I see forum threads all the time talking about this or that receiver being a “Monster Receiver”. Many eBay sellers of vintage receivers tend to throw around the term “Monster” pretty easily as well. Just what does the Monster attribute refer to? Is it the size or weight of the receiver? Is it only top of the line receivers or those that exceed a certain power output? What makes a receiver a Monster?
Unfortunately there really is no standard definition of what a monster receiver is and probably never will be. Obviously something deemed a monster is usually very big such as a monster truck or monster wave. The same applies to receivers in that most of them that people would consider “monster” are large. Very large. I’ve seen some claim that any stereo weighing over 50 pounds should be considered a monster. But, there are a large number of receivers over that weight that wouldn’t even be considered a quality piece of audio equipment.
Many times receivers are given the monster tag because of their power output. One of the more common themes is that any receiver that puts out 120 watts or more per channel should be considered a monster. That definition would make for a fairly large list though as quite a few receivers fit that criteria. One would think that a monster receiver would definitely be the top of the line (TOTL) for the particular manufacturer at the time of its production but there are many non TOTL receivers that put out 120+ watts per channel.
My definition of a monster receiver incorporates all of the above. The stereo should be big, heavy, TOTL, and have massive power output. It was more than likely produced during the receiver wars of the mid to late 70’s and one look at it should cause you to say Wow! I wouldn’t necessarily say that it has to be the best sounding stereo or have the least distortion.
Some receivers are obvious monsters like the Pioneer SX-1980. It’s huge, heavy and hase massive power output. Others in that category are the Sansui G33000, Marantz 2385, Yamaha CR-3020 and others. Other stereo’s are more in the gray area such as the MCS 3275, Pioneer SX-1010, Yamaha CR-2020, Kenwood Model Eleven and others.
In the end there really is no formal definition of what a monster receiver is and it’s really more in the eye of the beholder. I’m going to put together a list of my top ten monster receivers soon and I’ll expect everyone to tear it apart. But, it’s like sports conversations. No one is purely right or wrong. You just make the best case you can and leave it at that.