Electronics Stores in the Ron Burgundy Era

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Thursday, May 29, 2014
When I got into the audio business in 1971, that's exactly what it was -- the AUDIO business. I worked for Dick Schulze at a chain of Minnesota stereo stores that would evolve into Best Buy, but at the time was called....The Sound of Music.
I did not work at an electronics store. I worked at a stereo store. We sold receivers, turntables, speakers, open-reel tape decks and cassette decks. No VCRs. No DVD players. No TVs. No computers.
As you can see from the photos, we were pretty cool dudes. Ron Burgundy could have fit right in at Sound of Music.
But despite the now-odd-looking haircuts, we were serious about sound. I remember many long nights sitting in a listening room comparing Advent Loudspeakers with AR3as -- or with Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" speakers (each the size of a full refrigerator). We debated sound quality endlessly, and once even held a two-hour double-blind listening test with 12 judges (we were surprised when a big ElectroVoice speaker won over the big-name Massachusetts companies).
Looking back on this time, the most notable aspect of the era was the role of music and stereo systems in our culture. For many of us, our stereo systems were a more important status symbol than our cars. Parties revolved around the stereo -- and what was being played. One of my favorite party tricks was playing Emerson, Lake & Palmer's song Tank, and blowing out a match with the woofers in my Advent Loudspeakers.
Music systems were THE cool technology products of the 1970s. TV just wasn't that interesting, with maybe five or six TV channels....mostly showing bad TV shows, Mork and Mary Tyler Moore being among the exceptions. (Dick and I saw Mary Tyler Moore at the Black Angus restaurant while she was in town to film the opening scene of her TV show.) We had typewriters, not computers. And the offices at Sound of Music headquarters still had dial phones -- not those fancy "push-button" models.
Modern technology is pretty exciting. I do like my iPhone. But I love my stereo.
Maybe it's time to download Tank from iTunes and find a book of matches.

Video Killed the Radio Star. Will Pandora Kill the Radio Station?

Posted by Kate , Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A recent research study* shows that AM/FM radio is still the number one way that people discover new music. Even though streaming audio formats like Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes Radio are becoming more and more popular, the majority of people are still favoring radio, in their homes and cars. Seriously, folks? Stop it. Streaming radio is far superior to FM radio. You can listen to what you want when you want it, not just switch between presets, hoping to get lucky and ending up hearing only the last 40 seconds of a favorite song.

I recently bought a used car. It was an upgrade to my previous vehicle in all areas…except the stereo. The old car had an aftermarket car stereo with a front audio input. Every time I got in it I would connect my iPhone and listen to either my downloaded music or one of my favorite Pandora stations. The only times the radio got used was when my bratty teenager was on-board, or there was a Bruins game on. I never had to suffer through commercials or the same loop of songs over-and-over. Life was good. Or, at least, the music was.

In my new car, sadly, there is no input for my iPhone. My choices are radio or cassette (really?). Growing up in Boston, I was exposed to all sorts of great music thanks to locally-run and staffed FM stations like WBCN and WFNX. They were always playing cool and interesting songs and turning me on to new artists and bands. But today, as big conglomerates like Clear Channel Media take over the airwaves, the radio stations seem to get more similar, boring and “vanilla”every day. They all play the same assortment of songs, often in the same order, and I swear they all run commercials at the same time. Why people opt for this music format, when there are so many other options, is beyond me. The research study shows that 50% of smartphone users have downloaded Pandora and 83% of 12-24 year olds prefer Youtube for discovering new music so maybe there is hope. The connected car is already here, with more than one-quarter of cell phone owners plugging their phones into their cars. Very soon I will upgrade the stereo in my car, be able to listen to what I want, when I want it and life will once again be good. Or, at least, the music will…


ZVOX - More Than Just a TV Speaker

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Thursday, May 1, 2014

I’m the only ZVOX employee who doesn’t own a TV. But I still own and love my ZVOX.  It suits my audio needs perfectly, by being exclusively used to play music!

Let’s face it, nobody wants a compressed “boom-box” sound as their primary home audio system.
And many people cannot handle - nor do they want to deal with - the complexity, clutter, and cost of a true 5.1 surround sound setup. The ZVOX is an elegant compromise between those two categories. You have the simplicity of a boom-box, combined with a wider sound stage, and a much wider range of audio frequencies.

In my home, I have an iPOD, a laptop, and a record player all connected to the ZVOX simultaneously. The input selection prevents all the audio sources from playing at the same time. Easy to use, and highly functional - I really couldn’t be happier with the setup.

Since it’s primarily marketed toward replacing TV speakers, most folks don’t think of a ZVOX as a "computer speaker" or audio system. But when compared to most typical computer speakers on the market, one will quickly find the ZVOX is worlds better in sound quality. It exceeds aesthetically as well - the SoundBase220 looks like it practically belongs under a computer monitor.

I really encourage folks to consider connecting more than just their television to their ZVOX. Any active headphone output can be connected to the ZVOX speaker for a fantastic listening experience.

PS – Turn your TV off every once in awhile and listen to music instead!

-Matt, Audio Expert at ZVOX
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