20 Year Old Amplifiers compared to 2017

Just a random thought, but I’m curious just how well the state of the art solid-state amplifiers from 20 years ago compare to some of today’s better offerings. For example, what does a pair of Mark Levinson 33Hs or a Krell FPB 600 sound like if compared to the latest offerings from Pass Labs or Ayre Acoustics?
Someone may have mentioned this; I didn't read all 59 responses. But amps AGE. As Nelson Pass hilariously put it:

"In fifteen years, the electrolytic power-supply capacitors will get old. Depending on usage, you will begin to have semiconductor and other failures between 10 and 50 years after date of manufacture. Later, the sun will cool to a white dwarf, and after that, the universe will experience heat death."

--Nelson Pass, from the Aleph 0 User's Manual, explaining the life expectancy of the product

So you can't really compare a 20-year-old amp to an amp of today because you can't compare them when they're the same age.

Personally I really disagree with the "all amps sounds the same" school. When I was an audio salesman buying an amp on employee discount I made a project of comparing a dozen different amps in depth, putting in at least several hours listening to each after the store closed, and some of them more than a dozen hours. I standardized on a pair of Martin-Logans the store owned to try them all on. I ended up picking a Counterpoint Solid 2, which then never sounded quite as good on any of the speakers I actually owned. I later learned that Michael Elliott had used the very same Martin-Logan speaker to voice the Solid 2! I had settled on the best amp, all right, but it was just the best amp for that particular pair of speakers.

The very idea that you can take different products with different topologies and different circuits and different parts and have them "all sound the same" is highly illogical and ludicrous on its face and I don't understand at all why the idea has such a strong pull on the minds of certain people. It's like saying that all cars with the same 0-60 times drive identically or that all women of the same age (sorry I'm being sexist, change the gender if you want) are the same in bed.

If you ask anyone who really knows electronics--Nelson Pass would be a good example--if all good amps sound the same, I very much doubt any of them would say yes.

Oh, and while I'm making the case, double-blind listening tests are NOT scientific for the simple and very true reason that it takes at least days and more likely weeks or even months to get a handle on how an amp or other electronic component sounds, as anyone who has owned more than a handful of such components knows full well. Familiarity is crucial. So asking people to compare based on a few minutes of listening is a method that has such an insurmountable inbuilt fallacy that it absolutely negates the validity of the "test," period, never mind its claim to being "scientific." /argument, and Merry Christmas,


I have a huge respect for Nelson Pass. I have owned many of his amps and still own X250.5. I`ve also had Aleph 0 but don`t recall such statement in the manual.

Generally I agree with his statement but if the amp is worth it will be serviced after 20 years or so and the caps and other small things will be replaced.
I´ve owned a lots of amps some brand new some 40+ years. For a well designed amp with quality parts 20 years is nothing.

I also read the thread briefly but I can`t recall anyone who`s in "all amps sounds the same" school?

Merry Christmas!
Re "I also read the thread briefly but I can`t recall anyone who's in 'all amps sounds the same' school?"

Very first comment.
OK sorry I missed that.
I`ve heard of such "scientific" blind tests before and don't care to read their reports because I`m 101% confident that I hear clear differences between different amps, preamps, sources etc.

They probably used some muffled speakers and veiled preamp in their blind test so the results LOL :))

Lafayette KT-550 ? Yes, I rebuilt a couple of those and their smaller cousins
many years ago. They were really good as was the frequently disregarded Bogen equipment of the time. There has been a rampaging snobbery to the hobby for years and equipment like that old Lafayette tends to be considered junk both because it's old  and because it wasn't expensive when it was made. Bravo for mentioning it!