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Buying an early 1990's late 80's A/V Receiver.

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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Raymond lee Leggs

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Posted March 10 2008 - 04:05 PM

Is it okay to buy an ancient HT/Sound system receiver? there are some pretty cheap ant a pawn shop and they work and sound great (a little Dirty) but they do kick A**

I don't want all the fancy HDMI stuff I just want a simple old school A/V setup. Posted Image (I am a Classic audio/Vintage nut lol.) Posted Image

I did see several odd all-in one with subwoofer output for a sub and 4 speaker outputs.

I could use the 2-channel kenwood 103AR I have
laying around (not many inputs) I really only use it occasionally as my vintage receiver sounds better lol. (not many inputs either)

I am going to get some old school speakers to hook this up to if ZI do get an ancient HT receiver ...

#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted March 11 2008 - 05:34 PM

Assuming you’d want to watch DVDs, you’ll want one with Dolby Digital. I think that’ll mean you’ll need at least a mid-90s model receiver. Regards, Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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#3 of 9 OFFLINE   JohnRice


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Posted March 12 2008 - 03:28 AM

I agree with Wayne. I have several mid 80s H/K receivers for music around the house, and they are great stuff I got cheap on eBay. HT is another deal entirely. For that, you most likely want at least DD, which is probably not on that equipment.

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#4 of 9 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 12 2008 - 04:57 AM

Personally, I'd hardly call a 90's receiver "classic", never mind "vintage". My parent's KLH table radio with the tweed speaker cover, rosewood cabinet and all tube electronics is "vintage", whereas 90's receivers are just out of date.

The basic function and performace of an AM/FM table radio hasn't really changed in the last 60 years, whereas A/V receivers have gone through huge changes in the last 15. Analog->digital being the main one. I know a few people who love the nostalgic tube sound of an old table radio, but I don't know many who long for the "good old days" of Pro-Logic. Posted Image

#5 of 9 OFFLINE   LanceJ



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Posted March 12 2008 - 05:05 PM

While Dolby Digital definitely sounds better than Dolby Surround (the encoding format that Dolby Surround/Dolby Pro-Logic decoders use), particularly the fact its rear channels are stereo & full range,* if the receiver is in good shape, not expensive and the HT system is not intended for critical listening, I would go for it. There were some awesome receivers built back then that still sound great, even if "just" their stereo mode is used. For example when I sold HT in the early/mid 90s the $1600 VSX-D2, the non-Elite version (no wood, copper chassis & certain internal components) of this Pioneer, is what we were fortunate to use as a demo receiver in our HT system for an entire year. And I still haven't seen a receiver with a GUI, an animated GUI to boot, as sophisticated (click on that page's "more" button).

Anyway........a lot of dvds contain a Dolby Surround-encoded stereo** audio option & when that is chosen & the player's analog outputs are connected to the receiver, depending on what the director wanted you to hear, Dolby Surround is fully capable of front-to-back (and vice-versa) directional effects & good ambience fill-in effects like audience noises, the sound of large spaces like airports, plates clinking behind you in a restaurant scene, etc.

And even if there is no Dolby Surround option, on a standard dvd-video player a disc's 5.1 channel track is downmixed by the player into a stereo mix - minus the LFE channel - and many times a Dolby Surround/DPL decoder can still extract useful surround information from it.

* don't forget though that like an MP3 file, Dolby Digital is a lossy audio format and its 448kbps data rate spread over six channels limits its ability to - in my opinion - to sound as good as certain older analog formats, particularly Hi-Fi Stereo on the VHS and Beta formats. --> I'm not talking about surround sound, just the sound itself.

** many stereo tracks will contain "accidental" surround info in them, because of microphone placement for example, so sometimes you'll get bonus surround effects. Posted Image

#6 of 9 OFFLINE   Andy_A


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Posted March 19 2008 - 02:15 AM

you definitely want dolby digital and or dts. I'd look for the 5.1 channel input also. If you look, you should be able to find something with these features for under $100. Also, older receivers often had the crossover fixed at 100hz, instead of the more desirable 80. Be sure to check into that spec when buying an older receiver...

#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 19 2008 - 03:42 AM

He'll be hard pressed to find a DD/DTS receiver from the "early 1990's late 80's." The first consumer DD release was the Laser Disk of Clear and Present Danger in 1995. Actual DD capable receivers didn't show up until late '95, early '96.

#8 of 9 OFFLINE   LanceJ



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Posted March 19 2008 - 01:31 PM

Yep. When I worked at Incredible Universe in Xmas of '95, the brand spanking new version of the Pioneer I spoke of above included it (looked exactly the same). IIRC it cost @$2,000.

As far as external decoders for DD and DTS that can be hooked up via 5.1 input, AFAIK the most common one was this: Technics SH-AC500D

#9 of 9 OFFLINE   Andy_A


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Posted March 19 2008 - 05:21 PM

sorry for the confusion... I didn't mean to imply one could by a late 80's or mid 90's receiver w/ DTS. Even DD would be very uncommon until the mid 90s. However, for the money, I think you could get one which has both of these features. It seems that this would be the best value for the money on the used market.

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