|Covering Vintage Hifi Amplifiers & Receivers 1950s-date
"What's the Best Vintage Receiver?" "What's the Best Vintage Amplifier?" "Why buy a 30+ year old amplifier instead of a New One?" "Does it take a CD player or i-pod?" "Are Valve Amps any good?" "My amp is full of modern ICs, why isn't it better sounding?" "Is it worth buying used raw items cheap on ebay?" "Who will tell me what to buy in Vintage Hifi as I have no idea where to start?"
"The Excellence Of Vintage Hifi Revisited & Reassessed Afresh Abandoning Old Accepted Opinions and Out Of Date Ideals".
• For Further Website Contents on Hifi subjects, see the PAGE INDEX on all of the main pages.
Welcome to our Hifi Pages.
Here you'll get an Unique Taste of how much better Hifi can be than just buying a modern item & being disappointed with it's lifeless sound, Hifi used to be exciting and still can be. Our pages are written with an unique, incisive & eccentric attitude that doesn't care much for accepted lazy ordinary thinking or caring for accepted ideals or formalities unless we prove they are right which isn't that often. This Hifi site is our view on most things as suits our nature, we say what we see on Hifi, much based on what we wanted to know but couldn't find info, so research it ourselves. But if you'd like a fresh look at things free of advertiser backhanders, gushing praise for mediocrity & corporate bias, well here it is. It may not please you to read our opinions if you've paid hard cash for things we dismiss, but read on & understand why. It'll cost you nothing but eye-ache to take a very different look at Hifi by one who knows it by daring to do what needs to be done. We see the Vintage Hifi market has changed a lot since we started these pages, together with those offering data on hifi, we can see our influence by the prices amps we rate are now making. We can upgrade & recap them for you to bring the best out of these vintage amplifiers & receivers.
Our opinion is generally Subjective based on over 20 years experience as Theory and Formulas generally only mean low THD & getting high specs with as much cost cutting as they can do, ask Pioneer. The unrealistic quest for high specs doesn't mean it'll sound good, far from it sadly, but Hifi mags were realising this as early as 1976-77 with comparing new hifi to the 1960s valve amps, so we more or less ignore the Objective opinion & do better without it. Reading the old Hifi magazines going back to 1956 shows much of it is waffle that tells you little in reality, our pages get many comments as readers are understanding hifi differently after reading us. Theory & conforming to old ideas has it's place when you learn a subject, but to look beyond & question 'why?' to anything that seems unnecessary is how we do it & you'll not find many who do & get it right. There are plenty of other Hifi & Electronics books & sites that offer the dry opinion leaving most readers still not sure, if satisfying the pedantic. All the theories & formulas won't give what sounds good in reality, many amplifiers are dumbed down to be universal & others tuned to suit a particular other item, as both are not so great, but can compliment. Our endless upgrading of amplifiers we see as worthwhile strives to bring the best out of the amp for what it is, not all can be 'ultra fi' but many we've upgraded to rate "excellent" if some are just excellent & others high excellent, but being careful not to narrow what you may buy. Any amp we rate as "very good" as original once serviced will delight the majority of readers. Those who strive for 'excellent' will need upgrades done, not a cheap job with us, but quality never is cheap & the amp you get back will appear great value once you've relearnt it's sound. Keeping Hifi (and records) alive is our goal.
We know how other techs think, sadly only by the rule book, it must have an 'xx' there as the designer put it there. But the designer was on a budget & done it as cheap as possible with average quality components of low spec, nearly all post 1969 designs are limited purposely to stop complainers. To cut costs further is the truth by the mid 1970s even. We do read a lot of the Hifi books by G.A. Briggs, Hifi Yearbooks & Magazines & anything we can find as we write on other pages. We like to know of the old ideas & many of them we do agree with, but what they accept as "Good Sound" we know they are far behind for what today's spec we can upgrade with & buyers of new items were forever 'upgrading' in search of what will never be sold commercially, the Back to the Future joke of "They're not getting the good stuff yet" is more like "They'll never get the real Best as they'll not buy again". Reading the Hifi News magazines currently seeing how Hifi was treated & sold in the press & accepted by others is fascinating, puts it in context & be sure we write interesting things that we see amid these pages. Fresh Ideas & a condensing of Hifi in the 1958-1980 years will only grow in how unique this site is. But don't call us 'experts', please...
We dared to dig deeper into Hifi trying and learning things by educated trial & error that most are too afraid to try. Now we have reached a 'perfection' in things Transistor & Valve Audio circuits, if forever learning as you'll never know it all. All our own upgrade ideas based on our research with much testing & comparing to know further, as well as be sure they are good in use. You can get us to upgrade your amp, knowing that we know what we are doing & you'll have a taste of Hifi Heaven as we write much on. We now are offering Upgrading-Rebuilding of certain Amplifiers. This doesn't mean we are interested in Forum type chatter, know-alls or trolls or giving advice beyond what is here. We'll reply always if you want to buy, have bought, want to discuss buying or have interesting constructive questions, as these can inspire sections we add on here. The Hifi site was only started 2011 with a one-page section, based on what we'd found over 20 years before, but quickly grew from the blog-type writing into what is today, if some older sections are left as they show an interesting earlier viewpoint.
We are interested in Vintage Amplifiers & Receivers both the quality & quirky, but mediocrity & cheapness in anything disappoints us so we stay clear. We want buyers to try the Great Early Hifi Stuff, ie pre the CD era, we are seeking it out for our own interests & do sell much of it on, all Serviced & Upgraded. There are people out there recapping & repairing amps, but we go way further with subtle Design Based proven ideas, you'll not find anyone like us & probably won't as it takes certain thought.
But the Hifi world isn't yet used to properly restored Hifi as it is with Cars & Paintings etc. The Vintage Hifi scene is still very young though we can see our ramblings have helped the scene along which is why we do this as we can tell the story. There certainly is an interest Worldwide for Vintage Hifi & we are surprised how much interest our pages get as they are found by Search Engines. We started out just seeing what amps were like that we found interesting enough to try, we used to find amps that are now money items for £10-£20 at Car Boot sales in the early 1990s so had a range of them. But from years before, the urge to Upgrade is often more fascinating and finding out what is hidden in these amps beyond the often heavy limitations & spoilers that all amps have to a degree. We held back on the upgrades before learning the Transistor era properly, as we really only used Valve amps beyond having a Sony STR-6120, it was starting from scratch learning transistors with valve ideas with a little Trio KA-2000 type amp we got & noticed how great it sounded even for 13w.
From the Second Hand Hifi Scene we saw before we typed a word of this, actually as recently as 2011 when we wrote an 'Old Record Players' page, the market was mainly the late 1970s Monster Receiver & Amp type, we see now buyers are taking interest more in the 1965-72 transistor era than ever before & even 1960s valve gear is doing better than it ever has, if buyers perhaps haven't realised how much work is involved as our Valves page gives much info on two 1960s valve receivers we dared to upgrade. See our Vintage Amp Reviews page as we did the 1967-72 era heavily searching out the best ones as the sound of these is more enjoyable than most of the overrated late 1970s gear.
What We Cover On This Site...
To start with what We Don't Cover is perhaps best. If you want Theory, Explanations of what Things Mean or To Learn About Design & Upgrading yourself then that's not here. We're not giving any Repair or Upgrade tips, seeing the bad ideas & chatter on forums, so don't bother fishing for free advice. Plenty of other sites & books covering this sort of info if any repair books are so general they barely say a thing. Indeed there is lots on forums giving 'Upgrade advice' if you dare to trust unknowns opinions. The idea is a reader has a problem or idea & copies hints others use on others amps, but to apply the same idea rarely works & you need to fine tune. There is no Quick Solution to learning anything as the Idea Today seems to expect. You need to learn things: Go On An Electronics Course, buy some of the Old Hifi Books that don't get too deep into Theory, see our Hifi Books page & buy some of the cheaper Vintage like Leak, Rogers or Goodmans. To understand many Hifi terms, we briefly cover them to not leave them obscure, so using 'Search' will find the page that covers that as far as we want to write on it. For deeper dry Theory, try Wikipedia. Be sure the learned-dictating sort who write technical pages on Wikipedia are not going to be allowing incorrect or incomplete details get by, whether you'll understand them is another thing, though a lot of non-educated type pages are much less reliable. Doing a BTEC Electronics course we found out the formula to calculate the energy lost when you spark-short a large charged capacitor. Algebra has it's uses, but we are guided by Our Hearing with knowledge of what is right or wrong. There are expensive meters to read distortion, we can hear harmonics & low spec designs by knowing their sound & know what to do to upgrade. Upgrading means not do just one thing, but upgrade the rest to be sure the improvements stand use. You can't expect to understand our Ideals of Hifi without trying a lot of Hifi yourself, our Highly Rated amps may be too detailed & neutral for your taste. But from the amount we've sold as our Recapped-Upgraded ones, buyers love them & tell us. Not one buyer has complained about the sound being too good or the deep full bass we put in being too much. We hear our amps are being tested against Big Money amps & ours win each time. that is someone who knows Hifi...
Overall this site is entirely Our Opinion as well as Us Publishing Hifi Info that You Don't Read Anywhere Else.
We Tell the Truth on all the silly Hifi Hype & Untruths.
The sort of things We Have Had To Find Out Ourselves as the Books & Mags never told you. We are careful with what we write & all is based on Our Experience. No 'Repair' Books will tell you much either. Beware of taking Forum info as Fact too, these are usually amateur opinions based on little knowledge of much & the incorrect info can be damaging to your Hifi as we know from seeing non-working Hifi that a forum is read & bits of unrelated info are taken as fact & applied wrongly. By their nature, a Forum is for beginners & intermediates, why a professional would be bothered with the " I Don't Know But I'll Just Say..." type comments should be understood, though some may try but quickly lose interest. We don't give anything more than general suggestion as we've seen previous comments we've made be used like this too on non-working items. If you want to learn Hifi the 'Fast Way', then put Some Years experience & set yourself up in it. 20-25 years should be enough unless you go on a Hifi Course or get an Apprenticeship. But modern electronics repairs will teach you nothing beyond board swapping. An Easy Way To Tell if you like Our Style is does the semi-capitalised Light Emphasis seem annoying to you? We could go bold or italic but find that pretentious & old-fashioned, especially seeing un-italic amid an italic sentence. If that irks you, get off our site, you are not going to like us...
Why bother with Our Opinion?
Over 20 years into Vintage Hifi, BTEC Qualified & able to Repair, Service, understand Design, do advanced upgrade-Design changes to better Hifi & a rare attitude to dare to try things where others would just accept aged ideas as correct. We question all we see: why does it need that & only be satisfied finding the answer. A keen ear for what Good Sound is & not much care for established "booksmart" opinions of things, we want to find out for ourselves & we don't pull any punches on things we don't like & write loads on things we do. If someone says an amp is great, we can see their level of Hifi knowledge, but never to put them down, they are wanting to learn. Odds are they'll see an amp we like & go try it & then see their 1980s amp isn't all that. Having sold well over a hundred vintage amps since starting these pages, initially on ebay, but exclusively on here now, we have compared many to many others and our awareness of Hifi raises the bar each time a great amp is found. we get what we see should be a good amp from the circuits & are often disappointed with it. But we're not accepting that, we find out how to better it in our unique way & the results surprise us which is reward for doing this research. We are into Valve & Transistor amps and we are forever learning as we go on by trying new ideas & finding out the good from amid the 1966-1978 era in Amplifiers & Receivers. Anyone who claims to know it all is a shuttered Know-all & we have no time for those, all in a subject should admit to learning each time they find something new, that's the challenge & what keeps our interest. If all we got were cheap 1980s amps we'd be bored of it very fast. No other website has such a broad array of personal unbiased and considered opinion without the dull techy facts but, well you've read this far, go have a look yourself. It's updated always. Oh, and we know Music very well too: this is still a Record Sales website after all...
We do Sell our Serviced & Upgraded Amplifiers...
All Sales of our Upgraded Hifi on This Website only now. Those who bought our Amps on ebay often mentioned these pages even though we'd not mentioned our site at all early on, but the style was noticeable. If you are interested in one of our amps, ask us about it if you're not sure. We know the amps very well from having worked on them to get them in top working order including some we've recapped & improved for our own interests. We've sold over 100 amps now & though we don't have any interest in getting a volume of uninteresting ones just to sell as some do, we do pick & choose ones we know or ones that interest & then write them up. Some we may keep for a long time as we use them as a reference, others are sold on quicker. We have no intention of cynically Hyping amps just to sell them, amps we deal in are ones we like or ones we find interesting. Some we'll keep buying, others we'll not go out of our way to try again. Opinions do change on revisiting an amp we had early on & finding higher quality from other amps gets some ratings revised.
Today's "Hifi" is Often Mediocre at Best
The person who actually bothers to listen to Today's Boring 'Product' Music plays it on equipment as unadventurous and probably doesn't give it more than Background Music status as it doesn't stir the soul. Vinyl & CDs are now the Minority Music Source as MP3, i-pods & docking "stereos" are the thing. Take the £600 Bose Wave III plastic box Alarm Clock Radio no bigger than the amps of old, yet it has speakers built in with a low quality horn loading, all in plastic too. A honky thick sound with little detail is what these deliver, yet reviewers still give it 7/10 for sound. Oh dear... We see similar mediocrity on 'The Gadget Show' being rated highly. These people have never heard one of the Amps we rate 'excellent' played through big speakers in a good sized room. TV pictures are HD and beyond, yet sound is still treated poorly by mediocre components with the Speakers being the very worst part. Some modern Hifi like Marantz tries to follow the original ideas, but add in so many 'spoilers' the real sound has no chance. The trouble is the World last took interest in big hifi & big speakers in 1978-79 & this time gets further away & the good hifi still surviving is getting older, but can be revived and put back into use after servicing, or risk it failing on regular use after 35 years in an attic. As of typing, we've been using a 1966 amplifier every day for several hours for TV sound. Old but rebuilt properly, it's not far off new in some ways. The sound of Good Vintage Hifi will awaken your interest in music & to hear songs you've not heard for 10-30 years played in great quality will liven your greyed world up for sure. Try it. You'll end up hearing many things in a familiar song you missed before the higher up the Hifi ladder you go. If you want a taste of Good Vintage Hifi, try our Hifi Reviews page. Go for any one that you see on ebay, read about it on our site, unbiased opinion, not Sales Hype & go buy one unserviced & original to see what it's about. You take your chances buying that way, so maybe try a late 1970s one, be sure it'll sound better than modern gear if the Best Ones as in our Upgraded ones may be out of your price range, at least you'll understand there is better out there.
We've done similar info pages with Records
The basic idea is we want to help forward Vintage Hifi as it is still way behind Vintage Cars & similar, to help keep the Subject alive & growing, the more info people can read the more interested in items they will be. 20 years ago all you had were elitist Hifi mags like Hifi News with their increasingly irrelevant ramblings, KK et al & What Hifi with their whizz-bang approach with one month's top amp being "useless" a few months later as some other came along. We research things as they interest, being of the "collector" mentality means you can get lots of things & sort out what's the best. along the way you'll find out things no-one has realised or even thought of. Buying & Selling becomes a business, you'll learn more & then think the world needs to know so you type it on a website & it creates more interest. It's what we've done. Not bored with it yet...
The more "Classics" you try the better the knowledge
We've tried many great amps, as in we didn't know what they were like either but took a chance based on some research. We'd like to try the better 1980s & 1990s amps having found the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X a great one, but so much of that era is IC based & overrated, as well as too expensive. To buy blind even after researching amps, upgrade & try to make it worthwhile to resell is a bit high risk, if we'll glady upgrade these sort of amps. All Vintage Hifi needs a service or some work to sound right, which may put buyers off vintage. Buy a serviced one is the answer, you often only regret your "bargains", raw loft to ebay buys are very risky sometimes & most amateur or "pro" sellers haven't got a clue & sell dangerous items then don't like being told. As with any hifi buyer, we get some really awful grade items that appear better than they are, typical seller meanness & have to do a huge amount to bring them up to our standard, sometimes profits aren't so good, but all adding to the learning. But many we get, service them & sell on at a profit and we're getting through quite a few & clearly enjoying it for the variety in Hifi as well as solving faults. As with our years with Records, we go for the lesser known gems & get them known, the better known items usually aren't buyable at the right price anyway...
We're not so Interested in the overpriced Modern end of Hifi
Because we've tried it & found it disappointing. Some will be good, but to find them is a huge gamble, unless we get them to work on & get a try of them. All those late 1970s Pioneers offered for high prices, well the sellers don't want them as they've found better, right? Pioneer are a mass market company & even as early as 1970 they were making amps to sell in bulk at a keen price, usually much cheaper than premium brands for apparently the similar item. Sony were similar after 1972 too, if they both realised buyers did want premium items too so made the huge 100w+ items that we aren't keen on. We're not going to spend £1000+ to get the expensive ones of today that really don't interest us, so no Naim, Linn, Audio Note, Krell or Mark Levinson here. Not even a Schiit one, at least not knowingly...
If they were more honest they'd rate it as "Percentage Of The Real Sound we actually Lost in search of High Specifications"
This was a quote of ourselves based on the foolish Spec wars saying 0.001% THD was important, yet the overdesign killed any freshness in the sound in search of specs. Hifi reviewers realised this by 1976-77 as they tested the better valve amps against new product & found the valve amps were so much more pleasing to hear. The Oct 1977 Hifi News has an interesting article about this. There are sites that appear to help saying how great one amp is over another, but unlike with us, you don't know what else they've been using. We've found surprises, in earlier tests rapidly changed our mind on some amps as they are falsely overbright or over-mannered & found out why some amps sound bad because the makers wanted you to buy a more expensive one & put "spoilers" in that can be upgraded extra cheaply, if not easy to recognise. This is our Site with Our Hifi Opinions, though now after a lot more amps the rankings are much more steady, and many early ones have been revisited as we note on the Reviews page. If you like our pages, can deal With Our Emphasis On Words instead of uglying the page with excessive bold or italics as is the accepted way, we hate comments in brackets too, and you can tell Modern Life is cheating us on many things being so dumbed-down, you really need put on some old music on a great serviced Vintage Hifi & Escape. Happy reading. Raise a glass to us when you've found an amp that stirs your soul & gets you playing music for 4 hours like you used to when younger.
All unquoted Hifi based text © 2011-2017 by select45rpm. Nothing on this site is to be copied or distributed in any other form pretending it's your opinion and giving us a passing mention as we will know & be annoyed. Do not bulk-copy our text & give us a credit as that is Copyright theft & we'll bark at you. All opinions on these Hifi pages are those of select45rpm & all pages are subject to change, alteration, total rewrite or deletion at will, as the medium of the Internet allows. Pages are re-read & updated occasionally to be sure what we put here is of our current opinion. Take care before fiddling with dangerous voltages that are inside amplifiers, anything to try because you read it online is your risk.