Fortunately, most of the old/vintage stereo receivers or amplifiers, be it, Marantz, Denon, NAD, or Cambridge Audio, had that warm house sound – there is a certain richness in them that defined their sound signature. Never brittle, or trying to act smart with the oversimplification of vocals and highs. The amps today, even from the manufacturers listed above, vary wildly between warm and bright – with many of them resorting to the dreaded ‘V’ curve with accentuated bass and treble equalization.
However, the expensive amps from these manufacturers are either warm or neutral, but the lineup down below from the same manufacturer tends to be overly bright or thin in most cases.
Beyond the ‘watts’ mentioned by the manufacturer, what also matters is the current pushed by the amplifier to drive your loudspeakers. So, if you get a good deal on an old stereo amplifier or receiver, just go get it. Throw in a good DAC or streamer into the mix and enjoy the music.
Remember: The wattage should be for both channels driven at 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz with a total harmonic distortion (THD) below 0.08%. For example, the good old and the most famous NAD 3020 power ratings go like this:
Power output: 20 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo) Frequency response: 10 Hz to 70 kHz Total harmonic distortion: 0.02%
Well, nothing like getting your hands on a vintage stereo amplifier with VU meters!