Amps from the 1980's -- What gear holds up sonically? Reliably?

Hi Everyone,

For me, the 1980s were a real "golden age" of amplifiers. Dr. Leach’s paper on building a low TIM amplifier had been widely distributed and relied on by budding designers, and lots of boutique brands came. It was also the era of the biggest of the Conrad Johsnon tube amps as well and the invention of the MOSFET.

For me, brands I cared about:

  • Threshold
  • Sumo
  • Perreaux (New Zealand, very pretty)
  • Tandberg
  • Hitachi
  • Kyocera
  • Nikko
  • Krell (of course)
  • CJ
  • ARC
  • Yamaha (professional)
  • Carver
  • Mark Levinson
  • Amber 
  • Tandberg
This was also the speaker era of Snell and Apogee and Martin Logan. I am not sure there would be a Krell today if it wasn't for Apogee's 1 ohm speakers.

I’m curious who is still listening to these vintage pieces, and which brands you think have stood up both in terms of reliability and / or sonics ?
I too am amazed a Phase Linear is still working, known as Flame Linears even when new. I had a 700B and it blew up on a regular basis. 

What I haven't seen mentioned is that all of these amps had large electrolytic caps in their power supplies and it is indisputable that these caps have a limited lifetime. It is debatable how long that is but 30 years is definitely over the limit. These amps will be transformed if they are re-capped.

Electron Kinetics Eagle 7a still powers my low end after 20 years. -No urge to upgrade yet, cause I can't lift the beast, and the grip on the woofers is profound.
I own a pair of Classe DR-9 amplifiers, bullet proof and still kicking hard.They are 30 years old.

 jd157, you may be pleasantly surprised. The Krell SA-250 sounded great on a pair of A1s years ago. The Levinsons should too.

There's really nothing new in the amplifier word only better parts. An upgraded amp from years ago will probably sound as good as most new stuff and sometimes even better.