Some Hifi nostalgia, thanks to Technics

I got an email from Tiens today, it was one of those emails that started with lots of exclamation marks, I knew he was excited about something. It was the mix of nostalgia, appreciation for true craftsmanship and re-living the feelings from his youth when he first discovered Hifi. I suggested to Tiens that we turn his email into a blog, because I think it shows how passionate Tiens is about audio, and why you should come and see us rather than a pimple covered kid working weekends in a big retailer.

Here’s the email, and I’ve added more photos at the end, thanks to Audioscope.

Hi Brendan,

Look at this late 70’s Technics set, those are 20″ bass drivers!!!

At 153,000!!! euros probably the most expensive 2nd hand set in the world… well it was the most expensive set in the world in its day. Have a look here on thevintageknob for more images and info.

I had the experience to listen twice to a set like this. First at a SUPER HIGH END show that was stage in a big Shopping Mall in Johannesburg in South Africa. It was in a huge round atrium around a fountain in the centre of a 4 story high shopping mall. You could look down to the many HiFi displays, about 30 of them or you could go down to the ground floor to listen closely if you could find a space.

The story was that during the setup and testing phase this Technics monster killed any chance of the other exhibitors to be heard, so they have decided that each exhibitor get about 15 minutes to demo their stuff!! Apart from their massiveness they look stunningly beautiful and stylish. It was more than 300 wrms into 96 db efficient Technics horn speakers, so it was like 1000’s of watts that pump bass into your chest. It was like being at a real real rock concert in a small room only a few meters from the bass drivers, it folded your stomach literally, not just punching it.

An unreal experience and the total price was similar to two Ferraris at that time! (It was also at this show that I first heard the big SONAB speakers with I think had 12 tweeters in a half moon circle and two 6.5″ midrandge drivers and two 6.5″ down firing bass drivers, but instead of thundering you with sound it was the most beautifully airy 3D sound I ever have heard. Playing John Klemmer’s Touch an Original Master Recording, a Super High Fidelity Limeted Edition pressing – I bought that LP at that show, I have it in my hands while I write this because I wanted to check the date it was released… it was 1978.

Any case the second time I heard this Monster Technics system was in my home city’s town hall. Technics Japan (with the local importer at the time) visited the 6 big Cities in SA to show this and some other unique Technics sets like the super small Technics CO 1 sets which were totally at the other end of the scale. So here we had the biggest most expensive set in the world to the smallest micro set in the world.

The Technics CO 1 set was also the first CLASS D amp in the world although at that stage its was not known as Class D but PWM amplification, the same technology that was used 5 years later in the worlds first CD players.

Back to the demo on the monster set… How they did it was they had these two monster speakers sitting on the sides of the stage and they opened the show with three musicians playing the drums, violin and acoustic guitar while singing. Then half way through the song they closed the curtains, and as the curtains closed the sound slowly disappeared, only to start up again a few seconds later growing louder and louder to the same level we heard it before. Then the curtains started to open again but the musicians were gone!! It was only the Technics system playing the same song recorded on the Technics open reel, the audience responded in a huge natural clapping of the hands! As the claps went on they turned up the Technics system even more and it sounded like the hall starting to become a stadium… unreal… absolutely unreal.

Did it sound like the real thing? Well to me it sounded better because of the massiveness of the sound and I was young and the HiFi bug just caught me… of course I thought it was better!

These two experiences was two of the 4 biggest experiences in HiFi in my life that I still remember as if it was yesterday.

Kind Regards
Tiens