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combwork
10-07-2008, 22:23
To answer my own question, to start with it was price. 100 carefully spent on vintage Hi-Fi would net something that sounded miles better than 100 worth of new equipment. Then I got drawn in, seeking out the better quality gear from the 1970s/80s.

To me the finances made sense. There is very little in the way of vintage top of the line equipment that after refurbishment costs as much as even a halfway decent modern system. Plus of course, the sound. Vintage sounds better! At least that was what I thought until I went to the Hi-Fi show outside Edinburgh late last year. Ok, when you see a vinyl deck that looks like it was designed as an optional accessory for the Tardis you're already halfway to being hooked but even so, listening to Pink Floyd and hearing it sound like I've always imagined it, was simply mind blowing. To the best of my knowledge nothing vintage will come close, but there are a couple of points here. First is "to the best of my knowledge". With a lot of help from Rob http://www.eraudio.com.au/ESL_Repair_Kits/B_W_DM_70_Kit/b_w_dm_70_kit.html I've just started rebuilding the electrostatic units on a pair of DM70s. Given the right vintage amp and source (Goldring-Lenco G-78) these could come close. Second, when you add up the cost of the deck, amp, speakers and cables, the kind of new equipment I was listening to in Edinburgh would cost about the same as a new mid range family car.

Ok; you pays your money and makes your choices. With my 59 year old ears, the combination of build quality and almost top quality sound means it's vintage for me. Final icing on the cake is that if shit happens and you have to sell, it's likely that well looked after vintage equipment will return its purchase price. Hell, you might even make a profit:smoking:

RobHolt
10-07-2008, 23:44
Much depends on your outlook wrt to progress in audio over say the past 50 years.

I've been of the view for some time now that with speakers and analogue electronics we have at best been standing still and at worst moving backwards.
This was reinforced recently when hearing Quad ESL57s at home for the first time - in many ways they are at least the equal of today's best speaker systems which is astonishing for a 50 year old speaker.
Ditto a pair of Tannoy DCs I picked up recently for the princely sum of 150. These sound so much more real than many expensive stand mounts sold today that it came as something of a shock.

But the biggest surprise was a pair of AR8s (and now 18s) that cost 30 and 20 respectively. With a set of new driver foams these prove within the first few seconds of listening that most speakers in the current budget/low-mid speaker market are entirely broken and have been for years.

I could go on and list some amplifier gems or vintage analogue front end components..... perhaps later, but I think the point is made.

Beechwoods
11-07-2008, 07:08
Price per performance is a major factor (the biggest for me)... but design is another one. There's a lot of late 70's / early 80's stuff - Pioneer, Kenwood, Sansui, Marantz to name a few that looks simply amazing, form and function in harmony. A lot of the flashy designed modern stuff might look at home in the TARDIS but less so in my listening den! It's horses for courses I guess.

Filterlab
11-07-2008, 08:27
I guess it depends on the type of music one listens to. I prefer electronic music so I choose components that excel in that area. As the synthesiser is a relatively modern invention a lot of classic gear will have been designed and built before its advent so couldn't possibly be tested and tweaked with it in mind. Obviously it doesn't mean that classic components won't be able to cut it, but I find the more modern and 'cold' equipment to have a much stronger grip on that ilk on music.

However, on the plus side; one is likely to get some great sounding units for pocket change as a lot fall into the trap of thinking that 'new is better' (rather than just more appropriate) and consequently pass very high quality components on for little money. Having said that people are a lot wiser these days in terms of valuation - the internet, particularly ebay has shown people that certain items are very popular and resultantly have high value, Audiolab being a prime example - the 8000As still go for absurd money.

I guess there's a lot to be said for classics, Comby's B&W electrostats are a prime example of a desirable classic that will show a modern equivalent a clean pair of heels.

purite audio
11-07-2008, 09:28
'in many ways they are at least the equal of today's best speaker systems which is astonishing for a 50 year old speaker.'
Rob you really must travel a little further afield than your local branch of Richers!

Neil McCauley
11-07-2008, 10:26
'in many ways they are at least the equal of today's best speaker systems which is astonishing for a 50 year old speaker.'
Rob you really must travel a little further afield than your local branch of Richers!
What's that supposed to mean?


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Filterlab
11-07-2008, 10:30
Rob you really must travel a little further afield than your local branch of Richers!

Strange statement bearing in mind I haven't bought a two channel hi-fi component since 1991 from Richers. I've tried many dozens of components over the years, from old Pioneers, Leaks and Sonys to classic Tannoys, Quads and Thorens, and nothing in the classic area has come close to what I have now. Even my 3,500 MartinLogan electrostats didn't reveal half the signal my Revels happily exhibit - which is why I've settled on what I have.

Admittedly I heard Quad ESLs and I was amazed, I heard (and owned) the modern equivalent and was dazzled, but then I heard some new dynamics and the ESLs sounded positively flat by comparison. Classics are great, but not for everyone. :)

Filterlab
11-07-2008, 10:33
What's that supposed to mean?


---//---

Maybe he thinks I only buy from Richer Sounds. :confused: :)

purite audio
11-07-2008, 11:16
Addresed to the other Rob ,Rob Holt.

Neil McCauley
11-07-2008, 11:19
Rob you really must travel a little further afield than your local branch of Richers!

I really really hope this isn't the beginning of the sort of contribution that has devalued so many other initially well-intentioned forums!


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RobHolt
11-07-2008, 11:21
'in many ways they are at least the equal of today's best speaker systems which is astonishing for a 50 year old speaker.'
Rob you really must travel a little further afield than your local branch of Richers!

Oh I have, 25 years of traveling around dealers, believe me :)

A very varied bunch and Richer are by no means disgraced.

ESL57 aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but where they excel they are unbeatable IMO.

purite audio
11-07-2008, 11:25
Where do they excel would you say?

RobHolt
11-07-2008, 11:51
Where do they excel would you say?

Mid band transparency, palpable in-room presence on vocals and delicacy.

Problems are bass dynamics, an annoying panel resonance down at 90hz and off axis performance.

They work best used as giant headphones, or very large near-field monitors.

Filterlab
11-07-2008, 12:02
And the treble softness doesn't help either, but the midrange, vocals and imagery are simply stunning.

SPS
11-07-2008, 12:15
I'm rather impressed by alot of vintage stuff and have far too much of it
i've owned lots of valve amps (and still do) including many of the classics
the best 'bought' amp i've owned was a radford sta15 mk3.. very nice sound into lowthers or yam ns1000's..
but loads more amps have come close, a rebuit pye mosart, quad 2's to name a few, i have a pair of 57's which have a really good midrange but nothing at the extremes.. and a rare pair of quad corner ribbons, that show the electrostatics where not really an improvement on corner ribbons, but a move to 'in house' production (as they used goodmans drivers).. but the 57's where half the price ...

i have an 80's deck which was expensive in its day, but was bought for the price of a good budget one.. and puts many other decks to shame..

i have also heard new 5k valve amps that i would not give house room to.. as they have sounded coloured and loose....no flabby

with all gear it about understanding what does what..

old valves are better than new ones.. same with many transformers.. but in my experence that cannot be said about old caps and resistors..
so a rebuit vintage amp will sound far more modern afer a total strip out
i've done it..

i like the comments above about moden teckno music sounding better through solid state..
...sound reproduction is more 'real' through valves..
by that.. i mean closer to whats on the disk..

I play losts of modern music at 100+dbs with a couple of watts a side..
deep very tight bass.. i would do .. with 2 x12" bass drivers a channel..
no bi-amping.. no real crossovers.. all on a single 2 or 3 watt triode valve...

it is about getting a good combination of equipment that works together
its knowing what does what..
and most of what I read in the mags about valves.. is not my experence..
...nothing touches them..

some of the old gear is very good... and there was alot of crap..
just like you can buy today... nothings changed..

steve

sastusbulbas
11-07-2008, 13:11
Why buy vintage?

I think this relates just like any other second hand purchase, value for money IF you know what you are buying.

Personally I started out with second hand shops before there was eBay, I used to buy and resell or trade in for new equipment all the time, Edinburgh had a whole pile of second hand shops that sold anything and everything, and a lot of those goods were high quality audio components.

This was late 80's early 90's, I found out quite quickly that at that time HiFi year books and almanacs were very usefull, and ended up with some very nice stuff over the years, and I also ended up regreting selling a lot once I saw eBay prices.

Would half of that stuff be as good now, I don't think so, electronics and speakers suffer with age like anything else, and now too much stuff is sold on the basis of internet hype, and bought either by old ones with sentimental ideas, and no memory of how it souned new, or by youngsters who buy the internet hype.

A classic example is my speakers, Kef R107, which sadly WILL not sound at their best with anything less than a high quality solid state power amp, serviced drivers, and a serviced Kube, yet we constantly hear of these old speakers on eBay doing things such a speaker would become incapable of without a full service history. Spendor BC1's again, I find old ones easily beaten by later Rogers Studio 1's, not to mention the amount of basterdised LS3/5a speakers out there with the wrong spec drivers refitted to damaged LS3/5a by people keen to take advatage of eBay prices and the online reviews this small speaker designed for voice reproduction in a van got.
I used to buy these and Linn Kans for around 25 to 45 a pair in the second hand shops! Now look at ebay prices?

Old electronics and speakers suffer with age, pratically anything without a service history wil not be up to spec or sound as intended.

The best thing about buying second hand and vintage though, is that many do still purchase such because they want to, not because of dealer and magazine opinion.

Personally I think all second hand is better than new stuff, manufacturers are just taking the piss with no real advances in musical performance, its all getting poorer in build and value for money has went down the pan.

RobHolt
11-07-2008, 13:53
And the treble softness doesn't help either, but the midrange, vocals and imagery are simply stunning.

Rob, there are good reasons why the ESL can sound a bit soft and rolled up top, at least with some amps.

The ESL57 drops to around 1 ohm at HF. Driven with a stable solid state amp with low output impedance this isn't a problem. The issue arises when you try to drive them with a tube amp where the output impedance is usually higher. In this situation the power transfer function worsens with rising frequency, hence the often heard roll-off.

The ESL57 I have here actually sound wonderful up top driven by a SS amp.

Togil
11-07-2008, 14:35
I have always felt that even the bigger Quads ultimately sound better with ( very good )SS amps.

I sometimes feel the obsession with valve power amps arises from the need to make dynamic tweeters sound less horrible.

lurcher
11-07-2008, 14:44
The ESL57 drops to around 1 ohm at HF. Driven with a stable solid state amp with low output impedance this isn't a problem. The issue arises when you try to drive them with a tube amp where the output impedance is usually higher. In this situation the power transfer function worsens with rising frequency, hence the often heard roll-off.

That was why I designed these GM70 monoblocks, to drive some large electrostatics. The problem I find with SS driving statics is unless the amp has a very refined top end the panels will reveal the hardness in the top.

Nelson Pass F4's do a very good job of driving statics as well.

http://www.lurcher.org/nick/images/gm70/gm70_front.jpg

purite audio
11-07-2008, 16:31
Nick that amp looks fantastic, what are the dimensions and weight , and who are 'toppsounds'? Keith.

lurcher
11-07-2008, 16:46
I can't remember the exact weight, but its only just a one man lift. they was built for a chum with large electrostatics (er audio kits) and his surname was Topps, hence the name. He did the woodwork and metalwork on that one, and I did the design and build.

More pictures here

http://www.lurcher.org/nick/images/gm70/

They sound good on the statics, a bit of an overkill for normal speakers that would be used with SETs (they produce about 40W) . Marco heard them on Colins statics at Owsten I think.

purite audio
11-07-2008, 16:57
Nick Hi, I ask because my speakers need a bit of current to sound at their best, I am just waiting for these to arrive,
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb255/coopie_photo/Allnis-A-6000-300B-QSE-03.jpg
These are 50 watt double parallel single ended, it would be interesting to hear yours.

Filterlab
11-07-2008, 17:21
Nick Hi, I ask because my speakers need a bit of current to sound at their best, I am just waiting for these to arrive,
http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb255/coopie_photo/Allnis-A-6000-300B-QSE-03.jpg
These are 50 watt double parallel single ended, it would be interesting to hear yours.

Now that is one heck of an amplifier.

Mr. C
11-07-2008, 17:22
Nice construction and use of material Nick, makes a pleasant change to see some-one who actually thinks out the WHOLE project from start to completion.

RobHolt
11-07-2008, 17:30
The problem I find with SS driving statics is unless the amp has a very refined top end the panels will reveal the hardness in the top.



Only applicable to SS amps with a distortion problem, crossover usually, or poor HF stability.
Most SS amps don't suffer from these problems and shouldn't sound hard.

purite audio
11-07-2008, 18:37
I agree it's not the hardness of SS it's the dullness .

Togil
11-07-2008, 18:45
Do you mean dull as in lack of treble or as in lack of excitement ? ( or both ! )

purite audio
11-07-2008, 18:49
If you have efficient speakers, a good valve amp has life , dynamics and presence that solid state cannot come close to, my ASR Emitter for example wasn't harsh or strident but with the horns it just sounded so dull and lifeless.

greenhomeelectronics
11-07-2008, 19:47
Ok, I am going to be Mr Predictable here and say categorically that vintage wins nearly every time (Rob's point about synthesised music is a good one, you can't expect 30 year old speakers to handle modern day 20 Hz bass)
The thing is manufacturers now build down to a price where they used to build up to a standard. Consumer demand, in the mainstream at least, drives prices down. People now live in smaller houses, this demands smaller units. You can't have top notch hi fi at under 100 quid where the whole lot fits in a shoe box. That leaves the specialist kit that few people can afford, unless you buy older stuff. As you know, we sell a lot of older stuff, mainly from mainstream manufacturers. It never ceases to amaze me how good some of this stuff sounds when you get the combination of input device (cd,turntable orwhatever) amplifier, speaker and room right. Given that you can get so much more for your money, vintage gets my vote every time. Except I would sell one of my kidneys to get hold of one of those Allnics, looks stunning :-)

Beechwoods
11-07-2008, 20:52
Boards Of Canada on a Nagra R-R sounds fantastic. How it should sound in my opinion! Some electronic music works well with old gear I think :)

Neil McCauley
11-07-2008, 20:58
I still use a 1980 Trio KT-917 Tuner. Far more credible sound than DDB (Digital Done Badly) broadcasts, even through the ultra rare LFD DAC3.

I still use Meridian M1 actives, from 1978. And a Luxman FQ 990 Receiver. And a stacked pair of JBL L100 Century speakers.

Yes, retro really has a place. But not all of it though. Yamaha C1 preamp was sonically a disaster here. And there's more wher that came from. Soggy Sansui, Shrill Sony, Turgid Teac - and so on.


---//---

Ali Tait
11-07-2008, 21:02
Regarding vintage stuff,I used to have a pair of ESL 57's,and if you are following the 100 pound rule,I'd look for a wooden-sleeve Sugden A21a.This IMHO is the best vintage amp you will find to drive these at the price without resorting to a good vintage valve design which go for silly money these days.It's really a synergistic combo IMHO.I enjoyed such a combo for quite a while,and to my ears is excellent.I still have an original one (apart from converting it from DIN to phono's) to use as a base reference against my valve amps.Dunno what the requirements are for driving your B&W leccystatics,but if they are a reasonably efficient load,I'd procure a Sugden.It really is a lovely amp and IMHO will show any budget modern amp a clean pair of heels.The modern version,while having twice the power in class A due to a revised power supply,still uses the same circuit as devised all those years ago.Some things just cannot be made better.This circuit is even older than me and still produced today.Not too shabby for a SS design.Just my penner'th worth.

RobHolt
11-07-2008, 21:23
I still use a 1980 Trio KT-917 Tuner.



A beautiful thing along with many top end Japanese tuners of the period.

My favourite tuners are the Accuphase analogue models.
I once had a T101 and wish I'd kept it.

sastusbulbas
11-07-2008, 21:27
Boards Of Canada on a Nagra R-R sounds fantastic. How it should sound in my opinion! Some electronic music works well with old gear I think :)

What about the band Christ?

Marco
11-07-2008, 21:28
Great thread, chaps!

Why buy vintage?

Because as Rob (Holt) has correctly said in terms of audio performance we've gone backwards more than forwards with hi-fi in the last, what, 25 years? Some might say even longer...

Good vintage gear, perhaps with some judicious (sympathetic) modifications, quite literally outperforms its modern counterparts from sources to speakers in often an embarrassing way for a fraction of the price.

I've got plenty to say on this matter and will do later - some excellent contributions though so far :)

Marco.

Marco
11-07-2008, 21:31
A beautiful thing along with many top end Japanese tuners of the period.

My favourite tuners are the Accuphase analogue models.
I once had a T101 and wish I'd kept it.


Yamaha CT-7000 is the one for me. Hi-end Jap tuners of the 70's, like you say, were a class act.

Marco.

Beechwoods
12-07-2008, 17:50
What about the band Christ?

To be honest I've never tried putting his stuff onto reel but seeing as he was in BOC at one time and comes from the same 'school' I'd say he's exactly the kind of chap who'd sound great on old gear! I've got his first two - Pylonesque and Metamorphic Reproduction Miracle. Great albums for long drives in the country.

I went through a big 'analogue electronica' thing a while back, before I had kids when I could spend 50 a week on music. I'm still falling back in love with things I bought and only listened to once back in the day. Loads of City Centre Offices, Morr Music and Leaf Label stuff. At one time I was catalogue completist for those labels. Are you into the same sort of thing?

The Grand Wazoo
12-07-2008, 18:07
A beautiful thing along with many top end Japanese tuners of the period.

My favourite tuners are the Accuphase analogue models.
I once had a T101 and wish I'd kept it.

I once had a T101 and DID keep it!
It's fantastic - built like a brick nettie, weighs a tonne, sticks on tune like a very sticky thing and sounds sublime. It has 2 sets of outputs, one with it's own volume control so it'll drive a power amp direct!

For the price they go for they're a steal. Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about Troughlines. I've had one of those for yonks & it sounds quite nice(ish) if you can give it a decent signal, but it's not a patch on the T101.

RobHolt
12-07-2008, 20:40
I once had a T101 and DID keep it!


I hate you.

The Grand Wazoo
12-07-2008, 21:00
I hate you.

I wonder what you'd have said if it turned out I'd bought it from YOU!!!!

RobHolt
12-07-2008, 21:57
I wonder what you'd have said if it turned out I'd bought it from YOU!!!!

Hmm I swapped mine with a guy named Daren for a Naim NAT101.
Could it be.....

The Grand Wazoo
12-07-2008, 22:40
Nope, I've never been accused of being a Daren before....Oh well, that must make you feel a bit better......


............and Daren must be feeling like a smug bugger!!!!

What were you thinking?

RobHolt
13-07-2008, 00:06
What were you thinking?


I had a big pile of Naim at the time so the NAT101 fitted in nicely.

juju_hound
13-07-2008, 21:59
I agree with most of the comments made in support of vintage gear. For me it also has a nostalgia factor as well which really has nothing to do with the sound or specs. Many people collect vintage automobiles for this reason also. Is a '36 Ford Coupe the technical equal of a new Ferrari? No. Is it just as fun to drive? Maybe. Is it easier and more fun to work on? Probably. For some reason that's difficult to explain, I get a big smile on my face when I glance over and see my 1959 Stromberg Carlson singing away with it's original GZ34 rectifier still glowing proudly after all these years.

:)

Beechwoods
14-07-2008, 06:51
I agree with most of the comments made in support of vintage gear. For me it also has a nostalgia factor as well which really has nothing to do with the sound or specs. Many people collect vintage automobiles for this reason also. Is a '36 Ford Coupe the technical equal of a new Ferrari? No. Is it just as fun to drive? Maybe. Is it easier and more fun to work on? Probably. For some reason that's difficult to explain, I get a big smile on my face when I glance over and see my 1959 Stromberg Carlson singing away with it's original GZ34 rectifier still glowing proudly after all these years

I feel the same about reel to reel, and <gasp> 8 track... :)

Neil McCauley
14-07-2008, 07:27
Why buy vintage?

I think this relates just like any other second hand purchase, value for money IF you know what you are buying.

Agreed. And it's not always easy to find out either.

Personally I started out with second hand shops before there was eBay,

Me too.

This was late 80's early 90's, I found out quite quickly that at that time HiFi year books and almanacs were very usefull, and ended up with some very nice stuff over the years, and I also ended up regreting selling a lot once I saw eBay prices.

Me too - again.

Would half of that stuff be as good now, I don't think so, electronics and speakers suffer with age like anything else, and now too much stuff is sold on the basis of internet hype, and bought either by old ones with sentimental ideas, and no memory of how it souned new, or by youngsters who buy the internet hype.

True, very true.

A classic example is my speakers, Kef R107, which sadly WILL not sound at their best with anything less than a high quality solid state power amp, serviced drivers, and a serviced Kube, yet we constantly hear of these old speakers on eBay doing things such a speaker would become incapable of without a full service history. Spendor BC1's again, I find old ones easily beaten by later Rogers Studio 1's, not to mention the amount of basterdised LS3/5a speakers out there with the wrong spec drivers refitted to damaged LS3/5a by people keen to take advatage of eBay prices and the online reviews this small speaker designed for voice reproduction in a van got.

Alan Shaw (Harbeth) told me he has at least 25 pairs of LS3/5a speakers, sourced from various places including other makers and apparently not only do they all sound different to each other, but none of them sound like the BBC reference pairs he owns.

Old electronics and speakers suffer with age, pratically anything without a service history wil not be up to spec or sound as intended.

Yes, I have discovered this too.

Personally I think all second hand is better than new stuff, manufacturers are just taking the piss with no real advances in musical performance, its all getting poorer in build and value for money has went down the pan.

I sympathise. I feel your comment, albeit with a solid base of reality is perhaps a little too all embracing - based on my own experience. On the other hand, right now I can't think of an example that contradicts your view. More worrying I think though are makers who through the production run of a model, downgrade the components in order to make more profit. Or put differently, what is reviewed is not necessarily what the customer buys.


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Neil McCauley
14-07-2008, 07:31
The thing is manufacturers now build down to a price where they used to build up to a standard.

Damn right in my experience. It is precisely this behaviour that helps me decide what brands I am going to stock.


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Neil McCauley
14-07-2008, 07:40
Regarding vintage stuff,I used to have a pair of ESL 57's,and if you are following the 100 pound rule,I'd look for a wooden-sleeve Sugden A21a.This IMHO is the best vintage amp you will find to drive these at the price without resorting to a good vintage valve design which go for silly money these days.It's really a synergistic combo IMHO.


Agreed.


Dunno what the requirements are for driving your B&W leccystatics,but if they are a reasonably efficient load,I'd procure a Sugden.



B&W at the shows (before you were born, for some of you at least) used Armstrong 600 series equipment. Certainly impressed me.



.......... still uses the same circuit as devised all those years ago.Some things just cannot be made better.

Dr Bews (LFD) said the same thing to me recently. The circuit used in all 3 of his Linestage preamps are very similar. The verifiable improvement in the sound, to justify the escalating price (which it does quite comfortably for my buyers) is down to the improved performance of the components, including the solder he tells me.


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The Grand Wazoo
13-02-2012, 00:41
From The Grave

(never mind the thread drift, folks - get back to the OP)

Smoker
13-02-2012, 23:27
the only way i can afford a mcintosh 275 is to buy a vintage one lol the new one is way too expensive for me :eyebrows:

Rare Bird
13-02-2012, 23:30
Putting my obsessions aside..I buy vintage because i'm very un happy with just about every aspect of modern gear.

Nick_G
02-02-2013, 12:14
Well I bought a Yamaha T-2 tuner last year and it has been the best sounding tuner I've ever heard in my system. It goes through pretty humble components - a Rotel RA-04 integrated amp, and B&W 601 S2 speakers but it sounds fantastic with a good broadcast! I have 4 other tuners here, 3 from the 1980s and one about 4 years old and none of them match the T-2 for realism, ambience and musicality.

Regards,
Nick