Listening through loudspeakers - old school stereos

A little history -

Before there were personal computers, there were hi-fi stereos to occupy your time and money if you were a home enthusiast. These were the days of ham radio and remote control airplanes on a string for the more geeky. It was only a few years after Color TV and the invention of Stereo that you saw componentized stereo systems in an enthusiast’s home.

My dad had a turntable, some kind of amp or receiver and built 2 massive single driver speakers when I was a little kid. He later got a tape recorder. The music was from a good variety of “LPs” or “Albums” which I still remember to this day. My dad had a collection of 78s which we never listened to, from an earlier era where music was usually produced at home by an all-in-one unit with a turntable and amp and speakers in a big cabinet.

A couple of decades after WWII there were those that were even more enthusiastic - audio manufacturers came up with standards for high fidelity equipment and enthusiasts acquired specialized equipment like monoblock amplifiers and pre-amps and tuners as separate components. The Golden Age of Hi-Fi was in full swing with Classical, Jazz, Soundtracks of Broadway and Hollywood, and Exotica playing in the suburbs and the big city. Later after transistors went mainstream, during the transition to solid state came the “receiver wars” and eventually the teenagers sometimes actually got an inexpensive receiver, (cheap) wooden speakers with mid-woofer and tweeter, and a plastic turntable from Sears. This is my experience anyway, give us yours!

The age of “receiver wars” when “wood” was sometimes plastic or vinyl

After college and moving though several states and apartments, I ended up with with a cassette player boombox. I sold all my Albums to a friend when I moved to another state with everything I owned in a four-door sedan.

Fast-forward to the days when CDs and DVDs were established and home theater was the new frontier of home audio and video. I had finally built a little stereo with a Yamaha receiver and speakers from a big-box store. I think I actually listened to my CDs in my car at that time because good CD players were not cheap!

When I settled down and got my own house I eventually wanted to get some good speakers and stereo equipment. But first I got the largest Sony CRT TV (300lbs), capable of 720p/1080i! and my first DVD player - an Oppo I learned about on the internet. My first DVD was The Matrix.

not mine but this was the one

With this history presented, more later about my journey towards audiophilia.


Nice, I had an old Marantz Tube based amp from days of yore with some cheap home made speakers, designed my own cross-over network with pots to adjust the frequency range.

The speakers had dual-woofers + dual-midrange + dual-tweeters in each.

They were ok but nothing like the properly tuned Advent pair I purchased a few years later.

But if you really wanted something All In One, my parents purchased a Realistic stereo with an 8-track player/recorder, record changer with the 45 adapter and of course the AM/FM tuner.

I’m not an audiophile but I remember listening to the Beatles on my dads reel to reel. This was back in the 70’s. It was in a homemade cabinet made from the wood packing crates when the family moved back from Ghana, Africa from a teaching job in the 60’s.

I got a 1917 manual spin up victrola and some shellac records

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Some nice vintage stuff there, have you played any of the records yet ?

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I have always enjoyed putting together a stereo system 1) because I really enjoy music and 2) the engineering component of putting together a system and seeing how this, that, or the other can change the listening experience is fascinating. It can be almost as big a tinkerers rabbit hole as any computer system.

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yeah they are fun some signed ones too

Some day I’ll bring my grandpa’s stereo back to life.
Set of Hitachi Lo-D HS-630 and a bunch of other Hitachi gear (FM Tuner, 2x cassette decks, turntable and an AMP). Also an old Denon CD player.

The turntable is not in the picture. It was taken before I got it back from my aunt.

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My Dads cabinets became shipping crates also, and later one of them became our toy box. Somewhere along the line he built another set of even bigger cabinets which I used in college.

My stereo history continued - I had bought some JBL speakers which I knew were probably not the historical JBL lineage - they were from a chain stereo store or even a big box store. I used them with my Yamaha receiver and tried to workaround with different setups for “home theater”, etc. I decided I wanted to get real quality stereo loudspeakers - I really didn’t know what this meant but I would know them (and hear them) when I saw them. Since I had my own house and I could do whatever I wanted, I could make a little noise and a little mess trying things out.

By then the internet really was a rich javascript-powered information superhighway. So my quest began - online, not so much in person. I did go to a decent stereo store which had all the fancy technologies and brands that were popular in 1999. But the prices were high - you could easily spend 2-5k for a set of two speakers. I would not trust someone to sell me speakers from that store for anywhere near that kind of money.

I realized in that store that I could no more decide which speakers were the best any more than I could guess which were the best for the money, or even which speakers were good enough to satisfy my desire for “good sound”. The salesman had experience and he could show me some differences between speakers, but I saw that speaker placement and obviously the size and type of the drivers (the actual speaker cone units with the voice-coils and magnets) made a real difference IF you paid enough attention while listening to music. So I decided to take a break from trying out expensive speakers in a store - the speaker room had dozens of sets of stereo speakers which could be switched into the audio signal chain. But if you were standing back it was hard to distinguish them and tell which ones were actually playing. You could tell some things about what you were seeing and hearing, but it became too confusing for me to learn much about a speaker that way.

I decided to “retire to the internet” to do further research. As I discovered a lot of audiophile information I was basically blown away . I knew there were “audiophiles” out there, I had seen some peoples’ stereo systems in my college years and after.

The term “audiophile” means of course “a person who loves audio”. What it really means is “a person who spends time, energy, and money to create a listening environment that gives them thrills”. I knew someone in college who I would think was an audiophile. His father was likely an audiophile because in college this guy had the stereo equipment and albums that could only have existed with the support of an audiophile Dad in a really nice living space. This guy would play albums on a fancy turntable with fancy audio components, and to me he would be an audiophile based on that. But what really took his audiophilia to the next level was how he did this. He would take out out the album, coat the surface with some sort of Kodak photographic fluid, then play the album while it was wet with this fluid. After the album played he would take it off the turntable and set it on the carpet leaning against a chairleg or the wall until it dried. There were six or eight albums leaning around in the room. I had no idea you could do this! but obviously it was to protect and present the vinyl grooves to the stylus in the optimum way. This guy loved his audio experience!

This was years before 1999 but I understood the nature of audiophilia when it all came flooding back to me as I read about acoustics, tubes versus solid state amplifiers, speaker cabinets and 4th-order Linkwitz-Riley crossover design. Speaker and component cables were debated with religious fervor - how could a coat hanger work as well as this fine speaker cable design?

I learned about how different components had to be compatible to make a good sound system even though you could basically connect anything up to get music to play. Most of it made sense because of similarities to computer engineering and engineering in general. I had a limited knowledge of electronics, less than a lot of the audiophiles on these websites, although probably more than the average “audiophile” because a lot of different factors went into the concept of the audiophile. Some audiophiles were more concerned about equipment aesthetics than equipment electronics. Another underrated factor in the hi fi arena is acoustics and psycho-acoustics. I was seeing that psychology and human nature played a huge part in sound system appreciation. I was aware that I wanted to hear and should be able to hear, in my room, the concert hall with the symphony beautifully rendering Ravel, or the studio perfection of Aja as a visceral experience that could bring tears to my eyes. Many people at this point decide to go for headphones, but many want the sound to be heard from the speakers while sitting in the “sweet spot” of the listening room. This is the type of audiophile that I wanted to be!

I learned that the wavelength of the lowest audible sounds are more than 17 meters (56ft) ! How can you hear them in a room? They have to reflect - how does that work? You can pinpoint high frequencies coming from a speaker immediately, but you can’t locate the source of isolated low frequencies with your two ears. You can also see a 20Hz speaker cone vibrate with the naked eye. So much to learn and consider.

sound waves

Meanwhile in Thailand this was happening


The victrola

Pat 1904-6 made in 1917

Works really well its not stereo but its super vintage

Kinda came into this there a massive collection alot broken and beat up and well used shellac records

Can play modern vinyls as well


WOW! Amazing.

I think the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds was released originally as a mono mix in 1966 (also many other albums as late as the 60’s)

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Are all of those folders full of cassettes?

No, unfortunately we only have one cassette left and it’s a recording of my great-great-grandmother talking.
The few cassettes I had myself as a kid (only audio dramas for kids) we gave away when I got my own CD player.

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Wow a recording of great-great-grandmother seems like a treasure.

The item on the left is an amp? 2 channel? It looks like a pretty nice setup for its time.

Hitachi HA-8700

Power output: 90 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)

Frequency response: 10Hz to 100kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.02%

Damping factor: 60

Input sensitivity: 0.25mV (MC), 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (DIN), 150mV (line)

Signal to noise ratio: 73dB (MC), 90dB (MM), 100dB (line)

Channel separation: 75dB (line)

Output: 150mV (line), 50mV (DIN), 1V (Pre out)

Dimensions: 435 x 164.5 x 420mm

Weight: 20kg

Year: 1979



Lovely. Class A/B I strongly assume?

How is the potentiometer doing?

tbh, I have no idea. it’s my late grandfather’s setup which he bought in the 80s (according to my grandmother).
the speakers are stored away (mainly to keep them from getting damaged) and the whole system needs to be rewired cause something seems to be unplugged. but as you can see in the pic further up, there’s no easy way to get behind them.

Treat it well. Avoid scratching it, if it isn’t already.
If you aren’t into this stuff, you can sell it for a good price, since these amps are very nice sounding. It will properly need some component replacements etc, but I am almost certain you could sell this one with ease.