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Vintage Stereo Equipment – What you Need to Know Before you Buy

Vintage stereo equipment is known for its superior sound quality and vintage charm. But before you buy a new amp, turntable or speaker at a local estate sale, you need to be prepared. It’s important to not only know what to look for, but to also know what questions you should ask.

Know the Age

In the world of vintage electronics, anything 1980 and newer is not vintage. To be vintage, the piece must be 1979 or older.

Test it Out

If you are intending to use the item, ask if you can test it. It should have good sound quality, meaning there should be little to no popping, hissing, or cracking. If you can’t assess the sound quality before you buy, you need to plan on having the piece of equipment serviced before you use it. That should be factored into what you will pay for the item, and servicing vintage stereo equipment can cost several hundred dollars.

Testing the sound quality is important because if you plug the unit in at home without knowing its history, you could do permanent damage.

If you do buy a piece that needs maintenance, check to see if the original manufacture still services older models. Brands like Klipsch, McIntosh, Pass Labs, VPI, and Simaudio do services older equipment, while Sony, Onkyo and Pioneer don’t.

Does it Look Good?

Good equipment usually looks its best. This where the hunt is fun! Estate sales are the perfect place to stumble upon a quality piece that needs a good home. Pieces that are still in a home have been appreciated and are typically well taken care of. Look at the piece entirely, and ask questions, specifically about age, and maintenance history.

A visual inspection is a good idea as well, Look for cracks, scratches, unnecessary wear, or missing pieces. And because these pieces are old, smelling them for mold is a good idea.

Brand Matters

When it comes to vintage stereo equipment, brands like Martin Logan, Krell, Magnepan, Parasound, McIntosh, and Sony are considered the best of the best because these brands produced equipment with superior sound quality and are easy to service. This is important when it comes to stereo equipment because keeping the piece well-maintained will help ensure longevity.

Do you Like it?

Remember the reason you want to buy the piece in the first place. If you’re buying it because it you want a unique, yet nonfunctional piece, for your home then aesthetics can be your motivation. If you want to use it, which most will, take your time and look for just the right piece.

If you’re ready to start your search, come and check out our upcoming estate sales. We look forward to seeing you!


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