1990 vs. 1960 in Audio
Copyright © JB 1990, 1998. All rights reserved.
This letter may amuse those who were familiar with the audiophile scene in both 1990 and 1960. It was printed in The Absolute Sound, but I can't remember what issue. -JB
August 5, 1990
Editor, The Absolute Sound
I'd like to paint the audiophile scene and then pose a question.
Here's the picture: Audiophiles are a relatively small band. They comb the stores for good recordings, which they play on equipment from specialist makers. They choose their equipment by listening, because they know that specifications are useless in predicting sound quality.
Their turntables include light-platter, low-torque models with sub-chassis suspensions, and heavy-platter, high-torque models with rigid suspensions. Arms come in various shapes and materials, and with a variety of bearing types. Cartridges include movinq-magnet, moving-coil, FM capacitance, and ribbon types, though these last have not been made for a while. Some swear by the Decca cartridge; many swear at it.
Amplifiers include tube and solid-state units. Some say that tubes are more "musical," but the meaning of this term is not clear to everyone. It seems hard to find an amplifier of more than 150 watts or so with absolutely top-quality sound. The Dynaco Stereo 70 is popular with budget-minded listeners.
Loudspeakers include dynamic types, horns, electrostats, and ribbons. Some think horn efficiency reproduces musical dynamics better. Others find horn colorations annoying, and opt for dynamic speakers, whose lower efficiency requires more powerful amplifiers. Some feel that the Quad ELS, in its strong points, has not been surpassed.
Now the question: Is this a picture of 1990 -- or 1960?
Yours very truly