Dear Editor (Sept. 1978)

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Conservation Connoisseur

Dear Sir:

I read with considerable interest your "Equipment Profile" on the Lirpa Vehicular Disk Reproduction System (VDRS) and look forward to its appearance on the market.

Living in the West as I do and being concerned with our electrical energy crisis, I feel that I will have to defer purchase until Prof. Lirpa introduces a diesel model, which I have no doubt is presently awaiting the EPA test certification.

-Woodruff Ogden; Walnut Creek, Cal.

Distraught Discophile

Dear Sir:

The noise problem on records could have ended on May 10, 1977, the day that William K. Heine, of California, demonstrated his laser scanning phonograph record player (Laserphone). This device plays the standard LP record without any ticks or pops, plus it never wears out the record.

It would seem to me that with high quality and high-priced electronics, there should be some way to play a record without the all too familiar snap, crackle, and pop we always seem to get. The audio industry has produced a few machines to eliminate these ticks and pops, but they only seem to work when the noise has been artificially induced by a knife across the surface of the disc. But the little ticks and pops you hear in the first two or three minutes of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata are enough to drive you crazy.

I found out recently that TEAC has no present plans to release their digital laser disc player. I, for one, can understand their thinking since the lack of available software during the first two years would destroy their sales.

Let us hope that the audio industry is aware of the fact that the number of higher-priced turntable systems is beginning to drop slightly. The reason for this is the poor quality of the available software. If we can create digital time-delay units, digital PCM recorders, then we can certainly manufacture a patented, proven turntable such as the Laser phone.

-Harry L. Foushee; Jacksonville, Fla.

Lamentable Lo Fi

Dear Sir:

I have read numerous letters in Audio magazine mentioning the poor quality of many of our popular records and FM radio broadcasts. I have also seen several letters discussing the potentials for better quality AM audio broadcasts. It is unquestionably true that the quality of much of our commercial recording and broadcasting is often far short of the state of the art, as it caters to a mass market audience of which the audiophile makes up only a very small minority.

Most of the general public has very little knowledge or interest in true sound reproduction, and many more are even mislead as to what hi fi really is.

Most department store consoles and compact music systems use a device known as "synthetic bass" (David Weems, "The Numbers Game," Popular Electronics, Nov., 1970). Since these units are incapable of reproducing frequencies below 100 Hz, or even 200 Hz, they are designed to peak their response by as much as 15 dB from about 250 Hz down to the cut-off point. While this produces an irritating drummy, boomy sound . . . this is the "hi-fi sound" to most people. Synthetic bass is often called "juke-box bass" since they also use this technique.

Secondly, I have walked into many a living room and found both speakers in the stereo system placed together off in one corner of the room well away from the general seating area. Worse yet, I have seen at least one "stereo" console unit in which both speakers are mounted right next to each other in the same cabinet. Obviously, many people have no concept of what stereo sound is or how to realize it, even though they are sold on having it. For this reason I suggest that the makers of low-cost, non-audiophile grade music systems revert back to monophonic reproduction, concentrating the cost of the unit into one decent channel of sound, rather than two mediocre ones. This is not to say that stereo is not useful, for under the right conditions it can do much for the sound of music. Nonetheless, in most living rooms visual aesthetics take precedence over proper speaker placement so that most "stereos" become redundant two-channel "monos." Even our so-called live performances aren't really live, with very few exceptions. Today most contemporary music performers depend upon P.A. systems and other electronic equipment to convey their sounds to the audience. Worse yet, various forms of distortion are purposely introduced to "gimmick" the sound. Rock music does not even exist as a live acoustic sound, but is actually created through electronics.

Apparently, we live in an electronic jungle of unnatural, distorted, and gimmicked sound reproduction. Except for the audiophile who spends considerable amounts of time, energy, and money attempting to achieve perfection, the public, as a whole, is conditioned into accepting lo-fi reproduction. Unless some campaign can be waged to educate the public at large as to the virtues of hi-fi reproduction, the situation is unlikely to improve.

-Michael Kiley; Palos Hghts, Ill.

Record Rewrapping

Dear Sir:

To add to your recent discussions on the treatment of records before they reach the consumer, I have an interesting experience to relate.

At a local record store, I was told to go into the back room and ask a certain employee to help me find the record I was looking for. In the back room I was a bit shocked to see a plastic-wrapping machine which was obviously there for the purpose of rewrapping albums that had become unwrapped.

Unfortunately, the sealed plastic doesn't guarantee that the record hasn't been either used or abused.

-Leslie Borean Culver City, Cal.

Recording Blanks

Dear Sir:

I am in possession of a large number of early 1920's or 30's aluminum recording blanks. These are not acetate coated blanks, but raw, plain aluminum.

I would like to use these for recording, obviously not for serious high-fidelity recording, however I am unable to find anyone or any book with information about the recording styli specifications. I have also been unable to find anything as to the composition, size, or shape of the first recording styli that were used for the first so-called instantaneous recordings.

Are there any readers of Audio magazine who can either tell me where to obtain such a cutting stylus or what the parameters are so that I might be able to have one reproduced? I would be most grateful for your aid in solving this problem.

-Michael Stosich, 414 Assembly Drive Bolingbrook, IL 60439

Quality Consciousness

Dear Sir:

A few months back I purchased a copy of the Crystal Clear Records direct to-disc recording San Francisco Ltd. I had many problems with the record and four times brought it back to the store where it was purchased, trying to either get a refund or a new copy of this recording. Getting no satisfaction whatever from the retailer, I finally wrote directly to Crystal Clear Records asking them if there was something they could do to assist me in this matter. Shortly thereafter I received a brand-new copy of the recording in the mail.

This letter is just to let your readers know that there are still some companies around that respond quickly to complaints from purchasers of their products.

Thomas W. Smith, Franklin Square, N.Y.

(Source: Audio magazine, Sept. 1978; )

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