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Vintage Amps

post #1 of 152
Thread Starter 
I am looking at purchasing a older amp from probably 70's give or take a decade and was wondering what some good names or models are. I was think tube amp but whatever.
post #2 of 152
I know McIntosh made some nice vintage amps. You may want to private message Tuberoller, and ask him. He is extremely old, and would know about these things.
post #3 of 152
McIntosh amps are sweet...some have a pretty nice headphone jack as well.
post #4 of 152
Those old Macs are great.The reason so many are still around is not because they built a lot of them,it's becasue they are built like tanks.Those will easiy outlive you and I.The big problem is they are priced accordingly.Mac gear is riding high now and prices are through the roof.Some fantastic tubed alternatives are the Fisher 400,500,500c,800B, any of the tubed Harmon Kardon Recievers and amps and the HH Scott receivers.What is great about the Fishers is that there were a bunch made and parts are still (relatively easy to find) I think they sound better than the Macs as well.They all have amazing built-in headamps and phonostages and the tuner sections are widely beleived to be the very best ever made.Dynaco stuff is also priced to the moon, if you can find any it is usually way over valued.Prices fluctuate seasonally as do most audio prices with summer being the best season to buy.Great solid state gear is harder to find but they are still very inexpensive.I love the Advent 300 receiver.It is 15 watts of pure audio bliss, it has a Tom Holman designed phonostage and a super nice, very powerful and clean sounding headamp.The Carver 900 reciever is another real gem and should be given consideration.If you can find a Kyocera C451 or 461 receiver,these things were the best back when they were new.Sansui had some really overbuilt,great sounding solid state gear as well,you'll see a lot of it around still.Vintage gear is great and I have mentioned mostly stuff I own/have owned and am familiar with.One warning: that vintage stuff can get really expensive to repair and some of it is finnicky.There are lots of gear sitting idle needing really simple repairs because people buy it and either cannot fix it or cannot find somone to do it.enjoy vintage but be aware of the pitfalls as well.
post #5 of 152
I used to own an old Sansui solid state amp that was just awesome. I cried when I had to dump it because I couldn't get it repaired. It sounded fantastic when it was working and was so loud I use to crank it when I had parties in college. I blew out a few speakers that way. No amp I have tried since ever matched it. I can't really remember what the model number was but it was from the 70s.
post #6 of 152
Originally posted by CRESCENDOPOWER
You may want to private message Tuberoller, and ask him. He is extremely old, and would know about these things.

You didn't look that decrepit when I last saw you. Has something happened that suddenly put the years on?
post #7 of 152

Re: Vintage Amps

Originally posted by west
I am looking at purchasing a older amp from probably 70's give or take a decade and was wondering what some good names or models are. I was think tube amp but whatever.
The McIntosh amps are great units. They may not sound quite as good as a modern SET amp but they are really well made and have HUGE transformers. A Gordon Gow designed McIntosh amp is truly a piece of American audio history. Once you get one I guarantee you will want to keep it forever.

If you go hunting for one some of the model numbers read like this:

A number like MC30, MC40, MC60 would be 30, 40, or 60 watt monoblocks.

Numbers like MC225, MC240, or MC275 would be 2 channels X 25, 40, or 75 watts on a single chassis.
post #8 of 152

Vintage amp

One other brand to seriously consider is for a great line of vintage solid state gear from the 1970s is Marantz. Their early and mid 1970s receivers and integrated amplifiers are some of the best consumer audio ever manufactured.

I own a Marantz 2235B receiver that I purchased off of eBay for less than $100. It had a few of the display lamps burnt out when I got it, I had it checked over and the bulbs replaced (these are readily available) and the FM IF stage realigned, all for less than $225 including shipping plus the minor repairs. This receiver is conservatively rated at 35 WPC, but probably puts out more like 50 watts. I have found that the Marantz receiver can easily drive my Sennheiser HD600 headphones, note that these headphones are notorious for being hard to match with much of today's gear.

A Marantz hallmark for many of the mid and upper range models of amps and receivers of this period was to build in three separate tone controls: Bass, Mid, and Treble. This allows the bass control to be down around 50 Hz where it belongs, the Midrange control at about 1000 Hz, and the Treble control at 15,000 Hz. Some of the higher-end models actually offered selectable turnover frequencies for each tone control band. If you listen to recordings with less than ideal mastering, or just like to tinker with the tone settings, the Marantz units offer alot of flexibility.

Like the vintage Fisher components, these Marantz amps and receivers are built to last. A Marantz receiver is not something you'd want to move frequently, many weigh at least 30 if not 40 lbs. On the plus side, their largish footprint provides alot of ventilation and these units never even get warm in normal use, so they will last a very long time.

Check out this site for a good idea of the different Marantz amps, receivers, and tuners that were manufactured.


If the tube bug has bitten you, I would follow Tuberoller's advice and look into acquiring a vintage Fisher receiver. While some of the tubes used by these receivers are currently out of production and can only be purchased as new old stock (NOS), or stripped off of other gear, tubes generally do last a long time and their life can be maximized by judiciously lowering the bias voltage applied to them from the power supply, and also adding a small fan to the back of the receiver cabinet to increase airflow.

Actually, I would recommend that you look into getting both a vintage tube and solid state rig, as each has a unique sound and also features and conveniences. When I am at the computer and want to listen to some music, my Marantz receiver is right there offering first rate sound through either headphones or speakers. But when I want to experience audio magic, and indulge in some of the finest of headphone listening available, nothing can take the place of my Fisher 400 receiver driving the HD600s.

I've already socked away a second Fisher 400 receiver to ensure a ready supply of parts and tubes until I am too old, or deaf, to care. So I don't mind telling the readers here that right now the vintage Fisher model 400, 500, (possibly 600?)and 800 all-tube receivers are one of the best bargains in tube audio ever available.

Compared to the prices for the vintage Marantz or McIntosh tube amps and preamps, and tuners, which run into thousands of dollars per component, the Fisher tube gear can be picked up for a fraction of the cost and actually offers what some believe to be superior sound. Especially with headphones, the relatively low wattage (typically 30 watts/channel or less at 8 ohms) of most of the vintage tube amplifiers and receivers are not a limiting factor in the sound you hear.

Good luck with your search for some vintage gear of your own!
post #9 of 152
Just want to add my two cents about McIntosh gear. The best headphone sound that I've ever heard, was a McIntosh 225 amp with a Stax headphone setup, back in the late '70s, early 80's. I've been chasing that sound ever since the day I stupidly sold the amp. (Stoopid! Stoopid! Stoopid!) But then of course I was also listening to vinyl, and had much younger ears back then. Maybe that had somethng to do with it.

But the other folks here are correct. These amps are very expensive in good condition, and I've always worried about repairs if I ever bought one again.

Good luck.
post #10 of 152


That was a joke. When I saw the post I knew he would come around.

Originally posted by john_jcb


You didn't look that decrepit when I last saw you. Has something happened that suddenly put the years on?
post #11 of 152
Originally posted by john_jcb


You didn't look that decrepit when I last saw you. Has something happened that suddenly put the years on?

well now that i'm clean shaven you may not recognize me.i have a new female captain who is a real stickler for the rules.I must loose the gut and keep my shoes polished as well.I also have to lock up my laptop when i am away from it because someone else used it to watch an "inappropriate" movie while I was out on a run.

I don't mean to crap on your thread West,so I'll add that if you do find a Fisher in good shape a second unit that could be used for parts is not a bad idea.Ironically these are worth more parted out.Seperate solid state and tube amps is a great idea and one that I can confirm is really nice to be able to switch up.Vintage gear is so much fun and is,I think,the best way to get into hi-fi and head-fi.You rarely lose value on the gear and often make a profit when you sell or trade.
post #12 of 152
Thread Starter 
thanks for the responses, I will start trying to hunt down some old stuff I will let you know how it goes.

Tuberoller, how would you rate a Harmon Kardon amp versus a fisher or mcintosh, and are there any particular models that I should look for? Thanks again
post #13 of 152
As far as sound quality I would rate the Fishers best the Mac second and HK third.As far as build quality Mac,Fisher,HK in that order.The fact that you see more Fishers and Macs around today is due more to great build quality than sheer numbers.Regardless,all these are from a time when "Made in America" was a real sign of outstanding quality and great pride.I will look through some of my old literature and get you the names of some specific HK and Mac models that I have actually owned or used.My memory is not that good when it comes to models.I do still have a HK Citation pre and power amp.They still sound great although I have not used them for a while.
post #14 of 152
If you go back to 1964 you will find one of the all time best tube receivers, the Fisher 500C. It has a fantastic headphone out. They can be found for ~$250.00 on Audiogon or Ebay. However you may need to have the caps replaced along with the selenium rectifier. That can be done along with a FM alignment for another $300.00. This receiver is even three years older than Tuberoller, yea its real old!!!
post #15 of 152
Does anybody know of anyone who specializes in restoring older Fisher tube receivers? My father-in-law has one (500c), and is very interested in finding someone who can do a top job of it.

I've been trying to pry it out of his hands, but no dice...he loves it (it was his first "treat" to himself when he finished college). Nice sonics, no doubt.

Four cans on a five can scale...very good-excellent!!
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