The Yamaha CR1020 etc. series rival them in tuner, preamp and sound quality. I prefer the cosmetics of one over the other. You pick....
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The prices that the Marantz 22XX series of receivers from the 1970's command on auction sites like eBay have risen fairly dramatically in the last two years (up anywhere from 30 - 100%). The Marantz 22xx series have a fairly devoted following, complete with websites (www.classic-audio.com) and yahoo groups (MarantzTalk) devoted to these vintage units.
Supposedly each receiver had a fairly specific design goal. For example, certain units like the 2230 and 2270 are in comparatively higher demand, as these two units were designed to have an almost tube like sound to them. There is always the occasional thread as to whether or not the baby Marantz's (2215; 2216) had better FM tuners than the rest of the line. And so it goes. FYI, the 22XX series was for 2 channel; the 4XXX series was for quad; the XX stands for the watts per channel.
As far as looks go, these receivers are amongst the best looking of the 1970's solid state receivers. Tank like build; quality parts; solid aluminum, oversized faceplates; script lettering; gyro tuning; and of course, the blue lights ... which depending on the model ... was either against a black or silver backdrop.
The Marantz sound is warm, lush, and very musical. Lively preamps. They work well as tuners (I use a 2240 as a tuner in my main system) or as a power source in a secondary system (I use a 2216B for my bedroom system). Modern era speakers & CD players mate well with the Marantz receivers.
Of the vintage units, the Marantz 22XX series; the Yamaha CR series; the Fisher tube receivers from the 60's (400; 500;800) and the Pioneer SX and XXX (626/737/etc.) series probably represent the best of class. There are some sleepers out there ... the Sherwood 7100 & Advent 300 (outrageous tuners).
If you pick one up, expect some amount of cleaning/repair. Bill at Music Technologies in Springfield, VA and Mike Zuccaro in San Diego are amongst the best in restoring the Marantz receivers. The Soundsmith in Peekskill is good, as well.
The Marantz 22xx units are terrific. Second only to the
McIntosh MAC series receivers IMHO. I'd rank the Sherwoods
right behind the Marantz. I have 4 70s vintage SS receivers
I swap in/out of my bedroom system which is used almost
entirely for FM listening (main rig is almost entirely CD):
1976 Sherwood S-9910
1978 Pioneer SX-780
1979 McIntosh MAC-4100
1979 Yamaha CR-2040
I'd rank them against each other like this:
Amp section: McIntosh, Sherwood, Yamaha, Pioneer
Preamp Section: McIntosh, Yamaha, Sherwood, Pioneer
Tuner Section: Yamaha, Pioneer, McIntosh, Sherwood
The amp and tuner sections are uniformly excellent in the
units. The McIntosh/Sherwood amp sections are both awesome.
I expected it from the McIntosh. The Sherwood surprised me.
The tuner sections are all excellent. I ranked them pretty
much according to sensitivity as I live in a fringe
reception area and that's an important parameter for me.
It is in the preamp section that the McIntosh really puts
itself above the other units. This includes Marantz units
Ha! I still own my Marantz 2285 receiver purchased in 1978. I have never had a problem with its performance. I took it in to a local shop a few years ago for a dusting and cleaning and replaced all the blue lights just out of principle! The receiver has a by-pass feature that allows you to utilize the unit as a pre-amp, which is how it is working today! I use a B&K amp under the Marantz. The system fires a pair of JBL L65 speakers, which are also pushing past the 25 year mark! This was my first stereo system, and I am planing to pass it down to one of my children!