Can a Amp be "timeless" and compete with todays amps?

I’ve been into hi resolution audio for 20+ years, well longer than that but acquired high quality gear about that time. I veered off into other interests for 15 years but still had my system sitting idle in it’s dedicated room. I became interested in it again 6 months ago and began to update it. I still have my Rega Planar 25 table and a Dragon phono stage.  I retained my CEC TL1 transport, but replaced my DAC with a Dinafrips Venus II, I also have the Hermes DDC which I feed my CEC into as well as my Cambridge Streamer. I sold my Genesis V speakers because they were having an issue with the left channel bass and since they were out of business I had no way to fix them, it was over my head. I found someone that wanted them and was willing to repair them himself. (he is very happy with them) I replaced them with some Goldenear Triton 1.r’s which I love. So here is the nostalgia part. I still have my VAC Cla 1 Mk II pre amp and my VAC Renaissance 70/70 Mk II amp. I feel they still hold up well sonically, so my thoughts are to send them both to VAC for the Mk III updates this fall of 2022, which includes replacing any necessary parts and "voicing" them back to new as intended when they were first made. I really believe these pieces are worthy of the restoration, are newer pieces today really going to make much headway? I cannot afford to replace these items with "like" items as I am retired and the discretionary income isn’t there anymore. I just feel like they are still really good and offer a very high quality sound. I mean 8- 300 B tubes can’t be all that bad can they? I’ve voiced the pre amp with with Telefunken 12AX7’s and I have a small stash of them. Tube sound is still great right?


Just my two cents,

1. Has Amp technology, outside of digital or class D, really advanced that much? I personally do not think so.

2. People spend thousands trying to replicate the sound of "golden era" components. Maybe more so on the recording side of things (mics, compressors, analog tape, etc). However, people seek the "golden" sound of tubes, speakers, etc as well

I would send in your components and let VAC give them a go-over. IMO, you have endgame equipment.

Even if you want new features, .....

Definitely upgrade them, then break em in, keep or sell them already upgraded.

why wait till the fall? just when you begin to spend more time indoors they will be in the shop.

I say upgrade them NOW! Begin enjoying the upgrade sooner.

Any advice from VAC on turn around time? Typical slow periods for them to get it done sooner?


In the fall I leave for Florida for the Winter, but return home for the holidays, so I can pick them up in Sarasota and bring them back home with me to enjoy over the holidays. So I can ship them there just before i leave and bring them back with me. I am also saving up for the upgrades which aren't cheap.

I am having a pair of 1960 Altec Lansing 1570B mono blocks refurbished and modded. I have listened to these and the sound is just incredible. They were originally commercial amps and not suitable for home audio but the modifications change that in a big way. John Tucker (Exempler Audio) will have mine ready in about a month. Golden age gear with a modern twist.

Enthusiastic 'yes' to upgrading the VACs and enjoying then for another 20 years, God wish.  I am only a few years from you age wise.  Like you, I am in the process myself of determining the baseline system for the next 15 or 20.  My Prima Luna amps are keepers.  

Good luck, Rich 


A lot of people try to meditate, exceptionally few make it to real enlightenment.

High end audio is no different.

Lots of people try to make it to the the peak of the best in audio..but... few recognize it and few, few make it, and few sell it.

Popularity of gear is the center of the bell curve, as.. it is, in all measure, a human bell curve. Where projections of what is best will be what they are, projections.

The first false peak, one might say. The one that all the heavy advertising is built out of.

The best selling brands are not the best, never have been - and never will be. It’s just life.

And, if one moves to the best in gear, it will be difficult to find, difficult to discern, and if one makes it there, no one will listen to them. Maybe ... not even understand what they say, at all.

Just like mediation and enlightenment, or any other endeavor that deals with a decently sized cross section of of people. A pattern emerges. One that repeats itself in all human endeavor and groupings.


Arthur Salvatore’s website (don’t even know if it exists, anymore), among others, covered this sort of issue or problem. This is specifically regarding your (the op’s) scenario. He said it, like (I paraphrase), ’the high end audio technician is your best friend. your most desirable friend. The most valuable person in audio, to you. As they alter the gear to sound as best it can, beyond the factory spec/parts, beyond the orignal spec. Not just repair of valued high end gear, but to upgrade it. The rarest technical beast/unicorn of all, the high end tech with an ear and can do good repair work. A talented one, would be one who understands what each and every single part does to the ’sound’ of a piece of gear. and they can then, with your desires in mind, go into the gear, and bring that to you - if it is possible to do so."

This is, essentially, the last stop in audio, the last leg of the journey, the last few step sup the hill of audio enlightenment. When i see people reject modified audio gear, out of hand, I think of how right that can be, but also how wrong it can be. It’s a complex affair to judge the competency of a good audio technician.

the next problem is the monkey. the monkey carrier, the one who wants to slip into the bushes on the savanna and have some semi-illicit sex with the young female monkeys. Where they are both supposed to be subservient to the top monkeys, and not do such things.

Then, foraging for food, a thing done for the self by the self. When this sort of instinctual paring/area gets into audio, we find that we want everything good, to be free, and work hard to find that opportunistic moment. So we want the best gear for the lowest price and we’ll wander far and expend lots of energy to try and get there, via that method. Just part of being ’human’.

This is some of this sort of stuff that is in the way of getting to the best in audio. Or, to circle back and ground it.,a bit... sending the gear in to have it modded out is a viable path to getting to better audio. In my mind, it is far better than buying new.

Depends on the expense, though. Does reputation (tied to popularity) allow for gouging in prices? Or is the work good for the prices involved? A point which is difficult for the lay person to understand. Recall that success(in it’s breadth) is for mediocrity, not pinnacles or peaks. To keep that in mind when reviewing situations. The coin to analyze has not just those two sides, but is multi-faceted.

All that be as it may, modding gear is the last stage in the last rungs of the ladder of high end audio.

As another data point, my Ampsandsound Nautilus is modeled after the Harman Kardon Citation 2 which was introduced in 1959. Granted it is not my main speaker  amplifier (I bought it to use as a headphone amp) but when driving my Devore O/93's the sound is different than but just as good as my ARC Ref 150 SE. Your VAC's after a refresh will be right up there with the best of modern anps, imho. 


As a lawyer I mediate a lot. It sometimes results in settlement of the pending litigation. The word you are looking for in your spiritual search is "meditation". Also, that is one weird and non-specific post you got there!


Just about the norm for me. Simple answers are generally for buffoons, unless you find yourself running from a baboon.

Life is entirely non-specific, even if our wiring is designed to generally see it in black and white terms. The mind expands, the body narrows.

Black and white terms are things we force into existence, things that dissipate under the slightest touch or inquiry. As a mediator.... I’m sure you get that one...

And just to keep the lawyer jokes running (a bit of humor), here’s Jordan spending an hour saying that lawyers are entirely non-creative. (highly intelligent, sure but ....)

I really appreciate all this insight, just to be clear the updates are done at the VAC factory, with their specified parts and the final release of the amp and pre amp's voicing is given by Kevin Hayes himself before it is returned. This is not some hot rod job, but a certified update. I think I am on the right path. Great feedback!

I really believe these pieces are worthy of the restoration...

Those are really nice amps. Certainly keepers. But I did want to say that eight 300B tubes can get into a lot of money.  

My experience over the last forty years of owning top level amps… although in the past mostly solid state (but my preamps and phono stages have been tubed) is that, ten years is a significant improvement in performance… and twenty is in a completely different league. I have followed some brands like ARC, VAC, CJ, and Cary, occasionally auditioning. My feeling is that the evolution of solid state has been faster that tube (coming from further behind). But tube amps have evolved towards better resolution very substantially… while digital had to get more natural.

Give that, I would expect that a restored twenty year old tube amp will sound good… but not perform at todays standards. If it were me, I would compare using your amps as a trade in, as is, versus using your upgraded amps as trade in. Perhaps that analysis would help. I actually traded in my 15 year old Pass x350 at only a reduced value of $500.. so, the trade I got was only $500 less than I paid for it… helping offset the cost of my new amp substantially.

I am retired. I did a major upgrade a couple years ago. I am so happy I did. I spend over three hours a day listening and being awed by my system. It was worth it for me. But you have to look at your own situation.

The best sounding amp I owned was a VAC Renaissance 70/70 Signature. I only sold it because I had to send it to VAC twice for repairs and each time, it would take 6-8 weeks for the repair and the price to repair fairly simple issues was disproportionately costly. Also, the Signature version of the amp weighs approx. 120 Lbs and I just couldn’t handle it any more (physically and financially). Today I’m using a vintage Music Reference RM9 MK2 with Siemens EL34’s, which Roger Modjeski rebuilt for me in 2017... the amp sounds fantastic, is physically unimposing and has been trouble free.

The Music Reference RM-200 has been in the Stereophile Recommended Component List for over 20 years, with one model/design change in all that time (from original to Mk.2). Compare that with the amps of ARC ;-) . Unfortunately designer/builder Roger Modjeski died a few years back, so there won't be any more made. Some like his RM-9 even more than the RM-200, others---including Roger---his cute little RM-10. Me, I love 'em all, and own one of each.

My Jeff Rowland model 8T modded is still able to compete with almost all of the current 'favorite' ss amps today. I think if an amp is able to deliver close to that 'straight line with gain' aspect that Peter Walker coined, then I think it is somewhat timeless.

I remember back a long time ago when I had a prescription for Stereophile and I’d see VAC’s ad for those 70/70s and I would drool. . . . Everybody has their own situation, but if it was me, and I had that stuff, I’d stick with what I had (even without the upgrades).


How cool that you hung onto some great equipment, updated it, and will enjoy it for many years to come.  That old saying “buy once, cry once” holds true in this situation.  I’ve just bought a new integrated, but hope to hold onto it for the rest of my life.  Enjoy the upgrade and report back!

Amp is an Amp it's all in the source. 

@jerryg123  if I interpret that statement correctly, you are saying that all amps are created equal?

Amp is an Amp you can make what ever nonsense you want out of it DB.

My amp is better than yours as I am a VIKING!

Amp is an Amp you can make what ever nonsense you want out of it DB.

I think the SET folks would probably debate that.  Maybe there are some points of clarification that I am missing.

I always thought that the VAC Renaissance 70/70 was just a bad ass looking amp! VAC is outstanding equipment! Personally I would go for the upgrades and enjoy absolutely timeless equipment! Always lusted over that line! Also talked with the president at the Florida audio expo. He still has one in his closet! Very cool gear indeed! Enjoy!😎🎶

I always thought that the VAC Renaissance 70/70 was just a bad ass looking amp!

@gregp858   +1!   For real!  I used to experience sexual feelings when I saw it advertised in Stereophile!

Like Tim de Paravicini said :(30 y. ago. )It Will take more than 50 y. when  one even comes close to the sound that was then designed with tube amps. Class D will never reach that level. And he is right ! Look at the EAR 509 : more tha 30 years still the same… what a sound ! I have the VAC phi 300.1 : never heard a sound so beautiful like that. The emotion, “feeling” the music, placements…a lot of new amps.are very to the point , but cool, well detailed ,but without soul or emotion……

An amp is an amp?  Julian Hirsch has been resurrected on this Easter Sunday!


I would send in your components and let VAC give them a go-over. IMO, you have endgame equipment

I agree with this assessment.  The VAC Renaissance  70/70 is a superb tube power amplifier built to a very high standard. You can undoubtedly find different sounding current production amplifiers, better sounding? You’d be hard pressed to find find that IMO. Despite much hype and marketing efforts "very little" has changed with high quality tube amplifiers that were well built and have excellent implementation.

@fthompson251 , your amplifier is an example of a timeless audio component if pure quality of sound is the over riding priority. Much can be rendered with the KT 150 tube but 8 300bs in well executed push pull is just different. 



 An amp is an amp?  Julian Hirsch has been resurrected on this Easter Sunday.

I could not agree more.👍


Our late great member Almarg owned the VAC 70/70 for many years. With all of his knowledge, that says something for it. I loved the looks and the fact that it used 300b's. I never had the pleasure of hearing one.

Who ever claims Amp is an Amp lacks experience.

I think he might lack more than that.

I believe So,


Ralph Karsten of Atma-Sphere commissioned an OTL Amplifier with no Compromise on parts, Design or Circuitry. It was built using all his 45++ Years of knowledge, Amps like these will become timeless collectors' art. I just put it up for sale for the reason of downgrading our building and rooms but it's been hurting me last few weeks to see it go.

David Hafler was designing Amplifiers in the 50’s under Acrosound and then Dynaco The Hafler DH-200 was introduced using mosfet outputs, a feature that was way ahead of the rest of the pack. In the late 80’s Hafler hooked up with the Rockford Corporation where they took on the challenge of creating high end amplifiers. The 9505 by all accounts was one of the most musical power amps ever made.


Genesis was purchased years ago and Gary (forget his last name) still runs he company.  All components can be repaired or upgraded to complete with todays products as long as the parts are available and the part numbers are                     there.  Been doing repairs and upgrades for years.

"My experience over the last forty years of owning top level amps… although in the past mostly solid state (but my preamps and phono stages have been tubed) is that, ten years is a significant improvement in performance… and twenty is in a completely different league.". --. ghdprentice.


I would be the other dissenter then because my experience is the same as yours. Even really great equipment 10 or 20 years out has been surpassed, even in the amp category. I also tried to upgrade a top of the line tube amp and preamp 20 years old, 15 years old by having them be rebuilt and upgraded with the latest and the greatest parts. Unfortunately I ended up selling them and buying newer high-end amps and preamps. 

Now the upgraded equipment was much better than the original and there were obvious sonic improvements but just not as good as the latest and greatest equipment. 

Even the very idea people on this form are saying you should upgrade and tweak the equipment you've got to modern day standards should tell you that modern day equipment will be better. Of course modern day equipment at the equivalent purchase price of the old equipment.




you are a man with a plan, impressive.

It's very nice to get a vintage piece back that has been properly checked over by competent people you trust. I visit a friend who lives a few miles from Audio Classics, I feel they are in my back pocket!

I see your amp has 6SN7. My Cayin has 6SN7's and 6SL7's. I mixed em up by mistake, blew one. Researched, picked a matched pair from Brent Jesse, I was very surprised at how much difference in sound they made, in my case not good. I was able to send em back, try another pick, they sound equally wonderful as the ones Cayin used whatever they are. Just saying, I would ask VAC some advice about recommended 6SN7's for yours while they have it. 



@elliottbnewcombjr  I still have the Golden Dragon 6sn7's and I have  back up complete set of tubes for the amp (8-300 Bs and 4 6SN7 Golden Dragons), they came with it when I bought it, but I bought all new tubes for it when I got it to start out with "freshies". It was used but gently with little time on it as I remember. I am looking into some Tung Sol USA black base but trying to predict a sound signature of a tub cab be tedious. 

Hornets 🐝 nest

There are some notable newer designs:

Lavardin - low memory 

Halcro - low distortion

the thing is that class a amps haven’t changed in essence

many classics they just got right. Some old components were just better:

old valves

old jfets 

some say tinned copper wire

But there is a lot of rehash of various topologies

My Sansui Au 7700 so good it was and so good it is right now will not compete in sound quality ( his versatility is unmatched though) with the Berning ZOTL technology which is  a bargain it seems in Audio offerings...

My exemple is valuable for other brand name for sure...

But my Sansui is enough for me twenty times less costly .... 😁😊

It was a legendary product and it is enough to reach heaven  especially in a controlled  acoustic ...