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Vintage Receiver Project

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I am in the final stages of finishing my basement, which includes my brand spanking new man cave. One thing I have wanted to do for a long time and now actually have somewhere to set it up, is to get a vintage receiver and record player and start a little record collection. After finishing the basement, the budget isn't very high. I know absolutely nothing about classic receivers. So my question is, with an initial budget of around $200-$250 for a receiver and record player, where would you recommend to look? If there is a huge difference in quality by upping my budget to say $500, I am willing to wait and save my pennies for a bit to get something better. If you could help point me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it.

As a side note, unless anyone has other recommendations, my buying options are craigslist and ebay.
post #2 of 11
Hard to recommend specifics as it will depend on what is available locally and when you intend to buy. If you haven't already done so, check AudioKarma. Discussions are directly geared for this subject.

You should be able to find what you are looking for less than $500. You'll need to avoid top of the line model receivers as well as Marantz (mid-late 70s vintage) as these command top dollar. Something like a Pioneer 950 or Sansui 8080 would be good choices. Pioneers were top sellers and many available.

I suggest a late 1970s Rega Planar turntable. Regas are well made and simple in design (belt driven, fully manual). Easy to fix and parts readily available. The Technics 1200 is solid turntable, manufactured from 1972 to 2010. Solid unit but many were used for DJ so need to be careful buying used. Look at turntables from Pioneer, Dual (12xx series), Yamaha, etc. It all depends what is available. Make sure the TT includes a cartridge. Cartridges rarely go bad and you'll probably need to replace the stylus. Replacement styli are available for most vintage cartridges, starting at $15 and up.

Be prepared to invest some money in repair and/or maintenance. I have purchased several vintage receivers, turntables and speakers (mostly 1970s) and ALL required some type of work. If you are lucky, the most any vintage receiver will need is a cleaning and maybe a couple of light bulbs replaced. DC offset, tuner calibration, output bias are other very common repair/maintenance issues.
post #3 of 11
You can get the Harman-Kardon 3490 stereo receiver right now from Amazon for only $307. It is a very good unit for its price, and even has a phono preamp.

As someone who owned several Harman-Kardon, Marantz, and Fisher tube receivers in the 1960s and 1970s, I am very familiar with their performance and what needs to be done to restore them to good condition. The Fisher receivers were absolutely the best.

The good ones cost several hundred dollars in unrestored condition, and it will cost several hundred dollars more to replace all of the tubes, capacitors (which is mandatory), and other parts that will need doing. That's assuming you have the skill to do the work yourself.

It's not something that is in your price range, unless you are a very skilled technician with experience with Vacuum-tube circuits, and can get a good price on the unit.

As for the solid-state receivers of the 1970s and 1980s, they are all evil-sounding crap to my ears, and I wouldn't connect one up if it was free.
Edited by commsysman - 6/16/13 at 10:21am
post #4 of 11
See if you can get a Kenwood KR-7600. My cousin has his since 1978. The only problem was replacing the on/off switch. My late uncle was a friend of Winslow Burhoe and he had a pair of his speakers hooked up to the Kenwood, excellent sound. You should get a 7600 in your price range if you dig around. smile.gif
post #5 of 11
fwiw,don't want to scare you away from your man cave plans but vintage electronics can become costly and even hazardous if not inspected before buying. my advice would look into something that has recently been restored which will most likely blow your $250 budget. but its worth it rather than paying $150 then putting another $200-$300 into restore costs or make sure your fire insurance is up to date
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Lots of stuff to think about. I think I may have to look around salvation army and maybe the pawn shops and see what they have around. My father in law is an electrician and has always has a love of audio stuff so we should be able to do any work that needs to be done.

On another note, as mentioned I can up my budget and delay purchase for a little while. Any ideas on somewhere that I could look to get a reworked and updated tube receiver with the work already done?
post #7 of 11
Here is three to look at:

www.audioclassics.com

http://www.ultraelectronicactive.com/

http://www.urban-antiqueradio.com/

There are many, many more. Begin by contacting a vintage audio repair tech locally.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lilditty View Post

Lots of stuff to think about. I think I may have to look around salvation army and maybe the pawn shops and see what they have around. My father in law is an electrician and has always has a love of audio stuff so we should be able to do any work that needs to be done.

On another note, as mentioned I can up my budget and delay purchase for a little while. Any ideas on somewhere that I could look to get a reworked and updated tube receiver with the work already done?
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Not to hijack my own thread, but I was talking with my father in law and he has an old tube amp in his basement. So another option would be to look for a preamp to go with that. Would that be a good direction to go with my budget?

Any recommendations?
post #9 of 11
I've seen some older Adcom 2 channel preamps for around $99. Phono is included. I had one years ago as a second stereo and it was very solid.smile.gif
post #10 of 11
If you want a 70's vintage SS receiver, go for it! I've got a couple (Marantz 2385, Hitachi SR-804) and they sound excellent, not evil at all.
I got the Hitachi for a song, it's not a sought-after brand. Mint condition for $40, Class G amp that sounds very good. It's all about nostalgia, right? Picked up a Dual 510 turntable for $5 at a yard sale that had a very good Shure cartridge. That's my total vinyl investment, and it sounds amazing.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys. Sounds like a tube receiver is out of the question at my price point. I will see what I can find in ss receivers. Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll have to start looking through the local thrift stores, garage sales, etc! Can't wait to get my system put together! smile.gif
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