Vintage recievers. Really superior or just misplaced nostalgia??

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Kevin_Breeze, Jul 30, 2004.

  1. Kevin_Breeze

    Kevin_Breeze Second Unit

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    I almost bought a couple of late 70s/early 80's Sansui Receiver's on ebay last night. One was a 9090DB and one was a G9000 I believe. The first one retailed for like $900 and the other $1100 back when they were new. So in their day they were top of the line.

    Personally, I love the way they look and just think they are really cool. They both appeared to be huge powerhouses. BUT....I have a few concerns/questions...

    -Is the sound truthfully as good as many people claim compared to todays stuff? How is the detail, seperation, soundstage, cleanliness, etc etc...

    -Will age most likely have degraded the sound quality alot unless thoroughly restored??

    -Are the tuner's truthfully much better?

    - Also, when you hook a CD player thru "Aux" does it still sound as good as when you hook to modern receivers dedicated CD input?

    I am very interested in setting up a Music only system with one and also getting my father one, but I am just afraid to be dissapointed.
     
  2. Brad_Harper

    Brad_Harper Stunt Coordinator

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    The amplification portion of the older receivers are just as good as anything built today. Amplifier designs haven't changed much in the last 30 years. The processing power in today's receivers are obviously better but if you are just going for a 2 channel setup then processing power is not an issue.

    So for a strictly stereo set up you could compare yesterdays technology to todays because more then likely it is the same tech anyway.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    -Is the sound truthfully as good as many people claim compared to todays stuff? How is the detail, seperation, soundstage, cleanliness, etc etc...
    If it's in good working order it would compare very favorably with comparable models today. The separation, soundstage is really a function of the recording and how your speakers and room are setup. So long as they can drive your speakers you'll be in good shape. You'll find that you may have to take the unit in for a general internal cleaning and lube job but that's about it.


    Will age most likely have degraded the sound quality alot unless thoroughly restored??
    Difficult to say. I've got a Sansui receiver from the 70's and it works perfectly well. If you've got to do major restoration, then unless you're a collector, I'd pass. Bounce around local pawn shops, garage sales, flea markets, various thrift stores, estate sales. Amazing stuff pops up as people want to get rid of their 'junk'.

    Are the tuner's truthfully much better?
    You'd have to compare and understand specs to determine that. As a broad, sweeping generalization, I'd say yes. Back then it was all basically 2 channel and there was very serious competition between the brands with manufacturers looking to one up the other. Keep in mind though that a lot of people used antennas and not those silly little Terks but roof top ones with directional controls. An antenna makes all the difference in the world.

    Also, when you hook a CD player thru "Aux" does it still sound as good as when you hook to modern receivers dedicated CD input?
    CD output is 2 volts so as long as the AUX has no issues with that, you're good to go.

    I am very interested in setting up a Music only system with one and also getting my father one, but I am just afraid to be dissapointed.
    You've got to ask a lot of questions to make sure it's in good working order. If it is and is cosmetically OK it makes for a great retro look with quite good performance. As you went up the receiver food chain, they were quite substantial in appearance and heft. You may also find Marantz to be particularly attractive and if your Dad is a bit nostalgic, get him the receiver and a nice pair of modern speakers. I'm sure he's done right by you and this could be your way of saying..."Dad, I wish I could find a way to thank you more."
     
  4. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    I'd say some of the most sought after older receivers are the HK "Dual Power" series of receivers models 430, 730, 930.

    I still own a 930, and it's FM quality and station grabbing capability is better than anything I've tried since.

    Many of the older receivers have avid followers and info can be found on other forums with "Vintage Gear" threads.

    I still use my 930 and it's going strong.
     
  5. Kevin_Breeze

    Kevin_Breeze Second Unit

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    Thanks for the great input guys! Chu in particular thanks for breaking down each question.

    Bruce, yeah I saw a couple of those on Ebay, they actually seemed to be going pretty cheaply too....

    I really liked the look of the Sansui's that were all polished aluminum G9000 and G9700 in particular ...really sweet looking monsters!
     
  6. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    I'm going to generalize a bit, which can be dangerous, but I have owned and played with an endless stream of receivers at all price levels from 1970 through the early 1980s. Models tested were from Marantz, H.H. Scott, Pioneer, Sansui, Technics, Harman/Kardon, Kenwood, Sherwood, and Sony.

    Most of these brands had good to excellent FM tuners as far as reception qualities were concerned. The best models in each line had particularly good capture ratios, sensitivity, and selectivity, allowing above-average reception in urban, suburban, and fringe areas. There was quite a specsmanship war among brands regarding reception ability.

    The audio quality though seemed to be ignored at times. Some FM audio sections were hard and edgy sounding in the upper midrange and lower treble, and/or could be quite spitty on sibilants. Some of these problems could be traced to the receivers' less-than-stellar amplifiers. Sometimes, taking the FM audio from a receiver's tape-out jacks and feeding it to a quality preamp revealed the tuner's surround quality was limited by the receiver's own amplifier section.

    Which brings me to the amplifiers built into that era's receivers. Regarding the brands mentioned above, I cannot think of one (with the possible exception of H/K's) that I liked very much. All of them had, to one degree or another, a hardness, glare, edge, and grain that, when auditioned on high-performance loudspeakers, drove me up the wall. I went through one unit and brand after another looking for one that I could live with long-term for music and video listening. (I've listened to TV via a separate audio system since 1970.) I never found one. For a while, I had a collection of discarded receivers!

    Most any of the receivers were fine for use in my parent's system, which utilized mediocre loudspeakers and was used primarily for background music. But for critical listening, it wasn't happening.

    I finally gave up trying out receivers for personal use in 1977 and moved onto a Marantz 1250 integrated amp and model 150 receiver (the one with a built-in 'scope). They didn't sound as good as I'd hoped, so I eventually moved into separates and have been happy ever since.

    I tried out a few more receivers for family and friends into the early 1980s, but was never impressed.

    Interestingly, I recently tried several upper-end receivers again (Sony ES, H/K, Denon, Marantz, Onkyo) for secondary systems in our home and found them quite good regarding audio performance. (FM reception, though, is disappointing.) Today, I'm quite fond of the units made by Denon.

    To sum up, in my experience, vintage receivers in the time period discussed here generally offer excellent FM reception. Audio performance, though, to my ears, is far better in today's receivers.

    Have a great weekend!
     
  7. Kevin_Breeze

    Kevin_Breeze Second Unit

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    Thanks for the long write up Alex. very interesting. What you just explained was always my perception of older stereo's too, but after I came here and read some reviews on audioreview.com I heard many people talking about how great those old receiver's sounded and the old "they don't make em like they used to" so it got me thinking that would be great...you gte classic style, nostalgia,cool looks and outstanding performance for like $200-$300! Can't beat that! But I was personally very skeptical how good they would actually sound. Although many of today's receivers arent built like tanks like the old ones were (although my HK is, at 50+lbs), from what I have heard most seem to sound very good to my ears.

    So I am assuming in your opinion I would be better off just continuing using my HK AVR7000 for music instead of spending the $$ top setup a second music system with a vintage unit. As far as my dad, i went ahead and bought the new Onkyo 8211 for him as I just felt more comfortable doing that and I couldnt have beaten the price! I think it will sound great with the JBL S36's I ordered for outdoor bar & poolside music. I'm sure he will love it [​IMG] I just have to make sure I get a good antenna, any suggestions on which one and where to buy it??
     
  8. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    If the H/K 7000 is the one I think it is (replaced the AVR-30 about 1995-96?), it is, to my ears, an exceptionally fine-sounding receiver, and I'd take it over any vintage unit.
     
  9. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Real Name:
    Nick So
    I recommend reading up on the Vintage section at AudioAsylum.com
     
  10. Kevin_Breeze

    Kevin_Breeze Second Unit

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    Alex, not sure if those are the receivers it replaced but it was Harman's flagship model a few years back. The replacement I believe for it was the 7200 and now I think the 8000? Many people have said it's the finest sounding receiver next to components. the only complaint is they seem to have some bugs. Right now my left channel isnt working and it has to go in for repair.

    Nickso, i'll check it out.
     
  11. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Yes, I am referring to the top model (your AVR-7000) that replaced the previous top model (AVR-30) about 1995 or 1996, if memory serves. I spent a few hours auditioning speakers back then and one dealer used both models to drive the speakers I tried while another dealer used the AVR-30. Both sounded unusually fine for receivers and I even briefly considered them for my theater room in lieu of separates. Yes, the sonics were that good.

    Sorry, though, to hear about reliability problems.
     

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