Complete Your Garage with Vintage HiFi Looks and Sound
The “hifi wars” of the late 1960s and the entire following decade are responsible for the highest quality, best-engineered, and sweetest-sounding mass market audio gear ever sold. In an attempt to gain a foothold in the market, manufacturers like Pioneer, Sansui, Yamaha, Sony, Marantz, and literally dozens of others sold amplifiers and receivers of a quality belied by their relative affordability to more established American brands like McIntosh.
The average receiver from this period will be made nearly entirely of glass, metal, and wood, with a resultant physical and aesthetic heft unmatched by anything sold since, regardless of the price. For lovers of vintage automobiles, these classic pieces of stereo gear are reminders that cars aren’t the only things that aren’t built like they used to be. You simply haven’t experienced precision-build quality until you’ve flipped the heavy, smoothly damped action of a Pioneer SX-series toggle switch or felt the glassy momentum of a classic Marantz “gyroscopic” tuner dial slip past your thumb.
Sitting in a dark garage, your car dimly illuminated by the soft, greenish-blue glow of a glass tuner indicator dial with etched, hand-painted markings while warm, organic sound fills the space around your ears with such accuracy and dynamism that you can close your eyes and place each instrument on the “stage” before you is one of life’s greatest simple treats.
While a massive increase in the popularity of the vintage audio niche over the last five years or so has rendered true bargains nearly extinct, there are still good deals to be found at thrift stores, yard and estate sales, and even on Craigslist from time-to-time, and the hunt is a huge part of the fun. While it’s difficult to go wrong with a nice vintage amp or receiver, it’s important to know where to start with speakers, turntables, and all the other analog goodies that go along with the hobby, and for that we recommend introducing yourself to the friendly, knowledgeable community at Audiokarma or similarly vintage-themed forums.
It all comes down to this—great cars deserve a great garage, a place that’s not complete without good tunes to motivate us through yet another sweaty, greasy, knuckle-busting wrenching session. Everything’s more fun with a good soundtrack, right?
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