Is Antiquated Technology Better?


I stared at the floor. A tangled mess of copper, polymer and Kevlar sheathing lay in front of me. HDMI, fiber-optics, low-impedance alloys, RCA-this, coaxial-that, plugs, terminals, banana-clips, gold-plating, composite audio and blinking blue lights. I tore the monster apart. I toted the crappy Bose 301’s to the basement (I never liked those speakers) and crammed no less than 500 feet of wire into a Rubbermaid tote.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it makes no sense to watch White Zombie in 5.1 HD multi-channeled sound. Bela, Boris and Peter belong channeled through a horn and probably sound terrific in stereo or mono via good old Klipsch’s (when they were wood, not MDF joined with a glue gun). I do like Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress (1958) in the original Perspectra 3-channel sound (Criterion disc). I used a sub-woofer and 2 satellite speakers. I just never got into the home theater obsession with THX and Dolby and DTS yada yada Yoda.

I plugged a single HDMI out from my cheapo Sony Blu-ray into my modest 2002 HD CRT 34″ Toshiba. I removed the Apple TV. I am done with Netflix. I unplugged the cable. I’ve come to the realization that television is crap. If I want to watch TV I’ll pop in a disc of Palladin. Richard Boone sounds fine in mono.

On the stereo side, I dug out my 1989 B&W 200’s, attached them by way of Detroit-based Analysis-Plus cables (well-made) to an 8ohm/8w K12G tube amplifier I built with love and care using all silver solder. As a phono stage I used a Bellari VP130 amp. I swapped out the tube for a JJ Electronics 12AXL. I have no idea if this was an improvement. I pulled out an LP of Mason Williams’ Classical Gas and all was bliss.

I’m the same way about cameras. Give me a film, a manual rangefinder and a Leitz 35mm f3.5 Summaron over a 3 pound 40mp SLR any day.

We’re moving too fast. Better upgrade to the iPhone 5s. It is faster. Takes better pictures. So much lighter. How did we ever survive without smart phones? I’m a techie, but I’m slowing down and have decided to appreciate the vintage things in life. I love my Osterizer blender with two speeds: on and off. Do we really need blenders that will make frozen Daiquiris? Yes, I am taking a break from technology and the never-ending pursuit of improving old things…

That is, after the HD Synapse Blu-ray of Manos: The Hands of Fate comes out!

7 Responses to “Is Antiquated Technology Better?”

  1. I totally agree with you. To a point. Not all television is crap. Most of it is, that’s why I use a dvr for 80% of my TV viewing. There is a place for 5.1, I don’t really see a point to 7 or 9.1, especially in the modest size of most home listening environments. For audio, nothing compares to putting a vinyl record on the turntable, fucking with all of the cleaners, anti-stat guns, platter weights, etc. and finally hearing that stylus contact the groove, sending your room into analog bliss. Last night I listened to “Physical Graffiti”, “Changes One”, Nine Tonight” sides 1&4 (in an odd packaging twist that I forgot about, Seger decided that side 4 should be on the flip side of 1, unless I have a seriously rare misprint, and therefore will never listen to it again) and “Life and Times” Jim Croce. I also winced every time my wife asked me to turn it down. But you know what, it still sounded stellar. Pop, hiss, bliss.

  2. Ha, ha. You know I was just talking about something like this with a friend the other day – when we watch these old films in HD – now you can see the wires, that the background is a mat painting, you can see shadows that you never knew were there, you can see the zippers on the creature costumes… I am not buying Blu-Rays of these old movies, I’ll stick with my dvds – it kind of ruins the illusion.

  3. And we don’t even have to mention about CD quality vs Lp or tape šŸ™‚ I think it is well documented. But the digitalizing of music cuts the range of sound waves down to a smaller slice compared to the hearing capablilities of the human ear.

  4. Perry Armstrong Says:

    My wife’s much less a watcher of shows than I am (before we met she didn’t even own a television), and occasionally suggests buying a much larger HDTV for my viewing benefit. Like Parlor’s comment about watching old movies on Blu-Ray, I somehow doubt this would enhance my viewing experience of, say, William Hartnell era Doctor Who episodes shot in 405-line resolution šŸ˜‰

    • Concur. I just watched Apocalypse Now Redux and that film looks incredible on blu-ray. So does The Bridge on the River Kwai. Actually I didn’t see a huge upgrade on the Universal horrors on blu-ray. The spectacle films do look great on modern systems.

      From Barry’s iPhone

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