My (Mostly) Retro Stereo Setup

Posted on February 23, 2024 by Aywren

About a year ago, I talked about how I discovered all of the old mixtapes I created in my childhood and teen years stashed at my Mom’s house, and brought them home triumphantly. I also started to make a little Mixtape Archive section of this site to showcase what is on some of those tapes (I need to put up more of these pages).

Inherited Setup

Back in December, I posted on my Mastodon on how my Mom gave me my pick of some of the old receiver and tape deck equipment that was stored away in a back room. Growing up, mine was a music-loving household, so one thing we never went without was a good setup and lots of tunes. In fact, my Dad made sure that not only he had a full set of receiver, dual tape deck, and CD player, along with massive speakers, but that my sister, my mother, and I all had our own respective setups in our rooms.

I remember as a young teen, recording my favorite video game music to tape so I could listen to it on my walkman (I had my SNES playing music through my receiver, so recording it was a thing), and constantly using my CD player through my high school and college years. When I moved out, I didn’t take my system with me, sadly – I was gravitating to digital music at that point, and kept most of my tunes on my PC. I still have a sizeable CD collection from my younger years.

I feel like the receiver pictured above was my Mom’s at one point and the tape deck may have been my sister’s (it could have been mine, but I think I had a sticker on my tape deck door). Either way, I was happy to take them home and see if they were still in working condition.

The receiver is a Yamaha HTR-5730 that dates back to 2004-2005. So, it’s at least 20 years old.

The tape deck is a JVC TD-W215 that dates back to 1994! 30 years old - no kidding!

And while they were much loved, they were also well-cared for. So, once I got a cheapie set of speakers and some speaker wire, I tested them both as still working! The tape deck is a little wonky in that the button sensors seem slightly out of place, and I’m not sure that the second deck works. But the first deck has played my old tapes just fine.

Inherited Speakers

Fast forward to a few weeks back. After doing some reorganization in the main room of her place, my Mom had a couple of bookshelf speakers sitting around unused, so she offered them to me. Knowing these were once some of my Dad’s main setup, and those were not going to be cheap given his taste in speakers, I did not turn them down.

I knew nothing about the speakers other than my Dad selected them with purpose. I came home and looked them up. They ended up being Q Acoustics 3020i – which you can still get today. While my Dad got these years ago, they are still not cheap by any means, and much better than the scraggly little $30 speakers I got from Amazon.

New CD Player

Adding this to my setup made me immediately wish I had a CD player as well. While I love my mixtapes, don’t get me wrong, I know tapes have a very limited lifetime, and I don’t want to play them more than I must – mostly just to capture a tracklist for me to pick up the songs in digital format elsewhere.

I still have three bags of CDs that, yes, I can pop in my PC player, but it’s just not the same. I wanted a CD player that hooked to this receiver and played through these speakers.

So, I decided to put some money into this and I bought a brand new Yamaha CD player from Amazon. While I did buy it while it was on sale, I was surprised that a CD player like this was this expensive. It was not surprising that one like this was not that easy to find, though.

I was pleased to discover that it has a USB port that allows you to play digital tracks from USB media. I was surprised to find out that it has firmware – which I luckily learned about before I bought it, and was able to properly update when it arrived. I’ve never had a CD player with firmware.

Anyhow, I have been immensely enjoying my new setup. I bought it a little shelf and all, and invested in finding a replacement remote control for the old receiver (yes, they do exist and work well!).

I’m not sure why, but playing my old physical media CDs on this system is somehow different than playing them on a PC drive. I mean, it’s the same music and the same CD, but the nostalgia of owning a stand-alone stereo system like this… it just took me back to old days with the kind of creative inspiration I used to have when listening to this music originally.

I’m not sure how many years this receiver has left to it, or if I can find a replacement once its gone, but I plan on using it until the lights go out. That’s what my Dad would have wanted me to do.

*|* {February} *|* {2024} *|* {IRL} *|*