Are you buying a vintage amp? Here’s where to get started

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If you’re building a vintage hi-fi system, you’ll also need an old amp. It’s a feature that has gone out of style in modern hi-fi systems – largely because many other components have built-in amplifiers such as stereo receivers, active speakers, and digital music streamers – but it was part of most traditional home systems. .

The job of these old school amplifiers was of course to drive your speakers. Many of them had controls (for things like volume, treble, bass, and balance) to better tune your speakers and your preferences.

The reason you would buy a traditional amplifier – also known as a power amplifier – rather than with a built-in radio (known as a receiver) or a built-in phono stage (known as an integrated amplifier) ​​is that there was less room for vibration or distortion; in addition, you had more freedom to tinker and improve the individual components of your system.

Why is it worth buying a vintage amplifier?

The main reason for buying a vintage amp is very similar to the reason you are buying a vintage turntable: aesthetics and nostalgia. They don’t manufacture audio components the way they used to, in terms of how they feel and feel, and quite a few of the famous audio companies from the ’70s,’ 80s and ’90s – such as Sansui, Realistic, and Quadraflex – no longer exist.

With a thriving market of third-party sellers – such as eBay, Amazon, Sweetwater, and Craigslist – it’s not difficult to buy a vintage amp. And you can probably buy one for road less than you’ll spend on a similar modern hi-fi component.

However, it’s important to note that many of these older components don’t work – in fact, many are only sold in parts – so you really need to know what you’re buying and what the probability is for the design that goes with it. (We suggest you check with your local hi-fi store before purchasing anything to see how difficult it will be to refurbish.)

More vintage Hi-Fi guides

    The best vintage amps to buy

    NAD 3020

    eBay

    Type: Integrated amplifier
    Original release date:
    1979
    Price:
    250 PLN – 350 PLN

    The NAD 3020 is probably one of the most popular integrated amplifiers in history. It was one of the first NAD (New Acoustic Dimension) audio products and without a doubt one of the most successful. This is a stereo amplifier with a power of 20 watts per channel – it was a solid budget amplifier for bookshelf speakers. It also has a built-in phono stage for connecting a turntable.

    Hafler DH-200

    eBay

    Type: Stereo power amplifier
    Original release date:
    1979
    Price:
    ~ $ 250

    Even today, the Hafler is still known for its many high-quality, high-power amplifiers at relatively affordable prices – and the DH-200 certainly fit that bill when it was released in the late ’70s. It is capable of delivering 115 watts per channel (into 8 ohms) with very little distortion; if you need more power try looking for its big brother, the DH-500, which supplies 255 watts per channel.

    Realistic SA-150

    eBay

    Realistic SA-150

    ebay.com

    Type: Integrated amplifier
    Original release date:
    1984
    Price:
    ~ 50 PLN

    The The realistic SA-150 is a beautiful yet simple integrated amplifier that outputs approximately 25 watts per channel, making it efficient for driving smaller speakers. It is really quite small and you can buy the matching AM / FM tuner for about the same price. It has a switchable phono stage (accepts MM and MC cartridges) in case you want to add one to your turntable. It sold for around $ 60 when it was released in the mid 80’s.

    Marantz 1060

    eBay

    Type: Integrated amplifier
    Original release date:
    1971
    Price:
    ~ $ 680

    Like almost every classic Marantz audio component, the 1060 is extremely sought after and hard to find these days. But it is for a reason. It is one of the most popular integrated amplifiers of all time and a small (and slightly older brother) of the iconic 1120 amplifier. The Marantz 1060 is a gorgeous silver construction with symmetrically placed knobs and switches. At 30 watts per channel, this was a great amp for most home speakers.

    Pioneer SA-6500

    eBay

    Type: Integrated amplifier
    Original release date:
    1978
    Price:
    ~ $ 250

    The Pioneer SA-6500 is beauty. It is an integrated stereo amplifier, housed in a beautiful metal housing and emitting 30 watts per channel (at 4 or 8 ohms), making it a solid option for driving most home speakers. It also has a wide variety of knobs and controls for playback and equalization.

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