Technics SC-C70MkII praise, vintage speakers can be very valuable, finding audio gold in thrift stores (Week 6, 2021)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 6, 2020

Q. Following the appealing description in your August 2020 column I ordered a Technics SC-C70MK2 compact stereo system. It took almost seven months to fill the order, but it just came and I am delighted with it!  It is just right for somebody like me who wanted to update my audio system and downsize it at the same time.

Can you think of anybody who might want my 1980s-vintage Vandersteen Model 1B speakers, for free?  It seems like a shame to to put them out for trash pickup. I bet you get this kind of question a lot!

-M.G., San Jose, CA

A. I do get many questions like yours, but typically regarding equipment worth $30 to $50 at most, if you can even find a buyer for it. Your speakers, however, are quite valuable and desirable.

Vandersteen is a boutique audio brand that has been building exceptional speakers for decades, selling them exclusively through a limited number of high-end audio dealers. Vandersteen’ s most recent version of your speaker is the Model 1Ci and it sells for $1,629 per pair. I looked at their website and the 1Ci looks exactly the same as your older 1B speakers.

If I put your name and address with “free Vandersteen 1B speakers” in the paper, practically every audiophile in San Jose would be beating a path to your door in a fashion resembling a scene from the movie, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Current asking prices for 1Bs go up to $500 based on condition, with typical transaction prices in the $350 range. I suspect you did not know this when you sent in your question. Put them on Craigslist (or have a family member do so if you are not comfortable selling online) and I suspect they will not last long. Asking price is up to you, but if you were ready to put them out with the trash I bet a quick $300 would satisfy you. (I would not sell them for less than that.)

When I mentioned my 1980s-vintage Celestion SL6S speakers a few months ago I said I would one day tell the story of how I got them. The situation resembles yours somewhat as it started with them being given away by someone. My mom lived in an area of the county where wealthy people go to retire. Before she passed away almost 3 years ago, when I visited we would go and check out local thrift stores looking for diamonds in the rough, donated by families clearing out estates. I found lots of great vintage audio gear during these adventures, purchased for a small fraction of the typical used prices.

One day in 2017, before we went out she asked me what I hoped to find. I said, “I would love to find a pair of Celestion SL6S speakers.” I had always wanted to own a pair, but had never even seen them in person before, even in hi-fi shops. As it turns out, the last stop of the day was at a store that had not one but two pairs of Celestion SL6S speakers for sale. They sold both pairs to me for $50 total, as one pair had dented tweeters and they did not know if either pair was functional. The pair with undamaged tweeters worked perfectly, though the other did not. Working SL6S speakers can sell for up to $400 per pair, so it was probably my best find ever especially since I “called my pocket.”

Love and miss you, Mom!