Vintage Maestro EchoPlex tape delay echo machine, $2.

The world of vintage audio can offer up some incredible opportunities to the person willing to take a few minutes to learn a bit about it. This vintage Maestro Echo Plex tape delay is a prime example of what I'm talking about!

If you've been to the movies within the past fifteen years or so, you've noticed how the computer generated dinosaurs of Jurassic Park's The Lost World (1997) look so different from their counterparts in the 1925 film The Lost World, and how those aliens in the newer Star Wars trilogy look a bit more realistic than the rabbit fur-covered, cotton stuffed gorilla model in 1933's King Kong.

Back in the old days, the only way movie makers could bring their inanimate characters to life was through 'stop-motion' photography, where they'd expose one frame of film, move the puppet a little bit, expose another frame, and so on. When the movie was played, it looked like the creature was really alive. Besides being incredibly time consuming, stop motion photography always had that weirdo look to it. Since every frame was in perfect focus, devoid of the blurred frames that make objects that are really moving look natural on film, the stop-motion characters jumped and jerked their way across the silver screens. But it was all they had back then, so they used it.

In today's world, we have computer generated imagery, or 'CGI,' which allows movie makers to not only create incredibly realistic characters, but to also create effects, backgrounds, features and anything else they want that's not - and couldn't possibly even be - in the actual movie. A quantum leap ahead of the special effects of the pre-computer age, CGI offers movie makers literally unlimited control over virtually every aspect of what you see on the screen. And as you may imagine, the world of digital audio is enjoying its own digital revolution.

Nowadays, every possible aspect of music can be - and is - manipulated in ways that the layman couldn't possibly imagine. Any number of effects, like fades, delays and echoes can be created. Digital manipulation can even be used to correct the pitch of a singer's off-key voice. In terms of scope of manipulation, few can argue that digital is the undisputed winner in the world of audio. But the topic of whether this new digital stuff sounds any better than the old analog stuff has been hotly debated for decades now. The confusion here is that digital audio's many advantages have caused lots of people to be tricked into believing that the older analog, like this old machine, as well as lots of vintage equipment that used vacuum tube technology, is worthless. In the case of stop-motion photography this may be the case, but as far as vintage audio goes, things couldn't be more different. There's a huge base of fanatical musicians and audiophiles on eBay who swear to the superiority of analog over digital, and these folks will buy up this old stuff as fast as it appears.

Don't cheat yourself out of incredible opportunities because you've bought into the illusion that newer means better and older means obsolete and undesirable!

The Echoplex was developed way back in the early 1960's by a guy named Mike Battle, to allow musicians to produce an echo effect in their music by means of a loop of 1/4" tape and two playback heads. The Echoplex was, and still is, a legend in the world of audio, having been used by the world's most popular artists of its day, like Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Chet Atkins and Les Paul. And anyone who's ever heard Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' has witnessed the Echoplex at work in the hands of Jimmy Page. Countless musicians, both young and old, swear that this old analog Echoplex produces better sound than any digital device.

As famous as the EchoPlex is among the people who are knowledgeable about vintage audio stuff, all I saw at the yard sale was a black box full of weird knobs that I knew had something to do with vintage audio. After looking it over for a few minutes, things got a little clearer. The 'Echoplex' name, the various switches and knobs, and the information on the paper inside the lid gave away some clues as to this machine's intended use.

If you're an Auctionbandits veteran, you're already aware of how I preach the 'mile wide, inch deep' approach to our world of stuff. In other words, I believe your time and effort are much better served by learning at least a little bit about as many different areas as you can, than by drilling ever more deeply into any single area. So, I'm not going to even delve into how this machine actually operates. First of all, it's not necessary to know how this machine works in order to know that you should grab it when you see one. Second, if you're really interested in learning more about the Echoplex and how it works, there are numerous websites where you can learn more about it than you ever wanted to know.

Now, as to the question to whether this particular machine works, I can tell you that I don't know. I have no way to test it, but that really doesn't matter. Like most old electronics that were assembled from big, simple components, just about anything damaged or broken in the Echoplex can easily be repaired or replaced to make the machine operational. As a matter of fact, you can even send your ailing Echoplex unit to a place called tubeplex.com to have it refurbished like new!

This vintage Maestro Echo Plex machine ended up selling on eBay for $460.