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What kind of audio quality did most people have access to in the 70s?

Aaron Mayo

Member
Messages
2,202
Turntables sound great, like a crackling fire along with your music.

my iPad into an ev elx 112p is pretty sweet too. No noise and loud as you want.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,369
Around 1980, I had a quadrophonic amp but it was solid state. I didn't know better at the time. I had a Dual turntable that I found and bought the top of the line Sure cartridge which had a brush in front of the needle and could be set to put extremely little weight on the vinyl - no crackly noises if you know how to set up a decent turntable. I had 2 top of the line Aiwa Casette decks that made phenomenal recordings for a cassette. Various speakers.
About 15 years ago I walked into a used music shop and the owner was playing the music through a great tube amp. It felt like i was hearing recorded music for the first time. When I first started buying CDs, I thought they sounded horrible, but in the coming years I got used to their horribleness and no longer notice.
 

jalmer

Member
Messages
2,066
There were plenty of not great Sears Allegro and console systems around. There were high end and mall dedicated stereo stores. The mall equipment was pretty great compared to the everyday stuff they have now. Yamaha had some great receivers. But it didn't come cheap, turntable stylus' and cartridges were expensive. Big bucks if you compare in today's dollars. However, there were no PC's, personal phones, etc (although gaming systems came on in the late 70's). If you bought separates you could put together a decent system.
Today, my everyday speakers are some B&W DM6s which were kinda state of the art in the late 70's and some early 70's sansui headphones.
 

fjblair

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,816
Dunno about most people, but I had a used Scott hifi power amp, a DUAL turntable, and I can't recall which speakers now...

I haven't heard anything sound as good since.

Keep in mind, I was no audiophile. Just a broke kid. I think I paid $50 for the amp.

You did good kid.
 

fjblair

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,816
You know you are an old fart, when people wax nostalgically for the 70's. My gear during that time was all Realistic i.e. Radio Shack and I was happy to have it. Because for many people the 70's were crap economically. I was laid off several times during this period as well as nearly everyone in my immediate family. The combination of the oil shock coupled with ridiculously high levels of inflation and interest rates that today seem unbelievable. By the end of the 70's, one year T bills were paying more than 16% interest which was great if you had money in the bank but not so for folks who could only buy on credit. I was laid off a a shimp boat manufacture and was lucky to get a job at a gas station then the oil crisis hit and we spent some days pumping out our allotment of gas in a couple of hours then hiding in the store from the irate customers who were left sitting in line when we closed.

I really didn't care that much about the audio quality as I was ruining records regularly by playing guitar parts over and over again so I could learn them off the record. I went through at least 4 pressings of Pat Martino's Live LP trying to grok his solo on Sunny. My car audio was crap as well and it was until I got an 8 track installed that I heard anything other than the radio through the tiny speakers in my 66' Bug.

Realistic was legit back then.
 

Pitar

Member
Messages
1,858
If memory serves, I had a 4-track Tandberg reel-to-reel, Yamaha tuner, Sansui cassette deck, TEAC turntable, Bose 301 and Sansui SPX-8000 speakers. All of it was purchased through the military at steep discounts. My pop had a Grundig AM/FM, turntable console he bought in Germany in 1959 that worked perfectly up till the day my mom let it go for nearly nothing at a garage sale sometime in the 80's.
 

Shadowfax2112

Member
Messages
97
I'm not quite as obsessed as dear old Mark, but he does his research:

http://www.anstendig.org/CD-tragedy.html

"In music, the result of the inadequate sampling rate of digital is that the expression of the music is permanently degraded and changed into something different from, and inferior to, that of the original performance."
This person does not seem to understand Fourier Analysis and Fourier transforms. The biggest problem IMHO is the brick wall filter required with a 44.1kHz sampling rate to avoid anti-aliasing. But these days recordings are done at 4x Nyquist so it is not an issue.
 

james evans

Member
Messages
154
I was a poor college kid in the late sixties and my stereo in '68 was a Scott stereo amp (no tuner section), Garrard turntable, and some speakers I built myself having bought a pair of Utah tri-axial speakers and a dept store unloaded cab with an 8" baffle and a !" tweeter cut out (my 'port'). It was a lot better than what my parent's had.
 

Scott Lee

Member
Messages
17
Had a cheapo turntable with amp speaker combo that ate records in about 10 playings. My theory is that audio quality is consistently mediocre due to the age/affordability ratio; the younger you are, typically the lower the quality of the system you can afford, so as you are able to buy better systems your ears are aged enough to not fully appreciate it. Nowhere as true now as the 60's and 70's, but still kinda true. Playing an instrument (acoustic piano in my case, until I got a wurlitzer 145 and ran it through a silvertone 1430; budget stuff then, highly prized today...) had much better sound than the available quality of recorded music, for me at home as a kid anyway..
 
Messages
206
In 1977, I had saved my pennies and bought a 40wpc Kenwood "receiver". Finally gave it to a friend decades later, still sounding very good. My speakers weren't much and I forget what kind of turntable I had. But a cheap-ish stereo sounded very decent. FM was good, too. Prolly about as good as 192K MP3, if the station didn't over compress everything.

Digital audio can be and often is excellent. I honestly don't think digital vs analog has mattered much since, oh, 1990 when they started figuring out how to master CDs properly. Chasing high bit rates is just dumb. But 24-bits (vs. 16-bits) helps some.

Playback speakers matter a lot and it seems hard to find good ones without spending at least a couple grand for the pair. So this isn't a place that has experience cost savings due to technology improvements. If you check the specs, new speakers aren't any flatter than old ones. Often worse. After getting a new cartridge for my turntable and replacing the tweeters (NOS, I love the Internet) in my 1990s Polk LS-50s, my stereo sounds really good again.

Avoid Bluetooth, too. Even the best Bluetooth codecs seem to deaden the dynamics and just sound funny. And, tho they get a bit more low end out of small speakers, the high end just plain sucks. So, for me, audio is still mostly a wired experience.

Multi-channel sound is bogus and hyped. Worse, even, than 3-D movies for gimickry. The playback system should not distract from the program material! A good stereo image puts you in the room. I think additional sources actually detract from the quality of the image. It's ok for movies, because the dynamic location info can actually be used to good effect and the quality of the stereo image isn't as important. But for listening to music, it's to be avoided.
 
Messages
206
I once had one whale of a Pioneer components-and-turntable rack stereo system in the early 1970s. Looking back on it now, it was actually the next-best thing to the Bose speakers I now have on my computer---which deliver a sound better than the best stereo system.

Never heard a Bose system that I liked. They have a distinct sound that I find gets in the way of immersive listening. They hype certain bass and treble frequencies. So much, that I keep hearing the system instead of the music.

Every system has it's quirks. What some folks call "break in" is really your ears getting used to a system's quirks and your brain making adjustments for it. The original software EQ, if you will. For some reason, I never get to this comfortable listening place with Bose.

Living in the Boston area, I know a couple people who work at Bose and wish them continued success. But their speakers are not for me.
 
Messages
206
nostalgia is affecting everyone's memory. The golden age is now.
... snip ...
Even a bookshelf $50 system from walmart is going to sound pretty good.
... snip ...
https://www.parts-express.com/c-not...r-kit-pair-with-knock-down-cabinets--300-7140

I was with you except for the speakers. You're right that the cheap stuff has improved. Your average TV set sounds pretty good with 2 little 3" full range speakers. For TV ... I listened to some Parts-Express speakers (2-way, bookshelf, 6.5" woofers, dome tweeters, about $350/pr). The tweeters are nothing much. Meh, actually. And, yes, I'm in my 50s so I have lost some top end. But I'm not talking about the very high frequencies. Rather the stuff that actually matters between 4-15KHz. For some damned reason, most modern tweeters sound noisy and smeared in this range. Like hard to understand the lyrics, can't tell the 2 guitar parts apart, bad.

My guitar speakers sound clearer and less smeared. As do my middling Yamaha PA speakers (I did replace the horn drivers on those with something that worked and cost about $50 each from Parts-Express. It's a good company!). As do my Tivoli Ensemble Is. As do my 1990s Polks.

I guess I keep harping on the bad tweeters because I'm hoping someone will point me at some good mid-range speakers and/or tweeters to check out. I'd much rather be wrong ... ;--)
 
Messages
206
I really didn't care that much about the audio quality as I was ruining records regularly by playing guitar parts over and over again so I could learn them off the record. I went through at least 4 pressings of Pat Martino's Live LP trying to grok his solo on Sunny.

I love that ****. Ok, I was wearing out Led Zep and Aerosmith records. Not quite the same thing :--)

Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon suffered a similar fate for different reasons ...
 

Mark L

Member
Messages
234
70s - Pioneer receiver, Teac and then Nakamichi cassette deck, Technics/Stanton cartridge and then Rega Planar/Grado cartridge) turntable, different speakers at different times (wasn't really happy with any of them until I bought some Thiels in the '80s). Quality was high for consumer equipment, and the Nak, Rega and Thiels (which I still have) still sound good.

That was the golden age, but so it this. Quality has become much less expensive, smaller (especially for items other than speakers) and more accessible. Digital music started out harsh but got much better. My old equipment still sounds great for both analog and digital music, but it doesn't get much use because it's more convenient to listen at my computer (through nearfields), around the house (built in speakers) or in the car. For better or worse, convenience usually wins out over quality.
 

Brad8008135

Member
Messages
2,333
In 1980 (I was ten), we had a Sears-branded receiver and 8-track-player. The good news is that 8-tracks were soon discontinued, so I was able to pick up Paul Stanley's solo album for 25 cents.

The speakers were single six-inch cones. As an added bonus, when my Mom eventually found my Hustler magazine between the mattress and the box springs, I was able to unscrew the back off the speaker cabinets and hide my porn in there, thus preventing future conflict. Recently, we had to sell Mom's house, and I did verify that there was no pornography is those speakers before I gave them to Goodwill. Thinking about it now, I should have skipped Goodwill and gone directly to the dumpster.
 

EdMan57

Member
Messages
2,033
First 'real stereo' was purchased in the later '70's. Did the usual stereo store shopping at Pacific Stereo,Handy Andy and Sun Stereo [central California area]. Came away with a Technics 40wx40w receiver,Akai direct drive turntable/AT cartridge,Sanyo Cassette deck and Large Advent speakers. Sounded pretty good and served me well until the late '80's when I started piecing in upgrades to my existing stereo gear.
 

stark

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,446
I still have mine packed away somewhere. Toot-A-Loop.
faa8db14a90c65c5a0ddb21852221172--transistor-radio-s.jpg


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Bought one of these in 79' Killer sounding, needs a recap if anyone want's a gig.
Harman-Kardon-A401.jpg
 

weavzy

Member
Messages
149
70s is considered the golden age of hifi by many audio enthusiasts. Its certainly is from a design perspective.
 




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