The audio sets (audio, lat. to hear) will be introduced in two articles, the first dealing with the 'classics' and their striking rectangular form, from audio 1 to audio 310. The second section deals with items from cockpit 250 to audio-system P 4000.
With the introduction of the audio1 in 1962 Braun started a revolution in the hifi sector. The crucial supposition for a new product-form in a compact style of build was the state of the development in transistor technology. For the first time it allowed for high-capacity sets to be produced in small measurements and a flat structure of build. Braun developed a product form which became trendsetting for the entire hifi sector. This concept was based on the predevelopment and studies of the HfG Ulm.
The System-Idea of the HfG Ulm
From 1957 to 1959 the 'Developing Group Gugelot' of the Ulm School worked on the hifi manufacture of standardized units for Braun; a system which was also Herbert Lindingers thesis for his diploma in 1958. Its complete title was: "A manufacture of standardized units for sets with acoustic and visual storage information and transfer in living-quarters." In spring 1959, Braun was notified of the results. Consequently, realization was taken over by Braun. These innovative designs far ahead of the general development were eventually realized by Dieter Rams in 1962, with the compact set audio 1 and the tape-recorder TG 60. Hans Gugelot described this work in his discourse 'The designer in today's society' in May 1963 in Stockholm as follows:
".. a development of interest to us which I would not like to keep from you. lt is a study we did in 1958 in the field of communication sets, it was the first time we were enabled today a thorough planning-study for a company. Part of this product group are the high-frequency sets for radio reception, the telephone, the storage sets tape-player and record player, the dictaphone, this for acoustic information. Storage sets at the visual sector: the photo camera, the film camera and, as sets for reproduction, various projectors and, both visual and acoustic, television and the sound-film. The intention of this work was to undertake mass coordination, to achieve mutual viewpoints in the set-up of the items as well as the standardization of the operating elements and scales. Naturally, the materials for the casings had to be checked against each other. And it had to be checked which sets would function together and, added to this, archive systems for records, tapes, diapositives and films. What I am showing you here is one part of the result of the entire work. These are amplifying elements, high-frequency elements and elements for the storage of acoustic information. For this job we took a lot of measuring – in what height one can operate the operating moments with a vertical and in what height with a horizontal axle, either from a standing or sitting position. This deals with the grip-section. For the visual section comparable studies were made for the vertical, horizontal and tilted scales as well as for the size of the lettering in most sensible distances. We have drawn interesting conclusions in which we started from existing conventions as, for example, reading from left to right and clockwise turning with indicating mechanisms which have standing scales - i.e. mobile pointers - and mobile scales and standing pointers (index). 0ne of the most meaningful viewpoints is that an optimization is possible only in the rarest cases.
We were able to see at which point the operating elements form a group and at which point an arrangement was difficult to read. Even in the past we were conscious of the fact that one of the most important tasks in the field of design is the arrangement. We learnt that the best results are achieved by using few formal means ... ".
Braun had taken up these ideas in their full consequence and pursued them. Dieter Rams designed a complete system of standardized units which are combinable into various arrangements just as required. Unfortunatly not all sets planned were realized.
There was a close conceptional link between the audio sets and the Vitsoe wall shelf system R 260. For Vitsoe, Dieter Rams had designed this shelf system in 1960 and later, in 1962 added the audio 1 to this format-frame. Width, height and depth were identical. A special suspending metal sheet for the audio 1 and for the loudspeakers L 45, L 46 were supplied by Vitsoe as accessory. Thus, Braun and Vitsoe complemented each other in their developments. Here the system idea of the HfG Ulm was further developed in a convincing way.
The order system of the audio sets, e.g. audio 300
The graphic impression of letters and scales order, distinction and significance are demonstrated in an equal fashion, like in the design of the sets.
The rectangular shape of all sets is stressed, there are no soft edges and transitions. Only the plexiglass coverings are rounded at the edges along the length. The order in the design of the top sides is strikingly severe. All elements are integrated into a system of order and form mute reference lines. The operating elements have been arranged on one level and are easy to grip, this goes also for the tape recorder. The sound controls (noise-level, balance, heights, depths) are grouped together, the wave-length push buttons and nuance control knobs adjoined to the respective scales. Thus a 'technically precise' look is achieved, stressed by the reserved typography.
The casings made of steel-metal sheets have a white or graphite layer. The cover sheets are of eloxy aluminium, silver colored. The grey nuances of the operating knobs harmonize with the casing colors and the cover sheets. For the audio 2 and later sets discreet color-accents are set on individual buttons (on/off, VHF).
The basic measurements for the audio are width 65 cm, depth 28 cm, height 11 cm. With cover height 16 cm (audio 1) and later 17 cm. The tape recorder TG 60, the record player PS 400 (for the TS 40/45) and the loudspeaker units L 45 and L 46 collate with depth and height. The loudspeaker units L 50 and L 60 (later L 60-4, L 61) hold the width and depth of the audios. The set can be put on top.
audio 1 (TS 40)
Stereo-control set with record player PC 45
First fully transistorized mains-connect ed set for VHF, short-, long- and medium wave with large output power, sinus power 2 x 8 Watt. Audio 1 had been developed as a VHF-stereo set, the export version came with an added stereo-decoder. Until the recording of stereo-broadcasts, the model for the domestic market had an empty space for the decoder. The addition of the TD 401 is particularly simple because of pluggable connections. Thus audio 1 had been 'futurized' without any restrictions. In those days, a radio receiver for highest demands. Casing steel-metal sheet white or graphite, cover sheet eloxy aluminium. Lid of plexiglass. All operating elements are clearly arranged and of a clear formal pattern. In 1962, the magazine HiFi Stereophonie remarked about this set: "Here, a line of development is indicated which will influence the future production of sets decisively." This prognosis has come true unreservedly.
The record player is, formally limited, sunk into the upper casing side and fitted with a crystal pick-up. A semi-automatic lowering device helped to place the tone arm. Recommended loudspeaker units were the L 50 with metal rockers as standing loudspeakers, or the L 45 and L 46 for wall suspension. With its attractive back-side design, the audio can be put up freely in a room. The measurements are: width 65 cm, depth 28 cm, height 16 cm (with plexiglass lid). Price: DM 1,090.-- (addition of decoder: DM 200,--). Audio 2 was equipped with two rear-side versions. With the subsequent series the connections were at the bottom-side of the set.
audio 1 M
Stereo-control set with record player PC 45
Executed as audio 1 but with magnetic pick-up system Shure M 77 and inbuilt stereo-rectifyer-pre-amplifier (VM 1). Price: DM 1,250.--.
Equipment as with audio 1 but without record player and in white only. An exceptional feature of the TS 40 is that it can be hanged on the wall like a picture. The outward difference between the TS 40 and the TS 45 is the mains-control button. The TS 40 had a black tumbler switch, the TS 45 a green signal key. Measurements: width 48 cm, depth 28 cm, height 11 cm.
audio 2 (TC 45)
Hifi stereo-control set with record player PS 400
A fully transistorized set for VHF, short-, long and medium-wave and genuine hifi reproduction with music output 2 x 20 Watt and 2 x 12 Watt sinus output. Stereo radio reception. A green controll amp flickered on as soon as stereophonic broadcasts were received. Contrary to the audio 1, the record-player PS 400 was integrated into a full-size aluminium sheet and had a larger turntable. The upper cover of the record p!ayer was identical with the single-record player PS 400.
During production time the arrangement of the initially back sided connections (as audio 1) was changed into hidden connections at the lower side of the set (as TS 45). For the first time the connections for a compact set sunk into the bottom. (Audio-visuelle Einheit mit audio 2, TG 60 und FS 600. Audio-visual unit with audio 2, TG 60 and FS 600). The prospectus for the audio 2 is very instructive and clearly arranged with many detailed photos. It is one of the most attractive hifi prospects by Braun.
Modelied and measurements as with the audio 1 with a plexiglass lid, the set is 1 cm higher. Price: DM 1,590.--.
Equipped as audio 2 (with signalling-key as mains-switch) but without record player. The TS 45 was available in two output capacities. 2 x 20 Watt music output and 2 x 15 Watt sinus output. Like the TS 40 it could be hung on the wall. For this purpose suspension hooks were fitted, the connection bushings were sunk at the bottoms so that the plugs did not stick out. Measurements: width 40 cm, depth 28 cm, height 11 cm. Price: DM 1,145. --.
Matching the TS 45 in form and technology are the record player PS 400 and the tape recorder TG 60 as well as the loudspeakers L 450. When hanging those on the wall side by side with the TS 45 and TG 60 a technically picturesque phono frieze is achieved.
Stereo-control set with record player PS 2
The TC 20 was a variation of the audio 1, cheaper and of lower capacity. A fully transistorized set for VHF, medium- and long-wave. After the fitting of des decoder TD 20, stereo-radio broadcasts could be received in stereo. Output: 2 x 4,5 W sinus capacity. Recommended boxes: L 20 and L 25. Casing: meta! steel and plastic, light grey or graphite, cover white lacquer, to go with the graphite-colored variants. The set is of consequent style, appears light, however, and its details
(e.g. plexiglass cover fasteners) are held simple. Measurements: width 52,5 cm, depth 24,5 cm, height (including plexiglass lid) 14,5 cm. Price: DM 795.--.
Hifi-stereo control set with record player PS 410
The entire version as with audio 2, only the output data are changed into 2 x 15 Watt sinus output and 2 x 25 Watt music output as well as the type of record player. The lacquering was white or anthracite shrinking lacquer. Price: DM 1,590.--.
Hifi-stereo control set with record p!ayer PS 410
Optically, the audio 250 was almost identical with the 2/3, but the interior of the radio receiver had been changed. This could be perceived from the outside by the additional key marked 'ferrit' and the scale-imprint. The lacquering was white or anthracite shrinking lacquer. The plexiglas hood is closed at the side which reduced the set's elegance. Price: DM 1,780. --. Attractive: the new round loudspeakers L 460 matching the set.
Hifi-stereo compact set with record player PS 420
The 1969 audio 300 was a further developed version of the audio 250 as concerns output data. The set was laid out for 2 x 20 Watt sinus capacity and 2 x 30 Watt music output. Same changes had been made with design and arrangement of the operating elements. The enlarged area-power indication was placed in between the two 'tune-in' knobs and the controlling levers were given an additional function as pull-switches. The VHF key is red. The denomination 'audio 300' is printed on the upper casing side. Lacquering in white or anthracite-grey shrinking lacquer. Price: DM 1,895.--. In 1970 the magazine 'fono form' wrote about the audio 300: "For almost a decade unchanged in its exterior conception but its technology continuously improved. Audio by Braun: the VW beetle of the German hifi industry."
Stereo-compact system with record player PS 430 The audio 310 differed from the preceding model in its headphone-connection bushing underneath the station knob, its connection for two loudspeaker pairs and the changed record player. lt was the last set in the classic audio form equipment. Production up to 1973. Price: DM 1,895.--.
An accessory for the audio, the tape-recorder combinations, and the later added TV sets was the base-support system (Kangaroo-feet) Braun developed. lt was constructed according to the unit-system principle and could be set up as either a single element as well as in combination with others. Part of the system was a storage compartment for records and tapes. The brochures for the audios were styled in accordance with the design pattern of the HfG Ulm; for those days they were extraordinarily matter of fact and clear.
The audio sets got countless international awards. There wasn't a set without a title. The spectrum covered e.g. the Museum of Modern Art New York, the 'Gute Industrieform' and a gold medal on the Triennale Milan.
Hints for collectors:
Collectors will find the first set of the audio series with the standing Ioudspeaker L 50 of particular interest. Additions are the audio 2 or 250 with a special fitted record player. The stereo control TS 40/45 with its timeless, sober aesthetics is a must for every Braun collector and therefore an object very much in demand.
We would like to thank all those who supported us in the making of this article.
Fotos: Braun AG and form 49, März 1970
Staeffler, G.: The Braun audio Part 1. In: Braun+Design 12, Hamburg December-January 1988-89, 4-19