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Old 12th February 2016, 02:56 AM   #1
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Default Vintage amps vs new amps

Hi

I am cross between DIY and audio nuts, I do buy on top of building. I am shopping on some decent power amp also like Threshold Stasis etc. Funny when I do the search, a lot of time it comes up under "Vintage" amps!!! Not just Threshold, Passlab. But also some of the Krell, Mcintosh and Bryston etc.

I do study the circuits and I studied books by Cordell and Self. The so called "vintage" are pretty much what the books and articles are talking. There is nothing vintage about it IF it is still be best!!! Other than the availability of higher voltage transistors that you do away with stacking transistors on each side, I really don't see much difference between the 80s to now.

Am I missing something? That the new ones are a step above the "vintage" amps?

On top, even if the old amps like the Threshold 400 or Stasis 2 or 3 that have stacked transistors to withstand the high rail voltage, is there anything wrong about it? Is it inferior in terms of sound and distortion?

Last edited by StephenR; 12th February 2016 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 12th February 2016, 05:05 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by StephenR View Post
Am I missing something? That the new ones are a step above the "vintage" amps?
Vintage amps have distortion probably 0.05% at 80W (assume 0dB from 20Hz-20kHz). What do you think is the distortion for benchmark amplifier?

But in general you are right. It is like creating a new world record. Newer doesn't mean better. Best of vintage would be better than the majority of newer ones.

But best of modern should be better than best of vintage, because we have more options today (better design tools, better parts, better knowledge sharing).
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Old 12th February 2016, 06:47 AM   #3
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Hi-Fi isn't exactly high tech, it hasn't really evolved in 40 years. Vintage means nothing here.
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Old 12th February 2016, 08:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Welcome View Post
Hi-Fi isn't exactly high tech, it hasn't really evolved in 40 years. Vintage means nothing here.
Except some 20-40 years old electrolytics, pots, switches, plugs and sometimes degraded active devices. As soon as you find the way to solve all those issues - the only thing left vintage there is the look sometimes.

Same thing as with the vintage cars. 1968 Mustang is a great device, but if you want to use it nowadays, you need to replace lots of parts (fortunately, you still can buy them from Ford or some OEMs).

Amplifiers also require some service for running properly over the years
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Old 12th February 2016, 10:49 AM   #5
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One thing I notice is the old amps use TO-3 transistor that is not the easiest to do heatsink. The newer TO-247/TO-3P/TO-215 etal are so much easier to mount onto the heatsink. But those are thermal issue, the circuit are very much alike. I looked at some of the Threshold designs, pretty much are what is described as the best in both Self and Cordell's books.

major difference seems to be on newer parts like better packages and higher voltage of transistors, not so much on the design of the circuit. I don't see any particular breakthrough in the circuit design.

Last edited by StephenR; 12th February 2016 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 13th February 2016, 01:59 AM   #6
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I got caught out with a 1980's Maplin 150WRMS bipolar amplifier.
I bought it off ebay incomplete.
SO I bought new 2n3055MJ2955 output transistors.
The amp powered up ok but oscillated badly.
Turned out the new transistors had much more gain than the originals causing oscillation.
I had to increase the VAS capacitor to slow the amp down a bit.
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Old 13th February 2016, 02:52 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Welcome View Post
Hi-Fi isn't exactly high tech, it hasn't really evolved in 40 years. Vintage means nothing here.
Perhaps But would you... in All Honesty Opt for a 60 yr old woman as a lover over a 20 yr old one??
Unlikely
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Old 13th February 2016, 03:55 AM   #8
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Perhaps But would you... in All Honesty Opt for a 60 yr old woman as a lover over a 20 yr old one??
Unlikely
Forget all the technical talk. If you are blind folded like you listening to the audio, the difference might not be as big as you think!!!
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Old 15th February 2016, 02:03 PM   #9
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It's also important to remember that constant corporate cost cutting measures are just that, remove cost. Not always geared toward better sound, and certainly not to improve longevity in todays "throw it away" mentality.
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Old 16th February 2016, 01:25 AM   #10
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"Vintage" is a significant term if you want to make some money when selling old retail audio cast-offs and boat anchors. People who have been raised in the plastic era seem attracted to smooth, satin finish aluminium front panels, mechanical tuners with backlighting, big heavy boxes and lots of smooth acting, rotary knobs rather than dinky little buttons. For example, it's amazing how sought-after the many 1970s Marantz receivers still are.

Do I want a massive high power amp that could double as a welder and outlast me by decades? Nope, just long enough to get my money's worth of home entertainment with regular speakers before moving on to another design interest. I can't imagine still driving around in my first 1960s car just because it was well built, so unless it has some unique sound quality, I don't have much interest or real need for solid old audio gear.

Considering just class AB products, modern designs are smaller, lighter, definitely more affordable and an order better performing on noise, distortion and protection. That's not such a bad trade-off considering the many technical limitations of the old 70s gear and the tape/vinyl sources it was designed to complement.
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