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Vintage Hi-Fi Buying Guide: Discovering the best deals on used gear

Written By: 
Michael Friedman
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Audio Gold. Photo via The Vinyl Factory.

The next part in our intro to hi-fi series focuses on used marketplaces and how to find deals on vintage gear.

Finding a killer vintage amp or turntable in the wild might seem like a fluke, but if you have an idea of what you are looking for and do your homework, your chances increase exponentially. The search can also be an excellent way to learn about makes and models and availability — and determine how much it will all cost.

Simple math will tell you why this is as good a time as ever to be on the lookout for used components. In the 1970’s, the demographic driving the stereo boom was between the ages of 18-24. Fifty years later these buyers are hitting 70 and in the process of downsizing — and emptying their attics of once-prized electronics. 

The timing couldn’t be better. Not only are record pressing plants booked a half-year in advance, but many turntable and stereo companies are backordered for months. “This is a hi-fi record boom that we haven’t seen in decades,” says Jon Derda at Mobile Fidelity Recordings.

This equation has meant that a lot of new online stereo shops and dealers have popped up, and the best of them refurbish and guarantee the equipment they sell. This is particularly crucial given that the machinery that powers vintage gear, although very solidly built, can be decades old.

The secondary market is among the most gratifying avenues for discovering great deals on gear. Below, a guide to some of the better resources for online vintage shopping along with a few of our favorite brands to buy used.

Audiogon “Hot Items” Section

High End Audio Equipment Online Sellers and Auctions

Audiogon – https://www.audiogon.com/

The high-end audio community that is, in the words of its marketing pitch, “built for audiophiles by audiophiles. If it’s audio related and you want to buy it, sell it or just look at it, then we are your one-stop, comprehensive resource. A mainstay of the audiophile world since the late ’90s, Audiogon is the largest, most respected high-end audio community in the industry. If it’s audio… it’s here.”

US Audio Marthttps://www.usaudiomart.com/

Billed as “America’s largest free hi-fi audio classifieds site,” US Audio Mart has over 250,000 audiophile monthly unique visitors who view millions of pages on the site each month and post 700 hifi classifieds each week.

Fly HiFi – www.flyhifi.net

A brick and mortar vintage stereo shop based in Sacramento with solid refurbished and guaranteed gear. Check out their killer instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/flyhifi/ 

Reverbhttps://reverb.com/c/home-audio

One of the largest used music gear sites. They specialize in music equipment but also have a very solid home audio marketplace as well.

ebayhttps://www.ebay.com/

Obviously everyone knows this one, but eBay can actually be a great resource for finding great deals with a bit of patience and luck. You can start by just searching vintage hi-fi and seeing what’s out there or head straight to searching for a specific brand or model. We recommend using the “save search” function and setting up alerts if you’re waiting on a particular model to pop up.

Just Audiohttps://shopjustaudio.com/collections/pre-owned-audio

An independent hi-fi shop based in Baltimore that has a great selection of both new and used gear. The used selection is small but trusted quality!

Facebook Marketplace + Groups

Facebook Marketplace – https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/

Facebook’s Marketplace can be a surprisingly good place to get lucky. It’s not uncommon to find a piece of used audio gear priced completely incorrectly on both sides of the price spectrum. If you find a deal, call and drive over there quick because there’s probably someone else in line.

Vintage Silver Pioneerhttps://www.facebook.com/groups/704012869704590

Facebook groups are a great way to learn about gear and also interact with an online hi-fi community. There are many active groups around brands like Pioneer, Klipsch, Marantz, etc. Don’t be shy and feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding price, models, sound, etc.

Klipsch Lovershttps://www.facebook.com/groups/1202473979780235/

Marantz HIFI Ownershttps://www.facebook.com/groups/6255069919

Vintage SANSUI G-9000 Stereo Receiver | Electronique, Ampli, Technologie
Sansui G-9000

Quality Vintage Brands 

Amplifiers / Receivers

  • Marantz
  • Sansui
  • Pioneer
  • Harman Kardon
  • Kenwood
  • Audiolab
  • NAD

Speakers

  • Klipsch
  • Bowers & Wilkens
  • Acoustic Research
  • JBL
  • Polk
  • Advent
  • Boston Acoustics
  • KEF

Turntables

  • Technics
  • Pioneer
  • Thorens
  • Empire
  • Sony
  • Dual

Revisit the previous articles in our intro to hi-fi series:

Intro to Hi-fi Audio: An Entry-Level Examination

Intro to Hi-fi Audio: Vintage Edition

Intro to Hi-fi Audio: Cartridges Uncovered

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