I want to pick up a vintage SS integrated


Hi, as a stop gap solution, as well as for enjoyment, I wanna pick up a 70's vintage integrated amp.  I have been looking at the Kenwood KA 5700 as well as the KA 405.  Aside from the specs, which one was the higher end model, do you guys know?

My budget is around $500, and I like VU meters.  Around this range, what else could I be looking at?
nitewulf
There's a Kenwood KA-9100 on ebay for $500. That would be pretty nice. It's I'm not affiliated with the seller.
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I strongly recommend staying away from 70's and 80's era Pioneer and Sansui products unless you find something you're truly enchanted with and money for repairs and refurbishment isn't a problem. Those two companies liked to glue components to their boards with a glue that becomes corrosive and conductive. It eats the legs off components, dissolves traces and pads, and forms new circuits where circuits definitely don't belong. I've heard differing accounts on Pioneer, but all the Sansui stuff is loaded with that crap and absolutely must be removed with chemicals. Kenwood is probably your best bet. Marantz stuff is fairly trouble free too. ALL of it will require a complete cap job though. I don't buy any of that stuff without looking at the schematics and figuring out what needs replaced before I even plug it in. And plugging it in is a horrible way to find out you need filter or blocking caps... because if you do, you'll need a bunch of new transistors too. 
+1 on the kenwood ka-x100 series; yamaha ca-series also had cool vu meters
For 70's era, you can't beat a Marantz receiver, though you might want to recap it via a kit. Also, consider NAD as another option; they make excellent sounding integrateds, especially the BEE series.
Yeah I am definitely interested in the Marantz receivers. But they seem to be desirable, therefore expensive.
So basically I am going to look for Kenwood and Marantz receivers/integrateds that have been refurbished/updated.

I don't know about that.

I have vintage Marantz, Pioneer and Sansui receivers and I can tell you that I have restored them all and the Sansui QRX5500 sounds better than the others.  I love the wood grain enclosures.  Just like older Pioneer Elite electronics that were built like tanks.

The Marantz 2252B sounds really nice, but I was told that earlier Marantz models are better and that the B was a slight downgrade.  I like it anyway, but for sound, the Sansui is simply better sounding.

If it works and you can get it fairly inexpensively, go for it.

enjoy

For a stop-gap measure, you could pick up a new Emotiva A-100 for $230.  This amp will out-perform the vintage amps you are looking at and will come with a three year warranty.  You may well decide to give up your search for a restored vintage amp, but at least it will buy you time while you are searching for a reasonable deal or messing around with finding parts, new caps and pots, and cleaning and refurbishing an old unit.
Oh for sure I can pick up a modern one. I am in the market for a high end SS integrated, but as a stop gap I want to try a vintage, because of the aesthetics, plus they were also of a high quality. Real engineers were building real amplifiers, not "audiophile" gear for a wealthy set of clients.
Sansui AU-717 recently serviced correctly and in excellent condition, I’d give that a serious consideration.


oops...wrong year
+ mental 

As someone said Sansui did use glue on the boards but I think he has over stated the issues. Sansui integrated's are going up fast in the vintage market for a reason if you can get one like the 717 i'd jump on it they are only going up in price. Also Luxman, Accuphase older stuff are some of the best made form that era worth looking as well. but may be to late to get for under $500. 
That's the thing, I don't wanna go the route of Accuphase, Luxman or Marantz's sought after models which will cost maybe $1000 - $2000 in nice shape, which will defeat the point of this exercise :)

If I can find a recapped, nice looking integrated (50 WPC or more) for around $500, that'd be ideal. 

I am actually planning to buy something along the lines of the Luxman L509X sometime next year for regular use.
I Know you are looking in the Menwood direction. Though I have heard them, I can’t say I know the sonic profile well. They sounded fine. I would encourage you to consider arecapped Marantz 1060. Legendary and sound lush and musical( if not a bit rolled off in the highs).. I might also try to hear( or pick one up in the cheap) a classic Sansui AU series.. I just got an AU-217( their stripped down entry level from late 70s early 80s for $100)... only 40 watts or so but man... is it musical and actually somewhat commanding considering the low watts ... both are quite musical and can be found recapped for about your budget. Both are attractive in their own right and both have classic performance.. 
I've had a Kenwood KA-7100 60 wpc with phono and a headphone jack that has been rock solid since 1978... until just recently. It's a nice integrated with tone controls that aren't too aggressive (has a tone control bypass switch). High and sub frequency filters. The high filter is sometimes good for taming a harsh rock&roll cd. It also has two Loudness settings, again audible but not over done. I do use Loudness #1 fairly often when listening at lower volumes. It also has a stereo, mono, reverse switch, and a tape loop. In contrast to todays equipment, the RCA input jacks are run of the mill, and the power cord is an affixed two-prong lamp cord. 

One of the channels is dead. Been listening on mono, but mostly just the Onkyo 7030 CD with headphones. Looking to up grade in a big way. I have Energy 22 Reference Connoisseur speakers that I will keep.

Not to hijack the thread, but can anyone suggest what happened to one channel? Transistor? I bought it when in college and wouldn't mind fixing it for a second system.
Thanks for the recommendations guys, I've been reading up on the Sansuis as well and they are definitely on the list (recapped). The AU 20000 is a beast! And the only one with meters unfortunately.
Nitewulf:  If it's aesthetics you are after, I cannot help you.  That will be a personal journey.  But I get it.  I thoroughly enjoy dragging out my ST-70 and PAS 3x and hooking them up to some ancient Altec horns.  I have a 100+ year old old oak cabinet Silvertone windup that is a blast to listen to old '78s.  Those early '70s Japanese ss amps have a cool vintage vibe, and recapped and "hot-rodded" can sound pretty decent.  But sound wise, they are bettered by modern well-designed amp from a reputable manufacturer.  There have been many advances in electronics design and manufacturing that are available to modern designers and engineers that enables them to produce high quality gear at very reasonable prices.  The legendary designers of days past did marvelous things with the materials and equipment available to them, but it is disingenuous to think that modern engineers are not "real" and that they all pander to a rarified audience of wealthy patrons.

Please go out and enjoy your vintage journey.  If you are the soldering iron type, it could be very rewarding.  But if I were you, I would consider just going out and buying the Luxman and be done with it.
Fair enough, my comment wasn't geared toward all modern amps, just the ridiculously pricey ones: $60,000 - $150,000 K...I mean, why?

I can get a PS Audio Sprout or a used Peachtree/Emotiva/Wyred4Sound for sure, but these old amps seem to have good specs and measurements as well. Certainly build quality was a lot better than 80's, 90's mainstream products.
In some ways build quality was better, in other ways not.  The chassis and casework is usually heavier gauge, fewer ICs and more discreet wiring.  Pots and connectors were chassis mounted.  Nice wooden cases.  But the components were built to lower tolerances and are not as well matched, and some of the technology available in new amps hadn't been invented yet.

I'm guessing the KA 5700 cost about $350 back in the day.  That would be around $2500 today.  For that money, you could buy a brand new Yamaha A-S1100 (complete with VU meters) that would certainly out-perform it and have probably better build quality.  I'm guessing the Yamaha would give the Luxman a run for its money (of course it all depends on your speakers, room. power supply, etc.).

I can understand how a vintage piece in good working order (new caps, etc.) would be a reasonable "stop-gap" option (if you can find one at your price point).  It could also be an interesting DIY project, if you are so inclined.

My gear is not very glamorous.  Being of modest means, I selected for sound quality over aesthetics.  But inside those plain looking steel cases are some excellent electronics.  My speakers look pathetic, but they sound good.  The turntable I am currently using is certainly not styled to my taste, but it works well.  Nobody is impressed when they look at my system.

I certainly would not be satisfied with a $225 Emotiva amp.  My stuff is considerably more expensive. It suits my needs.  However, I doubt that insanely expensive stuff sounds much better than what I have.  At a certain point the law of diminishing returns kicks in.  It's like my $250 watch.  Stainless case, Swiss mechanical movement, Sapphire crystal.  I doubt that a $10,000 Rolex keeps better time.  But I wouldn't mind having one!
Phase Linear 700.....power!  great big VU meters!! 
Yes, the legendary showman Bob Carver and his studly Flame Linear 700s.  Now those suckers had some meters on 'em.  Pro Audio handles.  Ungodly amounts of power.  Fry an egg on 'em.
There was something remarkable about the stereo culture of the late '60s/early '70s.  Before that, stereos were nicely tucked away in mahogany console cabinets.  Mom would play Tijuana Brass and Christmas records on them.  Then along came rock 'n roll and an entitled generation of baby-boomers.  Stereos went from polite furniture to raging expressions of male hormones.  Girls were scared of them.  That Zenith console (which probably had a tube amp) gave way to big-balled ss amps and 12" Utah speakers in giant plywood cabinets.  The rich kids were doing Macs and Klipschorns.  Those were the days, when you wouldn't measure a man by the size of his house or the cost of his car, but by how loud his stereo could go.
Thats' because it was all about social status and not about music .In one year after computers  were the thing the bottom dropped out of the
hi-fi market .
I bought a a Kenwood KA-7100 four years ago for the same reasons you are looking, Nitewulf.  I think I paid $120 for it.  Except for hitting it with deoxit, I didn't do anything to it.  It sounds pretty good - especially for how old it is.  I think it's one of the best looking vintage amps too.

It's been in a closet for years.  Someday I'll use it as my first refurb project  then give it to a nephew or friend.  There are a lot of threads at AudioKarma about modding, repairing the 7100.

Something to consider that has a vintage look with less risk and better sound would be a new Yamaha A-S301 (60wpc) for $350.  They are only sold in black in the US, but  you can get new silver ones from Japan on Ebay for the same price or less.

A very versatile amp.  The variable loudness is great for improving low volume listening.  When you eventually get your higher-end amp, you could still use it for a 2 channel TV setup via the optical cable.  (which is what I'm using my A-S801 for since I upgraded from that.  FWIW, the kenwood hasn't been used once since I got new amps - it is gorgeous though.)

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_022AS301B/Yamaha-A-S301.html

Happy hunting!


People certainly were intimidated by my KLH Model 26 compact system...Pickering cartridge with the little brush on the front, massive 16 or 20 or something watts (did a search on the specs and couldn't find anything).  However, running the speaker wire (KLH system supplied) under the wood floor to stick the speakers in the corners of the rectangular living room in the cute Manoa Valley (Honolulu) "Elf Cottage" style house my band rented for most of the 70s, provided many a wild party with great sounding music. Little Feat...oh yeah, uh huh...
My girlfriend had one of those KLH compact systems.  Nothing like a crock-pot full of lentil soup, a cafeteria tray full of weed, and a stack of records on the turntable - rocking out to "Spanish Moon".
Sounds like great times. Thankfully weed is becoming legal everywhere so I can enjoy great times as well ;)....lentil soup certainly sounds healthier than Doritos and salsa....