Real engineering is timeless .....
I often wonder when I read of gadgets and gizmos that are alleged to improve fidelity what real-world engineering actually backs up the pseudo-science. But can you blame the supplier for taking advantage of the gullible consumer daft enough to believe, for example, that a green felt pen run around the edge of a CD can improve its sound? Or that little bells placed around the room can completely beat the laws of physics and turn a reverberant room into a dry one.
I've long admired the Concorde aircraft as an example - next only to the lunar landing project - of real engineering in practice and where mistakes would have cost lives. Designed in the late 1950s through 60s during the golden years of recording and hifi and at the very same time the BBC was perfecting its monitor speaker concept (thin wall, plastic cones, complex crossovers etc.) it's hard to believe that those aircraft designers would go home to their families, their hi-fi and then worry themselves sick over this speaker cable or that interconnect. Look closely at them at work - do they look like the sort of people who would allow themselves to be misled?
Concorde was and is a miracle of collaboration between Britain and France. What is remarkable is that aside from the terrible (and avoidable) crash near Paris, Concorde transported consumers - not space-suited military jet pilots - every day thousands of miles for twenty seven years. And could be doing so today. What brought the Concorde project to an end was money, not forty year old technology. It's said that British Airways (the most market savvy operator of Concorde) accumulated more flying hours at supersonic speed than the entire world's military aircraft combined. That's a tremendous validation of the design, all the drawings of which were created in the pre-computer era with pen and ink as you'll see, and long before the computer simulator. And it all fitted together and worked exactly as intended.
Last week there was a tribute programme Concorde's Final Flight. I'd be interested to know if it's playable outside the UK.
Whatever we may think about environmentalism, elitism or whatever, the engineering of Concorde from over forty years ago is and was a truly remarkable human achievement. In that time, how far has hi-fi really developed?
Push your chair back and watch in full screen. Turn on subtitles with the little 'S' under the player window. There is a short advert introduction.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK