Vintage Hi-Fi Info
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*See our NEW Hi-Fi Blog page
lots of New Sections since Jan 2017 that add a wide range of Hi-Fi & Tech related subjects plus opinion on Hi-Fi News 1970-1980 as we read through.
Includes New Articles on this page's subject. This page has been updated & read through with 2017 ideas & with an Index to navigate.
Hi-Fi Year Book 1956-1981, Other Hifi Books & Hi-Fi News Magazine
Hi-Fi Year Book 1956-1981, Other Hifi Books & Hi-fi News Magazine
These 24 books were issued yearly from 1956 to 1980 as the smaller size, but there is an undocumented 1981 issue too, read on. It was initially issued by the Hi-Fi News magazine. There is some interesting reading amid these books & it's good to read about old items & technology when they were new. The 1979 mentions CDs as they became. As happens when we want things, a huge amount turn up & we got the full set remarkably quick, all on ebay. But now you don't see too many. Perhaps we got the only ones that were sitting unsold for years, our tastes are often deeply obscure. We enjoy them for what they are & they do get read & referred to often.
See the Amplifiers & Receivers pages as we cherry pick from these books & more. ↑
HFYB: Interesting For What Hifi There Was...
But be aware the books are mostly just ads & a listing of all items hifi related available at the time with specs but no review sthough the earlier ones dared to only include those they had reviewed & considered worthy, ie no Radiograms in the 1957 book. By the 70s any old crap was included, so you'll see the budget brands amid the pro & high end items. Amstrad, Eagle, ITT, Alba & other cheapo EU brands stand out by virtue of the low prices, but in context bigger selling brands may appear a bit cheap simply as you sell more & can price better. The Garrard 301/401s appear very low priced in their later years compared to others that are not rated today. Some ridiculous high prices in the 1970s, £1500 amplifiers, £750 tape decks & the like. If this interests you and if you've read this far you should try a few, the books did turn up fairly often selling realistically for about £20-30 each, the ones 1969/9 edition on have dustjackets, 1980-81 are paperback with 1981 being A4 size. As an idea the 1965-66 book has 100 pages on Tape & Microphones that are now of very little interest, but there is still enough interesting stuff in all the books, as the same book has plenty about early transistor amps. ↑
Interesting & Boring Articles...
The Articles in these books can be interesting, some are very futuristic & oddly on the ball. But they are weighed down by boring self-indulgent writing like older tutors used to bore you with to the point you learnt nothing & the dry endless theory that few really care about. You can read the start of an article & quickly find it has conned you into reading the boring stuff. Some articles also are outdated & irrelevant unless you really care about early Microphones or the acres of Tape & Tuner articles, though how the early years started are more interesting. Some items that never caught on are covered which may be interesting or not, but over all it gives a good idea of what was in the Hifi Magazines of the era. The Book changes owners during the years: 1970 book is now an IPC publication, not Miles Henslow & IPC change Editors over the 1970-81 era ending up a Wireless World related book as the credits page shows is an IPC title. The 1980 & 1981 books are a return to being more interesting as the Computer age dawns, but HFYB will have suffered for the Competition & the years of errors especially in 1977-79 as entire Ranges by makers were left out, the perils of poor admin in pre Computer days.
A lot of the items beyond the main ones like Turntables, Amps, Tuners, Receivers & Speakers are probably 99% obsolete & useless now. Pages of Microphones & Tape Machines that only just a tiny few are noted as Retro Cool or Classic. With Speakers, most are just cheap everyday goods with very few vintage Speakers worth using today, as well as too many being of low power that are long since binned. Old isn't always good: Headphones until the 1990s were of low musical quality, the Bass & Treble detail we have in our ATH-M50s is because of the 'super magnets' of today & very fine driver cones.
We've been reading through ours as well as compiling the Amplifiers & Receivers page from them. To read the articles is usually worthwhile though over the series things will be repeated, be obsolete or not relevant to you. The 1964 HFYB we're reading as of typing this paragraph is a quarter about Tape which is not very interesting. Plenty of other items you'd not really want to use though Speaker sections with old cabinets could be reused with modern drivers. The Tuner section is still valid & it could be decades until the analog FM/AM signal is turned off as DAB isn't doing as well as predicted. The old ads are interesting in their naiveness & for the more conformed ideas of then. The 1964 book has a large section about the early Transistor amps in Germanium & Silicon which is worth reading though some sections are much less interesting. DIY Kit items get sections as well as Accessories that seem a bit crude today. It's the History in these books.
One seller has scanned all of these books 1956-1980 & sells them as a CD on ebay HERE. Never bought one but they appear good value for the hours of scanning & the £20-30+ the actual book would cost, if the quality is not perfect which will make photos rough. You can't beat a book though. All helps get these Vintage Hifi items known, though the series isn't perfect or complete in all UK sold items, it's certainly worthy. ↑
Until 1975, Quad were the Front Cover brand. Perhaps not the best idea as Quad didn't change their brands very much & such sameness on the fronts will have lost sales by buyers not noticing it was a new issue. 1956 has 3 Quad items & a Garrard 301 turntable. From 1957 to the same Quad II amps, ESL electrostatic speakers, Tuner & Preamp were featured with various patterns. 1961 adds a photo of the items in use, but 1962 is back to the images again if they are smaller. 1967/68 issue updates after 10 years samey-samey with the Transistor 33/303 combo if still the ESL. 1968/69 brings the dust jacket with odd cutout pics of amp front bits, 1970 shows more of them, 1971 returns the ESL to the cover, a 14 year old item that didn't really sell that well. 1972 bizarrely puts the insides of the FM3 tuner on display with the usual, 1973 puts a stylised Quad preamp board image, 1974 back to ESL now 17 years old as the main item & the usual amps now 7 years old. How dull that HFYB should let Quad dominate every cover 1956-74. 1975 brings a much needed change to something that looked contemporary & that people actually were buying: a Goodmans Music Centre with speakers, all in white looking very modern at last. 1976 gets a lively Celestion cover with of all things... a Rock guitar. 1977 gets Eagle as they are now breaking away from their budget image, 1978 gets Bang & Olufsen with the 4400 receiver, turntable & speakers system, 1979 is a bit dull with plain silver Trio-Kenwood amps not filling the picture even. 1980 gets Bang & Olufsen again with the slimline remote control receiver, a TV, a turntable & a portable radio, no doubt on HFYBs request to show it's broader content. 1981 sees no brand but sensibly what people were buying with TV, a huge Hitachi cassette deck, what looks like a Linn LP12 & a music centre by Fidelity if a better looking one. The back ad is for Pioneer stack systems. ↑
Quite a bit of the Appeal of these books is to see Year by Year the ranges of Hifi available, as well as the Adverts which to those of a certain age or more will remind you of "The Good Old Days" when that Shop used to be there, a thing of the past when Towns & Cities as well as early Shopping Centres had Hifi Shops that usually sold Records too. Some adverts are amusing in the Dated-Patronising way Women were treated by the media & TV, ie the 1978 HFYB has some popsy cueing up a Record on a Music Centre, player arm in mid flight yet she's looking straight at the camera, not what she's doing: Oops, naffed a Stylus. Another similar is using some barbaric Record Cleaning roller yet again looks straight at the camera: Oops snagged a Nail on Hubbie's 'Yes' LP. Women in adverts then were mainly for decorative purposes though a minority will have been buyers of Audio Gear & will have found this patronising in later years, but in 1978 women were happiest looking after Kids & Baking Cakes says the typist from seeing their own relatives & never even noticed. Those thinking Women have progressed in equality have missed the vile exhibitionists in the News & the amount 'disrobed' on the internet, at least it was seen as 'light patronising sexism' in the 1970s... Times quickly changed & womankind never were as content again... Some of the adverts are open lies with HMV noted as a cheap brand in 1967-early 70s stating "Quality Comes First", no it didn't. Other nonsense like "Powerful 15 watts" and "The 7 watts per channel output power gives a really good sound". The usual tiresome "Thanks to..." and other nonsense only an idiot would believe sadly is still in Hifi advertising as the absolute gushing nonsense that having xyz makes theirs better is just sales hype & many are in belief of it even after modern advertising being over 40 years old. If you think Copper Plated Screws, Anti Vibration Chassis & Isolating Feet are there just beyond decorativeness then the hype has got you too. ↑
Rarity of these Hifi Year Books
Dust Jackets begain in 1968/69 issue & as with most books the DJ got lost, though the HFYBs not read end to end like fiction books & more are in DJ than without. 1980-81 are paperbacks. 1956 is Rare as either Hardback or Paperback & can be £60+. 1957-1960 are still hard to find as still early days & the covers can wear but contents be like new. By 1964 they are selling better & by 1967 are findable. The 1971-73 books turn up most & then get scarcer by each year if improve by 1977 but by 1978 they get rarer quite quickly with 1978 a little harder, 1979 is hard to find, 1980 very hard to find & 1981 unfindable. They provide the basis for what research we've put regarding Wattage & Prices to the point the casual buyer won't really need to buy the books now, but we type it up so we can refer to it for buying unknown amps as well as seeing the Service Manuals findable mostly free online. The Peak selling years, based simply on those we've seen are 1967-73. ↑
The 1956 Hifi Yearbook
is a real rarity. For a start Hifi in 1956 was a very new thing, the Hifi News magazine only started this year. Together with the fact that this year is a slim 180 page paperback if a similar size, means survival is much less than the 1957 edition which is a hardback. There now appears to be also a Hardback version of the 1956 too as one was on ebay, either must have sold very few copies. Both are Originals, the paperback the rarer one for survival issues. We've seen 2 HB & 1 PB now. Most buyers will have to get the PDF sold on ebay as we had to pay a bit to get our one. An interesting read for sure, not that much equipment was available to be included as hifi. It tells us "What is Hifi" and "Hifi Requirements" important chapters for most readers beyond the kit making enthusiasts would still be Radiogram users. As this is the first book, it explains the reasons for & why a separates hifi system is worth buying, illustrating most of them with the usual specs & price listings. This is certainly a pioneering book, taking elements from the G.A. Briggs (Gilbert to his friends) books & putting it all in one place & not simplifying for the masses. "The Future" section is very well researched, mentioning Stereo FM, TV recording, Transistors for Hifi, Stereo Discs. The only units that will be familiar to Hifi buyers today are the Garrard 301 turntable & the Quad II amp-preamp.
The 1956 book appears to cover what can be found in the Briggs books & others, though bearing in mind it's 1956 & pre the Stereo era & even a Tweeter on a speaker was still not required by all. Stereo tape was introduced by EMI Stereosonic tape & very soon the idea of one big speaker would be replaced with two makes the Omnidirectional Mono speaker soon out of date, though be sure few jumped onto Stereo until they saw fit to buy newer items. To read the scene just before Stereo & Hifi really took off is more interesting than the items you could buy then, only Tannoy Speakers, Quad ESLs, a few advanced ribbon tweeters the Garrard 301 and perhaps a few other turntables are all that anyone would use today, even briefly. ↑
Hifi Yearbooks Overview
The books are still interesting reading, even if the majority of all the Hifi enclosed isn't perhaps what we'd consider until the Transistor years of 1967 onwards, many of these earlier items just are too old, some may have collector appeal, but few 1956 Tape Recorders will be working & used still if even existing. Only a small amount of Valve Amplfiers & Receivers are capable of Hifi but need much rebuilding. Doesn't mean there aren't interesting items to pick out & try though. Some make huge prices but we wonder if the buyer ever uses them or rebuilds them. But 1956 & 1957 are still seemingly very early days, 1958 perks up with the introduction of Stereo & some of their predictions for HDTV & Hifi sound seem eerily true, or the Natural Progression however you look at it. Other years have a Tape influence, nowadays Tape is almost obsolete except for Retro recording artists. Some of the equipment noted as Hifi looks very primitive & thankfully we don't use 5g tracking weights & awful turntable arms, if other items are still more usuable. It didn't really change in looks until the 1967 era with Transistors & Hifi that looks not too dissimilar to today's offerings as sizes & quality improved.
So the HFYB started with a paperback, ended on a similar sized paperback & then the last 1981 one was an A4 size paperback. Happy reading. The book dates are a bit messy, 1956 to 1964, then double year dated 1965/66 to 1968/69 as issued late in the year then sensibly back to 1970-1981, with dustjackets on the 1968/69 onwards. There is no 1965 date by itself as you may think as the 1968/69 book states it's the 13th one. It helps put more obscure brands in context as well as seeing the cabinets used with the hifi, ie a long B+O receiver could be on a shelf in a unit & another shelf over it for the turntable. Dedicated glass stands of today (or the 1990s) were far away. The early amps pre 1970 were often built into cabinets, we had an awful one someone lived with the Garrard 301 & Dynaco transistor set was in. Only custom made units like furniture will look right, anything home made unless you have access to the factory type machinery will always look crap & many Garrard 301/401s we've seen that were from original owners were in lousy cabinets, ie 8mm ply box, hardly the best idea.
Having collected these books, the earliest ones you kind of yearn for the later amplifier stuff but it's interesting seeing what awkward units they had to use & in the post 1975 ones seeing only ones you don't like much it makes you yearn for the past. Having lived through the transistor years if being too young, we lived pop chart music on the radio & got tired of it by 1987 turning to the Pirate Reggae stations. Looking back we realise we don't like anything much after 1983 now. Those 4 years of music we didn't think we much liked now, though having got a few thousand on wanting more Stereo tracks to play testing amps with, you can be surprised what you do still like, most music 1984-92 was suffered unaware of what you can see in retrospect is the point: you don't realise the good things have gone until years later. Much like the rest of life today...
There are websites trying to cover the range of hifi as the market is still growing despite the amps getting older. Hifi Engine, The Vintage Knob, Audioclassics, the German Hifi-Wiki, Radio Museum & many others have useful but very incomplete data. Not even the HFYB contain all amps, some found aren't UK sold brands but we've noticed some models that were UK models don't feature & many typos creep in. The way it's going it will improve & soon you'll find the omissions being filled in. You'll find fan sites & forums with every amp good or mediocre having those who swear by it. But Hifi sites like our one will by their nature not be too plentiful, we are Qualified Techs with years of experience & still learning. ↑
The 1980 Hi Fi Year & Home Entertainment Book
this Paperback-only book covers Hi-Fi - Radio - TV - Organs - Games - Videos - Records with a Bang & Olufsen front cover on a new glossy paperback format. But the book was still 80% the same type of items as the 1979 one & the sections are brief, ie Gaming showed no Coleco Vision but did have Spectrum & Atari. Clearly by this time the book needed to expand & think of what a 2012 Year Book would be full of, just about everything that plays music from iPhones to Soundcards to traditional hifi that still survives. The amount of Music Centres, Cassettes & Stack Systems shows the cheaper end of music reproduction, not real hifi, was huge & though the book omits the cheapo stuff that was selling by the skipload, as that's where it ended up years later. Traditional stereo hifi in 2012 is rapidly being replaced by 5.1 etc type Home Cinema systems the Hi-Fi shops would have you believe for several years now, but the big market in iPod & Phone stored music MP3 related amps & docking systems, items we have no interest in, show 2 channel music items are far from dead. Personal music is more popular which must please those older who don't have to listen to it and keep saying that xyz track actually sounds very like a well known track from 30-40 years ago. ↑
The 1981 Hi Fi Year Book & Home Entertainment Book
This is one that no online source notes or is findable even. But it exists as we've got one. See photo of one below. This year is an A4 size paperback book, similar to the 1980 but 256 A4 pages making the pages bigger but text still the same size. Probably copies still long lost amid Magazines of the era, but it's a proper square edged bound book with a black spine just with "HI-FI YEAR BOOK 1981" in yellow faded to white. Only seen our one & the one sold on ebay for one £25 bid in July 2014. From what the seller had too, in 1981 Hifi Choice magazine issued an A4 size book called "Best Buy Guide" which by it's title will not contain as much info as the HFYB. By the later 1980s What Hifi was including it's Buying Guide in every issue, by the early 1990s it becomes very detailed with one line review comments & Star ratings. All this made the idea of a HFYB seem obsolete very fast & frustratingly many items are quoted in later years as "No Recommended Retail Price" when they could easily have quoted suggested prices as is more normal today, ie RRP £299, Comet may sell it for £250 & a Hifi Shop may offer it at £285, but at least you know it's standing in it's category. The book is A4 size & 1cm thick. Inside no explanation why the change occured, business as usual similar to the 1980 book. Odd seeing the demise of the Monster Amp era, Pioneer onto a cheaper range & Marantz just holding on. More emphasis is on the huge range of very similar looking Loudspeakers & the cheaper bulk buy systems, stack & tower units that sold in huge amounts, not that they were all bad, in just a few more years & all the big names offered cheap & cheerful "hifi" as they sold so well to the ordinary music buyer who cared not for 50w of quality at 4 times the price, they just wanted 50w of loud & flashy. Mass market dictates as ever. By this time, there were a lot of pre & power combo amps, they realised making 2 boxes gets 2 big sales & the total price could easily go £500-600 for specs that aren't that impressive. By the late 1980s all manner of stupid flashing light systems were around, it all started with meters that booped along to the music level, but ended up with graphic equaliser light shows, just like Windows Media Player offers. An interesting bit about the invention of Teletext & Prestel starting to become popular is a little sad as at the time of typing, our region only has 2 months left before Analog TV is switched off. It led to the Internet being the best source for info, but not until 1995 when Windows 95 hit big from what we remember, Windows 3.0 or 3.1 we saw in 1992 & it was so different to DOS we first saw in 1980 & could only type 10 Print "xxx" 20 goto 10 & run & it hilariously filled the screen with your words. Being a Text reader since 1986 & buying the first TV we had especially with it, breakfast reading will not be the same... Early computer items & games are already collected if still pretty underground. ↑
What Happened To The 1982 & 1983 Books
Reading the Jan 1983 Hifi News, it mentions the Hifi News & record Review Annual & Yearbook. The Annual we mention below & the 1967 one was just a pick of some items reviewed. It seems later ones added more new sections, in some way, to the Annual style & seemingly the Year Book that lists all Hifi buyable was abandoned through low sales & high amount of errors in the 1979 book especially, causing the last two to be rare items now. It was just merged is the answer, but the Annual 1983 doesn't appear to have the category listings, just a list of Manufacturers. To us, it leaves 1980 onwards not knowing what Amps & Receivers there was & be sure only a tiny percentage got reviewed. But What Hifi by the late 1980s did the full listings, but there will be years 1980s that are missed. ↑
RADIO & TELEVISION YEAR BOOK 1968-1971
The same publishers as the Hifi Year Book also issued as Tape & Cine Year Book, of minimal interest now. But starting in 1968 & running to at least 1971 with the '1971/72' Yearbook there is still a lot more General Hifi as still turns up for sale, not perhaps much we'd consider buying, but it widens the story of what was bought & used by people in these years & plenty of it will be very familiar to those of a certain age. "The Buyers' Guide for Televisions, Radiograms, Portable Car & Table Radios, Record Players, Unit Audio & tape Recorders" is the cover of the 1971/72 book. 223 page slim paperback the size of the Hifi Yearbooks otherwise. This book is just category listings, sadly no articles, but loads of unusual items amid more typical gear, as in the Table Radios the "Binatone Puppy" a soft toy with a radio inside. The 1972 HFYB mentions the Book Series, but no mention in the 1973 one, so 1971/72 is likely the last one. The only other info is TV Station listings with 625 & 405 line Broadcasts still standard in 1971 & would be until 1980 states the book. But Wikipedia says this Monochrome TV service stayed in the UK until 1985. Unlike today, then this was to cater for 405-line TVs bought before 15 Nov 1969, when 625-line started or before that were still working. Explains why only TVs from about 1970 or later were the ones kept & the rest got rid of. A 405-line TV may still work & in 1992 when we last had one & all you could tune into was a black screen with 2 vertical lines as a Test Signal. Today Analog TV was brutally turned off starting 2008 & gone by 2012 simply for Government greed & sod the owners of Analog TVs. Sadly this means Vintage TVs have no live Signal, though there are converters & the like for the enthusiast. Odd seeing the Old TVs again, in 1971 they were just a TV on 4 legs or a central stand, no place for VCR even. Unsquare curved edges to the Tube were how it was until the mid 1980s & naturally the ability to put a TV in a cabinet or ones with cabinets & doors. Why anyone would ever close the TV cabinet doors is why it's a bit pretentious. All push buttons for channels with only some very expensive ones later in the 1970s having a Wired Remote or even a LED light type remote before the Infra Red remotes of today. All very retro but sad these old TVs are unusable in general as the era otherwise is popular for Decor & Furniture. Even the Portable Radios is a hark back, today it's all personal listening, but a Radio was essential in days of old & the radio played the sound out loud. The days of builders & decorators with a huge but well beat up & paint covered radio or tape player are probably long gone as people complain these days. ↑
G. A. Briggs - Hifi Books
These books are important works to read if you have an interest in Hifi & the roots of the whole scene. Also includes the Very First Hifi book from 1929 by the editors of "The Gramophone"
Gilbert Arthur Briggs was a Yorkshire man born in the late 1890s & who founded Wharfedale speakers. He does not give the dry theory & maths as the HFYBs can after reading the intro to a section & has a nice turn on humour without often overdoing it. You can see a photo of him in his books & you can see he was an amiable chap the sort you rarely encounter anymore in any sort of people. He was just a bit of a legend in his day but appears through the passing of time to be only known to the few. His books were updated & reprinted many times on certain titles, others were not reprinted. To read the books will give you his story in how he found & founded Hifi.
Wikipedia offers a potted history, read in more depth in the Loudspeakers 5th Edition. Wharfedale Wireless Works was founded in 1932 by Gilbert Briggs, and became one of Britain's leading manufacturers of audiophile equipment, particularly loudspeakers. In addition to winning awards by groups such as the Bradford Radio Society, in mass public testing at Carnegie Hall Wharfedale speakers proved indistinguishable from live music. Innovations introduced by Wharfedale under Briggs included such basics as the two-way loudspeaker and the ceramic magnet. In the 1950s and 1960s, Wharfedale became famous for its technique of eliminating cabinet resonances by using a double cabinet, with the space between the inner and outer shells filled with sand. Purchasers of the loudspeaker systems would receive the appropriate quantity of sand which had been shipped from Wharfedale in England. Wharfedale in Yorkshire is the site of numerous sand quarries. Briggs sold the company in 1958, and it has been through several owners since then.
There is a new book A Pair of Wharfedales: The Story of Gilbert Briggs and his Loudspeakers by David Briggs who tells us that Gilbert was his grandfather's cousin. If the wonderful old books interest you, the new book should do too. 359 page Hardback, RRP £30, issued Jan 2012. Buy it to go with other Hifi history books like Tannoy & KEF speakers & several on other Hifi brand names over the years. This interest will keep old Hifi alive & why we've written our many pages on it.
In getting the Hifi Yearbooks, we stumbled across all of these except one we got elsewhere. We're reading through these & as you will be interested too, we'll give reviews as well as book info. They are specialist books, some appear long out of print but all are findable as they are 50 to 60 years old & the original owners time to read them has expired.
All the books are the same size, with Dust Covers except the very early 1949 ones & all share the upside down title on the book edge on the Dust Covers, which are usually oversized & now tattered. Some have additional writers as R.E. Cooke, H.H. Garner. ↑
THE ORIGINAL BOOKS.
Loudspeakers -- 1st Edition May 1948, 2nd Edition Dec 1948, 3rd Edition Mar 1949, 4th Edition January 1955, 5th Revised & Enlarged from previous 4, Oct 1958 several reprints.
Sound Reproduction -- 1st Edition Jul 1949, 2nd Edition May 1950, 3rd Edition Mar 1953. The book grew with each Edition & added the previous Edition, the 3rd Edition with a lot added. We had all 3 editions to compare, only the 3rd is worth buying unless you're a collector or unaware of the progress of the title.
Amplifiers - The Why and How of Good Amplification -- 1st Edition March 1952
High Fidelity - The Why and How for Amateurs -- 1st Edition May 1956
Stereo Handbook -- 1st Edition Dec 1959
A to Z in Audio -- 1st Edition Nov 1960
**'new' ones to us... Audio Biographies 1961 a collection of hifi pioneers stories collected by our lad & 64 others says the 1962 HFYB ad. 3 on Abebooks for £31-60 can stay there at that price. One noted as "very little read" may mean it's not the greatest read. Cabinet Handbook 1962 plans & construction ideas & hints on making speaker cabinets. Wasn't really until the late 1960s that speakers sold in cabinets became the standard way, the Post War DIY boom indeed.
also there is the less relevant to Hifi "Pianos Pianists & Sonics" -- 1st Edition Jun 1951
1960 available still in November (A-Z in Audio) & June 1961 (Loudspeakers) state...
Loudspeakers 5th Edition, 57,000 copies sold in total, 1st edition in 1948 was a 90 page booklet reprinted 15 times with minor revisions before the much larger 5th Edition
Sound Reproduction 3rd Edition, 1st sold 10,000 copies, 23nd sold 12,000 copies, 3rd sold 21,500 copies 1953-58
Pianos Pianists & Sonics sold over 8000 copies
Stereo Handbook 1st Edition sold 10,000 copies, Jul 1960 reprint of 4000
A to Z in Audio 10,000 copies printed
1963 available still in January Hifi News half page advert states...
Loudspeakers - 1948 - 68,444 copies sold on 5th Edition - Still Available
Sound Reproduction - 1949 - 47,251 copies sold - Out Of Print
Pianos, Pianists & Sonics - 1951- 7,350 copies sold 1st run of 10,000 - Still Available
Amplifiers - 1952 - 10,000 copies sold - Out Of Print
High Fidelity - 1956 - 10,000 copies sold - Out Of Print
Stereo Handbook - 1959 - 12,588 copies sold - Still Available
A to Z In Audio - 1960 - 5,452 copies sold - Still Available
Audio Biographies - 1961 - 1,295 copies sold - Still Available
Cabinet Handbook - 1962 - 6,047 copies sold - Still Available
OUT OF PRINT BY 1956 & 1960
Amplifiers - The Why and How of Good Amplification
High Fidelity - The Why and How for Amateurs
The 5th Edition of "Loudspeakers" tells the story of G.A Briggs & his books. "Amplifiers" didn't receive good critics reviews, wasn't reprinted and is stated as 'Out of Print' on the back of the 1956 "High Fidelity" which didn't get reprinted either as "Stereo Handbook" was a general update.
UPDATE: Their advert in the Jan 1970 Hifi News reveals other books we'd not heard of or found online. These appear very much of the era & probably of limited appeal when new so low sales. By their titles, they are marginal interest books, as much will be obsolete. But they do exist...
Aerial Handbook (2nd ed.) 178 pp 144 ill.; Cabinet Handbook 112 pp, 90 ill.; Audio Biographies 344 pp with 64 contributions; Musical Instruments & Audio 240pp, 212 ill.; and About Your Hearing 132 pp 112 ill. ↑
Our Reviews of G.A. Briggs Books
We looked to see how rare they are by looking on Abebooks as of 1st July 2012, they all are findable, but prices hugely vary. anything over £15-20 is too high, though tatty ones may be why some are cheap, Abebooks sellers are not very fair on description we've found on getting other vintage books. As with any book, glance thru it quickly & you'll likely miss the point, we read Pre-War Annuals too, see another page. But read it like it's important & then see what it has & gloss over bits you already know or that are not relevant to you now, perhaps later though. We've been reading through these & list them below in our "Recommended" order to help today's reader.
HIGH FIDELITY (1956) comes in a buff dustjacket with a Hifi on stage corner photo. 5 copies on Abebooks shows this is a more popular title & having read it's 180 pages mostly, it actually still reads well as in 1956 the fuss of Stereo that upset things for a while is in the future & getting the best from Mono. It covers all hifi items from turntables to sand filled speaker enclosures made of brick that were wife-pleasers in the one channel era. The sense that is covered here may appear a little forgotten in today's use, but it's a good book to have. It covers the 1955 live Hifi performances in certain large public halls & using just a 15w amp in the early days when 15w valves is an efficient amplifier. A Recommended book to put a clear perspective on Hifi & the ideals they required were perhaps in the future in 1956, but it shows how ahead Hifi was even if you look at the 1956 Hifi Yearbook & see how little there actually was available. Go buy this book.
A TO Z IN AUDIO (1960) comes in a white dustjacket with hifi photos on the left & red & black type printing. On the face of it doesn't look too interesting & if you only flick through quickly, you'll think the same. But with many books, read it properly & it's a huge amount of Hifi & associated jargon explained in a very readable way, far from one paragraph dictionary style. 6 copies on Abebooks. We enjoyed reading our book & to see terms described in a 1960 way is both old but still relevant. This one we'd Recommend as a Entry Book to Mr Briggs & vintage Hifi books.
LOUDSPEAKERS (1948-61) the 5th edition comes in a orangey dustjacket with a speaker logo & circles pattern. Previous ones likely no DJ. Certainly is his most popular book as many people chose to build their own at the time. More readable to the Amateur with lots of pictures & diagrams, if little theory. The first 42 pages we found very interesting, the rest will interest if you are building your own speakers or wanting to understand Speakers deeper, this book is the best one you'll find. You can still buy modern versions of Drivers, Tweeters & Crossovers so the info is still relevant, An interesting bit about how hearing is viewed in importance to Hifi. There appears to be a 1963 paperback book "More on Loudspeakers" also. 4 copies on Abebooks of the main book, 1 of the later one. Recommended for the first 42 pages as a History lesson if you know speakers well, and still a very worthy book if Speakers & the deeper whys interests you. **More About Loudspeakers arrives March 1963 10,000 paperbacks so not an easy one to find, 3 on Abebooks, not had this one.
AMPLIFIERS (1952) is a black cloth bound book lettered in Gold, no DJ on the early ones we assume. It has a lot of theory, circuits and diagrams that may look a bit offputting to the Amateur then & now. It prints some Garner amplifier circuits too. All aspects of Amplifier-valve workings & jargon are well explained. We read half of it & bypassed the other half, based on what we've read & weren't wanting to read again. If you are deeply into early valve amps, this book is well worth finding. Half Recommended otherwise. 7 copies on Abebooks site.
SOUND REPRODUCTION (1953) comes in a buff basic dustjacket. This 3rd edition has a Nov 1952 dated intro, this is the problem. The first UK Pop Charts were first published on 14 Nov 1952 & the 45rpm disc, whilst sold in USA since 1949 & UK 45rpm exports by Decca exist from 1950, the UK only saw commercially released 45s in Dec 1952 with the Red HMV 7P light classical 45s, the pink label 'Pop' series only started by Jan 1953. Long Players started in 1948 in USA though many prototypes including early discs for Film & Cartoons exist. UK is less certain though UK Decca pressed Exports exist from the early 1950s only researching the Catalogs & light-orchestral music would reveal an accurate date. EPs only appear in UK from late 1953 as the HMV catalog shows. So that's the problem; It's Too Early. Only really relates to the 78 era & the basic pickups, basic amplifiers & basic speakers where a tweeter was probably not deemed necessary. One to get ideas of early Hifi but of limited interest with antiquated ideas 1948-52 & as it covers Loudspeakers & Amplifier qualities, his later books updated these subjects better. A huge 22 copies on Abebooks, if less printed than Loudspeakers. A very marginal book to buy just as so early, but if Early is your requirement, here 'tis.
STEREO HANDBOOK (1959) comes in a buff dustjacket with a circles pattern. 8 copies on Abebooks. As we've been raking thru the HFYBs to find all Receivers then thought Amplfifiers should be done too, to read about Early Stereo appeared a good idea. The book was published a little way into the Stereo era, Dec 1959 it says so for a reader today, it will have had time to mature. The first chapter is a little light, mentioning the lack of quality after how Mono had progressed and one does imagine the reader less aware of his style back in the day saying "Get On with it Man." The early pages show a picture of our impish but clearly wise fellow with his Wharfedale speakers company to help finance his helpful words to aid the Hifi buyer of the day. The second chapter gives the idea of 6 men in a Pub discussing things, 6 Wise Men of Hifi that is with to the point answers. Some questions are a bit dated now after 54 years but it does read well & to fill 144 pages about Stereo is quite a feat. Perhaps in this book, the informality goes a little too far, corny jokes about "sharp teeth" and "not playing records to stop wear" & glib comments are not what we type in our rambling pages. But that style did sell a lot of Books & must have helped many into Hifi as we hope to do with our pages. Overall the last page sums up the writer wasn't over-impressed with it either, a bit light on technical matters & thrown-in opinions as well as much that is irrelevant today make this a marginal book to buy, an idea of problems & ideas of the time but not essential at all for today's reader as too light.
PIANOS, PIANISTS & SONICS (1951) isn't one we're interested in, but if you are, it appears to be all you'll ever want to know & it'll be a good read like his other books. Dust jacket has a diagonal piano keyboard picture. "A study of the piano from every angle - evolution, construction, touch and tone, tuning, toning etc." says one seller. "photos of acoustically genius concert halls; science behind piano tuning, strings, construction; photos of old pianos; oscillascopic diagrams of notes" says another. 192 pages, 102 illustrations, 25 of which comprise 75 original oscillograms of sounds and piano tones. Contents: introduction, Piano Chart, Pianos in general, History, Construction, Actions & pedals, Strings, Uprights & Grands, Tone, Toning, Tuning, Touch & Tone, Vibration, Harmonic Analysis, Choice of Instrument, Care of Instrument, Room Acoustics, Recording & Reproduction, Pianists & Their Views, The Teaching Angle, Accompaniment, Conclusion, Glossary of Terms, Index. 44 copies on Abebooks shows a very limited market. in 1951 before TV started becoming Popular, the Piano was a main source of Entertainment along with the Wireless & Gramophone. Aunt Winnie singing Pop Hits of the Day in her out of tune shrill voice & little comprehension of which key to thump must have put many off music until they left home. ↑
The Very Early Pre-War Years
of Record Players are featured in several science-based Harmsworth Popular Science type books & other technology of the day type books going back to pre WW1 with Cylinder technology explained, but these are just sections of a few pages or more. The earliest proper Hifi book we've found is... ↑
The First Hifi Book from 1929:
P. Wilson & G.W. Webb "Modern Gramophones and Electrical Reproducers"
a review of it from the "Gramophone" magazine of November 1929 is found in their archive. They say it's "probably the first complete general account of the principles of design and technique" so it's the first Hifi book of sorts: a book for users Pioneering Hifi as it became. It's written largely free of the extreme technical angle so is the First Popular Hifi Book for more general readers, though still a small market beyond basic Radio buyers. Electrical recording only began in 1925, before that 78s were recorded acoustically & in the 1890s a recording was made manually & the song re-recorded as many times as needed as they could only cut a certain amount of 78s from one performance. The book covers those strange early flat type speakers, horns, sound boxes & the early electrical pickups that our 1932 Pye G-RG radiogram has. The tone of the book is a readable one: calling the first 1912 non-horn players "puny affairs" is in the tone of G.A. Briggs work. We're reading it now we've finished the HFYBs so it starts in a way that will not put off the more casual readers though try to work out the writer of the Foreword, it looks like 'Crapta Packages', but is Compton Mackenzie of 'The Gramophone' magazine & with involvement by HMV, Columbia & Ferranti as well as Wireless World, the book has fine credentials. Is it worth searching out or even reprinting though? The book is laid out much like a Novel, but beyond that the Contents & List of Illustrations as well as some monochrome plates the idea it covers all aspects of Early Electrical Audio as well as the pre-Electric era such as Alignment of Goose Neck tone-arms & this early even Push-Pull output circuits. The circuit that made an HMV No 5 Soundbox, Tuner related and even early Amplifier & Power Supply circuits with 4MFD the largest capacitor-condenser value. It notes early audio valves Mazda B12, Mullard DO20, Mazda PX650 & Osram P.625. Though we're not interested in having items this early beyond our Pye G/GR radiogram from 1932 that works pretty good still, to see the things that led up to the Pye which has to be one of the very first more modern type Radiograms after the 1920s mechanical type ones. The Pye with it's Primitive Radio circuit, Mains Energised early Moving Coil Loudspeaker and Heavy Moving Iron pickup was the height of Hifi in 1932 & certainly one of the better looking Grams ever made. As Electrical Recording was only introduced in 1925, it is interesting to see how much is already known. Sound Levels are called "T.U." Transmission Units before the decibel became the term & with a more standard scaling. To read that Complaints of Lack of Bass were important, but in a different way: Hifi of 1929 was very bandwidth limited to perhaps 500Hz to 5kHz at the very best & most will 'Hifi' will be 100Hz to 5kHz a Telephone quality that was understandable but of limited quality & far from flat. The Quest for "Perfect" sound matching a Concert Hall was already underway, though they had a long wait for the NFB amplifiers after WW2. Things like 1877 being the date the Moving Coil Loudspeaker was invented by Dr. Siemens & the Thermionic Valve in 1904 by J.A. Fleming are interesting, though Fleming's was more a Diode at this time it reveals. You do get the idea they are trying to make the best of 'junk' primitive technology as that's all there was at any time in Hifi History & waste time going over useless speaker ideas as well as plenty on Sound Boxes of the pre Electric era that were becoming obsolete already in 1929. Only very small amount of Theory & equations is included. The Horn Speakers were still used decades later in speaker technology as with Tannoy GRF enclosure. In hindsight they knew what they wanted & for the fact it'd take 20 more years for the first proper Hifi to emerge & be free of the heavy steel needle for the lightweight ones is comparable to decades of 'junk' we see in later years with Tape before Digital came along. The 'Back To The Future' joke with a room full of The Early Audio gear of the day with the From the Future Stuff too & them saying 'They're not getting the good stuff yet' is how it seems in restrospect. As with other Hifi books, it starts interesting, gets a bit dull in the middle then wakens up with Electric Amplifiers at the last quarter. Well worth a read if the Briggs books interest as it covers the entire scene of Audio with Record Playing, Speakers, Soundboxes & early Amplifiers beyond the Wireless or Radio scene. ↑
Hifi News Magazine.
We've got the full set Feb 1958-Dec 1980 now plus nearly all the 1956-57, and surprisingly quick too if getting a lot of duplicates that are now sold. An Overview Of 1958-64... The 1958 ones seem very early but reading them month by month, there is still much to read & it certainly sets the scene of Hifi well. For our interests the developments & many designs they publish is interesting, the news & letters pages if the Ask for Help letters are not so interesting. One interesting writer we've enjoyed his last article in the magazine until late 1964 is a John Berridge who only made it to 35 sadly & his articles just ending as Hifi really starts getting popular. By 1963 the Trade restrictions were lifted allowing Japanese & USA hifi into the Uk with frequent ads by Trio and Pioneer, transistor amps were still only low power if the original Lean Stereo 30 will have sold well if it has unreliable UK Germaniums, not the superior Japanese ones. The telling new of how the Audio Fair then held in a Hotel had grown hugely in 1963-64 if Hifi News with Miles Henslow as Editor gets very sniffy about Hifi going mainstream & 'awful' pop records. Thankfully he sold out the mag to Link House who update the look of the mag & print it on better paper, if they keep MH's dry editorials, he was wise to start HFN but his marrow view of Hifi being only for Classical or Opera is stifling. Not even Jazz such a Blue Note gets a mention. Thankfully his input is only the Editorial & the magazine does come more to life once LH take it over. The 1959 magazine is certainly more advanced than the ideas of the 1958 & over the 1960-62 years their approach becomes far wider, if plenty on speakers, tape & radio that are of marginal interest, the fuss about BBC's Stereo Test Transmissions really gets a lot of interest. Late 1963 you could get FM Multiplex Receivers such as Trio & Pioneer but in the UK all you had was those one hour Stereo shows oddly in weekday mornings so many missed them. There are a lot of constructional articles with Kits, Paraline speakers & early 5w transistor designs, all for the reader to m,ake & try cheaply before buying something expensive. Record Reviews come & go, but are of a very narrow type of music. Classical does not bring the best out in Hifi, beyond loud crescendos Classical is not demanding of Hifi like Rock & Reggae are, which is what we play to test & upgrade Hifi with. Slow music can sound acceptable on any audio item, but we use tracks that are demanding of Hifi. As you can imagine with a British magazine of this era, the waffle & polite nothing talk can be excessive, to read a whole page of waffle that says nothing can be tedious, as can when some get deeply into theory & fuss about things that we see as unimportant, yet still the designs they are so wordy about we can pick out poor design always & not just for the components of the era, such as 4mfd capacitors & 10% tolerance resistors. But 1958-64 in Hifi News we have enjoyed. ↑
Next onto 1965-67... By now BBC Radio 1 to 4 were operating as the Pirates were totally banned with every activity even supplying to them being made illegal. Note the huge progress in Music 1964- Oct 1967, if with the Radio 1 era music certainly became much more safe if the Big Balladeers outsold the "Cool" music. HFN makes no mention of Radio 1 but are annoyingly snobby about "The Pops", if in reality it's taken Decades for this music to be considered Important as now all those BBC4 documentaries reveal. HFN is stuck on bloody Classical endless cover versions of the same old composers, nothing Modern, Jazz or even Populist like Film Soundtracks. By the end of 1967 sales of Mono LPs were dwindling & by 1969 the last Mono "Pop" ones were issued. As for the Hifi, to us the 1965-67 era has some truly wonderful amps, Sony TA-1120, Sansui 3000A, Akai AA7000 & National Panasonic SA65, together with the early JVC being the Best Hifi of any era. But only in Dec 67 do we see the Sansui 3000A offered in a London shop, USA Fisher gear is in a few but clearly way too expensive if the smaller models are more affordable, the lack of them shows sales were minimal. Dec 67 shows the Sony TA-1080 the 35w version of the 50w TA-1120 & the Akai AA-5000 & AA-7000 get scant mention, But the UK brands Quad, Leak, Rogers & smaller ones like Armstrong are all most shops offer together with some of the EU gear. Choice is really limited unless you go to the big London Shops & it generally was like this until the early 1990s from what we remember, only a few Specialist shops had the best stuff. The Hifi News Magazine for 1965-67 we've thought wasn't really that interesting, reviews of Fisher & Sony amps are rare, if one later 1967 issue reviews cheap Systems by Philips and Ferguson that are clearly rubbish if the writer has to try to put a positive spin on them. System Hifi was The Thing in 1967, perhaps the best UK one was the Goodmans Maxamp-Tuner-Turntable, if others appear very low quality, the Danish Arena gear & B+O hadn't really started beyond the 5000 series tuner & amp that is rare. The reliance on UK brands that are way behind the USA & Japanese amps is what killed most of the UK brands off, beyond Sugden, as they were out of date & mediocre compared to the non-UK stuff. As of writing, UK has Brexited, good job too, but even in 1967 a lot of 'Continental' gear was sold in the UK, a lot of it started with Tape Machines, Philips introduced the Cassette & the "Radiogram innards" type console receivers as our Receivers page details started to sell, from those we've seen in days of being around junk shops, the cheap stuff was usually all you saw, but it did depart from the Radiogram. As for Hifi News, the magazine wasn't quite as important reading as we'd hoped, half the mag is adverts & many are the same month after month. Some are just text ads, others are crammed with far too much info & look tatty. Articles straddled the amateur, the constructor, the modifier as in updating tone arms, but still acres of boring articles that aim more at the tecnical paper reader. One late 1967 article is about constructing a huge concrete horn speaker in a suburban house, ugliest stupid thing ever which ends up hidden behind a huge wall-sized curtain, acoustically transparent supposedly. It looks awful & to suspend a cheap print on wires fron the ceiling to cover it. The amusing thing is after all that & using their chosen speaker driver which was only a small one, they complain of poor midrange definition & hope for better drivers to appear on the market. Considering Tannoy, Wharfedale & Celestion were quality, you get the idea the nasty thing was demolished before the article was printed. FM Stereo was occasional by the BBC & we remember even in the mid 1980s Radio 1 only shared FM Stereo on Sunday Top 40, the rest of the time it was MW only & only really by Sep 1990 when Kiss FM & other stations went past 100 MHz on the FM dial as the Police finally went to different frequencies did FM Stereo become more normal. We only used to play FM on the Hacker & found Reggae pirate stations, so in 1967 you had a long wait. Were the 1965-67 HFN mags worth reading? Yes to see the scene grow, but in those days manufacturers submitted chosen items for review, rather than the editor getting items they wanted to review by borrowing or buying. For reading today depending on your interests, the HFN for 1965-67 isn't as interesting as we hoped. ↑
HIFI NEWS OVERVIEW
The pioneering Hifi magazine responsible for the Hifi Yearbook started in June 1956. We've bought a few of the 1960s ones to see more of the scene & for research & typing up more info to the world, we'd perhaps like a set of them, but not for silly money. The magazine started as a thinner stapled mag then grew into a bound magazine. For example, here are a few issues we read now put in year order, not reading order, more will be added filling in the years. December 1960 is still very early, with very little considered Hifi today if much is still very interesting, the adverts & the pre-commercialism of Hifi still quite naive & growing. A lack of pretentiousness makes these early editions more appealing than the dry mags you may think they are, but for the lack of worthy items for being beyond collector pieces, these are interesting from a historical aspect only really. July 1962 has a very boring cover photo, Hifi News were always with a dryness that was still there when we bought the mag in 1993-97 before tiring of it. Tech lab type cover photos were typical instead of showing items featured inside. For that 1962 one, you get pages numbered 62-119, paginated in a way that you bound the copies. The adverts picture what is now rare & unusual, the Decca Decola speaker pictured is interesting showing 6 treble-midrange drivers. But beyond the adverts which will be a bit of a muchness reading each issue, there is the title page on p79 after all adverts. New Hifi is reviewed but most of it beyond ads are tedious reader's hifi furniture & comments that aren't very interesting, the dry overpolite waffle of the day often says little, but could have been interesting when new. Hifi was a tiny business in 1962, the SME article, reprinted in the Classic reprints shows only 8000 SME arms made from 1959-1962, a lot for a small business back then. 42 pages of solid adverts in a 60 page magazine is excessive. The reviews as we've read in the Classic reprints are purely objective with a grumpy tone not saying how they sound subjectively. They complain or praise construction & how well they live up to the specs which may seem pompous, but in the early days there were no standards & for HFN to reveal substandard spec is helpful & did used to get the manufacturer replying as it was a bad review overall. For this honesty about crapulence the HFN mags are worthwhile, but 2/3 of the mag as adverts leaves very little once the outdated waffle is bypassed. January 1967 is 33 pages of ads before the "front" page of text & it's dual numbered ie p33 is also p811 for those who bound copies. There is on the left page is usually an ad & the right it text, 2 pages of letters, 1 page of new products with basic descriptions, 2 items reviewed more fully, Reader's (hi fi) problems, 17 more pages of ads, then classified ads to end. Hardly an essential buy now or then though the ads are the most interesting part, but who needs every issue? The reviews as the 1993 reprint supplements show are technical & waffling with little how it sounds info apart from bland lines like "music was very nice". Pah. Very nice means nothing. It all gives little idea of the current scene, maybe in 1967 not much new was being introduced but the Year Books show yearly changes & 1966-67 was the start of the transistor amp era so where are all the pages of reviews. February 1967 mentions the forthcoming ideas about Radio just as the Pirate Stations were becoming outlawed. The magazine reveals it's awful narrow Classical Music view "..Now, having made it quite clear that we are opposed to commercial radio and its attendant 'pop' fashion ethos..." well our response to that Blued the air. How Dare They think they should dictate what the majority should have, we have no interest in Rap or Stadium Pop but others are entitled to it regardless of our opinion. The two jolly chaps on the front cover, with a certain 'educated-superior' look are still a menace today. We've played from both sides of such life so have a very wide view on things. In 1967 it was the Psychedelic-Power Pop-Mod era with lots of Soul & reggae, 1967 is a great year for 'Pop' music, on counting our tracks, 1966 & 1967 had the most tracks by year. This tedious rag, which we buy as it at least gives an idea of the times, is still stuck in Regimented Formal Conformist ideals we really have no time for. Classical Music to us of a certain age is well known with the 'riffs' of Classical very familiar, but we care not for who authored it 200 years ago. Classical is generally just 'cover versions' done with little freedom of expression or variation, with as huge orchestra it can only be very mannered, not some Blues Jam or 30 min long Prog track. This is not music, some inspired teen in 1966 bashing out a classic in the Garage with his buddies is (? & The Mysterians, Count Five etc etc). If you want to 'waste' your Hifi just playing 'safe' Classical, do so & if it pleases you, good for you. We as Record Dealers have heard every Genre in the Years That Mattered & that's where we find our Musical Pleasure. On Page 912, they still used to number by volume, not issue, has the strange Leak advert with the poor woman apparently struggling with 6 heavy books & a Leak Mini-Sandwich speaker, the look on her face is telling. Also is the fact the top edge speaker is against her shoulder & the lower edge is flat to her arm-elbow & the speaker lies true to her face angle, so to politely ask But Where Do Her Boobs Go? is a valid question. The speaker is likely incomplete, just an empty box with no driver or back so she can fit 'the girls' inside. But it makes her look like she has no curves. We find that amusing. Explains the woe-begone look on her face. "Poor little dear, never find a Husband like that" as would be the patronising comment of the day... October 1970 is the first with Record Review, pages & pages of Classical Cover Versions to enjoy or bypass at one's whim. December 1970 edition is one of the early huge size ones of about 230 pages. This one states 20 extra pages of reviews & features. But after reading it, we sort of wish they hadn't bothered, the mag is very weary to read pages of waffle that generally says very little. The Olympia Audio Fair review, the picture ads, Geronimo radio station with it's Utopian-Hippy naivety are the interesting bits, the Sonab R7000 review doesn't really tell you must as always being dry technical facts nothing subjective. But page upon page of the boring waffle & reviews of bloody Classical. Reading dry text by mannered Graduate types is rarely going to be interesting, you can read a whole paragraph & be no more aware. One review of a RZ-era T Rex cassette shows a slip in credibilty giving it to a moron who doesn't like the music so he shows only his ignorance. These mags deserve a selective reprint as in pdf online versions, but of the 230 pages you'd probably bypass 200 of them if to see some ads is interesting as it's what buyers saw beyond a shop. This issue was hard going & having got more of the era, to read ones years apart rather than read them in order, but to skip through a lot more once you know where you'll get weary. Letters pages generally tell you nothing, but the adverts do set the scene of the era well if some adverts you wonder why they only sell the crappy stuff yet hype themselves as having good taste in what they sell, but where is the better gear? All sellers have Leak, many have budget gear like Sinclair & the cheap UK brands, but in 1970, you likely had to go into London for the best selection, which in those days people fortunately did so the better gear is around, if not as findable as in the USA or Europe. October 1972 issue, cover price 20p is a huge magazine p1761-2026 is 265 pages including covers. A very thick issue aiming for the Winter-Xmas market early. A quick flick through shows the tone is far more aggressive from adverts, Comet & big discounts, a Pioneer SX-828 list £297 Comet £209 a 30% discount on RRP. The first Articles come 76 pages in & there are 66 pages of articles & record reviews: 19 pages of classical cover versions, 5 of 'other' & just ONE pop covering Soul to Rock. 4 equipment reviews is your lot. So about 200 pages of adverts selling the same thing as each other. September 1976 is notable for a few reasons, the front cover is pleasing & trying to find out more it seems this was the month that 'Subjective Sounds' by Paul Messenger started, ending the limited objective-factual sort of writing and John Atkinson who was the editor from 1982-85 joined, maybe she was his idea or more... January 1980 issue still interesting with a wide range of articles ranging from a good Phil Spector one to an utterly pointless Martin Colloms review of 8 amplifiers: read it & know absolutely nothing as it is little more than a condensed tech sheet plus pointless graphs & tests about THD & IM that mean nothing to the sound, only specs for 'Top Trumps' players. More Colloms pointlessness trying to make out dB/W is better than Watts ratings, see our Power Ratings page for more. Still bloody acres of sodding Classical cover versions for reasons totally pointless also. It all seems like treading water until CD & Ken K arrived, gaudy over-busy adverts plus brochure style adverts by the manufacturers that are far more interesting. As with any HFN issue is shows the era very well, though to want every issue would be a bit too much. January 1981 with a very 1980 looking guy with a Cello shows that Rock buyers don't buy Hifi News. The ads are less brash by now, with makers spending on colour 2-page ads like TDK showing off Metal Tape & JVC with blank VHS tape & Fuji with a very 1981 'futuristic' look to their tape ad. You know you're in trouble when the Font the News section is noticeable by name as it's one on the computer. In this issue they try to kid us that AM radio is any good, er no. One letter gets the Editor's opinion too that HFN is too elitist when the letter writer can easily sell good used gear to those scared of hifi shops & upgrade from the radiogram or other basic audio gear. People do like better sounding Audio but generally pre Internet, all you could get beyond the hifi mags were shops too daunting or try the discount stores & just take your pick. But a truth is those scared of hifi 34 years ago were likely WW2 veterans & not wise to these things, not that anyone is if they don't learn a bit first. A DIY section on a Low & High Filter, why? Who had use for one in 1981? Reviews are just Budget Turntables, £50-£75 new at the time if the brands are mostrly known. But this is HFN & their readers wouldn't want budget gear to play their Classical on surely? Overall not a very interesting read as the 1987 one confirms, HFN seem to have lost their way as the very few amps reviewed in 1979 in the yearly index shows. January 1987 didn't see much read, very little of interest here, most adverts were boring too. Pages of dullness with CD theory & uninteresting items reviewed. The only hope was a look at KK's Top LPs for 1986, but just a one page rushed effort. Really these later ones are only of use if they have an item you care about in it. Shortly after in real time we found HFN after What Hifi was considered too mainstream & bought it monthly until about 1995 when a burst of early 1990s interest with Valve Amps & more exotic amps but soon became too much about Digital so we stopped buying, it was often a pretentious affair full of egos waffling more about themselves than hifi and in the end we gave up on it. What Hifi had a new top amp far too often to be credible but the big buying sections & reviews helped if you were aware of their bias.
January 1977 Hifi News mentions "Studio Sound" magazine that HFN/RR issues too, ebay reveals it's Studio Sound & Audio Engineering, a pro-tech aimed magazine apparently dating back to 1958 by Volume-Year numbers. From 1972 contents page it is probably more of the dry technical paper type articles.
The yearly Index first appears in the January 1977 issue, so easy to see what they reviewed & plenty they didn't, which is frustrating, but generally Hifi News IS a frustrating read. There will be other Hifi mags, the Gramophone magazine has it's archives online going back to 1923, a wise & helpful choice. The Hifi News Annual seems to start 1966 & the last one we've seen is 1974, this reprints most of the reviews from the previous year.
Really the HFN mag needs just the articles reprinting, although the ads give a view of the scene, to read every month's ads isn't too exciting. The October 1973 issue is very big too with other earlier-year months being thinner. For the amount of unique useful info in the ones we've read, there is precious little. Like any magazine, it's a bite of the era but very limited for wanting the set or reading one again. ↑
The Hifi reviews are sadly pretty worthless.
The trouble was in the early days it was for the manufacturers to submit their Hifi for review & finding some reviews harsh, many will have declined. In later years the Hifi mag was the way to get Hifi known. In 1966 one letter says two of the biggest selling Transistor amps, Leak Stereo 30 & Goodmans Maxamp, were not sent for review as the manufacturers were fearful of a deluge of orders being full out making them at the time. How times change. Even reading other Hifi mag reviews they don't really tell much, so the only way for us was to get the amps that interested & review them ourselves. Reading the reviews, you just get a lot of technical info that most will have bypassed, waveforms & vinegary comments about what doesn't seem very important like a schoolteacher would do: "could be improved". But not a word on how it sounds, how fast or accurate the sound it, is it grainy, bass-light, smeary on the treble, too bright, too dull? You'll never find out! For us, the years in Hifi we like, ie 1963-1980 were before our time so to see all the Comet ads giving amps away very cheaply & what was stocked by UK sellers is fascinating. It colours-in the Hifi scene that the HFYBs just barely detail. The shock of seeing budget gear being so heavily advertised even in 1972 is a surprise & it reveals why standards dropped as the Pioneer SX-828 could get a 30% discount, no wonder Pioneer cut the quality to the bone. Yamaha say in their 1972 ads that they'll not be found in the Discount Stores, wise move, though the early CR-700, CA-700 amps are not the better quality of the 1973 range, if Yamaha had gone the Discount Store route, we'd not have got the better 1973-77 ones. Economics decides what you get. ↑
June 1956 Volume 1. No.1 FIRST ISSUE
Having got some of the 1956-57 ones, this was one. For a first issue it's very professional, set out as later editions & clearly sets the tone very well for the pre Transistor era. Not sure a 1902 photo of a Cylinder player was a good choice, if HFN covers were deliberately "square" in photo content, often with very dull photos. An odd populist choice of a cheap 'Transistorised, Battery-Driven Record Player' ie a cheap Poprtable with a low voltage battery seems at odds with their too-elitist early years as the change in the Hifi Yearbooks 1956-59 proves. Actually quite a lot to read even for a reader of today, articles on LP records with Cecil Watt's magnified photos, The Speaker in Your Home, FM Tuners, Hifi Cartridges, That HFN1 portable player that only played 45rpm classical EPs it seemed, Hifi at the Royal Festival Hall and a strange Q&A section. Lots of adverts looking very professional, to wonder where these ads were before to get the formats right, 'The Gramophone' magazine probably as it started in the 1920s. 40 pages including the covers & they were confident enough to offer Subscription & by No 2 were even offering yearly Binders which shows the first issue will have been very well received. Naturally later ones are more obscure in content as things diversify, but a magazine just about Hifi as the only competing one we know of beyond Radio & DIY Electronics mags is The Gramophone which was more about Classical Records with just some Audio gear.
MORE 1956-58 'Mono Era' issues... The 1956 ones are still a good read, lots of good info here still, if little of the Mono audio is used today beyond Tannoy speakers & the Garrard 301 turntables. By 1957 Stereo is mentioned keeping the progress of this interesting, if a lot is about Tape & expectedly obsolete audio gear & catridges, it still clearly shows how the scene progressed, if nearly all those bulky portable Tape machines will have been junked long ago. The covers are very dry in content, clearly aiming at a 'highbrow' readership, if to show they aren't about Pye Black box & Radiogram type everyday audio, if by 1957 they decide to widen their range of audio gear with 'good domestic' tape recorders as the 1957 HFYB shows. Language & opinion are of the era, with The English Waffle being very noticeable. An Oct 1957 issue has a very remarkable "N in the W" comment, that having read Pre War Children's annuals is a little shocking to see this late, if we remember a c1936 cartoon depicting this, to see that phrase in print is a first & an OMG moment for sure as it leaps off the page at you. We hope readers had a complain about that poorly-chosen phrase... ↑
YEAR BY YEAR: The tone of Hifi News.
This was an earlier opinion before getting the full 1958-80 lot... We're not going to get every issue of Hifi News as the magazine misses out far too many Classic Amps, it's obsession with sodding Classical music & the pointlesness of having upto 2/3 of the magazine as just adverts is too much. But the interest in seeing how the Hifi scene developed year by year is interesting, so we'll offer a digest of what the magazines offer. Any missing years we'll get at least one of the year to give a good idea of what The Man On The Street saw in those days, years before we took notice of Hifi & the years when big shops in the Cities were the way you got the best Hifi. How we'd love to time-travel to see some of the big ones, shops like Imhofs & Henry's Radio would be fascinating to go back & see. Hifi News always had a Technical & Classical take on things Hifi related, a little elitist & superior would be fair comment. Disappearing up it's own backside was what we thought on giving up buying it new in about 1996 as it had little to interest by then. The covers were oddly uncommercial with 'boring' pictures of technical equipment & processes & concert hall related happenings. Not the flash-pop of selling the latest Hifi items at all. It makes you wonder how did the magazine sale to items sold ratio do.
1962 (July) still a slim magazine of about 60 pages . The adverts are nice with mostly brands advertising, Imhofs & Largs, Moden Electrics, Francis of Streatham, C. G Goodwin, Stern & City Sale & Exchange, all of London area, have listings of priced stock, Radford have an ad for transformers. The tone is still very much a hobby with so few big shops beyond those noted selling Hifi. The Hifi Dealer listings show lots of other smaller shops London & regional, if Tape recording is often noted as this was the next 'big thing' after Stereo arrived.
1964 (June) upto 84 pages now. The adverts have gone more Uptown now, losing the more mannered ideals of 1962, with style & design as well as no-expression Harold Leak. Still the Hobbyist angle with Construction & Test gear reviewed. Telesonic add to the big retailers. The 'preciousness' of the later editions isn't here at all, it's still free of the egos & bias, it seemed a nice place to be doing Hifi in, amid Beatlemania.
1965 (August, October, December) 80-100-110 pages increasing by year. Appearance of more familiar items & brands plus the adverts by the bigger shops grow. Still into the teaching technical with Understanding Circuits articles & FM diary seems quaint saying what could be found late at night from Foreign stations, very much the enthusiast rather than hard commercial take. Most adverts are by manufacturers with full page photo ads.
1966 (October) 120 pages, probably for the expected Xmas market. Much the same as the 1965 & forthcoming 1967 except a more professional look to the adverts shows progression as the Transistor Era is about to take hold. This fresher look will have made the Valve equipment look even more old-fashioned, with buyers seeing the far more attractive non-UK product compared to the basicness of the UK gear.
1967 (January) shows a stereotype tech guy with white jacket & monk style bald head, those sort of guys learnt their trade in the War. A Wife's View Of Hifi isn't as patronising as you'd think if the unhappy Leak woman made to carry books & a speaker shows the age. A growing amount of non UK brands are shown, B+O, Tandberg, Pioneer, Sansui & Sony amid still mainly the UK brands. Generally the UK brands only for Amplifiers & Tuners with the non-UK on tape decks & turntables. Where you would have bought a Pioneer or Sansui isn't shown in the adverts, Sansui only give non UK addresses to write to. Heathkit-Daystrom have a strong presence in the 1960s mags with double page adverts of their kits. These were popular, if not so many survive beyond the S-99 valve amp, but these were as good or better than shop-bought items, don't dismiss them for being kits.
1968-1969-1970-1971 we'd not got any yet as of typing this. The explosion of the Transistor, sometimes literally, will be revealed in these interesting years. The superior Japanese & USA product compared to the Basic but Honest Midprice quality of the UK brands
1972-1986 From a quick look, the amount of adverts hits a peak in 1972 & then slows by 1980 to a thin magazine. Having read some now, the ones that cover up to 1980 are worth a try, the market changed heavily after this in Hifi & magazine quality. Brash adverts with lists of prices instead of the mellower manufacturer adverts dominate & crap brands like Amstrad take over multi page sections selling their cheap nasty gear... A tedious aspect is the normal by 1972 where equipment reviews become a technical paper telling sod all about what the buyer wants to know. Lots of graphs & scope readings with pointless last sentence summing up saying they should be proud of it or could do better. Frustratingly they don't review enough classic amps, tending to go for the low models, not the bigger ones. We've got one per year up to 1986 just to see the Hifi scene before we took interest, the 1980 onwards Hifi scene is very obscure to us as no Hifi Yearbooks after 1981 edition, but from the few 1980s 'gems' we tried a while ago, we aren't too bothered.
The early-mid 1980s with CD arriving, there actually is a lot of Looking Back at Hifi starting to emerge. The Generations of Hifi have matured enough for Valves to be considered with the Transistor gear. The bias of the Linn, Naim & Mission plus other 'Cottage Industry' brands with ugly plain boxed gear still stuffed with ICs & poor design does get a bit weary. Some megabucks gear is quoted as references by the reviewers but do readers go & buy? The MC Phono 'revolution' as if many people beyond Hifi Reviewers trying samples went and bought a £1000 cartridge in 1985 when the CD was there too. There is a oozing layer of BS emerging with brands & ideas championed but not really translating into sales. Not to say these are Bad Items but we aren't too interested in trying them for the High Price of entry & the likelihood that these same few amps are bought, tried, dismissed in one try & sold on by those who try it for one hour & say it's no good. For the Linn & Naim crowd, it is fair to say much of 1980s Hifi was mass market garbage stuffed with ICs, but having seen the innards of these worshipped brands, they aren't all that really. Reading the 1980s mags to us is a little unsettling, lost in a world post Golden Era Hifi & Pre Computers & Digital audio recorders. The ugly-ass 1980s black plastic styling can often be vile, no design value at all, it can be softened with wood efect side cheeks, but a plain black metal box with controls & flashy meters randomly applied is just not satisfying. Do we really want more 1981-date Hifi mags? ↑
RESEARCH INTO 'SEXIST' 1960s & 1970s HIFI MAG ADVERTS...
Well someone has to do it... Looking through Hifi magazines shows the way women were portrayed relating to Hifi, which is interesting if at times cringeworthy and amusing. So to list them here as we read through the series will amuse or appall you depending on your views or what you have been told is acceptable. But as funny or OMG as it seems today, that was life then, so no apologies are required & we remember how content a female relation was in this era baking cakes & playing mummies until times changed & she was never as happy again as reality hit. We're not putting up pictures so you'll have to buy the mags or use your imagination. The 1960 Hifi News adverts we are seeing have delighted-looking women in evening dress put as an image with an Open Reel tape recorder, like she cares or knew what the whizzy thing was even was back then, oops. A 1959 ad shows half a face of a happy woman if the ad selling a tape recorder will not have delighted yet alone interested her at all, perhaps the other half was more truthful. Others, like a 1968 Leak advert, have a bothered-looking woman struggling unusually with a speaker cabinet & some heavy books, yet the speaker case looks like it has no back to fit 'the girls' inside as the speaker cabinet is flat to her arm. Early 1970s ones have a woman staring straight at the camera as she puts a record on, with tone arm in mid air but not looking at what is going on. Others in the early 1970s HFYBs have cross-looking women wearing huge headphones of the early 1970s clearly not interested. One remarkable one we saw in the Jan 1972 Hifi News p161-62 was a Lind-Air advert with a women laying on her side apparently only wearing a bra but no knickers if a hand (hers...) placed suitably. Their heading really was "We Take Off More And Give You Something Extra!". Later in the 1970s the smoky night club dressed women try to add an air of classier seduction to the hifi offering as was the style then. The 1978 Pixall record mop cleaner depicts a pretty faced dearie in a nightclub type dress standing with one long-fingernailed hand on a LP laid on a table & rollering the LP with the other, yet only looking & smiling at the camera. Is this a reality? No, it's patronising, but that's how the media portrayed life then & be sure it wasn't as bad to live in as today's people may think, but that's beyond us to go into. The Hifi mags often go on about 'the Distaff side of the Household' ie the Missus having to be placated with better looking hifi units & not acres of raggedy cabling. Looking at the ugly units pre transistor era, it's not surprising most were built into cabinets & closed away. Free standing units were popular in the USA & Japan long before UK. The 1960s mags also try a little desperately to give 'A Woman's View of Hifi' articles over the years, the wife of a hifi tinkerer finding stripey resistors all over the place & generally being a long-suffering endurer of electronics mess everywhere, but understanding in a way that isn't that convincing. Women suffered the men building huge brick speaker enclosures in the early hifi days pre Stereo, but he had difficulty getting another one for Stereo after 1958. Early Wireless radios had to have a huge wire frame out in the garden, in the days before flats, just to pick up any signal: 'it's not a washing line, dear'. Further remarkable ones... Oct 1977 Ampex cassette tape ad shows part of a woman navel to knee wearing freshly-cut Daisy Dukes half bent over. Yup, there is only one intention here. A white sleeved shirt male hand either puts in or pulls out a blank tape from her back pockert which has no jeans logo. No room for a Senior Service in that pocket says we... (old cigs brand). Perhaps the most remarkable we've seen so far are the 1971-72 Duette hifi ads, a range of 1960s Japanese high quality amps imported as they went unsold & are so unknown they sold nothing. The ads bear more resemblance to another 'family' product starting with "Du..." as there sits an unclothed woman & man looking slightly immodest, on her naturally. One Hifi magazine Hifi For Pleasure from the mid 1970s we saw on ebay & some issues have covers more fit for a Girlie mag than a Hifi one, the March 1976 on ebay coyly had the camera flash where a suggestion of 'going too far' could be, her sitting a certain way. Can only imagine the husband had to hide that one away. The Sept 1976 HFN+RR has a pretty young woman with obvious but ladylike appeal on the cover, perhaps the only HFN that doesn't have Hifi or boring pictures of bald men on. Some of the early HFN cover photos were very dull if they did often show women constructing & testing hifi in the factories, generally they aimed too high-brow. Oct 1979 shows how things changed: Scottish Hifi Dealers ad shows a shop unfortunately called Audio Aids with a female manager, the Sansui ad has a broken soul ready to jump in the Thames with his "Cheap" brand hifi but Akai sets things back to 1970s normality with a bikini wearer laid full length vertically apparently playing the Akai PRO2 separates rack system with no wires or anything playing, genius. Her photo, as if it be a bloke, looks a little altered we note. Having read some of the 1980-87 there's none of that after 1979 explaining why Hifi sounded so awful into the 1980s. ↑
WOMEN IN HIFI ADS: READING THROUGH THE HFN YEAR BY YEAR...
As no-one else writing a Hifi site online will have a set of HFN, we'll put notable ads that may amuse or annoy here, if we're not putting the pictures if some Google Images will find. Apart from a few party-dressed smart women in early 1960s Tape Machine adverts, generally women & Hifi aren't linked. The first advert is that Leak one with The Bothered Woman with the speaker to her shoulder & inside elbow, so the cabinet back must be removed as said & she doesn't look pleased. She could be Harold Leak's daughter as she looks like him. This first appears Dec 1966 for "Leak Mini Sandwich" speaker. Nov 1967 has a Goodmans system photo with a woman sat on the floor playing an easy listening LP, only the second of their colour covers, if a safe pic. Metrosound have an ad with a woman for disc & tape accessories, no reason why apart from a female face to catch the eye, again safe. The first one you could call either "for the lads" or "sexist" is Dec 1967 for Westminster Photographic, a leggy blonde with a low cut top feet up on the desk probably kicked the turntable, selling Rogers gear, she'll be 70 now & will likely have forgotten this ad. ↑
1997-1999 HI-FI NEWS "Classic Hi-fi Supplements"
These were included in some of the late 1990s Hifi News & Record Review magazine issues in the apparently now early days of Vintage Hifi interest, though we used to see buyers wanting Garrard 301s in the 1980s Record Collector small ads. Slim 32 page issues that number to at least 6 & certainly the work of Ken Kessler who started the "Anachrophile" vintage articles in the early 1980s. We have 4 of them again to see what we read many times over back then. We got our Garrard 301 Maxplank plinth from one of the Hifi Suppliers advertisers & a quality piece it was too. These magazines were news to us up to 16 years ago but now much of it is familiar & kept us interested. Interviews with some of the old Hifi Pioneers as they were still around & Hifi News deserves credit for getting these interviews which they added many more to in a paperback book they issued a few years after. Hifi News was always a little over-self-indulgent at this time on the new stuff & these supplements were very welcome. Reprints of old articles that are a little undescriptive of the sound as was the normal in these pre Subjective reviews days, it was all a bit saying how fine a product it was if not really saying much else. These Vintage Supplements certainly did inspire us in 1997, the first one having the Garrard 301 got us buying the Maxplank plinth from the guy if we reduced the height by one layer as it was not in proportion.
We've got all 6 of these now. The first was Jun 1996 with a box of quad amp-tuner gear on the cover & we read this many times at the time as it was all new to us, there was no info about Vintage Gear. Covers Rogers Cadet, Quad II, Leak Varislope, SME 3009, Quad ESL, Tannoy GRF, Wharfedale Sansfilled Baffle, Rogers LS3/5 plus the Garrard 301-401 story, Restoration drama showing the early days of Restoring Hifi. The second was Jan 1997 with the Thorens TD124 on the cover with Leak Point One and stereo 20 amp, Decca FFSS stereo cartridge, Spendor BC-1 speaker, Garrard 301 turntable, Thorens TD124 turntable, A&R AR60 amplifier, Ortofon SL15E cartridge plus Marantz reissues & Peter Walker interview. The third was Jun 1997 with the EMI Stereoscope 555 later made by Clarke & Smith. Covers that amp, Garard 401 turntable, Ferrograph series 7 tape deck, Tannoy speakers York & IIILZ, Audio Research SP8 preamp & SME 3009 improved plus Raymond Cooke interview, Saul Marantz tribute & Reissue Vinyl. The fourth was Dec 1997 with a Radford STA25 reissue amp cover plus Pye Mozart amp, Connoisseur (Sugden) Craftsman turntable, Gale G401 speaker, Grace G707 arm, Rabco ST7 parallel track arm, Kerr McCosh amp, Goldring G500 cartridge, Kelly Junior Ribbon tweeter Mk II and rebuilding a Quad ESL. Number five was Jun 1998 with the Lecson AC1-AP1X pre power combo on the cover plus Lowther Audiovector, Worden articulated arm, Acos GP81 cartridge, Acoustic Research LST speaker, Koetsu MC1 cartridge plus more on Quad ESL, SME visit & Record wear. The last sixth one is Feb 1999 with old UK 78s on the cover showing they've run out of amps surprisingly as only the Rogers HG88 plus Quad ESL-63 and other more specific articles on 78s on CD, Valve radios, stere on disc, Early videotape from 1957 & 'Omni' speaker.
As with any Collector Scene it shows what was considered worthy in 1995-1999. You can still find old forum posts from 2002-05 online showing people found the early amps we've revived, but they don't understand them too well or see the potential in them as old & unserviced. Some of the Amps included are established to make high prices, though whether buyers use them is another thing. Still it was an important start into the Vintage Hifi world if they ran out of ideas & didn't even cover the Silver Pioneer or McIntosh amps scene which were collected even that early.
The reprints are only photocopy quality & the set 1957-on was owned by one of the article writers as he offered his set for sale just as we started to look for the mags, but he decided to keep. The magazines are buyable from ebay either singly or as time moves on magazine collections are being sold often very cheaply as the magazines get to be very heavy 300 page efforts by 1972-73. The set we have is a very weighty thing & storing is difficult, but the only easy option are the Ikea Flyt folder boxes & a strong bookshelf, if you pile them upwards the cover edge is thicker & the magazine is too limp to put a stack in a drawer as you'll only rip the covers. To get into HFN mags is not so easy, if we got the set we have in under a year if ended up with about half again as duplicates. But to read is worthwhile. ↑
AMPLIFIERS & RECEIVERS REVIEWED BY HFN/RR
The Index starts for HFN/RR in 1976-77 so a brief look at what they were given to review. in the early days pre CD the Manufacturer had to submit items for Review & many didn't bother for fear of excess sales or harsh reviews. These will be sorted into year order once typed up. Also as the index in the mag shows issue dates, we add this as readers may wish to seek out said issue. Our section here covers Integrated amplifiers, Preamps, Power Amps & Receivers, if not Phono preamps, Tuners or add-on EQ units. The ones HFN/RR reviewed can be seen as a typical selection of the year, if not all the highest models or even all the best ones, just a sample as comparing to the HFYB listings reveals. The yearly index only starts with the 1976 one in the Jan 1977 issue, the rest needs each magazine to go through.
1976: Akai AA 1020 (Aug), Audio Reflex AGS150 (Jul), Ferguson 3491 (Mar), Grundig RTV 1040 (Aug), Harrison S-200 (Nov), JVC JA-S8 (Nov), Luxman L-80V (Nov), Nakamichi 610/620 (Nov), Pioneer SA-9900 (Jul), Quad 405 (Apr), Sansui AU5500 (Jan), Shackman 220 (Aug), Technics SU-8600 (Nov), Toshiba SB-514 (Feb), Trio Kenwood KA-3300 (Sep), Trio Kenwood KA-3500 (Sep).
1977: A&R A60 (Nov), Amstrad 5050 (Jun), B&O Beomaster 1900 (Jan), BGW 202/100 (Oct), Cambridge Audio P80 (Nov), Dansk 2100 (Jan), Enigma Variation 1/2 (Oct), Hitachi HCA8300 pre-power (Oct), JVC JR-5100 (Jun), Leak 3900A (Nov), Lecson AC1/AP1X (Oct), Luxman CL32/MQ3600 valves (Oct), NAD 300 (Apr), Pioneer SA-6500 II (Nov), Rotel RX-1603 (Apr), Sansui CA-2000/BA-2000 (Oct), Sansui 331 (Jan), Sefton AS-1100 (Nov), Toshiba SA-220L (Jun), Trio-Kenwood LO7C/LO7M (Oct), Yamaha C2/B2 (Oct).
1978: Exposure III preamp (Oct), Hafler DH-101 preamp kit (Nov), Harman Kardon Citation 17/19 (Oct), Hitachi HCA-7500/HMA7500 (Oct), Luxman L10 (Dec), Marantz 2500 (Jan), Marantz 1122DC (Dec), Meridian 101/105 (Oct), Nikko TRM 750 (Dec), Rotel RX-603 (May), Sansui AU-717 (Dec), Sony TA-N88/TA-E88 (Sep), Technics SU9070/SE9060 (Oct), Trio-Kenwood KR4070 (May), Trio-Kenwood KA9100 (Dec), TVA prototype pre/Export (Oct), Yamaha CR620 (May), Yamaha CA810 (Dec).
1979: Audio Pro TA150 (Sep), Harman Kardon HK670 (May), Nakamichi 730 (Sep), Pioneer SX790 (May), Sony STR-V5 (May). That's all they reviewed. ↑
HIFI NEWS: KEN KESSLER, MARTIN COLLOMS & SUBJECTIVE REVIEWS
KK may have gone too far with his ramblings for us to care much by the mid 1990s & maybe he was as tired of New Hifi as we became, as it was his wise idea to do the Vintage Supplements in the mid 1990s. Modern Hifi was pretty soulless by 1997 as we stopped buying Hifi News, the Valve Amps surge had gone by them & Digital units were the main deal, all very boring & obsolete to us now, we just use the Computer for Audio since 2009 when Hard Drives grew big enough to carry 15,000 uncompressed tracks. But a brief flick through the early 1980s magazines revealed he was a bit of a pioneer with his Anachrophile section looking at older Hifi afresh & the fact he listened to the music & put a personal opinion into reviews which was seriously lacking, even dull Martin Colloms started to listen instead of just rate. 1984 seems to be his first full year, so maybe started back from the USA in 1983 if you got more mags. Other reviewers like Martin Colloms we used to groan at seeing his name, his dry ultra-boring precise way of reviewing was still pre 1970 when our Ken was putting a fresh take on Hifi reviewing, one of randomness & avoiding the theory as you can see is how we write things up. But he was getting paid, we get paid by nobody to write any of this, yet keep it mannered. Looking at the Feb 1984 edition, with a cover picture showing a huge valve leaving transistors in the dust shows a very new approach, where the Audio Research D-70 valve power amp gets reviewed, instantly the informal way of writing is much more understood than some darned graph or oscilloscope photo. An impression of Man On Beer-ness comes through, yet it's fluid not constipated like Mr Colloms old-timey writing. We shall read more...
AH, BUT NOW A NEW OPINION: Unfortunately reading the Jan 1985 mag with KK back from the USA, he rambles on & on telling very little to the point he can do one as we're not reading such empty glossed-over-facts waffle. Reviews of items by him, er... where or what was the review? Martin Colloms may be as dry as a rice cake but at least he does the job & aims to cater to a full reader audience with the tech approach plus finally giving a short subjective opinion, if seeming that it has no place in a unconfident way. Generally many earlier reviews are wording what the advert literature & specs says plus tests that few care about as The Sound is the important thing. KK & his waffling nothingness has little point really. Older reviewers in earlier years we found headng into Technical Paper realms, Stanley Kelly is a hifi legend but his writings start off interesting but quickly get past our interest. So we started saying KK was the man, but we read his recent Hifi News paperback & found much of it very dull. MC we can see the man understands his subject from a more technical angle after reading more of the later 1970s-mid 1980s mag. What you may glean from our reviews may leave you cold but we listen for the sounds & do upgrades to aged gear. As with anything, a magazine is a month-by-month opinion of several people, the KK approach has it's place but it's generally sloppy & self-indulgent and for those who want some technical opinion, we must say the drier reviewers are the ones more worthy as they are broader.
Generally Hifi Magazines are interesting to a point, we've found reading through them gives a good idea of the times that do change quite swiftly from 1962-80 to the point you can pinpoint the year of adverts & hifi. But also there is only so much waffle these magazines can print to fill out the space between the adverts, much of it is quite marginal even if Amplifier related, telling nothing really new that buying the Hifi Yearbooks & Briggs Hifi series books, The magazines spread all their info out so widely, generally to have a whole set of Hifi News 1963-80 is really not worthwhile. If more Classic Amps were reviewed & the tone less pompous, also the worthiness of these reviews to translate into something beyond a technical paper. There will be plenty of USA & European magazines, not to mention Japanese ones with all the Rare Wonderful early Hifi that never made it outside of Japan. Us finding the Coral 1966 transistor amp shows a much wider Hifi world than what was sold in the UK, plenty of good Hifi was sold in Germany but the UK with it's Stiff Upper Lip didn't like Johnny Foreigner's Hifi so some of the 1960s ones we rate didn't see UK sales. All adds to the Hifi Picture from 1963-80 though. ↑
ABOUT HIFI NEWS/RR AFTER 1980
We've read one of each year from 1981-87. We skipped through most of it as it was of no interest. Tapes, Tuners, CD & overpriced minor brands are the main items here. They patronise the typical Hifi buyer by rating lots of budget amps in groups, but again it's pretty pointless. A letter in Jan 1986 issue sums up our ideas: the egos like KK appear to write for their own amusement, telling very little about the item. This sort of blog-type informal writing we do but condense it so you understand things, not to go off into spaceland with unrelated nothing. KK is about as cohesive as a bag of polystyrene peanuts: those lightweight things that are weak with no substance, stick to things & end up under furniture to annoy you weeks later, assuming you bother to do the hoovering under things because you might find some money, a furry Smartie or a 3rd dimension. Some of the others who get a page with their name on got bypassed as you read their waffle & are usually no wiser for any of it, one interestingly says his home taping bones logo was nicked more or less by the BPI for their 'Killing Music' campaign. The editor's page used to be worthy in the early ones but now seems too oblique & ranting. The ads are pretty miserable after the 1980 era as big names who used to advertise good products now offer Rack Systems with budget gear pretending to be important. Big adverts over many pages by Hifi Markets selling those grey NAD amps we used to laugh at seeing them in the local town, so ugly & drab but sounded good so sold well. But this was the marketplace if HFN's content rarely covered what the typical buyer would consider, the 1986 letter mentions a £9000 tone control was reviewed. They clearly lost the plot. By 1987 we bought HFN on tiring of What Hifi's dumb policy of "everything is brilliant and even better 3 months later" and as it was a different take aaway from the mainstream we bought it often until 1998 until it just got too boring. But did introduce the KK Vintage Supplements that we read many times & got back now to see what influenced us, we remember the 4th one but not the 6th in 1999. Having back issues we read of the other TT valve amps that we got in 1998. Seems we tired of HFN by 1998 on finding the Vintage much more interesting. The reviews by the 1980s were trying to be Arthur & Martha with subjective & objective reviews, Martin Colloms we see as dry but at least his subjective reviews give a sense, but then reading one big review of Amps & Tuners matching from Jan 1982 it was too rushed & the fact everything got 3/5 or higher when the words say otherwise is just a crock. This is why we just use words Great, Excellent etc in our ratings which cover several decades of Hifi, all rated on a level idea of goodness. Seeing a whole set 1987-2015 only made £33 shows how little interest there is in these mags beyond buying ones that contain your amp. But the early ones pre 1980 are far more interesting & any are recommended for a good taste of the Hifi scene before the egos took over. ↑
Audio Annual 1967
Having never heard of this, we just got one to see. Appears 1966 was their first edition, it's a A4 mag sized slim volume. By the UK Hifi News & Tape Recorder mag & perhaps predictably it's just reprints of their pick of the previous year, tons of adverts & some articles reprinted. It reveals how little was actually reviewed in the HFN as it lists all in the book & the ones it missed, meaning 6 amplifiers & 4 receivers is the lot reviewed in 1966. As often. the ads are more interesting with the Trio & Sansui ranges containing some favourites. One extremely dull long article about non Magnetic cartridges is a yawnfest, Stanley Kelly may be a Hifi Legend but his articles we've found are more like a dry Science paper & few will find them worthwhile then & now. We'd hoped it would have contained more info, but it reveals really only what we already have elsewhere & also that not all Hifi that is known today was imported into the UK widely & not all made the HFYB listings. The problem reading more of the reviews shows they are not far off useless beyond an objective dry opinion. Here the Armstrong 221 (see our Top amps page) and the Fisher X-100A, 10w & 20w valve amps. The Armstrong 221 one we've had & thought it was rubbish, here all you'll read is about how messy the square waveforms are. This can be interpreted as low spec & not too stable as we found playing it once recapped to at least work, the reviewer found the amp needed the Tone controls to flatten output the square wave, as it was giving a tilted effect from poor response. We can see from that the reviewer thought it was rubbish too, but nothing objective about the sound at all & rather gutlessly said it represented good value for money & having a MM phono stage, as transistors. The Rogers Cadet they could have easily compared it to & found the Rogers was a better amp, but no. The Fisher X-100A we've not had & after reading the reveiw have no real idea if it's good or bad, until taking our experience into consideration. The novice reader will have had no idea & at £57 for 20w no doubt they'd have bought the £33 Armstrong. The only subjective note is the reviewer liked the rocker switches. It goes on about specs which you can read yourself in the spec section, their waffle tells nothing new. The graphs & tables show Deep Bass is rolled off & high Treble is limited, as most amps ever made have. The reviewer used it for a month so clearly liked it but says nothing of why they liked it. Void review. Others here review the Heathkit AA22U & Goodmans Maxamp, two early transistor amps. Further useless graphs of Tone Control & Loudness characteristics, but bugger all about how clean it sounds, how lively it is or how fuzzy the treble is, as we do. We have the 1974 one also now, but these aren't easy to find as just reprints & adverts, and at least goes to 2013 as one seller has many. ↑
OTHER HIFI MAGAZINES
Ebay has plenty of old Hifi mags, but very little Vintage. Plenty 1990s onwards. But for the Vintage era 1963-80 there isn't very much. The GRAMOPHONE magazine, their archives are findable free online, appears to be more a Classical Music magazine with some Hifi reviewed. What Hifi started out as POPULAR HIFI, a more accessible magazine than what Hifi News became & took over it's place as the Best Sellling Hifi mag by the 1980s, the Popular Hifi started March 1971 & ended September 1976 as it was renamed 'What Hifi' from October 1976, The second issue has a lot of more worthy to buyers articles & it reviews the Leak Delta 70, but seeing contents pages it is quite of the tone of What Hifi, certainly interesting & useful to those starting in Hifi, if not really much for the seasoned Hifi reader, where Hifi News excelled before the boring writers & egos spoiled it. Sep 1974 shows the Yamaha CR-1000 on the cover if not inside and looking at the 31 issues contents pages one seller kindly shows, the magazine after all is Popular Hifi, not Elitist Hifi, and it picks better quality budget to midprice gear only, if ITT brands & stereo systems here too. Why someone was still buying a beginners Hifi mag over 5 years later is a bit odd. We didn't think it was worth buying one even to read, £8 for a mag is excessive. We may knock WHAT HIFI for their biased paid advert-reviews & ceaseless five-starrery, but it was an interesting read when we first found it in the mid 1980s & for anyone starting into Hifi it was a place to start, though what it'd be like today wouldn't interest us, though they do go Retro Hifi occasionally. The big listings at the back were what no other Hifi mag had & helped narrow down what there was affordable. Again like 'Popular Hifi', the idea with 'What Hifi' was you bought the odd issue if the contents or cover appealed, or you fancied buying something new. Buying Hifi News as we did for a few years 1988-95 was more for the Hifi interest, but as with most magazines, how often would you re-read them? WIRELESS WORLD & PRACTICAL WIRELESS is a different aspect of Audio & Hifi as it's about Home Construction, a type of mag going back to the early crystal radio set days & must have been struggling as 1968 & 1972 are the last years we can find for sale. Others include a 1974 "Audio" magazine, aimed more at the Record Collector in this issue, Where To Get Rare Records, as the Collector's Market was in it's early days. In later years, 1990s onwards, What Hifi, Hifi World, Hifi Choice & Hifi Plus. Another obscure one is HIFI SOUND which actually is a Haymarket publication so is their title before 'Popular Hifi' & 'What Hifi', perhaps sticking to one name would help. Starting in November 1967 with Clement Brown as editor, same as in the 1976 Popular Hifi. The more populist approach as What Hifi continued with, aiming more for quality budget to midprice, rather than the top ranges, if we only have four of the 1968 ones. It has reviews still in the technical not subjective type, but less precious as the Hifi News ones could be, it has oscilloscope traces of one amp on test but not going into the dry theory that HFN did. This sort of magazine will have helped sell more Hifi tham HFN if HFN itself sold hugely in the 1970s the content beyond the ads will have not been as interesting to less technical buyers as Hifi Sound is. Whether it ran until Feb 1971 when Popular Hifi started is probable. ↑
Looking to the USA...
on ebay.com, where else? Stereophile appears to be their big magazine if only starts 1977 by the volume numbers, 1950s Radio & Television mag had some Hifi, as did Electronics Illustrated & Popular Science. A 1953 High Fidelity magazine is very early, a Classical bias if with Hifi reviews. Popular Electronics for DIY-ers, Hifi & Music Review from 1958, Leisure Electronics from 1972. Of course Playboy included Hifi for the Bachelor to peruse when he'd enjoyed the main content, unlikely to be too deep therefore. Audio from 1957, a 1956 Hifi Special, 1958 & 1965 Radio-Electronics, 1978 Stereo Review, earlier 1968/70 called Hifi/Stereo Review a 2013 mag Nuts and Volts aims to tell you how to Repair & Refurb vintage hifi which must need a big disclaimer, or not be as detailed as you'd hope.
We did write up about the Stereo International 1969-70 annual, part of the High Fidelity magazine, since 1951 and Stereo Quarterly 'quite a few years ago' says that book, so probably 1958-59 if none are findable. The main Vintage era is therefore covered by High Fidelity and Hifi/Stereo Review, not that they'll be found in the UK. ↑
We look at Old Hifi News Amplifier & Receiver Reviews
Perhaps we shouldn't look too closely is the verdict after we've typed the main part of this up... As we've got the majority of the Hi-Fi News & Record Review magazines from 1960-1980, as we read through them, time to add our view on what they review. The trouble is with HFN is the policy changes over the years, they used to rely on manufacturers submitting items to be reviewed, if popular ones like Rogers & Leak sold well enough to not need opinions was the idea. It could be said these makers didn't want bad press, as after reading a Martin Colloms October 1977 big group review of eight notable Pre-Power amp combos, it's clear this sort of reviewing is so far off what a manufacturer would want to read as some are quite damning. Mr Colloms we used to read his dry articles in the 1987-95 era & found him a bit too formal & mostly objective, but the puddin' basin haired fellow on the article shows a younger man with fresher ideas & one who was very incisive into what we need to read about hifi. He's still in Audio circles & as with reading any person's work, to read their early years shows a different light. On reading Ken Kessler in the 1987-95 his ramblings were more a blog than telling much about the Hifi, clearly he was bored of the Hifi scene by then, but did start in HFN in about 1983 with his 'Anarcrophile' section looking at past gems & then the wonderful 1995-97 HFN Vintage Anniversary Supplements that got us noticing Vintage more.
Most HFN reviews we've read & not really understood much about What They Sound Like, the early 1950s-60s ones often just congratulated the maker on a fine achievement but rarely being more than a padded out spec sheet plus describing the item as could be seen.
But by 1976-77 Hifi Reviewers were realising how much more Musical the earlier Amps sounded, the Oct 1977 one features a Valve Amp & the sound is way preferred by the listening panel. As we state on other pages, the 1965-69 era Hifi is still based on Valve Amp circuitry & the designs are lean & give far more musical precision if by 1969 some brands do appear to have already lost the 1965-67 quality. The best amps of 1965-67 you can read of on our Reviews page as we've searched the best ones out, if not quite got them all covered. The Differential era started generally in Japanese & USA Hifi by 1971 if UK-EU took a few more years. The Differential is hailed as an 'improvement' as it matches impedance, but to us with our extreme upgrading, we generally just can't get the Top Fidelity out of these post 1971 era differential amps. The trouble here is as we state elsewhere, Discount Stores & Cost Cutting. The Differential gives very good specs 0.01% THD but in reality the sound can be far from the 1965-67 & Valve sound. THD is 'Total Harmonic Distortion' so what is our opinion, Harmonics are present in Hifi but may be -60dB below the peak of the music played. Our self-quote... "If they were more honest they'd rate it as "Percentage Of The Real Sound we actually Lost in search of High Specifications" makes far more sense, as if THD is based on Harmonics of -60dB, how distorted is the music we hear? Many amps are limited in high Treble by overuse of 'spoilers' to stop complaints & deep Bass can be constipated by heavy component filtering that causes ringing & fuzzy treble too by virtue of the ringing. Then the power supplies are low spec with deliberate low spec we repeatedly see in certain places that will restrict the dynamics of the music. Hifi sound is often like a Horse tied on a short rope to a tree with heavy weights on it's legs & blinkers on, be sure the Horse running free in a field is how Hifi should be, but contained within a widely spaced fence to be sure it stays tame. Using that ideal we successfully upgrade Hifi to be way beyond what was sold when new. ↑
1977 Hifi News 8x Pre-Power Reviews
So to the October 1977 Hi-Fi news reviews. We'll give an overview of their review plus quote anything that stands out & then look at the Service Manuals at these amps, if findable & see how we rate them just from looking at the circuits. We can now tell very closely how an amp will sound by reading the circuits, which shows we are getting more advanced with each notable amp. Noted in order of the original article pages 179-197. These are all pre-power combos that suggest they should be superior to an Integrated Amplifier or Receiver, but as you'll read, the pre-power game is generally more one of making you pay more for two boxes. Power ratings vary but as we upgrade, the 1kHz into 8 ohms is most useful, knowing of the bandwidth limits there actually are despite what the specs say.
BGW 202 Preamp & 100 Power Amp.
The looks of this don't impress right away: the Rack Mount aluminium faced preamp is plain but functional & the black fascia power amp looks half the depth & not exactly appealing in any way, unless you like the cheap DJ amps of today look as this resembles. HFN doesn't like the lack of rotary controls as there are Sliders as well as regular push buttons. Sliders are not precise in use & only really the B+O 3000-4400 type sliders with a bar to hold to get more precision are any use. Odd that a Filter is still considered necessary in 1977 but today amps still have Loudness & Balance, features we have no use for really. The power amp was mechanically noisy in use, all they need is a rubber gasket as many amps use to solve this. Overall it is found 'satisfactory' which is not too good really. "Some panellists also described a degree of audible harshness and an odd dynamic effect akin to mild compression" which to us means the typical low spec & current limiting that is typical by the mid 1970s. Naturally the "useless" THD rates 0.008% at best typically 0.01%. But this is meaningless, if it sounds harsh & compressed be sure Real World Distortion will be about 10%-20% based on how rough some amps sound even after servicing. They'll never tell you "Our Amp Ruins your Sound so you'll only get 80% of the Quality" as no-one would buy. But to consider low spec amps 20% Real Distortion aka Away From The Real Sound is probably a generous one. Looking at the Specs as tested, Damping Factor is far too high average of 140 showing high NFB if wildly varying 48 to 200 with only low damping at 20kHz-30kHz showing a grainy sound with low spec & weak design. It cost £780 new, to us it sounds best avoided. We'd not bother upgrading an amp like this, too flawed.
Enigma Variation 1 Preamp & 2 Power Amp.
Noted as a newly established company, so to get reviewed here is either brave or foolish, any new product will have early production tweaks as R&D is never as thorough as Joe Public having a moan when using mediocre gear with better gear. 60w rated with a delightfully low Damping Factor around 23 is impressive if showing their newness & no complainers yet. The cheapest in the group at £345 yet it's styling is modest but not harsh like the last rackmount one. Plain black preamp with five rotary controls Bass, Treble, Input & Balance. 'Power' is likely a Power Switch-Volume Control combo which will have left potential buyers wondering where the Volume is. Power amp is 1.5x the height of the preamp & a plain fascia. A very mid 1980s look here, plain but we seem to like it more already. But then reading it has nasty DIN sockets if 4mm speaker outputs is a missed opportunity as Hifi buyers don't like DIN unless they are into Leak, B+O & the 1980s Hair Shirt brands. No Tape Monitor is an odd omission, on building our valve preamp, to have a 'Tape' loop monitor is still essential & a difficult one to wire. They find inaccuracis in Phono gain & the Bass set midway was off flat. Overall again their opinion is it is not bad but not great, not harsh but sounding too polite & rolled off if handing higher volume quite well. If it hasn't got the DIN sockets, this could be worthy of upgrading.
Hitachi HCA-8300 Preamp & HMA-8300 Power Amp.
Part of their "Dynaharmony" range as we looked at on 'Other Amps'. It was considered that Dynaharmony was just a cover for Music Power PMPO nonsense, but here it's explained a separate power supply can gove 100ms Peaks of 500w. But surely there will be a switch over point & slew rate speed of reaction would require World Class circuitry. £630 the 1977 cost here. Black Fascia preamp looking quite like a typical Pioneer like the SA9500 etc. Power Amp picture unclear, but looking online it has nice needle meters if a bit stark all in black. As this is Japanese made hifi the build quality is far more advanced with more features & proper Phono sockets. So far it looks the best with 175w and Damping Factor around 100 suggests it probably doesn't sound so good. This is proven right by the listening panel who "did not favour the sound quality" so what use is it if it sounds lousy? It became harsh & thin at higher volumes, the same effect we found on the Pioneer SX950. "Overall the sound was considered to be lacking in neutrality, quality of detail and depth of stereo image, while some hardening of the program quality was also apparent". Yes classic low spec Pioneer type cost cutting. But as we found with Pioneer, the designs are designed to be excellent but feverishly cost-cut with many spoilers & limiters in the design to make it sound good enough but not stop you buying in a year or two. Without looking at the circuit, this sort of pre-power is prime fodder for our upgrading. The Dynaharmony part is a wasted gimmick in reality & may be a problem to upgrade.
Lecson AC1 Preamp & AP1X Power Amp.
On the front of one of the 1995-97 Hifi News Vintage Supplements so a familiar looking one of a bit too 1977 in style as the B+O 1900 with the 'space age' looks is. The preamp is a flat box looking a bit like a kid's poiano with sliders. How these age is probably like the B+O 1900, ie badly as when we dared try one it actually took getting three of them to make two good ones out of, not going there again. Fragile user controls are never going to last. Naturally it's DIN sockets & a complex connecting cable for pre to power which will probably break or get issues as one on an early Rogers Cadet III valve amp two-part version did. The tall tubular power amp is equally bizarre. 150w, Damping Factor around 26 is good & unusual for the wattage & £425 is a lot of power for a low comparable price so there must be a catch. The power amp runs too hot & it's not a Class A, 40 to 50°C typically is quite warm, 60°C if pushed into 100w+ and it cuts out at 70°C which is as hot as food served temperature. This is poor design, 100w amps like the Yamaha CA1010 correctly biased usually run room temperature if the 130w Sansui AU-G90X gets warmer, it's still only about 40°C. Longevity will certaionly be an issue with this pre-power combo & knowing those B+O it'll frustrate as parts will be unfindable. Their first preamp was poor with noticeable mid distortion & the Phono stage was poor & noisy, this sounds a very low grade manufacturer to us to even not be sure test samples were perfected, but again the low price is the reason. On Phono... "The sound character was considered somewhat forward and hard, with sibilants mildly exaggerated but fairly good rendition of detail was also shown" if using Aux the sound improved noticeably if still a bit hard, stereo was wider & bass was "firm and powerful" as well as playing loud without becoming tiring. So ignore the lousy Phono stage which sadly was very common in amps by this time & only gets worse with ICs and it appears to have a good sound. But for us, we'd not even want an amp that has high risk of bad sliders & running so hot, as with the early Sugden Class A amps, these could be suffering overheating failures. A 1970s design oddity but we'd not take it seriously as hifi with the issues & clunky user controls.
Luxman CL32 Preamp & MQ3600 Power Amp (Valves).
We've noticed this one before as on the 'Other amps' page & the preamps are often found overpriced £900-1000 on ebay if only selling at about £500 & you need the wood case version really. The power amp is an open cage like the LX33, the pair £1069 new in 1977 & 60w they rated this 50w amp. Preamp and power amp are with Valves. Read more on the spec via our link. The preamp we've considered on rebuilding our preamp & it's not bad but has some fiddly design & what looks like an unshielded ribbon cable for signal going right over a valve. This will pick up hum & as we found with the LX33 it'll be dumbed down to lose the hum & overall not be anywhere near as good as it should be done properly. The Phono stage gives -69dB noise floor as the circuit will be limited to give better specs, valves are usually noisier they say, if our own Phono valve pre isn't. THD is higher on valves for the lack of circuitry to tailor the sound, never seen a valve amp differential. Their listening review is very encouraging & the sound despite being a little soft due to the limits in the design like the LX33 has, played music 'how they dreamt' with great stereo positioning, depth, perspective & deep detail with no trace of hardness. Fancy that. Detail was softer, but this is down to how valves play sound. Transistor amps typically are brighter, but the Luxman design has much bass limiting so Bass isn't too good they say. It makes you wonder how people understand the Real Bass Valves can deliver when so many valve amps are so bass limited. For it's 50w it's rated as loud as a 150-200w amp, for the simpler circuitry & the fact 50w in 1977 valves has less current than 50w in 1977 transistors, the voltage gain will be higher. But we know 16w transistor amps from 1966 play as loud as 15w valve amps for their designs. The extra current in transistor amps means less volume for Watts as Power = Current x Voltage. There is much upgrade potential in an amp like this, but read our Luxman LX33 review to realise these valve amps still need some severe upgrading to be their best which costs in parts & extended advanced design based work.
Sansui CA 2000 Preamp & BA 2000 Power Amp.
Sansui is a brand that is very varying in quality, we aren't keen on their 1960s valve amps as the Sansui 500A was lousy if the 1967 Sansui 3000A rates as one of our top receivers ever & then the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X has altered opinions on 1980s amps, if it's a gem amid the mire. So to look at this combo will be an earlier version of the idea used for the 1984 amp. £893 for 110w with Damping Factor of 70 looks promising. Black faced pre & power looking like they need wood cases with the oversized fascia edges. Typical large needle meters if black fascia amps with small text oin are not so easy to read at night in low light. The review likes the amp: it has a full range of features & the specs were fine, but as always the sound was not so popular though it was neutral it sounded "veiled" a term we try to avoid but it gives the idea after hearing better sound quality that a blanket is over the speaker which is too vague. Not a tiring sound but detail was softened. This doesn't quite add up says we.
Trio-Kenwood L07C Preamp & L07M Power Amp.
As with Sansui, Trio-Kenwood vary hugely in quality, their 1967-69 amplifiers are their best if the tuner stages aren't so reliable. After 1972 Trio get stuck on ICs too much & by the time UK Trio brand is renamed Kenwood as the rest of the world gets, Kenwood we've considered just another typical brand as the many we've looked at on 'Other Amps' reveals. This hey rated upto 170w 8ohms & Damping Factor of 110 typically for £850. The one here is again a slim rackmount preamp, awful trend. The power amps are Monoblocks, all lacking any style in looks it has to be said, very 1980s minimal. One of those sort of amps that does all it can to be technically 'perfect' but an interesting comment of "offered no hint to the Disturbing Findings of the listening panel" with "driven by the aux input the amplifier inexplicably sounded quite bass heavy with the treble band recessed and distant". This sounds like a typical speaker mismatch to us. Trio would not purposely design an amp to sound like that, but shows who is the more aware again: us. Unfair ignorant review here on the Trio combo says we, but the blame is never correctly identified as is human nature. The rest of their comments we consider useless as they have an obvious mismatch here.
Yamaha C2 Preamp & B2 Power Amp.
A £1249 V-FET 150w combo as a further move up from the CR-2020 & CR3020 as well as the CA1010 & CA2010. The CA1010 is a particularly decent amplifier & upgrades well, we maxed one out to see how good it was & found it excellent but not the most excellent, but certainly the best Yamaha we've had & upgraded. Here a slimline preamp & the typical needle meters on the power amp, in silver aluminium with the duller CR-2040 style knobs. A little plain as is the Yamaha style, but looking a quality item. This is the newer version of the 1975 era C1/B1. As typical also the specs are rating high if pretty useless if the sound is off. Here it appears the sound is lacking "the subjective listening results were to prove surprising" so here it appears to have the cold sound that the CA-1010 has before upgrading, all clean & precise with decent bass but nothing to stir the soul. They weren't so keen on the Phono stage saying it was hard & bright, we've found Yamaha phono stages tend to be muddy & blurry in general, lacking the detail others can offer.
A HUGE FLAW IN THEIR REVIEWING IS OBVIOUS TO US.
They only use the Yamaha NS1000 & we've found some Yamaha don't match well to the Tannoy Golds if later ones are fine. To make out you are doing a definitive test & only use one speaker is very poor "In the past (the NS1000s) have proved very revealing of amplifier differences". Yes they would do. This is why we rate amps by headphones to level the playing field & then try on speakers after. This foolish use of just one Speaker sort of makes their reviews worthless. Read our Loudspeakers page. On Headphones the Headphone circuit is loaded differently to a speaker & amps can sound very similar on headphones but hugely mismatched on a certain speaker. Are we the only ones to figure this out? Interestingly the Yamaha combo on Yamaha speakers isn't too great either, gives the idea the Yamaha NS1000 weren't used in designing the amp? We assume the changes in reviewing shortly after showed a realisation of this error based on response. To try something new even if it's not so great is still commendable, after all all reviews 1956-1977 were just a rewrite of the maker specs. Progress takes time & the first attempt may seem clunky in retrospect.
After reading their reviews we can see that they are overdoing the testing here, probably tested all on one day & the huge difference in sound by the Luxman valves appears to have upset the balance. We listen repeatedly to amps, starting with the best sounding one from the last test run & them compare them back & around as very often the "best sounding one" can sound misleading next time as your first heard amplifier becomes your reference. We feel the reviews below do show some accuracy in opinion, but they are harsh on the Sansui as it doesn't compare directly with the Luxman valves, sort of making the exercise wasted. We test transistor amps apart from valves to not upset our hearing balance reference & for this being a 1979 subjective review, we believe it fails. They should have left the valve amp out next day & use the best sounding one as the reference & do it over again a few times. This therefore makes amplifier reviews in Hifi mags seem too rushed & therefore pretty worthless. Only the way we test really can tell, testing over weeks & months as well as using the thing for some time. One day with an amp is not going to tell you much beyond first impressions especially using just one speaker. Amateurish reviewing says we & a huge worry as companies could suffer from bad reviews based on reviewers getting it wrong.
Overall, after having gone through this, in light of their poor comparing techniques & just using one speaker we have some problems with this. Instead of our many tests with swapping the order of testing, plus the fact the Luxman valves seems to have upset their apple cart, our opinion is we feel writing this so far not having gone through the circuits, has been generally a bit of a wasted effort. Taking a group's opinions with poor testing techniques shows why we don't really care for other's opinions much in terms of sound, as they have proven to us they are well away from our ideals of testing. We are told "xxx" amp is the best ever by others, but a quick look at the amp & circuits means we can dismiss their opinion as amateur. Be sure to tell them this isn't a good idea, some people have difficulties understanding so best to leave them in ignorance. If anyone can furnish us with the set of amps & give us a few weeks we'll give a proper review, not their wasted effort. ↑
THE REVIEWS ARE A-CHANGING.
This section goes a bit more technical & you'll read our opinions on design in a general way, without giving our ideas away naturally. To be fair to the above, this is likely to be the very first HFN review where subjectivity is the deal here, rather than pages of meanigless graphs & square wave oscilloscope waveforms based on playing into a resistor-capacitor load instead of a real loudspeaker. With our Power Ratings page, we ignore all the playing into a simulated load & just go for clean 1kHz sinewave to the onset of clipping, so we give the peak-to-peak sinewave voltage that appears to give consistent results. Martin Colloms adds a section earlier in the same issue saying "What Has Gone Wrong With Amplifier Evaluation?" and clearly tries to make sense of things in a pioneering way, if later issues revert more to a technical type test with only a brief resume of the subjective as the above must have caused quite a mixed response at the time & kudos to MC for daring to progress things. In our testing of amps, we could so easily be fooled by a bright loud amp putting the more neutral ones way wrong to the hearing as your hearing compensates for lack of treble & bass as well as lessing the hearing on excessive treble. Your hearing is loudest at 2kHz which is the frequency alarms & sirens use to be sure they are heard which is useful except in the early days of car alarms where they used to go off for no reason, annoying years they were. So if you hear music that is excessively unbalanced as in bright or too dull, your hearing will do an AGC on certain frequencies to make the sound intelligible. But the trouble is then you hear a neutral amp & your hearing depending if it tuned duller or brighter will make the neutral amp sound wrong. We found this out after geting very confused with the awful Radford HD250. This imbalance takes learning & the above reviews are certainly affected by the Luxman valve amp.
Back to the Evaluation article. Here MC gores into technicalities as it has been realised by 1976-77 that high specs do not equal pleasing sound quality. In a similar way a worn coin once polished shiny can not be a Mint one though to non-specialists it looks "like new". This is the difference. You can strangle musicality by limiting the real sound cynically to get unrealistic High Specs that are meaningless. THD is really of little use as how low in volume the Harmonics are anyway, often lost in the general noise floor as many test reviews reveal. who cares if they have 1% distortion, as it's not audible, so 0.001% THD has no meaning. Here MC states some wise words about designers cutting corners, or as we see with some amps, designing to perfection & dumbing down stage by stage until the specs are affected, regardless of the sound. Linearity & Negative Feedback. NFB is used to level the frequency response & limit audible distortion, this we have experimented with & it is very noticeable but then they forget to complete the design leaving higher distortion on the top frequencies giving that 'grainy' sound, which is a symptom of many shortcomings. Crossover Effects is a non starter for us, if the amp is correctly biased & that often means not using the manufacturer's specs, see the Sony TA1140 review which reveals how the sound can deteriorate if incorrectly adjusted. Another amp that needs precise biasing or it sounds awful is the NAD 160(a). In the early days of transistor amps, the push-pull transistor crossover waveforms were criticised as being the cause of rough sound. As you may expect, once biased right, we have never heard any 1965-70 amplifier sound like this, confirming again how wrong the old ideas can be. Bandwidth is mentioned next. We've seen many manufacturer's spec sheets and often you read say 50w at 8 ohms for 1kHz, but they may only read 40w at 20Hz & 20kHz. this is because the design purposely limits the extended frequencies to be more universal to stop complaints. Amps often give an idea their frequency response is wider even, such as 10Hz to 30kHz but they never state the dB level. Some in the CD era feel that over 100kHz is useful, but as we can't hear it & it wastes amplifier power, it seems pointless to us. The digital 44.1kHz covering to 22kHz is all you need for audio, though many will disagree, but maybe they have dog's ears that can hear 40Hz to 60kHz. MC agrees with us on this. Power Supplies are where cost cutting can be taken to extremes, many later amps use Regulators to lose most of the AC ripple so can cheap out on decent capacitor sizes, as you'll see looking inside current electronics. Here MC mentions separate power supplies for L+R. In practise this should be from preamp to power amp, but those that do this such as the Harman-Kardon 930 with two transformers or the Sansui 3000A with one transformer and two separate tappings actually doesn't make such a difference, The Stereo width the 1965-66 early Transistor amps can do will outdo just about any other amp. Both those mentioned here still have preamps from one voltage so aren't truly 'monoblock' styled & it's probably of no benefit as cable L+R run close together will give some crosstalk. Transient Intermodulation Distortion (TID) is one we've heard of but here MC calls it a bit of a 'red herring'. We see TID as a nice name for "rough grainy sound" that has many causes. Protection Circuitry gives the idea the circuit will save your speakers if there is a fault. Don't believe it. In earlier amps, Protection often just muted the preamp to alert you to a problem, later ones by 1971-73 had Relays that did cut the speakers off & will protect speakers, as can Fuses on Speaker outputs, depending on how fast the fuse reacts. But Protection Circuits can be damaged in faults & become redundant. Solid State vs Valves. Transistors vs Tubes has been a battle for decades. Solid State is more reliable & requires no maintenance, but valves do need upkeep, you could use a 45 year old amp in good condition, but you should never trust any valve amp if over 20 years. Some used as Hifi are over 60 years old now. In terms of Transistors, we've liked Germanium amps unexpectedly after finding the UK-European ones are poor as they age badly, the Japanese-USA ones are still good. The valve-style circuits on these early amps reveals that Transistors can easily match Valves for musicality & effortless detail, if that's a secret needing telling. FETs we aren't so keen on, they are set values & gain & are often very low spec. The MOSFET era of the early 1980s based on the V-FET that Sony & Yamaha used on a few 1970s models is a forerunner. Power Output is often based on finances or dear souls needing an Ego boost. we've played our 10w valves & 16w transistor amps on big speakers & the sound level is fine if little more than a decent listening volume. So bearing in mind Wattage is Voltage (volume gain) x Current (driving inefficient speakers better) to have an amp of at least 45w is required for louder volume on speakers. To justify needing over 100w in a domestic situation is unnecessary, though if you want an amp the size of an apple box weighing 70kg giving 700w then be sure you'll barely hit 50w if your speakers are 95dB rated. MC here states that at loer volume they usually sound Worse than smaller wattage amps. This makes sense, try driving a 250BHP car slowly it'll not like it & a tiny Smart Car shopping trolley thing with 60BHP would be a bit scary on a Motorway. Horses for Courses. We've had some higher power amps that sound rough at lowest volume if others with better designs or upgraded by us still sound clean. ↑
The Only Tests That Matter are...
Play test based ones. Assuming the amp is safe, stable, properly connected & grounded with no motorboating on sub-bass frequencies, no excessive high frequencies as RF being amplified running the amp too hot as it struggles & an acceptable background noise-hum-hiss limit that is not heard amid the music, there really isn't much need for THD or similar testing. We test amps to see the AC ripple & find some with low capacitance still have an acceptable AC level. Beyond that, pushing the amp to it's safe limit by testing Clean Sinewave for the Power Ratings page & spending hours listening can reveal to the trained ear how good the amp is. You can read our Criteria for What Is A Good amp elsewhere. A trained ear is a learnt skill, we can still hear 17kHz, but to learn what sounds real is not so easy. Most transistor amps add a "fizz" to the sound but very few amps are free of this and make a marked contrast as you hear the real crisp treble, not a messy fizz of harmonics & blurryness that makes a mockery of even 0.1% THD. We test some amps to see how good their frequency response is, one Germanium amp didn't play over 13kHz so a replacement brought it back to spec. This one can fool though, it sounds smooth as the frequency response is rolled off. But when you hear crisp clean extended treble after the replacement, it's then right.
The Traditional Tests as MC states are Distortion: if audible it matters, if not unimportant. Amplitude-Frequency Linearity: this one assumes the amplifier has a top spec power supply & has NFB correctly applied to give a flat response. In reality very few power supplies are good enough spec & many are rolled off at the extremes to be universal in use. The amp may only be flat from 70Hz to 5kHz in amps of quality higher than just budget. Even 1980s amps can be severely bass limited giving a dry clinical sound that is never liked. Power Bandwidth is covered here too. Also Noise Floor level, modern amps with high NFB & limiters can do -100dB if older amps can seem unsophisticated at only -60dB, be sure modern transistors without the overdesign are as hissy as typical 1960s ones which explains why some transistor numbers are still made today. Damping Factor is useful but not so important if the value is under 70, once over 100 the sound is affected for too much NFB over too many transistor stages.
Our Additional Tests as is covered elsewhere on our site concern how the sound is delivered. Some amps opt for a 10th row back sound losing detail but appealing to the Granny upgrading her Radiogram market. The best amps in relation can do 1st Row to 3rd Row, with very few even getting that 1st Row "In The Groove" feel on playing vinyl. Domestic Hifi generally aims for about 4th Row. What are we Row-ing about? The closer you stand to live music the more detailed it sounds, but as one 1970s unmentioned musician wisely said "It never sounds that detailed on stage" but it shouldn't as Recorded Music is often multi-miked, mixed & EQd to a standard the engineer prefers & finds the recordings manufacturer is happy with. As you get nearer the Original Sound be it Live or Created by an Engineer, the impact of it becomes far more dynamic. In terms of Hifi, "Kick" is a term we use & it's not mutually exclusive to 100w+ amps either. One 1965 18w amp could kick as good as a 100w one after we upgraded it. Kick is about Transients, a high spec power supply able to fully deliver the power instantly it is needed. Square wave tests would confirm this if we cared to check them. Square wave tests are noted as "important" in earlier reviews, the wave shape could suffer from overshoot due to weak design & skewing of the horizontal due to tonal imbalance or limits. ↑
So to Answer the "What's Gone Wrong...?" Question
The non-technical or listener without an 'Audio Ear' generally has no idea at all what Hifi to get. We had no idea really either, until getting lots of amps without going into excessively expensive ones & just to try them & then upgrade them. We pic real gems that you will have sneered at for £30 on ebay as they look like junk to the typical buyer. Indeed the majority of sub £50 amps are junk 1979-1990s amps best avoided. The problem is just that, how do you know the good ones? You blindly get them is how. We did. We tried any that interested, this is how we know Vinyl Records & Pre War annual Books so well as we jumped in deep & tried all that interest. Records still interest & we still find great 45s we've not had before, Hifi we've thought "that's all there is" but keep finding goodies. The Manufacturer knowing the kid's card game of "Top Trumps" impresses just based on Specs. One unheralded car on these cards out-Trumps a revered classic, just based on specs. So if the buyer can be convinced that 0.001& THD is better than 0.01% then you're on a winner. You probably couldn't tell 1% THD as THD is hidden at least -60dB below the music peaks. Damping Factor means a certain amount to us, but seeing many amps of silly money with 250 Damping Factor shows overdesign is rampant & be sure the amps don't stay long with the owners as they don't give much musical pleasure. Any term that can be 'Top Trumped' matters in the Hard Sell Of Hifi & buyers believe it as that's all there is to go on. An amp with -120dB noise floor is severely restricted in design & be sure the sound will lack anything natural. So if you think a 250w amp with 0.001% THD with a -120dB noise floor sounds better than a silly little 1966 18w amp like the Coral one, then you really are missing the beauty in music via open & honest sounding Hifi. ↑
So What Did The Readers Think?
The 'Reader's Letters' pages in Hifi News are always a good read as it shows how the consumer feels about matters Hifi & Records. Often you wonder what planet some are on with their poorly considered 'Mr Angry' comments but this was always a staple of letters pages. Be sure the know-alls & self-appointed experts are the ones writing in if others are much wiser & deeply obscure in their love for an obscure Classical Conductor's work. Manufacturers & reviewers often write in too, a personal touch long since faded away. The letters from the valve years, pre 1967, are amusing in how polite they are & the aimless waffle giving little clue of what their issue is. British Manners are long gone but they were still around when the typist was young & you can see all the ex-Military older upper class males in jobs that are now taken by younger more aware men & women, if we aren't including Office types who don't deal with the public face to face who are often little more developed than Sixth Formers or Students even past 40, having been there you know & choose to avoid. There often are humorous letters in irreverant matters that round it off well.
Reader's Letters are an important part of reading the old Hifi News magazines, if today opinions are much wider placed as with the internet comments pages, the best yardstick of public opinion today we found was The Sun news site if the mean swines expect you now to pay, so after trying the other tabloids which appeared more like comics, The Daily Mail, which the typist used to get years ago for 'Fred Basset' as our Books page reveals. But the DM today tries to please everyone, from Femail to the trashy right column, to excessive depressing news we avoid even looking at, to the quirky stories with abandoned grand houses left to grow moss & random wild plants in as the roof fails. Appears they get the best odd stories elsewhere if a newspaper is supposed to be a digest, as are the dumb-ass 'Pets Make You Laugh Out Loud' nonsense Channel 5 compliles from "hilarious" YouTube videos, there is a Cat & Dog one too, but these are so insultingly moronic we just couldn't watch this mindrot & preferred the RSPCA Animal Rescue one instead as it's much more real life not faked up, if we do wonder if many of those poor furries would have survived if no TV show was made including them.
But back to the Hifi, what did they think? We expected an uproar of Biblical proportions, but just a whimper really. where is Mr Angry telling them to "stop being so bally stupid old chap & get some ruddy common sense", but by 1977 those types were probably deaf so no use for Hifi anymore. The articles were November 1977, so looking at December 1977 as an American, John F. Withey of Lanarkshire shows we aren't the only ones who saw it as a bit foolish..."the method of the listening panel for checking out the performance was really pretty silly as they listened for what sounded good than what sounded right which is no way to check out hifi gear". To us sounding good means it sounds right, but only if based on known reference amps which were clearly lacking in the tests, the reviewers went in blind with eight unknown amps. For us to rate them as on our Reviews page it takes several weeks listening to assess them properly. He adds the tests may have had poor source material that some amps could have shown as too detailed & others masked the issues. This we know as well, as we use some tracks repeatedly in tests, ones of Hifi quality & some murky ones to test how good resolution is. Good amps generally don't mask weaknesses in music if they are properly serviced, it's only the againg & low spec-dumbing down that makes some amps sound harsh or over smoothed. The amps we've had as serviced but original or not usually give a very true sound or not & upgrading-recapping can not make them much better until some subtle redesign is done which often isn't considered if the amp only offers a certain level of quality. Further in this letter he states that only comparing Live Music to Music miked & played through the Hifi will tell how accurate it is. No, that is impossible to tell, the music will be different 5 seconds later & you'll never get a reference. You will get the idea we know how to critically rate amps & can tell what is weak & what needs upgrading. To see the letter writer is American shows how different Hifi is treated in the USA & British Hifi by 1977 was budget junk until the 1980s Cottage Industry ones attempted to revive the faded Rogers & Leak interest in British Hifi. He mentions he heard the same Luxman pre-power combo playing a cassette & found played through some Spendors it sounded 'Spectacular' or as we'd more fairly say 'Different' yet he then says he has a humble little player & borrows records from Libraries & says the Luxman was "No more realistic" than a basic player, sort of making his opinion that seemed wise, just another forum type opinion based on nothing proven. Another Dec 1977 section "Positive Feedback" picks up on the Colloms' issue of Damping Factor varying with frequency & explains design techniques not many amps use to deal with this resulting in grainy sound. Surprisingly that is written by the CDE of Armstrong of all brands. January 1978 has "A Great Amplifier Debate" that seems aimless considering how bad hifi is by 1979, fussing over design minuatae but missing the bigger picture again so hardly worth raking through. February 1978 in "Positive Feedback" goes on about the pointlessness of testing amps with an 8 ohm resistor load as a speaker varies in impedance & has capacitance & inductance, often a capacitor is across the + and - on the bass driver giving rise to those adding a capacitor across the 8 ohm resistor. Personally we care not for this & just use our simple 1kHz sine wave voltage just before clipping to rate power & the listening tests in multiple compare sessions to pick out the best ones & get the weaker ones to be better often finding great or wasted-effort results. It takes a lot of listening & comparing to get this right, sitting to play eight unknown amps is pointless & will only confuse & mislead, it takes time & repeated sessions to do it right. Very few reviews we've read get to use the amp over a longer time & even those that do, don't seem to compare deeply but just live with it which is again pointless without comparison. With that, just about every review is pointless which is why many just stick to the objective unskilled reviews. You might as well just go buy a xxx as your mate says it's wicked, it's a pig in a poke the game of Hifi unless you do it properly.
This is why we generally ignore other's opinions on Hifi & yet again feel this "We Look At..." section has been a bit pointless as we just end up realising the "expert" opinion is often dubious or with no foundation. But this is all buyers have to take as a lead & no wonder they end up buying something different shortly after as they realise their Hifi Dream isn't so great after all. But with the amps we've upgraded to 'Excellent' the buyers of those are always delighted how great they sound.