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Budget hi-fi and vintage audio gear

Ziva

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Jan 9, 2019
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#1
I'm in the process of putting together a budget hi-fi system and I am curious for any advice fellow Arsians could provide. I would like a system that is purely stereo and produces high SQ rather than high SPL. As it stands now, my computer would be the main audio source (MP3, APE, CD) using my TBSC- however I want to eventually add higher quality separates like a CD player, etc. This system will be used in a bedroom/computer room (small apartment) and I'm pretty set on picking up a pair of Axiom Audio's M2ti speakers. What I'm looking for is a good quality integrated amplifier (not a receiver, I don't need radio) that is budget priced (~$250 at most). I've done some searching around and it seems vintage equipment could yield the best results for my needs. What sort of vintage equipment would you recommend for my needs? I've seen the NAD 3020 or 70's Marantz equipment come highly recommended https://waveadvice.com/integrated-amplifiers/ ; does anyone have any experience with this equipment? What are some precautions to take regarding the purchasing of 20+ year old audio equipment? What are common problems old integrated amplifiers run into? Any information and suggestions are highly appreciated! Thanks!
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
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#2
Marantz, Technics, Sansui, Pioneer, Harman Kardon, Yamaha all made solid equipment back in the 70s, not to mention being very attractive visually-speaking. Being open to a receiver certainly broadens your options, probably with no economic penalty. Getting something that old though, you might look for one that’s been refurbished, as capacitors and rheostats do wear out with age.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

PierreV

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Nov 6, 2018
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#3
Funny coincidence, I am playing with old stuff I got out of storage tonight and comparing it with newer devices.

Just finished with the NAD 310 and the Yamaha RX-396RDS, both purchased new at the end of the 90s, both stored under the same conditions.
The NAD has not aged well at all. The potentiometers are extremely oxydized. The Yamaha RX-396RDS feels and behaves as it did when new. Same story with a Technics receiver I bought in the 80s. I'd say the build quality of a Triumph TR7 vs a Toyota MR2 :)

It seems you can find the Yamaha for as low 55 EUR these days.
1547079661699.png
 

restorer-john

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Mar 1, 2018
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Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
#4
...rheostats do wear out with age...
Rheostats are way cooler than potentiometers aren't they? I also like calling my tuners, 'wirelesses' (like my Grandma did)- it stirs up my boys.

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Joined
Nov 22, 2018
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#5
As it stands now, my computer would be the main audio source (MP3, APE, CD) using my TBSC- however I want to eventually add higher quality separates like a CD player, etc.
Amir's recent DAC reviews strongly suggest that a cheapish USB DAC cannot be beaten significantly.

I'm pretty set on picking up a pair of Axiom Audio's M2ti speakers. What I'm looking for is a good quality integrated amplifier (not a receiver, I don't need radio) that is budget priced (~$250 at most).
Axiom's 3-way, twice-as-expensive, "bookshelf" speaker measures like so at the NRC. Personally, I'd keep shopping. Why are you leaning to the M2?

Because you're starting from nothing, at least consider new, active speakers. The JBL 305/306/308 should be easy to audition. Kali & Vanatoo are worth a look. IMO, $500 active speakers + 2-3 acoustic panels will likely give better sound than $500 passive speakers + a $250 amp + no acoustic attention.

That said, separate components are a lot easier to replace for upgrades or failures.
 

PierreV

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#6
And since we are here, some measurements... Now, I know this isn't the whole story, but still...
First three are Marantz HD AMP1 in direct/filter 2/filter 1 mode.
Blue one is Yamaha 386RDS
Read one is NAD 310
all driving KEF LS50, measured at 1m with a umik.
levels intentionally not matched for visualization purposes.
Not going to give subjective impressions on listening tests, other than to say I would be extremely happy with the Yamaha and a Khadas Tone Board.
 

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bigx5murf

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Nov 6, 2018
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#7
My favorite line of budget vintage hi-fi integrated are the Nakamichi stasis amplifiers. Many of the lower powered versions can often be found for under $100. They have Nelson pass designed amp sections, and pre sections were designed to compliment their famous tape decks, so very robust in/out tape loops. Many of these have MM/MC phono sections as well.
 
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