Were the 1970s the True Golden Age for Audio?

Were the 1970s the Golden Age of Audio?

  • 3

    Votes: 4 12.5%
  • Yes. Vintage All the Way!

    Votes: 12 37.5%
  • No. We are living it now.

    Votes: 14 43.8%
  • I thought there was no peepee tape ;)

    Votes: 2 6.3%

  • Total voters
    32
A

audioib

Audiophyte
" most good reel-to-reel tapes were at least 1/4-inch wide "?

If you're talking about home audio, no--ALL good (or bad) reel-to-reel tapes were EXACTLY 1/4-inch wide. Can you imagine the chaos if they weren't all the same width?

Wider tapes were used, but only in multi-track studios.

Excellent article, otherwise.
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic General
Loved the 70's of home audio! In the 80's Dolby was coming on to the scene, for the whole I thought it was a gimmick. Had this new cassette deck it was a dual deck of course one for playing and one for recording. And it had this Dolby noise reduction switch on it. Did not like it, yeah it reduce tape hiss, but for me anyways didn't like what it did by knocking off the high end so I was not a fan of the Dolby thing. Fast forward pun intended, I wouldn't give up my Dolby for anything!! I do agree, we are now in the best of what home audio has too offer. Bless the hearts of the audio engineers for all their hard work and dedication bring us the outstanding audio we have today!
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic Samurai
and lets not forget JGH who started with High Fidelity before moving on to Stereophile and Harry Pearson start of TAS. All were part of the Golden era !
Yeah though they weren't mainstream I did subscribe to Stereophile for a few years. Their review of the original Magnavox top loading cd player was a big reason that I purchased it instead of a SONY. And I payed close to a grand for it at the time.
 
J

JStewart

Audioholic Intern
Thanks for the article and the memories, Steve.
As good as the article is, it's probably impossible if you didn't live it to understand just how huge a part audio and all things surrounding it, played in our daily lives in the 70's.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Sort of the same period, was this rundown on how audio developed in movies too
 
J

JengaHit

Audioholic
Sort of the same period, was this rundown on how audio developed in movies too
Long video, so that goes in my queue. Looking forward to watching. Thanks. Another documentary on film composers is "Score: A Film Music Documentary".


The 70s was huge for film scores and theater sound: start of the John Williams era and the advent of Dolby soundtracks. The two went hand-in-hand: trends in movie-music making and technology.

There were certainly expansive and rich orchestral film scores in the 60s: Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, to name a couple. However, theater sound systems were mediocre then. It's easy to take for granted surround sound and modern theatrical (and home theater) sound unless you're old enough to remember what it was like seeing Star Wars for the first time in a theater in the 70s. There really was nothing like that for theater audiences before the 70s. Keep in mind the typical previous sound experience for a kid might be with a Disney movie like "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes." Earlier soundtracks and theater sound reproduction were flat compared with Star Wars, and later Raiders, Jaws, and Close Encounters. I can't overstate the sonic impact of that Imperial battle cruiser flyover in the opening scene and the following rich orchestral score (Imperial March, Luke's theme, etc.). It was a sonic revelation for theater audiences then. I remember being bowled over by the sound, the VFX, and the editing.

EDIT: The Star Wars Soundtrack LP (John Williams cond. the London Symphony Orchestra) was popular record then, especially as a demo album among audiophiles. My dad had it.
 
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I

iraweiss

Enthusiast
I bought lots of audio gear in the 1970's and thankfully I can find information and reviews about most of the stuff at hifiengine.com/ and https://worldradiohistory.com/ It's strange that in a world of Class D amplifiers that .03 % THD would be unacceptable to a lot of a crowd that expects THD+N to be an order of magnitude or more less. We are dealing with levels of distortion that is perceivable only to my dog or bats (or is my dog bats?).

Regarding cassette decks, you will not get the best results unless the deck is adjusted for the tape you use, including bias and level. Dolby will magnify any inaccuracies in frequency response and the sound level coming off the tape should be the same as what is going onto the tape. I've been lucky in that I've located a service technician who can properly adjust my cassette decks for the tapes I use in addition to getting 40 year old machines to function properly electronically and mechanically. The fact that manufacturers could take a dictation format and massage it to the point that it could create copies almost indistinguishable from the original source is a testament to their dedication and perseverance.
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic Samurai
I bought lots of audio gear in the 1970's and thankfully I can find information and reviews about most of the stuff at hifiengine.com/ and https://worldradiohistory.com/ It's strange that in a world of Class D amplifiers that .03 % THD would be unacceptable to a lot of a crowd that expects THD+N to be an order of magnitude or more less. We are dealing with levels of distortion that is perceivable only to my dog or bats (or is my dog bats?).

Regarding cassette decks, you will not get the best results unless the deck is adjusted for the tape you use, including bias and level. Dolby will magnify any inaccuracies in frequency response and the sound level coming off the tape should be the same as what is going onto the tape. I've been lucky in that I've located a service technician who can properly adjust my cassette decks for the tapes I use in addition to getting 40 year old machines to function properly electronically and mechanically. The fact that manufacturers could take a dictation format and massage it to the point that it could create copies almost indistinguishable from the original source is a testament to their dedication and perseverance.
Nice having a service tech available with older tech like cassettes. And which version of Dolby are you using? The stronger the noise suppression the more magnification of inaccuracies will be present. Which is why dbx had various problems including audible "breathing". I never owned a dbx deck due to the various questionable reviews the received.
 
L

lejack

Enthusiast
The first 100 watt per channel, RMS amp, was the Mattes SSP/200, introduced in 1965. It did meet it's specs, but proved unreliable, and faded from the scene. IIRC, it had germanium transistors, which was probably the cause of it's downfall.
 
Big-Q

Big-Q

Audioholic Intern
A great read for sure. I lean more to the golden age being the 80s but I did start my musical journey in the mid-1970s though I did not own my own gear until the mid-1980s.
 
charmerci

charmerci

Audioholic
I lived through the late 70's-early 80's stereo boom and believe me, though I heard some great stereos from those that cared - forget those Pioneer/Kenwood receivers - I heard a ton of crappy, cranking Sansui/JBL stereos with said Pioneer receivers that made my ears bleed.
 
L

lejack

Enthusiast
Any receiver that made your ears bleed, was obviously, not working properly.
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
We're living in the golden age of audio equipment now ( 90s on up) as opposed to the 70s. Today's speakers outperform even the elitist speakers of the 70s at a fraction of the cost thanks to people like Dr Floyd Toole's research into loudspeakers and room acoustics and to the advances made in manufacturing. Active subwoofers, AVR room correction, MiniDSPs, REW has brought us far closer to achieving flat in room responses that just wasn't available in 70s unless you turned your room into an anechoic chamber with tons of unsightly room treatments. There are arguments stating that today's equipment isn't built to the same standards as the 70's and won't last very long. Today's AVR are built to even tighter tolerances then was available in the 70s. I have 3 Yamaha AVRs, one pre HDMI, that will most likely out live me barring future upgrades. The 70s were about glamour and show and yes the equipment looked very nice. But as far as audio quality goes, today's stuff out performs the 70s by many a mile.
 
T

Thorerik

Audiophyte
My first HiFi was a Pioneer SX-1010 which I used to power my Bose 901 II speakers. Talk about rockin' the house! I also had a Dual 1229 turntable with a Shure V15 III cartridge. Later on deployed with the Navy in the Far East I graduated to Pioneer's Spec 1 preamp and Spec 2 power amp. I ended up with almost all the "Silver Face" equipment. RG-1 range expander, SG-9500 graphic EQ, CT-F1000 cassette deck and a couple of Teac reel to reel, 10.5" reels. Still have it all except the SX-1010. What a mistake it was to sell it.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
It really depends on perspective and what one considers golden about it. Rock n roll was starting to diversify and heavy metal was born. Interest in the gear and hobby had a pretty good boom as the equipment began to benefit from scientific advancement. More power and big sounding smaller speakers started becoming a thing around then too.

There was some cool stuff happening in the audio world back then but it's gotten so, so much better. I think we're living in the best of times right now with current equipment and cleaner recordings. I think music is a lot more diverse now too with different genres blending together and new ones popping up. And most importantly... bass! Modern music in general has waaay better bass!
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic Samurai
My first HiFi was a Pioneer SX-1010 which I used to power my Bose 901 II speakers. Talk about rockin' the house! I also had a Dual 1229 turntable with a Shure V15 III cartridge. Later on deployed with the Navy in the Far East I graduated to Pioneer's Spec 1 preamp and Spec 2 power amp. I ended up with almost all the "Silver Face" equipment. RG-1 range expander, SG-9500 graphic EQ, CT-F1000 cassette deck and a couple of Teac reel to reel, 10.5" reels. Still have it all except the SX-1010. What a mistake it was to sell it.
Pretty nice equipment for a "first HiFi" :)
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Ninja
It really depends on perspective and what one considers golden about it. Rock n roll was starting to diversify and heavy metal was born. Interest in the gear and hobby had a pretty good boom as the equipment began to benefit from scientific advancement. More power and big sounding smaller speakers started becoming a thing around then too.

There was some cool stuff happening in the audio world back then but it's gotten so, so much better. I think we're living in the best of times right now with current equipment and cleaner recordings. I think music is a lot more diverse now too with different genres blending together and new ones popping up. And most importantly... bass! Modern music in general has waaay better bass!
there was always good bass back in the seventies, it just wasn't always well conveyed in our home systems ! IMO today's better bass is a product of sub woofer technology and improved listening room acoustics. I attended my first orchestral concert in the early seventies at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester, NY, plenty of solid bass !
 

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