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Articles - Rick Stout
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Rick Stout on
70s Audio - Receiver Wars
Audio System Tweaks

Why Buy Audio Manuals

 
Glenn (echowars) McDonald on
Amplifier Distortion, DC Offset and You
 
Anthony Young on
Classic Cars, Classic Audio
 
Jack Homes on
Linear Tracking Turntables
 

Rick Stout - What About Classic Audio Manuals and Why Do We Want Them
When this article was originally posted, many people apparently agreed with what we were saying here because a large majority of our manuals customers wrote back and told us how much they valued having a quality printed manual to go with their gear. From our perspective, that attitude among many audio fans has changed as of this writing (12/2007). If interested, see this page we added in a recent home page rewrite in which we are asking folks to link to us, or this page asking folks to think. On the practical side of things, it is only a matter of time.... you *will* be needing it for some technical information or so that you can give it to your local electronics technician when you need some repair work. It becomes less likely as every year goes by that your local technician will have access to the service information he needs to repair your equipment.

In some cases, the techs in your local tech shop are not as old as the equipment you want them to repair. A typical response from them might be.... "This isn't worth fixing"... "You need to *upgrade*"... "All the new stuff is better"... "There are no parts available"... "This old junk isn't... (fill in your own words)"... Well, all that says about your local tech is that he/she is at best, very uninformed and at worst, an idiot, or semi so.

Many of us (especially we men) have a *thing* for our audio gear. It's almost as if the equipment has become as an old friend to us... a companion, or even as a familiar and intimate lover. As for me, I have always wanted to own everything ever produced about my gear. I want the manufacturer's original documents (User Manual, Service Manual, Sales Brochures), every advertisement, every magazine article or review, etc... for *My Stack o' My Stuff*. Do you hear what I'm saying?

So in intangible ways, owning the literature for our gear is a lot like when the best quality music was available on LP vinyl record albums. Did you ever spend half the night on your living room floor with a stack of your favorite albums? Perhaps you used headphones so you could get a deep, rich sound without keeping everyone awake? We used the anti-static gun on the albums to neutralize the static electrical charges, and the Disc Washer to clean the records. We carefully lowered the needle into the exact groove we wanted to hear.

This was just part of  *The Experience*. Such is the satisfaction of owning your own equipment documentation. You *know* you need to own (truthfully, you just can't rest until you do) the service manual, the owner's manual, and any available sales brochures. I mean, these are your babies. Why wouldn't you want everything concerning them?

Those were different kind of days! I know that I did spent many a late night laying about on the carpet and cueing up favorite tracks while studying every word on the album covers, the album labels, the liner notes or the additional literature sometimes included with the album. I'm sure many of you did also.

It was time well spent... wouldn't you agree? Compact Cassettes, CDs and of most current digital media have almost none of the benefits of being able to actually hold something in your hand that is big enough to read and contains *stuff* you want to know.

Most everyone appreciates the convenience of *instant* digital music at least once in awhile. Heck, I have a zillion songs stored on my computer in MP3 format. I can click a button on the computer with the gazillions of gigabytes of storage and start a favorite play list or listen to randomly selected tracks automatically and with no repeats for hours or days on end.

But you know what? I don't often do that. In spite of the convenience, I find myself more often than not, cranking up the vintage stuff and blasting my ass with the sounds of my 70s audio gear... you know... the *old... yesteryear... uncool... antique... analog... etc.* stuff.

For some of us, there is much more satisfaction to be gained by cueing up a favorite vinyl track, or threading up a reel to reel tape that we produced ourselves. There is nothing quite like watching those shiny metal reels rotate in the semi-darkness while being mesmerized by that stack of Pioneer Blue Flouroscan Meters offering the only room illumination.

Personally, I love walking through my home and coming upon those reels rotating. I often find myself walking by and stopping dead in my tracks just to stare for awhile. Have you ever done that with a current piece of audio gear? I didn't think so. Can you identify with this?

Hope you enjoyed it,

Rick
Originally posted 11/2002.

70's Audio Equipment and our *need* for the documentation, that is the question. We have a lot of manuals and brochures for some of your treasured classic audio gear with an emphasis on equipment produced from the early 70's through the mid 80's. We spent several tons of money to acquire the originals.

No joke! I tried to figure out how much it was but none of the scales in our house would register that high. Even worse than that was (is) the amount of time spent Night and Day... Day and Night... (sounds like a good song lyric) engaged in the necessary startup activities to make large numbers of items available at the same time.

So, would we like to have you purchase some of them?  .... Duh!  In all seriosity and all honestisity.... I guess if you try hard enough, you might talk us into trading some of the fruit of our labor and investments for some of your hard-earned money. Sounds like it might be an ok deal, so lets discuss classic audio documentation and why you would want to purchase them.

On one hand, we may really need the technical information to perform a proper tune-up or repair which is a practical and prudent reason. On the other hand, there are reasons to purchase equipment documentation that is kind of hard to explain because it has to do with our emotions and other factors. So in no particular order, let me give you some of my thoughts about why many of us really do *need* the information and others of us simply *want* to own it.

In the 1970's virtually all the popular consumer audio manufacturers such as Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, and Kenwood engaged in a fierce and direct competition against each other for *Braggin' Rights* and heavily advertised their claims of superiority in a bid for the heart and soul (pronounced as... *w a l l e t*) of the audio consumer.

The late 70's are also remembered by some for the *Receiver Wars*. Yes there were tuners, turntables, reel to reel decks, preamps, and amps, and integrated amps. But there was (and still is) just something totally captivating by a big beautiful receiver. They simply shouted out to us to pay attention to them and pay attention we did (and some of us still do). To me, it was a wonderful time when all those companies were attempting to produce the biggest, the heaviest, the most beautiful, the most powerful and most *bad-ass* audio equipment they were capable of producing. The only problem for me as a young man was that I couldn't afford to look.... let alone buy.

As the years go by, the original documentation and literature produced by those manufacturers becomes harder and harder to find. The original printings of User Manuals, Service Manuals, and Dealer Sales Brochures (remember those?) become less and less available to purchase. In most cases, the manufacturers haven't offered the documentation for many years. If they do, the manuals are often only available as (usually) poor photocopies or worse yet, microfiche film cards.

Most of the original printings that were delivered with the equipment has been thrown away, lost, destroyed or hoarded by collectors. When some of the better preserved pieces of literature do become available for sale, they often go for very high prices. Sometimes the price is *far* beyond what an average person is willing or can afford to pay. Once in awhile a truly great deal comes along but who can spend their life looking for those rare happenings?

Owning the manuals for your gear is a very desirable and practical thing on two levels. One is for tangible and practical reasons. The other is intangible and more difficult to explain, but we'll try...

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