SkyFi Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary with a Nod to the Golden Age of Hi-Fi

SkyFi Audio, the New Jersey-based company specializing in vintage audio and reconditioned high-end gear, is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a nod to one of the titans of hi-fi’s Golden Age.

For its System of the Week, the team has assembled a “best of Marantz” lineup comprising the Marantz Model 7 tube preamplifier from its Holy Grail Collection (top right), the Model 8B stereo tube amplifier (bottom left), and the tube-based Model 10B FM stereo tuner (bottom right) — the product that’s rumored to have put the famous brand out of business or at least started its decline back when it was a U.S. company based out of Long Island City, New York.

Introduced in 1958, the Model 7 preamp is an original Saul Marantz design 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.”

The legendary Model 8B stereo power amplifier was 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.

The Model 10B FM tuner is 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.”

For an intimate “tour” of these venerable components, each meticulously restored, check out the videos below.

jeffhenning's picture

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Marantz because they made my first stereo system which I bought as a teenager in the 70's.

After the listed equipment was made, yes, Saul Marantz sold the company to SuperScope, but they actually expanded their lines and made some really great looking stuff that sounded good and was within the reach of normal people. It was also very well made.

That said and admitting that these pieces will still sound good, they will not sound great.

Case in point: around 25 years ago, Audio magazine (R.I.P.) reviewed Marantz's totally authentic, limited edition recreations of their two legendary solid state offerings from the days when Saul owned the company. It was a pre and its accompanying amplifier.

Marantz (by then half of D&M Holdings with Denon) spared no expense to make as faithful a re-issue as possible with only a few updates and improvements to the cases as well as replacing unavailable parts with new ones that were actually better than the originals.

After an exhaustive review that spanned around 8 pages of the magazine and included a full cadre of bench tests, the conclusion was: this stuff is a bit of a disappointment. Not bad, but not great either.

This was both from the reviewer who listened and the tester.

The equipment had garnered such a legendary status in the ensuing decades that it couldn't live up to the hype. It may have been transcendent in its day, but that day was gone.

I understand gear lust (have had it myself), but this equipment can no longer be considered high fidelity.

Also, even lovingly restored, these pieces are going to offer very little bang for the buck. I imagine that they aren't going for $600 each.

brenro's picture

I've owned over the years fondly but I wouldn't replace anything I have now with any of it. To each his own.