used hi-fi

High-end audio on the cheap

One of the things that separates high-end audio from mass market gear is that it's built to last and perform at a high level for decades. I bought a 20-year-old, mint condition Audio Research SP-6C tube preamplifier 10 years ago. It looked great and sounded wonderful, but a few years later I sold it to my cousin, who was just starting to get into high-end audio.

Late last year, I bought a 30-year-old Krell KSA 50 stereo amplifier from one of my old customers. He loved the amp and listened to it all the time, but he needed money … Read more

How to buy great sound on the cheap, think 'vintage' audio

You'll never find a comparably equipped 1980 Corvette outperforming a 2011 'Vette, or a 1980 TV or computer blowing away a '11 model. Audio is a different matter; a lot of decades-old gear really does sound better than its 2011 equivalents. That's especially true when comparing 1970s and 1980s receivers with today's models. I covered why that is so in last weekend's "How can 30-year-old receivers sound better than new ones?" blog.

I chatted with Innovative Audio's Gordon Sauck to learn more about buying old hi-fi. Sauck started designing home theater installations in … Read more

NAD 3020: Vintage hi-fi that still sounds great

I recently bought a NAD 3020 integrated amplifier on eBay for $66. The little amp was a smash hit in 1980 and instantly put NAD on the map. While the amp made its reputation as a giant killer, it's not very big--just 16 by 3.75 by 10 inches. And the look is bare-bones basic. The sound is something else again; as soon as I fired it up I remembered why budget-minded audiophiles bought more than a half million 3020s in about three years, making it the best-selling integrated amp of all time.

It was rated at just 20 … Read more

AudiogoN: Pay less for used hi-fi

Buying or selling used hi-fi--before the Internet--was a huge hassle. Expensive classified ads in newspapers and magazines were the only option for individual sellers and buyers; that, or trade your gear in to a hi-fi dealer.

Nowadays you can buy or sell hi-fi and pretty much everything else on eBay, but I've never used it. I've always sold my old gear on AudiogoN, which specializes in high-end audio components, such as preamplifiers, power amps, speakers, CD players, turntables, cables, etc.

If you're looking for great sounding bargains, you'll find plenty on AudiogoN. I saw a vacuum-tube Dynaco FM-3 radio offered for $139; a mint-condition Marantz 2220 stereo receiver for $245; an NAD 7100 receiver for $175; and a Dual 1019 turntable for $250. AudiogoN averages around 11,000 listings at any given time.

High-end gear that originally sold for big bucks is rarely cheap, because good, quality gear, even when it's decades old, retains its value. But even so, AudiogoN is a way to get the good stuff that would otherwise be out of range. I saw a Conrad-Johnson 16 LS vacuum-tube preamplifier that sold new for $8,000 listed for $3,500.

AudiogoN was founded in 1998 and now claims 295,000 registered members. Rates for sellers are just $6 for a classified ad (which runs 30 days); or $6 for an auction, that runs between 3 and 14 days. There's also a one percent surcharge on the sale price. Buyers pay nothing for the service. Best of all, almost everyone reading the listings is an audiophile, which certainly isn't the case for eBay. Here's a link to a mock ad, so you can get an idea of what they look like.

Manufacturers and retailers also advertise and sell gear on AudiogoN, and there's a wide range of active forums for audiophiles of every type. … Read more