OPT question: AirTight w/ Tamura vs Marant 8B

Any thoughts on how a 10 year old Tamura opt transformer compares with a Marant 8B trannie? I'm hoping to learn more about trannies and what makes them good. Feel free to ramble...

There is an Air Tight with Tamura trannies on Ebay. I've read reviews on the Air Tights, and they have a romantic, lush sound using a standard circuit. The starting price of 1500 is about equal to the cost from Tamura of the two output trannies. So it looks attractive. But I have an 8B and it has reknowned trannies too. I know there are other factors, but assuming the amps are sort of equal, are the new Tamuras better? Or, who knows?
Interesting question. I know Mr. Mura, the designer of Air Tight products. His amps are excellent and the output transformers are very good as well. They are beautifully built and do sound very good. Before he died I got a chance to spend an hour on the phone with Sid Smith a few years before his death. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Marantz 8. I have fixed them and love bench testing them. I asked him about his transformer design and about how he settled for the one he used in the 8B. He told me, for prototyping purposes, he himself built 45-50 different iterations of the output transformer. He potted them himself and listened to each and every one before he decided on the one he used. He was a bit upset because he was not consulted for the commemorative version. Designing output transformers is very much an art form unto itself. He never wrote anything down. I asked if he would, because with his knowledge it would be a shame to loose all that knowledge if God forbid something happened to him. He said I don't care, when I go, it goes with me. I can tell you that his output transformers are amazing. I've never seen better square waves come out of an amp as I see with the 8B. Some manufacturers cheat by designing the transformer to ring a bit at high frequencies making you think it has wider bandwidth, but it doesn't. That ringing is non-linear and is therefore not useable frequency response. Marantz 8B transformers really don't ring at high frequencies so all that high frequency bandwidth is useable. A remarkable man, and a remarkable transformer.
Thanks very much Hifigeek1. You make me appreciate my 8B.

I have owned four air tight amps, they are the best made products I have ever used, I think they walk all over the marantz, which in my opinion has value as a nostalgia piece. Hope I didnt insult anyone.
I think this comes down to a vanilla and chocolate kind of thing. Neither amplifier is right or wrong; both should offer tremendous sound and pride of ownership.

Let's admit the Tamura transformers surely rank among the best in current production. Along the lines of Hifigeek1's incredible telling of Sid Smith's development of the Marantz iron, I don't think it implausible to give the 8B the advantage, and that's no slight on the Tamuras. Build quality of both look great, let's call that a wash.

Personally, I think it comes down not to transformers, but passive parts. These obviously reflect their respective era of manufacture. Capacitors have come a long way, so consider that a slam dunk for the Air Tight. You might think the resistors would be just as clear cut. True, modern metal film resistors do offer much closer tolerance, stay at their intended resistance over a wide range of temperature, and offer that highly resolving sound of today's high-end audio. But I'll go against the grain of today, and say that a good many audiophiles would appreciate the thick, full-bodied sound carbon composition resistors produce.

In the end, you win bigtime with either amplifier
..and carbon comp. resistors tend to be a lot more noisy, i.e. thermal noise. There is no such thing as the right or wrong amplifier. It's not that black and white. Each person hears differently, their audio system is different, and their listening environment is different. That's what makes the world go round.
The Maranzt 8B had a very nice OPT in it (It is a diferent animal than the pair in the original model-8). The amp as a whole is musical. As an historical collectors piece, the tube Marantz gear is classic and are collectors items (depending on condition). In the 1960s, Marantz arguably made the best sounding tube amps and preamp. The transformers were of a very high standard, but so were the transformers in the HK Citation II, McIntosh amps, Acrosound amps and a host of others.

I have owned, listened and repared/rebuilt a large number of classic amps. And I can share with you my opinion that the Audiogonzo pricing for classic Marantz gear is insane. Example, I owned a Marant 7 (there is no such thing as a Marantz 7C - straight out of the mouth of Saul Marantz). The Maranzt 7 is bested by MANY, MANY, MANY preamps made since. I think you can beat it with $600-$900 well directed dollars. Spending $2,000 on it for sonic reasons is silly. Spending more than that for sonic reasons is INSANE! It's main value is as a collectors item- PERIOD! Find one in mint condition and you have a collectors item! Find one in good condition and you have a piece of history! Same for the Marantz 8B. If you are into paying for a collectors piece, then you will be parting with a lot of money. NOW REGARDING PARTS. If you own one of these. Pull out the electrolytic caps and have them tested. If they are good... put them back in or replace them with good parts of the same type. Test the coupling caps for electrical leakage and only replace those that have gone bad (while this is important in general, it is VERY important in a power amp, especially between the driver and output tubes). DO NOT replace the carbon comp reistors unless they are cracked, open or drifted off of spec. And for the love of Mike, don't replace them with modern metal film resistors. You will not only change the sound (which you may not like) of the historical collectors piece, you will ruin it's REAL re-sale value. I repeat, these things cost a bunch of money not because they sound better than everything else (most well made modern stuff sounds as good or better) but because they are historical landmarks of audio - providing you don't slap a bunch of modern parts in them. You don't buy an original 1937 Cord and replace everything in it with modern parts... unless you wish to kill its true value.

I own and use Tamura, Tango and Nature Sound Transformers in amps of my own design and build. They are truly very good transformers. Tamura makes some average stuff and they make some great stuff. I can't comment on the quality of the Air-tight trannies, but if they are made to the level of my Tamura Permalloy tannies, then they are indeed, very good.

BTW, In a tube amp... obviously the circuit design matters, but after that... transformers (and good tubes) will make more of a difference than caps and resistors. When looking for a good amp (obviously how they sound is important) choose an amp with a solid circuit design and great transfomers. The transformers are the most expensive parts. You can always fool around with caps and resistors after the fact.But if you own an old Marantz or McIntosh amp, please, don't change the caps and resistors to modern parts - you will change the sound and kill the true value of the amps.

I believe Mr.Mura the designer and owner of Airtight also owns Tamura Transformer. Also, the circuit topology of the Marantz 7 is the same as the McIntosh C-22 which is the same as the ARC SP-6. The differences are in the components used, and the power supply, which can make a huge difference. For the most part, all these preamps use three 12AX7's for the line stage, and three 12AX7's for the phono stage. The last tube in both stages are used as cathode followers. Please note that the later series of SP-6E became the SP-8 which had a tube regulator and started using 6922's.