How to Buy Vintage Audio Electronics on eBay

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How to Buy Vintage Audio Electronics on eBay

There are many audio equipment enthusiasts who always opt for the newest and shiniest equipment because they are deemed to be of the highest quality and class. However, there are still buyers who prefer the classics and want rather to purchase vintage equipment over contemporary audio units. In fact, vintage audio electronics have a lot more advantages than most people would imagine. They tend to often be cheaper because not many people opt for them anymore, yet they are also often more sturdy than modern models.

The fact is that older audio components were designed with stability and longevity in mind, where the casings were often made of wood, metal, thick aluminium, or a combination those materials. Unlike the common hard plastic that is used today, vintage audio electronics provide a safe housing for their more delicate inner components. In essence, this allows them to last longer, and they are often more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Buying vintage audio electronics can be a real chore if buyers are unsure of the equipment that they need and how to search for them. They simply need to familiarise themselves with the various vintage components and what to look for when buying each one.

What Is Audio Electronics?

Audio electronics in technical term refers to devices with electrical circuit designs that conduct sound and pressure wave conversions to electrical signals or the other way around. Initially, audio electronics were originally designed with analogue electrical circuit techniques until the digital age was introduced. Digital audio electronics are mostly computerised, but analogue designs are still being used today and are often called "vintage" or "classic".

Vintage Audio Source

The source is the component of the system that receives the initial media item. In recent years, that includes iPods, MP3 players, and CD and Blu-ray players. On the other hand, vintage sources only include certain items, such as a turntable, tape deck, or maybe a CD player.

Vintage Turntable

When buyers are on the hunt for a vintage turntable, they should search for manual ones because they generally last longer. This may be due to the fact that the tonearm interact with less moving parts. They should also find out if the drive belt and cartridge have been replaced recently; otherwise, they made need to be replaced soon.

Vintage CD Player

A vintage CD player may not always be a good idea because manufacturers are constantly improving on their designs. In essence some vintage players may not be able to reproduce the sounds as accurately as the contemporary ones. Buyers should always compare the specifications of the vintage models with the newer ones and select the closest match.

Vintage Amplifiers

An electronic amplifier is used to increase the power of a signal by controlling the input of energy taken from a power supply. The output is then emitted with the same pattern that it was received with the exception of a larger amplitude. Buyers have three options when selecting an amplifier for their audio systems: They can opt for an integrated amplifier, which is a combination of a preamp and power amp in one unit; a stereo receiver, which is an integrated amp and a radio tuner; or they can opt for "separates", which is also a preamp and a power amp but as separate units.

The main thing to consider when selecting a vintage amplifier or receiver is the available total power. The power within an amp is graded by the number of watts per channel, where smaller amplifiers provide approximately 15 to 30 watts and the larger ones can produce more than 100. If the amplifier is to be used with simple home stereo equipment, the low wattage amplifiers can work just fine, and they generally cost less. Lastly, total harmonic distribution (THD) is another factor to consider when selecting amps. Its numeric rating implies the amount of degradation to the signal quality that the amp provides. Good vintage amplifiers have less than 0.1 percent THD.

Vintage/Classic Compressors

Vintage compressors provide true, original compression, which often gives an unbiased sound with unique clarity. With a good vintage compressor, buyers should be able to choose slow or fast attack times that provide transparency and dynamics. Before selecting the right vintage compressor, buyers need to consider the need to have transparent level control and extremely low distortion. Cleaner sounding compressors can be equally useful during mixing, especially on complex harmonics instruments, which may not respond well to distortion.

Additionally, the speed of the compressor that is achieved via a feedforward circuit design should be considered. Compressors can sometimes react so quickly that it can generate distortion easily while tracking individual waveform cycles. This is especially true for models with release and variable attack controls.

Vintage Speakers

The speakers are generally the most hyped up component of audio electronics because it is the final component between music and the ears. Buyers often spend a lot of time and money when buying speakers because they want to get the absolute best option. They should consider the size of the speaker cone when buying vintage speakers. A larger woofer can produce a fuller bass sound, and speakers with more cones often emit richer sounds than speakers with less. Buyers should also ask the sellers about the power recommendations that are often listed on the speaker’s back panel because the speakers may be damaged if underpowered.

Vintage Equalisers

The purpose of an equaliser is to let the user tune the sounds of their audio system. These additional controls allow more tone adjustments that are not normally achieved through the bass, midrange and treble controls. Buyers should consider the fact that some equalisers, often called EQs, are designed to work specifically with a particular brand, while others work with any stereo.

In addition, the features on the EQs should also be considered because some also include features like a subwoofer output, dual amp balancing options via a front-to-rear fader, line drivers to boost the receiver voltage, and sometimes high pass filters that are engaged on the front and rear channels.

Vintage Microphones

Some people would argue that vintage mics cannot compare to the contemporary mics with modern technology; however, a good vintage capacitor mic can easily compare to a contemporary equivalent. The same can be said for coils and ribbons mics. The mics that are now listed as vintage were generally very expensive during their time because studios and broadcasters who only bought products of high quality often used them. Therefore, these types of mics, were well-made and long lasting. Most vintage mics that are listed for sale now are usually ribbons or valve capacitor mics.

Buyers need to consider the sound that they are looking for before deciding on the right vintage mic. For instance, ribbons mics generate a natural and smooth-sounding top end, and a good valve capacitor mic has a very clear mid-range and warm low-end. While some of the mic’s vintage sound has to do with its other vintage components, a lot of it can still be attributed to its construction design and the materials used to build it.


More buyers would probably gravitate towards vintage audio electronics if they were more educated on the procedures in buying these types of equipment. While buying vintage audio can be painstaking, buyers simply need to figure out what types of audio component they are in the market for, and they would have already jumped over quite a few hurdles.

Once that is done, they simply need to learn about all the various consideration factors that affect the purchasing decision for each component. This helps them easily perform a search on eBay and narrow down the listing to audio electronics that are conducive to the system that they are trying to build. eBay further simplifies the buying process by providing a wide variety of vintage audio components, along with numerous filtration options, such as brand, model, condition, and price. eBay’s great search features allows buyers to quickly find a suitable component that is also within their budget range.

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