Advent 300 receiver

This receiver includes a rather respectable little tuner, almost comparable to the Dyna FM-5 in performance, a 15Wpc power amplifier of passable quality, and a preamplifier section that in some ways gives some of the costliest preamps a run for their money.

If you don't live in a difficult receiving area or are trying to receive long-distance FM, the tuner should satisfy any perfectionist. It is far superior to the FM transmission quality in most US cities anyway. The power amplifier is better than any we have previously found driving the dinky little speakers in most compact systems, but it has neither the power nor the other attributes to replace any of the amplifiers currently in favor with perfectionists. Even for the person who is more interested in the music than the hardware, we recommend at least 50Wpc—not so much for the ability to make noise as for the ability to control the speaker drivers, to make them do what the signal tells them to do.

Sound Quality
Removable back-panel links permit the internal power amplifiers to be disconnected and the preamp outputs to be drawn off for connection to an external amplifier. The preamp section, from phono to external outputs, is one of the smoothest-sounding solid-state designs to come along to date. Highs are entirely free from the edginess that has more or less characterized previous solid-state preamps, and the sound has a richness and ease reminiscent of GAS's Thaedra. In the Advent's case, some of the richness stems from a slight heavying of the low end, amounting to what sounds like about a 1dB boost at 100Hz and perhaps 2dB at 40Hz.

The middle range sounds—not exactly veiled, for details are well (but not extraordinarily) reproduced—but more "gray" than liquidly transparent. Extreme highs, which contribute airiness, are deficient also—a combinat8on of factors that bar the 300's preamp from state-of-the-art status. But look at the price of this! $265, including a tuner! If this isn't the best buy in up-front electronics today, we're open to alternate nominations!

Let us state first-off that we consider it to be the best choice up-front for anyone who would rather, at this point in his life, put most of his cash into records than into hardware. The preamp's shortcomings are, except for the low-end fatness, of the kind that subtract things—detail, depth, air—from the sound rather than adding mostly disagreeable things to it. It will not make you acutely aware that some of your discs are a bit noisy or that your cartridge is mistracking, by exaggerating the irritation value of these problems. Neither, it should be added, will it obscure them by more than a small amount.

For the audio perfectionist who can't afford a Class A-recommended preamp, this may or may not be the ideal second-best choice. If you hunger for razor-sharp transients and airier sound, you can get a Dyna PAT-5 FET (Improved) preamp for a bit less than $100 more, but minus the tuner. The Advent is not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for a perfectionist, but if we were working our way there we would choose it over anything else under $300 as the most listenable stop-off on the way.

Advent Corp.
Cambridge, MA 02139
(no longer in business)

bonbon's picture

Went to my first audio salon wanted the Audio Research with Tympanis - in the real world as a young Airman, matched Advent to GAS Son of Ampzilla, with 1st gen Magnepan MMG, and AR table - started here and continues!

dalethorn's picture

I had this receiver, because it was reviewed favorably here, and because the preamp or tuner was designed by one of the industry golden boys (Holman?), but it had a hum I couldn't get rid of, and I figured it was just too cheap and dumped it. Holt famously said once that "Who cares how long it lasts if it doesn't sound good?", but the other side of that coin is just as true.

John Atkinson's picture
I bought a second-hand Advent 300 receiver for $75 soon after joining Stereophile. I used it in my office system for several years until one channel died.

It was designed by Tomlinson Holman, who subsequently started APT-Holman, before ending up at Lucasfilm, where he came up with THX.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

jmsent's picture

At least the early versions of this receiver were indeed plagued with background hum. They may have improved it in later runs. It may have been a ground loop or some power supply problem, but in general this thing was built like a complete piece of junk. The only real redeeming factor was the phono preamp, which did perform well above its pay scale. But it was not a well built or reliable product by any stretch, especially when the Japanese were churning out virtually bulletproof, high quality products at the same time. It was an attempt at producing better sound quality than what the Japanese were offering, which in my opinion it accomplished mostly when playing records. There was a fad for a while in using it as a tuner preamp, which faded away with the realization that the tuner was pretty mediocre as was the rest of the preamp beyond the phono stage. I also recall the preamp output letting out a hefty thump when switched on and off.

dalethorn's picture

I remember that hefty thump. I had borrowed a pair of demo LS3/5a's from a store in Pittsburgh, not knowing that one of the drivers was blown. So I took them back and the salesguy asked what I was using them with (Advent Receiver), and I thought he was going to throw me out. He was sure the Advent blew his precious little LS3/5a.

glnman's picture

I bought this receiver back in the '70's, after Vietnam, along with the HK ST-6 linear tracking TT and the large Advent speakers. The receiver has long since died and I pitched it but the speakers I re coned and gave them to my son who replaced the grills and still uses them as his main speakers.

deckeda's picture

We got one in on trade once, back in the early '90s. Couldn't resist comparing it to the NAD 7225. The new one was better but not by a tremendous amount (and that's not counting the FM tuner performance.)

So did TH also design the tuner, or was that a KLH design (the tuning dial may have just been a coincidence.)