How to Buy Vintage Stereo Equipment
There are many advantages to buying vintage components when building a home audio system. Vintage stereo equipment is often cheaper, as there is a limited market for it and most components were originally designed as budget-friendly models. Older components are also often aesthetically and structurally better than their modern counterparts; the metal and wood used in vintage stereo components generally outlast modern plastics and look better. Learning how to buy vintage stereo equipment is a matter of assessing your needs and knowing where and how to shop.
Choose your source component(s).The source component is what you actually place the music media into - a turntable, a CD player, or tape deck, for example.
- When buying a vintage turntable, look for a "manual" model; these tend to be more durable because there are fewer moving parts interacting with the tonearm. Make sure that the cartridge and drive belt have been recently replaced.
When choosing tape decks be aware they were belt drive as were CD players until more recent years that need replacing.Be sure they are still available.
- When choosing a vintage CD player, make sure to compare it carefully to modern models. Optical disc-reading technology has improved greatly since the 1980s, and many vintage CD players cannot reproduce sound as accurately as modern models.
Choose an amplifier.When selecting an amplifier for your stereo system, you have 3 options: a separate preamp and power amp, an integrated amp, or a stereo receiver (which is an integrated amp with a radio tuner). The 1970s are often considered a "golden age" for stereo receivers; receivers from this era sport the silver-faced and wood-wrapped aesthetic that has remained popular since.
- A key consideration when choosing an amplifier or receiver is the total power available. An amp's power is rated as watts per channel, with smaller amps providing around 15 to 30 watts, and larger amps providing well over 100. For home listening, low-wattage amps will generally suffice.
- Another consideration when choosing an amp is the "total harmonic distortion," or THD. This number expresses how much the amp can be expected to degrade the signal quality. The best amplifiers (most from the 1970s fit this bill) will boast a THD of less than 0.1 percent.
Choose a set of speakers.When selecting a pair of vintage speakers, a primary consideration is the size of the speaker cones. A larger woofer will be able to produce a fuller bass sound, for example. Speakers that have 3 cones (a woofer, mid, and tweeter) will generally produce a richer sound than speakers with only 2 cones. Many speakers also have power recommendations printed on the back panel - speakers can be damaged if under- or overpowered.
QuestionAre 5-year-old speakers considered antique?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. An item generally has to be at least 100 years old to be considered antique, or at least 20 years old to be considered vintage.Thanks!
QuestionI have a home stereo rack system I would like to sell. I have no idea what it's worth, or where to go. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSearch online to see what similar ones sell for, and try to post it on apps and websites where people sell used items.Thanks!
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- When buying vintage stereo components, try to purchase from reputable stores that offer a warranty on parts and labor. Many of these stores have online inventories and will ship their merchandise.
- Keep aesthetic considerations in mind. If you plan on using a CD player in your setup, know that it will not match visually with a 1970s receiver or loudspeaker, for example.
- Other ideas are to smell it near the cooling vents and shine a flashlight in there to see how dusty it is. Look for pet hair. Ask if there are any parts or accessories around. Ask if they have other components.
- Bang-for-buck factor far higher if you buy from a thrift, pawn or yard sale. Some rules of thumb are weight, wood, tubes. Heavier units tend to be well made and powerful. Wood as opposed to steel cabinets or--eek!--plastic? indicates better attention to detail and build quality but some of the finest equipment comes only encased in metal. If the unit is a tube unit as opposed to SS (solid state) buy it.
Video: Epic Estate Sale! Vintage Stereo Equipment, Analog Audio, Vintage Collectables, and More!
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