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Building a 70s system??

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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 26, 2020 10:21 pm

For anyone interested in learning more about the pioneering digital work the BBC did in the 70s and 80s, there's a very thorough explanation of the Beeb's PCM, SiS, and later NICAM systems here:

https://www.bbceng.info/Technical%20Reviews/pcm-nicam/digits-fm.html
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue May 26, 2020 10:45 pm

Thanks Hugh!

I did remember that the article was by Angus MacKenzie so it must have been November 1972... came as revelation to me at the time...

It's interesting to note that A MacKenzie comments on the specific S/N improvement from 58dB to 65dB.... these days we don't know we're born... My first decent-domestic tape-recorder purchased in 1971 had a S/N ratio of 45 dB!
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 26, 2020 11:39 pm

And the BBC PPM shows only 24dB of usable dynamic range. Thou shalt not peak above 6, nor let the needle fall below 1 (for more than a few seconds without very good reason!)

To be fair, the transmission chain only carries audio which has been carefully controlled and its dynamic range constrained, so a 50 or 60dB S/N ratio is quite workable. Source recordings with unpredictable dynamic range obviously require a larger S/N ratio.
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Dynamic Mike » Wed May 27, 2020 1:15 am

I recall music sounding better on my 70's sound system than anything I hear now. I've kept most of my vinyl collection & from time to time have considered recreating the system I used to have to see if I'm just deluding myself. As a project it might be fun & not that expensive. But as anyone who's rebuit a classic car discovers, there's usually a good reason they don't make 'em like they used to.

Also, I suspect I'll find what I'm really nostalically yearning for are the ears that I had back in the 70's.
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby James Perrett » Wed May 27, 2020 1:33 am

Mike Stranks wrote:I did remember that the article was by Angus MacKenzie so it must have been November 1972... came as revelation to me at the time...

I remember seeing a very similar article. I have a few copies of Hifi News from that era so I'll see if it was in one of those.
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby James Perrett » Wed May 27, 2020 1:43 am

Dynamic Mike wrote:I recall music sounding better on my 70's sound system than anything I hear now.

I'm still using quite a bit of 70's (and early 80's) technology here. Some of it sounds great while some of it is not so great. In particular, the posh Dynatron hifi system that I used to use for much of my home listening back in the 80's now sounds tubby and dull compared to the Quad/Tannoy combination in the studio. I think it could be due for a makeover.
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed May 27, 2020 8:07 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:And the BBC PPM shows only 24dB of usable dynamic range. Thou shalt not peak above 6, nor let the needle fall below 1 (for more than a few seconds without very good reason!)

To be fair, the transmission chain only carries audio which has been carefully controlled and its dynamic range constrained, so a 50 or 60dB S/N ratio is quite workable. Source recordings with unpredictable dynamic range obviously require a larger S/N ratio.

Ah yes! When I was introduced to PPMs in the mid-'70s (when I started doing work for BBC Local Radio) it was drummed into me, "6 and 4, Mike, 6 and 4!" :)
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Arpangel » Wed May 27, 2020 8:18 am

Why would you want to do this? The main reason I can think of is firstly, the workflow, working with older gear tends to make you think a certain way, and ergonomics, and technical issues force you to end up in a different place than you would in a digital environment, the only other reason is pure nostalgia.
It’s best not to think in terms of a specific era, regarding equipment, go into many studios today and you’ll see analogue and digital and everything in between, all mixed up, I have a 70's portastudio, two computers, analogue classic synths and modern digital stuff, it’s best to mix and match, it gives you more contrast, different flavours.
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Zukan » Wed May 27, 2020 9:11 am

And don't forget to use USB 1, you know, for that warm vintage vibe.
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby CS70 » Wed May 27, 2020 11:45 am

mikehende wrote:So guys, I have been dancing all around this for a long time now but seems I had not considered the most basic question which is, if I put together all 70's equipment but play music from my pc or fm radio, would I still get analog sound please?

I would put together 70's equipment if it gave me Gloria Gaynor and Olivia Newton-John singing a duet in my living room over a groove played by Benny Benjamin and James Jamerson. And of course I want the exact 70s looks, at least for Gloria and Olivia - nothing short of a perfect reproduction will do.

About as much chance as you getting "analog sound", alas :)
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby The Elf » Wed May 27, 2020 12:19 pm

I love the idea that sound was perfected in 1972. Kind of like an Amish view of audio! :lol:
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 27, 2020 4:17 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:Ah yes! When I was introduced to PPMs in the mid-'70s (when I started doing work for BBC Local Radio) it was drummed into me, "6 and 4, Mike, 6 and 4!" :)

Yes Indeed. A familiar mantra we all had drummed into us... not sure it's still being drummed in quite so effectively judging by what I hear sometimes... :think: :silent:
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 27, 2020 4:20 pm

Dynamic Mike wrote:I recall music sounding better on my 70's sound system than anything I hear now.

This could run and run... but I think it did sound better.

It had more dynamics for a start. It also had more variety of (real) instrumentation. It also had more real-time performances. And, perhaps even more argumentatively, the performers had more musical talent!

But as anyone who's rebuit a classic car discovers, there's usually a good reason they don't make 'em like they used to.

True! :lol:

Also, I suspect I'll find what I'm really nostalically yearning for are the ears that I had back in the 70's.

That and all the things you got up to back in the 70s... :oops: :silent:
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby MOF » Wed May 27, 2020 4:46 pm

Yes Indeed. A familiar mantra we all had drummed into us... not sure it's still being drummed in quite so effectively judging by what I hear sometimes... :think: :silent:
They don’t have to worry about such things now because of that buzz word, it’s DIGITAL.
I can’t remember the last time we rolled test tone and bars when I’ve been working with a crew, although maybe bars and internal tone are recorded by the cameraman/woman.
On a recent job I was asked why I bothered to send tone to the camera to line up with it. It was a novelty for them to work with a sound recordist as they had to be quick and efficient for the clients that had to go on to meetings, and it was a complicated setup, not the usual one talking head at a time.
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Re: Building a 70s system??

Postby lpjc » Wed May 27, 2020 5:11 pm

I like most of the contributors on this thread have a foot in both camps hifi and recording. I didn't start my journey until the 80s but my dad was a hifi and recording buff from the 50s onwards. I personally think the technology has improved a bit but the marketeers and lowest common denominators of convenience have offset that. And quite a lot of old gear give or take capacitor degradation still sounds good, genuinely and with or without rose tinted glasses.
Thus I am happy listening through modern active ATC monitors to non loudness wars material of any era (these days with Tidal as a source) via a second hand hi-end 1990s preamp with a couple of valves in it.
The sound is similar to my (again second hand hi-end 1980s) turntable. However one thing that does make a difference to getting that "analogue" sound is the DAC. I use a (yet again second hand hi-end but this time more modern) non-oversampling DAC. When I compare this - level matched - to a two year old RME Fireface UFX II as a DAC I have no doubt that it sounds better in terms of stereo image, microdynamics and "analogueness"! This is using a version of the very first DAC technology on CD players.
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