Back in the “golden age” of high-end audio hardly a month went by that you couldn’t find and read a negative review in The Absolute Sound or Stereophile which excoriated a particular manufacturer’s newest offering. Nowadays it’s hard to find an equipment review that doesn’t describe its subject in glowing terms. What’s changed?
As someone who’s experienced their fair share of good, bad, and occasionally great vintage audio components, I think that the reason is quite simple – currently available audio components offer a far fewer models that deliver a truly bad value. In the olden, golden times, that was not the case. Also old-school audiophiles had a much higher tolerance for less-than-stellar reliability. Need I mention Audio Research’s series of preamplifiers that needed to be “revised” from A to B to C versions before they worked reliably?
But you would not know this from reading a recent article in Gizmodo by Adrian Covert titled “Why Your Dad’s 30-year-old Stereo is Better Than Your New One” the author puts forward the idea that new receivers are inferior to 30-year-old ones. But during the article the writer hedges his bets by comparing a current-production $500 receiver with a 1980 $500 receiver. If he wanted to compare apples to apples instead of apples to pureed applesauce he should have compared a 30-year-old $500 receiver with a $1400 receiver since that is what $500 in 1980 would be priced at in today’s dollars.
Steven Stone explains, in two parts, Why Your Dad’s $300 1980 Receiver Still Sucks