Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

amplifiers, receivers and loudspeakers
Adamo0926
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Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by Adamo0926 » 07 May 2019 17:20

I have done an internet search and can't really find anything describing the sound characteristics of various classic vintage receivers by brand. Maybe a snippet here and there but not very much.

So I am turning to this forum. The people on here are so knowledgeable about vintage audio equipment I have no doubt whatever description of the sound characteristics of certain receivers you provide, it would be pretty much spot on. Mind you, I am not looking for a review of the type of sound characteristics you prefer as that is completely subjective. I'd just love to get your input on what you think are the audio characteristics of a vintage Marantz receiver, Yamaha, Luxman, Pioneer, Sansui, etc. Even better if you have owned two or more of the classic vintage receivers and could provide a comparison.

For instance...I have a Yamaha CR2020 that was purchased within the past year. My prior receiver (which I still have) is an NAD 7175PE. Here are my observations on the sound characteristics of these receivers...

The Yamaha is a brighter sounding receiver for sure but hardly to the point of being harshly bright. But the real difference audio characteristic wise is with the openness and detail of the sound of the Yamaha compared to my NAD. It really is an extremely noticeable difference. I notice it most in the vocals, percussion and the detail of something like acoustic guitar parts. If fact, the vocals are so more open and clean that I have found myself hearing lyrics clearly that I was not sure about before when listening to my NAD.

Some might describe my NAD as "warmer" sounding, a description that I have always chuckled at a little even though I have used it many times myself. To me "warmer" would mean not quite as bright but with no resulting lack of airiness and detail in the music. My NAD sounds more mushy and/or compressed than my Yamaha. While there might be some recordings that could sound a bit on the bright side with the Yamaha, the openness and detail of the sound compared to my NAD cannot be denied.

The bass on my NAD also sounds a bit more boomy than my Yamaha, which definitely makes the bass sound a lot tighter to my ear.

For reference, the speakers I am using are a pair of ADS L730s.

So please offer your input about any receivers you do own or have owned in the past. I am sure I am far from collecting and experimenting : )

I am particularly curious about the sound characteristics of the big Sansui's, Pioneer's, Luxman's and Marantz's. I have never had a critical listening session with any of those receivers and I would be curious how your descriptions of those would compare with what I am hearing from my Yamaha and NAD.

And be as descriptive as you want....you can bet I will read every word of it.

lenjack
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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by lenjack » 07 May 2019 19:15

I don't believe they should have any characteristic sound, although I'm sure some of the really old - pre - 60s - ones surely do.

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by zlartibartfast » 07 May 2019 19:17

I have a pair of ADS L630's which I've carried with me for the past 30+ years. Originally I powered them with a Marantz PM500 (I still have that amp; it's driving my whole-house system). In a modest-sized room, up to about 12' x 16', the sound was just right. In a larger room, the amp was often strained but even when pushed to hard it never "broke up" - just hit the limiter. I never heard any harshness or brittleness out of it. The bass was big and tight (the L630's have 10" woofers) and mids were smooth and 3-dimensional. Drums, when well-recorded, seemed to be right there in the room.

Later I had the same speakers powered by a Sony STR DE185 receiver, which has a higher output rating than the PM500, but in no way could it achieve the clarity and presence of the Marantz. It just sounded 2 dimensional by comparison. Also, I had installed upgraded tweeters in the L630's (factory parts from ADS) which were supposed to improve the high-end response. You couldn't tell when listening to the Sony receiver.

A few years ago I decided to get a new receiver with digital inputs. I selected a Marantz NR1601. I had already pulled the Sony out of service and returned to the PM500, but I had the feeling that my speakers were getting old and losing some of their original cripsness. I planned to get new speakers after setting up the new Marantz amp.

That never happened! The NR1601 (with Audyssey built-in) put the life back into the L630's. They sounded just as good to me as the day I first hooked them up to the old Marantz. I should mention that even though the NR1601 is a surround amp, I use it in a stereo configuration.

Now, this doesn't address your question about high-end vintage amps. The PM500 is certainly a vintage piece but not high-end. However, it's very well-made, and still doing a great job driving the house system. The quality of the old Marantz steered my decision to buy a new one, which I think is even better sounding. I hope it proves to be as durable!

To me, "warm" sound is the result of mid-range distortion coupled with high-end roll-off. Like with cassette tape. I have heard some true high-end tube amps that defied that description - plenty of high-end and clarity. Not what I would call "warm", really. At the price range that I work with, I can't really touch those systems so my personal experience is in the realm of mid-priced solid-state. And, my experience has been that brand name still matters, at least for some.

I would certainly consider buying a vintage Marantz in the future, but more for a collection piece than a working amp. My new one is doing just fine.

lenjack
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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by lenjack » 07 May 2019 19:22

"To me, "warm" sound is the result of mid-range distortion coupled with high-end roll-off"

You nailed it :!:

zlartibartfast
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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by zlartibartfast » 07 May 2019 19:54

;-}

It's also worth noting that human ears also get worn out - mine are considered to be "vintage" and they have developed a "warm" sound of their own.

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by raphaelmabo » 07 May 2019 21:01

Re: the NAD.
I don't remember now if your receiver has a switchable soft clipping, but I think it is the same generation as my NAD 3020i and this one had it. When soft clipping was OFF, the sound was more open and airy, less compressed. Even at normal listening levels. So this is one thing to try. :)

Adamo0926
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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by Adamo0926 » 08 May 2019 18:20

raphaelmabo wrote:
07 May 2019 21:01
Re: the NAD.
I don't remember now if your receiver has a switchable soft clipping, but I think it is the same generation as my NAD 3020i and this one had it. When soft clipping was OFF, the sound was more open and airy, less compressed. Even at normal listening levels. So this is one thing to try. :)
You know......the 7175 does have that soft clipping switch....I believe it's on the back panel, I'm going to give that a try and will report back ! Thanks for the tip : )

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by raphaelmabo » 09 May 2019 10:38

Please do try, on my NAD 3020i, I clearly heard a sonical difference between the ON - OFF settings. ON made the sound warmer, I preferred the OFF setting.

Adamo0926
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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by Adamo0926 » 13 May 2019 15:21

raphaelmabo wrote:
09 May 2019 10:38
Please do try, on my NAD 3020i, I clearly heard a sonical difference between the ON - OFF settings. ON made the sound warmer, I preferred the OFF setting.
Well I did try it and it did make a difference that I could hear. Which makes sense since I assume that the soft clipping switch most likely incorporates some type of high and low end filters. However, it doesn't come close to the difference I hear when hooking up the Yamaha CR 2020 : )

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by lenjack » 13 May 2019 16:27

I doubt that high and low filters are involved in soft clipping. I love your signature. Hope you like mine.

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by zlartibartfast » 13 May 2019 18:50

most likely the soft clipping feature is a limiter (maybe a compressor - a bit more sophisticated) either way it is limiting the dynamic range of the signal, thus lowering fidelity.

Better amps build in more headroom, instead of using limiters. A 35 watt/chn Marantz 1070 will SMOKE a typical 100 watt amp from Amazon

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by lenjack » 13 May 2019 20:55

Agreed

Adamo0926
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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by Adamo0926 » 15 May 2019 03:42

lenjack wrote:
13 May 2019 16:27
I doubt that high and low filters are involved in soft clipping. I love your signature. Hope you like mine.
I do......especially since the limit of my engineering skill would be with a hammer :lol:

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by phivates » 15 May 2019 14:12

Not sure when "vintage" kicks in...pre 1990? I have heard more inner detail from a Nakamichi SR-4a compared to a Technics Class H but then the Nak amp is a Stasis design by Nelson Pass and should be better than the big chip in the Technics. Which in turn should be better than the "warm" sounding 70's stuff everybody loves because they were so well built and handsome. I like them all as long as they serve up music.

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Re: Sound characteristcs of vintage receivers

Post by katana1100 » 16 May 2019 03:27

“Better amps build in more headroom, instead of using limiters. A 35 watt/chn Marantz 1070 will SMOKE a typical 100 watt amp from Amazon”

It’s not an indictment of poor power; it’s a defeatable feature.
My nad 208thx power amp has that feature. It weighs around 45lbs, has 250 rms 8 ohm, is one of the few amps that is rated down to working a 2ohm load ( 900w rms!). Dynamic headroom is +4db.
My acoustats like it.

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