Service Manuals, User Manuals, Schematics, Vintage electronics - StereoManuals.com by Stout & Associates

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About Us Section - How StereoManuals Got Started
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How StereoManuals Started
How Started Part 1 - Background
(Includes Pioneer "THE RACK" Info)
How Started Part 2 - Doing Manuals

How StereoManuals Got Started - Part Two - Doing Manuals
(The background for this story is in Part One)

Fast forward twenty years to about the turn of the new century...

I began to assemble my late 70s Pioneer Silver-faced collection. At first, I didn't realize that is what I was doing. Of course, I got carried away and soon had equipment arriving 4-6 days per week. I even made one 1200 mile round trip to pick up several pieces. This heavy purchasing lasted for many weeks and continued at a lesser pace for eight to twelve months. I got some good deals but also paid some big prices to acquire the stereo gear that had "smitten me" back in '79.

There wasn't any place in the house to setup the equipment to use because of a home remodeling project, so it was just stacked up in the (large) front hall. The plan was to later distribute it all over our home. Some did get spread out among various bedrooms, etc. but a large portion of it remained boxed and stacked in the hallway. After a bit, I realized I should connect some of it all together for some pictures since I didn't know if I would ever have that much matching gear together at one time ever again.

That group of equipment ended up being there for almost two years. You can see my favorite "Rick's Night Light* picture of that initial "Triple Stack" and other acquisitions on my Cool Pictures page. And yes, it was all hooked up and yes, it would rattle the walls of the entire house.

A couple months later, something happened and I had to pull some piece of gear. It had originally taken about 12 hours to set the stuff up (no backside access) so after pulling some connections, the whole system sat in a mostly non-working condition for quite awhile. In the late fall of 2003 I finally got around to doing something with that stack-o-stuff. The house remodeling had still not progressed (because of the manuals business) but there was now at least room to set up a semi-permanent arrangement of some of my favorite Pioneer silver gear and actually use it now and then.

Shortly after that, I posted a "report" of that "hallway" system in 70sAudioMindset, an audio discussion group we sponsor which is hosted on Yahoo Groups. It was intended to be a report about the performance of my set of Sansui SP-5000 speakers when hooked up in a fairly powerful setup. The core components are a Pioneer SPEC-1 preamp and a Pioneer SPEC-4 power amp. The report includes a nice section about db scale, watts of output power and perceived Sound Pressure Level (SPL). You can read it here.

So... anyway... I wanted manuals for the gear I was acquiring but soon figured out that they were quite hard to find without putting in some considerable effort to do so. When I did locate them, I realized that I was going to have to pay some pretty big prices to acquire them. I was quite surprised at how much it cost sometimes to acquire a particularly desirable original manual. More than one set me back $100 or more.

After paying out several hundreds of dollars to buy a few of them, I decided to make some copies of the service manuals I had acquired. I could use some extra money to help pay for the equipment purchases I had made and thought perhaps this might be a way to raise a bit of extra cash to do it. So I made a few manuals from my original Pioneer RT-707 Service Manual and offered them for sale on eBay.

It never occurred to me to make them in any way other than pretty much exactly like the originals including double-side printed 11" x 17" folded pullout pages and full color covers. They sold well on eBay and I was surprised to find customers posting feedback comments about how nice and better-than-expected they were.  So I began pulling various manuals I had owned for years from my files to see if they would sell also. They did and the same thing happened.

People were commenting about how nice they were and again, better than what they had been expecting. I decided to spend some time and money investigating people who were selling copies of audio manuals for sale on eBay. What I discovered at that time was that most sellers on eBay who were offering copies of manuals were basically doing a really crappy job and essentially ripping off their buyers with over-priced, improperly described poor copies.

So the next thing I knew, I found myself spending a lot of money acquiring more original manuals. I planned on using them for the basis of a small part time income... almost a hobby type thing... well that should read... help pay for the hardware acquisitions... ha!

Then came along a long-term electronics technician who had specialized in working on vintage gear. He decided to close his shop and offered me his entire line of Pioneer service manuals. So I spent several thousand dollars to purchase them. Those manuals covered most of the popular consumer home electronics products produced by Pioneer from the early 1970's through the early 1980's. The decision to purchase that relatively large stock of manuals was the beginning of what we are doing now.

Our initial plan was to make just a few of the most popular manuals available and store the balance for at least several months or most likely, a few years until we had more time to make them all available. We really wanted to complete our home remodeling project and had no intention of making them all available at one time.

But the word was out that we had a lot of Pioneer manuals so the requests kept coming. Customers would receive a manual from us, like it, then ask if we could supply manuals for other equipment they owned. So being a nice guy and desiring to accommodate, we were soon pulling first one then another manual to do new production runs.

As more and more requests came in, we realized there was a demand for high-quality reproductions. So without really planning to do so, our time was becoming more and more consumed by making manuals. I made a decision to spend even more time and even more money to gear up for a much larger business activity. Sales kept increasing and the more customers said they were super pleased, the more the demand increased.

With those encouraging first results of our labors, one thing led to another so that we decided to develop this as a full-time business. Over the first twelve months of getting serious, we invested in excess of $40,000 dollars and God-only-knows how many man-hours, purchasing original classic audio manuals, doing the necessary things to build a large inventory sales stock, and preparing for serious selling.

We made lots of mistakes but learned from those mistakes. As we learned our many lessons, our reproduction manuals got better and better. I know that a commitment to quality and best efforts is the only way to go. I wish that we could have absolutely perfect originals in all cases so that we could always make perfect reproductions. But that is not always the case.

The "vast majority" of our work is produced directly from originals that are in very good condition. We do however have some originals that were damaged in some way by previous owners, or are copies or other after-market printings that are not perfect. We strive to make very accurate descriptions of all we do so that you will never be surprised or disappointed in what you receive.

I made a couple of decisions right up front based on my experiences with various eBay sellers and observations of other online sellers. One was that I refused to flat-rate price everything. That is sometimes a good deal for someone buying large manuals, but is a rip to the many buying the small ones like 5-10 pages (and there are a lot that size).

The other thing was to refuse to sell anything without first properly describing exactly what the customer would receive and assigning a guaranteed quality rating to it. Those decisions cost us huge numbers of easy sales, thousands of hours of our time and the loss of much sleep. But we are sticking to those plans. You will see the results when we are able to complete the manuals listing pages.

We expect to continue to invest large amounts of time and money to improve our service and increase the number of items we have available. We do not know how large we will ultimately decide to get into this but we do expect to be rewarded with prosperity for our hard work so that we will be here for many years in the future to serve your classic audio literature needs.


You can read more about the "many" trials and tribulations we experienced as it all developed by clicking on some of the links on the left side of this page, in particular, We Learned about Email Hell.
 
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