Tag Archives: turntable

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

A quiet revolution

My father Don was one of the few in our neighborhood that had an actual sound system. It was a cobbled together group of separates: Rek-O-Kut turntable, Stromberg Carlson electronics, homemade speakers. The few neighbors that had sound systems relied upon the classic all-in-one console, while everyone else got music through a simple radio.

All that changed in the late 1960s with a quiet revolution. Japanese receivers, speakers, and turntables began infiltrating American homes—not through stereo stores at first, but through the military. It was the height of the war in Vietnam, NATO troop buildups in Europe, and cleanup activities in Korea. The US military was everywhere and so too were the audio stores and PX where low cost Japanese (and eventually American) hifi equipment found their way home to America. Entire systems could be had for hundreds of dollars and GIs in search of bargains, their pockets filled with cash, flooded the stereo outlets.

By the mid 1970s, when the Baby Boomers were taking over, the stereo situation had completely changed. Now, there were almost no homes, dorms, apartments, or condos without the minimum requirements of a turntable, receiver, and pair of speakers. It was the heyday of the music revolution.

When I think back on these days it occurs to me there was a perfect storm of simultaneous revolution going on: the British music invasion, Woodstock, vinyl LPs, FM stereo radio, folk music, protest music, Motown, and what today we refer to as Classic Rock.

Without many taking notice we went from radios and the occasional console stereo to a near complete penetration of sound systems in every home—and it wasn’t just America. All over the world people plugged in, played music, and changed the world.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

By plug and play, Paul is referring to an audio component that replaces computers in our music systems. One that can rip music, store music, stream music and give us a way to control it. Maybe add a DAC and even an amplifier, like the UK stalwart, Naim Audio is doing now. Maybe incorporate a turntable  and speakers!!

Plug and play

What a great idea someone came up with when they first coined the term plug-and-play. Easy peezy, right? Plug the device in and it just works.

If you own a Mac you already know what this feels like. Windows 10 owners finally get a taste, but most people on the planet never really get to experience this miracle of technology.

Wouldn’t it be something if someone managed to figure out a small stereo system that would fit that bill? Plug it in, it auto corrects for the room, knows your musical preference, begins to play music you already have approved.

As Buck Rogers as this sounds, I predict within the next decade this will happen. How you ask? Through the miracle of complexity: building blocks stacked over time.

Our meager minds can only understand small snippets of complex structures. We can visualize how a computer system does math and we understand the language it uses, but more than that and we’re lost. Try visualizing the path required for you to read these words on a screen from a device in your pocket. I am sitting in my basement office in Boulder, Colorado, typing. Tomorrow my thoughts spread around the globe. To us, it’s magic because no one person understands how it all works.

Imagine other complex systems. You are a perfect example. We can figure out down to a molecular level how small systems within us work but not the whole.

Once a system exceeds a certain level of complexity it becomes unknowable by any one person. This means that with each layer of added complexity we can only build with ever-increasing complex blocks—never knowing the whole. Block-upon-block until it all seems like magic. A miracle.

Which is why I predict the miracle of a plug-and-play system is within our horizon. How exciting is that?