Audio perfectionists are an almost extinct breed
Related to my recent post about Owsley Stanley's recording of Ali Akbar Khan's 1970 San Francisco concert is Robert Greenfield's biography Bear: The Life and Times of Augustus Owsley Stanley III. In my post I described Augustus Stanley as an 'audio perfectionist'. Here is a quote from the biography describing his 1960s sound system:
"Before ever meeting the Grateful Dead, Owsley had already purchased and installed a sound system in his thirty-five-by-fifty-five-foot living room in Berkeley that far surpassed what even the most fanatical hi-fi enthusiast might have dreamed of owning. Looking like "something that someone had rescued from behind the screen at the local movie theater," his Altec Lansing Voice of the Theatre system consisted of two large wooden cabinets, each of which was "about the size of a small fridge". Equipped with a fifteen-inch speaker, a driver that was "about four inches in diameter," and "a little mounted on top," each cabinet weighed a hundred pounds. [See photo above] Owsley then ran the sound through a McIntosh amplifier with "two channels, forty watts per channel".
Seen above is a McIntosh MC240 40 watts per channel tube power amplifier (1960-1969), the image is reproduced from Ken Rockwell's informative review of the amp. Today audio perfectionists are an almost extinct breed. But it wasn't always like that. Back in 2009 I highlighted an advertising campaign for Acoustic Research speakers endorsed by Herbert von Karajan and Miles Davis - see header graphic. Now we have heard Simon Rattle's views on concert hall acoustics ad nauseum. But when did you last see him endorsing a speaker brand? Amusingly the first result from a Google search for "Simon Rattle loudspeakers" is a 2011 On An Overgrown Path article. As I said audio perfectionists are an almost extinct breed.