Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Design Tuesday - Blue Light Specials

I have a serious thing for vintage solid state audio equipment.  The build quality and depth of engineering put into 60s and 70s hi-fi is simply stunning - equivalent quality today probably isn't possible at any price.  Remove the polished wood veneer case from an old amplifier or receiver and inside you'll find heavy, solid metal construction, brass screws and intricate cast aluminum heat sinks.  Outside, acid-etched glass with hand-painted indicators, selectors that are weighted and click into detents with oiled precision, and "gyroscopic" effect tuning dials - all ridiculously satisfying to use.

This stuff also just plain sounds good, too.  The warm, lush but accurate and detailed "two martini sound" characteristic of vintage solid state is untouched by contemporary mass market equipment, and is typically only matched by the most exotic and expensive modern boutique components.

At one point I had a collection of receivers, pre-amps, amps, reel-to-reel decks, turntables and speakers taking up an entire spare room of the house... I can be a bit obsessive.  I've pared my collection back to a handful of favorite pieces, but I still miss my Marantz gear.  Their soft blue lighting, unique horizontal tuning wheel and distinct design language all blend into a cohesive whole that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts - for many, it's a style that epitomizes the golden age of hi-fi.

Some photos via oldsansui's excellent flickr

1 comment:

  1. I like it, subtle, but you can't help but notice it, wish my Pioneer RX-560 had the same color scheme.