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  1. #1
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    Pros & cons of buying a vintage receiver

    I'm still pondering a replacement for my aging and tempermental JVC receiver, such as an HK3380 or Yamaha RX-497. But after roaming around these forums, I picked up the website for Classicaudio.com and it got me thinking...I could have one of the receivers that I used to dream of (but never bought) way back when I worked at a Marantz dealer in the 70s...like the 2270, 2285(B) or 2325. [Sigh]

    True, they would be more expensive than a lot of the new stuff and they would lack some of the niceties like remotes. And one- or two-year warranties. But then, the overall quality of these was awesome compared to what's built today and if they've been cared for and serviced properly...might they be a good buy?

    Anyhoo...what are some of your experiences in buying oldies but goodies like these? And not just from Classicaudio.com but also eBay and elsewhere? Has anyone gotten burned? Just wondering.

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    If they are charging more than a new receiver, I'd look somewhere else. I picked up a vintage Luxman from Ebay for under $100.00. I also found a Sansui AU-9500 at a thrift store. I knew some one who worked there and picked it up for $20.00. That was a steal. The 9500 turned out to e a real gem. I also bought my brother an old Sansui receiver for $25.00 from Ebay, this didn't even compare to the prior mentioned gear.

    A real pro, is the possibility of getting great performance for cheap. Another pro is most vintage gear include phono stages. The cons I've seen were things like speaker terminals that only except bare wire and only smaller gauge, you already mentioned remote.....ah, that's about it. Another pro is some of the vintage gear include more tone features like high/low filters, midrange control, the 9500 even included selectable turnover frequency for bass/mid/treble. Most vintage gear include speaker selection for multiple pairs, channel reverse, mono etc. Many of he old receivers I've played with have fantastic tuners. Contrary to what the buzz is, not all vintage gear is great. A cheap receiver then is still an old cheap receiver. It helps to research the piece if you can before you buy.

    If you buy right, I don't see how you could get burned. I wouldn't over pay for an old receiver.

  3. #3
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    It's not that I've been burned, but almost all vintage equipment needs a tune-up. At least recapping -- caps dry out after 20 30 40 years, even when not in use. Better to buy a refurb from someone who knows what they're doing. Don't come up that often, but worth it, if that's what you're interested in.
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    My brother has a Marantz 2270 that he bought new in '72 (I think). The thing still sounds great!. Its tuner pulls in stations from 60 - 70 miles clearly that most new recievers wouldn't even pick up at 30 miles. If you can find something like this at a good price, I'd jump on it.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Sure they'd be a good buy, but as DC pointed out, gear that old will very likely require a tune up. My parents have a Marantz 2275. Still works, but more than half of the switches are shorting out so they rarely use it anymore. Also, my understanding is that for some of the parts on those vintage Marantzes, you have to canibalize other units for parts. A good audio repair shop should have a lot of stripped out parts lying around, but those shops are few and far between.

    Also consider that the 2275 cost $600 back in 1976. In today's dollars, that equals over $2,000. If you compare what you can buy for $2,000 today versus that Marantz receiver, it's not even close.
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  6. #6
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Then again ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    ...

    Also consider that the 2275 cost $600 back in 1976. In today's dollars, that equals over $2,000. If you compare what you can buy for $2,000 today versus that Marantz receiver, it's not even close.
    You can buy a 2275 today in good condition, without wood case, for under $400.
    ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pros & cons of buying a vintage receiver-marantz2275.jpg  

  7. #7
    test the blind blindly emorphien's Avatar
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    I always loved those older Marantz receivers, I know someone who has one and it still works wonderfully.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Sure they'd be a good buy, but as DC pointed out, gear that old will very likely require a tune up. My parents have a Marantz 2275. Still works, but more than half of the switches are shorting out so they rarely use it anymore.
    Hmm...yeah, this is sort of the situation with my (semi) vintage JVC, although it doesn't in any way compare with the quality of the Marantz 2200 series.

    Also, my understanding is that for some of the parts on those vintage Marantzes, you have to canibalize other units for parts. A good audio repair shop should have a lot of stripped out parts lying around, but those shops are few and far between.

    Also consider that the 2275 cost $600 back in 1976. In today's dollars, that equals over $2,000. If you compare what you can buy for $2,000 today versus that Marantz receiver, it's not even close.
    And the reason I'm kicking myself is I could have bought one back then with my salesperson's discount for a little over $300. (sigh)

  9. #9
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    This is a great question. I have a love-hate relationship with vintage gear. On one hand, there is a lot incredible sounding, sweet looking old gear out there at great prices. on the other hand, the stuff is totally unpredictable and almost always requires work to be done (which in the end negates the cheap purchase price).

    Take my Harman-Kardon 730 receiver from the late 70's. This thing is a dual-mono design. Yes, twin circuits and power supplies for the power amp section. Incredible power and sound quality, fantastic tuner, very nice phono stage. Powers all kinds of speakers and looks really sweet too. I had a tech service it and get it fixed up, but eventually it developed a mystery noise in one channel that could be identified or repaired by the tech. It was like a gremlin. The thing sounds amazing, but is unusable because of this noise. It's really frustrating. You never really know what you are going to get.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericl
    This is a great question. I have a love-hate relationship with vintage gear. On one hand, there is a lot incredible sounding, sweet looking old gear out there at great prices. on the other hand, the stuff is totally unpredictable and almost always requires work to be done (which in the end negates the cheap purchase price).

    Take my Harman-Kardon 730 receiver from the late 70's. This thing is a dual-mono design. Yes, twin circuits and power supplies for the power amp section. Incredible power and sound quality, fantastic tuner, very nice phono stage. Powers all kinds of speakers and looks really sweet too. I had a tech service it and get it fixed up, but eventually it developed a mystery noise in one channel that could be identified or repaired by the tech. It was like a gremlin. The thing sounds amazing, but is unusable because of this noise. It's really frustrating. You never really know what you are going to get.
    Oh, yeah...I remember the HK 730! (We carried HK & Marantz as our main lines, plus Rotel and JVC). That was a nice unit but we didn't sell too many of them, most people seemed to go for the Marantz instead. And then there was the HK 330...something of a headache in terms of number of units needing service. But I digress...

  11. #11
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Yep, HK 330A

    Quote Originally Posted by Century L100
    Oh, yeah...I remember the HK 730! (We carried HK & Marantz as our main lines, plus Rotel and JVC). That was a nice unit but we didn't sell too many of them, most people seemed to go for the Marantz instead. And then there was the HK 330...something of a headache in terms of number of units needing service. But I digress...
    I recently retired an HK 330A I bought circa 1974. It was working fairly well but not perfectly; one channel of the tape input was attenuated and a couple of lights were burned out. I replaced it with a recently bought vintage NAD receiver, (7013? will have to check).

    The NAD is 8 or so years younger than the HK and working very well. Actually, a much nicer unit than the HK ever was.

  12. #12
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    I have become a huge fan of vintage stuff and have the closet to prove it!

    That said, it is a hobby. You never know what you will get, some of the equipment is hitting 40 years old. You get some real gems that make the whole thing so rewarding.

    Both of my kids have nice vintage Pioneer systems. I am using two Yamaha CA-400 amps with my keyboard and PA system that sound fat. (They have microphone inputs, too). Old analog tuners are simply AMAZING. My son's Pioneer is like a Hubble Space Telescope for radio. It is sad how far tuners have regressed over the years.

    I did eBay some of the purchases. Mostly, however, I have relied upon thrift store scores. Some have been very, very good: Carver C2 Preamp. H/K Citation-22 Amp. Klipsch Heresy. AR 410's. Infinity RS5000. Cerwin Vega DX-7's and 250SE's. High-end EQ's. The point is not to spend too much money on the front end. It is a hobby.

    My main system is constantly evolving. I currently run dual subs (Dayton Reference) with internal plate amps. I am not thrilled with how my woodworking turned out. I am considering remaking these using the H/K Citation as an external amp. It is a beast of an amp that I am not using otherwise. ???. Also, I have a nice turntable that I would like to employ via the Carver Preamp.

    I keep looking for more good stuff.

    jocko

  13. #13
    rockin' the mid-fi audio_dude's Avatar
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    yeah, like my old Sansui AU-4900... hmm, I beleive it is just in need of a complete cleaning and tune up from top to bottom... I may sell it, because i don't really have the money to get it fixed, and my new denon DRA-825RA has already blown me away. oh well...
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  14. #14
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    oh yea...

    If I were purchasing vintage for regular use, I would skip the receiver and go with separates. As top-of-the-line as possible: 1) TOTL stuff is the most valuable, should you decide to sell. 2) Repair or refit will cost the same (labor) for TOTL or mid-tier equipment. There is some GREAT equipment out there. Try not to pay top dollar.

    jocko

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    Those old Infinity RS sound pretty good. They'd mate well with the HK. The RS won't take much abuse but they had nice sound. A much better product than Infinity puts out now.

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    Yea. The EMIT tweeters alone were worth more than Goodwill was asking. I may use them in a DIY project someday.

  17. #17
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    I'll take those EMIT tweeters off your hands, if you don't want 'em. I've got a 3-way I'm thinking about building...


    Regardless, a $1,000 (today's dollars) reciever from 1975-1981 will be completely trounced by a modern $1,000 amplifier - for that kind of money, you could get some UCD modules, or a hand-made class-A amplifier that would put out more watts anyway.

    On the other hand, an amplifier that cost $1,000 back in the late 70's is, what....$80? Maybe $40-$50 for a beat-up specimen at a flea market?

    And that, folks, is why buying old-school gear is worth it - unless you're willing to DIY.

  18. #18
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    [QUOTE=spasticteapot
    Regardless, a $1,000 today's dollars) reciever from 1975-1981 will be completely trounced by a modern $1,000 amplifier - for that kind of money, you could get some UCD modules, or a hand-made class-A amplifier that would put out more watts anyway.

    That's a broad generalization. I'd almost disagree with you, but it really depend on which vintage and modern gear you are comparing. I have a Sansui AU-9500 that cost $595.00 in the early to mid 70's and you'd be hard pressed to find an amp today to beat it with $1k. I was really impressed and it's the amp that put my faith back in vintage gear. To me it sounded better than a $700.00 vintage Luxman receiver I once had, and it sounds better than my Adcom gfp450/gfa5400. The latter may be subjective, some may prefer the bigger bass sound of the Adcom, but the Sansui has the upper hand on clarity and detail. The Sansui bass line is much tighter. The 9500's sound is refined, leaning toward the sound of an Arcam integrated. I haven't heard much vintage gear take that direction. The Luxman had good detail, much better than receivers today, but the bass didn't have much punch. It had a light and airy quality to the sound. I think if some one got lucky enough to find the right piece,of vintage gear they could have a great system.

    I could be wrong, but I haven't seen much improvement in CD playback since early in 2k. Many looking for good sound for cheap seem to overlook the great buys on what once was very expensive DAC's, or CD players, but DAC's are less risk because they usually far out live the transport, now being sold for under $500.00. These high end DAC may be only 20 bit or less but what they done with that will beat up on a modern machine today costing $500.00, or more depending. Those who think there's no improvement over $300.00 are sure to post their disperaging remarks but I have a solid state Conrad Johnson DAC I bought used for $450.00 that cost $1,200.00 new and I bet there isn't many players under $1k to beat it. This DAC is probably from 99. I hooked it up to my Krell's digital out and it naturally was not as good as the Krell's internal DAC but I was amazed though at how well it held it's own in comparison.

    The reason for my babble is to have a good system, you have to have a good source. You may not think of digital as vintage but compare the progress of improvement in digital playback to any improvement in amplifiers. What would you say, one year in digital is like 10 or 20 years to amps?

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    I am thoroughly impressed with the sound from my old Kenwood integrated, KA9100. That is a fine piece of equipment no matter how you look at it. As far as Sansui, I only have one, an AU-D9, said to be a few years newer than their best work. I have yet to get it back online. I'd like to hear it.

    Bang-for-the buck, the older mid-tier receivers. I have a number of Yamaha and Pioneer. Pioneer SX780's can be had for $40-$50 that plenty of drive and sound sweet. Add a great (by modern compare) tuner, phono input, and all those sweet metal switches! Old Yamahas just look and feel great. What a Bargain!

    jocko

  20. #20
    Forum Regular likeitloud's Avatar
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    I really like the sound of vintage gear. I recently purchased a Pioneer QX9900 4ch
    48wpc X 4. It is very cool looking, and it brings me back to my first taste of audio
    fun and games. I think paired with 4 HPM 60's out to do it. It was purchased at
    a estate sale for $90, and is currently being upgraded to the tune of around
    $350, so for under $400, you'd have a very high end receiver from 76 thru 79, and
    will look and perform as new.
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    I don't think that was such a good deal but as long as you are happy, that's what matters.

    My reasoning is a 48 wpc Pioneer would not be considered "high end", even though it is Quad. To enjoy Quad, you'd have to have all the source components and software (ie. LP).For not much more than what you spent, you can buy Jolida or Marantz integrated.which I'd think could out perform the Pioneer. You can buy a pretty good HT receiver these days for that money too. I could have bought a McIntosh receiver for $400.00. I got a Luxman which is far better than the Pioneer for the original $90.00.

    Not all old stereo gear is quality vintage, it's just old.

    As an example I bought an old Sansui receiver for my brother, he eventually replaced that with the Luxman I was talking about, but the Sansui receiver was garbage compared to the Sansui AU-9500 I have. The receiver, just an old receiver, the 9500, a gem, and would be worth putting a couple hundred into for recapping. But for now it's working fine.

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    Kenwood - 4400

    I picked up a kenwood - kr - 4400 off of ebay for $30.00 bucks. I use it to run a pair of jbl hls 610s which i use for pc speakers. The kenwood sounds pretty good most of the time, but now and then the right channel cuts out, not sure whats going on there, but for $30.00 bucks its not bad, I really like the tuners in these old receivers so easy to use.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Pros & cons of buying a vintage receiver-kenwood-4400.jpg  

  23. #23
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by s dog
    I.
    Dear Dawg,

    Old receovers do sound great, and I love shoping at thrift stores. Man o Man, I'm pretty sure I'm gonna go shopping 2morrow. Anyhow,

    I thought I would post here and give you an advice. From my experience, vintage receivers tend to run a bit hotter than newer gears made today. With that in my mind, I'm wondering if you wanna have your receiver in that tight spot. It's possible that cabinet you have it placed in could easily act as a heat box. If it gets too hot in there you could be shortneng your receiver's life.

    Just saying,

    J-Murda

  24. #24
    Forum Regular royphil345's Avatar
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    I'd agree with the general vibe on this thread...

    If you go vintage, do it because you love the gear and you're willing to put some money and effort into it... not to save money.

    70's gear will almost surely need restoration to bring everything back to specs. Finding someone willing and able to throughly check and restore something like an old Marantz (MASSIVE parts count) isn't easy. Some parts simply cannot be replaced except by from a parts unit. Many techs will be squeamish about really "digging in" unless they are a specialist in vintage gear and have a supply of parts units.

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    Kenwood

    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    Dear Dawg,

    Old receovers do sound great, and I love shoping at thrift stores. Man o Man, I'm pretty sure I'm gonna go shopping 2morrow. Anyhow,

    I thought I would post here and give you an advice. From my experience, vintage receivers tend to run a bit hotter than newer gears made today. With that in my mind, I'm wondering if you wanna have your receiver in that tight spot. It's possible that cabinet you have it placed in could easily act as a heat box. If it gets too hot in there you could be shortneng your receiver's life.

    Just saying,

    J-Murda
    Yea i know what your saying about things getting hot, that why i left a opening in the back to let some heat out, I realize you could not see it from the front so i will post a pic of the back of the receiver.
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