Altec Lansing - Fidelity so good, you won't notice your bones.

Believe it or not, there was a time when spending more money on your audio system bought you better fidelity, not just more massive bass at the expense of all other concerns. This 1957 ad from Altec Lansing shows us a woman so enraptured with the music she's hearing that she doesn't mind the ridiculous pose that the art director has asked her to contort herself into.

My smartyphone has a "feature" that I can't hide or disable completely. It's "Beats Audio" by a famous hip-hopper who wants us to call him "Dr. Dre". "Beats" is basically some shielding for the audio components in the phone, coupled with a one-button equalizer that cranks up the bass,  tailored for certain kinds of music. If your phone was designed right in the first place, you shouldn't be hearing any buzzing or hum in the phone jack anyway. So, it's pretty much a non-adjustible EQ for people who don't know what an equalizer is, don't know how to use one, and don't want to know. Heroically, Mr. Dre has decided what equalization setting all people should like, patented it, and marketed it. If you like jazz or classical or anything other than hip hop, fuck you.

Sure, you can turn off the Beats feature, but any time you start playing any audio, the grayed-out Beats icon appears in the notification bar, letting you know that your beats feature is disabled, just in case you come to your senses and want to turn it back on. Thanks, "doctor".

The demand for such a feature stems from the fact that an entire generation of kids have grown up listening to super-compressed music played on horrible computer speakers or in clapped-out Hondas with subwoofers that rattle the trunk lid. Fidelity is a closed book. Preferably, fidelity is also a burned and buried book. You can no longer go into a store and listen to a pair of headphones before you buy them. When I asked one sales drone if I could try out a particular pair, he looked at me like I asked him for a moist hug. I went to a store that grudgingly let me open the box and gingerly place the ear cups on my head, with tissues protecting the earpads, predicated on the fact that I would buy them if I liked the way they sounded. I really enjoy being made to feel like a jerk for wanting to sample the basic functionality of a product before committing to buying it. I guess there are also some people who buy a car after just looking at it, but I tend to drive one before I decide to take it home... especially in a marketplace crowded with so many wretched cars and garbage headphones.

This Altec Lansing ad comes from a time when words like "clarity" and "transparency" could draw customers to your brand. Good times. Apparently also at this time, or at least in the fantasy world of advertising, if your stereo was good enough, it could make a hot woman in a black cocktail dress do that with her spine. What the hell is wrong with her skeleton?

I know she's supposed to look rhapsodic, but it looks painful. Look at her feet, her spine, and her right arm. These otherwise crippling injuries have been totally mitigated by quality audio.  She's positively noodley with pleasure. Man, that must be some sound system. It better be, for $1600, which is about $12000 in modern money. Holy hell.

Note to self: have an intern trademark "noodley with pleasure". I may start my own brand of cigarette... or equalization. Unlike beats, my equalization technology will have settings for many types of music, not just one. Turn it to "hip hop", and the unit switches off. I figure that market segment is already being well-serviced.


Tim said...

Amen, Sir. "Beats" audio is nothing more than a bass hump with extraordinary marketing muscle.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Thanks for the backup, Tim. Criticizing The Doctor can be dangerous.


Post a Comment