How does one weigh the virtues an older amp vs. a younger one?

When does new tech beat old, even at a lower original price point? For example, I’m looking at a Pass INT_150 (about 2010, at MSVP $7150) and a Simaudio Moon 340i (mid 2010s and $4950). Leave aside the age factor of the amplifier itself for the time being, and assume an A/B listening comparison is not practical. Excuse me if I’m being crass about this. My apologies to Pass and Simaudio!

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My experience has been that for a given level of amp, 10 years and new is substantially better than the older. Not just noticeable, but wow, that is really better. I have been at this 50 years and owned multiple generations of Pass amps from the Threshold s500 back in 1980.

A couple years ago moved over to Audio Research tubed amps. I will not be going back.

Think of an old car with few miles vs a lot of miles. No comparison. Amps are similar, if you can get an old amp that wasn’t used a lot vs was played hard, it makes a difference. I like my Carver 505 that was built in the nineties a lot and I would put it up against any of todays amps up to $1500.


OP, since you are talking integrated amps, how about a Mark Levinson No. 383.  George Meyer in Los Angeles, who is an authorized Mark Levinson repair facility has completely refurbished units at $3,000 dollars and another for $3,200 dollars.  These are outstanding integrated amps.  Here is the info:

Mark Levinson No. 383 integrated amplifier

Mark Levinson No. 383 integrated amplifier

Better to listen to each for extended periods (weeks even), then decide which one you prefer to live with.   You miss a lot of the little stuff doing quick A/B listening.

Yes, truths reveal themselves -or are built into clarity, in our minds- over time.

Audio is no exception.

A saying that goes in that direction, is that we know all we need to know about a person we meet, in the first few minutes, but it takes 30 years of interactions for that to be clear in our minds.

Human interactions with the world, in all their myriad ways, are, of course, some variant of that. No matter how much the ego wants it to be different.


Trying to tie product quality and value to you to market prices is a very bad place to be. You are essentially trying to build up your stereo based on perceived fiscal value instead of pleasure you personally derive from it. Unless you are running a used gear store I think this approach won’t help you enjoy music very much.

Consider that a brand name can make a difference in selling price from 2x on upwards but that’s no guarantee you would like it 2x better. You might also fall in love with something older, or less expensive. Will you buy the less expensive gear you like more?

I've done the Vintage audio thing for some time and new audio as well. what i can say is its dependent on the specific item your looking at in vintage. Not all are as good as others. Also the technology of class A, A/B hasn't changed all that much in 40 years obviously the newer classes are a change i.e. class D etc.

The usual question is what has the older piece had done to it for maintenance over the years. All components drift out of spec over time so if that component has been refreshed/recapped etc. then yes the item can compete fairly well with modern designs of similar class type. Specially if the original specs were excellent to start with. Material science has come a long way in the last 40 years though so that has to be taken into consideration as well.  

I have older quality vintage pieces that compete very well with modern equipment. 


@knotscott … “Better to listen to each for extended periods (weeks even), then decide which one you prefer to live with.   You miss a lot of the little stuff doing quick A/B listening.”