Best vintage amps (late 70s / early 80s) under $3k?

The golden age of audio was arguably the late 70s / early 80s, when corporations were willing to dump a ton of money into R&D / materials to make the best equipment possible. The downside to owning equipment from this period now is possible refurbishment and maintenance costs, but it seems good deals can still be had.

Wondering if you guys had recommendations of great sounding amps from this era? Ideally I'm looking for something that's 100W minimum, doesn't run hot, and under $3000 second hand.

I already have a fully refurbished late 70s Pioneer M-22 that outputs 30W into 8ohms. I love this amp, but being Class A it's like a radiator and not suitable for Southern California's summer months in a smallish room. More power would also be good as my speaker efficiency is 89.5db. I listen to many genres of music, so the amp needs to be a good all-rounder.

My current chain:

Turntable: Technics 1210M5G w/ AudioMods tonearm and Lyra Delos MC cart
Phono stage: Avid Pulsus
Preamp: Schiit Saga
Amp: Pioneer M-22
Speakers: Prana Fidelity Bhava
Subs: Rythmik L12
I've had a bunch of amps. For vintage, a good Mac 2100 or 2105 (same but the 2105 has meters) is hard to beat. Plays all types of music very well. A powerful sound with a large stage, but delicate when needed. I guess that's why these particular models sell for more than they cost when new.

Best vintage amps (late 70s / early 80s) under $3k?

For solid state I would say Threshold, Mark Levinson to name two.
And for tube I would say VTL, AR.

Cheers George
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I am not familiar with your speakers, and based on the name description, cannot find them on the net. I have owned the Pioneer Series 20 M22 and know it well. Does the amp clip ? 30 watts of class a power should be ok, even with your speakers, particularly in a smaller room. Can’t take the heat.....well..........try a Nuforce STA 200, on sale for $499. at AA. It is a sleeper. But, when you receive it, let it break in for a few hundred hours ( never turn it off, and leave a tuner playing, in mono, when not home ). Read about it first, as it is high gain with a low input sensitivity. And, I believe you can return it. I know some folks who own it ( as I do ). Enjoy ! MrD.
Thanks for all the responses so far.

mrdecibel - No, the M-22 doesn't clip and sounds great. I've just noticed higher wattage amps have a little more "driver grip" (for lack of a better phrase). Heat is the bigger issue right now.

It's true there's not much info on my speakers online, but they're highly regarded by those who've heard them (mostly at audio shows which the designer Steven Norber frequents). You can see them here:

personally, i wouldn't drop $3k on a vintage amp, which as you note will require refurbishment/repair and (arguably) can't compete with modern designs, but if i had to i would go along with roxy and get a macintosh, which has collector status and great resale.
I have McIntosh MC2200 and like it a lot. Its well below your $3K budget and can drive speakers loads down to 2 ohm with ease. Not fancy looking  - no meters, and runs cool. The only down side is it weighs 75 lbs. If you insist on spending your entire budget and looking for 100wpc, almost all your choices, e.g., Krell, Mark Levinson, etc., will be Class A and will run hot.  
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I do not believe a vtg McIntosh ss amp is as good sounding as the M22, given my own ownership and listening experiences. I gave you a solid recommendation. Enjoy ! MrD.
Steve’s speakers work well with our amps- we showed together at one of the last T.H.E. Shows in Las Vegas. Great guy too.

They are getting a bit harder to find now, but if you can find one of our older ’12-tube’ MA-1s (made in the late 80s or early 90s), you can often pick them up for a price within your budget. They are reliable and easily refurbished. The only downside is the heat- but there are simple and inexpensive ways to get rid of heat in a room. The better amps, whether tube or solid state, are going to make some heat due to the class of operation.
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with your budget why go that old there are many better choices that are much newer for your budget. 
+1 stereo5! I have two GAS Sons! Am listening to one right now with the DCM Time Windows 1A. Superb sounding combination! As good as today's big-buck gear!
glennewdick - Well, it depends on your definition of "better". In my opinion, to get a modern amp that’s of the same caliber as a vintage M-22 (generally around $1k used) you could potentially spend 5 to 10 times the price. I’m not ruling out contemporary audio equipment, but the really good stuff tends to be crazy expensive. This thread was designed to see if there are hidden vintage gems that can compete with today’s high-end offerings, without the need to sell a kidney.

I also have a mono pair of Quad 50's (fully refurbished!) that I might part with. Very rare amps! PM me!
As it always is, synergy and electrical compatibility would determine what vintage amplifier might be more preferable so as not to keep you waiting for ebm’s crystal ball.
Robertson 4010. I’ve got one in pristine condition that has seen off all comers in its power bracket (and some distance beyond).
Audionics of Oregon CC2

a Low TIM amp, one of the first..... and very sweet sounding.....

Pts, I wonder if any of the amps, posters are recommending, are amps that are stationary in their main listening rooms ? I know they were good in their day ( most have passed through my rooms ), but they do not compare to an M22. Get the Nuforce STA 200, and if you do not like it, return it. I rid myself of many amps this past year because of this " little " guy. I did not design it, nor do I have any affiliation with the company, but it sounds musical on several speakers I currently own, and I tried it on some other systems at some friends houses. Enjoy ! MrD.
mrdecibel - I wonder the same thing, but it's great to get recommendations from people who have been in the hobby far longer than myself. I google every amp that's suggested and read reviews and past forum discussions.

I wouldn't have bought the M-22 otherwise; that amp is truly loved by people who know what it's capable of. It's a shame about the heat, but hey, that Class A for you.

I do have a cool running 150W pre-lawsuit ODL (Odyssey Stratos) that's good for the summer months, but it's getting old (so old I wouldn't bother asking Klaus about refurbishment) and I can definitely do better.

I'm always hoping there are a few Audiogon-ers in the Los Angeles area that want to get together and shootout audio components over a few beers, but that doesn't always happen. You normally have to buy blind or hope there are a few audio stores around that have good demo rooms.

Regarding what you suggested; I actually know someone who has my speakers and a Nuforce STA 200 amp. He said it's decent, but not necessarily the best match. It's hear it's very impressive at first, but for longer listening sessions can get a little fatiguing due to the fast transient focus and slightly etched detail. Just one person's report though, I may still check it out.

Well of the things that I've heard from that era,  some already mentioned. 
Ampzilla.... Although the Son and Grandson sound better. 
Any of these with updated parts are excellent. 
Heathkit  AA-1600 & AA-1800.  Marshall Leach Amps, same as the others, with updated parts,  surprisingly good
Sumo Nine... Same, New power supply caps, replace most of the ceramic disc and this is an amazing amp today.  
Sumo Andromeda,  More power, but in my opinion, not as good as any above.  Odd because the Nine updated is probably the best by a small margin. 
Dynaco ST-70  in Tubes and ST-410 in solid state.  
SAE Mark series/00 series and 01 series... (not all, but many are really good with some decent parts upgrade. 
Sony TA-N80ES  excellent
I'm sure some would say Hafler... DH500,  I Had one,  it was ok
Eagle Kinetics pretty good
The Pioneer M22 has been mentioned, didn't have the power of the Spec's but sounded much better. 
A lot of people liked the Yammys… not me
Kenwood L07M.... really not bad 150 watt mono amps
The Carvers of that Era, I did not like at all
The Adcoms everyone knows those 
Phase Linear... several liked them,  not my cup of tea 
Kinergetics Research was certainly decent to very good depending on model. 
Nikko had a ton of Amps, I've heard at least 1 that was pretty good and 1 that WAS NOT... sorry, don't remember models. 
Amber 70 was a decent sounding amp
Threshold had a couple of good amps then... 
A lot of people like the big Rotel amp out then.  I thought it was mediocre
Of course Krell had the big KSA amps out,  they were good
Harmon Kardon… Don't remember, but one of the Citation amps was good
Ok,  I'm blanking on any more for the time being,  maybe more later

Thank you, timlub. Anything specific from your list that sounded like the M-22 on steroids and didn't run hot? That's what I'm after, ideally. can look for a Pioneer Series 20 M25, which shares the family sound with the M22, but having both, I would still stick with the M22. Once you go class A, it is hard for your ears to adjust to anything else. You and I both know the sonic wonder of the M22. There was a poster ( porsche something ) on the Tekton Double Impact thread that used an M22, and found something else to replace it, but if I remember correctly, it was also heat producing. I will gladly purchase your M22 when you are ready to sell, lol. P.S. : When I owned my M22, and I had a few of them, I changed out the ac cord to a much heavier gauge, it it made a wonderful improvement. I also believe the bias can be reset, taking it out of class A, and giving it more output, which is something to consider. Good Luck....Enjoy ! MrD.
I’ve spoken to someone who had an M-25. More power, inferior sound, and unfortunately just as much heat.

I know the guy who had the Tekton and M-22. He ended up getting a Don Sachs tube amp that he prefers. Tekton are very efficient speakers though, I used to own some.

I got a super experienced tech to refurbish my M-22. I asked about a new power cable, and he said "the line cord does not drop voltage when the power increases as it does in a class AB amp, so increasing the wire gauge buys you nothing. On the other hand, there are better quality line cords available. But again, I think the improvement will be subtle"... so I gave it a miss. I did get some Mundorf caps installed though, which are very nice. Gives the top end some sparkle, I think.
I concur with the recommendation to take a good look at the NUForce STA200 SS amps.  Check out the reviews on Absolute Sound, Hi Fi News, Stereophile, and the Audio Advisor website.  They have reduced the price to a rediculous cost as low as 449 each (Audio Advisor yesterday).  At 499 I purchased a pair to bi amp my Martin Logan SL3 electrostats.  I previously ran class A Stereophile recommended Creek 5350 SE’s, or alternatively a pair of restored and tweaked Harman Kardon Citation II tube amps that I spent a lot of money to completely rebuild and installed the best components and tubes available.  They sound awesome, until I acquired the NUForce STA 200’s.  They retail for over 1200 and were considered a bargain at that price, the sale price is rediculous.  Some pretty strong statements from users, that I agree with after they hit 20 hours..  My pre-amp is a tweaked out PAS-4 Dynaco tube (Panor 1995yr version) with the best Mundorf Supreme caps EVO Silver, gold, oil and using Vishay low uF bypass capacitors to refine the soundstage and the best tubes available including a quad of the HG Russian ‘75 6N23P’s and 60’s Grid Frame E83CC Tesla’s ( TeleF 803S grid frame copy) in the front end of the phono section.  The ML SL3’s electrostats have large panels that are extremely resolving to reveal the finest details.  There is no question to my ear that the NUForce STA200’s live up to the accolades  in users reviews and outperform anything else I’ve connected them to.  Fast, resolving, broader/deeper soundstage, clear, dead quite, unfatiguable.  And they run cool.  Eclipse my Creek’s and the HK II’s by a large margin that is very audible if not impressive.  I’m 65 yr old and have been running audiophile systems since I was 15 with my first tube Mac (cut a lot of grass for that).  I never thought I could be torn away from the tweaked HK Citations’s, but these NUForce amps are the best audiophile bargain and they are bran spanking new.  
@pts     Anything on my list that sounds like an M22 without running hot?  No. My old Sumo on that list is so significantly modified.  It is the best Sumo amp that I have heard,  Period.  The M22 won't hold up to this Nine.  Its been soooo long since I've heard a stock Sumo Nine, that I probably shouldn't comment between those,  but you can fry an egg on my Nine.  
The Old Heathkit's are really surprising, but again, they need a mod or two and better parts to stand up to todays amp,  but I really believe that you'd enjoy one of these models of Heathkit amps.. 
Remember, you are looking at very old amps.  Nothing wrong with good NPO ceramic disc caps, but these old amps are full of lower quality ceramic disc and all electrolytic need to be replaced to bring them up to par.... The Son of Ampzilla properly updated is also a nice sounding amp.  I actually own 3 amps on my list right now.  
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pts, wasn't the Sumo Nine a class A design too?

There is a company in CA that refurbishes Threshold and Forte electronics.  I think they were former Threshold employees.  I've seen several online comments on the quality of their work.  Checking with them, giving your priorities, might be helpful.
To pryso : I believe your question was for timlub. And yes, it was ( and still is ) class A. To pts : the power cord matters on all equipment, whether it drops voltage, or not. Enjoy ! MrD.
i run my CC2 in my vintage system as a backup while the MC240 was being rebuilt, it ran 3 ohm Apogee stage with gusto.....

 I got a pair of atmospheres M 60 amps that had been somewhat updated. I paid $2000 and I am incredibly happy with them.  I would put them against pretty much anything. But I do think the 0TL design is special 
tomic601, I have no doubt you use your CC2 sometimes, and I know it well. It is not to the level of whatever " main " amp you are using, or you would be using it in your main system. Most of the amps mentioned in this thread, and a point I made, is that none of these amps that are mentioned, are amplifiers that are used as the " primary " amp in the main systems by all of the posters, including the many amps " I still own ". Enjoy ! MrD.. 
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Mr D:   But I understand you have a “new favorite” with the NUforce STA200.  I’m curious, to compare notes, does it equal or best your previous favorite?  Increasingly, after only 40 hrs run time on the STA200’s, I will find it difficult to place the recommended Class A Creeks back in pocket or beloved HK Citation II’s, which are about as tweaked out as these can get.  They are different, the Creek brighter and more precise, the Citations a bigger soundstage that feels more live.  A complete new set of Mundorf Premium EVO Silver/gold/oil caps for each Citation runs > $500, or the cost of a new STA200 on sale at AA.  ???  Such is the cost of messing with the old gems.  To my old ear, the STA-200’s do more of both.  Its just another two steps up to “bring them up”.  Go figure, old dog doing new tricks.  It is NOT easy jumping into a new Vet when the 65 looks so nostalgic and turns more heads, I think that is part of what held me back.  You can’t deny the 65 looks fantastic when completely tweaked out, however also cannot deny the new one can kick its butt in raw performance.   In the end isn’t that what we want?  Sounding better to our own ears.   Unless what drives you is nastalga and collecting.  And many do follow this as their compas.  Had it not been for extensive user reviews by others, I would have never considered it.  Maybe its the glow of the tubes.  I’m after performance which is why the STA 200’s are destined to be my daily driver.  I’ll park the Citations for nastalga.  Hell they were built in 1960, was just 8 yrs old.  Like old friends.  They have required two major rebuilds over their life.   But as we age we deserve a new ride, that is reliable, and don’t need rust protection or an engine rebuild, so go buy em.  As you stated, can always send em back.
Check out the Luxman M-4000. I owned one years ago and it was outstanding! 180 watts 8 ohms and 360 into 4 ohms!

 My atmospheres are used in my primary system.    I don't have more than one system even though usually I have enough gear to do three of them. 
All these posts and no mention of Bryston. It puzzels me. They are probably the best value on the planet in SS. For under 3k you will get a 3Bsst2 160 watts a side that will drive anything you put behind them. They sound awsome leaning toward tube and are still well within a 20 year warranty.

Or spend 1/3 that and get a 3Bst which is also very good. You will have enough $ left over to upgrade another component. Maybe match with one of their pre amps for the synergy. 
I currently have several target area amps with one in my second system being used on a fairly regular basis, a ML 23.5, main system has a ML333. At work I run a Bedini 100/100 and because it is one of the first amps I ever bought new, a Perreaux 3150 as standby. Any and all would come in below your budget, and most well below. I run all three stsyems with a tube pre (two ARC and one Quicksilver). Since the ML are att AB heat is not much of an issue, Bedini is A as I recall but does not run terribly hot and I have left it on days at a time. 

My  0.02
@mrdecibel point taken but I dont think your argument is valid - the OP put several constraints on recommendation, most notable $3k or less, so should I be wasting his time recommending my main or 2nd system amplifiers one of which exceeds budget by a factor of 20?
i think not. 
happy listening...
@tomic601. I am not looking at any of this as an argument. To everyone else. I owned, and enjoyed, the Pioneer M22. And, my recommendation of the Nuforce is a sensible one, and in my experience, it betters many things mentioned here, and that is suitable to the desires of pts, without having to spend up to 3K, and without producing heat. I have owned every manufacturer mentioned ( with the exception of Atmosphere ), and many models from all of them. I like this Nuforce amp, as I bought it for the shits and giggles of it, at the $499 price. After a few hundred hours of constant music playing through it, I was quite impressed. I have tried it with several different types of speakers, and now run it exclusively through my mains ( 104 db horns ). There is no amp from my past I wish to own again. Not my Krell, not my CJ, not my AR, not my Stasis, not my M22, nor any from the above. I am curious as to why nobody mentioned McCormack. I am done with tubes, and I am done with Class A. All of those amps did a few things very well. This amp does all things very well. So, I recommend it. I sold 9 amplifiers from my collection this year, 6 of which brought me more than my $499., all because of this little fella. I do caution that it is high gain, with low input sensitivity, and only 80 wpc. I no longer need an amplifier that runs the equivalent to 4 or 5 incandescent light bulbs. I have a stove top for my eggs. I am happy listening. Although the STA200 is not class D, I do feel class D is the future, so why go backwards. I am not making the claim that it is the end all, for all people, but anyone I have spoken to who owns one ( some based on my recommendation ), loves theirs. Thank you, Enjoy ! MrD.
@bcaudio. Hafler DH 500 was mentioned by timlub. To the OP : Fast transient focus ? A definitive characteristic of live, unamplified music. Keep the M22 and ask Atmasphere how to control the heat issue, as he mentioned. Enjoy ! MrD.
I've enough suggestions now to explore and make a decision upon. Thanks to everyone for contributing!

Not really a practical option as these are extremely rare, but if you happen to get lucky and find a SONY TAN 8550 V-FET amp, grab it as fast as you can! Good condition one will cost $1500-$2000, only challenge is getting replacement V-FET if you blow one. It's in a different league than most of the amps mentioned in this thread, and I've auditioned many of them back in the days.
If you are into tubes, somewhat less rare are the Quad 2 monoblocks. Make sure they have the original transformers, all the rest is easy to replace.

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No mention yet of the Quad SS amps: the 303, the rare 50 monos and the 405. I have 'em all - and they have been restored/upgraded! Historically significant circuit designs from Peter Walker!