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Theycallmepre
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A little background story with some embedded questions...

Well...let me preface this by saying that I do not know if I have come to the right forum for my purposes but hope to find some guidance for my ill-educated somewhat spendthrift audio desires...forgive me for the unnecessary length but if you're bored and feeling charitable...continue please...

Heres my story...I'm a 19 year old college student (hence the budget stipulation) who grew up marveling over his fathers 1970s technics equipment powering some similar vintage AR-11s...I refoamed the woofers on the AR's by the age of 7 and began convincing all my friends to get their parents old gear out of the attic so I could work the magic for them also...I coveted everyones little collections of brushed aluminum receivers and peeling veneer cabinets and began cutting grass and hitting garage sales to form a sort of collection...well by this time I was about 10 years old and didn't have a clue what I was buying and the truth is my dads old Technics/AR system was still far superior to my untrained ears than anything I could piece together and even my dads unfortunate replacement solution (bose acoustimass with a decent TX series Onkyo)...so I was convinced there was just no beating it...

I rested on that notion until a couple years ago when I was marginally impressed by a friends new Klipsch setup (plastic trim and all)

Well, I sold my television (I only used it for background light anyways) to aid the budget of buying a new amp or receiver that would impress

I wanted to keep to my "vintage tastes" so I started considering buying a classy Marantz 510M, recapping it, and building a set of my own speakers to match

But...I have recently considered giving a look at some modern offerings (budget for amp/preamp or receiver is around $1200)

-Keep the classy, quality, vintage = healthy for budget mindset?
-Opt for modern technology at the threat of depreciation and a slight lack of character
-Search for a decent used receiver and invest more in the speakers themselves?

I'm looking for any kinds of suggestions or direction...so say what you will (if you made it this far)

Jan Vigne
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...
Theycallmepre
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...

I checked out the budget system section and I was pretty impressed with what I read about that receiver especially considering the price...and it is a very good option...

There are a handful of good,affordable modern options for sure...but if anyone can give me a few reasons (Im sure there are many) to consider shopping for a new unit instead of hunting down and refurbishing an old one, I would really like to read them

I probably wont be bringing my turtables to school with me simply because I dont want to risk damaging the unit or my vinyl collection...so CD audio will be my primary source...and the ipod may sneak its way in every now and then as well

...forgive me if I'm leaving anything important out (the speakers I'll be using is likely a big one) I'm just trying to figure all of this out..

Jan Vigne
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...

A "big one" doesn't tell much about your speaker's requirements.

Your question is not simple to answer due to the variability of what you might consider "vintage". Also there are differing opinions of how much you have once you've refurbished an "old one". If you are refurbishing a vintage Mcintosh tube amplifier (or Marantz, Citation, Dynaco, Audio Research, CJ, Quad, etc.) it would be worth your while to do the work. If you are refurbishing a 1970's solid state Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, Yamaha, etc. receiver, I have less of an opinion about what you will get in return. However, there are people who love their 1970's Pioneer receivers and think they make wonderful sound. There are plenty of people on the various internet forums who spend their time talking about refurbishing these products. (Try Audio Karma for more on this sort of forum.) You would have to decide on which side of the opinion pool you sit.

One constant with most vintage gear that originated in the mass market is the lack of parts for most products. Mass market companies are about replacing receivers and not refurbishing receivers. The majority of mass market companies form the 1970's are not even under the same ownership they had in the 1970-80's. They do not support their older products. This means parts are often only available by scavenging from another receiver. By the 1970's many of the mass market lines had moved toward a stronger reliance on IC's rather than discrete components. IC's not only sound less good than discrete components but they also go out of production - as do certain transistors in some cases.

If you're talking a simple refurbish on a working receiver that involves cleaning up an old receiver and replacing a few capacitors, the difference between what you'll have and what you could buy new is, I think, obvious. With the vintage piece, you'll still have old components inside the receiver after you've done the refurbishment. With the new component you'll probably have better performance in almost every area and a warranty in case you need service.

Personally, if I were looking at 1970-80's receivers (and I have a few '70's vintage receivers in my closet) I wouldn't bother refurbishing most of what's available. If it works, clean the contacts and connectors and use it until it stops working. Then sell that scrap to someone who wants to repair the old stuff and move on. If you shop the garage sales,pawn shops and internet auctions, you can have hifi that costs less than $30 and lasts for a few years. That should get you through school until you won't be asking about cheap hifi any longer.

Theycallmepre
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...

Haha...I apologize for the lack of clarity, but when I said "a big one" I meant that my choice of speaker is likely a big consideration in my choice of amplification...so don't count me entirely ignorant for that. Yes, I am 19 and I like to annoy the neighbors from time to time, but that is far from my main goal.

I will likely be building some modest sized, but quality 2-ways after doing sufficient research on the topic (I've got a few good pieces of literature and a well known British Acoustic engineer to refer to on the matter)

But as for amplification...

I think the reason I favor older equipment is based on my shortsighted personal experience. I own a modern Onkyo TX8211, and I am relatively unimpressed with its response below about 150hz (not to mention the lack of adjustability and lack of good styling)...so I have little use for it aside from running my recently rebuilt Bose 901s (don't judge, they have their place despite the obvious shortcomings) But my assortment of older Technics, Pioneer, and even Fisher solid states seem to have a lot more adjustability and depth throughout the range (at least when paired with my AR-11s which are currently the best pair I have to judge with)

I was pretty set on finding an old, working Marantz 510 or 250 to recap as I thought this was the best option my budget would allow...but after looking at some of the modern offerings and reading your opinion...well...maybe they aren't so bad...

My comprehension of amplifier specs goes little beyond harmonic distortion rating, nominal wattage, and frequency response range...and based on that, the Outlaw does rank at the top for my budget for modern amps...but there seem to be a few other viable competitors...here is my list so far...I would appreciate any helpful feedback you can come up with...

Outlaw RR2150

Marantz SR4021

Marantz PM7001

Yamaha RX-797

Denon DRA697

Onkyo TX8522

Onkyo A-9555

Edit: "vintage" to me really can't include any vintage tube amps as it seems that they can get really expensive really quickly beyond the initial cost...so yes, I am talking about 70's-early 80's solid state amps.

linden518
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...

My vote is for either the Marantz PM7001 or Onkyo A9555. Between those two, it's a tough call. But if I were you & at that price point? I'd totally go for Rega Brio 3 instead of the Marantz/Onkyo, no doubt... I guess listen to them & just go w/ what your ears tell you.

I was contemplating going vintage amps, too, at one point. Got smitten w/ Luxman & Sansui models. But read about horror stories in Luxman forums, etc. about dependability issues, and some of the good people in this forum very sensibly steered me away from a potential headache. I'd rather be listening to music than trying to fix gear.

jackfish
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...

I'd look at some integrated amps like the NAD, Cambridge Audio, Jolida 1501, etc. and then get a vintage tuner if you want FM.

http://www.fmtunerinfo.com/

Jan Vigne
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...


Quote:
I think the reason I favor older equipment is based on my shortsighted personal experience. I own a modern Onkyo TX8211, and I am relatively unimpressed with its response below about 150hz (not to mention the lack of adjustability and lack of good styling)...

No one ever said the companies that were invested in replacing (rather than repairing) receivers in the 1970's have changed their policies in this century. Despite several of the prospective manufacturers being under new ownership, I would apply that thought to your list of possible purchases.

I'm not clear on what you mean by "adjustability". Do you want a midrange tone control and a "loudness" switch? That's sort of like wanting one of those cool two speed automatics they had back in the '70's.

There are better ways to gain "adjustability".


Quote:
But my assortment of older Technics, Pioneer, and even Fisher solid states seem to have a lot more adjustability and depth throughout the range ...

I am totally unclear on what that means so I can't comment.


Quote:
My comprehension of amplifier specs goes little beyond harmonic distortion rating, nominal wattage, and frequency response range ...

Then don't concern yourself with specs. I usually tell people in your situation the only specs you need to know are; height, width, depth and weight. You need to know if what you want to buy will fit in the space you have and whether you'll need to borrow a larger vehicle to get it home. Beyond that conventional spec sheet specs are all but worthless. The number of watts is not nearly as important as the quality of watts - and watts are not all the same. As one well regarded manufacturer has stated it's the first watt that counts. And if that one's good, the rest will be too. That also implies that if the first watt sucks ...

There are exceptions but it's a good rule to keep in mind.

The founder of Stereophile long ago suggested looking at T.H.D. specs is like guessing how long that package of bologna has been in the back of the refridgerator. It don't matter!

It's not the total number that is important, but how that total number is distributed across the board. While high numbers of low order distortion might result in a T.H.D. measurement that looks less promising than another amplifier's spec, any number of high order distortion components will probably sound worse. Read a few of the measurements of amplifiers reviewed in Stereophile and you'll see how this breaks down. You'll also see that, for the most part, the majority of modern amplifiers have harmonic distortion components that remain all but inaudible until the amplifier reaches clipping. Consider overall on paper T.H.D. spec's to be of no value when comparing amplifiers.

Frequency response is similar in that it is not informative enough to be useful.

As a general rule, I suggest you buy the amplifier that would require you to borrow your friend's Hummer to get it home. The heavier the amplifier, the more likely the investment has been made in the power supply, where it is the most likely to do the most good. This certainly is not a steadfast rule but has been an overall worthwhile recommendation for most amplifiers. If you consider some of the new generation of class "D" and "T" amplifiers, you'll find this to be less true than in a conventional class "AB" amplifier. But, like T.H.D., there is some common truth to that concept.

It is rather difficult to suggest an amplifier when the speakers are unknown. They form a component system and they must compliment each other. The amplifier must be able to drive the speakers and the speaker must not ask too much of the amplfier. If you are suggesting your "new" Onkyo doesn't do as well on the AR's as your old receivers, I would suspect that has to do with the way new amplifiers are commonly produced. Numerous amplifiers today employ current limiting devices to protect the amplifier when asked to drive a low impedance load. The AR's are a low impedance load. The Onkyo probably just isn't able to drive the amount of current into the AR load that the older receivers can manage. Mind you an old Technics isn't a current powerhouse (and it would typically go up in smoke rather than limit current) but it is probably better suited to the load the AR's present than your "new" Onkyo.

If you don't require a new tuner built into your component (use an old receiver's tuner function taken through a tape loop for FM listening or buy an old tuner for a few bucks), you can do better with most integrated amplifiers than with most contemporary receivers. That is another broad statement that has a few exceptions but it should open your search for a quality component. Check out the Stereophile review archives and then ask some more questions.

Theycallmepre
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...

I appreciate the straightforwardness of your responses Jan Vigne...I am doing my research and I will be back soon with a more englightened perspective.

I would like to hear some thoughts on the 90s model MA-500 and MA-700 Marantz mono amps though...they can be had very cheaply...they're cheap enough to make me wary...but they have also gotten some decent reviews in the past...would I be cheating my purpose to consider them? (considering I invest in a good pre-amp of course)

Jan Vigne
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Re: A little background story with some embedded questions...

I don't know those amplifiers and never, to my knowledge, heard them. Marantz was somewhat in limbo at the time, ownership was unsteady and products were less so in some cases. Some of the products Marantz turned out during this period did receive very good reviews - particularly when compared to other items in a similar price range - so these might be one of those items. Do take note that Marantz has once again changed owners and you could very likely find manufacturer support to be non-existent with these amplifiers. That could render them into odd looking bookends. For my money I would try to find a product that would have some degree of factory support in its old age. That's difficult with companies being gobbled up by conglomerates, but not impossible. Failing that, I would look for products which have developed a strong cult/web based following that tends to ensure needed parts and assistance when required. Do some research and see what you come up with.

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