Amber, anyone?

Remember Amber?  Tony Cordsman's  highly praising review made the Series 70 power amp very popular in the early Eighties, outgunning many of the earlier and big-name transistor amps of the period.  Although rated at only 70wpc it put out closer to 90w at 8ohms and rates at 200wpc at 8 ohms when used as a monoblock.  It featured two massive 32,000 mF capacitora as the centerpieces of its power supply.

I owned one at the time and sold it as a system along with Heil speakers and a Citation 11 preamp to my closests friends when I got the urge to try something, and it has been in constant use ever since and still sounds fantastic.  Recently as part of my downsizing I sold my five home theatre Outlaw monoblocks and needed something to fill in until I can figure out what to make the permanent power amps in my main and secondary stereo systems.  I happened to see an Amber for sale at an inexpensive price, so I took a chance.  At first I wasn't impressed .... didn't sound as good as my friend's amp.  Then I remembered the power supply capacitor, was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of the manual, and sure enough heeded the warning that the amp would take days to reform the capacitors, and should ideally always be left on.  After a week of breakin, the beast sounds just like my friends.  I was encouraged enough to take a chance on a second Amber (one of the later models with wooden end caps) for my other system.  After breakin, similar results.

These amps have the clarity of vintage Audio Research and Conrad Johnson amplifiers.  They have decent transparency (not great ... is there any vintage amp that does?).  They are bright, but have no edge.  Strings sound like strings, snare drum strikes like snare drum strikes, and cymbals like cymbals.  Bass, of course, is excellent.  And voices sound natural.  At least that is my take, and at least one of the amps will stay in my system driving Thiel 2 2's.  The other drives my 3.5's just fine, but may be replaced.

I am interested in what you'all might think of or have experienced with the amp.  And of course, if any of you are still using one, as I now am.

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xharrylavo
I have a pair of Ambers: the original preamp and the Series 70 amp. I purchased them three years ago from different EBay sellers. They remain awaiting installation (lack of space!) at my place. The Audio Critic liked the amp. The price was right for both so I had to grab them! I'm an optimist so I will assume that they will work ok after sufficient warmup! I have had good luck with my purchases of vintage gear!
If I had more space I could sub the Ambers in place of the RGR 4 preamp and Son of Ampzilla presently driving the Time Windows. Alas ...
I was buddies with Anthony Gallo, of Gallo Acoustics, before Anthony made it big. I helped him along with his journey of loudspeaker design ( as a listener / beta tester only, and was offered, by him, to invest in his, then, company start up ). I did not have the funds he needed to get started, nor did I have a wife, at that time, who would allow me to, anyway. Getting back of this thread, Anthony used an Amber 70, for years, as his go to amplifier, during his earlier designs. I, with my very large amplifier collection, brought many of them over to his place, and although I preferred many of them over the Amber, the little Amber held it’s own. He still believed in the model 70, continuing to mod it beyond expectations. It was a good amp, at that time, and like many older amplifiers, I could imagine what a complete rebuild would be like ( better, newer components ). As many amplifiers from back then, and this ime, are somewhat dark sounding, with not much detail. I sold a # 70 2 years ago, as I was lessening my vintage collection, as opposed to Roberjerman above, and many others, who likes older designs, and continue to buy them. Stock, today, nothing special, again, imo. YMMV. Enjoy ! MrD.
roberjerman .... well, you still have a couch available, don't you?  why do you have to sit down, anyway.  Standing is better for your health.:-)

mrdecibel .... like you, I dream of what an upgrade could do to these amps.  I may have a tech friend do a capacitor upgrade on one of my Ambers so I can listen side by side.  I agree that vintage gear needs upgrading .... the revolution in passive components during the 1980's makes a huge difference in transparency.  

All that said, these are still musically pleasant speakers, as is today.
Harry, I believe you meant, musically pleasant " amplifiers ", in your last sentence, lol. I would discuss with your tech friend, other parts and components, that can be changed out, besides the capacitors. I had so many amplifiers, that, in their day, were wonderful. As I mentioned, I lessened my collection, as I did not see the monetary worth of doing rebuilds with many of them, and, in their present state, I was not interested in using them daily, so I sold them. I was a collector, but now, I am leaving the collecting to roberjerman, and others like him, lol. Enjoy ! MrD.
Thanks mrdecibel .... you have it right.  And my old age is just making such mistakes more common, unfortunately.

Your advice is solid .... I will surely talk with my friend before undertaking anything more ambitious than the capacitors.
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