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 I enjoy collecting and listening to music on my stereo equipment, much of which is from the bygone days of quality consumer-level audio gear, the 1970's, when all the manufacturers were trying to one-up each other for bragging rights for who made the best, most powerful equipment available in the mass market! Sansui, Yamaha, Kenwood, Pioneer, and many others fought this battle for several years, but like everything else, it came to an end at the end of the decade.



 The manufacturers of the heavy, high-output aluminum and walnut behemoths made from quality parts died a slow death, partly from the economic losses suffered by making these expensive beasts for a limited market, just to be able to claim title to being the "Big Dog" on the block, the value of the Yen/Dollar, and the emergence of the then new technology of "Digital" displays and electronic controls. No longer would you see machined aluminum knobs and control switches, and heavy weighted flywheel tuners, set into machined or extruded aluminum faceplate's, as the switch was on to plastic pushbutton controls, digital displays, and lightweight plastic construction used throughout. Gone was the beautiful silver faced stereo equipment, nestled in it's (Usually) real wooden veneered cases, with its blue, green, and red back-lit analog tuning scales, replaced instead by cheap, black plastic buttons that had no tactile feel or charm to them, placed onto a flat, plastic faceplate, that was about as visually exciting as the flooring in your high school hallways.


 

 The internal quality suffered as well, the manufacturers were no longer trying to best each other, instead they were concentrating on flooding the market with cheap-to-produce plastic junk, much of it in the form of the God-Awful "Rack" and "Shelf" systems that plagued the family rooms and basements across this great country. The truth is, most people don't know, or care about how a stereo system sounds, they want the latest, coolest looking stuff that they could  buy at Sears or Radio Shack, and more recently, Best Buy and Circuit City stores. Many of the great brands from back in the day were sold off to other companies who proceeded to rape the brand image that the founders had established through the years, like KLH, Harmon-Kardon, AR, and Altec Lansing, choosing instead to produce cheap "Home Theater in a box" junk, and computer speakers. This "Audio-Apathy" set the stage for the next couple of decades for the design and manufacture of low to mid level consumer audio.





 The truth is, the old receiver you find at a yard sale for $15 can sound better than just about anything that you could buy new for under $500. Sure, this stuff is now old enough that it will need to be serviced, but the investment in having this done will give you another 20 years of great sound and a cool retro look to boot! Even better, learning how to maintain and repair this gear is a fun and rewarding hobby! Also making a big comeback right now is Vinyl Records! The Compact Disc almost killed the LP record, but the die-hard enthusiasts managed to keep the format alive, and vinyl sales are now increasing steadily, and more and more artists are releasing their latest offerings on vinyl! There is also a large market for used vintage records, and there are not only used record stores, but record shows, yard sales, thrift shops and of course eBay, where you can find any album you could want!

 So, check your attic or your basement, and see if you saved that big 'ol Pioneer receiver and turntable you bought back in 1976, check it for operating condition, and start listening to the music you like, the way you liked to hear it back then!







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