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Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

I have a couple of questions. I will ask the easy one first because the second one probably has a gazillion opinions.

1.) Researching Vintage models I see a lot come with a wood case. I noticed on EBay some do not, but it looks like they would slide into a case. Was that an option or are people taking them off as they are damaged and selling them.?
2.) I am looking for a receiver between 1967 -1977. I AM NOT looking for high end Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui , McIntosh etc. I am looking for middle of the road probably 40W-80W. I have taken a liking to the Fisher models 400 and 500T but they seem scarce. I was looking at Sansui at first but have expanded to Pioneer also.

I am looking for something in a wood case. What would the forum recommend?

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

Aside from the major brands you mentioned not interested in, there's many choices for wood case vintage receivers. I've had/have these in my system (model #):

Fisher: Solid construction. Very nice knobs and feel of operation. Full bodied sound. Strong bass and clean highs. (rs-1015)
Concept: Well built. Solid knobs and operational feel. Clean sound! Better than most. One of my favorites. (4.5D, 6.5)
Toshiba: Wow. Huge heavy receiver for mid range gear. Kinda cheap operational feel. Full bodied sound that has balls. (sa-520)
Sherwood: Good looking receivers. Nice feel. Great tuner. Very smooth sounding and well rounded. (s-7125A)
Sony: Classic. Quality build. Nice knobs and solid operational feel. Pleasurable detailed sound. (str-7025, str-7065A)
Wintec: A monster. Quality operational feel. Lavish dry sound. Rare. (r-1120)
Mitsubishi: Heavy minimal design. User feel? Great sounding. (da-r15)
TransAudio: Surprisingly great little receiver. Smooth rich addicting sound. Pacific Stereo family member. (6800)
JVC: No wood case. Honorable mention because it sounds really good and it's deep Absinthe illumination face I like. (jr-s301)

Note: The Wintec has a full wood case/ sleeve. These kind are not as easy to remove compared to the removal of just the top/side case. The Sony, Sherwood, TransAudio have a wood sideburns and top/lid/hood. The rest have a flush top and sides. Toshiba's have noticeably "wooden" sides, however have a known issue of peeling vinyl on the case, easy fix tho.

In conclusion, I'd say Sony and Sherwood for having all the characteristics your looking for.

But whatever you decide, if a case is looking rather bad but not physically thrashed, no huge gouges or cracks..... with some fine grit sandpaper and varnish oils can resurface and restore a receivers case to looking brand new. It's super easy work. Just time consuming due to the waiting period between applications of varnish to drying time, burnishing, and repeated applications. The slow paced 'Tried & True' Varnish Oil - Melange D'huile et Vernis has worked well for my wood finish projects.
Also, I concur with the others, it's a good idea to make sure the receiver has or will be serviced up to specs.

Cheers- to vintage audio.
Play naked, play analag.

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

I just had my 1977 Sansui 9090DB restored by qrxrestore.com out of Eugene, OR. The 9090DB sounds like it has more power than what are desiring however. I also have 1974 Sansui 5000A that would meet the power limits you desire. You can pick those up on eBay with a wooden case, for $250 to $300. And if you really want to beef it up have all the electrolytic capacitors replaced with Nichicon Mylar Film Capacitors. There are a total of 93 Capacitors in my 9090DB. The restoration for that 5000A by qrxrestore.com would cost roughly the same, just because of the more work involved in removing all the boards and components. They will even restore the cabinet for an additional $75. I paid roughly $575 for the restoration, then another $140 for their Differential Current Balance Modification (DIFF MOD), reduces the Total Harmonic Distortion from 0.1% to 0.01%. And $45 extra since I chose to have Dolby Re-Wired OUT of the system. I never used Dolby any way and in 1977 it was still new. My belief was this...if put good clean sound into the unit, there is no noise to reduce. The 5000A would cost I think $540 to restore and you don't have to have anything else done it. Those were just extras I chose to get. Plus roughly $140 to FedEx it ground from Youngstown, Ohio to Eugene, OR and another $140 to ship it back to me. So it cost me roughly $1,040. But I'll never have to do another thing to it and can leave it to my son when I die, or my hearing fails me. But contact them, they do a great job on restoration. I even had the dial lights wired to stay on all the time regardless of what function I am in. No charge. I just think it looks cooler. I my opinion only, Sansui was the flagship company of the Japanese Golden Age of Analog Audio. They were the only company that were somehow able to keep that warm tube amp sound while changing over to Solid State and Transistor parts. Beautiful equipment with just outstanding sound. If you had buy a receiver today with the same quality components that Sansui used 40 years ago you would pay close to $4000 for that receiver. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Good luck in your search

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

Stick with Sansui for your needs. That 5000A I believe is rated at 55 watts per channel into 8 ohms Stereo.

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

Sansui 5000A operating manual/brochure:

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

I would suggest Kenwood or Technics (earlier units branded Technics by Panasonic). Sansui and Pioneer made spectacular units back in the day. The former can sometimes be difficult to trace intermittent age-related failures, (I've restored over 10 'suis). Pioneer has the limitation that some of the transistors used were unique and difficult to obtain these days. Only issue with some Kenwood receivers is those which have combination loudspeaker-power switches (rotary type). These power switches can burn out and become intermittent. Fisher was USA-made in the earlier days, then became a low-end Japanese brand, I suggest skipping both variants. Sony STR-7xxx are fantastic and very affordable, many came with wooden cases. Manufactures typically offered them as options, upper models included the wood for added sales appeal. Since some units were installed into walls during the 1960s and early '70s, units came without wood cases because the intent was a built-in stereophonic sound system. Tip: most all of the analog receivers offered by Radio Shack during the 1970s were manufactured by reputable Japanese companies (Pioneer, Kenwood, Hitachi, Panasonic, Superscope and others). Many scoff at Radio Shack, but the receivers from this era can be stellar performers. Avoid any models which are quadraphonic, they simply have more components to fail and features which go to waste for stereo uses.

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

The Pioneer silver face receivers from the latter 70's are fantastic (SX series). I had an SX-850, then upgraded to an SX-950 (85watts/channel).
Keep in mind the watt rating on those pre-80's units is misleading compared to today's AV receivers. 60+ watts can be downright thunderous with the right speakers, with very low distortion.
The output you need should be dictated by the size of the space you want to fill with music. A small office/den/listening room needs far less power output compared to a large basement, etc.

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

I agree. I had a McIntosh MC-240 that pushed a set of JBL C35's and they screamed! It didn't take much at all to make those JBL D130's move since they were 25 watt rated, simply because James B, Lansing designed those D-130's in 1947. But tube amps and tube preamps were the standard at that time, and in mono no less, and they didn't push much power because they didn't need to do so. But with the advent of Solid State the power output increased and JBL had to redesign and created the E-130 to handle the increased power.

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

Wood cases were really a function of the manufacturer. Some manufacturer's did offer wood cases to house their components as an option, Crown and McIntosh come to mind in this regard.

Other manufacturers used wood as the actual top cover. Once you take the cover off, the inside was exposed. The Japanese manufacturer's come to mind here, such as Sansui and Pioneer.

As for recommendations for receivers if you are only considering 40 watts and up, remember that you are actually looking for an upper middle line model. It wasn't until the mid 70's that the wattage wars started. Most of the mid level receivers of that time period were in the 25 to 35 watt range.

I consider 60 watts to be a good compromise power level. Below that and you will run into difficulty driving some of the less efficient speakers. Above that you will run into expensive and sometimes overly complex and less reliable designs. When comparing wattage figures, always take into account the load that they are quoted at and the distortion figure. In the 60's and early 70's there wasn't a lot of regulation over what a manufacturer could claim the output to be.

I am partial to Sansui as it was the first amplifier I ever bought and still have today. I would recommend their 5000 series (5000, 5000A and 5000X). For Pioneer, you should look at the SX-828. The advantages to these models is that there were a lot of them manufactured, so the prices are not too high second hand and parts units are available if needed.

Other manufacturers also made excellent units back in that time frame. The manufacturers went out of their way to create dependable, repairable units. Don't overlook Kenwood, Onkyo, Toshiba, Nikko, Akai and Teac.

Whichever receiver you plan on buying, you need to factor in that it will require a bit of maintenance to extend it's lifespan. At the least the bulbs and electolytic capacitors will need to be replaced. There are some sellers on ebay that will sell untis with a warranty that they have already refurbished. If you aren't electronically inclinded, this might be a good alternative.

Happy Listening,


Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

I agree, Bob. The 5000A was my first receiver as well and I had no problems powering some JBL C38 Barons with it. I then purchased the 9090DB and still have those hooked up to a pair of Cerwin-Vega DX-9's I bought in 1992. The 5000A is pushing a pair of McIntosh ML-10C's right now. But I'm getting ready to box that up and send to a firm in Eugene, OR, which specializes for a complete restoration, just as I had them complete the 9090DB restoration. Not refurbished or repaired but restored to original manufacturer specs that meet or exceed what those specs were at the time it came off of the assembly line in Tokyo. Stick with Sansui. They are all over eBay.

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

The wood cases were options back in the day that cost a little more money. It is all about personal preference. Sansui is good, Pioneer is good, but be careful with fisher, some of these are really low-fi. I like Luxman the best, but Lux is pretty expensive. Lux has some of the best rosewood cases of all, but once again, it's all about your taste, needs, and budget. You can't go wrong with technics/panasonic, pioneer, or really even sansui, except for sansui's compuselector systems. (yuck)

Hope this helps!

Ellies Fashions's picture

Re: Vintage Stereo Receiver suggestions.

On your wooden case questions for vintage receivers. Wooden cases came with some models but were an upgrade on others back then. The cases you see on eBay we highly suspect are salvaged from systems which did not make it this far along and are offered to upgrade or improve the appearance of restored systems.

We can't answer your second question as our vintage interests are in quadraphonic systems...

Best of Luck!