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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 10, 2012 13 comments
Even before I heard the JBL L100 Century I knew it was going to be great. It was 1970, when hi-fi speakers all had drab cloth grilles, the L100 sported a brilliant orange "waffle" pattern grille, and when every other speaker had grey or black woofers, the L100's was white. I'll never forget the first time I heard a pair, and the big JBLs lit up my Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix LPs, it really was the ultimate "rock" speaker of the day. The L100 sold for $273 each, way too pricey for me.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 01, 2012 0 comments
The Acoustical Manufacturing Company’s Quad ESL-57 was the world’s first production full-range electrostatic speaker. It debuted in 1957 when hi-fi speakers were big boxes and used moving-coil drivers, so the ESL-57’s flat-panel, downright minimalist design not only looked like a radical advance, its thin-film diaphragm’s low-distortion and lightning-fast transient response sounded truly revelatory to 1950s audiophile ears. The speaker’s introduction came not so many years after the transition from 78-RPM records to higher-fidelity LPs took place. The market was primed for a more transparent transducer technology, and Quad had the best-sounding speaker of the age.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 14, 2012 1 comments
Richard Vandersteen got into the speaker business the same way as a lot of other high-end designers did and still do: He made speakers for himself, and started selling them through a local hi-fi store. That was in the mid 1970s, but Vandersteen's speakers bore little resemblance to what other home brew entrepreneurs cooked up.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 11, 2012 1 comments
The Sennheiser HD414 was a game changer in 1968. In those days hi-fi headphones were all big and bulky, closed-back designs, and the compact HD414 was the industry’s first “open aire,” on-ear (supra-aural) headphone. It looked, felt and sounded like nothing else and forecast the future direction of headphone sound.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 28, 2012 1 comments
Over-performing little speakers were always part of the high-end scene, but NHT’s SuperZero was the one that broke the mold. I recently spoke with NHT founder and president Chris Byrne to learn more about this classic speaker. The model that preceded it was, naturally enough, the Zero, but it didn’t take off, so it was redesigned with a different tweeter, a Japanese 1-inch soft dome made by Tonnegen. The woofer was a 4.5-inch treated paper cone driver, made in San Diego. The SuperZero sold for $230 per pair in 1993.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 16, 2012 14 comments
RCA's CT-100 may not have been the first consumer color TV in the U.S., Westinghouse's set beat it by a few weeks, but that model didn't sell in significant numbers. Both sets were on the market less than 100 days after the Federal Communications Commission finalized its standards for broadcasting color television.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 08, 2012 2 comments
In the early 1970s, the biggest consumer TVs were 27-inch direct-view CRT sets, so people must have been blown away the first time they saw TV projected on an Advent VideoBeam 1000’s 7-foot screen. The first Betamax videocassette recorders were still a couple of years away in 1972, and broadcast and cable TV were the only viewing options.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 02, 2012 5 comments
I don’t think there’s ever been a more iconic audio ad than Maxell’s “Blown Away Guy” campaign that started in 1979. It’s the one with the hipster on the right side of the picture slouching in a massive recliner, with a table lamp and martini glass being blown away by the sound of a JBL L100 speaker on the left side of the frame. That ad sold a lot of tape over the years!
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 18, 2012 2 comments
On April 15, 1968 Sony held a press conference in Japan to announce a new type of television, the Trinitron. The research team had just finished hand building ten prototypes, so they were shocked to hear Sony executives promising the TV would be in full production in less than six months! The very first Trinitron, the KV-1310, was in stores in October. A year later Trinitron came to the United States.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 10, 2012 2 comments
The original Shure V-15 phono cartridge debuted in 1964 as a "statement" design. The engineering team was headed by Jim Kogen, who later became a Vice President of Engineering, and after that the CEO. The V-15 Type II arrived six years later and it was the first computer-designed cartridge. The Type III was the best selling model in the series, it came along three years later, long before the CD changed the course of audio history.

Shure was huge in the mainstream market, but by the late 1970s and through the 1980s most analog-loving audiophiles had graduated to moving-coil cartridges (the V-15 was a moving-magnet design). I preferred the sound of moving coil cartridges, but conceded the V-15's tracking abilities were well ahead of most of the expensive Japanese moving coil designs of the time.

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