Period Accurate Hi-Fi Set-Ups

English Invader

Active Member
Is there anyone else here who is fascinated with the idea of playing music from the 60s/70s with equipment from those periods? The intrigue isn't to have the best sound fidelity but to hear Abbey Road or Hunky Dory as it would have sounded on the equipment you would have had if you had bought a day one pressing back in 1969 or 1971.

Both of the albums I've cited were released before I was born so I have no first hand experience of what it was like then but I have a mother who grew up idolising David Bowie and bought all his albums up to Low (including the pre Space Oddity ones) and I think she mostly played them on a cheap portable with the volume turned down to keep her parents from hearing the obscenities in Aladdin Sane.

The speakers I have are from 1974 (Castle Acoustics Richmond) which I'm led to understand is the period where Hi-Fi became a bit more refined and catered for the well-heeled AOR listeners who had money to spend to hear their Carpenters and Gilbert O'Sullivan records in style while the kids listened to Bowie and T-Rex on whatever they could lay their hands on.

I guess the reason why I'm posting this thread is because I want to know more about vintage equipment and I'm curious about how far it's possible to recreate the sound from the days of yore; particularly with turntables where it seems like you have to use a contemporary cartridge and tonearm which I imagine dilutes the experience a bit.

Anyone here have vintage equipment that they still use and I would also love to hear experiences from people who are old enough to remember what it was like in the 60s and 70s. Would you trade what you have now for what you had then?
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Period accurate would either be a record player in the bedroom or the family stereogram in the lounge. Personally I had a BSR record player in the bedroom in '71 & added a Panasonic cassette recorder (no Dolby) in '73. Would I want to go back to that sound? Never in a million years.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
I guess most of us start out with budget kit - and my budget kit in the mid 70's was certainly inferior to today's budget kit. One thing that has improved over the decades, IMO, is the price/performance ratio. Certainly at the budget end, the performance available today far exceeds that available in the mid 70's for the same outlay (allowing for inflation), predominantly because 'stuff' generally has got cheaper over the years.

I vaguely remember spending about £180 on my first hifi system (Pioneer PL112D/Ortofon FF15E Mk2, Trio KA1500, Videotone Minimax). At today's prices that's around £1300. I know that something like:
Rega IO, Rega Planar 1 & Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 bookself speaker bundle (cost: ~£1100) would absolutely trounce my mid 70's starter system.

I suspect that, as the system cost increases, the performance difference between a 70's system and a 2021 system would begin to reduce but never reach parity, even at the extreme high-end. I ended the 70's decade with a Linn/Meridian/Mission system. It was good, but I've since heard (and owned) better.

Today's mid-range gear probably matches the performance of mid 70's high-end gear but if it's a 70's low-end hifi you're thinking of assembling then todays equivalent would be sub-hifi, IMO.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The music in the 60s and early 70s was brilliant. The kit I could afford to play it on was s**t. Think I'd rather play my 60s and 70s music on 21st century kit. 1960s HiFi......a radiogram.:smashin:
 

aoxomoxoa

Standard Member
My starter system in 1970 consisted of a Thorens TD150B turntable with a Shure M75-something cartridge, Nikko TRM 40B amp and Wharfedale Super Linton speakers, and a Sony ST5600 tuner for the John Peel show. Loved it.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
My ‘60’s’ system - also have the add on powered speaker to make it stereo.

Joe
4263AFD2-EC84-41D1-9105-7C0A3DC9F204.jpeg
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
A little ahead of me :) The kit and LP, singles collection was my Dad’s, he got me started on this HiFi/AV ramble.
 

English Invader

Active Member
Today's mid-range gear probably matches the performance of mid 70's high-end gear but if it's a 70's low-end hifi you're thinking of assembling then todays equivalent would be sub-hifi, IMO.

I've only gone as far as using vintage speakers and use contemporary components for everything else. Vintage TTs and amplifiers are too problematic for me to consider them at this stage and my system has what I feel to be a very good balance between the clear sound of the modern components and the looser bass and treble of the Castles and if I put in a vintage amp or TT I would just be adding distortion to the sound for no sonic benefit.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
Is there anyone else here who is fascinated with the idea of playing music from the 60s/70s with equipment from those periods? The intrigue isn't to have the best sound fidelity but to hear Abbey Road or Hunky Dory as it would have sounded

In the early 80's, a friend brought round some 60's albums he was into and we listened to them on my hifi (current Linn source & DIY active 3-way). Didn't like the music myself. Sound wasn't up to much either - he agreed and said the albums sounded great on another friend's Linn, Quad33/303, Quad ESL setup. We then played my music choices (late 70's/early 80's pop/rock) and he was blown away by the quality - not so much by the music though.

He could have saved for a decent hifi himself but chose to waste his money on a different sort of gear (that's the 60's influence for you!). But it demonstrates the point about music of a certain period sounding better when played on equipment of similar era. You might be onto something there.
 

Jampot90

Active Member
The problem of course is that a period correct system for late 60s / early 70s won't be period correct for subsequent decades, how many rooms has anyone got!

I do have old gear and some of it I would be reluctant to part with but I have music from the last 7 decades and want to be able to play it all as well as possible.

70s and 80s turntables, check. 70s, 90s and 20s speakers check. Amps at 15, 20, 30 and 50 years old. First gen cd players and Oppo universal disc players all have their place.

If you have the space, cash and inclination to keep 'substitutes on the bench' it can be a lot of fun to swap things in or out now and then.

Jim
 

English Invader

Active Member
The problem of course is that a period correct system for late 60s / early 70s won't be period correct for subsequent decades, how many rooms has anyone got!

My system has proved surprisingly versatile for all kinds of different styles and periods. Everything from contemporary pop, classical and jazz to 80s and 90s video game music. The older speakers just add a bit of warmth to the sound.

I'm a bit of a Jack of all trades when it comes to music and I probably don't have the same demands that a more focused listener of a specific genre would have but I can say that I happily enjoy all the above mentioned genres without instinctively feeling that something isn't right.
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
I have an Technics SL220 turntable in my cupboard, believe it to be made in the 70's or 80's and it still plays well today. I remember back in the day when I was a little kid going into Dixons and drooling over the big Pioneer receivers and wharfedale Glendale speakers wishing that one day I could own them. In fact I still wouldn't mind one of those big 70's Marantz or Pioneer receivers now for my bedroom for nostalgic reasons but they are going for silly money these days.
Someone recently dumped some wharfedale denton XP speakers near where I live so I thought I'd try them out on my modern system for a laugh, I was quite surprised how good they sounded.
Biggest thing I regretted was selling my Linn LP12 for £200 to a friend, it had an Ittok arm and a pretty decent MC cartridge, damn I must have been desperate for cash back then.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
The problem with using kit from the 70s is that it very likely isn't performing to its original specification, so what you hear isn't what you would have heard. You would need to invested serious money into sorting out the performance. I found it to be much cheaper to throw such kit than to get it serviced.

That said, since home office started I've been using the KEF 104aB's I bought in 1980 on a daily basis. They have never been serviced. OTOH, they are newer than the era you're talking.

Perhaps your best bet is some Quad equipment from that era, since Quad can service almost anything they ever made (ESL-57's being the exception, but they can be refurbished by third parties).
 

English Invader

Active Member
The problem with using kit from the 70s is that it very likely isn't performing to its original specification, so what you hear isn't what you would have heard. You would need to invested serious money into sorting out the performance. I found it to be much cheaper to throw such kit than to get it serviced.

My speakers were bought refurbished from here:

I paid more or less the same as I would have paid for a brand new pair of Elacs or Q Acoustics but the aim wasn't to save money and I would not recommend vintage equipment to people without the skills to repair it for that reason.

If I had taken the safe option, my heart wouldn't have been with it and you can't make decisions without the heart in this hobby.
 

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