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June 03, 2010


Mike S.

you make a good point about prices. When I was a teenager, I bought my first real stereo. I had to buy it one piece at a time, and it was somewhat painful: almost all of my part-time income was earmarked for the stereo. It took me several months of saving the old fashioned way, but I finally got the stereo I wanted. A lot of today's components are inexpensive to the point of ridiculous (like my Sony HD tuner, which sold for a mere $100 when I bought it). There is, still, however, a thriving high end stereo business, selling painfully expensive equipment: did you know McIntosh was still in production? does $4000 sound okay for an amplifier? I wish it did to me! The only problem is, as a dad of three with a mortgage and car payments, I can't afford to devote the same percentage of my income than I could when I was 17. If I did, the Mac would not be such a crazy idea. I suspect the majority of guys past the high school/college years with families are in a similar boat- and we're the ones who would buy mil-spec radios if they were still being made.

Ed S.

Mike, I know what you mean. When I was 17, I could only afford to buy good speakers one at a time...the AR-3a's cost $295 each, which is about $1000 in today's dollars. I would build Amps from kits to save a measly 30 bucks. My hi-fi paeak was reached back in the late 80's, when I owned $4,000 tubed VTL amps and and Audio Research preamps with 8'-tall Electrostatic speakers ($2800).
These days, I've had to drastically scale down quite a bit--selling off my hi-end components, making do with a 7.1 channel Marantz A/V Processor, Oppo Blu-Ray player, and Magnepan MMG speakers ($550/pair).
But I still read Stereophile and lust after those $30,000 speakers and amps.


I am the original owner of a 5500. Bought it in early 70s via mail from Lafayette.

Still in use today though it is a bit beat up. The antenna broke off years ago, and the switches and pots are iffy and noisy. The AC adaptor, wrapped in black tape, still works.

But after all these years, it still blasts my favorite hits on FM. Audio is still clear and loud - it sits above my workbench and has no problem filling the room with oldies.

Bought it about a year before my Drake Tr-4C, which also still has a place in my shop/shack, and a place in my heart.

I also have a Yamaha Cr-1020 w/NS-500 speakers which I bought in the late 70s and still use today! Boxer fans keep old components happy!

They don't build 'em like this anymore!

Jerry H. Neves

Hi. Jerry here. I have the sony 5500w and also the European version, which has SW in lieu of PSB. It's called the 55 Captain. Both excellent.

Stone Hill

The Sony ICF-5500W is the radio that my dad bought in the 70's. He wanted a good radio back then. He was raised with radio. Most of the world history he heard on radio not TV. So when it came time for him to buy a radio as an adult he bought one of these. They were not a cheap radio at the time. It has been a great radio over the years. My Dad is gone now and I am a Hamradio operator with many many radios to choose from. When I go to listen to broadcast band radio I reach for this one. Great sound, great memories! quality radio.


Got lucky at a flea market today and got a 5500W for 10 bucks.
I love it!


Great review! It looks like this model doesn't have an aux input jack. Are you aware of any older portable radios that have aux input (either a 3.5mm jack or RCA)?

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