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

  1. #16
    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" sidebar: Some Favorite Bugs' Records

    SOME FAVORITE BUGS' RECORDS
    Bugs, who go for sound effects more than music on their records, include these among their favorites:


    COLUMBIA
    Goldmark-Rustic Wedding Symphony
    Liszt-Second Piano Concerto
    Gottschalk-Cakewalk
    Poulenc-Organ Concerto
    Saint-Saens-Third Symphony



    EMORY COOK
    Sounds of Our Times


    EMS
    Varese-Ionization (Ensemble with 35 percussion instruments including a siren)



    LONDON
    Falla-Three Cornered Hat
    Strauss-Also SprachZarathustra
    Rossini-Respighi-La Boutique Fantasque



    MERCURY
    Gould-Latin-American Symphonette
    Mussorgsky-Pictures at an Exhibition
    Bartok-Music for Strings, Percussions, Celesta



    VICTOR
    Verdi-Il Trovatore





    WESTMINSTER
    Gliere-Red Poppy Ballet
    Respighi-Pines of Rome
    Haydn-Military Symphony
    Prokofiev-Lieut. Kije
    Rimsky-Korsakov-Piano Concerto
    Schubert-Trout Quintet
    glen

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

  2. #17
    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    "The Hi-Fi Bandwagon" sidebar: How To Buy Hi-Fi

    HOW TO BUY HI-FI


    The prospect of selecting a series of intricate electrical devices appalls most people. Consequently, hi-fi dealers try to allay their fears by providing rooms in which samples are on display, all connected to an intricate master control panel. By simply turning its switches, the beginner can connect any combination of components (p. 148) and decide what sounds good to him. Once he makes his selection the store wires the components with coded cables or foolproof sockets which enable anyone to plug the system together without chance of error.

    Here are a few hints on hi-fi shopping:

    Bring some of your own records along. They will help orient you in testing unfamiliar equipment.

    Beware of any dealer who tries to tell you what sounds best; you are the only judge of that and can best decide by making several trips to the store, listening carefully each time. You can buy better phonographic reproduction than you probably ever heard before for $150 or less, and $400 to $500 buys a really superb radio-phonograph combination. After that you will like­ly be paying for an expensive cabinet or the ultimate perfection that is lost on all but the most sophisticated ears.

    You will do well to select a jeweled stylus (hi-fi-ese for needle), an amplifier of at least 10-watt output and a maximum of 5% of harmonic distortion. Make sure that it delivers its full tonal response without distortion, even when the set is turned up to window-rattling volume. Purists often insist on heavy, semi-professional turntables instead of changers, on the ground that they spin the records more evenly and perfectly. Most people, however, will not sacrifice the changer's convenience for the microscopic difference made by the turntable.

    Hi-fi pricing is somewhat curious. Both a list and a net price are usually mentioned, a practice apparently designed to convince the purchaser that he is buying wholesale. This may be true, depending on one's definition. The list price, which almost no one ever pays, is the full retail price. Thus an item listed at $400 actually sells for $240 net-that is, less a 40% discount of $160. The net price of $240 includes a 50% markup for the dealer, who will have paid the manufacturer $160.
    glen

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

  3. #18
    Senior Member glen's Avatar
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    Personal obeservations on the "origins" of the Hi-Fi hobby

    As I was reading this article and it's suppositions about the origins of the Hi-Fi hobby I was struck by the similarities to my dad's interest from this era that match with their theories:


    1. My dad was a lawyer, one of the members of the early "audiophiles" group they delineated, he never did go in for the gimmic records.


    2. The earliest phonograph we had that I recall was the Columbia 360, the "table model phonograph with twin speakers which is the closest low-cost approach to high fidelity now on the market"


    3. Later on my dad got audio advice from my uncle, an ex-Army Signal Corp electrical engineer who later worked for IBM. I remember my dad explaining to me how the coil would only allow low tones to be sent to the larger speaker in the cabinet he had built. That same uncle gave me an oscilloscope and a Heathlkit monophonic amp he had built.


    By the time stereo was coming into vogue my dad gave up on Hi-Fi as a "hobby". By then he had less time and more money, and the mass produced systems had improved considerably. He still enjoyed the music immensly even though he didn't have as much of his own effort invested in the hobby.
    glen

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

  4. #19
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    Very nice, Glen. A good read and a walk down memory lane.

    Thanks.

  5. #20
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    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.
    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.
    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.
    Those old TV sets were terrible with their constant squealing. Interesting theory. I've found that most people run their loudspeakers too hot on the top end for my taste.


    Thanks Glen. Neat thread!

  6. #21
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing and for the effort Glen...


    Widget

  7. #22
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    Anyone have this record from the article?

    EMS
    Varese-Ionization (Ensemble with 35 percussion instruments including a siren)

  8. #23
    Senior Member Steve Schell's Avatar
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    Glen, thanks for posting this article. It is interesting how the pursuit of good sound is portrayed as a sort of curious affliction. There have been other articles like this through the years. My favorite is a little pearl from Stereo Review in the early 1980s called "Sense and Nonsense in High End Hi Fi." In this one the trend for Japanese audiophiles to use single ended low powered triode amps and horn speakers was dismissed as silly and inexplicable.

    Giskard, some TVs still emit the 15,750Hz. squeal. My brother told me that it is usually caused by mechanical motion in the laminations of the flyback transformer. When I make measurements in the living room a sharp peak at that frequency appears if I don't remember to turn off the TV set (Toshiba 36" CRT) first. I haven't heard it for at least a decade though. At least there's one advantage to having 52 year old ears.

  9. #24
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Schell View Post
    It is interesting how the pursuit of good sound is portrayed as a sort of curious affliction.
    Steve... it is a curious affliction. But who really wants to be cured anyway?


    Widget

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