Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Value of Vintage Audio

Preaching to the converted?
You might think so but I am not so sure. The problem with writing about Vintage & Classic Audio is that words are not really a particularly good substitute for listening to the equipment itself. If the reviews are too prosaic can they really be true? How can that old gear really be that good and worth as much as these guys are asking even if the prices seem quite reasonable?

So what is a piece of Vintage Audio equipment worth? A couple of weeks ago I found a pretty cool tool on the web called an inflation calculator. Its American but what the heck it will have to do for us Aussies too. You put in a dollar value and a year and the calculator returns a 2005 value. What’s the point? Well we have been banging on about how expensive the gear we are selling ‘second hand’ was new and we though it might be nice to see how much it would cost now, that is if it was new today!

I can’t exactly say I was surprised by the results but although I am not an economist I reckon a straight dollar conversion does not quite tell the whole story. I can still remember my Dad bringing home a JVC top loading tape deck in the late 70’s and refusing to say how much it cost. It was not even a three head model! Ah and you wonder where those male habits you have came from. Needless to say there just did not seem to be as much money bouncing around in the 70’s and the American list prices that we so often find on the web are clearly not what we had to pay for the same equipment in Australia.

If the kind of plug you find on a piece of equipment is anything to go by it would seem that an awful lot of equipment was purchased Duty Free in Asia . We see a lot of the Asian two pin plugs which are easily bent to fit an Australian three pin power socket. That might account for 50% of the 1970’s gear we see. One thing we do not see a lot of is 1970’s Tuners. That is hardly surprising due to the late adoption of FM in Australia . Receivers are far more common. I think that many of the 70s tuners we do see have been brought to the country by Audiophiles that have moved to Australia from England, Europe and North America where Fm was up and running much earlier than here.

Enough musing, what did I find out with the inflation calculator?
Rotel RX-1603 1976, $1100 USD converts to $3 772 USD or $4 961 AUD.
Pioneer QA 800A 1973, $400 USD converts to $1,790.61 or $2,354 AUD.

That’s a lot more than entry level prices for NAD, Yamaha, Pioneer or even Rotel today. Of course you can pay thousands for a new piece of equipment today and much of it is going to be very good. But as you already know if you have read through enough of the reviews here on Vintage Audio .Com .Au we reckon you would be pretty hard pressed to better some of the equipment we have on offer even if you did go out and spend the same money you come up with after allowing for inflation.

Rotel have a database of equipment prices (at time of release) on their North American portal and Technics and Pioneer equipment prices are fairly easy to trace using Google or check our links page. If any of our readers have some Australian list prices from old magazines or receipts we would love to hear from you especially with regard to Pioneer Sansui and Rotel equipment.

New Listings

Sansui TOL AU/TU 717 system 1978
Au-717 Amp
TU-717 Tuner
Direct Drive Turntable SR-838
SC-3110 Tape Deck
SP-X9000 Speakers

American Fisher!

Fisher 514 Receiver, Quadraphonic
Fisher X-101C, Valve Amplifier

And if you have survived reading this far, what am I (Kent) listening to this week? The new Diana Krall, ‘from this moment on’ and the newish Madeline Peyroux, ‘Half the perfect world’. I am running a Harmon Kardon 930 receiver and the music is sounding great!

Cheers from Kent and Bob.