Quad Receiver as Preamp in Little Cocktail Bar


Help Support QuadraphonicQuad:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New member
Jul 30, 2022
Hi all!

Long time, first time. I’ve searched the forums and can’t find this specific question. I'm very much in the planning phase, so if you think this is a terrible idea please let me know!

I’m opening a cocktail bar this winter. 16'x75', about 60 seats. There is a loud standing zone and a quiet(er) seated zone. I want a vintage hifi receiver to be a focal point behind the bar. I'm looking for a very specific set of features in this receiver.

(A) A Quad with preamps for both the front and rear channels on the back of the unit.
(B) Needs level knobs on the front of the unit to control balance between left, right, front, rear.
(C) Needs to run a 4 speaker stereo mode through the preouts (L->LF+LR and R->RF+RR).
(D) On those wild all-standing room nights, it's sometimes better to run mono. If there is a system-wide mono button that went through the pre outs that would be great. Not a dealbreaker if not.

I'll be running those preamp lines to a hidden (read: ugly) modern 4 channel rack amplifier that would power the speakers. But I would be able to adjust the master volume, balance, tone, etc from the vintage hifi behind the bar. I'm basically using this unit as a pretty preamp.

I want to see an illuminated tuner, bouncing VU meters, old fonts, etc - the more "stereo wars" aesthetic the better. Here are some models that I've seen:

-- Sansui QR-4500 and 6500 would work great! (They dropped the rear preamps with the QRX-xxxx though?)
-- Pioneer QX-9900 and 8000 would work. (The Pioneer 949 has that wonderful scope VU meter, but alas no rear preamps)
-- Marantz 4xxx (A lot of them have the rear preamps, but these are often WAY too expensive).

My question is this:
(A) Do you have any model recommendations? Since I just need the preamp section, power is not a concern.
(B) Do you have a perfect unit you'd be willing to sell?
(C) Do you have any overall thoughts or suggestions on this setup? I am not an expert, but I gather this forum is full of them!

Again, thank you so much for any help!
Last edited:
Check "HiFi Engine" for operation and service manuals of vintage Quad equipment you should be able to find the information that you want for many/most models.

I think that it is a fine idea to use a vintage quad receiver as a preamp. One caveat is that any vintage component is likely to require some servicing. The most common problems are intermittent switches and noisy potentiometers. A capacitor upgrade/replacement is also a good idea.

The Sansui QRX models would be among the best for the decoder action. The Marantz are generally overpriced and the decoder is not very good.

You might look at vintage decoders as well, some of them have a lot of pre-amp like features.

For operation in a bar you might look at the Gemini SP-1 Circle Surround Decoder. Not vintage quad but it is intended for professional applications. It likely lacks all the functions that you are looking for but it can be set for surround/dual stereo/diagonal stereo. I also has a sub output. It is available cheaply.

The "perfect" unit likely does not exist, that is why I've long been into DIY. I know that building it yourself is not an option for most.