A daily dose of Hughes; Jimmy Hughes aka James Michael Hughes – “Better Sound – Where Did It All Go Wrong, George?”

At some point – and it’s hard to say exactly when – a significant majority began to lose interest in sonic upgrades and technical improvements. It’s my belief the process began sometime in the late 1980s, though the trend would not become obvious until the early ‘90s. CD certainly rejuvenated the hi-fi market in the early ‘80s; many enthusiasts upgraded their amplifiers and loudspeakers having bought a new CD player.

But, by the end of the decade, this appetite for improvement had started to plateau out. It’s not clear why – maybe CD generally sounded so good (or so average) most people no longer cared about further improvements. Also, some listeners had perhaps grown a tad cynical, having invested in new ‘improved’ CD players with higher specs that actually sounded little different to the machines they’d replaced…

But there was more to it than that. Previously, as newer technologies replaced older ones, there had always been a shunning of things considered ‘obsolete’. By the late ‘60s, Mono LPs had become virtually un-saleable. With the Silicon transistor becoming widely available after about 1967, Valve gear disappeared almost overnight – by 1970 hardly anyone made Tube equipment.

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2 thoughts on “A daily dose of Hughes; Jimmy Hughes aka James Michael Hughes – “Better Sound – Where Did It All Go Wrong, George?”

  1. No problem with great sound here. I simply when back to a tube amp and preamp. A 13 watt push pull amp driving my single driver (no crossover) speakers to sonic bliss. The most organic, non fatiguing system I have put together. I can listen for hours and enjoy every minute.

  2. I think an equally-likely candidate for killing off the hi fi industry was the Sony Walkman. The usual assumption is that ordinary people used to buy domestic hi fi systems because they liked domestic hi fi systems, and the analysis centres on the mystery of why they stopped buying them. I think people used to buy domestic hi fi systems because they were the only means to adequate quality music reproduction. When the Sony Walkman came along, the fact that its sound quality was adequate and it had the novelty of portability, meant that for most people, the domestic hi fi system became a bit of a dinosaur. Why fight over the hi fi in the living room when you could go upstairs with your own personal musical world and listen in private without anyone else complaining about the noise or your choice of music? Only we geeks and nerds were left in the living room to obsess about our amplifiers, woofers and tweeters, while the balanced, normal people with social skills went out roller skating or travelling while listening to their headphones.

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