What’s it Worth? – Vintage Stereo Equipment

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

When I was a freshman in college, I spent my entire Christmas break working two jobs so that I could buy a new home theater system for my dorm. It cost me $500. It lasted me a few years before I passed it down to my Dad. After setting it up and plugging it in, Dad said that it whirred for a few moments, coughed out a puff of smoke, and died. Thanks Sony.

So why is it then with all of the advances in technology today, do people still want to acquire and will sometimes pay a hefty premium for vintage stereo equipment? Simply put, they don’t make ‘em like they used to.

Marantz ReceiverQuality of sound has somewhat taken a backseat to the demand for an increase in the number and type of component connections in modern stereo systems. This is especially prevalent at the mid-range price point ($250-$500) that most people are willing to pay for individual stereo components.  As newer technology is crammed into these components, royalties must be paid to license the technology and less is spent on research and development to improve sound quality. So while the newest components will have the most bells and whistles, they will often fall flat in a head-to-head comparison of sound quality against their vintage cousins.

So, what types of components are most desirable to collectors or audiophiles? Vintage stereo receivers and speakers routinely top the list. For receivers, some of the most sought after makers are McIntosh, JBL, Marantz, Pioneer, and Sansui. For speakers, it’s Western Electric, JBL, Jensen, Tannoy, and Altec Lansing. Certain models in decent condition can easily sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the right buyer.

JBL SpeakersOne important reminder when you’re considering selling any type of vintage stereo component is to have the unit thoroughly evaluated by an electronics expert prior to sale. Buyers don’t necessarily mind purchasing a vintage piece of equipment that may need some repairs, but the last thing you want to do is ship someone a “Mint” pair of speakers that’s been sitting in a box in the attic for 25 years, only to have them returned for not working as advertised.

The cost to have individual components evaluated will typically run $25 – $50 at a good electronics repair shop, which I consider a very reasonable investment if the equipment will then sell for several hundred dollars or more. Doing your diligence upfront will give prospective buyers the confidence to spend their money with you and will minimize the potential for a costly return.


The original article can be found in the December 2013 issue of Southern Neighbor available here: www.southernneighbor.com.

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