Ever since I was a teenager, I was interested in audiophile equipment and music. I was an avid subscriber to Stereophile magazine, The Absolute Sound, and other such industry mags over the years. I never had enough money to get any gear, however. In college, my physics professor marveled that I could hear the 15 KHz flyback transformer frequency of CRT TVs. (At age 45, however, I no longer hear it, sadly.)
Fast forward a couple of decades, and… I still don’t have enough money to get any (serious) gear, but at some point you just have to start collecting, so…
Enter the concept of the budget audiophile. Some careful shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, and online can yield some budget deals, and so the adventure has started.
Over the years I’ve collected some modest gear, and recently I’ve obtained some newer offerings. So, for the record, here they are – and while none of them are true audiophile-grade equipment, a case could be made for some of them approaching that level – and yet none were expensive:
- Harman/Kardon FL 8350 5-Disc CD player (sadly with the infamous “disc recognition problem”)
- Sony MZ-R500 Recording Mini-Disc Walkman
- Sennheiser HD 558 Open Circumaural Headphones
- Sennheiser CX 300-II Noise-Canceling Earbuds
- Bravo Audio V1 Class-A Headphone Amplifier (Russian Electro Harmonix 6922 tube)
- Bravo Audio V2 Class-A Headphone Amplifier (Chinese Shu Guang 12AU7 tube)
- Audio-Technica AT-PL50 Turntable
- Sony TC-WE435 Dual Cassette Deck (LOL) — thrift store find to play my small collection of tapes. While I normally wouldn’t consider cassette tapes “Hi-Fi”, my mind always flashes back to an experiment we did in college with a Nakamichi RX-505 cassette deck making a copy from CD with Dolby C noise reduction, and upon playback we couldn’t hear the difference between the cassette and the CD. (My thrift store deck, however, is no Nakamichi Dragon, and my commercial tapes are no Type IV metal tapes, either, LOL.)
- Optimus CD-8150 5-Disc CD player
(LOL)— While I originally convinced myself that any Radio Shack product could never be “great” quality (I purchased it because of the price), this CD player has provided many hundreds of hours of listenable, enjoyable music. If the Harman/Kardon is “better” quality, I haven’t yet heard it.
- Kenwood KE-205 7-Band Graphic Equalizer — a thrift store find, this is primarily for TV sound.
- Archer Dolby Surround Sound Integrated Amplifier (LOL) — also for TV sound.
- Sanyo SS-900 loudspeakers (part of the first stereo system I purchased myself in the ’80s) — also for TV sound.
- Polk Audio RT 7 Bookshelf Speaker (just one… thrift store find, LOL)
- Marantz CD5000 compact disc player — another thrift store gem.
- Technics ST-Z980 AM/FM Stereo Tuner — yet another thrift store gem, $4.99!
And thus my collection starts. I’m kicking myself for passing up a Carver FM Stereo Tuner that I saw sitting on the shelf at a local thrift store. I guess I’m too cheap even for thrift store items sometimes, LOL.