A clean hi-fi is a happy hi-fi

It's amazing how dirty a stereo can get after three decades, especially when it's been sitting gathering dust for the past half-dozen years or so. Potentiometers get scratchy, switches get noisy. Analog circuity is more sensitive to dirt and dust than all-digital components.

Bothered by a noisy left channel, we cleaned the old Marantz 3200 preamp and 140 power amp. The tools? Liberal quantities of canned air on blow out the dust, and tuner cleaner to restore the mechanical switches and pots.

What a difference it made to the audio quality! Not only did the scratchiness and flakiness go away, but the sound quality is better across the board.

Accessibility is part of the joy of old audio equipment. As with old cars, it's easy to work on them and keep them in fine fettle. The new digital stuff... not so much. What can you do with a bunch of chips? Nothing, really.

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Co-founder and editorial director of BZ Media, which publishes SD Times, the leading magazine for the software development industry. Founder of SPTechCon: The SharePoint Technology Conference, AnDevCon: The Android Developer Conference, and Big Data TechCon. Also president and principal analyst of Camden Associates, an IT consulting and analyst firm.