Advice to newbies - good amps don't have to be ridiculously expensive

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glynnw

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Sitting at home getting bored so today I switched out my custom mono 45 tubes amps for a 50 or so year old CJ MV75-a1 using KT120 tubes.  This has more than 75 watts and costs less than $1000 in most instances.  And it just sounds wonderful!  Maybe my more expensive amps reveal a tiny bit more of the detail, but I am beating my foot to the beat and just enjoying myself immensely.  I am not saying you should seek out an example of this exact amp, but look at any number of old tube amps that won't cost an arm and a leg.  Try to find one that has been maintained.  And they are not going to depreciate any more than they already have - a sound investment.  Just my 2 cents worth.

dB Cooper

Not exactly 'cheap n' cheerful', but... for the level of equipment we're talking about, it knd of is. 50yo Dynaco pieces are sought after for similar reasons.

Amplifiers do influence the sound, but the signature is influenced the most by the transducers in the system (speakers and (with vinyl) phono cart/TT. IMHO a lot of audiophiles would be well served by following your advice about the electronics and putting the savings into the speakers and front end.

The caveat with tube gear though is, because tube gear runs hot, if it has a lot of hours on it, you may have to do some work on it to  get the performance up to spec, which can eat up your savings fast unless you can DIY that work. Careful evaluation is obviously in order.

Some older solid-state gear can also be worthwhile if it's not too old and you choose carefully. Van Alstine gear of almost any vintage is still listenable. NAD has some equipment that has stood the test of time. There are a few others that are worth cheking out too.

Every time I go to an audio show, I am flabbergasted by the cost of the systems. (and people actually wonder why the hobby isn't attracting new audiences...) You don't have to spend the cost of a German luxury sedan in order to get satisfying music reproduction in your home.

Letitroll98

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To get this a little closer to C&C I'll note that I still own a NAD 3020B integrated, an Adcom 535II amp, a PS Audio 4.6 preamp, and a Technics SL2000 turntable, and numerous pairs of C&C speakers.  All bought for around $100 at various times throughout the decades.  Also note that our pricing guidelines for the entire system in C&C is $1,000.  I'm fine with Glynnw's post as the main focus is that vintage gear is a great place to find C&C gear, but it illustrates how far we audiophiles are from the real world.  Reasonable audiophiles consider $1,000 cheap for a single amp, for civilians this would be an extravagant amount for an entire system.

rollo

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Sitting at home getting bored so today I switched out my custom mono 45 tubes amps for a 50 or so year old CJ MV75-a1 using KT120 tubes.  This has more than 75 watts and costs less than $1000 in most instances.  And it just sounds wonderful!  Maybe my more expensive amps reveal a tiny bit more of the detail, but I am beating my foot to the beat and just enjoying myself immensely.  I am not saying you should seek out an example of this exact amp, but look at any number of old tube amps that won't cost an arm and a leg.  Try to find one that has been maintained.  And they are not going to depreciate any more than they already have - a sound investment.  Just my 2 cents worth.



 It was a great sounding Amp then and still now. A good circuit is a good circuit. Think about it what new advances in circuit deign have we seen ? Not many ?


charles

dB Cooper

I didn't mean to suggest that the topic should be moved. Hell, in today's audio market, $1K is nothing for an amp, especially something from a company like CJ, even vintage CJ. $1K for a complete system, you gotta get from craigslist or get lucky at a pawnshop. I agree with glynnw. Klaus from Odyssey said at a show, (paraphrasing) "90% of the signature of a system is in the transducers." Allocate accordingly.

glynnw

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Sorry if I broke a rule - I had no idea there was a dollar limit on the entire system and will take that into account in the future.  But consider this.  You buy a new inexpensive amp for $400.  You buy a used tube amp for $900.  5 years later the inexpensive amp is worth $200.  The $900 tube amp is worth $900.  Which one is really cheaper?  Of course, the trick is in finding that $900 amp that is in good condition.  In truth, I buy a lot of new stuff and take a bath on it.  Heck, I buy some used things and lose money on them as well.  So it goes.  I just consider the loss as rent on a fun time.  It's a hobby, not a job.

Letitroll98

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No worries at all, the first rule in C&C is to have fun with it.  Your post was about the value in inexpensive vintage components, the CJ amp was just an example.  If you have occasion to recommend some components we have pricing guidelines on a sticky, which we break all the time if it's fun and interesting.

soldermizer

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Good point about quality (not necessarily tube) gear bought used tending to hold its value. Doesn't work so well with gear bought new  :x
I've owned a few CJ pieces (cheaper ones) over the years. They were ok -- but perhaps my other components did not do them justice.  In recent years my standards have slid and much of my gear is Behringer  :oops:

CJ is an interesting company. I grew up in suburban DC (No. VA) and once toured the factory maybe in 2006. Not every snob hi-fi company is started by, if I recall correctly, a couple of Federal bureaucrats with a love for music. I'm glad they have been one of the successes in the field.

dB Cooper

No worries at all, the first rule in C&C is to have fun with it.  Your post was about the value in inexpensive vintage components, the CJ amp was just an example.  If you have occasion to recommend some components we have pricing guidelines on a sticky, which we break all the time if it's fun and interesting.

Trying to put a number on 'Cheap & Cheerful' reminds me of what SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity- that he couldn't define obscenity but "I know it when I see it." glynnw's original point is still valid even in an era when you see more and more six-figure (or close) rooms at shows: You don't have to spend a fortune to get good sound.

cujobob

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I've been a bit of a skeptic regarding ASR and still take issue with them on many things, but they did bring attention to an interesting amplifier that I think C&C folks should look at - the Niles SI amplifiers. Upon taking them apart, one forum member believed them to be made at a NAD facility given the parts used. I recently purchased an SI-2125 amplifier for around $150 shipped on ebay. Something like 200 watts into 4 ohms, Class A/B. If you like to tinker, you could probably swap out some RCAs and such and improve the SQ a bit more.

Stuff like the class CJ may have some advantage over it since they were likely 'tuned' more to sound pleasant, but you're also talking $800+ (from memory) vs under $200.

As Class D becomes more and more refined, I think getting into the super high end with amplifiers will be nice and inexpensive for new products that are efficient.

Peregrino

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Ok, I'm a total noob and have just started out, but I'm very happy with my first amp, a PS Audio Sprout 100. Was planning on getting a network streamer along the way, but when I tried it's Bluetooth capabilities I was blown away. I might still get one along the way, but for now it really is just a fine piece of equipment which sounds great to my untrained ears