Got tired of the UNC blowout of Michigan State so I wandered into our living room (the petrified room as one of the kids used to refer to it) and turned on the vintage system. It's a pair of AR-4AXs driven by a Sherwood 7100 receiver with a pretty clean AR-XA turntable and a more modern cartridge, just what slips my recollecrtion at the moment. I'm listening to the local public classical station at a volume level a little above background; it is, after all, 11 pm and others are asleep.
Yet I find it an enjoyable musical experience.
In spite of the advertising copy in the Ebay ads, there's absolutely nothing accurate about any of this old stuff - especially with the ARs sitting horizontally on - and back about six inches from the edge of - seven foot tall display cabinets. Yet I find myself listening to classical music at low volume levels and enjoying it.
Is it the warm glow of the tuning dial? Perhaps the equipment just looks proper? A yearning for a more simple time? What's the attraction for you, reviewer and reader alike?
I know I find myself simplifying a lot in my life several yeasr after turning 50. As a photographer at one time I moved through multiple Nikons, Mamiyas and Sinar Xs and Ps...until some point where I had enough experience (and confidence) to be able to see light values with my eyes instead of a meter and the Sinars gave way to a Zone IV and three lenses, the Nikons and Mamiyas to a Contax G2 and three lenses. My back and my assistant thanked me.
And like that previous career in photography, I now find myself losing equipment in my primary system - I've shed large, heavily modified Counterpoint amps and preamps for an Exposure integrated amp and gone from floor standing to bookshelf/monitor speakers (no sub) in recent months. It sounds good to me and gets me close to the sounds I have stored in memory from listening to the local symphony or the acoustic performers in my own hall at the University, but I'm sure it's nowhere close to the absolute sound as others would judge it.
I find myself recoiling from Wilson MAXXs, $160,000 reference turntables, mega-sized amplifiers and such. Not on the basis of expense; I have no quibble with people chasing the last degree of truth - or those who can afford to fund the effort. Perhaps it is that most of these contraptions are just ugly to look at and this old stuff just looks like proper stereo equipment.
And I no more want to get into trading or upgrading my vintage system than I do my primary system. If a new set of SEAS woofers in my old JPW boxes don't float my boat, then I'll be in the market for a good set of new monitors, but beyond that I think I've got the final version of every other component I'll want to own in my primary system. And what would you upgrade in a vintage system anyway? So as I ponder what it might all mean to me - or if it even needs to mean anything - I'm curious what draws others to this newly developing niche of our audio hobby.