Early 80's - late 70's best audio products

With the intoduction of CD in 1982, apparently, the Hi-end audio equipment either dissapearead, either became too expensive, either started to use cheaper components, etc.

This is my perspective. And now as a historical curiosity - Which components (speakers, pre-amplifiers, amplifiers, tuners, turntable, tonearm and cartridge) will you vote as the best components for the 1978-1982 period.

Thank you for your time
Quad ESL-63
My examples are mostly on the bang-for-buck bargain level at the time, but all remain excellent components to this day, yet I have no doubt modern technology has improved on most. Here's a few off the top of my head:

Sansui TU-717 Tuner
Bedini 25/25 Amplifier
Quad ESL 63's (second that one)
Klipsch Heritage Series (not actually a product of that period but probably the apex of their production).
B&K ST-140 Amp
NYAL Moscode products (various amps and preamps during that period - I can't recall all the models I heard back then, but all were quite outstanding to me at the time)
Audible Illusions Preamp (they improved on it since then, but the early ones were great at the time)
AR Turntable (the reissue of the classic version was right around that time - great table for the money)
Grado Cartridges (Joe Grado made a great sounding MM cartridge affordable)

Well, I will second the NYAL MOscode, specifically the 300 power amp, which I paired with a Yamaha C2a pre, which was also a real giant killer full function pre w/full tape dubbing, 2 phono inputs, including an mc step-up, switchable cart loading, 2 pairs of outputs, and weighed in at about 25 lbs. Ran in class a if I remember. Still have it. It doesn't compete with my Supratek but works fine.
Forgot one...

Just two years after your end date though...

Quicksilver 8417 Mono amps (I've heard his MX190 was pretty great too, but I've never actually heard one)

B&W DM7 Mark 2 speakers (1979). I have a pair in my second system.
Nakamichi Cassette decks; many tuners of that era are still highly desired today.
Is this a geezer test ? Hmmmm.

Large Advents - I had two pair - rocked the house !

Dynaco amp and preamp kits. Great stuff.
This is easy, I sold most of this stuff way back when:

1) KEF 105s - imaged like nothing else, tiny sweet spot.
2) KEF 103s - man, these were GREAT little speakers.
3) Tandberg 2075 - one of the best receivers ever made.
4) B&O 9000 Cassette deck - still one of the best cassette decks ever made - these guys invented Dolby HX-Pro.
5) Tandberg TCD-440 - another great cassette deck
6) Denon DP-72 turntable - what a gorgeous piece
7) MacIntosh MR78 tuner - need I say more?
8) Klipsch K-Horns - these could ROCK yer world!
9) ADS 810 and 910 speakers - excellent sounding small floorstanders.
10) Mission 770s - wow, these were GREAT speakers, too!
11) Revox and Tandberg Open Reel decks - simply superb.
12) Hafler amps and pres, the best bargain bang for your buck

I could go on, but you get the picture - this stuff can still hold it's own against today's equipment.

The Studer/Revox B7-- series, all of them, but especially the tuner and the tape machines (cassette and open)
For speakers the Tannoy SuperRed range (especially the beautiful FSM), the Klipsch K-Horns or Quad ESL's(of course all of these have their roots in the '40's and '50's and still have only barely, if at all, been bettered today. So much for 'progress'!)
Phase Linear amps.
EMT turntables or Thorens TD126 and the directdrive models (TD535or 52?, I think) for the cost-conscious.
And and honorary mention for the Yamaha A960/2 a truly great piece of budget hifi that put many pre/power combos to shame, unfortunately Yamaha replaced it with rubbish.
I do agree that from that period onwards its been a downward spiral for serious, accurate high end audio.
This year I replaced my Arcam system with some lucky finds which were made in the early 80's and the old stuff is lightyears ahead. Now searching for a Revox tuner and saving up for an EMT, Thorens or maybe a Technics SP10 or SL1000....oops forgot to mention that one earlier...
Speakers: Dayton Wright XG 8 (with panasonic leaf tweeter)
magnepan tympani 1 D
Beveridge model 2 SW
Hill plasmatronic (best $10,000 tweeter)

Amps and pre amps: Threshold,AR, Krell

Receivers: Nakamichi SR-3, Luxman R-117, Tandberg 2075

tape decks: Tandberg, Revox, Nakamichi

turntables: Linn Sondek(high price), Rega (moderate price)
but I used a superb Apt-Holman pre-amp, then recommended by my friends at Audio Consultants in Evanston. I used it with a Bryston amp...

Almost all (large) format IE JBL 4350/55 series monitors. And if cost was no object Westlake HR1's with the HRX 4-way crossover which would run upwards of 40,000. Crown DC series, Phase Linear 700B, Luxman M series and SAE amps to name a few. Apt Holman pre's were and are still excellent preamps if rebuilt with new caps etc.

Yamaha CR2020 receiver. Solid Walnut cabinet. Looks, class and performance in one package.

Most open reel to reel tape decks. They were built like a tank, and lasted 4 ever, well almost. After 28 years + I had to replace the soleniod switch and with complete overhaul cost me $ 2.50 approx. money well spent.
I still use (after 30 years) and have just purchased two more pairs on Ebay, of Yamaha HP-1 and HP-2 headphones. Together with the Yamaha TC800D (wedge shaped) cassette deck these were all designed by the legendary industrial designer Mario Bellini. The HP-1s have an effortless, fatigue free and open sound. Most of all, they are all beautiful to look at as well as use. That makes a difference!
My DBX 118 dynamic range expander/compressor was the most invaluable addition to my hi-fi of that era. I compressed records when dubbing to tape and expanded on playback to restore dynamic range and lower the noise floor. Brilliant. My amp was a Pioneer (silver) SA7500, average, but still in use today and well worth a listen.
ARC D79B Tube Power Amp,and ARC SP-11 Preamp,Koetsu Rosewood Phono Catridge,Oracle Turntable,SME V Arm,Quad ELS 63'S or ,Soundlabs A1,RH Labs Subwoofer.If I'm forgetting anything I will post again.
76doublebass has it right - that would still be a killer system today (although I might get triple stacked original Quads!).
Joe Grado invented the moving iron and moving coil not the moving magnet.
He used moving iron on all his cartridges,and are used today by his nephew John at the helm.Old Joe just enjoyed the royalties of his MC patent.
I think the Rega planar 3 deserves a mention. It's still competitive in its price bracket 20 years later.
Audio Research SP6B

Magneplanar MG I b

Yamaha C2a

Yamaha PX-2

Yamaha T-2

Kenwood KD-500

Denon 103

Grado Signatures

Hafler DH 220 and DH 500

DCM Time Windows

Dahlquist DQ 10s esp with DQ1 W

Apt Holman Preamp and Amplifier

Nakamichi 700 ZXL

Nakamichi 250/ADS 2001 "Mobile Fidelity" System

Quatre Gain Cell Power Amplifier

SME Type III tonearm

Mark Levinson HQD system

KLH Model 9 Speakers

original Oracle turntable

I dont think I am yet a "geezer" at 41

but I agree, the "high end" has been mostly downhill since then.
The upper level RS 1500 series of Technic's reel to reel's are probably the finest ever made and were available in that time period.

If some of the passive parts are updated along with a few other mods, the AGI 511A is a stupendous performer. As i've mentioned before, this product was light years ahead of the audio market when it was introduced. What other product had a phono stage that could slew at over 300 V/uSec, had a rise time of less than .01 uSec or had a line stage that was flat to beyond 200 KHz back then??? Remember, the original 511 ( non "A" version ) was released in 1974 and i think that the A version came out in about 77 or so!!! For that matter, what products made today are that fast or as linear ??? YES, you CAN hear the difference !!! Just remember that if you do get one, these pieces are AT LEAST 20+ YEARS OLD and probably even older !!!

The Apt-Holman preamp as previously mentioned was not a bad piece either, but if there is an AGI to be had for similar money, why bother??? Given that AGI's keep going up in price though, the Apt-Holman is beginning to look more attractive. Like the AGI though, they will need some TLC to work at their best.

Polk Audio "Cobra Cables" i.e. either the first or second ( along with Mogami's ) wide bandwidth low inductance speaker cables. These and the Mogami's were the forerunner to all other "esoteric" speaker cables. Many amps could not deal with their high capacitance though, so they sounded like crapola with these cables. The cables weren't to blame so much as the design of the amps were at fault. These cables don't last long when they show up on the used market.

Fulton Gold speaker cables. For use as a speaker cable for subs or woofers with a very low crossover point, they are awesome. Not for use above about a couple of hundred Hz at the very most though. What do you expect from a fine strand 4 gauge wire ??? Looks like MONSTER "Monster Cable". Nelson Pass said that you could "jump-start a locomotive" with these cables : )

Many fine yet esoteric speakers of that era i.e. The Beveridge's, Quad's, Hill Plasmatronic's, Ohm A's & F's, etc... All of them are relatively frail designs, limited in SPL and would require a "labour of love" to get them up and running like they should. If one were to do that though, they would know why so many people think so highly of each specific design. None of them are perfect ( what is ??? ), but they are all VERY special in their own way.

Yamaha M-80. As far as i know, this was the first product that proved that the "Far East" could make a pretty decent sounding high powered SS amp. Complete "dual mono" design with two decent sized "old school" ( non-toroidal ) iron core transformers. Can be made to sound MUCH better with some simple modifications. The factory binding posts are HORRIBLE !!!

Tons of vinyl related gear in this era, but i've rambled on long enough : ) Sean


Excellent memories and additions.

Yes, the AGI 511A! They were pretty rare, even then.

How about Vendetta Research?

Or the Rappaport Pre Amp?

I borrowed a Rappaport for a weekend from a dealer and could have cooked my breakfast on top of it.

Which sparks my memories of

GAS Ampzilla and "Son of Ampzilla" -- other 70's high end cult classics.

Fulton was a pioneer in high end cables.

And some people think the Nakamichi 680 ZX was the pinnacle of cassette decks, NOT the microwave ovenish 700 ZXL or the Dragon.

Re Reel to Reel designs, you might include the Tandberg TD20A, but I agree the Japanese decks were pretty cool.

We're all geezers.
and of course, the Rogers LS3A
Sean, so nice to see another of your valued posts again. We thought we lost you.
Sony str-v5 and v7 receivers, best sounding receiver from the 70's and 80's! These receivers will still be working another 20 or more years too and they can hold their own with the gear made today too! They sure don't make them anymore like they use to!
For the money, Polk monitor 10's. They were the first descent speakers I owned. I drove them with another nice piece, a Yamaha CA-1000 intergated amp.
I nominate the Advent 300 receiver. What a great piece of kit! Small in size, modest in power (15w/ch), sensible in features, and big on performance.

It has an excellent phono stage designed by Holman and a FM tuner section which stressed noise rejection over sensitivity. Styling is retro-cool.
A properly operating Advent 300 sounds musical. We all fantasise about what we want but Henry Kloss and Advent Corp. knew what we needed.
advent and jbl loudspeakers. different, but both helped an entire generation to rock and roll affordably. also, pretty much all classic rock of the era was mixed using the jbl's.
Yamaha CR series of receivers, Yamaha MX1000U + MX10000U amps, Yamaha CX1000U + CX10000U preamps, some of the McIntosh amps + preamps -- the late 70's equipment, a lot of the Marantz products, a lot of the JBL speakers.
Luxman: Ultimate Series = best-of-that-era.
Onkyo Grand Integra series: seriously excellent.
Duntec: their amazing Sovereign speakers.
Beveridge 2SW loudspeakers
Yamaha B2 Power Amp
Theta tube preamp
Yamaha B1 and B2 power amps, Apt pre and power amps. Dahlquist DQ-10, original large Advent. Sony PS-X7 turntable, several tuners..esp Yamahas and some Sansui and Kenwood.
Spica baby! John was so far ahead of his time that I really wish he was still designing speakers today (I'll bet he'd still take the crown in some sort of idea no one has thought of if he were to re-enter the market even today). Hello John! Where are you? Please come back to the market with another speaker design!

I emailed him with some questions about the speakersand he was nice enough to reply. Mr Bau is in Santa Fe, still in the electronics business but his focus is stuff for recording studios ect.

I don't know what they did to him when Spica was bought by Parasound but he has made it very clear that he has no interest to be in the speaker biz again, ever.

Parasound to the best of my knowledge never came out with a Bau designed speaker.

What a waste.

BTW I have two pairs of Spicas TC60's and a much older pair of SC501's that fit the bill as one of the best bargains from the era.
Teledyne AR-9 speakers
Quad ESL
Linn Sondek
systemdeck IIX, rega3 with audio technica AT30E-MC.
great american sound: thoebe pre-amp, son of ampzilla power amp, b&w dm7 main speaker, empire 7000 rear speaker
after 27 odd years, i'm happy to report the system is still going strong (on my 10th cartridge).
i'd added a mirage centre channel, yamaha rear amp, when dvd snuggled into my living room.
i'd listened to a lot of components during the years of assembling the system and decided on the above mentioned and never looked back. they were within budgets of most for their days and became classics today.
Marantz M500 power amplifier! This is the king!
B&W DM6 monitors
Thorens TD160 turntable
Electrocompaniet Preampliwire

D Visser
A couple of my favorite geezer memories I didn't see (or missed) above:
Infinity Black Widow tonearm
Sonus Blue phono cartridge
Micro Acoustics piezo-electric phono cartridge
CD4 and SQ Quadraphonic "decoders"
Garrard Zero 100 turntable
Gale 401c speakers, original black Amber amp
Don't forget the following:

Technics SP-10 mkI & mkII motor
Tri-planar tone-arm
KEF 105rr speakers
Marantz 1060 amp