1970's receivers and integrated amps...

Lots of the mid to late 1970's receivers (and integrated amps) look pretty cool. For example the high end Pioneers and Sansui's.

My question is how do they sound? Do any of them hold up to days standards? How is their power vs. what they are rated for?

Advise on particular models appreciated.

I keep a vintage Marantz 2239 (I think) for occasional use if something in the system goes down. The sound is sweet and smaooth, but the downsides are muted dynamics, and a somewhat homogenized sound. I loved it when it was my first reciever (2225) and I still think they sound good and look beautiful, but don't expect miracles.
I have a early 70's vintage Pioneer SX-939 receiver that I bought recently on Craigs List. I have it hooked up to a big pair of VMPS RM2 ribbon hybrid speakers and it sounds quite impressive. The transients are fast and clean, the midrange is sweet and harmonically pleasing, bass is robust but not quite as controlled as with better separates.

But what really killed me about this receiver was how well it handled the fast transients and super dynamics of Rodrigo y Gabriella's blazing guitars from their CD 11:11. I was in awe, and you can check my other systems, it's not like I don't have semi-expensive gear to compare it to.

That said, sometimes these older units need a bit of service before they are ready to rock. Mine is stock but it had some dirty switches and the tuner section still needs realignment.

Happy Hunting. :)
It depends on your definition of hold up is. A good condition vintage receiver, mated to a compatible speaker, can sound anywhere from "vintage" (aka poor) to pretty damned fine. But I doubt that anyone would replace their Shindo gear with a used Pioneer receiver.

Having said that, I have restored vintage receivers and integrated amps that have been excellent systems in their own right. I bought a Luxman amp new in 1975, and regularly used in an office system it until I gave it to one of my daughters a few years ago. New caps are often (almost always) helpful if not necessary, and if you can't do it yourself the added expense might make the total cost unattractive.
Back in the late 70's, Harry Pearson, editor of The Absolute sound reviewed Pioneers top of the line 120wpc receiver. His review was only 5 words: "plainly a piece of shit". Receivers and amps from that period used huge amounts of negative feedback to make the numbers look good, but the sound was God-aweful.

Bob... I could care less about what Harry Pearson says or thinks. I do know I'm getting very good sound out of that Pioneer -- maybe not Shindo good, but still quite respectable. I'd put that system with the cheap Pioneer and VMPS up against your stuff any day.

I'm really put off by audio snobbery like this; especially when people have no first-hand experience with the gear they're giving opinions on. Sure I've heard some mediocre-to-poor receivers, but I've heard some good ones too. Also just FYI, my Pioneer is not the top-of-line 120-watt model and I bet Harry did not even give that one an honest chance with an open mind.

Tried a Marantz integrated (forget the model #) to hear what it sounded like and it was warm and and euphonic and rolled off on top. When I hooked it up it bottomed out my drivers which startled me. All that juice still in the caps. It brought back memories and I appreciate the nostalgia but it was mid-fi, at best. At least with that model in the context of my system and my tastes. It would be good in a garage system and that is not a put down as I enjoy the looks and feel of vintage gear. No doubt there are better makes and models but I think one would have to look far and wide and maybe recap some to get a good sounding unit.
Plato versus Bob.

The vintage Pioneer from the early seventies is likely remarkably different from the vintage Pioneer from the late seventies reviewed by Harry Pearson.

I suspect that solid state gear over that decade really evolved and changed quite a bit.
Try the late seventies Sansui 65 Watt AU-517 or the 85 Watt AU-717 integrated amp models. They sound sweet. Luckily the AU-717 remains plentiful due to its huge popularity back in the day. Expect to pay $200 for either model in original, excellent and complete condition. The rack handles on these commonly go for $50 alone! See my system for one take on the vintage trip.
I have had (and still have) many, Yamaha, Pioneer, Sansui Luxman, Marantz, JVC and others. I love the vintage gear but am always ultimately disappointed in it's perfornce. My favorite was a Yamaha CA-810 Integrated updated by Randy Young, and it was easily outclassed by my new Onkyo A-9555.

I think if you mate a vintage receiver up with an appropriate load for it, you will get a pleasing sound. These vintage pieces are old so you have to make sure they are operating as intended.

My reason for having a nice system is simply the pleasure it gives me. It's hard to define pleasure but like they say about pornography, you know it when you see it. In our cases, when we hear it. What pleases me might not do it for someone else. In addition to my vintage system, I have a Pass/Maggie system (SS + planar) and a tube/hi-eff (SET + custom monitor) system. They all give me pleasure when I listen to them.

Advice: Pick one you like the looks of, make sure it's operating properly and mate it to a nice 8 ohm speaker of decent efficiency. I favor the lower power ones from the late 60's and early 70's. Most importantly, have fun.

I was an audio salesman from 1972-1986 so I do have first hand knoledge. I worked in a mom & pop audio store, Soundtrack Audio Systems in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. We sold Pioneer, Kenwood, Sony, Marantz and Sherwood. We also sold Mitsubishi high end and Accuphase when it was owned by Teac Corp. The early 70's equipment was very good, the later stuff, God-aweful. As I said before, way too much negative feedback.

I am not an audio snob by any means, It took me almost 40 years to get a system that sounds wonderful to my ears and that I can be proud of.

In the early 70s I worked in an audio store. We fixed, tested and sold receivers. We had a test bench and we gave each customer a hard copy of their unit's performance versus specifications for power output, THD and IM. We included a Polariod photo of a 20KHz square wave, to show the unit's bandwidth.

Many units we tested didn't make their specs. Exceptions were Harman-Kardon and Marantz, which often did noticeably better than spec, and Yamaha which just made it.

I quit working in audio before the end of the decade, but friends who didn't told me that by 1980, the poor-performing makes had gotten a lot better.
The better ones (like Tandberg, Sansui, Nikko, Sony, Marantz, Yamaha, Onkyo, Kenwood and Pioneer) can sound very good if in good working order, in a well set up system, and used with the right speaker setup.

Their weak point in general will be current delivery in that power supplies in most receivers and integrated amps do not match up to those in separates. This can be a handicap when used with many modern speaker designs that are harder to drive optimally.

The deficiencies will often be noticed in the bass. Use of a good powered sub to offload the bass can be an effective solution to help deliver top notch performance.
It can be hit or miss about the absolute sound quality of some of these products. And as others have said you have to make sure they are in proper working order. Craigslist is an excellent source of these products. You can find them for under $100, throw another $100 in for cleaning and repairs and you'll end up with a very workable second or third system amp.

That said, at best the amps sound okay to good. One thing that is indisputable is that the tuner sections are excellent and easily keep up with best of modern tuners.
tandberg, mac,revox, kyrocera, marantz, hk, nad, and others made some sweet stuff. condition is everything today.
But God are they BEAUTIFUL!!!
i just love my Yamaha A-1 integrated amp from the very late 70s. while Yamaha's circuits are never "simple" in and of themselves, this was one of their simplest TOTL efforts. the design and execution is quite modern and elegant, somewhat ahead of its time. with new electrolytic capacitors throughout the power supply, the sound quality is top-notch vintage. i use mine in a pseudo-nearfield TV room setup with some old-school Infinity WTLCs. while i don't feel the need to look for anything better, it would still be very interesting to compare it to some modern integrateds at some point.
because of threads like this here and in other forums, i have
been interested to here the differences between 1970's
integrated amps and receivers. i am old enough to have been there but was not an audiophile, and so listened contentedly
for 20 years to dual 1209TT,pioneer sx980(i beleive) thru
altec boleros (on bookshelves). so i guess i like horns.

the best sound i have ever heard was an audionote meishu
integrated (8w) thru avantegarde uno's (they did not have duo's).i bought the meishu but could not ( would not)
afford the avantegardes.

SO, my array of speakers leans towards high-efficiency===
klipsch heresy, forte II, la scala, swans allure, dunleavy sc IVa

that being said, i have lately bought and heard several
(based on recommendations found by visiting similar
forums over several years, trying to read between the lines and see who's listening tastes were similar to mine).

i have (none restored/recapped) marantz 1060,2230; pioneer
SA6500, 8100, 9500 ; harmon kardon 430 ; sansui au-555a
au-999 ; supraphon dm two twenty

listening thru a PC--logitech touch--audionote 4 dac--amp
--klipsch heresys, my preferences are the sansui's,
martantz 1060, pioneer 6500.

the harmon kardon is a different beast. at high low and mid it sounds more powerful than rated.( friend has it -- driving polk LSi7 well)
I hope to soon be making a trade for a Yamaha A-1 integrated and will be mating it up with 84 db Celestion 100's. I think the A-1 is a dual mono unit and think that this could be a pretty nice sounding budget-vintage set up. I also used to sell audio at the retail level between 91-93 and just loved the Celestion 100's with the B&K ST140 that we used to demo together. I now own a really nice sounding rare Tandberg 3030 receiver but the Celestions really need more than 20 wpc...

The Tandberg 3030 is a very under the radar piece because it wasn't built in Norway or Denmark like their earlier receivers, yet it sounds terrific. The phono stage is great and the tuner is incredible.