Lens on History: Hi-fi shop helped you hear the difference

December 19, 2018
Hi-Fi Sound Studio, at 115 Fourth St. SE, in 1955.

In 1955, you could go into any hardware store and buy a radio, but if you wanted a true hi-fi you needed a specialist like William Kirkwood at Hi-Fi Sound Studio.

When you walked into his shop, at 115 Fourth St. SE, you were ushered into a world of audio equipment that was designed for the faithful reproduction of sound, the very definition of “high fidelity.”

In no time, you would be talking about amplifiers and tuners, tape machines and turntables, some of which were built locally in Rochester. You could listen to woofers and tweeters in the glow of vacuum tubes, in a room lined with heavy curtains to absorb sound.

Before leaving, you would have bought the latest in mono and the new stereophonic long-playing records.

After hearing today’s MP3s through earbuds, it’s no wonder that true audiophiles long for the “Golden Age of Hi-Fi.”

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