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Japanese Gear

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by wgb113, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. wgb113

    wgb113 Well-Known Member

    Chester County, PA
    Seems the Japanese gear really came into it's prime in the 70's as a lot of service members started bring stuff back with them to the States. That was before my time but I'm curious as to how the different brands "ranked" from a quality standpoint. The big ones that became mass market brands in the US in the 80's:


    Is there any consensus on how they ranked in the 70s or were they all relatively equal?



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  2. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

    NW Pennsylvania snow belt
    They all built "against one another" in the market--some of it TOTL great, and some of it lower/mid-market gear, but they all had offerings at all levels of the scale. The same thing that car companies have always done.

    In any given line/era, I am sure you can find an "equivalent" piece--not necessarily "identical", but kind of sort of "equivalent".

    Only your ears will tell you which one works for you.
  3. YammiePhil

    YammiePhil New Member

    I started to want a "real" stereo big time in the mid 70s (finally got my first system in 1977). At that time the kids I knew wanted Pioneer, dad types bought Marantz and Sansui higher end stuff. But Pioneer was the prestige brand among my set. I do remember kids talking in hushed tones about the "real good stuff" that one could only get in Japan, supposedly.
  4. bhebbel

    bhebbel Well-Known Member

    Food Fight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    bluesky and asilker like this.
  5. 1tumbleweed

    1tumbleweed Kozmik Kowboy Subscriber

    Colorado Front Range
    I was selling audio at retail in Baltimore in the early to mid 70s, and Pioneer pretty much held the top slot. Kenwood was very strong also, and a better value for most people. Sansui in the mid 70s was concentrating on their quad stuff, not so much on the others.

    Sony got a a late start because of their earlier agreement for tape recorders with Superscope. Once it was established that Superscope only had the rights to sell tape equipment, Sony brought in electronics that were much better than most, but also more expensive.

    JVC and Yamaha, at least where I was, weren't even on the radar.

    BTW, where you are was a great place back then to shop for audio. All along Route 202 in Delaware were at least half a dozen shops carrying everything under the sun. Not to mention all the shops in Philly proper, or along the main line.

    Happy trails,
    Larry B.
  6. wgb113

    wgb113 Well-Known Member

    Chester County, PA
    Thanks for the insight everyone.

    Larry, you'd be surprised - I can count on one hand how many dedicated hifi stores are located between Wilmington and Philly now, so many have closed.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


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  7. D3vil99

    D3vil99 New Member

    Cape Town, ZA
    Akai built some real tough stuff back in those days, check out the Akai AS-980 with a quick Google. Pioneer gave good quality and value for money in one single pack, it think between the bunch JVC and Kenwood was the underdogs and Yamaha was the cream on top.
  8. BillyBatts

    BillyBatts ALOHA! Subscriber


    To each their own. I'd be happy with any one of those brands you posted, OP.

    My undergraduate school in the late 70's to early 80's was a business AND technical college. Most of my dorm mates were Studying Electrical Engineering. Stereophonic Gear was all we talked about, besides girls. Every single one of the EE Students I knew all had Yamaha. They studied schematics, and stated that dollar for dollar, you could not beat the brand for quality, endurance, and build elegance.

    Based on their recommendation and what they bought themselves, I purchased a Yamaha CA-810 system that was popular because it had decent power at 65 WPC, but was not priced so stratospherically high that you could not begin to afford it. I still have it. It's still my favorite Rig aside from my McIntosh gear.

    I had a few Military friends that indeed brought back equipment with them, and most of it was Sansui. Nothing wrong with that brand, that's for sure.

    My Room mate (also a business student - not an EE student) had a 40 WPC Kenwood Integrated amp he brought to school with him. He was always screaming that his rig was the best. There were a few Pioneer rigs, and a few Technics. I don't recall seeing any Sony nor JVC.

    A few times we had "Sound-Off" competitions where we took all of our Rigs to the Quad (common area) and played the same album with the same speakers but different amps. The EE guys would critical listen and extol the virtues of slue rate, dynamic headroom and plethora of other specs as they compared notes while listening. We'd hold Quad parties and take turns using our rig to drive the largest set of speakers we could find. My room mate had Altec VOTT's (damn things took up most of the free space in our dorm room) and we usually used those for the "Sound Off" competitions.

    Those were the days.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
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  9. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    Goes without saying ... Sansui was the best of the best and all others were second rate ...

    (let the carnage begin) :naughty:
  10. Vintagear

    Vintagear Super Member

    Yup, which one of those brands had this by the end of the '70's? This would make an EE students head roll, then and now. Game over.

    The Sansui AU-X1
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
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  11. 2011etec

    2011etec Super Member

    If were talking into the 80,s one brand that doesn't get much love is Onyko,yet they come out with the grand integra m-510 .definitely on my bucket list along with the septre 500 speakers.http://audio-database.com/ONKYO/amp/m-510-e.html Vintagear the sansui looks great, love the black.How about technics with their big daddy king receiver sa 1000 unmatched by anybody ?All other companies surrendered to that monster and it was the end of the receiver wars.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
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  12. Daunia 70

    Daunia 70 Lunatic Member

    Outta the companies listed,I'd agree the Sansui AU-X1 was most likely the best integrated of 1979. Although,the Kenwood KA-907 wasn't that far behind.
    Kenwood got even though a year or so later with the amazing L-02A integrated and matching L-02T tuner :thmbsp:
  13. cnh2

    cnh2 Super Member

    New England
    Too much territoriality in such a question. There are members here who love just about every brand mentioned above. Some swear by their monster Pioneers or Sansuis. Some love Yamaha. Some think Kenwood and JVC are underrated. Some love those old Sonys. Your head will spin off if you spend enough time reading threads.

    Marantz, Technics, Nikko, Hitachi, Fisher, Scott, Realistic, Harman Kardon, Onkyo, Toshiba...and the list goes on, and the list goes on! If nothing else, it makes life "interesting"!
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
  14. Mark B

    Mark B Yamaha Fan Subscriber

    The Sansui AU-X1 is spectacular, but I'll take a Yamaha B-1 (1974-1980).

    Pictures 1 and 2 from The Vintage Knob, picture 3 from Yamaha products Europe:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
  15. Turner-Table

    Turner-Table Active Member

    Louisville, Kentucky
    Yeah it seems that all these companies made some very high-end, esoteric offerings that are rare nowadays - things like Kenwood L09M's, Pioneer's Exclusive range, Sony TA-NR1 amps, Yamaha B-1, etc.... AND.... they ALL made mid- and budget ended stuff and probably a few lemons as well. The more pieces I hear from all of the Japanese manufacturers, the less brand-loyal I become. I feel it builds a bias that keeps us from hearing and experiencing some of the exceptional gear that all these companies made. I know we all have our favorites, but to say unequivocally that one brand or another is absolutely "better" in all instances, is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. I just try to keep an open mind.
    gizzyman47 likes this.
  16. Electone

    Electone Well-Known Member

    London, Ontario, Canada
    Because of their history of manufacturing instruments, music schools and supporting the arts, Yamaha is more ingrained with music than any other electronics company. Their Natural Sound is exactly that - what goes in is what comes out. People describe the "Sansui sound" or that Marantz sounds "warm". To me, that's called coloration and distortion of the truth.
    Rob DeFries likes this.


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  17. Dswankey

    Dswankey Super Member

    I loves me some Sansui and would take it any day over Pioneer, Marantz etc; but what about Luxman?
    highwaychile and Rob DeFries like this.
  18. Vintagear

    Vintagear Super Member

    Sansui solid state has sound signatures for every taste. Early 70's Sansui were "warm" (tube-like). By the late '70's the sound signature of the top Sansui amps had evolved to meet the changing tastes of audiophiles seeking high fidelity. Many were "wire with gain" amplifiers.

    My X1 (post #10) is a perfect example of this.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
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  19. Briarhill

    Briarhill Member

    I only have a Pioneer Sa-9100 and a JVC JA-S71. To me with just 2 brands the Pioneer seems to produce a sound that pleases me with music like Floyd, Zeppelin, Who and the like style of music. The JVC with Reggae, Bliss, Snarky Puppy and such.

    My opinion of course.

    Then each has a different favorite speaker it sounds best with. I imagine the "best brand" can sound not so good with speakers that it doesn't like.
  20. superdog

    superdog AK Member

    Southern Colo.
    Sansui is my fav.Yamaha a close second.
    specialidiot, bluesky and Buds 0416 like this.

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