Back when it was simple

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One of the first cars I ever owned was a ’55 Chevy with a 265-cubic-inch 8 cylinder engine, carburetor for gas and air, and distributor for the spark. It was a simple design, one even I could work on with a minimal number of tools. I look under the hood of my car today and other than where I put in the washer fluid, everything is a mystery.

One of the first things I did to that car was loosen the distributor and turn it so the spark was advanced. This had the impact of ‘hot rodding’ the vehicle and, if advanced far enough, caused the car to ‘lope’ as if it had a much more powerful motor than it did.

I think of that car in the same way I think of the first high-end preamp I owned, an Audio Research SP3, purchased in 1975 for $400. Inside this analog beauty where two circuit boards, discrete resistors and capacitors, eight vacuum tubes, Alan Bradley pots, CTS switches, connectors and whatnot. Easy to work on, hot rod, whatever you wished to do. Much like that old Chevy of mine.

Open the modern-day BHK preamp we make and there’s the same sort of components: vacuum tubes, PC boards, discrete resistors and capacitors. But that’s where the similarity ends. What’s missing are all the analog pots and switches, which went away when we introduced remote controls.

Tomorrow, the shift towards remote control.