Vintage Vs new amplifiers

April 15, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

12 comments on “Vintage Vs new amplifiers”

  1. Your only as old (elderly) as you feel Paul.
    So when are you gettin’ your caps (knee caps) replaced 😉

    My 2018 (AU$893) Onkyo A-9070 integrated sounds crisper & more detailed than
    my vintage 1981 (AU$1,299) Luxman C-120A/M-120A pre/power combo; ’nuff said.

      1. Sg,
        Yep, I’ve also got an A-9030 driving my bedroom (bedphones) system & I’m constantly amazed at how clean & dynamic it is…bottled lightning alright!

  2. So Paul,

    I have a couple of PS Audio 2C amplifiers that I like and still use. Do you consider these “vintage”? And how do you think they stack up relative to your company’s newer product offerings?

    I initially used them as mono amps to power a pair B&W DM3000 speakers that I flew to London to purchase in 1984 on the day the £ actually traded at parity with the $!

    And FWIW I still prefer these B&W DM3000’s over any of B&W’s current products – I think virtually all the B&W speakers that followed the “DM” series in the 1980’s were much too bright compared to my DM3000’s (and no, their tweeters are not fried – They work quite well).

    Now I use just one of the 2C’s (mono’d) to drive a single 18’ Hartley that I purchased from Jon Dahlquist back in the 70’s. Hartley custom built this subwoofer for Jon and he used it to help develop and ‘voice” the DQ-1W woofer he introduced to augment his famous DQ-10 phased array speaker. Hartley is still in business here in North Carolina and I’ve yet to hear a subwoofer as “quick” or as “clean” as my venerable Hartley. As always, YMMV

    1. The 2Cs were an excellent amp. Clean, simple, without hardly any voice to them. Quite neutral, in fact. Our more modern amplifiers have much more life and energy to them. But the 2Cs were really great for their day.

  3. Paul,
    One caveat regarding cost of re-capping. If you’re capable of buying the parts and installing yourself this is much less money than a new amp.

  4. If you know where to go, and who to talk to, you can find and buy vintage amps that have been completely restored.
    I know this to be true because, I have three vintage receivers and one vintage amplifier myself.
    One of the receivers, I’ve had sense I was two years old.
    And that one, is a JVC 4VR-4554.
    And surprisingly, it still has its stock parts and they still perform like brand new.
    And as for the one vintage amp I have, it is a 68 year old Knight integrated amp.
    It was dead when I found it almost six years ago.
    It needed new tubes, and new capacitors.
    Me being a blind man, I was able to both retube and recap the amp myself.
    The most money I spent, was on the tubes.
    Granted that I used all audiophile caps in this amp, I paid more money for the tubes then I did the caps.
    And as for my other two receivers, they’re a cupple of vintage Fisher receivers.
    They are the 800 and 400.
    If anything I had to do to them, is replace the tubes in them every few years.
    Recapping, no worries there, because the people I bought them from, done the work for me before they sold them to me.

  5. There’s just something about the looks of some of the vintage gear. I collect vintage 50s – 80s Dynaudio, Heathkit, Luxman, Pioneer, Sansui, Sony, Denon, Rotel JBL, Altec, Bryston, Leak, NAD, Mordaunt Short, McIntosh, Magnepan, Quad, Akai, ADS, DBX – even Realistic…you name it. One can just enjoy the looks of it – stacked up as art. Pleasing to the eye, y’know, for stuff that was made for the ears. And it has history. So I’ll find an old gem, repair it, restore it, re-cap or re-belt it, play it for a few days annnnnnd put it on the shelf for viewing. Crazy dang hobby…..
    Some people save hounds from pounds, some save Denons from dumpsters, Rotels from recyclers, Toshibas from trashbins.
    I guess its like a garage full of vintage cars – NOT driving anywhere.

  6. For a solid state amplifier, re-capping it, in my mind at least, may not be worth it. I looked at the cost of buying all new caps for an early 70’s Marantz and it was more than I paid for the amp. There are a lot of capacitors in the audio path. It sounds ok but it isn’t great and possibly just replacing the output caps might really help it. I just decided it was good enough as is.

    I did re-cap, re-diode, and replaced a few resistors in my 60’s vintage Mac 75’s and with new tubes, it was under $500. Those sound great now. I doubt that for $500 I would be able to get much better sound.

  7. I liken it to fine wines or old cars. We like to hear what past systems sounded like and surprisingly they sound pretty darn well and they look good. They were well built in the 70’s. Especially receivers with the big analog tuners dominating the front panel. From the early century to the 60’s and 70’s there huge advances. Not so much from the 70’s to present.

  8. I have a system I bought in 1997 consisting of a Nikko 9095 integrated receiver paired with a Rotel RP3000 turntable, BIC Venturi Formula 6 speakers, and Teac A3300SX R2R. That system sounded great through the ’70s and into the early 200’s until the output transistors started popping loud transients into the speakers. I had nothing that compared until my Sprout 100 arrived.

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