Is This the Holy Grail of Classic American Hi-Fi?

Skyfi Audio thinks so. The New Jersey-based vintage audio specialist recently showcased this wonderfully nostalgic rack of classic Marantz components.

At the top of the stack is the Model 7 preamplifier, which made its debut in 1958 — the same year stereo records were introduced to the public. This Saul Marantz original was (and is) revered for its magnificent industrial design and unique three-stage phono preamp/equalizer that would became known as the “Marantz circuit.”

In an official Marantz document tracing the company’s history, the classic preamp is described as follows: “The Model 7 dominated the high fidelity industry as no other product before had done. Over its life, more than 130,000 units were sold and it was honored as the premiere example of preamplifier design for many, many years. The front panel was pure Marantz and featured a sophisticated asymmetrical arrangement of knobs and switches directly traceable to Saul Marantz’s intimate knowledge of industrial design.”

In the middle is the Model 10B FM stereo tuner, an improved version of the Model 10 tuner introduced in 1964 and one of the most advanced tuners ever made. From the official history: “One of the most innovative features of the Model 10 (and the Model 10B that soon followed) was the front-panel oscilloscope that replaced the conventional signal strength and center channel meters of the day. Not only did the ‘scope show signal strength in a graphic way, it also allowed a far more accurate method of centering the tuner on a particular broadcast frequency. In addition, the ‘scope provided precise information of the amount of stereo separation provided by the broadcaster as it displayed the differential L/R information directly instead of merely indicating the presence of a stereo ‘carrier’ signal.”

The bottom shelf holds the legendary Model 8B stereo power amplifier, released in 1962 as a follow-up to 1959’s Model 8 amplifier. Designed by Marantz audio engineer Sidney Smith, it was the only stereo tube amplifier produced by the company, according to official company documents, and a forerunner of modern high-end audio. Although some regarded the Model 8B simply as a modified Model 8, there are significant differences between the two, including a transformer that was more stable and phase-accurate, thanks in part to a negative feedback circuit originally developed for the Model 9 monaural power amplifier, which came out in 1960.

Click here for more on the history of Marantz.

jeffhenning's picture

This is still going to be good sounding stuff, but it is not something to long after unless you used to own it a long time ago and want it because you are being nostalgic.

Around 1998 or so, Audio magazine did an exhaustive review of the current Marantz's faithful recreations of Saul Marantz's best pre and amp ever. They cost about $11-12K for the pair and were created almost exactly as the originals. Where the exact parts could not be had, they replaced them with new ones that met or exceded their predicesors.

These were lovingly created, statement products that very few companies that were a few layers removed from their origins would do.

The printed review was 8 or 9 pages long.

In the end, this legendary duo did not surpass anything that was currently made at that time. In fact, the thought by the reviewer, if I remember it correctly was, "Meh!"

It sounded good, but was not transcendent (as very person who'd once heard it 30 years prior had claimed). The measured performance was good, but not great by modern standards. None of this is surprising.

Again, this old stuff will sound very nice, but it is no longer high fidelity.

There is a myth about Damascus Steel. I don't believe it.