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
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
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 !
I didn't say good bass didn't exist, but it's a lot more ubiquitous now. Especially with rock and pop music.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
curious then if your parents refer to the seventies as the 'Golden Era' ?
Hmm... maybe. Dunno. My dad might go back a li'l further. I remember him having some Beetles albums, but he'd listen to doo-wop from time to time too. His band played a lot of top ten type stuff at local clubs or parties. Eagles, Men Without Hats, Pat Benatar... I used to catch and record songs off the radio they were learning and help figure out the lyrics.

Man, I forgot all about that. I was just a little kid but It used to make me feel like I was "part of the band", lol.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Ninja
Hmm... maybe. Dunno. My dad might go back a li'l further. I remember him having some Beetles albums, but he'd listen to doo-wop from time to time too. His band played a lot of top ten type stuff at local clubs or parties. Eagles, Men Without Hats, Pat Benatar... I used to catch and record songs off the radio they were learning and help figure out the lyrics.

Man, I forgot all about that. I was just a little kid but It used to make me feel like I was "part of the band", lol.
ahhhh your pop is a boomer, I like him already ! I still enjoy some doo-wop, Johnny Maestro, the Crest and many others !
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
ahhhh your pop is a boomer, I like him already ! I still enjoy some doo-wop, Johnny Maestro, the Crest and many others !
He's a huge Johnny Cash fan. He learned to play a lot of his songs.


That's my pops from about 3 years ago! He's in his mid 70s there.
 
T

Thorerik

Audiophyte
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.
Of all the cassette decks I have had I yet to find one that could even come close to competing with a properly set up Nakamichi. It seemed to be the only deck that the Dolby worked right. All others sounded like you threw a blanket over the speakers when you switched in the noise reduction.
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic Samurai
Of all the cassette decks I have had I yet to find one that could even come close to competing with a properly set up Nakamichi. It seemed to be the only deck that the Dolby worked right. All others sounded like you threw a blanket over the speakers when you switched in the noise reduction.
I never had the pleasure of owning a Nak but I always wanted one. I guess the best deck I ever owned was a 3 head AWIA a good deck but not a Nak.
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
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.
Hey Dave, I own four Yamaha decks all with dbx2 which I bought used over a span of 5 years. I record on the KX-1200, my main deck using dbx and play the recordings on all these decks and never encountered a breathing problem that many have described. I tried all genres and I cannot recreate it. I never was a fan of Dolby B during my university days as I had a cheap deck and it muted the highs. I dont have that problem with the Yamaha decks even with Dolby C. I found dbx to be far better than anything Dolby put out. I get tapes with no hiss and the dynamics arent lost either.
 
V

vqworks

Enthusiast
Steve truly did a bang up job, summarizing the history and perfect storm that led to the 70s Golden Age of Audio.

As a tape-o-phile, there is one thing that stood out to me. Advent's introduction of the 201 cassette deck. This model was actually the company's second deck with Dolby B. The first one that often doesn't get the credit is the 200, which was introduced back in '70. Many tape fans may not even be aware that the electronics of the 200 were designed and built by Advent but the transport was sourced from Nakamichi. While Nakamichi was an extremely capable company, it supplied transports that didn't meet the late Henry Kloss' expectations. He thought he ordered a higher quality transport than the one supplied. It appears that Nakamichi saved its higher quality transports for the introduction of its own products, beginning with the 1000 in '73. Kloss decided to use a Wollensak (3M) transport for the Advent 201 cassette deck.

Regarding noise reduction, I believe the late Dr. Ray Dolby deserves extreme respect. His Dolby A NR system helped launch the trend for dramatically quieter master tapes at the studio, leading to quieter LPs and other source material for consumers. Dolby B addressed the hiss issue that was the most obvious flaw for consumers in the early 70s.

Being level-sensitive, however, all the Dolby NR systems (B, C and S) is often blamed for leading to muffled recordings. But if the playback level is lower than the recording level, this will happen. When this issue is combined with a deck that supplies more bias than the particular tape requires, then recordings become even more muffled. Play back the same tape on another deck that has different head azimuth (tape-to-head angle) and the sound becomes even worse. Dolby B also increases lower level signals, often resulting in slightly earlier high-frequency tape saturation and this adds to the problem. Unfortunately, most decks (especially lower-priced decks) provided no means of compensation and the average consumer didn't want to deal with technical issues so Dolby and the cassette format in general was blamed.

dbx is not level-sensitive so bias is the only main concern. If the deck's bias is not optimally matched for the particular tape in use, then frequency response will not be flat (accurate), which will lead to the audible pumping issues so often described.

I've used quite a few machines from lowly budget decks to ultra high-end Nakamichi, Sony and Teach machines with and without outboard NR boxes. My experience tells me that provided that bias, level and recording equalization (if your deck allows it to be adjusted) any consumer NR system can turn out at least close-to-identical-to-source copies even on lower-priced Type I/ferric tape.
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic Samurai
T
Steve truly did a bang up job, summarizing the history and perfect storm that led to the 70s Golden Age of Audio.

As a tape-o-phile, there is one thing that stood out to me. Advent's introduction of the 201 cassette deck. This model was actually the company's second deck with Dolby B. The first one that often doesn't get the credit is the 200, which was introduced back in '70. Many tape fans may not even be aware that the electronics of the 200 were designed and built by Advent but the transport was sourced from Nakamichi. While Nakamichi was an extremely capable company, it supplied transports that didn't meet the late Henry Kloss' expectations. He thought he ordered a higher quality transport than the one supplied. It appears that Nakamichi saved its higher quality transports for the introduction of its own products, beginning with the 1000 in '73. Kloss decided to use a Wollensak (3M) transport for the Advent 201 cassette deck.

Regarding noise reduction, I believe the late Dr. Ray Dolby deserves extreme respect. His Dolby A NR system helped launch the trend for dramatically quieter master tapes at the studio, leading to quieter LPs and other source material for consumers. Dolby B addressed the hiss issue that was the most obvious flaw for consumers in the early 70s.

Being level-sensitive, however, all the Dolby NR systems (B, C and S) is often blamed for leading to muffled recordings. But if the playback level is lower than the recording level, this will happen. When this issue is combined with a deck that supplies more bias than the particular tape requires, then recordings become even more muffled. Play back the same tape on another deck that has different head azimuth (tape-to-head angle) and the sound becomes even worse. Dolby B also increases lower level signals, often resulting in slightly earlier high-frequency tape saturation and this adds to the problem. Unfortunately, most decks (especially lower-priced decks) provided no means of compensation and the average consumer didn't want to deal with technical issues so Dolby and the cassette format in general was blamed.

dbx is not level-sensitive so bias is the only main concern. If the deck's bias is not optimally matched for the particular tape in use, then frequency response will not be flat (accurate), which will lead to the audible pumping issues so often described.

I've used quite a few machines from lowly budget decks to ultra high-end Nakamichi, Sony and Teach machines with and without outboard NR boxes. My experience tells me that provided that bias, level and recording equalization (if your deck allows it to be adjusted) any consumer NR system can turn out at least close-to-identical-to-source copies even on lower-priced Type I/ferric tape.
Thanks for the informative explanation of cassette noise reduction systems. :)
 
V

vqworks

Enthusiast
No. We are living it now.
I think the answer is usually more nuanced and it depends on your personal criteria. At the same time, there is often a tendency for seeing things in a favorable light if they exists during your own period of youth.

Having said that, it's extremely hard to argue against the 70s because the market was unimpeded by competing consumer technologies. Like Steve said, the gaming, computer and video industries were either in their infancy or just slightly more mature and hardly affected consumer spending in the audio industry.

The current average consumer is satisfied with Bluetooth speakers and soundbars for audio. The rest of the average disposable income goes to annual (ore nearly annual) phone upgrades, games and video streaming services while much time for the current generation of youth is spent on social media.

Audiophiles like us still crave the good stuff: speakers, high-powered amplifiers, killer subwoofers, multi-media players, turntables. Even so, a close look at each manufacturer's products will indicate that they didn't offer the massive variety of equipment and quantities that they did back in the 70s and 80s.

Picture this: By the 70s and 80s, you could witness most manufacturers producing everything from speakers (some were decent but most were not - but that's another story), power amps, preamps, receivers, open-reel decks, cassette decks turntables, phono cartridges, switchboxes (to help equipment hoarding audiophiles connect more equipment to his system) and, by the 80s, CD players. On top of that, some of there offerings had proprietary technology or features!

Manufacturers don't have the guts or the capital for that. We're living in lean times. In fact, check out the current turntable market and you'll find one manufacturer producing models for several different brands and most entry-level to mid-line models (and sometimes high-end models) are actually stripped down derivatives of turntables from the 70s and 80s (no lie!). Certain Thorens and Music Hall turntables come to mind.

Anyway, enough babbling.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Audiophiles like us still crave the good stuff: speakers, high-powered amplifiers, killer subwoofers, multi-media players, turntables. Even so, a close look at each manufacturer's products will indicate that they didn't offer the massive variety of equipment and quantities that they did back in the 70s and 80s.
What killer subs were there in the 70s?
 
V

vqworks

Enthusiast
What killer subs were there in the 70s?

I don't know if you can call them killer subs but there were subwoofers by then. The first sub-sat speaker systems actually came out in the 60s. My dad had one used with his turntable.
 
A

Am_P

Audioholic
I don't know if you can call them killer subs but there were subwoofers by then. The first sub-sat speaker systems actually came out in the 60s. My dad had one used with his turntable.
70s:
Subs were extremely goofy or non existent
Speakers were very goofy (speaker engineering was rudimentary)
Amps had very little power
PrePros didn't exist
Hires music didn't exist
Atmos didn't exist
Spatial audio didn't exist
Tape sounds like nasty sht
Vinyl sounds like sht

Sorry, but, screw the 70s. 2021 is where I want to be.
 
Last edited:
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I don't know if you can call them killer subs but there were subwoofers by then. The first sub-sat speaker systems actually came out in the 60s. My dad had one used with his turntable.
Could be....didn't notice any until the 80s myself. I woulda been dangerous in the 70s :)
 
V

vqworks

Enthusiast
70s:
Subs were extremely goofy or non existent
Speakers were very goofy (speaker engineering was rudimentary)
Amps had very little power
PrePros didn't exist
Hires music didn't exist
Atmos didn't exist
Spatial audio didn't exist
Tape sounds like nasty sht
Vinyl sounds like sht

Sorry, but, screw the 70s. 2021 is where I want to be.
Goofy? Yes. Nonexistent? My Dad had one, remember? I think he still does.
There were quite a few triple-digit high powered amps and receivers back in the 70s.
AES or the BAS actually acknowledges analog open reel master tape as being "hi-res".
"spatial audio"? I'm guessing you mean some form of either reverb or surround audio...well, have you ever heard of quad? It did have issues (goofy?) but without that idea we may not even have ATMOS until later.

If you heard a well-recorded cassette made on a high end deck blindfolded, you would think it's your favorite current source (no Nakamichi necessary). Most audiophiles haven't.

Great vinyl would stun you.

But you like everthing 2021. Good for you!

Actually, my favorite era isn't even the 70s but a lot of what we currently enjoy wouldn't exist without the developments of that era. I respect it, warts and all. Ideas and developments come first and refinements come later...you know?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Goofy? Yes. Nonexistent? My Dad had one, remember? I think he still does.
There were quite a few triple-digit high powered amps and receivers back in the 70s.
AES or the BAS actually acknowledges analog open reel master tape as being "hi-res".
"spatial audio"? I'm guessing you mean some form of either reverb or surround audio...well, have you ever heard of quad? It did have issues (goofy?) but without that idea we may not even have ATMOS until later.

If you heard a well-recorded cassette made on a high end deck blindfolded, you would think it's your favorite current source (no Nakamichi necessary). Most audiophiles haven't.

Great vinyl would stun you.

But you like everthing 2021. Good for you!

Actually, my favorite era isn't even the 70s but a lot of what we currently enjoy wouldn't exist without the developments of that era. I respect it, warts and all. Ideas and developments come first and refinements come later...you know?
Wow one whole sub, that's awesome.

I've experienced a lot. Have no desire for cassettes at all for many many years, just got rid of them when better options came along. Great vinyl is still just shy of being actually very good.
 
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