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Hi-fi: Wife Wants You to Throw Out Old Electronics, But One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure

High Quality Hi-Fi Systems From the 1970's and 1980's Make a Comeback with Audiophiles

 

DPA

It pays to show some love to an old piece of hardware, like this tapedeck from 1978.

(dpa) – For many it's a dream to own a classic hi-fi system and you'll find plenty of offers if you look online or in second-hand marketplaces. But there are some important points to bear in mind before putting your money down.

For one thing, Japanese systems from the 1990s are cheap, but in the eyes of experts they're rarely worth buying. At that time quality and prices fell sharply. On top of it all, spare parts are very hard to find today.

Instead you're better off buying high-quality, but correspondingly expensive floor-standing loudspeakers made by renowned brands. These lose none of their quality if they've been treated well over the decades, says hi-fi expert Johannes Jurkat.

The main repair they might need is a replacement of the foam ring around the speakers - this becomes brittle over the years. Fortunately this shouldn't cost more than about 50 dollars.

Germany-based Armin Kahn specializes in repairing pre-1990 music systems, which he describes as solid and "built for eternity." He overhauls around 20 to 30 systems per month and has a four month waiting list for his work.

So what constitutes a classic, stable investment? For Holger Biermann from online Hi-Fi magazine "Lowbeats," high-quality loudspeakers come first and foremost. They should match the size of the room and the amplifier should complement the speakers, likewise any CD or record player or radio tuner.

"With the CD players one should inform oneself in advance, for example in internet forums, about the spare parts supply because with many manufacturers this is a real problem," Biermann says.

And before buying old music cassettes one should bear in mind that these degrade with playing over the years.

Excluding any necessary repairs, Armin Kahn would expect a a total investment of at least $1,700 to buy high quality used Hi-Fi components. And at the top end there are hardly any limits.

Added to this are the costs for work such as the cleaning away of decades of dust and the possible replacement of capacitors, for example in the amplifier, Biermann says. For repairs and replacement parts you can expect to pay at least half the purchase price.

Lennart Kahn

Hi-fi restoration can be a rewarding job.

When it comes to connecting newer components, this is usually not a problem. "For an old stereo, an analogue audio input is an option to which the device can be connected via a phono plug or a jack plug," says product tester Christian van de Sand.

It's also possible to connect digital radios as well as Bluetooth and wi-fi receivers. Bluetooth adapters to achieve moderate digitization of a classic system can be bought for as little as 20 dollars, van de Sand says.

With the proper adaptor, a 20th-century sound system can play today's digital content, whether streamed or from a CD player or smartphone, as well as records from the 1970s.

It's all worthwhile when you can sit back and experience the feeling of nostalgia. "The value of these old hi-fi systems is measured primarily by the appreciation of the customer," Johannes Jurkat says.

 

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