Author - Mark Cerasuolo
As you read this, chances are that someone is abandoning a classic audio componentmaybe something you always wantedat a thrift store near you. Here's how to rescue and enjoy it.
Back in audio's Jurassic Period (pre-digital early 1980s), a friend in Boston showed me his latest acquisition. He's been driving in Upstate New York, and in stopping at a roadside shop had spotted what was tagged as oriental-style room divider screens. The shop owner explained that the dividers were priced to reflect the fact that someone had replaced the typical printed fabric with plain white clothwhich is how my friend snapped-up a pair of near-mint KLH Model 9 full-range electrostatic loudspeakers for $80 (the shop owner even knocked $10 off each divider if he'd take them both).
For readers unfamiliar with them, the KLH Model 9 is ranked by The Absolute Sound magazine as one of the 12 Most Significant Speakers. A restored pair typically changes hands for several thousands of dollarswhen you can even find one. A bit later I got to house-sit for my friend for several weeks when he got married and went off to Europe, so briefly lived with his pair of Model 9's, and I can verify that TAS was, if anything, understating their capabilities. Aside from an indelible audio experience, the Model 9's imprinted a belief on me that a sort of audio El Dorado meets Treasure Island exists around the corner if only one can be in the right place at the right time.
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Great to see an article on Vintage gear. I have always loved the old 70's electronics, even though I was not yet a teen when the era came to an end. I remember being in awe of my friend's father's silver stack, monster power meters flicking with the beat. I have had no luck at the various pawn shops or thrift stores. 99.8% plastic rack junk would be my guess. Have stumbled across a couple pristine pieces at garage sales, but just like today, its the lower end units that sold enmasse.
Here is a picture of the Vintage gear I have collected over the past few years, mostly from E-bay I'm afraid. I have them on display as part of my screen wall and although none of it is currently connected everthing works like new. The second page of my theater build link below has closeups and the name of each if you want to have a better look.
I actually pict up a JVC HR-D7504 VCR for $5.06 from my local Goodwill. I kept the price tag on it to remind me, that no matter how expensive the rest of my set up is, right in the heart of it, is a Goodwill VCR for only a fraction of the rest of the components. It worx like a champ too, I just used a head cleaner.
And, ah, early adopters! My grandmother was had an 8 track recorder before I ever saw my first cassette deck. When my mom bought a vtr (vhs), my grandmother bought one also - a Betamax!
I like checking out thrifts for classic computer items, although now days that means it is a Windows 95 game or accessory. I've never seen decent audio pieces though.
I don't even use them but for that kind of money for classic high end gear that still sounds great I couldn't pass them up.
I think the Dual 1229Q is the finest idler wheel turntable ever made-- that's a great find. The very first piece of classic gear I got was a hand-me-down Elac turntable my uncle had picked up in the service, same general vintage.
I cover this in a later installment of the article, but if you ever need a dustcover TAP Plastics can build you a new one. I did that for my Thorens 125, and it looks better than the original (they used heavier acrylic, built the height up a bit, and clear instead of smoked which is a lot classier looking). They have locations all over the west coast but you can order on-line and either send measurements or a broken original cover and they'll duplicate it.
I have it put away in the main closet in the front room so hopefully it doesn't freeze back up or get covered with mouse turds. I do have the adapter now so I can hook it to RCA plugs just haven't bothered to drag it back out again.
I did some research and of course they use proprietary carts that almost nobody makes now and would probably cost quite a bit to replace but it sure is a beautiful piece of gear that is well made and probably sounds great when right. I should probably sell off some of the things I never use but when my friend called me and told me what he found and didn't want I drove right out and bought them.
You're very helpful and thanks again. Enjoy the hunt
Got lucky on my turntable and amp but that's after years of hitting sales almost every weekend looking for deals or things I can use.
It makes all the wasted time looking worth it when you hit the mother-load finally.