While digital music dominates popular culture, a growing number of people are returning to their analog roots, buying and selling vintage audio equipment like turntables, receivers and speakers that have unexpected values. For example, a mint condition Sansui 33000 receiver recently sold for $27,000 and a Mid-Century Modern JBL Home Stereo Console fetched $65,000 last month. Of course, these astronomical prices are the exception, but consumer-grade vintage electronics still command hefty prices.
Each piece of vintage audio gear requires ironclad shipping techniques designed to get them to their new owners in their advertised condition. All of these items must be transported in entirely dry conditions and braced against road vibration by being placed on a mattress or something similar.
The following is a list of proper shipping techniques for speakers, receivers and turntables:
While heavily constructed, speakers contain internal components that must be accounted for during long-distance hauls. Brands like Klipsch and Advent contain horns that accentuate the top end, and are very delicate. In preparing for shipping, gently stuff soft foam in the horn section, being careful to avoid thin connecting wires.
Most other speakers employ sound-producing cones that are more durable during transport, but still require minimal padding. It’s important to note that you should cover all speaker cones and dust caps with plastic wrap. They should remain untouched. Also, a vintage speaker’s value starts with condition of the veneer, its wooden case. Ensure the entire speaker – with dust grill in place – is first wrapped in bubble wrap, then a heavily-padded blanket.
Receivers are the most durable vintage items to ship. Manufacturers like Marantz and Pioneer made them to last. However, the internal components can be compromised. Receivers should be bubble-wrapped, then boxed and taped.Receivers are also valued for their wooden veneers, and should never be thrown or stacked. They are best treated like speakers during transport.
Since receivers are heavy items, their corners are easily dented, and even the best-packaged ones need to be handled with care.
A quick note – vintage audio consoles are heavily constructed and can be treated like large furniture items. However, they must be covered to protect the veneer, travel in a completely dry environment, and always be placed upright with nothing stacked on top of it.
These are listed last because they are unquestionably the most fragile vintage audio items. From thin tone arms and flimsy speed controls to inner-sprung plinths and valuable cartridges, they are a challenge to package and ship.
Transporting a turntable isn’t simply a matter of pitching it in a box and taping in shut. First, remove the tone arm and reveal the platter. Disconnect the RCA cables (the red and white wires that connect to your stereo) as well as the power cable and ground wire.
Remove the platter and box it separately, and find a sturdy container for the tone arm and its wires. Now you’re left with the base (or plinth), which gets a box of its own. Once all the boxes are ready, use packing peanuts and Styrofoam blocks to ensure they all snugly fit into a larger box.
Finally, wrap the box with bubble wrap and tape, write “VERY FRAGILE” on each side, and you’re ready to go. A pro-tip: Turntables should ride in the cab of the delivery vehicle if at all possible.
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