H.H. SCOTT WAS FOUNDED in 1947 by Hermon Hosmer
Scott. The prefix H.H. was to differentiate his fledgling company from E. H.
Scott Radio Company of Chicago, makers of "The Rolls Royce" of AM radios.
Although H.H. is different from E.H., they are similar enough to make one wonder it
perhaps Scott, always the shrewd businessman, hoped that some of E.H. Scotts
reputation for quality might, by association, rub off.
H.H. Scott's first product was the Dynaural Noise
Suppressor. This product, aimed primarily at the professional broadcast market, made it
possible, for the first time, to play records over the radio. Prior to its introduction,
78 rpm records were considered too full of pops and ticks to warrant airplay. Scott's
first product, while a technical step forward, changed the face of American radio
in a way
that, in retrospect, cannot be considered positive. Overnight, all those wonderful live
programs were replaced with recorded music. Chalk up another victory for technology over
live music. Scott continued making a Dynaural Noise Suppressor through 1956, when the
model 114A was finally discontinued. (editor's
note: DNS was featured on such high-end Scott Types such as the: 121-C, 122,
272, and 296, well into the sixties. In fact, twenty-five years after Scott
introduced DNS, SAE, introduced a conceptually similar processor in the
mid-seventies called the SAE 5000 Impulse Noise Reduction System.)
When the Dynaural Noise Suppressor was first
introduced, Scott licensed the device to several companies for inclusion in their
products, among them, the Fisher Radio Company (editor's
note: oddly enough H.H. Scott, first licensed its DNS circuit design to the prestigious
E.H. Scott, in the late forties.)
This alliance was short-lived, as Scott
soon began to market its own Amplifiers and Control Centers, utilizing its Dynaural Noise
Suppressor circuitry. From the beginning, Fisher saw Scott as trouble, and the two
companies were competitors through the mid-Sixties. Even today when people think of Scott,
they also think of Fisher. These two companies became the Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum of
From the very start, Scott used a model numbering
system that was rococo in its complexity. Scotts use of letters to differentiate
up-dated versions of products is still employed by many contemporary High End
manufacturers, and still wreaks havoc or hapless consumers. Like most overly complex
systems, Scotts model numbering system was designed to be simple. The system was set
up as follows:
100 - Preamps and control
200 - Power amplifiers and integrated amps
300 - RF devices like tuners
400 - Sound measuring devices
700 - Pro sound products
800 - Acoustic measuring devices
THE SYSTEM worked rather well until 1952 when the model
integrated amplifier was released. This unit was the first to mount tubes horizontally,
pioneering "slim-line" styling that is common in current audio components. The
marketing folks at Scott felt that since their product was priced at "only" $99,
what better way to get their point across than call the unit model 99? It should have been
christened the 299 to adhere to the system, and in 1960 Scott did introduce a model 299
integrated amp. The model 99 went through several incarnations and remained in the Scott
tine well into the stereo era. The model 99-D was finally dropped from the product line in
the September 1964 price list.
Although Scott's first product, the Dynaural Noise Suppressor,
was important as the Dolby or dbx of its day, Scotts primary contribution to Audio
was its FM tuners. If there is a single antique Scott product worth owning in 1987, it is
one of the tuners. While no one person is ever responsible for a major new technology,
Daniel von Recklinghausen, Scott's chief engineer, was certainly a major force in the
development and popularization of FM radio. Recklinghausen, unlike his contemporaries,
still has designs that are in the forefront of current state-of-the-art audio technology.
The EMlT tweeter, which can be found in some of the finest systems in the world (including
the one at Sea Cliff), was designed by Recklinghausen. KLH first marketed it as the DVR
tweeter (you are all such quick studies that I need not tell you what DVR stands for).
Recklinghausen was, and is, a rare breed of audio engineer --
one who uses his ears and has an open mind. A quote from a Boston Audio Society meeting
best illustrates his philosophy: "If it measures good and sounds bad, -- it is bad.
If it sounds good and measures bad, -- you've measured the wrong thing." Listening
was an integral part of the design process at Scott. The Audio Hall of Fame article on H.
H. Scott contains the story that once Scott came to work one morning with a black eye, the
result of a scuffle with an angry neighbor who objected to Scott's night-time
listening and testing sessions. This is the kind of dedication to sound quality that is
only found today among High End manufacturers. At Scott the sound of music was the
An article in the December 1954 issue of Radio and Television
News co-written by Recklinghausen, Casey, and Pomper introduced the public to the
first commercial wide-band FM-only tuner, the 310A. Scott was so confident of its lead in
the market that the article even included a schematic of the new unit. This six-month lead
in FM technology continued through the multiplex stereo era. Not only did Scott bring to
market the first FM multiplex adapter and the first FM multiplex tuner, but it designed
and built the first multiplex broadcasting and test equipment.
Scott took some very calculated risks in the development of the
FM multiplex adapter. No one knew which of four systems tested would be accepted by the
FCC as the standard, so Recklinghausen and his staff had to design multiplex adapters for
each of the four systems, utilizing as many of the same parts in each design as possible.
On April 19, 1961, when the FCC finally announced the new multiplex standard, Scott was
ready with enough parts and materials in stock to immediately manufacture 1000 multiplex
adapters and begin shipping them to radio stations across the country.
During Scotts first 15 years, from 1947 to 1962, it was
more of a High End manufacturer than a mid-fi , or consumer electronics company. Products
were added not because it was a new year and marketing demanded new products, but when
sufficiently substantial improvements were made in a design to warrant a new product.
During the Sixties, the definition of "substantial improvement" became
increasingly abused as marketing became more influential in decision-making. In the early
days, Scott products were not cheap. In 1956 its Model 280 -- an 80-watt mono power amp --
sold for $199.95; its 310-B tuner for $159.95. In 1987 dollars, the 280 would cost $860,
the 310-B about $690.
Scott remained independent until 1973, when it was sold to its
European distributor, Electro Audio Dynamics. This began the final chapter in a gradual
decline that began in the mid-1960s. The transistor age, and the entry of foreign products
into the American audio marketplace, was the beginning of the end for Scott, Fisher, and
most of the American manufacturers. Rather than aim for the smaller up-scale market, as
McIntosh did, Scott tried to beat the Japanese at their own game. Scott lost.
While its early products are important and much sought after by
collectors, "The Antique Collector" will concentrate on components made between
1956 and 1964. 1956 on the bottom side because most electronics that are more than 30
years old need substantial restoration and modification for reliable everyday use, and
earlier pieces are priced to reflect their rarity and collect ability rather than their
sonic virtues. After 1964, Scott products took a nose-dive in quality and sonic
Editor's Note: This text first appeared in TAS, Volume 12, Issue 50, pg. 83-85, The
(Golden Age) Antique Collector: part 1. Reprinted with the permission of the Editor-in-Chief of The Absolute Sound, the (only) High End
journal about music and sound.