AV receivers have definitely evolved over the years. From simple devices based on vacuum tubes to solid-state transistors, from large and bulky to small and compact, a lot has changed over the year. That feeling of nostalgia that you get when talking about these vintage gems is always refreshing. This is why, in this article, we explore the best and most memorable AV receivers of all time. Below are the top vintage receivers of all time.
1. The Best Vintage Stereo Receiver: McIntosh 1900
The “Macs”, as many call them are generally regarded as the best electronics of their time. Many say it is the best McIntosh receiver ever and certainly one of the best audio receivers of all time. It is the original Hi-Fi stereo receiver. This is one of the best-designed and built audio equipment of any era.
It has a power output of 55 w RMS into 4 or 8 ohms, with a harmonic distortion of less than 0.20%, and an intermodulation distortion of less than 0.20%.
Pair your vintage Mac receiver with a good vintage speaker and you have an excellent little setup to impress even people with more modern tastes.
The powerful machine has a damping factor of 59 across an 8-ohm load and a frequency response of 20Hz to 20 kHz.
- Elegant finish quality
- Incredible sound without distortions
2. Runner UP: Kenwood KR 9050
The powerful Kenwood of the 1970s has a power output of 200 watts per channel, a frequency response of 20Hz to 20k Hz.
Its total harmonic distortion is less than 0.02% and has a damping factor of 50. Additionally, it comes with an input sensitivity of 2.2 mV (mic), 2.5mV (MM), 200mV (DIN) and 200mV (line)
- Hi-speed DC stereo receiver
- More dual power supply with improved tuner section
- Not easy to find
3. Best Marantz: Marantz 2600
The Marantz model of the 1970s was the most powerful stereo receiver by Marantz owned by Superscope by then and was regarded as the most powerful receiver from the “Monster receiver” era.
It is powered by a Toroidal Dual Power Supply, Turbo-Flow heat dissipation system, 9 kHz 18 dB per Octave Bessel-derived high filter, 15 kHz 18 dB per Octave Butterworth-derived low filter to deliver 300 Watts per channel into 8 ohms, minimum continuous power from 20 Hz to 20 kHz with no more 0.03% THD.
It also features a 2-inch Oscilloscope Display from Hitachi. It delivers 400 watts per channel into 4 ohms. It is a huge machine designed in the USA and produced in Japan.
- It is an improved version of the Marantz 2500, delivering more
- It is very heavy without any features of the latest technology
- Sansui 9010 Stereo Receiver -1974
4. Best Power Output: Sansui G-33000
Each Sansui receiver was crafted with meticulous care. Together with Sansui G-2200, the two receivers are very powerful, with the only difference being in actual power output. Both are versatile.
The circuitry is ultra-advanced with the revolutionary Diamond Differential. This allows the power amplifier to achieve low TIM distortion/high slew rate/fast rise time to respond to pulsive, musical signals with superb accuracy.
- Low profile design
- In-built amplifier
- Fewer vibrations
- Sound distortions at high frequencies
5. Bold Bass: Pioneer SX-1980
The 1978 Pioneer, arguably presents the greatest DC power story ever told. Each channel has a separate DC power configuration that helps to provide richer and more accurate bass. Its 22-pound toroidal core transformer is less susceptible to minor voltage variations.
It produces a conservative 270 watts RMS per channel and it boasts long-lasting transistors which give it a total harmonic distortion level of less than 0.03% from 20 to 20,000 hertz.
- Accurate bass
- Cleaner, clearer sound
- No sound distortions
6. Best Digital Tuning: Technics SA – 1000
It is one of the most powerful receivers ever made back in 1977, delivering 330 watts per channel minimum RMS into 8 ohms from 20 Hz – 20 kHz with no more than 0.03% total harmonic distortion.
It also comes with a dynamic amplifier with 72,000 micoF worth of high capacitance filtering, separate DC filters, and current mirror loading.
Its Technics Acoustic Control makes it sound even better because it adds low and high range boost and filter switches to enhance the tone controls.
It also has a mid-range control with a variable center frequency, 24 LED peak-power indicators, and an automatic load impedance detector.
- It is a quartz-synthesized digital-tuning system
- Over 30 FM/M station random access pretests
- It was discontinued by the manufacturer
7. Best Sound Clarity: Yamaha CR-2020 Stereo Receiver
In 1977 when it was introduced, it topped the list as one of the most elaborate models of the Yamaha receiver line. When it comes to the best-sounding vintage receivers, the Yamaha CR-2020 tops the list.
At the full-rated output, the 105-watt-per-channel power amplifier reduces total harmonic and intermodulation distortion to a new low (0.05% from 20-20,000 Hz into 8 ohms).
The CR-2020’s tuner makes FM reception up to 18 kHz possible for the first time with unique negative feedback and pilot signal cancellation circuits.
- Less sound distortion
- It has a punchy and solid bass
- It also comes with a speaker selector for two systems
- The remote does not come in backlit
Best Vintage Stereo For Vinyl
1. Yamaha R-S202BL
It presents a solid sound with Bluetooth support, and it is affordable. Its power consumption is low, making it eco-friendly.
The sleek device with a black brushed aluminum design has a phono preamp built-in, comes in handy with AM/FM tuner with over 40 stations already present, and can support up to two speaker systems.
- Compatible with any vinyl
- Bluetooth enabled
- Sleek design, thus making it minimalistic – can fit in with any home sound system.
- It is hefty, making it heavy.
- It does not support more than two speakers. Therefore, no complex speaker setup is possible.
2. Denon AVR-S540BT
This is a powerful stereo receiver with a 5-channel amplifier with 140W per channel. It is Bluetooth enabled and can support up to 8 audio devices, and it supports up to 4K ULTRA HD TV features.
- Superb audio quality
- Multiple connection options, including Bluetooth
- Reasonable price
- Easy to install
- No phono preamp built-in
Underrated Vintage Receivers
1. Pioneer SX Receiver
With its distinctive stainless-steel look, the device produces a clear, unique sound. In the 70s, it was regarded as a brand that gives you value for your money because of its performance. Its minimal design makes operating the loudness, bass, and treble very pleasurable.
In the ’70s, this was a machine. The three components – power amplifier, preamplifier, and tuner onto a single chassis, gave the receiver a strong sound.
- Produces quality sound
- It is inexpensive
- The material used to manufacture it makes it very durable
- Not Bluetooth enabled
- It does not support connections to multiple speakers
2. The Marantz 2220B
It is classic audio equipment with 2 channels and an excellent audio output with 20-watt RMS power per channel. The Total Harmonic Distortion is 0.5%, ensuring that background noise in the signal is minimized.
It comes with a power bandwidth of 10 Hz to 50,000 Hz, making the gadget treble. The FM radio component possesses gyro tuning and an illuminated dial pointer for greater convenience.
- Produces quality sound
- Not Bluetooth enabled
- It does not support multiple-speaker connection
1. What Is The Best Vintage Stereo Receiver Ever Made?
The McIntosh 1900 is the original high-end stereo receiver and the best vintage receiver ever made, but it is not necessarily the best overall receiver ever made. The best vintage receiver ever made is the Marantz SR7013.
The Marantz SR7013 delivers thrilling sound for movies, TV, and music. It is a 9-channel receiver that lets you enjoy immersive Dobly Atmos and DTS: X surround sound. It offers playback of high-resolution audio formats from a networked computer or USB drive.
It comes with HEOS built-in technology that lets you access all your music from your library, internet radio, and popular streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, and TIDAL, with the possibility of easily integrating the receiver into a wireless multi-room audio system.
It allows you to simultaneously play music from three sources in up to three rooms.
Powered and line-level stereo outputs for second and third rooms also allow 5.2- or 7.2-channel sound in the main room.
It comes with an amp assign function that lets you use Height 1 and Height 2 speaker outputs for Zone 2 and 3 or for bi-amping front speakers.
The all-Zone Stereo mode ensures that both zones stay in sync when playing from the same source.
- Outstanding sound quality
- 9-channel amplifier
- It comes with 12-inch subwoofers
- Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth connectivity
- The bass is not that aggressive.
2. What Is the Best 80s Stereo Receiver?
The 80s was an interesting time for music and musical equipment as well. This came out of the rapid expansion of the industry in the 70s that led to the introduction of legendary receivers like the Pioneer SX-750 and most on this list. At the time, brands like Onkyo, Sony ES, Yamaha, and Pioneer Elite produced quality equipment.
The best stereo receivers out of the 80s include the Pioneer VSX-9300, Onkyo TX-108, Pioneer Elite VSX-95, VSX-9500, Pioneer VSX-9700, and the MCS 3125. However, the overall best 80s stereo receiver was the Pioneer VSX-9300.
3. Can I use my old receiver as an amp?
You can do it, although an ideal option would be to combine the pre-pro with a separate multichannel power amp.