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Vintage amplifiers that could challenge or approach current state of the art amplifiers

restorer-john

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I was asked by @GXAlan to suggest a "top 3" amplifiers, but to narrow down to just 3 seems an impossible task.

There have been thousands of wonderful products from many hundreds of manufacturers for well over half a century, but which ones have the performance chops to equal or better some of the modern offerings?

First we need to set the ground rules. Do we include professional products or not? Because in terms of sheer power, it will be the professional products that win the power stakes. In other parameters they can fall flat (noise etc)

Do we talk about power amplifiers or integrated amplifiers and what ranges of facilities or functions are a bare minimum?

Are all parameters considered or just some, and how do you weight one parameter vs another? 2ch Amplifiers were sold on THD in late 60s, facilities and features in the early 70s, power output in the late 70s, stripped back functionality and wide bandwidth in the early 80s, speaker driveability in the late 80s and convenience and connectivity in the 90s. Then came AVRs and a couple of decades of 2ch being in the wilderness.

Now 2ch is back with a vengeance, pared back to basics. Low gain, high performance amplifier "modules" that pass the buck in the ultimate performance stakes to the source and buffer stage (used to be called a preamplifier). They aren't rated for continuous duty, have issues with overly zealous protection and are in real terms "fragile". Many are also not economically repairable. Do these characteristics mean anything to people?

So what suggestions do you guys have for vintage challengers? We may have some of these classics sitting in member's basements or still humming along in their equipment racks.
 

GD Fan

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No suggestions here, but really enjoyed the brief history lesson of your post. Will definitely follow along for further edification!
 

wwenze

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how do you weight one parameter vs another

SINAD vs power curves

As for candidates...
NAD C320... I think we have that already
How about NAD 3020 and Pioneer A400. Although there are probably measurements of those on the internet already.
Tripath amps?
 

Doodski

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Yamaha M-85 is a classic of the day and has the grunt to back it up too.
394086-dbd76f7e-yamaha_mx1000u_and__or_yamaha_m85_power_amp.jpg
 

Blumlein 88

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I'd suggest just power amplifiers. Not integrated amps. Then you can do a 2nd thread on preamps. :)

I'd like to see distortion and noise separately when the info is available. Along with the usual power, current and bandwidth specs.
 
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restorer-john

restorer-john

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How about NAD 3020 and Pioneer A400.

With respect, both those amplifiers are just budget, bang for buck amplifiers with nothing that would put them in the same league as modern SOTA amplifiers.

The NAD-3020 is dreadful on the bench. I've had maybe a dozen of them, bought simply because people pay stupid money for them. I wouldn't keep one.

The A-400 was Pioneer's clever way of stripping down an A-447/9 (the boards are the same), pulling out cost and charging more for it to audiophiles who lapped it up based on a few UK "rave" reviews. It was funny to us (I was selling those actual Pioneers at the time in 1990/91). People would wait months for an A-400 at AU$599 when the same amplifier with more features (exactly the same performance) was available for $100 less.

It was such a great success, they modified the A-337/9 to make the A-300 and fooled more audiophiles.
 
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restorer-john

restorer-john

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Aside from a bit of transformer buzz...

That's enough to rule it out in my opinion. I've had some otherwise lovely amplifiers apart from noisy laminations/windings that could not be fixed. They were disposed of. Likewise, fans. Why strive for ultimate S/N if the amplifier's physical noise drowns it out?
 
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restorer-john

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Some of big vintage Perreauxes I've owned would be contenders, except for their residual noise. In all other parameters, they were/are pretty much unbeatable.
 
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restorer-john

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Pioneer M-22 , and for that matter Spec 2 and Spec 4

I've got a Spec 4 in the storeroom waiting for a restoration one day.

There's also a M-90/C-90 pre/power pair sitting gathering dust over at my Dad's place. M-90 is a lovely amplifier.
(not my pic)
1592793288839.png


I have a Pioneer A-91D integrated here (the biggest and heaviest they ever built. 65lbs 29.9kg) too. I only boxed it up last month- I had been using it for a year or so after it and its brother (A-717) had been stored for several decades. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ntify-this-amplifier.10003/page-2#post-270991

(not my pic)
1592793412844.png


Inside:
1592793457192.png


The A-91D is virtually impossible to fault. I think in real terms, it's my favourite big integrated.
 
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RayDunzl

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Krell FPB 350 mcx @ 5W feeding MartinLogan reQuest
Mfg date 2005
350/700/1400W rating, 8,4,2 ohms

1592793663470.png


I believe much of the inaudble 60Hz and harmonics come from the preamp, which is sitting on top of a 15A 120V isolation transformer
 
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