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Remember When: Music to our ears
A MUSIC lover’s phone usually contains enough albums to fill a shelf with cds or a van with vinyl.
We listen through headphones, computers, tablets and docking units. We expect our music to be instant, compact and readily portable.
This week’s Remember When travels back to an era when things were rather different.
Precisely 41 years and a day ago, page four of the Adver was devoted to an advertising feature about the latest in home music technology.
It was entitled A Plain Man’s Guide to Hi-Fi Equipment. We’d either forgotten the existence of women or else didn’t think they’d be interested in technology any more complex than a whisk. These were strange days.
“High fidelity,” we wrote, “or hi-fi as it is generally known, means a high degree of faithfulness in the reproduction of sound.
“The aim of hi-fi is to attain in the home as closely as possible the reproduction of sound that is heard in the studio or concert hall. The quality of hi-fi reproduction varies widely and there are many manufacturers producing equipment to suit all pockets and tastes.”
Later we noted: “In the past the ordinary music lover has often been somewhat baffled by technical jargon and such words as ‘rumble,’ ‘tweeter’ and crossover distortion.’ “It is therefore wise to consult a hi-fi specialist or a radio and television retailer with a hi-fi department.”
The article was surrounded by adverts for more than half a dozen suppliers.
Prices ranged from £27.50 to more than £80, sizeable sums in an era when the average weekly wage was about £30 and a pint of beer and packet of cigarettes could be had for 20p apiece.
Hickmans in Victoria Road, a familiar name to this day, promised: “The modern alternative to records. Choose from our large selection of music on simple to use, go-anywhere trouble-free cassettes.”
The shop also had audio equipment by various manufacturers, but only Sony is familiar today. The others included Dynatron, Decca and Hacker.
The cassette would last into the 21st century, which was more than could be said for another tape format advertised on the page. The Television and Hi-Fi Centre in Commercial Road had a photo of what was known in those days as a Dolly Bird surrounded by Eight-Track tape players.
Eight Track, which would die out in the early 1980s, played music on a continuous loop with bands of sound running along the tape. This often meant a big ‘clunk’ in the middle of a piece of music as the machine switched from one band to the next.
Fox Radio Service Ltd in pre-redevelopment Milford Street invited readers to: “Visit the largest and most comprehensive showroom in the area, where Dynatron, Sony, Bang and Olufsen, Bush Arena and Scan-Dyna can be viewed and compared together.”
Westlec Television in Cricklade Road offered something called the Rigonda of Russia Symphony De Luxe Radiogram “...as advertised in the National Press...” while Duck, Son and Pinker’s wares included turntables by Swindon firm Garrard.
We’d love to hear from readers with memories of this technology, and especially anybody who has a working example.