What to do about vintage audio

March 12, 2018
 by Paul McGowan

3 comments on “What to do about vintage audio”

  1. I have a few older components in my system, The preamp is a Conrad Johnson PV10a that I bought used 20 years ago, it’s very well built and only has one electrolytic in it, all the other caps are plastic film. I replace the 6 tubes every couple of years and that’s it.

    My power amp is a Hafler dh220 into which I installed the musical concepts PA4 driver boards. Those boards cost much more then the amp did (bought off Ebay for $150) but the do a great job of showing how good the Vfets in the amp are. While I was in there I rewired it and installed new 22,000uf / 75v main filter caps so the only original parts in this 30 year old amp are the output FETs and the power transformer.

    The other vintage piece in the system is a Kenwood 7500 tuner, I got this on Ebay last year and replaced all the caps when I got it. it’s really a very good tuner, much better then anything made today.

    I worked in electronics all my life so I work on all my own equipment and as a result the labor is free. I find older equipment is good way to get premium performance for a good price and because I can do my own repair work it’s a very good price. I think Paul is right about you receiver probably needing it’s capacitors replaced, this is almost certainly the problem if both channels sound bad. That’s not an hard job but if you have to pay labor it adds up.

    For you the best path may be buying a new amp but if you use the tuner you will have to buy one of those as well. Put the receiver on a shelf some where and educate yourself in electronics, it can be a rewarding hobby. You could buy new caps for that receiver for maybe $40 and then spend a few hours installing them but you need to know what your doing. There are some good books out there that can educate you in electronics, look in the library and see what they have on the shelf.

  2. Re: vintage equipment. Two of my most treasured components are at least 35 years old. My Sansui TU-717 tuner was totally rebuilt and upgraded by it’s previous owner and it sounds great. The Saturday afternoon MET broadcasts put me right into a 10th row center seat. I also have a Sony PCM-R500 pro DAT deck. I have a large collection of tapes that I made years ago, mostly from LPs, and they sound wonderful on that machine. Not knowing how much longer the DAT tapes will be viable, I have backed them up to a hard drive and on my MacBook, but I still love the tapes. Interestingly, all of the commercially made DAT tapes that I owned have deteriorated and are no longer playable . BTW– I bought these pieces on Audiogon and eBay and paid less than $350 for each .

  3. Being an audiophile that collects and uses vintage gear on a daily basis I have been compelled to comment on this video.

    First off I agree with Paul it is great hear some of our younger generation getting into this hobby of audio, because without them the hobby may fade away when we old audiophiles fade away! Second I also agree with Paul that Jarrod it might be time for you to move on unless you want to get your hands dirty.

    What I mean by this is what I tell my friends when they say they would like to get into vintage audio or buy a piece of vintage gear for their systems. I tell them this is a working hobby, these old jewels need periodic maintenance to keep them in working order. At a minimum they will periodically need to have the dust blown out and their controls and switches cleaned and lubricated. Then I say the next step up would be to learn about electronics, how to read schematics, learn how to solder, how to use a DVM, etc. This and experience will give you the basic knowledge to perform minor repairs and amplifier adjustments (tuners being whole new of level of expertise using the proper equipment). After that the skill level would involve partial or full restorations which may include disassembly, component replacements, etc. At that point I stress if they don’t want to get into it that deeply and if funds are available then they should leave that work up to the professionals.

    Now Jarrod I’m telling you all this because you might not want to give up or your old JVC amp just yet. Many times I have resurrected a vintage amp or receiver experiencing the same symptoms as your amp by just blowing out all the dust and giving the controls and switches a good cleaning with DeOxIt contact cleaner and Fader Lube. Especially concentrate on the input selector switch, the volume control, and balance control which are notorious for causing channel loss , low output, and/or noise when dirty with dust and corrosion. But I also might add many times this is only a temporary fix and the problem amp/receiver will need more extensive work to bring it back to life.

    As Paul mentioned in the video a lot of this gear is getting up there in age with the many of their components being well beyond their expected lifespan! This is especially holds true for electrolytic capacitors which dry out overtime changing their electrical properties causing loss of performance and/or complete failures. Fortunately in most cases these can be replaced and even upgraded to modern equivalents which will give these old gems a second life!

    Just some food for thought and in any case Jarrod good luck in your audio travels and one tip if you get the bug do a lot of research and listening with your ears and make wise choices otherwise this hobby can raid your pocket book real fast…LOL!

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