Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Strat-Mangler, Aug 2, 2021.
Some kinda Sony receiver circa 1980
Benchmark AHB2 monos
My work here is done.
The first amp was a Fisher (hand me down)
The first amp purchased was the Pioneer VSX 4400
Then the flagship Pioneer Elite VSX 95
After trying a Bryston 3B at home I realized that my speakers did not need to be upgraded and that it was the weak sound quality of receivers that was the problem. Out went the VSX 95 for the Arcam Delta 290. Unfortunately, I bought the Arcam based on the reviews from major magazines who hire inferior ears because I should have trusted my own ears and bought the Sugden A21 but back then pre-internet being a thing - Sugden was an unknown.
So the Arcam was in for a while - the speaker terminals cracked after a while and a front button fell off - great build quality LOL. Pretty much a piece of junk with middling sound. I wish I had read UHF magazine before I bought one.
Then came the Sugden A48B which I wish I had kept as a second system amplifier - it cost me $350Canadian second hand and in direct comparison, sounded better than Musical Fidelity A300 and ARC preamp/amp combination - both at FAR higher prices (8 times or so).
The A48B has more of a valve-like stereotype sound to counter the A21a so it would not be to all tastes. Still, for female lounge kind of stuff, it was a treat to listen to and no frequency limiters so it had the depth of bass versus the usual thin bass of high-powered amps.
The volume light on these tended to die so you had to remember to turn it off. It was class A/B but still ran warmer than some others.
1985-1998 - random all in one stereos and av receivers
1998-2011 - Event 20/20bas bi amped 2 way monitors
2011-2018 - Audioengine a5 bi amped 2 way speakers
2018-Present - 2x Benchmark AHB2
After the Sugden came a pseudo blind listening session where I was first exposed to the SET amplifier - the Audio Note Meishu. This was a massive silver box with no tubes showing so as I listened I noticed that it had much better sound and bass depth and reality than the other massive boxes from SS makers like Bryston, Anthem, Classe, and when I asked the dealer how many watts - he said 8. I thought 800. Nope, with a smile, 8! So that shook up my measurements are first approach. I could not afford the Meishu being a university student so I opted for the Audio Note OTO in 2003 and still have it. 10 watts per channel Single Ended. I prefered it to my favorite amp of the time the Sugden A21 which was no small feat and even against some big separates back then from YBA, Classe, Meridian, Threshold. You can't throw money at the problem if the design is inherently not musical. All you get is more and more power to drive speakers that if they can't be driven with 8 watts probably aren't very good speakers.
Then a side system came in for more power for review purposes.
Rotel preamp RC 1582 if I recall - I didn't love it but it sounded better than an ARC preamp and an MF preamp and a Bryston preamp and the price was nice. But I eventually sold a year or two later. This was mated toa Rotel RB 1050 power amp (which I still have collecting dust in a closet).
The headphone amp was around this time as well - the Antique Sound Labs MG Head DT - Actually this came before the OTO because I wanted to dip my toe cheaply into tubes. I bought it in the year 2001. It too could be used as a quasi preamp with a headphone splitter - it was quiet enough to do the job.
Then moved to Hong Kong eventually and bought the Audio Space Mini 2SE
This was a nice amplifier for a push pull EL34 but I then discovered Line Magnetic. I sold this amp to a fellow enthusiast and brought home the LM 219IA - a fantastic sounding 24 watt SET amplifier. At 55kg it was too much for my smaller apartment.
The 219IA sounds much better as a power amplifier and so I then purchased an Audio Note M3 Phono preamp for it.
Then I had a home audition with the KingKo KA 101 which was startling close in sound to the LM 219IA for about 1/8th the price even being a PP tube amp the EL84 has always been one of the best tubes to work with and almost all of them have sounded pretty terrific. If you have high sensitive speakers and not a whole lot of money the Kingko or Synthesis Soprano etc are good options at under $1500. Usually under $1200. You pay extra for the big massive transformers to be able to run an 845 so you pay more for the power not necessarily the sound quality. This is an integrated first and foremost and a power amp and headphone amp second/third. I used it mainly as a power amp.
Some Gibson 2-10 or 2-12 amp
Fender Twin Reverb
Sunn Concert Lead Head w/ 6-10 cabinet
Music Man 100 RD head
1954 Fender Deluxe
Peavey Classic 212- 50
Peavey Classic 3o
Marshall TSL 60 combo
Marshall TSL 122
Are the ones I can remember.
Wait a minute. What the heck? Sorry, never mind.
The Kingko was then moved to Headphone and Second system duty.
In to replace it was the Audio Note Empress Silver 2a3 monoblocks. These are parallel single-ended offering more power of a whole 8 watts per channel. The one box stereo version called the Vindicator offers 3.5 watts per channel.
Then came the recent upgrade to the M6Phono preamp which has beefier transformers and superior parts including 36 step dual volume controls.
Could not find a decent photo so a video
Most recently the Wonderful little Wyred4Sound Class D amplifiers for reviewing tougher to drive speakers. 250 watts per channel.
-Silver all in one set (early eighties)
-Some Akai integrated amp (mid eighties)
-NAD 3240 PE (late eighties)
-NAD T 742 (2004)
-Arcam AV 100 (2004)
-Arcam AV 300 (2005)
-Duson B 100 & C 100 (2007)
-Arcam A 85 & P 85 (2010)
-Arcam A 32 & P 35 (2020)
-Rega Aethos (2021)
Fisher 1971 - 197?
Radio Shack Realistic 1976 - 1979
Sony 1979 - 1987
Marantz 1987 - 1990 (1970s model)
Pioneer 1998 -1999
Yamaha (various from around 2000 -2021)
Yamaha C80 198? - 199?
Yamaha M80 198? - 199?
Yamaha M35 1988 - 199?
I've not owned that many amps during my years in this crazy hobby. Here's my comparatively short list:
Pioneer A-858 (heavy integrated amp bought new in 1990. Still have it stored in my closet.)
NAD 1300 & NAD 2100 (separates bought used in the mid 90's)
NAD S100 & NAD S200 (separates bought new in 1999. Still have them stored in my closet. My plan is to put together a second system including these.)
Audio Research LS17 (current linestage bought used in 2012, combined it with the NAD S200 power amp until 2016)
Bryston 4B SST (current power amp bought used in 2016, combined with the ARC LS17)
Kenwood Basic M2
Bob Latino M120 tube monoblocs
Audio Research Classic 120 Monoblocs
Let me see what I can remember over the years. I started off with Pioneer, Mitsubishi and Denon receivers. My first integrated amp was a Macintosh 6100. I have also owned a NAD integrated a Cambridge Audio integrated and a Bel Canto amplifier. I believe that is everything since 1971.
My current amp is my first real amp, unless the Crown PA amp I used for a few years in high school counts (it was awesome with the 15-inch PA speakers it drove, so it should count).
Between high school and moving to my current house, I lived places I couldn’t really bother getting into HiFi, and I was on the go enough that most of my listening ended up being in the car or while walking places. At home, I had cheap HTIB systems and played CDs using a DVD player. If I was still in that position, I’d probably get more into headphone listening, with a nice headphone amp, but back then I didn’t really know that was a thing or have the money to pursue it.
My first two were actually Pioneer receivers: SX-626, SX-750
In the '80's I bought another receiver, Luxman R-1050, which I subsequently gave to my then in-laws (D'oh!) after buying a Luxman R-117
Audio Note Quest Silver monoblocks
Audio Note OTO Phono SE Signature integrated
Current: Audio Note Meishu Phono Silver Signature Tonmeister integrated
Exposure VIII power amp with passive (for 20 years!)
Rogue audio Cronus Magnum KT120
Quad 909+99 preamp
Quad 303+34 preamp
PS Audio S300+Van Alstine preamp
Quad II vintage monoblocks (my number one end amplifier) +passive
Quad 405-2 (My other number one end amplifier) +passive
AKAI AA-V301 A/V receiver (a gift from my sister)
Pioneer Dolby surround A/V receiver
Harmon Kardon AVR25 II Dolby Pro Logic A/V receiver
ATI AT1505 5-channel power amp
Yamaha A-S 801 integrated
Yamaha A-S 1200 integrated
Fosi Audio HD-A1
Rega integrated amp
Cary v12r monster to heat the room
Pure sound amp w modified power supply from border patrol
P21 border patrol 300b push/pull
Hmmm, a stroll down memory lane...
Lloyds Turntable with built in amplifier
Pioneer SX-434 Receiver
Perreaux PMF 1150b
Back to the Perreaux PMF 1150b a good move
I'm sure I'm missing a JVC and possibly a Yamaha and one other in there.
All budget models of their time but each one improved SQ.......
My first amp was a Sansui AU-505 integrated. Then I moved to seperates.
First power amp was a 50 watt SAE, replaced by a 100 watt SAE, replaced by a Roberston 4010, replaced by a N.E.W. A-20.
In 1978, aged 14, I got a new Pioneer SX-450, which served me for ten years, until I sold nearly everything I owned to raise the $$ to move from Pennsylvania to San Francisco.
In 1989, at The Good Guys on Van Ness Ave. in SF, I bought a new Pioneer SX-1700, which at the time seemed pretty fancy and modern (digital display! touch buttons!), but actually sounded quite poorly, very thin and dry. (This is the kind of junk you find in thrift stores nowadays.) I used it until sometime in the late '90s.
Around 1997, I bought a c.1962 Voice of Music Model 1448 tube integrated with the matching 1462 tube tuner at a flea market for $60. Both pieces were in near mint condition and both worked! This was my first taste of tubed hifi and I was instantly hooked.
During this period, I had started getting more serious about hifi (still taking baby steps though). I used the unrestored 1448 daily for over ten years without any problems, but eventually it started hissing. I met @dadbar on AudioKarma, and he graciously offered to re-cap the VM for me (thanks, Mo!), and he also removed the Tone-O-Matic™ (primitive loudness control) from the circuit. The amp became a lot more robust sounding after he worked on it!
About ten years ago, I purchased a restored c.1966 Fisher 400 (when the prices for these were still cheap!), and it subsequently was hot rodded by the late Fisher expert/enthusiast Don Vieweg, aka audiodon on AK.
Six or seven years ago, a re-capped 1959 Fisher X-100 became available locally for not much money, so I bought it for use in a possible second system (that never really took shape). To my great surprise, when I hooked up the X-100 in place of the 400 in my main system, I instantly preferred the X-100 and never put the 400 back in its place. Comparatively speaking the X-100 was quick, lithe and airy, whereas the 400 was thick, dark and lush.
The X-100 has remained my primary amp ever since. I've had a few side dalliances with worthy contenders along the way (Yamaha CR-1020, Rega Brio-R, Muzishare X7), and none have surpassed the X-100 for richness and sheer musicality. It was out of commission for the better part of a year last year (it's a long story), but once it was back up and running in my system, I fell in love with it all over again. It's just a great sounding piece of hifi.
This is a photo of my actual X-100:
Harman Kardon receiver as a kid
Kenwood integrated (remember it as being okay)
Dynaco SS unit which gave me nothing but problems, I was probably overdriving it
Carver Receiver which I loved until Magnepans fried it
A whole slew of Carver amps (1.0t, 1.5t, M-500, M-500-t in both stock and modified form)
VTL MB250s (still have)
NAD 3020 (still have)
VTL 300 Deluxes (still have)
Harman Kardon Citation 22
Bryston 3B Pro (recapped, still have)
Adcom GTA 5400 (still have)
WooAudio WA6 (sold, bought back, still have)
couple Crown class D amps for subwoofer duty
Up next: agreed to buy a Carver 275W tube amp when the owner's ready to sell
Forgot about Carver, I had one of the M-400 cube amps at one point in the early 80s, failed pretty early so had to get warranty repair, came back with rattle inside so had to open and remove leftover parts, didn't use it much after that and sold it to a guy at work. It was a cute little amp, amazing for the size, had it in a compact system with a Technics SL10 turntable, can't remember what preamp, probably one of my own. It was a cool looking setup, kinda futuristic at the time, though never really quite gelled sonically so didn't last very long. I was still pretty young and made a lot of bad decisions back then, and not just audio-related
I thought that Cube was the coolest thing when it came out.
Heard a LOT of unflattering things about them over the years, though.
Usually started with the words "piece of" if you know what I mean.
Realistic, Realistic, Yamaha, JVC, Pioneer, Sony, Denon, Denon, Denon.
Separate names with a comma.