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Sound Advice: These speaker brands can be good thrift store finds

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

Q. Bouncing off the thrift store finds column, could you post a list of speaker brands to look for when thrift store/garage sale hunting? As a “not an audiophile” musician, I know there are quality brands I have never heard of.

—J.B., Concord, California

A. You are exactly right about quality speaker brands. The very best speakers tend to not be mass-market names, and if a lay person went to an audio show like AXPONA they would be completely unfamiliar with most of the speakers there. Throw in the dizzying array of vintage and defunct brands and there are a lot of choices to sort through.

Some of these brands are exotic, but you just might find them for sale somewhere. I have read reports of rare and valuable vintage speakers in perfect working order left out for trash pickup because someone inherited them and did not know what they had or how to use them. Not every speaker from these brands is necessarily good-sounding, and some of the companies have changed ownership several times over the years with corresponding improvements and drops in quality. Still, it is worth investigating if you find any of these names when bargain hunting.

The brands: Acoustat, ADS or a/d/s, AR/Acoustic Research, Acoustic Energy, Acculine, Advent, Altec Lansing, American Acoustics, Apogee, Arx, ATC, Axiom, Bang & Olufsen, Boston Acoustics, B&W, Cambridge Audio, Carver, Celestion, Chane, Harman Kardon Citation Series, Dahhlquist, DCM, Definitive Technology, Design Acoustics, Dynaudio, ESS, Focal, Genesis, Harbeth, Hsu, Infinity, JBL, KEF, KLH, Klipsch, Legacy Audio, Linn, Magnat, Magnepan, Martin Logan, MB Quart, Mirage, Mission, MoFi, Monitor Audio, Mordaunt Short, Naim, Nestorovic, NHT, Ohm, Paradigm, Phase Technology, Pinnacle, Polk, PSB, Pyramid, Q Acoustics, Quad, Rega, REL, Revel, Rogers, Snell, Sonus Faber, Spendor, Spica, SVS, Tannoy, Thiel, The Speaker Company/TSC, Vandersteen, Waveform, and Wharfedale.

 

The list is not conclusive and I will update and add to it going forward. With some it would be an extreme long shot to find them in a thrift store, but who am I to say what might be out there? After all, two years ago I found a pair of Linn bookshelf speakers for $50 at a Goodwill in the rural Midwest. In performance and luxury I consider Linn the Aston Martin of audio (they actually supplied audio systems for Aston Martin automobiles for a time) and the top-of-the-line Linn turntable currently retails for over $30,000. To find a Linn anything in a thrift store is unthinkable, let alone in Midwestern farm country!

Interestingly enough I was specifically looking for speakers that day, hoping I might come across something good for my girlfriend. When I saw the speakers sitting in a corner I pulled them out and saw the name and logo on the front. After the shock subsided I started laughing and she was confused as to what had gotten into me. I told her about the significance of the brand and how pretty much everything from Linn sounds extremely good, and she asked, “So, you are buying those?” I laughed again and said, “Oh, yeah — we are taking them.” Later that day I connected them to her old amplifier and said, “If they work, you are going to be very, very happy with the sound.” I put in a CD, pushed play and slowly raised the volume. Magnificent sound filled the room and I will never forget the way she smiled when she heard it, music lover that she is.

I would love to hear about great thrift store finds from the audience, so if you have any to share please contact me though soundadvicenews.com.

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