Your comparison between audio and automobiles is a fun one. Both are sophisticated manufactured devices. Be it mental or physical, both take you on journeys. Both can demand a pretty penny. And yeah, over-indulgence in either passion can lead to deafness.
Just because an older method can outperform newer ones doesn't address other factors that might be at play.
Sure, older models might smoke the newer, but at what cost?
Ride quality, emissions, fuel consumption, etc.?
Asking something created 50 years ago, though it might be 'superior' to current models in terms of, say, power output, doesn't address the other, and probably more subtle, improvements in newer equipment.
@gdnrbob I agree. When the "total package" is considered, there's little argument that well-designed late model cars are the winner. It depends on the objectives, I suppose. And when you narrow the scope you can focus time (and, money) or specific criteria. Like straight line acceleration. The quickest 0-60 vehicle in my garage just happens to be the quietest and most comfortable. (Rivian R1T) But, it's hard to beat the the top-down experience of a short wheel base convertible that likes to make "involuntary lane changes" and sounds like a pro-stocker when you get on the gas. (Sunbeam Tiger - 347, dual quads)
Back to the point of this discusssion, the sonics of vintage gear can be improved by 60% while staying well within the parameters of "personalized".
Thanks for the comments.
Do they make cutters for vinyl? Ok, that is a joke. The line for each of us varies. There is nothing wrong with that. Fist fights shouldn’t exist between the horn guys and the planer guys. I happen not to like how my neighbor trims her lawn, but she is proud of it. And on we go.
I just got done listening for a short while to my system and was glad that it was pleasant, but just pleasant. This after I fixed two bugs in the system.
This carries on to practically any other category. My other hobby is target shooting. But what am I to do when I’ve hit the dot so many times? Hell, my wife is a better shot than me.
@4krowme I am a shooter too. Lately I'm not active. With Covid cancelling matches, I got been very busy in audio and climbing/hiking. But in 2000, just before covid, I won the California F-class championship (1000 yds) with a rifle i built. I'll get back to it eventually.
If everything is so much better, then why am I discovering recordings on vinyl from the 1950s that sound so good? I guess part of this was the performers..maybe a part was limited technology demanded a simpler recording setup. Of course, technically these recordings might not be great. Perhaps, the noise level was higher and frequency response more limited than modern recordings. Of course, modern secret sauce makes the modern vinyl quieter and years of competition in a free market has naturally resulted in a better mix of products that few can afford. Streaming has brought more music to more people than ever before. Perhaps, this is the greatest achievement....mp3..Yikes!
Fastest Car is a Netflix original series refutes that assumption. (Spoiler) Not only did the supercar beat the vintage, the driver just pushed the launch button, put his foot to the floor and watched pro drivers in his mirror. The vintage cars were also more temperamental, required teams of mechanics to keep them running and aesthetically challenged. Not only that but the super car can drive the twisty road home with no issues. My other question is why would you autocross a "sport sedan"? How does the Malibu compete with the Lotus?
So how does that relate to audio? Keeping a 40 year old SUMO Class A amp in peak condition isn't for the faint of heart. The simplicity of of a Western Electric 300B amplifier is appealing but can it really compete with some of the cost no object amps of today? This also applies to turntables and cartridges and even speakers. Altec VOTTs may be the coolest thing out there (my wife doesn't agree) but there are better sounding speakers. I personally would choose vintage over the new but I'm not deluded enough to think it's the best available.
Supercars can't compete at all with many purpose built drag cars.
I would really have to disagree with the OP's assertion. There are many classic old horn and direct radiating speaker systems of old that have had elaborate, and more acoustically inert cabinets designed and built to update them, and as you said, many have benefitted from newer crossover designs as well as stand isolation.
I think that it's the same with classic electronics, that is, if the owner isn't afraid of destroying the "collector value" of the piece. I personally upgraded or replaced most of the important parts of my McIntosh 2105 amp, including better input jacks and modern WBT speaker terminals, and it sounds better than several other amps that I've tried.
I'm sure that many other enthusiasts spend much more extreme time and effort in getting the maximum performance from their well-loved classics.
@bigtwin Okay, I’ll see if I can save a little crediblity here.
Tom Bailey’s "street legal" ’69 Camaro ran a best of 6.73 @ 210.83 MPH in the 1/4 mile last year at Hot Rod’s Drag Week, and he drove the car home. The Bugatti Chiron runs a (very impressive) 9.4 @ 158 MPH in the same distance. Using the 1/4 mile to 1/8 calculator, the Camaro clicked off 4.2 seconds @ 160 MPH at the 1/8th mile mark compared to the Bugatti’s 5.9 @ 128 MPH. This puts the Camaro a minimum of 1.7 seconds ahead when the Bugatti reached this point. Calculating the speed and distance of the Camaro at 160 MPH, that’s approximately 250 feet per second x 1.7 seconds or 425 feet ahead at the half way point. This is a conservative number based on the fact that when the Bugatti reached this point the Camaro would have been traveling much faster than it did at the 1/8 mile mark. At the 1/4 mark, the Camaro was traveling 210.83 MPH or about 316.25 feet per second. Approximately the length of a football field every second. The Camaro reached the 1/4 mile mark less than one second after the Bugatti reached the 1/8 mile mark. Therefore, it appears that a "2 football field lead" is a plausible claim. I might be a few centimeters off, but I think the estimate is pretty close.
Hope that helps?
"I personally upgraded or replaced most of the important parts of my McIntosh 2105 amp, including better input jacks and modern WBT speaker terminals, and it sounds better than several other amps that I've tried.'
It sounds like we're in agreement here? So, you're saying your modified vintage McIntosh sounds better than some modern designs you've tried?
I also would not advocate "destroying the collector value of a piece". As mentioned in my post, there is a gradient approach to upgrades and I personally support the ability to revert back to "stock" if the owner wishes to do so at some point.
This is seriously nonsense. Today's supercars, and now hypercars, have the boring straight line acceleration well down their remit e en though they are, on a whole, quicker than any production cars in history. . They handle better than most of the best cars even 10yrs ago and, where reliability is concerned "classic" cars - even retro-modded ones - are in the Neolithic. And they do it with an ease that some peor think has di. I shed their character and driver involvement. But to compare audio to super/hypercars is, and I am being polite and generous here, spurious and ill-informed.
WTF is the point of comparing a drag car to a supercar, to am amplifier?
I would take a motorhome to drive across the country, or a BWM Izzetta or Mecherschmit KR-1 to get groceries, over a say a Dodge Fury sporting a 440 with a 6-pack.
Why is it always a comparison (of whatever) with cars?
One problem I see with the car versus audio equipment comparison is that cars are very much measured on objective measurements. From what I read here many if not most of the forum participants are subjectivists so their criteria for a car would be which one feels fastest. In that case my 2002 Miata could be a contender for top dog :-)
I have a disc cutter and while it works great, you know how messy it is. Are you aware of Machina Dynamica NEW DARK MATTER? It works in any cd player tray. Simply cut to shape lay down (in the lowest part of the tray) with double sided tape provided. Amazing + no muss, no fuss. My current trans is a slot loader, so I can't use it just now, but if you can it's a must have product
@danager First off, you are correct in your assertion that vintage cars in their best factory stock form cannot compete with today's offerings. I recall an article a while back where the most "bad ass" car of the 50's -- the Chrysler 300, was compared to the performance of, you guessed, a Honda Odyssey. Yes, in the 1/4 mile, slalom, and braking, the Odyssey was the clear winner. We've come a long way.
You make some great points. Just not sure if they align with the premise of my topic.
Today’s super cars smoke the super cars of yesteryear. One has to look at overall performance, such as laps on a track, to compare. Even going in a straight line, today’s cars are faster. As for what can be accomplished by modding, the times at any NHRA National are faster in all categories than two decades ago.
New semiconductor designs, new capacitor designs, new precision resistors, new wire designs, better understanding of micro phonics and vibration control, etc. etc.
Unapologetically using yet another car analogy for a moment, maybe we should downshift and drop our speed down a bit before we reach the apex?
Here’s the car->audio connection. Maybe? Cars are relatable to most of us on this forum. We’re familiar with the exotics, and not-so-exotics. And, we’ve gotten up close and personal with vintage cars. Some of us drove them off the showroom floor back when we had hair. We also know there’s a healthy automotive aftermarket that can, quite literally, make a race horse out of the jackass -- in some cases. (Okay, I’m bracing for the "jackass" comments coming back at me).
There is little debate that cash, talent, resources and "newer thinking" can radically improve the performance of vintage/dated classic cars. When presented with a specific objective accompanied with "best in class" hardware/brainware, we can propel a old chunk of metal down the track pretty well. This is measurable, and well-documented.
Tossing a comensurate amount of cash, talent, resources and "newer thinking" at vintage audio can produce stunning sonic improvements that can be heard -- and measured. The issue here is not a technical or ideological one, but rather a lack of interest and/or economic viability. In otherwords, the interest level is low for serious aftermarket products & services, and sonic bang-for-buck may be questionable. Particularly, with a "collectable" piece who’s value would drop considerably if someone took a nibbler to the back panel.
The point of the discussion was to introduce the concept that the "audio performance aftermarket" is immature (at best) and there is latent stellar performance potential inside those chassis, or speaker boxes. I’ve spent a fair amount of time doing this at our shop. We expect highly predictable improvements in "A". "B" and "C". Most often, we get these in spades, along with unexpected improvements in "D", "E" and "F". (Yes, I’m ready for the "F" grade from you guys on this topic, too). I’d like to see real engineering and resources thrown at this. I’ll probably be waiting a while longer.
I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up around high performance cars and great audio equipment. I enjoy my cool/fast cars (modern and vintage) just as much as my cool stereos (modern and vintage). And, coffee.
Thanks for participating. Your comments are very much appreciated.
Nice example. Tom's Camaro is a beast. I have been into classic cars and hot rods since the 90s and always got a kick out of how much faster a well built hot rod is than whatever the current supercar is. Supercars just aren't that fast on the drag strip, especially considering the cost. It's pretty easy to build something faster for a fraction of the cost. Tom's Camaro is an extreme example. You can do it far easier and cheaper with just about any vehicle.
"New semiconductor designs, new capacitor designs, new precision resistors, new wire designs, better understanding of micro phonics and vibration control, etc. etc."
I totally agree with that statement. How much of this technology can be embraced and migrated into older (vintage) equipment?
@waytoomuchstuff - Don’t get me wrong, I would take a Lola chassis mascarading as a 60’s Ford GT40. But it is not like they have figured out how to make cars a whole lot lighter, and while some improvements in braking materials have happened… the physics of the cars is largely unchanged.
And in HiFi electronics it is somewhat more easy, as there is no skill that needs to harness the equipment. One pretty much cables it up, and it is ready to go.
It is not like amp only needs to do a 1/4 or 1/8th mile. They need enough power to drive the speakers, and more than that is not going to make the stereo better. Once it is too loud to listen to, then it is loud enough.
The aftermarket stuff is relegated to power conditioning, cables, and on the terms of things that work there are also room treatments and DSP approaches.
I am putting the cables and power conditioners into the fuzzy dice category, where they look cool, but do not make the things perform better most of the time.
"In no way can older cars compete with the newer "super" cars. Same, I say, with audio although the difference in this realm is not as great as in the automotive."
You are correct, sir. My comments relate only to the (measurable) performance improvements in aftermarket add-ons/mods, not so much vehicles in their raw, factory trim. My use of "Supercars" is simply to set a caliper for comparison, and not inteneded to diminish the crediblity of that class of vehicles. Nice reference to audio in your statement. I have to agree with you on that one, too.
@ketchup Yep, Tom's Camaro is brutal.
A little story:
A stock-appearing early Nova showed up at our local track (St. Louis area). 2-tone, white over black, baby moons. Everything fit under the factory wheel wells. The car was so cute you just wanted to walk over and pinch it.
It quietly made it's way thru the staging lanes and into the burnout box. I was thinking that he was there making a tribute to the car -- to have documentation that he actually took it to the drag strip to hang on the wall. The light turned green, and he launched it. 8.60s at 160 MPH. The moral of the story here is that "Bugatti performance" can be had with something that looks more like a grocery-getter than a race car with the right engineering and aftermarket parts. Twin turbos help, too.
Thanks for the comments.
If one has a Marantz model 7 preamp, 8B amp and 10B tuner, you do not even think about "modding" it. Same with Mac.
The car comparison for audio-no bueno.
Classic GM car 1/4 time slip vs Euro exotica. The Camaro against it will fail on a road course. So what?
Remember the Carver amp challenge?
My idea of a nearly perfect blend of old and new. C5/6 or 7 Vette chassis, fully upgraded suspension, brakes, etc, stretched 16 inches, 600 HP NA on pump gas, caged(with proper removable bar) AC, air bags. Two custom 21" neo subs infinite baffle so very little weight, 10 midbass deep in foot wells, massive fully custom built in horns, superb processing, custom modded D class amps, whole system less than 80lbs. Foam filled chassis voids, bonded aluminum channels to minimize sound deadening weight. Racetec seats(very comfy) fire system, etc, under 3,000 lbs wet, 53 Studebaker body and all trim in silver. Fuel injectors in exhaust tips for fun. old tear drop trailer to tow track tires, etc for track days or planned Bonneville runs, drive it to all events. ....I was about half way finished when I decided to retire and go full time RVing.
I have modded everything I ever owned since I was around 4 years old, now 70, never worried about value when done, modding old audio gear seems like a great way to go for those into such things and I enjoy the time building more than using, everything.
I love the Nova story though I am far more into all aspects of performance so brakes and suspension are critical in all I have done. I still have a 400HP Fiesta I have not driven in 3 years, built to take on supercars on road courses and it does. Only those with serious skills and wiling to drive on the edge of adhesion can keep up or beat it. . Compared to stock it rides better, stops better, handles better, does not spin the tires in second gear, just hooks and goes, 2500lbs, 40MPG on the road when cruising, much better car than stock, I did all the work, designed and built half the parts, The day I first drove it it was worth maybe 40 percent of what I invested.
Some things on vintage cars can’t be changed such as aerodynamics and built-in technology and safety devices. In my opinion it would never be worth it to spend crazy money to match performance of a modern supercar and in the end, it may be cheaper to buy a modern supercar. To some degree vintage electronics are the same. Also, many people like the STOCK sound/look of this older equipment and it would defeat the purpose of doing any upgrades.
The world can no longer accept our obsession with internal combustion vehicles. One day, and it can’t come soon enough for me, the entire Motorsport enterprise will have to shut down. Burning fossil fuel for fun is not a moral choice, no matter that one can “afford” it. The planet is warming at an even more alarming rate than the climate models predicted. Deniers are wrong. The glaciers are melting. The Colorado R. reservoirs are nearly empty. The American West may soon be uninhabitable. And you care whether one car is faster than another?..
This is not at all true. People have been building cars that perform equivalent to supercars out of vintage vehicles for years now. All of the things you mentioned above can be implemented into older/classic platforms. Just for a taste, go read up on "pro touring" cars.
I have two relevant examples of modding old gear to make it better.
1) My beloved Marantz Model 7. It dulled the leading edge too much, I thought as a 19 year old. What to do? Saul Marantz very kindly sent me suggestions, notes on a copy of the circuit diagram, which I scrupulously followed. I put in a full-wave rectifier bridge in the power supply. I replaced the electrolytic capacitors in the phono section with solid tantalums (this was 1976…best capacitors I could get then). Replaced the paper coupling capacitors with Mylars (Cornell Dubliers, as that what was in the Audio Research SP3A). Replaced all resistors with metal film types. Finally, used GE 5751s in the phono section. Did it sound better? Hell yes…far more focus, tighter bass, huge sound stage. Nonetheless, 5 years later I replaced it with an SP6B, much better. My current Cary SLP05 with ultimate upgrade is vastly superior to both; it has better components and design.
2) I had my GAS Ampzilla, which I built in 1975, rebuilt changing out virtually all transistors (replaced 15 amp Motorola output transistors with 20 amp Toshibas), and replaced most of the capacitors with modern low-leakage types. It’s now pretty decent, much better than before. But in Mr. Bongiorno’s own words to me, new transistor designs available now, along with new capacitor types, allowed him to do things he could not dream of before. As good as my rebuilt Ampzilla is, my SST Son of Ampzilla II is substantially better…more refined…in all regards.
I totally get the car analogy, especially wrt weight. But the electronic controls of modern engines are pretty amazing, as is the improvements in chassis stiffness and suspension control and tires. A modern Corvette will kill a late sixties Corvette. Although I am not an electric car guy, they have phenomenal acceleration, even faster than Andy Granatelli’s gas turbine powered Corvette!
To me, the joy of a vintage car is the more visceral experience, road feel at the wheel, handling, not straight line acceleration. A modern Econo-box, especially tricked-out, can outperform a lot of vintage sports cars, but I guess it is what your benchmark is for high performance.
I’d much rather have a real pre-war Buggati than that Volkswagen atrocity which bears the marque today. I don’t think either car, from Modena or Sant’ Agata Bolognese, is even offered with a stick today. The gated shifter was part of the experience-- the click, clack as part of a ballet of clutch, brake, accelerator.
How does this relate to audio components? Not really very well in my estimation. Maybe you can say some vintage speakers, horn loaded, will have a different character to the bass than a modern "Uber-speaker"--in terms of value, there are some modifications that are probably acceptable to buyers/collectors (they are often both), but unmolested would be the way to go to preserve value.
Once you are in the world of DIY, these are really "one-offs" but I come back to what criteria you are using for evaluation--and what the particular application requires--
I use relatively low powered tube amps because I like how they sound and they work well with extremely efficient (over 100db/meter) speakers. That type of amp may not be suitable for playing Black Sabbath at stadium levels with massive bass.
Oh Pooh… should there be a day for me I’ll stuff Electric into a classic car suspension and comfort included, that effort can be said for most audio as well !! Selectively purchase restore, upgrade electronic if possible and or available. Most of the time a person finds high-quality vintage is considerably better made inside due to material cost and human time factor. Both hobbies certainly won’t rank the highest but it’s a guarantee that it’ll be considerably cheaper and rewarding to boot. I’m there and I’m sure there’s many others. 🏎 🎼 😎
I agree that things are and need to change but also there can be room for fossil fueled racing done cleanly as I have always done starting many decades ago. Even my pure race cars would surpass their perspective street car version tests. That cost me considerably more money and time(I did at least 90% of all fabrication including making intakes, turbo manifold, exhausts, and roll cages, etc.....A cat that can hold up to racing is not cheap and I used re circulation on WG and BOV's.Also consider most race cars are seldom actually driven.
There are many faults to consider with the big boom in electric vehicle from production to recycling and well as where the power actually comes from that many seem to want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend to not exist.
Lifelong into recycling, repurposing, seldom buy anything new no matter how much income I had which at times was considerable. Again, I love the idea of restoring and if wanted, upgrading older gear:):
@waytoomuchstuff I appreciate the response but the real answer is you can't make a classic outperform today's cars or a vintage stereo outperform todays HIFI. Sure a car exists that can run sub 7 second quarters and be "street legal" but not in California. How many can compete at Nuremberg? Would it hold together in the Race across America. No. A sub 7 second car has a lifespan of hours if that.
Can I use vintage equipment and create a bass response that would compete with the best, sure. If that's all you cared about and money was no object. I'm also sure you could take a vintage Macintosh and it could be altered by replacing everything transformers, capacitors, resistors, connecting wire, tube sockets and output connectors it could compete but it's no longer is really a classic is it? A sub 7 second street car built with original components now that would be something but in the 70s all out prostock quarter mile times were 6 1/2 seconds so using modern components and achieving that level of performance is impressive but just think what could have been achieved if they had started with a modern Corvette.
The joy of a classic car or a vintage stereo isn't in the performance figures but in the pleasure of experiencing what was the best 50 years ago and realizing that on the freeway or in the listening chair they're still pretty darn good.
@crustycoot Careful what you wish for. We have neither enough the raw materials required to make enough batteries or the power grid to charge them to replace gas powered cars. The global drought is almost at a tipping point where hydro electric dams won't have enough water to turn the turbines. The alternative then is gas or coal powered power plants which will pollute more than the cars they replace. Hydrogen power cells and nuclear power plants are at this time the best viable alternative to gas powered cars but even if we started today it's doubtful we could upgrade the grid and manufacture enough of the components to meet the the deadline.