Thursday, August 13, 2009
When the sound really mattered
Back in 1971 the first 'serious' loudspeakers that I bought after I left university and joined the BBC were the legendary Acoustic Research AR-7's. I would have bought a pair of the Rogers LS3/5A monitors that were used in the BBC studios, but these were well beyond my budget. The more affordable AR-7s were bookshelf sized speakers with amazingly dense cabinets that produced a bottom end that belied their small size. There was a downside however, when compared with the ultra-transparent BBC monitors, the AR paper coned drive units gave the mid range a signature nasal (transatlantic?) twang.
But the AR-7s captured the music of that time beautifully, and I nearly wore them out listening to my first Mahler LP, the superb interpretation of the Fourth Symphony by the grossly under-rated Ukrainian born Jascha Horenstein and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This was produced by John Boyden and released on the budget Classics for Pleasure label decades before Naxos were acclaimed for creating the budget CD market. Horenstein's revelatory Mahler 4, which was recorded when the conductor was 73, remains in the catalogue 37 years later on the same label.
I wonder how many Mahler interpretations by todays wunderkind conductors will be in the catalogue in 2045? But celebrity culture has its uses, and I must admit my choice of speakers back then was influenced by Acoustic Research's 'cool' advertising with its product endorsements from Herbert von Karajan and Miles Davis seen here. These days dinner party conversations revolve around lossy devices such iPods instead of loudspeaker brands. Does the sound matter anymore?
See the art of Miles Davis here.
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