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The Defunct Hi-Fi Brands Any True Audiophile Would Remember

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Gone but not forgotten, these audio brands used to make great gear … which you can still buy!

sansui 6060HiFi Engine

Vintage audio components are in vogue, and for good reason. You can find 30-year-old speakers that pump out sound just as good as their modern counterparts. Better yet: they’ll look way cooler doing so.

In 2024, plenty of heritage audio companies are still thriving: Bang & Olufsen, Wharfedale, Klipsch and JBL have all survived generations of listeners. But not all audio companies have been so lucky.

Some of the best hi-fi brands in history have gone out of business for one reason or another. Thanks to a thriving market for refurbished equipment, however, you can still buy their gear — and keep their memory alive. How’s that sound?

Sansui

Sansui was a Japanese hi-fi company prominent in the ’70s and early ’80s that ultimately went out of business in 2014. Today, its vintage receivers and amplifiers are highly collectible, and you can still find plenty of examples on eBay or Yahoo Japan.

The brand was known for its many tactile knobs, wonderful blue back-lighting (similar to many vintage Marantz receivers) and brushed-aluminum front panels. The Sansui 6060 receiver is one such example; it was originally released in the mid-70s and demanded a $420 price tag at the time.

Thiel Audio

Thiel Audio was a Kentucky-based manufacturer of high-performing loudspeakers. It was started in the late ’70s by Jim Thiel (along with his brother Tom Thiel and Jim’s wife Kathy Gornik) and continued into the late 2000s.

The speakers they built were known for their “phase-coherent” designs, which allowed them to sound great across all frequencies, and beautiful wooden veneers.

The company was sold several years after Jim’s passing in 2009 and has since been discontinued. Speakers like the TT1 (which was actually one of the few loudspeakers not designed by Jim Thiel) fetch a pretty penny on online auction sites.

Realistic

Realistic was the house brand of electronics sold by Radio Shack and it was a prominent player in the receiver market in the ’70s, ’80s and even ’90s.

Its stereo receivers shared a similar look to many receivers by Marantz, Pioneer and Sansui at the time — bushed aluminum front panel, glowing lights, tuning meters, copious knobs; the works.

The Realistic brand was phased out decades ago, only to make a brief return in 2016, but you can still find a variety of vintage receivers like the STA 240.

Quadraflex

Pacific Stereo was one of the biggest sellers of stereo equipment during the ’70s and early ’80s. Before going under in the late ’80s, it had two house brands, TransAudio and Quadraflex, the latter of which was comprised of high-end speakers, radios and audio components.

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