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  1. #1
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    can older amps compete with newer ones?

    searching/researching power amps and have found some very cool looking older amps....say 70's or even late 80's vintage. The style is unique and those analog meters are way too cool.

    But i wonder how they compare against today's crop of amps.

    I mean...80's sports cars cannot compete with today's sports car, but i view amps as different animals altogether. Assuming most of the technology was there back in the day.

    Another question, if a 70 or 80's amp is rated at 100 wpc, does that equal today's 100wpc? Same for THD?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY!!!

    The issue isn't so much about performance as it is the life of the unit in question. An amp should be able to last decades with minimal maintenance withou deterioration in sound quality. You might find that over your period of ownership, you replace a parts that add cost. If you can't do it yourself, this can add up pretty fast and make the overall cost of buying "vintage" quite expensive. It's a bit of a gamble, but I think amps were built tougher back in the 70's and 80's.

  3. #3
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
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    Well...

    ...insofar as power ratings are concerned, if you are comparing the output under the same specs there really shouldn't be any difference...

    If the vintage stuff is rated @100Wpc RMS into 8 Ohms, both channels driven, 20Hz to 20kHz, you must have the same parameters in order to make a valid comparison with newer stuff...unfortunately manufacturers have used other terms to give the impression of more power than might actually be there and as contained in the FTC guidelines...

    So 100w IPP into 4 ohms @1kHz isn't the same as the previously mentioned spec...in place of RMS there have been IHF( the older Institute of High Fidelity rating), Music Power(pretty meaningless IMHO), IPP(Instantaneous Peak Power), all of which result in inflated power ratings. There are also DIN ratings and the Japanese equivalent(the name which escapes me)...How many channels driven? In todays market with 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 maybe more, that fact also plays a significant role as does the frequency range or single point at which testing is done.

    Obvously, there may be other factors, such as parts availability to take into consideration, but I prefer the older stuff, IMHO the units were simply built better, looked cooler, had a wider range of switching possibilities and relied more on discrete electronic devices and overbuilt power supplies as opposed to ICs, integrated circuits and the like...I'm sure there are those who will disagree and cite current models that fill those requirements, but I stand by my opinion...plus how much of a price difference is there for the same level of build quality of old vs. newer?


    jimHJJ(...just my input, take it for what it's worth...)
    Hello, I'm a misanthrope...don't ask me why, just take a good look around.

    "Men would rather believe than know" -Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by Edward O. Wilson

    "The great masses of the people...will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one" -Adolph Hitler

    "We are never deceived, we deceive ourselves" -Goethe

    If you repeat a lie often enough, some will believe it to be the truth...

  4. #4
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    This is a great question!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    But i wonder how they compare against today's crop of amps.
    Some are better, some are worse. How's that for politics?

    There is no doubt in my mind that today's amps offer more refinement, better efficiency, and far better connections. Build quality is where they fall behind. If you ever try to pick up an old Mac, Marantz, or Fisher, you'd better have your back support on! These things were built like tanks and made to last (I've got a 30+ year old Marantz to prove it). There were some truly great amps built in the 80's that I'd take in a heart beat. Threshold, Theta, Forte, Bryston, Counterpoint, man...the list goes on and on. The difference is that today, you can get an extremely competent amp for relatively little money.

    I mean...80's sports cars cannot compete with today's sports car
    I think a 959, Ferrari GTO or 512BB wouldn't embarrass themselves.

  5. #5
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Some are better, some are worse. How's that for politics?

    There is no doubt in my mind that today's amps offer more refinement, better efficiency, and far better connections. Build quality is where they fall behind. If you ever try to pick up an old Mac, Marantz, or Fisher, you'd better have your back support on! These things were built like tanks and made to last (I've got a 30+ year old Marantz to prove it). There were some truly great amps built in the 80's that I'd take in a heart beat. Threshold, Theta, Forte, Bryston, Counterpoint, man...the list goes on and on. The difference is that today, you can get an extremely competent amp for relatively little money.

    I think a 959, Ferrari GTO or 512BB wouldn't embarrass themselves.

    I guess the tough part is...well, i just got in this expensive hobby back in 98 and so i'm not familar with older amps and finding reviews is next to impossible. Can you guys recommend some good older amps? I'm looking for >125wpc and a really cool front. Maybe even a few meters on the face plate. Prefer a warmer sound -vs- bright. Will be driving semi-thirsty towers (~6ohm). I found an interesting Marantz on ebay, but cannot find any information on it.
    Check it out;
    Marantz 140

  6. #6
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
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    Only info I can find...

    ...puts it @ 70-75Wpc(depending on the listing)...I'd say 70, 'cause 70W X two channels=140W...which just so happens to be the model number...clever these marketing boys, eh...

    jimHJJ(...some stuff is difficult to get any real info on...)
    Hello, I'm a misanthrope...don't ask me why, just take a good look around.

    "Men would rather believe than know" -Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by Edward O. Wilson

    "The great masses of the people...will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one" -Adolph Hitler

    "We are never deceived, we deceive ourselves" -Goethe

    If you repeat a lie often enough, some will believe it to be the truth...

  7. #7
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Resident Loser
    ...puts it @ 70-75Wpc(depending on the listing)...I'd say 70, 'cause 70W X two channels=140W...which just so happens to be the model number...clever these marketing boys, eh...

    jimHJJ(...some stuff is difficult to get any real info on...)
    i found this cool site...

    http://www.classic-audio.com/marantz/0140.html

  8. #8
    RGA
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    My speakers are 6 ohm and i run a 10 watt amp -- so I would not call 6 ohms thirsty -- there is way more to it than one number in isolation. In my experience high watt amps tend to sound worse than low watt amps -- there are numerorus exceptions. But the best sub $3k SS amp I have heard is 25 watts and the other SS integrated I really like is 50 watts. And tubes typically are low watt.

    I prefer Class A amplifiers (not stereophile rated class A).

  9. #9
    nightflier
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    Older amps

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    The issue isn't so much about performance as it is the life of the unit in question. An amp should be able to last decades with minimal maintenance withou deterioration in sound quality.
    So do older amps deteriorate over time? I'm still on the lookout for a good quality high-watt 80's amp, but I've always thought that anything older was too risky.

    Other than the power button, amps really don't have any moving parts. So besides dusting, what kind of maintenance do older amps require?

  10. #10
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
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    Well...

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    So do older amps deteriorate over time? I'm still on the lookout for a good quality high-watt 80's amp, but I've always thought that anything older was too risky.

    Other than the power button, amps really don't have any moving parts. So besides dusting, what kind of maintenance do older amps require?
    ...I think it depends on how old is old?

    Maybe the capacitors might become problematic over time...but I have a HK Citation 16 amp(100Wpc RMS into 8 Ohms, both ch driven, 20-20K...200Wrms into 4 Ohms) purchased in the early '80s that still kicks @$$...it drives s difficult load and still cruises along at a decent dB level at an output of 2.5W(as indicated by it's LED power output display)...other than a neon power indicator(which I'm just too lazy to repair) I have had zero problems. So that's 20+yrs. and counting. I think, for the most part, SS devices keep working until they just don't.

    Now, if you go 'way back and the internal wiring is cloth covered, it has probably become brittle over time, tubes deteriorate and it can be difficult to replace...To my knowledge, none of the old American co.(e.g. RCA, Sylvania etc.) still makes 'em(or even exists for that matter), so it's NOS(New Old Stock) or Sovtek or Chinese...that fact means higher prices due to "supply vs. demand" constraints and with the NOS, it's really a crapshoot as to the quality of the items you can score.

    Probably dusting and vacuuming is about it...exposed heatsinks need to radiate in an efficient manner to keep the output transistors within safe operating limits.

    Crown amps were pretty bulletproof(still are I think) Carver, SAE, McIntosh, even Bose(yes, the dreaded Bose) who had a 325Wpc behemoth with both meters AND an LED display.

    The site you mentioned( which is where I got the conflicting power ratings BTW) is a good one...if you do a google on vintage or classic audio, you can find folks who specialize in specific retro brands...take a look at some of the "for sale" sections and it should provide a good indication of which gear is considerd "classic" and the price you can expect to pay.

    jimHJJ(...too much weird info?...sorry, I get that way sometimes...)
    Hello, I'm a misanthrope...don't ask me why, just take a good look around.

    "Men would rather believe than know" -Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by Edward O. Wilson

    "The great masses of the people...will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one" -Adolph Hitler

    "We are never deceived, we deceive ourselves" -Goethe

    If you repeat a lie often enough, some will believe it to be the truth...

  11. #11
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    To my thinking, high-power 80's amp means Carver. The older stuff before the company was purchased. Pre 1992 or so, I think. powerful. bulletproof. brushed aluminum face. rack handles. Analog meters w/ dimmer lamps. Way cool.

    I like models such as the TFM-35. Do a search on e-bay and take a look.

    I use Vandersteen model 2's, not known as the most effecient speaker in the world. From experience, the newer receivers do not drive these nearly as well and an old Carver.

    jocko

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