Your Amplifier history

The current thread on CD player history made me think that one on each of the other main system components would be interesting, so this one is for amplifiers (as in amps used for hifi music systems, as opposed to any solely for other interests (such as guitar amps).

It would add interest if people were to include related detail, from reason for change to impressions of them to overall preference etc.

To kick off, this is my amplifier history:

Sinclair Project 60 modular amp, comprising the preamp module, a pair of Z30 power amp modules and PZ5 power supply. This was 1968-69. I built them into the plinth I made for my record deck. Impression? Well it got my first hifi system up and running, the system sounding better to me than anyone else’s music players of any sort that I heard.

Project 60 Mk 2 Next, I think late 1971, came a rebuild of the Project 60, putting it into its own box due to arrival of a new and much better record deck. I upgraded the Z30s to Z50s at the same time, raising power from 30 to 50W, hoping that would mean less frequent blowing of output transistors. Case was hand folded aluminium sheet, painted black.

Project 60 Mk 3 A year or so later I rebuilt the Sinclair amp again, this time changing to bridged Z50s, and a beefed up power supply with massive transformer and regulated electronics, in a separate box on the floor several feet away.

Radford HD250 integrated amp: 50W, with separate gain controls on channel inputs, tone control cancel button (which I normally left in cancel position). I don’t remember exactly when this was, probably 1976. It seemed to bring better clarity and control of the speakers.

Elektor magazine moving coil preamp (head amp) - DIY build, housed in an old shortcake biscuit tin (the steel providing better electromagnetic shielding than aluminium), The circuit was published in April 1978, so this would have been later that year. I was pleasantly surprised how effective it was, and of course it opened up the world of moving coil cartridges.

Musical Fidelity The Preamp 2a + MF P170 power amp replaced both the Radford and the Elektor head amp in about 1992. I’d heard MF amplification when I had auditioned and bought my firsr CD player in 1989, and with a recent speaker change this popping up for sale secondhand made sense to buy.

Tag McLaren P10 preamp: A fault with my Musical Fidelity preamp, with the MC input going oscillation on one channel while playing music loud took out the bass driver of one of my speakers, leading to lack of trust in it, led to this purchase. This would have been around 2006 or 2007.

Musical Fidelity P270 power amp bought around 2008 or 2009 - simply because I saw it on eBay at price I couldn’t resist! Replaced the P170: the same, but just more capable.

In 2015, by then streaming only, a change to source led to me feeding power amp direct from DAC, taking away the need for a preamp, so no longer in the system

Bryston 4Bsst2 power amp. I’d been aware of Bryston, and their reputation for being ideal amps for control of difficult speakers, highly respected with IMF transmission lines, and used by PMC for their speakers. Saw this for sale on eBay at an excellent price - though from Canada - converted to UK voltage by Bryson on the way to me, early 2016. Absolutely not disappointed - very capable, neutral sounding amp.

Bryston 9Bst 5-channel power amp. On eBay at a low starting price with no other bidders due (I guess) to a spelling mistake, a too good to miss cheap purchase gave me an opportunity to try tri-amping. This was maybe 2018, give or take a year. I took out one of the power amp modules, using the four remaining for mid and treble on the two channels, the 4B on bass. Compared active crossovers by ATC (EC23, analogue) and Behringer (modified DCX2496, digital), and settled on the Behringer. This amp and active XO currently out of use following my change of speakers in October 2022.

Future? Possibly up the Bryston 4B to 7B for more headroom (they’re about twice the power) - the 4B’s 500W peak capability into my 4 ohm speakers momentarily clips peaks if I play very loud, and also people say the 7B is the perfect match, being the same as 4B just more so… Of course I could try active again, though with the difficult manhandling of present speakers it is a quite a big job to convert. And there are other amps I could try (Naim? Chord?)… But whether I will ever do anything further is something I do not know - I am very content as is, and no longer working means resources are finite.

Edit July 2023:
Musical Fidelity A370. As 2023 started, this power amp had not been in my mind for years. I had long lusted after this amp from first discovering/buying MF amps over 30 years ago, eventually all but forgotten. Then lo and behold one popped up unexpectedly in excellent condition at a good price and presented itself before me, tempting me …and the future changed in an instant. The sound … simply great. It is Class A, 185WRMS with peak capability of 50 amps - effortless is a word that has been used to describe it, and I don’t disagree. More in a post I made just after buying:

  • 1980 JVR R-S77 Receiver. Actually it was my Dad’s and he passed away shortly after buying it and it went to me along with his Technics turntable, Akai tape deck and Bose 901s. The Akai tape deck loss is a regret that haunts me to this day. But the R-S77 was like something out of the Millenium Falcon. In the mid 90s, there was no retro cache for gear of that era yet so when it developed a fault it was binned. This amp drove my first gaming system and I have immense happy memories of it.
  • 1992 A&R Cambridge A60 The hifi bug bit me when I walked into a shop that I was sure I had no business in from the prices. But they stuck an old A60 on for me in the dem room and said I could have it for 80 quid. Life was never the same. Before the year was out I’d be working Saturdays in the at shop and then part time for the next 7 years. I lost track of the A60 after my first failed attempt at Uni. I did bring it back from the dorms but after that I’m drawing a blank.
  • 1994 Linn Majik. Trust me. When you are just 15, a new Linn Majik is high end. I’d have this amp through high school, A-levels, resting back home during first failed attempt at Uni, and then with me for all 4 years of a successful go at Uni until I sold it just before I graduated in 2003.
  • 2003 Onkyo micro receiver. Forget model number. Cost $200. I’d gone broke emigrating. It was all I could afford. But this would be the core of my office system and actually get a massive amount of use for the next 10 years.
  • 2005 Yamaha AX-1500 THX Receiver. It wasn’t hifi as I’d known it. But it was the first thing I bought when I got back on my feet financially and I loved this amp. I never listened to music much anymore though and was all about movies. We had a lot of fun together.
  • 2013 Naim UnitiQute2. I’d made a trip to the UK and popped in to say hello to my old boss and buy a serious British hifi expecting to go back to Linn - but really not liking their lifestyle direction. I found my tastes had changed and preferred the Naim. Was suggested that before dropping 25k on a bunch of Naim boxes that would probably work in Japan, I test the water with the UQ2 for the office. And it is still in my office now. It’s had more use than any bit of hifi I’ve ever owned.
  • 2014 Naim NAC282/SupercapDR/NAP250.2 The amp of my dreams had arrived. I would DR the NAP250 a year later but this essentially remained unchanged. Went into storage in 2020 and is still there.
  • 2014 Denon AVR-X4000. You know. for the movies. Still have it. To say it sounds better than the Yamaha it replaced is an understatement. In storage. Can’t wait to set it up again.
  • 2020 Luxman SQ-N150 This was part of my allegedly temporary system built on the premise of, A source, amp, speakers, and cables all for less than the cost of one new Supercap. I have to say, this is the favourite of all the amps I’ve ever owned. The tactile pleasure of using it. The build quality. The cute size. Nothing else comes close.

ooh this is fun
kitset disk smith electronics amplifier that I built as a kid, coupled with some KEF speakers my dad had built floorstanding enclosures for
I remember lying back on my bed with the two speakers toed in and being blown away by the sound, coming as it was via headphone output from a National (Panasonic) portable tape recorder (a poor man’s Sony Walkman). Queen’s The Miracle album, The Invisible Man rockin the room.

Sansui AU-101 my dad’s old amplifier, coupled with the same speakers and an AIWA professional tape deck bought with Xmas money during a trip to the uk. The motor packed up and I never got it going again. The amp though is still alive.

LDF Integrated Zero massive jump to this in my early 20’s. bought for it’s accurate albeit delicate (i.e. short on bass) sound, wonderful amplifier for acoustic instruments, paired with some spendor SP3/1 speakers. Still in daily use.

Nait XS-2 fast forward more than 20 years later, new system, new brand, new speakers, new source. revelation!

Stageline K | NAC 282 | HiCap DR | NAP 200 less than a year later and after getting a cracking vinyl source, the 282 became available second hand. massive jump from the Nait

Stageline K | NAC 282 | HiCap DR | NAP 250 DR within the last few months swapped the 200 for a 250 DR, what I’d always had my heart set on.

Superline | NAC 282 | HiCap DR | NAP 250 DR this week! Swapped the Stageline for a pre-loved Superline. What a piece of kit. Everything I’d hoped for.

Maybe 252. Maybe a power supply for the Superline. But probably in terms of amplification I’m end game at this point, other than to get a better digital source than the ND5 XS (which is fine at the moment as it’s pretty much just used by the family for Spotify)

My first real amp was a Marantz 2235, from there a Yamaha was I think a CR620, Nakamichi TA4a. Then the real amps various Adcom amps GFA 545, GFA 555, GFA 5800 a wonderful Harmon Kardon Citation amp. Then I had a Conrad Johnson Motif, then a Mark Levinson no23, a Levinson no333, Krell KSA 100S, Audio Research Classic 120 mono’s, Audio Research D400, Classe’ CA200, Plinius 8200, 8200 Mkll, 9200… Ayon Spirit mkll Divial expert 200, Rega Elicite, Naim SN2 with HCDR, Aesthetix Mimas


Waving that Kiwi flag! great stuff

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Very happy with the Plinius kept the 9200 for almost 5 years. Replaced by an Ayon Spirit MKll



NAD receiver one of the 30 series can’t remember exactly



180 for a week

Chrome Bumper 250

Sold all due to job loss

2015 to present

Nait 5italic



NAP 250.2 for one month recapped and DR’d

NAP 250.3 Aka New Classic

This is going to make for a long list…

Amplification Model Year (from) Year (to)
Naim NAC52 + Supercap + NAP250 2020
Accuphase E-800 2020
Accuphase E-650 2019 2020
Rega Mira 2018
Creek 4330 2018
NAD 4240 PE 2017
Leben CS600 2016 2018
Cyrus Cyrus 8 DAC 2016
Audio Note Oto Line SE 2016 2016
Accuphase E-600 2015 2022
Cyrus Cyrus III 2014 2016
Naim Nait 5 2013
Shindo Giscours + Cortese 2013 2016
Pass FirstWatt XP-10 + F5 2011
Shindo Monbrison + Haut Brion 2010 2016
Naim Nait 3R 2010 2011
Fi Y + Super X 2A3 amp 2006 2009
Bottlehead S.E.X. amplifier 2005 2014
Jolida JD-302B 2004 2005
Unison Research Unico 2004 2005
Linn Wakonda + LK 85 2003 2004
Linn Classik 2003 2004
Rega Mira 1999 2004
Harman-Kardon HK1400 1993 1997
Pioneer A-656 MKII 1991 1993

Not too complicated here for me:
A60, new in early 80’s, sold last year as part of a rationalisation /clear-out.
From 7 years ago, for the main system: UnitiQute2, then Nova, to SN2, to 252/250 to 552/300 last December, and now done for amplification.

Which was the best, or is that the Aesthetix Mimas with your extensive list showing stages in your upgrade process improving as you went through?

Seems like several systems in there? Which amp would you say has been tge best one (top of the list?)

In order of ownership…

Nytech CA 202.
Lynx Quasar.
Linn Intek.
Naim NAC62 / NAP140 / HI-CAP.
Naim NAC52 / NAP 135.
Naim NAC92 / NAP90.
Naim NAC102 / NAP180 / HI-CAP.
Naim NAC112X / NAP150X / FLATCAP2.
Naim CB Nait2.
Naim UnitiQute2.

Thoughts in hindsight…

Always regret selling the 52/135s, but needs must during times of financial insecurity.

Never buy anything unless it’s been heard before or having a very good idea of the sound signature - I’m look at you Linn Intek. A dreadful waste of resources.

The UnitiQute2 has become one of my very favourite Naim boxes. Idiotically good for the new price, let alone the current used values.

Despite the obvious flaws, the Nait2 is one of those addictive little amplifiers where the overall presentation become intoxicating, and when removed from the chain, I always think there’s something missing compared to other amps I’ve tested.

It’s hard to say. I really really like my Mimas. But I think my favorite was the Audio Research Classic 120’s they were 120wpc in class A Triode! I had them driving ProAc Response 2 with a pair of subs and an ARC LS2B preamp. Great amps except each amp had Eight 6550 output tubes. a complete retube was really expensive. But damn they sounded amazing!

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1979 - Pioneer, can’t remember the number.
1985 - Rotel 840 BX2
2002 - Arcam A85 + Project Phono Box SE
2006 - Naim 202/200
Later in 2006 - Naim 282/200
2009 - Naim Stageline
2010 - Naim 282/HC/200
2011 - Naim Superline/HC
2015 - Naim 250DR
2018 - Naim 282/SC(DR)/250(DR)
2019 - HC for Superline DR modified.

And self-contained home heating system for free!

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Yeah those 16 GE 6550 could warm a room in winter lol

I started off with a Technics amp cannot remember which one about £100 in the 70,s
Naim 62/90
Naim 82/250
Naim 82/250 active
Nova/250 dr
Nova/300 dr
Naim 252/SC/300 dr
Naim 552/500 dr


Goodmans Module 80 Receiver
Nytech CA252 (later went active with the additional crossover power amp)
Naim 42.5/110 - a HiCap followed
Naim 42.5/Hicap/160BD
Naim 42.5/Hicap/250
Ion Nexus Pre/mono block poweramps
Morgan Audio Systems Dev 500 Integrated
Naim 202/Napsc/HiCap/200
Naim 282/HiCapDR/200
Naim 282/HiCapDR/250DR
Naim 282/HiCapDR/300DR
Naim 282/SuperCapDR/300DR
Naim 252/SuperCapDR/300DR

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1994 Denon PMA 250 - student purchase - it didn’t last long.

1994 CYRUS 2 - really great bit of kit. Should have kept it.

1995 Musical Fidelity E100 - nice and smooth, very transparent but a bit dull.

1997 Naim NAC 102 NAP 140 - great combo with Dynaudio speakers. Don’t understand lack of love for the 102 (I chose it over the 72 back to back). Sold it to reduce boxes (?) stupidly.

2008 Cyrus 8 XPd.

2009 Cyrus Pre XPd (swapped the above for this new at zero cost - thanks Cyrus).

2009 NAP 200 - route back to Naim.

2011 NAC 202/NAPSC.

2022 NAC 282 plus HCDR (200 serviced).

2023 NAP 250-3 on order.

Me done amp-wise.

Pioneer SA 508 (in the 80’s)

NAD 3020 PE (90’s)

Naim Nait 5i (since 2008)