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Posts by jnorris

That'_  _illy
 I've been around the block a few times on this subject with a number of systems and my conclusion is always the same:  the insertion of an active stage degrades the signal.  It may be a harmonious degradation such as expanded dynamics or enhanced equalization, or it may be just a closing down of space and depth, but it is still degradation.
I've been running without an active preamp stage on my main stereo for decades.  I was using a hollowed-out Hafler DH-101 which was basically a source switcher with a volume control.  Now I've got a Sumo Athena preamp that allows for the removal of the gain stage.  Whenever I insert an active preamp I can hear the degradation. 
I may have been a bit hasty in my judgment of this old girl.  When used as an amp only (no preamp) I was hard pressed to tell the difference between it and the amp on the Mac.  It was clean, quiet, no hum, buzz or hiss.  With the preamp in the loop the hiss level rose and the sound was noticeably less open.  Of course, with the preamp in, all of the noisy pots and switches became an issue.
I hate it when I don't take my own advice...   The Mac 1900 whose amplifier section I've been using to power my headphones and a pair of Celestion SL6si speakers has been a real performer.  But, as happens to those of our persuasion, it was becoming commonplace, with prettier faces calling me.  I know I've opined in this forum that the Pioneer stuff from the 70's just wasn't as good as some vintage mavens would tout, but when I saw that shiny silver Pioneer SA-8500II at...
If you do look for a vintage cassette, look for one with a single cassette bay and Dolby B only. Cassette decks "jumped the shark" once Dolby C was introduced, and at about that time, manufacturers decided to stick two cassette bays on all their units (for "Dubbing"), as an enticement to buy what was by then really low-end junk.
My recommendation would be the RHA MA750 for a more balanced yet warmer sound, or B&W C5 Series 2 if you like a lot of bass.  Both should run well under $200.  The Shure SE215 is nice also, but I prefer the RHA at that price point.
I'm in the extreme suburbs of NYC.  It's a wasteland up here.  Even if you just want to hear a traffic report you have to listen to all the local birthdays, then commercials, then junk music like '80s Hall and Oates, then you might get the traffic - and it might be up to date.
 That's just it - on a good station. Those are few and far between and very rarely close enough to get a good signal. I set up multiple Pandora "Radio Stations" and I get a good sounding stream of my favorite types of music.I do remember listening to great live broadcasts and jazz stations on my tuner back in the '70's. I had an FM-specific roof antenna then. Unfortunately, those stations have been taken over and now play classic rock, smooth jazz or adult-pablum-rock....
I sold all my tuners and now take the line out from my Samsung Tab 2 running Pandora or an on-line radio broadcast and plug it into the tuner input of my pre-amp.  Sound is much better and far fewer commercials.
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