Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Karman/Kardon 330c Stereo Receiver

My Marantz 2235b stereo receiver began misbehaving this week, with the signal to the left speaker almost cutting out completely, so I pulled it off of the shelf and moved my second stereo into rotation - the Harman/Kardon 330c.  I'm having so much fun listening to Miles Davis and The Beatles on this unit that I'm keeping it on the shelves.

I picked up the HK 330c a few months ago at Hymie's Records, just after they changed to new owners, who began pulling out many vintage turntables and stereo equipment out of the basement.  I've had less luck with a couple old turntables - an MCS/Technics and a JVC direct drive - but the stereos have been terrific.

The price for the HK?  $12.50.  That's twelve dollars and fifty cents.  That is an astonishing deal for one of the classic 1970s stereo receivers.  I'm certain the new owners didn't know how valuable this machine truly is.  They could have sold it on Ebay for a tidy sum.  But their generosity is my gain.

This is a terrific stereo, somewhat compact and humble in appearance, but powerful in its performance.  Music is clear and sharp, with very strong and confident bass.  FM/AM stations come in clearly, the headphone jack works perfectly, and Miles sounds warm and sharp as ever.

I'm a great fan of '70s stereo receivers.  I love the way they look and I love the way they sound.  The '70s were a golden age for hi-fi audio, and as far as I'm concerned, the quality just dropped off a cliff in the 1980s.  I have no idea what happened, but stereos in the '80s suddenly became plastic, flimsy, and cheap.  They were hideous back then, and 25 years of dust and grime has only made them uglier.  Yuck.

The '70s stereos are where it's at.  A good solid cleaning, and the Harman/Kardon 330c is just like new.  I'll need to continue scrubbing down the metal dials and buttons, which have become caked in dust.  Like so much audio gear, this baby has been sitting in a dusty cellar for many years.  Why is that?  Why did so many people lose interest in their stereo systems?  A sound system defined cool in the heyday of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and Stevie Wonder.

Somewhere around 1980, everything in America just turned sour.

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