“Vintage audio equipment not only sounds better but it also looks better,” says Jeremy Irwin, the owner of Aural HiFi, a sonic showroom that transcends eras on South Broadway as a purveyor of timeless audio equipment. “Back in the ’50s, your stereo was your home entertainment system. There was no TV, so your turntable, amps, preamps, and speakers were a centerpiece and status symbol. And you definitely didn’t try to conceal them like you see with today’s equipment.” Speakers were made out of walnut, mahogany, and other quality woods that were meant to be displayed, not hidden up high or disguised as a rock.
This commitment to aesthetic appeal is reflected in Aural HiFi’s highly curated showroom, where throughlines of mid-century style, clean lines, and raw wood shine. Irwin’s discerning approach is evident in the 100-plus messages from potential sellers he sifts through every week to ensure that only the finest pieces of vintage audio equipment make their way into the store’s collection. Aural HiFi also offers a mix of modern equipment, but only if it holds up to both the vintage equipment’s aesthetic appeal and audio quality.
Irwin explains that vintage pieces oftentimes outperform today’s equipment in sound quality. “Vintage production wasn’t as limited by material and manufacturing costs. They used higher-end materials and didn’t mass produce.” This resulted in quality equipment that doesn’t break down over time. But, smaller production means harder to find, which is why Aural HiFi is an audiophile’s dream. No need to dig through eBay, just head to the shop where the stereo archaeologist has already unearthed all the hidden gems.
We asked Irwin to make a few recommendations for some showstopping vintage audio equipment currently sitting in his showroom. Here is what he pointed out:
1Vintage Mcintosh MC240
stereo tube power amplifier; production: 1965–69
2Vintage Mcintosh C22 Original
tube preamplifier; production: 1963-72
3Vintage Pioneer RT-707
reel-to-reel tape deck; production: 1977–81
4Klipsch La Scala
speakers (custom restoration); production: 1970
5Bowers & Wilkins Matrix 800
rosewood loudspeakers with Satori Beryllium upgrade; production: 1991