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What's your amp history?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Strat-Mangler, Aug 2, 2021.

  1. NorthernAudio

    NorthernAudio Well-Known Member

    Some kinda Sony receiver circa 1980
    Yamaha A-S801
    Benchmark AHB2 monos

    My work here is done.
    mreeter, chili555 and elvisizer like this.
  2. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    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.

    Tim 2, Ontheone and jonwoody like this.
  3. elvisizer

    elvisizer Forum Resident

    San Jose
    1. 1985-1998 - random all in one stereos and av receivers
    2. 1998-2011 - Event 20/20bas bi amped 2 way monitors
    3. 2011-2018 - Audioengine a5 bi amped 2 way speakers
    4. 2018-Present - 2x Benchmark AHB2
    jonwoody likes this.
  4. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    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.

    mreeter, Tim 2, benzo and 1 other person like this.
  5. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    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.

    Tim 2 and jonwoody like this.
  6. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    Let’s see:

    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.:D ;)
    jonwoody likes this.
  7. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    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.

    Kyhl, avanti1960, Tim 2 and 1 other person like this.
  8. Francois1968

    Francois1968 Forum Resident

    40+ years:
    -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)
    mreeter and jonwoody like this.
  9. Receiver
    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)

    Kenwood 198?

    Yamaha C80 198? - 199?
    Yamaha M80 198? - 199?
    Yamaha M35 1988 - 199?
    mreeter likes this.
  10. GyroSE

    GyroSE Forum Resident

    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)
    jonwoody likes this.
  11. 30 ounce

    30 ounce Well-Known Member

    Kenwood Basic M2
    Aragon 4004
    Bob Latino M120 tube monoblocs
    Audio Research Classic 120 Monoblocs
    mreeter and jonwoody like this.
  12. mwheelerk

    mwheelerk Believer In Music

    Gilbert Arizona
    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.
  13. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    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.
    Tim 2 and jonwoody like this.
  14. Acapella48

    Acapella48 Forum Resident

    Elk Grove, CA.
    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
    Rotel RB-1080
    GamuT D100
    Audio Note Quest Silver monoblocks
    Audio Note OTO Phono SE Signature integrated
    Current: Audio Note Meishu Phono Silver Signature Tonmeister integrated
    Tim 2, Tlay and jonwoody like this.
  15. Soundsense

    Soundsense Forum Resident

    Colorado USA
    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
    mreeter and jonwoody like this.
  16. Major Dolphin

    Major Dolphin If music be the food of love, play on

    Hoboken, NJ
  17. eamesonly

    eamesonly Forum Resident

    NAD 7240

    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
    mreeter and jonwoody like this.
  18. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Hmmm, a stroll down memory lane...

    Lloyds Turntable with built in amplifier
    Pioneer SX-434 Receiver
    Perreaux PMF 1150b
    Classé Seventy
    Back to the Perreaux PMF 1150b a good move
    Perreaux 2150b

    I'm sure I'm missing a JVC and possibly a Yamaha and one other in there.
    mreeter, jonwoody and Tim 2 like this.
  19. willboy

    willboy Forum Resident

    Wales, UK
    All budget models of their time but each one improved SQ.......

    NAD 3020i
    Marantz 6010OSE
    Kenwood 3020SE
    Exposure 1010
    mreeter and jonwoody like this.
  20. Paul Van

    Paul Van Forum Resident

    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.
    jonwoody likes this.
  21. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    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:
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
    Kyhl, avanti1960, mreeter and 4 others like this.
  22. SteveFord

    SteveFord Forum Resident

    Shnecksville PA
    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
    mreeter, Davey and jonwoody like this.
  23. Davey

    Davey NP: Electrelane ~ The Power Out

    SF Bay Area, USA
    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 :)
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
    SteveFord likes this.
  24. SteveFord

    SteveFord Forum Resident

    Shnecksville PA
    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.
    John Moschella and Davey like this.
  25. SKBubba

    SKBubba Forum Resident

    Realistic, Realistic, Yamaha, JVC, Pioneer, Sony, Denon, Denon, Denon.

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