Vintage Receiver Phono Stages vs. Modern Phono Stages

Discussion in 'Solid State' started by finnbow, Mar 13, 2009.

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  1. finnbow

    finnbow The Dude Abides

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    While lurking, reading and engaging with AK over the past month or two, I'm left with the impression that many (some?) on this forum believe that the sonic performance of some of the higher end vintage behomoth receivers (I have a Sansui G9000DB) competes favorably with some newer equipment at the mid-fi price point when it comes to amp/preamp performance.

    On the other hand, the consensus seems to break down a bit when addressing the relative quality of phono stage in the higher end Japanese late 70's behomoths when compared to modern mid-fi phono stages (e.g., Cambridge 540P/640P or even the integrated phono stage of the much loved Onkyo A-9555). I thought this thread may help distill out the views on this.

    I guess, for the point of this discussion, please limit views to MM (or high output MC) cartridge performance as that's what the phono stages of the vintage behomoths will support.
     
  2. KeninDC

    KeninDC Speedfreak Jive Subscriber

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    My Yamaha CR 2020 had a great phono stage (both MM and MC).

    If that were my main system still, I'd still be satisfied with its phono stage.

    However, I am tickled pink by my Clearaudio Nano on a daily basis.
     
  3. Mark W.

    Mark W. Nut house of the Universe

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    I'm very happy with the Phono stage in my SA-9100's TOTL for 73-74 I see no reason why an Amp or tuner from the days when Vinyl was king would not have a quality phono section. I would think any manufacturer would be shooting themsleves in the foot to put a sub std. Phono section in any unit from mid level up.

    My 1985 A-40 which is quite a ways from TOTL has a FET phono section that is supposed to be very good.

    MY SERIES20 C-21 preamp has an outstanding phono section in fact it's so good you have no idea it's even in the signal path except for the gain on the signal.
     
  4. mercenary

    mercenary Active Member

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    I don't have too much experience on the matter, but I have a 'modern' TCC TC-750 preamp that, according to reviews, is arguably one of the best "bang-for-your-buck" phono preamps out there. I still prefer the built in preamp in my cheap vintage Pioneer receiver.
     
  5. Badger

    Badger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I just replaced my new phono preamp (I can't remember right now which it was but not TOTL) with my Onkyo P-303 preamp and was very pleased with the improvement. Much greater detail and range.
     
  6. darth

    darth Well-Known Member

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    My vintage Kyocera R-861 has a very good MM/MC phono stage. I mostly listen to it with high-end headphones and the sound is crystal clear and clean.
     
  7. motorstereo

    motorstereo the wonder of it all Subscriber

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    I have a cheap rotel outboard pre-amp that out does all my vintage phono stages. My recapped marantz 3600,and sx950 get honorable mention but no cigar. I imagine the cambridge outboard would be even a better improvement over my rotel. So yes in my experience the modern outboard is much better than the vintage phono stages.
     
  8. catrafter

    catrafter Marantz Specialist Subscriber

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  9. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Lunatic Member

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    Vintage if the phono stage is up to spec. Modern if the old gear has not been serviced or checked out.

    Quick and dirty check - 1.) drop needle on an LP sitting still and turn up volume, listen carefully - hissing or 60 hz hum and you need a service. 2.) Play same LP/TT into both and listen through headphones for detail and bass. Pick the one that sounds the best.
     
  10. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    I also own a P-303.Though not a receiver,it is a minimalist phono capable preamp which has a very good phono stage.I felt it to be a slightly better phono stage than my Yamaha C2x.
     
  11. Stoffie

    Stoffie Sony afficionado

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    The headamps on my Sony TA-E86B and TA-E88B pre's are incredibly quiet and smooth. Sounds great to my ears, but I really don't have any ground of comparison to newer gear. Never tried an MM cart on it though, always MC.

    Just got one back from my tech a while ago, and he said he was surprised at how good the headamp actually sounded, when trying it in his system. (he's got a DIY phonostage he designed himself).
     
  12. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    Since this thread is about comparisons:

    My Simaudio Moon LP5.3 is in another league to all the other vintage(EW700C,Yamaha C2x,Kenwood Basic C2,the aforementioned Onkyo P-303)and modern(Audio Alchemy Vac in the Box,Dynavector P-75)phono stages.
     
  13. Mark B

    Mark B Yamaha Fan Subscriber

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    A few years ago I was using the phono stage of my C-80 in my vinyl rig with a Shure V15xMR cartridge. The C-80 has a very nice phono stage. A local used audio store had a Herron Audio MM phono stage that I was able to audition in my system for a week before deciding whether I wanted to buy it. I bought it. It sounds better to me than any other phono stage I've heard, including a Kenwood 700C (EW) and a Yamaha C-2x (EW).
     
  14. Mark W.

    Mark W. Nut house of the Universe

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    Not to argue but I would hope that a Phono stage that costs $1400.00 would sound a hell of a lot better then the phono stage in a 30 year old unit that cost less then a 1/3 of that when new.

    I would think to compare a phono stage that cost more then a whole restored amp or reciever does now is a little slanted. Wouldn't you?
     
  15. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber


    Maybe you'd like to renew your acquaintance with the title of the thread?
     
  16. Jonesy09

    Jonesy09 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Well, the OP did state "mid-fi" standalone units for comparison. That would only be fair.
     
  17. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    At no point does the OP say that he only wants comment on 'mid-fi' stand alone stages.
    He mentions 'mid-fi' twice whilst relating 'consensus' and his impression of opinions.
    He is asking about TOTL receivers.
    If we are talking Marantx 2600,Sansui G22000 and Sansui G33000,Pioneer SX 1980,have you seen how much they are fetching on the 2nd hand market?
    A receiver already has a tuner on-board,so in the era in which they were released it's phono stage was a big deal.A very important consideration.
    Anyone who was buying a 'high-end'(OP's words)receiver was serious about their purchase,and by inference serious about their vinyl also.
    If I had posted the Boulder phono stage I would understand the grief about my post,however the Moon 5.3 is far from 'money no object'.
    Do a calculation of the units I mentioned above with an inflation calculator,to equalise their cost when they were released,vs how much they would cost in today's dollars,then tell me that the $1400 Moon is out of line.
    The OP only asked that the phono stage be able to run MM cartridges.I run a high output cartridge via the Moon.My comments therefore qualify according to the OP's criterion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009
  18. Badger

    Badger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    If we want to compare vintage vs. modern and include price comparisons too, I also have one of the modern phono amps theophile mentioned, the Dynavector P-75. I paid over $400 for it and the P-303 which cost half that is much better.
     
  19. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    The G 22000 was released in 1978 at a price of $1400.Here's the nearest calculation of it's relative value today.

    http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

    The G 3300 was released in 1978 at a price of $1900.Here's the nearest calculation of it's relative value today.

    http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

    The Pioneer SX 1980 was released in 1978 at a price of $1295.Here's the nearest calculation of it's relative value today.

    http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

    The Moon at $1400 doesn't look so much out of line now.Does it? :smoke:
     
  20. JohnVF

    JohnVF Lunatic Member

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    Most of the phono stages I've encountered in vintage receivers were equaled or slightly beaten by an NAD pp2, to my ears, but when I moved on to vintage separates it wasn't as cut and dry. My Sony TA-2000 phono pre sounded less transparent than the PP2, but it was a tossup after that. My Yamaha C-85 sounded better than the PP2, and my Fisher 400c and ARC sp3-a1 tube preamps walked all over the NAD, no contest. I was going to buy a Sim Audio pre until I bought the vintage tube preamps, now I feel no need to as the sound is exactly what I wanted.
     
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