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Old 5th October 2012, 04:31 PM   #1
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Default Highest Quality Era? 70s, 80s or 90s?

Hi all,

I'm not sure how some people will face this question, but there's a pertinent issue regarding the highest audio quality ever achieved mainly by Japanese audio components makers.

I have read on quite a few forums that people dislike so much equipment made by various Japanese brands during the 90s. Frankly I was surprised whit many negative comments on "how makers stopped doing their best efforts to follow a new and more profitable digital compressed market".

Well, that's true since most young people seem don't care too much about High Fidelity, specially today. Another generation. And also some of the products made during the late 90s might now to become "vintage" stuff.

Let's take Sansui for example. Most people say that their best integrated amplifiers came out between 1979 and 1982. If we see some models (regardless the price) around mid 90s we'll be amazed how this brand could deliver such high quality product as the AU-07 from 1996.

Another example could be also the Pioneer A-09 from 1992, the Sony TA-FA777ES from 1999 or the Denon PMA-2000IVR produced even in 2002. And then we have also other brand with their models like Onkyo, Yamaha and so on.

So, my question is: were these "mosters" that bad? When and which models from the 70s or 80s were far superior to these ones?

90s stuff starts to be vintage now...
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Old 5th October 2012, 04:55 PM   #2
wahab is offline wahab  Algeria
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Originally Posted by Karl vd Berg View Post
Let's take Sansui for example. Most people say that their best integrated amplifiers came out between 1979 and 1982.
For power amplifiers this period was undoubtly the best one
not only for Sansui but for all japanese brands.
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Old 5th October 2012, 05:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by wahab View Post
For power amplifiers this period was undoubtly the best one
not only for Sansui but for all japanese brands.
Not much truth in that.

I think the main reason for the Japanese equipment dislike comes down to trade wars. In technology the japanese amps lack nothing and in many cases offered inovations ahead of western companies. By claiming the competions equipment is not good in the press allowed western audio companies able to compete. To give a good example, I recently looked into Pioneer AX400 amp. In 1990 this amp was rubbished by many in western press but to my surprise Marantz which is owned by philips suddenly started using the exact same circuit in 2008 with minor changes, suddenly it was one of the best amps around at 7000 euro mark, the pioneer cost only 300 euros.

Further I see carreer designers here on this forum claim new developed circuitry by them which in fact was patented by japanese back in the late 70s. Another example is cases like Comlinear that was granted patents for diamond buffer input CFB opamps around in 1985 but pioneer was selling amps Exclusive mz1s which use exactly this topology buffers back in 1979.

The most interesting part is that the japanese companies had their own industries manufacturing specialized parts for audio which is awed and in use by all but their amps were regarded inferior but they were using the best available components and designs now being copied.
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Old 5th October 2012, 05:44 PM   #4
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Certainly it was their best time for power amplifiers. But I think also absolute newer components like capacitors, film resistor, new techniques were developed as well. They could easily do more if they wished. Maybe that tough (and good) competition between makers was coming to an end later in the 80s. I think society also changed their habits over the last 20 years...
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Old 5th October 2012, 05:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by homemodder View Post
By claiming the competions equipment is not good in the press allowed western audio companies able to compete.
I totally agree.
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Old 5th October 2012, 06:00 PM   #6
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Default In my opinion... 80s is the best decade to audio appliances

And Sansui gave a great contribution to this decade, with some 70s units too.

regards,

Carlos
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DxS, the best from the best...the cream from the cream, the best wide world ever made audio amplifier.
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Old 5th October 2012, 06:17 PM   #7
jitter is offline jitter  Netherlands
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl vd Berg View Post
90s stuff starts to be vintage now...
All amps I've owned are Japanese. I always let my ears do the listening and not my brain (I knew nothing of the amps I was listening to), and ended up preferring the same brand every time.

I still have my very first "serious" amp: early nineties Marantz PM-40SE which I bought when I was young. Later I bought a PM-80SE second hand (also from early nineties), which I still have too, BTW. Currently in use I have a PM-15S2LE. Of the three, this is the best one, hands down, but then they're all in a different class, and comparing them wouldn't be fair.

I don't think that you can say that any era is the "best", rather any era spawns some noteworthy products.

Last edited by jitter; 5th October 2012 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 5th October 2012, 06:21 PM   #8
wahab is offline wahab  Algeria
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Originally Posted by homemodder View Post
Not much truth in that.

I think the main reason for the Japanese equipment dislike comes down to trade wars. In technology the japanese amps lack nothing and in many cases offered inovations ahead of western companies. By claiming the competions equipment is not good in the press allowed western audio companies able to compete. To give a good example, I recently looked into Pioneer AX400 amp. In 1990 this amp was rubbished by many in western press but to my surprise Marantz which is owned by philips suddenly started using the exact same circuit in 2008 with minor changes, suddenly it was one of the best amps around at 7000 euro mark, the pioneer cost only 300 euros.

Further I see carreer designers here on this forum claim new developed circuitry by them which in fact was patented by japanese back in the late 70s. Another example is cases like Comlinear that was granted patents for diamond buffer input CFB opamps around in 1985 but pioneer was selling amps Exclusive mz1s which use exactly this topology buffers back in 1979.

The most interesting part is that the japanese companies had their own industries manufacturing specialized parts for audio which is awed and in use by all but their amps were regarded inferior but they were using the best available components and designs now being copied.
I wasnt adressing who did invent what but the state of the art of the time
and in this respect the then built good amps are still fully up to date
performance wise and remain unsurpassed.
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Old 5th October 2012, 06:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jitter View Post
I don't think that you can say that any era is the "best", rather any era spawns some noteworthy products.
Yes, I understand. But undoubtedly there was a tough competition back in the days between companies to delivery the best equipment they could. And in those days we saw big gems in terms of technology and design. It was very hard to choose between brands and models. But, again, society seemed to change maybe due to the MP3 era and companies (Like Sansui and Nakamichi) almost disappeared.

But, yeah, any era produced its milestones.
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Old 5th October 2012, 06:52 PM   #10
jitter is offline jitter  Netherlands
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The eighties also saw the, IMO, preposterous competition to reach the lowest THD figures.

I think that, even though mass market separate components (e.g. JVC, Technics) seem to have disappeared, the high end market is still very much alive.

Last edited by jitter; 5th October 2012 at 06:55 PM.
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