For audiophiles, there’s no doubting the appeal of vintage audio equipment. Part of it has to do with rarity, the thrill of hunting down a Marantz stereo receiver from the 1970s, heritage speakers by Klipsch or JBL, or a vintage Thorens turntable. Part of it has to do with fidelity, that the old stuff sounds better. And part of it has to do with charm and character. Vintage units just have that special something that modern equipment lacks.
“I constantly use the analogy of vintage cars running parallels with vintage audio,” says Mike Garry, owner of Hudson Valley HiFi, which specializes in buying, restoring and selling vintage audio equipment. “The early 1970s muscle car may not be as reliable or perform as well as a modern one, but there is just something cool and fun about the 50-year-old model.” Like with vintage cars, vintage audio depends a heck-of-a-lot on restoration. Old gear naturally breaks down over time and needs new parts to perform at their best. A lot of these vital parts, also, aren’t being made anymore because they’re so old, so restoring them isn’t a quick fix for technicians at these vintage audio shop. For consumers, this means they are either finding non-working units and getting them restored, or likely paying a premium on restored units.
Garry’s shop, Hudson Valley HiFi, is located in Cornwall, New York, on the western shore of the Hudson River, and it specializes in both modern and vintage audio gear. “Unlike most audio equipment businesses out there, the most common equipment we sell is two-channel stereo,” he said. For vintage restoration, Garry says that they work primarily on the 1960s vacuum tube gear and 1970s solid-state. To get a little more insight, we asked Garry to share the most popular receivers and amplifiers that people come to his shop for. The answers, in all his own quotes, are below.
Some of the below quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.