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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

This is putting the cart before the horse  - but the three large, identical press envelopes I received in one mail from RCA Victor that will be discussed below enclosed some pointers on stereo that were so unexpectedly to "the point (even though in triplicate) - that I am prefixing them to my somewhat satirical discussion on mailing pieces in general, which you'll get to after you read this.

The three RCA packages constituted one of those bulky press collections, inspirational multigraphed articles by famous personalities, glossy eight-by-tens of record stars and the like, that tend to clutter up our mails these days.

I'd like to dare to throw them all out unopened but I never do. For inevitably, every so often, there is a nugget of pure gold on foolscap to be found in them. Right in the middle of this package was a clip entitled "Some Frequently Asked Questions - and Their Answers - About Stereo Records."

Some Frequently Asked Questions - and Their Answers

Oh-oh, says I and almost threw it aside. The usual stuff, I thought, and probably I know the answers anyhow.

But not a bit. These RCA questions were reasonable, sensible, genuinely of the sort that people do ask. And the answers were intelligent ones. Somebody at RCA is on the ball (er ist gut drauf...), as the old phrase goes.

Out of the ten or so questions and answers typed over three pages, I red-penciled a couple for your information and interest.

Erste Frage

"How should I place the loud speakers to get the best results from stereo records and tapes?"

Is that a cogent question! RCA suggests that since every room has its own acoustical properties, the best results, first, will be achieved by trial and error. That is a viewpoint that I heartily endorse.

The thing not to do, as anybody ought to be able to understand, is to buy your stereo fixed and ready-mounted, then plop it into whatever small space the prevailing decor allows. RCA is so right and this common sense is pleasant to read.

The rest of the answer, though, is even better. RCA goes on to a rule of thumb for speaker separation that is the simplest and best I've yet seen for the general stereo user. Rather devastating, too, if you'll keep in your mind's eye some of the fancier stereo consoles now on the market.

As a rule of thumb

"As a rule of thumb, the most ejfect can be achieved by sitting the same distance from the speakers as the speakers are from each other. . . . It is not recommended placing speakers closer than six feet together, as the true stereo effect will most likely be lost."

Take that from RCA and ponder (bedenken, nachdenken) it well. Sometimes the truth can be so simple that it's hard to believe. And note a further implication in RCA's answer, that a good and likely optimum separation for the average smallish living room is around eight feet. Better saw that new stereo console of yours in half and fill in the space between with a nice, uncluttered table or something.

Zweite Frage

Another clincher of a question posed by RCA's stereo man, is "Will I be able to hear the stereo effect at any other place in the room?" (That is, any other place than midway between speakers, as far back as they are spaced apart).

Now as we all know, there has been more hot air, more confusion - and more hard thinking - on this aspect of stereo than almost anywhere else; the ingenious solutions to the problem have ranged all over the lot from Stereodots to Klipsch systems with center speaker and pair of corners.

I've been experimenting sporadically on this subject myself, but with results not yet worth detailed publication. And so I like RCA's good answer, as to what you can expect to hear in some other part of the room than the optimum stereo listening spot.

"Of course (you will hear stereo effect), but the effect will not be as great. There is a marked difference in sound quality between a standard and a stereo disk even tho they are listened to outside of the room in which they are played. Stereo sound gives the effect of more solidity and depth than monaural sound, no matter where the listener is in respect to the loud speaker placement."

Ein Lob auf diesen RCA Mann

Now that is a very shrewd (scharfsinnige) observation and, as far as my experience is concerned, a true one. RCA has scooped me and I'm glad to hand them the palm. I've been noticing this very thing for a long time -  and wondering why. How can it be? But it is.

My experience in my New York apartment

I have a small kitchenette off the main living room in my New York apartment and, come breakfast or snack time, I often sit there sipping coffee, listening to the music coming in from the main room.

Now that stereo has arrived, I listen to stereo in there, too. At first, of course, I said to myself - well, I'll just have to hear my stereo mono for a few minutes while I finish my coffee break.

Comfort before listening pleasure. And so I listened around the corner, through an open door - and discovered to my utter surprise that stereo music sounded stereo, through that door, off in a straight line directly to one side of the speakers.

Seltsam, es funktioniert

Stereo side-to-side separation? No; it could not of course do that. Separation was obviously impossible. Then what?

Well, I never have been able to put it into words, nor really explain it to myself in technological terms. And vet it is there and very definitely there. Even without a trace of side-to-side separation, with a through-the-door sound transmission that would seem to be entirely "mono," I still can sense a stereo effect, and it is a worthwhile effect, an improvement over the literal mono.

So RCA has a real point here and this is the first time I have seen it suggested in print.

Erstaunlich, wenn jemand Ahnung hat - aus erster Hand

It's interesting, isn't it, how much better a publicity handout can be when the material is obviously direct, first-hand, and not the usual watered-down re-hash by somebody who has no direct and personal understanding of the matter.

Practically everything we read these days is second hand. And yet the reader - any reader -  can spot real stuff instantly when he finally gets to see it. The difference between a write-up that is direct from experience and one that isn't cannot be very well concealed.

It's just that we get so used to the secondhand stuff that we forget what it's like to have it first hand.

(Maybe RCA's writer didn't do the listening himself, in person. But if not, then he obviously got his dope straight from somebody who did.)

More, please, RCA, and let's hope others do likewise. We could use a bit of first-hand stereo clarification these days.

Wie hält es RCA Victor mit Stereo-Discs ?

Has RCA been recording in stereo, as have other companies? Why of course! They probably do the biggest and fanciest job of anybody. Have they been at it for long? Natch!

RCA practically started large-company stereo in this country, if I am right. Tapes came out from RCA 'way back. RCA discs were announced about as quickly as anybody's, roughly speaking.

Does RCA have lots and lots of stereo material on hand, then? Obviously. RCA Victor remains one of the industry's record-producing giants.

OK, then. If my blue cards are right (I make cards for all review recordings, blue for stereo, white for mono), then I have received the following totals in stereo discs, give or take a few, allowing for likely stray items.

Vergleichen wir mal :


  • RCA stereo discs (classical) : 9
  • London ffss stereo discs (classical) : 117
  • Columbia stereo discs (classical) : about 16


Does look funny, doesn't it?

At first I thought maybe RCA was trying to pull back with one stereo hand while pushing forward with the other. But I have just had the explanation from RCA itself.

Review copies. Seems the company decided, 'way back, that we reviewers were conservatives; they would send just a few stereo samples and all other discs in mono form, automatically, unless we asked for stereo all on our own.

Manches bei RCA ist verwirrend

As for me, I figured out, RCA would send us stereo as fast as it could - unless we positively objected (Einspruch einlegen). I'm that much of a hardened convert. Genial misunderstanding all around and I would have noticed it sooner, via RCA's publicity, if I weren't so buried these days in mountains of paper (see below).

Lots of RCA stereo discs on the market, then, if not on reviewers' shelves. But I still have a feeling in my bones that RCA has stereo of another sort up its sleeve.

What about that little time bomb with the fuse pulled out, the RCA Victor Stereo Tape Cartridge? Not a word for months -  but I can't believe RCA has given it up. Just regrouping forces. I suspect that the fuse will soon be lit again.

I shouldn't wonder. And if so, remember, I'm still in favor of the magazine, as a useful supplement to the disc market and the tape recorder market. (So are we if it has adequate quality - doubtful at 3 3/4 ips - and if the flutter is adequately low - not yet demonstrated by any cartridge/magazine device. Ed.)


Darn it, publicity sometimes gets me down. And it's not always in the ways you are imagining - though I'm always ready to proliferate objections to my favorite grammatical falsehood, the Dangling Comparison - the hi-fi that has the fi which is hi-er, the bread that is richer, the chocolate that is choclatier, the car that has 20 per cent more (proved by famous research laboratory, of course). To all of these fine claims you need merely add the question ......


to show up the dangle. (Das ist ein "saying", welches ich nicht übersetzen kann). The answer may be semi-legitimate, say, last year's model, which naturally can't be described as inferior, even though this year's model CAN be described as superior! If you want to have your superiority without any inferiority, then just use the Dangling Comparative, and at least you may be speaking the truth after a fashion, granting that the newest model actually is better.

Es gibt noch mehr sinnloses "Zeug"

No - I'm not even thinking about another pet peeve of mine, that superbly meaningless term "the only". Sure, Colgate's is the only toothpaste with Gardol. So is General Electric the only company that makes the GE stereo cartridge. (Last I heard, anyhow.)

I can't remember at the moment the name of Pepsodent's "only" ingredient, but I do know that my mouth is the only mouth with Superteath. I just named my teeth that two minutes ago.

Mir stoßen diese verblödeten Mailings auf, die ich bekomme

What I had in mind, actually, is the business of super-redundancy in the mailings that go out to folks like me, to inform and impress.

As a practitioner and writer on hi-fi, records, music, and related subjects, I am now on Everybody's mailing list. And, it seems, Everybody and his brother are trading lists.

The mailing lists have got so big that nobody bothers to check any more who gets what or how many times. The volume is too "mass"; the individual is so microscopic a factor in this immense operation that a petty matter like duplication can't be allowed to gum up the works. That's the way it looks to me.

Und sie schicken mir immer wieder Post, die ich schon habe

Thus, for example, I made the mistake of subscribing to Life some years back, I don't remember just when. No complaints  - I read the mag and like it. But what gets me down is that Life doesn't yet know I'm a subscriber and obviously never will.

Practically every week, now, I get a new bid to subscribe to Life via some special, last-minute offer, for new readers.

Kapieren "die" es nicht ?

New readers, my eye! What d'they think I've been reading all these years? Every week, the postman goes right on jamming Life itself into my apartment house mailbox, as he always has, then rolling up the rest of my mail around a pencil and squashing the letters up the folds of the magazine, evidently with a blunt instrument; when he's got it all in quite solid and immovable he locks the outer lock, incorporating sections of several envelopes one of which always includes a monthly pay check.

It takes me a good ten minutes to extricate the remains, with the check torn and Life minus half the front cover.

And just as sure as fate, two of the squashed letters invite me to subscribe to that marvelous special-bargain sheet, Life. Maybe three.

Der schlimmste Fall für Mailing ist das Doppelte versenden

For one of the worst aspects of the mail glut is its duplication. I never get any publicity just once; it comes in multiples.

Yesterday I received three large identical packages from RCA Victor, all of them about the marvels of stereo, all three addressed identically but with (I note) different reference symbols.

Different aspects, I suppose, of my own public character, as RCA sizes me up. Cryptic, too. One is called RS-F, "Reviewers Service, grade F"?

The next is marked PA-PUB. Obviously that must be my capacity as a PAtient PUBlicist. Or maybe its Public Address ..... I dunno. I seem to have lost the third envelope, it must have got mixed up with a piece of Life. Each of these had 28 cents in first class postage on it, seven ounces' worth. They were identical in contents.

Und nun die dreifache Sendung

The triplication is only the final and most drastic annoyance (Ärger, Verdruß). What really gets me down is the deliberate repetition of the same material in different forms, as though to drive us recipients to the wall by sheer reiteration.

Why send a press release, another press release, then forty-five excerpts from a dozen magazines and newspapers promoting the same material, plus a booklet done up on slick paper, all repeating the same words?

The ultimate futility (Sinnlosigkeit) is the appearance of one's own name in these persuasive duplications! People keep sending me my own reviews or criticisms to persuade me that what an expert like myself says just must be right. This, I suppose, is a form of feedback.

Beispiele sind Capitol Records and Billboard

Capitol Records and Billboard - to name merely two names - are on my list right now. Billboard thinks I'm a record dealer (I'm on somebody's mailing list) and keeps dunning me, in duplicate of course, about the Profit$ I'm just bound to make in my store via $tereo, if I'll just send in the enclosed special subscription offer card, available for a very limited time. (It's alwavs very limited, month after month .......)

I've given Billboard some fairly peppery publicity in this column, as readers may just possibly recollect, but do you think Billboard will ever find out ?

Maybe its right hand will, but not the left, that insensate, unreasoning, juggernautish colossus that is the Billboard mailing list!

I'll surely be opening Billboard subscription blanks, three letters in each mail, at least until Doomsday unless Billboard gives up the corporate ghost. That would be too bad - it's a useful mag. I just don't like its mailing-list department.

Und dann ist da noch "Harper's"

Even good old Harper's, the staid, elderly magazine for which I also write record reviews, has got into its head that I ought to subscribe and keeps sending me enthusiastic bids, reminding, me about how intellectual I am and how I really ought to read this great magazine.

The crowning insult, entirely ignored by the mailing list people, is that they don't even mention my column as one of the lovely things any intellectual like me ought to be reading in Harper's! But then they probably don't know I write for them.

Capitol Recoords konnte ich mal gut leiden

As for Capitol - that is, Capitol, Capitol-EMI and Angel - this entirely worthy concern, whose products I frequently endorse with pleasure, has three mailing arms, two informational and one quite utilitarian.

They all tell us the same things, practically word for word, but in different sizes and type faces. You can't split them up - it's all or nothing.

Not even as to classical vs. rock'n'roll; it all comes together, and the volume is enormous. So if I want to find out what's cooking at Capitol I have to plough through the complete road itineraries of every rock'n' roll and pops artist in the Capitol catalogue and read all about the latest whamdizzy of a hit by young Pseudo Jones the hottest teenage number since the last one, day before yesterday, until finally I reach the info concerning my field.

Pages and pages of stuff, all promptly deposited in the waste basket - and everything I need to know is also sent out via the reviewers' service department. Or is it? I'm never quite satisfied and so I usually open everything and read.

Jetzt kommen wir auf den Punkt ....

Just to be sure we get the point, Capitol also provides a little vest pocket magazine called Music Views (or is that Columbia!). This is in case you need reading matter on the train or plane or maybe in a crowded restaurant where publicity on big paper wouldn't be convenient. Anyhow, it tells the same story once again - with pictures.


All these mailings - reviewers' service, press releases, and pocket sheets - are merely the weekly routine. There's also a frequent air-mail first-class letter that tells you all about the best sellers of the week or something; I always think it's a real letter. That's four routine lines of stuff. In addition, anything special that goes on at Capitol is likely to call forth a big SPECIAL AIR MAIL RUSH EMERGENCY package, too big for my mail box, which invariably arrives at my door at seven thirty in the morning - and boy, are those special delivery boys sadistic.

They don't just ring the bell, they stand on it. They know they aren't going to get any rise from me and so they take out a few of their own mailing frustrations in a nice, harmless way ...

That's for special occasions, but there is also my regular business correspondence with Capitol, which gets quite voluminous on its own, sometimes.

Ich sollte für Capitol eine Poststelle einrichten

As far as I can see, I'd better set up a Capitol mail-opening division within my office and assign a full-time staff to the boiling-down process. They'd brief me on the essential meat and the excess stuff would be carted away in huge barrels. It is now, but I do it myself.

Don't think I'm permanently down on Capitol. Lots of other firms do about the same thing. I could take any one of them with the greatest good nature but when you add up all the mailing lists, all the deliberate duplications and repetitions, the mass of sheer paper that is thrown at any press man or writer via the mail is really incredible.

It's just more than I, for one, can take. I suggest that my mailing beefs and their close relatives, the telegram beefs, (below) apply just as much to the hi-fi promotion departments as they do to records and to the rest of the great American economy in all its wastefulness of paper-powrer.

Remember - I'm speaking here not of advertising in general but of publicity aimed at writers, publicists, editors, the makers of further publicity.

How can we write when we have to spend half of each day just wading through mail in duplicate, triplicate, quintuplicate. I'm not exaggerating a bit. I've had as many as five copies of some releases.

Well, this has taken almost as long to write as I took to open this morning's crop of information.

Rules for Publicizing the Publicists


  • 1. Please, fellahs, give us a chance to breathe (and maybe to think). Don't depend entirely on sheer paper-volume and package size. It looks impressive but it curdles our blood. (And it won't fit in the mail box.) Try being succinet and economical, maybe. Give us your message fairly, precisely and JUST ONCE. We can read. We like to read.
  • 2. If you must send everything first class air mail, then how about removing those big, bold letters, RUSH, IMPORTANT INFORMATION, THIS IS FOR YOU that somehow get on every mailing piece? Didn't you know that the bloom is long since off that peach?
    Didn't you know that when people like us see RUSH, IMPORTANT INFORMATION, THIS IS FOR YOU we just can't help reaching for the waste paper basket and, maybe, missing a useful message? I want to know what you have to say, remember. I need to know, I have to know.
  • 3. An opposite sort of peach is that nice, friendly, personal letter - "Dear Edward" - that turns out upon close inspection to be a form letter, more or less disguised as the case may be.
    Perhaps you didn't know it, but etiquette and fairmindedness says that a personal letter should be answered personally. I believe in this etiquette and do my best to live up to it, at great expense of time. I resent faked personal letters, then, as a breach of taste and as an unfair taking-advantage of my time and interest. Don't you do it. Make it really personal, if you must. I'll be pleased to hear from you, and glad to have your information. So will most of the rest of the "press," as we are sometimes called.
  • 4. If you are planning a cocktail party three weeks from now, to launch some fine new hi-fi product or a new recording, please DON'T TELEGEAPH. That's the rottenest old peach of all. I have no gripe against Western Union, but you really ought to remember that telegrams still tend to foretell either hideous doom or something personal and marvelous. A telegram tends to make the heart pound, either way.
    When Western Union, that kindly guardian of the nation's wire communications, gently wakes me from a sound sleep at six in the morning with a blast of the doorbell - to invite me (100 words) to a party that is weeks away, or even three days away, I'm apt to get sore. I tend to throw things, and that isn't good. Sure, the telegram looks urgent and very impressive. But I don't like that kind of telegram and I don't like you, either, when you send it.
    Maybe the trick would be to offset the heart-pounding and the anxiety by making it a singing telegram. After all, Western Union has been purveying that sort of good cheer for a long time. But if you send me one, be sure the tune is by Beethoven, or I won't listen.
  • 5. This borders on the absurd, but it does happen. If you want to launch a party, you people with new products to introduce to the press, why not get around to it a bit ahead of time? I don't know how often I've had urgent telegrams to come to a Grand Reception that very afternoon. And surprisingly often it turns out that the invitation - via telegram - is for yesterday.
    This, you see, is not only frustrating (since I do like parties, publicity or no) but it somehow casts a bilious light upon the organization that has done the last-minute job. And too, of course, it assumes that we of the "press" can drop everything else and rush off to imbibe liquor and Information at a moment's notice.
    We usually do, I'll admit. Especially when the locale is plush and the drinks are fabulous. But nevertheless . . .

I'll never forget, speaking under this heading, about one great, big, wordy telegram that asked me to a very plush press party and forgot to say where it was. Straight from the President's office, too. As I say, I'm not one to miss a shindig and so I telephoned in, but quick. - I should've sent a telegram.

Eine Kolumne aus 1959 !!, also nicht von Heute !


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