Ah, the early days of the CD. Read this.

Discussion in 'Music' started by KeithH, Dec 25, 2002.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    My fiancee found two hi-fi magazines from 1984 at her parents' house and gave them to me this morning. They make for a very interesting read. One is the October 1984 issue of High Fidelity and the other is the October 1984 issue of Stereo Review. Not surprisingly, both magazines devoted a lot of space to CD players and CD software, as the technology was relatively new. Note the following write-up in the "Audio/Video Currents" section of the issue of High Fidelity:
    Compact Discs Today: Going for Mass Appeal
    * CD Prices Start to Tumble
    If you've been holding off buying a Compact Disc player because of the high cost of software, we have good news for you: CD manufacturers are slashing their wholesale prices. The Warner-Elektra-Atlantic family started the ball rolling by announcing an across-the-board wholesale price of $9.81 per disc, down from $11.64. Polygram responded quickly, lowering its prices to $10 for pop and jazz recordings and $11 for classical releases on the Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, and London labels. CBS is down to $10 per disc, which RCA is matching for its pop titles. (RCA's Red Seal releases are slightly higher at $10.75). And Denon is marching in step with the majors, dropping its dealer price to $10.
    What will this mean on the retail level? J&R Music World, a major discount record chain in New York City, has already lowered its price to $12.99 for most pop and classical titles. According to Allan Peller, J&R's record manager, the downward spiral has just begun. "As soon as record companies get behind simulataneous release of new recordings on LP and CD, the format will start to generate the kind of numbers that will make it possible for prices to come down even more."
    * Gearing Up
    While the giant Japanese and West German companies have been busy expanding their Compact Disc production capacities to keep up with growing demand, little Nimbus Records in England has been quietly footing the bill for the construction of its own digital mastering and pressing plant. By the time you read this, Nimbus should have its Monmouth factory up and running, with an expected production capacity of 80,000 discs per month by the end of the year.
    That figures palls, however, in comparison to Polygram's. A recent report pegs its Hanover, West Germany, plant at a daily total of 80,000 discs, making it the largest CD manufacturing site in the world. (For the record, Polygram claims to have pressed more than ten million discs to date.) With such a huge output, has quality suffered? Not in the least, says Polygram. It expected an average defect rate of 0.3 percent, but says that only one-third that many flawed discs (one per thousand) actually are leaving the plant.
    Curiously, CBS/Sony has been rather mum about the expected completion date of its domestic CD production plant. The Terre Haute, Indiana, facility was scheduled to go on-line in August, a deadline that has come and gone. According to an unofficial comment by a Sony spokesman, unexpected delays in the delivery of mastering and pressing equipment have caused the postponement.
    * The Digital Truth
    Though the Compact Disc is a digital medium, savvy music lovers have been quick to realize that not all CDs are created equal. Those discs that have been converted to digital from analog recordings can be accurate copies, but the word "digital" on the CD packaging does not mean that you're getting all the potential benefits of a fully digital product.
    To clarify the situation, Polygram has devised a three-letter code that will appear on the back of its CD packages and has recommended that other manufacturers adopt it as well. The first letter of the code tells whether the original recording was done with a digital (D) or analog (A) recorder. The second D or A denotes the kind of mixing console used, and the last specifies digital or analog mastering, presumably meaning the process used to create the two-track stereo master tape.
    I love the history in these three passages! It reminds me of the growing pains we always discuss with SACD and DVD-Audio, though today's growing pains are complicated by the fact that there are two competing digital formats. Note in the last passage how there is a tone of superiority that is to be expected from all-digital recordings (DDD). Anyway, I hope you found this information entertaining. The two 1984 hi-fi magazines are great. I am enjoying the articles on old CD players and ads for VCRs, Betamax machines, and cassette decks. These two magazines are definite keepers! [​IMG]
     
  2. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I distinctly remember reading that first article when it came out, and it had my hopes up that CD prices really were going to go down- I had misread that part about "$10 a disc", which meant wholesale price but at the time I thought the sale prices were going to go down that low. To have them go UP as far as they have today is ridiculous, which is why I rarely buy CDs anymore- I have enough old ones to listen to that I bought when they were priced lower! (Anyone remember in 1985 when Wherehouse had ALL CDs priced at $11.99, every day?)
    Somewhere I've got a photocopy of a 1975 article showing a prototype laserdisc player. Since this was the first consumer format to use a laser, it made special mention of how it worked and how it did not wear out the disc, and said "possibly this same techology could be applied to audio recordings as well, and there may even be a machine that plays both someday."
     
  3. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    Coming across old magazines like that is sure a treat. I always keep an eye for them at used bookstores but alas never find any older audio mags. I check the libraries too since after 6 months here its policy to put their mags in a bin and sell them for a dime.

    It doesn't take long for them to get scooped up so it would definetly be your lucky day if you walked in and they were putting hundreds of mags in the bin.

    I always wondered what those 3 letters on the back of a CD meant exactly. Thanks!
     
  4. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    A judge found the major labels guilty of price fixing about a year ago. I am not sure why nothing ever happened.... except the labels still blame the decline of cd sales on downloading.
     
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Grant,
    I saw a piece on The Today Show the other day about poor music sales. They had a spokeswoman from the RIAA on who was hoping for a last-minute boost in music sales this holiday season. She tried to appeal to music fans out there by saying "There's a lot of great music out there." While the report acknowledged that free downloads are hurting music sales, it also cited a lack of exciting new music as a contributor to the decline in sales this year.
    Mike,
    No problem. Glad you found the information helpful.
    Jesse,
    When I started grad. school in 1993, Best Buy had top-40 CDs for $9.99 each every day. In addition, a small chain store in town had a wall of all the popular CDs priced $8.99 each. Unfortunately, the store closed down by my second year of grad. school. [​IMG]
     
  6. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Man, I still remember those vertical-loading first generation CD players....
     
  7. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    got the dylan 1975 bootleg series for xmas. it had a 2 song dvd in it that is pretty cool.
    guess they think the dvds are not downloadable so they help sales.
    for once i would like to see a spokesman say, " we charge too much for mostly crappy music"
    oooohhhh lookey, hell just froze over
     
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Danny, one of the 1984 magazines I have has an article on CD players priced under $600. The article shows a picture of three players stacked one on top of the other, and one player has the drawer open. The caption under the picture says something about how most players were equipped with drawers. I don't have the magazine in front of me, but I'll post the exact caption later. [​IMG]
     
  9. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Most were equipped with drawers. I had a friend in High School who had a CD player in 1984/85 from Hitachi. It was really cool. Eventually (1986) I got my first player, a MultiTech, the equivalent of an APEX DVD player. It was the first player I ever saw for sale under $150. At $120 I bought one and my Dad did also. Sounded good to me, but it died within three years. My Dad's machine worked for well over 10 years without a hitch.
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    While we're strolling down memory lane ([​IMG]), my first CD player was the Sony D-5 portable unit. It was the first portable player. The battery pack for it is huge. I got it in 1988, at the start of my freshman year in college. At that time, I was one of the few people in my dorm who had a CD player. I sold the D-5 during my sophomore year to get money for a newer, smaller Sony portable player. For sentimental reasons, I bought a used D-5 on eBay a couple of years ago. It works perfectly, though it's not a very good CD player. [​IMG]
     
  11. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Keith,

    Some of those early CD players allows you to "drop" the CD into a "CD well" (??), pretty much like a well on a cassette deck. One can watch the CD spins as it plays.

    When I was in college, the library there has a full collection of "Stereo Review" in its collection. I would go there and flip thru the pages, dreaming about owning some of these stereo equipment.
     
  12. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    Ahh, memories! My first CD player was a Technics SL-XP7, their answer to the Sony D-5. When it came out at the end of '85 it was the world's smallest CD player, at least until the 2nd generation Sony portable came out.

    Like KeithH, I got my CD player during my freshman year in college, and wowed my classmates with it. It was fun stuff, and it sounded great for its time. I still have it, though it barely works with coaxing, and I don't use it anymore. Maybe someday I'll try to restore it. I had the bulky battery pack for it, that would last for about 2-3 CDs before needing recharging. That player nursed me through a major infatuation during my 2nd year in college, and when I moved out on my own it was my primary player until I got a JVC 6+1 disc changer in 1989, which I still have and still works great.

    KJP
     
  13. Jeff Pryor

    Jeff Pryor Supporting Actor

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    My first CD player was a Teac 5-disc top-load carousel that looked just like a turntable with a top lid and everything, this was back in '90. It was good and cheap, and I sold it after a few months so I could buy a nice expensive Sony.
     
  14. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol Agent

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    Hey Jesse,

    The Towers on Watt Ave was carrying their CDs for $11.99 also, I never like the Wherehouse.

    John
     
  15. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Ahh, all you noobs! [​IMG]
    I remember the adventures I had mounting an SME 3009S Tonearm onto a chassis supporting a Thorens TD-125 MkII belt-drive electronic turntable. (I went through a variety of cartridges.)
    Sincerely, Granpa.
     
  16. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    I remember buying a few disks before I even got a player.

    The first player was a single disk model, and it had a couple of features I haven't seen since, a tapering "pause" function, and a A-B set, so you could replay the same few seconds as many times as it took to get the lyrics clear!

    Another memmory, a bad one, is cd's being new, I worried about theft, and scratched my initials on some of my earlier acqusisitions. Something had lead me to believe it was ok to do this, but I remember the sinking nauseated feeling when I discovered that in most of the cases, I had damaged the music underneath!

    I still have a couple of those disks, where I didn't scratch very deeply, and they play ok, but most of them got thrown away. :b
     
  17. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Danny, I remember those top-loaders. Those were great! Of course, a lot of shelf systems today have top loaders, as the manufacturers are trying to make them look stylish. The Sharper Image especially sells a lot of those types of units. Bang & Olufsen is another that sells them.
    One of my memories of the early days of the CD is getting defective discs. Back in '87, my brother got a defective copy of Genesis Invisible Touch. I still to this day remember the spot in the music where that disc skipped and how the skip sounded. Every time I play my copy, I imagine the skip coming at the one particular spot in "Land of Confusion". I also remember getting defective copies of Metallica Ride the Lightning and John Mayall Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton.
     
  18. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Great thread. It brings back memories of my first CD player in 1985 -- a Toshiba (can't remember the model #). My first CD's were Changesbowie and Genesis - Invisible Touch. The Toshiba player was just recently taken out of service by my parents (they bought an integrated shelf system), but it still worked fine.
     
  19. mark alan

    mark alan Supporting Actor

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    My first cd player, 1984. Worked like a charm for 18 years (I am really getting old).
    My first cd was simon and garfunkel. Bought it for a date that evening. That also worked like a charm[​IMG]
    Boy, I miss college
    [​IMG]
     
  20. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    Keith you had the D-5? I can't think of what it actually looked like but I had Sony's first ESP model the D 515. Do you remember it? It came out in 1992 and was $599.00 CDN. A 3 second buffer and a metal chassis. The thing was heavy!! The batteries, at best, lasted 1.5 hours. The thing was brutal. It was very cool but also a lemon. Over the years it needed constant fixing. Although I don't like buying extended warranties (I dont like to pay for something to break down) I bought one for it and lets just say that was a good thing. Many trips to the repair shop.
    But it was a neat portable unit [​IMG]
     

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