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CES' Little Brother - Winter 1974

A show for the new hi-fi products that can't wait until June
Off Duty / Europe / May 1974 - By WALTER B. RIOS


IS THIS SHOW necessary?

Das Stevens in Chicago - es war mal der Welt größtes Hotel - jetzt umbenannt in Conrad Hilton Hotel

It's the Winter CES, off-season version of the giant "Consumer Electronics Show" staged annually in June at the McCormick Place exhibition hall on Chicago's lakefront.

By comparison, Winter CES is an orphan, a jumble of audio manufacturers greeting visiting dealers in the Conrad Hilton Hotel, hoping to attract new customers among the thousands in town for Chicago's famous Housewares Show.

Missing is the inevitability of the June event, where virtually every established maker of hi-fi gear unveils new goodies for the fall season. Few are ready or willing to jump the gun by introducing new products in January.

Sie kommen ins "Conrad Hilton Hotel"

And yet they come, ready or not, to take the pulse of the industry by roaming the halls of the Hilton, talking to dealers and distributors, checking up on competition and, perhaps, to preview a new product design fresh from the drawing board. What emerges from the mini-CES is a hint of what's in store later in the year and, sadly for some, a look at the boxscore for the season just ended.
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The growth of 4-channel audio

The growth of 4-channel audio remains a primary topic of discussion in the trade. Growth? Yes. Explosion? No.

Because none of the principals in the 4-channel sweepstakes has swept the field the way he predicted last June. While they are still scrambling, jockeying for position, dealers and general public are following with caution.

So, while it's true that virtually everybody's into 4-channel, most participants are in only ankle-deep and some have barely got their feet wet.

Die Quadro Platten fehlen

Recorded 4-channel "software," growing steadily, still represents only a tiny portion of the industry's output and one must look extra hard to find it, off in a remote corner, in most record shops.

Biggest selection is in SQ releases by CBS, though Sansui's QS (Regular Matrix) is also in evidence. Discrete 4-channel Quadradiscs (CD-4) are available, but not in the quantities predicted by RCA, reportedly because of quality control problems complicated in part by a shortage of raw materials.

Die Hardware Hersteller versprechen und versprechen .....

Hardware manufacturers, too, are having difficulty living up to delivery promises made during the advance publicity hoopla. The industry's avowed (Bekenntnisse) objective of packing new receivers with all decoder and demodulator devices needed for the three 4-channel systems is also behind schedule due to late delivery of low-cost integrated circuits.

Most manufacturers have gone ahead with production of 4-channel equipment containing decoders and demodulators with discrete wiring of the individual transistors and, despite their higher cost, receivers packed with everything are the sales leaders among 4-channel components in Stateside hi-fi stores.
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Die Quadro Logic muß in ICs integriert werden ....

It won't be long, however, before new ICs are plentiful and prices start coming down. The long-promised SQ logic system by Motorola Semiconductor will be in some production models by late spring.

Consisting of three chips - a matrix IC, a logic control IC and a voltage control amplifier IC - it provides more circuitry and greater sophistication than the relatively simple matrix decoders built into most of the current 4-channel receivers.

And Motorola's design will have competition from Fairchild Semiconductor, whose own SQ logic ICs are expected to debut later this year. Sony, too, has a new set of three ICs with full-logic capability, while still another SQ licensee, UK-based Connaught Ltd., has an IC logic system to offer European manufacturers moving into 4-channel.
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Erste ICs für die "Vario-Matrix QS"

Sansui's competing Vario-Matrix QS is also moving from discrete wiring to the IC stage and adding, in the process, more sophisticated circuitry to its already successful Regular Matrix decoder.

The Vario-Matrix, which uses waveform matching logic and gain control, includes a so-called Phase Matrix circuit that makes it, according to Sansui, entirely compatible with SQ.

So, whichever set of chips a manufacturer uses in the new 4-channel receivers coming this summer, they will provide measurably superior performance to that of earlier-generation matrix decoders.

Der "Ich kann alles" Receiver kommt - von "The Fisher"

Look for a sharp increase in the "everything" receiver, which, by definition, includes CD-4 as well as matrix circuitry. Latest to add CD-4 capability is Fisher, with a new Series 14.

In styling and performance, the three "14" receivers (314, 414 and 514) are identical to the current "04" series of 4-channel receivers, except that a CD-4 disc demodulator is no longer an outboard option - it's built into the chassis, along with the SQ decoder. Stateside retail prices of the three new Fisher models are $549, §649 and $749.
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Sony's new full-logic IC matrix

First Sony products with new full-logic IC matrix are the SQD-2070 decoder and SQA-2030 decoder/ amplifier combination, the latter designed to power the rear channels when converting a stereo component system to 4-channel.

Also shown were the TA-3140F basic power amplifier (35+35 watts RMS at 0.1 per cent distortion from 20 to 20,000 Hz with both channels driven), a moderate-priced tuner (ST-5066) and matching integrated amplifier (TA-1066), and a new line of bookshelf speaker systems.

Called the "One Thousand Series," the latter employs dome-type midrange drivers in the 3-way SSU-1400, SSU-1600 and SSU-1800, all
sealed acoustic-suspension designs. Two others, the SSU-1200 and SSU-1000, are 2-way systems with similar styling.

Finally, there's an "armless" version of Sony's direct-drive, servo-controlled turntable, for the fussy audiophile who prefers to mount his own tone arm, model 2251/LA, with a Stateside price of $299.50.

Infinity's prototype of a digital or binary amplifier

With most big-name component brands absent from the exhibit hall, there were few products in the all-stops-out category for connoisseur audiophiles to gape at, but an exception was Infinity's prototype of a digital or binary amplifier with matching high-voltage FET preamp, delivering 500 watts at 90% efficiency and generating virtually no heat. Infinity's claim of a major breakthrough in amplifier design should provide engineers visiting the mini-CES with enough fodder for argument until the next show rolls around.

Breakthrough in 8-track performance

Of more immediate commercial significance is the breakthrough in 8-track performance evident at the show. Finally, the cartridge tape deck is moving into the audiophile class with the addition of Dolby noise reduction circuitry.

  • Anmerkung : Das ist natürlich Marketing Unsinn, denn das mit dem Jaulen haben sie immer noch nicht im Griff. Ist das Band zu rau, wickelt es nicht mehr sauber auf. Ist es hinten glatt, wird es nicht sauber transportiert.


Wollensak showed the 8075 player-recorder with a Dolby circuit that can be switched to operate in conjunction with Dolbyized FM stereocasts. The 8075 also has a tape equalization switch to match the characteristics of a new ferric oxide tape announced by 3M.

Designed to pack more high-frequency energy into the 8-track system, the new tape extends response of the 8075 to 30-15,000 Hz ±3dB (while standard oxide tape cartridges are flat only up to 12,000 Hz).

Adding Dolby improves signal-to-noise ratio from 50 dB to 60 dB at high frequencies. The 8075 8-track cartridge deck, offering stereo recording and playback, has a suggested Stateside price of $299.95.

A companion model, 8080, also recording in stereo but with 4-channel playback capability, will be released in late spring at $344.95. The new tape will be available at first only to owners of the Wollensak decks, as they will receive a coupon enabling them to buy six 90-minute cartridges at §3.00 each.

Superscope - die Billigmarke

Superscope, too, offers Dolby in an 8-track recorder, model TDR-830, priced Stateside at $179.95. The same tape deck without Dolby, model TDR-820, will cost $149.95. Along with a group of portable cassette recorders with built-in condenser microphones, they are the initial entries in the tape field by Superscope, the company that manufactures Marantz components and distributes Sony tape products in the States.

An 8-track tape player is also built into two of Superscope's new compact stereo systems. The series is styled to resemble the moderate-priced Superscope components already available, but delivered with a record changer mounted topside, a dust cover and pair of speaker systems, the latter sporting a molded grill available in a variety of colors.

The new compacts also features a "Quadra-phase" circuit, a passive matrix that detects many of the surround-sound effects in matrixed 4-channel records if a second pair of speakers is added to the system. Conversion to discrete 4-channel is also possible by connecting a decoder and rear-channel amplifier through the tape monitor jacks.

Stateside prices of the Superscope compacts are §249.95 and $299.95. Also in the series is a receiver model RT-840, with built-in 8-track tape player, at $199.95. And the tape player, too, is available separately from Superscope at $59.95, or in a 4-channel playback version at $89.95.

KLH component maker of cheap Stereo Music Systems

One of the first component makers to move into compacts, KLH, has a new one this year called the Model Fifty Stereo Music System. It combines a stereo receiver of modest power (4.5 watts per channel RMS) with a pair of speakers into a package deal priced Stateside at $199.95.

Sylvania - one of the Stateside TV giants

While some component manufacturers make forays into the budget-price mass-market audio field, they now face new competition in the quality audio market from a few of the Stateside TV giants.

Sylvania has several strong component items, with the emphasis on 4-channel. Latest are the RQ-3745 and RQ-3746 receivers with joystick balance control and SQ matrix decoder. A disc demodulator for CD-4 is an optional extra. There's also a growing line of Sylvania speaker systems. Newest is model 105B, a 2-way system with 10-in. woofer, priced at about $100.

General Electric - a major player

At General Electric the emphasis is on stylish compact stereo systems and portables. The GE SC-3211, priced Stateside at $174.95, has a built-in 8-track tape player as well as a record changer, and "Quadra-Fi" terminals with passive matrix for rear-channel ambiance if two more speakers are added.

Also geared up for 4-channel sound is the TA-640 cartridge tape deck, which records 8-track tapes in stereo but has a 4-channel playback head. Connected to a stereo system, it will mix down the four channels to two channels, by means of a switch. The new deck has sloped console styling and carries a $219.95 price tag.
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Panasonic has a new TV picture tube called Quintrix

Biggest news at Panasonic is a new TV picture tube called Quintrix. Like other late-model color TV tubes, it's a negative guard-band black matrix type, but Panasonic's design has a prefocus lens ahead of the main lens which, it is claimed, increases picture brightness while maintaining sharp focus.

The Quintrex tube is featured in Panasonic's new 19" (diag.) Quatrecolor all-solid-state model CT-944, priced Stateside at $499.95. - New audio items include a "Series 44" music system, a 4-channel receiver with built-in cartridge tape deck that plays Q-8 tapes while recording in stereo. Price of $399.95 (Model RS-862S) includes four speaker systems. Another new item is the Panasonic RP-966 Dolby noise reduction unit, which can be connected to any tape recorder and can also be switched for reception of Dolbyized FM broadcasts. Recommended price is $69.95.

Hitachi

Hitachi's new cassette recorder, model TRQ-2LL, is designed for language laboratory use. Playback speed can be varied up to ±20%, slowing it down to improve comprehension or speeding it up to save time. Double mixing is provided so the user can listen to one channel while recording on the other. Suggested price of the cassette machine is $179.95.

Crown Radio of Japan

Another specialized type of cassette recorder catching on fast is the telephone answering device. Crown Radio of Japan now has a stable of them, the latest a Telephone Valet (model CTA-4800) that will play bay recorded telephone messages by remote control.

When calling his number to get messages, the owner uses a callback signal transmitter that triggers the playback mechanism and, if he desires, the machine will automatically erase the phone messages after playback. Stateside retail price of the new model will be about $530. A similar telephone valet without the remote playback feature, model CTA-4610, is priced at about $200.

Another cassette novelty on the Stateside scene is the Vox-Box, a tiny transmitter that plugs into the earphone outlet of any cassette recorder. The cassette sound can then be picked up on any nearby AM radio by tuning it to 1605 on the dial. Price of the Vox-Box is $9.95.

Sharp

The current rage in portable radios concerns exterior styling. Many manufacturers are producing portables with rugged "industrial" exterior finishes which feature open or cast speaker grills and heavy-duty knobs. In keeping with the trend, Sharp displayed its model FX-208, an AM/FM portable with IC circuitry and a 4" speaker.

Koss

On the headphones scene, Koss has another lightweight model of the high-velocity type, the HV-1LC, similar to the HV-1 introduced in 1972 but with a control knob on each earcup for adjusting volume and balance. Stateside price is about $50.

Koss now offers 16 different headphone models. Meanwhile, the Hear-Muffs people, who just a year ago introduced the headphone you wear around the back of the head, have expanded their line to three - Hear-Muffs, Supermuffs and Quadramuffs. All are styled as colorful cushions and have removable, washable slipcovers. Now another newcomer, Telephonies, offers a new type of 4-channel headphone with built-in matrix decoder.

Its makers claim that it will spatially decode any matrixed information encoded into two channels and add 360-degree ambiance to the sound of conventional stereo. The new Telephonies TEL-101F will carry a Stateside retail price of about $75.

Acoustic Research und ADC

Nachgeschoben, die kleinere LST-2

In loudspeakers, there's more evidence that the styling departure begun by Acoustic Research with the LST will develop into a trend.

ADC's Pritchard Loudspeaker System, similar in that it achieves wide dispersion with tweeters and supertweeters angled left and right of the woofer, was shown in prototype last June and is now on the way to dealers.

Audio clubs in Germany will have the speaker in spring. And AR now has, at considerably lower cost than the top-of-the-line LST, a scaled down version called the LST-2.

It includes a 10" woofer, three 1-1/2-in. hemispherical dome midrange drivers and three 3/4-in. dome tweeters. Like its big brother, the LST-2 has a 6-position control on the front panel for adjusting high-frequency response.

Empire's cylindrical speaker design, previously introduced in a weatherproof all-white enclosure called the Jupiter, will add mod colors - sun yellow, flemish blue and bitter sweet. The speaker can be used as an end table or lamp pedestal. It's a 3-way system with 12-in. woofer that faces downward. Stateside price of the Jupiter 6500 II is $149.95.

Another departure from the standard oiled-walnut speaker enclosure is the "butcher block" finish, seen in Chicago on consoles from Grundig and compact stereo systems from Miida Electronics, so it looks like the start of a trend, with much more to come in June.
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