Friday, August 29, 2008


A gorgeous sounding system! The speakers are from 1981, almost the end of JBLs greatest years. Many audiophiles think the 8 inch woofer in these speakers is the best small woofer EVER put in ANY speaker. The sound is rich and beautiful, with the stunning midrange JBLs are famous for.
The woofers on these speakers have just been expertly refoamed, the walnut veneer cabinets oiled, and the speaker connectors upgraded to 5 way binding posts. These will rock for another 20 years!
The Harman /Kardon receiver is very musical, much more dynamic than it's (old school) 20 watts per channel would lead you to expect (see the post on power ratings). It's in excellent condition, all lights work, all controls are clean and quiet.
These sound great together, but can be separated:
JBL L19s $175
Harman Kardon hk-340 $80

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I think this FAQ from Legendary Audio Classics is very helpful. It explains why the Sony 20 watt amp I talked about earlier sounds so dynamic:
Why does a 35 watt Marantz sound better and louder than many 100 watt receivers?
A: Because 35 watts/channel as specified by Marantz in the 1970's meant...
" The unit can deliver 35 watts into 8 ohms for one hour, from all channels at the same time, with no significant change in distortion, or other specifications, at any time during, or after, the test hour."
...while 100 watts/channel today (for instance, in my JVC surround system) means...

" The unit can deliver 100 watts for a fraction of a second, in one channel only, if the other channels aren't running and nothing else high energy has happened to drain the power supply of stored energy in the last few seconds."
In fact, my JVC 5-channel Dolby surround receiver claims 500 watts RMS, but the power consumption label on the back panel tells the story:

320 Watts
If my JVC receiver was 100% efficient, meaning that every bit of power it took from the wall was delivered to the speakers as audio power (which it isn't), that'd give you only 64 watts a channel, about 2/3rds of the claimed power rating (which is 100 watts per channel, remember, 500 delivered as 100 per each of the five channels.)

But since the receiver can only (at best) convert about 50% of the available energy to the speakers, and the available energy is what is left over after the heat is generated (did I mention that this model JVC runs almost too hot to touch on top, even when making no sound at all?) and the watts that go to lighting the panel and powering all of the other circuitry are accounted for, the system can perhaps, when brand new, on a good day, generate 32 watts a channel continuously with all the channels going, which is pretty sorry compared to the claimed 100 watt per channel rating. That is less power per channel than an old 2235 receiver. Shocking, eh?

Turning it around, because of the way that the units were rated in the 1970's, that classic 2235 Marantz receiver, rated at 35 watts a channel, can dependably produce much more than 35 watts in both channels at the same time for a minute or two (far longer than the peaks in a modern receiver.) An honest rating for use with music for the power amplifiers of an older Marantz is generally in the range of 120% of rated power or even higher.

These ratings were instituted because of many false claims for power output that were being made using many different types of power measurement and general baloney at that time. IHF, RMS, Peak, Peak Music Power, Average, etc. RMS is what was settled on, and it's still widely used today, but the one hour rating was dropped some time back.

Interestingly, the situation that caused the RMS for one hour ratings to be made standard is now recurring - as I mentioned above, my JVC's ratings are pretty obviously designed to deceive the consumer to an extreme degree. Certainly there is no way that they can claim that those ratings paint an accurate picture of the amount of power the receiver can actually deliver in real world conditions - loud music and cinema surround takes a lot of power, in a lot of channels. Try listening to Jurassic Park... wait till the Tyrannosaur walks up behind you, or there is something exciting going on. Those 32 watts are pretty puny...

To the relatively straightforward power issue, you can add the fact that the design of the audio and RF circuitry in a Marantz is absolutely top-notch, and you can hear that in the character of what little distortion there is, in the way the bass, midrange and treble controls (and loudness contour and filters) affect the signals, in the way the FM signals come out sweet and clean, and so on. As an engineer, I really don't like to drop into using descriptive terms meant for food or lovemaking and so on for sound, but you know, when you A:B a Marantz against other units that are supposedly equivalent, the bottom line is it sounds better, and obviously so.

The SONY TA-1055, a jewel!

  This 20 watt/channel DC integrated amp sounds rich, powerful and really musical. I think it sounds better than an NAD 3020, in a quick comparison. Very revealing of bad source material, it shines with good recordings.
  I found this unit and opened it up. It uses a heavy transformer for it's power and beautifully made circuit boards with point to point wiring. It runs hot, and has a very cool (looking) heat sink that is exposed at the back. 
  Made in Japan from 1973-1975 this was one of Sony's best pieces, exported to impress and open up the north american market.
  I am really enjoying the music with this amp!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

SOLD! MARANTZ 2220: Ugly Duckling, sounds like a Marantz!

As the second owner said to me "Someone didn't love this one enough".
There are some scuffs and a mysterious number 26 on the vinyl wood over metal case, the power and function silkscreened labels have worn with use, but it works perfectly. All functions and lights work, all controls are clean smooth and quiet. It sounds sweet. If you've been wanting a Marantz to hear why they're so prized, but don't want to spend $200 or more to check it out, this is the one for you! if you want to listen to beautiful music by candle light, this is ideal. If you drool over the music, not the mintiness of the receiver, this is perfect.
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Friday, August 22, 2008


These rare canadian speakers were made more than 20 years ago. The 4 x 8 inch polypropelene woofers have been expertly refoamed. The beautiful oak veneer enclosures have been oiled. Both grills are in great shape, chromed badges present. The Mirror image pair have consecutive serial numbers. These efficient speakers sound great with an NAD 3020 (20 watts per channel) but really sing with more power (I've been feeding the NAD preamp through the power amp section of a 130 watt/channel Carver magnetic field receiver). They sound great!
$225.00 Compare to the sad little towers at Best Buy at twice the price!


I find these Missions really amazing! The sound is really musical with beautiful imaging and really solid bass (when placed on low stands which are also important for getting the horn tweeters at seated ear level).
The woofers are in great shape. The tweeters (and overall sound and midrange blend) sound great but show some deformation of the diaphragm (mentioned in the linked article) . The cabinets are a custom light oak veneer and complement the pleasing proportions of the enclosure while relieving the graphic confusion of the original grooves around the whole cabinet. There is still lots of graphic chaos with the Mission logo appearing 3 times on each charcoal front. The cabinets are heavy solid and as the link shows very well made. 


This was produced during the golden age of Marantz. Designed in Sunnyvale, California and built with legendary quality and craftsmanship in Japan, Marantz are the Cadillac of receivers. Awesome retro styling (all lights have been replaced), clean inside and out, warm, rich sound, and a muscular 35 watts per channel, this makes speakers sing!
It amazes me that with modern digital input sources (high bitrate mp3s, high end cd players) this vintage of equipment can sound cleaner and more dynamic than the designers could have even imagined 30 years before!
No modern home theatre receiver will sound nearly this musical.
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  You can't buy a pair of lousy bookshelf speakers at a big box store for this money!
40 old school, conservative watts per channel. Beautiful condition and build quality. All functions clean, quiet and working.
Solid old school 3 way system with 10 inch cast frame woofers, expertly refoamed to rock another 20 years. New Vifa dome tweeters installed for much better high end than the stock horn tweeters (included and easily refitted). You won't come close to this quality in bookshelf speakers at anywhere near this price!
All you need is an input source and you'll be rocking! For ipod users, this will blow away ANY docking speaker setup!
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Merak M3 speakers

 These beautiful speakers are a canadian rendition of a classic british 2 way with passive radiator.
They are cool to look at, solidly built, with extensive internal bracing and 3/4 inch MDF construction (1 1/2 inches on the bottom!). The  polypropylene woofers have been expertly refoamed, the cabinets sanded and oiled. The dome tweeters are perfect. The passive radiators have been completely rebuilt. These will sound great for another 20 years.

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  Seventies Stereo is about vintage audio gear from the seventies and early eighties. This was the golden age. I will describe systems and components that sound even better than when they were made, are built to last, and sound better than ANYTHING you can buy at a big box stereo store today.
 Please leave comments or e-mail me at;
 Finding, restoring and enjoying this stuff is a labour of love for me. These components can be yours to enjoy.
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