Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 03:36:45 CST


Subject: Re: Relics

Joan L-W's comments about CDs etc. reminded me of an interchange I had

at Sears while looking at cable-ready VCRs. One model was labeled "hi-fi"

and I wondered what that meant in this (commercial) context. In this

type of audio machinery the term refers to "surround sound" that feeds

4 speakers if you have them. I happened to hear the very first stereo

broadcast -- in early 1953, when the FM station in Woburn and an AM station

in Boston simulcast the two channels of stereo recordings. Such fun stuff

as a train running through the room, or through the wall between two rooms

in the place where I was. At that time the term 'high fidelity' was used

for monaural recordings that were produced by technology that produced a

"flat curve," that is, the same relative loudness for frequencies from 20 to

20,000 Hz. When stereo recordings (and phonographs) came in a few years

later, the term 'hi-fi' was popularly applied to stereo recordings (and

equipment), in contrast to monaural. London Records were proud of their

new technology, which they called 'ffrr' for "full frequency-range response."

Placement of microphones in stereo recording added complications to how

'ffrr' might be achieved. At any rate, London's ffrr hi-fi recordings

were consiered "lo-fi" within a couple of years after they were produced.

And now we have 'hi-fi' taking on another shift. An irony was that many of

the stereo recordings (and equipment) were in fact lo-fi, but the general

public did not understand enough about the technology to make a distinction

between lo-fi hi-fi stuff and hi-fi mono (classical) recordings. This all

happened as Elvis was loosening up his pelvis in preparation for the now-

famous assault on American culture. I don't know why I ran on and on. DMLance