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Underdog hi-fi components

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by birchoak, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    Me, too. Gear that doesn't get hyped but performs well, can actually be obtained without selling a kidney!
     

     

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  2. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    Bimasta, I ran it with a small Behringer mixing board (four channels, I think) and it sounded the nuts with Cambridge Soundworks M80s--I also used it to power some 4 ohm speakers I made and it was able to unleash its full 100 watts on them (actually, I never turn my amps all the way up; that just sounded good!). The mixing board looks like a toy but it is no toy, despite the reasonable price and compact size, and ran extremely quiet. You get three tone pots per channel: bass/mid/treble and I was able to get a rich, full sound from the amp. Yes, this is more in the domain of live sound/recording studio equipment, but I didn't care.

    I had a big Onkyo power amp with giant VU meters and that thing sounded so flat I wanted to cry. I was running it with some swishy Yamaha pre-amp and I couldn't get much bass out it--I think it was the Yamaha's lab queen tendencies. I sold both but should have kept the Onkyo and tried a warmer pre-amp.

    Do you have any old receivers with PRE/MAIN RCA jacks? If so, you can pull the jumpers and try using one of them as a pre-amp. I had a nice Harman Kardon 630 Twin that I used as a pre-amp with a TubeCube 7 and it sounded very warm (until I tried to put the jumpers back in with the HK on, effectively killing it!). I would think your average Marantz, Sansui, NAD, etc. receiver with this capability would imbue the Alesis with warmth while giving the equipment a "face" (most power amps look so . . . I dunno, plain? not always sure if they're even on!).
     
  3. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    I like that Realistic! True underdog material there. Never even heard of that one.
     
  4. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    Ha ha! No, I just love talking about this stuff. I have several systems and each one sounds absolutely amazing to me. No need to save me time as I am a professional time waster. But thanks for the kind thought. Trust me, when I am actively searching for something you will definitely know about it!
     
  5. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    I feel a need to reel myself in a bit with regard to the 800: While it does sound quite good, I think the charm lies in its small stated power rating and bland looks; you just don't expect it to sound like it does--like that circus car twenty clowns get out of: how did they do that?. The Titans are exactly the same: if you saw them at a church rummage sale or on the side of the road on trash day, you probably wouldn't give them a second look. There is literally no indication that these are great-sounding speakers; the ones I had you couldn't even get the grills off. But they punched above their weight and were filled with magic smoke. They weren't Totem Dreamcatchers and I don't think anybody would prefer them to a high-end bookshelf speaker, but you can get them cheap. Maybe this thread is about comparatively cheap gear that doesn't look flashy but sounds surprisingly good.
     
  6. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    That's a sweet little amp you have there. So simple looking! Could be an old PA system out of a grade school, but no, it's actually a cool tube amp with big muscles! Under the radar!
     

     

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  7. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

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    "Here's a picture of the pair in happier times:"

    Ok, I'm sorry, but that just sounded so funny the way you put it. I'm not laughing at the amp's problem; it's happened so many times to me, too that I have to laugh at your phrasing.
     
  8. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have two Amp 200s that I use as 250-watt monoblocks in bridged mode. These amps are definitely built right.
     
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  9. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    A non-amplifier submission: Celestion DL series, and specifically the DL-8. I've had a pair of these for a couple years now and they still amaze me. They legitimately dig down to 45 hz and the tweeters are truly something special - same tweeter as the more famous SL series but with a thin aluminum surface instead of copper.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
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  10. AdamAnt316

    AdamAnt316 Collector of heavy things Subscriber

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    Yep, it's quite an oddity in Sansui's integrated amplifier lineup. Introduced in 1964, it was the first member of the AU-series (previous integrated amplifier models had been offered under the SM line), and as far as I know, the only one to sport a two digit suffix (at least until they started adding letters before the digits, which doesn't count IMO :p). Like their tubed receivers from the same era (500/1000/A), it uses a solid-state phono stage, but the rest of the signal chain is tubed (five 12AX7s, and four 7189s, in this case).

    Sansui introduced the AU-111 a year later, sporting the black faceplate which became the series' hallmark for many years afterwards. As far as I know, the AU-70 was the only Sansui integrated amplifier to sport a silver faceplate until the '80s. I can see why Sansui adopted the black faceplate, as the AU-70 looks like numerous other pieces of audio gear from that era.

    Another oddity of the AU-70 are those little meters on the front panel. They're actually meant for measuring the unit's power output, with a range switch (5/10/25W) on the back panel. As far as I know, it's the only AU-series model to sport any sort of front panel meters until the AU-G99X from around 20 years later (the CA-3000 preamp had VU meters, but that's not an integrated amp).
    Yeah, the phrase seemed appropriate. :D The 'relationship' between the Dynaco and Superphon lasted over eight years; other than a brief 'lost weekend' which the Superphon spent driving the ST-70's younger/smaller cousin, the ST-35, it'd been many years of 'wedded bliss' before the 'separation'. The ST-70 is currenly rekindling an old romance with its previous girlfriend, a PAS-2, though I'm definitely hoping for reconciliation between the 'married' couple. :) Here's a old picture from early 2010 which can either be considered the beginning of their 'engagement', or their 'wedding day', depending on how you think about it:
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    Yours truly can be seen looking like a low-rent version of the 'father of the bride' on the right.......... :D
    -Adam
     
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  11. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    The AU-D5 and AU-D7 had power meters and were around 1980/81.
     

     

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  12. AdamAnt316

    AdamAnt316 Collector of heavy things Subscriber

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    Duly noted. I was going by the list on The Best of Sansui, which doesn't include those models for some reason. I figured there had to be some integrated amplifiers of theirs which had metering after the AU-70, but most of the models listed there are meter-less (including the massive AU-9900, which I figured would've had meters, but didn't according to the photos on that site). I haven't encountered all of their integrated amplifier models in my travels, which is why I qualified my answer with "as far as I know."
    -Adam
     
  13. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    Those two amplifiers are excellent in performance too. Fully DC from input to output and ruler flat.
     
  14. AdamAnt316

    AdamAnt316 Collector of heavy things Subscriber

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    More underdogs, then. :) I checked the Sansui gallery on classic-audio.com, and it listed various integrated amplifier models which The Best of Sansui doesn't, including a few which feature meters of some sort. Included in that list are the AU-20000 from 1976/1977 (which, from the looks of this picture, does have power meters), the A-40 (not part of the AU series), and the A-80 (ditto). Oddly, the AU-D7 and D5 still aren't listed, so my underdog comment above stands. ;)
    -Adam
     
  15. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Do Chinese copies of great gear at relatively cheap prices count?

    If so I'm nominating the Quad 405 and darTZeel NHB-108B power amp copies. Here's a shot of my NHB-108B this afternoon

    IMG_20180617_164309-2744x2056.jpg

    Otherwise quite certainly the Realistic 42-2101 and 42-2109 phono stages. After a recap this are right up there with some quite expensive gear.

    The Schiit Saga is easily the best preamp I've ever run. Very very transparent.
     
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  16. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan AK Subscriber

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    I have a pair of their little brothers, the DL6, I picked up at Goodwill about a month ago for 20 bucks. Not as much bass as the larger DL8, but still a pretty decent sounding little speaker. Great for a bedroom or dorm room set up.
     

     

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  17. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan AK Subscriber

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    Good call! These days, when I think of underdogs, I think of many of the Realistic and Modular Component Systems (MCS) products that were sold as house brands by Radio Shack and J.C. Penney's back in the day. They were OEMed by some very reputable manufacturer's, but usually fly under the radar compared to the "name brand" models of similar vintage and specs.

    I have two Realistic turntables, a LAB 440 and a Realistic Elac Miracord 45.

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    I have $45 in both put together, including the cartridges that were OEMed for Realistic by Shure. I also have an MCS 6601 that was made by Panasonic that came with another OEM Shure cartridge and a free "extra needle" that is actually a Signet TK10ML that I am currently running on the LAB 440.

    [​IMG]

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    :[​IMG]
     
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  18. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan AK Subscriber

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    A couple more vintage items that I think quality as underdogs. Both punch well about their size/weight.

    The Sherwood S-7100A receiver (14 WPC) and the JBL L19A speakers. The little Sherwood is just a very sweet sounding little receiver, and I find the simplistic, uncluttered look, with a real walnut veneer case (unusual in a BOTL model even back in the early 1970s) very attractive.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    The little L19A are the fraternal twins (same drivers, similar crossover) of the better known, more popular, more desirable, more expensive 4310B Control Monitors. I have a pair of both and after refoaming and recapping both, the little L19As sound every bit as good as the 4301Bs.

    [​IMG]

    I'm setting up a system for my girlfriend's new place that will consist of an MCS 3233 receiver driving the LBL L19A. She came over last night and auditioned several pair of speakers and chose the L19A, and it wasn't close. She really loved the way they sound (so do I).
     
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  19. louisjames

    louisjames The "real" Louis James Subscriber

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    Always liked the simplicity, style and sound of that Sherwood. Mine, which is a 7300, is still in use at my friend's mom's place as a daily driver. :)
     
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  20. Fleischer

    Fleischer Active Member

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    I love the S-7100a, but this site is filled with posts from people singing it's praises - it hardly seems unknown or underappreciated.
     
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