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Thread: Where have all the stereos gone?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Where have all the stereos gone?

    I was looking through some old copies of National Lampoon, and it struck me how so many ads there were for stereo equipment inside its covers. There was probably an ad for stereo equipment on every other page, with many full-page or two-page spreads. A few more examples:

    http://i.imgur.com/hGaLN.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/02HNV.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/cXYRl.jpg

    It got me wondering ... what happened to the traditional stereo? You know; a big heavy receiver, a tape deck and turntable that would have eventually been supplemented and later replaced by a CD player, and huge speakers?

    During the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a stereo store in just about every neighborhood of my hometown. That's not including Radio Shack, which also sold a wide variety stereo equipment in all of their stores. Airchecks of local FM radio stations from the era are loaded with ads for stereo stores. I remember that many stereo stores in my hometown also sold posters and "smoking accessories".

    I find it hard to believe the iPod or Best Buy was responsible for the demise of the traditional stereo. Ads for stereo equipment were still unusually common by today's standards in NatLamps of the 1980s, but they were fewer in number as the decade went on; the decline long before MP3 players or the proliferation of big box electronic stores. Maybe one could blame the Walkman, but was the sound quality the same as a traditional stereo with headphones? Another hypothetical for the decline of the stereo is the ghetto blaster. However, most blasters of the time sounded like shit, even those from top-tier brands.

    National Lampoon also had no shortage of ads for car stereo equipment. I can understand why such ads would have declined through the years; decent stereos became standard equipment in most cars, and non-DIN standard sized openings made aftermarket stereos harder to install. Aftermarket car stereo equipment seems to be a niche market now, unlike the 1970s and 1980s.

    So, Cyburbians, where have all the stereos gone? Do you still have an stereo in your house, whether it's part of a home theater system or not?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I have a Boston Acoustics home theater system in my house. The DVD player part of it went bad, but otherwise it still works great. They have since stopped building much more than the speakers, but those alone are best part of the system. I am in the process of slowly building a HTPC that will run everything for me, including digital radio and 7.2 surround sound. It will all be housed in a nice looking upright radio from the 20's to match the decor of the house.

    I think that those systems still exist, but improved technology has done away with the bulk and size. Just look at the Bose line of home theaters. Their small table top systems offer far better quality than many of the massive systems with huge speakers. But I think the trend is to quality and not loudness.

    I do think that there is a cultural aspect of it where loudness is more important than quality. You can often hear the bass from blocks away in some of these cars and you walk into the house and see a TV that takes up the entire wall and speakers larger than a refrigerator. But those too are becoming less and less.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  3. #3
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    I used to be able to recite from memory every component in my system, along with their specs. Now, I have to get up and check to see just what I have hooked up. (Sony receiver and DVD player, 50" Samsung plasma, Speakers: AE front, KLH center, Optimus rear and JBL sub).

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I have my tuner/turntable/cassette decks plus add-on six disc CD player from the 1990s sitting in my home office. I play it occasionally when I want to listen to a Bills game on the radio, but I haven't played a CD on it in years. I have all of my favorite songs from my large CD collection loaded on my desktop, and the speakers are good enough for me, so that's what I listen to. My latest music purchases have all been MP3 downloads to my cloud drive. I burn CDs to play in my car off the PC, so that's what I listen to when I drive.

    I also have an MP3 player for use when I'm not in my office or in the car.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    ... what happened to the traditional stereo? You know; a big heavy receiver, a tape deck and turntable that would have eventually been supplemented and later replaced by a CD player, and huge speakers?
    It's in my closet.

    In the early 1980s, I went to the nearest Tech Hi-Fi store and purchased a stereo system with a big heavy receiver , a pair of speakers, a tape deck, and a turntable. Over the years, I replaced the turntable once and the tape deck two or three times. I still have the replacement turntable (though I rarely use it). It has been years since I've had a working tape deck... so I cannot play the hundreds (!) of cassettes purchased during the '90s, before I finally caved and added a CD player to the system.

    The speakers finally bit the dust about 7 years ago, and I replaced them with a really nice set of Bose speakers that are small enough to be mounted on the wall of our living room.

    Amazingly, I still have the original JVC receiver after all these years. The buttons for the radio pre-sets no longer work and sometimes you can't tell what radio station you're tuned into, but it works.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    I know, I know!

    With two daughters in college now I know the stereo has been replaced by the "docks" that are accessories to Zunes and Ipods. CD sales peaked in 1999. Both my daughters have Zunes that also play over a car radio.

    I listen to an ancient MP3 player when I work out in my woodlot a good deal, but still don't have a house dock for any of that.

    Want to get a USB turntable as I still have lots of vinyl in the cabinet, but reviews of the available turntables are not very rosy.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Does anyone in here also remember that one classmate in HS or the university during the 1970s or 1980s who had a top-notch system in his home and such an extensive collection of vinyl LP records that you seriously worried about his house collapsing under its weight?





    Mike

  8. #8
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Still have all of my 1980's vintage middle-end stereo equipment. It's what I use when I want to listen to music.

    I will never forgive the industry for transitioning away from wax cylinders!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by fringe View post
    Want to get a USB turntable as I still have lots of vinyl in the cabinet, but reviews of the available turntables are not very rosy.
    Me too! I saw a device in a catalog that allows you to convert cassettes to MP3s, but the reviews of it weren't very good either.

    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    Does anyone in here also remember that one classmate in HS or the university during the 1970s or 1980s who had a top-notch system in his home and such an extensive collection of vinyl LP records that you seriously worried about his house collapsing under its weight?
    That was ME with the huge record collection! And I still have it, plus my husband's... maybe 500 LPs?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    The stereo has never gone away in my household, occasionally I wish it has but mostly Iím happy itís around. My husband now has a truly killer system, but it was his Major Hobby for about 2 years to replace his old system with the perfect setup. There are a lot of others out there like him but itís a definite subculture Ė audiophiles posting on audio forums, attending audio shows and conferences, befriending the local stereo dealers, buying and selling components on Audiogone or through the forums, building your own, etc. If one just wants good sound one does not need to go through the lengths that he did, but there is a wealth of information (and hype) online to meet your needs/wants. My best guess is that most of the ads and local stores have gone away because there are a lot of direct sellers and resellers online now. Some of my husbandís components came directly from the company/manufacturer.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    WHERE HAVE ALL THE STEREOS GONE
    with apologies to Pete Seeger

    Where have all the victrolas gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the victrolas gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the victrolas gone?
    Record players have replaced them every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

    Where have all the record players gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the record players?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the record players gone?
    Taken hi-fiís every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

    Where have all the hi-fis gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the hi-fis gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the hi-fis gone?
    Gone for stereos every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

    Where have all the stereos gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the stereos gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the stereos gone?
    Gone to iPods every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

    Where have all the iPods gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the iPods gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the iPods gone?
    Covered with progress every one
    When will we ever learn?
    When will we ever learn?
    ďDeath comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.Ē

  12. #12
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Me too! I saw a device in a catalog that allows you to convert cassettes to MP3s, but the reviews of it weren't very good either.
    I have had good success using the regular old analog equipment that I already had, patching it into the computer via the audio-IN/microphone port with an analog-to-digital ripper program. Then edit it into the form that you want with other readily available software.

    Mike

  13. #13
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I was one of the 6 people who bought a two-channel receiver in the past year. FYI- they still carry them at Radio Shack.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I have been struggling with this issue. I had a nice stereo for many years. I still have it. Its just not so nice. The NAD receiver has been acting up for years and recently lost an entire channel. The second speaker output is completely shot, and it gives a terrible hum when its on. So, against every thing I ever understood as right and good in the world of audio, I am considering a Bose Wave type unit.

    My main concern is that I am still able to play records through whatever new music player we get (and I am willing to get one of those USB output ones if need be). I have not a huge, but significant album collection and I really cherish a lot of that material (and lack the time to transfer it to digital format or track them down on itunes). Now that my son is really getting into music, the albums are very handy and a source of many hours of enjoyment.

    But the main thing is, I really have such little room. Years ago I sold my sweet but large Polk speakers and got instead a JBL system with small satellite speakers and a subwoofer. Now even that takes up too much room in our dinky house (not to mention the pain in the butt to string all those wires inconspicuously). The stand alone unit is more and more attractive. But for me, the sounds still gotta be good. I like a full sound with the entire sound spectrum well represented. I don't vibrate the walls like I used to, but even at moderate volumes, I gotta hear all that is going on. It just makes for a better experience.

    I'm sad to be saying goodbye to all my components, though. I used to slog around the original boxes so I could package it up all safely. And it was always the first thing to set up when I moved to a new apartment. But those days are gone, replaced with the din of children and all the stuff that comes with them. And I am not moving any time soon, so I really need to find something good sounding that fits in our home and can take a CD input, iPod and a phono or USB input.

    Anyone have good suggestions? I like the Wave, but it is pricey. I'm open for other suggestions...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Guessing: 1000 Albums (33 & 78)

    This Bear's big stereo system is out in my "man cave" (two-story barn-like anti-Cyburbian garage). I still play it way too loud (the way it is supposed to be played), as evidenced by a visit from the local constable who (probably) was thinking that a 14-year old kid was in the garage.

    My favorite system was from a company called Lafayette. They had a retail store in north Toledo and I remember walking in with a wad of cash and purchasing the 999-series (biggest!). That was many years ago. Eventually the components died and were replaced by similar-in-size goodies. I still use the big, tall, black Pioneer monsters out in the cave. I have trouble growing up.
    _____

    My huge collection of vinyl (33s) and other (78s) is ever-so-slowly being transfered to CD. I have a TEAC transfer unit for that purpose. The turntable is not the best but it effectively does the transfer which allows me to (kind of.....) take my records to the workplace.

    I also have a big collection of cassettes. Those can be trans, also, but I am working on the albums first.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    SIng it!

    OUr receivers, JVC and an onkyo are hooked up in the garage to the advent speakers.... Still have a turntable somewhere and the LP's are on a shelf hidden behind a blanket (to prevent cats from using them as a scratching post).

    FUnny about hauling the boxes around, we just tossed a bunch of old component boxes (computer or stereo? ) cray cray hanging on to those, but he insisted!

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