Tube City Almanac

February 02, 2008

Groundhog Day

Category: So-Called Radio Humor || By

It's funny, but whether I'm on AM at 620 or FM at 88.3, I'm always at the low end of the dial.

I'm in the shallow end of the gene pool, too.

Here's a clip from today. "Enjoy."

Groundhog Day interview, WRCT, Feb. 2, 2008 (MP3, 3.9 MB)

. . .

By the Way: That's a close-up of the dial on my circa 1967 Scott Stereomaster 382-8, which is my workaday stereo at home. I've got a Panasonic DVD player and some other gear connected, and it will do whatever I want, including play MP3s.

Here's a consumer tip for you: If you're looking for a really sweet-sounding stereo set-up at a low price, bypass the overpriced, plastic "home theater" stuff at Best Buy and Circuit City, and scour the thrift stores and flea-market for vintage gear. I bought a nice 1960s H.H. Scott tuner-amplifier years ago at Eastland Mall's flea market, and it turned me onto the bargains available in vintage audio iron.

I'm not talking about the real "high end" vacuum tube powered stuff for which golden-ears audiophiles pay hundreds of dollars. I'm talking solid-state, American-, German- and Japanese-made hi-fi equipment that you can usually get for $20 or less.

Buying mid-1960s and early 1970s Scott, Fisher, Marantz, Rotel and Pioneer hi-fi equipment (in working order) will give you a high-quality, easy-to-use sounding stereo system for not a lot of bucks. Some of the early '60s Magnavox stuff is nice, too. (Avoid 1960s and '70s consumer-grade hi-fi equipment, like RCA, Zenith, Westinghouse, GE, Emerson, etc.)

Of course, by buying vintage stuff, you lose out on features like remote control and digital tuning. But you gain AM and FM tuners that sound better than most modern stereos, along with extremely simple controls.

Plus, most of the brands that were considered "high end" in their day will support things like multiple sets of speakers and inputs, just like the expensive new stuff, so you can easily connect CD or DVD players or a TV with audio output.

If you can repair minor electrical problems, you're in excellent shape, because these beasties rarely need more than a thorough cleaning and maybe the replacement of a capacitor or a solder joint. Otherwise, there are plenty of people on the Internet who work on vintage stereo equipment; some better TV-radio repair shops will even take a shot at it. It's not terribly complicated to repair (though admittedly, some parts are becoming difficult to find, especially certain transistors).

Wow, was that geeky enough for you? I think I better quit while I'm ahead.

Your Comments are Welcome!

No joke. I had an old Pioneer unit that must’ve had 20+ inputs on the back, and was rated at something like 200 watts. It was a monster, and there was no trace of distortion even when you had it cranked all the way. I wish I still had it, because it would have looked really nice with the warm blue glow of the dial in the living room.
pointy_stick - February 03, 2008

I have a late 60’s Pioneer with all of those inputs. Does some cool stuuf, too. Has a mono switch and another that reverses the left and right channels. It was not available in the U.S. Brought back from Korea by my uncle.

Also have a mid-70’s Panasonic. Almost as nice. I’d say it was one of the last or the old-school receivers. But my favorite that had only a few months ago was a 200-watt Fisher Quadraphonic. The wife said one of them had to go. :( since it could not fit in any cabinet, I picked that one. Found out a week later it was worth about $2000. doh!
The Dude from West Mifflin - February 04, 2008

Yeah! My Panny had all kinds of weird switches on it. I think there was one for “loudness” which (untoggled) put the unit into some kind of weird attenuation mode. They were pretty heavy-duty pushbuttons, from what I remember. I really liked the radio tuner, though. A big black knob with the smoothest action, and it NEVER drifted. 30-odd years after it was made, even the AM/FM/input selector knob gave a hefty click when it was turned. I wish I still had it.
pointy_stick - February 04, 2008

I suppose I’m going to have to dig up the 2/2/2002 sketch that we did together with Punxy Phil on WRCT. :-)
Eric - February 09, 2008

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