A few days ago I had the honor of being contacted by a gentleman who happens to be a VP of merchandizing from Philips. As many of yo know, Philips is one of the top electronics manufacturers in the world, and a co-inventor of the audio CD. They also happen to own the Magnavox label. This gentleman, Mr. James Murphy, started back when Magnavox was still Magnavox. He gave me a brief but very interesting history of some of their product line. Here is his email:
Hello Gabe! I read with fascination, your write-up about the high
quality of your 1961 Magnavox tube amp. I hardly know where to begin,
but I am a hopelessly "dyed in the wool" Magnavox "nut". So much
so, that I sold their hi-fi and color television in high school and college
at retail. The fascination started with my father's 1953 Magnavox
- which he bought new when he married my mom. I bought my first Magnavox
in 1967. I chased Magnavox after graduation in 1976 until they hired
me (1979) as a regional manager in Boise, Idaho. Today, I'm the VP
of Merchandising for Philips - and of course Magnavox bears no resemblance
to what it once was. No matter - I simply set
about collecting their finest equipment from each decade (all the way back to 1911). Are you aware of their 100 watt stereo Concert Grand wireless RF remote control hi-fi console (50 watt per channel music power) with bi-amplified tube mono-blocks (one for each channel w/separate bass and treble amplification - hence no crossover networks or intermodulation distortion)! Wow - if you like the little 15 watter - I think you'd really be impressed with the Concert Grand. It sold for $1250 in 1959 through 1961 (no TV either...all audio). I have one - plus about 35 other console units - including the solid-state Imperials with acoustical tunnels, two (7.5 lb. combined magnet weight) 15" woofers and four 600 cycle (crossover point for the solid state units) exponential horns.
The reason for the "strangeness" of the 1961 amp's frequency roll-offs
is exactly as you predicted. Frank Freimann was the Company's resident
- and a music fanatic. He insisted that the frequency response of
the individual components (i.e. amplifier, cartrdge, speakers) would NEVER
be "flat"...so he had adjustments made to give the best OVERALL performance
with all components working together. In this manner - he achieved
better sound for the dollar invested than any other manufacturer could
achieve (if the bass speakers de-emphasized a frequency - the amplifier
or phono cartridge could often be easily designed as an offset).
For awhile, they even coined a term for this approach: "I.D" for
Integrated Design (discussed in their literature at the time). This is
why their equipment often sounded better than separates "thrown together"
from differing manufacturers (which often DID not complement each other
sonically). Their console products could usually outperform component rigs
costing the same, or more - and in fact, Freimann even ADVERTISED this
claim with a money-back guarantee in TIME magazine in the 1950s!
Through the late 1950s and most of the 1960s - Magnavox was the world's
largest selling hi-fi brand. Their approach to hi-fi was CONSISTENTLY much
more sophisticated than their television competitiion (e.g. RCA,
Zenith, etc.) - and often as sophisticated (in its own way) as the "accepted" component hi-fi brands of the time (e.g. Scott, Fisher, etc.).
Their one contorversial "hold-out" was the persistent - and sole - utilization of ceramic phono cartrdges until 1972.
Thank you so much Mr. Murphy for this information. It sure helps to understand how "The Magnificent" came about.
Back to EZIndex