How about a 1970's Marantz receiver and a pair of original large Advents? or JBL L65 Jubals?
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I really enjoyed my Sony STR 6800 SD receiver circa 1976. This unit was rated at 80 wpc, but always delivered 105 wpc at the old McIntosh clinics. The British press raved about this unit, and USA dealers were constantly backordered for months when this unit was introduced. Also, this unit had a high quality attenuator, a 70 micro-second de-emphasis switch to use for Dolby FM, which was never adopted by the broadcast industry. I found this receiver much more stable when driving a 4 ohm load than the Marantz that I was previously using. This was probably the finest receiver that Sony ever made...not to be confused by inferior Sony receivers from the '80's on!
You are not alone - look at Pass Labs' Rushmore speaker, and read the design philosophy - warm richj sound, art deco waterfall styling - exactly what you're talking about, only it costs $45,000. I am also in the process of putting together a fun system, something that will look and sound 1940's-ish. Audio physic Virgo IIs have warm bass. They were one of my favorite speakers, and I still might buy a pair someday. The combine warm bass with very revealing midrange, giving a combination of modern hi-end with a rich bass. I was not impressed with the Virgo IIIs though. Also, try the Linn Espeks. I really liked them, but they had too much bass for my room. If you can put them so they're not too close to corners, they are great fun! They have a distinctly modern look, though, and look much better from the back than the front. Not too high-end revealing. I've heard them in 2 stores and my house. One store they sounde like a pair of clock radios, I think because they were far from a back wall. I think their rear firing woofer needs to be a foot or 2 from the back wall and far from the sides.
Zingali horn speakers were also a lot of fun, especially on the big band music I like. They definitley introduced a coloration. I also once tried a Golden Tube aAudio SE40 that added a harmonic distortion that made stringed instruments sound fabulous, but which added the sheen of strings to everything they played, including vocals. Fun ijn a way, but best if you really like violin music.
Thanks for the responses thus far!
I have a friend with a pair of JBL L-100's ("centurys") and I haven't been too impressed with them. They have lots of low end (although it sounds like quantity over quality to me). My friend agrees, saying they are "beamy" in the mids. A dealer recommended JBL L-150's - big bass no doubt, but I think they'll have the same midrange and high end.
The Sony receiver probably sounds great, but I'm not a fan of that era of component design. Visually I like the raw looks of dynaco amps or the sleek look of bryston preamps.
Dynaco speakers do get mentioned around but apparently are impossible to find in usable condition?
As for the more expensive suggestions, I don't think I should have to spend $45k (or even $1k!!!) on used speakers that sound the way I described. Let's focus on a maximum of $1000 for used speakers, and $1000 for an amp/preamp combo.
Based on my online searches I am intrigued by the following:
- Luxman RV-103 / RV-105: Putting a window in the front panel to expose glowing tubes is considered a gimmic in recording studios, but I like the idea of a tube pre with solid state amp, and this seems a bargain.
- Antique Sound Lab: interested in the $250/PAIR monoblock tube amps.
- Spica TC-50 sounds like just what the doctor ordered except no bass.
- Vandersteen 2ce sounds VERY tempting ("especially listenable on poorly recorded material", "bass goes unusually low for its price point") but I also hear others say it just sounds veiled.
I found a pair of KEF 104/2's locally and am going to give them a shot. If I can find some Vandersteens for cheap maybe I'd get them and have a shootout... then sell off the loser.
Further suggestions on an integrated amp (with phono input) for those speakers, with my originally stated goals in mind?
Side note: any tube preamps made with bass and treble knobs? Heresy maybe, but fun!