Why does this circa '75 receiver sound so good?

I am in the process of rebuilding my system and have been listening to a Kenwood KR3200 receiver while I save up the funds for new ARC gear. The more I listen, the less I want to buy expensive gear. This old receiver sounds VERY good with my new Nautilus 805's. I can't figure it out--why? I have also powered the speakers with an Audio Refinement Complete, but the receiver is much more enjoyable--the Complete just didn't sound as good-period. Too much like electronics and not so much like music. I did power the speakers for one night with an ARC D300/LS3 combo and loved it. Don't know what made me think I need something "better", but I already sold the amp, so there is no turing back. Anybody have personal experience with an Adcom GFA5802/GFP750 setup? That has been another consideration lately.
Hi: I have experienced similar results. I bought a Yamaha CR220 15 watt/channel receiver new in 1980 with a pair of Bang and Olufsen Beovox S35 speakers. The combo sounded clear and very accurate then vs other choices (Pioneer, Technics, B&O Beomaster). Lately, I upgraded all my interconnects to Audioquest Viper and the speaker cable to Audioquest CV-4/Type 4 (run as one cable to duplicate Audioquest Granite) just to see what would happen. My CD player is a very warm and revealing NAD C520, and yes, at under $250.00 also great buy. The end result of the cable "upgrades" have been startling. Very, very "musical" are my CD's and not digitalized and tinny as before, but rather analog-like and richer with the cable upgrades. The 1970's electronics may be vintage in design but the end result is a very warm, very acoustic, very defined and rich sound from CD play having Audioquest (and NAD) to thank. Best of all, all is bought and paid for. Have plugged in newer speakers (Dynaudio Audience 40) and another vintage type (Harbeth HLP3) and my original system (CR220 with Beovox's) sounded better even though not as "highly reviewed." An NAD C340 amplifier at 50 watts/channel was tried recently and it sounded dull, very undynamic and less punchy than my 18 watt Yamaha. As did a 75 watt, 1980 Yamaha CA1010 amplifier, not as clear or as musical as its 15 watt junior. My CR220 receiver is a "discrete" amplifier design with no massive heat sinks or overbuilt anything. "Just music" seems to get through to the speakers. You may be experiencing the same thing (great sound) with your 1970's receiver. This era of hand made amplifiers without remote controls were made to last, not like today's plastic and LED happy consumer electronics. The 1970's were analog as well--pre CD technology, not digital at all. If you like the sound of a 25 year old amplifier you are not alone. Check out Classicaudio.com. Tim Whyte sells vintage gear and can tell you about your receiver and why it sounds that good. Your ears are not hearing things. My modest vintage system sounded better to me than a $2200.00 Sunfire 225 watt/channel tube amplifier and $1500 Monitor Audio Gold 10 speakers and a $550.00 Integra CD changer! Price is not always the measure. Sometimes you get rich sound and save a lot of cash so you can afford to buy CD's. Trust your ears, and not your pushy stereo salesman trying to move product. Best of luck, Jon
Adrhld,you should consider the Musical fidelity A3CR amp and pre amp. I had a late 70's Canadian made pre and power amp that would kill any mid fi Japanese amp of the same time peroid. I recently upgraded to the Musical fidelity A3CR amp and it is much,much better.
don't mess with the Adcom stuff.

I was a salesman in the audio business in 1975 and understand what you are talking about. The Yamaha and Kenwood electronics of that era were particularly great for the buck . I remember one Yahama receiver, about 20 watts per channel and sold for less than $200.00. It was a terrific sounding unit with a variable loudness control, a good tuner and a five year warranty.

If you are getting good sound, why not enjoy it until you can afford something that is much better?
I have an old Pioneer SX 650. I think it's 35 watts. I use it for breaking in speakers, and it sounds very good compared to some S. State stuff of today in the same price that the Pioneer sold for in it's day.
Albert, you likely also sold the Yamaha CR-620 (35 w/ch). I bought one new in 1978, for somehere around $325. It was, and still is, a workhorse. Used it in a two-channel system for some time, then used it in a modest HT system for five years. Now, my son has taken it to college to use in his dorm room. Driving a pair of PSB Image2's and a lower-rung Klipsch sub, it sounds pretty dang nice. Good tuner, too.
My favorite receiver (and B.T.W., that of many British audio reviewers) from the mid '70's was the Sony STR-6800 SD. It was built like a brick s**t-house, used a quality attenuator, not just a cheapo volume pot. Had an interesting Dolby FM de-emphasis switch (Broadcast Dolby FM was never implemented), and all control switches were of very high quality. It was conservatively rated at 80 wpc, and NEVER failed to deliver less than 105 wpc at the yearly McIntosh clinics. It totally destroyed a Marantz that I was previously using. The dealer did a blind A/B test (receivers hidden) between the Sony and a Pioneer (I forget the model #) rated at 160 wpc (twice that of the Sony's power). All the "victims" picked the Sony. I say victims, because those invited to the A/B test were all owners of the Pioneer! This Sony sold for about $500-, and flew off dealers shelves as soon as new inventories were received. I also liked the fact that it was very stable when driving 4 ohm loads (most home speakers in the '70's were rated at 8 ohms). You could toast marshmellows over most receivers when driving 4 ohm loads, and the bass damping and control went out the window with many other amps, including the Marantz.
Fatparrot - I recall that receiver, too. There is one of these on E-Bay right now for a current bid of 20 clams!
the goal used to be high fidelity...now its hi end...the dissatisfaction of those who spend way to much on products is a real problem in todays audio business.
So, today I returned the "high-end" integrated that a "high-end" dealer allowed me to demo. The old Kenwood was far superior in virtually every aspect. But, to touch on another aspect of the "high-end" business, the dealer basically accused me of listening to his merchandise and buying elsewhere--such as on the net. I have never took anything home from this guy before--and never will again. He failed to realize I value a seller-customer relationship above all else. I bought my Nautilus 805's brand new from another local dealer--paid top dollar plus sales tax--all for the sake of developing a good relationship with a local vendor. I could have easily saved over $400 online--that is how much I value the seller-customer relationship. Well, if the seller doesn't value that relationship, why should I? Too bad--as I have said before, I would gladly pay extra for this, but not when I am treated so poorly while he tripped over another customer with the means to buy anything in the store-literally. Guess I will stick with my receiver for a while and eventually buy my ARC gear online. Now, all I have to do is get the POTS cleaned on that receiver. Thanks for all the posts--maybe I will bid on that Sony receiver!!!
If there's one hard lesson I should have learned from my decades as an audiophile, it is this: if you find something you like, KEEP IT. Don't assume that you can improve on the Kenwood with an Adcom or whatever. Just keep the Kenwood for as long as you continue to feel it sounds good.

The other lesson from your experience: could it be, just possibly, that the high end is BS?

All of us who have tweaked out our systems with power conditioners and expensive cables and resonance control devices--what if you stripped your system back down to what it was. How much worse would it be? (I should shut up and try this experiment on myself.)
I own an Accuphase E-202 integrated amp that I lent an old roommate about fifteen years ago and am about to get back. That was a great component then and I suspect it'll be great now, though I'm going to send it to Accuphase's US service bureau for a checkup. I can't wait to hear it, though I really don't have a use for it at the moment.

I agree with Drubin...if you have a component you love, hold on to it!
Drubin; you and my wife, and I'd bet a few thousand other partners of the aurally-fixated out there, can all start a club! Of course you all KNOW it's gotta be BS if you can't hear it, and or, if you just don't care either way, that's for sure! Then again lotsa folks say that about a whole lotta' other things in life too ("There's MY WAY, and then there's the WRONG way!"). Ya' just gotta'hav'faith in what you love, or what's the use?! Gutsy post...I like that in a man! Let us know what happens when your system is all naked, with those skinny lamp cords connecting all the boxes, and those pathetic flacid power cords begging for some Viagra just to suck that juice outta' the wall! It may sound just as good, but you ain't gettin' any that way man! Get with the program dude! If you wanna' get you some, then you need one of them thick sidewinding cords with the Matrinco tips on the ends. A big thick one, like a Beluga, or an Anaconda, yeah, that's it, an Anaconda! You know, once you've had an Anaconda, you ain't even gonna' think about going back! You can go through the rest of your life just wondering what it all means...thinking, "...if only the music just sounded a little more lifelike, a little more Authentic to the musician's and recording engineer's REAL intentions, well then I'd REALLY be living!!!! That's it, just keep your limp, skinny cords and wonder, never knowing the TRUE answers that all of us already know! NOW WAIT A MINUTE!... Don't give up on us Drubin. Look, mortgage rates are at an all-time low...just take out a second mortgage on your home and buy yourself some six-figure-system bragging rights and post it all right here, then you'll really be living!!....Just watch the funny sock puppet while they take away all the money out of your bank account! And don't be asking no questions like those again, or we won't have you in our exclusive club!!!!

PS My dad still uses my 78' Pioneer SX650 in his studio. I think he's got it running a my old pair of AR speakers with some lamp-wire hookin' them all together. Sounds pretty darn good to him! Not bad to me either! I'll be keeping my thick, lady-fetchin' power cords though!
I had an Adcom 5400 amp (the little brother of the 5802) and a GFP 750, both modified by Stan Warren. They were pretty good, especially for the money. I paired them first with Martin Logan SL3's and then with Audio Physic Avant II speakers. The amp did not do well with the SL3's - too difficult a load. It did much better with the Avanti's. I moved to a tube amp (the Berning ZH270) which is substantially better (at 5x the price). If you decide on the Adcom amp, I would buy a used one and then have it modified - it will improve substantially. The GFP 750 is a very nice preamp, and a very good value, especially if you are able to get a used one. Still, for the pair, unmodified, you are probably looking at around $2k used (maybe less if you are patient). If you are going to stick with SS, I would look for a used good quality integrated amp. I have seen used Rowland Concentra's, for example sell in the mid to low $2k's, and the Music Fidelity integrated's are even less. My guess is that either of these would be at least the equal of the Adcom pre and superior to the Adcom amp.
I've just discovered the same thing - my late Father's 1975 Trio 15W/ch receiver sounds better than my 900GBP Linn Kolektor/LK85 combo. It has much greater transparency and depth to the stereo image.

Late post to a very interesting thread.

I acquired a new Luxman R1120A receiver in 1982 (1976 design). It sounded so wonderful with Acoustat Monitor 3's that I never thought about listening to anything else for 15 years. Since they have both broken, I've been through a lot of expensive new equipment, but I still missed the old receiver. So much so, in fact, that I've spent a lot more than it cost new getting it completely rebuilt and upgraded with modern parts.

I'll let you know if I'm crazy after I get it back.
I guess you're just lucky you found a combination to work well together. I have two old receivers, a Marantz 2230B and a Kenwood KR6170 which I keep around and I have compared to my Cary SLI50 integrated amp and the Cary is far superior. I use the Marantz in my office with some Radio Shack Minimus 7 speakers and it's fine for that type of listening.
Lets not overglorify 70s solid state sound...my new NAD intergrated pulled the pants off my older yamaha amp and Pioneer sx series receiver...however...vintage tube gear is another story...older Marantz,etc sounds great...and looks cool...
A lot of stuff in the past decades are much better than present overpriced junks. I have a beautiful pair of Mcintosh MC-30 tube amps which sounds immensely better than most expensive amps.