Best sound in old late 70s early 80s receivers

People seem to be quite impressed with the sound of some of the large receivers from the good old days when they are hooked up to good cable and a good source. Anybody have any opnionsor first hand experience on what some of the best sounding receivers from the late 70s early 80s are. Pioneer, Marantz, Sanusui, Kenwood? Not counting the NAD 7020. Thanks,keith
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Keith, It really depends on what speaker you plan to use with an old receiver. Receivers from the late 70s were designed to be used with 8 ohm high efficiency speakers.

When used with the proper speaker there are a few good choices. One is the Pioneer SX-1010, 100 watts per channel and it works extremely well with the Pioneer speakers of the same vintage.

Sansui made some good Integrated amplfiers. The AU-717 and AU-719 with 85 and 90 watts per channel. These amplifiers used cutting edge components even by today's standards.

Marantz was owned by Sony and they have the warmer Sony sound.

Yamaha Natural Sound receivers were very good.

Care must be taken to achieve the best sound. Don't count on high quality modern cables. These amplifiers and speakers were voiced with inexpensive speaker wire and interconnects. Basic 16 gauge speaker wire and $5 interconnects will work just fine. The high quality wire we use on the new equipment sounds awful on these old systems.

Many of the old receivers have not been used for a long time and sound better after being played for a while. It's like they need to be broken in.

Polarity is also important, so be sure to have the power cord oriented properly. When the polarity is right the receiver will have a modern sound and when the polarity is wrong it will have an old sound, but it should be checked with a volt meter.

1979 was pretty much the end of the high quality Japanese receivers. The value of the Yen fell and instead of making quality receivers they started the bells and whistles era.

Just for fun I decided to set up a 1970s stereo system to see how good it could sound compared to todays equipment. I hooked up the Pioneer SX-1010 to a pair of Pioneer CS-99 speakers with a Pioneer PL-12 turntable. After the usual tweaking and adjusting the sound came around and it sounded very impressive. Everyone who heard this 1970s system agreed it was the equivelant of a modern system costing from $10,000 to $15,000.

I owned several. THE choice of all was/is the Luxman 1020A. The large Yamahas and Sansuis were also great. But for tonality, raw power and a tuner section that ranks among the best dedicated's the Luxman. Only drawback is the push pin speaker connectors which accommodate small gauge (18guage) wire.

Mine was modified: internal soldering of pre out/power in

bypass of power meter LEDs

hardwired LAT International AC 2 PC
I have personal experience with Yamaha CR series, the CR-3020 is fabulous. The CR-1020 is equally good but of less wattage.

All CR series are keepers I.M.O. Upgrade the caps or not they are of high quality.

Very good dual phono jacks, great tuners, truly "flat" sound with decent tone control, underrated wattage, good filters, great recording configuration options, terrific looks with their brushed silver metal encassed in premium wood cases.
The Nakamichi STASIS receivers were excellent. The power amp sections were designed by Nelson Pass of Threshold.

The Harmon Kardon receivers of that vintage were also very good sounding.
My favorites were Tandberg for a warmer, robust sound and Yamaha for overall clarity and detail.
Tandberg, Carver, Revox and Luxman
My favorites are Carver 2000, Revox B285 and the super rare Tandberg 3080

They are getting old and may need service now or soon!
I liked my Marantz model 19 receiver. I have not seen one in years. They had a great FM tuner.
how about the advent 300 (if you could actually find one that worked)
I have owned a pioneer sx650 and still own a sansui au517, (integrated amp) a marantz 2265b, and a marantz 2220b.

I have tried them all with the 3 sets of speakers I own. Klipsch heresies, klipsch kg4's, and quad 11L's.While all of them were very nice sounding, the small marantz 2220b at 20 watts per channel sounds better than all the others I have. When this small marantz is paired with some reasonably efficient speakers like the klipsch, it had a warm very musical sound to it with nice detail.

These old units were built very well and all of the ones I have still function perfectly.

I have since moved to tubes (totaly rebuilt dynaco st70) with the top model classe audio preamp from the early 90's (dr6) with the quad 11L speakers. In my listening room it is absolutely amazing sounding.... the old recievers cannot begin to produce the soundstaging and 3d depth that this setup does. All of my equipment was bought through audiogon or craigslist. This current setup cost me less than 2K.

Room accoustics, proper speaker placement, and system synergy play a huge role in how good any system will sound. When I use the klipsch speakers with my current system in place of the quad mini monitors the system combo is not good at all..... go figure.... klipsch speakers are supposed to be "magical" with tubes. That is not so in my room, the modern 2 way small speakers put them to shame.
The 2220b sounds better with the klipsch.

Have fun with whatever you pick up. The old recievers are easy to come by and not real expensive. And if you don't like what you get you should be able to get your money back selling it again.
Yes to most of the above, I fondly remember the Kenwoods, Yamahas, and Tandbergs. A repair shop close to me has some out for sale, and boy, they are still a thing of beauty. Takes me back! thanks for the thread.
I forgot to mention, before you buy, try to find out a little history on the receiver you intend to purchase. Try to buy from the original owner and find out if the receiver ever needed repair. If it has been repaired I would pass.
At the factory parts were closely matched for the best sound. If the receiver ever needed repair, especially outputs, you can bet there was no matching. The end result is bad sound quality.
Kyocera made some fantastic receivers. The 851 was as good as anything I have ever heard and I was in the business from '73 to '97. And it will drive most speakers well unlike the low current receivers of today (and most of the 80s & 90s).
This is an old post, but still to this day I have not heard anything that plays as sweet as my 100% rebuilt Pioneer SX-1250 running a pair of  Revel F-30s. Just a real treat to listen to. Awesome tuner, 165WPC min. cant stay in the room with the volume past 1 oclock, just amazing clean clear sound on any program from classics to hard rock and metal. Can't say enough good things about it
Marantz has never been owned by Sony. Marantz was owned by Superscope from 1964 to 1980 and by Phillips until 2001. They’re currently a property of D&M Holdings.

As far as Marantz goes, the 2270 gets all kinds of love, but I’m skeptical of the adorations on account of so very few having been restored or given the complicated adjustments they require. It’s also got a just barely adequate power supply.
The 2230 is a reliable example of the better Marantz sound. I’m not sure I’m the biggest fan of the Marantz 3 martini sound though. I have a recapped 2252 that delivers a crisp, lively sound with a healthy punch as long as you don’t challenge it’s ability to deliver most of it’s power. I like that thing. I don’t have a lot of respect for the 1978 and later gear, even the big 2500 and 2600, because they’re quite visibly built to a lesser standard when you crack one open.

When it comes to vintage receivers I stick with Marantz. They never used glue that turns conductive and corrosive and destroys the unit like Sansui and Pioneer did. HK stuff is good, but I’ve seen some odd manufacturing errors in some of their stuff.

The Fisher tube receivers are nice old stuff too. That stuff was all point to point wired and sounded good.

In any event, all the stuff up to the early 80’s absolutely requires work and a complete recap job at this point.
I know this thread is old but has anyone had Legendary do any work for you and if so, how’d you like it? Also, what are the sound differences between vintage Yamaha, Tandberg and Luxman (house sound).
Pioneer SX-1050, my first wow factor and that was with cheap Realistic speakers.
My 1st component based system consisted of a Dual 2019 TT w Sure V15 type II cartridge, Sansui Au-555 integrated, and Pioneer C63DX speakers. Also had a Teak 4010S reel to reel. Put together summer of 1970 on Okinawa. 


I have over 50 of these mid-late 70's in stock and have owned well over 100. The worst sounding brands to me are Yamaha "Natural Sound" and Sony receivers.  Tandberg is another dog. Kenwood is better than these BUT middle of the pack for most models...exceptions below.

It really depends on what you want to hear. Pioneer and Marantz sound great but far from the highest resolution.

Luxman will give you the greatest "detail". You will hear things with Luxman that will be masked by most of the other brands.

Here are some of my Favorites to seek out.

Best bargains (which sound Better than the best Pioneer/Marantz): SANYO JCX-2900K, ONKYO TX-8500 either version, Sherwood 9910.

Others are Any TOTL Sansui's like Eight Deluxe (Not Eight), 9000 Models....not cheap. NIKKO NR1415, Kenwood KR-9600 and 9050, Technics SA-800, Luxman R1070/1120.

Pioneer - SX1250, 1010, Marantz 2285, 2325, 2330

I pair all my receivers with JBL Monitors (4412, 4312A, JBL 166)

Hope this helps you get started.

Harmon-Kardon built a series of receivers with separate power transformers for each channel. That seemed to be an audible improvement at the time.
The thing is, any receiver or amplifier from that era is going to need work to perform the way it did when new. Controls and switches have to be cleaned, mechanical grounds (often screws holding circuit boards down) have to be sorted out, filter capacitors in the power supplies replaced, and electrolytic capacitors used for coupling and bypass replaced (as well as any tantalum capacitors used as coupling caps- yuk!). Additionally its a good idea to remove the output transistors, clean the heatsinks and reseat them with new heatsink compound. The bias and dc offset controls should be cleaned as well and then adjusted properly. The bearings in the variable capacitors used to tune the FM should be cleaned and the FM given a complete alignment. The unit should be tested for noise- transistors this old can become noisy.

A word to the wise: semiconductor replacements are tricky to find. Most of them are no longer available, although there are likely replacements. But there are plenty of Chinese counterfeits that you can get easily enough on ebay, but quite often they don’t meet spec and may just blow up when installed. A reliable source of parts is East Coast Transistor Parts who has been around for

Do your homework and due diligence when making a purchase like this. Good Luck!