Quad: The Middle Ground

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Sonik Wiz

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DAMN I miss Ty (Disclord) and all his valuable info. At least the QQ archive o fhis generous knowledge sharing will not be lost to the sands of time.
I know this is listed on the QQ front page but I think so many of us just go to What's New & lose awareness of it. So here's a reminder tho Ty might be gone he still has a wealth of information that lives on:


Be sure & click on See More for all of the archive.
 
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Recently I ran across a thread started by @Morepower inquiruing what is the ultimate piece if gear in the Sansui quad product line:

The holy grail of Sansui quad is...?

And soon there after I saw a post by @slshearer asking what is the best SQ decoder out there:

Opinion: Who has the Best SQ decoder currently available as a add on to a Quad Receiver

Then I surfed around the ATMOS thread, read about the elaborate high tech room mods with networking and surround, etc. The juxtaposition was significant. For the most part QQ members seem to really love the old vintage stuff or think high tech home theater stuff is the only way to go even for music. I’m sure some people might have two systems set up in those respective ways but I still think there are two formidable camps here & I have concerns with both.

I love the allure of vintage gear & I understand the appeal. I have spent way to much time some days just looking at audio pics on Pinterest. But my biggest concern is the obvious: old quad stuff is just that, old, and expensive. The Sansui QRX-9001 that so many would love to have hovers around $1200 and even if it says “restored” you don’t really know how well or if it’s even true. The Holy Grail tune up on an 8001 or 9001 is $1385 at QRXRestore. You now have a $2500 44 year old receiver. The European black panel version of the 9001 is the QRX-999 (that Jon has) sold for $3100 at QRXRestore.

The new home theater stuff irks me because it has such poor legacy connectivity. I’m sure that most people with this gear say, that’s right, time to move on. But you are trapped using only decoding modes inside & I’ve read (if I understand correctly) Dolby has changed ATMOS stereo upmixing with no permission from the owner for the worst. I read that thread about ATMOS music on Tidal & it just wants to make my head explode. I also notice the way power amps & wattage is done on modern home HT receivers. Often class AB amps are used for front & class D for others. They make a big deal out of, loose example, 1200 watts power total 11 chs. But then the only real spec given are for the front chs, who know what all the others are. An example is a high end Denon with 11 chs ATMOS & in the specs all it says is 140 watts stereo. Specs not given if that is each ch up front or combined which might be only 70WPC up front. Some how this just doesn’t seem best practice to me.

I’m do not mean to aggravate or troll anyone here for a response because what ever set up works for YOU is what really matters. The point I’m slow in making is what sort of middle ground is there? I see fairly often post’s that say “I’m new to quad what would you recommend?” & I can not with confidence endorse the old classic quad stuff like Sansui, Tate, etc. Although I certainly have in the past when the only alternative was early Dolby matrix surround receivers. And there’s posts occasionally about how someone sold/lost/parents threw out all their quad stuff & they want to start all over again. Really it’s the folks in these positions that got me thinking what worthwhile would I recommend, something that offers better performance than old quad hardware but still has a link to the quad days. What would be price competitive with vintage quad but still be reliable modern gear?

The answer I came to is one that probably you or I haven’t thought of in a long time: the stereo integrated amp. Two of ‘em. I used a set up like that mid 80’s with a couple of Kenwood integrated amps. It’s been so long I didn’t even know if this product category even existed anymore. But I looked at a lot of those today: Emotiva, Marantz, Onyko, Arcam. They all had good points & things you would never have on old quad gear like Bluetooth, or digital input, remote control. And because of the remote control there is almost no front panel controls such as L/R balance, bass/treble and indeed on one unit you can’t even easily adjust L/R balance; you set it up in the menu & leave it alone.

But I found a winner in the Yamaha A-S301 for only $350.00:

Yamaha A-S301 Stereo integrated amplifier with built-in DAC at Crutchfield

It has 6 RCA analog inputs & one is RIAA phono cart input, optical & coaxial digital input with (obviously internal DAC) and 60 WPC which was rather at the high end of for vintage quad, a lot of them being more commonly 40 watts. It does not do dts, DD, only accepts stereo LPCM ‘cuz yo know it’s stereo not home theater. The noise & distortion are much better than the old stuff. And two of them for $700 takes you a long way towards a new quad setup. There is no tuner but you can find a matching Yamaha for $249 but who listens to FM anymore. Also it doesn’t have CD-4 as most vintage receivers would but if you really want to go there Pioneer or JVC demodulators can be had for $150>$200. Although it has remote control, which will come in handy, it’s important to have front panel control also as as rear & front l/R balance can be adjusted independently and basically the F/B balance is determined by the relative setting on each units main volume controls. When all is tuned in the remote can be used to adjust over all volume, inputs, etc as each unit will respond in step with what is selected.

There is no longer any need to buy vintage decoders anymore, except for fun, as I think there is large agreement that the Involve Surround Master is the best QS/SQ decoder you can buy today & superior to the old stuff we love anyway. Our price with QQ discount is $499 plus shipping. But looking at total cost for two Yamaha A-S301 & one SMV2 it’s $1200 which is quite price competitive with the higher end vintage quad gear and much cheaper if you consider restoring. I think I found something to recommend.
I jave a few older 70s receivers and have SMv3 on backorder. When it coming in ill hook up my kenwood 120wpc with the SM but i also have a San. QRX 7001 that needs restore. Which i hope to send out soon. Also have a QS 500 rear channel amp hooked up to San. 3300 with 4chann adapt outputs. Its a 1st gen decoder but sounds nice with 2pr of Dynaco a25s. But 4 channel has grabbed me by the balls. I cant go back to stereo and be completely satisfied again. Time to sell the vintage 2 channel and buy a properly restored qrx 9001. With 2 pr of Forte lls. Enjoy the music !!
 

par4ken

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I wish they would publish specs of all channels driven, I could swear manufacturers used to publish that info. Seems like they have gone backwards and marketing just pushes out the numbers that are the most impressive, along the lines of when stores would display TV's with the brightness turned all the way up!!
That used to be standard, and before that manufactures could say anything they wanted. They used to love to quote some form of peak power that gave numbers many times more than the actual rating. It is quit a different story quoting RMS with both (all) channels driven! I guess that marketing pressure has allowed the "standards" to move backward!
 

par4ken

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I have a QS-1 and I did like its looks and sound even though it wasn't the bigger brother models. Of course being a kid of the 70's I love the meters. I have wondered if I found one cheap and not worth restoring if I could retrofit an SM into it and still use the original meters and switches....
I'm still thinking of fitting the evaluation board inside mine. There is a lot of room, the various boards are mounted on edge with L brackets. Too much space left between them so some of them would have to be moved over to fit another board. The QS-1 is a beautiful unit! Most sellers are asking ridiculous prices for them. Some must be confused with the QSD-1!
 

barfle

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That used to be standard, and before that manufactures could say anything they wanted. They used to love to quote some form of peak power that gave numbers many times more than the actual rating. It is quit a different story quoting RMS with both (all) channels driven! I guess that marketing pressure has allowed the "standards" to move backward!
I remember a discussion I had way back when with a fellow engineer where we (perhaps falsely… perhaps) accused one manufacurer of measuring open-circuit voltage and short-circuit current, then multiplying the two and claiming that value as output power.
 

Sonik Wiz

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Thanks everyone, it's been fun reading all these recent follow up posts!

I just checked and the Yamaha A-S301 I mentioned is still a current model in stock at Crutchfield's, same price. The beauty of going with two of these units instead of a vintage receiver is the 5 line level inputs making it super easy to hook up a Surround Master, a CD-4 box, discrete quad tape, etc. Plus a built in MM phono pre-amp just like on the vintage receivers.
 

MidiMagic

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That used to be standard, and before that manufactures could say anything they wanted. They used to love to quote some form of peak power that gave numbers many times more than the actual rating. It is quit a different story quoting RMS with both (all) channels driven! I guess that marketing pressure has allowed the "standards" to move backward!
In 1974 the Federal Trade Commission made the First Amplifier Rule. This was a standard of how audio system output power is to be measured. I was doing audio repair at the time and made a set of circuits to make those measurements.

In 2000, the FTC issued the Revised Amplifier Rule which was much less stringent.

The FTC now wants to remove the rule.
 

mandrix

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Rules? What rules? lol. I don't know how anyone deciphers that mess these days. Back in the Quad days, when they told you 45 w/ch, you could pretty well bank on it. Now they tell you xx w/ch 2 channels driven. What does that mean when you have 9 amplified channels? Not much I wager. To make it even more confusing, sometimes they appear to have different specs for different geographic locations printed in the same book. IDK. Do Onkyo's sold in Australia have more power than those sold in the US? Is it all a bunch of malarkey? Who's on first?

EDIT: When I said "printed in the same book" I meant of course, "in the same online manual" since printing is so passe these days.
 

mandrix

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I mean, come on. Two channels driven. One channel driven. IDK. Someone decipher this mess for me.

screenie_manual.jpg
 

kfbkfb

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My Pioneer VSX-534 manual is like that - it's really the power supply for the amps that is the limiting factor.


On a single tone, 0.2% distortion is audible &
...12 per cent that distortion began to affect the sound...

120W = 20.8dBW
180W = 22.5dBW
215W = 23.3dBW
250W = 24dBW

(I guess this is why manufacturers like to use xxxW instead of dBW, dBW reveals how small the actual change is)


Kirk Bayne
 
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mandrix

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My Pioneer VSX-534 manual is like that - it's really the power supply for the amps that is the limiting factor.


On a single tone, 0.2% distortion is audible &
...12 per cent that distortion began to affect the sound...


Kirk Bayne
Well there was some names I haven't seen in years.
Thanks for posting that.

A very long time ago I remember poring over audio mags, looking at specs with my Army buddies. All of us trying to decide what we wanted to buy, trying our best to bone up on audio speak and gain as much knowledge as we could.

Distortion. Total Harmonic Distortion. Bad words, I thought. What do they mean? I had an acquaintance that was pretty smart about a lot of things, but he seemed to have a handle on it and tried to explain to me what it meant.
He said you know that guy that gets drunk and cranks his stereo so loud they can probably hear it in Hanoi? He said that by God is distortion. lol.
 

DuncanS

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I mean, come on. Two channels driven. One channel driven. IDK. Someone decipher this mess for me.

View attachment 88518
The North American Spec (FTC) is the most honest one! RMS (Root Mean Square) gives the equivalent DC power of the signal into an 8-Ohm load (for both channels driven), I like the fact that it gives the distortion figure from 250mW to 120W (a power range difference of 26.8dB) over the 20Hz-20kHz frequency range.
 

kfbkfb

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That's where this company name came from (Pioneer carried the LaserDisc system through the lean times, so I usually give preference to Pioneer products when looking to buy new A/V items).

High Fidelity mag used dBW in their amplifier test reports.

I used to think that an amp that was rated at 35W must be a lot better than one rated at 30W.

(never enough power) :)


Kirk Bayne
 

par4ken

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There were amplifiers designed that could put out high power on peaks. Class G/H. I believe that Bob Carver's designs would fall into those categories. They might test poorly under the old standards but would be much more efficient. I don't know what the effect of all that switching would be on the audio signal. Purists prefer Class A and don't give a hoot about efficiency!

 

~dave~~wave~

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So just suppose for sake of argument that my rig produced 100w ch x 9, and it was doubled to 200w ch x 9, the apparent loudness increase would be not that much. That's pretty amazing.

Not to go down a rabbit hole, but the pure math and physics of power do not translate directly to human perception.

You could look it up. ;)

Perception of volume is always subjective and depends on one’s own hearing but generally speaking, an increase of 10 dB roughly corresponds to the perceived volume doubling in intensity. Thus, 60 dB are perceived as twice as loud as 50 dB.

 

mandrix

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I realize that. But that next 10 dB at what cost? I mean you reach an end point eventually, or your pocket does.

Interesting title though. Whatever amount of loud is too loud I reached it over 50 years ago. My ears have been ringing non stop ever since.

EDIT: and I don't mean a little buzzing noise.
 
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