Gear: Complete Your Garage with Vintage HiFi Looks and Sound

Complete Your Garage with Vintage HiFi Looks and Sound

By Petrolicious Productions
July 25, 2013
18 comments

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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Click the folowing links for more details on the above items for sale: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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Suresh Khana
Suresh Khana
2 years ago

Much more interesting than the bland, all black (mostly) no-character fall-in-line receivers of today. The glow from their lamps, the hypnotic twitching of the needles… I spent many a night listening to some great music on receivers like these.

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hiloch
hiloch
4 years ago

Before Going to the trip I set my list on music paradise app in Mobiles, so when I open the same app on music player which I had on My car I can listen to them easily. https://musicparadisedownloads.com/ confirmed that it is legal to download songs and play music.Making a trip without songs like preparing sweet items without sugar

hiloch
hiloch
4 years ago

Before Going to the trip I set my list on music paradise app in Mobiles, so when I open the same app on music player which I had on My car I can listen to them easily. https://musicparadownloads.com/ confirmed that it is legal to download songs and play music .Making a trip without songs like preparing sweet items without sugar

Ray Beltran
Ray Beltran
8 years ago

Aesthetically much more interesting than the bland, all black (mostly) no-character fall-in-line receivers of today. The glow from their lamps, the hypnotic twitching of the needles… I spent many a night listening to some great music on receivers like these. Sometimes I even had a lady friend with me… the romantic glow provided just enough light…

Francesco Bonaccorso
Francesco Bonaccorso
8 years ago

everything you want. but VALVESTATE!

George Cummings
George Cummings
8 years ago

I definitely like the idea of some vintage electronics to go with my vintage cars. I absolutely love listening to NPR radio on the weekends and puttering around in the garage. One caveat though, most garages can be dusty environments (I do a lot of wood working too). The dirt and debris particles floating in the air will be the death knell for vintage receivers as that stuff will eventually work its way into the potentiometers used for volume and tone control. That is a solvable problem if you are willing to put your electronics inside of another air filtered cabinet, but it sort of defeats the purpose of the vintage look.

Alan Franklin
Alan Franklin
8 years ago

My “beater” Harmon Kardon tube amp serves duty in the garage – I blow it out with compressed air a few times a year.

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman
8 years ago

the vintage hifi market is like vintage cars – caveat emptor !
not every vintage piece will be a masterpiece, in fact most sound downright awful compared to modern stuff.
but find the right piece and you’ll have a component that is likely to outlive you.

Alan Franklin
Alan Franklin
8 years ago
Reply to  Ae Neuman

The cheapy vintage stuff sounds terrible, you’re right. But dollar for dollar, the higher end old stuff sounds much better than even the top of the line stuff you can find at Best Buy and the like, IMO. Similar sound quality in modern gear costs a lot more $$$ and usually involves exotic boutique stuff today. I’ve got a smattering of contemporary gear that I really love, but it’s nothing you can just walk into Sears and buy like you could back in the day.