The Historical Soundscape of Monophonic Hi–Fidelity

Dineen, Murray

An article in High Fidelity magazine, entitled “Listening is Believing?” and dated July/August 1953, sets forth the contemporary limits of sound reproduction in the inimitable style of advertisement copy: “Technical electronics can go only so far. The rest of the job must be done by the imaginative mind of the listener. That’s not a platitude; it’s a technical specification” (Campbell 1953, 28).
The connection drawn between imagination and sound reproduction, that the imagination can be an aspect of “technical electronics,” is meant to salve the “imaginative mind of the listener.” In doing so, however, it betrays an anxiety: the relationship has gotten out of balance, with human imagination falling short in the face of advances in “technical electronics.” The author, John Campbell, puts a firm boundary around the latter: it “can go only so far” (Campbell 1953, 28). But in this arrangement, human imagination is a supplement, an accessory to technology, not vice versa.


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January 27, 2017