Digging for gold

Hunting eBay: Home Audio & Hi-Fi

For our second Hunting eBay post I’ve focused in on hi-fi. A personal soft-spot, my eBay watch list is often teeming with everything from iconic vintage audio listings to mystic hi-fi relics. There isn’t as much glory or panache in an excellent piece from the ’70s as there is an equally aged watch, but the gems do exist. And even today, beyond the walls of big-box retailers, there are still plenty of brands (both domestic and abroad) creating lofty components for the audio buff.

Here are a few finds from this week’s eBayFinders scavenge, both vintage and modern, well- and stratospherically-priced. And in case you prefer your eBay finds of the automotive variety, here’s a link to last week’s post.

Klipsch THX Ultra2 Home Theater System

Ready to shatter that puny home theater in a box you picked up at eBay? Behold the Klipsch THX Ultra2 home theater system. The award-winning system uses pro-grade technology and specs in its setup, which includes a total of 7 speakers, 2 subwoofers and a subwoofer amplifier. In tandem, the THX-certified system is nothing short of explosive, transforming any room into one of the closest things to cinema-spec out there.

It’s worth noting that Klipsch only honors their 5-year warranty when purchased from a certified retailer. This listing is from one of the few on eBay.

Bid Now: Here

Braun SK 55 Record Player AM/FM Radio by Dieter Rams Design

Iconic is about the only way to describe the Braun SK55. Loved by design-buffs the world over — not to mention part of the MoMA permanent collection — the SK55 is the design handiwork of Dieter Rams and a fine exhibition of the less-is-more philosophy. Since most SK55s today come from European vendors, it’s important to note that their turntable motors, which were equipped with a different phonograph motor than standard U.S., will play 20% too fast. This model has been modified to allow the proper RPM speed. They’ve also added a mini-plug socket for plugging in your iPod. It’s not original (though it’s interesting to think what Rams would have thought of the iPod), but offers a nice modern convenience for the non-hardcore purist.

Bid Now: Here

Audio Research Reference 600 Mk2 Tube Mono Amps

Like Enzo Ferrari to the automotive world, William Z. Johnson was arguably one of the most important people in audio lore. His creations, considered backwards at the time, are today revered as classics. The Audio Research Reference 600 Mk2 Tube Mono Amps were considered one of his finest engineering/design marvels and are beloved by audiophiles all around the world. Sold for a mind-boggling $40,000 until 2005 when they were finally discontinued, these particular Reference 600s date from 1999. Totally impractical — the shipping cartons weigh 250 lbs, each — the 600s aren’t for the fragile of heart, but are they enduring? Absolutely.

Bid Now: Here

Pioneer SX-1980 Stereo Receiver

The Zeus of receivers, the SX-1980 and its electronic brethren are responsible for turning many a man into an audio-nerd. The SX-1980 was manufactured during the late 70s and early 80s and its claim to audio fame was brute force — limitless high-current power meant huge headroom, which translated driving huge power-hungry speakers without skipping a beat. Over-engineering also pervaded every corner of the SX-1980 — one look at its capacitors offers hearty proof. Today, the SX-1980 is a rare beast and still every bit as impressive as it was in its heyday.

Bid Now: Here

Sony PCM-D1

We recently wrote about the Sony PCM-D1, but its praises bear repeating. It won’t be long before audio recording buffs look back at the D1 as one of the best recorders of our time. It’s serious piece of equipment and offers serious performance (and looks) to boot. Analog VU meters and 24-bit audio recording all housed in a titanium enclosure makes the PCM-D1 one stunning stereo throwback. If you care about the quality of your audio recording, you’ll want to pick one up while they’re still around.

Bid Now: Here

SPL Phonitor Headphone Monitoring Amplifier

Have you ever listened to a pair of headphones or earphones and found yourself becoming “tired” of listening to them? It’s called ear-fatigue, and it plagues us all.

Purchasing a high-end pair of headphones and plugging them directly into an iPhone or laptop headphone jack is tantamount to putting a set of Costco-brand tires (not that such a thing exists, but you get the point) on a Porsche 911 GT. The power and quality of amplification from most of today’s electronic devices is typically relegated to a cheap, anonymous chip mass-produced in China. Germany-based SPL’s solution may cost more than the laptop or computer you’ll plug it into, but it exemplifies so much of what a great headphone amplifier should be. It virtually eliminates ear-fatigue by throwing gobs of precise power at the problem.

Bid Now: Here

Pink Floyd Animals Tour Oakland Concert Poster

It doesn’t have any internal electronics, but this poster gets me juiced. An original concert poster for Pink Floyd’s Animals tour at their Oakland Coliseum stop illustrated by Randy Tuten, it’s guaranteed authentic. The poster’s not huge, measuring just 11 x 17 inches, but matted and framed — and maybe under spotlight next to your Stratocaster — this poster will make any wall in your home legendary.

Bid Now: Here

Audioengine 5+

Looking for an incredible speaker that pairs with all your computers and iStuff? Then look no further than the Audioengine 5+. Designed with the desktop audiophile in mind, the 5+ features loads of convenient touches, like a built-in AC power outlet (for plugging in peripherals like the Apple Airport Express for streaming) and a top-mounted, powered USB port. As for the sound? Well, let’s just say this: it’s managed to get itself stuck right in between amazing and outstanding. We want a pair for every computer at the office.

Bid Now: Here

Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

“Ultimate” gets thrown around a lot in hi-fi. When it comes to headphone cliche you’ll hear the term even more, but for Sennheiser HD 800s, the word is simply true. There are more expensive headphones out there with even loftier specifications, but a pair of 800s are utterly other-dimensional. Precision-built and hand-assembled, HD 800s center around large transducers and an open-back design. Open, dynamic and so spacious you’ll think you’re listening to room-sized speakers, the 800s make listening a transcendental experience.

Bid Now: Here