The Premium Watch  
About Page Inner Ears in reference to the electronics, mostly earphones. We had eliminated music as a social to an inner experience.
The Premium Watch
by John Kernan

A lot more has changed from the 1960's than peace, love and the length of our hair. The sound of music had shifted monumentally from Acid Rock in San Francisco, to the High Flying Bird, Hendrix and Clapton in London. Of course the big pop bands will never be forgotten but will the Beatles and the Stones, the Supremes and the Temptations ever be heard again on the little 45 rpm single that ruled the airwaves? Now the sound of the 45, just like AM Radio was purely wall of sound and vocals. The record player and the car radio were incapable of much else.

That changed in the later parts of the sixties when the rock affectionate started to migrate to 33rpm. LPs because the sound spectrum was better represented by the technology. The advent of FM Radio was also part of the LP generation. We used to buy records that had one full side of great music. We bought turntables when we had more money and we got serious. Stereo Amplifiers with 100 watts of power ruled the day and speakers were the front end of every system. We traveled high and far to listen to our first pair of Bose 901's, or Advents, the heavy rock answer to cheap bass.

Albums were part of our world. We all loved to see our heroes as badass dudes in leathers and style, or the outrageous creation of Sargent Peppers and Strawberry Fields. Hell, Don McLean would have never had a hit record if it were not for the music, the Fillmore, Mick Jaeger, and The Beatles. Because they were there, Don rolled some groovy tune on us that talked about the end of the music when those heroes of the Sixties were put out to pasture or died. But I really think that for me the music died one night when my wife and I strolled into Sam Goodies on Christmas Eve to buy some new albums for Christmas.

I remember Tusk, an 80's Digital Record LP by Fleetwood Mack. It was praised in some circles as the future because of the clarity of the sound. The bump of the base and the squeal of the guitars. The rest of us never saw the end of the LP coming from there but Tusk was the beginning of the end. Maybe Stevie Nicks needed Digital to adjust her voice with computers. Too much cocaine rusted those once magnificent pipes.

But, I digress from my Christmas Eve story. We looked all over Sam Goody's for the album section and they were not up in the front of the store in Livingston Mall, where I had bought them for years. I sauntered up to the kid to show how cool, I was because I refused to fall into the trap of CD's. Obviously the purists like me listened to albums because the sound was warmer on vinyl. When I asked the kid where the records were he told me the only records they even carried anymore were down the back on the bottom. Indeed Herman's Hermits and The Carpenters were all that was left of music that night. My music had died. No more reading the words along with the songs or cool double album art like the Allman Brothers, Eat A Peach with a double inside of psychedelic artwork. Hell, it was a damn good thing I quit smoking pot because the universal choice for cleaning seeds from buds was an album cover, preferable a double album.

I had invested $600.on the best Danish turntable technology available, the Denon Cartridge alone cost me more than most CD Players; and it was a single play turntable so each record could be cleaned and put away without a scratch. My first CD player was built by California Audio Labs and played single discs with digital sound closely reproduced like a good Analog turntable.

But like McDonald to Hamburgers, America raced to the new scratchproof disk. Did they care that the music was abrupt, sharp, and high pitched? The reproduction on disk lacked the sound reproduction offered by a great turntable but new was right. Now the companies that lived with the Album Technology for thirty years could turn the shelves in the electronics store. Yes, we fought it by making tapes from our albums because we didn't have cd players in the car. We could only hold off so long, until rap started to produce music that fit the platform like Miles Davis fit the LP. It was time to give in and stop the good fight because it was obvious no one else was fighting.

I still had my speakers though. From direct reflecting technology from Bose to the Stereo Logic Technology being proffered by Matthew Polk, also of Boston, to the straightforward simple sounds of the base module and small wall speakers of Henry Kloss. The speaker was changing for the better, for stereo. Alison made open top grills with sweet sounds, Mirage played to Jazz and Horns and KEF was as laid back as anything English. We had monster sizes to decorate our living or play rooms that delivered big sound. Rounded sounds were more important because we were starting to use our stereo to play movies.

Movies were the in thing, the let's go out and get away from our marriage thing to do now. Yes, we all got married. We went out to big houses of hero worship for the first return of Batman. The Theaters boasted of surround sound that never worked for music in the early Seventies. The Quad Systems, as they were known was simply four speakers using two stereo channels caddy corner. The surround sound Dolby from the Giant Theaters offered depth, the willies with the first screams of King Kong. You could hear everything in the picture because the Theater was built to take advantage of the speakers they owned. After all, Crazy Eddie and J&R didn't sell speakers for movies; we had to make our own surround sound with four speakers and two amplifiers to artificially reproduce the full, enlarged sound spectrum of movies.

Sony, and Pioneer and it seems the rest of the fighting Tigers of the Pacific Rim had found another opportunity to change our staid ways. When movie rentals started to grow opposite the trend of declining movie attendance, a new category of in home speakers was borne. The surround sound system. Four speakers with a base module, sounding vaguely familiar, soon moved on to Receivers with 5.1 or 7.1, now 7.2 technology. That meant five small speakers, some floor standing and one hidden base module. Then seven speakers and a base module, ultimately two base modules and four surrounds. It got to the point that people built in their own theaters at home. They needed the boom from two base modules to shake their seats when the latest bomber destroyed the movie warehouse. The depressing thing about the new Blue Ray Disks and the receiver that ran them was that watts didn't count anymore. They used computer chips so turning up the new equipment was like turning up your cell phone.

Now I am glad to say that we seem to have come full circle, at least for some of us. Speakers, like those available again today are still full spectrum Stereo Speakers. The old names are coming back after a decade in the dumps. You can still buy the fabled Bose 901 for about the same $1300, you could back in their heyday but now Polk and Mirage, KEF and many new brands have rediscovered full sound reproduction. The purity of Ricky Lee Jones voice, the speed of Al Dimeola's guitar are back both on the stage and in the studio. I remember the day I listened to a pair of $20,000 speakers. Joni Mitchell was sitting in front of me. So was her band and they were glorious. The owner of the store used a digital recording system to store the music but his speakers required 600 watts per channel making the entire system cost in excess of $40,000. Now, that’s what I’m talking about. The next stage is delivered micro websites by the ICANetwork, which will guarantee your store on Google page one.
The resource for this article came from my musical trip through life. My latest venture is a website called Watches unlike music players are fighting to stay alive vs the Smartphone but the Watch is Jewelry, a piece of art and technology that has been stable for Centuries!
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