Sunday, June 23, 2019

Mini Stereo Systems Old and New

I spotted this tiny stereo system at a thrift store just yesterday.  It's a cute little AM/FM radio with cassette player and a built in clock.  Unfortunately, it didn't have any power for in store testing.  It needs a 6V power supply adapter or some batteries.  The unit didn't seem to have a brand name. 

Even by 80s standards, this little stereo is the cheesiest little thing.  It's the kind of thing that you'd get as a premium for subscribing to a magazine.  Today, a little stereo is no big deal.  Most people just establish a bluetooth connection between their smartphone and a portable speaker.

However, hobbyists still have lots of great options for tiny stereo systems.  For example, the Jensen JBS-200 Bluetooth AM/FM CD Music System is a great deal for a bedroom, dorm, or private office stereo system.  It's a conventional stereo choice at an affordable price.

Another serious option for tiny stereo equipment is to provide an amplifier that will allow old school passive stereo speakers to be used in conjunction with a computer or phone.  One great option is the Nobsound G3 2-Channel Bluetooth 5.0 Amplifier.  It provides 100 watts of power (50 watts per channel).  Traditional stereo speakers offer excellent sound quality, well designed cabinets, and the power to rock.  There is no reason to let them languish unused in the basement.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thrift Store Stereo: Pioneer XR-P560F Bookshelf Stereo System

I ran across an interesting bookshelf stereo system the other day in my local thrift store.  It's a Pioneer XR-P560F Bookshelf Stereo System.  The system features a CD Changer that holds up to 25 CDs.

While we all live in a quiet world of earbuds and solitude, systems like these once gave everyone some serious stereo power in a compact package.  This system was $62 at my local thrift store.  The challenge would be to find one with a working CD player.  A 25-disc changer seems a bit dicey.

Of course, more modern systems offer things like Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Vintage Speaker Encounter: Sansui S-330 Floorstanding Speakers

One thing about vintage stereo gear that always interests me is the history of various brands.  Some brands are simply legendary.  One of those legendary audio brands was Sansui.  It was one of those brands that Marines always seemed to get when they were stationed in Okinawa.  In college, I went to party where the Marines on our campus had filled a wall with huge, huge, stereo speakers.  While my memory is fuzzy now, I'll bet some of those speakers were Sansui speakers like these Sansui S-330 floorstanding speakers that I recently encountered at an Atlanta area thrift store.

 I thought that these were super powerful speakers, but according to the guys on Audiokarma, Sansui S-330 speakers are just 50 watt speakers.  However, they are efficient and put out great sound.  They have a dynamic range of 40hz to 20Khz.  There are many dedicated Sansui collectors and sometimes used Sansui equipment commands high prices.

These big honking speakers are definitely space hogs.  But, they would certainly add interest to any vintage stereo system.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Cheap Earbuds Review: JBL E15 In-Ear Headphones 1

For the past few weeks, I've been using a set of new JBL E15 earbuds.  As a dirt cheap audio enthusiast, I always want the big audio names even if I am on a tight budget.  These earbuds retail for about $40 on the JBL website.  However, I was able to get them for around $20 at my local Ross store.

JBL E15 Construction

The E15 ear buds come in a variety of colors (mine are bright blue) and have a tangle-free braided cord that leads from the 3.5 mm input to the split where traditional wires lead to each ear.   The overall length is 4 feet. The earphones themselves have molded plastic bodies and silicone tips.  They ship with a spring-closed synthetic leather pouch and small, medium, and large tips.  The construction of these earphones seems good to me.

JBL E15 Specifications

JBL E15 In-ear headphones have 8.6 mm drivers.  They deliver a frequency response of 20hz to 20khz.  They have 16 Ohms of impedance.

JBL E15 Use

I found the medium tips to be perfectly comfortable for extended wear.  I used these earphones on two three hour cross country Delta flights with their in-flight entertainment system and found them comfortable.  I listened to several genres of music including jazz, classical, blues, and rock and found their performance to be just great.  I also watch television and movie programming and enjoyed both with these earphones.  I have also used the E15's with my Samsung Galaxy phone and found them to offer excellent sound quality including good bass.

The only problem I have had with these earbuds is with the pouch.  I momentarily lost my grip on the spring-loaded pouch while getting ready to stow my earphones after a flight and the pouch shot across the airliner cabin to be lost for all eternity.  I literally did not see how far is flew.  The pouch literally disappeared from my hands in the blink of an eye.  I looked for it in adjacent seats but it was gone.  As I had a meeting to attend, I couldn't delay for an extended search.  I suspect it may have jumped into hyperspace.

I can't say that these in-ear headphones offer sound performance that exceeds other earbuds in this general price category.  At some point, earbuds are earbuds.  However, I do like the braided tangle-free cord and overall construction.  These seem good to me.

JBL E15 Overall Recommendation


I recommend JBL E15 earbuds as a solid value from a well-known brand.  They offer excellent performance for the price.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Thrift Store Find: Definitive Technologies Pro Monitor 1000 Bookshelf Speakers

It's not every night that you find high end audiophile speakers at a thrift store.  But, on one recent night, I found a pair of Definitive Technologies Pro Monitor 1000 Bookshelf Speakers for $6.96 apiece at a local thrift store.

After a quick peak under the speaker grills revealed that the foam surrounds appeared to be in perfect condition, I snapped them up.  New, the speakers would have been $219 each according to Crutchfield.  But, for $14 and tax, the thrift store gave me a chance to be a full fledged audiophile!

Of course, there are some minor caveats to my thrift store find.  First, in the listening room of a 6500 square foot mansion with a big gate and stone lions, the Definitive Technologies speaker cabinets would be a perfect piano-finish ebony.  In my local thrift store, the speaker cabinets had lots of little scratches.  Perhaps the installer messed them up?  Fortunately, the blemishes are of no consequence in my hovel.  In the manor, the speakers would ideally be matched with a subwoofer, a center channel speaker, and a couple more bookshelf speakers as part of an exquisite surround system that would allow some busy executive to find inner peace in his office or listening room.  I don't know about all that.  But, in our spare bedroom/home office, the speakers instantly displaced those B652 speakers I wrote about in my last post.

My initial impressions are the they sound great for bookshelf speakers!  I don't know that I am enough of an audiophile to use words like rich and full, etc.  However, these speakers reproduce sound well and sound wonderful to my ear.  Like most bookshelf speakers, these do give up some on the bass end of the spectrum.  The frequency response is rated as 47 hz to 30 Mhz.  These do provide better performance on the higher end than most similar speakers.  Overall, these speakers are excellent.  For less than $15, these speakers were an incredible find. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Speaker Review: Dayton Audio B652 Bookshelf Speakers

I found a pair of Dayton Audio B652 bookshelf speakers at a thrift store about a year ago.  Since I had heard that these speakers were revered in the world of dirt cheap audio, I immediately picked them up.

Dayton Audio B652 Speaker Description

These are very basic bookshelf speakers.  They are basic black vinyl laminate boxes with removable cloth grills.  The speaker enclosures are not ported.  These compact speakers stand just under a foot tall.  According to Amazon the exact dimensions are 11-13/16-Inch (H) x 7-1/16-Inch (W) x 6-7/16-Inch (D).  They have a keyhole hanger on the back to make them easy to hang on the wall.  The speakers are made in China.

Dayton Audio B652 Bookshelf Speaker Specifications

According to the back plate on these speakers, the recommended amplifier power is 5 to 40 watts and the speakers are built for 8 Ohms impedance and provide a frequency response 70hz to 20khz.

The current Amazon description claims the following specifications:
Power handling: 40 watts RMS/75 watts max ; Impedance: 6 ohms ; Frequency response: 70-20,000 Hz ; Sensitivity: 87 dB 1W/1m 

Dayton Audio B652 General Impressions

These are basic bookshelf speakers and they sound o.k.  While they received mostly great reviews online, I don't really see what the big fuss was about.  They don't provide much bass.  For music, I generally use my much larger and more powerful speakers.  However, I find these speakers great for listening to talk radio during the day and in the evening when I don't want to generate any bass that might disturb neighbors late at night.

Since these speakers are only $30 for the pair new, they are a dirt cheap audio bargain and they'll get your stereo system started.  However, in a world gone to bluetooth and earbuds, there are lots of great speakers available second hand in thrift stores and on ebay for similar prices.  Certainly you can start out with these and keep your eyes open for better.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Vintage Audio Sighting: GE Console Record Player

When I was growing up, my parents had a Hi-Fi console with record player inside.  It wasn't particularly fancy.  It didn't have a radio and it was tall and narrow.  In the mid-1970s, my grandparent's bought themselves a large stereo console for their living room.  My grandfather was tone deaf and played very little music, but he liked gadgets and was proud to have the latest greatest.  It was a beautiful and substantial piece of living room furniture that could be covered with magazines, fancy plates, and grandma's little porcelain statues of birds.

Today, whenever I run across a console stereo, I have to take a picture of it.  As my current stereo with big black speakers is banished to the guest room, I can also see the practicality of a living room stereo console.  In the 1960s and 1970s, men got their gadgets and women got their beautiful furniture.  I recently spotted this console stereo in a local consignment store priced at $150.

Hi Fi Record Player Console
The turn table and arm appear to be made of steel or aluminum and have a sturdy 1950s or 1960s look to them.  One reader comment suggest that it may date back to the 1940s.  I have no idea if this system works, but it looks really cool.

Someone's grandfather was proud to know that their stereo console came equipment with the latest and greatest General Electric sound technology.

The controls are metal and exude class for sure.  They look like they've been waiting to entertain someone for a long time.

Is that felt or moss on the turntable?

Will you be playing a 10-inch or 12-inch vinyl record today?

I think someone did a good job refinishing this piece before consigning it.  It will be a great addition to a hipster home somewhere.