Friday, May 26, 2017

Vintage Speaker Review: Bose Interaudio 4000 Speakers

When it comes to audio sometimes it is time to say out with the new and in with the old.  I recently bought a pair of vintage Bose Interaudio 4000 Speakers to replace my fairly new Pioneer bookshelf speakers.  While I thought my Pioneer speakers were pretty good, there is only so much a bookshelf speaker can do---particularly in the bass department.  Enter my "new to me" Bose speakers.



Bose is known for creative and somewhat gimmicky speaker designs.  The often feature tiny speakers backed by a subwoofer.  Many people have found those designs problematic because they rely very much on good speaker placement for success.  Fortunately, the Bose Interaudio 4000 speakers are large, old-school, speakers that rely on straightforward speaker design.




In size Bose Interaudio 4000 speakers are somewhere between floorstanders and bookshelf speakers.  They have a big woofer, a smaller tweeter, and two forward facing bass ports.  Each cabinet is 13-inches by 22-inches.

According to the specifications plate these Bose speakers are recommended for amps with 10 to 100 watts of power and the impedance is 4 to 8 ohms.  Maximum continuous power is 75 watts.  Some of that seems like hocus-pocus and additional specifications don't seem to be available.  The ear is the ultimate test.  To my ears, the added bass provides a fuller, more present, sound than my prior bookshelf speakers.



You won't find many old school Bose speakers today. Now the speaker maker is focused on personal audio, audio for computers, wireless speaker sets, and headphones. But, if you search hard enough, you can still find some Bose bookshelf speakers.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Thrift Store Stereo: Philips AZ4000 MP3-CD Sound Machine Boom Box

I just hooked up our latest thrift store find. It's a Philips AZ4000 Sound Machine.  It's an interesting boom box from the 2001-2002 timeframe.  My wife was drawn to it and we bought it at a local Goodwill store for only $16.91.


 According to Amazon.com, the product is described simply as -

  • 20-track CD programming, repeat and shuffle play; firmware upgradeable
  • 3-band equalizer and Ultrabass 2 bass boost enhance and customize system sound quality
  • 2-way speakers with 4-inch woofers, dome tweeters, and bass-reflex cabinets
  • Runs on 6 D batteries (not included) or AC power (cord supplied) 
Of course, this is a vintage boombox from 15 years ago.  But, if you'd like to read the original Amazon reviews, they are available here -



Philips AZ4000 Dimensions


The unit itself has low and deep dimensions.  It stands about six-inches tall and is about 12-inches deep.  It's fairly heavy and the few available Amazon reviews characterized it as a bulky for a portable boombox. This unit is cosmetically challenged with some melted spots on the left-hand side of the unit.  (I think a previous owner may have set a hot curling iron or something on top of the little boom box.)


Philips Sound Quality


The sound quality is actually, truly, outstanding.  The unit got 4.5 stars our of 5 from Amazon reviewers back in the day.  It has 4 front-facing speakers and two rear-facing bass ports.  You can adjust the bass and the trouble by hitting the bass/treble button and adjusting the volume knob.  The changes you dial in show on the digital display.  Ultra Bass is activated by pushing the button.


The CD player is a top-loaded unit and should be able to read MP3 files from home made CDs.

The Philips AZ4000 CD Player

The Philips AZ4000 Digital Display

Philips AZ4000 Drawbacks


I found the controls to be intuitive and easy to use.  Apparently, the Philips AZ4000 supports a remote control of some sort.  However, this thrift store unit didn't have a remote.  Fortunately, we don't seem to be missing any of the essential controls.  The worst feature of this unit is the lack of an auxiliary input.  While it does have an earphone jack, this vintage portable stereo precedes the Smartphone era and there is no way to hook up devices to this old school boom box.  That's too bad because the speakers are great.

Philips AZ4000 Headphone Jack
With great quality sound, this $17 thrift store special Philips AZ4000 Sound Machine might be a great affordable alternative to an expensive Bose Wave Radio.  For under $20, you can't go too wrong.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Thrift Store Find: iLive Mini Bookshelf Stereo

This little Bookshelf Stereo was made by iLive. They make affordable consumer electronics. Typically, you'll find mini stereos and boomboxes that cost less than $100. In the first store, this little stereo was selling for $30.

iLive Mini Bookshelf Stereo
It looks like the stereo real deal with a subwoofer and a pair of 4-ohm speakers. The drawback is that this unit was made for an old school iPod. While that socket might have been convenient at one time, it makes the unit look a bit dated now. More modern devices will have to use a Y-connector cable.

iLive Mini Bookshelf Stereo (front)

The speakers on this unit were pristine.  I'm sure that it has lots of life left in it as a bedrooom stereo in the right home.  It's a compact and sleek looking unit.

iLive Mini Bookshelf Stereo Speaker (grill removed)

I suspect that strength of this little stereo unit lies around the back.  It does have an auxiliary input (Aux Input) and it also has be inputs and outputs needed to be hooked into a video system.  While this truly isn't an audiophile system by any stretch of the imagination, it just might suffice in the average persons bedroom or office.

iLive Mini Bookshelf Stereo (Back)

There are plenty of small, inexpensive, bedroom systems on the market from companies like iLive or GPX.


Of course, many of these little low cost units have their issues. For example while this iLive unit looked good to me, some mini stereos have fake speaker units built in. You'll find that a tweeter or a mid-range driver is actually a non-functional piece of plastic included for "cosmetic" reasons. If you experience that kind of disappointment, a name-brand unit with a great reputation starts to make real sense.  Names like Onkyo, Sony, and Yamaha may be more expensive, but they are also more trusted by consumers.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sony APM-990 - Vintage Monster Speakers from Sony

Here are some pictures of a huge pair of speakers that I encountered in a thrift store recently. They were Sony APM-990 Speakers. Apparently, these vintage speakers were known for having square woofers.


I haven't found much information online about these monsters. But, according to the label, these vintage floorstanders were 220 Watt speakers designed for 8 ohms of impedance.  One of the thrift store workers hooked them up to whatever stereo receiver was available on the shelf and they had enough power to boom big sound throughout a fairly large retail store.


It's amazing that such brawny speakers can be obtained for about $40.  This pair seemed to be pristine.  Even the particle board cabinets didn't have any obvious chips.



The music pumped from these monsters wasn't from a genre I particularly like and the volume was cranked way to high.  I can't really say I got a good feel for the sound quality of the Sony APM-990 speaker system.  Does an Accurate Pistonic Motion create better sound?  I'll never know and our new apartment doesn't offer the space to find out.  (Plus, our new downstairs neighbor seems nice!)


Are these the greatest speakers of the 1980s?  Probably not.  Of course, the audiophiles over on Audiokarma.org seem to think they are crap.  But, with $40 and an old Van Halen CD, you probably can't go wrong.



Friday, February 10, 2017

Old School Stereo Speakers

Long, long, ago, my dad told me that when it comes to speaker quality, you want a speaker with a big, heavy, magnets.  It was old school advice, but it was good advice.  Old school big floor-standing speakers give big bass, handle power well, and can last for a very long time. 


Technics SB-2845

Over the past couple of years, I've played around with big speakers a few times and I've always been impressed with the sound quality they provided.  Unfortunately, I live in a big city apartment where big bass and big sound are probably not going to be appreciated.  Nevertheless, I absolutely loved my huge Technics SB-2845 speakers and the Cerwin-Vega VS-100s that preceded them.

Cerwin-Vega VS-100 Floor Standing Speaker

One day, I will have a house and a man cave.  That cave will contain some bad ass stereo speakers.  Oh yes, it will.  Those speakers will probably be new.  I'll want something new and sleek and imposing.  I'll probably choose something like these Cerwin-Vega CWV VE-12 floorstanders.


They'll be able to handle amplifiers of up to 300 Watts and provide a frequency response of 28 Hz to 20,000 Khz.  Reviewers give them top marks on Amazon with a 4 star average and many five star reviews.  Their day will definitely come!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Vintage Audio Encounter - A Panasonic RS-856 8-Track Tape Deck

Would you ever buy an 8-track player for your home audio system?  

Every once in awhile, I come across one in the thrift stores.  I remember when my granddad bought a pickup truck with an 8-track player.  That was luxury.  Of course, my granddad only owned two 8-track tapes and both were recorded by Jim Nabors.  Well golly!  Needless to say, I've never been in love with the format.

Panasonic 8-track Player

Vintage Panasonic 8-Track Player


I recently encountered this Panasonic 8-track player at a North Georgia thrift store.  It looked like it was in good shape.  I like the chrome face anyway.  I left it to wait for just the right person with the just the right Jim Nabors 8-track tapes to come buy it.


Of course, listening to 8-track tapes isn't quite as simple as just buying an 8-track player and popping in a tape.  At this point, 8-track players and 8-track tapes are both very old.  According to the 8-track enthusiast site 8trackavenue.com, the budding 8-track enthusiast will need to pro-actively restore their 8-track cassettes before using them.  Even brand new tapes contain a sensing foil strip that can deteriorate badly and render the tapes unusable.  In addition, tapes may need to be re-tensioned.  Fortunately, 8 track avenue has some videos that provide step-by-step instructions for opening up an old 8-track cassette and restoring it.

8 Track technology sells cheap at Goodwill
In addition, there may be issues with the 8-track tape deck itself.  The drive belt that runs the tape deck may well have deteriorated or broken.  The guys at turntableneedles.com have a whole section on how to get a replacement drive belt for an 8-track tape deck.  Vintage-electronics.net also offers a belt kit for this Panasonic tape deck.


By acting pro-actively, to restore your 8-track tapes and make sure that your tape deck is in good working order, you could find yourself with an interesting conversation piece to add to your home audio system.


If you are looking for an owners manual for the Panasonic RS-856 8-Track Player, you can actually get a printed manual at StereoManuals.com for about $9.  Here is the Panasonic Model RS-856 8-Track player in action on Youtube:


If you need some 8-track tapes, you can find them on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Replacement Foam Tips for Your Earbuds

If you are serious about being a cheap ass audiophile, then I think I've found the perfect product for you.  It's replacement earbud tips.  Yup, if you wear out those foam tips on your earbuds, you don't have to buy a new pair of earbuds.  All you have to do is order some replacement memory foam tips for your existing earbuds.



It seems like a pretty goofy product since you can just go out and pay $5 to $15 for a brand new pair of earbuds.  However, if you are serious about the environment and NOT throwing things away that have good life left in them, it makes sense to have some extra earbud tips on hand.  So, if you lost the foam tips for your earbuds, or want to try a different size, or just want to replace grungy existing earbuds, just remember that you can find them here on on Amazon.