Vintage Gear

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Steve Guttenberg  |  Feb 14, 2013  |  9 comments
The Pioneer Kuro plasma display broke new ground upon its introduction in 2007 and was quickly hailed by critics and buyers as The Greatest Television Ever Made. Incredibly, as many Home Theater readers know, the Kuro line that debuted in 2007 was phased out by 2010—which proves that just because you make the best, doesn’t mean people will buy it.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Jan 31, 2013  |  1 comments
Magnavox brought the first Laserdisc player, the VH-8000, to market in late 1978, but Pioneer was the company that put the format on the map. Its first player, the VP-1000, debuted in the U.S. in 1980, and later in Japan. I doubt Pioneer ever thought Laserdisc would threaten VHS and Betamax’s dominance in the mass market; Laserdisc was targeted to high-end buyers.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Jan 15, 2013  |  1 comments
Dan D'Agostino is a driven man, his all-consuming passions for sound, technology, and music made his first company, Krell Industries, the Ferrari of the high-end audio world in the 1980s. Dan plucked the Krell name from the classic sci-fi flick, "Forbidden Planet," and I'm guessing it was Dr. Morbius' line, "In times long past this planet was the home of a mighty and noble race of beings, which called themselves the Krell." that sparked D'Agostino's imagination. Dan and his wife Rondi launched the company with just one product, the KSA 100 amplifier, at the 1981 Consumer Electronics Show. In the early days the D'Agostinos worked hand to mouth, they'd build a few amps, put them in their car, drive them to a dealer, get a check, then build two more and so on.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Dec 12, 2012  |  4 comments
Do you remember which company introduced the world's first 7.1-channel receiver? And in what year it debuted?
Steve Guttenberg  |  Dec 12, 2012  |  0 comments
The AVR-5800 may be the most iconic Denon AV receiver of all time. It debuted in 2000 to commemorate Denon's 90th anniversary and was the world's first 7.1 channel receiver, the first with DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS-ES Matrix 6.1, and THX Surround EX (the forerunner of Dolby Digital Surround EX). Before the AVR-5800 arrived AV receivers, including the biggest flagship models, were all strictly 5.1 channel affairs.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Dec 04, 2012  |  1 comments
McIntosh’s MC275 may be the most famous tube amplifier in the history of high fidelity. Designed and engineered by the company’s co-founder Sidney Corderman and the McIntosh engineering team, the MC275 (2 x 75 watts per channel) was the most powerful McIntosh stereo amplifier in its day. Some say it was the Harley-Davidson of American amps, and with the big chromed chassis and exposed Gold Lion KT88 power tubes, the MC275 certainly looked the part. The retail price was $444 when the amp was introduced in 1961, and the mono version, the MC75, debuted the same year.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Nov 14, 2012  |  0 comments
The Nagra I was the first portable reel-to-reel recorder. Before it arrived in 1952 tape machines were so big they were housed in large trucks and the microphones could never be more than a few hundred feet away from the recorder.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Nov 08, 2012  |  0 comments
The Onkyo TX-SV7M is said to be the first Dolby Surround A/V receiver sold in the U.S. and Canada, way back in the all-analog days of 1987. Dolby Surround was the consumer version of the theatrical Dolby Stereo format that was used in movie theaters in the 1980s. Dolby Surround soundtracks were matrix-encoded into stereo formats such as VHS tapes, Laserdiscs, etc. The TX-SV7M was a four-channel receiver, with front left, right, and two surround channel amplifiers (the surrounds were monophonic).
Steve Guttenberg  |  Oct 22, 2012  |  0 comments
The Klipschorn was such a revolutionary speaker, it can still hold its own with some of the best of today’s home theater speakers. Paul W. Klipsch founded his company in 1946 in Hope, Arkansas, and built his first 12 Klipschorn speakers in 1947. They were fitted with Western Electric 713A compression tweeters and 12-inch JBL or Jensen woofers. The Klipschorn was designed to fit into the corner of a room, using the walls and floor as extensions of the speaker’s bass horn.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Oct 10, 2012  |  6 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.
Steve Guttenberg  |  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.
Steve Guttenberg  |  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.
Steve Guttenberg  |  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.
Steve Guttenberg  |  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.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 16, 2012  |  13 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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