Sunday, December 26, 2021

My vintage stereo receiver collection .... WARNING. Snowflakes shield your eyes-!!!

 Over the last three years or so I've been bitten by the vintage music reproduction device bug.  My Dad had a nice tube amp and tuner when I was a little kid in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Every time I hear some classic Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Sinatra, Perry Como, Four Freshmen, takes me back to getting Alberto VO-5 smeared in my hair while my mom got my brother and me ready for first grade/kindergarten...and an album filling our small house with music.

Later in life, after I was off to college, my Dad eventually gave away his tube equipment. Cassettes and later CDs were the latest technology, and albums faded away.

I only have one "tuber"....a 1959 Sherwood S-5000 amplifier (20 watts per channel, but over a high efficiency speaker it sounds like 40 watts).  I've had it recapped and serviced recently. I also have the S-2000 Sherwood tuner, but probably need to have it cleaned, aligned, and serviced. It's on a shelf.

Everything else I own is from the 1970s....the Platinum Age of receivers, before receivers fell in quality to bigger corporate profits and everyone chased power and watts for more bass and LOUD playback. The way they rated the wattage output changed somewhere around 1980/81 so everything seemed way more powerful than it truly was. (Kinda like the way our fearless leaders have changed official inflation calculations for us dumb sheeples)

Most everything I've collected has been from EBay which is very risky due to 2 possibilities.  First and most likely is a seller that doesn't understand how to properly package a 30-45 lbs vintage receiver. I've lucky for most purchases. Secondly is a misleading seller, that describes the item one way, and says they've checked it over, lightly, but it ends up not exactly as described. Words and descriptions are at times vague and variable in interpretation. 

I've got a couple receivers via craigslist in the DFW area. 

Initially I was chasing the big popular name brand stuff. ...Marantz, Sansui, Pioneer. But the demand for these names has driven the prices too high for me.  I've been looking at Realistic for awhile, but Radio Shack (based in my hometown of Fort Worth, TX) made a ton of different models over the years. Some crummy, some mid-level quality, and a few very good quality and great sounding models. Most hard core stereo-philes wouldn't even consider a Realistic unit, just because Radio Shack was focused on the lower-middle level consumer. And do have some crappola models out there.

Other brands I have been drawn to that are lower priced but excellent quality builds and very good sounding are.....SoundCraftsmen, Rotel and Sherwood from the 1970s.

Most of my collection is around 30 to 35 watts in output. I do have a 60 watt (recently recapped) Realistic STA-2200 that has a MosFet amp. Not sure what that is, but supposed to be very good, and kinda rare in mid-level receivers. It's a 1980 model and that's beginning to creep up into crap-tastical newer electronic equipment era. It's the newest receiver I have....for good reason.

Replacing all the capacitors in these 40-45 year old receivers is always a good practice, but only if you demand music amplification to sound just like the receiver sounded when it was brand new.  Some just sound fine as-is, but a recap job and servicing to clean switches and controls of 40 years of dust, grime and possibly nicotine .....really provides the optimum sound quality.

Capacitors all age, and performance diminishes after 20 or more years.  Usually gradually.

The guys that do this type of reconditioning and cleaning, that are skilled....are slowly vanishing. Most, but not all, are in their 60s and 70s. And many have 6 month backlogs to get to your job. And it's not cheap, these skills are not common, and valuable, especially in this higher demand time with folks becoming more aware of the value of vintage equipment. Expect to pay $350 - $500 for full recapping, servicing, and internal cleaning. And this with a unit that seems to be working fine when you bring it in for refurbishment. Higher end units usually have more capacitors to replace. 

I'm no expert, and my years of whiskey soaking my brain almost every night has, I believe, impaired my abilities to comprehend newer, complex things. But I do read alot online, so a little bit somehow soaks in.

My area is 50 miles west of the edge of Fort Worth, so without a tall FM antenna, I can't get much in the way of FM signal. Primarily using 3 Denon CD players in various groups of receivers. (All same model 1930CI)....a couple low/mid level turntables (I have 700  old albums I bought from a craigslist seller).....and a few powered Bluetooth gadgets that I use with my phone or tablet.

I have a couple of commercial grade computer rack tower shelves that I use. Just finished assembling one in my man cave listening area. 

My next ADD hobby topic is Vintage German sewing machines.  I've never stitched anything on a sewing machine. Just love these long life, amazing, all metal machines.

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