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cisamcgu's picture
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Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "
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Hello,

 

I have the chance to buy a Creek 4040 amplifier and a NAD 3020 amplifier, both about 20+ years old. The prices are similar  with the Creek being a little more - my question is  : are they of similar quality ? Would they sound equally good ?

 

Many thanks

Andrew

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

Proper question would probably be, would they sound equally bad.

Last time I heard NAD 3020 it was 15 years ago and it sounded muddy and gray compared to the budget amps of that time. I always found NAD to sound grainy and gray (like its fascia), but they nevertheless did have some drive and power, e.g. 302/312 or 304/314 when new. Old (but 15 years ago not so old as today) 3020 was 5 steps below that. I would guess today it would sound even worse.

Around the same time I also heard MF A1, it was much better, but still not very convincing. I'd say forget about NAD, probably forget about budget vintage legends - IMO they are overpriced and overrated. Definitely don't buy Creek without audition against some modern rivals.

Generally old NADs, MF A1 and some others are overpriced and far from being a bargain. If you just want to save some money, I'd recommend Arcam from 1990s - they go very cheap on ebay and Arcam amps were about 7 steps better then  NAD in my book. You might find some Rotels from 1990s that might be in good condition and not overpriced (but they should be at least half the price of Arcam).

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

cisamcgu wrote:

Hello,

I have the chance to buy a Creek 4040 amplifier and a NAD 3020 amplifier, both about 20+ years old.

They will be a lot older than that. The Creek was launched in 1982 and the NAD in 1978.

"We are currently awaiting the loading of our complement of small lemon-soaked paper napkins for your comfort, refreshment and hygiene during the journey."

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

Nema may have a point, he's certainly entitled to his opinion.

You say you have a chance to buy, do you have a chance to audition?

From a dealer, friend, or online? And at what price.

I'd certainly think you should try to audition with whichever speakers you are thinking of using in your system.

Being that old they could be due for problems any time soon.

If I had to choose I'd probably say the Creek because at least they can still be serviced. 

And as chebby says, make that 30+ years. Smile

 

Motto: Never pay full price for anything, there is always room to haggle!

Tom Evans Audio Design amplification / Acoustic Zen speakers.

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

I strongly prefer the Creek, due to its punchier, more dynamic sound at the expense of it being a touch on the bright side of neutral which becomes an issue with a bright source and bright speakers, but is fine with more neutral or warm ones.

 

There are other amps which I prefer which can be bought for less than £50.

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

lindsayt wrote:

There are other amps which I prefer which can be bought for less than £50.

 

Would you care to share:)

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

And with amps of this age, current condition can be more important than how they were when new. IE I'd rather have a fully working 3020 than a sick 4040. But if both are fully working it'd be the 4040 for me.

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

Other good cheapo amps I'd be looking out for are the A&R A60.

Even better would be a Japanese battleship formerly top of the range amp from the 1970's to 1990's but you'd be lucky to get one for £50, They normally go in the region of £200 to £400. But you never know what'll turn up on the 2nd hand market at what price, especially if you're not fussy about cosmetics. A crusier weight Japanese amp might be more realistic. Something that was 1, 2 or 3 rungs down from top of the range, but still well above the budget level when new. What you're looking for is something good, but something relatively unknown because it was in the shadow of Naim when new in this country.

 

Also, for power amps, or power amps with volume controls I really like big old American high end professional amps. They can be a pain domestically due to noisy fans and transformers, but the sound through the speakers is fantastic for the low low prices you can buy them for.

 

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

Yes thesee amps are very old. What source are you going to be using? I would not pay very much money for them, as said you can get much better for not much money. I had the NAD 3030 pretty average, my Arcam Alpha 3 was a big step up and they only go for about £30 now. I would look around at some more recent Creek amps.

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

Thanks for all your replies, you are very kind.

 

The source is probably going to be a Rega Planar 3 (25+ years old), but I will get it serviced, so it should be in fine working order. The two amps I meantioned I can get for £50 and £70 respectively, but I am gathering from the replies that I might be better off with either a second hand Arcam, a second hand Rotel/Sony/etc...

 

The other option is a brand new one for about £150, but it would need an phono stage ...

Decisions, decisions ...

Thanks

Andrew

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

For vinyl source, by far the most impressive amp I had at home was Rega Brio 2 - never heard Brio 1 or 3, but I guess they can't be completely different. I don't know, how they age.

Of the 1990s amps my favorite amps for CDs would be Arcam Delta, then Alpha, and a sustantial step behind some Rotels (never found big difference between them, perhaps I even prefer cheaper, less powerful ones) and then NAD 302/304/312/314 (not much between them either). All of them much better then 3020.

The most clean and open sounding amp in the 1990s was IMO Harman Kardon HK620 (little less powerful HK610 was not far behind and more powerful ones were rubbish), but there are not so many around. With LPs Brio 2 beats it though.

I have no idea how any of them ages.

I have no experience with Creek at all.

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

I don't think you will get much new for £150 and many don't have a phono stage now. I would have  alook around for Rega, Creek also are said to be good for vinyl. Those prices seem too high is that from a dealer?

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

How old do I feel. When someone raises a query about 'vintage' HiFi just about the last thing I think they're going to be asking about is gear from the 80s and 90s. Now where's the wife put my zimmer frame.  :oops: :cry:

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

Some interesting points so far, mean while, back in the real world.

Both the Creek and the 3020 are pretty bullet proof, not too much goes wrong with them, also there are loads to choose from its a buyers market. I would be looking at either a series two or three CAS4040 or a 3020A or B variant if it were my money. These were later versions which are a little more polished but don't go spending silly money on them. Personally I would go for a Creek 4040 S3, lovely little amps. 

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

MajorFubar wrote:

How old do I feel. When someone raises a query about 'vintage' HiFi just about the last thing I think they're going to be asking about is gear from the 80s and 90s. Now where's the wife put my zimmer frame.  :oops: :cry:

Next to your glasses I'd guess. Smile

Old as I am the term vintage is relative. When it comes to cars there is a defining term with hifi I guess vintage is anything beyond 25 years which both of these propably are.

Agree with eggontoast's comment that the later versions of the Creek would be the one to go for as I think they all had a phono stage. However have to disagree with his suggestion that both are bulletproof as my NAD certainly was not........ It's the capacitors you see!!!

 

Motto: Never pay full price for anything, there is always room to haggle!

Tom Evans Audio Design amplification / Acoustic Zen speakers.

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RE: Vintage amps "Creek or NAD "

Had a lot of fun with a 3020 and 3220PE later on. To me they sounded real nice, I especially enjoyed the phono stage.

They don't have too much power but for compact speakers or non-demanding floorstanders they will match fine in most cases. I recently upgraded to another amp but have to say that the NAD has been a true companion for years. Can't tell you anything about the Creek amp but can recommend the 3020. Mind you these amps have might need some R&R to bring them back to factory spec.

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