Neither compare with units from the 70s.
In fact, 90s may be worse than 80s.
In fact, 90s may be worse than 80s.
I would agree, in the 70's mid-fi focused on sounding good for the money, in the 80's they started to build to a price point, it became about maximizing profit margins and living on their reputation, stuff from that era is hit and miss. In the 90s it was about home theater. Few companies wanted nor cared if you bought two channel, they wanted you to buy an wiz bang AV rig with 5 speakers and a sub.
If looking for good mid-fi: audition Marantz, Denon, Yamaha, NAD, Cambridge Audio, for pieces that are more recent up to 90's Pioneer from the 70's and, very early 80's. Early 70's Sony and Sansui.
One currently produced option may be Outlaw the have reasonably priced stereo receiver that has been favorable reviewed.
One final thought, as far as mid-fi goes, there are a lot of options. Stuff from the 70's will give you the widest selection. However there are companies such as
Vincent, Music Fidelity, NAD and Cambridge Audio and Outlaw that do provide good sound for the money. I would not rule out those. Hope this helps and Happy hunting.
Anyone here remember the late 1960s early 1970s with the flood of Japanese solid state receivers and integrates here in North America?
With this early solid state, sound quaility took a sharp nose dive compared to the vacuum tube integrated amps and receivers from 1950s and early 1960s.
I'd take a receiver or integrate from that era over anything built in the 1970s 80s and 1990s and beyond.
"Anyone here remember......"
Yep! The gap, actually a gulf I think, between the quality of sound from tubed based equipment and ss was huge, IMHO.
There were a few exceptions at the top of the line of a couple of manufacturers, but the rest was excreable, IMHO. Some of these exceptions actually started off with tubes and they were pretty good then, and compared with the mid fi of today. Out of considerable ignorance I bought my fair share of this stuff in the 70's. But if you wanted to drive AR's and Dahlquists for example you needed all of the SS power you could get. But if you had efficient speakers, like horns for example, those little tube amps were quite nice.
Speaking in general( to sound improvements of late)---(and in tvs,no less) I have had two new tvs in the past 12 months. #1 was the Sony xbr-6. This thing, for what it, is is pretty amazing;and for such small speakers---ok, no bass below 200hrtz but such an amazing mid-range.---Then on to my Pioneer plasma; not quite the mids as the sony but it goes much lower.
I'm sure they both use some kind of processing to widen the sound stage to the rooms edge.
The only reason I bring this up is to assume this technology has to do wonders to the "mid-fi" products of today, in general.
I own Sophia 2;s and know what pretty good is.
I have VSP TransMOS power amps and one Amber Series 70 power amp from the '80s. The TransMOS listed at about $1K and was considered underpriced; that's about $2,000 in today's dollars. With the emergence of US and Brit-designed electronics manufactured in the Far East, there are some seriously good amps now for less money, adjusted for inflation. For example, I suspect the $1100 hybrid Vincent would handily beat the TransMOS.
As to the original question, I'd say no, a lot of '80s high end was pretty good, and '90s hi-fi would have demonstrated incremental improvements, but '90s mid-fi wouldn't have been as good as '80s hi-fi.
Today I think the situation is different. Class D and other switching amps are coming into their own, and as they become more musical they bring new levels of speed and clarity, and noise floor so low as to be unthinkable a few years ago.
Some of the integrated amps from $500 to $1500 today offer tremendous value--Cambridge, NAD, Onkyo A-9555, Musical Fidelity, PeachTree, Vincent, etc., and they probably all whomp most '80s gear.
For example, the Cambridge Audio 840W is about $2400. Adjusted for inflation, it's just a little more money than the VSP Labs TransMOS 150 was, yet it's more powerful, has a wider bandwidth, and (I think) has a better s/n. I haven't heard this Cambridge, but I've heard others, and the 840W was an Absolute Sound 2008 Product of the Year. I suspect it'd handily trounc