The Most Powerful Vintage Receivers of All Time

A War of Watts.

Back in the late 70's audio manufacturers engaged in a war. You might call it a war of watts. The consumer seemed to have an insatiable appetite for more and more watts in their receivers. Manufacturers were quick to oblige and started making and marketing higher and higher wattage machines. Each company tried to outdo the other. Many think that the Pioneer SX-1980 is the most powerful receiver ever made but that's actually not the case. Of course, we need to stick to a few guidelines before deciding on our power list.

First, we'll stick to receivers only and not separates. Second, since this site covers vintage receivers we'll stick to those considered "vintage" which of course is a definition we apply loosely. For this list we'll stick to 1990 and earlier. We'll also use the rated output into 8 ohms specified by the manufacturer. This can be inconsistent and some manufacturers such as Marantz probably under rated their receivers power output. Still, we have to have a standard and that will be it.

OK, so what are the top ten most powerful vintage receivers of all time?

1.  Technics SA-1000 - 330 WPC
2.  Marantz 2600     - 300 WPC
3.  Sansui G-33000   - 300 WPC
4.  Pioneer SX-1980  - 270 WPC
5.  Marantz 2500     - 250 WPC
6.  Sansui G-22000   - 220 WPC
7.  Sansui G-9700    - 200 WPC
8.  Kenwood KR-9050  - 200 WPC
9.  Hitachi SR-2004  - 200 WPC
10. Marantz 2385     - 185 WPC
11. Pioneer SX-1280  - 185 WPC
12. Technics SA-5770 - 185 WPC

The Technics SA-1000 takes the top spot with a massive 330 watts per channel. Of course its size matches its power output as well. It measures 25 inches long, 22 inches deep and 7 inches tall and weighs in at a back breaking 90 pounds.

Technics SA-1000

You could make the argument that the Sansui G-33000 and Sansui G-22000 shouldn't be on the list because they are essentially separates but I think many collectors still consider them as "receivers" even though they are not truly integrated.

Here are some of the runner up receivers.

Rotel RX-1603           - 180 WPC
Nikko NR-1415           - 175 WPC
Fisher RS-1080          - 170 WPC
Concept 16.5            - 165 WPC
Technics SA-5760        - 165 WPC
Kenwood KR-9600         - 160 WPC
Onkyo TX-8500 MkII      - 160 WPC
Pioneer SX-1250/5590    - 160 WPC
Sansui G-8700           - 160 WPC
Sansui G-9000/901       - 160 WPC
Sansui 9900Z            - 160 WPC
Yamaha CR-3020          - 160 WPC
Fisher RS-2015          - 150 WPC
Project-One Mark 1500DC - 150 WPC
Sony STR-V7             - 150 WPC
Yamaha R-2000           - 150 WPC
Carver The Receiver     - 150 WPC
Toshiba SA-7150         - 150 WPC

There you have it!  The most powerful vintage receivers ever made. Of course, all of them are highly collectible and bring high prices at auction. Surprisingly a Technics SA-1000 recently sold with a buy it now at $1500 which seems fairly cheap. The Pioneer SX-1980's can sell for up to $4000 and the Marantz 2500 and 2600's up to or more than that.

ATTENTION JAPANESE AUDIOPHILES Technics SA 1000 FREE EXPRESS SHIPPING WORLDWIDE
ATTENTION JAPANESE AUDIOPHILES Technics SA 1000 FREE EXPRESS SHIPPING WORLDWIDE $24,999.97
Time Remaining: 23d 20h 50m
Buy It Now for only: $24,999.97
MARANTZ 2500 AM FM STEREO RECEIVER FULLY RESTORED 250 WATTS DLB 1 FM DECODER
MARANTZ 2500 AM FM STEREO RECEIVER FULLY RESTORED 250 WATTS DLB 1 FM DECODER $8,200.00
Time Remaining: 10d 13h 1m
Buy It Now for only: $8,200.00
Marantz 2600 reciever UNIVERSAL 110 220 Volts big brother of Marantz 2500
Marantz 2600 reciever UNIVERSAL 110 220 Volts big brother of Marantz 2500 $7,500.00
Time Remaining: 12d 14h 40m
Buy It Now for only: $7,500.00
Mc Intosh MC 2600 Power Amp with C 26 Pre Amp Ecellent Condition
Mc Intosh MC 2600 Power Amp with C 26 Pre Amp Ecellent Condition $7,000.00
Time Remaining: 7d 18h 40m
Buy It Now for only: $7,000.00

 

 

47 thoughts on “The Most Powerful Vintage Receivers of All Time

  1. Well, we focus on stereos and while the AU-9500 is a great piece of equipment it doesn’t have an integrated tuner.

  2. I JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU THAT I HAVE A NIKKO NR 1415 AND BOUGHT IT FOR 300 DOLLARS AND STILL HAD THE BOX. I AM GETTING IT LOOKED OVER FOR I DONT BELEIVE IT HAS EVER BEEN SERVICED. I JUST WANTED TO SAY I DID MY RESEARCH AND COULD NOT AFFORD THE TOP MODELS THAT PUT OUT THE WATTS I WANTED BUT THIS NIKKO RECIEVER IN MY OPINION IS UNDER THE RADAR AND I FEEL I SAVED OVER A 1000 DOLLARS AND GOT THE SAME RESULTS THE OTHER BIG BOYS DO. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SITE AND INFO

  3. I believe the Pioneer SX-1250 was the start of the power wars. Before that, receivers with 100 watts per channel was about as high as it went. After the 1250 was released, other brands upped the ratings by a little bit at a time. After Marantz, Technics, and Sansui each had receivers approaching 200 watts per channel, Pioneer had to step in again with the 1980. Technics and Marantz finished off the power war with their top models. The power wars ended at that time. Speaker companies never had the speakers that matched to the massive power of the receivers.

  4. I’m actually using a technics sadx 940 ssince 1998 till 2day the receiver rocks and I still can’t get true speakers for it.

  5. I bought a Marantz 2325 not as powerful as the one’s listed here at 125 watts . I picked it up for $450 about 3 years ago I put a pair of Klipsch Cornwalls to it but I’ve been told that Cornwall’s would be better connected to a tube amp , now I’m happy with how everything sounds as is , but I like to hear other opinions about this pairing

  6. you were almost right but the hitachi sr2004 was a class G receiver and had 3db of headroom giving it 400wpc short term power output.

  7. You forgot the kenwood ka92b, it has 150 watts rms per channel into 8 ohms and 300 rms watts per channel into 4 ohms. On top of that, it has the cleanest sound I’ve ever heard out of an amplifier…

  8. The Kenwood ka2b is not 150 WPC at 8 ohms or 300 WPC at 4 ohms. It might be a great sounding receiver, though I’ve never heard it, but its not as powerful as you say.

  9. Thanks for this list!
    I have a KR 9600 and I love it! But I need something a little higher up this list for my Cerwin Vega RE 38’s.

  10. I have stumbled across this thread over the the last couple of years . I have a Hitachi Sr 904 and it needs a good cleaning .It fried a few sets of my speakers amazing balls 175 WPC ,however it is kinda flat sounding ,lacking treble.Does anyone know it it was properly cleaned ,if the sound itself would improve, based on the track record of the unit itself.

  11. I have 2 NR1415 receivers and they are acceptable as are the onkyo tx8500mk2 and the technics sa5770 receivers but all BS aside the pioneer SX1980 will kick ass with almost full power output and a 2 ohm load hanging on it without a protective shut down.
    Thats what i need as i use 4 cerwin vega al1000 speakers to rock the house.
    I will say the NR1415 is bullet proof but not too sweet sounding.
    The Hitachi SR2004, Sansui G9700 and kenwood Kr9050 receivers sound better than any in my opinion.
    I have all of them.

  12. In 1990, the VSX-D1S was sold. Bench tested at 300 watts, frequency response of 5hz-100khz with a distortion rating of 0.005%

  13. Sad to say, I’ve just sold my totally original Pioneer SX3900, CTF1250, SG9800, Carver C1, RT707, JBL L112s. Bought them over 30 years ago and still performed as well as the day I bought them!!!
    Why? because I treated myself to a complete ‘Urushi’ system (20 years newer)and Bowers & Wilkens Diamond-Maserati’s. Thought about down-sizing but couldn’t resist…
    Have listened to newer and much more expensive gear but, thank you NO, and let’s not even think about LOOKS!!!
    I wonder if current equipment will still perform as well after 30+ years…

  14. Off subject here but regarding the Sony STR 7055-7065 differences between the plain and the newer ‘A’ version. There was a difference. There was a change to the tuner section in the ‘A’ version. The newer version had an updated PLL in the tuner that provided lower distortion and better FM stereo separation. I also believe the power transformer was changed. The plain version has a power resister in the back left corner to drop AC voltage off the transformer that dissipates some heat. The A version does not have that resistor.

  15. This is a nice list. I have been working for years collecting some of the most powerful receivers of all time. I want to collect one of each brand and this list is a nice reference. So far I have collected a Sansui G9000, G9700, 9090DB, Pioneer, SX1980, Kenwood KR9050, Marantz 2385, Rotel RX1603, Nikko NR1415 Onkyo TX8500MkII, Carver 2000 (The Receiver), Realistic STA2100, NAD 7600. A friend had a Concept 16.5.
    I have auditioned all these receivers and the best sounding (while not from the 80s) is the NAD 7600. up next is a tie with the G9000 and the TX8500. Third is the RX1603. While not too surprising, the worst sounding is the Radio Shack, but what is a surprise is the Pioneer is next to it at the bottom of the list along with the Concept. The KR9050 sounds really good in simple loads, but with complex load speakers it gets distorted.
    I hope some day to finish the collection with the Sony, Fisher, Technics and Hitachi. I would really like to have a G33000 and Marantz 2600 but those are just out of my reach in price. You might think I have a fortune in these receivers, but I have either gotten them free, or bought cheap needing repair.

  16. I have a Kenwood KR 9400 which, at the time, was TOTL. I’d like to get your take on it and see it included in your list of vintage receivers. Seems to power my ESS amt 1b pretty well but I’d like an objective opinion.
    Thanks

  17. Bought the kr 9400 new in 1977 in Casper wyo. rated 120 wpc @8ohms. Heat is always caused by the total resistance of the various components as everything in an electric circuit has resistance. A high powered amp section has more heat potential as the larger transformers will have larger internal resistance

  18. So the next question is what are the ideal speakers to use with receivers such as these? Powerful vintage receivers probably work best with certain speakers. Inquiring minds want to know…

  19. I have a Pioneer SX 3900 I bought in Germany in 1981 original box and all paper work. It works good but could be better, it needs to be professionally cleaned. I have gone through every Pioneer # I can find and I can not talk to a human. I live in NH and I am looking for a service center. If I have to mail it to Japan I don’t care I just want it cleaned…Can anyone help me in finding someone that knows what they are doing with this old beautiful stuff.

  20. Raiko

    Thank you, just got off the phone and these people are excited to work on this old stuff, sucks they are in the middle of Boston.

  21. Scott,

    I have a pair of JBL L 112 that are hooked to my Pioneer SX 3900 and they sound awesome, probably not as good as Klipsch but they sound great. After 35 yrs. they sound just as good as the day I bought them.

  22. Nice website! Your appreciation for these vintage receivers is a great thing to see!

    One minor point: Per the Vintage Technics website, both the SA-5760 and SA-5770 have 165 watts/channel. I believe the only difference between the two was the case style and accent color behind the glass. Technically, they were essentially identical.

  23. Ha!Ha!HAAAAA !!!!!!!! You know what ? I FIND A PIONEER SX 1980 9/10 RATE. ONLY 2 lights to change for $245.00. ITS A DREAM!!!!!FIND IN THE OLD ” GRENIER “. It’s make my day one day after the other one …….. HAAAAAA!!!!!! 👍🏻

  24. I have the Marantz 2500 – 250 WPC I paired it with Acoustic Research AR9 Floor standing Speakers! Sad to say I let my AR9 go dry rot looking to sale my receiver for parts! Works but needs work to it! jaseibold at hotmail.com

  25. I have a Marantz 2385, which I need to sale soon, too large to ship. I like using separate units.
    The power wars was stupid, your first watt is the most powerful, it take 10 time the power to get twice the sound. 500 watts is only twice the power as a 50 watts. Remember the IHF days?
    Also the distortion wars was stupid was well, human hear can’t hear less the 5% total.
    As an Electronic Eng for 40 years, I can’t believe the hip in audio world now days like Monster cable,
    Frybaby, $10,000 power cables and tubes vs. Solid State
    PS nice list

  26. Have owned restored and sold over 100 Sansui 9090/9090DB 8080/8080DB units. Fully recapped every unit mentioned, audio grade in the signal path and all 1313 transistors. With that said, have in my stable Sansui G-9700, G-8000, G-9000, G-9000DB, BA-2000, CA-2000, BA-5000 and CA-3000. The 8080DB and G-9000DB in my opinion are the finest sounding receivers Sansui ever built. I have owned many Marantz, 2230 and 2270 have the best sound for my ears. 4300 is very good if you listen to quad records with a quad cartridge and a quad turntable like my Dual 1229Q. Pioneer have all of the SX-xx50 series and SX-xx80 series including the infamous SX-1980. SX-1250 is my favorite Pioneer ever built. Bass is the strongest and cleanest of any receiver I have ever heard period bar none. Restored or original the SX-1250 is Pioneers greatest receiver ever.

  27. I stumbled across this website and it brought back a lot of fond memories of looking at this equipment when stores existed:-) I gave up on buying one of the mentioned beasts back in the day after I went to a college beer-fest and the dj used a Pioneer SX450 (15wpc) to drive a pair of Klipsch Lascalas to a deafening level.

  28. I hate to say it, but some comments here are way misleading and incorrect.
    Like No.25 – fastjack’s comment.
    Obviously he’s not a technician or educated on the causes of heat buildup in receivers/amps.
    His comments are dead wrong. (must have gotten his info off the internet or somewhere, not in a classroom)
    I should know, I’m a Qualified Technician..
    You know, the one’s mentioned on those cute little labels…
    “No User Serviceable Parts Inside – refer servicing to Qualified Service Personal.”

  29. Just a small point. The Yamaha 3020 was actually rated at 160 wpc not the stated 170 wpc. It was rated at 200 wpc at 4 ohm loads. I owned one in 1978 when I was 17. I sold it and purchased the C2 preamp and 3 B2 amps. I wish I still had the 3020 as it was an exceptional receiver and I would say the best looking receiver ever made.

  30. Robert 67

    To the sight Sense
    A 50w light (incandescent )
    is dim,
    A 500w light (incandescent )
    is very Bright.

    How does that Compare
    to the hearing Sense?

    .

  31. Right now I’m running a Pioneer SX-1250 in the Master Bedroom coupled to BIC Venturi Formula 5s; a Concept 16.5 in the garage coupled to two Advent Utilities and a pair of Marantz 5s; a Marantz 4440 (125 wpc in bridged mode) into two Advent Utilities (Walnut veneer); a Pioneer SX-1050 in the Kitchen coupled to two nice Infinitys and finally a Marantz 2500 in the Livingroom coupled to BIC Venturi Formula 6 (fronts) and a Rotel Amplifier powered by a Yamaha DSP-1 Processor for rear bass running into two BIC Venturi Formula 5s. I love watching the electric meter spin when I fire ’em all up! I’m partial to the BIC Venturi of the late 1970s as their surrounds were tar/canvas, not this foam crap that requires re-foam every 20 years (like my Advents and Infinity speakers require).

  32. I’m no technician, but in my personal experience I’ve found more power to be better than less. Even though my 2500 claims 250wpc into speakers rated at 150watts each (BIC Venturi Formula 6) I can drive the volume higher before any clipping or distortion occurs. I’ve had 2 Marantz 2330B’s and neither could come close to the volume levels attainable with the Marantz 2500 before distortion occurred. Ever since ditching the 2330B’s and moving up to higher power I have been sold on power! Even at lower listening levels there seems to be more presence in my Concept 16.5, Marantz 2500 and the Pioneer SX-1250. Some say the SX-1250 may be the best built, but I’m on my 2nd Marantz 2500 and I would have to say that it sounds warmer to me than the SX-1250, but ESPECIALLY when I engage a secondary pair of speakers. The Marantz 2500 maintains good bass output, the SX-1250 seems to fall flat in terms of bass when dropping the impedance with a second pair of speakers.

  33. My Kenwood 9600 served as a backup amp for my DJ business and never let me down however I cannot see paying thousands of dollars for this old equipment. That kind of money could purchase better-sounding high-end separates. It’s not like it’s a classic car

  34. Wattage of these vintage units is one thing, but I love hoe clean their sound is, better than almost anything that’s sold today.

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