vintage

Vintage BoomCase Portable Speakers

All right you primitive screwheads, this is the Boomcase!

I’m paraphrasing a quote from Bruce Campbell from Army of Darkness, but this Boomcase is designed by Mr. SiMo. It is an 8-pound case with 30 Watts from two main speakers. read more…

Kenwood KR-4600 AM/FM Receiver

Kenwood KR-4600 AM/FM Receiver

Specifications:

  • POWER OUTPUT: 30 watts per channel @ 0.3% THD?
  • VINTAGE: ~1977
  • INPUTS:
  • PHONO 1 & 2 (both moving magnet) TAPE MONITORS 1 & 2
  • AUXILLARY FEATURES:
  • PREAMP/POWER AMP JUMPERS BASS & TREBLE CONTROLS LOUDNESS & HIGH FILTER BUTTONS MODE: MONO/STEREO (with FM muting) VOLUME & BALANCE CONTROLS
  • SIGNAL STRENGTH & CENTER CHANNEL TUNING METERS HEADPHONE JACK
  • SPEAKER SELECTOR: A,B, A+B
  • METAL CASE WITH WALNUT ENDCAPS DIMENSIONS:
  • APPROX. 19 3/4”W X 5 3/4”H X 13” D APPROX. 25 LBS.

Let us observe a moment of silence for Kenwood, a once great company that has since abandoned the American home audio market (I believe they still sell car stereos). From the early seventies to the mid-eighties Kenwood (originally known as Trio) battled toe-to-toe with the likes of Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, and Technics among others, for marketplace dominance. Oddly enough, while they were known early on for having superior tuner sections, their receivers somehow never garnered the acclaim that their fine integrated amplifiers received. I find this puzzling on two counts: first, I always thought that their receivers in general and this series in particular were among the best looking on the market in an understated sort of way, they were far less ornate than the Pioneer’s or Sansui’s and less industrial than the Marantz line. Secondly, having rehabbed both their receivers and their integrated amps, I can attest that the receivers were built in the same fashion as their amps. read more…

McIntosh Model MR67 FM Stereophonic Tube Tuner

McIntosh Model MR67 FM Stereophonic Tube Tuner

Specifications:

  • Manufactured from 1963-1968
  • Original retail price: $299
  • Weight: twenty-four and one half pounds Dimensions: 16 inches wide, 13 inches deep and 5 7/16 inches high without the cabinet.
  • Tubes: 6DS4,12AT7, 6AB4, 6AU6(3),
  • 6CS6, 6AV6, 6BL8(2), 6U8, 12AU7
  • Sensitivity:2.5uV
  • Audio Frequency Response:20-20kHz
  • Distortion: less than 0.5%
  • Image Rejection:60 dB or greater
  • Capture Ratio: 1.7 dB Stereo Separation: 30dB Limiters: two stages
  • IF Amplifiers: four stages
  • Due to it being discontinued please check with McIntosh for the accuracy of the above specifications

Manufacturer:

  • McIntosh Laboratory Inc.
  • 2 Chambers street
  • Binghamton, New York 13903-2699
  • Phone: 607-723-3512
  • Fax: 800-538-6576

A Look Into The Past

McIntosh has long been known for its tube audio gear. Collectors from all over the world, especially in Japan, have sought out their products. They have restored them and enjoy them to this very day. For a while here in America when McIntosh stopped making tube gear, in favor of the newer popular solid-state transistor designs of the 1970’s, most of us abandoned these tube pieces only to later discover what we had been missing. By that time a lot of McIntosh equipment had been bought by audiophiles in other countries and the prices were driven upwards as the supply dwindled. Today McIntosh tube gear will bring considerable money even if it is in need of professional restoration. Fortunately for us there are cottage industries in the United States that do specialize in restoring our McIntosh heritage gear to almost new condition. So we can once again begin to enjoy their physical beauty as well as their musical qualities.

Having owned a few pieces of McIntosh gear during my long journey as an audiophile I must say I do love the equipment. My only regret about them was in the selling of some older pieces I had collected. One thing that stands out about most McIntosh, gear whether old or new is the timeless beauty of the design that has helped many of their pieces to retain their value. It is not uncommon to pay more for an older McIntosh tube unit today then the original retail price over forty years ago. Of course today’s dollar is worth less than yesterdays and that must also be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, McIntosh tube audio gear tends to bring top dollar just look at EBAY and other places to see for yourself. Today I still own a classic McIntosh MC275 Tube amplifier, in excellent condition for its age. Of course I also own the MR67 Tube Tuner that is up for a nostalgic review today. read more…

The GINI LS3/5A

The GINI LS3/5A

 Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 50-20Khz
  • Sensitivity: 86 db Impedence: 8 Ohm Maximum Power: 50 watts
  • Drive Units: 1” soft dome tweeter; 5” cone woofer
  • Dimensions: 12”H x 7.5” W x 6.25”D
  • Price: $560 assembled

B+ Bass Stand

  • Frequency Response: 35-60hz
  • Sensitivity: 86 db Impedence: 8 Ohm Maximum Power: 50 watts Drive Units: 5” cone woofer
  • Dimensions: 24”H x 7.5” W x 6.25”D
  • Price: $630

The British Broadcasting Corporation LS3/5A speaker project is a legendary tale, and this speaker has almost a universal appeal to enthusiasts throughout the different segments of the audio community. The story behind the LS3/5A speaker system is fascinating, and this diminutive speaker basically charted the course for the development of the compact British speaker movement for many years. One telling sign of the success of this speaker system is the number of companies that have chosen to follow the BBC blueprint. Other companies offer monitors that are directly influenced by the design characteristics of this speaker, and their products are basically a modern interpretation of the original design. Companies that have offered authentic LS3/5A speakers, or developed a variant include Harbeth, KEF, Stirling, Chartwell, and Spendor.1 These companies make up the backbone of the British speaker industry, and their acceptance of the LS3/5A design is a testament to the overall sound quality of this unassuming loudspeaker. Many audio enthusiasts still value the sonic abilities of the Rogers LS3/5A, and actively search for this speaker on the pre-owned market. A well preserved set of original Rogers LS3/5A speakers are capable of commanding in excess of $1000 a pair. As a general rule, these speakers do not come up for sale often, so finding a good pair can be a difficult task. The combination of high selling price and overall scarcity of well preserved speakers means that the everyday audio enthusiast will not have the opportunity to experience the performance of these superb monitors. read more…

JVC XL-Z1050TN CD Player

JVC XL-Z1050TN CD Player

Specifications:

  • P-E-M, D-D (Converter Pulse Edge Modulation Differential Linearity error lens converter) Phone jack with level and output level,
  • Display off & mode,
  • Random, repeat, editing mode, side A/B, Program, manual search,
  • Fixed & variable outputs,
  • Digital and Coaxial out with on/off switch, Index, fade, volume.
  • Size: 17-3/4″W x 13-1/2D x 4-1/2H, Weight 18 lbs.

Few people would argue with the premise that the sound quality of compact disc players has steadily improved over the years. The audio community is a diverse crowd, and there is a niche of hobbyists who appreciate the attributes of vintage electronics. Actually, any enthusiast who has been around this hobby for a while, or knows of the history of audio can appreciate certain historical components. In spite of technical advances or the passage of time, the audio community has consistently held certain pieces of equipment in high regard. Very few individuals would disagree with the “classic” tag given to the Quad ESL-57 loudspeaker, or the Mark Levinson ML-2 amplifier. The Linn LP-12 is still considered by many to be a benchmark for analog playback, and Koetsu cartridges built by the elder Sugano are highly prized by the discriminating analog aficionado. read more…

McIntosh MC275 Tube Amplifier (original 1960’s version)

McIntosh MC275 Tube Amplifier (original 1960’s version)

The original McIntosh MC275 stereo tube power amplifier is a thing of beauty. Looking at it one can only stare in awe at its craftsmanship and design. That alone would not be enough if it did not perform equally well to the task of reproducing music with grace and power.

Specifications:

  • Stereo or twin amplifier
  • 75-watts as stereo
  • 150-watts as monophonic
  • Harmonic Distortion >0.5% at 20Hz through 20,000 kHz
  • Noise and Hum 90db or more below rated output
  • Voltage Amplifier-one 12AX7 tube (drives both amps)
  • Phase Inverter-Two 12AU7 tubes Drive Amplifier-Two 12BH7 tubes Cathode Follower Drive-Two 12AT7 or 12AZ7
  • Output-Four KT88 or 6550 tubes
  • Weight 67 ½ lbs
  • Original price $444

read more…

Harman Kardon Citation II Tube Amplifier

Harman Kardon Citation II Tube Amplifier

Original Specifications:

  • Manufactured between 1959-1962
  • Power Output: 60 watts/channel
  • Frequency Response @ 60W: 18Hz to 40,000 Hz +0, /-1.0 dB
  • Frequency Response @ 20W: 18Hz to 60,000 Hz +0, /-1.0 dB
  • Frequency Response @ 1W: 2Hz to 80,000 Hz+0, /-1.0 dB
  • Frequency Response (Power Amplifier): 10Hz to 80,000Hz +/-1.0 Db
  • Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.5% @60W;
  • less than 0.2% @ 20W Damping Factor:>18
  • Output Impedence: 4, 8 & 16 ohms
  • Hum & Noise: >90dB below rated output
  • Power Source: 117 VAC 60Hz
  • Tube Complement: (4) KT88 + (6) 12BY7A
  • Dimensions: 16-3/8”W x 9”H x 11.5” D Weight: approx. 70 lbs unboxed
  • Original price in kit form $159.95 or factory-wired for $229.95

Back in the late 50s-early 60s, Harman Kardon manufactured a 60-watt push-pull tube powerhouse called the Citation II. It was designed by Stewart Hegeman and weighed 70 pounds. The Citation was advertised as being the world’s first high bandwidth power amplifier, going beyond the range of human hearing. This was a concept way ahead of its time and not widely accepted in 1959. The Citation II is also known for its three massive transformers (built by the Freed company out of New York), located in a straight line in the rear of the amp. (Be very careful when lifting this, as the weight is almost all back loaded, making it awkward to carry. Take care when setting it down so as to not get your fingers caught under the rear of the amp where most of its 70lbs rests).

The Citation is highly sought after in the used market today and getting one is like panning for gold in a Californian mountain stream. It takes some time and effort, but the end result is a find of pure 24K gold. My friend, Steve Willman, loaned me his restored amp for this review. Cosmetically, the front faceplate was painted brown to match the amp, and the biasing meter on the rear was replaced with one that is slightly larger. Other than that, the only other change is the modification in the rear to accommodate larger spades for speaker wire connections. All tubes tested good to excellent on my Heathkit tube tester. In return, I have agreed to temporarily part with a pair of my Dignity Audio DA08SE monoblock SET amps. Steve loves tube amps and has been eyeing these powerful 8-watt SET babies for a while now, so I guess this is the perfect time to loan them out. read more…

Threshold 800a review

Threshold 800a review

Specifications:

  • Class A operation, Designed by Nelson
  • Pass
  • Output: 200 wpc
  • Time Built: 1975-77

You know what is great about vintage gear? Well, you can buy it, use it for whatever time frame you prefer, and still get what you paid for it (or very close to). You know what is not so great about vintage gear? You have to hunt it down, take the chance it might need restoration, and deal with all your non-audiophile friends asking why you bought something that old. I must admit I fall into the category of loving to hunt down and toy with older gear. Sometimes I build an entire system of 20-plus-year-old equipment, and other times I add one piece of vintage to three or four pieces of modern. read more…

Vintage Corner: Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator

Vintage Corner: Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator

The 1980s were an interesting time in audio. The integrated chip, for better or worse, became the standard piece on the motherboard. To some, this was the point at which audio began what they believe was the death spiral. To others, the IC allowed the industry to try new things. One area in which many saw potential was the area of sound shaping. Up to this time, audio fans were pretty much limited to the “advanced” controls of the equalizer. A new term sprung up, sonic holography, the idea that two speakers could, in fact, create a three-dimensional sound spot somewhere in front of the speakers. A couple of approaches to this concept sprung forth. Matthew Polk believed that using actual signals from the speakers to cancel out crosstalk was the way to go. He brought his ideas to life in his SDA speaker series.

Specifications:

  • Built from: 1981-89
  • Measurements: 17.25w X 4d X 1.75h
  • Used pricing: $50-100
  • Made in the USA read more…
Setton RS-440 Receiver

Setton RS-440 Receiver

A Little Background:

I’ll be the second to admit it (my wife would be the first): I’m a cheapskate. There’s nothing I like better than getting a deal, a proclivity that has made me a lifetime connoisseur of thrift shops, flea markets, junk stores, stoop sales, and (since I moved to New York City) stuff left out on the curb on recycling day. So when, a few years ago, I felt the need to upgrade my 80’s craptastic stereo system, I was naturally drawn to secondhand gear.

It started with a pair of Boston Acoustics A60s, $25 on Craigslist with the woofer surrounds shot. Another $20 later for new surrounds and I was off. Next came a minty Sherwood 7100A for $10 at a stoop sale. The Sherwood, at 17 beefy watts per channel, blew the doors off my 80-wpc JVC surround receiver, bought new in 1989 for what seemed at the time an exorbitant $250. The She wood sounded great, but it had something else as well: it looked cool. It reminded me of all the shiny aluminum-cased stereo components my better-off friends had back in the 70s, when I was stuck spinning records on a plastic JC Penney suitcase record player and changing stations on our kitchen clock radio when Mom and Dad weren’t home. Well, I had turned 40 around this time, and I guess my midlife crisis coalesced around the search for the ghost of stereo systems past – what my wife refers to as my constant pursuit of the stereo I couldn’t afford when I was seventeen. Add to that my growing realization that, for a few bucks and a little legwork, I could own a stereo that would have cost thousands of dollars new, I was hooked – I had become a vintage stereo buff. read more…

Harman Kardon PM665VXi Integrated Amplifier

Harman Kardon PM665VXi Integrated Amplifier

Specifications

Stereo Mode:

  • Continuous Average Power
  • (FTC) per Channel : 150 wpc @ < 0.08% THD into 8 ohms 150 wpc@ < 0.1% THD into 4 ohms
  • High Instantaneous Current Capability (HCC) : +/-80A 

Power Bandwidth:

  • HALF POWER – < 10Hz to 100kHz @ 8 ohms
  • Frequency Response : 0.2Hz to 150kHz (at 1Watt output, +0, -3dB)
  • Damping Factor: 65dB Signal-to-Noise Ratio : PHONOmm – 80dB PHONO MC – 76dB VIDEO & CD – 98dB MAIN-IN – 110dB
  • Input Level/Impedance: PHONOmm – 2.2mV/47k ohms, 125-425pF
  • PHONO MC – 120uV/56ohms VIDEO & CD – 135mV/22k ohms MAIN-IN – 0.8V/22k ohms
  • Phono Overload: MM – 220mV
  • MC – 12mV
  • Tone Control BASS: BASS TURNOVER – 200Hz/400Hz Tone Control TREBLE: TREBLE TURNOVER – 2kHz/6kHz Filter:
  • SUBSONIC – 15Hz, 6dB/octave HIGHCUT – 6Hz, 6dB/octave Loudness Control: +10dB @ 50Hz
  • Phase Shift: <5 degrees (300 – 20kHz) Power Supply: AC 220/240V, 50/60Hz Power Consumption: 350 watts

I’ve always been a bit partial to Harman/Kardon products. My very first decent piece of audio was their well-regarded HK680i receiver that I bought from all my Christmas earnings from working at LaBelle’s Catalogue Showroom. I remember reading over the brochure so many times that I had to tape the center crease to keep the thing together. That receiver survived many dorm stereo wars, winning all but one in beer infused voice votes. A little over a year ago I was looking for a vintage high-power integrated on a generic beer budget. Surfing thru eBay I spotted a black HK PM665VXi that was on auction with a midweek/midday ending time that coincided with a day off from work. I watch the auction and made a last second bid and thankfully won the amp. read more…

“Silver Era” Pioneer SX-780 Receiver

“Silver Era” Pioneer SX-780 Receiver

Specifications

  • Continuous Power Output: 45 watts per channel (8 ohms from 20Hz-20kHz with no more than 0.05% total harmonic distortion), 45 watts per channel (4 ohms from 20Hz-20kHz with no more than 0.08% total harmonic distortion)
  • Damping Factor: 30 (20Hz-20kHz, 8 ohms)
  • Line Input Sensitivity/Impedance: 150mV/50k ohms Phono Input Sensitivity/Impedance: 2.5mV/50k ohms Frequency
  • Response (Line): 5Hz-80kHz +0,-1dB Frequency Response (Phono): 20Hz-20kHZ ±0.2dB Hum and Noise (IHF, short-circuited, A network, rated power): 76dB (phono), 95dB (line)
  • Bass control: +8dB, -7dB (100Hz) Treble control: +7dB, -6dB (10kHz)
  • Loudness Contour (volume @ -40dB): +6dB (100Hz), +3dB (10kHz)
  • Low Filter: 15Hz (6dB/oct.)
  • Power Requirements: 120V, 60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 150W
  • Dimensions: 18-7/8(W) x 5-1/2(H) x 12-5/8(D) in. Weight: 24lb. 11oz

The first real audio system I ever experience was on a family vacation to my Uncle’s home. I don’t recall much about his system other than lots of silver faceplates and analog meters, but the look and sound stuck with me all the way home. After a year’s worth of cutting lawns and washing dishes I purchased my first stereo system—a Pioneer SX-680 receiver, EPI 100 speakers and a Technics SLB3 turntable (the receiver and speakers are long gone, but the turntable still does its thing in my basement system). read more…

NAD 3020: Hi-Fi Myth or Merely Legend?

NAD 3020: Hi-Fi Myth or Merely Legend?

Specifications

PRE-AMP SECTION Phono input:

  • Input impedance: 47kΩ/ 47pF
  • Input sensitivity, 1kHz: 2.5mV ref. 20W Signal/Noise ratio: (A-weighted with cartridge connected) 75dB ref. 5mV
  • Line level inputs
  • Signal/Noise ratio: (A-weighted ref 1W) >86dB Channel separation: >60dB
  • Frequency response: (20Hz -20kHz) ±0.5dB Infrasonic filter: -3db at 15Hz, 24dB/octave Ultrasonic filter: -3dB at 35 kHz, 12dB/octave
  • POWER AMP SECTION
  • Continuous output power into 8Ω*: 20W (13dBW) Rated distortion: (THD 20Hz -20kHz) 0.02%
  • Clipping power: (maximum continuous power per channel) 30W
  • IHF Dynamic headroom at 8Ω: +3dB
  • IHF dynamic power (maximum short term power per channel): 8Ω 40W
  • 4Ω 58W
  • 2Ω 72W

PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Dimensions (W x H x D) 420 x 96x 240mm
  • Net weight: 5.3kg
  • Shipping weight: 6.7kg

What is it about the NAD 3020 that makes men of a certain age go weak at the knees and gaze longingly into the distance? Perhaps it’s the memory of spending those years of youth in a darkened room, the floor strewn with gatefold sleeves and ADC headshells, instead of indulging in healthy outdoor pastimes such as running around chasing girls and kicking footballs, (hey, I’m British, and we actually do kick footballs). Possibly they have a picture in their mind of endless sunny days, lived to a soundtrack by Steely Dan or Little Feat, and spent with whoever, or doing whatever, might have taken their fancy at the time. Or maybe, just maybe, they realise that they enjoyed listening to music more then, on a meagre budget and with simple, entry-level gear. The sound was mighty good. read more…

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