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Erläuterungen zu diesen US-AUDIO Seiten der 1950er Jahre

Die hier stehenden amerikanischen Artikel aus 1959 (aus der US-AUDIO) sind teilweise sehr gewöhnungsbedürftig, weil sie erstens aus einer längst vergangenen Zeit stammen und zweitens, weil dort in den USA ganz "anders" gedacht wurde als bei uns in Old Germany oder in Europa.

Vergleichbar mit unseren deutschen Hifi-Magazinen etwa ab 1962 ist jedoch, daß auch diese Zeitschrift ihre Anzeigen- Kunden und -Leser (be- oder ab- ?) werben mußte. - Weiterhin sind die Dimensionen des amerikanischen Kontinents mit den unseren hier in Europa nicht vergleichbar. - Ein Redaktions-"Trip" von New York nach Los Angeles oder Chicago oder gar in die Wüste nach Las-Vegas zu einer der CES- Audio- "Shows" war - auch mit dem Flugzeug - immer noch eine Weltreise. Und jede Ausstellung oder "Messe" wurde als "Show" deklariert. Und natürlich, in USA musste alles "Show" sein, um beim Publikum einige Aufmerksamkeit zu erzeugen.

Der Autor Edward Tatnall Canby schreibt jeden Monat "AUDIO"

Sowohl in den monatlichen EDITOR's REVIEW's als auch in den monatlichen ETC's lesen wir ein Stück amerikanischer Gesellschaftsgeschichte vom Ende der 1950er Jahre. Dazu gehören auch die frühen monatlichen Schallplattenbesprechungen, in denen sehr viel Wissen rund um die Musik, die Gesellschaft und die Hifi-Technik eingeflochten wird.


AUDIO ETC ("Edward Tatnall Canby") - Kolumne

As of this writing Aug. 1959, I am five days' regular mail from home, two days' air mail, and the territory seems so wholly removed from the world of audio that I can scarcely get myself to write on that honored subject.

But it is good for me, of course, to get away from the hectic center of things and see how records and hi-fi look to the big outside world in its millions of small corners, of which this is one.

Where am I? Not Pakistan, nor Durban nor even Yokohama, but just plain Tennessee. I got a letter this morning from Peter Bartok of Bartok records in New York that was mailed just seven days ago. That's how far away I am.

I am just in plain Tennessee

Down here, audio, hi-fi and records make a subject for an experiment in teaching which I believe is quite novel and perhaps untried to date. I'm teaching hi-fi - plus sixteenth century motets - to an enterprising batch of budding professional musicians, average age about sixteen, who are being trained by a faculty of professional symphony players.

The "Sewanee Summer Music Center" is encamped on a lovely old mountain campus, the University of the South, for five weeks of concentrated music-making - fiddle players, trombones, horns, bassoons, clarinets, oboes, each group ardently coached by the professional symphony specialist for the given instrument.

When they rehearse, under a big tent on a very green and leafy lawn, these kids play manfully (and girlfully) with a concentration that should make any teacher envious. They can't be stopped. They take their harmony lessons to the swimming beach with them and study between dips. They eat, drink, blow, scrape and pound music all day long.

Leise still und heimlich - und unerlaubt

It would make you envious (neidisch) too, I'm sure, if you happened to be thinking about the young engineering students whom you may know.

These kids get up at five in the morning to practice, or stay out of bed surreptitiously (heimlch) until the wee hours (Morgenstunden), against camp regulations, to hide themselves in a sound-proof practice room and hammer away (or blow away) at their instruments.

Erstaunlich viel "junges Volk"

No doubt about it, music - live music - is a vital, living thing for a surprisingly large number of upcoming young folks. They face up to the formidable, even terrifying complexities of skilled musical performance with the usual fortitude of youth, and more than that.

They study and play, here, as though the world of the future would certainly be conquered by clarinets and bassoons, as though if only the right embouchure, the correct stance, the exact rhythm and lilt could finally be achieved by each and every one of them, the problems of nations and the nuclear bomb would
melt away. It's a nice feeling, a heartening one, if slightly provincial.

You see, if the United Nations and the Bomb don't get mentioned very often here, because there isn't time to bother with them and there's practicing to be done, work to fill every moment of a musician's life - then audio, too, seems generally distant and not so very important, all in all.

Schallplatten sind schön, aber Live-Musik ist viel mehr ........

Records are nice, of course, but real work, real music is so much more to the point -  and practice, practice, practice; that's what really has to count. Records are like candy, and apt to make one sick if taken in more than tiny doses - sick for lack of music practice. Time is of the essence, and it's not for leisure - especially, listening to records.

Der Fagottist mit der Katze

To be sure, the bassoonist (der Mann mit dem Fagott) from the Pittsburgh Symphony who lives next door to me in the big stone college dormitory named Cleveland Hall, has a Magnavox and a cat.

Each morning before our 7:30 breakfast he puts on one record, shaves, feeds the cat and rushes out to play bassoon. Each noon he comes back, plays a record, cleans up the cat's mess (Katzen-Scheisse), if any (often), and rushes out to play bassoon again, or teach bassoon.

Same, ditto, idem, various other times. He gets a surprising amount of music in, this way (hi-fi on records, I mean), though it is only natural that almost every piece he plays has a bassoon in it. (Bassoons play in practically all music, when you come down to it, so he has plenty to choose from.)

Ich habe 500 Platten und eine komplette Anlage mitgebracht

I brought down some 500 records, about four-fifths (vier fünftel)of them stereo, to represent the huge present recorded library.

The rear end of my car practically hit the ground under the weight. I also crammed in a pair of AR-3 speakers and another pair of KLH Sixes - plus my complete Dynakit system and a spanking brand new Fisher 300 stereo outfit.

Also mikes, tape, a four-track recorder, and other paraphernalia galore. You should have seen my packing job for the thousand-mile jaunt over the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Meine hifi Anlage hat im Prinzip funktioniert - aber ....

Unfortunately I am not yet able to report very much on this lovely array of hi-fi. I can state positively that the Fisher turned on and didn't blow a fuse, nor did it hum. I can say equally well that both the AR-3 speakers produced a large volume of sound. But beyond this I am presently stymied for two excellent reasons.

First, I have - inevitably - been assigned a fine, big university class room for my hi-fi lectures. It is the Devil's own first choice as the prize horror-room for listening. Unbelievable! Solid concrete, utterly rectangular, without one square inch of padding or sound deadening of any sort, and one side is solid windows, the other sides mostly hard, shiny blackboards.

Tile floor, varnished wooden chairs carved in flat planes. Phew! The sound that emanates from my speakers is vaguely like the rumble of a subway train on a sharp curve. If you listen hard, you can tell that it is music that is playing.

The odd thing is (and I've noticed this before, in other similar situations) that in this hard, bright, utterly plane-surfaced room, what you hear is all bass and no highs.

For a moment, I thought the AR-3's were connected with the tweeters out. Not at all; they were turned all the way up, both highs and mid-range. I managed to get a slight and relative improvement by - believe it or not - boosting the highs to the maximum and rolling off the bass all the way, plus the rumble cut-off set at a fairly drastic position.

Worst of all, it didn't seem to make really very much difference what I did with the controls, nor what I played. All records, including the deadest ones I know, sound ultra-live and thoroughly scrambled.

Zwei Boxen und nicht mal bei Mono ein Phasenunterschied

Two speakers. I tried to check their phasing via a mono record played through both - and found that it didn't make the slightest difference which way I set the polarity.

The reverberation was so tremendous that every last vestige of phasing was effectively blurred out. Stereo? Here I had brought a thousand-odd dollars' worth of stereo equipment all the way to this blarsted room and I immediately found that in it there was not the slightest audible difference between stereo and mono sound - phasing quite aside!

It's an odd spot for an audio man to be in, but not actually an unusual one, come to think of it. Don't forget that records, most providentially, sound decidedly at their best in the acoustics of the average home living room - indeed, they are tailor-made for the living room and generally find themselves painful misfits in most other acoustics.

Class rooms, lecture halls, student lounges and the like are not designed for record listening and no reason why they should be.

But unfortunately, if one is to give illustrated lectures on records, with records, the class room is the place it ordinarily has to be done. You members of local hi-fi clubs will know all too well what I mean. Have you found a really good place to hold your musical meetings - one that will hold the audience and treat the recorded sound rightly?

The physical blur of recorded music in my class room (I've been spending today trying to locate a replacement room somewhere else) is compounded by the second reason for a slight delay in producing results here in this Tennessee music camp. (I haven't been here very long yet.) That is, of course, the musicians themselves.

Ich mußte eine neuen Raum suchen

My job, ever so tactfully, is to persuade these excellent, ardent, hard-working live musicians that recorded music has something to do with their lives. And, as of now, I have to do my persuading in tit at room. Ugh. - So my very first problem of all, is to find a better listening place.

People here, like others everywhere, do not understand what a whale of a difference room acoustics can make - do make - in reproduced sound. Not even enough engineers understand it.

Most of us are lucky; our living rooms, by the happy chance of current decorating styles, are usually quite good for recorded sound. A few years ago, many a living room was too dead for listening comfortably, what with rugs, pillows, heavy drapes, plush sofas.

Now, the modern trend has brought in more hard furniture, less absorbent drapery and upholstery. But it hasn't gone so far as to leave our living rooms bare and chilly, like the average classroom! Not that.

Yes, there's a marvelous listening room .....

To be sure, there's a marvelous listening room up our University avenue a ways, in a comfy old fraternity house with all sorts of nooks, balconies, wooden paneling, carpets, a peaked roof. Superb - but it happens to be in the Director's private home and isn't properly available.

There's chamber music to be played there all day long (and what a lovely sound), with small time left for any other purpose. But ah! what a lovely sound from a stereo tape, too, that I played in there the other evening! I'm going to have to wangle my way into that room willy-nilly unless I can find its double somewhere else.

(There surely is nothing like putting your theories to the test. I'm testing my pet ideas on recorded sound with a vengeance here.)

Zurück zu den Musikern ....

But back to the musicians. The bassoon, the clarinet, the horn are simply too busy to spend their lives learning about records and, as specialists in a very demanding art I cannot in the least blame them.

There's work for them to do and no end to it, ever. But what makes things more interesting is that some other faculty members among these musicians are a lot more than merely indifferent to the joys of record listening and the complexities of audio acoustics, stereo and what-not.

These others, like many musicians the country over, actively distrust, even hate recorded music. They feel, and have told me so elsewhere as well as here, that records are not only murderous to the actual sound of real music but, more important, they are passionately convinced that recorded sound has already threatened the entire art of music and is well on its way towards killing off the musicians himself and his livelihood.

Records, from this musician's point of view, are an ominous force that is undermining their whole way of life. Audiences are vanishing from their concerts, young people find jobs elsewhere, musicians are quitting by the hundreds, disillusioned, standards of playing are going down . it's a dismal story to hear, and it does make you pause to think.

Der "enthusiast " unter lauter Feinden ...

Here I am, an enthusiast for this very enemy of theirs, right in their own camp -  teaching their own young musical hopefuls all about records! It's a bit hard on the musicians and not too easy for me, though it is a tremendous challenge to see whether I can't convince some of these pleasant people here that neither I nor my records and my hi-fi are here to bite them, so to speak.

In a microcosm, on this campus, we have the very essence of the musician's problem today. The situation, if it weren't so real, so isolated, so intense, could be tremendously interesting for all of us -  and probably will be before I leave.

The problem I face, of course, is not how to solve these musicians' future for them, which I can't do, but simply to get their attention. There aren't many arguments because everybody is much too busy to argue - even the bassoonist with his Magnavox.

He plays records but he's not interested in them as records, nor how they work. He just wants to hear the music on them. An admirable idea and, I must confess, a rather pleasant one for me, who spend most of my time trying to persuade hi-fi fans to pay more attention to music and less to the cycles and the IM distortion.

Sie können meine 500 Platten gar nicht alle anhören

And I confess, too, that my own resolution is hard put, here. I tend in this intense area of active music-making to lose interest in my own records. I, myself, want to hear this live music; I am almost apologetic when I suggest that maybe the students ought to have a few hours now and then during which they could listen to my 500 discs and study what other musicians are doing in the great, big outside world.

But I mustn't be apologetic. I tell myself that records are here to stay, that audio is a great, big field unto itself, that hi-fi, for all its goofiness, is a big industry and an even bigger cultural force in our life today.

I assure myself, privately, that millions of people are interested in records and in hi-fi, that an enormous new audience for music has been created by the phonograph, that recording has revived vast areas of long-forgotten art that would never have been heard again were it not for the art of sound reproduction.
I insist, to myself, that I am representing, here in the mountains of Tennessee, one of the most dynamic artistic movements of our century, just as I am in this magazine that you are now reading.

Stravinsky und 7 neue Freunde

But it all seems very distant, in spite of me. Last night I forsook (habe entsagt) my tape recorder and went off to listen to Stravinsky, played by seven of my new musician friends here. It was terrific (sagenhaft toll) and lots better than any record.

This afternoon, the next-door bassoonist spent three hours teaching a lovely young lady student how to cut her own bassoon reeds (das Rohrblatt für das Fagott). I was fascinated, for here was old-line craftsmanship of a sort you wouldn't believe could still exist.

Each of his double reeds is cut and shaped by hand with a careful knife, the edge trimmed to a millimeter, the thickness carefully scraped down for hours to an exactly even taper and a perfectly symmetrical curve.

The canes (Schilf-Rohr) for the reeds (die Blätter) grow only in one part of France - they can't be had anywhere else. They last a week or so, and then the bassoon (and oboe) player spends more hours of handwork scraping and binding another.

Wenn wir unsere Widerstände und Kondensatoren selbst machen müssten

Sure, it's like building a hi-fi kit in a way; but suppose you had to go out and make your own resistors and capacitors, draw your own copper wire and wind on the insulation.

It's an interesting corner of the musical world, here in Sewanee, and no two ways about it. But I haven't yet been able to play a single record all the way through -  anywhere on the campus. I'm not really sure I want to, at that. Phew! What am I saying?

On with the Great Crusade, Canby. Get out and teach these musicians to play records and like it!


In the general enthusiasm for our developing stereo equipment this last spring I was given so many new stereo cartridges to try out that I ended up more confused than enlightened.

Since my "testing" is always strictly practical use and ear-listening, the thing to do was to put these cartridges to work and see what happened. I hooked them all up into my interchangeable plug-in (four-wire) system, tried a couple in a changer, as well as in a manual turntable set-up, and went about my business of playing records by the dozens - and listening, not to the cartridge but to the music. That's what counts, after all.

I'm going to have to beg off any detailed report on each one of these numerous excellent stereo cartridges; there were too many for my ears. I'll offer a few generalizations, though, plus a few side-comments on one or the other, and hope that the persevering cartridge makers will forgive me for having only one set of ears.

General Electric

General Electric is one up on me - the company has brought out a new stereo cartridge, the VE-22 type, before I so much as got around to discussing the first one. I haven't seen the new model but I gather it is an outgrowth of the earlier design rather than a wholly new departure in cartridge construction - so perhaps my remarks herewith will apply to the whole present GE stereo line of cartridges.

What I have to say is simple enough. The GE magnetic cartridge has from the beginning been aimed at a very specific place in the phonograph world and has been tailored with exquisite care to fit its basic purpose - a simple, efficient, mass-produced cartridge that in volume production can give a maximum value at a minimum price.

Wenn eine Weltfirma solch ein Nischenprodukt herstellt

It takes a very large company to swing a project of that sort and GE has the size and the umph to do it. But as we all know, the larger a mass-production project gets, the more crucially important are the exact details of the manufacturing process.

Such a product is 90% designed around the production - quick, simple manufacturing. The most minute details, even down to the diamond point itself, must be planned for volume operation. The tiniest miscalculation, from this special viewpoint, can spell disaster on a relatively huge scale.

It has been GE's purpose and GE's accomplishment through these years to achieve maximum cartridge value in these very special terms, as I see it. The intention is utterly different from that of a cartridge such as, say, the Grado, which is deliberately designed for top excellence on an individual basis, virtually hand-made.

Ende der Vorrede (prelude)

These differences in emphasis are little known to the general public but every manufacturer knows them all too well. The very first consideration in every piece of manufacturing design must be to choose the exact area of contemplated production and shoot precisely for it, down to the last screw and wire and hunk of solder - if any.

With this prelude, it seems to me that we can look at the GE cartridge and see precisely where it stands - today as in the past. There was much initial criticism of the GE stereo on the glaringly obvious ground that the stereo model used basically the same two coils as the mono version before it and thereby sacrificed the obviously valuable hum-bucking qualities of the double-coil arrangement.

Die Entwickler müssen immer den Preis im Auge behalten

Does anybody think GE didn't know this? Don't be silly. Of course the GE design people (also die Entwickler und Ingenieure) knew all about it (or they wouldn't deserve a grade-school diploma in elementary science). But the likely alternative, a double-double-coil design, four coils and dual hum-bucking, was one of those fatal traps that GE unerringly avoided.

In the GE-type operation, this was just plain out of the question. The added cost would simply kill the basic concept of the cartridge, which is a simple product to sell at a fabulously low price in huge volume.

Erinnern Sie sich an das Model T von Ford

Perhaps you'll remember the Model T Ford and the old Ford idea that the $300 auto could be painted "any color so long as it was black".

Without implying any direct comparison between GE and Ford T, I suggest that the old Ford concept was just as delicately calculated as the new GE cartridge concept and that, in the old days, the addition of rainbow colors to the model T would have been basically just as costly, as prohibitively uneconomical in the manufacturing, as the use of double coils in the original GE stereo model. After all, how much Ford do you buy now for $300 - or $600, taking account of the dollar's change?

Das GE Pickup ist nicht brummempfindlich

Moreover, I suspect, and believe, that GE did some marvelously careful (wunderbar sorgfältig) calculating on this hum problem.

It was a risk, a neatly calculated one. I think I can get away with saying that the first GE stereo cartridge did, indeed, as I used it myself, pick up stray hum noticeably more easily than other cartridges, in the very same situations.

Just move a hefty motor or a sizeable transformer somewhere near that cartridge and the hum rises up as clearly as you please. No two ways about it, the cartridge obviously was susceptible - is susceptible - to a good deal of hum pickup.

But how does it work out in 'practice? That is the real question.
It works out generally as GE must have predicted - pretty darned well. As I reconstruct it, this must have been the sort of canny thinking that went on chez GE.

5 Gründe


  • 1. The cartridge picks up hum, but in most situations it won't pick up enough to bother the average GE user, in all his millions.
  • 2. The phonograph makers who install GE cartridges themselves at the factory -  a major intention of such a cartridge -  will be able to solve the hum problem reasonably well in advance of sale.
  • 3. Most home listeners are conditioned, and accept, a certain minimal hum. Them's treasonable words, I admit, and they are mine, not authorized by GE. It's just what I think GE must have thought, in its private calculations. But the premise is valid, if unpalatable. People do accept hum, because they've always had a good bit of it around. I am astonished again and again at the hum level in various commercial phonographs - some of them right on the dealer's floor. (One was set up for demonstration in the main central office of a huge national electric company. The company engineers with me at the time hastily disclaimed responsibility; it wasn't their department.)
  • 4. This is a really solid premise: There may be practical hum problems here and there, but technological progress in other components will work to GE's advantage and can be relied upon ahead of time.
    GE could realistically count on steady improvement in the radiation of hum from motors and transformers, in all the minutely ingenious ways that good design engineers can apply their skill to the steady bettering of a manufactured product. Time, definitely, would favor GE.
  • 5. And meanwhile, GE itself would work on improvements of its basic design, via experience and experiment, improvements that could further whittle down the calculated risk without tossing out the basic cartridge concept.


That's it, folks, I'm all for GE, then, and in fact while I was away I hooked up my original and early GE stereo cartridge in a Glaser-Steers changer for my relatives who took over my house for some weeks. It sounded just fine and there wasn't a trace of hum to be heard. Well, almost not a trace.

"Stereotwin" (Anmerkung : von ELAC aus Kiel)

Only one mild and still unsolved problem with this useful German cartridge import. The rugged stylus assembly is of the type where the stylus arm is set in a protective shell, a kind of half-circle, an open tube extending out beyond the diamond tip.

This is fine insurance against the fright-eningly-easy bending of the stylus that can so quickly occur in these ultra-compliant days. The fact that the whole assembly pulls out of the cartridge is additional insurance - in ease the stylus is forcibly hooked into some unyielding surface such as a turntable mat. The thing just yanks out, and remains undamaged, compliance or no.

Probleme gibts bei Wechslern

My trouble with the Stereotwin was simply in the fact that the half-tube protecting shell is small, and close to the stylus itself. There is very little leeway (Spielraum) for play, either sidewise or vertically. Now I don't mean to imply that the stylus can't move the full width and depth of a stereo groove - of course it can.

But as we all know, arm pull tends to displace a stereo stylus to one side, even with the best of care in the equipment. And, more vital, variations in the stylus force applied from above displace the point rather largely in the vertical sense. Everything's fine when the record is perfectly flat, the table precisely flat, too, the arm utterly free to move sidewise with no measurable friction and the point pressure exactly regulated to an unchanging and rock-solid 3 or 4 grams. But how often, my friends, do we achieve this ideal in practice?

I found that my Stereotwin would produce clear musical sound at fantastically low stylus forces - but thanks to the many complications we run into the total arm-and-record assembly, at these delicate pressures it often skipped grooves, or repeated grooves. Not the cartridge's fault, basically, but - shall I say - the situation. Especially in changers.

But when I increased the stylus force a bit, the Stereotwin's stylus hit bottom (top, more correctly) and buzzed against its protecting shell.

So geht es also nicht

The leeway (Spielraum), in my particular model, between a pressure so light as to skip grooves and so heavy as to cause stylus bottoming on the shell, was uncomfortably close. With a larger protective shell, the stylus would have more room for displacement and could take a slightly greater distortion without hitting the shell - at a greater risk of damage.

I would not want to apply my particular experience to all Stereotwin cartridges since my stylus may have been bent or loose or something else, and I understand that the newer version - the 210 - has this trouble corrected.

Der Vergleich mit dem Shure M3D und anderen

But the general principle is an interesting one, and I refer you as a comparison to the Shure stereo cartridges, which have a similar protecting half-tube construction that is, however, larger and further away from the stylus itself.

Also to the Stereodyne, from Dynakit. But - the pay-off is that both of these cartridges have suffered damage under the Canby program of Rough Treatment.

The Shure M3D, my most-used cartridge, developed a permanent list to one side after a few months - and I won't try to tell you how I did it; I don't know.

But list it did. However, the stylus tip did not hit the protecting shell at any point. And thanks to the great compliance and the traction arrangement, like an old-fashioned trolley car pole on its wire, the Shure stylus tends to straighten out in the playing and tracks more or less where it ought to, in spite of the list that shows up when you look at it. The sound, to the best of my knowledge, is unaffected.

My Stereodyne cartridge from Denmark had an even larger protective shell around the point - so large that the complaint bar in that one was bent really haywire in my first weeks of testing, to the point where I did not care to use it on my good records. My assisting engineer tried to straighten it out and broke the thing off in the process.

However, don't draw conclusions from this experience since there have been changes in this Stereodyne stylus since I got my early model. No point in judging a stylus via an assembly that is no longer in production. I'll tell you later about the rest of the Danish Stereodyne, which looks like a rocket about to take off at a tangent, and is an excellent and reasonably priced cartridge, one of the nicest I've tried.

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