its effects, however. Enthusiasts are remaking America's living rooms und revitalizing America's record business. This is mainly the work of a large body of "audiophiles," or mild-mannered lovers of well-reproduced music, spear-headed by a small, ardent band of hobbyists, known as "bugs" or "knob twirlers," who are among the most dedicated fanatics ever produced in this country,


    For reasons yet to be elucidated, the audiophiles, who outnumber the bugs 50 to 1, tend to be professional people, doctors especially but also lawyers and journalists. However, since music transcends all age and economic levels they also include cab drivers, cops and short-order cooks. Audiophiles often start off with a rig costing no more than $140 and then, as their aural sophistication improves, gradually refine their systems with another couple of hundred dollars' worth of equipment. This they often play rather loudly to achieve full tonal range, which seldom endears them to neighbors, and they display a marked inclination to talk long and with great conviction about the merits of various components. Otherwise they are fairly well-balanced citizens. While a sound system is as essential to them as a heating or lighting system, they seldom lose sight of the fact that high fidelity is a means to an end: the enjoyment of music.


    Sound for sound's sake



    THE bug, on the other hand, does not necessarily like music at all but is simply interested in the reproduction of dazzling sound for its own sake-the more difficult to reproduce the better. He is especially fond of the voice of Yma Sumac, an Ecuadorian singer who has an uncannily great range, and of such tintinnabulating instruments as the harpsichord and the glockenspiel. He will play an entire 12-inch record through simply for the sake of one well-recorded cymbal crash at the end; sometimes he plays only the cymbal crash, over and over. He loves the highest frequency sounds, which even many music lovers find too piercing for comfort. In fact, due to the bug's influence, high fidelity is still sometimes mistaken for fidelity to the sound frequencies that are so high as to be inaudible to most adults over 35. (As humans age, their hearing loses its sensitivity-some babies and dogs can hear 20,000 c.p.s., while most adults barely hear 15,000.) A bug with a costly hi-fi system, capable of reproducing 20,000.cycle tones that are inaudible to himself, often jokingly justifies his extravagance on the ground that while he does not hear everything his dog can.



    A bug's home is usually littered with an assemblage of amplifiers, surface-noise suppressors, record compensators, speakers (one St. Paul addict has 32 in his dining room) and trailing wires. Often none of this is producing any sound at all at the moment because the owner is rebuilding it, a chronic condition with bugs. In the most acute stage his system may also include an oscilloscope, which is an engineering device that looks like a small TV screen and is calibrated for the visual observation of sound frequencies. The bug with one of these often plays no music at all, but simply entertains himself by playing test records and joyfully watching the highs and lows register visually and soundlessly on the scope.




    Happily, some bugs who start out with only an interest in pure sound itself find their interests expanding to the point where they actually begin to like music, and are gradually lured into buying records for the music on them instead of for their percussion effects. This happens so often that High Fidelity is about to inaugurate a new department addressed especially to musically ignorant bugs, which will advise them on what's good in such obscure fields as Brahms, Beethoven and Bach.
    glen

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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    BIG BANK of 32 identical, five-inch speakers plays simultaneously from a slightly bowed panel, completely fills this room with music seemingly from all directions, which is a hi-Ii goal. Its owner is Richard Russell, St. Paul, Minn.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    The bug's love for the higher frequencies leads him to venerate even surface noise, an anathema to the mere music lover, onthe ground that it is essential to the reproductions of the highest highs. This is reflected in a current joke about a bug who always took his girl with him to concerts; while he listened, she made a steady hissing sound in his ear, simulating the "surface" without which he could not otherwise enjoy music. There is another joke, widely appreciated by audio sophisticates, that tells of a lover of high frequencies who got up in the middle of a superb concert by Stokowski and walked out, indignantly muttering, "Too much bass! Too much bass!"
    These are fiction. But the facts of hi-fi fanaticism are even stranger. In a Boston store customers have been known to get down on hands and knees to listen to a new speaker, wagging their heads doglike in an effort to hear better. A Cleveland enthusiast has cut a hole in his grand piano and installed a speaker in it to improve the tone-of the speaker, not the piano. A fellow Ohioan has his house completely wired for sound, with speakers in every room including the bathrooms.


    UNUSUAL HOUSING was provided for his speaker by Alfred Dorod of Cleveland who cut a hole in a piano's sounding board for it. This did not spoil the piano for him since he does not play it. He bought it to house the speaker.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    One of the strangest facts about both bugs and audiophiles is that they are almost exclusively male. Women seldom like high fidelity, and often oppose it with such violence that Walter Toscanini, the son of the maestro and a hi-fi expert, has asked with some seriousness whether women and high fidelity can coexist in one civilization. A poignant example of this is told by a New York record dealer with a customer whose wife objects so strongly to his hi-fi rig that she will not let him play it while she is in the house. To hear music, he has to encourage her to go out shopping, adding greatly to the expense of his hobby.


    RANGE OF SOUND AND HEARING is diagrammed below. Black lower part of bars shows the range of various instruments' fundamental tones, the upper white part of the range of their harmonics through the fourth. Dark red area shows how many cycles per second the average commercial receiver repro­duces, the dark and lighter red together, the range of good high fidelity. Range of human and canine hearing (which varies with the breed) appears at right.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" text

    The reason for this feminine opposition may be physiological. Woman's hearing generally is slightly more sensitive to the high frequencies than man's, and music reproduction which sounds normal and balanced to a man sometimes can sound excessively shrill to a woman. A component on TV outfits emits a 15,750-cycle tone which women occasionally complain of, to the bewilderment of their husbands who cannot hear a thing. Some canny dealers, demonstrating hi-fi to the distaff side, purposely turn up the bass response and lower the treble that is beloved of the male ear.




    Another thing both bug and audiophile share is a deep respect for the important but hard-to-define quality in recordings that is usually referred to as "presence." This is what makes a recording sound as though orchestra, singer or solo instrument were being heard in the concert hall. Years ago musicians recorded in studios designed to "let nothing come back," i.e., eliminate the reverberations which one always hears in a concert hall when music reaches the car not only directly but reflected from the walls. Such sound was flat, lifeless and sterile, the result of an underlying aim to "bring the artist into your living room." Today the goal is to transport the listener to the concert hall. Reverberations are planned for and purposely picked up. If at the beginning or ending of a recording the room noise is inadvertently cut out just before the music begins or ends it is dubbed in afterward.

    Benny's concert helped


    THIS trend toward naturalistic recording, which has moved forward hand in hand with hi-fi's more realistic reproduction, was given powerful encouragement by the remarkable sale of the Columbia versions of Benny Goodman's 1938 jazz concert. It was recorded during an actual performance in Carnegie Hall and, complete with audience yells, whistles and- applause, has become one of the top-selling LP albums on the market. Other companies, Columbia included, have attempted to duplicate this accidental success by making recordings -in nightclubs or in carefully arranged jam sessions at which the audience is instructed to please let itself go. They have been only moderately successful, spontaneity in both artist and audience being a little more difficult to induce than was first supposed.


    In any case audiophiles and bugs prize the faithful reproduction of all sounds implicit in the act of recording, including the clatter of a piano's keys as well as its tones, the sigh of the wind instruments and the intake of a singer's breath. There is a recording of Carmen by the company of the Theatre de l'Opera Comique made in the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. The tread of marching feet across the stage, a shot and the clash of swords during various scenes are plainly audible; it is much prized by sound hounds.

    Another is the Westminster disk by Argeo Quadri of The Pines of Rome which is a miracle of dimensional recording, all the choirs of instruments apparently coming in from their various separate positions. This is a quality which simply happens, and no one can explain how, but it is an enormous aid to the greatly desired concert-hall realism.



    The case of another conductor, Herman Scherchen, also provides a testimonial to the influence of high fidelity. He is a German who in 1951 recorded a new version of Haydn's Military Symphony. H. Landon Robbins, of the Haydn Society, had discovered Haydn's own orchestration of the symphony in the London Museum, and in this version the second movement especially is replete with drum rolls, bugle calls and other military sounds. Scherchen conducted a recording session of it in his usually precise, somewhat accented style. Pressed by Westminster, a relatively small and new company with a great respect for High-fidelity recording, the disk became an instant success with audiophiles and was followed by other Scherchen recordings. Scherchen is an able but not scintillating conductor and he has never toured America, yet today he is something of a best-seller here because Of his popularity with hi-fi addicts.




    While bugs boom the record business they are not an unmixed blessing to the record retailer. When shopping, the bug, with his veneration for perfection, is likely to handle a record he wants to hear only by its edges to keep thumb prints and microscopic dirt off the playing surface. This practice keeps the grooves pristine, but sometimes results in the record being dropped on the floor. Scratches caused by grit on the record are the bete-noire of the bug. Occasionally one will come into a record store carrying a 10-power lens with which to examine the grooves for scratches, signs of previous use and other imperfections, and a certain New York shop has a customer who insists on selecting his records in the basement, where he can pick disks out of cartons fresh from the factory.

    Such particularists represent the advance guard of a movement that had its beginning about 15 years ago in the dissatisfaction of radio and telephone engineers with their own home music sets. Having better equipment available to them professionally, they began using it to make their own sets, and word of the new, more lifelike sound spread slowly and spottily as their friends heard it. The increase in FM broadcasting, which usually achieves 15,000 c.p.s. in contrast to the more common AM's 6,000, encouraged interest in better radio equipment. World War II, with its wholesale development of better sound and communications equipment and wholesale training of young men therein, helped widen interest and research in sound; today lumbago, sciatica and rheuma­tism are being experimentally treated by ultrasonics, bacteria is killed with it, water purified, brain tumors detected and metals cleaned by it. High fidelity has also received a considerable assist in recent years from Britain where, possibly because of austerity, music lovers, able to purchase audio equipment only infrequently, insisted on first-rate reproduction when they spent their money. In any case some English components are highly regarded in the U.S. market and widely used. After the war a series of technological advances occurred almost simultaneously which improved the quality of radio-phonograph reproduction enormously. These included the development of the long-playing microgroove record by Columbia's Dr. Peter Goldmark -which has a chicken-and-egg interdependence with high fidelity, the inexpensive jewel (sapphire or diamond) needle, the introduction of new magnetic pickups to replace the less precise crystal pickup, and the lightweight tone arm.


    These advances are history, even though most Americans have yet to hear what kind of sound they can produce when combined with the other components of a high-fidelity system. But the avant-garde of music reproduction is already working with devices that offer even greater realism. These include two other systems or recording and reproduction known as stereophonic sound and "binaural sound." In stereophonic recording, already being used with 3-D and wide-screen movies, three microphones, placed at intervals near the orchestra, are used simultaneously, each feeding the sound it picks up into a separate recording apparatus.
    These are subsequently played back through separate amplifiers and speakers, the speakers spaced out in the same way the microphones were. The result is almost ridiculously realistic. Played on good high-fidelity equipment, the music seems to have a three-dimensional quality which makes the listener unconsciously turn his head to "see" the brass, then the woodwinds and then the strings as each comes in in its part. Binaural is a simpler version of stereophonic, utilizing only two sets of pick-up and reproductive equipment, one for each ear, and for that reason often employs the old headset earphones of "ham" radio days.


    Some of the most effective stereophonic and binaural recordings yet made have been done in railroad stations, first one mike then another picking up the chuffing and creaking of an approaching train which seems to be traveling invisibly across the room in which the recording is heard. It is so lifelike that people have been known to crouch back timidly in their chairs, fearful of being run over. Binaural addicts love trains.


    Possibly the most ardent of them is Emory Cook, a Stamford, Conn. sound engineer and record manufacturer who markets one series of records known as "Sounds of Our Times." Cook spent a night in a railroad tunnel near Peekskill, N.Y. with a tape record­er, recording the sounds of trains; he has also recorded old musicboxes, complete with spring twangs and clunks, the gradual onset of a summer thunderstorm and the chirping of near and far crick­ets in a field, all extremely effective. .
    While binaural is beyond the reach and probably even the desire of the average U.S. listener, high fidelity as such will probably invade his consciousness and very possibly his living room by the endl of this year. One indication of this is a theory of Harrie K. Richardson, associate editor of Audio Engineering magazine, that high fidelity tends to follow television into a new area after a four year interval. Richardson argues that when telecasting begins in a certain region, radio-phonograph and record sales slump badly for about two years. Then, as TV's novelty wears off, a public which has been conditioned to seek amusement at home begins looking around for a new kind of entertainment. Record sales begin to rise and high fidelity is likely to engage the interest of the former TV addict. Four years after the arrival of TV, sales of records and sound systems are likely to hit an all-time high. Right or wrong, it is true that high fidelity today is selling its hottest in areas which have had television for a period of years.


    But hi-fi's best sales stimulant is less disenchantment with television than the tendency of its devotees to turn the volume up and thus acquaint other people with its virtues whether they want to hear it or not. Not long ago a Washington, D.C. hi-fi addict with more than $4,000 worth of equipment was visited by a policeman.
    "We hear you were playing records pretty late last night," said the cop ominously.
    "That's right," said the addict.
    "Pretty loud, we hear," went on the cop.
    "Let me show you how loud," said the addict. When the cop was comfortably seated in his living room he turned on some Beethoven-full blast.
    "Sound too loud to you?" he asked.
    "It sounds swell," said the cop thoughtfully. "Real swell." "That's how I played it last night," said his host.
    "Keep right on playing it that way, buddy," said the converted cop as he got up to leave.


    MIGHTY HI-FI HORN with one speaker at end, others inside it, was built by A. J. Hardy of Dallas. It runs 11 feet through garage into his living room.
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" sidebar: Glossary of Hi-Fi Language

    HERE IS A GLOSSARY
    OF HI-FI LANGUAGE

    A-B-ING-Comparing two speakers or other components by switching rapidly first one then the other into a system while it is play­ing, to judge their performances.

    COAXIAL SPEAKER_A speaker with a tweeter (below) mounted within a woofer, on the same axis.

    FLAT FREQUENCY RESPONSE - This ideally is the equal and undistorted amplifi­cation of all tones on record or broadcast at any degree of volume from soft to loud.

    GOLDEN EAR -A person whose hearing is acute enough to differentiate between grades and types of reproductive quality.

    KEYHOLE EFFECT - How music sounds when it seems to come from one small source -a "keyhole"- instead of filling the room. Also, "porthole" effect.

    NEEDLE TALK - The noise created by a stylus in its contact with record grooves.

    SHRIEKER - A system made up of "in­compatible" components which consequently create distortion. Such a system is said to have a "bother" or "worry."

    TIN EAR - Antithesis of golden ear.

    TWEETER AND WOOFER - The tweeter is usually a small speaker designed to repro­duce high frequencies. The woofer is a much larger cone, designed to reproduce the lows.

    WAR HORSES - A perennially selling re­cording of a standard classic by a standard orchestra or artist.

    WHISKERS - Sound is said to have whisk­ers when the highs are not clear - fuzzy.

    WOW - A slow wavering tone, especially noticeable in sustained piano chords, caused by uneven revolving of the turntable. A rapid wow, caused by a faulty turntable motor or faulty tape recording, is a "flutter."
    glen

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

  14. #14
    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" sidebar: The Makings of a Hi-Fi System

    THE MAKINGS OF A HI-FI SYSTEM

    The picture below shows the essential components of a basic hi.fi system which are connected by red arrows, and other desir­able but not essential accessories which can be fitted into it (broken arrows). Both the record player, on which rest two pick-up cartridges for 78 r.p.m. records and slower speeds, and the radio tuner feed their signals into the amplifier whence they go to the speaker, which is normally housed in the baffle. Record players cost from $25 to $300, cartridges from $8 to $60; tuners $50 to $280; amplifiers $43 to $300; speakers $13 to $225; and baffles from $14 to $300. The accessories are a gauge for testing the pressure of the stylus and consequent wear on rec­ord grooves ($1.50); a record compensator for adjusting the system's reproductive qualities to the characteristics of differ­ent makes of records ($9 to $12); a noise suppressor for reo ducing the surface noise of old 78 r.p.m. records ($30); an auxiliary speaker to simulate stereophonic effect, and a tape recorder ($1l0 to $1,000). Tape recorders .are extremely popu­lar with the hi-fi addict since they enable him to transcribe broadcasts which are later played through the sound system.
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    glen

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

  15. #15
    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" sidebar: The Need For "Baffling"

    THE NEED FOR 'BAFFLING'

    None of the components in a hi-fi system is unimportant since all contribute to the performance. However the speaker and the enclosure which contains it will probably be the parts chosen by neophytes with the greatest care, since no two types of speaker sound alike. Commercial sets usually have had unenclosed backs, with results illustrated in the drawing above. A speaker's cone pistons sound waves both forward and backward, creating two rapidly alternating sets of atmospheric disturbances (straight arrows). As the sound emerges it diffuses in all directions out of front and back, and some of these diffused sound waves (curved arrows) collide and neutralize each other. However, if the speaker is mounted in a wide surface, such as a wall or i_ a large box with " the back enclosed, the two sets of sound waves are "baffled"­ i.e., prevented from reaching and canceling each other.
    Baffle boxes should be of generous size so that the speaker's I piston action will not noticeably compress the air within the enclosure. A 12-inch speaker usually requires an enclosure of six cubic feet and eight is even better. However, some manufacturers are now making smaller enclosures which, due to special internal design, serve the purpose efficiently.
    Whether it is made of expensive mahogany or mere plywood, a baffle should be at least one half inch thick (three quarter inch is better) to prevent any vibration. (Some fanatics line their baffle with concrete for this reason.) The speaker and baffle should be separated from the rest of the equipment by a few feet-enough to prevent acoustic feedback, which results when the stylus, or needle, responds to minor vibrations from a nearby speaker and feeds them back into the system ad infinitum and ad tumultum. The problem of finding room for a baffle has been solved by some dwellers in small apartments by mounting the speaker in a closet door, with tuner and record player on shelves mounted inside the door. The entire closet then becomes a commodious baffle.
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    glen

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

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