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 Post subject: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 8:34 am 
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I have been working to collect some home audio equipment to enjoy at my house. Ebay and craigslist are covered with "vintage" equipment. I know a lot of people will say that its better, but i cant bring myself to believe it. Why would companies like JBL make better equipment 20+ years ago despite all the advancements in technology? Am i missing out on something? or is it really just a bunch of old junk?


Last edited by DevonBirch on Mar Mon 29, 2021 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 1:52 pm 
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I don't know that so called vintage equipment is necessarily better or not, but to me the term vintage equipment means something with vacuum tubes. Tube amplifiers sometimes sound better than solid state, but that is all subject to the individual listener. I like the sound of tube amplifiers more than solid state, as that is what I grew up with. I also think that sellers on EBAY, Craigslist, Face Book market place etc. figure that saying a piece of equipment is vintage will command a bigger price. I also do not believe that most audio equipment produced in the 80's or 90's should be considered vintage. Companies such as Mc Intosh have always produced great audio equipment along with Fisher, Radio Craftsmen, Harmon Kardon and Pilot etc. in the 50's and 60's. Keep in mind that most tube equipment will have to be rebuilt in order to operate correctly. Don't rule out units from some of the Japanese companies as they built good sounding equipment too. Harry


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 1:59 pm 
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Joined: Jul Sun 21, 2019 3:32 pm
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Location: Upstate NY by the big lake!
As a "boomer", I grew up with the audio war receivers of the 70's. You could buy very good spec audio at consumer prices depending on your wallet and taste. Companies were putting the best Engineering and equipment into their products to lay claim to be the BEST!

By the 80's companies were more interested in mass producing cheaper products , and started putting specialized components in the units that weren't easily repairable. Once the product line changed, the components dried up.

Whether the sound isn't as good, I'm no expert. But I just revived a '74 Kenwood, and to my ears, the sound is deeper and much richer than what I have heard with newer stuff. Todays stuff sounds "tinny" to my ears, buy then I may not be comparing apples to apples.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 2:04 pm 
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DevonBirch wrote:
Why would companies like JBL make better equipment 20+ years ago?


First of all, how anything "sounds" depends on so many factors that no two people are always going to have exactly the same opinion of the sound quality. That is the same for tubes or SS.

Second, the terms "vintage" and "antique" have nothing, nada, zippo to do with "quality", sound or otherwise. There is top quality equipment being made today just like there was in years past. All you have to do is ante up and pay for it.

This forum is not the "quality radio forum". It's the "antique radio forum", so the people here will generally (with some exceptions) be biased in favour of antique (vintage) equipment rather than modern, and tend to be forgiving about the sound quality.

Forget definitions. Buy what you enjoy listening to and what you enjoy looking at.


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 2:20 pm 
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Many people, like myself, prefer vintage equipment over the latest, black plastic-faced, wiz-bang, multichannel, surround-sound stuff. I know "vintage" might not be better from a technical standpoint but I just like it better. Probably nostalgia has a lot to do with it but my vintage equipment sounds really good.

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 3:42 pm 
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Location: Minneapolis, MN USA
You can find quality in both vintage and modern audio gear. However I believe it is easier to find good looking gear when it is vintage vs modern. I prefer a smooth tuning flywheel slide rule display over a pushbutton digital display. Which of these would you rather look at and interact with ?


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 4:01 pm 
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Location: 13 Critchley Avenue, PO Box 36, Monteith Ont, P0K 1P0
Dale Saukerson wrote:
Which of these would you rather look at and interact with ?


It depends where your interests lie? If you are here as a person who enjoys vantage gear, then it's likely you would rather look at the vintage gear .... no question.

That said, some of the upper end modern gear looks pretty good too. What you are able to choose from when you buy will depend on whether you're shopping at BestBuy or one of the boutique builders, and how many $K you have to spend.

The quality however .... has nothing to do with age.

And, I'd guess that, given the average age here, there are few of us on this forum (with a few exceptions) who are able to hear the difference anyway. We can see it in the construction, but it's audio, so seeing it doesn't really help ....


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 4:44 pm 
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Joined: Jul Sun 21, 2019 3:32 pm
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Location: Upstate NY by the big lake!
Something else to consider... a lot of the equipment from the late 70's and into the 90's have components that are made from unobtainium today. A professional or VERY skilled amateur repair person can sometimes design and build some of those parts.

I generally don't buy stuff I cannot fix when it fails.

When I find something I'd like to attempt to repair, I first research the dickens out of it to see if the parts are still available. Then I read everything available so I don't repeat others errors when repairing it.

YMMV
Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Sun 28, 2021 6:27 pm 
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To add from what has been previously mentioned. I have been in the audio industry for over 40 years, though the good and bad as they say. Excluding the high end audio sector which was about 5% of the total market, I think the equipment from the late 60's to the late 70's was the best made. The manufactures were in a war on who could build the best stuff, highest performing gear. In the later years it was who could build for the cheapest price. The audio industry then became a numbers driven beast with the box stores. There is some nice high end components still made, but not for the average joe.


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Mon 29, 2021 5:49 am 
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Location: Montreal, Quebec
There was a time when people spent good money on sound systems. They had great specs, and often produced a lot of power.

More recently, people want things small, so the common stuff is not extraordinary.

Hence some people might want a good am/fm receiver or tuner, a good amplifier, large speakers, and a good turntable. That really comes from a certain period of time. It's not age, but quality and specs.

But it is overused by sellers, I suspect because they are buying cheap just because it's old, and putting a price on it because they think they can. "Vintage" helps to sell, or so they think.

But a lot of the local craig's list stuff is junk. All in ones (turntable and 8track included) from generic house brands, sold for higher prices and sold as "vintage". Some of it takes a long time to sell. People bought it forty or fifty years ago because it sold at the local department store, and was affordable.

About ten years ago I was buying portable CD players at garage sales for a few dollars each. Nobody wanted them, MP3 players were the thing. But jow they are "vintage" and selling for $30, or trying to sell.


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Mon 29, 2021 8:42 am 
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DevonBirch wrote:
Why would companies like JBL make better equipment 20+ years ago despite all the advancements in technology? Am i missing out on something? or is it really just a bunch of old junk?

IDK if the audio quality of currently produced equipment is any better or worse than that manufactured 50 years ago, but I do know that it's difficult to find equipment made in the U.S. or Japan in the current marketplace.

Frankly I have low regard for the Chinese made electronics swarming the current vendors of such (Amazon, Best Buy, etc.) strictly produced to meet a price point.

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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Mon 29, 2021 5:04 pm 
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To echo what many have already mentioned here, I feel that there as been little sonic improvement between amplifiers/receivers made between the 1970s and today. The difference I do notice is the cosmetics, I much prefer the brushed aluminum face with real knobs and switches and analog tuning. I would say the same is true of turntables, by the 70s there were several high-quality light tracking turntables available, and they looked nice too! One place where I see more advances in performance is in speakers, but even then I find vintages ones often sounds great. For me, I think of my old tube stuff as “vintage”, and anything built in the 70s or later as “modern”, and I usually end up choosing something made in the 70s because I prefer the look and feel over newer stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Mon 29, 2021 6:50 pm 
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Location: Great Bend KS
I'd like to add my two cents worth! The newer stuff with the dozens of hdmi jacks on the back are just about impossible to fix when it's out of warranty. Very few service techs will look at the later video/audio receivers but the "vintage" equipment made in the 70's are generally easy to repair. Deoxit and a couple handfulls of capacitors are usually all they need. Oh, and bulbs!


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Mon 29, 2021 9:15 pm 
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classicelectronicsguy wrote:
To echo what many have already mentioned here, I feel that there as been little sonic improvement between amplifiers/receivers made between the 1970s and today. The difference I do notice is the cosmetics, I much prefer the brushed aluminum face with real knobs and switches and analog tuning. I would say the same is true of turntables, by the 70s there were several high-quality light tracking turntables available, and they looked nice too! One place where I see more advances in performance is in speakers, but even then I find vintages ones often sounds great. For me, I think of my old tube stuff as “vintage”, and anything built in the 70s or later as “modern”, and I usually end up choosing something made in the 70s because I prefer the look and feel over newer stuff.


You are right, if you look at consumer-level equipment from major manufacturers. The performance is about the same (and the specs look dazzling - driving a specially-made non-inductive 8 ohm resistor). The difference is in the "features" either in controlling sources that didn't exist before (like bluetooth), or quasi-multi-channel output like 5.1 or 7.1 which creates a synthetic feeling of 3D.

If you are talking hi-fi systems, that branched off from the Pioneer/Yamaha consumer equipment long ago. Most of what has happened since is Aduiophile nonsense, but genuine progress has continued, too. Several important advances in tube equipment were discovered in the 80's, hybrid systems were introduced, and extremly high-quality ICs were created. Finding and sorting out the BS from the important information is a nightmare, magic components are everywhere.

Brett


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Mon 29, 2021 9:34 pm 
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SteveT wrote:
The newer stuff with the dozens of hdmi jacks on the back are just about impossible to fix when it's out of warranty. Very few service techs will look at the later

We've discussed this aspect before;

Chinese factories are contracted to produce audio or video equipment at a price point, and often use house numbered IC's. The goods are shipped in a container, and good luck trying to locate a parts list, schematic diagram, or any service information. They are not made nor meant to be repaired.

If they fail within the warranty period, the vendor will simply send a replacement. The days of taking it or sending it to an authorized dealer for repair are long gone, and so are those shops.

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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Mon 29, 2021 9:48 pm 
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fifties wrote:
SteveT wrote:
The newer stuff with the dozens of hdmi jacks on the back are just about impossible to fix when it's out of warranty. Very few service techs will look at the later

We've discussed this aspect before;

Chinese factories are contracted to produce audio or video equipment at a price point, and often use house numbered IC's. The goods are shipped in a container, and good luck trying to locate a parts list, schematic diagram, or any service information. They are not made nor meant to be repaired.

If they fail within the warranty period, the vendor will simply send a replacement. The days of taking it or sending it to an authorized dealer for repair are long gone, and so are those shops.


Exactly.

And we have also discussed that this phenomenon can be blamed on .... us. We, as consumers (in a majority sense, discounting the very few who think differently) want to pay less. We like our lifestyle and as long as we can keep getting our "fix" of "new", we're happy.

If we wanted to, or if there was legislation to require it, the technology that we buy could be serviceable, could be longer lasting, could be produced in a more environmentally friendly fashion and we would be able as consumers to access service data and repair parts. That costs money and takes personal and political will. Good luck with getting that agenda moved forward.

Some of the "obtain service data and parts" is already happening elsewhere in the world, notably the E.U., where the "right to repair" has enabled individuals to start working on their own stuff again without getting stuck by proprietary parts/systems/designs etc. It's not far along, but it's a start.


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Tue 30, 2021 12:11 am 
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John Bartley wrote:
And we have also discussed that this phenomenon can be blamed on .... us. We, as consumers (in a majority sense, discounting the very few who think differently) want to pay less. We like our lifestyle and as long as we can keep getting our "fix" of "new", we're happy.

If we wanted to, or if there was legislation to require it, the technology that we buy could be serviceable, could be longer lasting, could be produced in a more environmentally friendly fashion and we would be able as consumers to access service data and repair parts. That costs money and takes personal and political will. Good luck with getting that agenda moved forward.

Some of the "obtain service data and parts" is already happening elsewhere in the world, notably the E.U., where the "right to repair" has enabled individuals to start working on their own stuff again without getting stuck by proprietary parts/systems/designs etc. It's not far along, but it's a start.


People, (in general) do not want to repair anything, and want the latest features. These guys are serving their market. "Right to Repair" is nto the same as "able to be repaired" or that very many people will ever care about it or repair anything. I think it is reasonable to not try to prevent repair by use of copyright law to make repairing it "proprietary", but that's a far cry from requiring the manufacturers to supply all the necessary information or make it easy to repair. Build a cell phone that can be "repaired" by the average consumer would create a huge, clunky, expensive, and unsellable phone.

John Deere attempting to haul people into court for reverse-engineering their system and then changing it is one thing - giving you a full software listing including the machine code (for patching) is something else entirely.

And, if is says "EU" on it, you can rest assured that this the EU trying to apply a "Stealth tax" on the manufacturer, it is their alternative to making money with their own ideas. or showing up at the steps of the US Treasury with a tin cup....

Brett


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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Tue 30, 2021 2:20 am 
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I too felt revulsion at the appearance of cheap stereo gear when they went to black plastic from brushed aluminum. My current audio gear is over ten years old but has thick satin finished front panels and metallic silver paint on the rest. And it was manufactured in China in a plant controlled from UK with UK designs Having had the stuff open for service recently, the quality of construction inside is superior to the 70s Japanese stuff, I would judge. They even addressed the cosmetics on alot of the internal assemblies. But as compensation, my speakers are US made, my turntable is early 80s Japanese, and my current cartridge is NOS mid 70s US and sounds wonderful.

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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Wed 31, 2021 1:39 am 
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a lot of the older equipment is still respectable with respectable specs. today much is not made to those standards, unless high dollar. yes I do have a newer 7.2 onkyo receiver for home theater, but you run that same sound through my old technics sa-800 through my CW speakers will shake the paint lose. you have to pick and chose what you are referencing, just depends

I would like to hear some high end tube amps, never heard any

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 Post subject: Re: Can somebody explain "vintage" audio equipment
PostPosted: Mar Wed 31, 2021 5:10 am 
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ttx450cap wrote:
I would like to hear some high end tube amps, never heard any


If the SA-800 or other japanese late 70's/early 80's transistor amps are your reference system, I think you would be extremely impressed with even the humble Dynaco ST-120 (as long as you can find one that hasn't burned up yet!) or more practically, a Dynaco ST-150 - which is an ST-120 with all the horrible mistakes fixed. Really good performing tube amps are exceptionally rare, most serve the goal of showing your buddies you have TUBE AMP, rather than being some super-performers.

The best tube amp I have ever heard or measured is an AVA Ultimate 70 modification of the ST-70, and while it is extremely good overall (and WORLDS better than the bloopy old stock ST-70), it has clear limitations in the low end compared to the MOSFET or bi-polar hi-fi amps. Most of the time, it sounds fine, but certain pieces of music (like any organ music) and the low end just turns into mud. And no matter how you cut it 35 or so watts per channel is the sweet spot, the only way you can get more power without losing frequency response is to bridge them. It's almost trivial to get arbitrary power/current drive with negligible side effects using transistors, the only real limitation being household wiring.

Even a stock ST-150 has no problem even at 25 Hz. Play it back-to-back with the generic "silver age" transistor amp and while it undeniably has more distortion and less stable frequency response, the dynamics will *blow you out of the water* by comparison.

If you get a chance, the best current systems are hybrids with tube front ends/gain stages, and MOS-FET output/current stages.

Brett


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