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
Yamaha CR-3020          - 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
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.
 

MARANTZ 2600 EXCELLENT CONDITION
MARANTZ 2600  EXCELLENT CONDITION $6,900.00 (36 Bids)
Time Remaining: 4d 19h 10m
MINT and SERVICED SANSUI G 22000 RECEIVER 1
MINT and SERVICED SANSUI G 22000 RECEIVER 1 $5,500.00
Time Remaining: 13d 16h 49m
Buy It Now for only: $5,500.00
Marantz 2500 reciever with original cabinet and UNIVERSAL 110 220 Volts
Marantz 2500 reciever with original cabinet and UNIVERSAL 110 220 Volts $5,500.00
Time Remaining: 15d 18h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $5,500.00
Pioneer SX 1980 Professionally serviced recapped upgraded LED EXCELLENT
Pioneer SX 1980 Professionally serviced recapped upgraded LED  EXCELLENT $4,799.00
Time Remaining: 7d 12h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $4,799.00

 

 

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 28th, 2013 at 7:11 pm and is filed under Receivers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

34 comments

 No.1 
Nick:

Why no info on the Sansui AU-9500 ?

September 12th, 2013 at 5:00 pm
 No.2 
raiko:

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

September 12th, 2013 at 5:48 pm
 No.3 
TIM DUGGAN:

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

November 7th, 2013 at 8:41 am
 No.4 
Darius:

To TIM:
would you sell your Nikko NR 1415?

February 21st, 2014 at 1:47 pm
 No.5 
Ben:

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.

March 28th, 2014 at 4:36 am
 No.6 
lucky:

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.

April 15th, 2014 at 11:34 am
 No.7 
LVMAN:

CARVER MXR 2000

200 WATTS PER CHANNEL

1986

July 27th, 2014 at 12:15 pm
 No.8 
mr.black:

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

November 21st, 2014 at 11:27 am
 No.9 
brooklyn born:

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.

March 4th, 2015 at 8:37 am
 No.10 
Drew:

Yes, you FORGOT the Carver 2000 receiver that is 200 Watts Per Channel!

March 26th, 2015 at 5:00 am
 No.11 
Brenham:

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…

May 13th, 2015 at 9:49 am
 No.12 
GZ:

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.

August 15th, 2015 at 10:07 pm
 No.13 
GZ:

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.

August 15th, 2015 at 10:12 pm
 No.14 
Dave:

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.

September 12th, 2015 at 2:03 pm
 No.15 
rod:

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.

November 4th, 2015 at 9:17 pm
 No.16 
Ron:

I think the Luxman R-117 belongs here at 160 wpc (8 ohms).

November 19th, 2015 at 6:49 am
 No.17 
David Johnson:

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

November 29th, 2015 at 3:46 pm
 No.18 
Craig:

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…

December 16th, 2015 at 2:27 pm
 No.19 
hifigeek:

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.

January 23rd, 2016 at 6:57 pm
 No.20 
Mike:

Yeah, I miss those days. That was when music was real!

February 18th, 2016 at 1:54 am
 No.21 
Dave:

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.

February 18th, 2016 at 11:31 am
 No.22 
audio man:

PIONEER VSX9700S and 9500S

June 28th, 2016 at 4:10 pm
 No.23 
David:

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

July 9th, 2016 at 7:25 pm
 No.24 
Circio:

What causes the heat in all these receivers?

July 16th, 2016 at 1:48 pm
 No.25 
Fastjak:

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

September 6th, 2016 at 10:31 am
 No.26 
scott:

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…

September 23rd, 2016 at 10:22 am
 No.27 
Drayhazel:

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.

October 24th, 2016 at 1:21 pm
 No.28 
raiko:

You could try AudioLab in Cambridge, MA. They have a good reputation.

October 24th, 2016 at 1:37 pm
 No.29 
Drayhazel:

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.

October 25th, 2016 at 2:41 pm
 No.30 
Drayhazel:

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.

October 25th, 2016 at 2:44 pm
 No.31 
Mark58:

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.

December 21st, 2016 at 3:45 pm

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!!!!!! 👍🏻

January 15th, 2017 at 8:56 am
 No.33 

Great find for the 1980 !

I also have a good deal last week, a Sansui QRX-999 for $70.00.

Very good piece of high end

February 6th, 2017 at 7:22 am
 No.34 
Jeffrey A Seibold Sr:

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

February 7th, 2017 at 3:43 pm

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