Sunday, February 27, 2011

First the camera, now the stereo ?!

I am not sure people should ask me, "what's new ?"  They probably expect me to update them regarding a continuation of whatever it was they thought I was focused on a few weeks before.  Instead, they often get a long (and completely new) story about the latest, and often completely different interest I am currently immersed in!

I found myself looking at vintage stereo receivers a few weeks back.  I was something of an audiophile back in the late 70's and 80's.  That simply means i had an insatiable interest in all things audio.  When I was about 16 years old, I bought my first real piece of audio gear, a Realistic (Radio Shack)  SA1000A Integrated Amplifier.  It was cool and powerful and likely drove my parents crazy when I was blasting music thru it.  I was hooked on nice audio/stereo gear for the next 15 years or so, until a family and living space influenced me to get rid of the huge speakers and the rack full of powerful stereo components.

Now, don't think I gave it all up.  I didn't, I simply had to buy the latest and greatest small components that I could afford, that actually didn't take up a whole wall in the living room.  This gear was compact, sleek, and "digital".  It used LED's and a remote control.  It sounds nice and has served me well. 

But I missed the "warm" almost "vacuum tube" sound of the old stereo receivers.  I missed the long, analog tuning dial...the heavy weighted tuning knob that if given a swift turn, would cause the tuning pointer to almost float from one end of the dial to the other.  I missed the tuning meters and power meters and the wood cases that gave the receivers an almost furniture-like quality.

I started looking on Craig's List and E-bay.  Certainly I could find an old receiver that had been taken care of?  I discovered, there were thousands of "me"!  All looking for the vintage audio gear!  It was quite competitive, much to my surprise!  Long story short, I found a guy on the north side of town, that had found some items in his Grandfathers house and among the items?  An old Pioneer SX-535 Stereo Receiver (circa 1974) in very good condition.

After some cleaning, and a few tweaks here and there, I placed the beautiful, blue lit dial, shiny knobbed receiver in my home office.  It took me back to a simpler time, when I had plenty of time to sit around and "play records" and listen to the radio.  Something that I now hope to do with this receiver.  Of course, I needed new speakers and I did not want to try to fix a pair of vintage speakers, as that gets expensive I bought a pair of modern Polk Audio speakers and hooked them up.  The sound?  Exactly as I remember.  A bit "warm", lacking the "digital crispness and sterility" of the modern audio gear.

While I was at it, I hooked up my turntable to the stereo so that we could throw a few vinyl records on. (yes I still have some)  This past Saturday, my wife and I went to a garage sale, where the resident had been a vinyl record collector his whole life.  He had over 4000 (yes thousand) albums for sale.  There was too much to look thru, and it was about 26 degrees outside, so we selected 8-10 albums and promised we would come back on another weekend when it was warmer.

We got home and played a few albums: Lynn Anderson, The 5th Dimension, England Dan and John Ford Coley, Procol Harem, We Five, Pat Benetar, Neil Sedaka and even an old "Mono" recorded album of Glen Miller.(think late 30's early 40's)  Most of these were 1960's albums, printed before CD's were even invented!  And you know what?  They sounded fantastic...occasional scratch and all!

Excuse me, I have to go turn the record over so I can listen to side B.