Question Will small amps kill the vintage amp market?

AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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From time to time I see vintage amps passing for high handover prices. Joining the bandwagon, I managed to sell my old gear for the right value as well.

I think that a part of what drives the 2nd hand market is the fact that the equipment is still fully operational and used as such. The reason someone buys a second hand vintage Quad amp for quite some money is because someone is going to use it for a turntable or other equipment. It is an alternative to modern gear.

However, their function could shift from being actively used as a functional hub to becoming obsolete and becoming museum pieces.

I would like to make the prediction that small sized quality amps are the nail in the coffin to vintage gear.

- The energy crisis and its increased tariffs asks for gear that does its power management well. People are looking for cost cutting devices that do the same thing.
- Currently there are small to tiny amps of various manufacturers that just do the job as well as an old piece without having a giant footprint.
- The compact amps often provide a load of useful modern connecting options and content options whereas vintage gear often need workarounds.
- On a small amp you will have a few useful ports and a score of 3/4 or 4/4 of ports in use and you're done. Whereas with a vintage amp perhaps 2/6 will be used, leaving loads of ports unused that in the past had a function.

With the disappearance of FM on cable here in northern Europe prices of tuners fell to ground levels overnight and I think this phase will enter for amps too.

The popularity of well received small amps could kill the active usage of vintage amps and degrade them to static museum pieces instead of gear that is active and running. Maybe a few of them will have their collectors but it will probably become a different kind of market in this way.

I assume this will play out but maybe I have overlooked some things. So back to the topic question.

Will small amps kill the vintage amp market?


The Yamaha Wxa or Wxc50 next to a traditional sized amp. The Arylic a50+ is even half the size of the Yamaha.
 
Last edited:

nopiano

Well-known member
The demand for vintage amps surprises me. And having had retail experience of many back in their heyday, I think it’s just nostalgia. You can’t beat the industrial design of any Quad amp, but most of them suck for SQ. Old integrated amps with tone controls and meters look ‘proper’ but when you see the crappy terminals and sockets around the back…. Hence retro designs like JBL and Moonriver, thought they’re pricey.

You‘ll gather that I’m not a fan!
 
The demand for vintage amps surprises me. And having had retail experience of many back in their heyday, I think it’s just nostalgia. You can’t beat the industrial design of any Quad amp, but most of them suck for SQ. Old integrated amps with tone controls and meters look ‘proper’ but when you see the crappy terminals and sockets around the back…. Hence retro designs like JBL and Moonriver, thought they’re pricey.

You‘ll gather that I’m not a fan!
Nothing wrong with keeping up with the times and technology, I am the same way including, and as you point out modern retro tends to be expensive
 
The new stuff won't kill the significant demand for vintage - which many sellers are exploiting.
Plenty of people are evidently happy to be exploited though.
Everything has a value to someone, if you get want you want for a price you are prepared to pay it is hardly exploitation.
if they can't sell the kit for that price it wouldn't be at that price, if you see what I mean.
 
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Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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Yes the market is certainly changing....
I thought the launch of compact 'all in one' products in recent years was just for the smart young things who wanted 'lifestyle' products but that seems to have become a general move away from separates in the industry.
A traditional HiFi system is now being replaced by one multi function box or even an active speaker system.
Whilst those of a certain age and with high disposable income have a passion for vintage products, the cost of repair and maintenance will limit this market more and more. It will quite literally die out.....😕
Most young people just want a smart phone and wireless earbuds....
 
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Gray

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I thought the launch of compact 'all in one' products in recent years was just for the smart young things who wanted 'lifestyle' products
I think quite a few of us thought the same, but have been a bit surprised by the popularity - even some oldies have turned against 'loads of wire and separate boxes', maybe female hormones in the water supply affecting blokes brains.
 
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AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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I don't understand.

You didn't once mention sound quality, which is the raison d'être.

So - do they sound as good?
Depends on which individual amps one compares I guess.

The Yamaha Wxa50 (pictured above) is a compact amp without any trade offs (ok minor one.. the remote is considered a little small, that is why i copied it on a programmable one) . That can easily be positioned among the best.

Andrew Robinson mentioned the even smaller Arylic A50+ as his most used daily amp and having the same signature as one of best amps he reviewed, only in a miniature box. If he had to mention one point of criticism it was that it was only slightly less powerful. But as he and another reviewer mentioned, you would have to generate instant deafness inducing levels to make that point a practical one.
 

treesey

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May 18, 2015
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You could be correct - I've been listening to one of these new-fangled small amps that can fit on a sixpence, fed by a 'trending' CD player with variable output, and so no need for a preamp.

Crimson vs Rotel...

..or is it a case of what goes around, comes around?CEvsRotel-1s.jpg
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
There's a few points to mention. Firstly, as technology improves components get smaller as with mobile phones. Secondly, people don't generally want a amp the size of Battersea power station. Discreet has become more of a normal.

Also, anything vintage or classic seems to demand over inflated prices. Look at classic cars. If in very good condition, a Ford Cortina can sell from 10k upwards at auction. Hi-fi seems to be following that trend.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
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970
There's a few points to mention. Firstly, as technology improves components get smaller as with mobile phones. Secondly, people don't generally want a amp the size of Battersea power station. Discreet has become more of a normal.

Also, anything vintage or classic seems to demand over inflated prices. Look at classic cars. If in very good condition, a Ford Cortina can sell from 10k upwards at auction. Hi-fi seems to be following that trend.
Definitely.

It also won't affect the collectors market or market of Hifi enthusiasts who still use them.

Having new people discover the smaller modern amps for a price they would for 2nd hand gear it mainly cuts away the every day user on a budget. In a sense it is a pity for all that less popular gear that will become trash more rapidly, not getting a second life.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Definitely.

It also won't affect the collectors market or market of Hifi enthusiasts who still use them.

Having new people discover the smaller modern amps for a price they would for 2nd hand gear it mainly cuts away the every day user on a budget. In a sense it is a pity for all that less popular gear that will become trash more rapidly, not getting a second life.
Think there will always be a demand for vintage stuff, albeit it's a niche market.

I've even toyed with the idea of owning another Pioneer amp from the late 1970s/80s. But reliability and sourcing parts chocked me off. Perhaps if I had room for a second set-up....
 

Edbostan

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2021
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From time to time I see vintage amps passing for high handover prices. Joining the bandwagon, I managed to sell my old gear for the right value as well.

I think that a part of what drives the 2nd hand market is the fact that the equipment is still fully operational and used as such. The reason someone buys a second hand vintage Quad amp for quite some money is because someone is going to use it for a turntable or other equipment. It is an alternative to modern gear.

However, their function could shift from being actively used as a functional hub to becoming obsolete and becoming museum pieces.

I would like to make the prediction that small sized quality amps are the nail in the coffin to vintage gear.

- The energy crisis and its increased tariffs asks for gear that does its power management well. People are looking for cost cutting devices that do the same thing.
- Currently there are small to tiny amps of various manufacturers that just do the job as well as an old piece without having a giant footprint.
- The compact amps often provide a load of useful modern connecting options and content options whereas vintage gear often need workarounds.
- On a small amp you will have a few useful ports and a score of 3/4 or 4/4 of ports in use and you're done. Whereas with a vintage amp perhaps 2/6 will be used, leaving loads of ports unused that in the past had a function.

With the disappearance of FM on cable here in northern Europe prices of tuners fell to ground levels overnight and I think this phase will enter for amps too.

The popularity of well received small amps could kill the active usage of vintage amps and degrade them to static museum pieces instead of gear that is active and running. Maybe a few of them will have their collectors but it will probably become a different kind of market in this way.

I assume this will play out but maybe I have overlooked some things. So back to the topic question.

Will small amps kill the vintage amp market?


The Yamaha Wxa or Wxc50 next to a traditional sized amp. The Arylic a50+ is even half the size of the Yamaha.
My Original Cyrus One is a small amplifier. It may be deep but the width is shoe box size. When I bought it in 1989 its compactness amazed me and it is still going strong so it's lack of airiness has not compromised reliability.
 

treesey

Well-known member
May 18, 2015
139
36
18,620
Having new people discover the smaller modern amps for a price they would for 2nd hand gear it mainly cuts away the every day user on a budget. In a sense it is a pity for all that less popular gear that will become trash more rapidly, not getting a second life.
...and that's the real problem with not just music playback but modern life - 'cheap' disposable kit that's thrown away rather than re-used - and so shortens the life on the planet. That does sound over-alarmist? Well just think about the way we are going.....
 

Gray

Well-known member
My Original Cyrus One is a small amplifier. It may be deep but the width is shoe box size. When I bought it in 1989 its compactness amazed me and it is still going strong so it's lack of airiness has not compromised reliability.
Yes it's all a bit crammed in to my Cyrus 8, which is now 20 years old.
Probably doesn't hurt that the entire (magnesium) case is a heatsink.
I didn't choose it based on size though.
 
Will small amps kill the vintage amp market?
No.

These small Class D amplifiers sound, for the most part, quite different to vintage Class AB amplifiers, and most of the buyers of vintage are either buying based on how they sound, or how they look. Many small amps don’t have the clout to deal with the high end loudspeakers that many vintage amplifiers are paired with.

I’m guessing that at some point, valve, Class A, and maybe even Class AB amplifiers may be outlawed in the fight against global warming (as in new products, not existing), which is only going to push up used prices.
 

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