Living with Dolby B

W hile rescuing items from the latest radiator to cease hanging on to its water — the relatively new one in Peter's room — I found the original hand-written draft of my first-ever published hi-fi magazine article from back in 1975. I mentioned this article in my online diary here. And you'll find both a photo of the youthful author (erm, that would be me) and the opening paragraph of the article as reworked by my editor Hugh (also, at the time, my squash partner, and married to my typesetter, Yvonne, but those are entirely other stories) here.

Here's a scan of my slightly moist Xerox copy of its first page, lest it now disintegrate:


And here, for the benefit (dubious, I grant you) of posterity, is the same text more legibly reproduced:

Living with Dolby B

Like living with anything or anyone, living with Dolby B takes some getting used to. Things have settled down now, though. In fact, they're pretty quiet (about 10dB down on former levels, I'd say). It was a long time coming, though...
I can still remember that day back in October 1970; I went AWOL from the aviation industry to prowl around Olympia.
("What's Olympia, Dad?"1
"Well, son, it's named after a place where the gods used to hold large, exciting Audio Fairs, in the good ol' days.")

Anyway, it was there that the Dolby B bug struck during what was, I believe, one of its first European demonstrations in domestic cassette equipment. I had to have one! (But then, come to think of it, didn't I need some cassette equipment first?) Curse the low-paid aviation industry.
November 1971 and a (mono) Sony FM radio-recorder. No problems with hiss, not through a four inch speaker.
August 1973, what's this? A stereo Sony ditto with, quite definitely, a tentative awareness of hiss when hooked up to a decent amplifier and speakers.
Progress, as you can see, was a mite slow, so I left the world of aviation for the glamorous, exciting computer industry. Or something. Anyway, the pay was better.

So here we are in 1975. There's a Garrard 86SB record deck, a Shure M75 EJ Type 2 cartridge, a 10 watt Sony TA88 amplifier and a pair of (I think) incredible Videotone Saphir 1 speakers. But what, you may ask, about the tape side of the system? Well "Which?" (April 1974) took a look at stereo cassette decks and, once I got past the massed array of blobs I found myself left with the information that some decks didn't fully benefit from Dolby because of the design of their input circuitry.


I haven't made up my mind whether or not to reproduce the rest yet. But at least I can dry it out! Oh, why not? Click "Next" to see the rest...



1  Artistic licence here, of course. It was another five years before our son was born!