The Valve Years (My Sonic Youth)
Good grief, where did the years go?
I'm still working in the audio industry today but I fondly remember my first proper kit as a sonic youth.
I defy anyone here to remember the old HeathKit series of valve amps or the hernia-inducing weight of a classic Avantic amplifier.
The first real budget turntable I thought was any good, apart from the Garrard Transcription & SME combo that I had, was a Sansui PL95D with a Goldring moving coil cartridge.
Speakers were Tannoy, behemoth in stature and I remember I filled the cabinets partially with copious amounts of sand.
I though it was a good idea at the time and it definately made them burgular proof from all bar the unlikely event of a break-in by a team of renegade WWF hulks up to no good.
Early tape decks I used were Ferrograph, the ubiquitios Revox A77 and an Akai multitrack.
Later, during the early seventies, I marvelled at the new Wonder of The Age, the Philips N1500 VCR.
It had a mechanical clock for a timer, the house lights went dim when it powered up, but the picture quality was amazing for it's day, even if you did have to sit and manually "ride" the tracking control during playback.
On the never ending quest for quality, I had a brief affair with a Sony U-Matic videocassette deck, but the tapes themselves where prohibitively expensive and the unit itself generated enough heat to keep your feet toasty through the Winter months.
I used to demo my system using a Direct To Disc record of Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker called "I've got the music in me".
The idea with that series of discs was that the cutting lathes were actually in a room adjoining the studio, so the masters (or Mothers I think they were called) were cut in realtime during the session, which was done in one take as you couldn't stop the lathes after they began.
The whole session was then captured directly to the disc, mistakes and all, then a limited run was pressed on high quality vinyl.
I also remember having a flamenco disc made with the same process.
The ultimate spacial experience was attained by playing a few select quadraphonic 8 track cartridges in an all in one player/amp unit, that had a detachable joystick panel on an extension cord so you could play with it while you sat the middle of the four speakers.
Delights of the day were Dark Side of The Moon, Machine Head by Deep Purple, Earth, Wind & Fire and some old Simon & Garfunkel stuff.
Yes indeed, this new quadraphonic 8 track system was the future, far superior to the multichannel QS vinyl that was available.
What was I thinking?
In fact, only recently I threw out a load of old kit that I now regret, some real oddball stuff too.
Three JVC VHD videodisc players, a Sony El-Cassette recorder (don't ask), a portable Sony 8mm videoplayer with built in TV and LCD screen and an old JVC VHS recorder with piano key controls and a Nakamichi (or was it Alpine) DAT car player.
Other ancient stuff included a Nakamichi cassette deck shaped like a wedge, an early Hitachi digital recorder that used VHS cassettes as a recording medium (yikes) and a Philips CDi system.
Some of the curiosities from yester-year that I still use today include a Philips DCC recorder (I listen to some old cassettes via the digital out of this fine machine), a Pioneer LaserDisc player because I still have a considerable hoard of brilliant UK discs, (they still look and sound good today), a Sony DAT transport and perhaps my pride and joy from the museum of misfits, a Technics graphic equalizer that has a fluorescent bar graph display and a touch panel instead of faders.
Still in my system.
I'll post a pic or two of these curiosities when I get home next month when I get the time.
I will now bow my head in respect of The Passing of The Great Analogue Age.