Amps from the 1980's -- What gear holds up sonically? Reliably?

Hi Everyone,

For me, the 1980s were a real "golden age" of amplifiers. Dr. Leach’s paper on building a low TIM amplifier had been widely distributed and relied on by budding designers, and lots of boutique brands came. It was also the era of the biggest of the Conrad Johsnon tube amps as well and the invention of the MOSFET.

For me, brands I cared about:

  • Threshold
  • Sumo
  • Perreaux (New Zealand, very pretty)
  • Tandberg
  • Hitachi
  • Kyocera
  • Nikko
  • Krell (of course)
  • CJ
  • ARC
  • Yamaha (professional)
  • Carver
  • Mark Levinson
  • Amber 
  • Tandberg
This was also the speaker era of Snell and Apogee and Martin Logan. I am not sure there would be a Krell today if it wasn't for Apogee's 1 ohm speakers.

I’m curious who is still listening to these vintage pieces, and which brands you think have stood up both in terms of reliability and / or sonics ?
Oh yes, Electron Kinetics. I had the Eagle 2a. Great bass and dynamics, flat earth imaging.

The best of the 70's and 80's that I've owned or own.  Threshold SA3 slightly modded power supply bypass caps and  Bedini 25/25.
Just wanted to point out that Parts Connexion has a number of Nakamichi Stasis (Pass designed) amps on sale right now. If I wasn't strapped for cash and space I'd jump on them just for looks. :)


A couple years ago a friend gave me a Hafler P225 (pro version of DH220) with one faulty channel. The fault was a bad connection at the RCA input jack my friend had installed; an easy fix. After recapping, rewiring and then setting DC offset and bias, the amp sounded great. 

At the time I was using a Nelson Pass First Watt amp. After listening to the Hafler for a while, I found I preferred it to the First Watt amp. The Hafler has been in my system for more than a year now and surprisingly, I have no desire to swap it out. 

This amp was my favorite amp to drive a pair of Magnepan 1.6s I was playing with.
Agree with the original OP statement. Would add that speakers improved dramatically during the 80’s too. More than at any time since then.

I would say the most recent decade is the golden age of digital and headphones - things have improved substantially for headphones and DACs. 
It was solid state 80's amps that made me realize why I wasn't listening much any more.  Tubes ever since.