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Thread: Soundcraftsmen purchase help

  1. #1
    Senior Member JBLAddict's Avatar
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    Soundcraftsmen purchase help

    Hi All, been scouring the ads for a Soundcraftsmen amp for a couple months to power my L7s.

    For those being auctioned, there's a huge disparity in bidding activity, with some getting near 30 bids, while others not a nibble. Considering there are models from the 70s through the 90s, are their certain flags that might explain what those "in the know" are spooked by or seeaking eg 1)70s unit considered a collectors item 2)90s models of the MTX variety 3)owner claims can't full test 4)rack mounted unit used in a studio 5)class A vs. class H ??


    case in point....
    this 70's MA5002 fetched a nice $311 with 16 bids
    \http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=180348455271

    whereas this nice 90's A200, while 1/2 the power, one bid
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=380112631554

    yet this 80's ProPower has solid bidding fetching over $200
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=170304413978

    What I'm looking for is an A400, which has the power rating I seek, is a bit newer, and recommended by TiD for the L7s, but cannot understand why they fetch so much less that some of the 70s units...

    Thanks!!

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    Smile My biased opinion

    The final Soundcraftsmen amps, the Soundcraftsmen MTX A100, A200, and A400 (along with their pro counterparts) are the best values in Soundcraftsmen amplifiers. They are true Soundcraftsmen designs produced after the company's (unfortunate) acquisition by MTX. They are my favorite looking and they perform without a hitch.

    Some of the more classic amps do bring higher prices. They have analog meters or LED meters, extra buttons, etc. that appeal to collectors but also introduce extra pieces into the amp's design. These are things I don't need. The A100 (I have three), A200 (I have two) and A400 (I have two) are no nonsense, powerful, clean, durable units with a single purpose: amplify a pair of speakers.

    In the case of my A400s, I happen to be sitting in the office where I have a pair of A400s driving a pair of L7s. One amp powers the LF drivers, the LE120H-1s, and the other runs the HF network and drivers. It's simply outstanding.

    I have a lot of Soundcraftsmen gear, and the A Series amps are the ones I like best, with the "shoebox amps" a close second (PCR800, PM860, etc.).

    The MA5002 is the best looking amp with its large meters, but it would be further down on my list, and it costs too much relative to its real value. The Pro Power units are unattractive in my view, and they're the ones that seem to have the lowest quality control.
    In.

  3. #3
    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    I've used Soundcraftsmen products for over thirty years and currently have about eleven of their components. Only ever had to send one back for repair and that was a minor issue with an unbalanced volume pot that seems to be endemic in their '70s-'80s-vintage pre-amps and pre-EQs (and apparently not fixable). I've had a Pro-Power-Four amp for a year or so and it performs flawlessly. I've used it with my L7s but my ears and brain simply prefer the Crown PS-400.

    The later Soundcraftsmen stuff from the '90s (and I'll in include the last U.S-made MTX units, too) seem to be among their best products. I have two Pro-Control-Four pre-amps and Pro-44-EQs that are among my favorites and I use one pair with two Crowns in my bi-amped 4345 system, for what that's worth.

    I bought the Pro-Power-Four on a whim in a set with the second EQ and pre-amp, all like-new in original boxes with manuals, just to try it out and not split up the set. The asking price for the amp alone was $325 but I ended up paying about $525 plus shipping for all three so I figure the amp at maybe about $250 of that. I think that's a pretty good deal for a solid, powerful amp in great condition.

    You do have to watch out for condition on many Soundcraftsmen amps since they seem to have been put in heavy DJ and SR use and many are quite rough, abused, and have been ridden hard and put up wet. This seems especially true in the Pro-Power-Ten model. I understand T-dome's affection for the A-series and their elegant simplicity but I wouldn't let that keep you from considering a nice Pro-Power-Four, or the other similar models.

    Here's a link to a great test report (yeah, I know, it's just Julian Hirsch who supposedly never found anything he didn't like!) that piqued my curiosity enough to buy one: http://www.soundcraftsmen.com/test_reports.htm
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome View Post
    The Pro Power units are unattractive in my view, and they're the ones that seem to have the lowest quality control.
    I'll amend this to say the Pro Power electronics seem fine. It's the buttons and switches that fall off, the dirt-attracting front plate, and the poor paint jobs that make them less attractive. They will drive almost anything, and I still use one to drive my L250s, despite its missing parts.
    In.

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome View Post
    It's the buttons and switches that fall off, the dirt-attracting front plate, and the poor paint jobs that make them less attractive.
    That is a strange phenomenon, isn't it? Paint issues are pretty much due to the components not having big enough feet on them to clear even each other if stacked and not racked. And careless handling is always the issue more than poor paint. I have seen plenty being sold with missing knobs (pre-amps) and buttons. Must be a common rectangular button from that era since SAE used the same ones. EQ slider knobs seem to get lost, too. And the Pro-Control and Pre-Receiver knobs are quite unique and often missing. None of my ten-or-so components are so afflicted, luckily. Adult-owned by people who cared enough to keep the original boxes seems to help. And I keep a dusting brush on hand. Easy enough.


    While we're on the topic: For the later EQs, the plastic tips on the sliders are matched pretty well by the smallest bolt covers in the Lowe's hardware bins. You can even get them in red to set-off the main gain controls from the third-octave controls which is why I found them. Then one dead CX-series pre-EQ can supply practically an entire forum membership with spare parts . . .
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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    Senior Member JBLAddict's Avatar
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    thanks so much guys for the detailed explanations, that was exactly the type of information I was after, especially from others that own L7/L5 like yourselves.....in fact it was your input on the L Series thread that has had my humming and hawing over the 80s models vs. the 90s models.....

    I was outbid on an A400 on ebay right here in my own zipcode (!) about three months ago, and shortly thereafter realized that I faarrr underbid, the winner took the thing for $150!! and it was spotless...I'm still over this

    The only ones that have popped up since have been the Aseries "pro" model (with the orange lines across the face) which get no bids, I'm assuming because as you say they were DJ used and driven hard?

    So....I've thought seriously about the ProPower4, considered the PCR800 but they always look so beatup and the linked test reports (which I've read many times) cite a fan noise issue, and very slightly considered the MA5002 but don't want something that old that sells at a premium over the A400 and ProPower....

    bottom line....there's a very clean looking ProPower4 up for auction now, still under $200, comes with the manuals and CoC, and is "fully functional".....I'd really like to hold out for the A400 but if the only risk is paint and buttons, what would be a reasonable top bid?? and does the A400 hold any other inherent benefits that make it worth holding out for? (no fan noise, performance, etc)

    thanks again

  7. #7
    Senior Member JBLAddict's Avatar
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    btw, I recently rearranged my entire living room around the L7/L5/LC home theater--rotated the speakers, furniture, TV 90 degrees. The L7 now sit 3' from the front and back walls (actually I marked the floor off at 3.3 x 5.1ft "golden ratio" positions and pull them out a bit when I want it just right), and it's been well worth it!! talk about spooky good soundstage/imaging

  8. #8
    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBLAddict View Post
    ...there's a very clean looking ProPower4 up for auction now, still under $200, comes with the manuals and CoC, and is "fully functional".....I'd really like to hold out for the A400 but if the only risk is paint and buttons, what would be a reasonable top bid?? and does the A400 hold any other inherent benefits that make it worth holding out for? (no fan noise, performance, etc)
    I can't really answer your questions. I mentioned what I paid for mine but I bought it to complete a Soundcraftsmen Pro-* system: pre-amp, EQ, tuner, amp. We all know the current bid price is meaningless until the last ten seconds on Ebay, so you've got over five days left. Mine must be a wimp. It's check sheet shows only 215 watts at 8-ohms.

    In several listening sessions I determined I preferred the sound of the Crown PS-400 amp so I'm not really using the Soundcraftsmen. Not interested in selling mine since it's in a rack with its related components and ready to be deployed with the L7 spares in a friend's new garage. I can't speak highly enough about the pre-amp and EQ, and the amp performed admirably with the L7. I believe I wrote back then about it maybe being a killer LF amp for a bi-amp system but I liked the HF qualities of the Crown better when I used them both in non-bi-amp service. I paid less for one big Crown than I did for the Soundcraftsmen, and from an LH forum member. The other Crown was less than half that and almost-local off Ebay. :dont-know Go figure. Recently a beat-up Amcron PS-400 went for $436 so, per usual, there's no logic in Ebay sale prices.

    The Pro-Power-Four is a fine amp. In my opinion if you pay under $250 for it even if you don't like it your loss would be minimal if you decided to resell it. Nearly every one I've seen has that voltage label on it. By that time Soundcraftsmen was pretty much doing direct sales and had few dealers left anywhere other than California. My latest system was bought directly through Soundcraftsmen and shipped to Korea for a Canadian diplomat in 1991. I also have a letter from Soundcraftsmen with a 1989 price list offering to sell direct with a 25% discount off list price because I lived in an unrepresented area. List price for the Pro-Power-Four at that time was $849.

    Good luck on the auction. Remember, if it costs you only $50 or $100 more to get something you really want, what's the big deal? That was a tank of gas this time last year.
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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    Senior Member JBLAddict's Avatar
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    S800?

    There's a listing for an S800 (MTX Soundcraftsment), so I'm guessing it's a >'93 model?

    do you know of this model, it's 205WPC, was there a group of amps after the MTX acq. that would not be considered true Soundcraftsmen designs to use Dome's words?

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    I have an S800--well in fact I have three S800s if you count the two JBL Synthesis® S800s I just got! However, it's the Soundcraftsmen unit we're discussing, so sorry about the detour.

    It's in the distinguished line of Soundcraftsmen's half-size or shoebox amps. The most notable members are the PCR800, S800, and S860. They're all excellent MOSFET based designs with 200+ Watts per channel. The PCR800 used Hitachi MOSFETS and the S860 used Exicon, so there was a sonic, subtle difference in output. I'm not sure what's in the S800.

    All three designs are reliable, long-lasting, and great sounding. They also have fans that occasionally work hard to cool that compact enclosure. Rack-mounted in a closet, that's not a concern. Out in the room it bothers some people. It never bothered me, and 99% of the time it's whisper quiet.
    In.

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    Here you go. It's a sucky picture, but it shows four of my PCR800s running in tandem. The S800 looks virtually the same.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    In.

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    Senior Member JBLAddict's Avatar
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    Thanks Doug for the quick response,

    here's the S800 I see on ebay
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...E:B:SS:US:1123

    since it's labeled "MTX', is this S800 in the same line as the PCR800 and S860?

    again, I'm looking for an A400 but getting impatient waiting for the good unit to appear for sale......

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBLAddict View Post
    Thanks Doug for the quick response,

    here's the S800 I see on ebay
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...E:B:SS:US:1123

    since it's labeled "MTX', is this S800 in the same line as the PCR800 and S860?

    again, I'm looking for an A400 but getting impatient waiting for the good unit to appear for sale......
    That's a good price and the shipping is reasonable (if it's properly packed). It's definitely in the PCR800 MOSFET lineage. I wouldn't hesitate to buy it, knowing if I didn't like it or if an A400 came along I could get all my money back by reselling it.
    In.

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    Senior Member JBLAddict's Avatar
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    thanks, I now see both the S860 and S800 as 205WPC '93 units on the audiogon bluebook site, though why two nearly identical models in the same year??

    also, I tracked some of the recent Hafler threads, and had my interest peaked by some of their 90's units, such as the Pro5000(325WPC) and Pro500(250WPC) units..... you know the L7s these are intended for so I appreciate your opinions, how would you compare some of the 90s vintage Haflers against the Soundcraftsmen units?

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBLAddict View Post
    again, I'm looking for an A400 but getting impatient waiting for the good unit to appear for sale......
    So why did you pass on this one? http://ebayitem.com/180352549386 :dont-know

    (Pro-Power-Four sold 5/8/09 for $207.)
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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