One thing the Vietnam war brought America was great stereo systems from the “Tokyo Exchange”. Guys coming back from “Nam” usually came back with these gigantic Akai stereo systems that they bought through the military PX/exchange. In the late 60’s and early 70’s when Rock was good, the baby boomers started working on their “tinitus” (pronounced ten-it-us, not ten- eye- tus) It’s ringing of the ears. Contrary to what the new commercial over the counter products say; tinnitus is the result of killing off the cells in your Cochlea or hearing organ in the inner ear. When you hear that ringing in your ear after you hear a gun shot, that’s tinnitus. For us musicians it’s that ringing in our ears that comes from standing in front of Marshall cabs for 3 hours.
But I digress. Back in the day (1970’s) We had really cool speakers. My personal favorites were Bose 501s. (not to big, not to small) you had to have a receiver, preferably 50 watts per channel. A Techniques turn table. A Sony cassette to cassette recorder, and of course a 12 to 24 band eq (graphic equalizer). Then on a Friday night when the new Pink Floyd album came out, you told your neighbors to shut their windows if they didn’t want to hear DSOTM at 90 decibels.
The speakers and eq really made the system. (and a good cartridge or “Needle”) OH and don’t forget the bean bag.
All we had back then was vinyl. But it was great if you recorded it on your cassette tape before your LP “record” got scratched. (damn cats) Then began the quest to improve the media. They did a great job, but in doing so, they screwed up the sound ! IT’s the SOUND DAMN IT.
I don’t give a damn about MP3 players. I don’t want to listen to music through ear plugs. Plus MP3’s rob you of 90 percent of your sound.
But I’ve jumped ahead.
Next came cassettes and really cool high end cassette players that had titanium play heads and a bitchin’ thing called “SOUND SEARCH”. A really good cassette player would fast forward and stop in between tracks. A mega/uber cool player would have a belt driven carriage. (Like a VCR if you’re familiar with those antiques) It took the cassette and gently lined up the tape so the heads played the tape at a perfect perpendicular angle.
Then somewhere in the 70’s someone really really high invented the 8 track. lol…… Oh the jokes you can tell about 8 tracks. If you had an 8 track player in your car, and you wanted to hear a certain song again; you had to keep driving. You also had to make sure you had a book of matches to wedge under the tape and the player opening to line up a worn tape. lol how awful.
Then in 1979, every FM Radio station in the free world bragged about having the “digitally re-mixed” version of the White Album, or Houses of the Holy, or Elvis Costello’s My aim is True.
It’s safe to say that Consumer music sounded the best in the early 80’s. We still had the bad ass speakers and graphic EQ’s.
Fast forward 20 years. 8″ sub woofers with tweeters gave way to 2.5″ boom box speakers. Of course the price of the new CD system was only about 300 bucks. (complete with 5 spot CD carousel) The stereo system as we knew it morphed into the glorified boom box. Even the quality of the CDs went to hell. Originally CD’s would take a lickin and keep on tickin. Now they’re pieces of crap that are only good for burning wave files on to archive.In 1998 when the personal computer became as popular as the Television; they came with MP3 players. An Mp3 is a degraded sound file that has 1/10th of the information the full wave (.wav) file. You could still here the song but when you do an A/B comparison, there’s no question that MP3s strip the original song of many important frequencies.
I predicted someone would invent an MP3 device. “SHAZAM” the IPOD. They even came out with IPOD sunglasses for skiing. Ya you could hear something, but you never heard DSOTM or Close to the Edge unless you’ve heard it on vinyl or early 80’s CDs through huge fricken Bose speakers.
Oh how I miss the drop of the needle.