The History of the Audio Receiver and Most Memorable Models

What is your favorite audio receiver brand of all time?

  • Denon

    Votes: 6 16.2%
  • Marantz

    Votes: 13 35.1%
  • McIntosh

    Votes: 1 2.7%
  • harman/kardon

    Votes: 2 5.4%
  • Onkyo

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Pioneer

    Votes: 7 18.9%
  • Rotel

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sony

    Votes: 1 2.7%
  • Technics

    Votes: 1 2.7%
  • Yamaha

    Votes: 6 16.2%

  • Total voters
    37
M

MikeSp

Junior Audioholic
Could it be that you left out some early Kenwood receivers -- sure enjoyed the memories of the rest, especially the Marantz when Saul still owned the company and would LOVE to see that gold-anodized thick plate front again with knobs and flywheel tuning instead of the el-cheapo thin steel brushed black in color that most companies now use.
 
M

markw

Audioholic Overlord
I have to go along with the above poster. This should have been divided into stereo and AVR receivers. There's too much disparity between them to compare them on an equal footing.

for instance, Both Kenwood and Sansui were major players in the quality two channel arena but lost all credibility when the two channel market descended into the depths of cheap but glitzy plastic crap and rack systems in the late 70's and early eighties. Actually, with very few exceptions, virtually all of the brands listed dropped to the bottom of the pile then. Some recovered, some did not.
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
Nice right up. I really enjoyed reading it :)

What? No Radio Shack receivers?? :p I skipped the receiver and went straight to the integrated amp root because growing up in the boonies allowed us to choose between 3 FM stations and a host of crappy commercial ridden AM stations. It too was a Rat Shack device, beautifully made with discrete components, no ICs to be found anywhere and real Walnut sides and top,, gold front facia and put out an incredible 25W/channel. It had the "loudness" button and the "quad" button as well.

My older brother of 9 years started out with a Sansui integrated amp putting out 15W/channel with in an all black metal chassis. It worked really well and sounded good.

Thats my trip into yester year. Hmm what am I talking about??? I'm still using a Technics SADX940 late 90s era Dolby Digital Receiver in my family room. :oops:
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I have to go along with the above poster. This should have been divided into stereo and AVR receivers. There's too much disparity between them to compare them on an equal footing.

for instance, Both Kenwood and Sansui were major players in the quality two channel arena but lost all credibility when the two channel market descended into the depths of cheap but glitzy plastic crap and rack systems in the late 70's and early eighties. Actually, with very few exceptions, virtually all of the brands listed dropped to the bottom of the pile then. Some recovered, some did not.
I can't think of a single AVR that would qualify as 'classic'.

I worked for a Pioneer dealer and when I started, it was two days before a Pioneer Truckload sale, where Pioneer came in with a semi filled with receivers, cassette decks, their pre-packaged systems, speakers, etc. We had equipment stacked to the ceiling and it might have seemed like a scene from Hoarders- tall stacks, narrow aisles and it was hard to see across the store. The pre-packaged systems weren't terrible- integrated amp, tuner, cassette, turntable, rack and speakers- IIRC, the CE-1 sold for $399 and came with an SA-6500/TX6500 int/tuner, PL-510 turntable, CT-F500 cassette and HPM-40 speakers. It's roughly equivalent to $1200 now, but that wasn't a terrible system. We sold more than 100 SX-780 receivers just during that one weekend. Those sales saved our company and it was my 'trial by fire'.
 
P

PottyTrained

Audioholic Intern
When I was in the Marines in 1973 I bought a Pioneer 949 4 channel Receiver, 4 AR 2AX speakers, Pioneer 4 channel Reverb, AKAI 4 channel Reel to Reel and a Technics Direct Drive Turntable which I returned for a Pioneer. I didn't like the direct drive.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
When I was in the Marines in 1973 I bought a Pioneer 949 4 channel Receiver, 4 AR 2AX speakers, Pioneer 4 channel Reverb, AKAI 4 channel Reel to Reel and a Technics Direct Drive Turntable which I returned for a Pioneer. I didn't like the direct drive.
Depends on the model, but the SL1200 line is iconic, best implementation of DD.
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
I completely agree. Of course, the technology changes too fast to make developing a classic worth it.

ohhhhhhhhhh I don't know....... my old Technics pre HDMI circca 1998ish must be approaching classic...:p or am I confusing this with being obsolete.
 
M

Mark V

Audiophyte
I just read this article and enjoyed it so much that I signed up to the forum!!
Now, I don't know how much of an audiophile I consider myself but I do love my music and movies and certainly home theater and my home theater PC are my main hobby these days.
Now, all that being said MY first purchase happened in February of 1980 and would have happened six months earlier but I had to save up the money only working on weekends as a 16 year old... I purchased a 1979 Pioneer SX 580 (20 watts RMS) ...for a hefty $245 at the time...God how I loved that badboy...and when you mentioned the wonderful tactile sensation of spinning that weighted dial I literally shouted 'YES' out loud...I thought all these years it was just something only I got off on !!
Alas I put her to pasture two years ago at a electronic recycling joint...and regret it terribly
..But I used that wonderful Pioneer from 1980 until finally upgrading in 1998 to a "5.1 ready" Technics AV receiver technics sa-ax720 5.jpg later adding the separate Dolby Digital/DTS decoder component 649027447_large_670a890f92df30c774744e3ceb66f302.jpg and all Technics speakers and sub..
And gave my dad the pioneer which he used from 2000-2013 at which point I upgraded him and recycled that old classic gorgeous beast...
Again great article fab read and happy to be here as the newb
 

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W

WizKid30

Audiophyte
Great article and read. MOSTLY. The only section I Strongly DISAGREE on was (Dolby Surround Receivers: the next generation).It was ONLY highlighting the cheap/junk/low quality Dolby Surround/ Pro logic units. How is that a fair assesment of ALL av receivers made during that time period. There were many low quality Crap receivers during that time period just like there is today. BUT there were also several flagship T.O.T.L models made(in that time period late 1980s-early 90s) that were very well built, powerful and had great specs and sound. Models such as the Pioneer VSX D1S (1990-93) + VSX 9300s-9900s (88-91); Denon avr 3000 (1992); Yamaha rx v1070 (1993) and others I'm unaware of. Some of the people back then were SERIOUS about buying $ expensive audio/home theater/speaker setups that sounded amazing. Not everyone bought the cheapie Pioneer vsx 4400 or Sony str av1020 and junk speakers to go with it. Someone reading this section of the article is made to believe ALL late 1980s-early 90s era av receivers are junk. Simply not true.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
In '78 or '79, Sony came out with the lineup that ran from the low end STR-1800 to the STR-7800 and the upper four models (4800, 5800, 6800 and 7800) were feature-packed, attractive and the sound was very good. I have an STR-5800 in my garage and with a set of 8" two-way speakers from 1979, it sounds great. The only thing that has been replaced AFAIK is a regulator that caused it to go "Lights on, nobody home". I think it has a bad solder joint- the tuning indicator doesn't always work and it would be much easier to see where the indicator is; it has two thin, vertical LEDs, one at the bottom that's supposed to be illuminated at all times and the upper one only illuminates when the station is tuned in. It also has a multipath meter, which is very helpful when placing & positioning the antenna. The tone controls are also split, to allow adjusting Bass or Treble for each channel.
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
I don't have a favorite. My first was one of the furniture store Fisher rack systems and I would have never been able to afford anything greater than that for a long time. We beat the crap out of that thing and it still works and my son uses it now with his phone hooked up to it.

They were still worlds better than the cheap, "looks like the real thing, but isn't" stuff my parents used to get. We had been tortured so long by the Sears gear that any rack system would have seemed audiophile grade, and it was to an extent. Meaning, the one thing it did really well was, translate mainstream music better than most of the more revealing, true audiophile offerings of that era. Certainly accurate enough for the 4-6 piece hard rock bands of the time.

I did acquire other gear being I always had a place to live and roomies didn't always have rent money. I have an older H-K receiver that still works that I like at around 30-35 WPC. Also one of the older Pioneers of the era. Hard to argue with equipment that still works, sounds pretty good, while still managing to make it more about the speakers than anything else.

Then there is that whole. . . ."I hear things I never heard before!" How many things exactly, can you miss, with a 5 piece band? lol
 
M Code

M Code

Audioholic General
My favorite is the Marantz 2600 stereo receiver. 300W x 2, scope, quartz-lock 5 gang FM tuner, incredible phono MM preamp. This receiver took the best circuits from the Marantz separates, 2130 tuner, 3650 preamp, 510 amplifier. Many think that Pioneer and Panasonic had more powerful receivers, but those units failed the FTC preconditioning amplifier tests and actually put out less power into 4 Ohms compared to 8 Ohms. A good condition 2600 sells today for between $5K to $7K..

Just my $0.02.. ;)
 
hemiram

hemiram

Full Audioholic
My first receiver was a Realistic 25 WPC. I had it for a year and my power hungry AR4A speakers killed it. It was replaced with an HK 330a that was vastly inferior in sound quality. It had a slightly muffled sound to it and after comparing it side by side with a new one, off it went to HK warranty service. About that time, I was in high school and I had connections to Dixie Hi-Fi, and I started selling audio equipment. One of the first deals I made was when I got one of the sales flyers that Dixie sent out, and they had what would become my favorite "old school" receiver on it, the Panasonic/Technics SA-6500. It's only flaw is the slider controls, which get scratchy and replacements, well, that aint gonna happen. My '73 vintage one is still running the back channel surrounds on a friend of mine's system. The controls are scratchy, but the tuner still works fine, and the high blend button can make a weak station listenable in stereo. About 2 years ago, I found a super clean SA-6500 on Ebay. It looks and works like new, the only problem is the wood case is coming apart. In comparisons to almost every newer surround receiver in 2 channel mode, it wins, and it's not close. The FM is totally superior to every one it's gone up against, the bass is better, and it just flat sounds better. I use it for the tuner mostly, even through my AV receiver's aux input, it sounds a lot better then the tuner in my Yamaha, which isn't bad for a new receiver. The thing is soon going to be 45 years old, and shows no signs it will die anytime soon.


Oh, my original one cost $212 from Dixie, and the new one was $20, with $25 shipping.
 
M Code

M Code

Audioholic General
Panasonic products typically they had excellent AM/FM tuner circuits, also the analog dial type were better than some of the digital electronic tuners.

Just my $0.02... ;)
 
<eargiant

<eargiant

Senior Audioholic
My write-in vote goes to the Sansui G Series receivers.

This is my Sansui G-7700 that I purchased brand new in 1980 at the time when FM radio and vinyl reigned. The first thing I'd do everyday when I got home from school was listen to music. This unit brought me more enjoyment than I can put to words.

37 years later, I am still deep into this hobby.





 
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Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
My introduction to rec'rs was pretty H/K-centric. That didn't stop me from enjoying the article one bit and I'll end up going back to it to better fill out my understanding.

I think I had one of the Pioneers. Maybe a 626? That was before things got out of hand. I think I sold it for 100 bucks worth of meat. It currently handles background music duty in a butcher shop. Rock solid FM tuner on that thing. I have to check old posts or go buy some meat to verify the model.

I'm currently using a couple of Yammies and but yearn for one particular Denon that's still a little to expensive for me. So even though I haven't owned a Denon, they still get the vote.

Those B&K rec'rs though ... :)
A butcher shop? I was one of those pricks that wouldn't allow it in my shop. I had a crew of 10 and nobody liked the same music and fewer liked mine. Corporate didn't like it either tho and we were having trouble hearing pages so I decided it wasn't worth the aggravation.
 
Johnny2Bad

Johnny2Bad

Audioholic Chief
luxman-r1120v1.jpg
My all-time favourite receiver was the Luxman R-1120 ... 120WPC (measured higher) and an outstanding FM section, along with two decent MM phono inputs and also provision for two tape decks or processors.

Very rare, you see the smaller units on eBay (R-1070, decent, and R-1040, a budget model) for what I would consider to be high prices (often more than MSRP) and poor value, but the 1120 doesn't show up much.

One sold on canukaudiomart for $C 350 [$US 280] recently, a bargain.

If you've heard Mcintosh tuners / amps /preamps, you should have an idea of this units's Sound Quality, very similar overall.

Regardless of which vintage receiver you choose, they should be sent out for an alignment as the FM and AM sections will not be in proper tune after so long a time has passed.

I agree with another poster above who said Kenwood receivers were overlooked unfairly. Decent SQ and some of the world's best FM sections. An unfortunate oversight.

Most Classic Receivers, even budget models, with discrete radio sections, run rings around a modern AV Receiver with it's $10 radio-on-a-chip (and the same chip as all it's competitors) radio section. No comparison, really. Ponying up for a premium AV unit does not get you a "better" chip.

In the modern world the more advanced radio ICs are found in OEM autosound, which often perform better than their component AV counterpoints back in the listening room.

The best autosound can be found on pre-1990's OEM radios, but as in-car radio is seen as a priority versus as in the home, an afterthought, even the chips used in OEM radios cost significantly more than the AV Receiver's unit.
 
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<eargiant

<eargiant

Senior Audioholic
View attachment 22587
I agree with another poster above who said Kenwood receivers were overlooked unfairly. Decent SQ and some of the world's best FM sections. An unfortunate oversight.

Most Classic Receivers, even budget models, with discrete radio sections, run rings around a modern AV Receiver with it's $10 radio-on-a-chip (and the same chip as all it's competitors) radio section. No comparison, really. Ponying up for a premium AV unit does not get you a "better" chip.

In the modern world the more advanced radio ICs are found in OEM autosound, which often perform better than their component AV counterpoints back in the listening room.

The best autosound can be found on pre-1990's OEM radios, but as in-car radio is seen as a priority versus as in the home, an afterthought, even the chips used in OEM radios cost significantly more than the AV Receiver's unit.
Agreed, Kenwood (Trio) should not be looked down upon. They had some very nice units. The Kenwood I'd love to have is the L-07D, one of the finest Turntables ever made. I almost got one last year but I dragged my feet and it was gone.

http://www.thevintageknob.org/kenwood-L-07D.html

I also agree with your tuner comment. The tuner section (if you can even call it that) in AVRs is an afterthought (just like their phono sections). I remember the first time I heard the one in my Denon 3803 back in the early 2000's, the radio sounded terrible. If that's the only type of FM tuner a person has heard and then they listen to even a lowly classic receiver they'd be blown away at how good FM can sound.

Take it one step further and have them listen to a mid level separate old school Tuner like the Sansui TU-717 and their jaws will drop.

When I found my Sansui AU-X1 integrated it was in pristine condition and the original owner was also selling the matching TU-X1, by all accounts one of the best tuners EVER made. I passed on the tuner because I never listen to the radio but I sometimes regret it.

http://audio-database.com/SANSUI/tuner/tu-x1-e.html

The tuner alone is over 35lbs!


image from the net
 
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I

iamjohngalt

Audiophyte
Very late to the party here ;^)
Excellent article that I have linked several times recently on reddit. Spread the knowledge to people who didn't live in the golden age of stereo!
I have quite a few vintage receivers that I have brought back to life and they all sound wonderful to me:
(1970) Kenwood KR-7070, TOTL at the time with excellent FM section, motorized radio tuning and high power (for 1970) of 63 w/ch.
(1975) Sansui 9090, gorgeous tube-like sound and beautiful aesthetics.
(1985) Carver MXR-2000, has all the Carver patented gadgets in one chassis: 200w/ch "magnetic field amplifier", "sonic holography", " Asymmetrical Charge-Coupled FM Detector "

Feeding my addiction whenever I find a good value.
Thanks for the article!
 

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