"Best" 80's HiFi System

Greetings folks..

I am looking to purchase (for a client) a Hifi system(pre amp/power amp- speakers) that is indicatively 80's.
I am looking for some suggestions or a nudge in the right direction...What would an 80's audiophile dream system consist of ??

Just for reference his current system consists of the following which he LOVES !
McIntosh MC30 (2)
McIntosh C22 Preamp
klipsch Cornwall (2)

All suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch !!
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Audio Research SP10II, Audio Research D115II, and Quad ESL 63's, with an Oracle TT, MMT arm and Grace 9E cartridge. As close to (affordable) SOTA in 1985 as I could get.
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Agree with Newbee on the ARC 115. It is very powerful ( 100+/ch) ), throws a big soundstage, and has resale value as it is considered one of the best sounding amps they ever produced regardless of price. Yes, I'm biased ( excuse the pun ) as I have one for sale. $1,400 plus shipping & PP if interested. It will also heat your room nicely in the winter.
Can't really say that I heard a great sounding system from the 80's. They all sounded a bit colored for my tastes. To each his ( or her ) own.
Best Audio Systems from the 1980's:


Speakers: Boston Acoustics A40
Stereo Receiver: NAD 7120
Turntable: Technics SL-B1 + Shure Magnetic Cartridge
Cables: Kimber-Kable (Entry-Level)

Mid-Level (and this has resembled MY system, to a point, that is after I have upgraded from my first system (which I have assembled back in 1983)):

Speakers: KEF Reference 102/w KUBE (and I actually owned these)
Stereo Receiver: Nakamichi SR-4A
Turntable: Thorens TD-147 + Grado Cartridge (of equal vintage, and price approximate)
Compact Disc Player: Mission DAD-7000
Cables: Audioquest


Speakers: Infinity IRS Beta
Power Amplifiers: Mark Levinson No. 20.5 Monoblocks (Ribbon Towers) + Mark Levinson No. 23 (Woofer Towers)
Preamplifier: Mark Levinson No. 26 (w/Phono Board Installed)
Turntable: Oracle Delphi Mk V + JMW 10.5i + Benz Phono Cartridge
Cables: Audioquest, Cardas, MIT (take your pick -- or make your own pick)

To me, these set-ups pretty much represent the best Hi-Fi the 1980's had to offer, and to me, they also represented the golden age of audio as far as I am concerned.

How about a Nakamichi Dragon tape deck or a Revox reel to reel or linear tracking turntable? I thought those were pretty cool in the 80s.
Here is one I put together. An Accuphase C200 preamp, with an Accuphase E202 in amp only mode powering a pair of KEF 103/3 Reference speakers. Sources were a Concept 2QD Turntable and a Sony CDP that I just can't remember right now. It sounded wonderful to me.
KEF 105.2 speakers
Classe DR9 amp
MFA Magus preamp
musical Concepts Epoch cd
Tara Space and Time cable
@ Mateored:

Yep, I remembered the Nakamichi Dragon too. I never owned one though, because they were expensive back then. But I did loved that deck, though.

I did purchase a Nakamichi Tape Deck back in the late 1980's. I bought the mid-priced BX-300 back in 1987, and used it for more than 15 years.

And about the ReVox Linear Tracking Turntable?!?!?! I actually knew someone personally who had one. My boss had one in his system. And that was one COOL ASS turntable. That bad boy sounded REAL GOOD too. He had his hooked up to a Hafler Preamplifier and Power Amplifier, Klipsch Cornwall Speakers and an NAD Tuner. That was a great system too. Too bad he wasn't the one who inspired me to get into this great hobby that we love so much.

No.... my second cousin did that decades ago. I didn't remember what his components was, but it was definitely SOTA for the early 1970's, and he a Reel-To-Reel Tape Deck in his system too. He was a Drill Sargent in the Army for some 20 something years, and he got his system from overseas when he was in the service.

Talking about going back down to memory lane.

Tandberg. OHM. Audio research. Magnepan. Kef. Klipsch. Nakamichi.
Linn. Mc.
Lots of good choices. Mine was a pair of Kef105.2, Oracle Alexandria with FR arm and Dynavector Ruby cart/Denon head amp. Amps were Meridian 105 monos with matching pre. Still killer but I would go with Acoustat TNT200 amp. Contrary to popular belief, they are suitable for any type of speaker.
Krell KSA-200, Krell KRS-2, B&W 801 Matrix series 2 *or* Apogee Diva. Top of the line Sony cd player, and SOTA Star Sapphire turntable. Nakamichi CR-7 cassette deck.
I would be looking at Nakamichi, belles, and something like threshold. Not sure of the dates, the Nak P7 was based on Pass amps, so that could fit the bill instead of the Threshold. Any of that gear would still make me happy.
Threshold was good stuff too. The SA/1s were one of the best amps of that era, imo.
JBL 99 with ring radiator 14 " woofer Dynaco amp preamp and Statesboro Blues!!

Two of the best speakers I’ve ever heard were from the 80’s: Duntech Sovereigns& Apogee Duettas. Very different & both excellent. Conrad Johnson Premier One sounded way better than the Levinson amps to me but couldn’t drive the Apogees 2 ohm impedance, needed Krell amps for that. Also the Proac EBS speakers were very nice as well as the better Thiel models.

What I Had back then Ariston RD11s Turntable Syrinx Pickup and and Dynavector Ruby Karat Cartridge. Quad 44 / 405 Amp and pre amp and Stacked Quad 57s. Also had a Revox reel to reel and really loved that thing.

i had

conrad johnson tube preamp

adcom 200 wpc

magnavox cd player

magnapan three panel # IV

I still have mirage M3s

LS3/5As are still sold (with knockoffs by like 4 or 5 companies)

Dq10s are still very fondly thought of (one of the first open baffles)

Motif MS50 or MS100 w/MC7 or MC8 preamp

cj MV50, MV75A1 w/ Premier 2/3 preamp or PV5

Perreaux PMF 2150/ SM2 pre

Superphon DM220 / Revelation Basic DM preamp

PS Audio 2C+ / IVH preamp

B&K ST140 / Pro 10 preamp

Moscode 300 / Minuet/Minuet in A preamp

Counterpoint SA8/12/20 w/ SA7, SA3, SA5 preamp

Berning EA230 or EA2100 w/TF10 preamp

VSP Labs TransMos 150 amp / Straightwire II preamp

Acoustat TNT 120/TNT 200 w/TNP preamp


For Speakers:  Vandersteen 2C, Thiel CS2 and many others will land you in the 80’s.


I thought my system from the 80s was pretty nice. 

Goldmund Studio table
Goldmund T3F tonearm
Koetsu cartridge (can't remember which one)

Spectral CD player

Audio Research SP10 Preamp

Krell MDA-300 monoblocks

Duntech Sovereign speakers. 

Also had a Cello Audio Palette. 

Nothing says the eighties like a full complement of ReVox gear. This is a stack that I restored and put together for fun a few years back. Sold all of it off except the B77 reel machine. Also built a full Pioneer Spec stack, but that’s seventies. As far as linear trackers go, the ReVox was good, but a Technics SL-10 was better, had a pile of those I refurbished and moved on. Bonus points if you can find the rare cast aluminum feet/stands that hold it at an angle.

My ReVox stack


Pioneer Spec stack


Technics SL-10 pile



High end

Cello Baby all the way around Electronics and Speakers w Micro Seik FG 1500 and Nakamichi Dragon deck

Mid to high end


Nakamichi Dragon

Kimber Cable

Yamaha separates

SARA Speakers

Oracle turntable with SME arm

Dynavector Ruby cartridge

Luxman 1120A receiver

Spender BC 1 monitors with original stands

Nakamichi Dragon cassette

I could still listen to this system and enjoy it immensely.