Junk Shop

Omar and I left my apartment and stepped into the chilly night air, on our way to Binny's Liquors.

"It's getting cold again," he said.

"Yes."

There's a point on Third Street where it bends into Newark Avenue. You've got Pop Merrigan's to your left and some unremarkable storefronts to your right. Right at that point, where Third bends into Newark, we were stopped by several old, wooden chairs, haphazardly set out on the narrow sidewalk. They were for sale. Yellow light poured forth from a storefront which, in my experience, had always been hidden by unattractive, steel grating.

"What's this?"

"Looks like a junk shop. I never knew this was here."

"Let's check it out."

Inside, we were greeted by that familiar smell of I don't know what, of dust and wool and mold, of old checkered coats, vinyl-covered furniture, Trivial Pursuit and picture frames. Up on a high shelf, I noticed a pair of strange-looking plastic loudspeakers sitting beside some sort of cassette player. My eyes now shot past the beer mugs and golf clubs, in search of vintage hi-fi. An ugly Sherwood receiver, a Fisher something or other, a beat-to-crap Dual 1219 turntable. I felt like we were getting warmer. I turned around and looked up to find another pair of loudspeakers, these appearing to be in far better shape than anything else in the store. I didn't recognize them immediately, but then noticed their small badge:

B&W

"Oh shit," I whispered.

"What?"

"B&W."

"BMW?"

"B and W. Bowers and Wilkins."

I reached for the speaker closest to me and removed its grille, revealing that distinctive golden woven cone and honeycombed baffle. My eyes must've shot open.

"What?"

"Oh shit," I whispered. "These are good. They're DM602s."

Omar brought down the speakers and connected them to the Sherwood receiver. While he listened to random radio broadcasts, I made a couple of phone calls. My sources helped to guess at the origins and value of some of the store's other pieces of gear, but none could identify one final pair of loudspeakers. They held approximately the same dimensions as the B&Ws — about 20" x 10" x 12" — but appeared to be much older, and had a look that I've come to associate with old Advents, plain rectangular boxes with that dirty, tweed-like grille. When I tried to gently remove that grille, I felt resistance and noticed a sound like that accompanied by separating Velcro. I didn't force it. The only identifying marks on the cabinets were found on the rear panels: an 8 ohm symbol, red and black terminals, a tweeter control whose center position read "NORMAL," and three final words: "MADE IN DENMARK."

That was all.
Any ideas?

Omar went home with the B&Ws. He paid 50 bucks.

The following morning, I received a text message:

dude! my system sounds awesome. i'm hearing things in the music that i didn't even know were there.
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Comments
Marshall Taylor's picture

Stephen,Sounds as if the mystery thrift shop speakers you found might be Dynaco (made in Denmark). They don't have much info written on them. Here's a link with dimensions and descriptions of the different models. Go back and check them with a tape measure. You should be able to pry off the grilles without damaging them. They're good vintage speakers and the non-foam surrounds on the drivers don't deteriorate.

Marshall Taylor's picture

Sorry, forgot to add the link or it didn't take.http://home.indy.net/~gregdunn/dynaco/components/speakers/index.html

Omar's picture

Yo Dude,Did you know that there's a constant clave track on Ismael Rivera's record "Vengo Por La Maceta"?? I didn't,,that is until I slapped on my new(used) beautiful B&W DM602s into my system! I had never noticed that clave prior to my new aquisition! needless to say, I'm pretty happy with our find. Thanks for knowing your shit!

Jeff Kyle's picture

They might have been old B&O's.

Doug Bowker's picture

That story just warms my heart. And your friend's comment above says it all!

Stephen Mejias's picture

>They might have been old B&O's.Thanks for the guess, Jeff. That's just what my friends thought, too. As it turns out, however, Marshall tracked down the correct speaker. Thanks for the info and the link, Marshall. Lots of interesting stuff there, and yes -- the mystery speakers were Dynaco A25s, without a doubt. Exciting! I think I'll go back and try to purchase them.>Thanks for knowing your shit!Hey man, it's my job. I'm happy to know that you're enjoying them (and your music). Doug: Thanks very much. It makes me very happy to be able to share this stuff.

Brent's picture

In 2001 I was living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and one day I decided to hit some stores to shop for used cd's. I passed a pawn shop and decided to turn around and check it out. They had the normal mass electronics stuff that you see everywhere but in the corner of one dark room something caught my eye. I walked in and in the far corner was a pair of speakers that I recognized immediately, a pair of B&W Matrix 802's. I spun one of them around so I could read the label and it said 802 Series 3 so I knew they had to be fairly new. They were priced at $1400 for the pair. I left the store and drove home and fired up the computer to check prices online. I couldn't find a pair within 800 miles for under $2200 plus shipping. I went back and haggled for a little bit and walked away with a pair of mint ash black 802 series 3's for only $1200.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks for sharing this great story, Brent. It makes me wonder how many other true hi-fi treasures are out there, waiting to be found. And this all goes to show that starting with the used market may be another way of getting people hooked on good sound; Omar, for instance, will now be auditioning entry-level turntables this weekend. The guy is psyched.

Omar's picture

I am psyched!and...i might have to beat you to those Dynacos brother Steve! heh heh

Stephen Mejias's picture

I've created a monster.

Lionel's picture

Stephen-- you can make Dynaco A25s into even better speakers by replacing the tweeters with something more modern (Morel and SEAS both make tweeters especially for this purpose-- check Madisound's website). The upgrade involves a grand total of two solder connections. My upgraded A25s are the best part of my system-- I can't find anything that costs less than $1k that's their equal. (The original tweeters, while good for 1969, only go up to about 12,000hz. Even my 35 year old ears could hear the difference with the SEAS upgrades, which are rated up to 30,000hz. I'm good for about 15,000hz, but there's undeniably better imaging and treble precision.)

Anachrophile's picture

There are wonderful values in junk stores! From St. Vincent Depaul, I got a set of KLH6 for $15. From Goodwill, a pair of AR2a for $13. The sixes needed new caps, but the AR2a showed off that fabulous build quality--the sealed capacitors were spot on specification after all these years. Are these "gems"? Well, the bass quality is first-rate by any standard. Tweeter and midrange quality, not to mention crossover design, has probably advanced. Yet these old speakers are a lot of fun. I wish Stereophile would resume its vintage equipment reviews.

mike53's picture

Just this past weekend I gave my neighbor a hand clearing out odds & ends from his parents house. All items were going to a charity yard sale & I was told to take anything I wanted. When I came across a few boxes labled Fisher & AR I just had to open them. Inside were a Fisher 500C receiver and a pair of A&R 2 speakers. Being the honest guy I am I offered to buy the items but was told to just take them, because they probably didn't work. Guess what, they do work! Granted the sound isn't the best beings all the items need refurbishing, but it's all cosmetically pristine.How lucky can one get!

Fast Cash Advance's picture

Yes. I include unexceptionally thought this as well. Great read. Your the choicest!

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