One of my passions has always been vintage audio. And, thankfully, I found this passion easy to translate into profit on eBay. The market on eBay for vintage audio equipment and supplies was and continues to be a highly profitable area.
This article will help give you some guidance and a few lessons on what to look for regarding vintage audio, as well as what you types of items you should just not even bother with.
Before we begin, though, I need to point out on very important point. Some of the most sought-after audio components come from the audio heyday period from the late 1950’s to the mid 1970’s. So be sure to pay particular attention to components from this period. Earlier components tend to not have the sound or performance audiophiles and collectors seek. Later components were too easily mass-produced and are therefore in much greater supply.
Values figured stated below are based on recent eBay sales for better-quality vintage audio components.
Turntables: When I mention to someone that I recently sold a turntable on eBay, I almost always get the response of “People still use those?” Well…yes, they do. There are plenty of audiophiles who prefer the analog sound of vinyl over the “cleaned up” sound of an mp3.
But not just any turntable is worth listing. And don’t confuse “turntable” with “record player”. Record players are usually thought to be units that just play records, and either have built-in or attached speakers. Turntables are stand-alone units that must be connected to an amplifier or other stereo components.
Typical values for used vintage turntables: $50-$200.
Stereo receivers: A “stereo receiver” is probably what most people think when they think of “stereo”. Receivers are single units that house the tuner, amp, and all the controls needed to run other connected audio components, such as a turntable or tape deck.
Typical values for used vintage receivers: $100-$400.
Amps, pre-amps, tuners: If you took a receiver and created separate components out of it, you would wind up with three items: an amplifier (which creates the power needed to generate sound), a pre-amplifier (which is the “front” part of the receiver for setting volume, input source, speakers, etc.) and the tuner (which lets you select from the AM and FM bands).
There is an enormous amount of demand for these separate audio components, especially amplifiers, which is truly the heart of a vintage audio set-up. Tuners also have a high demand, followed by pre-amps, then integrated amps (which combines an amp and pre-amp into a single unit).
Typical values for used vintage amps, pre-amps and tuners: $200-$1000.
Speakers: Every market or category on eBay has its own version of the “Holy Grail”, that most coveted, sought-after piece of pottery or Mid-Century Modern furniture piece. When it comes to audio, I have learned time and time again that speakers can be the “Holy Grail” of audio components.
But why? I feel it’s because speakers are the “final product” of a well-thought-out audio system. It’s what ultimately proves how good your system is: how it sounds. It’s what you most connect to when listening to your system.
Typical values for used vintage speakers: $200-$1200.
Vintage audio is still a relatively untapped market for the eBay seller. But with a bit of knowledge of what to look for and how to test it, vintage audio can be a great way to make some serious money on eBay.
In future articles, I’ll start to discuss specific brands to look out for, what condition the components need to be in, and how to test them.