Anyone done A / B listening to compare vintage stereo receivers with today’s Amps/Preamps?

I bought a Pioneer SX-1050 new in 1977. It was my first serious audio purchase and set me back around $3000 when adjusted for inflation to today’s dollars. IOW, quite a lot.  In 1985 I made my second major audio purchase when I bought Quad ESL-63 electrostatic speakers and a Quad Amp and Preamp. The Pioneer wound up in my closet where it has set until 2018 (34 years) when I put it to work in my second best system, the TV room. Last month I decided to have it refurbished and I have to confess it set me back way way more than I expected, but it does sound very good indeed.  

But I’m definitely wondering if I made a good investment. And how the Pioneer, specifically the SX-1050, but others of similar character,  compares to present day equivalents.  

Has anyone done any comparative listening to electronics in the $3000-$5000 range? How does the Pioneer compare?  

Answering that question would go at least some way to answering the question whether the vintage electronics are as good or better than those designed and built for today. And whether I made a good investment.

My TV System
Vizio 60” Ultra HD
Spendor FL-6 floor standing speakers
Arcam SR-250 two-channel AVR used for video only
Pioneer SX-1050 used for audio only
Video sources:
1 - Dish DVR
2 - Oppo UDP-205 DVD
3 - Roku streamer
4 - Pioneer Elite CLD-99 Laser Disc Player
@echolane, there are some who say that amplifier technology matured as long ago as 1960 - give or take a few subtle tonal variations thereafter.

The only thing of possible concern might be the power rating - but this usually depends upon upon loudspeaker ease of drive.

I used to own a 1970s Japanese amplifier which I gave away about 15 years ago.

As far as I know it's still working fine.

As far as I know it still sounds remarkably similar to a NAD 3020.
Hello echolane, I think you're making a good investment. I bought a Pioneer SX-1980 and had it re-capped and thoroughly gone-over by a Pioneer tech specialist. When I tried it in my main system, the Pioneer soon displaced a well-known modern amp & pre-amp, and I never missed them. The only other physical change I've made to the SX-1980 is to replace the captured power cord with a Furutech NCF IEC socket (wired as a 2-prong) so that I could use a high performance power cord. I also use high performance interconnects, and footers. Together with my speakers, the Pioneer is very transparent and revealing of all the upstream equipment. I mostly listen to vinyl. I use a high end moving coil cartridge and SUT, and an outboard phono stage (not the internal Pioneer phono). My local audiophile friends are always impressed how it's not only the best sounding Pioneer receiver they've ever heard, but how well it sounds, full stop.
btw I also own a restored Pioneer SX-1250. The market value of these famous Pioneer receivers does not depreciate, unlike modern gear. And they also have useful features like tone controls and loudness contour switch (gasp!).
If you're happy with the way it looks and sounds then yes, you made a good investment. Even without knowing what you spent its a slam dunk you could have got a lot more sound for the money just about any other way. But still, if it looks and sounds good to you....
I had the “ legendary” 70’s era MARANTZ 2270 receiver that has evolved over the years with many system incarnations, to my present 2-channel integrated amp audio systems (.... 3 of them ranging from $3K to $50K...) (I also still have an early 80’s system as my garage system as a 4th )

In brief, in all cases the current audio electronics product offerings audio performance clearly best the vintage receiver audio performance, with a performance improvement gap rising exponentially in lockstep with the price point strata.

Simply put, the technology, design, build and resulting audio output today is far superior today to 70’s era gear, notwithstanding that the latter has a certain nostalgia appeal to a certain segment of the audio enthusiast population.
The parts used today are simply on an entirely higher level of quality and performance. Just this fact alone means much has changed with amplifiers over the years. 
Things that have changed over the years are: solid state parts were designed as through-hole components, now mostly surface mount and integrated circuits. That makes the assembly a lot more compact and so eg. circuit board inductance reduces, allowing designs with lower distortion at high frequencies. Microprocessors have taken over duty from discrete circuits that monitor the safety of the circuit and your speakers. Resistors have lower noise and tighter tolerance. Capacitors have better etching techniques to make them both smaller and lower impedance. Remote control is common. Digital techniques to manage analog circuits are common, as is the digital format itself. The technology of tube equipment has benefitted mainly from better tolerance components and much better high voltage capacitors. Some tubes themselves are also now made using computer-guided precision, an interesting use of two seemingly opposing technologies. So the extremes of tube batch variations are much reduced.
But don’t discount the older stuff just yet, there were some cracking state of the art designs in the late 70s and 80s like Sansui and high end Onkyo who’s circuits would be very elaborate to build today. TBH I’m not familiar with Pioneers of that era though!
That turntables, for all their flaws, are still around and sounding better than ever tells you that just because technology is old, it doesn’t mean it’s not good anymore. There is also a trend towards reel to reel these days, old tech done with new techniques!
So there’s a general trend over the years to lower distortion which can manifest itself as transparency in the sound, and more stable circuitry.

Post removed 
I had commented on this question in the OP’s other recent thread. An excerpt from my comments, with a few words shown in brackets added by me now:

Regarding comparisons of vintage vs. recent equipment, a seemingly obvious point but one which often seems to not be taken into account in discussions of this subject is that comparisons should be based on similar present day prices. For example AustinStereo pointed out above that a restored SX-1050 is worth around $1000. So a fair comparison between that component and modern ones should be to a modern component (or a combination of components) providing preamp, power amp, [moving magnet phono stage], and tuner functionality, with comparable maximum power capability, for a total of around $1000.

Regarding some of the other points that have been made, it is certainly true that "distortion wars" occurred during the 1970s, in which feedback was applied in a heavy-handed manner to produce the lowest possible Total Harmonic Distortion numbers. With the consequent adverse effects on Transient Intermodulation Distortion and increased emphasis of distortion components that are the most objectionable not yet being generally recognized....

... My own preference among vintage components is for well restored tube equipment from the 1950s and 1960s, a lot of which can provide very good sonics and great value relative to present day price points.

-- Al

Transistors have advanced since the 1970s. Back then it was a big deal if the output of the amp had complementary symmetry.
The distortion of the 70s gear was often higher than that of later years and often higher than rated. But a lot of it doesn't sound all that bad as it has more 2nd harmonic than later designs have, owing to the large amount of single-ended circuitry present in the voltage amplification circuits.

There are other things causing colorations- such as inappropriate use of tantalum capacitors for coupling and extensive use of carbon film resistors. Many of them had poor grounding technique, often using a corner of the circuit board used for mounting the board to the chassis doubling as ground for that circuit board as well. So when I see equipment like this one thing I do right away is tighten all the circuit board mounting screws.

As long as you don't push them too hard they don't sound that bad. They've never struck me as all that three dimensional though!
These older receivers incorporate so much wire, switches, and cram things up against one another. Some are beautiful to look at, and actually sound ok. But, that is all. The prices they are going for, is ridiculous, imo. YMMV......

Great informative post! 

When it comes to amplifiers I must have been lucky to have never suffered with reliability issues. Not with my NAD 3020, nor with my various Naim amps. The Naim 32.5 / 110 appeared to be more or less bomb proof.

Yet rather dusturbingly, considering all the advances in construction, I have known of at least 3 recent integrated designs which have all experienced some form of malfunction. 2 of them were due to leaking capacitors, the other was a transformer. One was a budget design, other a mid, and the last one a £2k design.

Happily in all three cases the manufacturer was good enough to arrange a repair for free or very reasonable cost. 
I agree with mrdecibel, there are generally lots of switches with the audio signal going through them in older gear. There are some issues with that.
Apart from the extra wiring needed to get the signal from the circuit board to a front-mounted switch, which can make the amplifier cramped inside, there are contact issues to talk about.
The big manufacturers generally used silver plated switch contacts which have low resistance and thus good sound quality when functioning correctly. But being silver they tarnish and lose conductivity over time. Without operating the switch occasionally to get the contacts to scrape off the tarnish, bad electrical contact develops and very high distortion or non-function can result.
Silver plated contacts are generally best used for power circuit switches as they dissipate less power at higher current, and the small arc caused by switching high current ‘wets’ the contact and keeps it functioning well, until it eventually wears out. Then you get pitted contacts that can burn, and it’s time to replace the switch.
Gold plated switches don’t tarnish and have very stable contact over time, and are more expensive due to the higher cost of gold. But they have higher contact resistance and because gold is a soft metal, using the switch a lot will wear it out faster than a silver plated contact switch. The small arc caused by switching power with a gold plated switch will burn the contact much faster, and so they are used for low current signal switches.
So there are benefits and problems with both switch types. Today’s equipment tries to sidestep that with solid state switches made up of transistors (generally mosfets) that have no tarnishing or wear from operating them. So the reliability of modern techniques is far better when it comes to switches. Unfortunately mosfets used as switches have a lot higher, and non-linear resistance than a mechanical switch and so some high end manufacturers still use mechanical switches for routing audio signals. But they need to be maintained by servicing over time.
Thus older equipment can be good but service those switches!
Poweramps usually use relays for speaker protection and they need to be maintained in good condition, as they have a critical role. They need low resistance for speaker currents, but there is no arc when it operates as the audio power is at zero when it does turn on. So especially for these relays, the contacts need to be kept in good order for low distortion. Older equipment used speaker relays by default. Newer equipment can use electronic techniques instead of relays so the reliability is greatly improved.
Transformer coupled tube amps don’t need output relays as the output transformer itself isolates the speaker from the dangerous voltages power tubes run on.
In my own preamps I’ve resorted to using mechanical gold plated switches for good SQ, but when they wear out I’ve made the layout so they can be replaced reasonably easily, and ready for the next decade of use.

To lowrider
who asked if my Pioneer was sounding any better:

Quite a bit better!  I am confident it has benefited greatly from a breaking in  period.  One of these days I will find an easy way to compare how it sounds with something else if that something else happens to come my way.   Until then I am super pleased And hopefully I will still be as pleased if I get an opportunity to do comparative listening.
responding to comments about so many switches the signal must pass through, I have to admit most of these sorts of techie comments are over my head, but I feel safe in commenting that I very much agree in principle with a “less is more” philosophy.

With all those many parts and it’s age, I fear it might be a maintenance problem though I certainly hope I am wrong about that. If I had unlimited funds I’d almost certainly not keep the Pioneer, but my investment to refurbish it was cheaper by far than I would have spent to replace it.   At the moment, I’d much rather spend money on streaming and I’m presently only a few steps away from bringing Roon to all four of my household stereo systems.

Just keep a spray can of switch contact cleaner handy when you notice a switch giving issues.
@echolane, glad to hear about the improvement. It must be like spending time with an old friend.

And I remember back in the day using contact cleaner on my Japanese receivers.

I will pass on some advice my long time audio repair fellow  has given me, which is to rotate knobs and move switches fairly often so any tarnish is not given a chance to accumulate.

So, for example, every time I switch sources on my big tube amp, I rotate the knob through all five of its possible sources before settling it to the proper source.

I ought to mark my calendar to every month rotate all the knobs and move all the switches on the Pioneer.  Hopefully that won’t wear things out before their time!
As somebody that has had over 100 Vintage 1970's receivers I can tell you that PIONEER...all of them...cant touch the Higher End Sansui's, Sanyo's, Onkyo's or Kenwood's. I mean its not even close. The Sanyo JCX2900K is the biggest bargain of all of them for 400-500 or less in great shape.
Echolane, +1 for moving the switches regularly to keep them working well.
I help maintain a studio mixing console with hundreds of mechanical switches. The advice given in the service manual is to do just that, operate them regularly to keep tarnishing to a minimum. Some of the switches are so stubbornly tarnished though that I have to disassemble the switch and scrape the delicate contacts clean manually. That’s from years of not moving them enough previously.
To riaa who said this:
As somebody that has had over 100 Vintage 1970's receivers I can tell you that PIONEER...all of them...cant touch the Higher End Sansui's, Sanyo's, Onkyo's or Kenwood's. I mean its not even close. The Sanyo JCX2900K is the biggest bargain of all of them for 400-500 or less in great shape.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I can only respond by saying ignorance is bliss :)
A big reason I had the Pioneer redone was that I already owned it.  I also admit that there was also a big dose of nostalgia involved, after all it was my first big audio purchase back in 1977, and it was also something that gave me a great deal of pride and pleasure at the time.   It’s a looker, too with its real walnut sides and top and a fancy looking front face,  so I’m satisfied for now.  If I should happen to come across something that makes my heart beat fast for its much better sound, I’ve had my fun and I could let it go.  But I have to add that  it would most  likely not be a vintage product.

To ndevamp Who said this. 
Echolane, +1 for moving the switches regularly to keep them working well.
I help maintain a studio mixing console with hundreds of mechanical switches. The advice given in the service manual is to do just that, operate them regularly to keep tarnishing to a minimum. Some of the switches are so stubbornly tarnished though that I have to disassemble the switch and scrape the delicate contacts clean manually. That’s from years of not moving them enough previously.

I don’t always live up to my own advice!  I’ve just put a monthly reminder in my calendar so I won’t forget.  I’m glad I don’t have as many switches as you do :-)
I wouldnt get rid of your piece either AND I would have done exactly as you did for nostalgia/sentimental reasons. I have a couple of the BLACK FACE SX-1050's (European version SX-5580) which I greatly prefer visually.  I have my original receiver from High School as well....The Technics SA-205. Still works..worth about $50 at best and I wouldnt sell it for $500.
As I understand the nostalgia thing ( owning some of these products over the years ), the worst of it, ime / imo , are the speaker switching, and the output relays, in most of these units. Yes, convenience, and a way of protection ( same for speaker fuses ), but a no no for SQ. Sorry, just the reality of things.