Friday, March 18, 2011

THE Transmitter

I just heard Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky". This was one of the songs that gave the RCA transmitter a real workout. You just had to hear it to believe it. I think the transmitter loved this song, if that could,be possible.

Here ya go -

Dave M


  1. Hey, Dave!

    It's entirely possible that the RCA loved that song. After all, there's this small contingent of us who are ready to swear that that transmitter was ALIVE. Probably still is, only sleeping, dreaming of Canada and Cuba.

    She liked The Doors, too, especially "Love Her Madly."

    dbt/Holiday VII

  2. Those RCA boxes loved all the great songs. Wish I was able to remember that great sound from an older perspective (I was 6 in 1971).

    I love it when I'm able to find good off-the-air recordings of AM stations in those days. KAAY was as good as it got, a fidelity that gave FM a run for its money, and I enjoy playing some of Pat's airchecks for young whippersnappers who think AM was nothing more than a noisy, narrowband junkyard.

    Just for grins, I opened "Spirit in the Sky" in Adobe Audition, saved as mono and played with the compression and filters - discarding everything below 70 Hz and above 8 kHz. Here's a clip - I doubt I truly nailed it, but I like to think I'm in the neighborhood:

    Mono hi-fi AM from a single dashtop speaker is the only way to hear these classic hits. Stereo is vastly overrated.


  3. Yup, you're right, Russell...and I actually heard an AM station at 4 AM awhile back actually transmitting rock & roll! Brought back nice memories.

    And did you ever wonder why so many musicians are going back to tube amplifiers? Ever wonder why so many Ham radio operators are refurbishing and using the old tube ham radios? WARM AUDIO, that's why! Couple that with a nice speaker or two and you got old-time analog audio, which will NEVER go out of style! Digital audio has no soul, as we mentioned before, on this blog...and may AM live forever! Bud S.


    1. Russell, that's a good ballpark on "Spirit In The Sky," though I'd recommend a high end of 9 or 10 K. Also, there was a device known as a Symmetra Peak in the KAAY audio chain. Dave Montgomery would be the most knowledgeable about this box, but I seem to remember that it acted on whichever part of a waveform that had the greater amplitude: the positive or the negative peaks. We used to hear it "flip over" every time the ABC Contemporary News Network sounder hit its final note. There were also a few voices that would make it flip.

    2. I am told that vacuum tubes generate negative ions, which are reputed to make nearby humans happy. I can unequivocally state that guitar players LOVE their tube amps--to the point where they will get rid of their cars before they will part with their amplifiers.

    3. Many classic American amps, such as Fenders, use 6L6 power tubes. From my experience, these bring about a certain "Beach Boys" or "Stevie Ray Vaughn" happiness, depending on how hard you drive 'em. But for me, the ultimate bliss is provided by EL84 tubes, as used in the legendary Vox AC30 amps, exemplified by the early Beatles, Stones, Animals, etc.

    Either the "chime" of these tubes induces Nirvana or I'm time-traveling back to the days when KAAY first brought me such tones.

    Death To Solid State,
    dbt/Holiday VII

  5. I could go with the transmitter being "alive"... Back in 2003 when we started running a little oldies show on 1090 at midnight, I played Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" and was driving up I-530 past the transmitter... It was quite possibly the most wonderful sound I have ever heard outside of singing "How Great Thou Art" on Sunday.... It was like Big Mother 1090 was finally happy again...