Vintage Amps - Pleasantly surprised

A while back, i was given a non-functional Sansui AU-666, which I recently had restored for sh*ts and giggles. Hooked it up to Rega Aras in my bedroom, using a computer source with a basic NuForce uDac.

Honestly, i was not expecting much out of this combo. However, I am blown away by the sound quality i'm getting out of this extremely modest setup. It shockingly possesses much of the desirable 'audiophile traits' one would typically hope for. I'm not saying it's perfect, but for a 40 year old piece, i'm utterly stunned.

And considering the entire setup cost less than 450 bucks, including stands (excluding computer, but which i had already), i could not have asked for more.

Anyone else with this kind of experience using vintage gear?
I have not found a better sounding amp than my Mapleshade modified HH Scott 220c integrated. My room is 12x12x9, and I don't listen loud, but I can drive my Harbeth C7's to deafening levels.
My Bedini 25/25 amp, which is pushing 30 years now, is a sonic and musical wonder!
I get the same feelings with my Fisher tube stuff. I'm not so sure we have learned anything in the last 40 or 50 years.
HiFiharv, I think your wrong, they have learned something in the past 50 years. What? How to take your money in the name of 'hi-end'
I too have had this experience and I think part of it comes from not having too high an expectation that allows us to relax and simply evaluate what we perceive at face value. The problem with expensive gear sometimes is that we generate a preconceived expectation that a system must, somehow, sound good, and then we work hard to make it so, and expect it, to sound good. This creates tension and stress and, ultimately sometimes, diappointment when it doesn't quite deliver to that expectation.

Having said this I clearly remember my friend's modest Scott system back in high school through AR speakers that simply sounded killer. Dark Side Of The Moon had just been released and the sound was "completely transportive" through that tube system. And, to think, we drooled over the latest SX series of Pioneer receivers at a local HiFi shop with their blue glow!
Reading what you guys have said about your older gear leaves me expectant and excited about the sound of my forthcoming vintage stereo. Some pieces are out for the once over and I just purchased a pair of AR 7 bookshelves.

I can't wait.


Dark Side Of The Moon had just been released and the sound was "completely transportive" through that tube system.
Steve, Thanks for the memories. I too have fond recollections of the systems my buddies and I owned (large Sansui receiver with Jensen triaxials for me) back in those days when expectations were more about the music and the good times, and less about the equipment. I also remember the sound benefiting from some "transportive" aids we had back then.
Cool thread! Here's my addition: A friend gave me his old Kenwood KA-7150 awhile back cuz he knew I liked audio stuff. After cleaning the switches, I now have it playing in my little office room through some reworked Utah-built acoustic suspension 3-ways that use the little Alnico magnets and simple LF blocking caps on the mid and tweet, upgraded to film caps, of course. I had to replace the woofers with modern compatibles, so not original there either. The source is the computer digital stream into my old MSB Link DAC III and I couldn't be more delighted. Of course I'm listening near field at fairly low levels, but, like the others report, I'm blown away. Bass is clean and deep, with acoustic bass having that punch and clarity I like. Imaging is solid and deep. Good frequency balance botton to top as well. Now if I could get my "big" system to do that at higher levels in the big room...
Let me tell you I haven't found ANYTHING from 1970/80 that sound like a Sansui amplifier do. I have been in this world since I was a child and have had McIntosch, Fisher, Pioneer, Luxman, Marantz,etc.
Sansui was unique and the glory of the japanese HI-FI at that time. The best japanese sound ever without dude. I have sold many entry level gear such as Adcom, Rotel, Nad, Parasound because their sound don't match my old Sansui amplifiers. I think Sansui was really hi-end at that time and still kill many new brands that are called entry level and hi-end. My two cents.
Dvjorge is spot on. Its incredible how good the stuff from the 70s/early 80s is compared to today. The first time i broke out my old pioneer gear (from 78) after its long (20yr+) storage, i just sat there listening and stunned. Remote control and lack of controls and inputs that characterize modern stuff is simply not worth $5K+. And yes, i do think the 70/80s stuff can smoke much of the $5000)!
One of the most important aspects of tube gear is the transformers used. Simply put, vintage transformers are awesome and some of my favorite tube amps I have are Pilot amps (I have three different Pilots) using EL84 output tubes giving me about 12-15 glorious sounding watts per channel. Pilot has a great circuit that gives speed and dynamics and transformers that give beauty to the sound.

Keep you eyes open for some of these amps, you won't regret it.
I recently purchased an older (mid 90s) Harman Kardon amp on ebay. After giving it a thorough cleaning and then rewiring it I am amazed at how good it sounds. I'm seriously considering using this as my main amp. Take a close look inside and you see very simple circuit design with all discrete quality components nicely laid out.
Install an IEC socket, rewire the A/C input and output section with quality binding posts and nothing to complain about. If you think about the process of amplifying an audio signal, not a lot has changed over the last 30+ years. Buconero117 has a point.
I've got a Scott 299 integrated tube amp, Scott 350B tube tuner, KLH 17 speakers and a Thorens TD 125 MKII turntable with an SME arm and soundsmith cartridge. Everything except the cartridge is over forty years old and it sounds stunning. Vintage gear rocks.
I'm happy to hear that others have been enjoying old gear as well.

Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier - The Sansui's headphone jack is apparently directly connected to the outputs. When I use my Grado SR325is through this amp, they lose the slightly overbearing edge they still have (had) even after hours of break-in, and the bass blooms and really fills out, with more sense of power. This may have satisfied my urge to purchase a separate headphone amp. Yes, really!

Hell, I may even refresh my Dual 505 III with a new stylus and see what the phono stage is all about.

I'm seriously running out of space for all my gear, though...and I love it.

I have a few of the same pieces. Have seen the 17s on ebay alot. Have been thinking about Model 6's. Any thoughts?


Same experience with my restored Kenwood Supremes, 600 and 700m. Beautiful aesthetically and sonically.
Agree on the sansui stuff and will add , Sony, give there seperates a listen, you will be suprised.

Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I'm using a Nikko Beta 30 preamp while I wait for a new Emotiva I've ordered. My problem is powering the subwoofer. The Beta has two outputs, but the myriad of buttons and labels don't tell me how to get both outputs working at the same time. I'm unable to get any signal to the Krell channel for the subwoofer. Does anyone have a manual for this model, or any suggestions to getting a signal to the subwoofer.

Thanks. IJ
03-19-11: Buconero117
HiFiharv, I think your wrong, they have learned something in the past 50 years. What? How to take your money in the name of 'hi-end'

So true, though you can still navigate your way to great sound with new gear without falling into the $$$$ trap.
Maybe not vintage to some but the Yamaha MX-1 gets my vote. Produced between 1992-97 it retailed for $1200 put out a conservative rating of 200w/ch/8ohms and is a true dual mono amp. NOTE that the power cord is captive, I would get that updated and have the capacitors checked. Auditioned the amp(several times) about 15 years ago and was shocked by the sound quality driving the ML Aerius. The Yamaha was superior to the best Sunfire(Carver) and Adcom in the store. The sound reminded me of Classe or better MAC gear at the time. The MX-1 now sells for around $500 mate it with a Classe pre(47.5-50) with phono section($1500)and you have a killer set up. I doubt any (new)$2000 intergrated would be competitive.
The technological advancement of amplifiers has reached a plateau in the 70's or 80's IMO(probably much earlier than that), and there is very little "evolution" or "technological breakthrough" in the current new amps introduced in the market.
Heathkit A 151 smoldering good.
I had a Sansui AU-7900 integrated that I should never have sold. The somewhat later Yamaha M/MX series amps and companion C/CX preamps from the 80's are respectable also. Be aware, components from that era will benefit greatly from re-capping, a recommended update should you plan to use them frequently.