Thread Number: 75164  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Need Hi-Fi Product Ideas
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Post# 989776   4/7/2018 at 14:49 by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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I recently sold an Onkyo A7090 integrated amp to a local fellow hi-fi enthusiast. I bought it from a pawn shop in Phoenix 29 years ago and it has been gathering dust ever since. I mean that literally btw, my wife put an "alter" on top of the amp and burned incense there! Before sale I took off the cover and blasted the inside with compressed air. He got a fine amp he would have never otherwise been able to obtain locally, while I took another step closer to a new business.
The amp didn't sell many units here in the states when sold new circa 1980, but was Onkyo's best integrated amp of that time.
Anyhow while I looked around for other gear in my now packed garage the Onkyo buyer may also want, (not alone in that state of affairs around here I suspect), we ended up talking for almost two hours. He also went home with a pair of JBLs', while the Altecs he really wanted are still too buried right now!
Long story short we shared many hobbies and interests. One big difference was this gentleman had an electrical engineering background, something I know next to nothing about. Positive, negative, ground is as far as I have bothered educating myself.
But like this guy I was bitten by the stereo bug early and often as it were, devouring every stereo magazine I could law my hands on and tying up all my limited resources in gear and albums through my teen years.
I got away from the sport for decades with an occasional exception like the Onkyo mentioned earlier.
So without further ado, what would you like to see offered in audiophile equipment?
I figure between his engineering skill (or another like him) and my business acumen we could get something into the market which could stand a chance at selling a few units.

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This post was last edited 04/07/2018 at 16:59

Post# 989781 , Reply# 1   4/7/2018 at 15:38 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
That is a market...

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that is incredibly saturated, proof of which is the hundreds of small start up audio companies that have been rendered to the dustbin of history since just about forever. I'm a former editor/writer for a vintage audio magazine, and know a fair number of people and/or companies, some with very deep pockets and engineering talent, who have tried under far better circumstances, and have even formally interviewed a few of them, along with some very successful and well-known names in the audio business. If you have beaucoup bucks to burn have at it, but the history of such efforts would not lend one to a particularly sanguine outlook at that type of endeavor.

Post# 989786 , Reply# 2   4/7/2018 at 16:05 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
I might also point out....

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that engineering R&D for an audio product these days is incredibly involved and expensive, not to mention potential liability issues and the need for safety certification by entities such as Underwriters Laboratories before you can even think about selling any electrical product. While the idea is noble, the reality is daunting.

You might notice my address in Binghamton NY, which is the home of McIntosh Laboratory, one need not explain who they are, presumably. Over some 50 years I've owned many of their products and know engineering and executive staff. Since 1949 they have survived as one of the very few still truly American audio manufacturers, having bought out foreign owners after a period 1980 - 2014 of being owned by Clarion, Denon, then an Italian group, only by producing ultra-expensive and reputable ($5000 - 10000+ amplifiers for example) products to the very highest of standards. I was scheduled to interview their CEO Charlie Randall for series of articles and a book on Mc when our magazine folded (due to the pervasive "Web-Effect" that has done-in many print publications). Mc almost never needs to advertise; they sell everything they can make. The industry is one that is incredibly competitive, and there's little room for error, the attrition rate of countless would-be "boutique" entries being confirmation.

Post# 989791 , Reply# 3   4/7/2018 at 16:25 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        

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regarding R&D, just take a look at the schematic for that Onkyo 7090. Audio engineering is not at all the same as electrical engineering, and Onkyo had, and has, hundreds of audio engineers on their design staff

To be constructive, one might suggest a more approachable goal could be to buy and refurb these vintage units. Many buy and re-sell them, but few properly restore them to sell. While I stick to tube units, there is also a strong market for '70s solid state as well, and certainly for premium properly rebuilt examples, and all of them need rebuilding by this time. My now-gone Sansui A717, bought new, needed extensive work after 40 years, and they all do.

Post# 989798 , Reply# 4   4/7/2018 at 17:11 by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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Thanks for the sobering thoughts Roger.
Coincidentally enough the fellow I was referencing above, Tony, was also from New York and strongly favors Mc gear, especially a certain design/series of transistor amp they developed and sold decades ago. When I was living in Manhattan a couple of years ago I saw a vast array of tube Mc gear at a thriftstore that was scheduled to be auctioned off to the highest bidder on their anniversary of opening or some such date in the (then) near future. I forgot to attend, I will always wonder what the lot went for.
Hunting around for vintage gear is also a saturated game given the number of ads I see in Craigslist looking to relieve you of, "dads old stereo". I called one of these guys about my Altecs some years ago and he was really chomping at the bit to get ahold of them.

This post was last edited 04/07/2018 at 19:58
Post# 989815 , Reply# 5   4/7/2018 at 19:14 by IowaBear (Cedar Rapids, IA)        

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I will be 50 this month and have always been interested in audio components.


However like most people I now listen to music via streaming at the computer with powered speakers or via mobile devices with headphones.  It's just too convenient/cheap to ever go back.


Sometimes I browse ebay/CL for the components I had as a kid and think about getting them for their nostalgic value.  But so far I have resisted because I know I wouldn't actually ever use them.


I do love the beauty of the 1970s vintage components though.  There will never be anything like them again for the mass market.

Post# 989830 , Reply# 6   4/7/2018 at 20:34 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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don't be too surprised.....

it was just on the news, to start pulling out your cassettes, vinyl, and 8tracks.....all of which I still have a play....

they are making a come back!

we have two shops just opened up near me, featuring repair/restoration and retail of albums and tapes.....

one thing I am looking to add is a reel-to-reel player/recorder.....and I know just where to find them inexpensively....

check out.... .....also on facebook....Chris does some outstanding work....and will be adding some upgrades to my turntables


Post# 989896 , Reply# 7   4/8/2018 at 10:52 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
there has been a huge resurgence...

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in vinyl, and consequently in vintage and new turntables (the Crosley junk I don't count as a turntable) as well. I have a few and should probably relieve myself of a couple of them. They are fairly plentiful on Craigslist still, compared to '70s amps. Estate auctions and yard sales seem to be the best for amps as there's too much competition on CL. Right now there's probably 12-15 turntables on CL within an hour's drive of here. That might be a promising avenue as vinyl popularity seems to be just gathering steam, and again, proper cleaning and adjustment of turntables is something most re-sellers don't bother with.

By the '70s even average turntables, particularly Japanese, were very good (I'm not talking audiophile here), while, unfortunately Dual and Garrard had really suffered by 1980-ish; their earlier ones were very decent, however, up to the mid 70s or so. Last year I bought a new copy of Sgt Pepper and after 30 yrs of CDs, put it on my old Phillips TT and it blew me away, mesmerized to the extent that I dragged out more LPs and listened for hours. There's no substitute for really well reproduced analog sound... imho!

Post# 989898 , Reply# 8   4/8/2018 at 11:03 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I think there's

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Definitely a market there, but the niche you're looking at has a very high barrior to start ups. Why not examine all aspects of Hi-Fi in 2018 and look for a simpler way to get your foot in the door?


I say this having recapped several sets and rebuilding quite a few V-M 150x and newer lately. And, yes, oh anal-retentive ones- I know they're not your definition of Hi-Fi.

Post# 990370 , Reply# 9   4/11/2018 at 22:34 by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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In the past I enjoyed the articles and opinions of Art Dudley. He had a small hi-fi mag that has since folded. Lots of pricey stuff covered but also cheap DIY projects. He is at Stereophile now I believe.
Anyhow here is some turntable porn to enjoy:

CLICK HERE TO GO TO Stricklybojack's LINK

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Post# 990432 , Reply# 10   4/12/2018 at 13:11 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
the ultimate turntable...

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has no tone arm, cartridge, or stylus at all! However the ELP laser turntable, though around since the '80s and dropped in price from around $18k to $10 or thereabouts, still has occasional issues with dust/dirt and is sold and serviced only in Japan. The concept, however, is genius as, like a CD, there is no wear, and unlike CDs, totally analog, having no D/A converter etc.

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Post# 990442 , Reply# 11   4/12/2018 at 14:39 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        
the ultimate turntable?

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Maybe, maybe not. That turntable was, to my mind, an interesting and innovative product. It arguably has value.


But...a review of the Finial about 1990 in Hi-Fi News and Record Review was frankly underwhelming. If I recall the review right--it's been a long time since I read it--the overall sound quality was equal to a turntable a fraction of the price.Plus the LPs must be really, really clean. There was far less tolerance of a bit of dust than conventional turntables. The reviewer felt a record cleaning machine was essential, although--as he pointed out--that's probably not an issue if you can afford to buy a turntable that costs several times the cost of record cleaning machine.


That of course is one review, and one done nearly 30 years ago. The design may have been tinkered with--but then conventional turntables have also been tinkered with. But I can't help but note I have never heard of anyone owning such a turntable, but I hear of people owning conventional turntables as expensive--or even more expensive!--all the time.


But a turntable like that has its place. I think there is value in having different approaches. And it seems like a good choice for certain applications, like library media archival departments, where protecting media may be far, far more important than having ultimate performance.

Post# 990449 , Reply# 12   4/12/2018 at 16:56 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        
Then there is this:



The process of making records hasn't changed much over the last hundred or so years, but that itself could change soon. Austria-based Rebeat Innovation has begun the work to bring vinyl into the 21st century. Of course, that involves lasers. Specifically, converting analog audio information into a digital, 3D topographic map of the music, and then etching that into a platter with light. According to Pitchfork, this process will result in around 40 percent longer playing times per side, 30 percent more amplitude and will offer better sound quality overall. It'd also sidestep the chemicals typically used in the record-making process.


The first HD records won't be in stores for awhile, though. Rebeat recently picked up a $4.8 million investment and it's using $600,000 of that money to buy its laser system, which may not ship until this July. From there, the company needs to produce test stampers and find a handful (five) of pressing plants. The plan is to have test pressings ready for Detroit's Making Vinyl conference this October, with LPs arriving at your favorite record store sometime next year.



Maybe best of all is that if HD vinyl takes the music world by storm, unlike UHD Blu-rays you won't have to upgrade your equipment to listen to them. That's right, your existing turntable will play these and your collection of vintage records. It probably won't stop labels from putting out new versions of their classic catalogs at an even higher price, however.


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