don't know about vintage Marantz, but accuphase e202 is no contest to the modern models that substantially more expensive. also same can tell about hh scott tube amps.
27 responses Add your response
i suspect in most of cases budget oriented componets are built with less complexity and expense for better profits and certainly less performance. having all these factors reversed for the modern amp will bring retail price to quite large numbers(consider accuphase, pass, bryston examples of all advanced amplification design). going vintage in this case will get you the most advanced engineering audio amplification technologies for less money. you need to know how to service vintage components though.
IMO, the difference between the Emotiva and Marantz may be a toss-up, provided the latter has been recapped, bias and DC offset checked and adjusted, etc., so that the amp is operating at original specs. Vintage Marantz amps are not cheap to acquire, and you have to factor in the additional cost of refurbishing the amp into your decision, particularly when you are not doing the job yourself. I have owned a collection of vintage and modern amps. The vintage amps have all held their own pretty well versus my modern amps, but to my ears, the modern amps had the edge in transparency and more natural presentation.
I bought a used but new(er) Dynakit ST-70 here at Audiogon,The original owner got it from tubes4hifi.com you can get them new or build them yourself.
It has the VTA driver board,with decent tubes this amp has pleased me more than the Accuphase P-300, E202 P500 (bleck!) and Forte 4a, Wyred4sound st-250, Quicksilvers and a bunch of other great amps.
I paid $600 for it and it's a keeper. I now only run vintage tube amps from the 60's and 50's, it's the sound I've always been looking for. I have a H.H Scott 222D and Eico HF 22 monoblocks that are also top self, they will have to be pried out of my cold dead hands...
I recommend you go vintage restored tube amp, like the Scott 222 or others with great reps. plus they're dam cool!
My 2 cents
I purchased Emotiva UPA 1 amps to power my Magneplanar speakers (MGI imp and MMG). These amps have the same basic layout as your XPA 3 but with a beefier power supply (far more capacitance). They are a very good amplifier and have quite a bit of power and a modern very detailed forward sound. At first I was quite taken by this precise detailed sound but over time I started to miss the warm musical sound of my prior amps (Marantz 1200 and Creek 4330) so I started searching for a warm musical but powerful amp and settled on a Conrad Johnson MF 2300A. It has far more bass cojones than the Emotiva and is very musical and am very satisfied with this amp. It's much mellower than the Emo and to my ears far more like real music.
I found that with the Emo I was always futzing with cables, interconnects, speaker placement and so forth. Once I put the CJ in the system (over a year ago) I pretty much thought "sounds about right" and haven't really futzed with it. But the amp is 16 years old and just sent it to CJ for a refurbishing. I put the Emos back in the system and first thing my wife said is "it's brighter isn't it?". Well, yes it is not in a drive you out of the room way but definitely noticeable. So I put the MG I's back in since they have a mellower sound than the QR planars and it sounds pretty good but can't wait for my CJ to come back.
Good sound is where you find it. You can't exactly make a sweeping generalization about vintage vs. modern, but you can apply a few principles, also knowing that just when you have formulated a rule of thumb, along comes a unit that defies it.
In general, modern amplifiers are going to be more aware of how to apply negative feedback in doses that improve linearity without damaging rise times and musicality. Also, in general modern amps will have wider bandwidth (again, translating into faster rise times and therefore better transparency) and wider signal-to-noise ratios.
But you also often find that the "audio classics" of the '70s and '80s share many of these traits such as high s/n, negative feedback applied in nests and with restraints, high current and low output impedance, and wider bandwidth (translating into faster rise times and more accurate square wave response).
A great example of this is the McIntosh MC275, a 51-yr-old tube amp design with usable bandwidth out to 100KHz (and corresponding near-perfect square wave response), low noise, and low distortion. The Marantz in question has an outstanding s/n for its time (110 dB, competitive even today) and decent response curve--only down 1 dB at 60 KHz.
I have a couple of vintage SS amps, a VTL TransMOS 150 from around 1985, with very high damping factor, with very low output impedance and high current (it's stable into 0 ohms). It was a transconductance amp, taking advantage of MOSFET technology to make a transconductance amp with a signal path modeled after tube amps. The Acoustat/Hafler TransNova designs had a similar approach and a patent war over this technology. My TransMOS amps have deep, extended bass, great stability, and a sort of liquid presentation. The upscale Gold Edition was one of J. Gordon Holt's favorite amps in the mid-'80s.
And yet, I picked up a 1981 Heathkit AA-1600 bipolar power amp that kicks its ass in every way. Its specs reveal a wider bandwidth (out to 100 Khz) and excellent s/n of 100 dB. There is also the parts and build quality; the execution of this amp leaves nothing to be desired. I picked a refurbished one up for $239 and it trumped the VSP Labs handily--faster, more transparent, more neutral, no distracting SS glare.
Still...a couple months ago I heard a $999 Marantz PM8004 integrated amp powering a pair of $12.5K Sonus Faber Cremona Ms. This amp trumps most vintage amps and certainly 'most anything you'd find at or near its list price. It has an extraordinary s/n, especially compared to vintage amps--125 dB, and a nice wide bandwidth. It is dead nuts neutral with no detectable coloration and can drive a $12.5K pair of speakers to take your breath away.
So...vintage vs. modern? As always, categories have to give way to the merits of the individual units. The 1981 bipolar Heathkit beats the more "enlightened" VSP Labs TransMOS 150, and yet the modern $999 Marantz PM8004 integrated amp--complete with excellent phono stage, built-in low-noise line stage, pre-out/main-in, and bypassable 3-band EQ and balance controls--trumps them both along with countless other vintage amps.
There is also the personality factor. Some of the old Marantz tube amps are classics, with aficionados who love them for their largely unduplicated organic midrange purity at the expense of somewhat flabby bass control.
What to do about the Marantz 300DC? How does the price compare with other limited edition, carefully built amps with a 5-60Khz frequency response, outstanding s/n of 110 dB, plus the coolness factor of a 34-year-old design with those big meters that can still make beautiful music? Before you make your decision, try to listen to a Marantz PM8004, or any amp from their Reference series with the HDAM circuit
I glanced at your other thread. I think there is a good chance that you may prefer the 300dc in this case (assuming it's operating correctly).
I've been having fun putting together a vintage system in a spare room. I'm using a Marantz 16b amp and it's better than a few more "modern" amps I tried. Matching the characteristics of an amp AND speaker goes a long way toward satisfaction.
Bananas: There are adapters you can buy to make them work with the Marantz (search the bay). I bought a few sets of them when I had a Mac 275. I'm glad I kept them as I now use them on the 16b.
I would definitely consider hi end vintage over entry level current. Buconero 117 made a very important point. Not only that, but who does the rebuild is paramount to how this thing is going to end up. I'm a vintage fan and have several rebuilt amps, some of which came back with serious issues. Fortunately I have the know-how and was able to correct the problems. However, my knowledge is limited. On the other hand, since learning my lesson, I have a G.A.S. 500 Ampzilla rebuilt by Mike Bettinger of Gas Audio I would put up against anything on the planet. This thing is virtually brand new. Even the transformer is re-wound. But it cost $2250.00. I also have an Acoustat TNT 200 currently being rebuilt by non other than Roy Esposito who was part of the engineering team that designed it. This exercise is costing me about $1600.00. However, this will be state of the art. So you can end up with something which will go toe to toe with current state of the art sound at a much more reasonable outlay but more than a lot of current entry level amps.
I'm not a tube guy, but I happen to have an old Dynakit ST-70 in need of tubes but otherwise in great shape. I have a brand new R. Waters designed driver board and bias module I think I'll finally get around to installing. I ran across an interesting article on the net entitled "Hot-Rodding the Eico ST-70". This guy found a way to double the output without changing the transformers and without increasing distortion. This technique apparently applies to all tube amps. You've piqued my curiosity.
I just purchased a pair of Eico HF 20 rebuilds courtesy of Jim Nicholls from JWN amps, He changed the caps and resistors, upgraded the Power xformer, and put in his own cicuit and all I can say is WOW!
I would put these up against any amp out there: Set type mids and overtones, great bass and a real 3D sound which is amazing. They also have far more power than the 20 WPC listed. If you can find an inexpensive pair of these somewhere send them to Jim for the rebuild, you won't be disappointed
He also does Dynakit rebuilds and I'm sure those sound great as well
Really? Where do you come up with that?
Modern amps on average have wider bandwidth, faster rise times, higher current, higher damping factor, lower distortion, and audibly better signal-to-noise ratio. Do they achieve this with cheaper parts? No, they have better build quality with better transformers, glass epoxy printed circuit boards (instead of phenolic), better wiring, closer tolerance-matched components, and even better RCA jacks and speaker terminals.
Around 1972, the audio world gasped when Bob Carver offered the Phase Linear 400 at around $450. Adjusted for inflation, that bargain would be $2300 today. Do you really assert you can't get a better--and especially better built--amp for $2300 today? Or how about the excellent amps available today priced below that from Parasound, Adcom, Rotel, Emotiva, Cambridge Audio, Marantz, Odyssey Audio, Rogue Audio, PrimaLuna, and many others? If anything, larger production runs and automated processes make narrower profit margins viable via economy of scale.
Of course I can. It can be some old Mac for less than half of price to purchase and restore, Accuphase, Bryston or Classe of the same vintage...
I don't think that Rogue is any better built than above mentioned ever nowdays or past. I don't think that list of components you've listed have something to do with built quality compared to flagship vintage components. I serviced quite a few vintage components and they're much more techi friendly to the 'disposable' modern units. Sound and performance? Forget about speaker terminals or jacks they're all replacable. Bandwidth of clock radio can be specked out from 20hz...20khz or wider so what? Why many folks here say that recording quality was at the top in early to mid-70's? Figure that out cuz I did just by looking at circuit features, input, output stages, adjustments, measuring pins, mounting of elements, avoiding ICs, higher quality of electronic parts (why we all hunt for NOS transistors, tubes, caps?)
I can set up a vast amount of demo vintage rigs that would simply laugh at units you've listed with performance tube or solid-state I don't care.
I too will put up my Eico HF 22 monos against any amps $10,000 or less.
Metman, I think it's the old vintage Iron too.
The Eico's will blow your hifi mind, I will tell you something else also, I squeezed even more goodness out of the 22's by putting in these great sounding Shuguang 5Z3PAT I got off ebay for $19.99 and free shipping! these thing are stupendous sounding rectifiers!
Also, There is a seller selling matched quads of SHUGUANG VACUUM TUBES 6L6GC RARE COKE BOTTLE, I get them for 21.99 a quad!! and they are great, beating my really good Gold lion KT66 I have and like...I dare you to try them and tell me what you think! I'm in hifif heaven these days.
I have a pair of conrad johnson Premier V monoblocks that are wonderfully musical. I dont need their power with my speakers so I use an integrated amp. I think the vintage vs. new audio debate can be thought of as paralleling vintage vs. new cars. Theres no doubt that the technology inside the classic 6os muscle cars cant be compared with their modern rivals, but that in no way lessons my passion for them. Different strokes for different folks.
>Modern amps on average have wider bandwidth, faster rise
>times, higher current, higher damping factor, lower
>distortion, and audibly better signal-to-noise ratio.
Not necessarily true.
Compare Nelson Pass's Threshold amps from the 80s, and 90s with his Pass Lab's amps from the 90s to date. They generally have the same specs. Just different implementation, which is why many gravitate towards his older stuff because price-per-amp, vintage is hard to beat even including replacing the supply caps. This is also true for old Krell and McIntosh gear.
In any event, the specs are one thing but not always indicative of better performance.
>Electronic parts (capacitors, resistors, printed circuit
>boards, etc.) are better as time moves on...there are new
>materials, or construction techniques, etc. that makes these
>black boxes perform better. Even though there is excellent
>older stuff, the excellent newer stuff is better.
I would agree that better manufacturing techniques now can lead to tighter tolerances. However, I would not necessarily agree that that results in modern amps sounding better than vintage amps.
They sound different, but one (modern or vintage) is not better than the other.
Sort of a new Mustang vs an old Mustang w/ a rebuilt engine, suspension and modern tires debate. I had a Rotel RB-1080 power amp lots of power, well built, good synergy with the rest of my system- good looking amp. The McIntosh 2100 that replaced it just beat it. Not by a lot, but in a way that said "I'm a classic. There's a reason for it- listen". Oh and the McIntosh uses spade lugs-eesh....
It's like I said before: Good sound is where you find it. Some vintage stuff became audio classics for good reason--it was ahead of the curve, or it achieved a great balancing act between the science and art of audio. OTOH, not everything that's old is golden. Sometimes it's just old and out-of-date.
By and large the new stuff is faster and cleaner, but not necessarily. However, there are landmarks in all periods. One such is the Marantz PM804 integrated amp. At $999 it's like getting a 70 wpc integrated in 1972 for $190. Back then, you couldn't get an amp with the bandwidth combined with its s/n at *any* price.
But OTOH that doesn't mean you'll give up your Eico for it. Like I said, good sound is where you find it. I say this as someone who listens with great pleasure through a 1981 Heathkit AA-1600 power amp. There may be better amps out there, but not at the $239 I paid for this audio classic.
As for the original OP, whether to get that Marantz 300D or buy new, the asking price on the Marantz combined with your own visceral reaction to the sound of the Marantz is your only true answer.