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2 years, 10 months ago
Class High-End audio equipment history

The audio equipment of the class High-End began to appear [in the USA] even in the years of the end of World War II, but purchased popularity only after the end of the Korean war. Many veterans took advantage of service and spent the GI Bill for studying of electronics.

Having armed with the new found knowledge, they began to bring together own systems of reproduction of music – the general hobby for a high-quality and detailed sound so began (someone even managed to base the business).

In the late forties – the beginning of the 50th years of the sound reproducing system represented either audioconsoles, or floor radio. Such installations cost very much, and their vendors paid more attention to design of the wooden body, than an internal stuffing. Component audio systems met extremely seldom, and only the most keen music lovers and professional installers of the equipment understood them.

In radio shops parts for elements of audio systems, but many companies generally were on sale, for example, Acrosound, Dyna, Heath, Allied and H.H. Scott, made as completing, and ready-made products.

Electronics for music lovers in 40th and 50th

The people living in the late forties and the beginning of the 50th years, were strongly limited in the choice of Hi - Fi - system. The first power amplifier McIntosh appeared in the market in 1949 – it became 50W-1, developed by Frank Macintosh (Frank McIntosh) and Gordon Gough (Gordon Gow). 50W-1 it was succeeded to meet desires of consumers – it was the high-power amplifier with the low level of distortions, capable to work for high loading. Many of the early tube amplifiers McIntosh were created for medical and industrial needs, but not for a sound playback.

Most of vendors of the audio equipment of the beginning of the 50th years stopped the existence or was purchased by other companies. Pedersen Electronics – bright to that an example. In the fifties the Pedersen company made all range of audiocomponents: tuners, preamplifiers and power amplifiers.

Despite the bright advertizing slogan "PDQ-Pedersen Denotes Quality" ("Pedersen means quality"), after 1959 their products did not appear in annual reviews of the specialized magazine any more Audio Magazine. For all that time which I visited "flea markets" and went to meetings of club of radio fans products of Pedersen never got to me. The goods rarity from the point of view of the vendor does not belong to its advantages.

Class High-End audio equipment history

The device Audio Consolette за $143,50 which entered the market in 1955 became the first product of Saul Marants (Saul Marantz). In the log Audio Magazine about the device wrote the following: "It not only issues incredibly qualitative sound, but also is a fine example of competent development and assembly". In it two certain phonoproofreaders with big gain amount and 36 curves of an ekvalization were used.

Hermon Hosmer Scott entered game in 1947. "The dynamic noise suppressor" became the first product of his H.H. Scott company. It made revolution in broadcasting as gave the chance to reproduce vinyl records with rotational speed 78 RPM without crashes and other noises which were strongly affecting quality of sounding of radio receivers of that time. Scott continued to release noise suppressors up to 1956 – model 114A became the last device.

Fisher Radio Co. many years competed to H.H. Scott. Her creator Everi Fischer (Avery Fisher) based Fisher Radio in 1945. Today Fischer is better known for the charity (for example, donations for Everi in in New York), than technical merits, however during its board Fisher Radio remained the leader in the market up to 1969, was not purchased by the Japanese vendor of Sanyo electronics yet.

Class High-End audio equipment history

During creation of the first products of Harman Kardon paid more attention to style, than high technologies. Devices well were on sale thanks to the removable front panels available in a huge number of various flowers. However it was long before hiring by Sidney Harman (Sidney Harman) Stew Hedzhmana (Stu Hegeman) as the leading engineer and till the birth of lines of Award Series and Citation devices. Judges of Citation were eager to purchase all five models of a line. Model I is a preamplifier, Model II – the power amplifier, Model III – the tuner, and Model IV and Model V is a preamplifier and the power amplifier respectively.

On other side of the Atlantic Ocean [in Great Britain – a lane comment] in 1934 the Leak company appeared. In 1946 Leak provided the first power amplifier Type 15 who became result of military researches – it had negative feedback. Soon it was replaced by extremely successful model of the TL/12 amplifier which Leak made many years.

One more British company is the Quad based by Peter Walker (Peter Walker) in 1936. Today it is most known for the audiocolumns, but the Quad 1 amplifier was its first product. Let out the first columns Quad only in 1956 – it were the legendary ESL57 made 28 years.

Loudspeakers of the 50th years of the 20th century

In 1950 the Bozak company was the leader in the market of loudspeakers. Bozak sold acoustics of complete range of Kettle Drum which received the name because of the form (columns were similar to timpani) [kettle drum – timpani – a lane comment] and capabilities precisely to transmit a drums sound. Bozak also let out a line of component columns where the B-100 model (two loudspeakers of high frequencies) and the B-199 model (mid frequencies and a bass) entered.

In the early fifties several companies which still make the audio equipment competed with Bozak. In 1950 Altec Lansing made own drivers. It was possible to find the multisection driver of the complete range 603B, the double-band loudspeaker 604B, the 12-inch driver of the complete range 600B, the 8-inch driver of complete range in their directory 400B and the different body developed to contain in itself all these devices.

In the fifties there was one more company which was engaged in production of audiocomponent parts - it is the Jensen company. In advertizing of coaxial H-510 loudspeakers for $135 the following words sounded: "The special diffusers which are reproducing the broad range of frequencies and surprisingly precisely transferring an upper range". It was possible to find in a line of Jensen coaxial K-410 loudspeakers ($94.25) and K-310 ($56.25), and also single drivers of complete range which sizes varied from 5 to 15 inches. Jensen also let out "a control network" (the device which we call today the active crossover) A-110 and sold it for $26,50.

Among the companies making an audioborudovaniye there were also those which specialized in production of the body, offering the products to the music lovers not capable to manufacture their [body] independently. Karlson Associates (Brooklyn, New York) released the body for 15, 12 and 8-inch drivers. The floor case for 12-inch loudspeakers had three form factors of different height that it could be used as a coffee-table.

At an early stage the industry of a Hi-Fi-sound developed incredibly promptly. The University company which specialized in audiocomponents, but not on the ready equipment, expanded the line of drivers from five options in 1950 to 35 in 1952. University released all range of devices from loudspeakers to loudspeakers of complete range, and also crossovers and coaxial loudspeakers. University products usually were less expensive in comparison with products of competitors therefore they often could be met as the OEM equipment in many vintage musical amplifiers.

In England the Lowther Speaker Company company released Type P.M.2 drivers which had frequency range from 18 Hz to 20 kHz and cost only $135. Lowther also let out Horn Cabinet – the angular body which form reminded a tractrix. At its cost in $225, I suspect that owners of Lowther loudspeakers did (and do) the own body.

Class High-End audio equipment history

Another worthy references the British company Tannoy in 1952 already imported the 12-inch and 15-inch Dual Concentric loudspeakers to the United States. Having a rated impedance in 15 Ohms, Tannoy loudspeakers easily worked with small amplifiers on lamp triodes which were at that time most widespread.

In 1956 there was an expansion of the market – Stephens Trusonic released "two-part" coaxial loudspeakers and mnogodrayverny systems. 206AXA for $133,50 was the most advanced Stephens driver and had pair coils and a magnet of Alnico V weighing 7,5 pounds (3,5 kg). The most complex system of Stephens had the cost of $269,25 – it was the 803rd model which contained one high-frequency #216 driver, two low-frequency drivers 103LX, a high-frequency multisection loudspeaker 824H and the electronic crossover 800X.

Acoustic Research, the most known as AR, began the activity with creation of a prototype of the loudspeaker with "acoustic suspension" which was built manually in Ad and Rosemarie Vilchur's kitchen. The prototype was presented in October article (1954) of the Audio log under the heading "Revolutionary Loudspeaker and Enclosure" ("The revolutionary loudspeaker and the body") which was written by Edgar Vilchur (Edgar M. Villchur). At the end of article he specified the following address: "Acoustic Research Inc., Maunt Auburn Street 23, Cambridge, Massachusetts".

So the new era of loudspeakers with "acoustic suspension", that is loudspeakers in the closed body arose: they made revolution, having quickly exceeded any other options of execution of columns, the known industries in the mid-fifties. However such construction demands much bigger power, in comparison with loudspeakers of public type and loudspeakers like "horn".

Instead of the 5-watt amplifier on lamp triodes the ultraline amplifier was required for loudspeakers in the closed body 35-watt (if no more). How to be? Transistor amplifiers helped to answer this question. By means of transistors vendors of electronics managed to create the amplifiers having much bigger output power than lamp.

The KLH company was founded by Henry Klos (Henry Kloss), Malkolm Lowe (Malcolm Lowe) and Abe Hoffman (Abe Hoffman) in 1957 – all of them once worked in AR. Ad Vilchur, the head of the AR company, somehow told that Henry Klos "always had inclinations of the president". The trio remained in good relations with Vilchur therefore it was granted permission to use the acoustic AR suspender and twitter with a dome membrane in the products.

Early audio systems of the 60th years

In the sixties the 20th century there were several important technical innovations which seriously influenced development of home entertaining systems. The stereo which only just arose in the late fifties became the main musical format, in many respects thanks to emergence of the vinyl records capable to reproduce long records, and FM radio.

Bobbin tape recorders which in the late fifties music lovers used to enjoy stereorecords fell into oblivion with improvement of vinyl players, tone arms, cartridges and FM tuners. The record count for bobbin tape recorders became less.

The very first stereobroadcastings were carried out still in the late fifties, but it were only experiments. To listen to these programs, you needed to configure one channel of the receiver on FM station, and another on AM station. Scott made the double-band tuner (the 330th model) which could be configured in this way – the left channel reproduced audio from FM range, and right of AM range. The first true FM tuners using multichannel systems of stereocoding appeared in the market only in 1962.

When stereobroadcastings became a norm, the market of FM tuners began to grow in geometrical progression. There was absolutely new product – a receiver. The device included the tuner, a preamplifier and the power amplifier. The receiver was simpler in production and it is more convenient in comparison with component systems therefore quickly reached a leading position in the market. By the end of the 60th years component systems were brought together only by ardent music lovers and professional audioengineers

In the sixties the transistor managed to bypass vacuum lamps. The Japanese companies on production Hi-Fi did not achieve much with lamp devices — the success to them was brought by transistors. The Pioneer, Yamaha, Sony, Sherwood, Kenwood and Sansui companies entered the market of the USA with products whose parameters substantially exceeded parameters of the lamp devices made in the States.

Now we know that at an assessment of parameters the coefficient of harmonic distortions was used, and the contribution of separate harmonics was not evaluated, otherwise it would be visible that characteristics of distortion of odd harmonics of early transistors have the worst form, than at lamps. Many music lovers passed to the electronic equipment with solid-state elements and found out that sound quality changed slightly.

Despite unevident shortcomings of transistors, by 1963 many firms (even zealous adherents of lamp electronics) presented at the market the devices with solid-state elements. Harman Kardon, advertizing the first solid-state preamplifier Citation A developed by Stew Hedzhman used the following slogan: "The correct qualitative sound" (I always considered that it was thought up by Stew).

I had such preamplifier. It was not something amazing. However has to note that Citation A possessed surprising configuration of schemes thanks to which it was possible to take out a payment from the main chassis and it is easy to replace faulty transistors (at first them was too much).

Class High-End audio equipment history

With transistors and receivers the so-called Mid-Fi-market was born. Such shops as Harvey's Electronics, The Audio Exchange and Sam Goody's, placed advertizing of ready stereosystems in entertaining sections of New York Times. Those systems consisted of the vinyl player, a cartridge, a receiver, columns and cables for their connection and cost $299, $399 or $499.

I purchased the first stereosystem in Sam Goody's shop. The solid-state receiver of H.H. Scott failed in only five minutes. I handed over it back in shop, and the seller replaced it with Harman Kardon Nocturne which was with me all the time while I studied in college. All my friends and acquaintances had something similar. Garrard "revolving objects", cartridges of Pickering and AR-4x loudspeakers intensively moved from the room to the room, from home to home.

Early High-End-companies and melomansky brands

Though a huge number of the companies during this period disappeared under flow of budget foreign electronics, several American vendors could be fixed in the market. Joe Grado (Joe Grado) which based Grado Labs was and remains the unique inventor, the opera singer and the developer of an audio equipment. He created phonocartridges, tone arms, earphones, microphones and "revolving objects".

Janszen Acoustics became one more firm – the genius of audiodevelopment Arthur Jansen (Arthur Janszen) which developed the electrostatic loudspeaker managed it.

Julius Futterman (Julius Futterman) had least of all chances to remain in the field of audiodevelopments, however its products were made more than 15 years. OTL amplifiers of Futterman became cult among owners of Quad, such as Harvey Rosenberg (Harvey Rosenberg) who used later Futterman's developments in New York Audio Labs.

Enthusiasts and collectors can argue, but McIntosh, Marantz, Scott, Fisher, AR, KLH and Dyna are models of the companies of vendors, on errors (and progress) which it is possible to study. The Marantz and McIntosh companies proved that vendors of a High-End-audio equipment can develop, but remain correct to the mission and clients.

P.S. Different aspects of a high-class audio equipment are not only our work, but also hobby of all life. We share the finds and reasons in our blog and podcasts.

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