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gear from the late 60s/70s - ehm wtf
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Flying_Dutchman
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#1
16th April 2011
Old 16th April 2011
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gear from the late 60s/70s - ehm wtf

What happend to audio gear? Everything i buy fron this area outperforms the actuall gear i got, let it be CM64, M15a, MD414
decades later it´s just a joke sometimes, or you really got to pay a hell of money
what went wrong?
normally evaluation improves
i really think this is a counter evolution topic, but why?
did they loose the skill? did the good guys die? are there too many companies out for the fast cash? dunno
it´s just a pale replica sometimes, but it could be better, much better
i really think we made a big step back in quality
standard gear from this area outperforms high end stuff from now
this is a shame
peace
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#2
16th April 2011
Old 16th April 2011
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Part of the answer lies in the games capitalism plays:

Product sabotage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

e.g:

"In the hi-tech world it is common for companies to produce a high-specification product, sold at a premium price, and then sell the same product more cheaply with some of the functions disabled. IBM did this with a printer in the 1990s, where an economy version for a home user was the top-of-the-range model with a microchip in it to slow it down."

Making rubbish makes them more money!
#3
16th April 2011
Old 16th April 2011
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This is an interesting and complicated subject. Part of the problem is that an improvement in technical specifications, often times, does not equate to an improvement in sound quality and while you can measure technical specs in a precise way, you can't measure sound quality the same way. Often times, a company will modify their classic and much loved product to produce better specs on paper (and lower production costs) but then it won't sound as good as the old version. There are hundreds of examples of this.

Some of the most prized and expensive mics on earth are the classic Neumann tube mics from the 1950's - 1960's like the U47, M49, M50, U67, KM54, KM56 etc and the classic AKG tube mics like the C12, C24, ELAM250, ELAM 251. However, in the 1960's Neumann and AKG stopped making these classic mics and introduced their solid state replacements. They were intended to be improvements over the tube models because without tubes to get hot and wear out, they were more reliable and they had better frequency response and less noise than the tube models. However, while they still sounded good (and some early solid state models are classics in their own right) most engineers agree they were not as good as the tube models they replaced.

Most of the early solid state gear was still made by hand and used point to point wiring and discrete electronic components. Later, op amps combined some the of the components into one piece. Later still, integrated circuits allowed you to put dozens and later hundreds of components on one chip. Later still, surface mount technology allowed machines to assemble hundreds of tiny components on circuit boards. Each of these "improvements" made sense from a manufacturing standpoint as it lowered costs and improved quality control as each unit more consistient. Technical specs remained just as good, if not better, as each of these improvements took place. However, the new units did not sound the same and engineers preferred the older ones even though they might have more noise and were not as reliable.
#4
16th April 2011
Old 16th April 2011
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Simple thoughts;
1 back then everything was designed to be what we now call clean, we ended up with a lot of what we now think of as colored gear, which was excellent gear at the time based on what was available technology.
2 It was all pro gear not consumer their was a a very defined line.

3. The designer was more important than the Acct.
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#5
16th April 2011
Old 16th April 2011
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I fully agree with you Flying Dutchman. I mostly am only interested in acquiring good old solid state gear from the late 60's throughout the mid 70's. This stuff never lets me down and generally sounds sweeter/ more musical.
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16th April 2011
Old 16th April 2011
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I think that the main difference between todays gear and gear made in that era, is that they just made gear back then, good, bad or indiferent they just made it, and today, 90% of the analog gear made, is trying to emulate that old gear or sound, only few of the gear made is actually making something really different, or not trying to sound old, and you know what they say, a copy will always be a copy...

Then again, back in those days, most of the components were excellent, today you still have excellent components (some even better) but you also have cheap chinese parts, so manufacturers not always choose the best for obvious reasons...
#7
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post
i really think this is a counter evolution topic, but why? did they loose the skill? did the good guys die?
I don't remember where I read that, but I think NASA said at one point that they wouldn't know how to build a Saturn V rocket today. So yep, guess your comment about losing skills and/or having the good guys die might be your answer.
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#8
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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Back in 1980, you paid $250 for a Shure SM58. Today, you pay $150, which has about one-sixth of the purchasing power of the old price.

If AKG were to make the D202 again, it would cost the same as the Sennheiser MD441 and that costs over $1k. The MD441 is still as good as it was in 1980 and in real terms, it costs the same.

The good stuff is still good and it still costs about the same in purchasing power parity.
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#9
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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A lot of the groundwork was laid by guys building the gear they wanted. Those were engineers.

Now, a fella in his bedroom with a pc, mic, and usb box calls himself an engineer. It's easier to just call yourself an engineer than to actually go out an learn something. Couple this with the advancements or manipulation of technology others mentioned and there you have.

It's the perfect business model. You have a never ending supply of consumers without knowledge of what they want or need. Enter the advertising department....."vintage"......"analog"....."faithful recreation".
#10
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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But now we have plug ins!
#11
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
But now we have plug ins!
lol. I needed that.

I think my post above may have counted as my 1st official rant.

I'm good now. Back to music
#12
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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I'm always skeptical about tech improvements on tried and true gear. Why is it that they always say "Better yet cheaper"?

If they said, it's much improved but we have to charge more - I'd be more inclined to take that at face value.
#13
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deltones View Post
I don't remember where I read that, but I think NASA said at one point that they wouldn't know how to build a Saturn V rocket today. So yep, guess your comment about losing skills and/or having the good guys die might be your answer.
Well, that's a little misleading. No one has used a Saturn V rocket since the mid-70's so it stands to reason taht this would be the case. Everyone who really worked it in any high level capacity is now probably retired and/or dead. But audio equipment has been in use all along.

And of course another big part of it is Walmart Mentality in the consumer. The equipment you are talking about wasn't cheap and was designed for professional/commercial applications. If you are willing to pay the money you can still get good quality stuff. But people today prefer to have 10 cheap things than one high quality thing. And that vote with their wallets tells businesses what they have to do.

You can't support lots of highly qualified engineers to build relatively low volume devices unless you can charge a lot. So most of the companies that do it now are small operations that can get by on less and less revenues. And that probably means that they don't hire 10 or 20 engineers that the old timers can pass their knowledge down to.
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#14
17th April 2011
Old 17th April 2011
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no doubt the old gear that has become the staples in the industry are popular for good reason. But don't forget they made lots of bad gear in those eras too, but we don't remember them for that reason . Not everything was great but there are many gems. It's the same thing today. Lots of good stuff lots of bad stuff.

Just because it's old doesn't mean it's good and just because it's new doesn't mean its bad. I feel that more of the sonic pitfalls of today come form digital paradigm. If everyone had 2in Studer machines or even JH24s and had average desks, mics and comps we wouldn't be discussing all these topics as much.

You notice people going crazy to make their recording more warm and it's because its a different era. In pro circles in the 70s and 80s noone talked about 'warm gear' since that's all there was. No one thought about it. Sure things like clarity and openess were discussed but even the cheap analog gear had a vibe so no one really questioned it from a warmth perspective.

The concerns back then were clarity and noise. Now we add noise aspects to music to compensate for what digital is missing? It's ironic. Maybe its a good balance
In some aspects digital does offer some advantages sonically but so did the old analog stuff in other aspects. Some day when even the cheapo converters are good and people really get a grasp for the digital domain it will all work out. But no matter.... everything today revolves around trying to make it sound like analog tape regardless of someone being actually conscious about that or not.

What boggles my mind is people using $200 converters and buying all these great highend pres and phatsos... it's pointless
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