WE, THE JURY. Civilised audio and hi-fi equipment opinions & debates #002 (RECEIVERS)

This is where WE ask the questions and you folks give your answers.

Jury members are by invitation only.

QUESTION:

RECEIVERS: What is it about the monster 1970’s ones?

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Stan Skatvedt

Then there was the receiver that Harman/Kardon designed and built.Not monstrously powered, but truly intended to be every bit as musical as the Citation product line.In fact, it was merely called the Citation Receiver. It is probably the least well-known of all of them, but one of the most musically-pleasing receivers I ever listened through.I have a pair of Carver receivers (neither of which is an aural slouch by any stretch of the imagination), and would gladly swap them both for one.

I do not miss the era of the ‘monster receivers’ at all. They proved that manufacturers were capable of building extremely high-powered units, but, IMO, the need for such products to exist was only for ‘flagship’ marketing. The audio quality of a 250+ Watt per Channel, Minimum Continuous RMS Power receiver was not really their intent, as that, IMO, was best left to separates.

Having said that, I will back up slightly and state that some imaginative solutions came about as manufacturers clambered to build such products. Some of that did come to grace separates, just as in the early 1970s, some of the pertinent solutions in separates came to grace receivers.

The phono stages in separates (Control/Preamp units) were all too often far superior to those in such receivers. No-holds-barred tuners were able to prove their superiority with quality broadcasts, even more so when used with proper external antennas. Separate power amplifiers did not have to ‘tiptoe’ about worrying about shielding input systems whose minute input signals were all too easily affected by enourmous power supplies and their radiated energy fields.

I put my vote wholeheartedly into the separates camp.

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PETE BENTLEY writes ...

I prefer to call them tuner/amps as Hi Fi Sound always called them in the 70s.

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MIKE HARLOW writes ...

Honestly other than aesthetic and the fact that most of us we're in our youth when they came out... I'm at a complete loss.

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PAUL BELSHAW writes ...

I think much of the interest in the classic "silver face" 70's receivers is part of a larger trend towards nostalgia in modern society (which is a whole topic in itself). Certain receivers (Marantz, Sansui, and Pioneer mainly) are much sought after at the present time. While it's true that they have a certain style, and often very impressive build quality, to think that someone is willing to spend $4000 on a Pioneer sx1980 when they could spend less on a modern alternative and get better performance shows that ultimate sound quality is not the driving force behind this trend. Likewise with other classic components from this era, its nostalgia and style which is driving prices up. True, a well sorted system from this time can sound impressive, in ultimate terms it cannot compete with a modern system for accuracy, detail, or reliability. But nostalgia is a powerful driving force and manufacturers are taking notice. If you look at recent offerings from Luxman for example you will see the desire to reference the style of the 70's but in a modern, cutting edge design. Ultimately its pleasing to see people making the effort to save these classic designs, and for audiophiles like myself to recognize that models from this era actually sounded much better than hifi magazines from the 80's and 90's would have led us to believe.

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DAN SIMON writes ...

I remember lusting over the aforementioned models; Sansui 9090, and the Marantz were the two I wanted Never could afford em back then, I was a kid during the 1970sToo bad

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ANDREW GILBERT WRITES ...

In North America, Marantz SR2500 (250 W/ch) through down the gauntlet!Then it was “receiver wars” in the world’s premier receiver market.We’re talking power ratings in the 250w/ch to 330w/ch range.Some were okay, some not so good.The big Pioneer’s actually sounded decent.The Technics 330 W/ch unit, so poor RF shielding, it was a tuner all the time on any input.Couldn’t drive a nail either..., no current!Hysteria lasted about two years.

by the beginning of the 1980s I was learning the ropes of audio engineering in pro studios, and at home had a pretty significant system with biamped with a passive line level stereo crossover ; Crown DC300 on the lows and a “Times One” by Brahms SegalI was over those big receivers

by the beginning of the 1980s I was learning the ropes of audio engineering in pro studios, and at home had a pretty significant system with biamped with a passive line level stereo crossover ; Crown DC300 on the lows and a “Times One” by Brahms SegalI was over those big receivers.

By the beginning of the 1980s I was learning the ropes of audio engineering in pro studios, and at home had a pretty significant system with biamped with a passive line level stereo crossover ; Crown DC300 on the lows and a “Times One” by Brahms SegalI was over those big receivers

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PAOLO PAGAN writes ...

The 70s all about impressing your friends and family as much power as you could afford the bigger the better big loudspeakers as much bass as you could tolerate the more switches and controls the better as many drive units as possible thank goodness for the 80s minimalism

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RICK RODE writes ...

Monster wattage receivers were a big marketing campaign starting in 1974. Every company had their flagship and the war for power was on. More power doesn't necessarily mean better. In the service end of the industry we found high power receivers to fail more than lower power ones. Today they are still sought after for those that either need it because of inefficient speaker designs or because the thought more is better.

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JOSEPH SMETONA writes ...

MyHeathkit AR-1500 that I built I built in 1972 has a 14 lb. power transformer and weighs 45 lbs.

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DON INGLE writes ...

I'm still using one. 🙂 Not overly massive ( Sony STR6055 from 1973) I bought used in 1979, and I have always come back to. The early and mid 70's Sony receivers and integrated amps are a pretty well kept secret, I guess. I've owned vintaqe McIntosh, Fisher, Heathkit, Leak, Bogen and others and a load of professional and reference level amps from Crown, BGW and QSC and I always come back to this little 42 wpc receiver. It is just that good! Now, I am considering upgrading to another Sony like the STR 6065 or 7065. Those are in the monster class. I still use a Crown D75 for my NF monitors.

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STEVE J BURGESS writes ...

Spec wars. Used to love reading all the tech and spec in hefty brochures of the time as a child. Especially the big Trio ultra high speed ones. Rather wish I still had them. In truth though probably very little.

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