Rightly or wrongly, it’s easy to dismiss DIY adventurers as something other than “serious audio”. The point worthy of making is that, at least in some ways, DIY is where most manufacturers came from at some point on their journey. Fair enough. But there is a big difference between DIY and “restoration”.
For the latter, the goal is to take something once new and make it new again — or near enough to new that it’s functional, or better still, better than that. Because as we had evidence of this weekend in Silver Spring, just because it’s old doesn’t mean it can’t kick your a** all over the floor.
Déjà Vu Audio in McLean Virginia is one of those places devotees to vintage audio can go to hear relics given new life. Case in point here at CAF was a set of Western Electric Motiograph 7505 amplifiers, and loudspeakers built around old WE horn tweeters and WE 713b compression drivers. If I ever get a room sheet, I’ll update this post with the rest of the goodies.
This stuff is wickedly vintage and any prices are specific to these very bits — most of this gear is made in a catch-as-catch-can way, given the rarity and scarcity of the components being used. Got questions? Call.
You kinda have to see this stuff to appreciate the level of work it takes to refurbish and refresh it, but once done and set out on display, there’s really no way to differentiate it (sonically, at least) from much of the current high-quality audio gear on the market today. Which raises some uncomfortable questions about the whole “advancement” the late 20th Century supposedly has made. Ahem.
Vu Hoang, he who donates the “Vu” part of Déjà Vu Audio, has straddled this “vintage reclamation” with “modern audio” for decades. He sold me my pair of Stax headphones almost 10 years ago now, and has carried many fine brands of audio gear over the years. In addition to that, his showroom has several corners filled with arcane curios and vintage bits, waiting for refurbishment and or re-application. For those that want to get a taste of high-end audio with a healthy dose of history thrown in, it’s hard to recommend anyone else to visit.
In Vu’s second room, he was showing a far more modern rig with Harbeth loudspeakers and Synthesis Audio electronics. The sound in this room, and in his vintage demo, were similar in that they were clearly put together by an expert knowing his business. Good stuff, here.