1960's Dynaco Pat-4 vintage stereo preamplifier, $10.

Back in the earlier days of home audio, many systems were made up of separate components: turntable, tape deck, tuner, amplifier and preamplifier (or 'preamp.'). Each of the system's input sources (tape player, tuner, turntable, etc.) were fed into the back of the preamplifier, where their minute signals were amplified sufficiently to be fed into the amplifier, whose purpose it was to further amplify these signal enough to power the speakers.

Another purpose of the preamp is to allow the user to switch between the system's different input sources, like the tuner, tape deck, etc. The preamp also acts as the volume control for the entire system . Nowadays, it's very common to see the amplifier and preamp in one unit, which is known as an integrated amplifier.

Vintage audio equipment is always in always high demand on eBay, and Dynaco is a name you must know. One of the reasons vintage audio equipment is so sought-after is that much of it has a certain sound that modern audio equipment cannot duplicate unless you spent thousands of dollars. Even if you could duplicate the sound of a 1960's system, why spend your money on modern equipment when you could have the real thing? There are many people who regularly search eBay for these type of vintage pieces of equipment, and just like vintage hot rod car collectors, audiophiles have shows, swap meets and clubs that regularly meet and discuss audio equipment.

As you can imagine, it's great if you have the capability to test out these old audio pieces before you sell them, but for most of is, it's just not practicel or even possible for us to do so. But please don't let this dissuade you, because as a general rule, older electronic equipment is very serviceable. Remember that these things were constructed from large, individual components, not little curcuit boards with a zillion transistors per square millimeter. This means that all those diodes, capacitors, tubes and transistors that can be easily tested and replaced, one at a time.

So, if you come across a nice vintage tube amp at a garage sale that doesn't work, I say but it for a couple of dollars, and use the fact that it doesn't work to your advantage - how can a seller justify much of a price for something that's broken? One more thing - you should always ask if any of the original paperwork or boxes are available, because they can really increase the value of the unit. This preamp sold on eBay for $89.

Photo of Dynaco PAT-4 stereo preamplifier preamp