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Old 02-02-2017   #1
 
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Default Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Getting back into car audio a little bit and was curious about something. Currently I am using in my setup a Rockford 360.3 processor and a Prime R400-4D amp active setup on my front stage 2-way components. Sounds really good, I can not complain. Prior to that I was running a Punch P500-2 on my front stage using passive crossovers and the 360.3 processor.



I started looking around at other amp options now that I am confident in the active setup. I started looking at brands like McIntosh, Zapco, Arc Audio, Nakamichi, also the RF Power series, etc that are well known for SQ products. Both newer and older. Then I started looking at the older RF A series like the 600a4 and the 800a4 that were made in the USA.

THE MAIN QUESTION

Anyone that work on amps or maybe have more knowledge about amps then most able to chime in on amp quality today vs say the late 90's early 2000's when it comes to sound quality and build components?

My biggest hang up maybe nostalgia vs facts. Thinking that the RF 600a4 is just a better build then say going with the newer T600-4. When my guts is saying newer technology, cost in materials being lower, the newer products should be better.

RF is the main brand I am considering on amps but same comparison with any manufacture Alpine, Kenwood, MTX, Pioneer, Arc Audio, PPI, PG, Zapco etc that maybe is your brand of choice.

I want to go with the best SQ I can but not buy into marketing or nostalgia
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Old 02-02-2017   #2
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality


I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!
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Old 02-02-2017   #3
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Tradeoff? new tech, cheaper components. great components, old tech. although im sure the higher end companies use new tech and good components, but you def pay the price

Sound quality, its all subjective. Ive played with multiple amps, cheap, expensive, old, new and they all had their personalities. and I used pq20 a while back, and Im now back to the pq20(.2) again.

these amps are ~15-20 and they still work well without problems. Its just having to find that one that's not gona give you problems due to its long history and multiple owners.
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Old 02-06-2017   #4
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Just remember, its a FACT that older amps fail, and when they do it will cost you more than then cost of a new amp. The new amps from reputable brands that care about build quality will last you much longer than that older amp you are looking at.
IF you are looking at a rebuilt older amp find out who rebuilt it, talk to them to see what was done and if its worth paying that price.

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Old 02-23-2017   #5
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

I heard good testimonials about Nakamichi, maybe you can try it.
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Old 02-23-2017   #6
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

OP: If you have to ask, just get your new cheapo and leave us in peace.
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Old 03-01-2017   #7
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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Just remember, its a FACT that older amps fail, and when they do it will cost you more than then cost of a new amp. The new amps from reputable brands that care about build quality will last you much longer than that older amp you are looking at.
IF you are looking at a rebuilt older amp find out who rebuilt it, talk to them to see what was done and if its worth paying that price.
We really can't say newer will last longer than older because there are great examples of both!

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Old 03-01-2017   #8
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Amps fail from abuse mostly. With power as cheap as it is now more amps are getting abused. Take care of your stuff and it will last a very long time. That's why I prefer to always buy new, no telling what the previous owner did to something
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Old 03-01-2017   #9
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Can you define "quality"?
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Old 03-04-2017   #10
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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Originally Posted by DC/Hertz View Post
Amps fail from abuse mostly. With power as cheap as it is now more amps are getting abused. Take care of your stuff and it will last a very long time. That's why I prefer to always buy new, no telling what the previous owner did to something
True but I have been reading about how old caps breakdown even if they aren't leaking. Now I am thinking I should recap all my Orion amps I am about to use just because they are older.

So couldn't older stuff just fail from age due to components breaking down over time regardless of abuse?
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Old 03-04-2017   #11
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Other than the use of Surface Mount Technology, modern class a/b amps are essentially the same as they were 20 years ago. Not a lot of progress has been made in that topology.
On the other hand, class D amps have come a long way since they were first introduced. There really isn't anything "old school" to compare them to. New, higher quality class D amps have faster switching speeds resulting in a lower noise floor and better sound quality. Of course, they are also many times more efficient and run cooler.
Having said all of that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with running old school amps in either a daily or competition system. As long as you take care (maintenance) of them, don't abuse them and follow the manufacturers original guidelines, you will be fine.

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Old 03-05-2017   #12
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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Originally Posted by PPI_GUY View Post
Other than the use of Surface Mount Technology, modern class a/b amps are essentially the same as they were 20 years ago. Not a lot of progress has been made in that topology.
On the other hand, class D amps have come a long way since they were first introduced. There really isn't anything "old school" to compare them to. New, higher quality class D amps have faster switching speeds resulting in a lower noise floor and better sound quality. Of course, they are also many times more efficient and run cooler.
Having said all of that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with running old school amps in either a daily or competition system. As long as you take care (maintenance) of them, don't abuse them and follow the manufacturers original guidelines, you will be fine.
All 100% correct PPI Guy!

OP - Truth is, you're probably not going to hear the difference between a common Class D design today and the nostalgic class A/B. I was an installer in the late 90's (was my dream job LOL - for about a half second). I personally have "Old School" (a moniker I think is completely ignorant) Eclipse, Fulton, Fultron Competiton and Crossfire amps from the late 90's that are fantastic amps in their own right and chose to go Class D for my new build. Small, efficient, quiet, powerful, inexpensive is hard argue with. With Class D I can fit 2 4 channel amps totaling 1000 watts RMS under my truck seat.

Of course, what you prefer is entirely up to you.

Cheers!
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Old 03-05-2017   #13
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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All 100% correct PPI Guy!

OP - Truth is, you're probably not going to hear the difference between a common Class D design today and the nostalgic class A/B. I was an installer in the late 90's (was my dream job LOL - for about a half second). I personally have "Old School" (a moniker I think is completely ignorant) Eclipse, Fulton, Fultron Competiton and Crossfire amps from the late 90's that are fantastic amps in their own right and chose to go Class D for my new build. Small, efficient, quiet, powerful, inexpensive is hard argue with. With Class D I can fit 2 4 channel amps totaling 1000 watts RMS under my truck seat.

Of course, what you prefer is entirely up to you.

Cheers!
Welcome aboard another Kentuckian!
Can I ask what shop you worked for in the late 90's?
I was pretty much out of the hobby by then but, we may know some of the same people. You getting back into car audio or just checking out the scene?

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Old 03-05-2017   #14
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

The last new amp I used (on mids/ hi's) was a JBL GTO 75.4. It had plenty of power, the only issues I had with is were oxidized dip switches that would give me hell from time to time, scary when 280 RMS suddenly drops out on you while playing the system.

I am and have been using the PPI's in my signature for 5 years or so and still loving it.

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Old 03-05-2017   #15
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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Originally Posted by PPI_GUY View Post
Welcome aboard another Kentuckian!
Can I ask what shop you worked for in the late 90's?
I was pretty much out of the hobby by then but, we may know some of the same people. You getting back into car audio or just checking out the scene?
Not at all.. it was Audio Center in Richmond KY. I think I worked there from 1996-1998. Seems like the right span.

Just getting back into it for my own vehicle mostly. I've also been helping the ford owners figure out the stupid-complex ford sync system. That's been fun too. I have a build log started for my Explorer if ya wanna take a look. I'm early in the process. Just put a 5.25" Eclipse center channel in to today (upgraded the stock 3.5") will post photos tomorrow.

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Old 03-05-2017   #16
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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Not at all.. it was Audio Center in Richmond KY. I think I worked there from 1996-1998. Seems like the right span.

Just getting back into it for my own vehicle mostly. I've also been helping the ford owners figure out the stupid-complex ford sync system. That's been fun too. I have a build log started for my Explorer if ya wanna take a look. I'm early in the process. Just put a 5.25" Eclipse center channel in to today (upgraded the stock 3.5") will post photos tomorrow.

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I think I remember Audio Center in Richmond. Did you guys sell G&S Designs amps at one time?

What new class D amps did you decide to go with to replace your old school Fultron and Crossfire units?

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Old 03-06-2017   #17
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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Originally Posted by PPI_GUY View Post
I think I remember Audio Center in Richmond. Did you guys sell G&S Designs amps at one time?

What new class D amps did you decide to go with to replace your old school Fultron and Crossfire units?
JL Audio JX500/d for a JL 10w3v3
2 Soundstream Tarantuala 150x4's for everything else. (They are the same design as a bunch of other Class D's right now but around 100 bucks)

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Old 03-06-2017   #18
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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We really can't say newer will last longer than older because there are great examples of both!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DC/Hertz View Post
Amps fail from abuse mostly. With power as cheap as it is now more amps are getting abused. Take care of your stuff and it will last a very long time. That's why I prefer to always buy new, no telling what the previous owner did to something
I think the OP is talking about the reliability of old amps because they are now 20/25 years old. Let's face it the electrolytic caps will be far past their best and looking at the MTBF (Clicky if you don't know what it means) they will be approaching the far end of the bathtub curve because the electronics will have been run for so many hours. So it would be foolish to think that an old amp is a fit-and-forget type of experience (says the person with a stack of old soundstreams squirrelled away for a rainy day )

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Old 03-06-2017   #19
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Let's not forget the strong appeal of nostalgia in all of this. When I am at a show it's so easy to walk by vehicle after vehicle with the standard brand names installed. Usually all quality gear but, I will always stop at a car running old school gear. Maybe it's my age or just the novelty of running inefficient old Made in the USA class a/b gear. LOL!

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Old 03-06-2017   #20
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

I've been running four or five 25 to 30 year old amps in my car now since about 2010. I had one issue, but it wasn't the amp's fault and it was easily repaired. My bass amps have been in for over five years running low impedance, frequently warming up, etc with no problems. Knock on wood but I would further say I know several with similar results.

I don't recommend replacing caps just because they are old. It won't hurt (as long as it is done correctly) but I've never found it to be necessary.

I get the bathtub argument, but we're really discussing how big the bathtub is so to speak. I would say it looks like my old amps are easily in their useful life period.
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Old 03-29-2017   #21
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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I don't recommend replacing caps just because they are old. It won't hurt (as long as it is done correctly) but I've never found it to be necessary.

I get the bathtub argument, but we're really discussing how big the bathtub is so to speak. I would say it looks like my old amps are easily in their useful life period.

Not sure what a "bathtub" even is. But I recently picked up a few more Orion SX amps and one has just been recapped but the others are orig and I have no idea of their life history but since they are @ 30 yrs old... I feel like it would be time well spent so I (hopefully) won't have to pull them out for repair once I get around to installing them sometime this summer.
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Old 03-29-2017   #22
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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I don't recommend replacing caps just because they are old. It won't hurt (as long as it is done correctly) but I've never found it to be necessary.
I completely agree with this. I see a lot of folks talking about replacing caps, and frankly I think because they've seen other guys talk about it so much that it has become its own truth. I see very little risk in running a legacy amp the way it is as long as it works. Especially in an SQ application.

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Old 03-29-2017   #23
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

If it's a pheonix gold prepare to change the caps.
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Old 03-29-2017   #24
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

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I completely agree with this. I see a lot of folks talking about replacing caps, and frankly I think because they've seen other guys talk about it so much that it has become its own truth. I see very little risk in running a legacy amp the way it is as long as it works. Especially in an SQ application.

Lex
You are wrong there, capacitors have a very important role to smooth out power flow through the amp. A bad set of caps will take out op amps along with plenty of other components depending on their proper operation. The amplifiers also loose output power and sound quality when the caps have exceeded their life span.

I had a stack of old Nakamichi plate amps PA300II and PA350 from the early 80's that I gave to a friend around three years ago that are starting to fail now due to the 35 year old caps. We are changing them now before he has anymore issues. Only 14 per amp and even a dumb pipe fitter can handle that.
Its not a false truth people have talked themselves into believing they need them.....They DO
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Old 03-29-2017   #25
 
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Default Re: Old school 90's/2000s amps versus todays amp for quality

Does anyone have a Orion HCCA 25001 amp or know about the parts/software and hardware in one? Really need a few inside guts pictures of one. Anyone who can help out with this I would really appreciate it. About to pull my hair out over this one.
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