Thursday, September 23, 2010

Audio Components (Turntables)

Audio Components (Turntables)

Grado Green on Marantz 6300
Vintage audio has made a resurgence along with vinyl LPs. Bear in mind that there are audiophiles all over the US and the world who have never stopped listening to LP’s on vintage and vintage inspired audio equipment. Twenty years ago, you could find good classic turntables in thrift stores or pawn shops. Back then you could get a really good turntable for around $20.00. That same turntable today probably fetches $100.00 - $200.00 on eBay. There are some brands like Marantz that will fetch between $300.00 to $600.00 for a vintage turntable made in the 70’s. But, there are still some bargains to be had on vintage audio equipment and records as I have discovered over the past few years.

Crappy stereo system (source

In my opinion, your audio components are probably the single most important thing in the music listening experience. That and maybe the room you listen to your music in. One could argue that there are other factors equally important but lets face it; shitty components give you shitty sound and great components…..well you get the point. Now be that as it may, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on components to get good ones. I am a low budget kinda guy and would rather purchase a $1,000 component for $100.00 bucks. Who wouldn’t!! So where to begin? I am into vinyl so turntables are a must for me. These days they are getting harder to find at a decent price. There has always been a market for turntables, particularly with the high end audio folks. If you are that type of person then you probably know what you need to know. You may know more about this than I do and I look forward to your comments and advise. Anyway, back to my thought…….with the birth of Compact Discs (CD’s) in the late 80’s, most people got rid of their turntables and records. CD’s were more portable, more durable than tapes and records; and could be played from a variety of sources like a computers, a car stereo or from a portable device. That convenience essentially made them more popular with the general public than records and tapes. Now were CD’s better than records and tape? That’s a question that we will address in another post. So by the time the 90's rolled around CD's were in abundance and you could find inexpensive turntables and records every where.  Thrift stores, pawn shops, flee markets, yard sales, you name it. Now bear in mind that not all turntables are created equal. In the height of the vinyl years, the early 80's, manufacturers like Sansui and others were mass producing turntables like candy. Most were made with inferior materials and there was a lot of plastic being used.  Again, bear in mind that these turntables were made for the masses.  Brands like Sansui, Sony, Hitachi, Akai and JVC made a lot of turntables and they tend to be the ones you see in pawn shops, thrift stores and ebay these days. They range in price and quality and if you can get one at a decent price then it may be a good place to start.  I would not pay more than $45.00 to $65.00 for some of these plastic turntables made in the 80's.  Some of the better turntables were made for the most part in the 60’s and 70’s.  These turntable will tend to cost more that the ones made in the 80's and you should expect to pay $100.00 to $300.00 or more for the Marantz and Pioneer turntables depending on the brand and vintage.  The high end or audiophile turntables will run thousands of dollars, new or used depending on the brand.

Marantz 6300
Turntable #1
In the early 90’s I was lucky enough to find a Marantz 6300 turntable, (pictured to the right) for sale in a Thrift Store in Suffolk Virginia that I purchased for $12.00. Yes, $12.00, I talked the clerk down from $25.00. He said that the platter did not turn and that it was missing the RCA cables and the dust cover. I figured for $12.00 bucks, it could be a little project for me to get it up and running. Well I took it to my apartment in Virginia Beach and flipped it over and found that the voltage select switch was set to V240. I switched it to V110 and plugged it into the outlet and turned the record player on. I was thrilled to see the platter turn. I found a pair of Radio Shack RCA cables in my apartment and lopped the connectors off one end and soldered them to the output terminals in the turntable. Now that I felt that this table could work, I contacted a local record store and ordered a cartridge and needle.  A couple of weeks later I picked it up and installed it on the tone arm.  I put a record on (don't remember what it was), and I was thrilled to hear sound coming out of my speakers. I was in business for $12.00 (initial cost of the turntable), $30.00 for the cartridge and an hour and a half worth of my time and labor to do all the work. I still have that turntable to this day and I use it on a regular basis.  Online, this turntable sells for between $300.00 to $600.00 in really good condition or if any custom work was done.  Last year, I finally upgraded the cartridge and needle from an Empire 2000 to a Grado Green 1 and added a phono stage preamp to this turntable that I got as a gift from my good friend.  What a difference a quality stylus and phono stage makes!!!

Marantz 6100

Turntable #2
Last year, (2009), my good friend told me about a Marantz 6100 turntable, (pictured to the right) for sale in a thrift store in Chesapeake Virginia.  I went there the very next day and talked the store clerk down from $25.00 to $15.00.  The turntable was intact, not a scratch on it and had the dust cover and the clerk said that it worked.  I think that the turntable was never used or rarely used.  It still had the plastic film over the Marantz emblem on the dust cover that I eventually removed.  This turntable is a manual table and lacks the hydraulic precision that the 6300 turntable has but it's still a great table, and there are advantages to having more than one table.  It did not come with a stylus and there was a generic (no name) cartridge on it.  Within days of purchasing this turntable I ordered an Audio Technica cartridge and stylus from the Needle Doctor.  This table sounds great too!!!!

If you would like to see my other audio components please check out the following website,  From the Home Page, scroll down to the bottom and select Virtual Systems. From there scroll down to the bottom of the page and in the Search Systems field type 70's Vintage Audio.

Thanks for reading and good luck with the hunt, be patient and I hope that you are able to find a turntables and audio gear that suites your needs.


  1. Excellent! Carrying the Analog torch mate! Great Blog!

  2. Analog audio rules ! Great Blog !

    1. Thank you so much, and yes analog does rule :-) What is the availability of vintage audio equipment where you live?