Vintage Gear – Solid State


I don’t know that my tube gear really counts as Hi-Fi even though in my head it is extremely Hi-Fi vs. where I started. I really like all of my tube equipment, but there is a touch of sadness that comes with just using my vintage solid state equipment as decoration around the house. It became decoration when I moved to tube only equipment in the music room.

6CG7 Tubes
Pioneer SX-1980

If you are using any tube equipment in the chain of audio components it is usually night and day when you moved from Solid State gear. For me, if you remove the glow of the tubes I much prefer the look of vintage audio gear. You know you like meters and silver faces!

Marantz 1060

My first step into decent solid state equipment was a Pioneer SA-8500 II. It had a sound I had never heard before and really brought the music to life before one side stopped producing audio. I moved from that to a Pioneer SX-850 and then to a Marantz 2220B. I even tried a Sansui QRX-6500 I stumbled across. Now I still have all but the Sansui and they are in 3 different rooms of my house. The Marantz in the living room, the SX-850 in the bedroom and the SA-8500 II in the music room.

Sansui QRX 6500
Marantz 2220B
Pioneer SX-850

To be fair that SA-8500 II will stay with me in the music room solid state or not. Sort of a trophy/achievement. It isn’t being used, but I completely recapped it. I’m not talking the usual, I replaced a few caps and all is good. I am talking about completely recapped. Capacitors, resistors, transistors, and of course the relay. 108 pieces total that was replaced. If you are a technical person this isn’t something that will be a big deal to you, but I had never done it before. It took me forever but was so gratifying.

It also has sentimental value since it was my father in law’s. He’s not with us any longer so it’s nice to know he loved it so much and it still lives on.

It is hard to listen to it now though vs. tube amplifiers. It has plenty of grunt to it and that’s nice but musically it isn’t the tube sound. As much as everyone hates to say tube sound if you a/b them it is a big difference. Tube sound exists people! It was an amp that was made in the Power Wars of vintage amps. You know the more power the better. Not that everyone used all of the power but it was nice to have, and brag about.

Pioneer SA-8500 II

It is 60 real watts per channel. I’ve tried using it as a preamp into a tube amp. It made enough of a difference that I wanted to try more tube equipment. I’ve even used it as the amp and run a tube preamp into it. This sounds better than using it as a preamp, but some tube magic is still lost.
I like to swap stuff around enough in the music room that writing this is making me itch to run my tube preamp into it just to hear it again. Like I need to convince myself again. That makes me roll my eyes. Like I need to hear it again to decide that a complete tube experience is what I like. Audio is so much fun! Does anyone else miss their vintage equipment? Maybe I should look into a vintage tube piece…