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Hi-Fi Blog... Page 2 - 2018

See the MAIN PAGE for the INDEX.


January 2018 Blog.


How Much More Blogging Is There In Hi-fi?
The 2017 blog is huge as so much was found reading through the 1970-78 Hi-Fi News/RR magazine & it helped put facts to the ideas of how Hifi changed, as good as living it at the time. As of now we are on the November 1978 HFN/RR & we have the set up to Dec 1980, matching the Hi-Fi Yearbook 1981 end. After 1981 things changed a lot as out went the Monster Receivers & in came low powered Pre & Power combos that seem a bit pointless & that era that is riddled with ICs never has interested us having seen enough years back. The Silver Era ends gradually & by 1986 perhaps a Silver amp is a Hifi Leper, ones we used to see at Car Boots in the early 1990s were £20 regardless of how good they were as 'unwanted'. The lucky Silver Amps stayed stored away... So more blogs until the HFN/RR is read through & then blogs will be far fewer, unless we go back to 1956-1969, if that probably needs a different page as it's less relevant to Today's Hifi, but the 1956-62 era were interesting, so worth writing more on & the HFN & HFN/RR mags pre 1980 are long gone now despite some selling 50,000-70,000 copies not many survive as with most magazines.


Do FETs Belong In Audio Preamp Stages?
We have long thought FETs were the weakness in the Sony TA-1130 & other amps that used them in Audio Stages. But it's actually not so, read on. The NAD 300 huge receiver had FETs in the preamp & we couldn't do much with the amp, but on later looking at the circuits, the whole power amp is a bad design. Usually the FET we saw was a bad idea trying to cover bad design as the Yamaha CR-1000 uses them on the preamp to mute a power-off click. But as with Differentials, we need to find out what is bad & what is good, no-one else tells you info on these things & for us to find out is the only way. Progress in Upgrading gets a 1971 Sony TA-2000F here, to see what a preamp with so many FETs like the TA-1130 has can be upgraded like. We really didn't expect too much from it, so to leave the FETs & not try to replace with Silicon even based on the earlier TA-2000 preamp yet upgrade the rest. FETs are in FM Front End sections of a Tuner & this was an idea first used in c.1968 with the Sony STR-6120. We've found Differentials are fine in Audio, but the trouble is, the Differential Era generally starting from 1971 is where cost cutting takes place, the Differential gives good specs if the sound can be awful. But it's not the Differential that's the problem, so how about the FET? So to try upgrading the TA-2000F with all our ideas but leave the FETs be. It sounds as punchy, crisp & deep bass as a Silicon Transistor preamp. FETs may only have low spec in comparison, but a FET for the principles of it does not need much power to work unlike a regular silicon transistor. The TA-2000F FET noise levels are comparable to transistors, if not totally silent. Based on how they sound, the FET is actually 'no bother' and no limit to a preamp as we found with the Differential. The big problem though is Bad Design, Cost Cutting & Fear of The Real Sound to wrongly blame the FET in preamps until we reseached it fully in upgrading. Is it better to have a FET or Transistor in a preamp based on Sound? Actually it's no different on a well designed & properly upgraded amp. The 'Fashion' aspect of adding the "F" was a Sony thing & they progressed to V-FET output stages a few years before MOSFETS arrived in 1978 as noted above. The only trouble with the TA-2000F FETs is they are awkwardly numbered & sorted into gain groups, if one fails or goes noisy, to replace is the difficulty. So FETs are fine in Audio Stages, but the design has to be good & the Sony TA-2000F & TA-1130 don't do the FETs justice.


The First Of The Dreaded "Improved Sound Quality" Hifi Adverts.

Fascinating to see where the Nonsense starts in Hifi, above we reveal the two names Hiraga & Messenger, and be sure these sort of "dreams" will translate into the tiresome "Improve Sound Quality" by buying something that's not quite what is seems. Previously Cecil Watts & the Pixall type ads together with Bib cassette care kits had a clear purpose. But in November 1978 the 'R.E.W' shop starts with "Definite Improvements" where a £200-£300 'upgrade' is offered by Buying a £50 set of 'Monitor Audio Sound Cable' for speaker cable. As we've said, it's just the old LCR effect. But what is that? As an example, your Record Player MM Cartridge has exactly that, the 'L' is inductance in the winding of the coils, the 'C' is the loading you add in the amplifier plus the tiny amount in the cables from Cartridge to Amp & the 'R' is Resistance of the Cartridge windings. The typical 47k resistor MM Loading is part of this too. If you have an amp to adjust the 'pf' capacitance loading it 'pulls the focus in' by limiting the highest frequencies & adding a 'ringing' as it compresses the higher frequency range with the 'L' effect having a basic effect alone if the 'C' tunes it, much like a traditional Radio is made with Tuning Coils. So Why Do Cables Need To Do This? It's because the Hifi you are using isn't very good. You've been sold mediocrity by believing a 5* Review-Advert. This ghastly 'Grainy' sound of blurry & rough upper midrange-treble we've heard in UK-EU Hifi from the 1960s-70s if the Japanese & USA Hifi is far better designed so even some cheap 30w 1978 Japan non-IC amps can still sound acceptable to us. But by the 1979-82 era even Japanese amps got that grainy sound & the 1983 Yamaha A720 was very unmusical for this cost-cutting. So the 'Fancy' LCR-effect Cables just add a Tuning & Compression effect to the amplifier, taming the roughness. It papers over the cracks & on the budget-midprice type amps it will have an effect & it will get 'Wonder Cure-All Drug' hype attached to it. The slimy ad execs hype these items because you believe these things are true, so we thought we'd explain it in terms here to show the deal. Yes, it's all "Science in the Name of Hi-Fi Hype To Spend Your Money Unwisely". A similar 'Wonder Cure' are those cynical TV ads to reduce wrinkles on Sun-Dried Hags that they bring on. They use a Hydrating Gel that fills the Dry Wrinkles & takes off 20 years which is cruel, but they just want your money. But 1 hour later the effect has worn off. Wise Man in Hi-Fi has bought Hi-Fi of High Quality which can be done cheaply if you read our pages closely, and we only use the Basic Good quality Cables avoiding all the Expensive Hyped Junk, but we Upgrade amps to do the Fine Tuning on the Inside of the amp, so cheaper cables can be used. One using high LCR-effect cables on highly priced gear will wonder why the Electrical Wonder sounds boring, you're choking it's design with Silly Cables that you don't need. Today to spend £100 on a fancy Cable to connect Turntable to Amplifier as we found in an earlier Blog will make a Cheaper Cartridge sound more refined, but we just upped the design in the amp to realise the 'High Choke Qualities' of Expensive Cable can reduce the quality also. You do not need Mains Conditioners, Expensive Mains Cables, "Hi-Fi" Fuses, Expensive Speaker & Line-Level Phono cables if your Hifi is a good design. Put your Money into Better Hifi than wasting it on Silly Filter-Effect Cables.


1960s Fisher Valve Amplifiers.
These are a High Quality range & were only sold in the UK by one shop from 1963-66, probably 'Largs' of London. The Fisher Valves Range has similar numbering which gives later versions but is a confusing issue so to try to understand this, but often sellers misquote the 'Music Power' rating which is a lot higher. There are no 75w valve amps in 1963. The 1964 HFYB as on our Amps page lists these... Fisher get a range now X-100 stereo integrated 20w EL184 (? typo EL84) £60, X101-C stereo integrated 27w £100, X-202-B stereo integrated 35w £137 uses 7868 output valves, X1000 50w £161, only X-100 is stocked rest are special order. Power ratings on Fisher are easy, it often says the RMS & Music Power rating on the amp itself, so no excuses to hype the Music Power ratings as RMS. From info found online & manuals the 1963 X-100-2 & X-100A is 17+17w RMS & 20+20w IHF (Music Power) as printed on the amp, so the HFN 20w is 17w RMS. But HFE wrongly says 40w per channel. 17w RMS per channel is likely 15w RMS both channels. X-100-B has bigger output valves to the earlier & X-100-C is the last version. X-101B is a different amp with valve rectifier from 1961, the X-101-C we have pictures of, a front-flap type amp with larger output valves so 27w per channel with ECC83 & 7591 valves, so this is 25w RMS both chanels used. X-101-D is the final 1965 version. The biggest one is X-1000 at 50-55w if the manual only gives "110w Music Power both channels" so 50-55w isn't RMS, it uses 2 pairs of EL34 which can get 50w, if probably 30-40w RMS is the real value. X-190 is a basic amp with a single output valve per channel ELL80 must be a double valve as it says Push-Pull. No power ratings if could be 5w-8w by the looks. X-202-B is 35w RMS per channel so likely 30w RMS both channels. So X-100 15w, X101 25w, X202 30w, X1000 40w-50w RMS both channels driven. The early pre 1963 ones with Valve Rectifier are less upgradeable, the ones with Diodes are the better ones. All are still early with AC heaters for some sections. *We get the Fisher X-100-B to upgrade, see the Reviews page.


Fisher X-100 Valve Amplifier Range.
Of the Fisher Valve amps made 1963-66, this one seems the easiest to find as it's a 15w one, so to look closer. Firstly there are several versions, later Fisher kept updating the designs but changed manuals by Serial Number as the following shows it's too confusing. We have Manuals for X-100-2/X-100-A second version X-100-3/X-100-A third version, X-100-B fourth version & X-100-C fifth & last version so there must be a X-100-1/X-100-A too. There will be changes in Output Valves & possibly 100-117v plus the ones that can be rewired to 220-240v that have extra wires. Probably not hard to tell which version you have of the "A" version & the A/B/C will be marked on the fascia. The "A" version has 7189 valves running at 390v, the same valves were in the Sansui 500A running at 420v which is far too high for the valve specs. The "B" version has bigger sized 7868 running at 435v. These bigger valves can be run up to 30w say some, but the X-100 is still a 15w amp but with better headroom, rather than pushing 15w out of valves that are only rated at 15w. The "C" version has the same 7869 & voltages. The "A" version is 8-16 ohm only, the B & C are 4-8-16 ohm for an extra transformer winding. Note on Using Headphones, you need to select the 'Headphone' output to add a Load Resistor to the Transformer, else as we found with the poorly designed Sansui 500A it brings big problems. The Trio WX-400U/W41 amps have a load resistor always in circuit which is a more sensible design. Some Transformers don't appear to need a load resistor if some do, the designs of Valve Transformers is quite an art, if you'll not find details on transformer spec as it's design. The "A" version has smaller main capacitors, not a problem for us upgrading. The Heaters on the "B" & "C" version are AC on the Power Amp stages if Preamp ones are DC on the Bias Circuit. The "A" version is all AC heaters. AC is ~ which adds Hum to affect the Signal-Noise ratio & can mean a background noise is heard on sensitive speakers. Adding DC heaters to the Preamp is good, if on our 1979 Luxman LX33 the original design was awful, so we did all Preamp & Driver-Splitter as DC leaving AC for the Output Valves as is standard. Therefore the "B" & "C" ones will upgrade better than the "A" for Output Valves & DC heaters, the "A" version is the 1963 first one & Valve design improved by 1965-67 if the 1966 Sansui 500A is strangely poor.


New Test Gear: Oscilloscope & Frequency Generator.
We've got on fine with a handheld Velleman HPS 10 Oscilloscope, it was reliable & gave worthwhile results, if it is quite old now, got annoying for auto shut-off & for the size it's working but tatty, the weak folding stand long gone & now the outer window cracked time to move on. To get a proper desk Oscilloscope used to mean those big TV type CRT tube ones if now you can get some smart LCD screen ones that don't take up much room. The LEC College we went to used RS (Radio Spares) gear so on looking to see what was around in Used & New, to buy a new RS IDS 6052U suited for the price & uses, it has USB connectivity if we ever want to go further so a good buy. It takes a bit of learning if then is easy to use. It shows the HPS 10 was taking RMS readings which was never clear, the booklet doesn't tell much. The RS one has lots of settings & reading capabilities. To use 'Autoset' to match the input source Trigger to stop the sine wave running around L-R was a problem the HPS 10 had as well as autoranging on the wrong range. A useful feature we've learned of with Amp Testing in HFN/RR is Rise Time is important & the RS scope reads this which will have uses. Double channel display means we can compare input & output at the same time. For a Function Generator, ie Test Tones Generator, a big range of ones with some too fussy in use, but a barely used Thurlby Thandar TTI TG 120 20MHz generator will do fine, it was only recently discontinued as no USB outputs, so is modern enough for us, if it'll not generate FM frequencies for Tuner testing if to go to that spec is a huge jump in cost that we'd not see use of. The idea was to connect the TG120 to the amp to test plus another output to the scope to compare in-out but that's not directly possible. The TG120 has Main Out plus Aux Out that's just a TTL/CMOS square wave logic gate plus a Sweep In that requires a Sweep Tone generator to 'do what it does' to create as Rising Tone type of signal as Test CDs have. So we could do with 2 outputs M to 2F, a doubler which does exist as the BNC connectors are used in other areas of electronics. BNC male is the bigger fitting one with the centre pin & BNC female is the centre hole one with 2 locking pins, all for reasons & names not too obscure. BNC male to Female Y splitter as the 'T' block ones are too close to use neatly with side connectors, if we see one with connecors next to each other on the 'T' which is better. To connect the Generator to Amps via Phono sockets required a BNC to single Phono & then a Phono Y splitter to give 2 inputs, all a complex cabling game. Once the BNC splitter arrives we can test how accuate amps are inputs vs output & much more.


Comparing a 30w Valve Amp to High Powered Transistor Amps.
We've got the Sony TA-2000F/TA-3200F pair, the Sansui, a Yamaha CR-1000 & the Luxman LX33 valves to compare. The three transistor amps are much upgraded & play detail in a different way to Valves. But the Valve Amp is the purpose of describing here, why bother with Valves? Hot things that need maintenance & the power tubes need rebiasing before you need to replace them. After playing the Sony & Sansui the longest, the Valve Amp does sound quite different. 30w Valves on EL34s without the typical Ultra-Linear weak design that we don't like the sound of, as described elsewhere on the blog. The Transistor amps are 100w, 130w & 70w, the 30w valves plays as loud as the 70w Yamaha if we found it does flatten off a bit trying to match the Volume of the Sony-Sansui power that was got used to on Headphones. Before we overdid the volume making us quit as it sort of disorientates, the difference playing Valves was very noticeable. The sound is more natural, more effortless, not so in your face but still with the fine detail. The slam of certain test tracks is delivered well if in a different way, a little like it sneaks up behind you unexpectedly from being more polite & kicking you up the behind. But we play Vinyl a lot currently & the Valve Amp can do 5 hour sessions without any fatigue beyond headphone ache. Valves done right can be very neutral & 'matter of fact' that takes time to understand, but then see the Beauty in the sound. Vinyl played on Valve Phono Stages gets a detail out that Transistors can't do & a feeling of 'being in the groove' is apparent & crackles appear firm & solid sounding, not the blurry soft crackle, but tuned in well to not sound as annoying as a Transistor design that can make scratches sound louder for the forced RIAA designs that often sound dull & lifeless despite being RIAA-accurate. The Valve amp can deceive you with it's subtlety on first listen as we've noticed many times with the 100w Valve Monoblocs that haven't been used much in years now for trying Solid State amps more. The valve amp can sound duller even, especially if you've used a Transistor amp on Headphones. Valves can be treated in a design way, running Hot, that Transistors would fail at which means Valves always win on Phono Stages for detail resolution. The 30w valves could play as loud as a 70w Yamaha, the 'flattening off' is soft clipping, a valve amp will clip better than transistors which is why Guitar Amps prefer Valves for Overload Characteristics. Plenty more on Valve Sound ideas on our 'Valves' page.

Are Valves-Tubes or Transistors the Best?
Both can be as good as the other overall if Valves are better on Phono stages than any Transistor amp for how you can design them where a Transistor wouldn't. But Transistors can deliver more Current to drive Speakers, so the Bass on Transistors is more powerful. We've got 15" Tannoy Golds, which amp type is best? The 15" bass driver is a big thing to throw around in a musical way so it needs good current to control & deliver deep sub bass that few speakers can. We've found amplifiers with Double-Pair Output Transistors such as the 50w amps Sony TA-1120 drive the speakers better than a Single-Pair amp. We've noticed this with the 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 which is Doubled also. But the reality of Doubled Transistors again is revealed by hearing the upgraded Sony TA-2000F/3200F 100w pair which have Single-Pair output transistors. The Doubled Output Transistors give the sound of a higher powered amp if the amp itself is 50w in the case of the TA-1120 & it still will flatten off past halfway on the volume, maybe leaving you wanting more. These Doubled Output Transistors are in very few amps such as the Sony TA-1120(A) & Fisher 600-T, if the idea was more to get a reliable higher power rating using transistors that were at their power limit, as in the TA-1120 originally had 50w transistors & was rated 50w, so no 'Music Power' headroom. Not to be confused with Single-Ended which is a Valve amp that's not Push-Pull, we mean Doubled has 4 output transistors per channel & Single has the more typical 2 per channel. Therefore there is no "Best" either has it's merits, the Valve amp as in the section above excels in a sweetness to the sound, it can play very loudly if not quite getting the weighty bass of certain Transistor Amps that only reveal this once upgraded. All this is based on Upgraded Amps done by us, those comparing Shop-Bought original designs that are always limited to not be too good & to keep universal, this is where more disagreements will be found & none are right or wrong. For Vinyl, we only play Valve Amps & have done since getting a Rogers Cadet III in about 1996. Hear Vinyl with Valves done right & Transistors will never come close. For TV sound we found the Luxman Valve Amp we use for Vinyl not quite as rich sounding as some transistor amps, such as the Realistic STA-150 & 220, the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000, Sony TA-1120 & Sony TA-2000F/3200F pair. The 1968-70 Sony STR-6120 sounds great on the Tannoys, likely designed with them in mind if the sound can be too upfront for some who aren't used to detail revealing they are used to muffly sounding amps, or at least mismatched Hifi. So many different sounds in Amplifiers, to find one you can listen to for Hours on Speakers or Headphones is where you'll find your Best.


Hifi News 1978 Amplifier Tests. More Of Them, Why?
In the November 1978 issue Martin Colloms is on about Amplifier Testing again. Awful ideas of forcing a group of several people to listen & rate amps is never going to work, look how Paul Messenger got treated for daring to be radical, if got a bit carried away leaving his opinions a bit unsure of the worth. The Peter Walker-Quad amp test above that really didn't say much is done better by MC as is his way. He actually means Testing Power Amplifiers alone to see which sound different, not including the separate preamps & using one preamp on all Power Amps which will get mismatching of sound levels so again hardly ideal. Power Amplifiers have an Input stage which may be a Transistor or two or a Differential type one of some sort. Then comes the Driver, the Bias-Splitter stage, Push-Pull Drivers & then Push-Pull Output stages. The big differences in sound come in the early stages. With Preamplifiers these vary hugely in sound & it's a reason why Passive Preamps, just a switch box & volume control became popular, if often the Power Amp didn't have enough gain to drive it so it sounded sweet but with no kick to the sound which some will prefer & say is more natural, but it has an incorrect gain. The "Tone" of an amplifier, even one with no Tone Controls, is created in the Preamplifier stage. The MC test uses 13 people which is a bad idea as peer pressure, unease at sitting with those you don't like & the pressure too of hearing music you don't like to know what's good or bad. The article is a real bore to read, the Adrian Hope intro is just pages of waffle that say nothing. These 13 people, just one female, had to tell which amp was sounding the best & they repeated the same amp more than once to apparently show how useless the panel comparing game is. We say above how we compare amps, only to be familiar with the amp over weeks & regular use, as well as comparing to known Reference Amps helps tell good from average. One panellist was derided as 'guessing' & another just down to chance, no names told though. The stupidity of the experiment concluded that "Good Power Amplifiers - with the emphasis on Good - all sound much the same". You can imagine the words we're thinking, not ones we print here but that opinion is lazy & uninformed, revealing little familiarity with the amplifiers to make such a vague sweeping comment. Shop Bought Hifi will be sold to be universal & by 1978 the complains had been heard for 10 years so much like samey 2018 cars, to the untrained ear, they all can sound alike without time with them & learning them properly. The early stages of a Power Amp dictate it's quality, as does parts spec, power rating, power supply design plus whichever Preamp it's designed to match. A 20w amp will be designed to suit it's needs & not get into distortion, so expect Bass & Treble to be tamed, plus a limited Slew Rate to not need too high spec a design, ie keep it priced within the expected range. A 50w amp can be designed very differently, but still need to be limited in some way, the few Doubled-Output transistors give a taste of the Higher Power sound, if they are still 50w & don't try to push them too hard as you'll end up flattening out the sound to sound unpleasant. In an ideal world, a 100w+ amp should be designed to perfection with very high Slew Rate & unlimited Deep bass, but a Sansui G8700DB 160w amp we had to service was still very cost cut & limited, a frustrating amp to try. The 1972 Sony TA-2000F-TA-3200F are 100w but are so dumbed down in every possible way, especially the preamp. We can upgrade amps to sound what they 'should' sound like, but not to go too far & have them be unreliable. So to say "they all sound much the same" to a degree is correct, but they are playing Shop-Bought gear that is limited, we by knowing Upgraded amps know otherwise, some Amps can upgrade a huge amount to really reveal how good Hifi can be. We've rebuilt & much upgraded the Sony TA-3200F 100w power amp & initially it was rather safe & boring sounding, but now it compares with the TA-2000F preamp to the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X.


Why The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X Is The Best Post 1980 Transistor Amplifier.

We've written the amp up deeply on the Reviews page, yet we've offered it for sale for a while over the last 2 years as it doesn't match the 1969 Tannoys too well. No-one ever asked about it, nobody knows what it is & it's a Rare amp already. We left it to show what we can do in upgrades as if it doesn't sell within a week or so it can sit for ages as it proved. Why did no-one go for it? 1980s big brand Hifi is generally derided as Mass Market Crap because it generally is. The 1986 Sony TA-F 550ES was the most boring amp we'd ever heard, the 1984 Technics SU-V707 with computer control bias & heatpipe in a cheaply made amp, the 1987 Yamaha A-720 & 1985 Realistic STA-2280 were all rough thin sounding disappointing things as we wrote. The 1986 Pioneer C90-M90 200w pre-power we thought the preamp was very poor & the power amp, from what we heard was unexciting. But the 1982 Luxman L-410 75w amp we upgraded in 2017 despite it's midprice build, still had some Quality to the sound So there is hope, if like us, where do you start looking. With 1960s & 1970s amps we review from having them, to check out the circuits in the manuals to see if they are worth a try, if there are ICs in the Preamp or Power amp, they are no good to us. a Phono stage often is an IC but most use Line Level playing from a Digital Device or Computer, so the Phono stage from rarely sounding too good is generally seen as a secondary feature like a Tuner. The Sansui AU-G30X we got just to see how the 30w version is & beyond poor construction it was pretty decent, if we didn't recap or upgrade it as not seeing the value or interest in it. So the AU-G 90X... we got one from a Strange but apparently Wise Oriental guy who didn't even want to spend to repair bad caps, but that's their choice, or cash-flow issue, but we'd tasted the amp & heard quality in it to go find one for ourselves. His devotion to the amp yet not get it repaired was disappointing, if we had recapped the 110v version of the Technics 1978 3-box set, but the UK 240v they had too we though far too dangerous to work on or offer as our work which may have seemed wrong to a customer, but Live Mains to a Resistor sort of thing isn't safe so we passed on them, who needs comebacks when it's obviously a bad dangerous design. The 90X we bought shortly after by the luck of things was a typical bad ebay seller lied about faults one that had it not work right on first try, but easy to sort for us. The Design of the 90X is the thing, it's way beyond the typical amplifier design, it's like it was a mad perfect prototype they dumbed down to not make it too good but swiftly moved onto a lesser design, this one is based on Pro Gear. Based on Balanced Amplifier design that is with XLR connectors these days, the "X-Balanced" amp had no Audio Ground connection. We found an ad in a HFN/RR issue that didn't really explain the design too much & with all the 'Design Fads' of the era, it appears to have got overlooked. The design looks to have a lot of transistors & differentials, but it's not overdesigned. It has the Best Sounding Phono Stage we've heard in Transistors too. The amp has the typical plasticity of 1980s amps & oddly bulbs in the selector area not LEDs. the output connectors look like 4mm sockets but aren't if we fitted proper 4mm sockets that was a lot more tricky than expected. The Sound of the 90X has influenced our Hifi Upgrades since 2015, the 130w design once upgraded which was a very advanced job is one that can sound way too huge as we've written before. But with getting a 100w Sony TA-2000F-TA-3200F & upgrading those to their best, the surprise was how similar the AU-G90X sounded to the Sonys. The Bass was different, the Sonys a bit richer sounding if the 90X has far more slam in the bass. The 90X was even more smooth on the midrange, a sound that can be considered 'hard' or 'cold' if the amp doesn't have good Bass weight, the 90X didn't as original, our upgrade does. So coming full circle & hearing the 90X with a very similar sound to the Sony pair, it needs keeping as a Reference. We've moved on with certain amps once we've upgraded & learnt from them, were not Collecting them if many we'd keep if we did. The 90X has finally met an equal in our upgraded Sony pair, they all sounded disappointing as original, but again to see beyond that. Are there any 1980s to Now amps that come close to the 90X? The design was a progression if you look at slightly earlier Sansui as our review says & the next range was much simpler, back to the less wild designs. Sometimes you can be too good & realise it was too good to sell at the price. HFE has a brief review "Excellent Powerful" if we've not looked at other's opinions. Hifi Shark says 2 are For Sale, if you trust buying from obscure sittes in non English language. What Does The AU-G90X sound like as Original & Serviced? That was 3 years ago so here's what our Review says... The sound on this amp is very precise with huge dynamics, it could benefit from a little warmth & tidying some rough edges, but for what it sounds like, the depth of soundstage, does make this amp very special amid 1980s hifi, if there are certainly earlier ones to better it in terms of musicality. The Sansui just has that 1980s upper midrange harshness & that lack of 125Hz bass was noticeable, if it has deep bass kick if certainly lacking higher up. the low spec really does sound to us yet it does have a sound that is appealing if a little contrived for all the circuitry and/or low spec, if a better 1980s amp for sure, so Is this the Best 1980s amp we'll get? We've not finished doing Hifi so who knows, but the fact of the 1980s having ended a while back means if there was a better 1980s amp we'd have heard of it? For the CD era, the huge amount of Amps we'd bypass as with ICs, the odds are limited. If you know of any Great 1980s or 1990s Integrated Amps we'd love to know & have them to Service as well as Test. Any great amps we'd Service For Free (not Repair, Upgrade or Courier costs) for having the chance to try & find them, but suspect there aren't any that come close. In an age when 70w can still be Midprice quality & those huge Pre-Power 500w things that probably never see 50w output are where others think good sound is. We remember in the mid 1990s seeing the Rotel Michi range with the curved wood sides, the classiest lookers by far, but today to see there are no Tone Controls & the need to buy a separate Phono stage, we wonder. RHC 10, RHB 10 pre-power. But buying the lousy Musical Fidelity A308CR pre & power huge amps that have great outer caees but everyday cheap parts were a sign of why we rarely dig into post 1980 as it's usually not for us. Except the AU-G90X.


Tests: Buying New Phono 1m Connecting Cables & Comparing Them.

Needed a cable pair for the Sony TA-2000F-3200F & the Straight Wire ones we got in about 1998 are getting aged so down to 3 cable sets now & they aren't repairable. The Plugs get loose & even squashed back they are too used as soft now as well as the contacts breaking off & inside connections weakening, but 20 years use. The Cable to Plug Housing connection isn't the greatest & once they break, you're done. So to go onto ebay to see what cables there are. Cheap junk by the truckload as you'd expect, even the cheapo ones as Gold Plated saying they are 'High Quality' if no better cable thickness than damp string. The Straight Wire ones are long obsolete so to never know the LCR specs is a bit difficult. So to just go with what makes sense, ie look at the £15+ ones to see what there is. We don't want Designer Cables with heavy LCR effects as it's not needed on our Upgraded gear. To find good but basic ones, none of this Silver Plated nonsense, with better construction cable to plug saw Neutrik ones. Van Damme Hi-Fi Interconnect with Neutrik/Rean NYS373 Phono Plugs caught the eye at £17.99. Specs are •Part 268-500-000 •Conductor: 0.63mm bare ultra pure linear crystal oxygen free copper (UP-LCOFC) •Insulation: Foam skin polyethylene •Capacitance: <97pF/m •Screen: 93% optical coverage LC-OFC braid •Jacket: PVC/Neoprene composite in Sapphire Blue RAL 5003 • Overall diameter: 16mm x 6mm. OFC is standard for better cable. The 'Straight Wire' maker has a website with various ranges if no specs at all which is hopeless. SW Chorus (Blue) & SW Sonata (green) are the old ones & no specs found anywhere. The only way to test is to use the Van Damme ones on the Phono Cartridge to Amp to tell if high or low capacitance & the LCR effect. You really need a reference with cables & those reviewing cables on Shop-Bought grainy modern Hifi seems so pointless as the LCR effect tunes the grain as we've put above again in the November Blog "Cable Lies & Hype". The Van D cable does have good plugs, the Neutrik Pro connectors are well made with extra parts inside to make a very strong cable & these Rean ones, a Neutrik brand, are very similar to put up with Pro use without breaking easily. The Cable is not as big as the Straight Wire which are actually a bit of a con as the outer plastic casing is most of the cable size with only a typical inner cable size, you think big cables are more metal cable strands inside sort of misleading. Paired together with a small plastic thread separating the L+R conductors, to give the idea of better crosstalk values, if it's pretty meaningless of you look inside amps with cables all tied together. In the tests below, the Van D Neutrik connectors fit easily if with the style of construction fit more solidly than the SW. So to try them on the Phono Cartridge to Phono Amp Inputs as this reveals the differences & comparing to the old Straight Wire ones, we could do with replacing those if the Van D one is good. The test record is 1966 UK Decca 45 John Mayall 'Key To Love' which is mastered very loud & not exactly Hifi but the loudness reveals the differences better. No Ferrites on the Cables save swapping & record the tracks to compare easier. When Recording the track, they sounded different if which was the best is impssible to tell without swapping cables many times. Recording the track, editing to 30 sec & Normalising to 0dB to allow quicker compares is the way. The SW Blue is the one we usually use. The SW Green is very noticeably filtered & rolled off. so the Van Damme one is the interest. It sounds close to the Green one if we'd say it's a more balanced sound than the Blue without the high LCR effect of the Green. On a Loud Cut track the Van D does sound a bit tidier. Rejecting the SW Green, to get a cleanly mastered 45 with a Hifi Sound, this is a 1967 Dale Adriatico 'I Hurt Too Easy' which is mastered at a Hifi Level with treble sibilants & detail to the sound. This time an edit to 45 sec to allow for the louder section. A few replays reveals the SW Blue is the more detailed. It may make the loud Decca 45 sound rougher, but it's the more honest on a Phono Stage. Adding the Ferrites pulls in the Treble a little to focus better if it's very subtle, an extra air for the focus is noticeable adding the Ferrite, as in those big white clip on ones already mentioned on the site. On the Loud Decca 45 the Ferrite tunes it in very nicely. The Van Damme cable therefore is fine as a Line Level interconnect as the LCR effect is a little higher than the SW Blue & for the £18 price if your Hifi can take the detail, it's a Bargain. No silly directional arrows either, if some will think the text direction means the same... The only minus is the cable joining mid section will need cutting to fit a ferrite. Tests using Goldring G-800E modified, plus cables into Luxman LX33 Valve preamp, our design. Recorded via the Soundcard.


Do Connecting Cables Make any Difference For A Pre-Power Amp?

We've only used the Sony TA-2000F-3200F with the Straight Wire Sonata Green ones, these have a higher Filter Effect on using for a Phono Stage. a Preamp is not outputting Line Level until you play it loud so to see if it has any effect using the Van Damme cable as described just above, why we bought it. After watching the weekday TV shows again, the Sony is noticeably more detailed with the Van D cable than the SW Sonata Green which is a high LCR effect cable. At Line Level such as TV, CD or from a Soundcard, the voltages are higher up to 2v if quieter parts will be a lot less. If you have Good Quality Hifi, but think it sounds a bit dull & your cables were more expensive ones... you can "improve sound quality" by getting Cheaper Cables of a decent quality still that do not limit the sound so much. There. Improve by getting Cheaper rather than buying more Expensive. A First in Hi-Fi.


300w Sansui G-33000 Receiver On Ebay for £14,000
We've already had a look at this on the "Other Amps" page & found it a bit unnecessary. But there are those who need 300w to brag as with other 'Small Man' syndrome, so it has a purpose. One we saw auction for just over £2500 so £14k is ridiculous.
Easy to mock these amps, but to see further into this one from knowing other later Sansui. The ±86v HT for 300w plus 4 pairs of output transistors, 2 per channel, when the 100w Sony TA-3200F is ±60v for 100w shows this sort of amp was used by Hair Shirt Wearers for those equally pointless 84dB very low sensitivity speakers, under the delusion it was "Better". But for being reminded of it & see it claims "The Highest Slew Rate In A Receiver" & now knowing the Sansui G-8700DB we need a closer look, knowing how limited that 160w one was. The amp splits into 2 units with a fan in the middle reveals the £14k picture, er... fans are noisy so there goes the Silent Noise floor. But split in half it fits on a sideboard shows the User Brochure found online. Not a great looking amp for the Boy Racer Cred. The fan half that's the Power amp looks like a 1940s Bakelite Radio, how pleasant. The Hype write Up in the Brochure is the usual Fluff & to Justify why you need it. No we don't. The usual words.. "Thanks To...", "No Need To Worry...", "Ingenious Design", "Hand In Hand Factors", "You Can Rely On Them..." & similar sugary waffle. DC design means No Capacitors in the Signal which makes amps very hard to repair once damaged as so much gets damaged, see more on DC coupling below. It claims 175v/µse Slew Rate, on 86v HT means Slew Rate is to the 90% limit in half a microsecond. Read more on Slew Rate in a Blog section above. For 300w a little surprising it has Plug-In boards as the Brochure shows, but the 160w G-8700DB did & we didn't like the sloppy build quality on the power amp stages. Damping Factor of 60 is interestingly low. Boards are named oddly, "EQ Mother" is Phono, "Flat Mother" is the Preamp, "Bax" is the Tone Stage as in tone stage designer Peter Baxandall, if it comes after the Pre & before the Tone, so not exactly the same thing as the Baxandall tone is amid NFB between two valves or transistors, tone here is Passive. Power Supply is actually called Power Supply not "Energy/Life Generator" as the silly names suggest. The Preamp-Power Supply is busy as are Yamaha of the era, but care in here if a lot of Transistors & Differentials with some FETs. Onto the Power Amp & for knowing the Sansui AU-G90X some early hints of that design in here, if not balanced. The Power Amp has one Power Supply per channel plus the one in the Preamp half, so 3 transformers. All Designer Overkill, but maybe not as Dumb as it seems, but like a lot of High End Prestige items, will you ever see the best of it in use? The output Transistors are just Doubled as the circuit shows. How it will sound based on knowing the AU-G90X & G-8700DB is probably not as great either, as original. The G-8700DB
didn't sound too good at low volumes & bass was limited & 'Retro' false sounding. The AU-G90X as we put just above had the huge dynamics if very cold sounding without the more natural friendly' sound we upgraded it to. The G-33000 & G-22000 as with most better quality amps would likely upgrade pretty well, if the huge amount of circuitry is a worry for what could be got from it. Only hearing one would we tell. We'd not be afraid of working or upgrading an amp like this, if we can imagine the work involved would be huge & costly, but if you're splashing £2.5k-£14k (supposedly) then you'd expect work to be expensive. We do wonder about these 200w+ amps, the odds of them having a friendly well focussed sound is likely to be lost amid the 'Muscle' of huge power, we hear Krell amps are cold & sterile even. Go on, give us one to try...

The Purpose Of These Big Brand 'Monster Receiver' Amplifiers.

Often it was to try new ideas & go All Out making the Best Possible purely for Research. We've seen great design in several amps over the 1965-1984 era from the 1965 Sony TA-1120 to the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X, but the 1965 Sony was released without dumbing down & swiftly simplified to the 1967 TA-1120A. The 1984 Sansui was a development of ideas leading to this "Best Ever" design, but it was rather heavily limited in spec that doesn't show, big transformer for show but some heavy dumbing down. These huge 300w Sansui & Marantz amps were Prestige Items, few were made & not many are around. But the design ideas were often diluted into more Mass Market amplifiers. It wasn't until the 1990s with the UK Cottage Industry Hifi that the idea of ridiculously high power for the Market then & the Valve-Tube Revival together with Shysters selling Classy Crafted Casework filled with mediocre electronics. The purpose of Shop Bought Hifi is to Sell It & be as Compatible as possible, never giving away the best ideas without dumbing them down. Our exploits into Upgrading are Gambling, to see what these amps can do upgraded, to see the ideas as were prototyped possibly but dumbed down to sell.


New IHF Hifi Standards in 1978.
Dec 1978 HFN/RR has an article about the IHF updating it's standards to quote Specs. After having read it, the idea of "Who Cares?" and "Who Would Bother". IHF is often quoted as 'Music Power' which means we ignore it. Only RMS into 4 or 8 ohms both channels playing means anything & buyers understand "Watts" as meaning just that, if older amps often get Power Ratings misquoted. The way to find out THD was often including residual low-level noise, ie the Sound Floor, but THD in Transistor amps is pretty meaningless as 0.003% can still mean the amp sounds thin & grainy. Distortion can be heard by The Ears which in an extreme way everyone should tell such as a Portable Radio turned up too loud sounds harsh as too distorted. In Amps 0.1% THD is the Standard created by Leak in the Post War era by using NFB in designs & this became the standard. Cheaper Stereos could be with higher distortion, if again, who cares, as man buying cheap audio gear must expect it to be much less than the Hi-Fi end of audio. But here the new THD was is ridiculous & likely manufacturers mostly ignored it, if a few used the 'THD+N' based on "the square root of the sum of the squares of the individual harmonic components, and not the reading of a conventional distortion analyser". No doubt it'll expect every harmonic to be read based on the Hiraga type tests from recent boring articles that everyone dismissed in HFN/RR letters as "who cares". Strange as by 1978 the Monster Receiver Wars were taking hold yet by 1980 they had gone. We don't remember many Tech Tests in reading HFN/RR from c.1993-98 either, if they were there to find the 1998 Marantz CD-R machine (CD-R 615?) had bad jitter so Marantz revised the design. This was the first commercial CD-R machine & we bought it at the time starting to keep CD-Rs of Vinyl that got us over 20,000 tracks now. TID (Transient Intermodulation Distortion) that was seen also as a bit of a red herring even by the HFN/RR guys is renamed 'TIM' for some reason, but again "who cares?". By 1978 all Hifi is Standard beyond RCA Phono vs DIN inputs differing signal levels, only the pre 1972 era gear can have adjust pots for level or be non-standard like the Leak 30-70 ranges are. Most specs are really of little importance past a certain price level. Once rather tedious idea is to now Quote Power Ratings in dBW which is meaningless to review readers if Martin Colloms uses this in reviews & appears pretentious & superior for it. 10w is 10dBW, 20w is 13dBW, 100w is 20dBW based on a Logarithmic scale. Watts in ' xxW RMS' is all buyers understand yet again IHF are not in touch with reality. The idea of dBW is "Loudness Of Sound" 100w is 20dBW yet a 300w 'monster amp' is only 24.7w and a 500w 'tea-chest size amp' is 26.98dBW. The Maths here shows none of the Vanity of 100w+ power & the 300w-500w only ads 2.2dBW, when 10w to 20w adds 3dBW. Not impressive on paper is it? A 25w with 300w PMPO on 1980s nasty plastic Music Centres gets the unwary thinking it IS 300w.


What Hifi Specs Do We Take Notice Of In Choosing Amps To Try?

Firstly, to look for RMS Power such as 20w or more on 1960s Transistor amps, or 15w on Valve Amps. Past 1970 to see 30w as the minimum as lower power ones are more budget with 40w by the mid 70s so to tread carefully as much is junk. Then to look at Damping Factor, usually 30-70 is typical, if over 100 means overdesign if not always. Slew Rate is rarely shown but the 'Fast' sound is high Slew Rate-Rise Time, a high slew rate amp should be of a higher quality. Tone Stage ±dB gain is useful, typically 10dB if some can go 15dB, if later ones with only 5dB are usually not useful. Of secondary importance is 4 or 8 ohm capability & Relay outputs on the Differential-era amps, ie those without Capacitor Coupling. The rest such as Distortion matters not once seeing the standing of the amp, as in Budget, Midprice or Top Of The Range. We'll try Midprice or better if Budget isn't worth our time, if oddly the 1960s Rogers Cadet III was Budget Priced, if in a different era, so to consider only on Transistor amps. As for THD, we aren't bothered once knowing the rest, it's old, it'll sound aged & for us to buy it, a quality will be seen which will bring the best out in the amp. Shop Bought Hifi will meet standards of similar contemporary Hifi, if we've found the UK-EU gear is always lacking the quality somehow & often ugly rather than Cool Retro, so we only go for USA & Japanese gear as it's far more sophisticated. Then things like buying price, how much to upgrade & the likely sell price, if that's further away from Specs.


The Battle of The 100w Transistor Amplifiers.
When younger, the thought was a 100w was the pinnacle of Hifi. It meant an amp of serious power & of a quality, or at least you'd expect that. Years later we've had 100w+ Amps & that Ideal is surprisingly rarely found in Amplifiers. The 110w Yamaha CR-2020 still sounds quite soft for it's power, we tried upgrading one a total of 4 times with increasing ideas if never really found what we were looking for there, if it can be much improved, the busy preamp limits. The 100w Yamaha CA-1010 again got upgraded hugely to try to get the Magic from it, if it was not so great again on the preamp which was seen as the weakness & the first one we got we thought wasn't very good at all if a later one changed opinions. They still rate 'Excellent' as upgraded though. The next 100w+ was the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X that has again had so much upgraded. Without much else to compare it to beyond 50w amps that upgrade very nicely but are still 50w after all, only the ones with Doubled Output Transistors giving a taste of the High Power sound if still the 50w. We did get a 160w Sansui G-8700DB to service but not upgrade. On speakers & headphones it was found to have promise but was very underspec cost-cut sort of late 1970s sound, a bit frustrating to not hear it upgraded but to see some construction was 'difficult' means we'll not try that one to upgrade. The AU-G90X has been thought great if still lacking some warmth & friendliness to the sound if further looking to upgrade after deciding to keep it after all offers hope. Why it got reassessed was it found an Equal. The 1972 Sony TA-2000F-TA-3200F as original isn't very good at all, the amp upgraded properly is truly high excellent, but the original is so dumbed down & limited we wondered if we wasted our time getting it, but the right attitude to just upgrade it to see what it brings is the only way. After finding the Sony pair especially good, how about the AU-G90X again. Last time we played it it was thought to be "too big on the dynamics" but the Sony pair was a very similar sound if with the more friendly sound the 90X still was missing. The Sony pair on the Tannoy 15" Golds sound excellent, sweet clean detail at low level, but on TV shows that get noisier, the explosive sounds of "Robot Wars" really bring you to the THX tye theatre amplifiers. Of course we do know that sound via our 100w Valve Monoblocs if the preamp that is now a 10 year old design is the weakness so we use Transistor amps more to try them out. Many transistor designs we don't find to our taste on Speakers, if the Sony Pair really does have that sound of the 100w amp as we imagined years ago. So many of these 100w+ amps offer power but not the Fidelity or Clean Sound due to overdesign & cost cutting. But to have finally found 100w transistor amps worthy of the 'High Excellent' as in the Sony & Sansui. It's all in the comparing & we've only once tried the 100w Valves via Headphones if that was about 5 years ago, just to learn the Transistor scene by itself firstly.


Direct Coupling In Amplifiers.
This was a 'fashion' in amplifiers by 1977-78 as Marantz 1152DC & others used the idea of not having Capacitors between Transistor Stages a benefit. Some stages of Valve amps don't have Coupling Capacitors if generally the voltage is under 100v. But with the 1968 Toshiba SA-15Y we just got, it has Direct Coupling which is a first. It's not foolish like later designs where one failure trashes the whole amp, the amplifying Stages have a Buffer & only the intercoupling ones are DC coupled. Toshiba in 1968 say coupling capacitors can cause Phase Shift & other issues. The 15Y amp uses this design in 10 places if the Outputs are Capacitor Coupled, by using NFB it keeps the stability & performance better. With the amp sounding aged, to tell it sounds good, but to only really tell once recap-upgraded. In a Dec 1978 HFN/RR test, Martin Colloms tested some DC amps & found the DC offset & stability wasn't as good as it should be, if by 1978 cost cutting & less of a personal touch to even test amps before sale. The 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 uses similar DC interstage coupling, if the Sony TA-2000F only does on part of the stage. As the risk of putting things like this online gets amateurs thinking 'let's rip out all the coupling capacitors as it's better'... don't. There are there for a reason in the circuit & generally it makes no difference to be DC or not as MC found in 1978, it's just a selling point. Unless you know amp design, then if a coupling capacitor is there, leave it there, else you could put 25v to 150v onto switches & output sockets, depending on amp design, causing bother.


Naim-Linn-Exposure-Meridian Owners Are Now Trying Vintage?
We hear of those looking into Vintage after knowing these sort of Amps. They are cold, dry & lifeless much like the Spectral Pre-Power sounded. Precise in some ways, but not enjoyable. Do you play your Naim amp much? It doesn't inspire you does it? We've looked at these amps on 'Other Amps' if only from what online Photos show as these companies don't want you seeing their designs, or realising how ordinary they are. The sort of Amplifier Breed that goes on about Silver Plated Cables & Handmade quality, because few buy this stuff so no production lines & of course Silver cable gets the sales hype. Seeing one awful amp that had Valve Drivers with a very feeble power supply but it looked like it had an IC output block, or possibly 2 smaller ones as bigger than any transistor, why are Buyers believing this nonsense? We hear of Vintage amps being compared to these Overhyped amps & the Vintage always wins for Sounding Better. If there is a word to describe 'Tactile' sound then this is the pleasure in Vintage. Not just our Upgraded ones, but the sort of everyday £50-£100 late 1970s amps even bring more Musical Pleasure than these. The days of Hifi Mags having a big influence for Paid Advert Reviews certainly brainwashed many & to hear they are considering one of our Upgraded Amps saying stuff they use already... Will Naim Users Like Vintage is the question. They'll be upset it has Tone Controls & Loudness, Tone can be set to zero & Loudness does nothing in the circuit if not used as it sort of jumps up the volume level with a filtered circuit, it's not amplified. Tone Stages with ICs are best avoided, ones with Transistors are fine. The rich realistic sound compared to that cold sound that's ultra precise but often called "Clinical" we heard in the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X if are still upgrading it three years later as the above shows. We've heard other Hifi set ups in Shops & Homes, the general idea is "we don't like your sound" on post 1980 gear, if the owners have been told "it's better & improved" yet believe it. From Cold & Hard to Muddy & Blurred, they are used to it. We had the 2007 Marantz PM 6002 & with taking out 120 spoilers, it sounded & the design then looked like a 1977 Yamaha. Progress in feeding you lies, designs & noise levels still the same. The days of Washing Powder "washes whiter" kept the lies going for decades & many can't deal with the biological stuff as it makes them itch or worse, yet it's "better" as the advert says so. The Naim User will find say the Sony STR-6120 up for sale as of typing, a very alien sound. It's very musical & we've liked it for many years as it was always a great reference amp. The upfront if smooth sound with fresh treble & lively bass is far from the cardboard flat lifeless sound of post 1980 audio that is dumbed down to be universal & cost cut to sell you a supposedly better product than your buying price suggests. No, you get what you pay for as did Pioneer buyers seeing 30% of RRP in Discount Stores by the mid 1970s, Pioneer just cost cut to sell more, the dip in quality shows. The Pioneer SX-690 "is an AM/FM stereo receiver with 2 hybrid ICs power amplifier output containing bias, driver and output stages in quasi-complementary circuits. Output is direct-coupled OCL following a first-stage differential amplifier." Yes, it has those nasty STK type amplifier blocks, if you rip one apart as they deserve before you bin one, it's just a board with insides of transistor bits on it plus other tiny components. Not going to be the best quality or design, it's just generic. But buyers believed this which led the way to that thin sound being accepted as time moved on & CD players giving a sound that was unlike anything real or before. So will the Naim user like Vintage? Unlikely they will understand it. Best advice as you're looking to get a better sound is to try a cheap £50-£100 ebay silver late 70s amp & get used to that. Even ones with ICs will still sound more musical than those boring sounding amps & if you like the overall sound, then jump into better Vintage & Upgraded.


Other People's Attempts To Repair... Oh... How We Do It Properly.

We see this sometimes on amps we get & as said before, you never trust what they did as it could be wrong. A Toshiba 1968 receiver with hiss & hum wasn't properly repaired so the seller gave up. It takes skill to do repairs & upgrading, you can see if we are any good at it by our Hifi Gallery Solds pages, we like to show the work we do if hardly anyone else does. To do each amp neatly with quality parts is the only way, having upgraded many amps we do it to a very high standard that we'd keep the amp & trust it on our Speakers, all Upgraded amps as ours or a customers gets the same standard, which is very high but attainable once you know how & no need to do less. So the Toshiba, signs of where they tried to undo bits, some success, but a tatty job. Clearly they used any capacitors they had & even left 4 of them as they didn't have that value & others are a mix that's rather amusing, 100v & even 250v ones where that's hardly needed plus Bipolar ones that weren't used originally. Amateur poor work, messy soldering & with no care or checking done. We'll just take the whole lot out & redo it. Thankfully they only tackled that stage, didn't learn the circuits which is admittedly pretty advanced here. Others can do Hifi work, but to us it's usually the poor TV grade "use whatever there is" game. They use any old transistor not checking if it's suitable & plenty more horrors. We keep a good stock of often used parts including Transistors, we can probably redo most of the amp with parts here if we order in bigger capacitors as needed. To never trust another put the ± of capacitors correct or even used the right values as often it's any old junk as shown here. We have seen other people's work on ebay that we were pleased to see they did it nicely, if that's generally not the case & why we initially saw buyers not want to buy Recapped Hifi, so we give good photos to show we do it nicely using good parts. We used to see Recapped Amps make Less than Original amps, they showed no photos of the work done & still rarely do. Do it properly, show your photos of work done & buyers will trust your work, as in any Outsourced Jobs.


AT LAST... REVEALED: Why All Hifi From 1980-Onwards Sounds So Awful.
A blog section six sections above about the new IHF Standards, we didn't like that or see the point to it as you can read, no cosy opinions here. But the Feb 1979 HFN/RR continues & the penny drops. these "New IHF Amplifier standards" to replace the earlier 1966 ones, are what ruined the great 1960s & 1970s Transistor sound. It all makes sense now: Manufacturers had to follow these unrealistic & pointless guidelines for Fear of their Amplifiers failing to meet these new standards & getting bad reviews. But the Earlier Transistor Amps especially those pre 1974 are the Best sounding, some can be a bit crude, kooky, or unusual, if they played the music with a Friendly Sound that Vintage Hifi Buyers are discovering. These Dictating Standards we've read the second article & it's all showed & Manufacturers are expected to adopt these New Standards. The trouble is by 1978 Heavy Cost Cutting is the norm for the Devil of the Discount stores & stupid buyers (yes) who expect more than their money's worth & still think they get it, no you don't. What the numbers are for this IHF Standard aren't printed, the earlier DIN standard ones were & they were easy to better as was the idea at the time. But Google "IHF Amplifier Standard" & you'll find more on both the 1966 & 1978 IHF Dictates. As you can find the Edward J. Foster article online, we'll not repeat it, but the ideas of Dynamic Headroom, Sensitivity & S/N ratio, Frequency Response & filters, Input & Output Impedance and Damping Factor, Transient Specifications, Real Life (Speaker Test) Loads, Multichannel amplifiers & the Primary & Secondary Ratings is the last one. The ideas may help better the cheap end of the market, as in obliterate it as too cheap isn't possible, but 1980s Hifi we find to be Thin Sounding, Grainy, No Bass & Unpleasant, if there are exceptions like the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X as blogged above. Of course these nasty sounding amps tested great to satisfy the standards, but it killed "The Good Sound" forevermore. Be sure manufacturers as with the silly 0.01% THD distortion tests could penny-pinch designs to the bone to keep the test results good & What Hi-Fi giving them all 5 Stars as each one was always "better" in those days. You bought nasty sounding crap whilst your lovely earlier Hifi sat in the loft with the Spiders. By the early 1990s the sound had bettered as much more dumbing down to hide the rough grainy sound was found, as shown by 120 spoilers we could take out of the 2007 Marantz PM 6002. As with life today, a tiresome extreme Morality unaware of reality is the mood out there & by 1980 to tow the IHF line on Hifi to not get bad reviews yet give poor sound is no different. People accepting stupid ideas because they are Dictated it & don't have time to think or question, well we do. But it takes decades for the Good Ways to be noticed in the way Vintage Hifi is being rediscovered & we know we've played our part, telling things that nobody else writes of or has ever considered. IHF is The Institute Of High Fidelity, no doubt the same clueless stuffed shirts that mess up anything that was great for their narrow ideas of what "we" should be accepting. But by the later 1970s, Hifi Mags we already realising how good Amps from 10-20 years earlier were & by the mid 1980s HFN/RR with Ken Kessler's 'Anachrophile' was doing similar. The Good Stuff always returns. A Good Song will reveal itself as good again, eg Dire Straits 'Money For Nothing' we liked this when it was on Capital Radio a lot but way down in the charts, but then the Video got seen & a huge hit so we hated it as it was now Mainstream. But in getting lots of 70s & 80s hits to record to the computer, a few years back it sounds great again, if it took 30 years & not listening to the Radio to not be bored of it. Probably doesn't get played now for certain words in it that 'offend' the snowflakes. The Best Things in Life are the Wild Things that were allowed before they had to Tame Down or make lots of money & debase themselves. But read on, we have a deeper look at this...


The IHF New Standards Continued.
The actual number specs don't seem findable, so a look at the article to see what ideas are apparently better for us. Dynamic Headroom is Music Power redefined & before those useless PMPO Peak Music Power Output that became standard for crapply flashing light CD systems by the late 1980s. The Burst power tests of 20 milliseconds supposedly showing peak power, all pretty useless as the low spec amps will be too slow & just clip the peak. This time the Peak Power is in "dB headroom" which we don't remember seeing quoted as 3dB tells the buyer nothing, if 25w RMS with 100w Music Power does & fools them. IHF-A-202 standards replacing the IHF-A-201 ones from 1966 it says. Sensitivity is the input voltage to make the amp, set at full volume, reach peak clean output. amps described as "250mV input" just confuse as a CD player outputs 2v max we were asked & probably wrote that here already. Signal-Noise S/N Ratio is where "A-weighted noise measurement" comes in. weighted means 'not the real value read' but contrived to fit their standard. what does A-Weighted mean? A-weighted system, the decibel values of sounds at low frequencies are reduced, compared with unweighted decibels, in which no correction is made for audio frequency says Google. So an amp in theory could put out excess 5Hz or 100kHz & the weighting would hifde it as we can't hear it. Frequency Response loses the '±1.5dB' & instead the '+0dB - 3dB' is seen as more accurate. It's supposed to reveal amps that only sound good loud, as be sure you've heard amps that sound poor at low level & why the Loudness button is still on amps today. Input & Output Impedance is probably only useful on Phono stages as many earlier amps don't use the correct 47K ohm loading. For Pre & Power amps with different models & brands not designed for use together it may offer numbers to decide, but buyers haven't a clue & Impedance isn't readable on a Meter so to go by "As long as the input impedance of a device is much greater than the output impedance of the preceding equipment, the two will normally be compatible". Impedance is a known difficulty, which is why some better amps put a Buffer stage on the Tape Output to stop the Recording Device affecting the overall sound of the Amplifier, some we have noticed do affect the sound. Damping Factor is now read at different frequencies, if HFN/RR have done that for years revealing poor damping at frequency extremes that gives the grainy sound. Transient Specifications is about Slew Rate, Recovery Time & Overloading as Blogged above. But 1980s amps can sound fast but the sound has no weight behind it, but the IHF tests can't tell that. Real Life (Speaker Test) Loads tries to confuse instead of the accepted power at 1kHz usually. HFN/RR again have tested at say 40Hz & 10kHz to see how the Power of the amp does. 40w into 8 ohm means it plays into an 8 ohm test resistor as the Dummy Load. Your speaker may hit 4 ohms for it's impedance curves & it could be 80w which is why those badly designed 3-way speakers that dip to 2 ohms can pull 160w from your amp & trashes it, or protection comes on. The Sony TA-1120 is a 50w into 8 ohm amp, it makes sense of what to expect, so why complicate with Reactive & Capacitive loads that Mr Buyer won't understand. Multi Channel amplifiers has an interesting one about Channel Separation. Not many amps do really wide Stereo, some can be like using a Mono Fader at halfway compared to the best widest sounding ones. Again the A-Weighted testing. The rest on 4ch isn't relevant to us. To Get The IHF Specification involves Primary & Secondary Ratings. Nothing to do with Transformers, but it's their standards & these tables are found online, Primary are ones you might care about, Secondary are ones you'd not really consider, if we see Stereo Separation as important & mention it in Amp reviews, also 'Slew Factor' a contrived Slew Rate test is worth knowing if it meams fast amp or softer. all this IHF dictating just complicates things & by the 1980s 'Hi-Fi' sound you can see it was not a good idea, if what the criteria in numbers are you'd need to buy the IHF paper. It's always the well meaning bores like Mary Whitehouse that force ideas to control things that most are happy with. The IHF having such control over Hifi Specs has proved a damaging one we feel.


Upgrading Amplifiers: What Does It Bring To The Power Amplifier Stage?

All the above about HFN/RR saying "all (Power) Amplifiers sound the same" is unaware nonsense. In 1978-79 they were listening to Good Brands but ones now heavily cost cut on parts & spec used, penny pinched to sell in Discount Stores. Not surprising they sounded much the same as the limiting & low spec was universal. But because we don't believe much of what is accepted as General Opinion, here we go again with Clear Proof Power Amplifier stages sound very different, if perhaps only as properly recapped ignoring cost-cutting & the benefit of upgrading which is design based. The Sony TA-3200F upgraded with a very moticeable improvement, bigger dynamics, smoother & less harsh sound with crisper Treble & extended Bass, all that Hifi should be. But that amp has L+R channels on one board so not being able to compare as L+R both done at the same time. The impressive 1968 Toshiba SA-15Y 30w receiver is our one to upgrade next so as it has L+R Power Amps on separate boards, the ideal opprtunity to compare Our Upgrade to the Stock Design on all original parts. The music played with a gentler track didn't really show too much difference, if deeper bass better & treble fresher. The big reveal was a track with close-miked Drums at the start, these sounded fresh & open on the upgraded side, using headphones with 1 channel playing & swapping the headset part to swap L+R. The upgraded side sounded natural, but back to the Original Side, it was soft & stodgy with a clear muddiness to the sound, like a thin cloth on the drums itself softening the detail. Not unlike a greasy window then cleaned to show a fresh window, a noticeable difference. This change does show on speakers too as the sound opens out more & gives the extra reality. Now this amp is 50 years old, but as we put on the Reviews Page, the power amp was tested direct through the Power In sockets & it sounded fine with no hiss, hum or distortion. Using 'Marcon' brand capacitors, not familiar ones but they were actually Toshiba's own brand.


February 2018 Blog.

Graphic Equalisers: The Reason Why They Became Popular.
In recording, mastering & archiving an EQ is useful to balance recordings as there are enough Vintage Records that are mastered with no Bass or too Dull sounding. In Recording Studios the huge panel desks are Faders & EQ to do similar, the Music is often altered in balance to cut a Disc from if CD masters as was found in the late 1980s only had the Master Tape versions not the Vinyl Version so extra effects & dubbing was missed. The May 1979 HFN/RR editorial gets rightly annoyed at BBC's "Tomorrow's World" in January for doing what can only be called 'Poorly Researched' segment about apparently making a £250 Budget System sound like a £2000 one just by using a Graphic Equaliser. Now we've EQ'd Vintage Cartoon soundtracks up from Raw 'Archive-Reference' DVDs for the tiny low volume sound lost in a sea of hiss as whoever copied the Films didn't check the Sound Heads were aligned. With EQ today on Digital you can do a lot as well as removing noise & bringing at least a Natural Balanced Sound from very poor sound. It's a skilled job to do right & we even bettered the Disney Early B&W Cartoon Shorts DVDs that weren't restored as only a limited market would buy. So 'Tomorrow's World' saying that a cheap system could be made into a top range one is just foolish & clearly aimed at Non Hifi Viewers as you can add Bass & Treble to make the sound "more exciting" but it'll never better what was poor. It may help balance mismatched equipment, but it's a compromise for doing it properly as is any quick solution. We remember going into Tandy to see what they had as well as buying resistors etc from their limited supply. The guy in the shop said he couldn't listen to Music without an Equaliser. It shows you the rubbish "Stereos" that were around at this time c.1990. It is unlikely he ever heard "Music" with the poor Stereo & EQ, but just a glossed over bass-thumping idea slightly better than a Portable Radio. One viewer of "TW" bought the Graphic Equaliser & found that they could not 'Magic' the desired "Improved Sound Quality" this way & felt cheated. His cartridge still mistracked, his cheap tape player still had wow & flutter sound distortion. The Irresponsible TV show gave the idea 'everything could be improved'. Michael Rodd presented the segment & said at the end "everyone must decide for themselves whether or not expensive equipment sounds better than cheaper equipment" which is a get out disclaimer for serving up nonsense as fact, but he's only the presenter. Sadly by the early 1980s every cheap system had a Graphic EQ. Hardly anyone knew how to use it & some made pretty patterns from the sliders having no idea what they did. By the early 1990s these cheap Stereos had flashing light displays in an attempt at a Spectrum Analyser to impress the non Hifi buyers. Thankfully most of these crappy things since made it to the Bin as the next tacky delight appeared & be sure today's Mini or Micro systems that were first introduced 1978-79, as that awful Technics 3-part one we had shows, are pretty much what most people claim they "Listen To Music" on. Interesting to find out what Bad Idea influenced the Hifi Generations. Interestingly in the April 1979 issue 'Compact Disc' is announced for the first time by that name.


Goldring G-850 Cartridge from 1971: 8mV Output With 7-Thou Conical Stylus.
The G-800 as mentioned in previous Blogs & on the Turntables page is one we've been using for a while now. It's decent enough but it's not perfect so to look at other Vintage Goldring. We do hear that sort of 'squishy' sound that suggests it doesn't track as good as the Roksan Corus & the G-800 output is a bit low with Sensitivity @ 5cm/sec at 5mV. The G-850 is actually as early as 1970 as it's in the 1971 Hifi Yearbook, it's output is 8mV to the same Sensitivity. The G-820 is seen more in the Shop Ads so we looked for one but found a BNIB G-850 with the original Conical stylus, the replacement Stylus still found. Frequency Range of the G-800 (called the "800" in the 1972 HFYB) is 20Hz-20kHz, the G-820 is still the lower 5mV & is 20Hz-20kHz if the G-850 is 20Hz-18kHz. In 1972 the G-800 was £13, the G-800E £18.82, G-800 Super E £26, G-800H £10.65 & the G-850 clearly the Budget one at £6.50 with similar pricing by 1975. So it's the Budget version with Higher 8mV output that is better as the Volume Control is at the same position as on using Line Input from the Computer. Tests in HFN/RR showed there are no signals on Vinyl over 15kHz, before the Quadraphonic Era, so no issue. So recording the same Record with both G-800E & G-850 to compare them on the computer. The Recording Level is about 6dB louder on the meters, which helps on quieter vinyl like LPs, the 5mV output wasn't enough. Once both recordings Normalised to 0db, the 'squishy' sound doesn't appear with the G-850 if more vinyl to play to compare. The G-850 sounds better with the G-800E sounding a little softer on detail with the 'squishy' sound, the G-850 has a better realism, midband presence allows better detail. We were reading Moving-Coil (MC) cartridges in 1979 HFN/RR, not things we've tried or see any need for. The reviews with a Listening Panel didn't find them too good beyond the Ortofon MC20. These output a tiny voltage 0.07mV or 0.09mV for Mk 1 or 2. These need more amplification adding in weaknesses of a Phono stage. The higher output gives the Signal 'a better chance' to sound clear as the supposedly budget G-850 compared to the G-800E proves. There is the issue of using an original Goldring stylus & a Generic one that the G-800E has as the originals haven't been made for years. This same idea is why CD took off as it's Line Level output easily bettered the lousy IC Phono Stages of 1980s Stereos. G-800 has 0.005" (5 thou) stylus, the G-850 has 0.007" (7 thou) so there is also the larger stylus to suit 1960s Mono 45s better. The G-850 Conical Stylus sounds great on 1960s UK vinyl & to lose the 'squishy' sound is the stylus sitting better in the groove, tracking better. Just playing one 1968 record that was just too rough sounding, here it sounds much better. The G-850 clearly better for 1960s Vinyl, if maybe not for 1980s Stereo LPs. Who'd think a Budget Cartridge with a Conical Stylus would sound better than the Roksan Corus Black, the Goldring Elektra & the Goldring G-800E. The G-850 fits better in the modern Technics headshell once aligned, the G-800E overhung looking untidy. The G-850 certainly is the better sounding for us. Bass for having Midrange more upfront is still tight, if it may appear less Bassy. "Designed for budget systems, the 850 offers all the advantages of a good quality magnetic cartridge at a very attractive price." We see no reason why it's cheaper, Goldring gave it away cheap. But the G-800 & G-850 are Vintage Cartridges & we've heard the G-800, the exact same cartridge, when played on Transistor Amps, to sound blurry & lousy as it's not like 'designed' sound of later cartridges, much like Loudspeakers. It only suits our Valve Phono from what we've heard, or the earlier type of amplifiers before overdesign or cost cutting took over. The Roksan Corus Cartridge used on our Valve Phono, designed for the G-800 doesn't match it so well. Next day to try it again, the higher output does make it a little more upfront losing the bass as said above, so a little EQ adjust balances it back. Read more below the folowing Blog...


LED Lightbulb : "Could Last Up To 20 Years"... No It Doesn't.
Technology today is full of Lies & Built-In Obsolescence. Try a LED bulb that looks like an old glass bulb. We got a Canyon LED 15w E27 1550 lumen bulb "GLS" General Lamp Shape at the start of May 2017 & it cost just over £10 delivered. So for it to just fail on 2 Feb after 9 months use is rubbish for the "20 years" claim which is clearly False Description. The other ELS bulbs we use last longer than that. The Bulb has failed, it flashes on & off in a strangely scary way as some part inside it has failed. Is it repairable thinks us. No, it's sealed & no way into it. So to break the glass outer to get inside, but it won't smash. Doesn't smash tightened in a vice either, it squashes as it's some type of hard silicon type plastic that now has a big dent in it. So to break it open, in the vice & hammer on the plastic bit. Some little angry men come running out, "Here Wot You Doin' That's Our House!" so we told them we wanted to see what was inside. A scream like someone seen in the Bathtub as we tore the plastic dome off. Inside the dome was nothing. Just a yellow ring part that's the LED part probably like Car Bulbs of today, not the cluster of standard LEDs some earlier bulbs had. With the plastic gone it was just an aluminium cup with a flat lid pushed inside that the yellow bit is on. That top lid bit comes off as it's been knocked out of shape & about 100 more tiny people came out, Made In China tells who they are. Inside it was an empty as a 'Steps' reunion gig, 2 bits of wire & a bad smell, one of the tiny people must have had a funny cigarette, but as for electronics like the glass twist tube ones are, not much going on. Were the insides stolen? All there is after cutting out some of the rubbery sealant bed & pulling out the metal bulb fitting base is a tiny PCB 11mm x 22mm if it could be longer, a small 4.7µf 400v capacitor, a tiny transformer with 16/07/13/HY and TF-T80112 on. The board goes further in with another bigger capacitor & 2 chokes, all which break off very easily. The track side of the PCB with a Rectifier, Resistors, a tiny IC & a Diode. The yellow ring LED part looks like a Piezo Tweeter in Portables of old, a rubbery covering over lots of tiny dots which are the LED parts as in the 30mm bulbs we use in amps, but these are more advanced tech. The LED bits scratch away easily showing how tiny they are & why they are sealed over. The bulb base still gets too warm in use & with the Components sealed in Latex Rubber they'll not cool so it's why you get 9 months use. If you never used it more than once a month then it would last 20 years, but Daily use it just fails like every other overheating cheaply made stuff does. Will be spend our Tenner on another one, when the parts etc will be well under £1 each for the amount made? No. but you now see why China is so rich, selling false hope with new improved inventions. But after the Bright white of ELS bulbs the old yellow hot ones are unwanted. Just buy these ELS type new & expect 6-12 months use, much like the old bulbs. For the better light they are worth £5 each but £10 is too much.


Comparing Goldring G-850 back to G-800E & Roksan Corus Black.
The extra sensitivity is partly for the longer stylus square tube that plugs into the cartridge, so the cartridge coils receive a better signal. The inside looks the same & beyond the 5mV to 8mV output the tonal balance is mostly the same if as louder just clearer on midrange which does need the EQ slightly adjusting. On 45s that are rough & harsh from poor mastering they sound clearer on the G-850 for the extra gain & the G-850 sound is better defined for it. Have to try the Roksan compare next as the G-800E didn't compare so well as blogged before. But now the similar output level of 6.5mV sounds the same level as the G-850 at 8mV by the volume setting, go figure. The Roksan with a Goldring G10xx stylus does track better than the G-850 so a rough track is far better defined, if the Roksan is on the Garrard 301 & SME. Whether the turntable & arm combos have much to do with at the resolution of our Valve Phono stage, or is it just the Cartridge? To play several 45s on the Roksan combo then go back to the G-850 one. The Roksan sounded very matter-of-fact, a bit cold even as it lacked sweetness, if it appears the Phono stage loading isn't optimal for it. G-850 played one 1965 record enjoyably, the Roksan was lacking sweetness, similarly with a more subtle 1967 one the Roksan left it a bit 'so what' but the G-850 brings out it's allure. The 45 with the rougher sound that the Roksan tamed the G-850 loses a little of that focus, but again the sound is more inspiring. Still prefer the G-850 version from the vinyl. Crackly records are useful as the fast rate of the Crackle reveals how fast the Amp is, if crackle blurs into the music as we have heard on some amps, it's slow & muddy. Roksan internal Inductance 570mH & internal Resistance 660 ohms. G-850 doesn't show this if those values can be read on a multimeter. 495 ohm & 470mH. G-800E is 400mH & 475 ohm so a little extra gain from more windings G-800 to G-850 also. The Roksan is noticeably different & will need different loading values to the Goldrings. Any cartridge will have it's optimal loading values & amps like the 1979 Pioneer SA-9800 have adjustment switches to optimise. For the price of these Cartridges being so hugely different, the Corus Black is discontinued & even the Goldring G-10xx stylus is expensive, we are pleased with our cheapo Goldring G-850 on our custom valve Phono stage, if be aware it'll probably sound lousy on an average IC based phono stage which is why you buy expensive Cartridges, to overcome the poor Resolution of the Phono stage. Phono via Valve Amps of the 1960s, even with the hum & no-bass sound will show how much better Valve phono stages are for resolving detail.


1978-80 Pioneer A27 120w Amplifier - Any Good?
We were asked to look at this from the Circuits to see if it's any good. 25.6kg hefty lump of an Integrated Amp, the follow-up to the Pioneer SA-9800 possibly, if it seems it was a Top Model on Special Order as HFYB doesn't list it. 'The Vintage Knob' Hifi site has it if Japan did make Top Range Amps that didn't always get fully exported. Pioneer in 1979 Adverts seen in the HFN/RR as we read them currently tells about "Magni-Wide" technology as this amp boasts of if it doesn't make too much sense to the typical reader or gain much value to read deeper. This May 1979 ad covers only the SA-9800, SA-8800 & SA-7800. RET transistors are 'Ring Emitter Power Transistors' so they are likely long obsolete & generally any new Power Transistor type is just a fad rather than anything new despite the hype. "Magni-Wide" is about Signal Duration, Intensity & Pitch relating to Ultra-Wide Bandwidth of 200kHz. What that means in more understandable terms is the amp has high slew rate, fast recovery & low distortion, much like some amps have done since the 1960s really. It's a game of hype & blinding with science, if the trouble with Pioneer is their designs can be great on the 1975-76 ranges, but they are so mercilessly cost cut the sound is thin & edgy with current limiting & low spec the general deal as the 1975 SA-9500 & 1976 SX-950 show. Great amps to upgrade, but as Stock Design they will disappoint us. The Pioneer A-27 itself wastes a lot of space with a sort of hexagon type thin heatsink in the middle, the SA-9500 rear one was fine & adjusted right heatsinks rarely get more than slightly warm, so again hyped ideas to appear 'better'. A sigh at seeing the front controls are behind a flap, we don't like this sort of design & avoid amps like this such as Revox did on their earlier ones. The design looks more mid 1980s than 1978. Double Transformers to give a sense of better again if never the entire pre & power as separate halves. One of the earliest with Double Power Supplies is the Harman-Kardon 930 & it's not a big improvement really as the 930 has other limits, if good for sales hype. Hype & Fads are the deal here so far. Doubled Output Transistors like the SA-9500 will give good speaker control. On the circuit there are Double Transistors, not Darlingtons which are poor, plus FETs if not actual ICs with extra parts inside. The Phono stage shows needless overdesign, the Input is split to 2 amplifier halves & combined at the output for the MC half & the MM half is similarly overdesigned with 20 transistors-FETs total per channel. The SA-9500 phono was busy if a lesser design & didn't sound much to us, knowing the Sony STR-6120 & TA-1120 phono stage sound. The Preamp-Tone board named 'Volume' is again an overdesigned mess. Yamaha do this overdesign (see below as we found the origins of this design) & the sound is never as fresh & open as a more sane design, it's soft & blurry which is not real sound. The only post 1977 amp that we know of that looks overdesigned but actually is decent once understood is the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X. Another 18 transistors-FETs per channel with the typical Push-Pull type circuit. All that fussy nonsense & then to see what they still do to the signal. This is just lazy overdesign in search of useless high specs. Power Supply a typical overdesigned mess with 21 transistors-FETs if again Yamaha appear to have started this idea with the CR-1000 power supply if the A-27 is way too much. Power Amp has 2SC2323 & 2SA1003 outputs which are long obsolete if appears there are equivalents, if those old lists we've found can be inaccurate. 22 transistors-FETs per channel, too hard to work out as it has the sort of Current Mirror type circuitry & isn't easy to figure out unlike the AU-G90X which was seen to be good design. So it's another overcooked 'monster' with little chance of sounding Natural, if it's likely well tailored to give remarkable specs if sound very boring. The Yamaha CR-2020 we just got one to Service & Redo the Power Supply & even a very high grade one-owner amp to hear, it sounded ghastly on the grainy blurry vague treble. The CR-2020 we have fully upgraded before to see how good it was & like the CA-1010 it just didn't give the sweet sound that the 1965-72 amps can. Even the Yamaha CA-1000 we still have is now revealing it blurs the detail even after a deep upgrade, but not finished with that yet. These later amps are too 'smart ass' for their own good, they are based on silly hype, pointless Specs, Ford Capri type blokes being impressed but giving nothing of that sweet vintage sound that can be got with far simpler 20w-50w designs. We did have the 1986 Pioneer C90/M90 combo & it had very little musical pleasure to it beyond 200w to impress the unaware. The Pioneer A27 is just way too overdesigned, it'll never sound fresh & sweet even if maxed out upgraded. It's Hifi for those who've not heard Valves or Pre 1972 amps to know better, one sold for $1499 / £1061 in the original box just the day before we typed this. Looks wise from that ebay sale, the fascia looks nice, the flap is a glass one which teases & the rest is just typical 1979, metal case, thin metal back & a captive mains lead & what looks like proper 4mm speaker sockets. Looking for the original sell price, the tedious "Audiophile" and "The Best..." type hype on sales of the amp shows Audiophiles actually haven't a clue what Real Hifi really sounds like. SA-9800 was $750 & the A27 was $1250. We've heard enough earlier amps, upgraded enough amps to know what is actually in these beyond the original designs.


So Which Amp Is The Best Ever To Us? Revealing Some Favourites...

You may ask us "What Is The Best Amp Then?" After comparing amps for several years now there doesn't appear to be any one amp (yet...) that is the Ultimate Best even as fully upgraded. Some early amps can sound wonderful & be found as not totally accurate designs. Some can have nearly all we seek in an amp but then be needing far too much work to take to a higher level. Some can be found to be 'Perfect' designs but seriously dumbed down to not sell such good designs. Fashion & Hype plays a big part in Hifi by the Mid 1970s & generally none of the post 1972 amps reach the sweet pleasing accurate sounds of pre 1972. We're not going to put Names & Model Numbers as that can create a false hype itself, we remember how crazy the Yamaha CR-1000 prices went for people not reading our review properly. For Amps as Original, if they are useable fo their current age, the playing field is a lot more level. But once you get into Upgrades some amps can hugely improve. The 1970 Sony TA-2000F/TA-3200F 100w pre-power as original sounds mediocre as so dumbed down, but it upgrades so well & we have ours on the speakers as of typing. We've enjoyed these recently as upgraded by ourselves: Realistic STA-150/STA-220 plus the Akai AA-7000 on speakers for an extended time as they sounded so good. The Trio-Kenwood TK-140X & KA-6000 similarly got used as liked as did the Sony TA-1120, but of those we only have the KA-6000 as there is more to upgrade in it. If we were collecting amps those plus others like the Coral A-550, Sansui 3000A & National-Panasonic SA-65 we'd keep plus the JVC MCA-104E and JVC 5040U. But all those amps as original are showing they have more to them but still sound rather limited as the original designs. The pre 1972 amps do upgrade further than the overdesigned post 1972 & especially post 1975 amps. Others we'd keep similarly, Fisher 600-T, Trio WX-400U, Rogers HG-88 MkIII, KLH 27 (still for sale...) Pioneer SX-700TF, SX-1000TD or SX-1500TF, Sony STR-6120, Hacker GAR-550 only as it was our first record player, Heathkit AR-1500 & possibly the Luxman L-100 as it could upgrade more. Plenty of others were liked too but to pick the ones that still stand out as favourites. The only post 1977 is again the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X, it's provided more standards to upgrade to than we realised, until comparing it to the Sony TA-pair.


A Look at Hifi in 1979 aka "Where's The Good Stuff Gone?"
The shop ads give the best idea of what was available & selling, if the last few Hifi Yearbooks were always out of date as well as full of errors & omissions of entire brands even. So Comet, the Discount Warehouse Store Kings with their early-mid 1979 Ads are the most telling. UK brand 'Alba' has a new range, after the success of the Alba UA 700 15w into 8 ohms & later UA900, 40w into 4 ohms & 33w into 8ohms, they bring a fuller range of amplifiers, receivers, tuner & cassette deck. In a Budget Amp Recommendation just earlier in 1979 Martin Collims actually recommended the Alba UA900 & it did get good reviews, if not forgetting it still is a budget amp. Here the Alba 2150 Receiver at 50w, 4 ohms again likely for £144.90 Comet price is a huge bargain. The other UK budget brand Armstrong faded away only a few months before early in 1979 with a silly range of ads about Japanese buyers preferring Armstrong over their own country's gear. We did hear of a later Armstrong amp just before they closed, if no info says it could be mythical. Here the Alba range looks better than the tacky UA900 if the UA 700 was more like a Rogers. Alba today is a chavvy brand but must have done well with 'Stereos' in the early days much like Amstrad, if few will survive. Brands & Prices. The HFYB doesn't price these so as Comet does, to get a better idea of how the quality dropped off by 1979. Comet has Pioneer with much cheaper gear, SA-506 25w £82, SA-606 40w £112, SA-706 60w £149 if still all transistors on these. Marantz have ditched the big silver amps for cut-price gear, MR215 15w receiver £98, MR230 30w receiver £149, MR250 50w receiver £189 & they look as uninspiring as the cheap prices suggest, if there will still be the 1978 range unsold big models around at discounted prices. Sansui with an unexciting range too, all with black fascia, rack mount flanges & handles which looks very tacky in a Domestic setting. AU-117 15w £73, AU-217 30w £110, AU-317 50w £161. Herts Hifi of Watford have a broader range & a quick look shows the Big Money items are Stereo Systems & Packages ie Rack Mount gear & Music Centres. Aiwa, Ekco (the 1940s radio brand revived), Garrard, Goodmans, Sansui & sharp as well as larger ranges from Hitachi, Pioneer, Panasonic & Toshiba. So much for all the Hifi Hype of IHF Standards & Musicality, they just want you to buy a Music Centre & when younger most people's houses did have Music Centres, only the typist's Uncle has a JVC system of plain tin cans & plenty still used Radiograms. Generally the Big Brand prices we quoted aren't too far off 1970 prices if you get the same amount of power, be sure the quality isn't there. Market Forces dictating what is made & the 'Receiver Wars' must have lost those brand a fortune for daring to make 200w-350w amps that only a tiny few would buy. This is why the Big Brands nose-dived in quality to just make what sells, huge Yamaha CR-2020 receivers appear easy to find, but odds are many were sold cheap in Discount Shops, one we got to Service was sold very cheap in Singapore as late as 1981. The real Budget brand that Comet & others have is Solavox, the 20w SA-2020 amp is £48 & the 20w receiver SR-2220 is just £70, if they have that typical Japanese look if in black which is cheaper than getting high grade metal to show on the fascia. The Silver Era appears to have been just too expensive when black painted metal & plastic was cheaper. So from this, the actually very brief "Receivers Wars" probably only lasted 1977-78, HFN/RR does report of a slum in sales if the Disco-Grease-Saturday Night Fever era gave the hugest sales, likely that most of those Records got played on Budget or Midprice Music Centres, not big 100w Yamahas. Other ads go for cliches such as "You can Rely on Pye" for their brief range of decent looking Hifi & even ITT get on the bandwagon, if they are usually TV grade, their Hifi range looks a reaonable midprice selection. Even Amstrad get into the Micro System with black fascia system that actually looks pretty good, if it'll still be the Made in UK type lower quality build. The amstrad Micro we've never seen, it's the T101 £85 tuner, A101 £55 25w power amp, P101 £33 preamp & LS101 £45 speaker pair. They look mid-late 1980s in design & likely have a following, assuming they survive as Budget Brands had a hard life by careless owners. July 1979 sees the Audio Pro Sub Woofer as by now small speakers with no bass were the thing, £495 for an 18" box with 2 drivers, it sounds a bit created to us, for that money you'd do better buying big Tannoys or similar even in 1979. Shades of the Valve Amp Revival with Grant Lumley valve amps GL100A 70w £585, GL40A 40w £290 which are Stereo power amps plus GL100AM a 100w Monobloc power amp £185, prices less VAT sneakily, suggest interest grows as does the Radford TT100 100w valve hybrid £575 suggest a market that would slowly grow into the 1990s. An earlier July 1978 Quad ad shows they got "The queen's Award for Technological achievement" for the Quad 405 current dumping amp that we don't like, The Queen likely had little idea of better Hifi either, one of those Token Gestures like giving MBEs out today when there's no-one else to get them.


A Fresh Look At The Golden Eras Of Hifi. 

We do mention this on another page, but we've had lots more amps since then. To put it simply the "Golden Era" in Hifi Made in Japan & USA is 1965-72. There are so many great amps & receivers in this category, if some of the earliest can be a lot more difficult to upgrade, the results are worh it. The 'Differential Era' starts in 1969 with Teac & these still belong in the "Golden Era". FETs in Preamps like the Sony TA-1130 & Sony TA-2000F preamp are too dumbed down showimg Sony didn't understand them or was just scared of them, but upgrading a TA-2000F recently proves FETs are no bother at all. From around 1969 the circuits do get dumbed down on Deep Bass Response as thoughtless buyers complained when using cheap rumbly turntables yet surely their equally cheap speakers wouldn't have played full bass? But seeing the production changes in the 1971 Leak Delta 75 shows they had lots of issues. As for UK & European Hifi from 1965-72, sadly most is still made like Radiogram Innards, some is better than others but overall the quality is way behind the Japan & USA gear. The Leak Stereo & Delta 30/70 plus Sugden are the best of UK. Bang & Olufsen are a Danish company marketed more on looks & prestige than sound quality & the Beomasters 1969-78 do improve but still are crude efforts once you've known better. The Era past 1973 we'd call "The Silver Era" for Japan & USA gear, still lots of good Yamaha, NAD, Rotel, Akai, Luxman & Pioneer. These do vary year by year & amid the same year's range such as not the same sub-manufacturers made the high model ones compared to the lower ones. But by now the "Comet Cost Cutting" disaster business model took hold which initially had buyers get bargains but soon Pioneer were cost cutting so heavily to compete for bad decisions on pricing it's actually a huge job to upgrade those properly, if they do then reveal they are great, but not at Shop Floor-bought level. These amps sometimes don't match earlier Speakers so well, if there were so many models around by now there was enough choice assuming you bought the lot new & stored the rest. The quality does gradually dip in the 1973-78 era with one-board construction & cheaping out in build in all ways. UK brands swiftly fade away by 1975-76 if Armstrong & Amstrad sell well, these amps we've looked at online via photos & circuit diagrams & just don't fancy trying them. Quad gear does not please us as we've said once or twice, the designs are crude & limited. The Bronze Era is 1979 to early 1990s in Japan-USA hifi, to the c.1995 era when surface mount components & computer boards start to arrive. This gear is made to be disposable at the lower end of the market & even ones that would have been seen as more expensive or even big money 'High End' gear is the same way. The sound by now is cold & boring as cost cutting is the normal, pleasure in sound doesn't matter as you'll buy a new one next year or so, you probably don't play it much as it doesn't inspire so you forget your old music & get miserable without it. For the Sansui AU-G90X to be upgradeable out of the cold hard original sound is more our determination with it & the main design was not in other amps & then swiftly forgotten. You get Technics SU-V707 with computer control bias if the amp is so cheaply made it sounded awful. The Yamaha A-720 similarly cheaply made with a nasty grainy sound that only improved with Class A being used. You were really being lied to by this time if CDs were the main sound source, the 'difference' was put down to CD. Reading through the HFN/RR shows how quickly it changed as the blog looking at shop ads above shows, all the 'Good Stuff' had gone by early 1979. Be sure lots of "The Good Stuff" was still being used, even if it was a 20w mid 1970s Music Centre these still sounded better than 1982 gear & also you could find huge reductions on these still decent 1977-78 amps in shops as end-of-line gear.


Turntable Hype Begins in 1979.
Hi-Fi buyers are fed a lot of Nonsense. This Nonsense get them thinking they must spend more. They spend more & feel better about things, if forever keep looking to 'upgrade' because the Hifi Mags by 1979 are feeding you a lot of Nonsense. Paul Messenger's at it again in the June 1979 issue in his 'be careful what you believe' "Soundings" column. The idea without quoting the waffle is "People have just discovered how important a turntable is & it plays a major part in the sound quality". Fair to say that a lot of Vintage Turntables are clunky junk, the early 1970s Dual one we had to service a while back we didn't like at all. Beyond Garrard & Thorens there weren't many Studio Quality ones by 1970 & even Garrard had huge sales with it's clunky Garrard SP25 Mks I to V, the V a rare one before Garrard closed, the Mk III the most commonly seen one. But by the time the Technics SL-1500 comes along, these are really not far off the quality of the Garrard 301 & 401, those aren't the most user friendly, the SL-1500 & others similar are much nicer to use. But by 1979 as with anything, to build hype so all those megabucks turntables have a market. The sort of huge items that won't have been nice in use but 'they are better for you'. To us, once you hit a certain quality with a turntable, metal plinth, the typical 'S' shaped arm with counterweights & bias adjuster, you have a decent turntable & arm, we noticed this as a teen playing a better quality music centre, brand forgotten, but it was decent kit & made good cassette recordings, unlike the cheap stack units. You can spend more, but we are wondering if we really need our Garrard 301 anymore? Read above about the Goldring G-850 & G-800E with compares to the Garrard 301 & Roksan, are they really that much better once you get the correct loading for the cartridge, you can go higher in pf values than the recommended as long as the sound isn't flattened.


So Where Is The Biggest Difference In A Hifi System To Be Made?
We used to think Loudspeakers were the biggest nuisance to pick right, but from Customers who buy our amps or get their upgraded, they already have got Speakers that suit their uses. Probably done over time & they got that one sorted years back. But now more are reading & hearing how much more 'Friendly' pre 1979 Hifi sounds, they are starting modestly & then decide they want to try something better. "What Do We Get For The Upgrade?" is asked. Our upgrades are done to bring the Best out of an Amp's design, but not to overcook it or have it be unstable. We put in the Quality that was never used in those days, it was around but costs were always kept low. You were buying Shop Bought Goods so it has to be Universal to stop customers complaining & satisfy the usually meaningless Specs & THD hype. Bass we extend to give the true Deep Bass Fundamentals, not false or boomy bass, if some older amps do have that. The treble is much sweetened, read the 3-part Sony STR-6120 upgrade as we wrote up the results as we upgraded it. This sort of upgrading is design based, it's not just a one-size-fits-all as forum types may think, those who say put higher power output transistors hoping to make a 25w amp into a 75w are missing the basics of design. Amps are upgraded to suit the power rating, not having it great at low volume but unstable & scary at higher volume as the amp runs out of power on deep bass & fries your speakers. It appears in Transistors that 18w is the starting point for getting Hifi if one 40w ckeap Panasonic ICs amp was lousy.


Loudspeakers: Tired Old Ideas Still Being Considered Relevant In 1979.
Surprised to see several pages over 2 articles about the outdated ideas of Speaker Positioning starting in June 1979 HFN/RR. The awful Hugh Brittain idea of Toeing in Speakers to give a Stereo Seat is frustratingly useless, it will date from the 1955-58 early Stereo era. But as with most things we see in Hifi, it's just accepted as right because no-one questions it loudly enough. If you buy Bookshelf size speakers & then put them on stands, you're missing the point of using floorspace wisely, the small speaker & stands may not be cheaper than a floorstander, but it's universal now. Small speakers with 6" drivers have long been considered Hifi, but they miss so much of the richer lower notes, once you hear 12" or 15" speakers you won't want that thin sounding crappy thing anymore that has very little richness. Small speakers you'll need to sit nearer to get the best sound as the lower frequencies drop off too much. In 1958 people still used 8"-10" speakers regularly if often with no tweeter, so Stereo imaging will have been Poor as most Stereo detail is in the higher frequencies, plus the poor mixing of Stereo from that early. The HB idea is to stand the speakers at 45° which is across the corners, it explains why Tannoy made Corner Speakers until the early 1960s for this use to look neater. The sense of Stereo is to have sound coming from two distinct points & remain as separated as possible, but here the speakers fire into the middle of the room creating the supposed 'Stereo Seat' & a blurred mess for everyone else as the L&R will have overlapped. Now we've used 12" & 15" speakers since 1990, the sound fills the room with most amps & loss of bass as you move further away happens much less. We've always had these speakers in the corner flat against the wall, square in the corner with about 30cm away from the wall side & rear. Why do it any other way?


Ebayers Think Their Aged Amp Is Worth The Same As One Recapped & Serviced.
An aged Vintage Amp is a gamble, some are a real pain to get to our standard, they need cleaning, servicing then recapping & upgrading. This takes Professional Skills, Parts & Labour to do right. Plenty out there thinking they can do what we do & then we see the insides of a Yamaha CR-1000 that's just recapped like-for-like with cheap parts, pointless effort. Then we see the Yamaha CR-400 we just sold from an Australian seller as the Exact Same Price as ours! Do they have no comprehension of "Added Value"? Lots of Nice Amps on Ebay, but all priced way too high as we've blogged before, only the Auctions reveal the Real Selling Prices. Ebay is full of chancers as is obvious, we get such problems with severe overgrading like they grade in the dark, one told us the light isn't too good in the music room? How much is a Desk Lamp, £20. We know we'll not get the Money back for Work we put into some amps we have to or want to go further with, the 1967 KLH 27 has £1000+ of work in to it, but it's offered at £495, because we price to sell, not be unrealistic. The overpriced raw CR-400 is in decent grade if a case scratch would put some off. What it's worth is what a realistic seller either offers a faulty one at or auctions one at as pricing unsure. To price at the Highest Price found online, if that amp has had Recap-Upgrade-Service specialist work done, to think yours is worth the same reveals their ignorance of the market or what work has been done, but they are just general dealers. Another online at £130 is a more realistic buy for a good working if original one. Only the "Value Added" ones get higher prices as with any restored & upgraded items. All you do is let the overpricer realise they aren't getting any interest & see the price drop, but then try an offer, you may get a deal.


Why Put Metal Covers over ECC83 Type Valves?
We got the impressive 1965 Fisher X-100-B to upgrade for a customer & it has these aluminium tube covers with a spring inside to put over a few of the ECC83 valves, if not all. Previous Blogs reveal RF woes with the Luxman LX33 & having done everything there is to do, the thing still crackles badly on turn on & can occasionally in use, it gets only slightly better from previous efforts. We find that extremely annoying on headphones, but for the sound of Phono valves to endure it & it's not heard on recordings, so is the Preamp-Tone or later Power Amp ones. Seeing the Fisher ones were the push & rotate type, to see what to do with the PCB board of the Luxman. The type of amp to use these is old, so the valve bases are wired ones not PCB mount. The Luxman actually had some of these as made, but illogically they are for the skinny Matsushita ones only, not every other valve made, so sadly useless. So to get 4 to see what that does, find it's worth getting more to shield the lot, if by taking springs out & fixing in another way to ground the cases. RF is everywhere these days from Mobiles & Broadband if you are crazy to make your amp so wide range, it's what causes the crackly noises. The Results on playing some Vinyl is interesting, it's like the RF even through the Glass Tubes was wasting energy & reducing the Fidelity of the sound which is more focussed with Bass seeming better than before & Treble just a bit smoother, if checking the Tone is at the usual setting, that one can mess opinions up. Hum is slightly reduced too, if not by much as it wasn't humming for all the work in it. The original idea in the Fisher on looking at it again was that 4 of the 6 valves have the extra can fitting on V1-V4 which are 2 for Phono stage & 2 for Pre-Tone, if the Power Amp Driver stage has none. A few weeks later the LX33 crackle is still occasionally heard, if overall much reduced & with valves shielded the S:N ratio is improved. Update Mar 2018: The interesting thing is the LX33 valve holders can take these push on sprung valve shield cans as the part to take the locking notch fits the part used to fit wires to hold valves in place, if not used on the LX33. The only thing is the metal part of the valve holder isn't grounded so a subtle ground wiring system needs adding. This is the sort of thing you assume is grounded & we just used it for about 6 weeks until the crackle got annoying again. So now the cans are properly fitted & grounded with no chance of shorting as grounded which is important with about 250v on the ECC83/ECC81s. With valves to use it one day after it still crackles on turn on, to allow it to get used to differing conditions, valves can be fussy, so next day on it goes to see the result. On turn on this time guess what, it still crackles if less, it's still got that rustly noise. To hear how it starts up, the EL34s come on first & the power amp ones & then the Preamp-Tone ones arrive as does the crackle. Allow voltages to settle & valves to warm up to pull the working voltages & currents. It still sounds like a rustly old valve radio if the crackling noise isn't on Phono if you record it. After 4-5 minutes it settles with a very quiet background if still the occasional low level noise. This is on a Sunday as of typing & factories not polluting the mains, so wait until Monday to try again.


Why a P.A.T. Test Is Just False Hope.

We got a Luxman L2 amplifier to recap-upgrade. It had a 'Portable Appliances Test' label dated 2013 & with the online seller's name. Google finds they are on ebay still & to see their seller name... "Oh, them..." with a waryness having bought from them before & felt it was a poor deal. The L2 as we put on the review is "impossible" to get the top lid off as foam & rubber pads stick over time & we were the first to test, so they never even checked inside. The Mains Plug was one likely fitted by the Seller, but we don't trust any plugs until we check it. The Fuse was 5A, should be 3A, the Earth wire wasn't tightened up enough so was a bit loose on the screw as well as hanging out a bit from the pin hole & the Live was twisted up instead of cutting it to the right length. We just chopped the wire & rewired the Plug properly. None of this is desperately unsafe as of seeing it, if the Ground Earth cable will just work loose & the mentality of not opening the item to PAT test shows the Tester is just cheating. P.A.T. tests which are only half done 'as no-one will know' may miss Mains wires 1mm away from ungrounded casing, if perhaps not on this type of amp, who's to say what's happened over 39 years? We check these things visually. P.A.T. test has zero value to us & be sure we've seen some shockers like Nails in Fuse Sockets, Soldered Wire in Mains Plug Fuse section, Coins posted through case slots, Tin Foil in Fuse holders plus many more that we'd not accept as safe & put our name to. Fussy we may be, but it doesn't take long to do it properly, even Wiring a Plug. Strip the outer covering to reveal the 3 inner cores, Brown, Blue & Stripy Green-Yellow. Cut the outer covering to get the right length for the Earth, the Neutral is usually the same length if the Live needs cutting shorter. Some plugs are easier than others & then fit the right fuse.


Your Hearing With Amplifiers Has A Compensating Memory.

We've noticed this before & written about how easy it is to fool yourself with Hifi comparing. We've been playing 2 amps on Headphones a lot the last few weeks & then they are The Reference Sound. But then we get a Trio-Kenwood KA-2002 & Luxman L-2 to recap-upgrade. Naturally we do some servicing to those & have a listen to understand the Amp's sound. But they aren't upgraded & both are on the dull side. The trouble then is your Hearing Tonal Balance has adjusted & an Amp that was a reference sound now sounds a bit bright as does the other amp we use for playing vinyl. The amps haven't suddenly got worse, it's Your Hearing compensating still for the duller amps. This Phenomenon is annoying & it takes resetting by listening to daytime noises & then music on a known amplifier for an hour or two until you've 'Reset' your Hearing Compensation EQ in your brain. To know that your Reference amps are 'your sound' & ignore the problem is the only way. Those amps will get upgraded & then they'll have "Our Sound" so they'll sound closer to the Reference Amps than their original sound. We play TV Sound through the Tannoys so keep a good Sound Reference, but back onto Headphones after a dull sounding amp, your hearing has added brightness so that extra bright sound is in your mind. Has anyone ever done a Technical Report on this, or are people just forever confused by Hifi without a True Reference. We typed this hearing one amp was now too bright sounding & since playing music we've 'realised' the hearing balance wasn't right so to consider known tracks on a known amp as "correct" then the Hearing Balance is reset. Shop Demos will be caught by this, your dull sounding aged amp into New Items will have the New sounding too harsh. Hypnotised by Sound & be sure it is very easy to be fooled in the short term, but live with an amp for a week or more & then & only then will you understand it, for being good or lacking in some way.


Beware The Gushing "Forum Quoted" Hype & Fake Bids On Ebay Sales.

Harman-Kardon 630 receiver getting excited bids, er, why? We had the HK 930 which as with the 630 has no power rating in the HK user or service manuals. The 930 is 48w & our clean sine 32v output confirmed this, it works on ±39v HT. The 630 is a lower model & works on ±32v so to expect it's 30w-35w. But not on the sellers Auction, they quote those sort of "wow this is the best ever" type forum waffle & say it's 60w, but that'll be 30w+30w making it a 30w RMS amplifier. Buyers just blindly believe. The hype of Double Power supplies we wrote of on the 930, it wasn't a bad amp but not one of the greats, some design was strictly mid price quality, the tiny board for L+R power amp is one. They say it's "High End"... As we've said before, Hifi Forums are Amateurs, only the Valve Guitar Forums we see as more Professional. Quoting gushing Amateur opinion, from those just out in the daylight hearing Vintage for the First Time after their boring IC riddled amplifiers is a bad thing to believe. It's Bloke Down The Pub type opinion. Do your research on things, believing hype is for fools & the Power Rating misquoting is a common one. The HK 630 makes a suspicious exact £200 & another one as a Leak 2000 receiver, a budget amp that's rough sounding made with TV grade parts makes an equally suspicious exact £150. They are not worth these prices. Beware one hifi "seller" who appears to "sell" items to give themselves great feedback yet to see the same amp relisted multiple times shows what foolish fake nonsense goes on on ebay. Look for a Technics SE-A900SM2 & SU-C800UM2 it gets sold often & great feedback yet up for sale again. The fake bidding is to try to "create" a demand for items to then hope to get a real buyer next time they list it. Caveat emptor.


Cost Cutting: A Disgruntled EMI-Thorn Technician Writes In.

This is in the Sept 1979 HFN/RR. Cost Cutting we've mentioned often & it does the consumer no good, if they fool themselves they are getting better quality for the money. No you're not, if you did then Manufacturers would go broke fast. The Cost Cutting starts around 1973 with Comet getting Pioneer & we found the 1974 Pioneer SX-838 a tough one to upgrade, it had overheating parts & low spec plus a cheapo vinyl wrap lid. The 1972 Pioneer SX-828 was still of a good quality, the SX-838 was price chopped to the bone & it showed. Comet grew since their modest beginnings & got huge buying power & foolishly most big brands, except Yamaha, got with Comet. The HFN/RR letter by an Anon writer is by one probably in his late 50s by the words so has seen standards drop. Not to quote sections, but that letter is the basis for the rest of this blog, he sees the Market as Solving All Problems, as in what people will pay & what they will accept for the money, is a blind biased one. Quality Goods can't be made as the Market has settled on wanting cheaper yet supposedly still the quality. Look inside any 1979 amp even high power ones & see the cost cutting. Forcing a Stamp Of Mediocrity is very true, you may want better quality but it's not out there as the 'Market' decides what you should get. At least in Hifi in 1979 you had a range of brands, here the HFN/RR tech writer works for Thorn-EMI that make Ferguson & ITT, actually EMI only took over Thorn in Oct 1979, Radio Rentals & Rumbelows were their shops selling mostly mass-market Electrical Goods including 'Stereos' if there don't appear to be any Hi-Fi items made by them. He complains of penny pinching to fit cheaper components that will fail sooner, cheaper finishes just making Inferior Goods, not that Ferguson were anything more than Mass-Market, but all brands cost cut, look how poor the 1980 Yamaha range was, loads of IC blocks. Cut-Throat Competition was the deal, as the May 1979 HFN/RR blog above on goods being sold shows. It had already gone too cheap by early 1979. Only really the Cottage Industry Hifi made by the likes of Linn, Naim & Mission plus some UK Valve Amp makers into the 1990s did an alternative to the Cheaped Out Big Brands that led to Marantz & others with "SE" versions supposedly superior for copper plated screws & other nonsense, based on the small brand ideas. One good idea spawns a million imitators.


HFN/RR Content by Mid 1979.
Several Articles on Digital and "Compact Disc" with a surprising array of competing formats that never arrived as the clearly superior Philips version was the one. Articles about Reviewers having Secondary Interests in Consulting for Hifi brands & the HFN/RR worry about impartiality & they said they will be sure of fair reviews, if in reality their reviews tell little to help you decide to buy. A trend for £200+ Cartridges with some double that with a hefty new stylus replacement, these will be Moving Coil MC ones that we don't see the point of. As the above blogs show, not so much the Cartridge but the Phono Preamp & we rarely bother telling how Transistor Phono Stages sound as most are dull & muddy. As for 'Sexist' Hifi Ads, surprisingly few if Sept 1979 p7 with a Lux (Luxman) ad has a man pulling his caveman wife by the hair, her flat on the ground with a cassette deck trying to lose her ample clothed modesty as it sits on her chest. Surreal & one that would annoy today's tiresome lot. "Into The Iron Age With Lux", why Lux? The gear is labelled 'Luxman' & there was a Lux soap around at the time too. New Zealand had no FM Radio even in 1979 is surprising, if UK was very slow until the early 1990s even. HFN/RR do group tests but the reviews are still dry & it just seems pointless. A strange trend of 'Record Cleaning Films' where you spray a product onto a Record, let it set & peel the film off to pick up all the filth seems bizarre, Discofilm & Diskmask didn't last long clearly. A sort of Silicone with solvents that evaporate, did they react with the vinyl soon after like PVC sleeves did? Not a thing we'd use. A Jan 1980 news article says others are making this & it's a water soluble form of Poly-Vinyl Acetate, but does it react with the vinyl? PVA glue used to line walls & as glue is a DIY product today. But by Sept 1979, there's less to read, long boring articles. Back in the days of buying HFN/RR in 1993-98 it was just something to read pre-Internet, you'd read some articles again if generally it didn't lead to buying much, if the more Populist 'What Hifi' was more aggressive in selling Marantz CD52 players by the truck load. HFN/RR generally left the Selling to the Advertisers, many with dull printed lists of goods without photos if the idea of Manufacturers with colour pages of new goods was slow in arriving. HFN/RR has been interesting to see how things changed over the 1970s if to re-read this 1970-80 era will not seem so interesting. Late 1979 brings TDK 'MA' metal tape, far the best Cassette tape & we used these tapes often in the late 1980s until CD-R arrived. One of the best adverts is for 'Maxell' blank cassettes, someone went to the trouble to Knit a cassette to be able to mention 'wooly sound'. Very cool & an ad worth framing. Appears as a back cover & then inside the mag by Dec 1979.


The Joy Of Restoring Old Unwanted Junk Into Classy Desired Gear.
We get amplifiers & receivers that often seem a pile of dirty old junk & by the prices, no-one wants them. Who has the skills to do the job properly these days? Watching 'Wheeler Dealers' the Saab 96 episode with new guy Ant & Mike has great nerdly pleasure as you can see with Ant, who is a more precise technical-minded guy than Edd who was more creative in a DIY-way. He fabricates complicated rusted-out panels on the lower windscreen edge & does it to perfection, the door shut lines are perfected. The Saab 96 we thought was an ugly piece of scrap & why they wanted it seemed a mistake. But the more you watch, you see the good ideas by Saab, not all lasted 47 years if the car is quite basic & low power it grows on you. To see it all repainted with all the trim in & out but still bright yellow went from an embarrassment to a Cool Ride you'd be proud to be in. Now restoring Hifi relies more on the electronics & cleaning as there are no spare parts & to try to get even a plain lid repainted or powder coated isn't as easy as you'd think unless you know Car guys. We got the Toshiba SA-15Y a very tired amp that the previous owner couldn't work out & their soldering and parts choosing work was laughably bad. No proper circuit diagram as the one found was a bad photocopy so unreadable. We think the amp deserves a proper rebuild & to buy a Printed Service Manual for £50 was very expensive, but the only way. The junky amp slowly gets rebuilt & done to our standard so it's looking & sounding great again. Surprised it sounded that good for 30w rated if like the Realistic STA-150 it's more a 40w amp for the read outputs. The wood case needs some tidying if the rest is sorted if we didn't like the flickering LED bulbs so got some filament type bulbs from Germany. A lot of work put into this amp, we used it for a few days on TV sound on the speakers, thought it was great, but our job is now done, so time to sell it on, price to be decided once the wood case is sorted. It'd be nice to keep a few dozen favourite amps, but we only use 2 amps so to not really need more than a few extra reference ones. Several of the amps we've had are remembered fondly as the 'Some Favourites' blog earlier this month shows. But soon decided the Toshiba was propably one of the last decent 1960s receivers & it needs a bit more work done as it certainly did impress on the first uses of it.


Where Do We Go In Hi-Fi Restoring From Here?
Finding quality 'unknown' amps gets harder each good one you find & past 1972 there are not really that many that would interest. The big brand Pioneer, Rotel & Sansui are very cost-cut if can upgrade well they need a huge amount done, beyond the resell value often. Some like Sony with V-FETs & other custom output stages we avoid as parts are long gone or insanely expensive. All the HFN/RR reviews & adverts are just confirming what we know past 1977, the quality just isn't there. The best stuff to upgrade is 1965-72 with care needed to pick better ones 1973-78 which is why Yamaha got so many amps tried. Valve amps we've tried several & they all need so much rebuild & redesign, if we have an interesting Fisher X-100-B to upgrade & see it has good design that we'd not expect this early, like DC heaters. The 1963 Trio WX400-U had a rudimentary DC heater on the Tone valve if it wasn't too great. We get more Upgrades now so to see what we get offered, there have to be other amplifiers that are post 1978 that can upgrade as well as the Sansui AU-G90X if that took a long time to lose the thin 1980s sound. Wherever it goes be sure it'll be typed up here, it seemed like it's come to an end of progress several times over a few years, but then more interesting stuff comes along.


The First Overdesigned Amplifier: Trio Kenwood KA-8004 From 1972.
We thought Yamaha got this one for the Differential & Push-Pull design in the Yamaha CA-800ii & CA-1000ii, but these were 1975. The first amp to have this overdesign that we see as unnecessary is the Trio-Kenwood KA-8004 from 1972, the same year as the KA-6004 we had. The KA-6004 isn't with this overdesign, if we found the filter stages limiting if the amp itself was pretty decent, though the tiny power amp board was not so good. The KA-8004 is a 60w amp, one on ebay, overpriced at £345 with the typical broken levers, the flimsy plastic ends missing off 5 of 7 of them. The KA-8004 Phono Stage is designed like a Power amp with Differentials, a Driver & 2 Push-Pull transistors. Two versions of the amp exist as the Service Data shows, the Tone, Phono (named as Preamp) & Power Amp get altered, as did the 1969 Trio-Kenwood TK-140X if the number stayed the same. The Power Amp board still seems small & is a plug-in type one by the looks of it. Would expect it to be a good amp overall & we'd try one at the right price. But for the Overdesigned Phono stage, the KA-8004 from 1972 gets the "First Overdesigned Amplifier" Award.
But we looked closer in the Dec 2018 blog, it gets worse...

Our Transistor Hi-Fi Exploits Started With a Trio-Kenwood KA-4002.
We had a Sony STR-6120, Sony TA-1150 & Sony TA-1130 several years earlier after finding them better than some modern thing on the then Computer amp & speakers. Plus many others like B&O, Marantz, Harman-Kardon in the early 1990s. But the amp that started off our Hifi Website is actually the Trio-Kenwood KA-4002 of which we have the KA-4002a as of typing & found it's sound as Serviced but Original surprisingly punchy for it's 18w. We did have the earlier Trio-Kenwood TK-150 aka KA-2000 which is the 13w one, but only finding 2011 info confirms which one we had. It was a £35 buy on ebay, we cleaned & serviced it if in the end sold it for a modest £50. At the time we had the Hacker GAR 550 that was 14w, to want to try a Record Player we first got in about 1986. After recapping it we still found the Hacker a bit lacking as the preamp stage wasn't proper Line Level for DIN sockets, so to go see what amps were around to try to get something better sounding. The Trio KA-4002 was only bought as looking good & cheap. To hear the same 1972 KA-4002a which is the 1971 KA-4002 with an updated fascia & controls to think it sounded great the day before typing shows we certainly found a good starter amp with the KA-4002 back in 2011, the joy to find that it was the one that started all this. To think that sounded great in 2011 so to see what else there was. We bought some amps we didn't like, the 1986 Sony TA-F550ES was swiftly sold on & a messed with Marantz 1152DC amp was a bad buy that we could deal with now. Then Leak Stereo 70 + tuner in the long case we thought was rough & crude, Bang & Olufsen Beomasters 3000 & 4400 we had a few of, found them better than the Leak if still not quite the Trio KA-4002 sound. Then got a Trio KR-4140 18w receiver that was rather soft & boring sounding, far from the KA-4002 sound so that got sold on. Trying more Trio as the KR-33 receiver, Leak Delta 30, Leak 2000 receiver, Armstrong 526, Goodmans Module 90. Then into Pioneer SX-850 that was so cost cut & limited it sounded nasty, if these will upgrade well needing a huge amount done, NAD 160 receiver thought decent if biasing made a big difference to the sound, then 1968 Pioneer SX-1000TW that was thought a nice sound if dull sounding, we'd recap it now. The first Yamaha we got was the CR-1000 in 2012 & got the CR-1020 soon after if sold that on. The first Recapped-Upgraded amp we sold was a Yamaha CA-1000 in 2012. Prices back when we sold on ebay are modest for the Recap-Upgraded ones, if the thing back then was no-one else was doing this or even Serviced so we really led the way on this. Look on ebay now, you see those saying 'Serviced' but notice few show inside pics even for recapped. Sellers are slow to realise that buyers want to see the quality of work done & with good parts.


1978 Sony TA-N88 Power Amplifier & TA-E88 Preamplifier.
These appear Important Developments for Sony in Hifi. 160w RMS rated & £1120 the pair, as £560 each. The idea of these is looking towards Digital, if the whole idea of them we think is a poor one. But Technology has to show off & constantly innovate, if Sony never bettered the 1965 Sony TA-1120 for sheer Music Pleasure, if the much upgraded Sony TA-2000F/TA-3200F is their best product, if not as original. The idea here is to convert the Analog Signal via Pulses as in today's Sampling to "create" a waveform via Digital. Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and Class D type amplification. The idea is obscured as we aren't told the Sampling Rate if a 1kHz test signal reveals a huge amount of low level spikes, digital noise mush & the idea of using a Low Pass Filter to try to tame the mess is not done well, if CD players do similar. The amp did rate 160w, but at low level it will have been 'not very good'. Dampling factor is telling too, at 40Hz it's '28', but at 20kHz it's '2.3' showing the Treble will be a grainy mess. Switching Speed of Transistors. Despite all this & it not testing too well, the sound was liked, but they noted the "tizz" on the very highs & overtones, ie grainy treble & blurry on complex Rock or Full Orchestra. History notes that this sort of amp didn't reappear (as far as we know) so an experimental amp for sure & not a success we'd say, took 7 years to sell the first batch is likely. The preamp appears better liked if severely overdesigned as it has 30 FETs, 174 transistors & 29 diodes in the whole preamp. Off to HFE to get the Service Manuals, this needs looking deeper into. Sony TA-E88 preamp 1977-84 the Manual shows photos & the circuits & we've never seen such a busy design as they try to control & shape what remains of the sound. Overdesign to The Extreme. The Phono has multiple options of loading the cartridge. The actual circuits have to be seen to believed, the amount of differentials is extreme & very overdesigned power supplies to regulate. How Sony got to this from the 1972 Sony TA-2000F preamp, which is actually a sensible design once all the dumbing down is sorted, to this crazy mess is quite mindnumbing. No Tone Controls on this makes it of limited use. Sony TA-N88 power amp is next, a HFE review says it's got V-FETs & "an awful power supply", so one to avoid as they are long obsolete. Inside pics show it has 13x TO3 big transistors, some will be regulators, line of 5 & the rest as 2 pairs of 4 for Output Stages. Slimline so it's got a thin but long main capacitor. we hate it already on seeing an IC for 3 differential stages per channel working on only 9v. The 500kHz oscillator & shaping circuits are suitably obscure, yes let's alter the original signal why don't we & try to tidy the mess we made, ugh. Power Transistors are V-FETs 2SJ28 & 2SK82 both which must be Sony Custom ones & no datasheets available. The Power Supply is that ghastly Pulse Power Supply nonsense the Technics SU-01 micro system has, no Mains transformer but Regulator stages & then small transformers later on, not unlike how our old DVD-HDD recorder is, but that had 30 years of improvements. An amp like this Sony TA-N88/TA-E88 is one we'd not like to get involved with, parts unavailable & what can be lethal mains dumb ideas like the UK version of that Technics was. 1977-78 did bring some design ideas that have progressed to today, but First-Effort amps like these we consider are best left alone & not suitable for daily use even if yours was good. Verdict: Run a mile.


Loudspeakers: Most Are Mediocre with Harsh Peaky Upper Ranges.
Sadly most Speakers are average at best. Plenty are rubbish even, if your speaker sounds boxy & shrill, then it's garbage. But cheap speakers on Music Centres to midprice speakers is what most listen to. Be sure you don't play music much as it's not pleasing sounding. Not listening to Music makes you Old. If a big speaker appears lightweight in picking it up, it is junk. If it's small but heavy then you can get a purer sound but then the weeny 6" bass speaker will not give you the full richness of the sound, so you go buy a Subwoofer & set it up wrong so it's thick & boomy sounding. Even "Experts" in Hifi shops have little idea about Good Sound, those expensive AV systems that Hifi shops turned to by around 2000 we used to hear often & "where's the midrange" says us after knowing the Tannoy Gold 15"s. To be told no-one's ever said that before, they want more bass & treble but to not realise speaking voices of themselves don't sound like the Film Soundtrack does even set at a higher volume. The Tannoy 15"s you can see the Response Curve is very smooth with ±2dB variation, the curve does undulate but in a smoother way. The HFN/RR reviews have shown speaker response curves since Hifi started to get big by the early 1970s. Some of the response curves are really bad, the old trick of reducing the graph scale to 10dB graduations makes the response look better in adverts, but the Tannoy one is on a 5dB graph. Look on HFE for 'Tannoy DC Flyer 1968' to see this, if this shows the earlier 'Silver' not 1969 Golds. Don't seem to be any Monitor Golds flyers around if 1969 HFN had adverts, we'll have to dig some out. The Problem Speakers are the early-mid 1970s ones as blogged before that have bad impedance curves from poor design causing 2 ohm dips that will cause many amps problems as they can't drive 2 ohms, the Celestion Ditton 22 type ones being noted as "hard to drive" more like dangerous to use unless your amp is rated for 2 ohm use which means only a few post 1980s ones. These bad impedance curves, see here, are slowly realised by the makers as the impedance curves we've seen on later 1970s are generally "nominal 5 to 6 ohm" just like the Tannoy Golds are. These multi-driver speakers get into problems as more than one driver handles the frequency where the impedance dips so causes a similar idea as running 2x 4 ohm speakers from an amp that says, on the later 1970s ones, to not use 2 pairs of 4 ohm. Mutidriver speakers are a poor hyped idea supposedly better on midrange for the extra driver, but the reality is the midrange is more reduced by complex crossovers. Avoid multi-driver speakers if you want good detail in music.


HFN/RR June 1979 does a 13 Loudspeaker Test : A Digest & Our Opinion.

This big test has a representative 1979 selection of £130-£320 midprice speakers. A Martin Colloms review so expect a lot of detail & tests of Frequency Range, but don't expect much sense from it as we concluded. On & Off-Axis Frequency Responses, Distortion & Impedance told of also. To use eight panellists sort of loses the point as too many opinions dilutes any review. They use a 75w Valve amp made by MC plus other sensibly priced preamp, turntable & cartridge plus it appears Spendor BC 1 speakers, £280 in 1979, are their reference ones. Pictures show a mix of design types. The more interesting ones to us are 2-driver ones that are Cerwin-Vega R12, Audiomaster MLS4, Tannoy T125, Lentek S4 if the KEF Concord III is tweeter plus 2 bass drivers not one as passive. The below shows actually 2 or 3 drivers doesn;t mean good or bad, it's all in the design of crossovers & driver selection for the design. This big HFN/RR review will have fried minds as it is 15 pages of text, photos & graphs, not including the advert pages, a full 15 pages of data, so we'll just look at these from the photos, graphs & the text to pick out ideas, so you'll have to get the June 1979 issue if this interests further. Note on all of these for the size & price range, Bass under 100Hz is steeply rolled off on all, some are said to have better bass but it depends on other factors, so we'll only mention the Midrange-Treble ranges. Impedance on all but the Wharfedale stays over 5 ohm, the Wharfedale goes to about 4 ohm on treble which is still acceptable. Allison 4 (£320 price for a pair in 1979) is an odd upward facing woofer & tweeters on the front, not even worth considering we can see. Stereo will be poor, the peaks over 1kHz are ridiculous, with big dip just over 1kHz & a wildly choppy 2kHz+ range giving 12dB variance, it will sound awful. MC says it sounded vague with little to be positive about, if kept mannered as 'not recommended'. Appears to be the first Rubbish one to us. Cerwin-Vega R12 (£230) are the big loud but quality USA brand that later had 105dB sensitivity speakers. This looks far more interesting if the frequency range is not very even with a 2kHz dip to 10kHz peak of around 10dB so it will sound a bit lacking in detail where it's needed but a bit hard on upper treble. We'd consider these ones depending on how bright the amp is, too dull an amp will bore, you need an amp with a better midrange & not so much high treble, MC notices this too so isn't keen. Not ideal then. ITT 8073 (£220) is a brief Hifi range from the TV-grade makers, slanted front & level controls on the front not a great look. Frequency response is better than some with ±5dB higher frequency variation & smoother. But MC says Stereo imaging is poor & it's peaky on midrange sounding boxy, so better in someways but still not great & he doesn't recommend it. B&W DM2 II (£293) looks like a modern slim tall speaker on a short stand, but 3 drivers. A little choppy (as in 'vvv' shaped response) on the midrange-treble with a 2kHz dip spoiling what otherwise seems decent. MC is more positive on this one & says you may like it. Audiomaster MLS 4 (£180) is a 2 driver with a front port, looks very current in style, but the frequency response is uneven & choppy even under 1kHz, saw-tooth looking waveform over 1kHz is going to be a difficult listen. We write this from what we see & then see what MC said. Tizzy & Bright some said plus midrange colouration, again it's not a good one. Goodmans Achromat Sigma is an odd one, flat coned bass driver, midrange not much smaller & a tweeter, it looks a bit like a typical 1970s Music Centre looking speaker, ie a bit naff. The frequency response is awful, a huge 2 to 3kHz dip, choppy above that & a boosted bass over 80-200Hz. It will sound ghastly. MC agress saying it sounds dull & thick, but is playing safe, but we can see it's a Boom & Tizz speaker, far from Hifi. Rubbish therefore. Tannoy T125 Oxford (£199) is the interesting one. But it's one of Tannoy's lowest price ones at £199 in the range tested so it's not going to be so good, do we see an anti-Tannoy bias putting a cheap one amid higher priced others? Frequency is pretty steady but a 5dB dip at 2-5kHz will limit proper detail, the settings switch gives an odd mix of unbalanced detail over 1kHz which we are surprised to see, but the reality is they're not giving to 'good sound' away on a cheaper speaker & this doesn't seem to have impressed anoyone by the words they use. Sounds like they are surprised Tannoy makes mediocre speakers & that's what this is. It's why you buy their 12" & 15" better speakers, that's where the reputation comes from, not mass-market gear like this. Wharfedale Teesdale SP2 (£130) again a big respected name tested using a budget speaker which is unfair. Typical limited midrange dip around 1-3kHz & a peak around 4kHz will be harsh. A good budget buy they say, if again Wharfedale bigger & earlier speakers are Quality like Tannoy, so don't be put off. MC says good value but clearly it's far from perfect for 'coloured sound' issues, so it sounds boxy, rather than being good for Reggae. Sony SS-G1 (£180) again a big brand with a cheaper item, frequency response is lousy as so choppy 3kHz dip to 4kHz peak will sound harsh & above that it's choppy too. But it still gets a good rating, if more on price than the limits of sound. Lentek S4 (£225) has a minor upper bass peak around 80-100Hz that may be good or tiring, but far from neutral, a bit choppy above 1kHz if not as harsh as others if the highest treble is a bit down. Overall not as uneven as some if MC hears it as "bland inoffensive & neutral" which means it does the job but it's boring, yet he recommends it at the price. NAD 8080 (£195) is an unexpected brand to see in Speakers, some of the range with designer's names Hifi readers will recognise. But this appears a lousy effort with a huge 16dB dip down from 800Hz to 2kHz, up 10dB by 3kHz & a bit choppy above that. The worst example of the Midrange Driver being badly designed as the Bass runs to 800Hz & Midrange takes over above until the Treble over 6kHz, how could NAD offer such rubbish to buyers? MC opinion looked at next with bad words used like boxy & boomy, muffled etc. A Hard Shallow Image as MC says is what severe Mid Range Suck-Out brings. He calls it 'quite poor' we'd call it Rubbish. Radford T90 Tristar (£310) is very different, this is the smoothest response curve so far from the above ones, beyond a bit of a 1-2kHz dip & 100-200Hz 5dB boost, this is approaching Tannoy Monitor quality, if as we said earlier bass is sharply rolled off under 100Hz, this looks a good speaker. So MC opinion next, a little unfairly gives it bad words then says 'not particularly severe' negating it really, which as with the choices of models on big brands isn't very unbiased we'd say. Says it fairly clean & neutral as we see yet doesn't recommend it. What criteria is this guy using, sounds a bit weak to us to see a decent response so we see it is worth trying, which is unexpected for seeing it has 3 drivers. KEF Concord III (£175) sees another big brand represented by a cheaper model. The frequency response is smooth here if with an overall 3-4dB dip 350Hz to 4kHz which will make it sound smooth but a bit more on the Bass & Treble, a tailored sound. It is much liked in the tests, if the therefore tailored bass & treble boost will fool & it appears to have a bit here. Not perfect says MC but says it's a recommended one, to us seeing the boosted bass & treble it may liven up a dull amp, but couldget tiring otherwise. Conclusion (by MC) lists 4 Tables for Accuracy, Sound Quality, Overall combined first two tables & Sensivitity ranging from a low 83dB to 95dB by Cerwin-Vega as you would expect, but half are under 86dB which isn't very efficient. The "Winners" from combined ratings are Audiomaster, KEF, Sony, Lentek, Goodmans, Radford, B&W = Wharfedale, ITT, Tannoy, Allison = NAD & Cerwin-Vega last. Our Opinions just from looking at the Frequency responses you can read above, three we consider Rubbish as Allison, NAD & Goodmans. Radford & KEF appear the best two here. But we've not heard these & there is no mention of whether the Valve Amplifier matched these speakers well or not, the Cerwin-Vega appeared dull but on a different amp it could be far better. Speakers are the Hardest Hifi Items to match & this we show on our Loudspeakers page with amps we've tested on the Tannoy Golds. Our Conclusion is that by just using one Valve Amplifier & a custom made one at that to test these speakers is pretty meaningless. To test 13 speakers & not use at least 2-3 amplifiers of different age & type doesn't tell you much about how they match. As with other Reviews Of Reviews we've done, we really think it's time wasted to not really know a better range of amps was used. Opinions in Hifi should have a better grounding than that. Look how many amps we've tested & how many we've tried on One Top Loudspeaker that we are familiar with. The tests here done over Three Sessions involving eight people with variations in opinion & hifi experience are just too vague.


March 2018 Blog

The Only Way To Buy Loudspeakers

To be sure you have a good match speakers to amp you need to get a few sets to try, use them for a few days each if they appeal & then compare back the ones you liked best. This in reality means going to buy them, trying the lot over a few months & then selling off the unwanted ones. The best ones will match your amp best, the ones you didn't like may match other amps better & your favourites may not please others. On getting speakers to test, don't just crank them up loud as they will sound better than playing lower volume you watch TV at. At the lower volume, you'll hear the bass is missing from smaller speakers & the peaky or limited midrange-treble will get annoying on many of the ones above. You'll say things like "it's too boxy, it's too harsh, midrange is too 'up', midrange is too soft, it sounds smooth, it sounds metallic (from harsh high treble peaks)". If you get the match right you'll feel so pleased, you'll know the moment that is realised. But looking at the above 13 speakers tested, How can they offer such inaccurate speakers for sale? Because buyers often don't know what Good Sound from Speakers is. But put 12" or 15" Tannoys on an amp of the right era, ie Golds on pre 1973 & HPDs etc on post 1973 & you'll love how smooth & natural they sound with fully extended deep bass (amplifier design permitting). But beware, once you hear these big Vintage Tannoys, all other speakers will sound lousy. We first heard Vintage Tannoy via a Reggae guy with HPDs & a big Pioneer, once heard, no way back. Unfortunately the 1960s Tannoy designs are just getting more expensive, if the bigger HPD & later models into the 1980s with Dual Concentrics are a lot more affordable.


Tannoy Golds & Other 12"-15" Big Speakers: Are They For Me?

The price of Tannoy Gold 15" in Lancaster cabinets just keeps getting higher if they did sell well at the time, the prices New on them compared to Today's Prices have grown well compared to other speakers of the same price New in 1969-74 that are still cheap as not much wanted. But are they for you? They suit 1965-72 Transistor Amplifiers & the 1960s Valve-Tube amps the best if not quite the later 1970s Valve-Tube revival amps. See our Loudspeakers page as we've tried many amps on ours to tell how well they match & generally the post 1972 era ones can still match well if not as perfectly as the earlier amps, plus a few don't match at all. A big speaker has a bigger bass cone & with Dual Concentrics the 'voice' of the speaker mostly comes from the bass cone, to disconnect the bass driver & just hear the tweeter section shows it really only adds the higher treble, no midrange sound from it like some later ones do. The 1992 Tannoy 609s have a lot of midrange from the tweeter, the bass driver without tweeter, as in using the biwiring posts, sounds very dull. All that midrange from a tiny tweeter but it's horn loaded as a Dual Concentric. The big area of the Tannoy Dual Concentric Silver & Golds bass cone means you hear detail correctly, after having lived with these Golds for 16 years they just sound like speakers should do, there is nothing unwanted & nothing missing, they are neutral to us, using the 1965-72 era Transistor Amplifiers. Small speakers the bass fades away fast as there isn't much to start with, big speakers still sound rich & full to a degree even outside the room & be sure they can rattle the front door. But within the whole range of amplifiers, some are flatter sounding for more NFB in the amp's design that will suit smaller speakers better, but the higher NFB ones on big speakers don't sound quite right as the NFB design isn't as fresh sounding. We've found only certain amps sound really great on these & it's not predictable for power as 18w (Coral A550/JVC MCA 104E) to 100w (Sony TA-2000F/TA3200F) had that 'right' sound. Age of amp isn't a clue either, you need to know designs & where to look. But find one with the higher NFB it can match the speaker correctly but still sound a bit hard & tiring on a big speaker. The NFB is what makes some amps sound impressive on first hear, but they can sound tiring & even disorientating as they don't quite sound natural. Hifi should not confuse, but be sure it does in many ways. On smaller speakers with a 'smaller voice' you'd not tell this difference or know of this NFB issue that small speakers never give the full rich sound as they are audibly limited under 1kHz regardless of what response curves tell. If you want to get into big speakers, they can make some modest amps sound great, but to beware some amps that head towards 'overdesign' will be shown up for how they manipulate the sound. The 50w Tannoy Golds are best suited to Well Designed but Simpler Amplifiers & Valve-Tube amps.


Valve-Tube Amplifiers On Loudspeakers.
Valve Amp Transformers do vary over the years, as in how they match speakers, as do the pre 1972-post 1972 era transistor amps matching earlier or later speakers. The 1960s output transformers were wound to match Tannoy Reds, Silvers & Golds, but the ones of the post 1978 era like our Luxman LX33 from 1979 are wound to suit the post 1975 type speaker ie Tannoy HPDs so don't quite match the earlier Golds is what we've concluded after using Transistor amps for TV sound & the 100w Valve Monoblocs just gather dust now. Having heard the 1965 Fisher X-100-B on the Tannoys, it matched perfectly even as aged & original, the LX33 is a bit too 'up' on the midrange like post 1972 amplifiers can sound showing it matches good enough but not perfectly. The 1963 Trio WX400U sounded great on speakers if 10w in valves isn't quite enough power, the 15w of the 1965 Fisher X-100-B as with the 1966 Rogers HG88 Mk III is enough power.


1980 John Lindsey-Hood 30w Amplifier.

He had previously designed a Pre-Power Amplifier for HFN/RR Nov 1972-Feb 1973, mentioned by us previously, so to see another one in early 1980 seems unusual. Now the idea that an amplifier claiming to be of good quality could be bought by you as a kit, or even constructed from scratch by yourself, the joy of making something now may seen old-fashioned, but at the time DIY & Crafts were very popular as it gave Hifi listeners a chance to save by making it themselves. Heathkit, Dynakit & Knight Kit all thrived in the late 1960s-mid 1970s. Later Maplin started with the Velleman Kits that also included their Valve amp kits as did HFN/RR with their own ones too, if now all sadly long gone. JLH we don't think much of as a designer, he is still using very out-of-date design plus attempting to get modern by using op-amps. Look at the coupling capacitor values, they are very low to stop deep bass & keep design parts low, after all he is designing a budget priced kit, so don't expect the best design. The Power amp input is similarly limited & it's circuit isn't too great either, it'll sound acceptable but doubt you'll use it much as it'll be uninspiring. Why he puts a large resistor to limit the MM Phono input again is illogical for 1980 plus using nasty Zener Diodes to regulate the voltage is poor design if then uses a regulator to drop for lower voltages, if we recently saw similar zener 'design' in a 1968 amplifier. You sometimes see these as built kits as two companies sold parts for the 1972 one & likely this had kits buyable, but overall the JLH amps are best considered as budget to mid price quality.


1980: All Clear. Is Hi-Fi Perfected By Now? No, They've Given Up...

Fron reading HFN/RR at a pace far quicker than time passing as the mag was published, we can see the problems in 1978-80 Hi-Fi grow quite rapidly & sadly it became accepted as the Normal by the 1980s. So to highlight the difficulties but explain why we see them as more Gimmicks than actual progress as was made in the 1965-72 era. Some items listed here as 'a bit pointless' will not please some, but to see our reasoning & perhaps think are you just being spoonfed by Hifi Mags hype? We've heard some tell us this over the years now & they are converted to Vintage as it just pleases the ear more. But this is our opinion knowing the Valves to 1972 Hifi scene brings the best sounds in Amplifiers. According to the Hifi Press, Hifi is now at it's best & because people weren't told by an unbiased voice, they bought the 'Fashionable' gear that was on offer, thinking really only to buy mostly by price & media-advertiser's opinion, plus availability. The mediocre Armstrong amps were in all the shops so sold welluntil the company faded away in 1979. UK Mags did have a 'British' bias & Quad especially were still hyped if a letter tells that few dealers wanted the out-of-date Quad amps but wanted the ESL 57 electrostatic speaker, so to get the lot. The expensive false dreams were just well hyped & with no real way to know what's good for your needs beyond buying, money was spent & probably regretted at some time soon after, by then the Hifi Press championed something new anyway & some must have felt cheated spending good money on non UK goods that were now 'outdated', except it wasn't, that's the Hype Advertiser's game. Items such as Graphic Equalisers as 'Tomorrow's World' had overhyped & misled as blogged earlier. The idea was you used them as fancy tone controls, not to Archive Music to balance the sound. Graphic or Paragraphic EQ's used op-amps to rather crudely shape the sound, a Graphic isn't even like a Tone Control if you see the peaky responses, a Paragraphic on today's Digital Sound programs we find is far better as you can use a smooth curve, if the analog 1980 versions will have still been IC jobs. JVC did Graphic Equalisers not with ICs but with LCR components, but despite how great the 1967-71 JVC are, the limited EQ range wasn't as useful as a traditional Tone stage. Pioneer made a Reverb feature on one amplifier with the old delay springs, it's just trying to put back what wasn't there in the first place or trying to make cheap stereos sound more 'exciting'. A big suge in Graphic EQs is noticeable by 1980. It fails. Noise Reduction was pretty hopeless if even HFN/RR reviewed them but were too 'kind' to say don't buy this it's a waste of money. Early Click Suppressors like the Garrard one are too crude & slow, as was the early 1990s Marantz one we got cheap as the item wasn't wanted, it coped fairly well with clicks especially if you put in a faster clock, but left annoying 0dB fill-ins to make an uneven wobbly sound sometimes. The earlier ones working on bucket delay lines make even more mess, don't bother with them. A Bass Harmonics Synthesiser to add extra false Bass harmonics is going too far, the "dbx 100 subharmonic synthesiser" adds a 25Hz tone at half the level to a 50Hz tone to 'boost bass'. Feb 1980 HFN/RR reviews it & the reviewer doesn't like it, if like the similar Stereo Expanders that Tandy-Realistic later did, it just makes a mess of sound. This sort of idea is related to a Subwoofer, not a bad thing if small speakers by the size will only sound small, but only if it's set up spot on with crossover frequencies to match the other speakers it's used with, even one Hifi shop had theirs playing very loud bass that is only supposed to subtly fill in the bass under 100Hz with small speakers, not be a heard item by itself. Moving Coil Cartridges. These low output cartridges may not please some to be dismissed as a gimmick, these require step up Phono stages when the Moving Magnet Phono stage was still poorly done with transistors as our tests of many amps reveal. We've read MC tests in HFN/RR & these reviews show the sound via the late 1970s overdesigned & IC Phono stages really wasn't very good being criticised as uneven & harsh when better MM cartridges were better rated. The only one that was seen as liked was the Ortofon MC 20. So why were they briefly popular? Hype. MC ideally if money is no object should be good, but 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 is one of the first Amps to have a MC stage & even a 1970 HFN review finds the background hiss noise was too high. 1977 Yamaha CR-2020 uses an IC to boost MC to MM level & it's going to sound as muddy as the MM stage does. MC can't be done with valves as the noise background would be too high. To get the sound from a record at a higher voltage output like MM is will always get the best results, whatever the Hair-Shirters with their overdesigned MC stages say, so sadly MC is a fail. 0.06mv level is too low. Later MC stages beyond external cheap ones just used a lot of ICs & overdesign if the 1984 Sansui AUG90X one is actually far more advanced with a transformer & no ICs, the MM stage was good if not perfect. Note at this time CD was being heavily discussed if it didn't appear until 1982 with a Billy Joel CD in Japan & 1984 with Bruce Springsteen. Needless Pre & Power Amplifiers for 50w amps, just a way to make you buy an overpriced 50w amp appears the deal here. The 'fashion' by 1980 was Slimline so one big Integrated wouldn't be slimline, but a Pre & Power would be, it really was that shallow in fashion. You pay more for 2 boxes than the 50w integrated naturally. Pre-Power for 100w+ should be a limit surely. But Quad were still selling their old-fashioned crude Quad 33/303 for most of the 1970s until the 404 power amp arrived 1978 & the 44 pre in 1980. Even Sugden with their ugly pre & power looking like a 1960s lab kit, not Domestic Hifi. Three-Way Loudspeakers with an extra midrange driver to supposedly "improve" midrange yet with an overdesigned crossover losing energy that created "midrange suck out" boosting bass & treble. Manufacturers really just do follow fashion as what the marketplace wants & expects. Compare even highly rated 3 way speakers to Tannoy Dual Concentrics & you'll never want the 3 way ones again as the 'presence' is missing for the crossover design. The naff looking multi driver speaker became the norm & it was just accepted, if not questioned for poor prescence like we do. One tiny mini speaker even had 3 drivers which even HFN/RR thought was a bit pointless. Cable Hype was still not so popular yet if HFN/RR had covered this & got ridiculed. Once you get past bell wire & using 5A mains wire, the 'budget' speaker cables of today are the best buys, see earlier blogs. Direct-Cut LPs the brief 'craze' pre CD with the idea of no tape stage or post production to give the best sound actually rarely worked, the best ones sounded wonderful if musically tame, but many were muddy sounding as not mixed correctly & the biggest problem playing live was it was too precise & mannered to not make mistakes, making for uninteresting listening. Some Direct Cut LPs needed 10 versions done until the 'engineer' was satisfied, imagine how bored & tired the musicians would be by Take 4 let alone Take 10. A fresh spirited recording edited & mixed brings the best music. Then 1980s came "Half Speed Mastered" LPs that were seen 'better' to master busy detail better & frequency tests revealed the dynamic range was indeed superior, but the trouble is mastering at half speed the Bass needs a huge boost to sound right played at the correct speed, so again a Fail. To see a Peak Level Meter project described in Apr 1980 HFN/RR shows how wrong it's gone. Good for studios & mastering, but in Domestic Hifi, utterly useless. A HFN/RR cartoon in May 1980 says about 'if you get bored with the music, you can always watch the coloured lights". Bored with boring sounding Hifi so Flashing Lights & Controls Twiddling became the 1980s idea. HFN/RR "Subjective Sounds" column is responsible for quite a lot of the nonsense the 1980s brought, it just hypes the once-loved Linn-Naim-Meridian gear telling you that you don't need Tone Controls but lovely IC Op-Amps are better. Silly ideas like £500 cartridges got a lot of bite back as seen as needless by Letter writers. By 1980, The Marketplace Drove what buyers got, it had gone mass market gradually since 1972 for Discount Stores & by 1979-80 we just don't see any good Amplifiers or Receivers worth trying, again see the following Amps reviews. We do hear from Linn-Naim-Meridian users who have since seen the light & heard good Vintage Pre 1979 amps & they are awakened in their interest with music, after decades of finding their 'better' hyped amps probably stopped them listening critically to music as it sounded boring, but 'experts' told you it was 'better'. They believed the Hifi Mag hype that still goes on with 'hopeless' modern boring amps. The Apr 1980 HFN/RR letters page has a remarkable USA vs UK battle that needs covering in a blog soon... well we read it thorough & the Apr 1980 Ted Meyer vs John Crabbe argument is worthless, Meyer just mouths off in New-Yorkish way saying UK Hifi isn't loud enough or good enough which is what we say, but don't expect High Volume from 30w. But Crabbe is "my dear chap..." type politeness to answer him fully & easy to see who should be quiet. But HFN/RR publishing nearly 2 pages of this is utter rubbish & they should not have bothered as Meyer is just a troll with no reasoning. We say we don't like things & reasons why are given plus facts to give a balanced view as Crabbe does in his replies. We blog here often if it gets a re-read to make sure it's worth putting online. Some blogs get deleted as not worth putting here, like this Meyer-Crabbe one we decided not to write up.


Into The 1980s With Gimmicks and Market-Led Mediocrity.
Gimmicks & Things You Don't Really Need were the thing by 1980 & it only grew with more 'Flashing Light' amplifiers as started by the 1978 Luxman receivers R1040 etc & 1979 Blue Fluroscan Pioneers, by the early 1990s flashing lights of Level Meters, Peak Meters & Spectrum Analysers to impress low-end 'Stereo' buyers were the norm. The Stack System by Spring 1980 was 'the thing' as many major brands had one, in those days true separates styled to look together in a nice chip board & fake wood vinyl cabinet with one or two glass doors. Hifi in cabinets behind doors means you don't use them much as it's a chore, but the market simply lapped these up, leading to Amstrad & other budget makers making one-piece units that cheated by not being separates but still looking that way. Leads to nasty lightweight plastic turntables & double cassette decks without the cabinets by the late 1980s. Hopefully they all got smashed up long ago as be sure their lifespan was limited once you heard better & threw it out the window, truly Disposable it is. Another Gimmick was the Micro System as the 1978 Technics one we had appears to have led the pack. The idea overall was not a bad one, but not as good as it could have been even in the limited space. The Technics preamp was very limited on bass, the power amp as 110v was fine but the 240v version was ridiculously dangerous, live mains onto a big resistor is an awful idea. Of course these micro systems became popular especially with CD meaning no need for a Record Player. The trouble always with budget or midprice systems is always the speakers are poor, even in the 1980s the Hifi Mags recommended you ditched the 'sold with speakers' junk & bought something better, if the reality is a cheap 'stereo' isn't going to sound good on better speakers as it reveals all the nasty IC & low spec. Ideas from 30 years are still around, mediocre amplified speakers that were used for Cassette players now are around for MP3 i-pods. The marketplace seems to buy this stuff & perhaps it's best not too many hear how good Vintage can be as there is only a finite supply & yes, it all needs servicing as 30-40 years old. Today if funds are tight, go buy a 1979-82 era amp & hear despite the limitations, it'll still give more music pleasure than the dumbed down boring stuff of today.


What's Wrong With The Actual Sound Of Your Hi-fi?
This tells what unpleasant sounds you are hearing & helps narrow down what the problem is. If your Hifi sounds gritty, blurry, flattens off to sound awful or has no proper deep bass, then these are due to your Hifi being aged, cost-cut to the penny or just dumbed down too much & upgrading with design knowledge can remedy that to a degree. The fact of Speakers matching or not matching to Amplifiers will be revealed by this also. But what this Blog is about is Identifying The Frequencies (Hz/kHz) that are giving you the problem. We test all amps on our Tannoy 15" Golds and some match so well that the sound is smooth & we have no want for anything better in terms of smoothness. Apr 1980 HFN/RR has an interesting if brief chart by Martin Colloms, that puts it quite well of where the problems are. We can tell the frequencies by ear that are lacking from doing EQ on old Cartoons & Music. But most won't know these details. so here's our version of the article's table adding more to it. The Frequency is the Audio range that with a boost or cut causes these problems & the description is what imabalaced sound you'll hear. It also gives ideas on how to use a Graphic EQ properly.
20Hz-40Hz ... Bass fundamentals, gives bass you can feel if not many speakers can play this to a good level so many really won't know of this sound plus many amplifiers are heavily limited in Bass under 60Hz, if our upgrades bring back this 'missing' bass. If boosted too much, if your amp & speakers can play it, you can risk burning speakers out, but this area of sound is what Sub Woofers can bring if correctly set up.
40Hz-80Hz ... The lack of this makes music sound thin & most bookshelf speakers can't do this mid bass well at all, but people get used to it & think it sounds realistic. If boosted it sounds Boomy & thick sounding which can be tiring, the one-note 'Retro Bass' is in this area and the following one.
100Hz-150Hz ... Again small speakers play this area of sound poorly, it gives weight to voices. If boosted it can make voices too chesty & plummy, old 1940s valve radios have this sound which is fine from a 1940s radio, but on hifi it'll tire you.
150Hz-300Hz ... On the male voice range, if smaller speakers will play this better, there is the risk the design boosts this range & the previous one. Here is where the dreaded "Boxy" wooden sound that can spoil even quality small speakers. The Tannoy 12" we review on the Loudspeakers page had a cheap cabinet & even the mighty Tannoy 12" Gold in it sounded boxy. We got better adding 25kg weights, if not many will have a Bag Of Potatoes weight around to try. If these frequencies are reduced the hifi can sound hollow as the opposite of boxy. The balance between the two is why good speakers are expensive & don't have 3 drivers.
400Hz to 600Hz ... Here is where careless use of a Graphic EQ boost brings a drainpipe type sound, kids talk down plastic tubes & this range is boosted. As with the previous, if reduced it sounds hollow & lacking definition to male voices.
700Hz to 1.2kHz ... These frequencies are strarting to rise in how the Human Ear hears them, becoming more sensitive so the slightest changes will be heard far more than the previous ones. Strangely as the 13 Speakers blog shows, most speakers are poor where precision is required the most, that's why they are cheap & be sure they are designed to be cheap & not sound as bad as possible, ie imprecise. The sounds here HFN/RR calls honky & cup like, it's Sea-Shell to the ear frequencies & "The Sea" is blood in your ear being heard much louder by the horn qualities of the shell innards.
1.8kHz to 2.5kHz ... This is where Amplifiers to Loudspeakers matching shows the most as Great, Good, Average or Poor. If Hifi sounds "Hard" or "Harsh" it is with these frequencies plus the ones below & above, Nasal & Clangy add HFN/RR. An Alarm Bell or Siren is purposely designed to be within this range to be the loudest as Human Hearing is the most sensitive here. On amplifiers with Midrange controls, this can be tamed but we've noticed it softens the higher frequencies too making the sound softer, if a midrange control needs learning how to set it. If boosted this range will be harsh, if reduced it can be more Late Night level so here's where you adjust amps to sound upfront or mellow.
2.5kHz to 5kHz ... In Sound EQ this is where you add presence to the sound & some amplifiers have a setting for this, if Loudness is very different. To reduce these as the previous brings a softer mellower sound. Boosted these can head into Metallic & if you add EQ excessively at this range it is unpleasant. Play it on speakers boosted too much & it'll give you a headache, as will the previous range.
5kHz to 8kHz ... Humans can hear 20Hz to 20kHz so an amateur EQ user will think this range needs a big boost on dull sounding music, Not so, these frequencies are covered by the Tannoy Golds Tweeter section & playing only the tweeter gives a very thin sound, far less music info here than you'd expect. Boosted it can be Sibilant or Sharp & for lower powered amps to use too much Treble on Tone can get into Clipping Distortion & you'd possibly not realise what sounds so lousy.
10kHz to 15kHz ... This is really high treble. Many amplifiers make a right mess of this for cost-cutting & low spec, as well as rolling it off to hide bad design, yet we've seen big Graphic EQs with this range heavily boosted. Fizzy, edgy, grainy & gritty mess. This is why nasty UK amplifiers like Leak use their heavy Filter stages into the 1980s when no-one else fits or uses them. It's to tame the rough edgy sound that poor amps bring by messing up the sound. It's what ICs do to sound also. Later Hifi amp tests show these high frequencies in poorer amps are with a very low damping factor compared to the rest of the ranges, but as is typical, HFN/RR soon stopped telling readers of this as it reveals how rough the amps are.
17kHz to 20kHz ... We can still hear 17kHz if it needs turning up quite loud, but as a Teen we could hear 20kHz as the whistle that Building Alarms put out & there is an Antisocial Scaring Device to play this very high frequency to scare off delinquents. But Music has nothing beyond harmonics in this range & if you boost the 16kHz slider on an EQ it sort of goes surreal but makes no apparent difference, as what happens is you just overload the EQ to make it gritty & edgy. Similar is done on Digital Soundcards for "Exciter" mode to put artificial 'life' & harmonics back into boring sounding music, as the listener may choose.


What Does The Vintage Hi-Fi Buyer Actually Want?
Watching the New Series of 'Wheeler Dealers' with Ant who is a more experimental tech type than Edd who was more precise & traditional, we can relate to that with upgrading amplifiers more in the Ant way, if keeping Originality more the Edd way. But what will The Hi-Fi Buyer accept as Restored Vintage? We used to see ebay listings for Recapped Amps & Buyers generally stayed away for the unknown & still do. Where are the inside photos? Why haven't they cleaned it & tidied it if pictures were seen? Our ideals of Restoring Vintage started with a Sony STR-6120 that we got in about 2002 & to see untidy insides revived subtly is a good thing to see. That Tatty Old past-it's-best thing is That Nice Reliable Thing now. 'Wheeler Dealers' do that on all the cars & it's a good story to see how it gets to the end product. But in Hifi, the Vintage Buyer doesn't like Custom jobs, we saw some Tannoy HPDs a customer was considering, the price was far too high for what were reconed HPD driver, even if done by Tannoy are they the original ones or a later version? Not original is the risk, so only get HPDs refoamed on the edges. The case was redone in formica 'to tighten the sound' says the seller. Why are you selling them with their unsuitable cloth fronts that looks like a bad 1990s idea? We told the one asking, who had bought the Hitachi IA-1000 amp from us a few years ago, to pass them by & look for something more original. We replace capacitors, transistors & resistors in amps, some we rebuild the whole board in some stages just to see how good it can be. But to keep it looking authentic. We saw a 1966 Fisher 600-T online when we had ours, the fool had taken it apart totally to replate the chassis but replaced several boards with their own IC design which is not going to be popular as it's a bad 'upgrade'. The Vintage Hifi Market does seem to prefer better Speaker Connectors though, until the 4mm plug ones arrived by the Mid 1980s many types aren't good to use as in the 1960s-1970s to use thin bellwire was still the normal. We've replaced quite a few Speaker Connector sets, but we choose ones that still look Retro, the Red & Black plastic ones suit well for using close together, a metal case one could be shorted too easily, ones seen on ebay with 1-2mm gap are just unaware. We have the 1971 Sony TA-3200F power amp with hopeless 2.5mm spring connector holes, we can fit a temporary wire & 4mm plug block, see the Sales page, but to fit proper ones now is needed. The Sony TA-1130 as on the Gallery-Solds page we fitted metal 4mm sockets as the spacing is better & original ones were metal. These are the dreaded "Gold Plated" ones, but the truth is it's a very thin Gold Dip & as we got the amp back three times since plus repairing it for the owner who since sold it again, those 'Gold' sockets aged badly, see a 'Buying 4mm' blog a few below. To get Chromed ones if possible for our TA-3200F knowing the Gold wears off isn't possible. To make the amp User Friendly is worthwhile, to replace certain Speaker Sockets & rewire to 3-Core Mains is typical now, if with some Speaker connectors that are still useable, to let the customer decide. To tidy wood cases to look pleasant is woodworking & finishing skills, if to reveneer or rebuild cases we avoid as in not getting amps like that to try. The Customer still wants Authenticity. Seeing one later 1970s Technics amp with the usual Gunmetal probably scratched up, they stripped & polished it to silver putting bad lettering on it, who would want that unless very cheap? The era of Customised amplifiers with Blue or Green LEDs we've seen & not liked. Some LEDs are suitable, some are not as they are seen to flicker too much. Some fascias with plastic between the visible sections can hide the flicker, but some are too obvious, so again we pick & choose what is best, LED if possible but only if it isn't flickery. The Market does decide how you do Hifi Restoration by whether it trusts your work to buy it or not, this is why we've always shown inside pics showing how nicely we do these amps. Sadly, we don't see many taking our lead on selling or upgrading, probably we never will which is a shame as these amps aren't getting any younger. What we do you can't teach, more can do the theory but the practical as we found out at Electronics College, few have the mind for it. But then you see 'Robot Wars' and the techy ones making great Robots, but there are very few with these ideas as the limited amount of teams shows.


1971 H.H. Scott 55w 'Stereomaster' 387B Receiver.
We had the 1967 Scott 344C/13 receiver in 2015, a 32w receiver. Strange looking amp as you can see on the Gallery-Solds page, aluminium case & looks like a Kit amp with a lot of quirks, as well as tricky to recap & upgrade, especially without any Service Manual. One we liked the Sound of, but as no Wood Case & No Schematics, not to understand it was the outcome so to sell it on & the customer was very pleased with it. So onto the 387B, we were told of this by one who likes trying Vintage Amps as well as has bought from us, so to look closer to understand it as it's researching it. For an amp being sold in 1972, it looked very late 1960s kit with boards exactly like the Heathkit AR-1500. Rated 55w we didn't believe for how it was built & the transformer size. Finding the Service Manual it reveals it works on ±43v as a Direct Coupled amp, no output capacitors, if no Relay or Differentials either. The build quality as with our 344C was quite random, if the outside looked like the 1971 KLH 52 & a bit like the Sherwood S-7200 that we still have for sale. Forums tell that the Power Amp blue adjust pots fail, so sadly they had been replaced rather than a tech seeing if that was the real problem, usually we don't replace these items if they do need servicing, mostly as you can't find the right sizes, again keeping Originality if it's reliable. The rear panel has a Voltage Adjust switch 110v-240v but no cover over it & very easy to switch by mistake, careless design. It tries to be modern with FETs in the Pre-Tone, but the Power Amp has some awful design where only a Pot is after the Driver Transistor with the audio on it to Bias with. This is probably the only design to use this awful idea & maybe why the Amp is found with the adjust pots bad & outputs shorted as it'll need servicing more than some amps. More bad design is unshielded twisted wire for Inputs which is going to cause problems if upgrading, if it'll be designed to keep it tamed, but poor Stereo separation & Hum is hiding here. Overall a late H.H. Scott amp, not very good at all to us, if in it's day it will have sounded good, but the problems in this amp mean we'll not try one as it's poor design will not bring good upgrading.


Why Doesn't Everyone Upgrade Their Amplifiers?

Not paying for it to be done, but to actually do it themselves. Forums show plenty out there want to better their amplifiers, but as Forums are usually Amateur advice, the truth is they don't know enough to do it right & if they do experiment, they get it wrong & make a mess, sometimes you see these messes on ebay. It takes years & lots of Amplifiers worked on to know. We've picked up all the ideas that no-one else does over the last few years for having the nerve to try things, push the boundaries, question what we see as not being right & actually trying. It doesn't always work out as expected is an issue to consider & it needs 'fine tuning' which is a mix of fault finding & redesign. Not for many to try & also not for every amp to be able to deal with to keep it stable & sounding good. We've found Relays for Speaker connecting are a pain as once upgraded they often don't work right, they turn on too soon or go on-off-on which isn't good to use & some make noises on turn on or turn off. Some can be redesigned but not all, which does mean the great upgrades that made it sound much better have to be tamed down, or the customer gets an amp with 'problems' such as the on-off-on or speaker thumps. One long established Hifi Repair guy won't recap as they know these problems even replacing like-for-like with new capacitors can bring, to know what causes these 'changes' & to remedy can be a nightmare, if we must find out what causes that, some may just give up. It is true that some amplifiers can be upgraded fully & behave perfectly, whilst some "don't like it" & act strangely needing the deep fault finding to remedy. To see a good 25w amp & think it could be upgraded much more, but 25w isn't high power so upgrading too far will bring problems. You're reading the site of one who will dare to try things & know if it goes too bad it can be fixed, but the learning curve with years of perfecting these techniques is likely what no-one else will try. A pity as buyers of our upgraded amps really do like them, but past finding amps for us to experiment on that get far more work into them than can be translated into a sell price, it'll just be upgrading to keep prices realistic & just doing that alone doesn't progress things. We've done most of our experimenting now it seems, be sure new ideas will appear though, some buyers got some of those amps we spent far more time & money on than the sell value showed, but it helps us put the best value upgrades that bring the differences, rather than ones that are labour intensive if don't bring too much improvement. Who else is going to learn like that?


1975 Rotel RX-602 35w Receiver.
Sold in silver or Black fascia, silver preferred. Rotel RX-802 55w £222+VAT; RX-602 40w £173+VAT says the HFYB for 1976 if it's 35w not 40w
. Next range to the 1972 Rotel RX-800 receiver that we had & saw it got outpriced for the quality of construction so was only a limited release to not lose money for the Discount House pricing. So the 1975 range was trimmed down to keep Rotel in profit, the cheap looking fascia, Phono with ICs tells where money was saved. The design is safe & it'll sound pleasant but ininspiring. It's not a rubbish amp but neither is it an interesting one or one you can upgrade too much. Just typical everyday 'Hifi' for the masses.. next...

Electrical Safety: People Seem To Be Too Trusting These Days.
News stories about Phone Chargers burning the House down, Phones overheating causing burns to people & other similar is just a sign of the electronics today. We've blogged about overheating Lightbulbs & earlier the Hi-Fi Safety page told of the cynical ways Manufacturers deliberately design items to run too Hot so they have only a limited lifespan, Built-In Obsolescence. We don't like being cheated for our money, to make things be sure to fail is cheating, but we buy new things, see how they run & the LG TV we got several years ago got dealt with as certain sections just got too hot. But the more Portable Devices of today use those annoying Plug Top Adapters. Some like the recent Energizer 'Smart' Battery charger CH1HR3 have sealed mains adapters so you have to break it to look inside. It senses if a battery is weak which means it won't charge it & you throw it away, if previous chargers would charge it fine. 'Buy New Chargable Batteries' is the deal here & some that are being rejected could be 10 years old. But actually gets the Batteries very warm in use, speed charging 4xAA in about 20-30 mins instead of several hours with no way to know it's charged, so progress. The problem here is the plug top with long wire means the charger unit has to somewhere well ventilated or it will overheat if covered or falls behind something. To be cautious of it in use therefore which is not good. Everthing these days is Charged, few give any idea if it's done & the trouble is you need to use the Right Mains Block with the right gear. Some are high power, the Energiser is 12v but 1.3A. Another Energiser Universal Charger 'Cheuf' model it says uses a switch mode power supply 12v at 600mA needed to charge 9v batteries if it doesn't say when finished so odds are you leave it on for far too long. Hair Trimmers one is 3.2v 1.5A and another 3.6v 1A so if the fittings don't differ as these two do, you could use the wrong Charger. The Sony Xperia phone charger is 5v 1.2A & it doesn't get warm at all, in fact we use it for the USB fan as it has a USB socket & charge the phone from the Computer USB. The Phone if doing a big update gets very warm too so again to put it somewhere to ventilate, ideally with it raised to cool underneath as Heat Reduces Electronics Life. This is us using the Correct Chargers & still finding Caution Is Required. People seem to use Phones 24/7 these days, privacy & quiet time vanishes, but the silly Mini USB type cables must break, get lost or chewed by the Dog so they have to get a new charger, if more recent ones you could just buy a new cable with USB to Phone plugs. Phones are universally 5v as per Computer supplies, the Plug Charger typically 1A & the USB charger 0.5A so it takes twice as long to charge. But sadly people go into dodgy shops to save a few pounds & unwisely buy a 'Bargain' Charger. These are often not the better 'Made In China' quality with CE certification, that still allows this "too-warm" situation, but are more or less Bootleg Fake Counterfeit quality. On ebay 'Phone Charger' brings up 380,000 items, many are cables or accessories, 80,000 are Chargers/Docks. The danger is here if you sort by Cheapest as Auctions/Buy It Now. Plug Top ones from China are Auctioning for 38p (£0.38) & have sold as low as 10p Free Post from China. Whoever buys these is beyond foolish but think it's a bargain, oops the house burnt down. USB car chargers 99p free post appear popular. People really are thoughtless buying this rubbish, but it's money & how there are profits is crazy. Avoid the Unbranded/Generic chargers, these are 34,000 of 44,000 listed. Ones found with eg 'Sony' find the Generic ones so care needed, of 1440 listed, only 25 are Real Sony ones. But the Real Sony charger, no cables is only £4.00. Why buy a dodgy Generic one for 99p in shops to £2.20 online when you get the Branded one for not much more? Probably as years have dictated Branded parts are going to be £10-£20 when they are clearly not. Buy Safely & Use It Safely, if it gets warm in use Never Trust It if you go out & make sure it's ventilated in normal use. Not too hard to understand is it? Don't you believe it...


Getting Bored Working On Some Amplifiers Is Inevitable.

Always Worth getting interesting amplifiers that we've not tried. To look for ones without ICs from 1963-1990s if sometimes IC Phono stages can't be avoided. The deal with working on Hifi, to us, is that it's interesting. The day you just work on boring amps is a waste of effort & there are some that we could buy to restore & make a profit, but why bother, they are boring amps. We've done enough Bang & Olufsen 3000, 3000-2, 4000 & 4400 to know these amps we'd be glad to never see again as they aren't so good & importantly don't allow for upgrading like many other amps do. The UK & EU amps we look at but usually avoid for these reasons. A B&O 3000 on ebay for £60 delivered, but we bypass it as it'll just be a chore. We saw a Leak Delta 75, but despite it having good Retro looks, the design inside is messy garbage & we have 3 wood cases in the loft from how bad these amps are. Armstrong are another we avoid. We did one nicely as the Solds Gallery shows, but there are so many alterations in the amp having seen 4 of them to stay away. Some amps we'd get all day long to do as they give Satisfaction to the Tech to recap & upgrade, you feel like your work has made a good amp & kept it alive. We do prefer the Japanese & USA amps, some of the brands on the higher models are always welcome as the Reviews page shows multiple models of some brands. If your job becomes a chore doing boring things, then the quality of work you put into the item will suffer as you don't like it. We like to do amp work to a standard like it'll be the amp we'd keep ourselves & trust it on our Tannoys.


Buying Metal 4mm Speaker Connectors For Amplifiers: Pt 1.
Part 2 in the April Blog... The Sony TA-3200F needs better Speaker connectors than the small hole push button ones, the temporary wire & block-plug type is not for permanent use. In about 2007 we had the Sony TA-1130 so fitted some metal ones that you can still buy. We found a bag of spare ones bought then & interestingly the "Gold" has gone quite dark, yet Real Gold never tarnishes. It's not Gold & explains why the TA-1130 as on the Solds Gallery doesn't look so Gold either as finger use cleaned it off. The ones we prefer on older amps are the VOSO ones which go nicely if have no bare wire holes & the Solder Tag needs preparing before it'll solder properly. Here the Sony spacing of the Speaker Connectors allows the Metal ones as the originals are. You can buy Gold Plated ones with Plastic Covers in smaller or larger size, not so keen on these as too modern looking, but what else is there? They are all Made In China-Hong Kong as you can buy cheaper direct & there really isn't much of a choice. There are large Gold ones with a big hole for bare cable with a top tigtening bolt if these are for Speaker Cabinets not amps as we put these on our Tannoys years ago. The thing with the Sonys is they have small holes in the metal casing & the gold-fading ones fitted neatly, save drilling holes which can be awkward, also the TA-3200F has parts fitted to the sockets beyond the cable & space is limited. So what do we do? To see how the ones here will do firstly. To be continued in a later blog...


Trio-Kenwood KA-9300 120w Amplifier From 1976.

Found this looking at the 1972 Trio-Kenwood KA-8004 & saw this 9300 one that doesn't appear in the UK HFYBs. Looks impressive for 1976 still with some of the 1960s look in places. 2 toroidal transformers as dual power supply if still an integrated amplifier. Possibly only sold to limited places for this appears a top of the range one & UK only got the KA-7300 65w, KA-8300 80w as the 1978 HFYB shows. Not on HFE or TVK oddly. Unfortunately can't find the Service manual on the usual places so it must be a rare Japan-only or special order one. Photos found online show it has Transistor outputs, if only one pair per channel on 120w. Try find one as it might be a good one, if still a risk of ICs elsewhere. But we can find the similar KA-8300 so to have a look at it as ideas will likely be quite similar & make a blog of it. 16kg, 1975-1979 80w with 50 damping factor. Oh... the KA-8300 has an IC output stage, hardly worth looking at for our interests, the same sort of bad thinking that we were not pleased in seeing on some on the "Other Amps" page. We've looked at the KA-7300 already to see those nasty IC amp blocks before. The later KA-9400 is Transistors on the Power Amp but ICs on the Preamp. The 'Joy' of finding an unknown amp fades away fast for IC ideas we don't like as this tells... "The circuit looks pretty decent, all transistors & not overdesigned, but the killer is that IC output block TA-80W no specs findable, but it appears to cover the splitter, driver & output stages as a 10 pin STK type block unit, one per channel. Be sure these are long obsolete, so the amp is unrepairable if one is damaged, unless you fancy building a proper power amp? Amps with proper transistor power amps you can forever repair, but IC block dead means no repair possible." is what we thought of the KA-7300. The KA-9100 has naff rack mount handles.


Post 1980 Amplifiers Often Head Into "Gamble" & "Open Cheque" Repairs.
We get many questions about post 1980 amplifiers. These are now getting old, 1980 is 38 years ago. From using Computers & other TV related equipment, Modern Gear needs Servicing quite often, our Computer needs looking at a lot, 2-5 times a year. So Hifi of higher power & regular use bought 10 years ago will be in need of Servicing is the likely issue. But generally owners only start to look at Servicing & Repairs when it's needed, the Remedial Check-Over like a Dentist gets you to do isn't done with Electronics until they get problems. So we get asked about a 1990 90w Sony TA-F770ES amp. It has ICs in Phono, Tone & Protection, for a 23kg amp that's cheaped-out design using ICs for audio, but typical of the era. The problem we found with another Sony is the awful Direct Coupled way with lots of Fuse Resistors is usually in "Uneconomical To Repair" territory. The fault damaged so much & then to find it still didn't work right as another section on another board was also Direct Coupled, you're just chasing your tail here, the only sure repair is to replace every transistor. But that sounds unprofessional you think, sadly the reality is these items are purposely made that way, you damage it, you bin it. It didn't help that the customer lied saying it worked fine just before, when from the amount we replaced based on their comments proved they lied, their choice & we can only go by what is told to decide if we should take the job on. The TA-F770ES one we offered to Service & Check it but to warn it could be a Gamble even on that,, can't be fairer than that. Another the same day asks about a 38kg Krell KSA 80, a 90w power amp capable of 600w into 1 ohm whatever use that is. Very well built, but it's a Class A amp so it's very warm-hot always. Must cost a lot to run & be a pain in the Warmer Months. But one channel doesn't get hot so it works but doesn't go into Class A, result you may think, if it must sound wrong too. They've spoken to a Krell 'expert' who oddly didn't want to repair it themselves as they know the amp is a pain to work on. 38kg amp on our desk is a bit much. These Krell amps as most post 1980 amps are usually with No Service Data, the KSA 80 has a poor one we couldn't work from, the Unavailable Parts. The Krell experts in USA would deal with this better as they know the brand & it's problems. If they bought it as Faulty then they were told, but if they can return it, take it back. We'd like to see one of these, but to have it here to repair with poor service info would be risky for us to consider, so we'll pass. These sort of Post 1980 amps of "Monster Power & Current" are a bit pointless to us, who needs 600w into 1 ohm? Macho Posing type of amps as we found borrowing a pair of Sumo Power Amps before getting the Valve ones. We get asked about these later amps, spend time looking at what the amp is about, tell the potential customer it's a risky job & they don't even reply back. How many others did they ask before? No-one else will even look at it for you, we look to get a Blog subject, but we look at some of these amps & despite Reputations of old, they're not all that. The owner of these has 'Disposable Hifi' sadly & they can only really sell it as faulty & do as the Marketplace wants: Go Buy something new.


The Best Way To Play Vintage Mono 45s.

On the Garrard 301 - SME - Roksan Corus turntable set-up we used to get Custom Stylus Sizes made by 'Expert Stylus Company' involving a 1.1thou Mono plus others to play Difficult USA vinyl of the early 1950s like early Sun 45s that were mastered with a 2 thou Transcription Stylus not a proper LP one causing "Sun Hiss". Not to use a 78 stylus as that's larger & will wear these records. But we don't want to say go buy expensive things, do it cheaper as our previous Goldring stylus blogs show. We still have the Box of Varied Stylus Sizes, but we've noticed All are Elliptical even on the 78 size one if only the larger pre-war size is Conical. We still have some of our 50s R&B 45s that needed bigger custom stylus sizes. Now we play one that sounds fine with the Stereo Conical Stylus, the stylus fits the groove well & despite playing a few times recently, the conical stylus picks up dust deep in the grooves that haven't been touched by other stylus size types. One we sent to Expert Stylus Co in about 1998 for them to measure the Groove Sizes, still got it as it has a centre chip, the high grade Earl Forest on Duke, the A side plays with minimal surface noise & a full rich sound. The B side clearly is cut with the 2 thou transcription stylus & sounds awful, if this we used a 1.8 thou stylus as recommended by ESC & playing the recording of this 45 it sounds clean. For USA 45s we got a 1.1 thou elliptical, a 1.5 thou elliptical & a 1.8 thou elliptical. The Blogs above mention the Goldring Elektra which is still buyable new with an Elliptical, plus the Vintage Goldring G-800 with an 'E' stylus or Conical and more recently the Goldring G-850 with an original Goldring stylus. The recent test we did revealed the G-800 was a bit soft & the output a bit low as S:N on Valves not suited to the output. The G-850 apparently a 'Budget' Cartridge, but a better 8mV output & with the Conical Stylus suits Mono vinyl very well. "Conical Misses The Information The Elliptical Can Retrieve" is the idea we've been told for Decades. The Elliptical will suit Finer Grooved LPs better is what we believe. But the G-850 with it's louder output, about half a notch louder than the Elektra catches you with the Comparing game, after the G-850 the Elektra sounds smoother. But as typical, next day the Elektra is found lacking in treble & not tracking some 45s as well as the Conical G-850. So after a day with the Elektra, the G-850 is back.


Playing Cartridge & Stylus Types On LPs & Stereo 45s.

We have only a few LPs, to try one 1966 UK Decca one. Beyond the fact the LP is mastered thin needing Bass Boost, it's clean sounding & detailed with the G-850 Conical. Played with the Elektra it still sounds good if not as immediate sounding for the 6mV output & other characteristics. For 1960s UK Decca LPs use either Conical or Elliptical. But to use a 1966 Indie pressed UK LP, the difference is more obvious. Surface noise with a less detailed sound is noticeable with one, yet far more solid with the surface noise strangely gone. Here the Conical betters the Elliptical quite noticeably. So the opposite to try: a UK 1982 Polydor Stereo Soul 45 of that silver ink label type. First the Conical, sounds good with crisp treble & a good amount of detail giving a wide stereo on headphones. Next the Elliptical Elektra, the treble detail isn't so good with a little roughness noticed on a louder vocal section suggesting tracking isn't optimal. Detail is less if Stereo is still wide, the treble is less. It just doesn't sound as 'together' as the Conical one. G-850 again & it's more trebly so back the Tone half a notch to compare & it's still the better sound & it tracks better. Another Stereo Reggae 45 of a track we play a lot as a Test Track, it sounds quite different to the one we hear from the Computer, more rich & fuller sounding with the G-850. To the Elektra & upping the Treble to match, it sounds more like the Computer recorded version with the 301-SME-Roksan, it's a bit distant & again a slight roughness on midrange vocal louder parts from the Elektra, the 1kHz region the Roksan does very smoothly in comparison. The G-850 version is preferred of the Conical vs Elliptical once again. Sound balance differences apart, the 1970 'Budget' G-850 easily betters the Today "Budget" Goldring Elektra. Easy to see the preferred one here: Conical betters Elliptical every time. Elliptical, we found on getting the Expert Stylus Co 1.1 thou for Mono 45s, it didn't stay at it's best for very long if was excellent when new, it soon lost the detail the Conical brings in the comparisons. We do remember in the 1980s-early 1990s getting the German pressed LPs with grooves so fine a light scratch would sound where as on a deeper groove cut LP you couldn't hear minor scratches. These being so fine would perhaps be better with Elliptical, or would they? Remember getting the Elvis 1950s Box Set in about 1992 & the scuffed but 'Brand New' records were hopeless for the extra fine grooves & not exactly quiet, so we got rid & bought the CD version & better without the noise & fragile grooves. Interestingly on playing 45s that are new arrivals, as we are still Record Dealers, the first play of a Vintage 45 can be a little noisy even on High Grade Vinyl, but once played with the Conical, the next play is hugely improved after giving the record a wipe of the outed dust. The G-850 stylus is best wiped with the Microfibre brush, if the Elektra didn't really get much fluff on it. Remember the adverts in Record Departments in the Late 1970s "Look At The Rubbish You're Listening To" with a fluff covered stylus. The Conclusion here is Obvious: Go Conical for Vintage Vinyl, with Vintage In Vinyl probably up to 1985-90.


Buying Exotic Modern Hi-Fi? Check The After Sales Service First.
We were asked about a 2005 era 'Wavac 805' Monobloc 55w Single Ended Valve Amp. It uses a Single '805' large output valve, a 1930s type of valve design, Valve Museum says first out in 1936 & it's a Radio Transmitting tube of 250w in the HF region, so what is it's Audio rating? 60mm diameter & 187mm tall. These sort of big valves probably common in caches of NOS valves as of no use elsewhere now, so to make use of them to get 40-50w Hifi amps. Read the "Review" on enjoythemusic.com & not hard to see it's just Sales Hype, all the matey excited fluff to get Buyers interested. It tells you the valves it uses, but little of the circuit. Naturally these are very expensive as they should be to get that Crowd who think Big Money means Best Sound & they are hooked. But where do you go for After Sales Srvice & Repairs? Valves need maintenance. Your probable option is only to have to ship heavy items to Japan or USA, assuming the Company is still around after 2005. They actually are at wavac-audio.jp if with a very poor website. Your amp stops working, the one asking replaced the smaller valves & still not working, small valves just don't go dead, so it's the circuit & be sure these sort of designs use ICs to do Autobias & other types of circuit that are not possible to work out without any Service data. The 2004 Prima Luna Valve Monoblocs we had a few years back & quite crude they were with ICs for autobias & no way to repair or understand the circuit if they weren't working. So in reality, the Wavac 805 is use it until it fails & then what do you do? Spend a fortune on Shipping to USA or Japan if the Manufacturer will even want to repair it? If you can't get the Manufacturer to fix it then you've got a useless amp that no Tech could work out... "IITC circuit completely eliminates capacitors in the signal path" says the fluff page, IITC has no known meaning if you Google it. "It Isn't That Cool?" The same page instantly says do "Tube Rolling" which is irresponsible & dangerous as these know-it-alls mess up & put similar size valves in with the wrong characteristics & fry the amp as the Trio WX-400U got by it's buyer. Exotic fancy designs that sound Unrepairable. Be careful what you buy as first think how will it get repaired. Valve amps need regular maintenance, how much will a '805' valve cost, actually £20 to £125 on ebay, the cheaper ones are usually a poor bargain. If the Amplifier you buy doesn't give Service Data & there is no UK base for Repairs & Service, be sure you'll get a few years use & then it fails. Is it Disposable even for $7000+? People asking for these Exotic-Esoteric amps to be fixed get our reply & never even reply back, so be sure they've asked lots of others too. Timewasting perhaps, but it gets us a subject to blog on.


1980 Brings The Exotic Stylus Types: Van Den Hul, Shibata etc.

Just two blogs above we tested how different Goldring Conical to Elliptical Stylus Tips are. The Goldring G-800 we blogged previously with after-market Conical & Elliptical stylus types & with that G-800 found the E version better than the Conical, if that needs comparing again in light of the verdict. So seeing 1980 HFN/RR starts going on about Stylus Tip Profiles, the Aug 1980 one gives various names with the cartridges that use them. "Improving Groove Contact" is the article & it has quality colour photos of 15 stylus tips magnified an unspecified amount, could be x100 by comparing to x300 ones in an early HFYB. The interesting ones are Audio Technica ATSL20A an 'Over-ground Shibata' tip with contact line not square to the cantilever; ADC XLM III, a 'Vital' or PH tip if the diamond isn't even symmetrical in their sample; B&O MMC6000 a Pramanik tip with a non constant radius; Ultimo Dynavector 30C with Paroc tip similar to the B&O one; Shure V15 IV a Hyper-Elliptical if the contact are is just elliptical; Stanton 681EE a supposed Double Elliptical Tip. The last three are the Van Den Hul tip & a Goldring advert faces this page, the Goldring G900 IGC looks like a jagged bit of broken glass, the ad shows the Van Den Hul tip compared to an Elliptical. Quick explanation: Conical tip is just that, the stylus is shaped like a regular cone, larger contact area & larger volume so it'll take longer to wear if supposedly not retrieve as much HF detail. Elliptical is shaped like a Baked Bean with the more pointed end in contact with the groove walls to a lesser surface area to supposedly give finer detail. The Van Den Hul stylus tip is shaped more like a chocolate Smartie with a much smaller edge to contact the grooves, again supposedly giving further finer detail. This in theory at 2g playing weight will wear out at least 3x faster than the Elliptical & the elliptical will wear our 2x faster than the Conical, simply for Groove to Stylus tip contact area. We found the 1.1 thou Elliptical Mono Stylus wore out quite fast with certain records, such as 1960 UK HMV of Johnny Kidd 'Shakin' All Over' soon losing the very precise crisp sound. When we used to get Expert Stylus Co to make Custom stylus sizes, they always used a Truncated Tip, ie the sharp point of the tip was rounded so the Stylus tip wouldn't just ride the Groove Bottom missing touching the groove sides. the Van Den Hul stylus is obviously not Truncated so it's use will be really only for Recent Stereo LPs, it'll be useless on Vintage Mono vinyl & for the untruncated tip, it could actually cause groove damage as it won't track properly. The other ones are rounded off on the tips so are correctly Truncated, if it varies in how Truncated. Lots in Hifi Mags about "Van Den Hul" stylus well into the 1990s, but we wonder what sort of Records they played. The Untruncated Van Del Hul stylus appears to copy the original Cutting Head profile that cut the Record Grooves. The story if you Google 'Van Den Hul' is they still in business if the old story of Conical stylus being the one that wears Records is nonsense as the amount of High Grade vinyl we see reveals. Only those cheap players with weight over 2g or Chipped Stylus tips will wear vinyl. You can see the run-in groove marks from Heavy weight players, maybe 5g weight & the Record still sounds good after dozens of plays if once you get very heavy run-in groove trails does the sound start to deteriorate, or if they play using 10g or more weight not having adjusted right. Phony info found online, naturally from Manufacturers of Expensive Styli claims the Conical wears much faster than the very narrow types, is a Diamond not a Diamond? Grades of Industrial Diamond? Man-Made Diamonds? As with Cables & other Gimmick-Toy-Prestige items, beware who tells you the facts that one is "better" than the other. More on Moving Coil Cartridges below as HFN/RR has a group review.


Stylus Compare: Goldring G-800 With Conical or Elliptical.

Allowing for Higher Resolution of our Phono stage, to try a direct compare of Conical vs Elliptical on the same Cartridge. The white Conical stylus & the Grey Elliptical one are the differences on the 1968 Goldring G-800. The G-800 was still available as Cartridge with Conical stylus in 1990 if by 1992 it was not made, if you can still buy a Stylus today. G-800 set up easily with the Technics Overhang Gauge the SL-1500 came with & the weight easy to zero & set to 2g. Not played Records yet this day so to try the two Stereo 45s first. Reggae one first, Elliptical first. Fidelity is decent if lacks the smoother precision of the higher output G-850, higher output can be good, if a Stanton catridge we bought when getting the Hacker GAR-550 a few years back was just too loud so got this G-800. Soul 45 next with it sounding again decent if not great with some mistracking sounds on louder midrange. Swap to the Conical Stylus which as with the G-850 conical does sound better losing the mistracking sound, if the G-800 is still lacking the more solid sound as the output is lower. The Reggae 45 next & it is sounding better than with the Elliptical. The elliptical & conical have had about the same amount of use & the output levels are the same. Obvious here that the Conical again betters on Stereo 45s. On a 1960 UK RCA 45 the compare & the elliptical is better on tracking a louder midrange section, the conical sounds slightly mistracking. On a 1973 Pye 45 in Mono the elliptical doesn't track as good as the conical. The 1966 UK Decca LP with Conical is better on treble detail, the elliptical is a little soft. The 1966 UK indie pressed LP again is better on Conical if the Elliptical still picks up surface noise a little more than the Conical.


The Same Record Tests on the Garrard 301 & Roksan Corus.
The Corus has a Goldring 10-series stylus as the Corus ones got way too expensive once it was discontinued. A higher output than the G-800 at 6.5mV matching the Goldring Elektra. First try of the 1966 Indie LP had it seem a bit bright & not too smooth, the UK Decca LP similarly. The Stereo Reggae 45 again too trebly with midrange recessed, far from how the G-850 Conical played it. The valve Phono was tuned for the G-800 sound just as the other valve Phono pre was designed for the Roksan. The Stereo Soul 45 still sounds a tiny bit rough on the louder midrange with that mistracking sound that the G-850 conical played more convincingly. The 1973 Mono Pye still sounds a bit rough & blurry. The 1960 RCA tracks well on it's midrange. The thing here is one Phono preamp is tuned to one Cartridge & won't sound so right, the G-850 on the other Phono pre will lileky sound a bit dull as it makes the slightly bright Roksan sound smooth. The differences Elliptical to Conical still reveal that Conical overall is still the better for Vintage Vinyl 1949-82 at least, be it Mono or Stereo. Sort of makes the Van Den Hul & Shibata ideas seem a bit Hocus-Pocus as these are offered as "Universal Improvements". They are expensive & you can still read online about the confusion "why" these are still better, well we've proved on Vintage Vinyl at least, the basic Elliptical is often not so suited. The Roksan Corus Black originally had a "Gyger II Stylus profile" & if it mattered to us we'd not have gone with the Goldring 10-series one.


Vintage Arm And Cartridge: Garrard & Decca
Before we got a SME arm, we had the original 1960s Garrard arm & even one of the old Square Decca early 1960s cartridges. The TPA 12 arm was limited for adjustments & fitting of modern cartridges, if we first knew it via a Garrard 4HF that we got in the early 1990s, if the trouble with those is the Speed adjuster burns out & even ringing the 'Technical & General' guy at the time asking for spares, he groaned as long out of stock. The Decca cartridge, from hearing it late 1990s & selling on pretty fast we didn't think much of. It had a rich tone to it, but detail was soft & it seemed a bit clunky in use for the weight of it. The Garrard arm did sound good once set up the best you could, the rigid arm bettered the flimsy SME 3009 with the feeble soup-strainer headshell that came with our first Grey Grease Garrard 301. We got a later Oil 301 & found it was much 'faster' sounding than the rather draggy over-damped Grease 301. Written on these elsewhere so just a quick tell in one place. The OId Stuff may have Collector appeal, if mostly doesn't quite reach the Hifi standards later gear can.


April 2018 Blog

Hi-Fi News 1956-1980: What Next To Blog?
The Blog starts covering what we found interesting 1970-1980 but we're nearly finished reading the 1980 ones & really not finding much interest in the 1980 mags. Too much gimmicky stuff & now into Group Tests of Cassettes, Tuners, Turntables etc so not so much Amplifier reading or articles relating to it especially with Digital on the way. But... as we have all but 8 of the 1956-69 magazines, missing 2x 1956, 5x 1957 & 1x 1958, to pick out only the interesting, relevant to today & matters that have got forgotten about that tell the History of Hifi. Much of the 1956-62 Valve era is more for the Collectors, very few Turntabbles & Loudspeakers will be in use regularly. so to re-read & see what we find. A real potted History of Hifi, the sort of "ah, that's when it started" as the Blogs reveal.


Does Hi-Fi News/RR Have A Bias Towards 'Quad' Brand Amplifiers?
An interesting letter in a Sept 1980 issue confirms they accept Quad as perfection & won't question it. Not unlike today where certain 'peoples' aren't allowed to be criticised, you can see it's Biased & hiding an Agenda that some can see, if beyond the scope of a Hifi site. HFN/RR will not criticise Quad, whilst other readers write to say Quad is so out of date & shops don't want them, they look ancient for 1980. Quad are on the Hifi Yearbook front cover Every Year 1956-74, the early years of HFYB were run by HFN/RR until the creator of both, Miles Henslow sold out in the early 1970s. The Reader's Letter in the Sept 1980 tells the anon writer "P.A.D. of East Grinstead" is becoming tired of the sound of their Hifi & has been trying Transistor Amplifiers for 10 years they say & always finds all are with the same issues. Sounds like they've only been mostly buying British. They have a Quad 33/405 & had a 303 before, KEF 104aB speakers plus a Dual turntable with Ortofon Cartridge. a few blogs above we found a KEF speaker to be fairly smooth if with Bass & Treble boost. This will not especially cause the conditions the writer has. "The general tone I find somewhat "muddy" while the top end sounds "tizzy" and "edgy" to me". They go on to say it sounds "rather deadpan & lacking in life". We're not surprised by this, the Quad 33/44/303/405 amps we've looked at a few times to find the designs poor & we've never bothered to try one as knowing circuits it's easy to see the designs are way behind the superior Japan & USA amps. See our Pioneer SX-980 review, this sort of mediocre sound as the writer describes we hear often in cost-cut design amps however good they should be. The 405 amp is recent enough to match the KEF so unlikely a mismatch & Ortofon cartridges we've always considered good sounding if too light to match some turntable arms. So the "Crossover" group who answer Reader Problems are dismissive straight away saying unless the amp is faulty "we don't believe for one moment that the limitations of quality to which you refer have anything to do with your amplifier" unless extremely overdriven. Then the Quad "hype" as mid 1970s amps by saying a run of 20 Quad amps end to end with suitable attenuation would not alter the sound at all. Utter rubbish to state as fact, each Quad will add it's grainy bass-limited sound each time, but of course they only "prove" that with likely-1kHz Sine waves, not listening. Further on they have the cheek to blame Records for Multi-Mike recording techniques, but never question the lousy Quads. HFN/RR is often a very narrow-minded stuffy magazine in the 1970-80 era & only comes alive with losing the Old Guard who just won't believe what others see. Their reply in effect tells the letter writer they are wrong & how dare you question the mighty Quad.


How Annoying Is The Hi-Fi Scene By Late 1980?

There's really very little to interest us now. Most adverts are shouty efforts with the sort of sales patter to trap the unwary of how much better their gear is. You bought from the glossy picture it seems. Adverts are now about Stack Systems in Chipboard Cabinets with glass doors. Even Boots The Chemist gets into Hifi with Trio-Kenwood gear & later makes it's own 'Boots Audio' gear as amplifiers we've seen online. even the mighty Marantz with their classy 'Silver' 1971-79 era amps & receivers are now gone, with Oct 1980 with a Marantz PM 500 with a 5 band Graphic Equaliser. Just Toys & Gimmicks as blogged before. These sort of mass market plastic goods we avoid as hardly worth getting to upgrade & still be selling a mediocre sort of amp with those bland looks of the era. Thankfully Sharp-Opticona still amuse with a 'sexist' advert about their Slimline 100 series by just having to have a naked Kate Bush hair styled woman eating an apple as she lays on her front resting on elbows. Very dated ideas but typical of the 1970s if unusual for 1980. "There's Only One Thing To Do with Temptation" is their heading... "Yield To It" with 'Oscar Wilde' credited for the words. No airbrush needed on her. Same issue has a Boots Audio ad... "Tall Dark and Handsome" describing their Matt Black Trio-Kenwood range of 40w Amp, Tuner, Cassette Deck with Turntable on top, smoked glass door for the LP storage section if none over the Hifi which is more useable. To buy the whole lot for £342 was the deal to buy the lot. Add £115 for recommended Celestion Ditton 15XR speakers, or you'll not hear anything. "Oh we forgot the speakers..." Probably wasn't a bad setup for the money, but the mag reader would just go see how much cheaper Comet did similarly. The amp is Trio KA-3055, the service manual shows it's just midprice generic looking gear, ICs for Phono, Tone if the Power Amp is all transistors. A typical budget used unwanted-cheap amp these days no doubt. But a few years later these systems of at least Separates would develop into either one piece Amstrad jobs, or stacks of slimline units all of the same brand with Turntable, CD, Tuner, Double Cassette, Graphic EQ, Preamp & Power Amplifier. All connected with cheap thin cables. Brand Loyalty was forced to keep the same looks if Hifi buyers know some brands may be good with one or more items, odds are Speakers are just generic ones. Oddly the Sep 1980 HFN/RR after being the same front cover size 278x218mm changes to true A4 297x210mm. Not all advertisers realised & Teac gets it's wording chopped off on a double spread.


More 1980 Gimmicks...

Another one is a Record Clamp where you tighten the record hard onto the platter & mat using a clamp. Monitor Audio's "POD" is a plastic tripod to tighten & clamp your record down. "The improvement in stereo width and clarity was quite appreciable" gushed John Borwick of 'The Gramophone', which is worthless to know not knowing record, deck & mat type, if the full review would tell & still seem unlikely. Clamp Records Down? No thanks, odds are it'll mark the label & knowing vintage vinyl, the label area can be slighly dished if the grooves are is flat, causing more problems & be sure overtightening will have Cracked. Not for 78s or USA Styrene 45s.


Interesting March 1979 Loudspeakers Test.
This one is interesting as it looks at three more expensive speakers: Acoustic Research AR9, 175-275w £854+VAT; Mission 770, 35w-120w £357 inc VAT; and the SMC AL50 Studio, 25w-150w £555. To add in the flavour of the era by using a Graphic Equaliser to give the Correct Response by showing the Gain Settings on the EQ plus the graph of what frequencies are boosted is rather good & will have annoyed the manufacturers by showing up the speaker's weaknesses, so this is a one-off test by Trevor Attwell. AR9 is a 1340mm x 381mm x 402mm & 59kg (each or pair?). 2x 300mm Bass, 1x 200mm "low", one semi-horn midrange plus tweeter. The crossover will be very complex & with side facing L+R bass drivers, an odd one. Frequency response has a 5db dip around 2kHz, Bass is rolled off under 100Hz & Treble isn't too steady over 5kHz with an overall droop of 10dB by 18kHz. The Graphic EQ, to match to the Quad ELS boosts the Bass, Midrange & the Treble gets even more, but with the ELS being weak on bass it's not more than just making the speaker sound like another one noted for good Smooth Midrange if weak on Bass & Treble not quite as good either. Overall it's not a very smooth speaker even at the price. Mission 770 590mm x 300mm x 307mm 12.7kg (each?). Mission sold a lot of Speakers in the 1980s. Bass is steady to 60Hz if drops off heavily below that, again a 5dB dip at 2kHz with 4kHz & higher rolling off to be 15dB down by 20kHz. Not exactly going to be very detailed, if it'll avoid the "tizz" & "edgy" sounds of amplifiers of the era. The EQ settings aren't quite what you'd expect, an obvious bass boost, the midrange boost is expected if not much Treble boost doesn't match their graphs. Does get a good recommendation to prove the big sales, if it appears to soften sound to tame grainy 1980s amps. Hide the roughness & they'll not know. SMC AL50 is a less known brand to us, 737mm x 381mm x 432mm deep, 34kg (pair or both?) Best known for Labyrinth speakers they say. the Frequency response is very poor, the worst we've seen. 200Hz-500Hz has a 5dB peak, Bass is steady to 40Hz unusually, huge dip 1kHz-4kHz with about 12dB difference 250Hz to the 1.25kHz reading, then it matches the 100Hz level at 5kHz-15kHz if then swiftly dipping 10dB to 20kHz. This will sound truly awful, thick recessed but bright sound for £555 is a disgrace. So bad is the response, the EQ readings need to EQ cut the upper bass peak & a big gain for the bad mudrange if it leaves the treble flat. The review gets another speaker from SMC to test & finds it's better, but this is what you get in the shops & clearly the crossover on this Tweeter, Midrange & Bass Labyrinth design is too complex & it fails to be consistent. The review is so 'nice' about a rubbish response if it is surprised, but a different sample was found to be much better, but that's why SMC is an unknown brand, it's not recommended. Look at the Response Curves to see how accurate they are, make sire the graphs have 5dB divisions & don't expect a flat line, but here none are as smooth as the best Tannoys.


HFN/RR January 1980 Amplifiers Test... Plus A Deeper Look At Some.
We've been finding so little to interest us in the Magazine, in hope of finding Good amps we could try, but the reality is most since about 1974 just doesn't have much appeal, the huge "Monster Receivers War" certainly didn't have much effect in the UK. So to look at a 1980 mass comparision compared to one above & the 1977 8x Pre-Power Reviews on the Books page before we started blogging. As with most Hifi Readers, only by getting deep into a scene will you understand it. There is a similar Colloms Six Amp test in Oct 1978 but after reading it through to write up, it's mostly just describing the amp with a bit of testing done if very little subjective. As this told little it didn't seem worth blogging on. The 1980 Eight amps test has a varied range & we've covered it in the Sep 2017 blog above "How about Rise Time, Slewing Rate & Settling Time Values By 1980? Pt 3". To only expand on the interesting ones here that interest us seems best, rather than pretend to be interested in amps we don't know to compare them to anything, so to start with the NAD 3020. More on NAD 3020 just below as it's worth a blog by itself for the reputation. Quad 44/405 is an amp we've looked at before & didn't like for it's ancient styling yet supposedly 'suprior' modern op-amp ICs. The Tone stage is not what you'd expect or want, it has no Treble Gain only levels of cut & with filters. Bass is with over 10dB gain if only minor cut & more with steep filters. It has a MC Phono board option for it's plug-in modules but ICs again. The test results reveal the Current Dumping idea is assymetrical on overload & it's very slow to recover on low frequency tests. Other design features reveal it overloads the preamp from the Phono with 12% distortion. Why anyone would buy this in 1980 is the mystery. The frequency response shows the Quad is heavily rolled off over 10kHz, what are they scared of? We don't like Quad transistor gear & having looked further at their later product, we'll stay away from it. Sony TA-F70 is quite a ridiculous gimmicky amp. 90w with Switch Mode Power Supply like modern DVD players, this can't have been too reliable as ebay shows none only a spare fascia. Flashing Light LEDs for Power output, awkward build putting inputs to the Front Preamp section with the main body of the amp not the full width of the fascia. Inside it's 'half empty' with another gimmick, the Heat Pipe like Old Fridges had with fins to cool, the reasoning being the transistor legs may bring magnetic distortion is a bit lame. Controls behind flaps another gimmick & by seeing any unit that has flaps, they break off as not user-friendly. The design of this is MM-MC Phono with 2 boards, an IC plus varied transistors, Tone is an IC, Power amp is one of those likely "Unrepairable" type amps as Direct Coupled with lots of Fuse Resistors, you damage the outputs & the amp needs so much repaired it's disposable. It's quite a slow sounding amp by the slew rate. One of those amps we'd not want to get involved with, it could be repaired if money was no object, but hardly worth it. Switch Mode Power supplies involve direct coupling to the Mains as no traditional transformer is used, explaining the lightweight 9kg of a 90w amp. In terms of reliability, this has to be a low for Sony, but as we put, all the gimmicks & "great new ideas" would help sell it. Pioneer SA-8800 we've looked at the SA-9800 before on 'Other Amps' to find it interesting, if it'll suffer from the Pioneer Low Spec sound as all post 1973 Pioner do for being Discounted too hard, see the Pioneer SX-980 review. The Rogers A100 is one we've not looked at or had before, the previous A75 Panthera 37.5w & A75 Mk II 45w we have seen but finding one in good condition externally & at the right price isn't so easy, maybe suggesting reliability issues? Based on the late 1960s Ravensbourne model as the fascia layout is almost the same if in black. The A75 Mk II has all DIN sockets if some are with Phono sockets if less common. The A 100 is 50w & all Phono sockets. But with no Circuit Diagrams available online, we're not able to tell much here, maybe why we've not bought one? A100 inside pics found online & it's typical UK build, if done nicely like the Radford & Sugden, it's the tantalums, axial caps & looks hard to get into as typical of UK built amps. One that probably sounds better than the usual UK, but less upgradeable for the build. The A75 appear to be capacitor coupled if A100 is direct coupled, as in no output capacitor. A fast sounding amp from higher Slew Factor. Mechanical Hum an issue here & common with UK amplifiers, yet most USA-Japan amp are a lot quieter if few are silent. Subjective Test Results in the 8 amp group here seem pointless to tell as totally opposite ordering on Disc & Aux, but as today Aux is used most, the NAD, SAE, Pioneer, Rogers, Sony, Quad, Exposure & BGW are rated in that order. For the Phono input to differ so much is an issue we've found very often with amps, poor Phono but great Aux input, so we just disregard the Phono stage rating which is a pity as Vinyl played right on the few good Transistor Phono stages can be very pleasing.


NAD 3020: The Most Iconic Best Selling & Best Known Amplifier Ever?
No wonder it got big sales & a strong recommendation in the 1980 HFN/RR review as blogged above. This was a very popular Budget £80 amp in the basic style NAD were loved or not for, but they shifted loads of this amp as it was good value. Pioneer & Marantz did even cheaper £60 amps at the time. 20w with their 'soft clipping' design. Just seems to be a fast & lively sounding amp, if we haven't heard one in many years since a Shop demo to know how it compares to earlier NAD designs. It's all Transistors, Phono with differential, Passive Tone stage, Pre Out-Power In, Power Amp no differential is rare by now. The 'soft clipping' adds extra circuitry if the rest is not what we'd expect for a 1978-80 era amp, explains good reviews & good sales. Maybe we should get one to hear how it sounds & to upgrade? There are plenty on ebay in A, B & E versions. The only trouble is sell price on a cheap easily found amp isn't going to be worth the upgrade-recap work we do, can't see one selling for upgrade prices for all our work into it. NAD 3020 has it's own Wikipedia page.. "iconic" they say & for the price & opinions it probably is, but in a minor budget amp way, don't think it in 'What Hifi 5 Star" ways compared to a recapped early 70s gem. Looking inside, it's a one board job with surprisingly TO3 output transistors that most lower power amps ditched by the early-mid 1970s. It looks budget made though & the ribbon connectors for Audio are the same unshielded ones in the 1986 Realistic STA-2280 that are just not very good & the design will be limited to not reveal hum on these wires, as did the HH Scott amp reviewed above. The rest is a bit untidy inside, but it is a Budget 20w amp. The Power Supply is feeble as Circuit & Inside Photo shows, 2200µf capacitors are very low. But it's All Transistors & with 2N3055/2N2955 TO3 outputs it suggests the design is an older one reused perhaps from a more obscure Silver-Era NAD? Differential on Phono, Tone is the older non-NFB one that's like the early 1963-67 Trio-Kenwood ones adding NFB. Pre Out-Main In connectors at 20w is optimistic, if it did let you put a bigger power amp, the reality is the Preamp is still designed for a 20w amp. The Power Amp is interesting, if a bit hard to follow for the Diagram's drawing, it reveals a fast design if one with quite heavy NFB to keep it sounding nice if rather tame also. What "Lab In" means isn't too clear if it's bypassing some of the Power Amp input circuitry if at 20w probably not a good idea, a user manual shows it with Rack Mount handles & the 'Soft Clipping' is switchable on-off. It's an interesting design with some taming to keep it within itself & to give what can appear a "great sound" until you listen longer & realise it's rather flattened off sounding as the dynamics are purposely limited. The design reveals it will have "that nice 1970s sound" which for a 1988 amp proves this design is at least a mid 1970s design, if maybe even a bit earlier. It'll please for what it is, but don't think it'll be better than it is when it's still a budget amp. We actually had the NAD 3030 the forerunner to this amp & thougt it sounded great upgraded but construction revealed it's budget class.


Pioneer A-400: Shall We Look at The Circuits?
This we thought was mediocre mass market product as the "Other Amps" page tells. We're not here to massage egos, but after seeing the NAD 3020 a big selling 'classic' as the Pioneer A400 gets in beginner Hifi circles, let's have a deeper look at the circuits. It takes years to learn circuits from upgrading, so this is a new look at the A400 just as we did with the NAD 3020. The A400 came out in 1990, a 50w amp with no Tone Controls. what annoys is amateurs saying "it's as good as a £1000 amp" which is nonsense. The "upgraded" A400X was derided as poor on it's release, so what does the A400 do? We've read our 'Other Amps' opinion & it stays, it's a bit harsh if probably deserves to be from the hype. A New Look... Inside photos online show it's a Budget amp, a large honeycomb heatsink helps fill in the space as the PCB only takes up half the space, all on one board job. The Selectors for inputs are a little random if are the typical way for Input Selection pre Relays & aren't a problem, if one loops behind the transformer showing it's a bit of a compromise. Power Supply caps are modest size if are 10000µf 50v values which is fine. The rest is just typical of the type, if no photos of the track side to see the actual track thickness. Phono is MM & MC which is optimistic-pointless at the Budget level, FET pair onto the obligatory IC. By having No Tone stage, there's No Preamp, so Aux/CD etc straight to the Volume control & then the Power Amp. Preamp gives gain from the Aux inputs to run the Power Amp at an easier level, here no Pre Out-Main In as no Preamp show the Levels aren't typical. The power amp usual Differentials & Drivers, nothing too special here. From knowing design we can tell how this amp will sound, it'll sound soft & a little slow but that cardboardy grainy blurry inaccurate sound will be the deal here, the typical "tizzy & edgy" sound is noticeable for a few reasons. We had a 1979 Luxman L2 with similar design if adding Tone & it sounded awful as our review tells, but that was an amp to upgrade for a customer & going a bit further brought a better sound out of it, if like the A400 with an amp like that to not go too far with it. So from looking at the circuits, the Pioneer A-400 will still sound awful: a thin, grainy, blurry, fizzy sound, a raw unsophisticated sound that may appear detailed to amateur listeners, but listen deeper knowing better amps & realise it has no depth or richness to the sound. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X actually had a lot of that 'limited' sound despite it's 130w advanced design & it takes a lot to upgrade out of it, initially it was clean but it's lack of sophistication is why we upgraded it so much & did further getting closer to the 1970s sound. On ebay Apr 2018 a A-400 sells £100-£195, if mostly around £125 will get you one. Do we recommend you buy one? Read the above.


Not Many Know What Great Sound Is. We Do So We'll Tell You...
The more we've read the 1970s HFN/RR mags it's clear that "no-one knows" how to tell what good sound actually is. Pages upon pages of waffle telling very little to the prospective buyer. The big clues about "Good Sound" are quickly forgotten about after Tests of these factors reveal what it is. One is Slew Rate which is soon confused into Slew Factor so it's not very clear what it means. Nov 1980 HFN/RR has a typically long & waffly article about "Listening Tests & Absolute Phase". We'll add about 'Phase' in a later blog. Here it says that amp tests have revealed "A recent amplifier review (in 'Practical Hifi' mag) observed that as the amount of reverberation on some records appears to be less when using one amplifier than another, the first amplifier - a transistor design - must therefore be suppressing the ambience" It goes on to say a valve amp was "adding more ambience". Are these people really aware of Hifi at all to say this? It sounds amateurish to us, but it was 1980. They are, but they are just using Commercially Sold Hifi. We in 2018 know exactly what the "Suppressing Ambience" means, we say it often enough about "Wide Stereo" and "Depth of the Soundstage" or conversely "Narrow Stereo & Flat Soundstage". It's all in the designs. It matters not Valve or Transistor, it's how Dumbed Down the design is as well as how good the Design is on several factors. A Recording is a Recording, take Yes "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" with it's deep layers of echo & reverb. we used this track early on to test a lot & many amps play the Soundstage quite flat with little echo & depth to the sound. But the first amp we heard the Soundstage & Echo go much wider, after trying UK & Bang & Olufsen amps was the Teac AS-100 amp. The Trio KA-4002a we got before was sold on before realising this & it will have given this open sound having got one again just recently to rediscover how good it is. To know what it is you are listening for. Some amplifiers are so dumbed down they are almost hopeless, the Sony TA-2000F/TA-3200F Ver II we have now is the prime example & this is a 1970 amp in it's 1972 version. Everything in it was dumbed down, it sounded dull, lifeless & boring, why were they so scared of it? It's a 100w pre-power amp. We thought we'd wasted our money on it for the sound, but to just upgrade it as it was ours now with all our ideas. The guy we got it from has two of our upgraded amps so knows good sound & he wanted rid of the Sony pair he bought on a whim as it sounded lousy. Lousy was the design, it improved slightly for Servicing, if not much. Now upgraded we have it on the Tannoys for TV sound. Some TV shows have strong backing tracks to bring the quality out, the "How It's Made" one has lively wide stereo music always, if often it's overpowering to watch the show with. Here Stereo imaging is the widest we've ever heard, bettering the 100w TT valves even, if that design valve preamp is now 10 years old. The depth of the Soundstage, the width of the Stereo, the smoothness, the accuracy, the "fading away" of physical boundaries from you just listening to a speaker in a box to give a sound that's all around, if with detail & Stereo effects. In upgrading the Valve amps since 2002 the best changes gave a much deeper soundstage to the point it was a bit confusing like "it wasn't there & you couldn't hear it" as the veils of flattened soundstage are removed, if next day it was understood, but the changes could seem rather surreal on first hear. A Deep Soundstage can tell you the Recording Studio Acoustics, this is heard on Headphones too, the Dynamics & Speed of the amplifier need to be high, as per the Slew Rate & Recovery Rate. A very fast sounding amplifier with ample power & quality behind it if actually we have heard this with 18w amps too, so no need for 100w always. But sadly most listen to harsh gritty flat soundstage amps that are Current Limited & the Pioneer SX-980 sound as we put on the Review is what Others think is great sound for not having a clue of hearing better. For us upgrading & daring to really push ideas way beyond "what is accepted" we can hear a Sound Quality that tells the "Level Of Reverb" HFN/RR mention above depends on how fast & not dumbed-down your amp is. The best amps do open the sound up more giving the subtle detail, instead of a flat wall of noise that may suit most. It is possible to keep pushing the boundaries of Sound Resolution & then find out how badly mastered Records & CDs are, to hear the same Music heard long ago played on an "Average" system is probably all it was mastered for. We can hear BBC occasionally mixes it's TV shows badly with the voice-over too upfront, it shows they monitor on those small 'monitor' speakers still & not well sometimes. On TV shows like "EastEnders" that don't have a music soundtrack, on the Best Hifi the quieter sections sound good & detailed, but beware "Someone Having a Shout" as on Big Dynamics amps with Big speakers it is a huge gain in volume & not good for 2am watching. Even the 'History' channel turning the music up loud on trailer section endings is way too loud. Another 'problem' with unrestrained Hifi is TV shows can have noises that you think are in your home & having to replay to see it was the TV. The worst is TV playing Fire Alarms & Sirens, it's as loud as real life as the Hifi is too 'Real'. Do you really want that as Domestic Hifi? Don't fear it, if you play it at 2am levels it still sounds full, no need for 'Loudness' controls if still to beware the Loud bits, which is why TVs these days do "Dynamic Limiting" which we tried & didn't like.

Does Absolute Phase Actually Matter?

Nov 1980 HFN/RR has a long boring article about this & after reading it, you're just left with "try it" and "we don't know" type of pointless observation. Then they detail a kit to build to adjust Phase from Absolute to Relative with a Reset to the Input version. Phasing Speakers is important, swap the + and - cables & it'll sound very strange with the 'Grand Canyon' effect & be sure many listen to Hifi like this unaware it's connected 'Out Of Phase' & wonder where the Bass is. So check the wires are correctly labelled plus the plugs or bare wires are in the right socket. Absolute Phase is a different thing & probably of little real importance in Analog Audio Listening. It relates to certain audio stages inverting the phase. In easy terms does the first note push the speaker come in or out when reproducing it. For the amount a speaker cone moves it's not really going to matter. Read 'Absolute Phase' and "Phase (waves)" on Wikipedia for more, including Phase Shift which is a slight delay of a waveform. Mixing 2 signals, one of original Phase & another slightly out of Phase gives that wonderful Psychedelic 'Phasing' sound. Phase Shift does occur in amplifiers, the blurry sound is often the result of too many Transistors with too many NFB stages. Poorly designed Differentials & the Push-Pull stages in preamps that aren't quite balanced with no adjust pots to correct the errors. A Power amp with just 6 transistors per channel can exist, ones that have 20 or more are including fussy protection circuitry that usually doesn't protect much. Some amps despite all the upgrading we know can still sound blurry when compared to better designs with fewer transistors. Blurry sound is partly Phase shift where echoes of the signal are slightly delayed & blur into one sound. To upgrade amps like that will only go so far, the simpler designs will always be fresher sounding. One we upgraded as far as it could go sounded very nice, but then using similar techniques with other amps later comparing found it was still not as knife-sharp on detail as the compared amp was better at. The higher you climb up the audio ladder. Phase Shift you can see on Square Waves on an oscilloscope as the HFN/RR tests show, but this "slanted top" to a square wave is also seen when Deep Bass or High Treble is limted as the design shows, yet the "experts" still incorrectly think that's phase shift. Hifi Reviewers looking at Hifi not aware of Design & the many Limitations that Manufacturers put in to save money.


Loudspeakers Do Make Amplifiers Sound Better Than Headphones.

This is why buyers like, or at least accept, the rough sound of amps like the Pioneer SX-980. We're playing it on Headphones & the headphone speakers are right on your ears, so you hear a lot more detail. In any room the sound from the Speaker is spread around the room, it bounces off ceiling, floor, furnishings, the cat, your dinner & you. Sound is reflected around the room, so why do you need Omnidirectional Speakers? You don't & they just blur the Stereo detail. The first amp we noticed this with was a Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 4000, despite the designer hype, B&O gear is rather crude, not upgradeable too well & made with basic quality parts. The B&O 4000 is an adequate amp from 1972, it doesn't sound bad but it's only rated "Very Good" once recapped as the 'upgraded' rating. It's still soft & blurry, it doesn't have much speed or kick to the sound, Stereo isn't too wide & it's a bit grainy sounding, that's via Headphones. But on Speakers it sounds better, more lively sounding & better than expected as it matched our Tannoys well, if a trained ear can still hear the weaknesses, overall on speakers out of it's class to be used on, it's not too bad, if still only that 'Very Good'. Those buying these amps as raw or upgraded will enjoy them, the sound has the richer vintage sound & the Tuner & Phono are fairly good. But they've not heard the 'Excellent' amps & our rating of Excellent covers just scrapes Excellent to High Excellent, to not narrow the opinions too much. The Pioneer SX-980 opinion of the amp as original & part serviced was one that was grainy & tiring, to the point turning it off suited rather than pull faces at rough sound. It did upgrade to be much better, but as original it's not good.


Moving Coil Cartridges: The Big Names From November 1980.

This issue covers the "Heavyweight" Players in the MC cartrige craze of the era, the next issue covers more Midprice ones which we'll blog shortly. "Five Exotic Moving Coil Cartridge" reviewed by Martin Colloms. These have been Controversial in HFN/RR letters & also the pricing of these in other countries was found to be hugely different, with half or even a third of the UK price being charged, if it will include VAT, Import Fees, Distributors cuts & higher UK seller profits. We've never bothered with MC cartridges for the fact the Roksan Corus Black suited so well with the interchangeable stylus sizes. The fact a MC output is 0.045 to 0.09 mV/cm/s (realisticly 0.25mV) means that compared to a 5 to 8mV MM cartridge, you are having to amplify the tiniest signal, even less than a Tuner aerial signal. The fact of how poor nearly all Phono stages are in many we test, RIAA may be accurate to 0.5dB but they often sound muddy, blurred & dull showing a typical Transistor Phono stage isn't comparable to using an Aux input. Hum & Hiss must be an issue with MC Cartridges plus Cable Capacitance on such a tiny signal will have an effect as we have heard with MM cartridges & putting a Ferrite on the Cable from the Turntable to bring better focus. Surely the non amplified level of MM has to beat the 100x lower output of a MC cartridge relying on Amplification & Cable factors. The Test covers Koetsu £500, Dynavector Karat £500, Supex SDX1000 at £300, Linn Asak at £180 plus the Mission 773 at £160. Considering typical MM Cartridges in the 1981 HFYB range from our liked Goldring G-850 at just £5.65, the G-900 £60, Audio Technica £11 to £79, Ortofon £9 to £59, Shure £7 to £66 as well as many other brands, some having 20 models available, your choice is wide. Makes these Exotic MC cartridges a bit overpriced, but there will always be a market, based on the right Media Hype of them & the Mystique as with overpriced gear today. To see the reviews & make some sort of sense of "why" these prices will hopefully be interesting. The rest of the specs of these you can find online, we are more interested in the item, compared readings & opinion here. All are fixed Stylus Cantlevers, no plug-in stulys here, once it wears or you naff it, you either get it retipped or maybe an expensive repair. Linn Asak is designed for their 33rpm only LP12 & Ittok arm, the branding where you must buy all of one brand is the deal here, if matching of all 3 should be correct. The Linn is based on the Supex SDX1000 & earlier 900, Linn's design & with a Boron cantilever, we remember Boron in the 1990s on the Nagaoka MP11, they snapped too easily. 0.045mv/cm/s confusingly means 0.25mV as compared to 8mV so x32 less output, not x100 less. To read the cartridge leaves stray vibrations in the arm to be heard in the bearing doesn't sound good, the sound should all go into the coils to be amplified, not lost & damped elsewhere. Maybe this is how MC cartridges are? Frequency response appears smooth but with peaks & troughs & about +2dB gain on lower bass with more at the bass & treble extremes. It gets a high opinion here with good detail & transparency despite a bit grainy on highest treble. Koetsu MC 1 (Wood) is the Big One & Hifi Mags were still going on about it into the Mid 1990s, maybe the first batch never sold out as surely only Hifi Reviewers ever got to hear one. Handmade in Japan by an ex-Supex engineer & his family makes us wonder how close to the specs they were & interestingly HFN/RR gets 2 to check which give quite wide variations. But it does look nice made out of wood & you'll feel great owning one until you need to get the stylus retipped. Realistic output was 0.1mV which other reviews had said was very hard to match with Head amps, if Quad 44 plus others can cope. Frequency response is better than the Linn if quite noticable peaks as Bass & Treble extremes. Midrange being very smooth is the strength here, if the catridge varies too much amid different samples. The price put the reviewer off but they were pleased with it, but be sure for the lifespan of the stylus tip, why anyone would buy such a thing & not be scared to use it. Mission 773 is more usable with 3mV output if it's still too low when 6-8mV MM is typical. As with the 4mV Goldring G-800 the lower output will lose detail. Again it's branded-redesigned goods on another's base product, this time Dynavector. Interestingly here the higher output gives a far better Transient Response than the very low output ones & it's frequency response is much smoother too, confirms the quality is better with a higher output & a more typical 22k-47k ohm loading, unlike the 30-500 ohm loading of the very low output MCs. Weaknesses are not tracking the extreme disc tracking tests so well as too damped mechanically. This we've found is possible to correct to more than you'd expect by correct Cartridge loading in the amp & other internal design features, what sounds like mistracking therefore isn't always, it's your amplifier's weaknesses. Here the reviewer isn't too pleased with it as not too stable or focussed & could sound a little brash, exactly the difference 4mV G-800 to 8mv G-850, the amp needs more gain & 3mV is too low. But the reviewer doesn't mention that. Supex SDX1000 says the previous 900 was a highly rated one & this had their interest to try a new version. Output isn't mentioned if probably about 0.27mV based on the mV/cm/s value. But it changes frequency response noticeably depending on temperature. Back to low output means the transient & frequency response aren't as smooth as the Mission with a 8kHz small peak & rising bass extremes if not treble, the treble therefore tamed & rings a little is why the 8kHz bump exists. Overall the midrange isn't so good & it's not recommended for the temperature issue. Dynavector DV100D Karat Diamond with 'Diamond' meaning the cantilever is Diamond not Ruby as the earlier version. Once we stop laughing at how silly this is already & realise it's the other £500 one. output not noted in realistic terms if 0.07mV/cm/s could be about 0.4mV at a guesstimate. Frequency response is just about flat except for bass & treble extremes rise, the best one of the low output MCs. Actually the reviwer considers it the Best MC he's ever measured as in Lab Tests. Sound appears to get no criticisms but the price hike from Ruby to Diamond appears not worthwhile. Conclusion is... well HFN/RR don't give a conclusion if Colloms usually does. The price of these for the quality just doesn't seem to match if some clearly are excellent. To be scared to "put the needle on the record" will be a big problem here & we know being over-cautious causes more damage than just treating it like it's not anything too special. Handle a £25,000 vase like it's £20 & you'll care better for it in your Carrier Bag on the Bus to 'Antiques Roadshow' than by being scared of it on the way home via Taxi. In our gloriously cheap Goldring Cartridge comparing, we are designing & tuning the Phono stage to suit the Cartridge & getting great results. Here these Ultra-Low Output MC cartridges rely on a MC Step-Up stage & as the review lists some, we'll have a look at what's in some as well as ones we know.


MC Phono Stages as Step Up or Inside Amplifiers.

The earliest findable amp with a MC stage is Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 from 1969 if there are obscure 1967-68 Japanese amps with MC input too. The KA-6000 has a MC section with regular transistors, a 1970 review found the background noise was just too high to consider it worth using. Ones like a 1971 Yamaha CA-700 have a crude MC stage. By the 1978 Yamaha CA-1010 the MC stage was an IC & considering how soft & muffly the regular MM stage was, it's not going to sound very good. The only MC stage we know that is of quality in the MM stage is the Sansui AU-G90X one, it has a transformer as did a Pioneer SX-828 as an optional extra. There are external 'Head amps' as they are called. HFN/RR reviews some with differing conclusons if without seeing the inside circuits not worth detailing furter. The trouble with 'External' items is they usually have feeble power supplies, lots of ICs & generally are a lesser beast to what's inside an integrated amp using a MM cartridge. But Hifi Mag hype tells you the much more expensive MC cartridge & head amp is 'better'. Only by trying several MC cartridges could we give an opinion, but it's not our interest & likely most are only found as old used items with wear & issues.


Ugliest Hifi Ever Made?
Sadly as Residents of The UK.. we must say some 1960s-1970s British Hifi is the Most Ugly that we have ever seen. The Quad 33/44/303/405 amplifiers still being sold into 1979. The fugly Sugden range, the first Sugden A48 wasn't too bad if the wood case made cheaply lost it appeal, it at least blended in. But then sugden got into "Nextel" paint which after seeing one on ebay recently, the Nextel stuff is a soft sort of rubbery finish that isn't tough, it reacts with cable plastic & if you put gear on top the feet leave ugly dent marks. The orange fascia discolours similarly. It looks awful & thankfully is it possible to strip the bad paint off & respray or powder coat to look better as some sellers show. But the A48 II is still ugly like lab kit, no charm or 'Wife appeal'. To see in the Nov 1980 HFN/RR an advert for a matching ugly DT48 tuner in the same laughably out of date lab kit styling yet it has a digital FM tuner display. There are other seriously ugly Sugden. This we wrote in 2013 & now lost at the end of the solds Gallery page.... Sugden P51 Power Amp x 2, C51 Preamp & R51 Tuner c.1969 This set-up wins the award for fugliest Hifi ever. It looks as unwelcoming for Domestic use as having a cement mixer in your bedroom. Yes, industrial Lab looks with zero style & zero Domestic appeal. Plain, flat & fugly. Not even nice industrial looking as the Sansui AU-70 is, plain as can be if it'll do the job. We didn't like the Radford HD250 which this looks very similar to & Sugden get more ugly ratings below. Look at how nice Vintage Hifi looks, this is abysmal. On offer for £495 the lot in July 2013 on ebay, it's actually a good price, but not one to show the Missus. But the 1972 HFYB shows a different designed C51 pre with a black face & not dissimilar from the A48 as well as a black heatsinked sided A51 model now with a carry handle. 25w Class A into 15 ohms. The early light grey one is the fugly one. Some 1960s Amps like the Truvox TSA100/TSA200 are just rubbish looking, the Rogers cheaper Ravensbrook?? amp looks nasty too. Goodmans Module 90 with gaudy white buttons may be Glam Rock styled but it's vile if later ones got tamed down with black buttons.


Do You Want To Hear All The Detail & Find Bad Recordings Hard Going?
There are amplifiers that once upgraded can give you a full Pro Sound where there is nothing restrained or Softened to be more Domestic Sounding. This sound can be a joy as much as it can be weary as poorly mastered sound on Vinyl, CD or TV is sometimes heard & it's being delivered accurately but may not be what you want to hear. On Vintage 45s the harsh midband 'rip' as well as the badly dubbed from a USA copy for the UK copy where they just use a cheap player that's far from Hifi. A Softer Sounding Amp can give good detail but be 'pulled back' from that Front Row sound to give something easier going. In comparing Amps with this sound, the Softer One can be thought of as wonderful & amps like this we've used for months. But then to swap amps & hear the more Upfront one & on good Sound Source it can bring an excitement to the sound the Softer amp doesn't really do. After time with that amp even if does reveal the bad Sound Sources, to go back to the easier-going amp you'll not initially like as it's tamer. Overall the Softer Amp is easier to live with if you do find yourself playing it lower volume as you've not realised it doesn't stir the soul so well until hearing a lively one. A bit like a Midlife Crisis, do you want the lively & exciting young girlfriend half your age that'll wear you out or the familiar but not as exciting tried & tested loyal one. Only you can decide. From what we know in Hi-Fi Terms from how Amps we've heard as Original but Serviced, the listener would rather be soothed by Music rather than it Poke Them in the Eye when the recording quality isn't ideal.


Customer Opinions On Upgraded Hi-Fi We've Sold.

We usually hear back from customers telling us what they think of amps we sell that are upgraded by us as sale items or upgrade jobs on their amps. No-one ever complains they are too clean sounding or the extended bass is too much. From replies we get the amplifiers are much enjoyed & bring a new interest in playing music as the quality is a lot better than before. Over time we've found only two amps, actually receivers, do split the opinions. The 1973 Yamaha CR-1000 is a bit speaker-critical to match well to ones of it's era & doesn't match to earlier speakers too well, if does to later ones better & one customer said the one we recently sold sounded awesome on Dynaudio Contour, if which model of these recent looking tall speakers not noted. We found it doesn't match the Tannoy 15" Golds too well with an earlier production run version sounding even more mismatched. But if it suits good quality later speakers it'll do fine. The upfront & rather hard sound of the CR-1000 as original makes it a less pleasing listen we hear, our recent upgraded one we got a far more musical sound from, on using headphones. The 1968-70 Sony STR-6120 is another one that divides opinions. The one on the site front page was sold to a guy with Celestion Ditton 66s & then reading our site about Tannoy got some good early 1990s large ones & found it matched both well giving a great sound in a smallish room. The Dittons on comparing to Tannoys had a poor midrange as is typical of 3-way speakers as blogged above, the complex crossovers lose quality rather than add it with the midrange driver. The same 6120 the guy needed to sell so we had it back, sold to another & they found it was just too trebly & upfront, they had to pull the Treble Tone back 2 notches. This is the same one we got back again with damage if we eventually got it fixed to use it on our Tannoys. We found the sound after listening to the Sony TA-2000F/3200F pair a lot more upfront with better bass, the Sony pair need more upgrading therefore. The STR-6120 is a very accurate 'First Row' sound & makes others seem more Domestic sounding with a softer 'few rows back' sound balance. The one who thought it was too bright will only be used to softer sounding amps & they got a Rotel RX-800 as trade-in for the 6120, getting the better deal by far for the work needed. The STR-6120 as the amp is now once rebuilt after it's ordeal sounds excellent to us, to the point we saw weaknesses in the Sony TA-2000F-TA-3200F pair to improve it further. To have upfront Detail in a Pro Sounding amp or the more Domestic sound in the majority of other amps is the choice. Both the STR-6120 & CR-1000 do have the more upfront Pro Sound so may not be for everyone. The STR-6120 as aged & original sounds much softer as a 3-part Blog on upgrading one tells. Of all the amps we've had we've not had any that give such divided opinion. In comparing the Sony STR-6120 to the Sony TA-2000F/TA-3200F pair, all as upgraded, again the sound balance is quite different. The quality for our upgrades is similar if the difference in treble-bass & midrange between them is quite different. But be used to either on speakers after a few days & both are great to live with, if only once comparing does the tonal balance differ.


1968 Hi-Fi Sound Magazine.
This is an early 'Haymarket Publications' magazine, later becoming successful with "What Hi-Fi" magazine, but this earlier effort isn't much known. First issue was November 1967, we have 4 issues February 1968-May 1968. From what we found on the 'Books' page this ran until 1971 & was replaced or renamed as "Popular Hi-Fi" until 1976 when "What Hi-Fi" appeared & certainly shook up the dated "Hi-Fi News/RR" by the changed they swiftly made. Clement Brown is the editor here, and after reading the 4 issues, he certainly had the right idea with the style of the magazine. The Feb & March 1968 ones aren't too special, if the April & May 1968 ones step up several gears in magazine page count & content. The aim of "Hi-Fi Sound" was always a more populist magazine, a more down to earth approach than the bores who wrote so much waffle for HFN/RR. The adverts show much more adverts of the better Budget & Midprice gear of the time. The reviews & features are of deeper interest to readers for actually telling of New Products instead of how HFN/RR brushed over it. In fact HFN/RR got as high as 65,000 sales per month in the early-mid 1970s for the huge amount of adverts, be sure many just bought for the ads to get info rather than read the magazine sections. HFS mag we like as it shows 'lids off' photos in B&W of the items they review, including amps, tuners, tape decks & even the Tannoy 15" Gold Lancasters. The reviews are as HFN/RR mostly just rewwriting the user manual if they give waveforms of certain frequencies that don't tell much. No subjective opinion at all in 1968. After the first two being fairly typical, the next two were far better & an idea of "wanting more" but the mag didn't sell & only a few expensive ones on ebay. Hi-Fi Magazines are very specialist, "who wants them" is the idea. Someone who blogs about them or wants the HFN/RR for the Classical LP reviews is the market so prices should be £3-£5 pre 1970 & less each decade after. It's strange that it took 3 magazine names to get the hit formula with "What Hi-Fi" if some will have thought "What..." is a part of the "Which" reviews & consumer standards magazine, especially as the earlier ones just happen to use a very similar name font.


Goldring G-800 Review in 'Hi-Fi Sound' April 1968.

HFS was better at reviews than HFN/RR was, clearly they either went out & bought the items or asked for samples to review. HFN/RR just waited to be sent them making very few "Classic" Hi-Fi items with reviews. The initial price was £12 7s 6d if by the early-mid 1970s it reduced to about £8. A 'Free Field" magnetic cartridge as the magnet is in the cartridge housing to induce magnetism to be picked up by the coils. Later cartridges had no fixed magnet but a tiny magnet on the stylus cantilever end. The Frequency response on seeing it for the first time matches what we found comparing to the G-850, there is a dip in response between 2kHz to 20kHz with the -2dB lowest point at around 4-6kHz if 1kHz & 20kHz are at relatiove 0dB. Also a slight bass boost of +2dB rising from about 250Hz with the 2dB gain at 20-40Hz. Extra deeper bass is usually useful, if the midrange drop is what has it sounding a bit dull. This was the first proper Hi-Fi Cartridge made in the UK it seems, with many further Goldring after, but before were more crude ones like the Goldring 700. The G-800 was based on earlier Shure & Pickering ones. The G-800 you could still buy new in 1992 if it was disconitnued soon after & a replacement stylus you can still buy today. Interestingly the review was written by Gordon J. King who did a lot of HFN/RR reviews.


Tannoy 15" Monitor Gold Lancaster Review in 'Hi-Fi Sound' May 1968.
Just shows how much better HFS was for reviews than HFN/RR, the best & most popular stuff needs a review, but HFN/RR touched very little of it. The Tannoy gets reviwed by Clement Brown & the same issue & the Apr 1968 one show the full page Tannoy ad showing response curves that no-one has online, so we'll scan it up & put on this site (soon). Here they take the back off & show the driver, crossover & switch box which will have pleased those who like looking inside as was the HFS standard policy on reviews. The Tannoy Monitor Gold in the Lancaster cabinet is an improved 50w 8 ohm version of the earlier 15 ohm silver & based on the Dual-Concentric design first out in 1947, the earlier Black & Red ones are big money Collector's Items. The Gold adds Energy Control & Roll-Off which you usually just set as you choose & use the Tone controls on the amp. "It is a lively and crisp sounding speaker, sensitive and now more responsive than ever to all the fine detail of the best of modern programme material. A pair gives marvellously accurate & thrilling stereo. The Lancaster system has fairly high efficiency and a bass response extending slightly lower than in the earlier version. Indeed the fulsome bass output at around 35Hz is an outstanding characteristic." Now that's the sort of Subjective Opinion that is hard to better in describing this wonderful speaker & Clement Brown summed it up so well here. A modern sounding speaker to cope with the superior amplifiers made by Sony, Pioneer, Akai, JVC, Fisher & Sansui, plus other smaller brands. The Tannoy Gold is the First Modern Quality Loudspeaker & the prices this good selling speaker makes shows how appreciated it is. Hundreds if not Thousands of later speakers wither in comparison to this speaker, hear one & you'll never want to hear any other. Says us having lived with ours for 16 years.


Tannoy Monitor Gold Advert From April 1968.
This Tannoy Advert announces this new speaker in the April 1968 Hifi press, similar is in HFN too. It gives the specs: 30Hz-20kHz, 15" 50w, 12" 30w, 10" III LZ 15w. 8 ohm nominal & 5 ohm minimal impedance. The Treble Roll Off & Treble Energy graphs show the output. Now as the 15" speaker is a large item & the 10" III LZ is a 10" the graphs will be for the 15" version & assumed to be in the Lancaster cabinet, if this isn't stated. The graph isn't a Log format so it doesn't compare to later ones that squash the spacing up differently, so to not compare directly to later response curves. The 1kHz to 20kHz is half the graph width like a typical Log graph but it's spaced more evenly, not squashed up more 5kHz-10kHz. This may give the idea the Tannoy is more choppy without realising the graph spacing. Taking into consideration it's not a Logarithmic graph, the Tannoy is a lot smoother than nearly all response graphs we've seen as blogged about above. There is about 1.5dB lift 250Hz-350Hz that is damped by the Lancaster cabinet but not by the cheaper 12" Chatsworth, see the Loudspeakers page for a comparison of both. A sharp dip of about 5db at 750Hz will give a little reduction in possible "honky & cuppy" sound as the "What's wrong.." blog above shows, perhaps cabinet resonances will fill this small dip & designed on purpose? Beyond that comparing to the "Treble Energy" graph shows how smooth the 1kHz to 20kHz region is, the strength of these speakers & few speakers are this precise. Treble Energy appears flattest set midway, with boost & cut. Treble Roll-Off just dulls the Treble, why that would be used is less obvious. In use we keep Treble Roll Off to give the brighter sound, no need to reduce it. The Treble Energy one ideally should be set midway, but most rooms with furnishings benefit from the higher setting & that's how we've always used them.


Worth Getting Upgrade Capacitor Kits For Pioneer SX-1980 & Others?

On USA ebay you can buy a upgrade capacitor kit for $89 including 84 capacitors if not the main power ones. This allows you to "restore" your amplifier with new capacitors. Great Idea & So Cheap? It offers no Upgrades, it offers no Servicing. It allows the amateur or intermediate non-pro to Restore a tired amp. The SX-1980 is a huge complex 35kg amp & if you are that cheap to spend only $89 (£63) on it, then you may be taking a huge gamble & odds are you'll make a mess of it. We're not touting for upgrades work where a proper Recap-Upgrade & Service would be over 10 times the price, it's for you to decide. Looking at the Bulgaria seller's feedback, one rude buyer left them a Neg saying.. "Did not improve the sound quality of my Luxman C-02. Bass and warmth is gone". His $39 upgrade kit on a nice $400+ selling preamp with his work gets the seller blamed, a fool to think a $39 kit would be perfection. This is why we only work on amps ourselves, no way can you trust another you don't know to do it right & they'd want endless help & hints for free too. On the SX-1980 the inexperienced user must take apart a very complex huge & heavy amp & get busy on it with a soldering iron. Is your Soldering any good? Do you know how to read Manuals & Boards, not all boards are marked. For the 'recap' jobs we've seen on amps we get, it's usually done poorly with none of the Pro Look like our 'Solds Gallery' shows we do. In dealing with these vintage amps, some are very hard to work on & often issues crop up for this. Even just Recapping Like-For-Like brings up problems as the new caps are higher spec than the old ones which can cause the amplifier to go unstable. We sometimes still get emails rather rudely demanding cheap upgrade & recap kits, they get no reply. So you have a go upgrading a complicated amp & now it doesn't work. We have had those who've tried to do it on the cheap & then they mess it up & either sell it on ebay very cheap out of embarrassment, a Yamaha CR-2020 we got like this at just £30 buy it now a few years back & it needed a lot to undo their mess. The Sony STR-6120 on the site front page got minor damage & a whole lot more by some supposed tech trying to repair it, undoing that mess & having to rebuild the whole amp on resistors, transistors & capacitors as so much was bad to consider the amp never reliable until it got the full rebuild which would be a job costing twice what we sold the last one for. It works fine now but we don't trust it enough to sell yet. There have been others, the Toshiba amp for sale currently had some amateur work on it messily, we just took out all they did & done it our way, no other way. So if you are competent & know hifi restoration, your $89 kit may turn out right, but you miss getting any upgrades & Pioneer are so cost-cut you do need them, to us it's a wasted effort. But if you make a mess of it, burn & tear bits of track off the boards, singe the inside cables & more, do you think any tech would willingly take on a job to do it properly? Undo the mess, learn what you did & then do it properly is a double job. We've never hung a room with wallpaper, you need the tools & skills to do it right. It could be learnt but to hire someone skilled to do it for you often works out best. Be sure you wallpaper the first few times & you get the messes some leave on walls, unmatched joins, bubbles, unglued bits etc. Those who tinker with Cars hoping to save money often make a mess similarly. If you think you have the skills to get an Upgrade kit, then in reality you should be capable enough to source the parts for yourself. Get the Manuals, go to specialist sites to get the parts, don't buy the Unbranded ebay junk & learn how to do it yourself. As for Upgrading, that requires years of learning amp designs to know what to do, to blindly just alter everything is not the way to do it. Skills that take decades to perfect to look professional. Look at Car Upgrade shows like "Wheeler Dealers", be sure each car Edd & later Ant get has had a lot of research & a lot of off-camera opinions to get to be the end product. It's like "American Pickers", you think Danielle is the genius who gets all the leads, but in reality it's two guys plus a research team as well as those who contact the show. The TV shows make it look simple & it's storylined. We look online for Hifi Upgraders doing even slightly like us, USA ones into the 500w Monobloc stuff do to an extent if don't know the earlier gear. Forums show eager tinkerers who never show the finished working item, as likely it never gets finished. Is it possible to Train a person to Upgrade Hifi? Unless they have the nerve & confidence to try new ideas & also know deep fault finding & amp design, with enough amps to try to learn all this on, it'll go like many Craftsman Trades... it'll disappear.


The Best Of Sony... STR-6120 receiver vs TA-2000F/TA-3200F pre-power.
Comparisons on Price when New. 2 versions of STR-6120, the 1968 'Tape Head' version & the 1970 'Aux 3' version. This 50w receiver was £388 including PT to buy in 1970 according to the Hi-Fi Yearbook price & featured in 1971 at a lower £323 if not in the 1972 book & the 1973 has the STR-6200F at £354 that was a slightly clumsy mix of 6120 & the newer TA-1130 type amp. The TA-1120A that was half of the STR-6120 together with the ST-5000FW tuner were £160 and £190 so the 6120 was actually more to have two in one. The 1970 book has the earlier TA-2000 preamp for £129 & the 50w small sized TA-3120 for £99. 1971 book has similar. 1972 has the TA-2000 only for £129 if the amp isn't listed. 1973 has no preamp but has the new TA-3200F 100w power amp for £112, so in effect the Pre-Power pair was £241 for 100w, the STR-6120 at £388 dropping to £323 is still way ahead. 1974 book doesn't list the 2000F/3200F if the TA-1130 65w integrated at £140 plus VAT. The TA-1120A was still called the 'TA-1120' & was £160 in the 1970 & 1971 books if gone by 1972. It had earlier appeared in 1967/68 book and 1968/69 for £141, the next book was the 1970 named one. So there's the facts: the Most Expensive Early Sony was the STR-6120 at £388 (later £323) & the Highest Power Sony at 100-110w was £241 the pair. The High Price of the STR-6120 dropped for the 'Aux 3' era one if these are usually found in Europe or the USA, few will have sold to UK buyers. The TA-2000F/3200F 1970-1972 pre-power comes in two versions, the better one is the one without the separate protection board as it was included on the main board. The Pre-Power amps seem too low priced for what they are as new, but similarly the Tannoy Lancasters were still only £63 plus VAT each in 1974. Today the Sony selling prices are rising, we've sold an earlier 'Tape Head' one in the darker wood case & the later 'Aux 3' version in the lighter case for nice prices, but in reality the rebuild cost of one is currently very near the sell price. The early TA-1120 & early ST-5000 tuner done well too, but remember our amps are rebuilt. The TA-2000F/3200F you can see the sell prices online of 'raw' ones as with the 6120 & generally the Pair, without wood cases, go for twice the price of a 6120 in the wood cases. It seems the Wood Cases for TA-1120, 1120A, 1130 & 1140 plus the 2000(F) & 3200F are actually pretty rare on trying to find another earlier one. The STR-6120 wood case is a rare one too, if what it adds to the sell price we've yet to find out. Not to confuse with the later clip together 3 section ones, these are the solid 4 sided box ones.


Choosing Your Capacitors.
There will be those who prefer once type of the many brands. We go by what we’ve trusted in many amps transistor & valve over the years. We've upgraded more amps than anyone else to know which ones are reliable & sound right, without going into exotic & overpriced ones that show no difference. To find ones lacking & go find others was what we did earlier on. The yellow Vishay ones we first got in the late 1990s for Valve amps & they do well. UK Maplins used to sell these so easy to get, if under a different brand name then. Ones like “Ansar Supersound” we tried before for Valves but they are physically soft in construction & easy to break. The Panasonic small capacitors we use are the FC ones, bought thousands of those & no reason why anything more exotic is needed as these do a great job & are reliable. Other good brands RS & Farnell sell for larger value ones, used to be Panasonic on upgrading the Sony STR-6120 in 2013, if they don’t make them now so Epcos, Kemet, Nichicon, United Chemicon & Multicomp are trusted, but there are other brands that are too cheap which we avoid. Ones we see in amps bought with some recapping are too small for the values & too lightweight, easy to spot cheapness & avoid it. Other smaller companies offer high priced "exotic" capacitors for Valve Amps & Speaker Crossovers, if for Speakers, to suggest 630v ones when a 100w amp only puts out 40v max is excessive, here to use 100v ones will do. The excess size of the 630v ones should tell you they are not right. To spend wisely & keep Hifi looking tidy & original looking is important.


Buying Metal 4mm Speaker Connectors For Amplifiers: Pt 2.
Continued from March. The Sony TA-3200F only has push button bare wire connectors for 2mm cable. Even using our 4mm plug blocks with a short cable these are not good to use as the soldered wire ends don't last long before breaking off, if we move these connectors around far more by sawpping to different amps. To fit proper 4mm connectors is needed. The difficulty with the later TA-3200F you'll see inside, they have plastic bits covering a messy extra RC output section that is usually fitted on the amp board, actually it already has so why duplicate it? We see why... The amp board itself is very close to the connectors so to only really use short ones. We did get the All Metal 'Gold Plated' ones for the Sony TA-1130 in 2007, these we had an extra pair & the 'Gold' goes brown & wears off, because it's actually Copper dipped steel & even that wears off easily. On ebay looking for "4mm Binding Posts" as of typing there are really only a few types being made now, those 'Gold-Copper Wipe' ones, then the Voso ones we use often, A Pair of Red-Black ones that some amps have in similar types either with one black plastic holder or separate, plus other heavyweight All Metal ones more for Speaker Cabinets as we put these on the Tannoys. Then you get the Big Clear Plastic Covered ones like Modern Valve Amps use, these are only really suitable for well spaced original holes as on most amps they don't look good as they don't look well considered, if a customer wanted those so we put some on a Luxman L1040 receiver. Those are either screw or solder ones & take up space inside, one type has a very long screw part. Overall there are about 10 types, so enough scope to choose one suitable. The ones we had here from buying at some time but not using we've found, they are the Clear Plastic Outer ones with Gold insides & a 4mm side hole for Bare Wires. These fitted perfectly with just a little alteration, no soldering & they look new but not oversized & tacky looking, they are not much bigger than the originals. 'Small Binding Post' is what these are & a better idea than those big Metal Ones that are often seen badly fitted to amps with 1-2mm gap between. The amateur who did that doesn't realise if a cable accidentally drops to touch both + and - at the same time, you've Shorted the Amp which may a Protection Circuit saves it, or a big repair. We prefer the Plastic Cased Voso ones on older amps & now these Small Binding Post in Gold & Clear Plastic suit the Sony ones. Update July 2018: Ebay with "Small Binding Post" shows these but now you have to buy 20, 50 or 100 from China as no UK sellers have them & for some reason the main VOSO seller has vanished, if others have them still.


Sony TA-2000 Preamplifier: Is It Better Than The TA-2000F Preamp?
This is the earlier version before the TA-2000F we have. Very different in construction if looking quite similar. Five boards in the rear half, if the Phono one is on the Inputs for a direct path, the TA-2000 has all 5 in line with separate grounding panels & attached via notches in the chassis base & appears to be grey inside, not the black, so we've not seen this one before. Inside the front half it's like the 1967 TA-1120A with the boards of capacitors for tone. No plug in boards here, wires connect to each board, the TA-2000F plug in boards make it far easier to work on to upgrade. "Sony - Research Makes The Difference" is on the Service Manual, have to agree with that if to sell lots of cheaper gear too keeps research alive. Here a 53v HT, not the 38v & 160v of the TA-2000F. On the early TA-2000 it has no dedicated Headphone Amplifier, only the useless one from the preamp as the TA-1120A has, a strange idea that must have suited an obscure type of headphone or headphone amplifier. A MM & MC stage for Phono if an earlier design with one 2SC 631 transistor in the 'Head Amp' section, the standard type as used in the rest of the amp. The MM Phono stage has Tape Head & Mic inputs too. Volume is on the input passive stages before a Buffer stage as 'Emitter Follower', then a Flat Amp to Tone section & Tone Cancel, then a Buffer amid the Filter stages not unlike the STR-6120 design onto a second Flat Amp stage. These are still like the TA-1120A design rather than the very different FET design of the TA-2000F. The Meter Amp driver stage & an unusual Centre Channel amp stage isn't too useful. Then onto output level switch & to the Output sockets. Really not that much different to the TA-1120A overall with much of it's design. Is it worth us getting a TA-2000 after knowing the TA-2000F. No it isn't, the TA-2000 still has the NFB stages as the TA-1120 & TA-1120A do, if the STR-6120 doesn't have these. Neither the 1120s or 6120 are as good a design as the later TA-2000F that has a lot more to it if disappointing it was so dumbed down by Sony as was the TA-3200F 100w power amplifier. The early TA-2000 probably would have sounded very tame too, lots of limiting to the sound if not the "T" bass filters of the 2000F there will be a limited Deep Bass by design, likely a bit of the 'Retro Bass' sound as well as Treble will be far too soft. There's no point in putting the earlier transistor flat amp designs into the FET one for the different NFB levels, as we have wondered. The reality on circuit gazing is the TA-2000 is probably as disappointing to Modern Ears as the TA-2000F was as original. Of the two versions the later TA-2000F one is way better to upgrade for a fresher sound than the early TA-2000F which will always be limited to a degree. The early TA-2000 isn't anywhere as good as the 1965 TA-1120 as we would have expected. Now we know why the TA-2000, TA-2000F & TA-3120 aren't that appreciated & prices aren't what you'd expect for 100w & a superior preamp, because they sound very limited & don't do what you'd hope of them, having heard the superior TA-1120 (1965 version) & the STR-6120. These are prime for upgrading though, but from the huge amount we did on our TA-2000F & TA-3200F it's probably the most advanced upgrade we've encountered, beyond Valve amps. The TA-2000F with FETs is a high impedance design & we tried putting a transistor in to be more flexible with the sound volume, but the high level of hiss got that abandoned. Any alteration to give more gain just results in more hiss, instead of the silent background of at least -90dB that you'd expect on later amps, the spec is "greater than 90dB A weighting" whatever their weighting means, usually that means "90dB isn't the truth".


A Sound Quality View From High Up The Hi-Fi Ladder.

This is what Good Hifi can reveal other amps lack, even ones some rate as "Best Ever". As we upgrade with redesign techniques like no other, to tell what the differences are as readers will like to know. Firstly this Sound Reference we have got from quite a few Amplifiers from 1965 Sony to 1966 Coral to 1967 Akai to 1968 Dokorder to 1969 Trio-Kenwood plus others into the early 1970s & even after a huge amount of work the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X. So this sound is available in upgraded Amps & if you crave to hear it, you can "get in on the game". So what is this "Ideal Amplifier Sound". Firstly it's treble of full unlimited resolution, sharp as a knife but natural. Midrange smooth & natural with great depth to the Soundstage, not the flat cardboardy sound of the typical post 1980 amp. Bass full & extended going deep but not Boomy or limited. But it's the later Amps that we try so hard to get this sort of sound from, the post 1972 era is not so easy as our Reviews Pages show, to try lots of Yamaha amps & do well, but not quite reaching that Finesse of Sound that earlier amps can do. To see ebay listings with an amp we know being described as "the best we've ever heard" just shows their experience of hifi is limited. Some 1977-79 ones really are very overrated, well into the cost cutting era Marantz & Pioneer were both sold in Discount Stores if Marantz were always at least £100 more to not cheap out as much as Pioneer did. It is possible to upgrade the higher models of the 1977-79 era to get a good taste of "the best sound" but having just done one the sound was not as good as it would have been if it was a 1969-71 amp. What Didn't We Like you wonder... having a great reference amp in the Sony TA-2000F/TA-3200F pair which have all the ideas it took years to develop in other amps, the difference is quite noticeable on our 15" Tannoys. The later amp was rather flat in soundstage, it was lively but it didn't sound effortless. A noticeable smearing or poorly resolving the high treble was bordering on turning the treble into a sibilance as the design couldn't resolve the treble well which is common from cost-cut designs. Midrange was smooth but lacked the depth & this is where the 'effortless' sound is noticed. The Bass went low & sounded much like the Sonys but it still sounded 'cardboardy' with little of the 'bounce' good bass has in well designed amps. The first amp we heard this 'bounce' in was the 1975 Luxman L-100 if the amp beyond that was just too tamed, if perhaps we'd go further with it if we had one now. The later amp you could listen to & not know these problems, you need to know better to realise what is lacking in other amplifiers. Would It Be Possible To Bring That Amplifier Up To A High Standard? is what you'll be wondering. The answer is "yes" but for the extreme amount the Sansui AU-G90X needed to get to this level & probably could still go further, it would just outprice an upgrade job as we're having to do 'Research & Development' by redesigning it. A Customer asks for an Upgrade, to offer a price that's the "Good Value Best Results" price & then a higher one to allow a level of the Redesign , if we do say the extra paid won't give such an improvement percentage-wise as the standard price. We've done this a few times & as we know the higher quality sound to judge, the Customer usually finds what we return to them is way ahead of their expectations & they love what they hear. So that's what we aim for in upgrades, to try to get "Excellent" as in our Reviews page standard, from amps we upgrade. On two recent lower power but still some quality amps we found even after upgrading they weren't really good enough, so for our interest to see what limited it & to give a better product to the Customer, we went through the designs & did a little redesign to finally get the sound we'd hoped the amp would deliver. Having maxed out several amps for our own interest, the cost in working out the circuits & resdesigning things would be far too expensive, if at least we can do this to see & know what can be done.


May 2018 Blog

Accuphase E-202 Amplifier: What's It About?
We had a look at the later E-203 from 1976 on the "Other amps" reviews page & were a bit disgusted that it was stuffed with ICs in all stages, multiples of them for reasons rather worrying. Accuphase is known as a Premium Brand, but so is Bang & Olufsen and Bose, if Hifi folks don't rate those. Accuphase amps are always in the high hundreds & for us to buy to try then upgrade, we could do a lot & then see the market interest was different on this brand. So to now get to Service & Upgrade one is where we'll find out the truth, if it ever arrives. After the shock of the E-203 to look at the E-202 we saw it was a far better design, if now we'll look deeper as we'll have to learn the amp to upgrade. Photos online show it's well made, the EU-UK type of Axial Capacitors that one didn't do right needs a lot to get the right sizes to look right, doing it with standard caps looks amateurish. So to look at the Manuals to see what it is. The HFE page shows they are a High End Japanese brand aiming for 'Accurate Phase' & true High Fidelity reproduction. The TVK site oddly doesn't show the early ones. We will only know for sure on hearing as with any amp, if the circuits tell a lot once you understand them. 19.5kg, 100w with Damping Factor of 50. All transistors beyond 4 FETs. By the HFE reviews pdf of a Brochure made by Accuphase shows this was a 1974 model, to be reviewed early 1975. The reviews seem positive, saying it sounds great, slew rate of 21.5v/µsec said to be very fast. One says it only rates 'very good' on aspects of sound like Bass, Treble, Midrange & Transient response. But scoring high on Specs isn't necessarily a good thing & why the sound wasn't 'Excellent' suggests the 1974 design may be straying into the "safe" sound of how the Luxman L-100 from 1975 sounded to us. Circuits. Aux & Tuner Inputs have a Resistor on the inputs, 4.7k, if that suggests already they are playing safe. Phono is 5 transistors, 3 for the Differential circuit, a driver & an output, if not the P-P type later amps did. It has some strange Subsonic & Enhance switches seen as 'pointless' by one reviewer. The circuit suggests Phono will be fairly soft sounding, not one for good detail. Volume & Balance come after the Input Selectors & then to a FET Differential which is an unusual one, only remember that in a 1986 Pioneer M90 Power Amp. The Preamp stage is 2 pairs of Differentials, the other is transistors, it has some limiters on that which seem unneccessary for a 100w amp, a soft sound with not much deep bass & lacking a kick to the sound is possible here. Tone is passive switched like the Sony TA-2000F uses & is bypassable. No Pre Out-Main in connectors unusual for the era. Select to Volume-Balance to Flat Amp to Passive Tone to Power Amp. Power amp is typical Differentials with Doubled Output Transistors. The circuit suggests the sound will be soft with not much kick to it plus heading into that thin grainy sound lacking the rich sound of the best Hifi. A Zener diode to set voltage on the Differential is poor design. There are some familiar (to us) signs that this amp will be Bass Light, Sterile & Unexciting, the basis of the 1980s Amplifier Sound does appear to start here. Headphone circuit doesn't seem a standard one & as with the Luxman L-100 it'll not drive headphones well, making a first try on Headphones a disappointing one. Power Supply has 2x 10000µf Capacitors per ±HT side which is high for 1974 plus extra for the Relay. Speaker Damping has a variable setting of 20, 5 or 1 if why it says 50 on the specs is from review tests. How different that will sound may be interesting. Overall, the amp needed understanding & to suspect it sounds nice as tamed, but still safe without much of a rich punchy sound is obvious.


More Proof Your Hearing Has A Built-In Graphic EQ.

The Phenomenon that gets you used to an Amplifier, if comparing many reveals all amps have a Different Tonal Balance, from slightly duller or brighter, to more bassy or thin on bass. This covers Bad amp sound from Grainy Treble to retro Thick Bass & Cardboardy post 1980 typical amp sound, explaining why people listen to those, they're used to them. We've been playing records the last few days & they suddenly seem too bright which is a bit wearying. But we know why. We used the Sony STR-6120 for a while just recently & on selling it went back to the Sony TA-2000F/3200F pair to listen what else it lacks in comparison. Improvements to the Power Amp made quite a difference, but still the amp for Records that has been unaltered in months now sounds too bright. The Sony preamp needs some redesign as the FET preamp doesn't have enough gain, in simple terms of where the Volume pointer line is for a typical volume compared to the STR-6120. For some changes with one channel unaltered as a reference, the unaltered side was found lacking the precision of the upgraded one which was spot on just for what appears a minor alteration, if it takes hours to perfect it as per design. It now matches the LX33 tonal balance, a sound that's so precise & shows up all the recording flaws as we want it to. So we were used to, from TV sound on the Sony pair, to a slightly softer treble than the Record Player amp (Luxman LX33) so the hearing compensates & therefore it's upped the treble control in your hearing so that the LX33 suddenly became tiring, when previously a 4 hour headphone session only got tiring for wearing headphones, not the sound. So for the change, to try the Sony pair on TV sound to see how the LX33 sounds next day. The LX33 plays a sound balance from records that we like having fine tuned it for the Goldring cartridges. On first hearing the results on both channels, it sounded a bit bright, but it sounded right, so to listen for a few songs & the sound balance is improved, if it takes until the next day to reset a different tonal balance & playing records is fine again, if the amp is no different. So if you hear a new amp & think it sounds bad... maybe it does, or maybe it was your previous amp sounding tired upsetting your hearing balance. Always play amps on speakers for 2-3 days for at least an hour a day, this appears to be the way to get into the amp's sound & then tell if it's accurate or not by other ideas of what you know about sound. In the years we've been upgrading amps, to learn a better cleaner sound & then find other amps almost unlistenable for realising what they lack in fidelity. But still find our 1957 Valve Record Player acceptable as it's not on headphones or speakers so not considered in the same way. The Ghostly sound from our 1932 Radiogram gets a play every now & then on Radio or 78s, yet it still intrigues for it's lo-fi but honest sound. That proves it's in the mind, accepting what it is once it's learnt.


Looking Back In Time: Hifi In 1956 to 1958 Mono Era.

As we have blogged the 1970-1980 Hi-Fi News/RR magazine & found a surprising amount of info that fills in the gaps of why things happened, time to look back to the earliest year of HFN & the Hi-Fi Year Book to see what the story was at the time. We'll be looking at this more from an idea of what there was that is still useable today beyond just being Ornaments as much of the early Hi-Fi has become, would you use any of it daily, if ignoring the fact 62 years old means most needs rebuilding. Would a Hi-Fi user of 2018 have a clue where to even look if they were sent back to 1956 to live? It may all be ancient looking & rather crude in places, but actually 1956 there is enough good stuff to still please, if perhaps the State Of The Art in 1956 is way less than that of 1968. The Hifi Scene came from WWII developments, Decca's FFRR in 1947 was a huge step forward as was Harold Leak with the first use of NFB to get distortion down to 0.1%. By 1954-55 there will have been enough Hifi gear to get the idea of the HFN mag & the Audio Fair. Interest from reading the mags is very clear, if in reality the Hifi Scene was tiny if with a strong interest. The idea of Home Made Audio including Kits was still strong at this time & HFN introduce several kits & ideas for home builders. Hifi News starts off with good intentions to only list "the best" but in reality this is too narrowing & will put off advertisers, the ideals are relaxed by the 1957 HFYB & by 1958 they are being asked for good domestic quality tape machines as these were often very expensive European ones if the UK makers made decent ones that may not be true Hifi of the era, there was a demand. To only list items that are of Good quality is admirable, but not everyone has the money & some cheaper items, being less quality are ignored, but were the items buyers went for. What's Too Ancient In 1956-58. The Loudspeaker ideal had yet to get a Tweeter as standard, if the Stanley Kelly Decca Ribbon Tweeter was around and a few top range ones had tweeters. Full Fidelity as was already on Vinyl Records was still hidden therefore. Turntable arms were crude heavyweight clunky things & most cartridges were still crude ceramic high output ones with high tracking weights, 3g was considered lightweight. In 1956 Mono was still the deal, if EMI released "Stereosonic" open reel tapes, you had to buy two large radiogram sized units to get Stereo. What's Not So Great in 1956-58? The fact nearly all Hifi for sale in the UK is British made means there are standards with Pre & Power Amplifiers that are always built into cabinets, the preamp & basic controls with a long cable for a power amp. The preamps were ugly, the power amps were basic as to be hidden away. What's Good in 1956-58? The Quad II pre & power amp, in Mono still in 1956, is a power amp that was still sold into 1968, if the Mono preamp still limits. Turntables there are a few good ones without fitted arms that you can still use today, the Garrard 301, Connoisseur and others. Loudspeakers there were some more advanced ones with Tweeters, the Tannoy Dual-Concentric had been around since 1947 & the huge GRF & GRF Signature speaker was the pinnacle of early Hifi as was the Klipschorn. Most looked very unspeakerlike compared to 1960s ideas. There actually are some freestanding Integrated amplifiers & freestanding Control-Preamps like the RCA Orthaphonic preamp that was probably the only non UK item mentioned in 1956. Who Is Buying Hi-Fi? By the music mentioned. which is only ever Classical or Light Orchestral, only what was considered 'high brow' types were into the scene. Gear was more expensive & knowledge of the scene was only really for Classical buyers, there is absolutely no mention of any 'Pop' music as that was beneath them. Even Records that were recommended were only of this type. But the quality of the pressings of 'Pop' were often very high, the Jazz & Sinatra music was often mastered & recorded as good as anything else, but even they get no mention. By 1959 the 'Johnny Staccato' TV series featured Jazz & Hi-Fi which will have helped further the scene. But most 'Pop' buyers used Portables, Dansette, HMV or the Pye Black Box, a squarish mahogany veneered turntable with Mono amp that cheekily had "Hi-Fi" on a Gold plastic badge on the front which caused annoyance as it's a better quality Record Player, but not Hifi. Later runs lost the badge & put a 'Black Box' badge instead, a range that continued with a transistor version even, with several changes of turntable as the years progressed. The Stereo Coffee Table early 1960s version, record player & amp but no Radio, with high gloss lacquer tops was the first Record Player we used beyond the home one. Hi-Fi News Magazine began June 1956 after it's launch at the First London Audio Fair. Clearly a well considered idea & by looking at the early issues there is a decent amount of what is clearly Hi-Fi rather than just Domestic Audio gear. It may seem all rather crude today, but for 1956 in an era where The Radiogram dominated, it is encouraging. Later years into 1958 cover the Audio Fair as this is The Venue for hearing new Hifi. The big thing here is all was Mono, one amp means one speaker. Even up to the May 1958 issue all was one channel mono with nothing else beyond the EMI Stereo Tapes. Of the Jun 1956-March 1958 mags we have all but 8 if generally you'll not be missing much not having those. July 1958 after the April Audio Fair show some Stereo amps, more in a later blog. The most interesting 1956-58 Hifi is on our 'List Of Amplifiers' page, a mix of pre-power & intergrateds, all in Mono still.


Early 1953-59 Valve Amps Are Very Limited In Design For Power Ratings.

You'll see high prices being paid for very early Valve Amps as Mono or Stereo, the 1953-59 era ones especially make very high prices. But what do the buyers want them for? Possibly they are just Collectors, these very early amps are not for Upgrading as so much needs doing to even match the quality of the 1965 era Rogers Cadet III or HG88 III. One example as in the July 1958 Hi-Fi News is the Pye Mozart HF 10 a 10w Mono Preamp-Control Unit & a Mono Power Amplifier. The big clue that these will only give a rather soft idea of music, the warm wallowy slow small dynamics valve amp sound that is far from what modernised Valve amps can do is revealed in the Power Output table HFN shows. Your "10w" amp reaches 9.5w at 1kHz, but the rest falls away steeply giving the idea you'll never get anywhere the modern amp sound you'd hope these amps can do, even one in top original grade. The design is going to have to be tamed to not get into distortion as the spec is weak & parts available are limited. So 100Hz is 8.1w, 10kHz is 5.2w, 40Hz is 5.1w, 15kHz is 3.2w, 30Hz is 2.8w & 20Hz is just 1w. The reality is it's only really useful at about 5w & turning it up louder it'll just go into a limited midrange sound, but the reality is at any volume the Bass & Treble extremes will be very limited. It may sound nice, but it's Bandwidth limited & far from accurate. Probably not much different to a Portable Record Player response, it plays music at you, but it's probably not considered Hifi even 10 years after being made. The reasons why are seen in the circuits. Having heard the Quad 22 & Quad II pre-power on our Tannoys in 2002 when we had a high grade all-original set, the Power Amp sounded better than with the 22 preamp which we thought was limited sounding & awful to use with clunky controls. Only can find the later Stereo HFS 20 manuals on HFE if these will be much the same if doubled from the Mono. The manuals show these were to be built into a custom cabinet & Pye made a Mozart one to hold amps & turntable. much like a Radiogram style. The HFS 20 preamp has the aged idea of all signals into high value resistors before amplifying, this can tame the sound for lower spec amps but is a bad idea otherwise. Very low value coupling caps will lose the Bass as the Wattage table shows, if you tried to put unlimited bass, as we found with the Trio WX400U, the whole amp is so low spec it'll go unstable too easily which has the sound fade in & out. Only a big redesign saved the WX400U, done by us just to see what could be done which took us 3 years trying it with new ideas, if only 10w isn't enough power, 15w is a minimum in valves for a sound suited to today's user. The HFS 20 is rated 9w & for the era the power supply is better than some if it'll never cope with the frequency extremes which is why it is so tamed. Lazy valve amp designers of today still use these 60 year old ideas explaining why they aren't very good yet are still cheap for what you think they may be. The HFS20 may have seemed acceptable in it's day & we knew the Pye Black Box Stereo coffee table Record Player to know it sounded clean but Bass would never trouble you, if it didn't sound thin, it just had enough volume & not much more. Turn it up louder & it just got into messy distortion. So if you are looking for a 'modern' sound from Vintage, don't bother with the pre 1963 stuff, it'll sound nice & Retro if rebuilt to spec, but don't think to upgrade it too much as it won't cope. Big clue is to look for the Valve Rectifier EZ type. The later ones are possible with better quality & we've rebuilt the 1963 Trio WX400U & Rogers HG88 III to a modern spec if these both needed so much done.


Matching Power Amps To Pre Amps: Not So Simple.
The problem is there is not one standard level for Pre Out or Power In requirements. On some amps the level is quoted as 100mV, 300mV, 400mV, 1v & 1.4v. The inputs have Impedance of 25k ohm to 47k ohm & 100k ohm. Yamaha CA-1010 power amp in is 1v at 25k ohm, Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 is 100mV at 50k ohm, Trio-Kenwood TK-140X is 100mV at 100k ohm, Sony are different with 1v 90k-100k ohm looking at the TA-1120A & TA-1130. As we found to blog this, the KA-6000 power amp used with the Sony TA-2000F preamp is way too loud & brings up loud hiss, the KA-6000 preamp into TA-3200F power amp needs the volume noticeably higher if doesn't sound as punchy as it should, as it's not got the correct main level. The Quad II power amps need the 1.4v level from the preamp so the Sony TA-2000F with 1v level will match. To use the TA-2000F 1v or 300mV output level, 300mv is reduced from 1v by a resistor which loses quality, the TA-3200F is fine as it requires 1.4v input for full power, but at the 300mV level it's too soft. Having tried a few amps including Yamaha amid the CR-2020 & CA-1010 the output levels matched if the tonal balance on the 4 options of pre-power & both as one unit all differed. Very Confusing Specs. All these 100mV, 300mV & 400mV as low level in/out are confusing if before seeing the 100mV we considered it the 400mV level not the 1.4v level. Similarly 1v or 1.4v are high in/out and are not interchangeable. We first found this years ago with a McIntosh preamp trying it on our Valve amps, the McIntosh C26 preamp has 2.5v output say the specs if the MC2505 amp is rated 0.5v. What does that mean? Are the McIntosh mismatched amid their own range? No, it's the rather foolish way of using specs, the 2.5v that can put out 10v clean is actually the peak value. The pre & power match fine but you'd just get confused by the specs which should be at least consistent. The Sony TA-2000F is rated 1v & the TA-3200F needs 1.4v for full volume. How are these specs read? Confusingly again, they are not mismatched amid the same range if it does suggest you'll never get full power with 1v if 1.4v is needed, just 71%. In Reality Between Pre & Power Amplifiers it appears you can't go by these published specs at all, as in what do they mean, RMS, peak or what? An amp has a fixed gain if some are with adjust level pots beyond the Volume control. As there is no baseline value if McIntosh put 2.5v out with 10v max yet 500mV in, but from what we've found the Low or High should be matched to the same, the Low 400mV preamp needs a 400mV Power Amp just as the 1.4v preamp needs a 1.4v power amp, if perhaps you'll only find out which is which by trying. If the preamp is too hissy, the preamp is High output, if the Preamp needs turning up more than expected then the Power Amp is Low input. Neither 400mV or 1v level is wrong, if they are incompatible, both can sound good if the 400mV one is perhaps better with a low output preamp to avoid hiss & the amplifier having more gain at higher volume also avoid the hiss. A well designed 1v level amplifier, the Sony STR-6120 oddly has no pre out-power in if the TA-1120A amplifier has, can sound as good as the 400mV one if it is harder to get the hiss levels to the expected -90dB. To look through lots of Power Amp specs to see what the typical Input voltage may show the 1v-1.4v level is more typical than the 400mV one. But little point in that on some as the specs even on a 1984 Yamaha A720 show CD-Aux etc needs 15mV (new IHF) which must be a typo for 150mV, you see how confused the specs are. 1986 Pioneer M90 power amp is 1v at 50k ohm, 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 power amp input is 1v 50k ohm, 1973 Accuphase E202 is 1v 100k ohm, more recent from 2011 Audiolab 8200a is 782mV 47k ohm. Many modern items say Line Level for Aux, TV, CD etc is 150mV but to read the RMS output on an Oscilloscope, you'll find Line Level is typically 2v at 0dB.


Quad ESL 57 Electrostatic Loudspeakers.

These were first shown as prototypes in 1954 & stayed in production for many years, lots more info found online about these including those who rebuild these into something more modern looking. These are the large flat old-fashioned looking things originally with gold-brown cloth covering & stick legs. Looks wise they may not please today & take up a lot of room as wide. But these are given much coverage in the HFN/RR magazine & the general idea from Hifi Mags & those at the time is that the midrange being so smooth, precise & open is the real winner here. The 'voice' of the speaker comes from the large side panels with the tweeter section the middle one so it will sound more realistic than an 8" speaker for the large surface area, similar sort of sound is found with 15" speakers after being used to 6" ones. So it sounds very pleasing amid it's limits & was designed in 1954 to complement the Quad II power amps & later the Quad 303 amplifier. The Quad 303 isn't amp we like from seeing the average circuits & obvious limited bass, but this suits the ESL 57 as the criticisms will reveal. The ESL 57 was sold worldwide & early on, USA buyers used to end up wrecking them by playing them too loud. A USA room is usually much bigger than a typical UK room. This suggests the ESL isn't very efficient, but the HFE page says 93dB sensitivity which is just 2dB less than Tannoy 15" Golds, impedance is 15 ohm to suit amps of the 1956 era. Bass is 2 panels & the Treble-Tweeter is the central panel as a 1990s HFN/RR supplement explained. HFE says HFN/RR called it the "Greatest Hifi Product of All-Time" which is their opinion & to need to see what else was considered at a time when Vintage Hifi was still ignored beyond the Monster Receivers & Pioneer-Marantz gear in the UK. The HFE user manual is a later one from the late 1970s 'over 20 years ago' it says, with more modern cloth to the early one & it states 45Hz to 18kHz as the Bandwidth aka Frequency Response if not at what -dB levels. It adds the sensitivity is 93dB at 50Hz to 10kHz but higher 100dB at 70Hz-7kHz which tells the amp is best for midrange, upper-mid bass & lower-mid treble if it'll be lacking on high treble & certainly on low to deep bass, 7dB less at the extremes will be noticed. No doubt the ESL 57 has been used with a Subwoofer & less will have added an extra Tweeter to fill in the missing ranges, if tuning those to match will be far from easy. Power Handling isn't noted, if the Quad II was 15w rated & the Quad 303 is 45w so the ESL 57 has to be a 50w rated speaker if there apparently is a harsh 'crow bar' feature some call it to limit power by apparently shorting the amp? Not sure about that, forum info, but it would explain why USA users 'blew them up' as one c.1966 HFN letter said. More reliable are HFN tests of amps, they simulate an Electrostatic load with a 2.2µf capacitor across the terminals, which some amps don't like as it apparently hits very low impedance at higher frequencies, as low as under 2 ohms, so only certain other amps than Quad's own are suitable. Explains why the Quad 303 circuit is tamed to suit the ESL specs, to not get into trouble or bother reproducing bass you'll not hear. The General Idea on the Quad ESL & later versions is it's a "Hair Shirt" type masochist's speaker, but Valve Amps often head into that territory. Try one, but be sure your amp copes well with a very harsh load or you'll damage the amp. One of the 1990s HFN/RR Vintage Supplements covers this speaker further, with ideas fopr building two of these into a tower speaker plus rebuilding one as these do age as well as being fragile & materials were not made even in the 1990s.


More On Preamp Output Levels.
The blog just above is still confusing to users as the specs differ so much. Easiest test therefore is to use a 0dB test signal & read on the 'Scope the RMS value before it starts to clip. Using the Soundcard with the Sony TA-2000F to give a typical 0dB level on 1kHz sine test signal, the rated 1v output you'd not tell, if it appears by Volume being exactly midway as is typical for integrated amps where the sound starts to flatten off past this, so 1v useable voltage. The max level before it starts to clip is much like the McIntosh one tells, here 9v is possible before it starts to clip which is with the Volume pointer at the 3 o'clock position, a large jump in volume past halfway if unusable & probably would either click relays off or get the amp complaining. The 1v switch setting put to the 0.3v one matches 0.3v well. We tried with the TA-2000F to get more gain to suit the 1.4v needs of the TA-3200F but here just got into hiss being too noticeable on speakers. the TA-2000F Giving 1v at just past midway is typical so there is no point trying to get more gain from the Preamp. Only the Power Amp needs to improve on it's 1.4v, if some amps don't allow much alteration. Trying the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 with it's lower output, is it 100mV like the specs show or it is more a 300-400mV level? Actually at the same just past midway it really only puts out 100mV just before midway on the Volume rising to 900mV at full volume without clipping. Hiss Levels aren't a problem here. The difference is one gain transistor less in the preamp & one more in the Power Amp. On the KA-6000 this with the complicated double Low Filter Switches directly on the Power Amp input isn't a good idea as fierce clicks can be heard especially for upgrading, plus the buffer stage is a pain. The KA-6000 takes in a 0dB signal of 1.06v RMS & at 15kHz with Treble up full it goes from 102mV at no treble gain to 500mV at max treble gain. Bass at 40Hz goes from 96mV to 550mV at full gain which is 10dB gain according to the specs if more like 14dB-15dB using a dB calculator, if this amp has been upgraded so will be wider bandwidth.


Stereo Starts appearing By Late 1957 & Launched Aug 1958.

The ideas of Stereo on records first experimented in the early 1930s & EMI released Stereo Tapes from 1955. The early 1958-59 Stereo scene was later considered by the early 1960s as poorly executed with rushed designs & quality wasn't very good. Stereo Cartridges, Stereo Preamps including a kit by HFN, if then all you needed was an extra power amp & extra speaker to get True Stereo. Classical LPs from the 1958-60 era especially Decca with the 'Blue Band' backs are rare items, there were lots of Pop EPs plus a few Stereo 45s including a few Pop titles on the UK London label made as Special Items not sold in shops as likely for Promotion at one of the Audio Fairs, again the commercial ones sold poorly. Probably the first taste of Stereo for most was got from Radiograms, the Blaupunkt 'Blue Spot' one with the glossy wood & drinks cabinet used to be often found. The reality in 1958 was Hifi was still so new, the few audio Fairs of 1956-58 had greatly increased interest, if overall the goods for sale hadn't progressed. The amp designs as a blog just above shows reveals if you bought Stereo LPs in 1958, you'd not really hear the best out of them until perhaps as late as 1962-63 when the USA & Japanese amplifiers arrived. Powe of amps was 5-10w which with large efficient speakers will give a reasonable volume & there were a few 20w amps around in 1958.


We Like The Original Sound But Don't Want It Different But Do...?
That's an odd question, the person needs to know what they want really, but to read through an email, the amplifier in question pleases in some ways but doesn't on others. To not lose the good bits but better the weaker bits. In real terms, our Recap-Upgrade will sort that as we try to upgrade to get "Excellent" out of amps, otherwise it's a bit of a wasted effort & we will tell you if the amp's probably not going to be good enough, especially with ICs in Pre or Power Amp stages. Only by having played enough amps as original & then upgraded to our ideas which differ on every amplifier as they must due to all amps being different in type & construction can we understand the point here. Some amps we've had, beyond being aged & past their best, we play for a while to judge what to do with them. What are the strong points of the sound? What are the bad points? The Bad points are usually Limited Bass, Soft or Grainy Treble, Cardboardy or Harsh Midrange & Upper Bass that have no "friendliness" or depth to the sound plus Rock guitar sounding weedy. Can we upgrade to give that "friendly" sound you want? Look at our reviews page & see many amps we rate as "Excellent" as upgraded. This means just makes Excellent or High Excellent, but not wanting to limit the interest to just two amps as we've found before. Of course Cost will be the issue, but as we've upgraded so many amps, to do a good amount that gives the best improvement for the money. You could spend Double yet not get the amount of improvement that the First Price can bring. Upgrading works on the 'Learning Curve type of graph, spend the First Price to get a strong improvement, but to spend Twice or Three Times you'll get better each time, but will you notice it, will your Speakers reveal it or will your Turntable or CD be revealed to sound poor the more you spend?


1974-75 JVC VR-5505L Receiver.
One on ebay, if only 12w not for us to get to upgrade as limited power means limited prices, not to outprice things, if it'll still upgrade a certain amount to please as it's not junk. In the 1975 HFYB, JVC remarkably have 13 receivers listed of which 7 were quadraphonic 4 channel ones. But it's interesting to see what it's about to fill in a later JVC range, before their Silver faced square box ranges of later 1970s. The fascia & rear panel looks great for a 12w amp, money spent here looking like a 50w amp quality, but that just hides the cheaply made inside as the seller's pic shows it's pretty basic with a hardboard base even, if a metal top lid & lower chassis, but may pick up Hum if you put it over other electrical items as the boards will not be ground shielded. The circuit is all transistors for Phono, Pre & Power, all modest for 12w as you'd expect. HT is just ±18.5v on a very modest 1000µf power supply which is feeble plus not allowing much space to better that, too cost cut for sure. The design is minimalist with only 6 transistors per channel in the Power Amp suggests it'll sound fresh if limited too. In it's day a good basic receiver to upgrade from a Radiogram with was the idea with these lower powered entry level receivers & at £109.45 inc VAT in 1975 probably good value. But not worth getting to upgrade too much as 12w just won't allow it as we found with the Trio-Kenwood KA-2002 at 13w if that did sound nice once carefully upgraded, 12w-13w isn't really going to do more than give enough volume into 95dB large speakers & then no more before it flattens off, or just as background music on the small lower efficiency speakers you'd typically get to then think it wasn't so good after all. A good looking amp that surprised us to see only 12w for the quality the outer aspect was.


Are We "Bohemian Hi-Fi"?
After watching the 3rd episode of Victoria Coren-Mitchell's "How To Be Bohemian" the realisation that this is us is an interesting one. Look at the Music we champion on this site, the then-undiscovered & obscure to us is far more interesting than the Mainstream if certain tracks like Arthur Brown's "Fire" being Number One hits shows the Underground occasionally does break free. We can't stand The Mass Market ideas of today, if have to use Computers as we can be obscure with them too. In Hifi most sites just praise the Original item not realising that Commercial gear will only ever be 'good enough' as well as tamed to stop complaints. We know about Cost Cutting & Having To Make A Universal Safe Product in the Hifi scene. We found the tedious control of the "Grey Old Men" in the Hi-Fi News/RR magazine into the 1970s a real drag for their severe narrow-sightedness & the joy of one experiment they tried but gave up once the results weren't as expected, as blogged above somewhere. "Our Learned Friends" often fight progress as it makes them look stupid, 1950s low-spec valve ideas carried on way past their useful era as the HFN/RR mags reveal. We have been learning Hifi since the late 1980s & to Question even now "Why Is That There?" to learn what it does & see it's just dumbing down. We see a narrow-thinking UK company, Quad, previously The Acoustical Manufacturing Co. Ltd, since the late 1950s have been using the "For The Closest Approach To The Original Sound" yet to us it's obvious especially for their 33/303 & 44/405 amps that these are just lying to you with mediocre limited circuits to match their limited bandwidth ELS 57 electrostatic speaker. Quad was considered very old fashioned by the mid 1970s as other Japan & USA amps compare. We'll never buy these Quad as there is just too much 'rubbish' to upgrade from close looking at their circuits that it wouldn't work out & the sort of buyers of these Ugly Things aren't the broad thinkers anyway to appreciate improvements are even needed. To Question the "Authority" of these Grey Old Men & see their aged ideas are merely gold plated is what we do if sadly we've yet to hear of anyone else taking this bullish approach to Hifi & being able to better it, as well as selling it to others who may not quite understand the ideals behind it, but be sure the messages we get back from most tell us they are delighted & rediscover their Music Collections. We like that, Keep Music Alive as Life Without Music is Death. Other Aspects of Bohemian life are too base, wasteful & 'not nice' to us, but the rare Free-Thinker unrestrained by an Asshole Boss or Pushy Missus will progress. But some of the Bohemian ideals are today called 'Hipster' and these bearded fellows appreciate the Craftsmanship in The Arts of today, upgrading amps is an Art as it making Historial Swords on those metalworking shows. Restoring items to be as good or better like "Rick's Restorations" & the many Car Shows, "Wheeler Dealers" with the new guy Ant is more progressed for his ability to design things from nothing, we do like to see this, the last Austin Healey one was great for his inventiveness, if the reality is a research team gathering much knowledge is behind this. We're not seeing anyone copy our ideas or even try to imitate us in the work we do, hardly any ebay sellers do inside photos even after recapping or servicing as they call it. More progress is made by daring to try new ideas & not just being Booksmart, which is just lazily accepting Other People's Ideas of decades-centuries ago as Fact, instead of having your own by researching yourself & realising more often than not, that They Were Wrong or are Out Of Date. So maybe as with other Bohemian talents, once the Artist gives up, away goes the Artistry...


Square Waves: We Test Our Upgraded Transistor Amplifiers.

Technical Stuff. The question of Square Wave tests is a difficult one, some amps are tailored to test good but don't sound so great. The Sony TA-1120 left to it's original design beyond recapping & new transistors gave perfect square waves on the Speaker Outputs at 100Hz, 1kHz & 10kHz, but it sounded too dull as the preamp circuit was rather tamed. It used NFB plus treble-limiting circuitry & even a 'T' Bass filter, hardly an honest sound. Interestingly this was tested before we got the Signal Generator, so in effect it hid the Soundcard heavy overshoot for it's dumbing down. Firstly, Square Waves are only reliable from an actual Signal Generator unit, the Sound Card actually puts a heavy overshoot & ringing on a 1kHz waveform, for whatever processing & circuitry is in it, so to use that will give poor results. The TTi TG120 gives good Square Waves at 100kHz with only a tiny overshoot which will be pf in the cable, 'Scope cables have a screw to adjust this. The 'game' here is to use a 'scope to show the input signal, the input from the generator into the 'scope & the Amp itself & then use the 'scope Ch2 to see the output. How messy is that to wire up? The much upgraded Sony TA-3200F set to the same display height, if at different voltages, via the front controls is truly square at 1kHz with a tiny bit of spiking on the falling edge of the square only. 10kHz is still perfectly Square if there is a little more spiking. At 20kHz the rise edge has a tiny curve & still the slight spiking if for 20kHz this is 'pretty awesome' you'll agree. To go down to 100Hz the Input matches the output, at 20Hz the input from the generator isn't square at all, it slants down noticeably, if the Amp output corrects this strangely. Suggests the Generator has a weak power supply to upgrade. No heat on the amp at all trying these, if the gain wasn't set high. To dare try 100kHz on the Amp briefly showed even there it put out a decent Square with some slowing of the input as you'd expect for 100kHz but still a decent square. The 'Scope has Rise Time so we can Compare Rise Time via Generator to via Amp. These we find interesting, for never having tried these tests before. 'Scope reads in nsec, 1000ns = 1µsec At 100Hz Gen about 8.5µsec, Amp about 8.3µsec. 1kHz Gen 0.850µsec, Amp about 1µsec. 10kHz has slight spiking generated if Gen about 0.08µsec, Amp averages about 0.3µsec if with spiking. 100kHz Gen about 0.041µsec, Amp 4.8µsec. That's what we get with upgrading, whether the Generator upgraded on power supply could better that is a question. This shows the Amp's speed & Bandwidth. What to compare it to? We last looked at Slew Rate in Sept 2017 blogs, Rise Time is related to that. 7v/µsec is considered fast Slew Rate, Looking online an IC op-amp is considered "fast" at 50ns for only for the 10%-90% rise time, we have values that are 0%-100%, the 'Scope has 7ns rise time itself. Nothing too easy, so to look at our previous Blogs... March 1974 reviews the Yamaha CA-1000 & it shows 7µsec Rise Time, if no other values. To suggest 6µsec Rise Time is good & 7v/µsec Slewing Rate is a good standard for the 1974-76 era. August 1976 HFN/RR ... Rise Time is 2µsec "Unnecessarily fast" they add. Can only assume they use 1kHz & if so our TA-3200F is about 1µsec. This speed will sound awful on an amp that is not upgraded fully, but it shows how good our upgrades can be & still sound great. Next to try the Sony TA-2000F preamp. This again upgraded as far as we can go, if the TA-3200F could do with a bit more gain. Tests on 1kHz reveal why amps are dumbed down, the signal goes through 7 transistors to get to it's 1v level, 4 amplifying as flat & tone plus 3 buffers, Switching out the Tone tidies the spiking to a degree, but spiking it is. Here Rise Time checked, 1kHz Gen has the spikes if 3µsec over 10 wave samples Amp averages about 4µsec. 10kHz is harder to read Gen 0.34µsec averages about 0.65µsec. 20kHz Gen is about 0.11µsec and Amp goes no lower than 22µsec which is not very good really, the rise is curved & the fall is spiked, so the spiking throughout shows it has difficulties. The FETs are suspected, if we couldn't do anything to better that, beyond duplicate the earlier TA-2000 circuit with transistors. Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 gets tested next, we'll use the preamp & power amp together to see how that does, as it sounds better than the Sony pre-power pair currently, the preamp HF issue probably part of it as is the power amp gain a little lacking. The Generator needs the Scope to show how accurate as the pointer is only vague, if a Digital Generator is a lot more expensive, this suits fine. 1kHz on Gen is 0.85µsec, the Amp with Aux in & Speaker out is with a tiny bit of overshoot if risetime averages about 2.8µsec, the TA-3200F did 1µsec. 10kHz has a slight curve on the rise plus a small but tidy overshoot, if oddly a steady undershoot point. This amp has Doubled Output Transistors. 20kHz Gen is about 0.08µsec with the amp getting a little warmer we can smell, with a smooth rise curve & that dip if still reading 3.4µsec showing it suffers pushed that hard. To briefly try 100kHz & it shows a steady but rather curved off pattern with 1.3µsec. The KA-6000 isn't as fast as the Sonys & could take a little more upgrading. The tests revealed weaknesses in the Preamp that we soon dealt with, knowing the problems. Try the KA-6000 Preamp by itself next to see what a 100mV output one does, using blanking plugs on the power amp, this will tell where the weakness is, if the KA-6000 is world class for our upgrades, it's actually got problems in the highest frequencies. 1kHz Amp is about 2.2µsec, 10kHz has a tiny leading curve & spikes averaging about 2µsec with 20kHz about 1.8µsec. 100kHz is quite curved if still the 2µsec level. This shows the Power amp is better than the Preamp. So try the Power Amp by itself, but the problem there is no level controls like the TA-3200F has, but the Generator can act as that, but not so, it still doesn't have a low enough output, being 175mV still so leave that. Conclusions. The TA-3200F power as our much upgraded version gives probably the best readings you'll ever hear of. The TA-2000F preamp is not so great, if 4µsec at 1kHz still betters many, the 20kHz at 22µsec just reveals it's weaknesses: The FETs. The KA-6000 at 2.8µsec for a 1969 amp is extremely good if it shows weaknesses in the 10kHz-20kHz region that we'll improve on. the fact of the 100mV vs 1v preamp level doesn't seem to be a problem, beyond not being compatible together. The TA-2000F preamp is a worry as it shows the FETs aren't so good as early ones, the background noise is audible on 95dB speakers in the dead of night, it should be silent like the KA-6000 is. The reality is a transistor stage with modern transistors would easily better it & there is the TA-2000 original design to copy. FETs were never used in Amps to the degree the TA-2000F does beyond the Sony TA-1130. Possibly modern FETs if the spec could be matched would solve it?


Square Waves: Valve Amp Gets Tested.

As Valves & Transistors do differ quite a lot in various ways, the amount of amplifying devices, different current & voltage requirements plus the Output Transformer, to test the heavily rebuilt Luxman LX33 of ours. It's just the chassis & transformers, the rest is all our design. It has a Pre Out-Main In so possible to test the Amp as a whole & just for the Preamp. Same tests as above, the Gen outputs the same rise time. 1kHz averages about 4.3µsec, so much for Valves being slow. 10kHz has slight tilting of the sides & a slight overshoot so reads 3.7µsec which isn't as fast as the Transistor amps. 20kHz goes more curved if steady & still tidy with 3.6µsec. To try 100Hz shows a bit of a tilt down to the right of the wavetop on the Amp output, this either means phase error HFN/RR said but to us it means Bass isn't quite true. Here the LX33 has Tone Controls if no Bypass, to try to straighten the curve reveals it is a Bass limitation as adding Bass on Tone rounds the top of the wave off & testing to 25Hz has the curve hit the zero position. This shows valves are great on 1kHz but there is some Bandwidth limiting at the extremes if Bass is still acceptable on the wave Tilt as 100Hz. At 100kHz the Square Wave becomes a Sine wave if at 40kHz it's still got some sign of Squareness to it. This shows the LX33 as it stands is equal of any at 100Hz-10kHz if some roll-off under & above. The Preamp by itself with 1kHz is slightly faster at about 2.9µsec if with a slight tilt downwards on the left of the wavetop. 10kHz has the tiny tilt similarly & a tiny spiking on the right of the wave top at 2µsec. 20kHz is still decent if with a tiny spike if averaging 2µsec. At 100kHz the wave is curved off but still noticeable as a Square rather than a Sine. Conclusion here is this valve amp is extremely fast, a slight limiting under 100Hz & over 10kHz could depend on the transformers as well as how hot you Bias the amp.


Square Waves Don't Tell That Much In Reality.
The above tests show Square Waves are useful to a degree, but the trouble with Electrical Tests is they really don't tell you much. We don't care about THD tests as we can hear what's right or not, THD is just based on sine waves, not music, so unimportant to us. Only by listening with a Trained Ear that takes years & many amps to get right, as well as Upgrading-Redesign will the Best Sound reveal itself. To listen for Background Hiss & Hum, Stereo Separation, Depth of Soundstage as Stereo or Mono, How Punchy the Bass is: Square Waves do reveal limits on Deeper Bass if not how it actually sounds. How Sweet The Treble Is: Square waves will reveal where Treble is slower on Rise Time & from the above Tests even on much upgraded amps the High Treble does stay at a certain Slew Rate beyond a point. We need to get a Grainy Sounding ICs Amp & see how that tests to see what 'Bad Sound' looks like. The Sony pair on the Tannoys again today after using the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 shows quite a difference in sound. The precision may be higher with the Sony but it lacks the extra bit of volume the 1v preamp to 1.4v power amp is, 72% is showing it's limited, to get more gain from the Power Amp is a tricky one. Square Waves don't reveal the Difference in Tonal Balance as every amp differs, even ones in the same model-year range. They won't reveal if an Amp & Speakers match. They only seem to show a certain quality & where there can be improvements made, the KA-6000 getting warm on playing 10kHz Square Waves shows it's not quite there yet. As with any Testing, to use your Ears as well as the Test results. Similar with Cars, how they handle at speed, on cornering or stuck in traffic, the Specs will never reveal that. Reviews of Hifi in the Hi-Fi News/RR were often useless just giving objective results that have no real meaning yet saying "First Class" based on what else was available at the time. State Of The Art is similar, the 'Art' can improve as it did over the 1963-72 era if then it appeared to get worse for Cost Cutting beyond the very top models which were still priced not to be the best.


Vintage Hi-Fi On "Home & Away" Set.

On the Aussie soap "Home & Away" the recently altered flat over the Diner that currently has the new cop Colby & Robbo you can't help but notice his huge Vintage Speakers that look home made, a Receiver amplifier & 1980s Turntable if we assume his Records are in the Army Cabinet they stand on. We got a screenshot of the amp TV Pic & it's a Realistic STA-82 as shown on the HFE Site after a little searching, if the sliders & a hint of the "RS" logo & Realistic wording on this clearer pic than seen before. It's only a 22w amp though & look how high the sliders are set which would push it into distortion. Previously the Braxton house had one of the mid 1970s Sony Receivers like a 1978 Sony STR-V3 style, so good to see the set has vintage gear as props as younger people would buy secondhand gear, if perhaps a 43 year old Realistic is too old. The Realistic STA-82 looks a c.1974-75 receiver with build like the SA-1500 amp from 1974 that we've had. Fairly basic as the era & 22w suggests, service manual is findable showing this one sold better than the early ones. One board for Phono, Tone & Power amp & another for Tuner. Differential power amp & probably much like the SA-1500 which was a bit cost cut in build on the casing if the amp circuit design was better, all transistors on audio here. The early Realistic amps had a quality sound if usually sold to buyers who didn't look after them, suggesting many only sold as big discounted items once the new range appeared in the Tandy-Radio Shack shops.


The Difference Between Repairs & Skilled Recap-Upgrades.

The Akai AA-5800 amp we just got shows differences betwen the Repair Guy & the Craftsman which is us. Repair Guy just does what it takes to get it working, as seen often care is not their concern, whilst it is ours. The AA-5800 originally had 2 core mains that we don't like as it has no Mains Ground & today the Amplifier is usually the only Hifi item with Ground connection. Whoever had this before fitted this modern over-thick 13A size cable. The Moulded plug cable is too thick & not long enough so we fit our usual 5A mains cable of a typical 6ft length as 4ft as here is too short we find. Their job was done fine though & a "Tested For Safety" label on the plug for the day we bought is a bit of a joke on seeing leaky capacitors inside, PAT testing is pretty worthless as we've said before. The repair seems to have knocked out the R channel so new output transistors of at least a compatible type but only one side replaced with ones of varying brand is just sloppy to us, we'd replace all 4 to have them new together. Two adjust pots seem to have failed on the Relay-Protector board & strange huge multi-turn ones fitted which will have to go. Transistors replaced only on one Driver Board may not be the same number as the original, again replace the lot L+R is what we usually do if it works fine here & spec is matched enough, to test further can reveal the repair put in wrong spec ones that stop the Bias voltage as we found on one amp recently. The output transistor resistors one had failed, if they just solder in a wrong value one of the double resistor type with the unused leg bent out of the way rather than go buy a correct one, again to match the set of 4 is doing it right. An amp using caps from 1972 depending on how heavily used you may get 10 years' further use from, if we can hear it sounds tired, not all can tell it's past it's best & will just use until it fails. The leaky capacitors tell us it'll not last long though. We'll just recap the lot to give a "as near new" user experience as buyers clearly do like, no point in just patching it up to work once it's over 40 years old. The person forever taking an amp in for repair will waste more than a proper rebuild could cost, from stories we've heard. They seem to like the fact "it's in for repair" like it's cool, but your tech is just wasting your time & money. At one time the only people buying secondhand Hifi were those who couldn't afford New, in the 1990s vintage Hifi was always £20 we found, today who want's New when it's disposable after 2-5 years & yet a 45 year amp can be rebuilt to last 10-20 years if done well. We've mentioned bad repairs before & to get an amp that's had repairs can be a big job to undo "the idiot's mess" if these days with upgrading all we get, their mess goes with the rest, but it's just when difficult parts are changed that it gets tricky. To see what else the AA-5800 has had done often only reveals once we get deeper. Even things like seeing resistors that are fitted end up to save space, they look like a Spider's been playing Battlesticks as all are not sited neatly, tidy it up as things may short as it's only paint on the resistor ends. Similarly wires underneath messy, a bit of tape long dried leaving loose wires so put several cable ties to group similar cables neatly. Presentation & putting new capacitors in evenly matters, a sloppy mess doesn't encourage confidence in a person's work. Often the wonky components are as-made, we had a Rotel RA-03 amp bought new before getting the Sony TA-1130, with the preamp IC not even pushed flat onto the board, half up in the air & legs still soldered, but just looks poor. To clean the insides & out matters as well as cosmetics tidying if required, without going to reveneer levels, just looks like Care has been put in, not a rush job like TV repair guys do with no care for Hifi standards. So far on the AA-6800, new mains cable to our standard, preout main in connector was just a bent bit of corroded junk so a lucky search found 2 real ones that fitted. The Speaker connectors will be replaced as screw ones are useless even with fork connectors. The top lid is the correct one but looks like it was paint brushed black over what seems the right colour. Again messy so needs tidying. The 'wood' sides are vinyl effect plywood if original. But to a general dealer.. "it works, PAT test it flog it", if their price shows where they are in the line, the many ebay sellers putting 5x the "raw aged but working" price on Attic Finds wonder why they never sell. Too much unknown is in a 40+ year old amp & we are gambling on every one we get & we've had some bad buys as you'd expect, these took a huge amount of work to get right to Our Standard to sell.


Why Don't We Have More UK & EU Amplifiers To Upgrade?
The trouble is as we've found with Bang & Olufsen EU & Goodmans UK gear is that the quality of the designs is just not as good as USA-Japan gear that can be upgraded well & give reliable results. The "Other Amps" page plus the Reviews page shows many have been considered, yet we have no Revox, Tandberg or Braun gear which is an omission. We've looked at these to buy before if condition stops it being worthwhile or price puts them out of reach. The issue here too is Axial caps can be recapped if it’s a lot more work to measure & find sizes, just it uses more general quality caps than the Panasonic Audio quality, to use those with long leads stretched across looks amateurish. The Braun Regie 501 & big 55w Braun CSV1000 are expensive for the retro styling, the ‘Snow White’s Coffin’ radiogram long a collector’s piece, if the audio quality heard is not so good like B&O gear. UK-EU gear isn’t as easy to upgrade as USA-Japan gear & as we found with Goodmans Module 80 once upgraded fully like a Japan amp would get just to see how it behaved, but it revealed how poor the design was in too many ways, so bad & basically the whole amp just couldn't cope except on it's low spec design so we just gave up & rescued the parts back. Bizarre unstable noises, hard clunks on switches, it’s why it was so tamed on bass. So to be wary of UK-EU gear, never tried to fully upgrade B&O 3000 seeing issues & the B&O 4400 similarly. Not tried Tandberg either for similar reasons. Revox & similar on the early amps we've looked, some have bad designs using bipolar high value capacitors that are no longer made. The amount of work to recap with Axial Caps is a lot more involved to measure sizes & order takes ages as we've found recapping Fisher 600T & the power supply of Trio-Kenwood TK-140X. So we'd not really search out the UK-EU gear having tasted enough of it & knowing the issues. Having a collector's piece like the Braun Regie 501 we'd not know how good it was until seeing it here & then the difficulties of upgrading. The USA-Japan gear is just so much better designed giving an endless amount of quality to upgrade as much as we like on some. The UK-EU stuff sadly is very different.


The Hi-Fi Scene From 1958 Stereo until 1964.
Progress is slow in this era, if it does start to grow more by 1963 in reaction to the superior Imported Goods, before that & even into 1967 the UK Hifi Scene was still not much different overall to the Post stereo 1958 era. We detail the interesting progress in Yearly Blogs below. In the non Hi-Fi scene Radiograms & Portable record players like Blaupunkt 'Blue Spot' radiograms & the 'Dansette' type probanly are what most are buying as Hifi is still a small scene not helped by the lack of progress over the 1958-64 era. Tape as Open Reel players of a Rexine covered portable type are hyped as 'the thing to have' & much is advertised & written about them, if the cost of them being 3x a typical amplifier to much more for a decent one will have kept sales low. Most of these were European brands & probably not many machines around now. 1958 to 1964 covered the later Rock & Roll to Teen Pop to early Beatles. On seeing used but not abused records of the era, the heavy run in marks tell what sort of players were being used, autochangers with heavy playing weight if by c.1962 the Garrard players lost the solid one piece arms for the lighter metal tube arms that were kinder on records, if there will have been many playing Beatles on an older Dansette. The 1964 Amplifiers list page of ours shows a few early Transistor amps, these will have been Germanium ones & the poor UK-EU ones that age badly. Only by 1965-66 do the better Transistor Amps from USA which were soon followed by Japanese ones that came to dominate over later years. The 1956-64 idea of British Hifi was to build into a cabinet, if by 1960 the USA brands that UK never saw were starting to be freestanding with self powered Preamps & Tuners, the aged UK amps were still drawing power for both from the power amp, the Quad II/22/AM-FM Tuners were all pulling power from the II poweramp which was a modest design. In Valve Amps the biggest break-through was by 1963 with the Trio WX-400U they finally ditched the GZ34 type valve rectifiers that used a lot of power & limited the designs. We see that only with 'solid state' power supplies, ie Diodes, can any amp ever be considered Hifi & be upgraded into something a modern user would want, the rest are nice but are for Collectors & too old to upgrade, if these are often seen repaired & recapped as like-for-like if not sounding as the owner hoped so they get sold on. The Early UK Transistor Amps were only 10w so not enough power, 15w we see as a minimum for an acceptable volume, plus the aging Germaniums, not to be confused with the superior Japanese ones that don't grow "tin hairs" from the method of manufacturing. The Germanium Transistor itself has a sweet & pure sound that is very appealing. The Birth Of Modern Hifi really is from amps like the 1965 Sony TA-1120, if UK only got it late 1967 by which time the simplified TA-1120A was around.


Hi-Fi In 1962 : A Digest.

Jan 1962
The Beatles' My Bonnie' was first issued on UK Polydor slowly heralds a new Era, gradually moving away from the mainly UK Hifi pre 1962 ideals as is the Pop Music of the era. Tape is much advertised & a Jason amp that stayed advertised until 1965 appears, trying to compete with the USA brands their J2-10 Mk III 12w stereo amp will still be valves if with looks that are better styled than some 1964 UK brands & had a Tottenham Court Road showroom. seems UK brands didn't really progress until Leak & Rogers by later 1964, the Rogers HG88 II is still an ancient looking amp, we had one & it was still an early sort of design if in a better freestanding case but not upgradeable as the next ranges are. January 1962 was still not much different to 1959-60, only the sales rules changing bringing in Competition shook up a staid scene. Overall the Hi-Fi Scene started to 'Get Modern' by 1963 & progress was good by late 1964, if as you can see there were actually not many highlights, Hifi was growing but until the Transistor era, it was still more a Radiogram, Radio & Record Player era for the majority of buyers. Much more to come on the 1965-69 era. Feb 1962 has a Philips 'Starmaker', soon renamed 'Battery Portable Tape Recorder' the first small portable Tape Machine sized like a Radio with the Reels on top. Aimed surely at Teenagers or Would Be Reporters with 8.5" tape. "Philips The Friend Of The Family" is their rather naff brand name slogan before "Simply Years Ahead" that was equally suspect if trying to endear the brand & for the Philips record label it did well. TSL have an early Transitorised Tuner if operates on 9 & 3 volt batteries, why not put a transformer in for mains as no-one would buy it. Radford DSM Control Unit & STA 12 power amp look far more advanced than even the Quad 22/II & we've seen high prices paid for this & the higher power ones which seem to be the best UK amps of this era. Mar 1962 sees likely the first Sony ad for the 521 tape machine with flaps to direct the sound from the built-in amplifier. Still the typical suitcase style if the Sony mechanism looks years ahead of the usual crowd, price 124gns = £130. Early appearance for Shure cartridges that look ahead of their time too. The Antex soldering iron looking nearly the same as the current 25w ones was new this month as a 15w version. One of the earliest Hifi Mail Order companies was C.C. Goodwin of Wood Green, London N22, their stock was nearly all UK product with just a few Cartridges by B&O, Shure & Philips. Apr 1962 which was the London Audio Show month gets more advertisers & shows how early Hifi still as as a full page ad for Brimar Valves of the ECC83, EF80 & TV valves shows. Garrard 301 in the strobe-white-silver panels design. Goodmans New Axiom 201 & 301 12" speakers get a double page ad. Vortexion with their Pro gear 120/200 is 120w continuous & 200w peak looking like lab gear, a 30/50w version probably used by the Beat Groups & a 12-way Electronic Mixer for 12 microphones, plus smaller 3 & 4-way ones, 2x5 way for Stereo with Echo Chamber output. Joe Meek type gear. Aceley Electric Ltd of Essex have B&O record player & pick up arm plus Avel-Dynaco kits or ready made amp & preamp. Tannoy ad woth the Dual Conentrics will be 'Silvers' at this time plus their cartridge range. Leak Sandwich Speaker was out by 1962. Wharfedale & Gilbert "G.A." Briggs advertising his books, see our Books & Mags page for more. May 1962 gets a big full page ad for the Brimar ECC807 valve as used in Rogers Cadet III & HG88 III if these were only made by this brand & the problem with Rogers amps is the availabilty of these which will be aged & used, old valve tend to burn in to the design & don't like upgrading as the spec differs. B&O ad with the Beolit 609FM radio that is still considered a good portable Radio, the B&O 608 amplifier with 15w we've thought wasnt so great on being asked to upgrade one. CBS introduce tape to compete with several other brands, Irish tape was another one we saw advertised often in the early HFN, distributed by A.C. Farnell who sell electronics components still. June 1962 has nothing new. Jul 1962 has Decca with the Decca Decola stereo Separates, the Decola originally being the 1947 PX25 Radiogram often ripped apart for the power amp which is a pity as the rest of the unit is very classy with felt lined interior. The 1962 amp version is a "24w" version, actually 12w per channel, with classy speakers with 6 mid-treble drivers unusually. Heathkit by Daystrom Ltd regularly have full page densely filled ads with kits to build in many Audio, Hifi & Portable items. The HMV 555 10w Stereo amp with Oscilloscope distributed by Clarke & Smith Mfg Co is one we've seen make high prices, i the innards as 10w is still pretty basic, why an Oscilloscope is needed & will it still work. The Collector type amps rather than use daily or even at all. The First Fully Transistorised Integrated Amplifier is the UK-made Radon R610 mono & R600 stereo, 10w with MM & Crystal Phono, full range 20Hz-30kHz & -60dB noise level which will mean too much hiss on most speakers which is a problem with the early Hifi, Signal:Noise Ratios of today & even amps like the 1965 Sony TA-1120 are -100dB or better. Another notable Turntable Arm is the Worden Articulated Pickup Arm, a woodern arm that starts the disc with the headshell section tilted in if by the end it straightens up. A good idea of sorts if it's suggested add 0.5g weight to typical tracking & it soon disappeared once the MM cartridge got popular. The reply to the review was very sniffy & revealed 3.5g tracking on Decca cartridges suited it as did 1.5g ADC. It failed is the historical reply. Aug 1962. One of the best sections in early HFN were the John Berridge sections including his later reloacting to USA, if sadly Nov 1964 reported his early demise in his late 30s. One of the best Hifi writers of his era. Imhofs of 112-116 Oxford Street London WC1 seem to be the biggest Hifi sellers in the coutry & later imported Fisher amplifiers confirming their importance, Google shows they sold TV, Records & Hifi until 1981. Just too late for us to see them if we saw the HMV shop at 150 later that year. B&O has the first modern looking turntable on the Model 608, a recessed platter on a plinth with thin type arm fitted, just the platter being undersized to a 12" LP dates it. Sep 1962 says "Someone Had To Do It!" if the Thorens TD.124 does what the B&O 608 just above does, if it has no plinth. Modern curved tube thin arm, proper 12" platter keep it a popular one today, if the Garrard 301-401 is still preferred. The Goldring-Lenco Gl.70 is like the B&O 608 if a larger platter. B&O got there first. Lowther LL15S 15w monobloc a amplifier gets a review with circuit diagram too, a GZ37 valve rectifier puts it in the 'too early to upgrade' category, if early stage voltages are 80-90v so no coupling caps need & the EL34s get 1µf coupling which is unusual when other amps still use 0.05µf, ultralinear mode. ECC82 is the only known use in a UK amp of the era says the review. Decca Mk II Pickup Arm is the first of the thin tube arms going back to seing on the very earliest Decca Stereo LPs from 1958-59, we had the headshell once & though it sounded nice but was very dull sounding & it does say 50k ohm loading too. Oct 1962 has the first Pioneer Receiver, SM-801, power is misleading, 90w is 45/45w max power, 70w is 35/35w undistorted, if these are USA type Peak Ratings, likely it's a 15w RMS amp to define it as 7591 valves are no more than 18w, like an EL84 if specs differ. 'Howard Tape Recorders' is the first HFN ad to show a Younger Teen-Beat Music Liking Person, a messy-haired pretty blonde early 20s woman with the mic going into a Pillar PO Box. Deal seems to be pay monthly type & the ad runs for many months. She'd be nearly 80 if still around. Nov 1962 has the first Sherwood ad S-5000II Amp, S-5500II amp & S-3000II tuner. Probably the first USA amplifiers imported in the UK since the mid 1950s RCA Orthaphonic range. John Crabbe, later HFN/RR Editor becomes the Technical Editor this month. Pickering & Ortofon have regular ads though the year for Stylus Cartridges or Pickups as they were called then. Dec 1962 has the Garrard AT6 automatic record player with arm, seen in better Radiograms of the era & the 1962 Pye Black Box Stereo Coffee Table version we used in our early record playing days, if as a 19 year old unit then. a more lightweight arm & it never scratched any records or wore them like the earlier Dansette could. Overview of 1962. The lifting of Trade Restrictions brought the better USA & EU gear into the UK & it's very clear this competition improved the Hi-Fi scene greatly. Still lots of 1950s looking UK Amplifiers if the style of adverts as well as the newer gear is very much improved from earlier years. 1962 is still very early but clear signs of progress.


June 2018 Blog

Hi-Fi in 1963: A Digest.

Jan 1963
shows there is already steady progress, as 1962 details, towards more familiar items, the HMV Stereoscope amps first seen in 1962 were a step towards Hifi & make good prices if as with most 1956-64 Valve gear we do wonder why for the circuits are still very basic. Sony with Tape Machines & other brands like Gevaert (pre Agfa merge) & Ampex show the non UK brands. Goldring turntables look far more modern, if these are armless ones you'd add an SME to, Revox Model 40 amp, 10w valves, is an early EU import with UK branch even, KEF Celeste, Tandberg, Sherwood S-5500II integrated amplifier is one of the first USA amps to get UK distribution. Pioneer SM-Q300B Stereo Receiver another first. Pickering 380A & Shure M33-5 cartridge from the USA. Progress by Jan 1963 indeed all show how trade restrictions that were recently lifted brought in the Best Of Worldwide to the UK & soon many UK brands couldn't compete on price or quality, as their gear it has to be said was old fashioned, crude, ugly & still without much progress since 1958. But here the Valve Amp was still King, if to a standard now that the Rogers Cadet & HG88 III from 1965 would progress on, the earlier Rogers were still crude & all British slow progress. Feb 1963 still has a huge amount of ads relating to Tape machines & blank tape, despite it being a small market, the machines were 3 times the price of an amplifier on average, so competition was fierce. World Record Club ad highlights Tapes over LPs any 3 for 30/- introductory offer, if WRC was always tame on what it had, a Platters R&B LP being the most interesting on their selection. Goodmans report their new 12" Axiom 301 was popular, probably used by many Beat Groups if 20w via a PA amp will still be loud. Purchase Tax was reported to be reduced on many items, not Amplifiers but Records, all to help The Beat Era along, how kind. BBC Stereo broadcasts were expanding to Snday Mornings, if the amount with Stereo MPX Tuners will have been tiny. A London shop called 'Politechna' must have confused several or more to read 'Polite China'. Goldring 88 turntable is another new no-arm one if it's not one of the more wanted ones today. The Decca Separates speaker mentioned above gets a review to say how smooth it sounds with 6 tweeter units, large surface area of the 6 x 4" cones, if sadly it's 15w and 15 ohm rating keep it away from being much wanted beyond early Valve Amp users. Rogers Cadet II gets a review, one rarely seen, it's a small sized preamp with just 6w rated power amp, for building into cabinets, the earlier Cadet III was a 2 part unit if most you see are the later one piece unit. Mar 1963 have Lowther with the top-handle PM4 speaker & the Acousta enclosure, 'famous' they say yet no specs or price shown. Lowther made very few items & as the List Of Amps page shows, they still had unsold ones into 1970. Not much new in this issue if the Sherwood S-8000 II receiver rated 30w which is likely 15w per channel for £138, never seen one for sale, as with the early Trio & Pioneer receivers few will have sold in the UK. Apr 1963 has a bizarre front cover with Louis Armstrong trapped in a huge valve amid circuit diagrams, some night that must have been. Audio Show edition means a thicker issue if later 1963 ones match it for size. Hotel Russell in Russell Square London WC1 was used for several years until interest grew. Largs is another of the big London WC1 shops sellin g Hifi & Cabinets. Sherwood announce the First Public Demo of Stereo Multiplex, the BBC will have broadcast more Stereo to make this possible. Sherwood XP-1 a "200w fully transistorised receiver of the future" also shown, if 200w is likely 50w RMS, but nothing on Google shows it was only a prototype, if someone has it still, maybe, it's pictured on p773, a long slimline unit with coupling transformers first seen at the 'New York Audio Fair last Autumn' they say. The article on the fair says Radford have transistor gear with SC5 preamp with 5M, 6 & 6M versuions if the power amp isn't named or on our List of amps page. A SC4-20 transistor integrated 20w amp expected by May. Tannoy York & GRF are newly out as standard box versions instead of the corner units as previously. Just to show the lack of progress by UK makers, a 1958 looking box Derritron (Chapman) 306 8w amp is unlikely to have impressed many compared to the 'new stuff' of the last year or so. The 'Paraline' DIY kit speaker is first mentioned & must have been popular as it's heard of for a few years with updated versions, if to us it's not so good with a speaker driver at 45° facing up towards a wall to reflect sound, Stereo imaging will have been limited, if it was made as a budget price speaker, the double version is nearly 7ft long at 82" total, a space waster too. Again the USA amps are way ahead, the H.H. Scott 299C at 136gns (£143) if we assume a wood case was available too. Also shown for many years are the Cecil Watts products, the infamous Dust Bug today is useless & leaves marks on Garrard 301 plinths, if at the time pre perspex lids, you left the disc to collect dust & the Bug picked it up. The Disc Preener velvet tube was popular too, if in reality it just dragged dust over the record more than remove it. May 1963 shows the 1963 Hifi Year Book was out earlier in the year, if later the difficulties of making a book with new Audio Fair items in April meant the book could be out of date, so later it came out in the Autumn. Mullard Control Unit pre amp by Stern Radio as a new product still looks so old fashioned, yet the ads show this strange mix of outdated UK gear & flashy USA amps & EU tape recorders of more sophistication. The UK stuff just looks tired & through the 1960s many UK brands deservedly fade away for not updaing their looks or circuits. The HMV Model 655 10w Integrated Amplifier has better looks & is available as the 657 power amp & 656 preamp, if it's still valves, the HFN reviewer says it's a good looker, if in reality still way short of Sherwood, Pioneer & Trio. Jun 1963 has the Audio Fair report, but the inside cover has a big USA Fisher X-100 amp looking so classy, £59 17s buys the non cased version for a 20w USA rated Amp, likely 10w if the X-100-B is 15w. We have the slightly later X-100-B looking similar to upgrade as of typing. The UK Rogers HG88 II for £40 on a following page with 12w just looks so basic in comparison. £40 in 1963 is £800 in 2018, would buyers today spend £400 extra to get quality? The Sherwood Stereo test is revealed as them playing a Stereo Record & using their own local transmitter of low power, no BBC help yet. In this era, "Readers' Hi-Fi Installations" pictured the gear people actuaslly used, most was UK gear built into ugly cabinets & the amount of Quad gear pictured shows that the Hi-Fi Press had sold the brand very well to the Public. The Naim-Linn type of Press Hype was years before with Quad. The fact that a Hifi Mag tells you how to build a 'Transcription Pickup Arm' seems impossible, but here one is, if you'll need an advanced metalwork shop to make one, unlikely many bothered to try if we've seen some laughable home-made arms that came with our cream Garrard 301, bits of wood & crudely shaped metal. Pioneer SM-500 is a 25w valve amp we'll blog on below as we have the circuit diagram. Jul 1963 has the Eagle advert as seen a few months before, but no info on what they are, amps, tuners & an early double tuner Receiver by the looks of it, the early way to get Stereo FM so obsolete by now for Multiplex. Aug 1963 Wharfedale get on the Compact Speakers "with Clean Bass" they say, if 23in high is a lot bigger than the tiny 11" Goodmans Maxim out in the previous year. Sherwood are advertising every month of recent issues, if how many they sold doesn't match with the ads for what you see trying to find one as they are rare. Probably booked a year's ads in hope of big sales that didn't come. Sep 1963 has Eagle again if finally realised they needed info on the ads. the double tuner rec eiver with 2 Magic Eye tuner 'meters' is the SM.Q141 with '14 watts' which may be 7w RMS per channel or only 5w. The tuners are one per channel it reveals to get the obsolete FM Stereo that was half on FM, half on AM. Eagle SA.150 says "15w" but on looking at their valve amps on our 'List Of Amps' page for 1964 probably 7w RMS per channel. Ortofon SPU-G/T-E Moving Coil Cartridge is reviewed, Not quite the later MC type as 2mV output & it's a headshell unit of the Technics type connector used today still, not just a cartridge £29 or £26 without the transformer. Oddly they reviewed the SPU-G/T only in Nov 1962 so the E is Elliptical of 0.9 thou major x 0.31 thou minor & must be the First Elliptical Stylus if the sizes seem to be Mono Compatible as the review tells & tracks fine at 2g. H.H. Scott 299C amplifier at a hefty £142 new (£2800 2018 equivalent) gets a review, a 40w amp if it's still got a Valve Rectifier which is a pity.Oct 1963 has a Trio (Kenwood) advert, the first one of theirs in the UK has the Trio W-41U amplifier we've had, if no Trio WX-400U yet, also has the Trio W40J 10w RMS receiver, Trio W38 7w RMS, Trio WE24 5w RMS integrated, Trio W45A 9w integrated, Trio WE8S which is about 4w RMS & Trio W10-10.S unrated receiver, a lot of similar powered models a few turn up as Trio were still trying to sell these in 1967 when they were long out of date in looks if great retro looks now. The UK brand 'Jason' shouts on a full page of Expansion, if are still selling 1962 amps & soon faded away. UK Hifi manufacturers really did fail to keep up with the USA & EU progress at the time, the newly imported Japanese amps kept the USA quality seeing how good some of the best gear was. "Transistors In Audio" is a comprehensive 14 page section, not including ad pages, that we'll blog separately on. More Pioneer amps with the obsolete Eagle idea of Double Tuners, some crafy salesmen flogging obsolete gear, the Pioneer SM-G204E & Pioneer SM-Q300E likely 8-10w RMS by the 14w-17w max power ratings. Fisher X-100 gets a review, GZ34 valve rectifier as we noticed on looking at the X-100-B when we helped a customer buy a Fisher valve amp. HFN like the styling if don't say anything about the sound as typical, if hearing the X-100-B as original, the buyer of this will have stepped up several flights in quality based on more average UK gear. Nov 1963 shows a typical way the adverts are now, here for expected Xmas sales a big run of the main dealers & brands is interesting. Imhofs has a double spread as the first pages showing a range of the best items if probably only for the richer buyer, Imhofs show they are the Best Hifi Shop in the UK for importing Fisher & the range they stock. Cecil Watts with the Dust Bug, Parastat & Disc Preener all out of date by the end of the 1960s. Revox, Largs, Goldring, Stern-Clyne amalgamate for their Kit amps, Dulci (Lee Products) & their 1958 looking UK gear looks so old fashioned now, Goodmans Axiom 10 gets a page ad if only 10w, Modern Electrics of London W1 are one of the first to do those densely worded ads covering many products, Garrard, Tele-Radio of Edgware Road W2, Eagle, Heathkit by Daystrom more kits on a double page, Brenell with their 1950s looking tape machines, Clarke & Smith with the 655, 656 & 657 the same as the HMV ones from earlier if rebranded, Decca Anti Rumble Pick Up Arm sounds a bad idea as the arm must lose energy in soft construction to lose bass & more than the bass, C. C. Goodwin another densely worded ad, Sony distributed by Tellux of Essex & of course Quad get the page facing the Editorial. Further in Driitron-Chapman announce a "New Range Of Elegance" if it's far from the USa & Japan styling, still using 1950s white bakelite knobs with gold inserts is still looking no later than 1960 to us. Armstrong by this time look better, we did buy the Armstrong 221 hoping it'd be a good one based on these looks, if the circuitry was mediocre as we reviewed, looking at the prices shows they are much cheaper than competing UK brands. H.H. Scott 299C ad "here comes... and there goes 136 gns... and worth every penny of it". Aimed at those who must have the best, if how it compares to the Fisher of a lower price we'd like to know if USA ebay doesn't really have any & the age will mean so much to rebuild. The amount of Teak Hifi Cabinets that are Radiogram shaped interests, a big market in these as build-in amps like Quad needed them, but after 50-60 years how many got thrown out unaware of the good stuff inside. Explains the rarity of early gear if usually ones kept behind doors & lids are in high grade as the Quad II system we had in 2002 was from an unseen cabinet with 2x Garrard cream 301s. Nagra III tape recorder is the first UK showing of this premium Swiss made professional machine, price £339 is £6600 today. The review says it's world class & probably for an open reel machine today it'll have many wanting it in a similar way to the best cameras, if ebay shows £300-500 is an expected price today. Dec 1963 adverts add Stentorian-Whitely speakers ad that's an occasional regular, Philips Tape "it's ready packed in colourful Christmas wrappers", Telefunken tape recorders, Vortexion with their high power pro gear, Kodak with blank tape, Agfa pre the merger. Leak gets their ad after the editorial "lowest prices highest quality" which means we sell decent midprice gear, a cabinet with the Point-One stereo preamp £21, Stereo 20 power amp £30 & Trough-Line II FM tuner £29. Why they call it 'Troughline' is so ebay sellers spell it wrongly. Trio has the Trio WX-400U if a typo as '4004' hides it, 99gns to you nearly double the price of most of theirs expect the 79gns W38. Scotch even have an ad, 3M as their long Minnesota Mining & Manufacting Co Ltd & they too have colourful xmas packing ion their blank tapes if they use an outdated 3-letter word to describe it, if looking at the 4th Santa maybe it's the right word, yeah like anyone'll see the ad to understand that. Ferrograph don't advertise much "The Incomparable Ferrograph" is a weak slogan. A 2 part article on the USA Audio Scene will get a blog below. The Hampstead High Fidelity cabinet is a big teak, walnut or mahogany cabinet. Well laid out with a Turntable & Tape Machine under a wood lid, no perspex yet, but the problem of where the Tuner & Preamp, at this time the Quad or Leak would be fitted is given a pull out section that tilts forward to show the fascias to use. a good idea, but the trouble is everytime you open - bump - everytime you close - bump - is what the Hifi gets as it's a full width section masybe with 10kg weight. Bumps mean Hifi fails & for valves to be shook up, it'll have had repairs often if likely the shop offered repairs unaware their design caused it. A Bizarre Mains Plug idea "Universal Mains Plug" to use older round pin plugs that we saw around in the 1980s if they should have been upgraded long before plus the modern square pin plug that's rectangular. The idea is the pins carrying mains retract, but again the problem is after a few uses they'll wear & could start sparking causing heat. Pre British Safety Standard Kite Mark days. Braun CSV 13, a smart all-white amplifier is a 12w valve amp for £75, likely these are rare & expensive, if ebay reveals not too much as £250-£350 will buy one, a German sold one shows it's very plain looking made just of bent metal panels, DIN connectors on the back & the insides do have that "European Radiogram" quality to them if it does have Bias adjust pots & no valve rectifier. One supposedly restored by a pro tech only made £250 & seeing their poor effort it explains the price. The Braun L60 speaker for £50 is futuristic-minimal looking, a white box on chrome leg square hoops like chairs. Then to see a Bryan Model 400 amp 12w for 60gns looking old fashioned back to the dated reality of UK amps. Trio W-38 receiver gets a review, 7w is all it is for the nice looks, ECL82s with 221v, Double Tuners AM/SW & AM/FM. the reviewer notices the 220 ohm 'stabilizing resistor' unaware it's in the WX-400U to keep headphone use safe, if thw W-38 has no headphone explaining why it wasn't understood. The 0.005mfd coupling caps were considered very low & they pick up on issues that the WX-400U had when we were trying to get the best from it, MM Phono lacked bass as did the WX-400U. The looks impress, worth buying for the looks alone even. Another shop that grew over the 1960s-1970 gets an early ad, R.E.W (Earlsfield) as they called themselves for years in Upper Tooting Road, London SW17. Telesonic end the issue with one of those densely packed ads if with photos too & with Monthly Payment terms being the first time if the Sept 1963 ad is similar. Buy Hifi on HP starting the Buy On Credit world. Overview of 1963: A long blog section here shows actually more things of interest than we'd expected, a big increase on 1962. But again for the Modern 2018 user there's not really much you'd want to use. There are interesting amps but they are 55 years old & not to be trusted for more than brief use. 1963 Speakers & Turntables that are useable are still limited to just a few.


The First All-Transistor Amplifiers Of Higher Power Were By Fisher.
Jan 1965 HFN shows a review of the 35w Fisher TX-300 amplifier. This was only imported by the big 'Imhofs' London shop & a $329 amp cost the UK buyer £169. This will have been the first Transistor Fisher to get to the UK if the earlier Valve ones Imhofs imported. 35w power for 1964-65 is very high, most other Transistor Amps going back to 1962 were usually 10w Germanium ones mostly of UK manufacture & not ones we'd consider trying for the low power. This clearly predates the Sony TA-1120 which arrived Nov 1965 if UK didn't get it until 1967 by the time the 1120A version was out if there will have been some earlier models. To know the USA Hi-Fi Scene better to find when McIntosh, HH Scott, Marantz, Trio-Kenwood & Sherwood first had early higher power transistors if sites showing this info take some searching. McIntosh first Transistor Power amp MC 2100 105w & MC 2505 50w in 1967. The MA 230 integrated amp in 1963 was transistor preamp & valve output hybrid & MA5100 45w from 1966 was all transistors. Marantz first transistor Power Amp is the "15" 60w from 1968 & the "18" 40w receiver.


1969 Sony TA-1166 & TA-1144 Rare Non UK Sony Amplifiers.

A reader in Sri Lanka recommended the TA-1166, if we didn't know of it as being in the UK, this "missing link" of the Sony Amplifier Range strangely didn't get imported if Google finds info & pictures. We consider it a Missing Link between the 1967 TA-1120A & the 1971 TA-1130. There are similarities to both & this amp is a Semi Complimentary one without the output coupling capacitor having ±40v HT supply. The styling on both is very different to the 1120-1130-1140-1150 design, looking quite like the early 1970s Marantz amplifiers with sliders & a black middle panel on a silver fascia together with some UK looks in other ways, not one you'd instantly see as a Sony. Back panel looks more like the Sony STR-6050 with pre out-main in connectors & a switch, not connecting cables as the TA-1120(A) had. As with the European styled Sony STR-6850 we had, the experimenting in styles by Sony around this time shows in the Brochures of the era, if clearly only certain countries got the TA-1166 & TA-1144 as an 'Export Model' has DIN sockets duplicating the Tape Connections. A Japanese brochure found online shows a Sony ST-5300 tuner in the same styling. The TA-1144 manual we have & it's a 30w one, the TA-1166 assumed to be 45w-50w. There is also a similar looking Sony TA-1000 that is likely 15w. Inside images on the blurry manual show it's all on one level as the 1120(A) & 1130 are. The TA-1144 will be a midprice amp, what the TA-1166 is like is unknown as no photos found. The circuits will be quite similar if build inside could be different. Still built on several PCBs & the Tone Sliders are unusually stepped sliders, not just a continual slider, assume it must be notched in use to be precise. Phono stage is more basic than the TA-1120(A) or STR-6120 with 2 transistors, Tone is 2 transistors & quite like the STR-6120, Power Amp is 7 transistors, no Differential. Regulated Power Supply with 4700µf is decent for the era. Overall it'll probably sound like the Sony STR-6050 which is an earlier 1969 design, a clean sound if limited deep bass & spec quite modest. One that would likely upgrade well.


Germanium Amps: Are They Any Good?
As all original, a Germanium amp has a soft pleasing sound, if not exactly fast & the circuit will be limited to keep it within it's limits, as well as being generally aged & a recap needed. The 30w KLH 27 receiver from 1967 is all Silicon except the Power Amp Drivers which we found were "not capable" for a 30w amp with a typical upgrade, so put Silicons in instead, plus the TO3 outputs were found to be Silicon too, so now the whole amp is. The Fisher 600-T & Fisher 440-T are nearly all Germaniums including the Output Transistors. An interesting design that sounds very pleasing with it's detailed if slightly retro sound. Tailored to fit the Germaniums spec is an unusual design, if very well created, it's not so honest. Another Germaniums amp was the Duette SA-500W which was a 1966 Japanese amp imported into the UK to be sold off cheap in the early 1970s. It was a strange one, nice sound if some crudeness in the design, but no circuits to see where. We recapped it, found some oddities & as the driver Germanium was hissy we put in different ones. The Germaniums did hiss a bit, the S:N ratio is not so good if the Fisher again was cleverly tailored to get the best from them. The buyer found it a wild amp on their speakers for the scary bass they said, if on our Tannoys it was fine, clearly it needs well damped speakers. The 1966 JVC MCA-104E was a better Germanium design than the Duette & it had a pleasing sound if again a slight hiss. The current Germanium amp the 1966 Rotel 100AMP appeared to have bad PNP Germanium outputs despite being the same number as the JVC MCA 104E 2SB 407s. We bought some NOS ones that were reading bad C-E as our old ones. To change the amp to NPN Silicons was a bit extreme if the Rotel 110A manual helped. The sound difference just for changing PNP Germanium to NPN Silicon took a rather blurry aged amp, even with the pre-power recapped, to sounding a lot better & we're playing it as we type. The softness & hiss of the Germaniums is noticeable & on playing bassy Reggae the amp with the Germaniums & still the original power supply can't cope occasionally. The Rotel pre & power amp has Germanium on all except the Driver which is a Silicon as is the Phono stage. 15w amp here & usually a Germanium amp of the Japanese design, which the USA Fisher 600-T & 440-T are very different, are usually at 10w for a reason, so they can cope. Higher power is a Silicon design which is why the KLH 27 was so poor until we rebuilt it. But the Germanium sounds softer if still detailed which may help hide rough sounds on less good inputs & edgy speakers. For the fact the Rotel 100AMP is much improved for Silicon outputs & with the tuner it's cute in the wood cases, as well as a rare one, to initially consider to upgrade it all from Germaniums just to see how good the design which is much like the Rotel 110A can be, but we wanted to have a Germaniums amp. The real progress in Hifi came once Germaniums were abandoned is the reality, if the Retro Sound is nice, it's a small & wallowy sound on the Japanese amps. UK-EU ones with known bad Germaniums we'd not bother with. The Rotel 100AMP gets the whole lot of the resistors on the tiny pre-power board replaced just for the hell of seeing what happens as there was a fault that wouldn't reveal without too much unsoldering. It solves the strange Balance Control issue so turned to L the R silences as the design suggests. The Rotel 110A is only similar on the Power Amp, the 100AMP has an extra transistor in the preamp likely as a Buffer. Sounds more stable with new resistors if still has the 5 Germaniums per channel to see what they sound like. The problem with Germanium is the S:N ratio is poor which is why they are so tailored in the Fisher 440-T/600T. The background hiss sounds like a seaside with a bit of a mainsy hum too. Wouldn't call it small & wallowy now with new resistors & new caps on that board too, if the rest is not recapped, the thick Retro bass is obvious if not excessive as part recapped. Is there a way to live with the Germaniums, the JVC must have been quite tamed to not be hissy. JVC MCA 104E is tamed quite a lot, the Germaniums sound being smooth is from tailoring of the design to give the best sound & least Hiss. The truth of Germaniums is out. But the Rotel 100AMP on the pre-power board Germaniums is a pleasing Retro sound, a bit crappy before Power Supply Recapping with limits but maybe that's the "warm vintage sound" others like & our upgrading to give a more precise sound isn't everyone's taste, but once you hear the upgraded as we'll put in the 100AMP, the cuddly Retro Sound will be forgotten about. But to try the amp with the hiss, hum & leaky stereo on speakers first. Hum is more noticeable than Hiss, if the amp itself sounds nice & there is a clean sound in the amp beyond the Hiss & Hum. It needs more work, but is it worth keeping? See a Sept 2018 blog conclusion.


But You Said... "Retro Bass & Germaniums Sounded Nice".
This is based on a Germaniums amp on the Pre & Power Stages if Silicon Outputs were needed. Recapped only partly on the larger caps as ones to order in. Beyond the Hiss & Hum it does sound nice like the sound you heard on lesser Audio Gear when you first took notice of Music, old Valve or European Transistor Radiograms rather than Portables. One Note Honky Bass with no Deep Bass but not thin sounding, a surreal sort of swishy sound & a bit rolled off on high treble. The Bass is bearable on some music if annoying on others. Playing 1960s Ska it has that 'Dancehall' flavour to it a bit like an overplayed valve amp & sounds rather Authentic. Here the Rotel 100AMP has new resistors & capacitors on the pre-power plus Silicon outputs & now a new main capacitor, if still the Pre-Power board is still Germaniums & will stay that way. Look on the better Audio Restoration programs like DC7 & they have a Virtual Valve enhancer to give the Harmonics that music Digitally Recorded when made has, to give it some character, in the same false way Crystalliser & Bass Enhance does on Soundcards. They need to add a Retro Bass & Germaniums limiter to DC7. The Fisher 600-T had this sort of sound, precision with the Retro sound that was an interesting one to hear on speakers, if not as honest circuit-wise to get the best from the Germaniums, but you could just hear how The Beatles 'Revolver' & other classic LPs of it's 1964-66 era would have sounded. The Rotel has that sort of sound too & we could upgrade it to Silicon but it'd lose the Retro Sound & just be like a 15w version of other amps. So if it's still noisy once other work is done, why not get the same Germaniums the JVC MCA 104E had? 2SB22 & 2SD30 are still buyable for the drivers, as are the originals. The Rotel is better without the TO3 outputs as Germanium, as the Sanyo ones are aged to almost short on C-E. The 100AMP has ceramics on the power amp still that will add to the Retro sound, on Tone the Treble gain they sound lousy, if on Silicon ceramics always sound gritty. After sorting a bizarre problem that stopped us playing Stereo tracks, we now can. This does reveal the limitations of Germanium more as louder 1980s treble can get caught out by the design & it still sounds softer than Silicon transistors can. Stereo tracks do make the amp sound inadequate, but on 1960s Mono tracks it suited better. Heavy Bass on the 470µf outputs doesn't come through too well & some ends up as the thick Retro Bass which is hard listening. But more to do still. Once the Capacitors all redone, interestingly some of the "Smooth Germaniums Sound" is more for aged capacitors as it's a lot crisper now. But 'thankfully' it still sounds Retro, the Ska is punchier but the dynamics a lot smaller than an upgraded Silcon amp we tried just earlier on the same tracks. No more lumpy bass either. Trying it on more demanding 1980s Stereo tracks, again the smaller dynamics if still a nice sound & doesn't embarrass itself now. It's a 15w amp & still has some background 'Sea Noise' hiss & slight hum, after all it is a modest 1966 design. It could be upgraded with all Silicons, but the idea was to have a Germaniums amp, if the Outputs didn't work out, the rest still has enough of the Retro sound. As nice as it sounds, the Rotel 100AMP won't please a buyer for the hiss & limited sound so to resell them to go All Silicon will give a better product.


Hi-Fi Sounds Best... With Clean Ears.
As people get older, past 40 or 50, their ears get bunged up with wax & debris. This creates a plug of dust, fluff & hair that you can still hear the full range past in lesser cases, but it's like "putting a sock in it" on an old Horn Gramophone as it reduces sensitivity, or you may be quite lacking in your hearing range but over time not realise. They put it down to aging so ignore it & say "aye?" all the time annoyingly as they can't hear you clearly. We've heard of those who can't stand Bass as it makes their Ears Buzz, no, it makes your earwax lump buzz, ugh. Another doesn't like to get their ears wet as it causes problems, actually it soaks the earwax blob to temporarily block your hearing canal. All rather nasty if unnecessary to suffer it. Use Cotton Wool Buds some say, no it just pushes the debris further up yor ears to block the eardrum & create the plug. To see those big metal Ear syringes & thought they just sucked your ear clean so avoid them, but no, it shoots warm water into your ear canal to clean it which is less traumatic than thinking your brains will be sucked out. To use Otex to soak the debris leaving a fizzy sound or just to spend an hour with warm soapy water syringing to soak & loosen the build up leaving it to soak a few times if the effect doesn't feel right yet & then see what's causing you bother in the sink to know you're done. But you remember as a kid you never needed this as you had a bath & soaked your earholes to clean them. So keep your lugholes clean, syringe wash them regularly, never use cotton buds & hear how sweet your Hifi sounds, or how rough it sounds perhaps.


Flatscreen LCD TV Problems: They Get Old.

We got our LG one in 2013 & it got upgrades to keep hot areas cooler by adding heatsinks, the plastic behind the rows of log thin Fluorescent tubes smelt bad after a year so we Wallpapered the inside with A4 sized paper stickers. Sorted. Not looked inside since 2015 say our dates inside. But now the Freeview Tuner doesn't work at all, not that we use it with TiVo but on BST arriving it still says GMT time on turning on. Also it's developed a slightly dark shadowy part that is obvious on bright scenes, but as Unserviced Hifi Users know you learn to put up with it as you're busy. So today we take the thing apart which despite 3 years since last doing it's remembered if needs careful handling of the big LCD unit, on the bed is best. LCD off, looks fine, two thinner plastic layers are fine too if them the darker areas are seen, it's on the thick plastic diffuser that's facing the long Bulbs. It has the typical Charged Dust issue & a wash cleans it off, surprising how dust gets in, we'll try to seal it more on putting back together. But a problem with that thicker sheet is, like most plastics, it browns with age & heat, which is noticeable against a white surface & the edges are lighter. It'll just keep getting darker if probably will last another 5 years, you'll need to adjust the TV settings which we can do to make it look like a big money TV beyond the Blacks not being quite Black, it's good enough. Another issue is the thin flat ribbon cables that drive the LCD, if these get loose you'll get Vertical Lines & for the amount of times we took ours apart to solve the smelly plastic liner issue, ours got slightly loose. Don't glue it as you'll lose Electrical Connection, we just taped a bit of thick card over it to hold it down so it's worked fine for 3 years. Many would just throw a 5 year old TV out & buy a New One as the World Wants You To, but us being resourceful will fix an item forever to get use out of it. The Boards look fine, no burst capacitors or popped ICs, to service it & put it back together is all we can do & see if that solves the Tuner issue. The tube lights gather that 'fine black electrical dust' slightly, like old CRT TVs used to insides & on the screen until the grounded flat screens arrived. No dust on the rear of the LCD panel, if the Power Supply panel is where the dark patch is & appears even with the plastic sheet backing it to be an issue that all will likely get. Plugged in, the picture without the dark shadow patch now, no lines shows our bit of card fix holds solid. Freeview now shows a picture, if only 6 channels instead of the full range, TV Forums say as Digital TV channels are together in 'multiplexes' as in grouped on the old Analog ones, the few we got only appeared late on in the Tuning suggesting some are weaker than others. UHF CH 35 has 6 channels, no Radio. Manual Tuning says 'No Signal' on going through each other one 21-69. More searching says the TV Channels altered & possibly the aerial is misaligned now, but the Freeview page says not despite the channel change noted. 18 March 2018 said to be a DTV changeover date & to do a Factory Reset which we have. Ch 61-68 now not DTV ones & Ch 31-37 & 49-60 are highlighted as the main ones. But "No Signal". Answer is likely the Aerial for the block is out of date & no-one else uses Freeview so no-one bothers complain. Leave it be as TV not damaged, if servicing the TV, resetting & using the same settings we devised in 2015 the picture appears brighter & clearer which will be partly the fine dust it collects inside. A LCD TV improves after being last serviced 3 years ago.


1966 Kenwood KW-1100 Valve Receiver.
One on ebay interests. "37w per channel" says HFE & it has 490v HT as 7591 valves can put out 43w in Push Pull as the Valve Museum site states Sylvania & these were used in a Hammond Organ amplifier. But these are shorter versions of the EL34 & others state 19w per valve maximum. 37w we assume is "Music Power" & a pair of EL34s in our Luxman LX33 is only rated 30w, probably a 20w-25w RMS amp by the size of the Output Transformers, probably nearer 20w. You need to research these early amps as the Power Ratings were misleading then as are now & people just blindly quote without putting a reality on things or seeing transformer size tells the power. The amp is tired looking & some new caps underneath if generally original. Receiver as was our Trio WX400U & the underneath is chaos as is typical. Phono stage has 2 valves & appears a little uprated to the WX400U one, lots more stages to the Power Supply reveal it's 3 years later but very complex. Has an extra valve for better gain as the WX400U seemed lacking if it was only 10w. ECC82, ECC83, 6AN8 triode-pentode for the Power amp first stage-splitter & 7591 push-pull pair. The 6AN8 is only available as NOS or used Vintage so it's obsolete. DC heaters on Phono & the Preamp. A plainer looking amp for 1966, looks more like a Sansui if the lid type is like the WX400U. The mix of valves in it is messy, they put 2x EL34s by the looks which aren't fully compatible. Simplified Tuner compared to the busy WX400U one. Grade of the insides shows bad storage so it'll never be a pretty one. If we'd not had the WX400U to know what a huge rebuild these are, it'd be one we'd try, but the reality is these amps don't get rebuilt, they just get patched up, sound too aged & mediocre so they aren't coveted. The results after a huge rebuild of amp & tuner including recap, upgrade & redesign will give a great receiver, but to do it properly to be use daily would be a very expensive job a way into into 4-figures. Would anyone dare to pay for an extreme upgrade like that? Unlikely, the amp will sell for £200-ish & the buyer will likely not do anything to it beyond a clean up & just add it to the collection to try once a year. The reality of the 1962-67 Receiver-Amps like this is the Rebuilt is just too much, a Valve Amp by itself to rebuild is more affordable if still an expensive job. Sells for £233 which on the face of it for a 20w valve amp is a good buy. To see amps like this first time will overwhelm at how messy & complicated it looks, only by taking time to learn the sections does it make sense & then is quite logical, but there are no manuals pointing out the parts in the unit. Advanced stuff, but rewarding if you can do the job right.


Comparing Two Mostly Upgraded Amps: 1970 Trio Kenwood vs 1972 Akai.
We compare Amplifiers a lot to decide which to upgrade further & keep around longer. This comparison session is with the 1970 Trio-Kenwood KR-6160 a 55w amplifier that uses the same UA1384 power amp board as the 1969 TK-140X II, the receiver version of the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000. The Akai AA-5800 appears to be their best 45w Amplifier from 1972 based on the 1970 Akai AA-8500 receiver. Both 6160 & 5800 have the same sized transformers if 55w vs 45w, the Trio we have found underrated in power for how welll they upgrade. KR-6160 & AA5800 upgraded to the same level, if still need big caps to order. KR-6160 differs from the KA-6000 circuit quite a lot as 2 lots of low NFB instead of one larger, the only amp design that does this. AA-5800 has a buffer on the input stage that no other amp has, at least of the 1965-80 era. Comparing back a few times with Bob Marley ‘Is This Love’ a much used test track as wide stereo & also his "Jamming" both recorded from the UK 1970s 45s. Both very close if the Akai is just slightly fresher & more open losing the slight blur of the Trio, if Trio does still have 1970 output capacitors which are likely the difference, Akai is direct coupled. KA-6000 in comparison beats both if more upgraded, if it's nearer the Akai sound. The hardest amp test is resolving 60s Mono Ska & it is better focussed on the Akai. KR-6160 upgraded more could match KA-6000, if the Akai is more unknown if could better KA-6000 & after KA-6000 the Akai still sounds good. KR-6160 we’ll finish & sell, if not upgrade more, still a great amp & betters the TK-140X in several ways including looks. A test on Speakers tells a different story though. The AA-5800 has wider Stereo if not quite the Drive of the speakers on Bass that the KR-6160 does if that lacks the crisper detail to give the more detailed Stereo imaging. Both AA-5800 & KR-6160 as upgraded still sound great on speakers & both sold quickly as at the price level that Buyers are comfortable with.


Comparing Amps Via Pre Out & Power In Sockets.
Continuing from the above tests if worth a new header, as we've not compared pre/power stages for a while. Tests between pre & power need Blanking Plugs on the unused part to avoid difficulties as well as caution in putting the volume to zero on both to allow for level mismatches, as well as plugging things in right. The Akai AA-5800 pre-power level similar to Sony TA-2000F/3200F so why not compare pre of one on power of the other & vice-versa. Sony pre on Akai power shows Akai power is good & perhaps better than the Akai pre, if the Sony pre is a bit lower output as later found. Akai pre on Sony power is louder than the Akai fully as the volume control is set lower if the Sony pre sounds best. The Trio-Kenwood KR-6160 has a very different pre-power level so as blogged above it won't compare well, if does tell the Akai Preamp is weaker than the Power amp stage. Designs being designs the Akai pre maybe won't upgrade anymore than we have done already. But we can swap around the KR-6160 & KA-6000 pre-power amps so to try that. 6000 pre on 6160 power amp is good, if 6160 pre on 6000 power a bit limited if we know the circuit. So as 6160 & 6000 power amps differ in design as per TK-140X versions, try the 6000 power then the 6160 less upgraded power to see. 6160 still on original power & output caps yet it's crisper for the different amp board matching the Sony STR-6120 & Sony pair type detail. KR-6160 is the TK-140X II amp board & even not fully upgraded it sounds fresher than the KA-6000. The Trio-Kenwood KA-5002 looks like it may have the KR-6160 board but it's a later Fully Complimentary 1972 design. This test also tells the Sony TA-2000F is great, if the TA-3200F isn't as bassy as it could be. With these further tests, the Akai shows the preamp as with limits & the Trio-Kenwood preamp similarly. Which one to upgrade more?


We're Selling our Garrard 301 & SME IV Arm.

As Record Dealers we wanted the Best Vintage Turntable & from 1998 with a Silver-Grease Garrard 301 bought for £30 in an ugly cabinet with Dynaco Pre, Tuner & Amp, there it started. 301 was a NOS early one first used probably around 1968 & in high grade for being in that cabinet. To read the 1998 Hi-Fi News Vintage Supplements got us the Maxplank plinth that was the best one out then, beyond using the cold slate ones. The 301 came with an SME 3009 Series II that we thought was a bit lousy for the feeble Headshell that was like a Soup Strainer & lost too much energy in the 'soft' design, plus the awkward loose knife bearings. Put a more modern Headshell which improved it to a degree. We had a Garrard 4HF that was first out in 1959 some years before, the one with the steel platter & speed control that always burns out, if the Arm we thought was worth getting as the Garrard TPA arm & we got a nice boxed one & fitted it to the Maxplank plinth. It was a big improvement over the SME for being strongly made & rigid. But it was based on a 1959 design & weight adjusting & fitting a modern cartridge wasn't good enough so that got sold, the 3009 came back if still dissatisfied. So for reasons obscure we bought a SME IV in silver to match the 301. Lovely solid item, takes a bit of setting up if sounds were great if oddly not far off the old TPA arm. Soon a Cream-Oil 301 pair come along in 2002 with the Quad II Pre-Tuners & Amp system, the Oil Bearing is far better sounding than the overdamped Grease which slows the music. 301s apart fully to service as you'd expect from us. But since moving to where we are now, the 301 was only getting used to record new records stock, we'd tried a Hacker GAR 550 for the want of having a different record player by the Desk & this led to getting the Trio-Kenwood KA-4002A in 2011 that started our Hifi Pages. The blog shows our testing of the Technics SL-1500 with it being serviced & several upgrades, plus trying the Valve Phono on Goldring G800 & G850. The sound from the SL-1500 & G-850 despite them being buyable under £200 showed the 301 & SME to not be that far off, even using the Roksan Corus which has the original Corus stylus, not a Goldring 10-series one. We'd been watching Prices for years, if the prices on ebay for 301 & SME appear to be based on Fake Bidding, where a unscrupulous seller "sells" gear to themselves to try to create a price on gear that otherwise isn't making those prices. The sort of sellers that see our price on a Rebuilt & Serviced High Grade Sony STR-6120 & think their raw tatty one is worth the same, work & parts doesn't figure to be of value apparently. The 301, SME & Plinth look very classy, but from using the SL-1500 again, we had one we got from a Charity Shop in 1993 to know it was one of the better Vintage Turntables, the 301 & SME started to lose appeal. The 301 relies on the rather clunky lever switches, to turn the motor off to change speed isn't so bad, but to cue a record by hand, you have to rest on the pointed end of the lever. Other problems are the Strobe Platter relies on an Incandescent external flickery bulb to work, none built in like the 401, but the modern ESL Fluorescent or LED ones don't work the same so the strobe doesn't work. A more tricky one was even when freshly serviced, the 301 in colder weather runs slow until it gradually warms up over an hour, so if recording tracks to watch the Strobe. The 301 first came out in 1954 with the Silver finish & Grease Bearing, the Oil Bearing is on some later Silver & the Cream one arrived by about 1958-60 with either Silver or Black finger panels & was replaced by the Garrard 401 in 1965 if supposedly a better unit, the looks & plinth shape at the rear corners keeps it less expensive. The SME arm doesn't have as much travel as the SL-1500 one & the fixed headshell instead of the SME detachable one isn't so user friendly either. The SME arm cable that plugs underneath is actually a bit poor quality for the high price we found, if maybe the later ones improved, one cable broke at the feeble Phono plug & the wire was a type you can't solder neatly, so we made one from a Reel of Shielded Cable we had & found it sounded better as lower capacitance than the SME one, why bother getting a £200 new one? Cheaper if still good quality cables aren't designed with LCR features to filter the sound & this we've blogged on before. So the 'record player' parts are to be sold, if we'll keep the Roksan Corus Black as we have several custom stylus sizes as made for us by Expert Stylus Co. The SL-1500 is 33 & 45rpm only, but we devised a 78rpm setting on the pre 1998 one & did one for a customer fitting a subtle switch on the lower plastic plinth which worked well, so ours will 'go 78' too. Now why do people buy expensive 'High End' turntables & arms when we've proven what can match it? The truth is our Valve Phono stage is our design unlike any other for the detail & focus it has. The typical Transistor or IC Phono stage, as on the Turntables page, we've shown a few can be good, if most including ones with MM are blurry poorly focussed messes. The extra precision of the SME-301 will give a better signal to the blurry Phono stage, but our Phono stage is of a different quality that the differences 301 vs SL-1500 are so close. We've not said we had an SME IV before as our site is not a 'High End' site, aiming for a more aware audience than just throwing big money at items, so to not confuse by mentioning it, if mentioning the more affordable Technics system ones. But now we have proven as blogged that we don't need them now, to tell our experiences with both. As you can see, a Quality Direct Drive turntable with a metal plinth & a decent bearing can actually be as good as the 301 with some subtle changes & upgrades, but easier to use & more stable, once serviced naturally.


Upgrade A Decent Turntable Into One Much Better.

Is it possible to make the Technics SL-1500 towards the Quality of the 301 + SME? You'll actually be able to do quite a lot for following a few simple rules. The technique of Damping means softness or lack of rigidity that the vibrations from the Record Groove as travel to the Cartridge get lost in poor design, construction as well as poor designs like knife edge bearings like the SME 3009, non-rigid headshells as the SME 3009 'soup strainer' one is. Some others have rubber mounts in various ways supposedly to dampen vibrations & reduce Turntable Rumble, but these are going to lose a lot more than the deepest bass that can be on some records, the slightest damping of Stylus to Cartridge to Arm to Bearings to Plinth & how the arm is fitted will lose quality. The Cartridge fitting can be fiddly to set up & only really those with bolt holes to fit are easier, the ones with lugs often don't tighten as good, if never use the plastic washers as it's damping. The Hex nuts are better than the Round Notched ones as more surface are to grip solidly. The idea of springs to decouple a turntable now seems laughable if one Record Guy with Expensive Rock LPs used the most wobbly turntable we've ever seen, the dealer sold him a bad unit that didn't have the foam spring damping. But they wouldn't hear our advice neither would one who put feeble foam rings around the 301 platter to damp it, we said they were rubbish as they did nothing & took them off, but they returned next time we saw as people will believe 'Experts' not Free Thinkers. No Springs, No Rubber parts. As of typing we still keep the thin rubber ring on the Technics headshell we notice so remove it & surprisingly it's better sounding without it, just that tiny area of damping does matter. Even a spacer made of plastic will damp the arm softening the sound. Unfortunately a lot of Turntables & Arms are of Plastic, Composite or Wood based manufacture. An arm with rubber or plastic bearing parts is never going to be the best. The Technics SL-1500 arm is all metal where it matters & once serviced it's probably better than the SME 3009 II that many use with these, for the rigidity is superior, if no SME owner will believe it until they hear it. SL-1500 is Direct Drive with all-Transistors driver board, unlike the later IC ones & once recapped is very reliable. The bearing on the SL-1500 is a quality piece, a much thinner one than the 301 if still decent once serviced. The rounded end runs on a plastic piece that we noticed ours was with an indent from use, so perhaps this 'pressure pad' could be bettered to reduce the surface area, if to look at the 301 bearing end, it's a 1cm plate "Thrust Pad" with flat to flat with the oil to float on. A Turntable & Arm needs to be as Hard & Solid as it can be, if the SL-1500 base cover is only thin plastic, this isn't important as not coupled to the arm & platter, merely covering the underneath so no need to alter that, if perhaps a little more solidness would help. The arm has rubber decoupling on the rear plastic weight post, the weight of this piece is crucial so not to mess with it. The weight itself rattles as the plastic tab with the tooth to grip has flattened to lose grip. The Technics feet are hopeless, either spring ones or a rubber cup type. To fit big rubber feet, add a Sorbothane layer & a Felt pad over that is what we've done, or you can buy Gold Plated efforts if we prefer our custom way as those Gold type ones are expensive & often not as good as you hope. For Cables we fitted Phono Sockets if kept the captive Mains & Grounding lead. Why spend more? The Harder & More Solid the Record Player construction is, the finer the sound & adds more solidness to Bass as less energy is lost throughout the frequency range. Playing Records not played for a few weeks, they are sounding a lot 'tighter' in sound than before. The Mat, as we've said before, is a piece of Cotton Velvet over the Original mat, the old 78rpm players used a Velvet mat so it's what we chose many years ago. The idea to try with no mats direct on the metal platter makes no real difference, to disprove those bad designs that suspend the record in mid air, but a higher or lower mat does alter the VTA-Vertical Tracking Angle which does make a difference to sound if ours with both mats rides the cartridge flat to the mat with no tilt. There is a Garrard turntable, possibly the Lab 80 that was first out in 1965 that had a lever to raise the arm bearing end to 'Track Better' which by taking the rubber mat away does alter the height & angle slightly. One to play around with but we'll stay with the 2 mats. So there's the inspiration to "improve your turntable", but as with any Vintage gear, if it'll look messy, don't do it, sell it on & go buy one of the Technics Direct Drive players. There are very likely other name brands with good Record Player units that could upgrade, if with some you may see it's all metal to find a hidden plastic bit that spoils the idea.

Hifi in 1964: A Digest.

We're going to do these for at least to 1969, as it does condense each year in Hi-Fi nicely, the Year Books & reading a year of magazines does dilute the interesting developments & the 1963 one above was much longer than expected. So to Jan 1964. Imhofs of New Oxford Street do seem to be the Biggest Hi-Fi shop at the time if there were plenty more smaller Hifi shops around the country. The Chapman Derritron company gets a full page ad where they are trying to update styling towards the USA looks if not quite getting there with an 8w amplifier not in the league. The Kit scene with Heathkit & Stern-Clyne must be thriving the 3w Mullard 3-3RC Mono basic integrated amplifier despite the low power gives a taste of valve sound as we had one in the early 1990s. A surprising article is how to make a Unipivot Pickup arm if you'd need a machine shop & skills so unlikely many were made. Eagle SA.150 amplier gets reviewed, 15w says the hype if 3w is the tested power & oddly the amp is discontinued as a footnote adds saying "it does not match the standards of their other products". Substandard Japanese product is the idea here & a little embarrassing, if Eagle Audio gear never lived up to the brand name, strictly budget. The scene as we saw for late 1963 is actually more advanced & steady for the Overseas influence if making the UK brands seem rather old fashioned in comparison. Feb 1964 starts with Imhofs sale & the Decca pickup arm. Nice Sony ad for the Sony TC.500 tape machine with Stereo speakers, 106gns (£111) complete with 2 mikes, if still a very expensive item when a typical amp or Garrard 301 was in the £30-£40 range. "New Heights in Hifi" say Armstrong with the Armstrong 227 Tuner-Amp 10w, at £48 it was still in the budget price range though & probably their usual quality. Leak with the new design 'Varislope Stereo' predates the Stereo 30 transistor amp that arrives shortly, for UK 1964 gear it has the right look. A Transistor Amp Circuits shows the Design of this time, All Germanium with Transformer in circuit for the Splitter stage to the Output Transistors, quite like the Akai AA-7000 design from 1966 did in Silicons & if done right can sound very nice. Pye HFS 30 TC Stereo Transistor amp gets a review, 12w RMS is the real rating & uses obscure transistors NKT226 & NKT401. Opinion is it is liked, well made but poor on high frequencies as the 10kHz Square wave looks like a Sine showing difficulties in design & Transistor quality as was known. Interesting but stay with the valves is what we see here. Mar 1964 again Imfofs but Armstrong the second ad shows they are doing well, perhaps their early stuff was comparable at the time if medicre in comparison by 1966 standards? Another flashy Sony ad for a Sony TC200 tape machine & speakers, this is clearly where Sony made their start with good looking gear if always tape machines the 'suitcase' type design. Goodmans Maxim tiny loudspeaker 10.5 x 5.5 x 7.25 inches at 8w was a Groundbreaking Mini speaker if of limited use today, 45Hz to 20kHz is impressive but it'll still sound what it is compared to a 15" Tannoy driver. Test gear at this time like Heathkit MM1U meter & AVO Model 8 are very basic, the AVO one in cast bakelite still looks like 1930s kit, if today they'd look nice as Retro shelf fillers. A rather odd Thorens TD224 turntable newly out, it's an autochanger that plays records individually picking from a stack next to the turntable section. How this works is vague if mentioned a few times, only one stack so where does the played one go, but we just remember the 'Tom & Jerry' cartoon where an animated Radiogram does similar & throws the records off. actually gets a review too, records picked up by the centre hole for LP hole or USA 45 holes with a rising adapter if required. To use you Select Speed, Start it, a disc is picked up swinging it onto the turntable which then feels for the disc size before it hits the mat. Once played it picks the disc up & puts it onto a lower shelf rather than just chuck it across the room. Likely it would need regular maintenance to work right & still piles up dusty discs to scratch together. A nice automated idea, but not one you'd want & 3.5g playing weight is required. Pioneer SM-83 amplifier looks interesting, all valves, says its 27w RMS per channel which may be 20w RMS both channels. Apr 1964 is a bigger issue as the Hifi show Preview issue, this time Imhofs & Sony are the first two ads, if the rest are the usual lot as since 1963, not too much new in 1964 so far except Beatlemania & Ska. Saying that, Teddy Bear-Faced Harold Leak introduces the Leak Stereo 30 Transistor amplifier & be sure the Audio Fair had much interest in it. The early Stereo 30, not the '30 Plus' is a one-board All-Germaniums unit, for 1964 it will have been like no other UK or USA offering a 15w Transistor Amp for £49 10s. Unfortumately by 2018 the poor EU Germaniums have faded away & despite some making good prices as Mint & Boxed on ebay, the amp will have deteriorated. But this amp is a Milestone in Hifi for it's progress & affordability compared to the USA Transistor amps at much higher prices. Harold Leak introduced 0.1% Distortion in Amps & now this Transistor amp, neither totally his fresh idea, but he's the one who brought these ideas to the public. Another interesting early Pioneer SM-G205 receiver for 85gns (£89) quickly replaces the outdayted Double Tuner ones, 12w per channel if not saying Peak or RMS, we'd expect it's a 8w RMS one for the price. Then to see ancient Tripletone & Chapman tuners brings back how out of touch the UK manufacturers beyond Leak were. Rogers didn't go Transistor until the 1967 Ravensbrook-Ravenswood average efforts in comparison, the Pye one didn't sell & various other UK brands with budget looking 5w-10w efforts that don't compare. Danish B&O 609 Stereo amplifier we've seen online before & thought it was just too crude, a hybrid amp & being asked to upgrade one to see it's just not worth it for the low power & cranky build, if the case styling & 'movable line' is perhaps the interest in it. Around 15w output if the 10kHz squarewave is poor revealing the circuit still isn't the quality of amps that were around by 1966. Eagle SA.80 is the replacement one advertised to try to get away from the awful review & withdrawing of the SA.150 in January, if a mere £9 10s buys you an 8w Stereo Amp, it will have met a need but HFN are taking an ad for non Hifi gear here surely? May 1964 has Shure as the second page ad, to match Shure & Garrard turntables appears to give Garrard a free ad, but it helps the buyer know which cartridge suits. The Shure "studio Stereo Dynatic Integrated Pickup" arm just looks like a stick with a post through it, not very sophisticated or not selling it well. We've never seen Shure brand gear until on later 1970s gear. Still the old fashioned 1950s looking Tape Machines, not the modern lookimng Sony by Brenell who by their ads were a big brand at the time if quietly faded away not too soon after like a lot of UK makers. Truvox TSA 100 amplifier announced, "an important amplifier" they say if the Leak one deserves that. Truvox on ones we've seen online were just budget 10w Germanium efforts if looking contemporary for 1964, not worth bothering with today, in 1964 for 49gns you'd buy the superior Leak at the same price. Ferguson "makes for happy families" is as bad a tag line as is the early Philips one mentioned earlier, but perhaps it is, 33gns (£35) for a basic 4 track tape recorder is good value when others are 3x the price, if the quality of the Frequency Response isn't mentioned. Audio Fair Report hits with a Grundig SV50 amplifier that looks interesting, if pics online show it's a hardboard backed DIN socket & typical EU build if apparently 20w, not really for UK buyers with the DIN is the problem. Leak Stereo 30 was compared pre-show to Leak valves we assume & proven to be what it claimed, without the USA type 'transistor sound' hype. Shure M44-5 Cartridge is reviewed, one of the first Modern Style ones with the removable stylus assembly for around £14, if the 1963 Shure M-33-5 was an earlier similar version if not with the 15° angle as was now standard, so the M44-5 can be seen as the First Modern Cartridge, if the response curve on midrange & treble rolled off over 1kHz to a 'slight' dip of -5dB around 7kHz if peaked up to the level of 1kHz with a peak around 14kHz. A dull sounding cartridge with 68k ohm loading, but progress 7 probably ground-breaking for 1964. June 1964 has Revox as the second page ad, another expensive tape player. The amount of ads for these things chasing the few will have needed or bought them. Whiteley have a "new range" of amps & tuners, looking years out of date, preamp & two power amps that was clearly still selling for Quad but people wanted Modern if they could afford it, not this 1959 looking gear, who designs such aged looking gear for a 1964 range... a company that soon closes for not keeping up with the times. Facing page is futuristic Goldring-Lenco GL 70 turntable to show the big differences. Quad still have the ad page facing the Editorial by Miles Henslow if he's gone within the year. Trio still with the W-38 receiver, the same ad likely booked in advance as it never changes. Dual 1009 transcription turntable with Autochanger, if not the arm-across 1950s type. We've had Dual turntables & found them clunky awkward things, if like much Vintage some swear by them, we swore at the one we had to service as bits were found broken needing more repair than expected. A bizarre 5w Transistor Amp Kit, fixed Bias if design looks familiar to many later amps good value for Home Construction perhaps, if 5w transistor power is limited. Goodmans Maxim Loudspeaker gets a review, low sensitivity & only 8w handling is only for background music, you'd be fooling yourself it was room-filling as the hype about tiny speakers suggests. To say 'speech sounds natural' from such a tiny speaker is misleading similarly, if HFN do. Pioneer with yet another new model, the Pioneer SX-82 begins the long-running "SX" series, likely 20w valves for the "80 watt" hype, if looks interesting, an earlier designb to the ER-420 is likely as we looked at on 'Other Amps' page. Jul 1964 has an anechoic room on the front cover from Shure in Chicago. Mullard gets the second ad for Transistors "The Sound Of A New Era" if sadly the Mullard Germaniums are useless today as they age badly, AD 140 was the power transistor. Another First is Philips with a Cassette that is Loathed or Hated as a music format if loved by Hipsters for decoration. Cartridge Loading Philips EL3300 battery portable machine is yours for 25gns (£26). Decca ffss Mark III arm looks good for 1964 with the square block cartridge-stylus, probably a good match for the SME of the era. Armstrong 222 amplifier gets a review, 10w for £27 is budget priced, 10kHz square is reasonable for the era at the price & value for money is the opinion. Aug 1964 has a selection of Hifi Furniture based on the Radiogram shape still for building in the UK Quad gear, if the free-standing USA & Japan gear has no use for these, if you could still take the lids off & cut a template hole out & let the amp age without it's metal lid. Armstrong gets the second ad page, Imhofs always the first, the Armstrong gear strictly budget if the bigger pics show it's freestanding gear that is plain but functional with perspex fascias. metal lids & wood side cheeks. Report on the Los Angeles Hifi show show USA tastes differ, building a Fisher receiver into a lower drawer on a desk, KLH portable gear, KLH Model 16 amplifier, (Trio-)Kenwood KW-70 receiver, KW-100 tuner & KW-200A amplifier showing Trio made quite a few similar receivers if not many amps or tuners. An insane Fisher-Lincoln 70 autochanger like the Thorens but a lot more Steampunk styled. KEF Duette speaker was advertised often in 1964 & gets a review, if at 15w of limited use today & wood grille will only limit the sound if this design was much used. Akai M7 is one of the first Upright Standing Tape Machines, like the famous Revox type the hipsters like, if at £139 this is one of the most expensive items beyond the Fisher & HH Scott amps, if there will always be a market for Prestige Goods. Sep 1964 has ADC turntables, arms & cartridges distributed by KEF as the second ad. Double spread on Shure M44 cartridge range "excitingly beautiful sound". Dynaco new with Kit or Ready-Made SCA-35 amp, PAS-2 & PAS-3 preamps, ST-35 & ST-70 power amps, the amps especially much noted online, appear to be all Valves. Philips with a budget 24gns (£25) tape recorder EL3552 break from the rexine covered wood to plastic case, did the earlier Cassette one not sell? Scotch get the ad facing the Editorial with 3/4 the ad a huge baby face. Is that you, you're 54 now. BBC FM Radio first on 2 May 1955 if over 30 by 1964 & 25+ planned for the Future. A silly idea by Pye "Stereo Projection System" is just a desktop record player with side speakers & flaps to reflect the sound plus a Loudness control on the Volume. Oct 1964 has City & Essex Tape Recorder Centres as the second ad, "over 300 models from 15gns to 243 gns". Imhofs on the first page has a Fisher range ad, Fisher XP-5 Free Piston Speaker System with 8" bass, Fisher X-100-B "20w" £59 from the updated fascia, Fisher TX-300 "36w" £159 transistor amp, Fisher X-101-C "27w" £99 & Fisher X-202-B "35w" £137. But where are they? The higher priced ones you can only find in the USA suggesting UK sales very low. Armstrong with a Double page spread on their "200 range" with the 226 tuner-amplifier at £61 being the top model. Radford have a half page ad with just text in telling of the STA 15 & STA 25 range plus the mono versions trying to convince that Valve is Beast still & say they recently introduced the ISTA 30 & ISTA 60 'Reference Standard' range. To find out more you had to write for leaflets. Early Mordaunt (pre Short) speaker Arundel Mk II for 29gns looks quite like a smaller Tannoy case. "Look what's Here From Denmark" yells a TO-R S-15 advert for a tuner-amp, looking a bit Legoland as was the typical EU design, but to say "The Finest Tuner-Amplifier On This Or any Other Market" for a 6w thing is going too far, bugger off back to Denmark you liars thinks us, but we won't type that here. "A Touch Of The Ultimate" is an interesting article by a Cambridge Hifi enthusiast who imported a Harman-Kardon Citation A + B fully transistorised unit built into a 1930s pillar cabinet with a turntable atop. 40w power RMS is impressive for 1964. Turntable is a Thorens with Ortofon cartridge & Dynatron tuner. Turning on gives silence for 20 seconds, similar to the 1965 Sony TA-1120 as it lets voltages settle before use, the sound on Tannoy 12" & 15" is described as "very smooth, well-balanced & tightly controlled" if this is 1964 & compared to later years may not be quite so impressive, but for 1964 it's State Of The Art as the closing line agrees. New out is the Garrard 401 that divides opinions if has improvements & weaknesses as later HFN reveal. ADC Point-Four & 660 cartridges continue the Shure ideas of the more modern cartridge. American Letter by John Berridge is about 'British Equipment On The American Market'. Wharfedale & Goodmans speakers sell well if surprisingly Tannoy are lesser known, the Quad ESL isn't popular as Bass is too weak for the USA ears as well as being $350, Leak Sandwich sells well. Only Quad & Leak amps are popular, the rest doesn't figure as they say & Quad is getting overtaken by Leak for progress in Transistors. The Quad system of many units seemingly old-fashioned as is a lot of the UK gear by now compared to USA & Japan gear. Garrard sells tons of autochangers. Garrard 301 & Connoisseur turntables sell well as do SME arms. Looks like USA cherry picks the best if tastes are finding the traditional British gear isn't keeping up with better styling elsewhere. Nov 1964 the usual adverts if "This Man Saba" attemps to be James Bond yet sells cheesy Radiogram Innards as Hifi, we don't think so with Saba Stereo Studio 1 a feeble 9w for 89gns & Saba Freiburg Studio looking like a 1950s table top radio for 135gns, if it uses external speakers. An article about the USA 'Console Stereo' scene is a late arrival, the USA with big consoles by Fisher, HH Scott & others was a cornerstone of the USA Audio Market as these were no mere Radiograms, but proper seperates quality if with huge wide cabinets with built-in speakers & usually a gap to store 30 LPs as a Radiogram offers. The Console never made it to the UK beyond ones imported personally, the cheaper Radiogram as with Budget Stereos being more the UK scene. Koss SP-3X Stereo Headphones show what was around in 1964 as Amplifiers by 1963 usually had a Headphone socket that is compatible with Modern Headphones. Still looking like the WW2 era Headsets with a thick padded band. The sound is reasonable if rolled off & with some coloration, which suggests the Headphone wasn't yet used for serious use, the Koss one here is fed from the Output Transformer direct, so not quite the match of today's 40-100 ohm type ones. Dec 1964 all the usual ads, impressive overall for 1964 if still plenty of old styled gear including Jason with a late effort to shift their stuff, you'd think with a West end Showroom in Tottenham Court Road they'd bring out some more modern gear, but they don't & fade away, yet Leak & Rogers kept fresh ideas & carried on into the 1970s. Rogers Cadet Mark Three introduced, 10w valves for £32, initially a two-piece unit if one piece fairly soon after is the most common 1960s amplifier around still as it sounded good & sold well, priced cheaper than the Leak Stereo 30 transistors that many would have been uncertain about. "Transfiguartion of a Quality Amplifier" is apparently a first about Upgrading Amps, 'obtaining a modern performance from an old circuit' is the claim & doing similar is our game. Here they look at a 1944 design with PX4 valves, directly heated Triode for 15w, pre the Williamson design, if 6w is the actual power. But if you've read any books on Repairs, there is nothing said of what they do, a circuit diagram shows extra gain & NFB have been added, but to us it's not really doing very much.


July 2018 Blog

Original Capacitors Condition on a 1960s Valve Amplifier

We're rebuilding the 1965 Fisher X-100-B valve amp for a customer. It has 6 capacitors in 3 cans. Here is the Photo of the Decayed Insides, if some of the muck inside fell out. To redo this requires redesign & problem solving, it takes ages to get right. So on a high grade little used amp there is still going to be 53 years of aging & high voltage or high current caps age badly. These are Never Suitable for regular use & one try away from failure. Light Use or Heavy Use, any sort of Use will age High Voltage Capacitors. The three in the Fisher are C1 with the card outer as the case is live, it hadn't leaked but was dried out with crusty earth inside which is dried out electrolyte fluid that oxidises. It smells sharp as it's stale & is useless, if will work to a degree but without seeing inside by cutting open, you're just gambling. C2 is a double capacitor in one can. To take it out showed how easily the pin broke off & it's even drier inside with crusty deposits if not as smelly as drier & no trace of leaking. C3 is a triple capacitor, it had leaked & traces of cleaning the chassis done by a previous owner as it leaked quite a bit. On opening lots of stuff came out, it looks like garden earth, barely smells & is just about mummified. Explains the rustling sound on the stage it supplied & it might last 1 day or 1 year with these severely decayed capacitors, the risk of Trashing The Transformers is the Gamble for not getting them replaced. The reality is 50 year old 200v-400v capacitors are ALWAYS VERY DECAYED inside, we've cut open all we've had. Any HT capacitor be it 16v or 450v if it is pre 1969 will be Gambling as they always are in bad grade. On some 1969 era Transistor Amps they may still be OK inside, as in wet with no crusty build up, but more often than not they are well past their best.


Damping Factor In Amplifiers.
This is mentioned variously on the site, if not as a section, so worth telling more on. For what Damping Factor is, see Wikipedia as the learned-booksmart types keep technical pages accurate & well written. We go beyond that to say what we see with Damping Factor. Firstly it's related to Output Impedance of an Amplifier that is not a Factor measurable with a Multimeter, how you find what the Damping Factor is by looking at the Amplifier's Data Sheets & Specifications. Damping Factor of say 250 is in Modern amplifiers. "Good For Controlling Loudspeakers" say some, but not us. High Damping is Restricting the Amplifier, like the Design in a Strait Jacket. If you use cheap Flappy Cone speakers then a High Damping Amp will tame them, but you're taming poor quality speakers. The accepted idea of Flappy Bass Drivers from seeing the same on 1980s-1990s Music Centres or Ghetto Blaster Cassette Machines that made it clear the Cone Flapped if oddly you never heard much Bass. Cone Flapping is usually in the 10Hz-30Hz region of the Speaker Resonance. What a 250 Damping Factor Amp sounds like on Quality Speakers is So Controlled & Damped it doesn't have much life & therefore sounds boring as be sure the rest of the amp is cost cut now they don't have to bother much about Deep Bass. Cynical but true. Going back into the later 1970s you find some Amps with a DF of 70, these sound more lively with "The Rich Vintage Sound" that once you hear, you'll not care about Modern Amps again. This is still a fairly high Number & Bass will be controlled but enough life in it to please. In the early 1970s values vary around 40 to 70 & again a little less restriction livens up the Bass which may not suit your cheap Flappy Bass Driver speakers, but on the right speakers, to hear a more open sound. The Earliest Transistor Amps from 1965-69 quote DF values from 15 to 30, if the Sony TA-1120 quotes "more than 70" & the 1967 Sony TA-1120A quotes "180 at 8 ohms". The DF of 15-50 requires good quality speakers or as one buyer told us about the Duette Amp with it's low DF sound that it was a bit wild on some speakers. But DF of 15-30 has that rich full bass, limited by original design, but these upgrade to sound wonderful on 15" Tannoys. Some level of Damping Factor can be apparently upgraded to give the lower DF richer sound, based on knowing the sound of a DF 30 amp to a DF 70 one, if without measuring it to know for sure, it likely is no different. To choose a DF value to match Speakers depeds on how much the Speaker Cones move, the 15" Tannoys barely move in an Infinite Baffle Sealed Cabinet, if our previous 15" Fane ones with a rear port shifted a lot of Air if never really gave the deep bass. Low DF to Highly Damped speakers & High DF to Low Damped Flappy Cone speakers is the obvious choice if Amps Mid DF 70-120 would best be suited to Speakers that move a little if not much. Never a Precise Science in Matching Amps to Speakers if based on the Many Amps we've tried on our 15" Tannoys, generally the Low DF ones 15-50 suit better. 1977 Yamaha CR-2020 with a DF of 40 sounded good if the 1973 Yamaha CR-1000 at 70 didn't match so well. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X doesn't match our Tannoys if no DF given, by the sound we'd estimate it was at least 150-250 DF. Based on upgrading that amp, it's not possible to upgrade to alter the DF if you can alter the sound, the Mismatch would require more redesign.


1963 Transistors In Audio.
Oct 1963 Hi-Fi News has a large 14 page section on Transistor progress, 14 pages of info not including the Ad pages is unusual to put all in one issue instead of a 4 parter. The overview is in the Portable Radio market, Transistors have taken over. From what we see here & from knowing early Transistor amps, the limiting factor to stop Hi-Fi amplifiers was the Germaniums & the odd idea of using PNP transistors with Minus Voltage HT. we've blogged on Germaniums just above & the problems & pleasures with them. Difficulties in getting Good Frequency Response was mentioned often in this era of HFN & some ingenious if not so honest 'Sound Shaping' circuits could make use of Transistors that had High Frequency Roll Off. High Power Transistors were Expensive too so only really a few Transistor amps of 10-15w were made by this time. Hybrid amps with Transistor Tuner & Preamp but Valve Output were the usual item at this time beyond the 10w or less amplifiers like the Bryan 304 integrated, Pye HFS 30TC, Hart, Vectron, Henry's Radio & Radon R600S seem to be the only ones going into Power Amps with Transistors. B&O 608 is a hybrid , EMG DCU5S & Lowther SS2 transistor preamps. a few Tuners & Tape Machines as all transistor. The USA scene shows a lot more advances with decent looking Acoustech 1 if the real only competitor is the Harman-Kardon Citation A-1000-T "70w" Stereo amplifier. Interest in this in 1963 will have felt like a New World, if in reality only the 1965 Sony TA-1120 & the Fisher 600-T & Fisher 440-T seem to have sold by 1965-67, the HK one will be a rarity today.


USA Hi-Fi Scene in Dec 1963 into the Later 1960s.
HFN in Dec 1963 sums up how the USA market is. You'd need to get into the USA Hifi Mag scene to see further about these early years. Interestingly UK Leak restyled their cranky looking Troughline tuner & Point-One preamp for the USA market by getting more appealing fascias, aware of comments on how drab, amateurish & old fashioned the UK brands looked. The big difference really is the Styling, USA made the products look very 1960s Bachelor Pad with Big Loudspeakers, Hifi Consoles that are a big step up from the Cheap UK Radiogram. USA homes larger than UK so bigger items with bigger power were needed. This exact scene with Fisher, Marantz, KLH, HH Scott & Lafayette is what The Japanese saw & soon took over to dominate the Hifi Scene, giving modern looks & better quality at prices that saw Japan start to dominate by the late 1960s with premium brands like Sansui, Pioneer, Akai & Sony leading the way. They gave the buyers what they wanted, if at the time their customer service & backup was revealed to be poor until they got UK agents to manage the brands. At the time the USA wage & cost of living was higher, if more free money to buy these goods, the UK at the time wasn't buying the amount compared to other countries, often the Best 1960s Vintage stuff you have to buy today from USA, Canada or Germany as it sold there if really didn't sell in the UK, Fisher were advertised by the Big London Shops & got imported a lot apparently, on Special Order is likely the truth, yet you only see the USA voltage ones saying big ads don't make sales. The UK readership of HFN isn't revealled until the early 1970s, there may be just 1000-2000 who buy HFN or the Yearbooks, but how many bought the best stuff? In our HFN archive, some are marked with items the reader wanted to buy & usually it's the cheapest items. The thing with Blogging is you start to realise you've said similar in other sections already. To look at HFN articles from 1963 & expect there to be more to write about & find the article didn't really say much after all. The Pages Of Waffle in some HFN articles hides the fact "ain't much happening".


Quadraphonic & Amplifier Bridging plus Parallel Outputs.
4 channel "Quadradial" as Marantz calls it is part of the 1971-76 attempt to get Multichannel audio into peoples homes. The Reality was it Failed Dismally as many had barely got out of Mono or cheap Radiograms. The amount of 4 channel formats on Records was a mess so the Public stayed away. Amplifier Bridging is a strange concept where the 4 channels can be Bridged into 2 channel Stereo, certain 1990s era Power Amplifiers are bridgable as apparently is the 1973 Leak 2000 receiver, if we never tried the Leak as the circuit description sounded lousy, read on. So as we always say "Avoid Quadraphonic" or "Avoid Bridging Amps" to get a fresh opinion & get a 1973 Marantz 4070 Amplifier, a 2x 35w or 4x 15w one. More on the 4070 on the reviews page & in further blogs as it reveals it sounds far better than expected. So to read Wikipedia about 'Bridged And Paralleled Amplifiers' to understand what that does & we realise the Sansui AU-G90X is quite like this with it's Balanced Design & having a 'Floating Ground' as described, the 90X doesn't like mains grounded test gear & the HT on the Capacitors is unexpectedly low for 130w. The Paralleled Amplifier section doesn't relate to this amplifier, if does relate to Doubled Output Transistors that some amplifiers use & these do control speakers so well with a better bass than any Single Push-Pull Output pair does, the Double Push-Pull Output pair we put into our Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 as it had extra spaces & the 1965-67 Sony TA-1120(A) has these fitted, more to cope with 50w as the early Sony transistors were only rated 50w not giving much headroom for peaks. Usually a 200w+ amplifier has these Parallel outputs so has more Current available if usually they don't go that much louder, as in voltage gain, for the Power rating. What a Bridged Amplifier does is it phases the second of the Amp pairs the opposite way to the first one with the speaker connected to the Positive Connectors only, if you introduce Ground into the Speaker Circuit you'll get problems. But the Leak 2000 with it's "High Power" mode isn't all it seems... the Service Manual says "In the High Power mode, the Output of the Right Channel main amplifier is connected to the Input of the Left Channel Main Amplifier and the signal is fed into the Right Channel Input socket. Hence with a Speaker connected across the Outputs the System operates in a High Power Mono Mode" meaning to use only the "+" connections & the resistor from R out to L in is 820k ohm. This actually doesn't appear to match Bridging as the Wikipedia page shows with in phase & out of phase signals into two amps with the Speaker on the "+" running through 2 power amps equally. The problem with Bridging is it requires both Amps to be on Spec & equally matched which from having tested many amps for Output Power, the Amps are never usually identical, if within Tolerance. This inaccuracy causes one half of the output to not match the other so creates the soft blurry sound. We still say that Bridging unless critically adjusted will not be so good, but adjusted right after recapping then to hear the Marantz 4070 to see what it does. In theory if upgraded & adjusted right, the Bridged Output should be as good as a 2ch amplifier & with halving the Damping Factor, it may actually be pretty good. Once the 4070 is done we'll blog more about it. Risk Of Electrostatics on Bridged Amps as the ES speaker or headphone may have a ground reference & as there is no True Ground once bridged, the Amp "won't like it" as we found testing the Sansui AU-G90X which is actually a bridged design and the new Mains Oscilloscope has a ground reference. To uisde the Battery Handheld Oscilloscope is the only way to test a Bridged Amp.


Repair Shop Label On Quality 1970s Amp Says "Too Far Gone" But Is It?
As we are Amplifier Specialists doing stuff that no-one else is doing as in Upgrades & Redesign, we look at amps in a different way. Sadly a lot of 1980s-Modern gear is not repairable as we blogged before, but 1970s Hifi if of Quality we don't give up on easily, if nasty ones like the 1971 Leak Delta 75 receiver are just so badly made that we only ever got one working right. We may be just Gambling, but as with anything, the more challenges you get, the better you get. So the Marantz 4070 quadraphonic Amplifier mentioned above we see it has a Repair shop sticker on & after reading it upside down it says "Too Far Gone". Now this shop is still trading, they are the TV Repair Guy quality as is obvious, today they'd just swap boards or tell you.. "It's Too Far Gone" because they are Not Specialists, but TV repair guys trading for 35 years. The 4070 review we've already put it could head into 'unrepairable' territory for how difficult it is to work on, but we've checked it over, it's all there, no damages, no burns, fuses still all good. It'll get more serviced before plugging in as the seller who was probably glad to offload it did say it worked. If it had damage to transistors then it would head into the difficult territory of being Uneconomical to Repair which means if you wanted to chuck money at it until it's fixed, likely it'll be fine but it'll probably outprice it, a clean one part serviced-recap they say if no crumbly speaker connectors is £300 with 2 sold for similar if one higher as with the wood case. Here the Repair shop looked at it & gave up, too much a job to fix the crumbled speaker connectors & too stuffed with parts to even attempt it which is lazy. Did that shop even plug it in? They didn't check the cheapo UK made 'Legrand' one Plug as Live & Neutral were swapped, the plug bulged midway as the fuse barely touched the pin as misaligned plus a 13A fuse. Worst plug we've seen in a while, to cut it off & fit another. Of course it's repairable, not the easiest, but plan it right & there it can be, if we have done many amp recaps. But as first try of it revealed the L channel with severe low frequency pumping if music could be heard in a choppy way & the R channel silent, there is no way to just do bits of it to see if it's any better. So it gets new Speaker Connectors, the Power Amps, Preamp, Matrix-Buffer-Power Supply board & Phono all done before it sees Mains again. First try redone the R channel is fine if the L is distorted so needs fault finding. Too Far Gone? To most... yes it appears a wreck electrically, but we see the potential & for it being a 1973 Marantz, work into it will make a good amp worth the effort to fully recap. It takes many amps to be able to do complex jobs like this plus much checking, there is no 'hope it works' in Hifi. The faults will be found, we'll try it out & probably sell it on sooner or later. It's not What It Used To Be... It's What It Is Today. To fully recap & replace all the preamp transistors is the job & an advanced 'repair' that would probably outprice a restoration to a customer, but for us to try what's involved. See the Marantz 4070 review for more, as well as more Blogs below.


We Are Looking To Buy A Top Quality Amplifier To Upgrade.
This is what we're doing having sold the 1984 Sansui AUG90X. To get a mid-late 1970s amp of around 100w is the idea. The market in Amplifiers, as opposed to Receivers is one of unreality & lofty expectations based on none selling. Receivers with the Tuner are nice Retro looking if we have no need for a Tuner so to just look at Amplifiers, Integrated not Pre-Power ones. The Sansui for all the work & research into it didn't make much in reality for the buy-in price plus all the work done, disappointing really, but one to move on to try others. Our Research amps get a lot done yet it shows the Market doesn't know the amp or really understand the Upgrading work. So to look what's on ebay. For getting the 1973 Marantz 4070 4ch amp, the Marantz range is severely overpriced for the highest model the Marantz 1300DC at £3500 in a repro wood case, we saw one sell for £1800 a few years back & though the buyer who bought several of our B&O amps was insane paying that much. We had the Marantz 1152DC before & found it difficult in several ways if now we'd look at it very differently. A Marantz 1150 with a badly resprayed lid for £450 compared to overpriced £900 ones elsewhere is the best out there, no wood cases. Sansui AU 9900A for £1800 with those awkward side connectors is only an 80w one from 1977-79, all Transistors but the design by now with so many Differentials does leave that rather dry sound as the AUG90X had that needs so much upgraded. Other Sansui AU-999, AU-888 are severely overpriced for the power & need of rebuilding, the sellers just copy other overpriced non selling ones. Pioneer we've done well with the Pioneer SA-9500 Mk I to know what they are about, good but not the greatest again needing so much upgraded. Harman-Kardon only has more modern amps as only the receivers of the 1970s had better power. Sony we've done deeply if there are STR-6120 & STR-6200s at very high prices for raw gear, we've sold two in recent months to know the real prices for rebuilt ones. Rotel has the usual late 1970s high power ones if looking at a RX-1203 recently, the build quality is a bit midprice which we found a bit disappointing plus those naff rack mount handles. None of the 'Michi' series ones from the 1990s when Rotel went 'High End'. Trio-Kenwood we are wary of for the amount of ICs & the 'Other Amps' page has looked at these enough. Trio with the early valve receivers at £400 are dreaming, they need a full rebuild & redesign. Yamaha we've done very well already, in the days these were cheap & unwanted, like many brands we get them, say they are good & then can't buy into them now. Technics (Panasonic, National) only really got into Pre-Power Amps into the early 1980s, we'd really not want to get into 1980s amps for the risk of ICs & overdesign. The integrated amps are just depressing plain tin box type ones. How about UK & EU brands you say? We've looked at many, the UK stuff we just don't like as it's not of the quality, EU brands similarly with the best being Tandberg TR 2075 that we didn't like for the bitty construction. Overview. The amps we like are now too overpriced if Auctions are where more realistic prices are, Buy It Nows are mostly dreamers. The difficulty also is we've had the Best Stuff already, there are Monster Receivers that we've not tried but having had a taste of those, such as the 1979 Sansui G-8700DB there are difficulties in these that perhaps are not worth upgrading to see how good they are as we can see the limits.


Got Money To Spend & Want To Spend It?
We're Record Dealers & at one time Collectors, into Coins, Hifi, Furniture, Signs etc. The thing is if you have ££££ to spend usually what you want won't instantly be there. Gimme Gimme but beware you'll waste money if not buying carefully. We'd like a better Computer, to start from Scratch to get a High Spec one. So we look at the High Spec Gaming Computers, not that we game beyond Spider Solitaire (W7 versions) & Angry Birds. As an example £850 buys you a refurbed Dell computer, but we want the specs of what they offer. Today the Intel i7 is the current processor range, Wikipedia tells of dozens of variations from 1.5MHz to 3MHz+, how do you know what to choose? Our computer is limited by RAM to 3.75GB which is useless for Windows 10 even using the 'Blackbird' program to stop all the spying crap. We compare specs, our 7 year old i3 2120 at 3.3GHz is actually faster than the i7 6700 in the £850 Dell one. The Dell has Hard Drives, RAM, Display & Sound Cards better than ours if it's not such a good deal really. In the end current computer spec isn't much better beyond RAM, so why bother buying new, leave it another year. **Computer Update: after looking for years for why RAM is limited, the fact is your 32 bit Windows is ancient 1995 tech, you need the 64 bit version, so we downloaded it to do a clean install from a DVD-ISO you can get as the x64 version. The 2011 motherboard & i3 processor can cope & 64 bit processors can run most 32 bit programs. Free upgrade to get the full 8GB of RAM fitted now. Why is this info So Hard To Find? As for Hi-Fi as above, you want to buy something good, it's not there or it's overpriced. The Specs disappoint as did the i7 processor, you realise you'd be paying £850 for a 2015 year processor & likely the Display & Sound Cards are a few years old & for the 'progress' today, they stop issuing updates, our Display one is only a few years old but no updates now. We use our 2002 Macromedia Dreamweaver MX, 2003 Office Outlook for emails & don't like the newer versions. A 64bit Windows 10 installation likely wouldn't suit those & a lot more, so more money to go buy newer versions you don't like. It's very hard to Buy Hi-Fi if for us we look for diamonds in the rough and unknowns & bring the quality back, but outside cases must be in good order for the work we'll put in. No point having a great amp with ugly damage unless you can buy the parts as spares as some sellers break up amps. So the idea was to buy an amplifier a little different as the AUG90X was to try out more upgrading ideas. So What Do We Buy? Nothing (as of typing), but Time to buy more carefully & get what we really want. To chuck a £50 gamble on that Marantz 4ch is worth a try, but to put £499 into a painted lid one is not a good buy as it'd need a full rebuild & still not get the overpriced prices others hope for. A firm grip of the Reality of Buying & Selling is needed. Solid State Hard Drives. Progress in Laptops & Portable Gear means a Solid State HDD is now worhwhile getting. It's no different to a huge SD card & when Digital Cameras first came out the pre-SD card was only about 100MB, if now a 256GB SS HD is buyable for about £40. Bigger Hard Drives are still multi-disk items & the speed of them isn't any better. To put the Computer OS on the SS HD & keep the Drives for Storage makes sense. The price of a DVD Burner in 2006 was £70, the 100MB SD type card was bought about 2002 if Amazon doesn't show details as obsolete, in those days it will probably have been £40.


Awful Restoration Ideas: Restuffing Capacitors.
This idea is really bad, the amateur can't work out circuits to properly upgrade Valve amps, so what they do is cut open the original 1950s-1960s capacitor, take the crusty insides out & fit in modern ones of the same value, seal the can with tape inside the capacitor clip & soldering to pins somehow so think that's a good idea. It's a very bad idea for several reasons beyond being unprofessional. You'll never see if the capacitors leak, get hot from miswiring plus the idea is redundant as you can actually buy the old value capacitors as Guitar amps use them, probably NOS ones from the 1970s or new ones even. To use the original pins means awkward soldering as the bits inside the cap are aluminium & don't solder. Strictly amateur job & don't forget, they are selling it as they don't think it's very good sounding. Seen on a Sansui 1000A valve receiver with a "professionally powder coated" lid is poor as they didn't strip the old paint leaving dents in the paint from missing patches. Their recap is mediocre just replacing like for like as again these early Valve Amps need a full rebuild & redesign, we've just done a 1965 Fisher X-100-B & it takes a lot of work & planning to do right to then look deceptively simple. Done right the results elevate the Valve amp to a standard of today for daily use. We'd not buy a Valve Receiver again, the amount to redo one as the 1963 Trio WX400U got is extreme, the results especially on the Tuner are great if limited by the power rating. The Sansui 1000(A) valve receiver we looked at on 'Other Amps' & for knowing how bad the Sansui 500A was, to keep away, but nice to see inside pics to confirm to stay away. There is a price limit on Hifi we've found & their hopeless like-for-like recap for £825 is not good value. The idea of it may appeal, but once you hear it sounds aged & mediocre, you'll want rid quickly too. Vintage Valve Amps are not a good buy unless you plan to get one rebuilt to a more modern spec to bring the best out. We've done two valve amps like this now for customers & results are certainly worthwhile. But to buy a raw one, like many Rogers Cadet III for £300+ you see as these sold well in the 1966-68 era, they are just too aged to be what you hope they are.


Very Overpriced: 1970 Sansui AU-999 Amplifier.

Seeing this amp at ridiculous prices just for the High Model Number we find a difficult one to understand. Ones £900-£1200 on ebay July 2018, there they'll stay too. We got one in 2012 so know it & there are a few pics in our Gallery. Firstly it's a 50w amp from 1970. It has a lot of switches & controls that you'll never use. Compared to a Sony TA-1120A at the time we had both, the Sony had a higher Sinewave Output as the AU-999 was a bit low for the power. 50w it output 25v sine before clipping if the TA-1120(A) does 30v which is quite a difference. The Sony easily sounded better was the opinion in comparing both. We got ours for £175 at the time & felt it was overpriced for the grade & power of it & the amount that needed redoing even for us in 2012 just a year after starting these pages. Lots of outdated crappy hissy transistors was a big problem. The back panel with those Spring Connectors for Speakers we had difficulty with as the things break off, ours was still minus one cover if useable. We partly recapped it, if now we'd go a lot further, but the reality is the Sony TA-1120(A) & Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 better this amp easily. It's a Semi Complimentary amp, ie no Output Capacitors which is unusual for 1970. Looks wise if in top grade it looks nice, if more used it looks a bit tatty. To have in high grade with the rare wood cases & the matching Tuner is a nice item, but Way Overpriced. For a 50w amp that needs a lot done to us we'd not pay more than £200 on one to be sure to cover upgrade costs on resale as a lot needs doing. These £900-£1200 prices are insane & in reality even rebuilt, it's not 'worth' that much as we found on selling ours in 2013, if prices for our website interest & others have upped the prices, buyers are not confident to pay the prices on Hifi & the risk of outpricing needs careful thought in choosing amps to upgrade. The Sansui AU-666 as the AU-999 is capable of a great sound, if read our Review on the AU-666 to see problems there too. Only when these greedy sellers see there are No Sales will prices be lowered, but ebay is stuffed with way overpriced amps, look at Yamaha CA-1000 as another foolishly overpriced one, we have had that to Review also.


Buying Vintage Hi-Fi Online: The Cynical Reality.
You see how we sell Hifi, pictures with detail inside & out, all faults noted & there you know exactly what you're getting. Buying on ebay where we & others who send us amps to upgrade reveals that often you are Gambling. At one time Sellers packed amps badly & they still do, if overall they've learnt the hard way to pack better if some arrive safely by luck more than good packing. Descriptions are usually painting the item in a better light, some of it is outright lying, the Marantz 4070 was said to be partly working & they tried it on speakers, total lies as it would have trashed speakers if the broken connectors even worked. As a "For Parts or Not Working" amp we just took that it generally worked, saw the photos & for the £50 price plus their overcharging £20 for UPS courier, to gamble, if £70 could still be wasted in reality. Further up the ladder pricewise, ones said to be working yet wires loose & dangerous to plug in are just insulting. Ones said to have "been repaired" but badly patched up leaving loose wires & loud hiss & hum we've had a few times. Ones said to be "Serviced" yet no sign of it in the dirt inside. Ones said to be "Repaired" by putting wrong spec transistors in that cause instability or stop Power amp Bias. Ones said to be "Recapped" using cheap rubbish Made In China capacitors that we'd not trust & using severely wrong values & voltages. Mains plugs miswired with 13A fuses or the Fuse removed & soldered over as an early 'Cash Converters' buy by us found. Beyond the quality of the Amplifier you are buying, quite often you end up with an item substantially less than you expected. Of course you can get bargains in lovely condition that don't really need anything more than Servicing, if that is rare. The Sansui AU-G90X we bought from a EU country, it didn't work on first trying it. At the time ebay didn't do the Returns like they did & try to get anything from the dodgy seller was impossible. If you bought that, you'd have got a 'dead' amp as it wouldn't click the relay on. The 'fault' was one that was likely intermittent but shook up by the Courier this stopped it working. To get that repaired by you lumbered with an expensive 'dead' amp might have cost you at least £200-£300 to get it working as it had other aging issues too. It's like the world of Buying Used Cars, you can often end up with a dud. One car we got from a "reputable" trader had the battery compartment badly rusted out from battery leakage if sneakily hidden plus the alloy wheels they just put regular nuts on if later said we should get some proper alloy ones that have the washer parts on. Water always leaked in if that could never be found. We scrapped it in the end once the heater fan failed as not worth putting more ££ into for the next MOT. You only learn what can be bad in any used gear by getting stung by shysters. Unawareness of the item must make people overpay millions.


Trio-Kenwood Supreme 1: Is It Really Worth €9999?
Quick Answer: No, Hell No. But what is it? It's an early one first seen in the 1968/69 Hifi yearbook, "Supreme I 33w bass - 23w midrange - 15w treble crazy multiamp system ignoring ideas of phase-shift £280" as on our List Of Amplifiers page. What it is shows here it's a Tri-Amping idea of 1968. It's not a good idea to Multiamp if Hifi Mags used to hype this... to get you to buy more amps. The Power Amps in the Amplifier are 3 separate ones with Bandwidth limiting to suit Bass, Treble & Midrange. On amps with Output Meters, such as the Yamaha 1977 ranges, the meters show that Bass can jump the meters very high but Treble can actually hit higher Peaks, so to put Treble power as less than half the Bass wattage is wrong for a start. The ideas of Phase Shift with 3 amplifiers driving 3 drivers in a 3-way speaker are again ignored, the timing of going through different circuitry can create Phase Shift & minute Timing errors giving a blurred sound. We've actually blogged on this before in Feb 2017 here looking further into the amp. We know & like the early Trio-Kenwood amps, the KA-6000 & TK-140X Version 2 are their best ones once upgraded. But as original they are quite a way back from what they can be upgraded to. The Supreme 1 is a rare item of limited use. One we linked to before made £400 in 2017 which is probably it's value as a Collector Piece if not one you'd really use on realising it's not very good. The €10k price is a seller severely taking the mick & trying to hype something in that sinister cynical way. There's a lot of it out there as just blogged above.


Beware Vintage Amplifier Circuit Diagrams Have Errors.

You'd think you could trust Circuit diagrams aka Schematics, but there are occasionally Errors as in Misprints that can trip you up. There are also updated versions of boards with similar numbers but alterations to navigate through. Misnumbered components we've seen most, why are there two lots of R702 sort of thing, marked on boards or diagrams, which one is the real R702? what is the wrongly numbered one then? Capacitor +/- connectors on one Luxman amp was wrong on the Circuit, Marked Wrong on the PCB if the original capacitor was fitted the other way round making it correct if not corresponding to any data. On one of the Yamaha amps the power supply PCB is marked +/- wrongly on one capacitor if the Manual is correct. Another Yamaha circuit completely misses one Power Supply line to join 2 sections on the Diagram. To blog this now on seeing the Marantz 4070 amp has errors. The H809-810 transistors are PNP if it's marked a NPN code. H711-714 are NPN-PNP pairs if all 4 are marked as NPN ones. Be sure there will be more errors out there, so the rule is understand circuits & question what doesn't seem right. How can a beginner make sense of these big errors that will cause problems? How would anyone fault find them from misprinted data?


1970 Pioneer SA-900 Amplifier.
Smart looking 50w Pioneer amp, aiming for the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 market with an amplifier version of the SX-1500TD amplifier, if 50w compared to 45w for the receiver. Two on ebay currently, one got bids to the same price as the Buy-Now one, shows they're not aware of the other one. But it is 48 years old & needs more than a Service to be it's best, if usually capacitors in Pioneer amps last better than some brands. SA-900 the first better quality Pioneer Amp in the SA-500 13w £54, SA-700 34w £91 range in the 1970 HFYB & the SA-900, misrated at 60w if 50w+50w both channels in the manual, for £133 belatedly in the 1972 HFYB. Photos online show it's much like the SX-1500TD if the Power Amp board is better without the several problems the Receiver version has. Still a very small power amp board half hidden. SA-900 adds MC Phono as does the KA-6000 if usually too hissy on the transistors even from tests at the time. No wood cases on either look a bit plain with just black metal, only with small side wood pieces on the fascia. It'll sound nice as do the Receivers if Pioneer at this time don't upgrade as good as Sony or Trio-Kenwood. We'd like to try one but we know what it'll be like so to rebuild & recap it'll still only be a certain price with no wood case, so ebay prices don't leave enough in it for us which is often the problem. The buyer of these will get a nice amp, for the age it'll sound a bit soft & lacking in life as other early Pioneer do as original. Most early amps sound soft as original but upgrade to be a lot better. A worthy amp though, a good one to get to then get upgraded & it led to the bigger Pioneer SA-1000 of the next generation by 1972. The only minus with early Pioneer until 1972-73 are those awful speaker plugs that are only for thin bell wire, use anything heavier & they fall out. We've yet to devise a better speaker connecting way as our 1968 Pioneer SX-1000TDF isn't working yet, but it'll be worked out then.


McIntosh MC275 Valve Amplifier On "How It's Made".

Series 23, Episode 9 has this 75w Power Amp being made. The show can often be as mindnumbing as it's overwhelming in how fast they chuck info at you, if there are often interesting sections amid the same-old predictable ones. "How Is It Made?"... Much Like You'd Expect. The UK Voiceover guy Tony Hirst a Coronation Street actor with his cheery bland puns gets very saccharine sometimes & the generic Musak backing can be annoying in it's blandness. The MC275 shown here is the modern version based on the 1961-73 original, if the Mk VI is the current one with modern connectors. They show the top case being cut out & bent. The Transformer making is interesting, the plastic bobbin part is wound with wire & then the thin metal "E" shaped laminations are put in from both sides to create that metal outer part. Then the transformer is put in a case & sealed with pitch much like ones made many decades ago, if for Audio the idea probably started Post WWII. The circuitry standard is as you'd expect these days, on a PCB which for high power valves is less good than Hard Wiring, as long track instead of short if often untidy old-style construction is far better for reliability. The Valve heat on PCB joints is not as reliable. The Main Capacitors are 4 fairly small ones for the size, possibly 330µf which seems low spec to us. All very easy to manufacture compared to the better quality of earlier construction. Be sure the 'VI' version has more adjustables & ICs to monitor things, if manuals on HFE appear for 1980s ones at latest, McIntosh aren't giving their designs away as it typical of modern Valve amps. Looking at the underside of the PCB, there are 3x ICs for control & likely bias settings, autobias perhaps plus other modern type plug-in cables & a small transformer which may be a Choke or a secondary TX for other uses, bit vague with no circuits. They use the typical red Wima & yellow Vishay type coupling capacitors if these appear small meaning still using low values as per the early designs, instead of realising how much further these old designs can be bettered, if they don't want you having that. It looks a compromise in design & space too limited to upgrade to 'our standards'. It uses the big KT 88s x 4 plus a line of ECC83 type valves if with a green LED underneath? A closer view of the "Rev E" board shows loads of surface mount resistors, transistors & as 5 pins some sort of IC. This is a valve amp with 'lots of modern crap' sadly. Because of the PCB, the transformer leads are pushed onto the PCB pins. It actually looks "unrepairable" beyond valves, bigger resistors & film or electrolytic capacitors, if the 'control' parts fail you're stuffed. 7x smaller valves are 12AT7 & 12AX7 are ECC81 & ECC83. The severely naff Green LED under the smaller valves to show they are working, but not a good look. Today's user wants these things though, we think they are cheesy on what's supposed to be a Top Quality product. We're Not Impressed with the current McIntosh MC275 as you can see, unlikely the sound is as good as the early ones for the dumbing down will be in the circuits to get the "CE" label.


1966 Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 1000 Tuner-Amplifier.

This is the first of the B&O Transistorised Receivers, previously the B&O 608 was a valve-transistor hybrid. We've had quite a lot of the 1969-1977 Beomaster 3000, 3000-2, 4000 & 4400 & we are tired of them as construction is poor, components are poor & sound really is not much better than average as well as these are not worth upgrading like many Japan-USA amps are. To bypass ones at a good price that we should buy at tells we don't want B&O gear & all that again. £82.19s buys you a 15w output amp, no clue of RMS, Peak or Ohms, if later the tests show 13w into 8 ohms. As with B&O the looks please, the performance is considered good, but you can't help but notice their harsh closing comment is "... had not the electronics be rather better, we would have returned the Beomaster to it's importers - unreviewed". Scatching comments done politely hit harder than any negative terms, but what don't they like? The FM tuner is a good one, it tests fine on Power Tests if Square Waves "were rather poor" meaning low spec & feeble design, just as their later gear suffers. Phono doesn't match RIAA with response steadily rising from 400Hz to a +6dB peak at over 10kHz if a dip below 100Hz. But the construction gets this comment "From the handling and mechanics angle, the Beomaster 1000 is among the worst we have had in our laboratory for review". Ouch to that, EU amplifiers we tend to avoid as this is found true when the Japan-USA gear is so much better made. But... to tell the review is by A.W. Wayne of 'Shirley Laboratories Ltd.' who made their own amplifiers, a UK company that didn't keep up so failed as a comment on our 'List Of Amplifiers' page for 1970 says... "For Shirley to still offer the 1960 looking Jupiter in 1970 will have looked so out of place, it's a build in a box type amp, but only £23 for a 12w amp." to fairly wonder on impartiality as the same person's reviews on amps we know are good are often of a similar 'jealous' tone. The facts here are they suspect damage in shipment as the Buttons don't stay down & the tuning pointer has issues. B&O were popular, they sounded good for the money & looks were ahead of many & for the fact B&O are still going with their "Lifestyle" products that may not please Hi-Fi users or us as Techs to upgrade them, they please many & you get the idea the review is unfair for blaming for damage as the row of buttons if knocked out of true, as with the Beomaster 3000, need adjusting back on screw fittings to work right again. Our verdict, Amp is a good one for 1966, reviewer with a slightly damaged one is using the review to again unfairly put down non-UK manufacturers.


The Aged Sound Of The 1977-1978 Monster Receivers.
We first heard the huge Pioneer SX-1980 with a Reggae guy in about 2002 who used it with mid 1970s Tannoys. The Tannoys sound impressed so we soon got the Tannoy Monitor Gold 15" Lancasters & the guy swapped amps to show what a McIntosh 2505 power amp sounded like that we bought plus whatever else more modern he used as a preamp. The SX-1980 sat on the floor like an abandoned coffin with huge 560 x 211 x 497mm size with 35kg weight. The Sound of it we were not impressed, it was heavy, slow & dull sounding with little character or detail to the sound unlike the other amps tried. The SX-1980 power supply is very poor for the 270w power output via the triple-paralleled outputs. But several of the mid 1970s receivers have similar overheating such as the Yamaha CR-2020 that we've devised a cool running upgrade to. We've not really had the chance to try any similar "Monster Receiver" until the 1979 Sansui G-8700DB that we found a bit disappointing as the cost cutting from the 1977 ranges to 1979 was obvious. The Biggest Monster Receiver is the 1978 Sansui G-33000 with 300w, 45kg & 636 x 227 x 553mm which is beyond insane really as is the Power amp with 5 differential pairs per channel & quadruple paralleled outputs. So to try the huge 1977 Marantz 2385 receiver, 185w with triple paralleled outputs & 26kg, what does it sound like to us as All-Original & Unserviced after all the amps we've upgraded. Interestingly the same sort of sound as the SX-1980, rich weighty sound, treble lacking with slight grain, deep bass lacking & a lack of depth & not much Stereo width. It sounds slow, tubby & after a while the rather flat soundstage got a bit tiring, if we can hear it would service, recap & upgrade well. This is playing with Tone set to Off, with Tone switched On the quality noticeably lessens, as the Tone is a poor design & led to the false marketing idea that 'Source Direct' was better when the Tone is made with sodding ICs. The thing is these huge amps are 40 years old, one on HFE with the Marantz 2600 proudly tells "it's in repair every 2 years" showing it's aged & their lazy tech just repairs it rather than suggesting a rebuild. These Huge Monster Receivers really are living on borrowed time for the age they are. "A Rich Warm Vintage Sound" Sales Hype as seen often actually is a tired out unserviced amp to us, detail is lacking, it runs a bit warm as not biased since new. The thing is with amps so huge is they need a correspondingly huge amount of work, for us to redo the Marantz 2385 would tell how many hours are needed to clean, service, recap, upgrade plus working out all the circuits & design. The cost to do that to our standards would likely be about what one would cost to buy as raw, are there buyers out there for one once rebuilt?


Turntables: Technics SL-1500 vs Technics SL-120 + SME.
Currently the SL-1500 sells as used for more than the SL-120 when it has no arm included. Both the 1975-76 versions. It's just because we've said the SL-1500 is a great turntable in comparison to the Garrard 301 & SME IV. But to try the Technics SL-120 the armless version of the SL-1200. The SL-1200 Mk I was first out in 1972, the SL-120 & SL-1200 Mk I are more Domestic turntables, if since the SL-1200 Mk II it's become a DJ's favourite that's at Mk VI & spawned the similar SL-1210. The Turntable used for early Hip-Hop scratching as high torque compared to feeble belt drives. Direct comparing of SL-120/SME & SL-1500 using the same velvet mat, the same Goldring G-850 conical stylus, with the Straight wire 'Blue' Cables on the SL-1500 & the original SME cable on the SME 3009 II Improved Version arm. We add the Ferrites on the Phono lead as it does make a very noticeable difference to perfecting the Focus as blogged before. We'll compare the decks more later, but first the sound. The SL-1500 with our several upgrades playing a 1967 UK Psych 45 by 'July', it's a loud & dynamic recording, plays "very nicely" with good detail & musical pleasure to the sound. We've played the G-850/SL-1500 combo for a while now & it's pleasing enough to play 4 hours vinyl sessions on Headphones until the Headphones get tiring physically on the ears. The next 45 we've chosen is a 'Stan Kenton' Mambo-Jazz vocal 45 from 1955, very cleanly recorded with strong dynamics & a female vocal. Again it just sounds right. Some of the louder parts are not as focussed as the 301-SME can do on similar tracks which shows there is still better, if in reality the percentage improvement is likely no more than 10%-15% "better" in ultimate detail retrieval. Not that Transistor or IC Phono stages can do the detail our Custom Valve phono does. So to try the SL-120/SME next for this review, if we'd played it earlier with a few 45s to see it was set up right. There is an almost surreal difference as the SL-120/SME brings just a little more focus on the 1955 track, just a step closer to the performance. The 1967 track similarly has better focus. A sort of audible difference like using a modern aluminium step ladder that does the job but you're a little unsure of it, compared to a vintage c.1970 steel ladder that you feel at ease balancing on one foot on the top platform. Playing a recording of the 1967 track via both players for quick comparison the difference on a distorted busy track is very subtle. The 1955 track cut cleaner shows the difference a little more clearer. The idea is the SL-1500 as upgraded is 90% of the SL-120/SME. For the price of a serviced SL-1500 compared to a serviced SL-120/SME, the SL-1500 at under half the price represents awesome value at the price. Would you actually hear the 10% difference with a 'normal' Phono stage? SL-120 vs SL-1500 build quality. Both are the same size & height, the SME versions have that odd 'bubble' on the lid to accomodate arm height of certain cartridges if ours barely extends into that space & other cartridges of lower body height wouldn't really need that extra space. The original feet on the SL-1500 aren't very good as either the spring or rubber cup version, we fitted solid rubber feet, sorbothane pad & felt pad which is a good improvement. The SL-120/SL-1200 feet are more substantial, plastic pillar feet that attach to the metal plinth with very slight springing & felt pads. These are much better & no need to changer those. The weight of SL-1500 as stock is 7.8kg & SL-1200 is 10kg with most of the extra weight in the plinth & bigger motor. The SL-1500 platter is 1.68kg if it has a part of the motor fixed to it & SL-1200/120 is 1.7kg. Hinges differ, some with screws others with a fixed bar piece if the modern Technics lid springs are easier to use. Mechanically the heavier plinth is the main difference if the SL-1200 motor is more substantial & is quicker by a tiny amount in settling on speed. Therefore it would be fair to assume the SME arm probably counts for the tightening of focus. Again the SL-1500 for it's price with the Technics arm, if serviced & adjusted right is still great value.


SME 3009 Turntable Arm: Reviews, Views & Setting Up.

We first got one of these with the Garrard 301 grey grease bearing in about 1997. The 301 was a NOS first used about 1966-68 by the ugly cabinet it came in, a home-made effort as was the way in thise days & with the Dynaco ST-120 & PAT-4 preamp plus the matching tuner, the Dynaco was first out in 1966 so not used until then. The SME 3009 in 1966 would have been the 3009 S2 non fixed counterweight with detachable headshell. The first ones were out in as early as 1958 & the S2 detachable or fixed headshell was introduced 1963, by info found online if reading through Hi-Fi News we could narrow the dates down further perhaps. We weren't keen on the 3009 S2 for the rattly knife bearing, rubbery plinth fixing washers & most of all the lousy "soup strainer" headshell with over 100 holes drilled in the top plus 8 graduated ones on each side. This compared to the Garrard TPA arm we found the SME with that 'flexible' headshell was blurring the sound. The modern Technics headshell you can still buy today improved it, but we found the 3009 S2 clunky in use so bought the SME IV instead & in the end sold it as it's a bit limited in use, is it really so great? Getting the Technics SL-120 with the SME 3009 II Improved, to at least try the thing out again, how is the 'Improved' version? Far less clunky, the arm still moves on the knife bearings but better held in for the changes. The SME underside oval case is very tricky to put back together still & it has to come off to service, if not an item to fully take to pieces as it'll have ball bearings that will cause difficulty most likely, or maybe they are a ball race like VHS heads used? Not going to find out as it works fine with no sticking, if one someone oiled may need work, don't oil it though. Setting up the Arm Geometry is easy enough, you need a Cartridge Alignment Protractor, the perspex mirrored one the best. Set it up to be square on the patterns which means it gets pushed back from centre usually. The right angled bar with a weight in the day we had that, er what does that do? But the manual which we have as well as it being online says to adjust the amount the angled bar sticks out according to your cartridge weight, as in the physical weight of the piece. Our Goldring G-850 'budget' one says it weighs 7g on the info sheet, so to set the arm to the "7g" position. The further right the angled bar sits, each line means 2g, so for 7g to show 3 lines 7 midway of the 4th. Then zero the counterweight by having the arm 'in equilibrium' as they say, removing the Bias weight first, if balancing straight as not too light or too heavy. All seems good, but not quite. The weight on the bar is adjustable, you poke a screwdriver to depress the sprung ball inside the small round weight to get it on the bar & each line adds 0.25g weight, with "0" with the weight pushed back. The problem is that only goes to 1.5g so you have to add an extra 1g tracking weight by adjusting the counterweight & using 1g on the bar to track at 2g, so you will really need a SPG to perfect it, an estimate will likely have you tracking too heavy. We've seen these with extra weights on that bar, if that will still not be correct & probably too heavy. Similarly the DJ headshells by Technics have a hole that takes 2g or 4g weights to track DJ cartridges like Stanton make for 'Rough Use'. The Bias weight has notches to allow variations, 0.25 to 1.5. Usually Bias number matches playing weight number if tracking at 2g there is no option. Bias isn't so critical so you'll just have to set it to 1.5 on the end notch. After just a few records played, bias is best set at Half the Tracking else it wants to slide off the run-in groove, so we set it at "0.75" & it physically behaves. Where to fix the Bias weight post, we fit it with 90° angle in relation to the outside edge of a 45rpm 7" disc to have the travel of it midway of an LP. The last adjust is to use the mirror of the protractor to see the cartridge tilt isn't off true & make sure the bias weight is in the pulley groove. Also the Bias weight post may be bent down too far, see the angle in the manual, the pulley at the same height as the bias thread hook post. Quite a bit to set up, but as we found with the SME IV, it stays put unless you change cartridges. But on testing further, the SME needs more than just belief in their method... see the blog below. Is The SME 3009 II Improved Easy To Play Records With? We didn't like the SME IV so much as travel as limited & it stopped us playing records so much beyond recording Vinyl to Digital is the truth of it. The Technics SL-1500 is nice & easy to use, good arm travel so you can use it without have having to worry about bumping stops. The SME 3009 S2 we didn't like as it was rattly on the bearings seeming unsure in use. But the "II Improved" certainly is improved, we're playing 45s like with the SL-1500 & realising that it's the SME. The arm clip on ours was "the wrong way round" as in you passed the arm up & over the clip to settle it with the opening on the right. Pics online suggest that's the SME way, if we don't like that so rotated it to be the way the SME IV arm does it, clips on the left of the clip post. The plastic clip automatically closes & locks the arm which can be avoided by not putting the arm fully in the clip to not forever be undoing the clip which is easy to do. Therefore no less restricted than the SL-1500 way which suits us.


Setting Up An SME Is Too Much Bother?

The Technics SL-1500 is much easier to set up, fit cartridge, use the alignment protractor the headshell fits in & then zero the weight to balance then dial in 2g. How accurate is it? Read on. The Technics SL-120 came with a circa 1978 Ortofon VMS 20 II with a stylus of unknown useage. Didn't like the thin scratchy sound of that... "The VMS 20 is probably one of Ortofon's most highly acclaimed cartridges, incorporating a nude, diamond elliptical stylus." says VinylEngine & other sites say it was 'high end' in it's day. Funny how we prefer the cheapo 1970 Goldring G-850 at a fifth of the price at the time. It's in the SME headshell & untouched in decades it might service up a bit better if the cartridge is a lower height upsetting the geometry & only 5g weight. Setting Up The Geometry & Getting The Weights Right is crucial as it makes quite a big difference for how the Diamond rides the Groove, fitting better you get better sound. We have a Garrard SPG3 pressure gauge, an early item that weighs up to 10g playing weight & needs a calibration with the 5g weight inside the compartment as it wasn't accurate, the SPG3 is crude, weighs up to 10g & for 2g weight how do we know it's accurate? To use the 5g weight to calibrate showed it was 0.25g off & balancing is all guessing with it. Digital Scale. So to charge up some batteries to use a digital jewellery scale that weighs in 0.01g divisions is far better & why we bought it years ago. Set level or sat on the mat higher up it weighs the same. What the SPG3 once calibrated said was 2g was severely out, it read 1.45g & was previously about 1.2g before calibrating. The SL-1500 zeroed & dialled in as 2g was far better, it read 2.11g. You have to work & have external scales to get the SME 3009 right. 28% error on SPG3 junk vs acceptable 5% tolerance by the fast setting of the SL-1500. Technics Arms are Designed for Fast Adjusting. DJ's don't usually use SME arms as too precise for these settings, the Technics arms in the SL-1210 Mk VI being much like the SL-1500 are adjustable with a different cartridge in a few minutes, the SME 3009 to do all the settings & weights as well as knowing the Cartridge body weight is at least a 30 min job, or 3 hours if you've not done one before. SME needs a small hex wrench, alignment protractor & digital scale. SL-1500 you can do on the machine with no extras beyond the "Technics Overhang Gauge" & get accurate results. The wikipedia page for the Technics SL-1200 is more about the Mk 2 to Mk 6 version with the Pitch-Speed control slider. Historic Turntable. Grandmaster Flash in the early 80s went on about ‘The Wheels Of Steel’ if actually the SL-1200 is all aluminium, but the Garrard 4HF 1959 turntable has a Steel Platter though & not good for magnetic cartridges, 4HF was used by Reggae ‘Sound Systems’ in the 1960s & possibly these 4HF were found first in finding old family gear. The SL-1200 & SL-1210 are given the credit for Reviving Vinyl for the DJ use with dodgy white label bootleg 'dance mixes' of the 1990s & of course the early 1980s DJs when Hip-Hop was still creative used these turntables for 'scratching' as the motor has good torque to not slow down like belt drive ones, if the idler wheel ones are even stronger torque.


Vintage Hi-Fi Needs More Makers Of Repro Parts. A Business Opportunity.

The Success & Popularity of a Genre depends on seeing how many make Repro Items of certain parts that are needed to keep Hifi alive. The Vintage Car scene as shown by the TV Shows like 'Wheeler Dealers' shows in the USA a lot of Custom Parts are buyable. Quality Varies but as the Car Scene gets so many TV shows there is a lot of interest. NOS parts plus skilfully made Repro parts are needed. In Hi-Fi we can see the advances in Hifi made over the last 7 years since we started our Hifi Pages. You see Wikipedia pages for some Hifi like the Technics SL-1200. The Service Manual Sites are probably the biggest help in getting interest in keeping Hifi alive if that goes into Tech Work. We see our Influence & there are other sites giving potted info on Hifi but none as concise as ours. Before 2011 the best-only Hifi Site was the "The Vintage Knob" one run by a EU person who stopped updating several years ago. They covered some of the early stuff but not much & at that time anything pre 1977 was generally ignored as not understood to be worthy. Hifi Forums are hard going as so much amateur input that is mostly waffling nonsense, bad ideas & opinion based on little experience. Those more professional who tried forums don't stay for long as the audience are beginners & for that a Forum is a good place to start as you'll get an idea of what people are interested in, if it's really too random, so we started putting pages here to fill in these gaps in knowledge & via Google we got found. Back to Repro Parts... The USA scene for Repro McIntosh wood cases we knew of with buying some McIntosh amps in 2002. These Repro cases are worth having to cover the McIntosh gear that is with metal casing not really for seeing as these were built into cabinets with the Panloc fixings. Free Standing McIntosh needs the cabinets. But have originals with the nice slanted feet or repros less well made & easy to prefer the originals if now 16 years later these will be rare & expensive. We saw a basic 2 side boards & top plank with large holes cut for the huge Marantz 2385-2500-2600 ones sell for nearly $1000, you see why there are various repros made as there is a demand. For a Fisher X-100-B amp we're rebuilding for a customer, to just think the caps are bad for the L+R imbalance, but then once recapped to realise the Volume Control is bad despite the amp's high grade. To never think some mean person would have swapped their worn one in a bigger model for the nice one in that amp, but looking closer revealed it had been unsoldered so swapped. Karma helps the customer who finds a Repro Volume Control as the seller had similar issues so had to get a batch made of a certain minimum order amount to get what they need. Custom made by a company if unmarked as to by who, these are not cheap, £100 delivered if at least no Import Duty somehow. This is a well made part with a better turn-on click as the Volume has Loudness & Power Switch too, the old one needed heavier handling to turn on so it wore it more. Once the batch are sold there will only be more if another gets them made or the seller sees the demand gives a profit to make more. Money talks, demand talks, if demand is still growing as people see these Vintage Amps are worth keeping alive. For all the amps we've had, it's rare to get a bad Volume control if it can happen & to replace that means searching for amp parts or getting another to take that part from, hoping it is better condition. Most of Amplifiers can be renewed as the big sellers like Farnell & RS still sell capacitors, resistors, transistors etc that are of the type used. But when it comes to cabinets, fascias, lids, volume controls, switches, amp feet, tuner glasses & 240v transformers for 110v, there is a lacking. We hope in years to come with advancing technology more repro parts will get made. Here's the Opportunity for someone to make a lot of money by manufacting high quality Custom Repro parts. The difficulty is knowng which ones will be wanted beyond the McIntosh, Marantz, Pioneer etc biggest models. Will anyone make a missing lever switch for the Trio-Kenwood KA-6004 or 8004 as the originals break off? Actually we made some from pipes & rods, look at our KA-6004 gallery page, we made those. It just takes someone creative & visionary to further Hifi by Manufacturing Wanted Parts. From Our Experience we find that Volume Controls can occasionally need replacing, we'd try to repair first but worn out track means you need a new part & possibly can swap bits around. Recent Amps with those Miniature Volume Controls & Balance like on the 2007 Marantz PM 6002 are very prone to failure & unfindable or very expensive. We serviced an early CD player, never again as they are just too much aggro & the ownder bizarrely used it often by the Headphone output amplified by an IC. The tiny Volume Pot was worn out if somehow via his Japanese contacts managed to get a replacement one as these tiny style ones are still used. Power Switches can be a pain too, these illogically have silver plated contacts which tarnish to black & lose contact after sparking for years. If you have an amp that makes loud cracking noises or the lights flicker with no sound, or flicker for about 30 seconds to settle, then the Power Switch could be bad, if it could be many other reasons too. To replace a power switch is as tricky as a volume as you'll never find parts if we keep amp bits from failed ones so have a chance to find one. As with any parts that may need replacing, to try to service & repair the original is always a far better idea.


Why Do Some Early Amps Use Paralleled Output Transistors?
The 'Monster Receivers' & similar High Power Amps get a lot of their Wattage from using Paralleled Output Transistors. This starts with Double, ie the Push-Pull Left Channel uses 4 Output Transistors instead of Two. It grew to Three, four & possibly even more in sone 500w Modern amps. Double Output Transistors theoretically Doubles the Current, if looking at the HT of the 1970 Akai AA-8500 is a Capacitor Coupled amp with a 76v HT. The Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 is a CC design too with 86v which is rated 48w RMS both channels if the similar KR-6160 receiver is rated 55w & the previous TK 140X of either amp board is rated 53w. 76v HT equates to ±38v in a (Semi-) Complimentary design & a similar ±40v in the Sansui 3000A from 1967 rates 45w. The Akai AA-8500 is rated 65w RMS which on Single Output Transistors rated about 38w with 28v clean sine as we read on the last one of this amp we had, as on the 'Power Ratings' page. 28v on other amps can be done by some 35w-40w amps depending on current output of the design. Take 40w as a base, Doubled Outputs brings 65w, not quite Double the Current if it depends on the Transformer & Power Supply. 40w to 65w is a 62.5% increase in Power. But Why Do Early Amps Use Doubled Outputs is the question... The answer on early amps like the 1965 Sony TA-1120, 1967 Sony TA-1120A and 1965 Fisher 600-T is simply the Wattage Required wasn't available in the Transistors at the time. The Sony used NPN Silicon transistors rated 50w & the Fisher used Germaniums if the 35144 outputs are probably 50w too, if no info is findable. To look at the Sony, rated 50w into 8 ohms & 120w "Music Power" as the specs are known, the very first outputs as the Manual shows were 2SD45 rated 5A at 50w. There is no extra power beyond perhaps 10w for Peaks & "Music Power" so Sony doubled the outputs to get that 120w rating, giving the amp better headroom in use, insteasd of just flattening out. The 1967 TA-1120A uses these too if by the time the 1968 STR-6120 was out, also rated 50w it used 2SD88 which were 5A with 80w giving the extra headroom to not need Doubled Outputs. The TA-1120(A) puts out 29-30v clean sine which doesn't really show doubled current as the circuits are designed a certain way to not give higher wattage as 30v is typical for 50w in other standard design amps. Both the TA-1120(A) & STR-6120 work on 93v HT, so in effect to only get 50w from Doubled Outputs shows the TA-1120(A) is designed safe if the STR-6120 is a more open design & once upgraded we hear how good it sounds, if the 1965 TA-1120 we can hear is tamed in the design & for sake of keeping it original, we didn't upgrade, but in theory the TA-1120(A) could put out about 80w if "maximised" in design. The Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 inside has spaces to add more transistors to do similar to the Sony TA-1120 if by the time it was released, the 2SC898 transistor was available with 7A & 80w to not need to used Doubled Outputs, if Trio had designed the heatsink to use these but just used what they made. You hear of "forum types" putting in the 250w MJ- type transistors saying they upgraded the amp, no you didn't, the power will be no different. Which leads to this Old Chestnut...


The Age Old Question: Can I Make My Amplifier Higher Power?

It's One we asked starting into Hifi & "No You Can't, It Depends On The Amplifier Voltages etc". But that's strictly not true... the above shows The Wattage can be increased by Doubled Output Transistors. As the above shows, the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 has spaces for Doubled Outputs to Increase the power by increasing Current, but not Voltage. to Bridge an amplifier increases the Voltage if not the Current if today there are Bridged-Paralleled circuits doing both. We Do Not Recommend You Do This... The KA-6000 is overspec as vintage amps usually are, so to make a 48w into a 80w amp is possible here. You need to understand how it's designed, look at the Sony TA-1120(A) or Akai AA-8500 designs to see how, but to be aware if you try this you may overload your Power Supply & get a wrecked amp. We're not telling how to do this more than this, but in Theory & in Practice, to make a 48w into 80w is possible. Problems you'll get can range from overheating on heatsinks, overheating the transformer from drawing too much current as well as the Power Supply & Fuses will need to be capable of the extra wattage.


So If 1965-67 Amps Needed Doubled Outputs, Why Does the 1970 Akai?

There's always one who has to ask difficult questions... By 1968 there were affordable Transistors capable of 80w & the Date Sheets show rare ones rated up to 200w if these wil have been very expensive. The 2SD 203 as originally designed is 6A with 50w, so the same problem as the Sony TA-1120(A) if by 1970 you'd think designs would have progressed, but the reality is the AA-8500 might have first been designed in 1968 as a Prestige Item, as it is, if only released 1969-70. Our one has 2SD218 with are 7A 60w. Akai here weren't pre-emting the "Monster receivers" with 2, 3 & 4 paralleled outputs, they just wanted to offer a higher power amp than just a typical 50w one. The Next Amp we see Parallel Outputs in that we are aware of is the 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 which is using a Fully Complimentary design as was the fashion by then & 2SB541 & 2SD388 outputs, ignoring the 'P' tag, means the 85w rated SA-9500 on are 12A 80w/8A 80w meaning here they are using Transistors only rated at about the rated power as 80w-85w is the rating on the SA-9500 depending on frequency. so here, by necessity or by using cheaper transistors as by 1975 there were higher power NPN if getting NPN-PNP pairs, as the 1975 Technics SU-8080 has too, is less easy so they must double them up. But by the 1977 "Monster Receiver" era receivers of 180w-300w made by Marantz, Pioneer, Sansui etc were usng the Parallel Output transistors in threes or fours to get these very high powers. The Highest Power 340w Marantz 2600 sadly has no manuals findable yet as so few sold, if the 300w Marantz 2500 does & shows quadruple parallel output transistors, a total of 16 output transistors instead of the typical 4 & works on ±87.3v for it's 300w if the 185w rated Marantz 2385 works on ±75v with triple parallel outputs, the 2385 is either underrated-tamed or the 2500 is pushed to the limits. The Monster receiver era is all very silly as blogged just above, if it shows progress that can be made & led to even higher outputs using different design types. By 1980 the Hifi scene dropped all these huge amps that likely lost the companies a fortune, as who needs them beyond those wanting to try extreme amp design & power.


The Early Amps By Akai: Part One

For the amount of Amps we've had, after a while you can find which is their "Best Ever". To be upfront about Akai, they hide the quality of their amps on the ones mentioned, only by upgrading to they sing nicely. as original they are nothing special, For this section, we look at Akai, a Japanese company that started off very 'High End' for it's time if economic pressures of the early 1970s had to make them change their standards, ie cost-cut to keep going. The 1972 Akai AA-5800 45w amplifier is a particularly good one that was quite ordinary as Original but we know the designs & got a great sound out of it, but decided for the Midprice Quality of the case that we'd stay with the 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 instead. The AA-5800 has a great design if tamed down & limited to sound no better thasn they want you having, if before we have found great designs that got tamed to hide. The sort of "Design As Good As You Can Design" if then reduce it to not have it too good. Only our unique way of Design-Upgrading brings this out. The 1966 Akai AA-7000, the large sized slim profile one was a fascinating amp, we got two of them showing we liked it, if eventually did sell these as they are too big to have around. It upgraded well if as too aged we never heard it as original. They also run quite hot for the Transformer Coupled early design if this does sound great. So in 2015 we saw the 1970 Akai AA-8500, didn't know it but saw it was worth a try. Condition wasn't great & needed a lot done to get it to our standards, if it's one we didn't upgrade too much, an Unfinished Idea really & the AA-5800 reminded us of it. Fate has things come your way & to get another AA-8500. The design of this is pleasing, the fascia is very "Space Age" & probably the most futuristic classy design you'll see & no-one else copied this. It has a drum to show the Tuning, so the Tuner window is square with 2 meters to the left. Large Rotary Controls for Tuning & Volume, Big Sliders for Balance & Tone, a Lever for Tape Monitor & 7 large push buttons for Power & other Tuner, Loudness & Filter uses. On first geting it, we assumed it was quite a small amp, but in fact it's fascia is large 461mm x 147mm & the controls are all bigger than you'd expect. This as blogged above is one of the Rare Paralleled Double Output Transistor amps, initially done to give higher power for Transistor Spec if actually the Higher Current drives speakers better as per the 180w+ Monster Receivers. The Akai AA-8500 is their best early receiver therefore, but read on for how it sounds as Original. But it still is 1970 which is 48 years ago & the transistors usually hiss as the Hitachi 2SC458 that was a standard transistor hasn't aged well. Here the AA-8500 has Volume before the Tone stage so the hiss will always be heard, we'll just replace the lot. For 1970 the main capacitors are a high value, 3x 1000µf paralleled to give 3000µf, if the Sony TA-1120 in 1965 used one large 4000µf one as did the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000. The AA-8500 appears to one of the earliest Relay amps, if again the 1965 Sony TA-1120 was the first one, if the AA-8500 uses it for the 'Audio Mute' mode to silence, rather than protection, the "EPC" stage is the Protection, if with Capacitor Coupled Outputs it just Mutes the Early Power Amp Stage as there can be no DC voltage onto the speakers, assuming the Speaker Capacitors are good. It's not perfect though, the Filter stage is fussy if the AA-5800 one could be made good & the Tone stage is a bit tamed. Power Amp board is a pleasing design, pre Differentials & may possibly better the UA1384 Trio-Kenwood board, as in TK-140X Mk II & KR-6160 if that doesn't have Bias Adjust, only Midpoint Adjust. What becomes of the AA-8500 is to be found, we just see it's the Best Akai & how it upgrades with some subtle redesign is to be found out. Keeps hi-Fi interesting, if this is a Revisited Amp. See Part 2 In August Blog covering the AA-8500 further as we Upgrade Ours, the Sound actually isn't very impressive as Original.


Be Sure To Set The Right AC Mains Voltage.

Some amps are Multivoltage with easy ways to set the voltage, the Plug-In blocks, or Fuse-Middle round ones with a plug to adjust. No excise not to see that. The Quadraphonic Marantz 4070 & others are unwisely awkward to know what the voltage & the reason for this blog is telling the Marantz 4070 was bizarrely set to 200v which according to Mains Voltage sites is in some of Japan or Bermuda. Wherever it came from, it never worked again as the Preamp Regulator won't be the right voltage. What the Wrong Voltage setting using 240v does is trash transistors, wear out Mains Switches & generally cause a lot of bother meaning the Marantz 4070 as blogged above really was "Too Far Gone" if at last after replacing 2 transistors for the second time after wondering about the voltage settings if there is no info ecept in a we finally get it playing stereo. If it wasn't a Marantz we'd not have bothered with it if you'll not find another 4070 fully recapped as 4 channel amp in a modest sized case is too much & similar to why no-one fixes the 5.1 type Amps as it's too complicated, if today there are all ICs. Marantz of this 1973 era are a top brand & the work was worth it. Only the Marantz 2230 receiver shows these screw boards to set it right, if following the screw wires, not wire colours. So to get a 220v amp as some Luxman are only one voltage setting & use 240v, you may get away with it as 220-240v is 9% out, just within typical tolerance. But 200-240v is 20% out & this will more or less trash the amp.


1970s Quadraphonic Amplifiers Are Actually Worth Buying.

Earlier opinion on 4 Channel 1970s Amplifiers based on a Marantz 4230 we had in the early 1990s was that they sounded slow & blurry. But we're not happy leaving that Stone Unturned so decided to get the 4ch Marantz 4070 & despite the amount of work it needed, success was the only option, see blogs above. So after running it in for a while as technically it's not been used in decades beyond our new parts added & then we set the Bias & DC Offset, following our Bias setting ideas. The 4070 had locking paint & dirt marks to show the original settings so we left them set as that for the First Try of the Sound. The Power Amp is on the original transistors & not done the ceramics yet, the initial 4ch setting was a bit blurry on treble which was a bit imprecise but a good sound, switching to Bridged Mode the sound doubled the imperfections & blurred further. This is the Typical Quadraphonic Amp sound as Unserviced & still on original capacitors, the 2ch mode will make the sound soft & blurry as not adjusted right. In fact all Unserviced All Original Amps will age & go off spec, if few ever bother to get them Serviced, not realising that the sound isn't what it could be. Now Adjusted right, the 2ch or 4ch mode sound the same & the amp itself sounds a lot better than we expected if there's more we can do still. The thing with Quadraphonic Amps is 4ch Sound is pretty useless if you'll use it for 2ch by Bridging, the Marantz ones have a switch at the back, if the 2ch mode Bridged will sound twice as bad as the 4ch mode with half the power. Naturally to redo a 4ch amp is Double a Stereo one & even if Decoder & Matrix Circuitry doesn't get used, it's still part of the Preamp & needs redoing too. The Marantz 4070 was worth us getting to research, but the reality is for all the problems & rebuilding it needed, a customer would end up with an Upgrade bill higher than they'd want to pay, not realising it's Double the work. Look at the Circuit Diagrams, the complex circuit needs understanding to fault find from & this 4070 amp was one of the most difficult we've had to get working from being unuseable. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X amp is an X-Balanced Design which is actually a Bridged design we discovered from learning the 4070 design. The 90X was a complex one to adjust as so many things to adjust as it's technically a 4ch amp Bridged to 2ch. When the Bias wasn't right it lost Bass & Treble to a lesser extent. Bridging can work but it requires adjustments to be accurate.


August 2018 Blog

Shuguang EL34-B Valve Review. Do They Better The JJ Brand Ones?

We got some of these for the Luxman LX33 as the JJ EL34 are still cracking. Nothing solves it. Bias Voltage & Current is set right. The crackling comes & goes but it clearly is picking up airborne interference for a design weakness which we've tried everything to solve. So to try a different Valve brand. Heard of Shuguang which are supposedly rated in Guitar Amps, they get further selected by other brands & rebranded at higher prices. They arrive looking like bigger bottle JJs with a 'Svetlana Winged C' look for the base colour & having the Wings inside the case, if otherwise unrelated. We plug them in, very tight fit & turn on. Such tight fitting means the pin wires get pushed about & time wasted wondering why the new valves manage to Bias so bad, blame them for not being run in properly & then the JJs bias up as badly, as a wire... came... loose. A wire to the Output Transformer meant V4 had no Anode connection & the valve is very noisy after that so it damages it. The Shuguangs sound extended like the JJs do, crisp treble & deep bass. Oh, and none of that Infernal Crackle the JJs torture you with. To set bias, play it for 20 mins & then to set AC Bias as detailed below. After doing all the settings after 1 hour+ use the Shuguangs better the JJs for treble detail & none of the rustling noise. we've avoided Made In China valves since the late 1990s with the 'Golden Dragon' ones & stuck to the Russian ones which sadly have lost Svetlana now. The Chinese valve is still under test in use & see how long it lasts, the LX33 amp was hard on the JJs probably the ultrasonic rustling wore them out fast even applying all the tricks. As for Musical Pleasure, the Shuguangs do sound better than the JJs, the better treble shows more finesse in the sound, the JJs last time playing .wav files from the Computer was found not as good as transistor amps, here the Shuguangs bring the 'transistor quality' to valves. After nearly a Month, the Shuguang's are behaving very nicely. Good find.


How Do We Bias Our EL34 Amps?

We put test points by the EL34s to adjust bias without having the amp on the edge as the original way had to be done, so easy enough. The Tube Technology 100w vave amps have Bias per Valve which is easier to set, but the LX33 way is OK. You have one Adjust Pot for the Master Bias on the Push-Pull pair & then another Balances them to be the same. Supposedly you buy Matched Quads of EL34s to not need to balance if these do age in use so balance may be midway true when new but can drift either way after use. Once that is done with the amp being on at least 20 minutes to get used to the settings & make sure it's correct, the Balanced way is less precise than the individual pot way. Then to do the AC bias which makes sure the driver valves are putting out the same level of Sinewave, the AC bias is on the Splitter circuit. To adjust that to use a 1kHz test tone & an oscilloscope on the output from the Splitter if before the Grid Stopper resistor. To use a Multimeter to read the DC voltage will only bias the driver stage which may differ from using the 'scope or Cathode Bias. Precise AC bias adjusting of the splitter gives very crisp treble to the point Treble needs -1 to a previous sound. This will likely upset the EL34 Bias values to a degree so you just need to recheck they are right & they will vary to a degree but not much. The Bias Balancing Way isn't perfect though, try to test it the next day & it'll be a little off, but it's within tolerance so no need to rebias daily. Modern amps with Autobias probably Autobias it every second & the circuit will limit the sound someway, so we're not keen on Autobias like the Prima Luna amp had, if the IC fails you have no amp.


How Rare Is Your Amplifier? How Many Were Made?

As with any good product, as in Records, many great 45s & LPs sold nothing as badly promoted or ahead of their time. It takes Decades to realise the Best Of The Past in any Genre & can only be done with hindsight by comparing it with the contemporaries. As an example, the 1966 Sansui 3000 receiver was out by Dec 1966, the 3000A version came a few months later, but why the 'A' version? The 3000 was a great amp but buyers wanted Two Speaker Pairs now as other amps like Fisher had on the 1965-66 Fisher 440-T & Fisher 600-T, Sansui missed recognising the want for this so swiftly updated the 3000 to the 3000A. The 3000 version is a rare find as few were made & few sold, the first small batch will have been made & distributed in the USA & selected EU Countries. It is possible that 100-300 were made, if you never see it. But the 3000A was a popular amp at the Army & Navy stores & sold well for there to be a steady amount on USA ebay, maybe 5000+ sold. It's a great amp & hearing an original one it was as good as anything Fisher made, if likely sold cheaper to get the sales. The 3000A is found with '1969' date codes & it got a 1971 mods supplement as it aged. It sold well & was still around when the rarer 4000 came & went. A manufacturer in Hifi soon learnt the trouble of the Television Overproduction that is mentioned in 1966-67 Hifi News magazine, don't overproduce, test the market that could be fickle & get an updated version out fast if needs be as Sansui did. It leads the question, how many did a successful amp sell worldwide. This info you never see published & we've read the HFN mag 1956-80, yet you do get the idea a popular amp can sell 20,000 as is suggested by the Quad II if that was sold 1953-68. Low sales on Lowther amps that were made 1959 & still 'available' in 1971 are revealed by very low serial numbers. The Japanese makers can number amps to not be so easy to follow as they number amid all their ranges as well as using different numbers, possible the Yamaha CR-1000 could have had 5000 made. But then the 1965 Sony TA-1120 is numbered to 4000 on the manual if ours was just over 5000. Did they really make 5000 of them? Highly unlikely, the serial numbering must include Tape Machines. The SME 3009 arm is numbered to suggest "Series 1 1959-1963 10,000 built. Series 2 1963-1973 180,000 built. Series 2 Improved 1973-2003 260,484 built." says one on a forum, and based on Serial numbers it is possible them numbering all product in the same series. As with Records we know some Beatles 45s sold 1 Million+ & these are very common to find, if SME really made 450,000 arms there'd be a glut of them which there isn't. Onto the huge "Monster Amps" how many of the Marantz 2385 were made? Six are on ebay with some 110v only & some missing original parts, they aren't selling. The amp was £977 new in 1977 the equivalent of £6000-8000 today. Did Marantz make 1000 of these & just sit hoping for sales? No, Marantz know marketing & sales so these Prestige Items were made in small quantities to test the market after getting Hifi Mag reviews where Sales will have been generated plus with a Waiting List as is mentioned in the HFN especially in the late 1960s, they made enough for the demand. Marantz will likely have initially made 50-100 for the Reviewers & big Hifi Dealers around the Country, assuming they'd risk buying the amp in. In the early 1960s, one UK shop proudly said they had the only Tannoy GRF pair in the country, if at the time it was a tiny market in the UK. For the EU market as is revealed by how Rare 240v 1960s Fisher Amps are, they may have made around 50 for the biggest Hifi Dealers & then waited for the reaction & sales orders. An amp on order taking 4 weeks is being made for you, it's not being sourced from another distributor, we know that on ordering a silver SME IV, there were none on the network the shop said, so a wait for one. It's like Cars today, Black White or Silver are in stock, other colours are Special Order which is why the roads are so tediously Monochrome. Soon Marantz found sales likely sold perhaps 200-300 worldwide & they're not going to make more to set up the factory if there are only a tiny few orders so it's out of stock & the distributors shuffle them around to the last buyers. The web presence of these big amps is high for their extravagant size & power, if how many are out there? We can only guesstimate. How many got thrown out when they got damaged, people do & we read of one being found on a kerbside. We had a 1977 Yamaha CR-2020 the buyer bought in 1981 in Singapore with the sales bill in the box still for about 25% of the list price as really the end of line in a market that fell off late 1979 as the 1980 ranges reveal, see our List Of Amps-Receivers pages. Marantz 2385s that went unsold would be discounted too, as the Quadraphonic amps were discounted minus the decoders & likely shipped to a different market that would buy them as cheap. As with any Collectable or Vintage item, even looking at those Sites that list old Auction prices, the odds are the same one reappears. Then to see how easy it is to find one to buy. Some UK pressed records on major labels, there should be 300 demos made at least, we've not seen in 25-30 years despite knowing them, they don't turn up. Look for the Marantz 2385, they aren't selling as overpriced & could be listed still after a few years. a 41 year old amp isn't for daily use, so why buy it unless you find someone who dares to work on these, how many even vaguely like us. A SME 3009 S2 Modified arm isn't easy to find, plenty will be with owners naturally, if turnover of items if 'scarce to common' is quite regular. The notorious & best at high prices turn over. In Records, a record that is genuinely rare can make a typical price each time, but the bubble bursts when all the 'Deep Pockets' buyers have theirs as the demand is satisfied, you only want one copy. We saw this on a £600 item in 2015 that suddenly only made £300 for a nice copy, then even worse with another decent one around £225 the next month & none seen since as this scared the market. Still one of the Best 1960s UK 45s. So however Rare an item is is pretty irrelevant, is it Wanted? Is it Overpriced? Will it be reliable despite being 40 years old?


The Reality Of What Happens To Vintage Hi-Fi Today.

As with a lot we put on this site, no-one else writes about these subjects. Here's the Reality of What Happens to Vintage Hifi. Our Marantz 2385 we got in July we later saw had been up for sale since Dec 2017 in one country, it was relisted slightly cheaper for a few months & then sold Apr 2018. The buyer in another country didn't like it so got rid of it within 2 months at a loss. Then our seller got it & they kept it for only One Month before listing it as they didn't like it either. It worked but as we review, the aged dull sound was far from "what they expected". We used to watch Quad 33/303 systems get bought & similarly relisted a few months later, a big supply of them is what this looks like but the same ones offered for sale as buyer tries & buyer doesn't like. Our 'Other Amps' page tells we'd never try the Quads as we see how mediocre the circuits are. Before the 2009 cash crash, there were regularly dreamers who'd buy 'High End' High Priced Modern Amps, CD players etc & proudly state "3 hours use" yet these items were barely used yet swiftly rejected & up for sale at a huge loss to the price paid. In 2002 we got the Musical Fidelity A308CR huge pre & power at a cut price as ex-demo, we too didn't like it & sold it on fast, but as the entry price was already quite low we got our money back. So people buy amps blind & swiftly don't like them. The Toshiba SA15Y amplifier was on ebay as 'working but faulty', we didn't buy as the seller's terms were poor, if another bought it, spent ages redoing it badly & a few months later they give up & sell it on to get rid which is where we get it & rebuild it properly. Our Marantz 2385 has had 4 owners in 3 countries in 9 months as the amp didn't please any of the others. We got it to upgrade as you can imagine, to take a tired 41 year old amp & refresh it into a use-daily safe item. Using a big Marantz as original is high risk, the repairs Marantz need get intense. Buyers have expectations, our reviews aim to tell the amp as Original, as Serviced & then as Upgraded with our Unique Skills where we carefully buy & aim to get 'Excellent' out of these upgrades. We watch ebay & here we rarely see our Sold amps up for Sale again as the Buyer is happy with what they get. Some the buyer might not understand or have it match their speakers, so they sell the upgraded amp instead of trying more speakers, if that's Rare and only seen with the 1971 Sony TA-1130 & the 1973 Yamaha CA-1000. Some will hear the upgraded sound & want the higher models, some of our buyers can buy several amps & have fun comparing as well as use them in different rooms. Where does "raw" Vintage Hifi go? It goes into a Grey World of buyer unsatisfied & selling on, yet buyer won't think to service or upgrade a good amp. You think for all we put here we'd have lots wanting amps upgraded, if the reality is it's still showing progess. The fact you can buy brand new Amplifiers as cheap as £200 sadly gets buyers getting those cheap disposable items, plus there is an unending supply of mediocre late 1970s-1990s amps on ebay for around £50-£150. Those who want the Quality are forever searching for it & many are happy listening to budget gear & still thinking it's "awesome" as they know no better.


What Are The Monster Receivers? * = Ones We've Had Here To Review
These are Tuner amplifiers of 150w or more. Some as wide as 636mm & 45kg weight. They are oversized & over heavy, not many sold & many had a hard life, By using multiple parallel transistors to get the high wattage, if still keeping under 100v on the ±HT rails. All 1976-78 models. Marantz 2385
* is 185w (490mm wide 26kg not too big face on at least), 300w Marantz 2500 (scope & noisy fan) plus the later Marantz 2600 at 340w with a revised tuner (both 27kg same width as 2385). Sansui G-22000 200w (insane huge size 636mm wide & 42kg) & Sansui G-33000 300w (same size if 45kg). Pioneer with the 270w Pioneer SX-1980 (too huge size 35kg, 560mm wide) & the 160w Pioneer SX-1280 at 27kg. Yamaha CR-3020 160w (again too huge 37kg with 632mm wide). Rotel RX 1603 * 180w (33kg at 600mm wide with rack mount handles) & even Trio-Kenwood KR-9600 160w (24kg & 580mm wide). Sony were not so hot at the time so only manage a 125w Sony STR-7800SD. Less known is a USA company 'SAE' with the SAE 'Two R-18' 180w, if HFE only has the Two-R9. Some of these we looked at on 'Other Amps' a few years back. Fisher RS-1080 is another that didn't get to the UK but at least did to Germany, 170w at 33kg from 1977, 605mm wide, 470mm deep. The worry here is Fisher sold to Sanyo & this amp just seems to copy others in looks & circuitry, prices on the 125w RS-1060 suggest not much buyer confidence as Sanyo were a budget brand. There will likely be other 'Monster Receivers' that were not Imported of at least offered in the UK. One Forum lists all the 100w+ Receivers made pre 1985, in a 2010 post a lot unknown to UK buyers or post 1980 to miss the Yearbooks, they list a staggering 95 of them. Search for "So are any of you guys into the old school stereo receivers?" Whether any are any good is for those interested to try out, just as they are 100w doesn't mean they weren't cheaply made or just ones to suit a market.

Why On Earth Would You Want A Monster Amp?

These excessive power 1976-78 amps fell off a cliff by 1981 as designs by 1979 were already a lot more modest plus the dubious idea of pre & power amp even for 50w, just getting you buy 2 units. But some USA Makers like Mark Levinson & Krell reintroduced the high power amps back as Power Amps into the late 1980s-early 1990s. Why you need an amp the size of a tea chest putting out 500w is clearly just an ego thing. Our Opinion of Monster amps was made by hearing a Pioneer SX-1980 in 2002 & then geting a Marantz 2385 which sounded as aged as that SX-1980. But who else would dare get one to fully upgrade just to see how good it is even knowing the Tone has ICs? Only us it seems, others service to a degree & 'repair' but our 2385 will be the only upgraded one. Read futture blogs for how we get on with it. Those buying these huge aged amps & using them aged & raw are gambling with 40+ year old high powered amps & as blogged above, they appear to get bought, not liked as too aged sounding & sold on again. We'll find out the more we do to see if these are Monsters on the Way Out, or worthy of a proper rebuild. But Why Would You Want One? There is a Blokey Idea the Boy Racer has to want the highest power yet Quality doesn't seem to figure, like 1000w Car amps. Bragging Rights that you have a 300w amp will impress some. Actually the idea by the 1980s was 300w amps to drive very insensitive 84dB speakers, a pointless idea that as with any dumb idea will always get followers. In reality, you sat at home could live with a 20w amp & 95dB speakers to have enough volume. You can buy 95dB 200w PA speakers & the Sound Level will be way higher than you'll ever need. The appeal of more Thoughtful Types to have the Ultimate In Design at the Time appeals, the reason why aged tired sounding Monster Amps get bought & sold on fast, if no-one thinks to get them updated. We got ours for the need to try the excesses of Hifi having sold other Hifi items & to blog about what no-one else has tried, to upgrade a aged tired amp to see how good it can be. We get the Bragging Rights as the First To Rebuild & Upgrade a Marantz 2385, if whether anyone will want theirs done will depend on our future opinions of it. Currently it awaits a spares balance control as the other was broken & not repaired well, if beyond that it worked good as our Review tells.


The Early Amps By Akai: Part Two
The Grim Reality of The Akai AA-8500... As Original it's Sound is actually rather disappointing, then again so was the AA-5800 & it upgraded to sound very decent. The AA-8500 is as dumbed down as the AA-5800, so don't go thinking it's great as original, as it's not. But it has a lot of potential as we state. The Original sound is Not Very Loud for a 65w amp, on Headphones volume goes past Midway to show it's not so good. Even after redoing the Tone Board it doesn't sound anywhere near "Excellent", it's a bit grainy, the sound is small & a bit blurry
. It doesn't sound like a 65w amp at all, we've had louder 15w amps. It looks great, one of the Best Looking Receivers, but it sounds lousy explaining why it's a Rarer one. Whoever dumbed down the Circuit really overdid it, this amp should sound as good as the Akai AA-5800 was our reason for trying one again. We can hear our Tone-Preamp has tightened the sound, but it's struggling against the rest. It has Pre Out-Main In Connectors to see which half is the weaker as using the whole amp it's not possible to tell which is a first. This 16kg amp really does hide it's quality, be sure other amps we've had do too, compare the Before-After Ratings. 'Main' Input is shown with a typo as "0.77mV" instead of 0.77v or 770mV so will compare with most amps. Soundcard into the 'Main In' is typical of the Standard 1v type level. reveals the Power Amp sounds better than the Preamp stages. Now Aware of The Power Amp sound to crank it up louder, as in past midway & listen for the quality which is there, so things to do... Well Is It any Good Now? For our Redo of the Tone Stage & some alterations, if the amp is still partly unserviced & the rest is original, it now sounds as good as the AA-5800 in many ways. Great Amp Hidden for sure. Punchy Amp with Wide Stereo just like we like them. The extra weight of Parallel Outputs is noticeable now, it wasn't before as Original. Why are Manufacturers so Cynical about Dumbing down what are Great Amps & make them just average? The 1970-72 era is where this is done most we've found.

Why Are So Many Good Amps From 1970-72 So Dumbed Down?
We've had a few from this era that as Original are 'Unremarkable' to the point of mediocre, but for us knowing circuits we can upgrade them to be some of the Best Hi-Fi Ever, but most hearing the dreary originals with so much dumbing down, limiting & deliberate spoilers, it is actually surprising that this happened so quickly. 1964-67 Transistor amps are the First Generation, 1968-69 are the Second Generation but so many that we'll detail by the 1970-72 Third Generation are just cynically hiding great designs with dumbing down. Different to Cost Cutting Dumbing Down that started by 1973-74 & hit a low by 1979, this is designing great amps but Not Letting Them Have That & by the time the Discounting Era arrives, the cynicism goes elsewhere. Here is a list of Amplifiers & Receivers we know are pretty ordinary as Original but Upgrade really well, beyond general aging, the designs are overtamed. On our Reviews page a "Recommended" rating yet an "Excellent" rating as Upgraded tells. All amps are never as good as they can be, as they are made to a price level to be universal, our Custom work brings the best out. Even the early JVC & Trio-Kenwood amps have very low spec in some places, afraid of Bass is a common one throughout the era we cover with Valve amps often having very limited Bass as the spec of the time was only modest. The Deliberate Taming is the Problem here with these 1970-72 amps. 1970 Akai AA-8500 great looker as blogged above but very tamed with low volume for 65w. 1970 Sansui AU-666 with some very tamed severe bass filter & very low spec throughout sounded awful on speakers. 1970 Hitachi IA 1000 was rather tamed if still sounded 'Very Good' as original. 1971 Hitachi SR-1100 similarly, both Hitachi were capable of far better than the Original design allowed. 1971 Marantz 2245 was surprisingly average as original, soft blurry sound with some strange design, Marantz are a varying brand often way overpriced if sounds do vary amid their 1970s ranges, the simpler designs being wonderful if the over-complex ones suffering. 1971 Sony TA-2000F/TA-3200F Pre-Power is a design you'd think at 100w would be as good as the STR-6120 but it's very tamed especially on the preamp, the designers appear scared of what they are doing so keep things very tame. Even upgraded by us, it's still not as lively as it could be. 1971 Sony TA-1140 is where the cost cutting shows, despite TA-1120 looks this is a bit of a weak design with Power Supply on the Tone board, one we've not thought worthy of upgrading more for this, plus the Manuals are too lofi. 1971 Sony STR-6055 we get just a few weeks after this blog & again it's thin bright sound scared of bass hides what is a good circuit. 1971 Trio-Kenwood KA-2002 upgrades to sound lively for 13w if cynically tamed to hide the usual nice Trio sound. 1972 Akai AA-5800 was pretty average if it hides a great circuit & upgrades well, this seems to be the Akai way if by 1973 Akai AA-8080 the sound is far better as original if now the Cost Cutting is what limits that amp. 1972 Harmon-Kardon 930 we thought was pretty average as original & not a great design despite double transformers, the circuitry wasn't so good. Did upgrade to just get an 'Excellent' but it seems the layer H-K are the better ones. Some Lower Power Models of Trio-Kenwood & Sony by 1971 are just too basic to really consider as ones upgradable to 'Excellent'. Other amps we've reviewed that got 'Very Good' were of acceptable sound as original & it can vary amid brands. 1971 Yamaha CA-700 & CR-700 were before their classic silver range & bit average with several minuses.


Updating Your Older Opinions.
We've managed to do that with Two just in the last few weeks. We Question all we see in Hifi, why do they use that, what is that for & go find out why. Often it's part of Dumbing Down & Limiting, or it's poor design that we try to better. So much in Hifi is based on accepting Old Ideas by Tame Grey Old Men yet a lot of it is Out Of Date & has been for decades. We see modern Valve Amps still using the 1950s Mullard designs & still using the same values as back then, rather than thinking "how can we make this better?" but that takes skill & unfortunately Money which they don't want to spend but still charge you High Prices for amps that mostly have out of date designs. Old ideas of Toeing In Speakers to get the 'Stereo Sweet Spot' are hopeless but still used. The long running "Gold Plated" ideas with connections still keeps the hype going but use these things & see how fast the 'Lick Of Gold' wears off to make you wonder if it was just Copper as it's gone brown now. But to our Revised Opinions... Monster Amps are slow, dull & overweight in sound. Yes they are as Original & Unserviced as we first heard with a huge 1978 Pioneer SX-1980 in about 2005 played through Tannoys which we liked with their owner using a different amp. It sat on their floor like a coffin & sounded as dead, the guy used a different preamp & it still sounded lousy. That was what we thought hearing the 1976 Marantz 2385 the first time, that same thick slow sound. But there's more to it as the 2385 Review page shows. Fully Serviced which is a difficult take-to-bits job & then to recap-upgrade at the same time save risking the wrapped pin connections, the dull dozy thing came to life again, a good service will restore the sound to a degree, but remember it could be up to 42 years old. We've put on this site before that Quadraphonic Amps are similarly slow & blurry, we first had a Marantz 4ch Receiver in about 1995 bought for a whole £20, probably the 1973 Marantz 4230 at 30w x2 or 12w x4, or the 1977 Marantz 4240 at 40w x2 or 17w x4, both look very similar in & out. Got a photo with a Rogers Cadet III on top plus the Technics SL-1500. After other amps we found it disappointing as it had no life in it, even in the 2ch mode.Looks from the pic that we used Marantz as preamp & Rogers as Power Amp though it could have been the other way round as a later pic shows a Musical Fidelity E30 100w power amp that was only out in 1998, boring thing that was too. We digress as often, but the Quadro amp even at the time after 22 or 18 years was clearly out of spec to sound so boring. Our Marantz 4070 we never got to hear as original if recapped & then biasing the Power Amp left mostly original the Biasing right really brought the sound into focus as it had drifted from the original Pot setting points as are paint sealed when made new. The Lesson Is... Question what doesn't seem right, would these Quadro & Monster Amps be sold sounding so lousy? No, age had taken them over. We'd dismissed these for too long & these are advanced amps to work on that now we can put ideas learnt into to reveal how good they can be. "Proper Hi-Fi" from Quadraphonic & Monster Amps was really not expected. The Marantz 4070 was only got as a gamble on seeing it had a nice fascia despite a mess if the Marantz 2385 was just for selling the Sansui AUG90X & SME IV so at least put the same into a worthwhile amp.

The First Hi-Fi Discounting In 1967.
Beyond Shops offering occasional 'Shop Soiled' items, Ex-Demo is the term of later years, there really were no Deals in Hifi such as heavy discounting of all of a certain item. But by 1967 the Valve Amp scene was starting to get Old Fashioned & some makers were making both types of Amplifier as Valve or Transistor such as Sansui, Pioneer, Trio-Kenwood if other Brands either carried on with valves or had stopped making them over the last few years. So to clear out End Of Line Outdated Valve amplifiers & receivers was the deal done by the big REW (Earlsfield) shop in Upper Tooting Road, London. They got the Trio-Kenwood valve amps that had been available for a few yeara but clearly they didn't sell too many so July 1967 p.110 has them clearing out the Trio range cheaply. Trio W41U valve amplifier List 55gns (1 guinea = £1.05) now a mere 22gns, so you could save "26gns" acording to their ad, perhaps done purposely to get you asking if it was a typo. Trio WX-400U valve receiver 99gns now 65gns, Trio KW33 valve receiver 89gns now 59gns, Trio WE24 amplifier 39gns now 25gns plus Trio W38 79.5gns now 47gns shows these capable amps, the WX400U with MPX Stereo were really being cleared out. The shop also clears out the Nikko TRM40 15w transistor amp 45gns now 22gns & the Pye Brahms HFS30T transistor amp from 1963 53gns now 29.5gns. Clearly they bulk bought in the remaining unsold stock & offered a good range very cheaply, if some being 1963 models were looking a bit old fashioned beyond just being valves by mid 1967. It'd take over 30 years for these to be considered Retro & worth having again, they had a long time in the Wilderness if the nice grade valve ones still around exist for being cared for or just left unused in cabinets. But there is the First Hi-Fi Discounting, selling you 'outdated gear' if the reality was Trio-Kenwood in 1967 with Transistors still weren't their best until the 1969 ranges.

The Story Of The Fisher 440-T Receiver Apr 2016-Aug 2018.

We got this amp, recapped & upgraded it a lot, such as plug-in sockets were not a good idea on Driver transistors. It sounded great for it's 25w rating & if we were collectors we'd keep it as it was like New inside beyond the need to recap 52 year old capacitors. It gets listed Apr 2016 & sells within a Month to a customer who just orders it. This is unusual, all buyers message us first to Ask about the amp & if it will suit their needs. Once they say they got the amp they ask about speakers so we recommend Tannoys as typical if no further word heard. Nothing until Aug 2018 when they contact us saying the amp "that they just opened" has a problem, can we repair it & sell it on for them as it's not needed for their Project anymore. A little odd that, but we message back & say to repack it & we'll have a look. But then they say they don't have the packing despite it "just being unpacked". They don't know what to do with it & say "it might end up in a skip" which is disrespectful to our work. We question why they haven't got packing just allegedly unwrapped & their 'easy-going' manner changes, so we decline to get involved as they are trying it on. A week later in Aug 2018 it ends up on ebay with a slightly libellous comment saying it makes pulsing noises & all ready to mention us. To answer Trolls is our way so to put a comment on the 440-T review page linking to it. The 440-T is a great amp, we'd not want to buy it ourselves on seeing it, so recommend it to a customer & put the sales page back on once they win it for a mere £242, when we sold it for £700 in 2016. So as you can imagine, who else can deal with an amp like this, if who the underbidder was remains unknown, likely they'd bring it to us too. We Get It Back. Arrives to us in a different box if packed safely. We open the case & metal covers, a bit dusty inside & on the heatsink tyransistors cover, not our dust. Looks exactly the same inside as our pics & nothing wrong visually at all. Sounds perfect on Headphones, so we go to wire up our 4mm socket on ring connectors. This is how the 440-T should be wired, we use These exact ones now. That's strange, the Right Channel screws are very tight as screws can get if never moved after some time. So we compare the Sales Photo with the Amp itself. The R ch screws are exactly the same position as sold, if the L ch ones are all different, as you have to remove the screws to get the ring part connected. We always check Mains Plugs too & their one we saw the E wire was barely hanging on, 13A fuse used & the cord grip broken which pulled the E wire nearly out. This is the type of buyer, one who doesn't know stuff. So buyer can't do a plug safely & therefore has connected Two speakers to the Left Channel & not connected Anything to the Right Channel. Verdict. Buyer Misuse, tries to play us after a cheap repair & us to sell it on as unwanted now, we decline so they sell it on very cheap, we get to check it over & find out the truth. On using our small Test Speaker that it's been used on as well as on our Tannoys, it does make noises now, so their misuse has slightly damaged it as it won't drive speakers if Headphones sound fine. Repair needed on the Power Amp somewhere. On checking further the Output Transistors are good if the drivers are slightly off & further use on speakers could damage more, so at least they didn't use it again. We learn customer's ways every time & one like this is it seems best just letting them send it to us so we can see for ourselves.

0.05% THD Total Harmonic Distortion: Who Cares?

The Pointless Specification of Total Harmonic Distortion isn't that understood, most read it as the Sound Itself has only 0.05% Distortion from the Mastertape, which is most certainly isn't. Harmonics as you can read deeper into on Wikipedia are Overtones of the same note. A Violin has a huge amount of Harmonics to create the sound from what basically would just be a Sine wave without any Harmonics & Sine waves have no character, yet are often used to Test Hifi despite no-one beyond Techs hearing Sine waves on testing Amps. Sine Waves are totally predictable, the wildly varying Music you play is totally unpredictable. You can see these Harmonic Graphs on some of the early Hifi Reviews with the Tone at 0dB with the Harmonics way down & often lost in the Background Noise of the amp, they can be as far as 70dB to 90dB down & masked by other sounds. Whether these are Distorted when at such a low level appears to be the Spec that gets Amplifiers sold. If that matters to you then you're believing Hype. Why Do We Upgrade Amplifiers? Because the Sound we hear is imprecise, slow, rough, lacking depth, sounding blurry, having no proper Bass, weak grainy treble etc. This in reality is the "Distortion" from How Music Should Sound, but there is no way of measuring that, beyond how tired the sound makes you or can you play the Amplifier for Hours? Some amps we've heard Mangle the Sound so severely, how distorted or far from the 'Original Sound' is that? As we have on the Hifi Intro page & a self-quote we wrote early on... If they were more honest they'd rate it as "Percentage Of The Real Sound we actually Lost in search of High Specifications". That's the real truth of Hifi, yet until you've heard better, you will think your aged weak sound is acceptable. Amps get sold on as the Sound isn't liked, the need to compare several amps to your speakers before you realise they are lousy despite others saying they are "The Best In The World" which just reveals how little they know. Comparing an amp on several speakers has the Bonus of Headphones which we find are the Leveller of All Amps as the Headphones are direct from the Power Amp via a typical range of Resistor, not going to be affected by direct coupling to Loudspeakers which still is the ultimate test of Amplifiers, to see they match eachother plus to suit your ears & room. So when you hear an amplifier is 0.05% THD but hear it has no proper Bass, narrow Stereo, little Kick to the sound plus with Grainy Gritty Treble & a recessed Midrange, you'll realise THD is utter rubbish to even consider important, when a Factor like Slew Rate that was briefly shown in Hifi Reviews in the mid 1970s until realising it's the Factor that tells more about an Amplifier Sound than any other. We've blogged about Slew Rate before. But doesn't 0.05% THD look impressive. Don't believe the Specs hype.


1977 Rotel RX-1603 "Monster" Receiver: Is It Any Good?
This is the 'Big One' in the Rotel range, if we've not had a look at this before. April 1977 HFN/RR mag reviews it, see our Review of the amp, as we get one this same month to restore. 1978 HFYB lists as 180w for £525+VAT but up to £701+VAT in the 1979 book, the similar 185w Marantz 2385 was £977+VAT in the 1979 book. Rotel are a good brand in the late 1960s-late 1970s, they made cheaper gear if it still sounded good, the RX-603 in the same range we've had & it's not a bad amp but not the most exciting one either. The styling may not be to your taste, as with the Luxman R-10xx range, it looks very 1970s in a Cheesy Way with the big perspex lit tuner panel looking like a 1950s Radiogram & Rack Mount handles that some brands used around the same time as an option with Pioneer & Marantz. Rack Mount handles are for Pro Gear as tall towers of equipment show, useful for the purpose, if just decoration on Domestic Hifi, the "Go-Faster" stripes of the Audio World, the RX-603 ones were plastic so not useable really as handles. But looks apart, the RX-1603 is an interesting amp & from a lack of info we've not covered it if we've had the Manuals since 2012 when doing 'Other Amps' page, the bitty scans are hard to follow. The Hi-Fi News/RR magazine reviews this & it gives a better idea of using one as it's a 2-part amplifier that's hard to understand from bad pics. Comparing. The RX-1603 is 33kg & £701 when new & the Marantz 2385 is 27kg & £977, so quite a difference. Rotel size is 600 x 180 x 400mm WxHxD, Marantz is 491 x 178 x 435mm, Rotel is not as big as the Pioneer SX-1980 at 560 x 211 x 497mm. All a bit silly as over 400mm deep it's going to overhang a typical sideboard & probably too heavy for most furniture too. But size mattered & it was a "Monster Receivers War" after all, if few will have sold in the UK. Circuits. Bearing in mind it's a 1977 amp, the circuits are predictable, as in fashion-led & overdesigned. Phono is Differentials with EQ then the Class B push-pull design, all unnecessary if standard stuff, at least no ICs. Mic Amp is ICs if unimportant to most users. Tone-Control circuit is quite complex if with 2 transistors per channel with one a buffer and no differential-Class B which is good to see, if the early stage has fairly high NFB which is unusual to have on a 180w amp. The HFE scan of the RX-1603 circuit is bitty & hard to follow with bits repeated & chopped halfway, but you get what there is unless someone nicely scans the booklets not just old blurry Photocopies. Power Amp has Differentials with diodes between the Long tailed Pair part which isn't one we've noticed before, then into another Differential as part of the Class A Driver stage then into Bias & 2 Push-Pull Driver stages & onto Doubled Paralled Outputs which are all NPN so a Semi-Complimentary design which we'd not expect for 1977, if perhaps Rotel kept the price lower by using NPNs. In reality it doesn't make any difference as Semi- or Fully Complimentary. A mix of design ideas here, the Phono stage overdesigned if the rest is typical for the era & seems fine. The diagrams show plug in sockets on many connections. Typical Power Supply Regulators & 4 relays. It should sound decent, if one tells us the RX-1203 is a bit lifeless, it probably would improve to a degree for Servicing & a lot more for some quality Upgrading as these bigger amps got used for much longer than lower power amps that got replaced on believing 'new is better' as was the idea into the 1990s. Looks-wise looking on Google, the styling with the handles & yellowy tuner lighting is a bit cheesy compared to more classy looks, lots of buttons as typical with later bigger Amps, if the top slanted section midway for the inputs will just leave wires in sight, plus the AM Antenna stuffed in there is not very user friendly. A 'Tapeheads' forum site has lots of inside pics & it doesn't appear to be splittable into 2 halves to be Used, if does for Servicing. The inside looks packed with big boards again typical 1977. To see those 1960s Carbon Composition resistors in a 1977 amp is a bit surprising. Whoever redid the amp did it neatly, taking time to straighten uneven components as we do, but again they just do it like-for like, missing out on Upgrading the amp, if we've yet to find anyone who upgrades amps like us because it's design based & potentially risky unless you understand stuff. Plus they leave things we get rid of... The big boards are Tuner ones so after seeing the rest, the RX-1603 does appear a good amp of it's type. Appears a 110v one hides a Multivoltage Block under the Rotel rear badge which makes it a lot more worthwhile to have. The minuses are the fascia styling plus the difficulty of top mounted inputs that trail over the power amp half, leaving thick cables with Ferrites a messy sight. Rear of the Power Amp has the Speaker Outputs. As with any Huge Amp, it'll have things you like & things that aren't so good. What it'd sound like Serviced & Upgraded is another thing, the 185w Marantz 2385 appears a little scared of it's power to keep Deep Bass quite limited plus the original Spec of the amp is still 1977 Spec. A deeper look at the circuit if the values are too blurry to read, the design looks more than a bit lacking in several ways we'd upgrade. It probably sounds quite dry & disappointing even for their Service & Like-For-Like Recap. There are reasons why amps sit overpriced & unsold or reappear again a few months later, the buyer doesn't like the sound is the main one. As is generally the deal with Rotel, they are OK but not too exciting, but are generally good basic designs that would upgrade to be a lot better.

1970s Marantz Amplifiers: A Quick Look at All Models 1971-79.

The Numbering on these is a little confusing, as it doesn't separate them into a year grouping like Pioneer do with the SX838 being the range 2 years before the SX-939. The range we'll detail covers 1971 to 1978 & Marantz are a company that got Better as the 1970s went on if dipped by the 1978 ranges. In our experience the 1971 ranges aren't as good as the 1973-76 ones & that's after upgrading. The Marantz numbers in the Amplifiers equal the Wattage per channel added, so the Marantz 1030 is a 15w RMS into 8 ohms amp. So power ratings are easy to work out. But the numbers cover several years. The joy of sites like HFE (Hi-Fi Engine) put these into numbver order & to see the info on the pages, if there are many errors in year & power output from wrong info being found or misunderstood, ie 80w amp on one is a 40w one in reality, so care in believing any specs without checking. Model 30 is a 1970 amp of 60w, still in their earlier numbering. 1030 is a 1973 amp of 15w & the circuits are good on this amp if 15w is a bit low for many. 1040 is a 1974 amp of 20w with the part black fascia, circuits look good. 1050 is a 1978 amp of 25w & is a bit cheaply made and basic compared to the earlier two, one big circuit board beyond the tone sliders board is disappointing. 1060 is a 1971 30w amp with nice looks and 6 larger rotary controls plus a "1060B" later version with 4 larger rotaries probably by 1977 with simplified fascia. The 1971 has more features & no Differential, the "B" version is updated, both look good on circuits. 1070 is a 1974 amp of 35w with the part black fascia with a good circuit. 1072 is a 1978 amp of 36w, part of the 1050 range again with the cheaper one-board design. 1090 is a 1977 45w amp, still of multiboard construction like the 1152DC if the circuits look good still, the inside looks more budget build, 2 larger main boards if still worthy, we get one Aug 2020. 1120 is a 1973 amp of 60w, all silver fascia. This is an interesting one as 1973 shows the First of The Class B type Push-Pull circuitry, here it's on the Phono stage after the Differentials. Tone-Pre has Differential if Class A output, Power amp Differential if looks like the lower power designs 1122DC is a 1978 amp of 61w as the numbering suggests, not 75w. Phono is 3 Transistors, no IC-type circuits here, Tone is much like the 1973 design, but after that decent design the Power Amp is overdesigned with what looks like 4 Differential pairs if not all for Audio & into 2 pairs of Push-Pull Drivers. Power amp lets it down a bit. 1150 is a 1976 amp of 75w with the half black fascia & a 1150D version with more buttons & inputs on the fascia is a Dolby Version. Back to the Overdesign & IC styled Differential & Class B Push-Pull on Phono, Tone amp is overdesigned with Differential & 4 more transistors, Filter amp like Yamaha used is 2 more Transistors, Power Amp is 15 transistors if included Protection if fairly typical. Preamp stages overdesigned. 1152DC is a 1978 amp of 76w, one we had early on, the odd push pin construction. At the time we found it very bassy if dull sounding with not much volume for 76w & it had problems we could sort now, but early on it was too complex. Overdesigned like the 1150 preamp if they managed to stuff in more differentials & transistors somehow. Power Amp is 21 transistors, Doubled Outputs explain 76w, bassy but not as loud as a 76w amp should be if it works on ±48v HT. Power amp with 21 transistors isn't quite as overdesigned as it seems having FET differentials & Transistor Differentials, if the middle part has a lot of transistors for Drivers & Protection. The Preamp overdesign would put us off now. 1180DC is a 1978 amp of 90w, almost the same as the 1152DC in design if adds a Peak Indicator. 1200 is a 1973 amp of 100w don't remember seeing this one around & 100w is high for 1973. Design is much like the 1120 of the same year with all the excessive Differentials & Class B stages. Power amp has Doubled Parallel Outputs & looks a sensible design like other 1973 Marantz. Works on ±52v approx. 1250 is a 1977 amp of 125w much like other 1977 with the overdesigned preamp if the power amp is more sensible HT is ±62.3v. 1300DC is a 1978 amp of 150w, their biggest model. FET Differential on the Power Amp like the 1152DC, 22 transistors including Doubled Outputs, if despite the Transistor count does look a decent design. After that the PM-x00 series began with PM-200, PM-400, PM-500 & PM-700 as on our "List Of Amps" page. PM-700 is that 'Graphic Equaliser' front design & only 70w highest power now. So the Overall View is the Marantz amps are All Transistors with Good Designs varying between models, some with Overdesigned Preamps & only really 1152Dc & 1200DC having overdesigned Power Amps. But the 1978 ranges we're not keen on with the cheap one-board design, heading into what became the typical build quality by 1979-80. The 1971 Marantz aren't so good designs which matches Yamaha for Improving by 1973 as the designs are a lot Fresher & this generally continues until 1978 if by 1979 the quality dips as Cost Cutting takes hold. 'Classic Audio' site adds the 1260DC which will be like the other 1978 'DC' ones. There is no direct equivalent of the 4070, the 1030, 1040 & 1060(B) are all different & all having lesser design that oddly the 4070 doesn’t have. 4070 has some NFB but not excessive, even the 4140 4ch amp differs.

Trio-Kenwood KR-7200 Receiver Plus Later High Models.

For us having the KR-6160 recently, two now have mentioned the KR-7200. On looking on ebay, we see one, it looks fairly like the KR-6160, if it's not one we've seen. 55w as the KR-6160 is, with the KR-6200 at 45w & KR-5200 at 30w. Seems Trio-Kenwood did new ranges every 2 years & this 1972-74 range isn't much around for the Discounting Era heading into the Cost Cutting Era. One on ebay overpriced at £420 for a Raw amp you should pick up for £100-£150 shows the problem a lot with Hifi on ebay, it's foolishly priced like Serviced & Upgraded gear, when it's just an 'as found' amp. The circuits of the KR-7200 look not unlike the KR-6160 if the main difference is Power Amp has Differentials & no Capacitor Coupling which other brands were into by 1971, also it adds a different Protection Stage and adds a Relay, more to 'follow fashion' perhaps & despite it looking a good design with no ICs in the Audio stages, it's one that didn't sell. In 1974 came the KR-7400 range at 63w if this is a good looking amp, it has ICs in the Tone Stage & Phono, plus the KR-9400 is the Top Range 120w if HFYB doesn't mention it. KR-7600 (7060) range in 1976 at 70w with 17kg starting to look like Pioneer if again Phono & Pre-Tone ICs. Next Top Range by 1977 is the 160w KR-9600 at £587 is quite a bit cheaper than the Marantz 2385, it has an IC Output Stage 'TA200W' is why... Trio-Kenwood just seem to have lost their individuality by 1974, losing what makes their earlier amps appealing. KR-6030 by 1979 is 80w moving away from 100w+. By 1980 the range changes to the KT-313L, KT-917, KT-815
ones that HFYB lists if nothing on HFE about them to know, so assume just the typical slimline midprice gear of the early 1980s. a KR-9050 is a 200w one from 1980 supposedly, we'll blog it below.

Vintage Valve Amps: Is It Worth Getting A 1965 Rogers Cadet III or HG88 III Rebuilt?

One asks about getting either amp Upgraded, as they've had the 2-part earlier Cadet III & taken it in for repair twice plus returning under warranty more times. This exactly proves why "Repairs" on Vintage Amps especially Valve Amps are a waste of time. Rogers valve amps need a full recap & rebuild, they are now 53 years old & the high voltage caps will be long since dried out, to use regularly is not recommended if it works. Another just "repairing" them more than once is sadly not an efficent way to deal for the customer as we say, the whole amp is way past it's best & risks damaging output transformers. Old-time hifi guys don't understand the upgrades as it's not to stock. They don't understand how to subtly redesign because they can't fault-find the issues that upgrading can bring or understand how to even start upgrading, so they won't be able to fine tune it. We can & for spending nearly 4 years altering & totally redesigning our Luxman LX33 valve amp from 1979, we have proven upgrades that other Valve amps can benefit from. Cadet III is only 10w & the 2 part version is pretty basic, probably not worth spending on to rebuild either version as space is so limited, plus those awkward 3-capacitor cans of very low spec, it's really only a budget amp & 10w with those tiny output transformers really isn't enough volume for many users. The 15w HG88 III is what we'd consider "entry level" for a worthwhile power in valves. HG88 III we rebuilt one in 2012 as on the Solds Gallery if that was a few years ago, a big job to do. We did that for our own research if in reality to do that today would be an advanced job into 4 figures, plus the trouble with Rogers is the valves aren't available beyond as used or rarely NOS, the ECC807s are about £40 each & usually part used which can mean they are 'burnt in' to the limited original circuit & can't cope with upgraded design. The output valves are like ICs as they have 2 differing valve stages in one case, the ECL86 is a Triode stage plus Pentode output & long obsolete if these were likely used in TVs so even NOS ones are findable with Mullards at £30 each. Another asked about a HG88 III rebuild & ending up buying a much smarter looking Fisher X-100-B as reviewed which was a far better buy than the HG88 III, if to find 240v ones is not easy. Valves done right are expensive as redesign is needed, 1960s valve amps are weak designs & rather crudely done in places, if the results on the Fisher were very decent, to the point of "Use Daily" which you can't trust on 1960s parts. For 1960s Valve amps, we've rebuilt Rogers HG88 III, Trio WX-400U receiver with a full rebuild including Tuner, the Trio W-41 which is the amp version of the WX-400U. Later valve amps we've got our 1993 Tube Technology set plus the 1979 Luxman LX33 that gets used most days for playing vinyl plus getting a Prima Luna modern valve amp & realising how poor the modern valve amps are desite IC-driven Autobias. The worst 1960s Valve amp was the 1966 Sansui 500A that pushed 18w from valves that are only safe at 15w, terrible design on the Tone stage & Filters, obscure obsolete valves in the preamp-driver & then for the very high HT it trashed output valves very easily as the design lacks a balancing load resistor like Trio worked out in 1963.

ICs... ICs... Why Don't We Like ICs...
Because they are Generic Low Spec mediocity is why, earlier opinions on the Valves & ICs page. Some contain 14 transistors, resistors & diodes in one tiny package, they will not be the same spec as individual components & they will be a safe generic design that allows little individuality in design when it's used in a circuit. Aug 2018 got us trying a Monster Receiver with IC Tone stage. To try it without all the Taming Revealed it picked up 27MHz Computer Mouse noise so it's way too wideband for Audio & must be tamed down. The Marantz 2385 Tone IC is a fairly basic TA7136P 7 pin DIL type IC, the internal circuit type, if not values, can be found. It's rated 400mW if max current it can draw is only 4.2mA as the Hitachi spec sheet tells. Inside there are 11 transistors, 2 diodes & 8 resistors of unknown value, including one on the output. Compare that spec to a typical common transistor. The Tone Stage comes after the Volume so it's not working at 0dB level if once turned up higher, the IC will 'crap out' for it's low spec. "Crapping Out" is where the signal gets flattened off as there is no more power, we had a 40w IC output amp & the ghastly mess of 'sound' once it crapped out was truly unmusical. It's the same Miserable Crap Class B design that Yamaha started putting in Amplifiers about 1975, if as Transistors. Earlier Amplifiers could so a Tone Stage with 2 or 3 Transistors, one a Buffer if 3 was usual & running in Class A. But the trouble is Class A needs 'more power' as Class A amplifiers run very hot yet the Class B, or AB as some get called, will run cool. The TA7136 looks like a Mini Power amp if for use at low level, it has A Differential, a Constant Current Source then it goes into the Push-Pull Class B type design for later stages. This is all totally unnecessary if earlier amps could do this with 2-3 transistors, but sadly the "follow fashion" ideas meant the superior early circuits that use Capacitor Coupling & no Differentials all by 1971-72 on Japanese designs had to be this way. It heads into overdesign. Constant Current Source we have in the 1970 Sont TA-3200F power amp, it's a limiter rather than being a Regulator. In the 1990s as blogged-page written before we got the Tube Technology preamps that had Regulated Voltage on everything. Regulated means Tamed, Zener Diodes to limit voltage is a cheap way of doing that. To get rid of the Regulated Valve supply improved the sound a lot. Restriction is not a good thing in Hifi, yet it's in everything now. Computer Soundcards are Today's Digital, you'll not find the Circuits of these boards but be sure it's Class B or another letter, but never Class A. Soundcards with all the Tech advance do a good job for playing audio, but as we found using the Oscilloscope on Square Waves, these Dumbed Down Circuits give really poor Square Waves over 10kHz. This is why ICs need so much taming & then they'll sound acceptable but be far from as honest as discrete components such as Transistors. The Worst Ever ICs are the big STK blocks, the Trio-Kenwood KR-9600 blogged above used a TA200W IC as the entire Power Amp stage after the Differentials that were in Transistors. This is truly Rubbish Design & be sure if you damage it, death of the amp as none of these Custom ICs are buyable let alone any Spec Sheets. Built In Obsolescence in the most cynical way & we do avoid amps with IC outputs, V-FETs & MOSFETs as often they are custom made for the amp & as we found with the Marantz PM62 we got in 1993, after about 2 years the supplies of these Custom ICs or Output Transistors dry up so the amp may be useless after a few years as no spares. But your 1968 Sony STR-6120 can be fully rebuilt with Transistors you can still buy & the odds are in 50 years you could still do the same. But your IC amp will be Eco-Waste long ago & why these IC riddled amps generally are Disposable. There are other design & spec factors why ICs are bad, but to try the Marantz 2385 as a 185w Monster amp with 2 ICs per channel always in circuit to see what can be done to try to get a decent sound from these unwanted ICs. In fact as original, switching in the Tone quite noticeably reduced the sound quality by blurring it & making it sound smaller, if so far with our upgrades to do the Tone On-Off actually made no difference with our upgrades, if that was only played once before needing a spare part that hasn't arrived as of typing. To test this further on the Oscilloscope will be blogged, to push it to see it "crap out" just to see if there is any hope for ICs. But an IC typically is a cheap way to do what could easily be done in Transistors in a huge amp like the Marantz, but they chose to cheap out on ICs on a £977 amp at 1977 prices. Tuners are stuffed with ICs by 1977 if the 1968 Sony STR-6120 is one of the few FM Tuner stages that are all Discrete Components. In Hifi, such as Amplifiers, Tuners, Phono Stages, Tone-Pre Stages & Power Amp stages there is No Need to Ever Use An IC... except to cut costs & pretend the 0.05% THD actually matters. Be sure they built the CD player DAC as Transistors before making ICs, how big would today's spec of Computer need to be if all Transistors? The Computer Processor as in IC needs cooling, but if all Class A transistors, it would be huge & run so hot. ICs have their place, but to cheap out on Hifi isn't good.


Later 1970s Trio-Kenwood Amplifiers.

Meaning Post 1972 ones. KA-8004 from 1971 continues into 1976 says HFYB, are they snoozing? We've not been so keen seeing ICs, but to have a better look. KA-7300 from 1976 we've looked at on 'Other Amps' & found it has an IC output block, which kills it to us if a pity as a step up in build quality towards the Pioneer style. "Their second top model with the KA-8300 being 80w & the KA-9100 a 90w 1977-78 model & the KA-9800 a 1975 80w. The circuit looks pretty decent, all transistors & not overdesigned, but the killer is that IC output block TA-80W no specs findable, but it appears to cover the splitter, driver & output stages as a 10 pin STK type block unit, one per channel. Be sure these are long obsolete." says it all as we wrote before. KA-7400 from 1975 "63w Sadly another larger one is positively choked with ICs in the Phono & Tone amp sections, though the output power amp is all discrete components." as we wrote before. Not doing well here. KA-9400 "ICs spoil it. 120w from 1975 but sadly again ICs in the Tone-Preamp. Why oh why. The Tone has a common TA7136P IC stuffed with loads of averaged circuitry and then a second IC with more. Utter junk & never going to be Hifi." But interestingly the Marantz 2385 has the same IC in Tone. Opinions on 'Other Amps' were from 2013-14 before we started upgrading a lot more, so to see we dismissed the Tone IC will be blogged as we try the Marantz 2385 more as upgraded the IC actually doesn't affect the sound, but we need to test to see where it 'craps out' as blogged in the ICs blog above. The KA-7100 from 1977 is 60w & it has No ICs, not even in Phono or Tone, but it's that one-board type construction with various stages on one board instead of done separately, actually preamp all on one & power amp & power supply on the other with the cheapo heatsink in the middle of the board style build, so still not so great. 1977 75w KA-8100 similar if 1977 90w KA-9100 has the dreaded IC output block & naff rack mount handles if otherwise looks good. Model 600 from 1977 at 130w is one out of the usual numbering & was £538 in the HFYB. This is all Transistors & appears to be a 'Prestige' Range of some sort, away from the IC gear. We blog more on this in Dec 2018. 1976 100w Model 500 & 130w Model 650 too, not heard of those before & all likely rare ones. Not sure why 600 & 650 are both 130w if the manual confirms it. Ebay one at £1150 says "600 Supreme" which isn't the right name, just a plain looking amp that hides beneath a generic looking outer plus having rubbishy screw-tight bare wire connectors. The "Supreme 1" is that strange split-circuits amp from the late 1960s as blogged before with Bass, Mid & Treble stages. Clearly the Best later Trio-Kenwood are not so easy to spot. By 1979-1980 it all changes as KA-907 (KA-9077) 150w is that big-board type construction, all transistors except the Tone & Filter Amp which are ICs, KA-801 110w from 1980 has IC for Preamp part if the Circuit looks confusing in 2 parts with overdesign if the other IC is the Meter stage, KA-701 80w, KA-601 60w. Trio-Kenwood did some 'High End' Pre & Power Amps too, as on our 'List Of Amps' page for 1979.

Ordering Electronic Components Online.
We use mostly Farnell if have used RS-Online before. Ordering Parts can often be a real chore with the fiddly selection boxes on these sites, so we buy enough to fill the parts drawers of regularly used ones to not waste ages on each amp. Still took over 1.5 hours to get what we needed found this time. Over the last 5 years the Range varies to what's out there, Panasonic being the worst for having abandoned a lot of the large capacitors plus smaller film ones, you may find NOS ones on ebay, but New Stock they're just not available. Finding less easy parts like axial capacitors by size is time consuming, having to rake through spec sheets to find out the size of items that aren't noted takes ages. To avoid Out Of Stock items that may be on back order for over 6 months & then find they never got any as no longer available, as of typing an 8.2K resistor in the type we use is "no longer stocked" which is illogical, but the reality is they've likely run out of these as we get the carbon cream coloured ones that look vintage as they could be 20 years old now, not the blue metal oxide ones that are still made, if lower power ones are findable though. To stick to the better brands we've bought many times to trust in the bigger caps as plenty on ebay are cheap nasty ones we throw away if we see any used in amps, to cut them open to see expected size but lightweight cans with not much inside is the cheat there. Certain favourite parts are always in stock if last time we ordered smaller electrolytics the whole lot came on tape as Farnell just added them but didn't say tape ones, the loose ones we prefer as unpicking from tape took ages. "How can you not have that?" gets yelled & sometimes to find a switch or fitting is actually easier to do on ebay as several sellers put huge markups for buying Farnell stock which helps if you don't need to do a big order also. Find the part on ebay & look on Farnell to buy it. Some larger capacitors are light blue which can show through grilles & parts are not for show so we go for the Black cased ones just to look more mellow as the light blue ones look a bit amateur. So you fill up your basket with lots of parts that will disappear into drawers making you wonder what you spent the money on if this time we caught their Bank Holiday deal & got 15% off, which is nice.


The Severe Problem Of Electrostatic Headphones or Loudspeakers.

We first heard of a possible problem when a customer got us to upgrade their Sony STR-6120 & then with them using 1978-era Stax Electrostatic Headphones, on them trying Bass on +5 via these Headphones that as with Electrostatics generally, don't do Bass very good. The Full +5 Bass plus playing very loudly they add on reading this, caused the amp to damage the Driver stage, it was left to smoke until it appeared through the case top. Why did it do that? They drove it too hard for it's 50w power is used up just past midway, to start with clearly. It's taken the customer a while to find a Circuit Diagram of the Stax Headphones box & then it's obvious why it caused problems. The Stax SRD7 Mk II circuit first has some limiting Thermistors to stop Wattage over about 30w causing bother, but then it has a Transformer & then Surge Limiting Devices like those blue MOV 'capacitor' looking things used in Power Supplies. The trouble with Transformers is they don't do Frequencies under 20Hz as linear as you'd expect, they have losses in the design that cause a shunt load across the amplifier outputs that could be extremely low, almost a short circuit. Overload an amp or short it & you draw excess current & something gives to cause damage. Amplifier Testing as blogged before about the HFN test reviews, the Electrostatics are notorious for 'blowing fuses' as well as damaging amps that they likely won't tell so readily, it's because they are a bad load on amplifiers like speakers Celestion Ditton 22 etc that have severe impedance dips. The Quad ESL57 puts the Amplifier Output straight onto a Transformer & at certain frequencies the ESL puts a very hard load on the amplifier. Look at Quad Amplifiers, these are very tamed purposely not to get into problems with the Electrostatics, Deep Bass is very limited & Treble is Tamed not to cause problems. The thing is people get used to a certain Speaker or Headphone & despite 'better' being around, they won't change. We don't like Taming Down Amplifiers for Mismatched Speakers but it's their decision to buy another amp, so as we suggested we will alter the amp so they can use Low Filter at a different frequency to the designed one to not lose upper Bass, but we will need to further tame Bass elsewhere knowing that Electrostatics & Transformers can't cope. July 1967 HFN has an article about Transformer Coupling in a Gordon J. King article, pt 21 of "Understanding Hifi Circuits" when he first looks at Transistors. Here they ask about Matching Transistor Amps to older 15 Ohm speakers, suggesting a 3 ohm Speaker output, possibly early EU ones, and to use a Wharfedale Matching Transformer. But a transformer becomes Lossy on Deep Bass with the article suggesting 20% loss at 20Hz & 37% at 16Hz. But if there is a Heavy Loss at the Deep Bass Frequencies, it will make a harder load for the Amplifier to play into as the Ohms value takes a dip. Most Amplifiers can cope with 4 or 8 ohm speakers, but as with Electrostatics, if there is a Heavy Loss the Amp will be overdriven. The HFN article tells that an amp outputting deep bass info such as LP warps or Needle Drops can put out a heavy Sub-Bass signal that gets into problems with the Lossy Transformers causing Protection Circuits to kick in or Fuses blowing, or component failure. The General Idea with using these Difficult Electrostatics is to use a Quad amp which are purposely tamed on deep bass & high treble, the areas that get into problems with the Electrostatic circuits or to add a Resistor into the Cable to stop the Circuits upsetting the amp when they dip very low, to add a 2 ohm 50w resistor In Series with the Speaker as in Speaker + output into 2 ohm resistor & then to the Electrostatic. Why these awful Electrostatics are popular when they have been known to damage amps for decades is a Real Mystery of Hifi, people clearly believing the Hype. Tamed down amps may cope, but fully upgraded wider bandwidth amps will just be trashed. We've sold another amp to a Stax Electrostatic user & we'll have to tame it down more than we'd expect. They know the risks after all. We suggest you Avoid Electrostatics. On designing our Valve Phono stage in the LX33 without yet putting some limiting of these 10Hz type signals the amp gets into problems, imagine being able to 'hear' every warp on a record as it upsets the amp stage causing that 'valve bounce' as the voltages dip & restore causing a gain loss, very bizarre to hear.
Our Solution after researching this is to make cables that add an extra 2 ohm load in series with these Stax headphones. Enough old Hifi Mag tests show they start to add the 2 ohm resistor as earlier tests were just trashing the amps that were wider range than the old limited valve designs plus the valve amp already has a Transformer on the output. Later tests still did get into problems though, if more for less good designs. A transformer as a Speaker Loads is far from ideal yet this "difficult" idea has been around too long to just ignore it. The ESL 57 was first out in 1954-56 & Valve designs were very limited so no problems were noticed, if by the Arrival of Transistor Amps by 1965-67 these were getting into problems. The Sept 1967 review of the Sony TA-1120 if they picture the TA-1120A shows the circuit they use to Simulate an Electrostatic load & not Trash the amp. The circuit they use adds the 2 ohms load plus a 20µH choke inductor to reduce the highest treble, this is in series with the following amp load to tame it & as the 'Load' across the altered + & - amp outputs it uses a 15 ohm resistor paralleled with a 2µf capacitor. The Electrostatic load you can see needs to be tamed with having a base-line Resistance load of at least 4 ohms plus the choke to limit the highest frequencies. The ESL 57 & similar are really not as Hifi as many think, they are a very harsh load & the fact of the large area of the speaker unit it has a smooth midrange but notorious for having poor bass. You can get far better sound from a 15" traditional Cone speaker. But Electrostatics still live on...

Marantz 1970s Receivers.
Might as well look at the 1971-79 Marantz Receivers, none of the Amplifiers have ICs for Tone so why does the huge 185w Marantz 2385? The 2500 does too. Our "List Of Receivers" page starts with 1973
Model 19 50w £800 the crazy oscilloscope one. 2215 15w, 2230 30w, 2245 45w, 2270 70w £347. 1974 adds the 2010. 1976 adds 2220. 1979 after HFYB messes up not including the brand brings 2215 15w (again), 2226B 26w, 2238B 38w, 2285B 85w, 2330B 120w, 2385 185w plus the 300w 2500 & the 1980 2600. We'll not include the Quadraphonic ones. 'Classic Audio' Site lists more receivers like 1968-70 era ones 18, 19, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29. Also more of the 'Classic' era style 1515, 1520, 1530, 1530L, 1535 & 1550 which appear to be more budget or minimalist versions of the '2xxx' range. The 50w 1550 manual from 1978 shows they were also the more budget 'Superscope' brand as MR250 or MR255. The 1550 has classic Marantz looks but the insides show the cost-cutting with the main board having Power amp & Power Supply on if only the Phono is an IC, probably still decent if maybe lacking in spec that would still upgrade. The isn't much as an IC is the power amp early stage if with the last 2 drivers as Transistors & Tone is Transistors. More. 'CA' site appears to list 2015, 2200, 2210 (??), 2215, 2216, 2218, 2235, 2250, 2252, 2265, 2275, 2325 plus variants, some the 'CA' site has no pics so assume they don't exist. Why so many similar ones? Clearly some of these were non UK & for certain regions, a 2385 in Black you have to doubt a bit as a home-made job, or it was a prototype. Far too many to be looking through, generally the earliest ones will be 1971 models like the amps, the 2245 wasn't such a good design. By 1973 the designs improved & again by 1979 the quality will have dropped. 2265B & 2285B have Differentials in Tone. Our interest was seeing which had ICs in, 2500 has the Tone ICs if looking at some, No ICs beyond Tuner are 2235, 2245, 2252B, 2265B, [2270 has one tuner IC], 2285B, 4230 4ch, 4240 4ch. The 1979 HFYB ones with 1978 additions to check... 2226B 26w is a revised version of the 2226 if no ICs beyond tuner if starting the putting Power Amp & Power supply on one board, 2238B 38w similar to 2226B, 2285B 85w has 4 transistors for the Phono, Tone has 2 differentials if otherwise no ICs & like other amps, Power amp is 16 transistors, Doubled outputs at 85w will mean it's more like a 50w amp for volume, just higher current as affects the 1152DC we had. 2330B 120w is the same as the 2285B overall. What was revised between the "B" and "Non B" versions is probably mostly Tuner related as the 2600 was a revised Tuner to the 2500 if the "B" versions have the Tuner fascia section in Silver not Black. Only the 2385, 2500 & possibly 2600 have ICs, perhaps in the 1976-77 era they were seen as better?

Marantz 4070 4ch Amplifier From "Too Far Gone" To Rebuilt & Upgraded.
Probably one of the hardest Transistor amps we've had to get right & then upgrade too, a tricky one to work on as it's the standard smaller size so is very well packed. Not an IC in it. Now playing after Power amp upgrades the sound is rather addictive. the Marantz sound as upgraded is a neutral one, not as Bassy as some amps you may think on first play, the 185w Marantz 2385 is similar. Bass certainly is there & the sound playing the 4070 as 2ch Bridged 35w mode is no different to the 4x 15w mode if the added Bridged Power gives more weight. Above we've looked at many of the Marantz 1970s Receivers & Amps to see which other amp has the same Design as the 4070 is straightfoward & is actually much like the 1971 Marantz 1060 if the 2245 receiver from 1971 was overdesigned. Possibly Hifi Mag reviews picked up on the difference in sound as Marantz designs despite getting in to 'fashionable' design on some are generally fresher sounding than other post 1972 brands even with the 185w Marantz 2385 having a similar sound. The problem with Marantz is they didn't get put into the attic after a few years as was the idea that 'newer was better' so Marantz amps are often very tired sounding after far more use. The 4070 sounds as good as you'd want from any amp, detailed precise sound with a solid bass. On Speakers now upgraded more, it's a fast fresh sound still with good bass, not the weight of the 2385. Which is best on Speakers? Is it really that once-tatty old thing now sounding like that? Yes it is.


Day One: Compare Marantz 4070 to Marantz 2385 For Sound Quality.

This is in Two Parts. Get used to One Sound from an Amp & then find a quite different one not pleasing at all. Quadraphonic 4070 played in Bridged 2ch mode at 35w. 2385 at 185w. Been playing the Marantz 4070 for an hour on 1980s Stereo tracks, currently on Soul-Dance ones. It doesn't sound limited for the 15w version, no softening of the sound, if we've only heard it with upgrades & recapped to not know what the original raw amp sounds like. Play it for hours sort of sound as precise clean sound revealing the vinyl flaws honestly if not uncomfortably. Bring the 26kg 2385 in & the sound is quite different, not as precise on the lower treble-upper midrange sounding a bit blurry & smearly, blame the ICs. The slight lack of confidence, a solid chair to one that's a bit ricketty but not unsafe is the idea. The focus just isn't there, the sound is softer & not as upfront. But read the "Full 2385" part below, all is not as it seems... On volume with headphones we're putting at about the same pointer position as the 4070. The Tone amp has 2 ICs per channel & "Out/In" doesn't bypass either IC, it just nulls the Tone Controls. There is a 'glassy edge' on treble, where is it in the amp? Blame the ICs? Read on... One track from 1987 Sherrick "Just Call" sounds especially edgy, that sort of metallic edge which will show on an Oscilloscope as clipping on the wavetops on eg a 10kHz test tone. The 4070 we really can't find anything wrong if perhaps not as strong on Deep Bass as earlier amps can. So the Natural Test next is Power Amp & Preamp Swapping: 2385 Power + 4070 Pre. Using Blanking Plugs on the unused stage. Interestingly the 2385 power amp with 4070 still has the less upfront sound of the 2385 if is much improved with the 4070 no-ICs preamp, still not as sweet as the 4070 power amp. Midrange appears recessed & still a slight grain to the sound revealing the 2385 power amp despite 185w isn't the sort of "pro" sound the 4070 has. 2385 bass sounds a little restrained when the 4070 was more open. The 2385 power amp doesn't bring the 4070 pre out to it's best as the simpler 4070 power amp stage does. 4070 Power + 2385 Pre is next. Do we blame the ICs again? This combination is much preferred of the swaps. The 2385 ICs preamp actually doesn't seem to be the 'problem' with the 2385, the Tonal Balance of the Power Amp is. The 4070 preamp with Transistors is still preferred if the 2385 Preamp as with the Power Amp is just a little soft on the midrange. Back to the Full 4070 leaves the 4070 sounding a little less trebly for a brief minute as the reduced midrange on the 2385 pre accentuates the Treble. Tonal Balance understood again, the 4070 is spot on & the bass in the 4070, on headphones at least, is preferred. Verdict on The 2385 Sound after knowing 4070 better. Neither Preamp or Power Amp sound as fresh & accurate as the 4070, both upgraded similarly. The 2385 ICs don't appear to be any problem at all, for our upgrades elsewhere. The sweet fresh precise 4070 sound on 2x 35w can't be matched by the 2385. But that's only half the Story...

Day Two: Compare Marantz 2385 to Marantz 4070 For Sound Quality.
NEXT DAY: Back to the Full 2385.
The trouble with comparing is that once an amp has been played for an hour, you are used to it & tonal variations will often get you confused to which sounds 'best' so to play the 2385 the next day. The 2385 does differ from the 4070 in tonal balance, if the 2385 as upgraded is fast & punchy. We looked at the 4070 preamp to see it could still be upgraded more. the 2385 ICs are extending into MHz as we found, the 4070 is a little tamed & on speakers needs a little more treble, when the 2385 was different. So to listen aware of what is being listened to. The Sherrick track extends further on the treble is the reality, the 4070 rolls it off to sound 'nicer'. Once used to the 2385 sound after about 10 mins on familar 1980s Stereo tracks, it's not edgy & this 'phenomenon' we have noticed before with amp comparing & it does upset opinions. It's because your Hearing compensates & adds a little "EQ" yet on hearing an amp that isn't a little duller it can sound awful. We used to use the "Axel F" theme as a test track if tired of it so hearing it again we don't remember it sounding quite as fast & clear as the 2385 plays it. Today the 2385 sounds very precise with mind-numbing Bass which is nice, tight bass not the Low Damping Factor type Bass. The 2385 is a much wider Bandwidth Amp than the 4070. To leave it written as it happened to show how your Hearing can get used to one Tonal Balance & after being reset the Next Day your opinions can be totally different. It's how people are happy with their Radiogram or i-Pod until they hear Better Hifi. we recommend you play your Hifi to other people & watch them soon realise how lousy theirs is. The huge dynamics of the 2385 remind of hearing Late 80s Dance tracks in Pubs & Clubs at the time. Compare back to the Marantz 4070. We expect it'll sound a bit dull in comparision as the "little less trebly" comment before tells. Indeed the High Treble is rolled off as we see in the Circuit if the Sound overall isn't that dissimilar. Hasn't got the huge dynamics or Big Bass but has the Stereo width & Speed. Still has a lot more kick than a typical 35w amp & now for hearing more extended treble, now the 4070 does lack a little finesse in the higher treble. The 4070 does have NFB on the Tone-Preamp & on the Power Amp Differential unusually & sounds a little compressed as NFB will do, if it's more Domestic Sounding. The thing is once one Amp Sound is familiar, you only really want it. The 4070 performed very well for what it is & we'll upgrade it more, it was a lot more listenable than the big jump to the more trebly amp for the Hearing Compensation issue. Compare 2385 to Luxman LX33. The midrange instantly noticed as a little more full. The 2385 has bigger dynamics, more extended treble with the multiple outputs richer bass. Beyond that there really is still no real difference Transistors to Valves except 185w of Transistors with high current capability leaves the 30w Valves sounding a little more contained. Perhaps the 2385 is bigger sounding than hearing 'live' if we're playing processed music from Vinyl. Playing the busy 60s Ska the Valves plays it better balanced for the Music itself & brings out the Room acoustic more. On some fast treble sections Valves doesn't quite cope as well, before we've found Valves slew rate isn't as Fast as Transistors. Back to 2385 on the same Ska track, Roland Alphonso 'Cleopatra' from the UK Doctor Bird 45, the room acoustic sounds the same if the sound is a wider bandwidth hiding subtler detail with wider treble. Yes, Record Dealers have better test discs to really know which amps cope best. Easy to play perfectly recorded tracks, to get complex & possibly muddy sounding ones to really test detail resolution & this was always what we wanted: more detail. The difficult treble section just before midway doesn't trip up the 2385. This Is How Amp Comparing Should Be Done. We've levelled the field by servicing & upgrading both amps with the same ideas, yet the 2385 on trying after 4070 was considered 'difficult' as you can read. But then used to the 2385 sound the 4070 sounded good if revealed where it was lacking, if much less 'offensive' as without the Hearing High Treble Compensation. A swift swap from late 1980s Stereo into 1960s Jamaican Mono Ska with much smaller dynamics & not have it confuse is a great amp test & the 2385 does both well with hardly any 'mind-muddling' for the want of a better word... Got us playing Calypso & Mento from the hoary old UK 45s as recorded over the years, these on headphones are usually hard going if the 2385 plays them to be enjoyable. You can pick out one voice in a noisy crowd as you tune into it, surprising not more research by the White Coats into this, if probably why not is most people play dumbed down or aged amps to not notice...

Marantz 4070 Compared To Trio-Kenwood KA-6000.

This was comparing the day before the 2385 was found to be a lot wider Bandwidth than the 4070, as in after writing Part 1 above. Our KA-6000 is much upgraded. The 6000 reveals how different some amps sound in Tonal Balance, it has the same quality as the 4070 if has higher treble with a slightly recessed midrange, giving a different 'listening experience' revealing the difficulties of amp comparing. Marantz 4070 Compared to Sony TA-2000F/3200F. Sony much upgraded & after the 4070 power swich went noisy, on speakers we found the Sony very like it for that precise clean midrange with both amps having very wide Stereo. Marantz 4070 Compared To Luxman LX33 Valves. 30w LX33 our design on their chassis, now with non-crackly Shuguang EL34 valves. Actually sounds very like the Marantz if plays a lot louder. Essentially the Transistor Marantz 4070 sounds like the Valves Luxman LX33. Valve sound? Transistor sound? Very little difference in it. Valve Midrange is more open for the lower amount of amplifying devices. Valve Treble is sweeter similarly. Which is the nearest Marantz to the Marantz 4070. The 1971 amplifier 1060 looking at circuits does show more design differences beyond similarities, the 1060 doesn't have a Differential. 1050 or 1072 is quite different. 1030 has no Differential. The 1040 from 1974 with 20w is very similar on the Power Amp & is the nearest to the 4070 if there is no direct equivalent & the 4070 is bridgable to 35w.


Marantz Quadraphonic Amplifiers & Receivers.
In Amplifiers only the 4070 with 4x 15w or 2x 35w & 4140 with 4x 30w or 2x 70w, the 2440 is an add-on amp to make 4ch using a regulat Stereo amp plus te 2440 to add 2 more amp channels. Receivers are 4220 with 4x 8w or 2x 20w, 4230 with 12w x4 or 2x 30w, 4240 is the one we had in about 1998 as it has the bigger spring connectors than the 4230 with 4x 17w or 2x 40w x 2, 4270 with 4x 25w or 2x 70w, 4300 with 4x 40w or 2x 100w, 4400 with 4x 15w only, 4415 with 4x 15w only & 4430 with 4x 30w only, these last ones are not Bridgable. A lot for a Multichannel Format that didn't take off. 'Audio Classics' Marantz section puts 1972 on 4300, 4415 & 4430 if they add a spurious 4420 that doesn't apparently exist. 4025 is a 2ch Stereo 'Cassiever' a Receiver with Cassette player as was a brief fashion. 4000 is a 4ch Preamp. 4240 receiver is the nearest to the 4070 amp if designs always vary & the 4240 service manual shows the 4240 had a few issues that needed 'dumbing down'.


1964-65 Kenwood KW-70 Valve Receiver
This appears to be a later version than our 1963 Trio WX-400U & with a 'Kenwood' name on suggests it was sold in a few countries, if these were all Export-Only as regarding Japan. Beware the misleading "25w per channel" rating, it's actually 25w total meaning 12.5w RMS per channel both channels playing. This uses different valves to the WX400U, the 7189 is in the Sansui 500A where they unwisely put a very high HT to get 18w from 16.5w valves. The KW-70 uses 6AN8 splitter-driver valve which should give a little more gain than the WX-400U which wasn't as loud as a 10w Rogers Cadet III. The KW-70 comes as 117v or Multivoltage as the rear sticker tells, a small slider just inside to the left of the antenna switches voltage, if it's not got an added blanking plate to stop you switching voltage in use. A customer asked about this to upgrade, the one on ebay Italy is in good visual grade, but it'll need everything rebuilt & redesigned to be worth having to use. Conical input sockets are not much good for modern cables, lots of very low spec inside, Hum Balancer is a lousy old circuit instead of using DC heaters. The Tuner is Valves can be rebuilt giving a very fresh surreal sound like no fizzy ICs tuner, if again a huge job. People buy these thinking they are easy to just replace a few things & realise it's not very good at all. As you can imagine for us having rebuilt & redesigned the Trio WX-400U no-one else on the Planet can 'Rebuild Him'. We'd do another, but to be aware the rebuild & redesign costs will be very high. Perhaps getting a Fisher valve amp with better design & DC heaters would be a better buy is what we suggested. We've thought to look for another Trio & this Kenwood KW-70 would fit the ideal plus it being improved slightly over the WX-400U, but the amount of work to have an amp we've already dealt with via the WX-400U plus getting that one back half trashed, we'd sort of been there & done it.


Marantz 4070 On Loudspeakers.
Another Marantz blog as having Quadraphonic & Monster amps at the same time brings up a lot of interest, considering both we fairly dismissed as "avoid" based on how aged raw ones sound. Not so once Upgraded. Marantz 4070 is 4x 15w & 2x 35w. On Headphones by switching the 2ch to 4ch mode the volume is the same if in 2ch it is slightly more weighty for 15w to 35w. But on Speakers we tried it & found on 2ch mode it's a punchy lively sound & more that a little hard to believe it's only 35w, it's fast, punchy & delivers deep bass more like a Parallel Outputs amp. To turn it to 4ch mode, what will happen, is it a risky thing to do? Only one way to find out. It just makes a small click & then... Volume is cut in half. Bridging doubles the Voltage gain & also halves the Damping Factor which is why we get this surprising sound if Speakers are connected Direct drawing current unlike Headphones through the usual resistor circuit which draws very little current explaining why Headphones can make amps that may not match all speakers sound good on headphones. The 15w mode once turned up to the same listening level has mostly the same characteristics if at 15w it doesn't kick as much, but it still sounds good. Finding a section with Sub Bass, the 2ch mode plays it so it's heard if back into 4ch mode & set to the same level the Halved Damping Factor does give it that extra Bass confidence. Bridging on Loudspeakers on an amp upgraded right gives a sound like you'll never have heard & the 2385 on speakers with Triple Parallel Outputs sounds different too. The extra voltage gain, double in theiry plus the halved Damping Factor on speakers is what makes Bridging worthwhile, if what it sounds like as Original we never knew for the 'Too Far Gone' grade it was.


Bridgeable Amplifiers aka BTL- Balanced Transformerless Operation.
The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X was a Bridged Amp as designed, hidden by their "X-Balanced" name, if the circuit actually was 4 channels Bridged into 2 with their unexplained "Hot" & "Cold" outputs for "+" and "-". Only by getting the 1973 Marantz 4070 did we realise on looking at the circuits, that's exactly what the AU-G90X was, the 4 main capacitors in that only read ±31v. a case of getting a good sound on Headphones, but it didn't match the Tannoys so we never really got into the amp enough. the Marantz 4070 matches the Tannoy 15" Gold Monitors perfectly which is unusual for a 1973 amp. So we can now hear what the Bridged amp sound is like. We've had the 1995 Spectral DMC 30 & DMC 90 preamp with power amps that can be bridgeable, if unfortunately these have no circuit diagrams to understand or even adjust the amp right. They were also 110v only so to Bridge to 200w would need a hefty step down transformer, the typical 300w we use doesn't have enough power. It's the 2not knowing" that frustrates with Amps. Back to the Sansui AU-G90X, the HFE site has the User Manual we notice, before that only seeing a 1985 ad in HFN/RR told us of the "X-Balanced" design as the Service Manual doesn't even explain the Circuits, unlike how Sony did on it's earlier manuals. The User Manual tells you nothing either surprisingly. To wonder why the AUG90X has so many adjustments to do & now realising the circuit wasn't as "special" as they suggest we see their settings aren't optimal either on some. The Marantz 4070 is understood & biased using the 4ch mode it can be set exactly. It's 4x 15w and 2x 35w. 35w amps usually are quite restrained to not be too upfront or punchy, to not deliver too much current & get into clipping. 4070 sound on speakers using Bridged Mode playing TV shows with THX type big sound effects, "Animals Behaving Badly" the second half of the 3rd episode, to watch in 2 parts as too much info on one hour numbs the mind a bit. The soundtrack voices are very clear without having the 'mismatched' peaky midrange, treble is crisp if we haven't done the preamp too much as really it's not worked reliably beyond 2 days use. The pleasing thing is the big dynamic bass even with the Volume control only really at the 9 o'clock position, the bass realy kicks & is poperly extended. All on a modest ±26v HT. The AUG90X claims 130w on ±31v yet the 4070 claims only 35w. The 4070 output transistors are TO220 sized ones rated 30w. Yet it delivers "that sound" which is not expected. Bridged Amps as with any amps need good design to sound their best & critical adjusting to keep sounding their best, the AUG90X was very critical on adjusting & could lose Bass for being only slightly off. It was a rather complex design though with "IC type" circuitry, three Differential & then into 4 stages of Class B circuitry before the Output Transistors. We managed to improve it hugely & the buyer of it said they were surprised how detailed it was compared to other amps & they bought our 1965 Sony TA-1120 & 1973 Realistic STA-220. The Spectral pair we found the Power Amps sounded good if they were altered between runs giving difficulties, the preamp was not so good as way too overdesigned with ICs & Class B circuitry. Not knowing how it Bridged the amp we didn't try it as it's not our amp to experiment on especially for it's design & "unrepairability".


Beware Very Misleading Valve Amplifier Ratings.

A customer is looking at Trio-Kenwood early receivers, ones styled like the Trio WX-400U we had. Unfortunately the HFE site is putting the misleading "Music Power" ratings which could show 60w which people get excited at. But you're not learning valves properly to understand this is far from the truth. Learn the Valves. EL84 in the WX400U and KW55 uses 355v plate voltage & an EL84 in Push-Pull can only manage 10w RMS per channel. KW-1100U looks impressive, 37w says HFE, this is an uprated amp using 7591 valves on 490v. It'll realistically be about 18-20w RMS. The 7591 rates 28w max plate dissipation if in use designers don't usually push to the highest power as it causes problems, the Sansui 500A running 7189 valves at 420v was very high, actually higher than recommended & caused us lot of problems, run to get 18w which is more than the 16.5w specified. The Fisher X-100-B we found Fisher rated it at 24w RMS per channel, perhaps that is is "one channel playing" & it's more like 15w RMS both channels playing. 7868 valves on 435v if the valve is rated 19w max so 15w is more realistic. So much deception in Power Ratings if by 1971 laws changed this "130w Music Power" on Amps that were really only 30w RMS. You still get similar nonsense on “400w PMPO” with a 45w amp. Unfortunately whoever uploads data to HFE does get it wrong, we've seem "80w" amps that are quoted as Music Power in the Manuals & only 40w RMS really. Do your research not to be misled. 10w in Valves isn't enough power as we found with the Trio WX400U, we've found 15w in Valves is the minimum needed. If you want higher power, in Push-Pull EL34 can do 50w, KT66 can do 25w, KT88 can do 50w for Hifi uses. EL34 in the Tube Technology Genesis monobloc is rated 100w as it parallels the EL34 to get more power. The Highest Power Valve Receiver is the Fisher 800C with 7591 valves with a likely 20w RMS rating. Marantz & McIntosh didn't make Receivers until the Transistor era with Marantz 18 in 1968 is their first & McIntosh with MAC 1500, MAC 1700 & MAC 1900. Marantz Valve Tuners 10 series, Preamps 7 series & Amps 2, 5, 8 & 9. McIntosh made quite a few Valve amps, the MC275 the best known. A 'Roger Russell' site gives the most info on McIntosh.


September 2018 Blog.

1967 Bring The First Package Hi-Fi Systems To The UK.
USA makers like Fisher had been making Consoles with separate Tuners, Amps & Speakers fitted in one cabinet since the valve era. UK had Radiograms or build-in gear like Quad II & 22 preamp-power amp. The idea of building gear in to cabinets may have looked smart in the adverts for these cabinets, Hampstead High-Fidelity, Largs & Imhofs were the main makers of these, but the Reader's Systems page tells the truth. They are clumsy & untidy, with Record Players put in a well & still reliant on the wooden lids so the Dustbug still sold. But since 1964 with the introduction of the Perspex Lid for Turntables as blogged before, things start to change. Soon come the TV-grade makers with systems that are 'for the masses' & generally very cheap to replace the oversized 5w-8w Radiogram with. Sept 1967 HFN mag has tyempting ads for ones like Sharp with the GS-5000 a combined Turntable, Tuner & Amp with matching speakers. This has 12w Music Power so likely 7w RMS if so did your Radiogram, this admittedly neat & attractive unit would sit on the sideboard once you paid your 145gns (£152) & the Radiogram went in the Landfill. Other Arena ones like GF1225 are a basic record player 7 amp with 2 speakers, "8w output" probably means Music Power so 4-5w RMS but for 65gns (£68). The Sharp one you are paying for the convenience if to buy a Tuner-Amp, Turntable & Speakers could be done for less in reality. The interest for this blog is the First Proper Hi-Fi "Audiosuite" by Goodmans. This is forward thinking if using items you can buy separately as they've been around a few years. The Maxamp 30 is a 15w amp that got good reviews & sales, their AM/FM Stereomax tuner plus the MT1000 turntable with arm & perspex-wood lidded case with a choice of Maxim or Magnum speakers. The only thing missing is The Discount to buy the lot in one go. Maxamp £49.50, Tuner £71.90, Turntable £53.75 with speakers £17.75 or £36.75. Makes £192.90 or £211.90 which is comparable to a better Radiogram if here you get 15w plus Hi-Fi separates of a certain quality. The idea of having all of One Brand Amp-Turntable-Tuner continued in to the 1990s adding Cassette then CD to get those Midi Systems that by this era were not of much quality, but they sold well as not many understand Hifi to go into a Hifi shop & be dazzled by Salesmen more interested in selling off Ex-Demo gear. These sort of systems were bought at Dixons, Currys, Catalogs paying on credit, or Department Stores. The Goodmans one in 1967 was the start of all this & of decent quality with good looks.


What Do You Get As A Package Hifi In 2018?

Look on Amazon for "Hifi System" & what you get is depressing... Their No.1 Best Seller is the Panasonic SC-PM250BEBS DAB Micro Hi-Fi System has a RRP of £109. What it does needs the .pdf reading, a 2014 design with DAB radio, FM/AM Radio, CD player, Streaming, USB, Bluetooth & a Remote. No Turntable, No Minidisc and No Cassette won't shock anyone. It's just a device to put Music onto an i-Pod or Phone, if today be sure the Phone has the music as an i-Pod is obsolete now really. Importantly 67% of Reviews say it's "Five Stars" showing they've never heard Vintage Hifi. Advances in Tech mean items once expensive are now so cheap so it will impress many, but Amplifier Stages will sound lousy to us. It has no Headphone connections says one reviewer. They're more interested in features than sound, their music appears unimportant & that's not just us criticising what they play. The "One Star" reviews tell you it's cheap & you'll know it, but they will know older Hifi. "Rich Bass & Clear Sound" it proudly states. For the advances in Computing Sound Hardware, it probably will sound clean, but how tamed the Amp stage is would only make us laugh. The amount of "Rubbish" our Soundcard has, Crystalliser, Surround, Smart Volume, Dialog Plus, Noise Reduction, Acoustic Canellation, Bass Management, 5.1 channels plus Windows with more Audio Enhancements, we have to be sure all are "Off" as they are all unwanted garbage to us. It makes you realise how Rubbish Sound is today, no-one understands it as "The Gadget Show" reveals & forever adds Effects & Enhancements. In earlier ones you got Effects like Arena, Nightclub, Small Room etc if those seem forgotten now. The Panasonic is like a fancy Clock Radio & the specs show it's 10w RMS meaning 20w RMS in total yet a laughable 220w PMPO in the millisecond before you destroy it, a thing to bear in mind. The interesting thing is for it's 10w that if a Transistor amp you'd expect to see 35w (35VA) max, the Panasonic only uses 14w at max power & 0.2w in Standby. They have to be using a sub-Class B technology or similar IC to draw such low power plus the power the rest uses. 220w PMPO for 14w, huh? Audio Alchemy. Speakers are 4" 6 ohm weight 1.3kg if both or one? Current Amazon price is only £89, we should buy one, try it out & send it back, but it'd only annoy us instead of amuse as it does here. Looking at others on Amazon... LG CJ45 - 720W RMS LOUDER HIFI Entertainment System with Bluetooth Connectivity /CD / FM PLL / Karaoke Creator / Multiple Connection / Semi Light Show / Twin USB / Full function Remote Control is beyond laughable, 720w RMS, really? 20kg of crap for a mere £195, utter ridiculous rubbish, the Amp Box is 35cm wide if tall, with speakers probably 8". It's called LOUDER, their caps not ours & 2 speakers pus a sub. To look on the LG site to see how they get 720w, 3 speakers 240w each they say, yet {uncontrolled manic laughter from us...} it only draws 80w max from Mains. Their speakers are a very low 83dB sensitivity with just 6.5" bass drivers with 3 ohm. 3 ohm will draw more current than 8 ohm. 80w aka 80VA on a Vintage amp means it's about 15w RMS per channel, there is no way you can get 720w from only drawing 80w from Mains, what circuitry do they use? It's sold as a Teenager's Party amp. How they can call it 720w RMS is clearly beyond dishonest. No reviews on this. Buying Cheap Mass Market Junk is the thing here, but sadly these 5-Star review buyers don't know any better. Grading Turds as we call it. The Budget Priced Mass Market goods have always been crap, the cheap Crap started in the Early 1970s for Discount Stores. To be fair, what you get on paper at least looks impressive & is exactly what Today's Buyer needs with paying such tiny money, a temporary belief you are getting better. Audio System & Speakers for £89 delivered. The speakers will be rubbish & using better ones will just reveal the limits of the rest which is sub-budget price in reality. What you need to do if you have a Good Vintage Hifi System is invite your friends who say "how great" their £89 'Stereo' is & ruin their lives by playing your System at them. They'll then hate theirs & probably never speak to you again as they were mindblown by Real Hifi. Use your Weapons sparingly.


1967-69 Amplifiers As All-Original Once Serviced.

As time goes on the little-used Amplifiers & Receivers are coming out, often from the Original Owner's estate. We've had the 1966-67 Sansui 3000A as original with little use to hear & it reveals how good these amps will have been when new, a slightly Retro but very Musical Sound, at least on headphones. Then we get another 1967 Pioneer SX-1000TDF as the first one never worked right, so to hear this as Unused For Decades it was really aged sounding on headphones, but after Servicing it came to life, lacked enough Bass for modern tastes if a bit on Bass sorted that to a degree. Both these amps reveal an amplifier sound still based on the valve sound on these high power ones, if that quickly faded away by the 1969 ranges, good designs with some limiting, but high on Musicality meaning Pleasure In Hifi. With some Amps up to 1972 it's possible on low-use amps to hear what Buyers Heard when they were new. We've played the SX-1000TDF for an hour on headphones to hear what 1967-68 buyers heard. As mentioned in the Blog below the early Pioneer actually has a Bass Reducing circuit which is an odd thing as they didn't use it after 1968 as the 1969 SX-1500TD doesn't have it. Read more below as to try them on speakers of the same age...


The 1966-68 Pioneer Receivers.
Pioneer only did higher power in Receivers at this time. 1969 ranges SA-500 only 13w £54, SA-700 34w £91 as our List of Amps page tells, as Pioneer stuck with Valve Amplifiers into 1966-67. As the "...So Dumbed Down" blog from early August 2018 above shows the makers by 1970-72 really didn't want you having the 1965-69 sound. So how buyers put the 1960s amps in the attic to buy "Better" that sounded worse is the Power Of Hyped Advertising. The 1967 SX-1000TDF sounds so sweet with wide Stereo & no grain or harshness. sounds great on Reggae. To try Rock is a hard test on an amp as original, but the SX-1000TDF delivers it with good weight & detail which really wasn't expected, many amps as original & even upgraded still wimp out on Rock. The Pioneer betters the Sansui as original. The Reviews page shows the Pioneers we had, the 1967 SX-700TF, then 1967 SX-1500TF & 1968 SX-1000TW which is a later version with less Retro looking tuner glass and an updated Tuner in a wood cabinet. By the 1969 SX-1500TD we noticed the 1967 sound was tamed down as the circuits tell. The SX-1500TF was a 45w version of the SX-700TDF if the SX-1000TDF is an updated version of the 1966 SX-1000TA that has a Nuvistor Tuner. Both SX-1500TF & SX-1000TDF are quite similar. Looking at our pics, the 1967 Pioneer surprisingly have a "T" Bass Filter on a small board next to the Power Amp. So even in 1967 the Bass was limited for the Spec of the era, if it explains why the SX-1000TDF is a bit bass light & similar is on the SX-1500TF & SX-700TF. The SX-1500TF has serrated control knobs, metal over a plastic inner which makes the SX-1000TDF the better looking one of the 1967-68 ones. The SX-700TF has a cool wood panel on the fascia but the later serrated control knobs. The earlier 1966 SX-1000TA has the switches grouped less neatly. The SX-1500TF & SX-700TF have wood side cheeks on the earlier ones, the SX-1000 we had the TW one in the big woodcase that looked a little awkward if appears to be on several online so was a Pioneer one. The 1969 Teac woodcase similarly looked a bit mismatched.


Into the Time Machine 1: 1967 Pioneer SX-1000TD-F On Loudspeakers.

To hear what this sounds like as all Original if Serviced on 1969 Tannoys it was likely designed for is a must. To have a 1967 amp in this grade & working is rare, so to hear what the 1960s Buyer would have heard. For the fact we got the 1967-68 ones as early as 2011-2012 & last heard the SX-1500TF in 2013 if it had problems, we've Never Heard the Early Pioneer on the Tannoys. The difficulty with Pioneer into 1972 is those darned Speaker Plugs. On the SX-1000TDF we remarkably have the set of 4 original, try find those. Ebay shows some 'PerfectFit' very crude looking modern ones, fills the hole if not great quality. An Australian seller will deliver a pair for £35, we bought these before & they are modern repro ones but of a good quality, if not quite the originals. The trouble is these plugs don't have much area to grip, on looking inside the grip area is just part of a sprung metal strip, not as strong as a Mains Plug part. It will take 5A mains wire as the remains on two of the plugs reveal, but put heavy modern cable & it will just fall out. We've never tried to replace these Sockets, if a set of 4 of the VOSO 4mm sockets fitted to a new panel would do, but do buyers like the Pioneer Plugs as original if not so useful? The screws with a ridge between make them like the Sansui 3000A connectors, Fisher & McIntosh, but on a plug block is an idea that lasted 6-7 years before updating. Maybe pre 1973 buyers liked them? Next day after the 1 hour+ play session to check the amp is still reliable after it's long sleep yet getting a workout the day before which we rather enjoyed. Sounds fine, check DC offset as is required. Tannoy Golds first advertised new in Nov 1967 so spot on for the age of this amp as ours has a "1267" date code on the main caps. Amp rated 40w, Speakers rated 50w, a perfect match apparently. But does it sound good? Ours needs bulbs so first turn on showed no sign of life beyond a gentle bump on turn on. The 4mm connectors onto a screw block onto the originally used fork connectors on the blocks on this amp proved successful, as in they stayed put. The last Pioneer we tried on Speakers was a SX-990 from 1970 & they kept falling out needing the cables supported. We don't like losing an original part so unless it means paying £70 for a set of 4 the plugs on our one will stay. The Sound on the Tannoys was a Great Match as suspected. The 1967-68 listener would have marvelled at the expansive big sound with very clear wide Stereo, it will easily have been the best they heard. We played the same TV shows we'd just played using the Marantz 4070, an amp now mostly redone that sounds far better than it should. The Pioneer gave a good sound with no difficulties or background noise. But for knowing Our Upgraded Amps, the Sound shows it needs improvement. High Treble we found wasn't fully "getting into the corners" leaving voice sibilants only partly resolved. The "T" Bass filter made a mess of the Lower Midrange & Bass, it just mangles it leaving the listener a little confused as these areas are not as they should be. Far from the awful hard ringing Retro Bass of the Sansui AU-666 we tried, but inaccurate & stodgy lacking a particular focus, the old "One Note" Retro Bass is a confusing one to even consider when overall the SX-1000TDF sounds of high quality if looking beyond the Duff Bass & Limited Power of the Treble. This amp will upgrade very nicely & for the Low Damping Factor of 25 it will be worthwhile. More to Blog on this amp.


FM Tuners In Receivers With No ICs.

Beyond Valve or Nuvistor pre 1967 Tuners, the IC is a staple of the design, coming before FETs. We'll list those we've had & have circuits for, so not including the HH SCott 344B as no circuits are available. We've rebuilt & upgraded the Valve Trio WX-400U & All-Transistor Sony STR-6120 to know how good Tuners can be without ICs & giving the typical spec a quality no tuner has seen. So to look through the Receivers & Tuners we've had. The progress in Tuners from Valves briefly to Nuvistors in 1966 then by 1967 a mix of Silicon, Germanium, ICs & FETs. Some Brands updated the Tuner often in the 1966-69 era & only by this can you help date which is earlier, as with Pioneer. Fisher 600-T from 1965 has a tiny 6HA5 valve on the Front end plus some 6CW4 Nuvistors with the rest as Transistors. Pioneer SX-1000-TA in 1966 has the same. Akai AA-7000 in 1966 had the same Nuvistors if no valve & the rest as Transistors. Fisher 440-T from 1965-66 has All Transistors which seems to be the First One as is their larger Fisher 700-T, if the Front end has Germaniums AF124 & GM760 which has an AF239 equivalent. Rotel 120ST tuner from 1966 that matches the Rotel 100AMP we've not even tried yet has Germaniums 2SA234, 2SA49, plus whatever's in the semi-sealed front end, small black ones. Sony ST-5000F early tuner from 1967 with the 3 lever switches on the front not the later ST-5000FW with the slider is nearly all Germaniums. Sansui 500A was all valves except a transistor phono. Sansui 3000A from 1967-68 is all Transistors with Germaniums like 2SA 525 in the FM Front end, ie the first stage after the aerial & with the tuning, but one Apr 1969 made one with a "FAMT 103U" front end has 2x Ceramic Filters, obvious to see the 2x orange square shape-three legged items F103Z & the 1968 ones don't have this board. Another board the "FIF-203" again is updated & has quite a few, 4 legged B4SCO101 x4, 6 legged B6RD0104 x1 plus a 4 legged larger case B4ZM0205. All marked 'Murata' if the boards look much the same as the 1968 versions, just the filtering will be better instead of using separate capacitors, an IC of capacitors. The JVC 5040U from 1967 has a basic IC in the Phono stage if the later "Run 2" manual shows a FET front end which dates it to at least 1968, we had the earlier one that shows Germaniums. KLH 27 from 1967 is with a FET on the front end, possibly the first one to do this, if still a Germanium there too, the rest are a mix of Germanium & Silicon. National Panasonic SA-65 from 1967 is a First too, FET, Silicons but sadly ICs in the IF stage if the MPX is transistors. 1967 Pioneer past the early SX-1000-TA mentioned already have Silicon Transistors like 2SA372 & 2SC535. Pioneer SX-700TF from 1967 is all Silicon Transistors. Pioneer SX-1000TDF from later 1967 has a FET front end if an IC "µA 703" with 5 transistors and 2 resistors inside. Pioneer SX-1500TF is similar with the same ICs W12-020 as the SX-1000TDF if the smooth control knobs of that show it came after the SX-1500TF. Trio-Kenwood TK-140E or U is a strange early 1967 Trio if the FET & all Silicon Transistor tuner never works in the Receivers until the 1970 range, whatever ages badly affects all we've had, if a Tuner by itself not being powered up lasts. Trio-Kenwood TK-66U from 1967 is similar. Pioneer SX-1000TW receiver from 1968 has the FET IC label like the SX-1000TDF, appears just to have the later NFB Preamp stage to the earlier one plus the different tuner glass. Sony STR-6120 from 1968 has a very good tuner all on separate boards, FET front end & the rest transistors. Toshiba SA-15Y from 1968 has FETs plus all Silicon Transistors, a very good sounding tuner if too messy to rebuild like the Sony one can do. Trio-Kenwood TK-140X either version from 1968 has FETs but IC IF stage & the rest Transistors, but sadly a dead tuner is what you'll usually find. Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 3000 from 1969 is a mix of FETs, ICs & transistors, if has 3 Ceramic Filters like the Sony STR-6050 below. Pioneer SX-1500TD from 1969 with the new styling is like the earlier Pioneer with FETs & ICs plus transistors, if the SX-1500TD takes another step into ICs with the MPX stage "needing" the output 2 channel stages on an IC with M5109P the number. Sansui 4000 from 1969 is like the Pioneer SX-1500TF design with ICs. But Sony STR-6050 in 1969 bucks the trend to be all FETs & transistors adding the "CF"s like 1969 B&O does which are Ceramic Filters much used in later tuners & different to earlier Tuners. Teac AG-7000 follows the Pioneer SX-1500TD idea of more ICs. Akai AA-8500 from 1970 is a stylish receiver if the first we've seen since the 1966 AA-7000, but the IF stage has complex ICs. UK's Goodmans Module 80 from 1970 manages to be all Transistors as does the Hacker GAR500 from 1970 , if UK Hifi was often slow to pick up on new ideas. KLH 52 from 1970 needs an IC in the MPX if the rest is transistors. Pioneer SX-990 from 1970 is like the SX-1500TD with the ICs. Sony STR-6850 from 1970 manages with FETs & transistors, no ICs here & starts to answer why we've done this blog. Hitachi SR-1100 from 1971 continues the IC in IF stage & Sony's Ceramic Filters. Leak Delta 75 has ICs & Ceramic Filters, probably the first UK brand to use these. Marantz 2245 receiver from 1971 shows the USA if Made In Japan ideas, this shows FETs & Transistors, no ICs here if does have the Ceramic Filters. Sony STR-6055 we have sat on the desk, where are the ICs? It's FETs, Transistors & 3 Ceramic Filters. Is this rare by now? Even the Tuner Sony ST-5150 that matches the Sony TA-2000F/3200F has 3x ICs in it. • Early Conclusion. The blog tells that soon Tuners became loaded with ICs, Ceramic Filters became the normal, there still will be Transistor stages well into the 1970s & 1980s. But ICs took over the IF & MPX stages which may give a cheaper product, the individual Transistors & FETs will still give the best sound. Marantz 2385 from 1976 tells what Tuners became, 5 Ceramic filters, ICs number Five for this tuner if still with plenty of FETs & Transistors plus even a Differential. Yamaha CT-1010 tuner from 1977 is similar with 5 ICs, a Differential but only 3 Ceramic Filters. The typical 10.7kHz Filter first seen in 1969 Sony & B&O did away with a lot of adjust coils to simplify the Tuner, yet space saved didn't stop the ICs. Yamaha CR-1000 from 1973 has to be the first one-board FM tuner beyond the front end, if it has 2 ICs early on for the IF stage, it shows how compact a Tuner could be as early as 1973 for having the Ceramic Filters. The first Tuner we heard to think it was better than the fairly average sound of most tuners, before getting the Sony STR-6120 was the NAD 300 from 1975. The Amp part was disapointing if the Tuner was open & clear. So to see it has 6 Ceramic Filters, if a huge 7 ICs including one per channel of the MPX stage is surprising. But to read again.. "the Amp part was disappointing" for hearing the Tuner through it, the amp designed to compliment the tuner? who knows. But how about Sony? When did they go for Tuner ICs? Sadly by the Sony STR-7055 in 1973 the quality Nose Dived as 3 ICs with 2 being complex ones, plus the Phono & Tone having ICs. The Marantz 2335 range from 1975 has Tuner ICs. The 1971 Sony STR-6055 & STR-6065 plus Marantz 2245 & 2270 range are The Final Non-ICs Tuners. Just as we thought, by seeing no ICs on a 1971 tuner this seemed very late. There still are at least Three Non-IC Tuners right up to 1971, if as early as 1967 ICs started in circuits. All very interesting, but the Reality of Tuners in the UK on FM is there aren't that many channels beyond Chart Pop & Ads, only Radio 2 which can be very tame is uncompressed on FM. We've found a Recapped & Upgraded Tuner does give a far better sound as the buyer of our Sony STR-6120 found, Tuners typically deny you Bass & give a gritty treble, but get a Non-IC Tuner & even as Original you'll hear FM sounding better, smoother & less edgy than the IC versions.


Into the Time Machine 2: 1968 Sansui 3000A On Loudspeakers.
The 1960s amps are usually a bit far gone by now & certainly not ones we'd trust on our Tannoys, but as with the Pioneer SX-1000TDF blog above, we get one to upgrade that's had little use, is very clean inside & out so after Servicing & adjusting, to see if we trust it on the Speakers. actually this one has the 1971 Bulletin Updates with 1000µf bipolar output coupling speakers which allows for maladjusted amps that could put 8v DC onto speakers which isn't good. the coupling capacitor is typical value of the era if will limit deepest bass so to just hear what it would have sounded like to the 1968 buyer who bought Tannoy 15" Gold Monitors as the 45w Sansui 3000A is the ideal partner. As is typical of pre 1972 it only has the 2 core single insulated mains cable, we always rewire to 3 core ading Earth for safety & for the fact modern gear isn't usually grounded. The Pioneer added a ground wire to the Phono ground point which is how we used it temporarily, if the 3000A still has a USA 2 pin plug that will get a 3 pin plug for obvious reasons, but as all 3 wires are black, not one we recommend you try. As for the worry of stray DC voltage, we read about 400mV both sides with no speaker load if oddly about 1.4v on the speaker outputs, but connect a Speaker & the DC offset drops away to a very low number so safe to use. Once adjusted right you don't need the Output Capacitor, but the truth is a lot of amps make a click on plugging in speakers as a small standing voltage sits. Only if adjusted very wrong or damaged would it be a problem. Mission Aborted: As we've tested & read the DC offset on test spreakers, to try it quickly for sound on small test speakers it seemed fine but on big speakers one channel was slightly distorted meaning maybe the old capacitors couldn't deliver the current to drive 15" drivers. Old & Original after all, plus the owner was sold it was Working, the joy of buying used Hifi once again. Verdict is the Amp Needs Recapping as it's 50 years old. We prove ourselves right on saying 1960s amps are rarely good to test as original, if miss hearing how the amp sounded to a 1968 buyer. Try It Again. So it needs work, to redo the Power Amp stages & check all is good, plus ditch the Output Capacitors which may have been faulty to, no point testing capacitors, redo them. Still with all else original. DC offset read under 10mV with a speaker load & played music fine on the small test speaker. But again the big 15" Tannoys that need more current to play showed that soft blurry distortion again on the Left Channel which means it's probably the power supply bad as the amp has a Dual Power supply. What's wrong with My Amp? is what people ask. To try it in stages is the thing as a fault can have many reasons why. Unfortunately Mission Cancelled now as the amp needs fully redoing to get it working right. so much for getting to hear a 1968 original amp on 1968 speakers of the type it would be used on. At least the Pioneer SX-1000TD-F above let us have a listen. The reality is 1968 is 50 years ago & most amps are way past their best, including one that looks only lightly used, as parts still age.


We Will Continue To Push The Boundaries In Hifi.
If we get the same amplifier again, we don't bother too much with our old paper notes & as with the Sansui 3000A with 2014 ones we start looking at it to upgrade with current ideas. Only by upgrading over 100 amps can anyone really understand why recap-upgrading is necessary. Who else is doing this & has the confidence to try things & then have them reliable to sell? No Shop Bought amplifier is on it's best design & spec as it's costed to the penny to fit into the Marketplace. Even the First Generation Transistor Amps from 1965-67 that are based on Valve sound are often with very low spec, we rebuilt the Trio-Kenwood TK-66 power amp to our ideas as the original was rather crude. Our version was great & the lucky buyer of it was very pleased with it. Us experimenting to see what can be done on some amps rather than pricing an upgrade just to sell it. This is why we progress & still are, whilst old-timer techs are way behind, not willing to accept the old designs can be bettered now despite being good in their day. We do look online to see if anyone gets a lead on our ideas, the most we've found is those doing photos like our pages do if many just put 1 or 2 pics, others are realising the more detail the buyer sees, the more likely they'll trust in it to buy. To find a 2010 forum saying how good the Sansui 3000A was is unusual if it shows interest was there if it had need a focus. 'Messing' with the electronics' is rarely done, to recap like-for like or stuffing capacitors is what others still do. Experimenting & then refining ideas is why we look afresh to upgrade a known amplifier, knowing what worked, what wasn't quite right on reflection plus knowing capacitor values that are right without overdoing it with oversized ones that really aren't needed. The Teac AS-100 amp one is on the way to be restored & our 2012 photos we now see as 'not optimal' for the design, having done other Teac since. To be your own critic to get the best when no-one else is doing this, it's 'winging it' often. Look at early Transistor Amps Sony TA-1120 from 1965 & Sansui 3000 from 1966, these are very high power designs ahead of what anyone else was doing. They were 'winging it' too, making it up from fresh with little standardisation or proven ideas to rely on so especially with the TA-1120, to make an amp that's way too advanced meaning the 1967 TA-1120A soon replaced it. So when others say they don't like the Idea of some of what we do yet haven't even heard it: It's their Unqualified Opinion & they should know better to criticise what they are unaware of, but human nature can be tedious. People ask our opinion on amps they are thinking of buying. If there are sometimes no circuit diagrams then we don't know what the amps are about, but can only draw on knowledge known, ie a Fisher RS-1080 Monster Receiver from 1977, we'd be wary of a Sanyo-made item that just copies other designs & has some odd design of it's own, a Digital tuner display Heathkit AR-1515, no circuits easily findable if knowing the AR-1500 it's probably worth trying. You only know what is presented to you, we get amps for our own interest based on what we can find out & the reality of the amp on the desk in front of you is often very different as to see how it's built, often with cost-cut ideas that aren't liked. Looking for Forum Opinions on amps is a risky game as be sure every mediocre amp will have it's fans as they've not tried many amps. As of typing, our Amp reviews pages based entirely on Amps we've had are up to Amp No 176 which is the 1966 Sansui 3000 as it's different enough to separate from the 3000A on comparing.


What To Do With Quadraphonic Amps.
Some are made with the Bridging Circuit that as we found with the Marantz 4070 actually sounds great with the Damping Factor halved so an expressive bass is there, if only once properly upgraded. Another use is the weary old idea of Bi-Amping, being reminded of this by a March 1968 Hifi News Reader's letter showing how valves are used as a Buffer, if their circuit is rather contrived & limited. For the 4ch Mode on the Marantz, you need 4 inputs, or a Splitter that makes a Mono input into a Stereo cable pair, these are findable. The snag to this is the full 4ch preamp is used & tolerances will mean they will ever so slightly differ. The idea of Bi-Amping & Bi-Wiring is an idea the Hifi Mags promoted, especially Bi-Wiring as it sold double the amount of cable. It really makes no difference & the Speakers with no Bi-Wiring capabilities using a single source compared to two slighly different by tolerances ones can only mean the single source is more precise. As blogged above & on the 4070 review, the whole amp needs accurate adjusting to sound it's best & the extra power of the Bridged Design is a better use than the Bi-Wiring idea. There will always be those having believed the Hifi Mag hype for Bi-Wiring & Bi-Amping will say it's better, no, it'll just be different as tonal balances by loading the amp differently.

Knowing The Upgrade Marantz 2385 Sound Better On Speakers.
To offer this amp to a few to see if there are any takers, but we've way outpriced it for the current market for our work as expected, it's still an 'unknown' to what these can sound like done right. But it's not a problem, we got it to replace the Sansui AU-G90X as a crazy big amp & that stayed 3 years after selling the Sansui 3000A that we currently have one back to upgrade. The 2385 sound is quite different to other amps, despite the ICs once upgraded they aren't a problem or a limit, at least at the volume we play it at. But as original they sounded lousy, no way to avoid telling that. Using the 2385 for TV sound a bit of Midrange reduction on the Tone helps as we found with the Realistic STA-150 220 to keep it a bit more Domestic sounding. The design is unlike most amps in the fact NFB is not used anywhere beyond the NFB at the
main amplifier stage & it's unusually low NFB too. The nearest design we can match is the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X version 2 & KR-6160 UA1384 board, the AU-G90X still had NFB in the Class B Preamp-Tone stage. To use a 185w amp on 50w Loudspeakers is possible as you'll likely never get past 10w on bassy peaks on TV soundtracks, like the heavy bass slams on 'Storage Wars' as we heard on this amp the day before. For the non-NFB sound there is a strange feeling "you can't hear" the amp as it's not upfront, the sound just flows into the room, but if big bass or crisp treble in people's voices as sibilants is there, you know about it. We've yet to do too much to the Power amp if there is more than can be done as we found with the AU-G90X. Before trying the 2385 again on speakers, we got used to our version of the KA-6000 with the UA1384 board we fitted & the sound balance of both is fairly similar. The effortless sound of the 2385 as serviced & recap-upgraded is near to what we heard initially with the 100w valve Tube Technology Genesis monoblocs, if the last time we played those using the Sony TA-2000F preamp, the Sony TA-3200F was considered far superior to the rather soft valves sound. The only valve amp we play regularly is our version of the Luxman LX33, their design was lousy if our redesign of just about all of it has the same sort of sound the 2385 does with it's 30w EL34 output valves. The Only Problem with an amp with such Low NFB is it's not Domestic sounding, watching 'Eastenders' on the normal volume bits it sounds good, but then as the show often does with people 3ft apart, they shout & without the NFB to keep the volume more together, it gets as loud as having the people there yelling at you. These days you get pointless features like "Dialog Enhancer" that just boosts the midrange as well as compressing the sound, here the 2385 will get you reaching for the Volume on those loud bits as Hifi Usually doesn't sound that huge. Found the same problem with the LX33 valves. A great sound, if not for everyone. Aged & Wallowy. But hearing how aged & wallowy the Marantz 2385 sounds as original, it's no wonder peple buy these big amps expecting great sound but find they are disappointing, ours had 4 owners in 9 months, the last before us kept it 6 weeks as they didn't like the dull slow sound. The sound we upgraded in ours to bring out the fresh Beauty of the sound, way better than the original design. So bring us your Tired Monster Amps, we can make them sound a lot better than you'd expect. Big amps, lots of work, high Upgrade Costs & chances of lots of problems within, but you should expect that.

1977 Fisher RS-1080 Monster Receiver. A Sanyo Product.
A lesser known 170w Monster Receiver that made it to some of Europe but not the UK. Retail price at the time unknown, but likely it was priced around $599 to get the Bargain Buyers in. One on ebay just made £900, so what is it? Firstly it's a huge one. 170w at 33kg from 1977, 605mm wide, 470mm deep. The thing is this isn't the Classy Fisher of the 1960s, Fisher sold out to Sanyo by 1974 if had already sold in 1969 to Emerson and later to Panasonic asthey bought Sanyo, as Wikipedia says. First sign of Sanyo is by 1967-68 with Hifi News ads for a DC534 12w Music Centre of the era, turntable & tuner-amplifier on one package. Their advertising sells it a little optimistically "Sanyo Puts You In The World Class" is their Jan 1968 ad for the Sanyo DC60 receiver which appears to be 30w per channel if not saying Music Power or RMS, if the 87gns (£91) suggests it's a Music Power Rating, unless made & sold very cheaply, the 12w DC534 suggests it's likely the 12w unit less the turntable. To 1980s buyers, Sanyo were cheap Dixons type mass market gear, so to think they made a Monster receiver, not much cred there. But look at our 1973 Sanyo DCX-8000 their biggest receiver at the time with 40w & it was advertised in HFN/RR at the time if missed the Year Book. We upgrade it to a degree to get "Very Good-Excellent" out of it, but for th we didn't think it was worth doing more with. It sold very fast & others asked for it before it was delivered, so a brand that is known to be worthwhile. Our Sales Photos show the DCX-8000 to be a smart looker in the style of the time. To remember capacitors on the audio stages weren't in good condition, as in leaky, if the Rubycon main ones were & the metal casing was a bit thin. The spec of the amp was rather poor as the circuits reveal, too much cost cutting, if making sure the fascia looked expensive if a vinyl wrap case. So to the Fisher RS-1080 circuit. We had a look at this for a customer interested to buy, we advised them to be wary of it as the Sanyo RS-1060 at 125w is only about £300 suggesting it's not rated, but then the RS-1080 gets a high £900. The circuit diagram shows it's just a copy of other amps of the era, nothing new here overall. Phono is 2 Transistors, Tone-Pre surprisingly has a Differential after the Tone Controls & a Buffer after. But it has a strange "Bass Range" control before the Power Amp stage, can't see why that'd be any use from the circuit looking like some sort of Bass EQ Boost feature. But then illogically the Power Amp input has an equally strange harsh "T" Bass Filter on the Input, so Bass on this amp will be that thick Retro-One Note Bass. Looking at pics online, it's not that impressive as it doesn't look classy or expensively made like the other Monster receivers, huge stupid looking thing is our first opinion seeing the average quality back panel too, but to see "Studio Standard" briefly impressed to look further but then realise that's on all of the range. The Bass Messing is far from Pro Standard. Inside pics show it sort of copies the 2-part idea of the Rotel RX-1603 if in one unit & with multiple boards. We didn't recommend the customer bought it, hopefully they didn't as Sanyo is no better than Midprice. As on the above blog telling of a site with 95 Monster Receivers pre 1986 shown including several more Fisher & Sanyo ones, Remind yourself of how Lousy the 1986 Sony TA-F550ES, 1983 Technics SU-V707 at 90w & 1985 Yamaha A-700 at 105w plus the 1986 Pioneer M90-C90 pre-power at 200w were. High Power but far from Good Sound.


Buying Vintage Hi-Fi Online Is Gambling & Can Be Dangerous.
We do Gamble a lot on Buying Hi-Fi because we can sort out any problems. We don't care if it blows up or is a mess inside because we can do the work & know the risks. but Do You? The trouble is even if an amp is said to be working, it'll still be 30-50 years old & unserviced. No-one has checked it & often you find amps left for Decades badly stored. People buy these thinking they are a Bargain, yet they blow fuses, burn resistors to almost Catch Fire, smoke, hiss, hum or just plain Don't Work. You need to be Careful buying anything Vintage & Electrical as they should be checked over by a Qualified Tech before use. But that costs Time & Money so most don't bother & just plug it in. You're risking trashing your speakers if the amp is bad, do you check the DC voltage on the Speaker outputs? We don't trust any amp until we've fully checked it over & as the above shows we rarely try Amps on the speakers as all Original as it's risky. Do you plug in on a Circuit Breaker & test it on Headphones first? Most non dealer sellers of Hifi on ebay are chancers, hiding faults or just not bothering to check gear as they are a Recycling Centre selling what was Another Person's Rubbish because they see it has value. Seeing amps recently that are great amps as Recapped & Serviced, to see filthy aged grotty ones bought because they are a bargain is just too risky. Do you buy an Old Car & just Drive it? No, you need an MOT as your Safety net. A PAT test is worthless as it tests an item for a minute or two, yet we see that 'they' don't even bother doing a PAT test these days, just sell it vaguely to the unaware punter. Even with us trying amps once done on the speakers, they don't get trusted to be left plugged in overnight or when out, to use for a week leaving off during the day gets them trusted. Unless you are Qualified & more importantly Experienced in Dealing with Aged Electronics goods, for your own safety leave the Risky Gambles to those who can cope. But with a Vintage Hifi Market mostly selling aged used & unserviced Hi-Fi, the Market still is Young on this scene. We can do the Restoring work for you, if generally we put more work into Our Selling Amps than we charge for, aware of the Current Resell Prices. To get us to work on a difficult messy amp, we can do the work, but it could get more expensive than you'd want to pay.


Changing Germanium Transistors to Silicon.

The 1966 Rotel 100AMP as blogged in June 2018 above already needed this on the outputs as even NOS ones were too leaky. Took ages to do. But the Rotel is not great sounding still for a weak Germanium sound & the Background Noise is too much plus the Aux Input is too loued on the original design, are we wasting our time? We can't sell it like that as the looks of the Tuner & amp in the Woodcases looks Smart & retro, if the Amp sound isn't good enough. so redo as PNP Silicons just to see what it brings. Then the problems start. It was already a lit too loud for a modern Aux output if now it's far too loud & just clips off unless the Soundcard is reduced to 40% volume. Not hard to put an input resistor circuit copying other amps, to get it to sound acceptable is the deal. We've left the 4 driver Germaniums to see what they sound like & to maybe at least keep some Germaniums in it? Rotel are usually great amps, but this 100AMP isn't up to what we've have expected. But to test the Phono, not recapped that yet, is it too loud also? Unfortunately it is, the whole amp has too much gain. With no circuits except a similar Rotel RA-110A from 1967 in Silicon, this is just not going to work out. It's just a difficult amp & not as expected from Rotel. Background Hum is still a bit loud too, it just redesign that can't be done with No Manuals. We could put Gain Controls inside instead of using the limiting Resistors if we'll put it all back together for another day. It's just an ornament currently. See if anyone wants it for the Retro Visual appeal of it, just to cover costs, so put it for sale. It's useable with an external volume control on the inputs & too nice to break up for spares. Lets it sit a bit longer for being For Sale, might try again another time.


Hi-Fi in 1965: A Digest.
Time for another yearly Vintage Hifi News digest. Finding out when items we know were first advertised is sometimes earlier than the accepted dates you find online so well worth a trawl for further years. Jan 1965 doesn't have much if 'introduces' the Rogers Cadet III as first advertised Dec 1964 & the updated Mk II Switched FM tuner & shows the 2-part amp was the first version, if when the one-part arrives we'll find out in future years. Radon R600S Mk II introduced, the Mk I mentioned in 1963, a 10w UK made transistor amplifier with Germaniums if not mentioned. Fisher TX-300 Stereo Amplifier gets a review, rated 36w per channel if often that means one channel playing & it's a 30w RMS amp to us. Seems a Silicon version of the earlier Fisher 600-T still with Transformer Coupling as the splitter onto Doubled Output transistors. Looks a decent amp with the typical early era Fisher Sound shaping & NFB in the design. The review tells the TX-300 doesn't like Electrostatics & there is no protection circuit on Direct Coupled Output transistors. Feb 1965 has nothing new, the 'new' ads are gear mentioned months before in 1964. March 1965 again slow if yet another Trio with the Trio W-10 at a mere 7w music power at 45gns. The Goldring-Lenco GL-58 is one of the Very First Turntables sold on a plinth with a Perspex Cover, if in 1964 you could buy the perspex lid-plinth to fit your own turntable, the GL-58 appears to be the First sold complete. Headphones on Pt 2 of the scene survey shows that very few were made & sold in the UK with only really Koss being a recognisable brand from 9 brands mentioned. Grundig SV50 amplifier gets a review: 20w per channel, all transistors if likely all Germaniums as AC151 outputs, the square wabve performance isn't great & power at 20kHz is half the 1kHz rating, so not one we'd bother with. Tannoy York speakers, the pre-Lancaster cabinet with 12" or 15" Tannoy Silver drivers & Ralph West the reviewer is rather smitten with it, smooth sound & high efficiency really tells it's the Only Loudspeaker worth bothering with if Money & Space aren't an issue. The Abolition Of Retail Price Management In The UK tells the forthcoming Roots of what killed off Hifi progress in many ways & brought in the Hifi discounters & cost cutting by the early 1970s. Already worried about 'too cheap' meaning poor service if later letters revealed RPM initially brought a two-tier market where you paid more for getting nothing for it in effect beyond having a salesman & being offered service facilities as shops wouldn't do repairs on gear they hadn't sold, very naive trading times. Over the following HFN years much is argued about this & some big traders just sell up as the market has changed, if markets always do change is the reality. When RPM was abolished is found online as Apr 1965 based on a 1964 act. You see UK EMI pressed Records with the "Sold In The UK Subject To Resale Price Conditions" which disappeared by c.Apr 1969 & it appears Books were the last item to lose the RPM, if Diamonds are still fixed to prices by the Cartels as Diamonds are not rare at all, just cleverly hyped. Apr 1965 has Dual with a double page ad for the Dual 1009 autochanger-manual turntable & CV2 amplifier of 10w. Capable looking if we've found Dual turntables clunky & as with these other 10w amps, with Germaniums not for us. Akai have been stepping up their advertising the last few months if just with Tape Machines, their AA-7000 receiver & AA-5000 amp didn't arrive until 1966-67. Truvox is being cheeky saying 'Immediate Availability' on their amps as Leak were in high demand so a bit of a wait was mentioned, but in 1965 the Leak 30 for similar money was a better buy. Garrard LAB 80 introduced, the one with the wooden arm & no-arm autochanger plus the lever switches like later Garrards used, 'elegant styling by famed designer Eric Marshall'. Mullard have a full page advert about new Transistors 40mW to 40w. May 1965 another quiet month if the Rogers Cadet III review, see our Solds Gallery for lots of pics of the early one. This one was reprinted in the late 1990s Vintage HFN supplements. They like it if mention of the quirky tone controls with treble needing turning anticlockwise for gain is a bit illogical. They get 8w from it with 20Hz & 20kHz at 6w-6.3w which is reasonable for the era. Jun 1965 has a first "Stereo Portable Battery Powered Record Player" with either 2 separate speakers or headphones. The Brown Stereo it's called & made in Watford, UK. Hardly that portable with the speakers. Introduced is the Armstrong 221 the quick knocked up version adding MM Phono with transistors to a valve amp, We thought it was lousy if looks were better than some. The first of the Celestion Dittons, the 'Ditton 10' new out, a popular range if notoriously hard to drive some early 1970s ones as blogged before about bad Impedance Curves. A loose card for "United Kingdom Provident" Life Assurance aka Insurance offers options 'specially designed for the Married Man', simpler times when people conformed. As you'd expect yet another Trio valve amp, they certainly knocked a lot of these out for the Export Market, the Trio WE-8S is the same feeble spec as the W-10 from March if now 49gns. Their ad lists an unknown Trio TW30 all Transistor 'Pre-Main amplifier' if no details, but looks c.1963 on online pics, possibly 7w-10w & a rare one. Jul 1965 is a quiet one again, Pioneer EX-42 is a new Receiver stated as 40w total which is an unknown searching with Google, not a thing found if the picture shows the number on the tuner glass. No mention of transistors so expect a 10w RMS power. ad shows the back panel, screws for speakers so no Speaker Block Plugs introduced yet. Aug 1965 has a Record Player that plays a soundtrack & put a still picture on a TV set. "Vision On Disc" by Westinghouse USA branded 'Phonovid' with the picture info on the disc, 40 mins of sound & 400 pictures on a 12" disc via scan & hold method once the picture data is complete. It failed, but progess. Rogers HG88 Mk III introduced, Rogers certainly very busy with two main models that both sold well, case options are Teak or Dark Australian Walnut Formica finish, never seen that one. The idea of PWM Amplifiers is on Part 2 this month, a lousy idea that really doesn't work this early as heavy steep filtering needed to stop the sampling waveforms being heard as one later PWM amp reviewed told. The Trio WX-400U from late 1963 gets reviewed belatedly, the pick of the many Trio at the time if the slighly later Kenwood KW-70 appears the best one. HFN mistakenly think "20w Continuous" means 20w RMS per channel, the amp is a 10w RMS but the old 'adding numbers' game that they should be aware of by 1965. The A.W. Wayne guy of the 'Shirley' amplifier brand is the reviewer & reads 12w-13w at best if no mention of distortion levels on a 10w amp to get 13w. They find the FM section very good, it's why we upgraded our Tuner to see how good it was. Phono stage they state is very low on treble if we found bass lacking too. But by mid 1965 it was a bit old for the progress since late 1963 explaining why these were discounted. Sep 1965 gets 3 page Fisher ad with the first page a waste saying to look at the next page, advertising "40w" Fisher X-100-A, "60w" Fisher X-101-C plus Fisher XP-5 & XP-6 loudspeakers without saying what their power rating is. 'Rupert Neve & Co' have made a 16-Channel mixer unit for a leading London Studio, probably EMI's Abbey Road. SME introduce the lightweight headshell, it shows it's age, the 'soupstrainer' one that may be lightweight but it blurs the sound yet stayed in production for at least a decade, the arm still has the fixed rear weight at this time. Weary reader arguments about 'Serious Music' Fools rubbishing all 'Pop' music regularly crop up & only by the late 1960s fo the Stuffed Shirts admit there is pleasure in Pop if going for Beatles 'Sgt Pepper' plus Simon & Garfunkel 'Bridge' LPs, yet these days (2018) BBC4 puts 'Pop' music rightly in the 'Arts' category, after all what we call Classical was 'Pop' in it's day. The first "silly" turntable arrives, the 'Transcriptor Turntable' loses the platter & rubber mat for a lousy 8 point suspension idea leaving the disc loose in the air, instead of damping it. These silly ideas continued for many years. Pioneer swiftly ditch the July advertised EX-42 for the Pioneer ER-420 that must have sold well as they do turn up & we looked at one on 'Other Amps' page. But compare the photos, it's the same picture as the EX-42 as on the tuner glass & even in the Dec issue it's still the same pic, bizarre, if could just be a numbering error as the ER-420 is identical. Scott 200B Valve amplifier gets a review, 12w 'steady state' shows as 10w RMS per channel if by 12w it's 5% distortion. The Square Wave for 10kHz is very poor, if 1kHz has a tiny peak if otherwise square, shows how feeble the designs are on these early valve amps if they do upgrade to be a lot better. Oct 1965 has a flashy ad by 'Studio 99' a London NW6 shop. They really do appear to give 'ideal' sales & service if probably scared a lot off by appearing so upfront. Later ads by 1968 really see their Ego as 'Best Shop In The World', an interesting way to deal if sadly the Discount Stores put them out of business. The big 'Largs' shop on Holborn, London WC1 have a full page ad about their 'Comparator' a large fixed until containing buffer stages & a wide range of hifi units to select & play via your chosen speakers. 43 million combinations. 1606 switches, 40 relays, 108 buffers & 4750 yards of wire. A nice idea in theory, but the problem is output levels will differ, the cheaper items won't sound as good as the expensive items & trying more than 2-3 items will just confuse which got criticisms in later letters as other shops with the comparators were using them to offload lesser or favoured items to the bedazzled listener. The Garrard LAB 80 as mentioned earlier has a full page ad saying they were overwhelmed by the demand & got caught short on supplies. Today they'd know the market to predict a demand but the trouble there is too many factors can get high sales or low sales and overproduce. Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 1000, the first of their slimline receivers, 2x15w if unquantified. Looking quite like the Arena budget hifi & prices today show not much interest as under £100, not one we fancied trying either. There is a HFN review of this, keep reading below. Trio-Kenwood KW-33L is a receiver in their new plainer styling, valves, HFE site wrongly puts 14w which is the 'IHF standard power' if 9w RMS is stated. Lots of Fisher adverts, if for how rare the 240v versions are, Fisher didn't sell many in the UK. Nov 1965 is one of their biggest issues yet & a big range of ads if not overly interesting. Article about the Shirley SB/1-20 amplifier & preamp is unusual, the brand makes & sells the amp yet the Arthur W. Wayne guy who reviewed the Trio WX-400U lets his circuit diagrams be published. Today this would be seen as an Advertising Article. It's still a valve amp with what appears MM Phono as "Gram" if the Tape Head input shows it is MM, the Gram input means Ceramic, so a bit out of date. The rest of the circuit is fairly standard, passive tone not great using a ground reference as this design can be inaccurate. Power amp typical design avoiding the Mullard design splitter interestingly. The article describes the amp & offers it as a Construction Project if oddly Kits are marketed under 'Wayne Acoustic Labs'. The 'fun' thing about any circuit diagrams HFN prints is the next month or so they print corrections as there are always errors, so it makes you wonder who proof reads these. 'Readers' Hi-Fi Installations' shows cabinets & gear that readers have, the industrial looking cabinets with the tuner 8 inches off the floor & a turntable in a well with amps behind doors is the typical idea, all not very user-friendly, but it was the way promoted as 'right'. The days of building into Antique Furnite or getting Repro cabinets continued into the 1970s & with TVs the old CRT TVs put in a tacky chipboard veneer cabinet with doors was a much wanted item into the early 1990s. The Entertainment Centre. Sherwood S.9500 Amplifier gets a review. All Transistors & 20w continuous, if 14w is just under 1% distortion. Smart insides if messy interior they say & the Sherwood valve amps are chaotic, if some is a PCB design with hard wiring like Fisher. This is progress from the Germanium transistors & all Silicon transistors plus no splitter Transformer but it is Capacitor Coupled on the outputs, so not quite the Sansui 3000(A) design. Square waves are way better than the Scott amp above, 1kHz is perefct & 10kHz has some curving showing it's not as fast as later designs yet. HFE shows it ran to "B" and "C" versions if the 20w rating. The circuits look good for this early as the Square Waves tell, not much 'shaping' of the sound like Fisher do. This will be a good amp. Quite a dry review, no word on sound if it is Recommended. To show it's still 1965, the Decca Deram Anti-Rumble pick up arm is hardly needed on the Garrard 401-Thorens TD124 of the day, it just has damping to reduce deepest bass & likely blurs the rest of sound up with it. Aged ideas, if be sure many are still in use unaware of it's design idea. Dec 1965 has a Garrard advert with the Garrard SP 25 first version. Prices at the time are 401 at £32, LAB 80 at £27 & SP25 at £12 showing how Budget the SP25 was if it did sell well, the SP25 Mk III was a common find as it was around in the 1970-72 era that brought in the Comet discounting ideas. H.A. Hartley (not J.R.) was a Hifi Pioneer actually the first to use "High Fidelity" as a term on his amplifiers, we have some paperwork about his early amplifiers if better known for loudspeakers. The "Hartley-Turner Tone Control Preamplifier" plus Model 215 speaker, TRF Receiver unit (Tuner), H-T 25w Amplifier & power unit, the Tru-Bass Boffle plus a price list dated 1948, found it amid some Hifi Books probably. Tannoy advert says the Lancaster cabinet "introduced last year" so these are as early as 1964. Garrard 401 turntable gets a review that picks on it quite a bit but blames Plessey who now own Garrard for knocking out a bit quickly by changing the motor so it's not so stable on mains voltage changes, if perhaps in 1953 compared to 1965 it mattered & doesn't later? The 401 does get cheaper made over the years & the plinth corner isn't SME friendly which puts buyers off & how it wasn't aware of the SME fitting is a bit strange. Tolerances of manufacture weren't as tight as the 301. Summary of The Year. 1965 was a bit of a slow year after 1963-64 progresses. More Transistor amps appear if by their Rarity as UK voltage models, UK buyers stuck to Rogers, Leak & Quad still. The Gates opened up to Hifi Discounting is the hidden thing here if generally nothing much happens until Comet arrive in the late 1960s with their Securicor Delivery service that gets well mocked. There's still enough 1965 Hifi you could use today that would be of a quality worth keeping going.


The SME 3009 Mk II Improved Arm Isn't Playing It's Best: Now Solved.

On preparing our Sept Record Update, by playing these Records, the SME is found to be mistracking in the same area of a record. For the Summer not taking much notice, but listening Critically the problem is now clear. You can see Photos of the inside of this 3009 version online, it's not got loose ball bearings like some early Arms do, no bits to drop all over the floor & never find if some screws need care. Ball Races, Hex Bolts & a bit of unscrewing the black pillar with the bearings in. 1/16" Hex wrench required, a 1.5mm doesn't grip right. To buy a proper tool, not the feeble Allen Keys of today that chew up, we got a 'Fastrax' 1/16" Hex Wrench like a screwdriver using properly hardened metal, spot on, as used for Radio Control Cars so of a quality. Care needed as whatever old oil was used doesn't last 40+ years & this is what we originally thought was why it's sticking slightly to appear to mistrack, which gives a muffly sound to the record in certain places only, not needle fluff. But the problem was more than that, needing a Spare Part found. Check the Bias String pulley also as this can stick & cause problems if not set up right, if that won't cause mistracking. But after servicing it for the first time the Ball Races were already poor due to the lousy ebay seller swapping what looked a one-user turntable with bad ball races as the thin cartridge wires appeared resoldered to the SME cable connector. The trouble of buying online & the trouble of buying 40 year old precision items, be sure the seller knows as they swapped it, right? We did find a spares arm by remarkable luck if the seller's misfortune & for a mere £30 the bearings are good here, no grumble or sticking as well as once the black pillar is back on the arm, give it a spin & it goes for ages until slowly stopping without a jump to stop. The bearing ball races you may be able to shake out fist-on-hand way, or a tap with a non-metallic biro or pencil will help them out. In comparison our original one wasn't as free as the spares one & back together it'll get a good testing, to mistrack on quieter records as the groove excursions are much less to not 'help' the arm move across the record. These Ball Races are the same as in Video Heads & they must spin at fast speeds without any bearing grumble as the picture would be affected. The 3009 is a bit of a job to put back together, resolder the wires & fiddle the oval case screw posts all to fit back. Planning needed as it's not quite as straightforward. Some may put 'better' cables inside, 'Silver Litz' or 'Cardas' often found mentioned, again can't see any great point to that. But to see the £30 spares part from a high grade arm parted seems a wise buy, if fate wants us to have it, you never see these parted out usually unless they are in poor grade with corrosion meaning the bearings will be bad too. Over 6 days it was serviced once, serviced more with the WD40 & then playing records finding the mistracking vagueness, to just move the arm side to side then play the same music part revealed it's not the recording at fault. This time as the spares bearings were good, we just used the bearings & pillar as the bad one may be slightly damaged from the bearings being forced in causing loss of precise Tolerance. Looking inside the old bearings, a plate both sides holds the ball bearings in, any slight upset could get one to stick, the bearing case might not be perfectly round or anything from clumsy handling. Probably very unlikely they'd wear from normal use, we had our SME IV for years with no issues, but user misuse trying to clean them or damp causing corrosion will be what ruins an SME arm. The Technics SL-1500 uses pin points as bearings & once serviced that is an easier one to keep in good order. The replacement bearing plays perfectly with no vagueness on playing quieter recorded 45s that sounded muffly & even the SL-1500 arm wasn't perfect on one 1955 UK 45, if playing it now it sounds spot on.

SME 3009 II Improved: More Upgrades.

Beyond going for the 3009 III introduced 1978 or the later 309, IV & V, why not just improve this more? We've had the SME IV to know where it's good if it's not user-friendly with a fixed headshell & not a 'quick' arm to use like the 3009 is. One problem with the 3009 II Improved is that sodding arm clip, it keeps locking when you're just resting it, some arms have a longer rest area. To solve the clip falling down & making you pull on the arm possibly causing the bearing damage, take the two pins out, add a bit of superglue to widen the clear plastic bit so it stays put until pushed down to lock when needed, if not glue it solid. The earlier c1970 era SME 3009 we had years ago had the wire catch that was a pain too. The Technics SL-1500 arm clip is much easier & so is the ease of adjusting weight, if the arm doesn't quite sit parallel to the turntable. The 3009 II Imp is generally difficult to work on, the arm lift part that screws onto the bearings pillar needs critical setting to not impede play & still work on the arm lift. The black ground wire connects to the front screw or you'll get earthy noises & the screw never tightens. One "Upgrade" we see on ebay is not very good at all. Involves fitting a plastic plate to the 'short' screening can & then rather foolishly letting the 4 cartridge wires be unshielded. The 'long' screening can is better if still why use plastic as even a small area not grounded could pick up hum. Someone not thinking there. You can fit the OFC Copper Litz wire like the SME IV uses, this is just OFC stranded cable wrapped in a sort of thread binding that's Silk, if Silk does disintegrate over time. Looks like the sort of wire used in Old Valve Radios wrapped round coils & it's on AM antennas. Copper or Silver is available, OFC Copper will do. Prices range from £180 because it's "always better as it's more expensive" hype, to £4 & even £2.25 for the same thing, or get a full reel for £15. Appears 'Cardas' wire is further twisted together, bad idea as this creates inductance together with cable capacitance so creates a LCR filter taming the sound so one to avoid & to explain why we don't go for accepted opinion. What do we do about the plastic coated original wires? Leave them be, no 'upgrading' needed as these twisted cables are LCR filters, in old valve amps the Heater Wires are twisted to reduce noise, don't these "experts" understand the reasoning behind design. We want Untamed Sound, not softened off sound. The "it sounds better" to the unaware listener as it's filtered appears to be the Game here & keep those with Shop-Bought Hi-Fi happy thinking these cables are a good idea as the mag reviews tell you. Not putting the SME back together until the Bronze bit arrives, if the SL-1500 can be used.

SME 3009 Brass Knife Bearing Upgrade.

Further Upgrades involve making the arm as solid as the SME IV was. The Bronze Knife Bearings on ebay for £35 from Czech are interesting, the original ones are just plastic which is not good enough as it's not rigid. Amateur Reviews tell that these make the arm "Sound Worse" which we find a positive aspect as it means they are adding rigidity to tighten the sound & unawares who say it "sounds worse" have poor Phono Stages that can't cope with the extra detail & precision. We're not swayed by other's opinions if to see why they say that helps. So we buy one, the original plastic one is a feeble thing. Arrives quickly, looks a professional item, if it's Gold not Black being the only difference visually. Fitting it is a bit tricky especially getting the arm grounding Black cable back in, to use long nosed pliers & a bit of tape to hold the coloured wires away. A Professional Opinion of the Upgrade is what we can tell & it was obvious on first play. This Brass Piece is a Genuine Bargain upgrading the arm into a very different grade of item. Bear in mind we know the SME IV & how smooth & detailed it can be. Putting the arm back together for the brass piece & our further upgrades it's a very rigid item just like the SME IV was. The improvement on playing 1960s Singles that we played only a few days earlier is a Huge Increase in Quality. Previous Edginess to Mono 45s that can often be quite rough cut on the 1kHz area is focussed a lot better sounding smoother. Some may confuse losing the Grainy Sound with Losing Detail, but an experienced listener can hear the soundstage is deeper as we've heard many times upgrading Amps to increase Resolution. In use the 3009 arm appears more confident, holding to the Bearing Posts very solidly. Playing some very Loud Cut 1966 UK Decca 45s the focus is way improved revealing Bass that was once hidden, overall Bass is tighter for the sound being more focussed. The only annoying thing now is the pointless rotating headshell arm fitting. It's set perfectly square & then to swap cartridges & the thing goes off angle. It needs sorting as it's not useful, we do this & it's set perfectly square to the reflection in a vinyl record, one further upgrade once again tightens focus. Everything in Turntables must be Totally Rigid, anything that creates Damping will lose focus & detail. But to get the Benefit of this, your Phono stage needs to be a Great One, from our Turntables page we found most Phono Stages are mediocre. Vinyl Does Not Sound 'Warm'... it's the poor "everything" playing the Vinyl that blurs the detail.

1966 Akai AA-5000(S) Amplifier.

This is one that's interested us before as the "Other Amps" page shows. But the one on ebay at £300+ delivered is too expensive to buy blind. We've searched in vain for the Service Manual & one that claims to be "AA-5000" is the 1971 AA-5800/AA-5500/AA-5200 series. But a post Jan 2017 after we last looked has found a AA-5000 schematic on a French site, not stitched together as one page but at least to have it at last. The list of Transistors is shown, such as 2SB440 (Ger), 2SC362 (Sil), 2SB54 (Ger) with a selection of output transistors like 2SD46 (Sil) & 2SC493 (Sil). So is it worth trying? There are 2 versions, AA-5000 with Germanium outputs & AA-5000S with Silicon, the same Bendix output transistors the AA-7000 uses. The Aux goes through a large resistor into the Phono stage, we don't like this design as we first found on the 1969 Sansui 4000 as it compresses the sound, the 1968 Toshiba SA-15Y had this design too. But "Tape In" as often with this design bypasses the Phono stage. Circuit once stitched together as one page is a strange one, quite a lot of limiting, NFB & sound shaping. It is Capacitor coupled if with a very low 500µf axial that we can see is fitted on the board similar to how the AA-7000 does it, No Transformer Coupling here unlike the AA-7000. It works on 75v HT which suggests about 20w-25w at least. For "Tape In" use, the circuit goes to Passive Tone direct as the AA-7000 does. T1-3 are the Phono-Inputs stage, T4 & T5 are the Preamp transistors, with T6 onwards is the power amp. The power amp is very strange as was the AA-7000. The opinion on this is it looks very Retro Cool, but the circuitry isn't very good & will sound very tamed, if the 1970 AA-8500 receiver & 1973 AA-5800 amp did as original, but both upgraded well. The AA-5000 we're pleased to have seen the circuits, but suspect the sound wouldn't please & it's not really one that can be altered too well by the strange circuitry. We like the AA-7000 mostly, if the AA-5000 looks like a design that's been over-compromised as the designer altered it to have it sound right. One we'd still try if a UK-EU one turned up, but now we're not so keen otherwise (read on...). This is after finding the 1966 Rotel 100AMP similarly compromised & finding it best to sell as an Ornament which is a bit of a shame really for the brand's later quality, but not all early Transistor Amps are as good as the 1965 Sony TA-1120 or 1966 Sansui 3000(A). Update: It kept nagging at us, to see the Akai AA-7000 here to upgrade & see the 1972 Akai AA-6600 is the same design, to try the AA-5000S had to be done. An earlier AA-5000 up for bids with Germaniums was 110v only & a bit too rough. The AA-5000 works on 75v HT as Capacitor Coupled, the AA-7000 has 75v main caps, so the AA-5000 could rate at least 30w.

Vintage Audio Cables 1967-71 Era: A Revealing Comparing Session.

A test we did with a loud cut UK 45, The Who "Pictures Of Lily" to compare the Technics SL-120 with SME 3009 II i and the Technics SL-1500 showed the SME turntable was still ahead of the SL-1500, but really not that much. So as we had an amp arrive with 1967 era cables of some quality, to see what Cables that old actually sound like. they are usually "Steel" wires, actually this is Nickel Plated Copper, meaning it won't tarnish. Looking at 1960s Mains Cables, they are usually browned even inside the plastic insulation, showing that they aren't so conductive with Oxide Coating. These 1967 cables had pre SME type solid ground section on the plugs, the sort that fits the older bigger Phono sockets some early amps like Sansui used around 1966. Surprisingly these old cables sounded fresher than the "Straight Wire Blue" as blogged about before on Phono-Cartridge compares. Another unbranded cable that came with the Rotel 100AMP when it was likely sold new in UK in 1971 sounded fresher too. But it's very unusual to get old cables & if we do they usually go in the bin as skinny ones in poor grade which aren't of any use so we thought & to just assume Stranded Steel cables weren't good as todays are OFC Copper. But here we get some thicker ones with brown rubber-cased cables, not the usual cheap ones which are only stamped 'Japan'. One is a pair connected as a 9mm wide pair so each cable is 4.5mm round if joined together. The other we suspect is the Phono one as it has the same design but adds a 5mm flat strip between much like some modern Speaker cables we've had does. This uses 4mm round wires with the gap at 5mm making 13mm wide. What is noticeable is slight Vinyl Crackle appears less mixed into the music & a 1966 Ska 45 on UK Island appears to sound fresher. The answer why they sound better is simply the LCR effects are less in good simple cables, lower capacitance, lack of the braided ground losing inductance too. FERRITES we didn't use on the 1967-71 cables as they'd need cutting & for the chance of that it revealed Ferrites aren't needed on the Phono Stage now as we've upped the Resolution. Ferrites are good in certain uses, they do compress the highest frequencies. It works where the Hifi is lacking focus or the wire is long like TV Sound Cables & Speaker Cables. The Marantz 2385 has Ferrites from the TiVo box & DAC so we'll ditch them for next listening. The verdict fairly quickly is that the DAC cable being of a longer length does need the Ferrite else it's lacking Focus on the Treble. Ferrites are not as essential if the resolution is very high & the cable is only 1m long, but for Longer wires that act as Antennas picking up RF Noise, they still are useful.

October 2018 Blog

Why Don't Others Upgrade Amplifiers Like We Do?
Because it brings lots of problems. Often upgrading needs more work to fine tune the amp, overcome problems & that's like Fault Finding & Redesign. We can recap Tuners, but having done the Sony STR-6120, the whole tuner then needs realigning which based on the Tuning Meters & by ear is a bit of a job, then you get problems with Ferrite Cores to be adjusted & the risk of cracking them, even with the Nylon tools that we can't find now. Tuner Upgrades are not cost effective as the low power used by the Tuner means usually they still are good if they do work. One Hifi tech specialising in Tuners won't replace any Capacitors unless they are failing, not even 50 year old valve 300v+ ones that we know are dried out. We know if one capacitor is bad, the rest are likely on the way out too, so to not recap the lot is a wasted effort. Redoing the lot is more cost effective than Fault Finding, especially the Intermittent ones. Many on Forums recap Like-For-Like that to us is pointless as it doesn't bring out the Best of an amplifier. But if you do Upgrade one stage, the rest of the amp has to be upgraded to cope with it or you'll get wild problems. We upgrade amps that play fine if aged on the original design, but then by improving one stage, the problems that can arise that need rectifying are as extreme as a Faulty amp needing Repair. We do amps stage by stage seeing which give the most improvement over several upgraded amps & generally either the Preamp, Power Amp & Power Supply can give the best improvement if amps do vary, which doesn't tell much of where the most gains are, except the weakest one. Some amps we've worked on Blow Fuses as the Spec of the Original Design can't cope as it was borderline as original, the Power Supply not fully redone with upgrades brings Mainsy Hum noises plus the Pulsating Instability of some amps due to design compromises. To know that Shop-Bought Hifi is priced to keep it within it's market, with only the really high priced items daring to not be constrained by price, corners are going to be cut. The non Upgrading aware tech will think they've ruined the amp & now scared put it back to original as they think they've done wrong. What they have actually done is expose design weaknesses. Only by one Upgrading over 100 amps & encountering these problems and being able to understand "why" the problem happened can improve the design to contain the issue. It's Wild, It's Crazy & It's Experimental. The skill to get these amps into line to be Reliable & Stable is what we do, from daring to question design features knowing that there are corners being cut. By daring to do everything to better one amp & then "tuning it in" to sound right because it was a Courier Damaged Freebie on a Payout is what a Pioneer SA-9500 was a few years back, so not caring so much to try these ideas yet actually get good results is what gets the progress. To find the limits of the design & pull it back is the General Idea, if this is what we do on Our Own Amplifiers, to do Crazy Stuff to Customer's Amps doesn't happen, the ideas they get have been refined from our experimenting do get used & give excellent results. We've sold on many of our Experimental Amps once they have gone as far as ideas at the time could send them, if then to get the same amp back a few year's later will be looked at quite differently based on learning from other amps. The Learning Curve may be Flattening now, but new ideas will always crop up so Progress will forever continue as long as amps we've not had before are found.

Is There A Design Feature That Means An Amp Always Sounds Good?

Looking at Power Amp stages in both the Capacitor Coupled era & the later Differential: Is there a Design Feature that means an Amplifier Always Sounds Good. No there isn't. End of Blog? An Amplifier's Sound is a mix of what the Preamp-Tone, Power Amp & Power Supply brings. In Power Amp design, what makes the Marantz 2385 sound great made the Sansui AU-G90X sound thin & harsh. The Yamaha CR-2020 & CA-1010 sound very different despite being quite similar, 2020 is softer & more wallowy even much upgraded & the 1010 is thin, dry & a bit harsh sounding even much upgraded. Interestingly Power amps aren't much different sounding as there should be no Tonal Difference if you will hear differences with factors such as Damping Factor & Slew Rate. Very similar design on the NAD 300 & Akai AA5800 but the Akai sounded great upgraded, the NAD sounded pretty weak for it's 85w. To play a Power Amp stage direct from the Sound Card using the Computer Volume, generally a Power Amp will not really differ that much as long as the Sensitivity is the same, the typical 1v of most amps to the 100mV of the earlier Trio is really the only difference. The only amp we managed to get sounding better by changing the Power Amp was the Heathkit AR-1500 to get it sounding much smoother on our Tannoys, the preamp stage wasn't great on this amp & the power amp done a certain way complimented it better, but interestingly the buyer had Heathkit speakers of the era, so we changed it back to spec & they said it sounded great as things matched. If the Power Amp is much the same sounding, just amplifying not altering a Tonal balance, the Preamp must affect things. But once again. comparing amps that sound good or ones that are a bit too 'flat' sounding very few amps really don't please us on our Tannoys. The Marantz 2385 & Marantz 4070 amps have quite different designs, the 4070 uses more NFB than the 2385 yet at TV listening levels they aren't that different sounding, if the 4070 with the Bridged Power amp has a lower Damping Factor so is more Bassy than the 2385. We have two old favourites here as of writing, the Sansui 3000A which uses NFB in 3 stages beyond the main output one & the Pioneer SX-1000TDF sounding much like the 700TF & 1500TF we had before. The Pioneer has no NFB in the Preamp if adds some on the Power Amp. How they'll compare once both done will get a future blog. The Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 we used the superior UA1384 board from the KR-6160 in, the amp uses no NFB in the preamp with a unique design using two small amounts in the power amp. But overall compared to the Marantz 2385 and 4070 our KA-6000 version sounds much the same as the Marantz. Of course all amps are upgraded to our ideas in the first place, eliminating a lot of differences you'll find comparing the amps mentioned here as original. The only "unknown" is why some amps match our Tannoys well & others even with Parallel outputs don't match, what factor affects the amp appearing to heavily lose treble & bass to sound "too midrangey". For the few Yamaha CR-1000 we've had, we had one only a few months ago & another a year before that, they always sound different on speakers. To get a 1975 dated CR-1000 as the recent one, compare it to the earliest circuit & every thing is exactly the same, yet one matches better than the other, plus the first opinion of a CR-1000 on our Tannoys was that is was a poor match, yet the same CR-1000 sounded great. Now that is a Mystery.

Now What... Design. Not Exactly Many Good Amps Left To Try.

For all the Amplifiers & Receivers, some we've liked enough to Revisit, as the Reviews page shows, if not all we've got to Revisit. The thing is the more amps we hear, to think "why doesn't that sound like that amp". It's all in the designs. To us the Best Sounding Amps on Speakers are ones with straightforward designs without High Negative Feedback (NFB). Some amps can appear great on paper, but to see very high NFB with very high gain circuits just is not a good sound. It plays it very loud & then flattens it off, which on Speakers more than Headphones sounds flat despite it sounding clean & precise, it's been through a Compressor which does a similar thing, ups the gain & chops off the peaks. Maybe you like that tamer sound, we don't. We played Valve amps for many years & that sound suited us well for it's clean sound with no NFB beyond the main loop & on Tone & Phono. The Low NFB sound is in amplifiers, especially ones post 1975 if the trouble is the design needs Quality, but instead it got Cost Cutting giving that awful thin grainy sound that is the Typical 1980s Sound not helped by small speakers. Altering designs is a long job to do, results may take many months to perfect, trial & error as well as "designing by ear" can take a lot of time to get right, to sound right & to test right. In two Marantz amps we have the 2385 has very low NFB, the 4070 has some NFB in two stages, but on speakers at TV Sound level they sound quite similar, made by the same company & upgraded by us. But then playing the Sony TA-2000F/3200F the sound wasn't liked as too 'flat' sounding with no real kick to the sound despite the power amp testing very fast on Slew Rate as blogged. To suspect the FET preamp is the weakness here plus the Power Amp is unuusual on it's Differential compared to the 1971 Sony STR-6055. To try to alter one amp with NFB to something different, being aware telling more gets forum readers to do things they shouldn't, beyond the Main Power amp output one does give subtly improved results if on an original spec amp it might make it sound worse as per the SME brass bearing. All things to try, forever in search of "The Perfect Amp".

The Curse Of The TV Grade Repair Guy With 40 Years Experience.

We've seen two Valve amps recently, one on ebay Germany, a 10w Pioneer ER-420 receiver from 1967. "The amplifier was completely overhalled (sic) from professional technician" says the listing. Really? thinks us, the work is pretty poor. They leave All the 50 year old grey power supply capacitors top & bottom. Quite Ridiculously they put a Fan by the power amp stage 4 valves. Do not they not realise Valves get hot or is the amp Biased wrong, or perhaps Faulty from the bad old caps so the Output Valves get really hot, glowing red, so they'll fail soon. The price of £405 converted with Best Offer is telling, it's not a reliable job. The underside is a typical rat's nest of wiring & parts, if these we understand once the sections are worked out & they aren't as illogically random as they look, Here their "pro tech" has just replaced a few parts to keep it going, typical TV repair man rubbish work that keeps them in work as it'll be in for Repair soon. Another is a Rogers HG88 MK III a customer wanting a proper rebuild has bought as "Just recently Extensively serviced by an audio engineer of over 40 years experience in valve eqpt (sic)." The amp itself is the interest & why we recommended buying it as it's even cleaner than the one we had on our Solds Gallery page. Again the work to us is strictly amateur, lots of rubbish work with random resistors changed, a few capacitors changed under, the main caps disconnected & small ones tacked on underneath, one with a big blob of silicon attaches to the mains transformer with the silicon onto one of the wiring tags. Again dismal rubbish work. These Old Timer techs just do it the lazy old way of "keep it running" & often their ideas are bad especially on valve amps. Transformers fail so they just fit any old output transformer instead of the correct one, one Kenwood KW 70 on ebay has one very mismatched size transformer that'll not be much good, but the TV Repair Guy thinks it'll do, as we've found equally rubbish repairs on Quality amps. But this was how TV & Audio Repairs were, we knew one local Repair Shop near to the Family Shop in the 1980s, it took them 6 months to find a mains switch to fit the Philco-Ford amp. Our first Hacker GAR 500 packed up working on one channel & they said it was unrepairable, far from it we know now, but they couldn't be bothered. The Old Timer's work on Hifi we do dread as it's often of rubbish quality using poor parts, even the recent Toshiba SA-15Y was "repaired" by the seller, missing the actual cause of the problem. They just use any old parts & their soldering was terrible. We just "rip out" all their poor work & do it properly. There are many doing restoration work that we see online, some do it nicely, but we still feel we are the only ones doing what we do with bringing the best out of Amps with subtle Upgrades. It Takes Years plus nearly 200 amps to get to the standard we are at & even looking back at amps we did 4-6 years ago, we see a lot of progress in ideas, streamlining the ideas. To get a Sansui 3000A that we sold our one in 2014, to do a customer's one, we do it with ideas afresh, not taking much notice of what we did before, if having learnt the amp, it's strengths & weaknesses to bring the best Upgrade at a realistic price, without going to excesses that charging double wouldn't really bring much improvement. The lazy TV Techs worked on a production line with a Boss counting the pennies. We still do a lot of Reaearch into Uprading Amps that are Our Ones & this is where the progress happens.

Trio-Kenwood KR-9050 200w Monster Receiver.
This one on ebay as a 110v model shows it wasn't a UK model so not in the Trio blog above looking at later models. On ebay it doesn't look too impressive, it looks like a 60w amp but it's nearly as huge as the Rotel RX-1603 at 602 x 177 x 465mm at 24kg. But looking at the similar ones on our 'Other Amps' page they are nasty IC things even on the power amps. Is this any better? Phono is Transistors as is the Preamp-Tone. Power Amp is a little hard to follow if it has a first stage then goes to what looks like just Single Output Transistors for 200w which is unusual, other amps have Double or triple Parallel outputs. It works on ±74v which is nearly the same as ±75v on the Marantz 2385 with triple outputs giving 185w. This doesn't appear to be a 200w amp therefore. The Sony TA-3200F works on ±61v to give 100w. But the Schematic shows the specs as 200w per channel both channels driven. Output Transistors are 2SC2607 and 2SA1116 both rated 150w at 5A. Can't be 200w RMS? Whoever did the Circuit Diagram confusingly put One Transistor Pair on External board ie a Heatsink, but Q5-8 are 2SC2607 & Q9-12 are 2SA1116 so they Are Paralleled Outputs. But 2 of the 4 appear on the PCB & 2 on the Heatsink is a bit strange, because further looking shows 4 per channel on the oversized thin cage heatsink, 1979-80 designs aren't that good as inside pics suggest. Build quality isn't like the 1976-77 ones. It looks Cost Cut is the opinion, it is all Transistors though, but hpw good it sounds for one as late as this with the cost cut design could be a bit disappointing even upgraded. It's just not got the build quality.

1967 Sansui Amplifier on 1968 Tannoy Speakers: Into The Time Machine.
This is the Third of our Try Out An Early Amp As Original On The Speakers. The Pioneer SX-1000TD-F gave us a worthy result, the 1968 Sansui 3000A didn't want to play so to get a 20w 1967 Sansui 400 receiver in good working order is a must to try. After a service it got over an Hour use on headphones & as the Review Page shows, it sounded perhaps the Best Original amp we've heard as the design is a great one. So to let it sit a few hours on the day it arrives still, try it again, all is ok, no DC offsets on the Speaker Outputs, fit the Gold Blocks to the Amp Screw Connector bars & as the Vintage Cable mentioned above has the earlier type of connector that fits on the Conical large connectors, wheras a modern cable plug won't fit properly, so old cable, F to F connector onto the new connectors worked fine. Makes a brief bassy noise on turn on if then sounds fine. Minor Transistor hiss at TV sound level if generally inobtrusive. To get the Tone controls set to a typical setting & then try TV sound, the "How It's Made" intro is a lively one that's a good test track. Big wide Stereo, sounds impressive, perhaps even better than the Pioneer sounded, if both are over 50 so aging will keep them to a limit. Sansui has no harsh 'T' Bass Filter & the design is a good one with NFB only on the main Power Amp loop as well as being a 1967 design, limiters in this amp are surprisingly few. The design is what it is with parts we'd upgrade to bring it to a better standard if it's far from a bad listen on Speakers. Bass as typical on old amps is a bit cardboardy, the Tannoys show it up & seeing what full bass on Tone sounds like, it's rather limited. The output capacitors are better than the Pioneer value if still Bass isn't the strong point of the amp. Some lack of resolution was noticed on some sounds if loud crisp treble was cleaner than the Pioneer managed. A 1968 buyer of the 20w amp & 50w speakers is maybe less likely, as to buy a more powerful amp & disregard 'the little ones' if the Sansui 400 design is actually fresher than the Sansui 3000(A) which has quite a few NFB stages. The 400 is a very impressive amp even as original, ours still on the original bulbs shows it's not had much use. Rare to find amps this early as original, but the thing is it may be great today, but next time as we've found with other amps, your use of it brings on problems, it could have been unused in 30 years by the owner who bought it aged 30 in 1967, added the BBC Radio waveband change stickers in 1978 but rarely used it & for it to emerge on a house clearance. Research On Original Owner: The amp has the previous owner's address label on, to search finds the house last sold 1998. Oddly the address is now an Electrical Services one if the sticker looks early 1980s. Unusual to know of previous owners if no-one's taken any interest in this amp since 1998 so it could have been in Storage & cleared out. The Surname is an unusual one & one of that surname born 1925 in London & the address is where they'd move to from London, only 7 of the name born 1920-1950. Was it Beryl's amp? But women marry to change names, so perhaps not. Name & Place into Google finds a Roy in the same town, so it was Roy's amp, or his wife's. Roy born 1934 not so far from Newcastle so in 2018 he'd be 84, bought it when 33, but his place has been cleared, maybe into a Home as no recent info found, if not all families care. So that's who owned it & probably the amp just in the general unwanted stuff & either Council or Recycling Yards get to pick through. The dozy seller didn't even try the amp, power switch was sticky & their price showed the level good items get to by ones unaware. Looking further, Roy's on LinkedIn as Retired from an IT company that has his wife's name in too & that's his Son on Facebook still in the town on the label & guess what, he's in the same job. Even more unlikely is he went to the same school as the typist. Further online shows the son who's only a few years younger than the typist is the sort of arrogant corporate prick not to care about Dad's amp like they do on "The Repair Shop" so it's best it got to us. A little more on Roy finds he was into music playing the Clarinet & Piano, as well as getting a Diploma in Piano to maybe teach also, so likely the amp got a bit of a shock with what we played on it. People into "Serious" Music actually rarely play music for pleasure, as all the High Grade Classical Stereo LPs we used to see proved. Probably the amp was used for Radio 4 mostly. Dust patterns inside show it was mounted vertically in a cabinet, dust setting on the inside back panels, so possibly it was left in furniture on an installation & thrown out without realising what was inside? Fascinating if ultimately pointless & a little sad how little people care, but these amps had owners. Roy, we've got your Sansui amp, we'll do it proud & probably keep it if we like it once upgraded. As if he's reading, but shows someone who cares got it.

Hi-Fi Forums Online.
There are quite a few that take an interest in the Vintage 1965-77 era, if ones back into 2005 really haven't a clue about what they are & we know our pages telling how good these amps are does appear to have given buyers confidence in these 'sleepers'. One of the Forums we tried briefly was "Audio Asylum" when we were only looking about Valve Amps pre 2002, a difficult sort of site where you're not welcome was the idea, new ideas not allowed. Never bothered again after that, but researching amps one of the best is Audio Karma as they seem more willing to help, if it brings in the difficult realm of the amateur with narrow opinons & bad ideas, so to tread carefully. We avoid putting hints about Hifi as early on we saw people take a germ of an idea & put it totally wrongly into their amp & make a mess. Our Solds Gallery Photos tell what we do if only in pictures. Some Forums have pictures of 'Restorations' usually well-meaning amateur jobs with capacitor stuffing & laughable small caps in foam in the original 35mm clips. A French site we've been told of AudioVintage.fr that can be translated, to just see how other people do amps, the TapeHeads & VintageAudioAddict ones show photos. People paying good money for what we see as 'unadventurous' work just replacing like-for-like. They miss doing certain things we see as obvious, but we've jumped into Hifi Restoring very deeply to learn about design & bettering it, daring to question the designs. Anyone keeping these amps alive with Tidy Work as these sites show is a good thing, not so good is seeing clueless ones like a 1960s Fisher with boards ripped out & ICs put in. All Techs Pro to Amateur have their own ideas, some may see buying exotic oversized parts a good idea, or to sensibly use high quality parts giving a subtle refreshing of the amp without losing the originality. As with any Forum, you may not know the person's Hifi Experience when they say the Sony TA-1150 is a great amp (for example) when we know it's got an IC in the preamp & bad resistors giving uneven voltages. Then you see one in 'raw' grade for £350 on ebay by some dreamer & without knowledge of the amp, you may think it's a good one. At the extremes of Opinion, you'll find those who'll only listen to a £30,000 system & then happen to hear one of our Upgraded amps as some customers took round to such an owner & they all agree how much more Musically Appealing our 20w 1960s Transistor amp was. Then you'll find those who say some cheap nasty IC power block amp sounds "valve like" hoping to get a sale to an unaware.

Do You Want To Learn To Do Vintage Hifi Repairs?

The only problem with Hifi is the advancing age of it. We had a 1969 B&O Beomaster 3000 in 1990 when it was 21, still quite a recent amp in terms of what needs servicing, you could get away by just using it. But now it's 49 years old, the B&O low grade capacitors usually all leak & go crusty, the 28 years in between can age amps heavily, yet some can still be used if 50 years old, if we'd not trust them for much use, some do until they fail. What will happen to these old amps in the Future? As with Roy & his 1967 Sansui (see above), the amp just got thrown away as rubbish if there are people at this end of the supply chain that see value to get them. You'd think they'd have searched online to see the opinion, but they probably just found a 2005 forum saying it was $240 new & worth $25 then so they put £20 on it. We did a BTEC in Electronics & the nearest to Hifi was TV & Video repairs. So... Would there be interest in people learning how to Restore Old Hifi like they do Cars & Antiques? Look at "The Repair Shop", none of the 'experts' into the finer restorations are young, they've taken decades to learn & perfect their work, you can only do 'best effort' on certain things, there is unlikely to be any perfection to one who knows how they do it, if what they do can give Excellent results. The BTEC on TV Repairs was very limited, it gives you a Qualification showing you can do a basic level, but like passing your Driving Test, you're hopeless by yourself without practice & someone there as a passenger. How many amps get wrecked before you tighten up your game? Unless you get a job doing Repairs, it could take years to get better at it & you'll do repairs for others but find you didn't do it right & be put off. Or other things come along & you lose interest if then to find a half-trashed Sansui G3300 at the back of a charity shop & just for the hell of it get the thing working to sell it just to cover costs. These days you could start buying the cheap 1979-82 type amps on ebay for £50 or so, but the trouble is the risk of ICs, not just for sound but the unavailabilty, what we could find in 1995 was 23 years ago & shops that used to have boxes of NOS parts, be sure they went long ago when the shop went online. The availability of Service Manuals makes what was almost impossible in 1990 as no data was around, now into a good start. But to understand the amplifier parts, what they do, how to fault find, how to understand good or bad design & upgrade like we do takes a lot of Amplifiers to get that far. Our Reviews page adds the Sansui 400 as 'Review 178' meaning we've has 177 more amps before including lots more as the same amp again, at one time the Yamaha CR-800 was easily found & we've had 6 of them, but tell the world they are good & others get them & up go the prices, they're not £65 anymore if they used to be. How could you Teach Hifi Restoration? Do you really want to give your Tricks Of Your Trade away? Look at the TV & Hifi Repair Books, they actually tell you very little. Electronics Coursework books & even 1930s Radio Repair books give you a lot of Hints as do any sort of Practical book or magazine. You have to dare to try what others are scared of or can't even face wiring a plug. You'll get Electric Shocks, half ruin amps, put parts in wrongly, solder & not check so you miss a solder blob shorting the track together. You may believe the old way of "high fuse & let it sizzle" to find faults like TV repair guys used to do, if so then stay away from Hifi, it needs thought & care. Only Experience will get you Mastering any Skill, aim to do a job better & neater than anyone else to find fault with how the Forum Guys do their upgrades. Use Quality Parts always, if you need to spend more money or more time to get an amp right, then do it. Jobs we Quote prices on often end up needing far more work, just to do it right. Time how long it takes to do something that may seem straightforward & then wonder where 4 hours has gone. To order parts, find equivalents etc can be time consuming, you're just buying parts but again hours can fly by. But you will know if Hifi is for you, as a kid you fiddled with technical things, smashed up old Radios & TVs, got electric shocks as you ventured too far & thought by twiddling that inside the amp it'd be better, if instead you messed up the bias so the amp burnt out. Our first Hifi Repair was the family Bush-Arena tape deck, the Pause button wouldn't stay locked as the spring-lock part was faulty. Aged about 11-12 to unplug it, undo the screws, see the bit had fallen off, work it out for what it did, all totally unknown to us, then put it back & it worked again & did until it was sold. No-one ever asked how it worked, 'the elves' must have fixed it or it just worked again.

Sansui 1966-68 Top Range Sansui 3000A vs Midprice Sansui 400.
Having the 45w 1968 Sansui 3000A now recapped & the 20w 1967 Sansui 400 still as original, to look at both some days after the 400 arrived & impressed. The Sansui 400 was £124 in the 1968/69 HFYB & the Sansui 3000A was only priced in the 1970 HFYB at £170 if was an obsolete model by then & the 400 didn't last long as an updated Sansui 800 28w at £145 in the Sansui 4000 styling replaced it. The 3000A is a heavy 15.6kg & the 400 is 10.3kg which still betters any later 20w amp. The 3000A has an 11 x 10.5 x 9cm transformer, the 400 has a 10 x 9 x 8cm one which is big for a 20w amp. The 3000A has a heavy metal frame & boards are neatly done, power supply is tidy. The 400 shows the cost cutting with Half Wave rectifier hanging off tags onto the one main capacitor. it reads 51.1v DC with only 43mV ripple on which is a lot lower than expected. The top inside of the 400 looks tidy if the underneath looks of less quality, the Phono board unshielded near Tuner boards isn't good & some random added bits like a transistor & capacitor under the power amp look messy. It does look a bit TV grade underneath. But the design is simpler than the 3000A without the coupling transformers, no dual power supply from separate transformer taps with ± voltages, the 400 has a good clean design. £124 to £170 in 1969 is £1940 to £2660 which in paying that for Today's Audio & TV gear isn't a huge difference, probably why the 3000A sold better. The 400 can be upgraded to lose the cheapness in many ways & for the looks being similar, the 400 is still worth having. But having played both, the 3000A design has NFB on several stages that the 400 hasn't got so the 3000A is a more tamed sound with smaller dynamics & actually quite a narrow Stereo width when the 400 as original is a much fresher sound with wider Stereo. The 400 does cheapen itself with "Noise Filter" sounding rather simplistic, it's a High Filter, if perhaps making it for a more budget conscious buyer. In 1969 the 25w Armstrong 525 receiver was only £87 if comparing to the Trio-Kenwood TK-66 at £122. Having had the TK-66 we rebuilt it quite a lot as it wasn't so great as original, the Sansui 400 as original, well you can read the blog above to tell what a 1968 buyer would almost have heard, the Sansui 400 easily was the superior item soundwise. More Sansui 400 blogs to come as the design is a good one.

Why Recapping Like-For-Like Is Often Disappointing.
You see quite a few Vintage Amps, recapped, some done better than others if they actually show their work as they could have used cheap Made In China caps that we just throw away. You can read in the 3-part Sony STR-6120 upgrade blog that recapping a tired old amp that may still sound good will then make it sound Brighter. Together with nearly every amp being limited on Bass, this extra Brighness unbalances the sound so the Amp sounds Thin & Bright with Bass being poor. We noticed this early on in redoing amps & this is why we learnt to upgrade which takes over 100 amps to learn right. You can't just upgrade one stage, the whole amp needs the upgrade & it's a black art as is Fault Finding. So the well-meaning person recaps the amp doing a nice job using better quality parts, but look at what they do, they don't like the Sound so sell it on, often for little more than a "Raw" unserviced amp because the Results are not as expected. New Capacitors can sound awful on first use, we've heard this but in use after 10-20 minutes they sound right. Valve Amps with much higher voltages may take a little longer to settle in, but really no more than 60 minutes. The old Hi-Fi Mag "expert" idea of Running An Amp In For A Month is actually a load of rubbish. The amp does not need a heavy run in, it's just that over time, often 2-3 days of you hearing the amp, you get used to it & your hearing accepts it as correct, good or bad. Valves don't need much running in either, again 30-60 minutes will get it settled into the circuit & often valves are already run in to test to grade them as a Matched Quad. We see upgrades on the "Monster" Receivers & to see they charge heavy prices yet leave lots of old parts, old limitations & don't learn the circuits to get the best out of them. The Person who doesn't like the Amplifier Sound goes looking elsewhere 'hoping' to better it, be it as bought or recapped. Shop Bought Hi-Fi is always tamed to be Universal, you'll never find your "Holy Grail" in Hi-Fi Sound as no manufacturer will sell it. Some sellers get new Amps & 'upgrade' them to sell as Improved Versions, but usually they just change a few capacitors that will not make much difference & leave all the Dumbing Down as it was.

1976 A&R Cambridge (Arcam) A60 Amplifier.
This was a popular amp in it's day, in the HFN/RR adverts a lot, but despite us looking before, we've not tried one. It's a midprice long slimline amp following the Bang & Olufsen - European type design size if only a 5kg weight reveals it's not a high quality amp if UK Hifi at this time was very limited as only really Rogers, Armstrong, Sugden & Goodmans of more established names still around as many other UK brands faded away in the early 1970s. The A&R Cambridge brand first appears belatedly in the 1980 HFYB with the A60 30w for £140 when the 30w Technics (Panasonic) SU-2400 was £80, if many still chose to Buy British. Not related to Cambridge Audio. We've not been too happy with UK & EU amps so generally don't bother with them now as the Japanese & USA amps are of far better quality & power. The A60 is a One-Board job with DIN inputs if Sockets for Speaker outputs, again DIN sockets puts buyers off & we avoid them as not worth putting good upgrades into & not get the right prices. But beyond what sells for us, the A60 on ebay a £45 faulty one sold and £90-£119 bought working ones if a £200 one is clearly optimistic. That's the trouble we found with the Leak 30-70 amps, they are easily found & don't make much money, they are Bargain Buys today. The Circuit Diagram is in the EU style of circuit like B&O, hand drawn circuits is a bit amateurish, if the 1966 Akai AA7000 one is also. Limited Bass as typical, differential Power Amp, all Transistors, Semi-Complimentary outputs with the UK BC547 & TIP 3055 outputs with 1.6A fuse on the Outputs. For 1976 this cut-price design clearly led the way, one board simple construction & basic case work. Circuits a bit hard to follow if it looks fairly typical with quite heavy NFB in one place that will give a Domestically pleasing if rather tame sound. A later circuit is not hand drawn if probably just slightly updates the amp to the "Plus" version if that has an IC phono stage. This sort of Hifi is probably good for what it is, like the big selling NAD amps it's still not going to interest us in the slightest, but as time proved, it's what people want as a certain price level & should serve well. Nothing to get excited about, upgrade to sound hugely better. For us to buy one at £100, carefully choosing the early non-IC one with a good case, then put our upgrades into it, the Reality is we'd outprice a Budget Buy into a territory better served by the Japanese amps. It's like upgrading the Bang & Olufsen ones we had early on, they just don't have the quality to go further. We tried our Upgrades on the Goodmans Module 80 & all it revealed was how poor the design was, cleverly tamed to be good amid it's design but awful given the upgrades that similar Japanese amps can take to give great results. This is why we avoid the UK & EU amps as the quality isn't there. It's like TV grade quality, designed to sound good at a price, but upgrades, forget it. One who lives in a distant country asked us about this amp to upgrade, so to blog it. For the Shipping Costs it's not worth upgrading, even if in the UK, the results would be disappinting as we found with that Goodmans, so we'd not consider it a worthwhile upgrade. Some may just take your money & do a mediocre job, but to work on an amp like this doesn't appeal. Which is why we've never tried one. Unique opinion here.

Capacitors Aging & Failing: What We've Found On 100+ Upgrades.
Capacitors are a roll of foil, paper or plastic in a light acidic water liquid. The Capacitor is sealed to stop the liquid leaking out, if even the 1977 era ones that are sealed with resin, they still age & fail. Amplifiers from 1967 we've blogged above the Pioneer SX-100TD-F & Sansui 400 & to have these working & useable on 1967 capacitors is unusual. The general 'Forum' opinion is replace the Big Capacitors because it's the unthinking 'thing to do'. They do nasty things like stuff capacitors, put undersized ones in foam to fit the holders, or use the garish light blue Vishay ones which we avoid in vintage gear as it looks naff. The only light blue caps you'll see on our gallery is the 1967 JVC Nivico 5040U amp. Large capacitors like the ones in the Yamaha CR-2020, CA-1010 etc we don't replace, they are still sound. We used to cut open every big capacitor we replaced to see how they aged, some like Leak Delta 75 amp were always crusty & leaking. Some on high powered amps like the 1968 Sony STR-6120 are always bad on the first main one & the base covers show these failed & leaked long ago. Some amps from 1967-69 can vary, some cut open are still wet & smell fine, others are getting crusty as they dry out & the failure of a capacitor reduces it's capacitance value until it dies, shorts or leaks. Ones on 1966 Rogers Cadet III & HG88 III are usually still looking good & they may work, but cut them open they are Bone Dry because they dried up long ago with the 300v-350v HT on them. You can use these amps as one Tech will send out as "Repaired" but you're playing a risky game as sooner or later they will fail & you'll likely ruin a transformer so the amp is dead. Look at 1960s Valve Receivers on ebay, some have mismatched output transformers from failing. Naturally most broken stuff gets thrown out if today a lot of Vintage amps get into the 'rubbish' category to be found, sold & bought by ones who appreciate, like the Sansui 400 story above. In that amp is an example of a good maker of capacitors, "Elna" but the grey ones with the long arrow & blue print are in the 1965 Sony TA-1120 & the earlier 1967 Sony TA-1120A. These we've found looking good, but audibly bad so to cut even small ones open they are crusty, dry & bad. You're more likely to get Small Bad Capacitors than the large Power Supply ones, but ones near Heat or ones that draw higher current or with voltage over 63v will fail. We just recap the lot these days, fault finding on capacitors is a waste of time & if one is bad, the others will fail soon. The huge Rotel RX-1603 we have to upgrade for a customer, seller wasn't honest to say it didn't work on one channel. A few tests by us revealed bad capacitors as it typical of this era, bad enough to not give any signal through, or shorting to ground. We've had 2 of the Pioneer SX-1000TD-F & the first one yet to work right with 1967 capacitors, they were still good. Another 1968 amp, the Sansui 3000A we tried on the speakers as original if it wasn't working right shows caps aging, in this instance too weak to deliver enough current. We've known for a few years that even the 1976-78 era Marantz & Pioneer have bad caps, the thing is that after 40 years capacitors can fail because of cheap or poor manufacture. Storage & Use of the Amplifier over it's Life affects how the capacitors age, ones left in a cool cabinet or even an attic or shed could be better than one kept inside a warm house or in direct sunlight. Attic stored amps are often in poor grade anyway as they get the full outside weather except wet, the cold & heat as well as damp & putside air don't keep things nice for long. To recap or not on Post 1977 amps is up to you & most just use them unserviced or unchecked until they fail, if even if still working they can be past their best. The False Economy of a Repair we don't want to deal with based on results, the Fault Finding is wasted on a good amp that will be Far Better as Recapped with our upgrades, ages spent fault finding to find one bad part or just redo the lot in the same time plus parts to give a reliable item is our way. You want these Vintage items to be use daily, not taking in for Repair as seems to be the way some amps live, your Tech is wasting your time as without recapping you're gambling each use that the capacitors & other parts won't fail. To even try 3x 1967-68 amps on our speakers, they were only briefly used to be safe. Yet people buy these Aged Beauties & just plug them in unchecked & unserviced. Then wait for it to go 'bang' or start smoking. We deeply check amps over & won't put mains near them until parts have been replaced. In Computers, the Solid Capacitors have taken over the early 2000s 'exploding' ones, but they're not Hifi ones & likely the 'wet capacitor' will live on as for costs to replace is cheaper than to make large solid capacitors.

1978 JVC A-S5 Amplifier, Plus Ebay Browsing.

Just saw one on ebay & after many years wondering What Amp 'Uncle S' had in 1978 as he took it to University... it's the 35w JVC A-S5. Is it worth buying? No manuals on HFE if to see a preview on a pay site the thing has STK 0035 output blocks as does the 50w A-S7. Not for us, if good to solve an ancient mystery on the same day the 1978 JVC JR-S 600 receiver arrived strangely. The A-S7 circuit shows Phono is x3 transistors, Tone is oddly passive on Line Level then into Transistor Differentials, Drivers then the dreaded IC Power amp block, STK 0055 on the 7 model. ebay shows the STK0035 still buyable for £20 if the STK0055 not findable, if these you could still buy in the 1990s, clearly remainder stock rather than being made still, like transistors are. It'll end up disposable like seeing modern Marantz PM6005 "needs repair", e-waste these days. Similarly seing a Leak Delta 75 receiver for £48, but we have 3 wood cases in the loft as the amp is so badly made, it's just not worth buying these sort of amps. Even a Yamaha CR-400 that we thought was decent for 20w, chewed case means it's not worth us redoing as the looks aren't good enough. Didn't fancy a silver faced Ferrograph amp & tuner either, just don't like these crudely made UK amps & they've ended up binned too often now, if we've sold all Ferrograph we've had, they are just too budget quality. So many good amps we'd like but offered for sale as unserviced yet 40 years old & for far too high prices like they are fully checked & serviced, there they sit as blogged before, as even a 1983 amp is 35 years old now.

Filters, Loudness & Tone Controls: What To Do With Them?

Not so obvious perhaps, as to what settings to use. Filters to us are a nuisance in upgrading as they often upset the circuit in ways inobtrusive to untidy. One of the only Amps without any Filters is the 1966 Akai AA7000 which to us makes it far better. A Filter used to be Essential going by reading 1956-1980 Hi-Fi News magazine, especially in the early years. People kept blaming the Record quality if the truth is the early Cartridges were rough & peaky, the Turntables into the early 1970s were made with cheap bearings if even having bearings, so Rumble which is a grumbly Bass noise was heard, so to use Low Filter aka High Pass Filter, as it passes the higher frequencies. Even Decca Deram arm had an Anti Rumble feature to limit noise from these cheap turntables, the 1970 Garrard SP25 Mk III was rumbly if the c1974 Mk IV was far better. High Filter aka Low Pass as it cuts the higher frequencies is also called a 'Scratch Filter' or 'Noise Filter'. Some use Inductors & can cause Ringing as heard on bad 1950s-60s dubbed 78s that they ruin the sound by over-filtering causing harsh peaky vocals if limiting 78 noise. To us, Filters are Obsolete & we have no use for them, if perhaps the only use is High Filter to reduce 78 noise if it often cuts too much detail. Leave the Filters set to 'Off' to hear the full range of the Music. If you need to use the Filters then question where the Bad Sound is coming from. Loudness is another useless feature, if we've heard of some getting our upgraded amps who use Loudness to make up for speaker mismatching & still add Tone, they don't really understand 'natural' sound it appears. Loudness on an amp is no problem, it just takes a tapping from the volume track in the volume control to give added volume in Bass & Treble. The Bass Boost to us is awful, it's far too thick sounding. Treble usually sounds scratchy. But some swear by it, so it's still included in Amplifiers today. An amplifier that sounds right can still give a rich sound at Late Night volume. Tone Controls are essential on Amplifiers, notice we only get Amps with Tone Controls as some boost is needed unless you're cranking the volume up high. The early Audio Fairs when in Hotel Russell, London pre 1969 the visitors used to complain that Tone was only ever set Flat & a snobbery exists about Tone Controls still to this day, but it's your amp, play it as it suits you. Let the "Source Direct" types get on with their dry sound & they don't know that most amps just Bypass Tone settings still with Gain, so it's hardly CD player to Volume to Power Amp. But in all these User Controls, there are No Standards. Some don't have enough useful gain ±5dB is pretty useless as late 1980s budget amps do & ±18dB as the Hacker GAR 500 does is far too much. A typical ±10dB is what most amps have, if who actually turns the Tone Down, the Minus half is likely rarely used as Sound Today is better balanced. But in the Early Days, the Tone Controls + and - were used to play Non Standard records without RIAA. You might like Bass & Treble up full, it's your amp, but play TV or Radio with speaking voices to match how real people sound in the room & you'll sometimes find you use too much Tone. As with any user control, picture quality on LCD TVs takes a certain skill to make a midprice TV look like an expensive one, but in the early Wide Screen TV days, people often stretched a 4:3 ratio picture to fill the 16:9 screen, unaware of reality. It's what you are aware of really.

LED Bulbs To Replace Filament Type Bulbs.
We Blogged on this before Here if to update it further as more types are around now. The 30mm Fuse type bulbs are sold as 8v ones or 12v car ones, both exactly the same brightness so there are no 8v ones really. We got some supposed 8v ones for the Marantz 2385 & they are no different, so beware of paying over the odds for their description. The 30-31mm Fuse Type ones are "SMD White LED Vanity Mirror Visor Light" in Car parts. The 5mm Round ones that Yamaha & similar amps need are "Bright White LED 5mm 12v Pre Wired" which have the resistor in the cable so easy to to wire up, if beware some amps don't like LEDs as the Bulbs Power Supply shares another use & LEDs won't drop the voltage correctly. Some amps use the Screw Type bulbs "E10 LED Screw Lamp Mini Light Bulbs" will find those. The Bayonet Type used in McIntosh & The Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 are less easy to find, in fact only one USA seller has these for $25 plus $28 shipping. To find other various Bayonet sizes inc Home & Car Indicator type, but not these small ones. Search McIntosh MC2125 etc will find bulb kits with these in, but until we need some, we've not searched deeper. LED Problems. As stated with the 5mm Bulbs, some amp power supplies use the Bulbs in a circuit that supplies a Tuner etc & the old Filament Bulbs drew the right power to keep the Voltage right, In the B&O Beomaster 3000 the wedge type bulbs needed to be the right rating else the lights were upset, can't find any B&O bulbs. Another problem is the bulbs circuit is usually AC so the lights flicker & even ones stated to be DC are a basic circuit that may flicker still. One amp, the Toshiba SA-15Y has LEDs fitted, they flickered through the fascia & with the fascia off or looking inside the flickering was extremely disturbing, so we put Filament bulbs in instead. Overall LEDs are a good upgrade to the Filament Bulbs & a current Sansui 3000A with the filament bulbs was a orangey-yellow light if the LED was a white light that was the same brightness & looked better on the Blue Tuner Glass text. The Sony TA-3200F has front meters, the bulbs aren't diffused so the LED can't be used as too flickery, if you can add opaque plastic to tame it. We currently need to re-bulb the Pioneer SX-1000TD-F & the manual shows these are direct from the Transformer & unusually 5x 6.3v 250mA screw type bulbs. This will be as bad as the Toshiba for flicker so to get Filament Bulbs or risk insanity is the only option. We have the LED ones just to try, but the outcome will be the insane 50Hz flickering Strobe Show that you might actually like...

1971 Sony TA-1140 vs Sony STR-6055. Pt 1: Comparing As Original
On the face of it the TA-1140 is the amp version of the STR-6055 as things look quite similar. But the spec sheet says it differently, so to find out 'why' as is our usual way of questioning so worth a blog to understand it. TA-1140 is rated 40w RMS if Rated Output is 35w with no definers, so assume 40w, STR-6055 is 40w on RMS Rated Output if only 30w at 20Hz-20kHz, confusing, both 40w amps to us with 28v sine output, that is the typical 1kHz test rating. Had a few TA-1140 if not had one since 2013, one we got in 2012 with the TAC-1 wood case for a mere £40, those were the days, before 'someone' told how good pre 1977 amps were. The STR-6055 we last had in 2015 & partly recapped it. Neither 1140 or 6055 we have fully upgraded & recapped, so to get both together is an opportunity. The STR-6055 & TA-1140 have the same 3 large power caps, the heatsinks, transformers & basic type of power amp board match. As for service Manuals, STR-6055 one is a quality colour scan, TA-1140 is a lousy photocopy scan & the only one around is a bit surprising. The Power Amp board does differ though. The STR-6055 has 4 adjust pots on the top edge with 2 separate protection circuits on the lower edge of the board, it has a small Power Supply for the Differentials & the extra 2 pots are DC balance on the Differential that few amps offer. NFB is 68K. The TA-1140 only has 2 adjust pots & one Bridge rectifier on the lower edge, the Differentials share the main voltage with no DC adjust pots. NFB is more like the Sony TA-3200F with 2.2k. The Differentials Power Supply is oddly on the Preamp board at the top front. On Preamp stages TA-1140 is 2 Transistors for Phono, 3 For Tone with high NFB, including a Buffer after the Tone Controls which are of the Baxandall type, then Passive Filter stage. STR-6055 has 2 transistors for Phono if the design differs, then Volume with Loudness switch. Tone is 2 transistors of a different design to the TA-1140 with Ground references & as we found with the Sony STR-6850 it's a lesser design with Low NFB like the STR-6120 has, then follows High Filter if no Buffer or Low Filter. Differences therefore are the STR-6055 has a better Protection circuit like the later TA-3200F does, the TA-1140 is more like the earlier TA-3200F with the extra board. As with 1969 Teac AG-6000 to 1971 Teac AS-100 the Differentials & NFB are altered, if the AS-100 with the IC didn't really make it better at all, it lost the sweet sound of the 1969 design. The STR-6055 appears the better design, if we've found the NFB level can affect sound on Headphones, once it comes to using on Loudspeakers it actually makes little difference, with the Power Amp having more effect, as in Speaker Matching. But strangely the STR-6055 doesn't have the Pre Out-Main In sockets so we can't compare further that way. TA-1140 has 4 larger transistors on the board, driver, PP drivers plus a 'Constant Current Source' like the TA-3200F does, if further into the circuit. Build Quality of both is lower than previous amps with a lack of shielding between Power Supply, Power amp & Tuner on the STR-6055. The TA-1140 usually has the over-fluxed solder mess that can give dry joints, the one on our Photo Gallery got a tidying. The old Kettle Plug style mains socket is likely a first here & it's useful as working on amps, the mains cable usually gets in the way. Sound Quality as Original. Just to see how they are as Original & only basic servicing to avoid switch noises. The STR-6055 sounds clean & fresh, if Stereo isn't very wide & not much Bass. Even with Tone Bass at about +2 to fill it out it shows spec is low in this amp despite it having quality in midrange & treble, it's rather tame sounding. It could upgrade a lot better, if overall the build quality & spacing is lacking. TA-1140 is a bit different. Stereo still isn't very wide on known tracks, if the sound is a richer one the Deep Bass won't trouble you. The TA-1140 has a unusual manual adjustment saying Bias should be a high 50mV which is not good, ours read 71mV and 60mV. The Test Points read across 2 stages & actually to get even to 50mV wasn't possible one side. The Overall Opinion on Both is they do the job adequately but nothing further. Probably why they got put away in The Attic often, if the problem here seems to be these even for 1971 are Too Cost Cut & Quality although having a decent Sound, neither give anything away. Upgrade Potential. Their only hope. Both have a good enough basic sound that has scope to improve. The TA-1140 despite the high NFB is a better design as the Baxandall feedback type design, not the lesser Grounded version like early 1960s designs used. The TA-1140 has been playing as we type for over 30mins with only one grimace to one track so it's sound overall is preferred. The grimace track was Fun Boy Three 'Telephone' that shows the amp is low spec & slow, it makes a mess of the vocals at the start that are mixed wider into the Stereo Mix, here the amp can't cope & not good to hear. Other narrower tracks it copes better if treble sibilants aren't resolved too well. On 60s Ska that's densely recorded, the TA-1140 just blurs it. "Is it really Hifi" is a question to ask on some tracks. But to remember we've upgrades Sony STR-6120 & Sony TA-2000F/3200F to hear how good Sony can be, the Pre-Power pair sounded pretty lousy as original too.

1971 Sony TA-1140 vs Sony STR-6055. Pt 2: Comparing As Serviced
Just to show what Servicing does. TA-1140 After Servicing. Had it all apart to clean & Serviced it if no parts beyond the bulb changed. The 2.5v mains bulbs are like the TA-3200F which don't last long so put an LED one & it shines bright enough. Sounds noticeably better with Stereo wider, sounds faster too. The 'Grimace' track above is a little more bearable, if far from how upgraded amps play it. Treble is more precise & probably louder for the Servicing, shows Servicing brings aged amps to life to a degree. STR-6055 After Servicing. Not done this yet, but as doing both the same day, to notice differences. The 6055 has a smaller Transformer & the main Fuses are 4A not 5A of the TA-1140. Both are rated 200v (200VA) which suggests the 1140 has a better power reserve & it has no Tuner to power. The 6055 build quality is quite like the Sony STR-6050, the thinner casework & fascia with the control knobs not as solid metal but plastic centred. But you do get a Tuner with no ICs. Only one Aux socket & no Tuner one to double up on for reasons Receiver. The 6055 is a thinner sounding amp, to match the TA-1140 on Headphones about +1.5 on Bass & also -1.5 on Treble on some tracks. The 6055 fidelity isn't the same, the 'Grimace' FB3 track is still untidy, it doesn't please as the TA-1140 did to play for much longer. The 6055 is clearly later than the 1140.

1971 Sony TA-1140 vs Sony STR-6055. Pt 3: On The Tannoy Speakers

As both useable as Original & serviced, to try on the Tannoy 15" Golds. Ben using the Marantz 4070 already for watching TV, so on with the Sonys, testing the DC offset is safe first. Both have wide spaced screw connectors with tabs, so the Gold 4mm blocks can fit in at an angle to use safely. Sony TA-1140 has decent Stereo width if sounds a bit dull & flat, previous Differential era Sony like the TA-1130 we've not found a great match, but here the match is acceptable if the amp isn't as lively as found above, even with Treble Max it doesn't quite get the right sound, but overall it's not bad & could be played. Deep Bass isn't here for the design if it doesn't sound too unnatural, if perhaps a little thick on upper bass that makes it sound a bit flat. Sony STR-6055 tried next. Interestingly it sounds exactly the same on Speakers if on Headphones it was brighter & thinner, here it's exactly the same. Both sound like amps that haven't been upgraded, for upgrades brings out a more dynamic sound without the limits, if in 1971 if you bought Tannoy 15" Golds, the sound would have pleased, but compared to trying the 1967-68 amps you replaced them with, the 1971 Sonys from knowing how other Amps sound as Original in earlier blogs, you'd still be left buying The Next Marvel in 1974-75, unaware that the Bass was still limited, it improved from the Thick Retro Bass. This is why these 1965-72 era amps often got only a few year's use before being replaced. Only decades later can we see that Upgraded these amps can improve hugely. Anyone else out there questioning the designs to see what can be bettered? Er...

November 2018 Blog

1968 Sansui 2000 30w Receiver.

This receiver was repackaged with alterations twice, as the 2000A & 2000X from 1969 & 1970 most likely. The 2000 is the 1968 one as the styling matches the 3000(A) & 400. The first thing to look for on Sansui of this era is the Aux & it goes through a 100k ohm resistor into the Phono stage, predating similar on the 1969 Sansui 4000 we had. Not an idea we like as it compresses the sound, if you can use 'Tape Mon' as Aux to bypass it. Manual has a blank line thru the middle missing out a lot of info as missing is an area bigger than the blank part. It's not like the Sansui 400, this has high NFB in the Tone & the early Power Amp, it gives a more Domestic Sound perhaps. Capacitor Coupled Power amp, none of the Transformer Coupling & Semi Complimentary-Direct Coupled design of the 3000(A). HT is 70v on a 2000µf 75v main cap & the Protection Circuit is like the Sansui 400 one, not the unreliable 3000(A) one. No ICs in the Tuner if later than 1967 as a FET is the Front End so we'll put 1968 on it as it is styled rather like the Sansui 4000. The ebay one has the Original Box which is always rare. £245 delivered to us for a Raw amp is priced too high, it still needs a full Recap to be reliable is always the issue on these amps. It'll sound good & upgrade well though, if it's one you'd keep the price isn't so important, but for us to buy to upgrade & sell knowing the work needed, there's nothing to earn in it. To watch & see if it sells...

Marantz 4300 4ch Quadraphonic-Bridged Receiver.

For finding the Marantz 4070 amplifier so good, to have a look at a 40w x4 or 100w x 2 version. 100w Bridged to 2 Channels. 1972 model was $899 new in 1974 say the Classic-Audio site & 'Common' suggests it sold well or more likely they overproduced & it took until 1978 to clear them off cheap. But 100w Marantz will have ben a bargain at the time even if 4ch is as useless as it is today, the 2ch Bridged Stage is the wanted part, if it needs careful adjusting as we found with the 4070. Inside Photos found online show it's a densely packed amp with cages over the Power Amps & colvers over Tuner stages, a quality unit for sure. The Marantz 4400 is a 125w into 2ch & 50w into 4ch, if a 1976 updated version. The 4300 Circuit Diagram is very complicated to so understand the Audio parts with the board numbers: Phono is P400, P500 Vari-Matrix, P600 Dolby, P700 Power Amp, P800 Power Supply, PD01 Tone with all Transistors, PE/PF/PD01 Buffer & Preamp, plus other minor ones & Tuner. We had Dolby on the 4230 years ago & it's fun to play around with the threshold settings if pretty useless. Phono is x3 transistors with adjust pots for some reason on the input. The Dolby Circuit made of transistors, a tightly packed board we remember. Power Amp has x14 transistors compared to the x9 of the 4070, a complex design working on ±37v. Tone appears to have the Inverter stage as the first 3 transistors then similar to the 4070 Tone. The Marantz 4070 sounds great in Bridged Mode & the amp despite being very packed to fit the size has a good design. Here the Marantz 4300 has extra circuitry all around so may lose the appealing sound of the 4070. Outputs are 2SC1403 & 2SA745, proper 8A 70w TO3 ones unlike the TO220 regulator sized ones on the 4070. Considering the Sansui AU-G90X was a bridged amp design on similar HT, the design of that never gave the rich bass the 4070 does, sounding not unlike the Sansui 3000A. The Marantz 4300 or 4400 has the higher power but will it have the rich bass or the dry bass? NFB in the 4300 is higher than the 4070 if the 4400 is higher still which suggests the 4070 sound won't be in the 4300 or similar 4400. The 4400 has an Oscilloscope like the Marantz 2500 does. The 4070 only has the sound we like for our upgrades to it, to do a 4 channel amp is double the work. Ebay options are a 'Broken' one with crinkly top lid suggesting it severely overheated on Transformer & Power Supply, if not melted the plastic lid for £480 delivered, or a nice one in the Wood Case for £1350 delivered if the speaker connectors aren't the original ones or maybe just a later made one. One is a foolish too-risky buy, the other is probably acceptable if you want it as it looks good, but neither for us based on knowing both the 4070 & AU-G90X.

Tech Testing The Marantz 4070 & The Bridged Mode.
We've yet to test the outputs on this & how the Sine Wave & Square Wave reacts, plus the new Scope gives the Rise Time on Square Waves so time to see why we like the sound of what is a 4x 15w amp. Now Bridged Mode can't use the Mains Powered Oscilloscope as the Probe has a Ground Reference that Bridged Mode doesn't, the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X was a hidden bridged design & it "didn't like" a ground reference testing it, so we use the battery powered one which means we can't test the Bridged Rise Time. In 4x 15w mode it puts out 16v Clean Sinewave. In 2x 35w it puts out 34v Clean Sinewave. 16v is typical for a 15w amp looking at our Power Ratings page, matching the 16w Sony STR -6046, but 34v Sinewave is a lot more than 35w, into the 60w-75w range like the 65w Marantz 2265B. It all depends on Current whether it is a True 65w which is where upgrades come in. The way it handles Deep Bass certainly suggests a Power Rating like 65w if we've not upgraded it much on the Power Amp & it still has the 2SC789/O TO220-size outputs (TOP66), these are 4A 30w so it could do 60w as Bridged, if only with Upgrades. The Heatsink has holes to take TO66 if not as big for TO3s. Testring the 4ch mode with 1kHz Square Wave, a little adjusting of Tone to get the Squarest responses as there is no Tone Cancel, if the adjust needed is tiny from the midpoint as in Slider Control tolerance. Rise Time from Aux input from the Signal Generator averages about 1.8µs which is pretty good as the Sony TA-3200F got 1µs, this is what upgrading brings. The R channel needed the Tone adjusted just a tiny bit different, if in listening you'd not tell. Bridged Mode on the 4070 just filled the screen on the Mains Scope with HF noise, if the Battery one showed a very accurate Square, if the top of the Square at low level was showing noise, turned to a typical listening setting it was fine. On 4ch mode it showed a little noise too so more to upgrade here. The Marantz 4070 is a little bit awesome therefore & sounds great as blogged above.

Tech Testing the Marantz 2385 185w Monster Receiver.

To do this amp next. How much clean Sine Wave does 185w with Tripled Output Transistors give? How Accurate is the IC in the Tone stage when Pushed Hard? Can it better the 1µsec Rise Time of the 100w Sony TA-3200F? 56v Clean Sinewave we read both channels, beats the 52v of the 160w Sansui G-8700DB & shows the Tripled Outputs don't mean 185w is more Current than Voltage as we wondered. The Tone ICs we picked up Mouse Noise on previously & the Square wave shows there is a 1.3MHz 'RF Hash' that needs taming, which we do & retest it. The noise shows as a fuzzy top thick line on top of the Square wave & adjusting the Scope to read the Frequency. No RF hash this time once slightly altered, no overshoot or ringing either & to get the Rise Time which is still very fast, the Sony TA-3200F beats it as the 2385 gets 2.6µs from Aux in to Speaker Out with 2.44v Amp output. Rise Time does decrease with Volume gain, eg 5v Square Wave pk-pk with the Amp putting out 9v pk-pk the rise Time dips to about 3.2µs which is because the Voltage has further to Rise.

Time To Test Tone Controls: ICs in the 2385 vs Transistors in the 4070

This we did write up as we tested it, but to rewrite it once completed makes more sense. This is a hard test for Amps, we've heard some not cope with the high unlimited Treble the BBC does on some shows noticeably 'Antiques Roadshow' where at the Treble Tone setting, some amps get into Distortion too early, even Transistor ones. It's all in the Design. Several Tests on the amp as 0dB Sine Wave Test Signals Aux In to Speaker Out plus Aux in to Pre Out with the power Amps blanked off. As both 2385 & 4070 are upgraded & working right, to discount the Power amp stages as they don't affect the readings. Here's The Transistor vs IC for Tone Difference. The Transistor Tone stage often works on 25v-40v so the Transistors have a higher voltage headroom. The IC TA-7136P/AP is commonly used in Amplifiers of the age & here it's on about ±14v supply which isn't 28v in total, different + or - go to different parts of the IC. So the IC doesn't work on the same voltage & headroom as the Transistor. The IC with Tone set Flat or cancelled delivers 20Hz-20kHz correctly as it does at 1kHz. The Square Waves are tidy. Set Flat the IC is no different to Transistors in the Tone Stage, But a Tone stage typically has ±10dB gain & we tested both amps Preamp-Tone Stages with aux in & Pre Out Output to the scope. Both read 3v at 1kHz before clipping which is fine. The Transistor Tone 4070 with Tone Bass & Treble at Max 1kHz is 2.90v, 10kHz is 5.9v & 50Hz is 11.3v. The 4070 gives a lot of Bass Gain if it reads 3v set Flat, Treble doubles so it spot on at +10dB as specified. Exactly what you want & a bit more Bass is unusual. The IC Tone 2385 is different. 1kHz is 2.7v, 50Hz reads 2.76v & 10kHz goes to 1.7v. We tested it twice to make sure that's right, but the IC at Max Treble doesn't even give the 3v standard with Tone Cancelled. It's less as the input signal is too much for the IC. The IC hasn't got the Voltage & the IC power is limited. Rare you'll hear 0dB signals on TV but on CD many are Mastered to 0dB so on playing even a 185w amp loudly, you can't use full treble as it'll clip out. The 2385 Manual says the ICs give "9x gain" which if 9 is the gain factor that's 19dB of gain, but the Preamp itself has gain, it's not Line Level. The Marantz diagrams show 50Hz has 12.5dB gain & 10kHz has 10dB gain. Doesn't exactly match to what we've read. "Should Be The Same At Any Audio Frequency", but it's not. Conclusion is Transistor Tone Stages, if designed well can give far more Gain on setting Tone to Max compared to an IC which will run out of power at anything past TV listening volume, going by where the 2385 volume control was set to Full Treble on testing. Tone Bypass on the 2385 will be as good as any amp, it's just ICs on Tone don't have the power.

New Amps We Get To Review.

These go on the main 'Reviews' page that's been added to since 2012. We do add a "Recent Additions" and "Ones Revisited" to help keep track. So far in 2018 the New Ones are 1972 Rotel RA-810 amplifier. 1968 Toshiba SA-15Y receiver. 1963 Fisher X-100-B valve amplifier. 1979 Luxman L2 amplifier. 1978 Pioneer SX-980 receiver. 1966 Rotel 100AMP amplifier. 1972 Akai AA-5800 amplifier. 1971 Trio-Kenwood KR-6160 receiver. 1973 Marantz 4070 Quadraphonic amplifier. 1976 Marantz 2385 Monster Receiver. 1966 Sansui 3000 receiver. 1977 Rotel RA-1603 Monster Receiver. 1967 Sansui 400 receiver. 1976 JVC JR-S 600 receiver. 2000 EAR Yoshino 8L6 Valve amplifier. Plus there are several that have been Revisited. 2018: 1978 Yamaha CR-2020 receiver. 1970 Akai AA-8500 receiver. 1968 Sansui 3000A receiver. 1967 Pioneer SX-1000TDF receiver. 1971 Sony STR-6055 receiver. 1973 Yamaha CR-1000 receiver (again). 1971 Teac AS-100 amplifier (again). 1969 Teac AG-6000 receiver. 1971 Sony TA-1140 amplifier. 1966 Akai AA 7000 receiver. 1966 Rogers HG88 Mk III amplifier. 1972 Trio-Kenwood KA-6004 amplifier.

Four 1978-82 Amplifiers: Any Good?
We look at all interesting amps of the 1960s-1980s era, the ones past that don't appeal or are too expensive for what they are. But to forever look for good Amps of this era as only really the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X was one that impressed. The first is a 1978 Trio-Kenwood KR-11000G which is the 4th Version of the "Eleven" model, the Mk I was 60w, Mk II was 80w, Mk III was 120w & the "G" version also 120w. What a confusing range to be named so similar but go Double the power. One on ebay in untypical Black Fascia with Silver fittings looks a bit odd, the all Silver looks better. 120w so to see the Busy Fascia with a Graphic EQ on one at a mindnumbing $2500 when the customer who told us of it just missed one at a more realistic $600, so to have a closer look. The overpriced one shows the fascia, a vey average looking back panel for a 120w amp & then the inside which is Midprice 40w amp looking & "cheap & nasty" as became the typical 1980s amp. Vinyl wrap case & the inside does not give confidence, the amount of unshielded cabling inside carrying Audio & Voltages, just like the ribbon cable in mid 1980s amps. Build quality is awful & there is no quality in the design like you see in earlier amps. The Service Manual confirms that's the right photo, not the seller mixing up amps. The circuits are Phono with ICs, Tuner with ICs as are all Tuners past 1971, EQ is called 'Multiple Acoustic Control' and has ICs. Power Amp is a bit overdesigned with Current Mirror & Darlington Outputs, a Current Sensor & Limiter are not good for Audio yet these same. Not for us, no quality in it & heading too much towards crappy 1980s gear despite the power. Next one is a 1980 Pioneer SX-3900 Receiver. In the style of the 1976-78 Receivers if with the Blue Flashing Meters & Digital Tuner Display, rather stylish & 1980 Retro. But the HFE page says "15 ICs" which is a little shocking. To remember the 1980 Yamaha CR-2040 series stuffed with ICs sort of gives the idea this is the same. 120w & in Multivoltage or 110v versions. THD of 0.005% is utterly meaningless for how mangled the sound will be through typical low spec Pioneer & all those ICs, THD is so dishonest to quote, but it sells amps. The thin wavy 1980s heatsink, large boards with lots of circuit stages & fine PCB track does not appeal to us. So to the Circuits. Phono surprisingly is all Transistors if that pointless Class B design that became standard & is what ICs use to use less power. Power Supply is busy with Zener Diodes to save bothering to design properly, the Zener is a lazy Voltage Reference & it pulls whatever voltage HT to the Zener's one, ie 25v on a 13v Zener will keep 13v on the line with compromises. Tone Amp is one IC per channel if strangely a Passive Tone with Ground Reference which isn't as good as the NFB-Baxandall type, and here it looks very tamed. Power Amp actually is All Transistors, not one IC. 20 Transistors here with Doubled Parallel Outputs not including the Relay stage if Zeners again to restrict voltages. Power Supply is ±60v on 15000µf 71v main caps. In some ways better than expected, but the usual low spec Pioneer sound by 1975 & the rather poor Tone-Pre stage will leave it less than pleasurable, so you bought another one in 2-3 years, right? Next onto Technics SU-8600 a 76w amplifier from 1976-78, the one after the Technics SU-8080 we reviewed on having one to upgrade. Inside build looks decent for the year from pics found online. Phono the typical Differentials & Class B driver design in transistors. Tone-Pre has the usual TA-7136P ICs into a Filter Stage with a Buffer. Power Amp is not overdesigned with a Differential & 10 transistors in total. HT is ±48v on 15000µf 55v main caps. It's really not that different to the SU-8080 if without the limiter, the Tone stage was poor. Just an amp people bought, nothing too special & not really that interesting to us, but bypassing the Tone IC it probably sounds better than the two above. £250 one on ebay probably a decent buy. Technics SU-V9 is a 120w amplifier from 1981, the range before the ill-considered 'Computer Controlled' ones from 1984 Technics SU-V707 we didn't like the thin dry sound despite the Heatpipe nonsense. A little flair on this with a Glass Flap covering the lesser used controls & probably most broken off years ago as flaps on amps aren't a good idea. This one £150 on ebay if we didn't fancy any of these. Phono is busy 4x Transistors & 4x FETs into an 'Equaliser' IC to ensure it sounds awful so you went to CD instead. Then into an Op-Amp IC with Passive Tone with Ground Reference like another amp in this blog. Power Amp is all Transistors with a FET Differential else not unlike the SU-8600. IC 'Voltage Comparator' is a Protection stage for the Relay. HT is ± 55v on 56v 18000µf main caps. It's just a typical amp for the mass market, probably sounds better than the SU-V707 range but really by 1980 a 120w amp isn't really that special & it's at a time before the more Luxury type amps of the later 1980s. Not one we'd buy if we search in vain for Outstanding post 1977 amps, none here get us wanting to try as the circuits & ICs are predictable & often these amps past 1977 disappoint. We only got to try the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X for a customer wanting one serviced so we got one ourselves & kept it 3 years to upgrade. If you know of any Really Great Quality 1980s-1990s amp, do let us know.

Reviewing the EAR Yoshino 8L6 Integrated Valve Amp.

A bonus of offering Service & Upgrades on Amps is we get to try Amps that'd we'd never think to try or are outpriced to Buy, Upgrade & Sell on. The EAR is a design by a 'Valve Guru' as is often said. This is written after the early part of the review based on seeing the circuits & before we listen. Some design, quite a bit of the design actually is not to the standard we'd expect, if perhaps a £4800 amp is still a 'Cheap' amp in a world where you see £25,000-£35,000 used amps on ebay thinking someone will buy. We know the 1990s Tube Technology Valve amps from having one since 2000, the same year the 8L6 was first out. We know the designs in Modern Valve amps are lazy & still hang onto 1950s ideas as they never think to better them & always scared of Bass. So rush over to the Review page & see what we think of the 50w Class A Push-Pull EAR Yoshino 8L6. Our Final Verdict you can now read on the Reviews Page.

Five Great Amps Tested on The Tannoy 15" Golds.
As great as many amps are, we can't keep them all, if we're revisiting some of the best ones again. Here to try the 1976 Marantz 2385, 1972 Sony TA-2000F/3200F, 1971 Sony TA-1140, 1967 Sansui 400 & 1967 Pioneer SX-1000TD-F. They are all Serviced, Recapped & Upgraded by us. First the Marantz sounds great, if to try the others they all sound more upfront, the Marantz Tone ICs are known to limit gain. Sony pre-power pair, it's nice but sounds a little recessed on midrange if it's more lively than the Marantz. Then the TA-1140 with Bass like no other Sony we've heard, the amp is midway being redesigned a bit & to see where it needs more improvement, but it's preferred to the Sony pair. Sansui 400 is the lowest power at 20w if you'd not really know that as it plays well with the others. Pioneer gets tried last & it's got quite a remarkable sound with big Wide Stereo & very punchy, rather like the 1968 Sansui 3000A we only just returned to the customer. The Pioneer will get played more as we've only really tried it quickly with the Sansui 400 once, to give it a better go. Pioneer gets over 90 mins of TV played & the more upfront sound is good on speakers, it's less of a Domestic sound which is usually less loud to not annoy, but we like the PA type sound. Sansui 400 will be sold if you collected amps it & many more would be keepers.

What Makes the 1967 Pioneer SX-1000TD-F Sound Better Then?
It matches the 1967 Tannoy Gold 15" Lancasters very well. Even with Tone set Flat it has more of a presence than other amps. The 1966-67 Pioneer we had early on 2011-2012 if they're very hard to find now if probably around in USA if shipping & import fees costs. The first early Pioneer we had was the 1967 SX-700TF, then a 1968 SX-1000TW later version of the TD-F and the SX-1500TF. By 1968 Pioneer change the Preamp to have a NFB stage before the Passive Tone stage, the SX-1000TW has the W15-090 & the manual for the SX-1000TD-F has the W15-047 which has the NFB, but the two we have plus the SX-1500TF & SX-700TF had an earlier board W15-031 which is exactly the same as the SX-700TF W15-006 beyond one resistor change. Confusing it is, but the Tone-Pre board is what makes the 1967 Pioneer good. The first SX-1000TA that is spotted by the oddly grouped switched as 1-2-3-1 with the Valve & Nuvistor FM Tuner front end has the W15-006 board also. The TW one seems around on USA ebay if not the TA one & the SX-1000TD-F & SX-1500T(F) are rarer. The "F" is the Multivoltage version. The 1966-67 Tone Boards have the classic Baxandall Tone NFB circuit & a simpler High Filter, if the later 1968-69 Tone Boards have NFB, a less good High Filter & Tone is Passive with a Ground Reference which is never as good, it's cheaper to make & early Trio from 1967 had a similar Tone yet the 1969 Trio KA-6000 has the Baxandall one. In the 1960s Filter Stages were wanted to cover up Poor Hifi & perhaps the 1968-69 ones were steeper filters as the Market (sigh...) wanted this. The Sound of an Amplifier is created in the Preamp, all have Gain & this stage allows for huge variance. Even 'Source Direct' which had you thinking CD to Volume To Power Amp was far from that still relies on Sound Shaping by the Preamp. The 50w 1990 Pioneer A-400 that gets rave reviews actually has no Tone-Preamp stage, the Phono stage is Transistors & ICs, but the CD input actually does go straight to the Power Amp via Volume & Selectors. The Signal: Noise ratio is very low at -108dB which may impress but it's been tamed to lose the typical transistor hiss, much like we found removing all the dumbing down in a 2007 Marantz PM-6002. The A-400 has a strange 10k ohm tap to ground on the Volume, it's not Loudness so already it's taming the sound. The A-400 power amp has a lot more Sound Shaping to make the amp tamed rather than be resolved better. It appears to sound good to the amateur listener for it'll likely be a clean upfront sound, but as the Preamp is Passive, as we've tried with amps, the sound lacks a punch or kick, it'll bore you after a while & explains why a £240 new amp in 1991 doesn't make that much now. Back to the Pioneer SX-1000TD-F, the obsevant will notice that Pioneer didn't have Pre Out-Main In sockets until the 1969 SX-1000TD. The Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 does have these Out-In sockets if it's a 100mV level, the typical level is around 1v & even the 1972 Trio-Kenwood KA-6004 adds another gain stage in the Low Filter to bring it to the 1v output. The SX-1000TD-F by the sound is of that 100mV level, it works great as full Tone can be got at a lower level. Where the Volume Control is, ie before Tone or after Tone can matter on some amps, it takes a good design to handle full Bass & Treble gain at 0dB level 7 very few amps do this, the KA-6000 & the Realistic-Hitachi 1972 receivers do.

Badly Stored Amplifiers Need A Lot Of Work. Attics, Damp, Heat & Too Dry.
We first got into Vintage Hi-Fi, when it was just cheap Secondhand Hi-Fi, in 1990 getting amplifiers like 1969-71 B&O Beomaster 3000-2 which was then only about 20 years old, it wasn't aged at all, but seeing ones we got around 2011 the 20 years became 40 years & often 20 years of neglect really aged them. Getting 1978 Harman-Kardon receiver in 1990 it was still just 12 years old, in it's Wilderness years as Silver Amps at the time were unwanted as Black Amps were the fashion & ones that weren't were always £20 including big Marantz receivers & their Quadro receivers. Again getting these when they are over 40 years old they can be very aged if generally most amps restore up well. Storing Amps in The Attic which is exposed to the Outside Weather temperature & wind through the Roof do age quite badly on the metalwork as damp dust turns to a paste & starts problems. But usually UK Weather is more cool than Hot so these amps whilst looking aged are often working better than expected, but for the age we recap them anyway. One 1971 Harman-Kardon 930 receiver we had with the wood case, as on the Solds Gallery had clearly been sat on a sideboard with the amp rear to the window & sunlight. On trying the amp it sounded lousy as the Power Amp was at the back & it got the Sunshine, if recapping it things much improved. A recent amp to upgrade the customer had it dropped off to us, the huge Rotel RX-1603 33kg 180w receiver was owned by the guy's brother, with assumed the younger brother in his 70s, the owner liked it loud for Rock then they bought it in 1978 which is 40 years ago, so to assume the owner bought it in his mid-late 30s. We didn't think much of the amp after recapping the preamp which only worked on one channel previously. Recapping the rest of the amp, it still was not very good at all, putting it down to cost cutting & it sounded crude like the big Pioneer SX-950 do. But on Speakers it really sounded awful, the worst amp we'd ever heard yet the amp matched the speakers as Tone made a typical difference, if amps don't match our Tannoys they are far too much on the midrange & Tone makes little difference. Again to assume that's how the amp was, a Cost Cut play Rock loud sort of amp, to run it in for hours. On the first 6 hour run in the heatsinks varied in temperature, so to adjust & run in 9 hours further. This time the amp sounds a huge amount better on speakers, not perfect as Bass wasn't good. By running in we Reformed the Main Capacitors, but telling the customer the caps could still be below par to get new ones was decided. These old caps are a top brand Nippon Chemicon so what's the deal here? The rear of the amp was full of dust like a Hoover bag. Dust falls into the amp casing but to assume the amp was left by a radiator or in direct Sunlight from behind to create more air movement & the heat affected the capacitors. The amp was in high grade beyond dust so maybe not used in over 30 years, just left to sit keeping warm. on curring the capacitors open, proved us right as the rear one was almost Dry inside if the one further in was still wet. By running in we reformed a Bad Dry Capacitor & to replace was wise as once a Capacitor goes bad, surely it's on borrowed time before it fails or shorts internally. 22000µf 80w Nippon Chemicon high grade Capacitor still will fail if kept too warm. Heat Dries these Capacitors out. The Yamaha CR-1020/2020 with the large power caps tucked away underneath we've never had a problem with, if the reality is amps over 40 years can need the huge Capacitors replacing.

Comparing Seven Amplifiers, But We're Not Telling Which...
We just did that, if not to give a Top Seven list as that isn't too helpful as all the Amps are Upgraded, some more than others & it's based on our playing on Tannoy 15" Golds, some amps may match better to other speakers. Blog over, but no, to tell What We Heard to consider them Superior to Us. The "No. 7" one had a decent Stereo, a lively sound, but a rather dry one lacking the character of what we prefer, playing' Bargain Hunt' which is a TV show recorded flat, the Car Auctioneer male presenter didn't have the tonal balance that would typify his voice, it was left unresolved & just didn't please. Other TV shows that amp did better at & had a decent tight Bass, so was still a high rating amp to us, but just that so many others are too. The "No. 6" one was a recent arrival, with high hopes for it based on another amp that's to come higher up. Again it lacked the full range of Tonal Colour, Tone gave good variance so it matched as did all these amps, but it was left rather short on the Bass if the slightly fresher sound gets it a point higher. To wonder why that amp wasn't as pleasing really. Later on, Main caps redone it sounds much better. "No. 5" was an amp we've had on speakers for over a week & found it's sound very impressive despite it not being too much upgraded as slightly wary of it for it's duplicate. As good a sound as you'll ever find, if others more upgraded better it. "No. 4" is a weighty amp with a clean fresh sound, not that it arrived sounding like that. A cool confidence to the sound just betters the previous. Not as Big Bassy as you'd think but the first of two of this brand. "No. 3" bettered the Bass of the previous together with a more airy treble. The same brand as No. 6 it is one we've had here to upgrade for a few years now & it always gets better which is not a typical situation. "No. 2" is the same brand as No. 4 & for what it appears, how the hell does it sound that good? The No. 6 has the same design feature yet this No. 2 just sounds awesome with the Best Bass of the Seven. It could still do with a little fine tuning. "No. 1" when it arrived sounded truly awful, had we wasted our money on it was the opinion. It took so much to upgrade & it's not been played in quite a few weeks as others come & go. We forgot to play that one wethinks so on it goes. What a sweetie! Effortless huge wide Stereo like no other Amp, with such depth to the sound it makes the room seem far bigger. We weren't so sure on Bass & it could do with a little more openness on Bass like the No. 2 one & a slight background hiss can be heard. But the open sound & huge effortless dynamic & on a bassy segment it showed it was no slouch. Is it the Best Sounding Amp There Is? Must be, we rated it Top out of Seven. It's not Perfect though, but closer than the others. Regular Readers may be able to work out which amps they are, if no Prizes given. Compared to Five Great Amps blog just above, it shows how amps compared together can vary & knowing one amp to compare others to can so easily affect opinions as sometimes an amp that sounds a little less neutral can upset the hearing balance. That's why Reference Amps are needed. Three of those Five Amps were tested this time. Opinions do change within a few weeks of this blog originally. To understand 'how the hell' the No. 2 sounded like that, to find the No.1 a little lacking still despite the quality, it could do with better gain. No 2 & 5 since sold also & the No. 4 amp has qualities that keep it here & being used. No. 6 recapped more & it sounded a lot better if then found not to match our speaker so well. 'Funny Old Game' is the one of Hifi Comparing, the more you use & compare will forever change opinions.

Early Pioneer Amplifiers.
Pioneer got into Transistors with the Pioneer SX-1000TA receiver of 40w with a Valve & Nuvistors for the Tuner, later became the Pioneer SX-1000TD-F in 1967. But for amplifiers, they were quite late into the scene, still issuing a Valve Amplifier Pioneer SA-400 in 1967 that's only an 11w RMS one, 30w is Music Power & quite a basic amp it is. the First Pioneer Amplifier in about 1968-69 with the 1969 era styling was the 13w Pioneer SA-500 that turns up quite often on ebay if always missing some of the control knob caps. Then came the 27w Pioneer SA-700, the 50w Pioneer SA-900 is about 1971 as in the 1972 HFYB but to see one on USA ebay, it's got that awkward tiny power amp that makes 1969-71 Pioneer a bit hard going, plus the less good preamp compared to the 1966-67 ones. Pioneer SA-1000 is 93w into 4 ohms or 57w into 8 ohms both channels driven, if a 110v-only one on ebay with Vinyl Wrap lid & still the awkward Speaker Plugs sort of makes us less interested in the Pioneer Amps. Also a Pioneer SA-800 of the 1971 range at 26w. A Pioneer SA-600 is a 19w similar one. Not a very impressive range, Pioneer were more into the Receivers. Only by the 1975 HFYB do Pioneer step up the quality with the SA-7100 20w, SA-8100 40w & SA-9100 60w range & we've had the SA-9100 to upgrade. By the 1976 HFYB the Pioneer SA-8500 65w, SA-9500 80w, SA-9900 110w, M3 Exclusive 150w power amp, C3 Exclusive preamp. The Pioneer SA-9500 we've had 3 times now, it sounds pretty average, has aging problems but upgrades well. In terms of Pioneer Amplifiers their first 'serious' early amp really is the SA-9500.

Marantz 4070: Why Does It Sound So Good?
Because we upgraded it. Does the Bridged Mode bring the big Deep Bass? No, the 15w 4ch Mode has the same Bass if at a lower level, so turned up as loud, it's the same Bass. The Trio-Kenwood KR-6340 we got to try another 4ch Bridged Amp & found it a bit lacking in Bass & Bridged Mode made no improvement. A design feature in other Marantz amps is why, but only once upgraded our way. Only the 1050, 1072, 1090 have this too, the 4140 doesn't. The Marantz 1090 is rather dismal inside, 45w amp from 1977 with a cut price build that doesn't appeal, Marantz 1072 is a 36w of the same 1978 series as the Marantz 1050 again with that sort of build. Look at the lower model Yamaha to see similar. The fact the Marantz 4070 sounds so good & the Bridged Mode is underrated at 35w when it sounds like a 60w amp, where else do we look? A Marantz 4060 is on ebay, a 1970-71 capacitor coupled early 4ch amp without the bridging & a very similar fascia beyond the extra 'Remote Control' swich that just adjusts the Volume on an ptional extra part. The 4ch Marantz amps are 2440 which is an add-on amp to a Stereo Amp, then proper 4ch as 4060, 4070, 4100 2x60w + 4x25w, 4120 same as 4100, 4140 2x 70w + 4x 25w & 4170 which may not exist as no pics, as the classic-audio site tells, if they have the wrong info on the 4060, one on ebay is clearly 1970-71 & not bridgeable. The 4070 uses NFB on the Differentials to act as a Bass Filter in their design, if upgrading removes that but keeps the NFB. The only other amp with NFB like this that we are aware of is the Sansui 3000(A).

"High End" Hi-Fi: The Delusion, Fallacy & Overpriced Obscurity.
The scene of "High End" generally means Obscure Brands with strange looking items, often just plain boxes but with Big Money pricetags. High End Amplifiers & Speakers will be at least £2000, with £5000 to £20,000 and of course much higher. You see these Obscure plain looking items on ebay forever relisted as Nonbody Knows what they are & are they really worth the money? We've tasted High-End Hifi as well as had some here to Repair & Upgrade. The truth is it's not that special really, it may have a Look to appeal to a Certain Clique of Sunday Glossy Supplement buyers. We still have the 1993 Tube Technology valve amp system, it's just an ornament these days, even after so much rebuilding, as we use Transistor amps as blogged before, to learn them & hear what can be bettered. We foolishly bought a Musical Fidelity A308CR huge pre & power amp in 2002, hated the sound very fast & sold on as fast too, if did buy at Ex-Demo prices. The MF gear is just basic quality insides, ceramics & op amps with flashy casework. We found a site by the one who bought our Garrard 301, they'll not have found it 10% less on our site so we swiftly deleted it. this West End shop caters to that Dry High End customer replete with plain boxes, highly priced Filtering Cables, hugfely priced SME turntables & other Obscure Stuff that really has no presence beyond the Hifi Mags, HiFi News used to champion this sort of gear if KK used to just waffle about anything but the amp as it didn't inspire much & likely that's the deal still. High End puts a veneer of Prestige on these Obscure Brands, the basic cases look like Home Projects rather than give it a bit of style. The idea of Valves being the end-all to Hifi is still believed, but we had a year 2000 EAR Yoshino "High End" amp here just recently & had fun with it & found our own redesigned Luxman LX33 bettere it easily, we sent the link to the EAR owner & after they've had it back 2 weeks no response, probably as we told too-true on it, if we made a smart job of the mess it was. Testimonials from those who buy these Obscure Brands are interesting, they use Turntables with no Dust Cover, so play an LP & it'll have a layer of dust on. High End Turntables don't appear to have perspex lids, why not use a Dust Bug like the 1960s idea was. Thoughtless. No Tone Controls on these Cottage Industry amps & the Highly Priced Cables act as Filters to cover the Rough Sounds made by Not So Well Designed gear under the banner of "High End". For us upgrading so many amps now, we can tell if an amp is made with Quality, the tired Yamaha CA-1000 on the desk as we type we first got in 2012 & to get one again now we'll upgrade it very differently to bring out the best from it, having gained experience from many amps including the similar Yamaha CR-1000. These sort of 1965-73 amps are The Best Sounding you'll find, just 8 years of Hifi At It's Best before Cost Cutting & Mass Market took over. The Real High End are these selected amps from the 1965-73 era, they all need a rebuild but those who buy our amps compare to the High End & ours win each time, "may not have the 300w power but the Musical Pleasure is much better on that old amp" is the general opinion. High End is for those Chasing a Dream, who believe it is the Best in Hifi when it clearly isn't. The Best is in 1965-73 amps & just a few past that date. We see the huge increase in Overpricing of these amps on ebay, they see our Rebuilt prices & think their Raw once is worth that too. But it's like Vintage Cars, the Money & Musical Pleasure is only in Professionally Rebuilt Ones, we do that.

What Exactly Is "Valve Sound"?

The amount of Hack Sellers & Reviewers who say some IC-riddled amp is 'Valve Like' are really unaware, but you know that already, much Silly Hype has no Basis or Reasoning. "Warm Valve-Like Sound" is a tired amp like the 1976 Marantz 2385 amp sounded when we got it. Hifi it wasn't but the amp was long used & unserviced. What The Valve Sound Is can be compared to Low NFB Amplifiers, not meaning the Power Amp final NFB loop, but elsewhere. A Valve amp has Less Amplifying Devices, typicaly 2 for Phono, 2 for Tone-Preamp, 1 driver & 1 splitter stage & onto the Output Valves with many variants along the way. The More NFB Stages & Transistor Stages, beyond Buffer Stages, that an Amp will diminish it's sound however Clever the designer thinks it is to add in 3 Differentials & all the Junk Circuitry that is IC based. The Tonal Balance of a Complex Design may have the right Tonal Balance, but it blurs & smears the Music, to the point we really can't listen to amps like that now, it just sounds messy however much they are Upgraded as the Design Itself is the Limit. Some of the Lower Power mid-late 1960s Amplifiers & Receivers have deceptively modest design but it's actually very like the Valve Sound with some amps having no other NFB beyond the Main Output NFB Loop. This sound is very 'open' sounding if it can also seem lacking the more upfront sound of the NFB designs which most amps are. Some NFB can make Amps sound "exciting", not enough NFB can leave them Too Sleepy sounding. Comparing two Amps by the same maker from 1966-67 the one with NFB initially sounds more exciting but soon the sweetness is found lacking. Finding that amp hard to listen to now, to try the very minimal NFB one. Initially it sounds very strange with no apparent Focus, bass is much freer as the NFB isn't there to 'Wonderbra' the sound. It almost sounds distorted but listen more to hear the detail & dynamics in the Sound that the High NFB amp loses. as with Valves-Done-Properly this sound is an Acquired Taste as you've not heard it before, but it's a Sound We Crave. To hear it on speakers it can appear to lack dynamics, but listen & get used to the 'natural' sound & you'll crave it too, or not like it at all. The Valve amp can still be a bad design, the 1979 Luxman LX33 despite it's fascia hype is mostly an awful design with disappointing sound as original. So really what is The Valve Sound? Done right it's that very low NFB sound like the Sweetest Late 1960s amplifiers, but Valve sound depends on bad design, cost cutting, low spec & of course aged output Valves. we recently had the EAR Yoshino amp to hear how much improved we made it for tidying & recapping as well as new Valves. So the Valve Sound is only really applicable if you've actually heard an On-Spec, New Valves & Upgraded Valve amp. Otherwise you haven't got a Reference to be quoting "Valve Like". The Best Valve Amp sounds like the Best Transistor Amp is the reality.

Time Marches On, Big Main Capacitors from 1971-78 Are Going Bad.
So far this Month, three Quality Amplifiers we've needed to Replace the Main Capacitors. We've been doing this a few years & the Gallery pages show our Early Unrestored if Serviced Amps. Those 1971-76 Amps we considered the Main Caps were still good to not need Replace on certain Amps. The 1978 Rotel RX-1603 Monster Receiver had been stored apparently by a window or a radiator as cutting open the caps found one was still wet if the other was too dry & initially the amp sounded awful so we ran it in for many hours to "Reform" the aged Capacitor it appears. But a Bad cap may revive but not worth keeping it in a Rebuilt Amp so they got replaced. It didn't sound any better on the New Caps as the Old Ones were revived, but chances are they'd not stay good for long. Caps gone bad by how the amp was kept unused for decades. Next was the 1973 Yamaha CA-1000. This was obviously used too much in Class A & probably used unaware how hot it was getting so likely stored tight in a shelf to not ventilate. This vented one of the Main Capacitors & the main HT Voltage was way down if the Class A stage was fine. Again not what you'd expect, so they get replaced. Then the 1973 Trio-Kenwood KR-6340 4ch Receiver, After Recapping a lot it sounded thin with Bass strangely absent, it was expected to sound like the 1972 Trio-Kenwood KA-6004 that had a bad Relay Capacitor too. But recapping the KR-6340 brought back the sound we hoped it'd be & it plays as we type. all these Amps are 40 years old now, it appears depending on use, abuse & storage that the Big Capacitors after 40 years are past it. A 1965 Sansui TR-707A receiver is still on original capacitors, if it has quite a loud hum telling it's got bad caps. We did blog above on a 1967 Pioneer SX-1000TD-F that we could trust on speakers to hear it as original, but we'd not trust any amp for long with such old capacitors, if we know others do until problems occur. Capacitors are like Car Tyres, you see some very old Cars on USA TV shows with creased tyres from sitting & they still hold air, but as with Capacitors, to trust them to be reliable is a big gamble. Both could Blow Out when you've got a little too confident with them.

LED Desk Lamps... Are They Worth Buying?
We've had the Anglepoise brand ones since about 2002, both still in use, but they aren't made to last & the old Filament Bulbs ruin them. But we got one repaired & another one they replaced the whole lamp, so it pays to tell if you think ther product isn't so good, the Type 3 Anglepoise is no longer made for a few years now. To want a bigger light for Amp repairs, to see what there is. Look on ebay & the OTUS Architect lamp appears what we want. Ebay prices £125, Amazon Price £95, never buy new Electronics from ebay as usually much higher as this shows. Confusion about voltage, how can it be both 110v & 220v & still be the same brightness, a 12v LED we put in the Sony TA-3200F power amp for the 2.5v bulb doesn't last & it just lights up enough, but not the full 12v brightness. Then to read the info. We walk away fast on seeing the LED bulb... Is Not Replaceable. What a cheek. They Give 18 Months Guarantee & say it'll last 50000 hours with an "Expected Life" of 25 years. From what we know of LED bulbs, as one blogged last year, the Electronics inside are cramped & overheat so they fail, one Bulb was supposed to last 12 years & we found in the Feb 2018 Blog that it lasted just Nine Months. We don't like Disposable. A lamp for £95 with no option to replace the Bulb & stock up on said Bulbs is just not acceptable. Not even worth considering, the Lamp only new Jan 2018 so not outside the Guarantee yet, but wait for the Bulb Failures to grow over time. We don't trust Unreplaceable so not for us.

December 2018 Blog

The Best Sounding Vintage Valve Amp Is The Rogers HG88 III

As original if recapped to an amateur like-for-like level we rate it Recommended-Very Good if it does sound rather thin & screechy as we put in the 2018 Updated Review but now it Sounds Awesome Upgraded to Our Redesign based on the one we did in 2012 which was based on Tube Techniology amps we've upgraded since 2002. Whether this sound is what you expect or even want from a Valve amp is a matter of Taste as it'll show up Weak Speakers for sure. It does NOT sound "Valve Like" which based on what others use that Misleading Term for, the term is considered for slow wallowy amps with a soft sound & no detail, much like the 1976 Marantz 2385 amp was & ours went thorough 4 owners in 9 months as it wasn't liked. Our 2385 rebuilt stays on our Speakers as it sounds so good, but was lousy as Raw & Unserviced. The Rogers HG88 III sound as upgraded is Fast & Fresh, Good Stereo width & a bass that is not rich but get TV Sound with Deep Bass & it sure lets you know there's Bass, at 15w too. To get the sweet sound it needs New Output Valves, the old Mullard ones used even lighly since 1965-68 sound weak & blurry. If you like your Sound as sweett & effortless but with a tight bass, the HG88 III upgrades very nicely & could go further too. For a 1965 amp it shows how right the HG88 III design was, it sold fairly well if to find a clean one in the wood-formica case with all the correct control knobs isn't easy & they are getting very overpriced for amps on their last legs, 53 year old capacitors are well past their best. The Sound quality of an HG88 III bettered the EAR Yoshino we had just a few weeks earlier & both get compared to our 1979 Luxman LX33 that is their basics with our design & based on the HG88 III circuit as it sounded so good in 2012. But a HG88 III as original is still a "Bright & Screetchy" as well as Overloud with no subtlety, no bass & a flat unpleasant sound. The 'Overloud' still needs the Aux adjust pots reducing for Line Level, we set ours Horizontally to not get caught in the Volume Control Imbalance as low levels as it typical of earlier amps. We are Reviewing Our Own Upgrade here therefore, but not many amps upgrade to sound this good, Transistor or Valve.

Some Valve Amp Thoughts. Grounding & Valve Life.
On the Rogers HG88 III it has no Case Ground connection, but two on the Speakers strip marked "E" & these do go to a Ground Connection if not Direct to the case, the right E goes to the outout Transformer & via a wire to the Mains Ground. the left E goes to the Inpiut-Phono stage ground further up the case. This will both give a different ground potential, to choose which is the best. Later amps just offer Ground to the Case which works fine. Valve Life depends on how open the Valves are not to get too hot. The Rogers HG88 III owner wants to buoild it into a cabinet but we'd not advise that. The ECL86 output valves in the open case get to 100°C, the one on the right nearer the case so less open gets a bit hotter. With the lid on be sure it'll read 120°C at least & note Capacitors are rated 105°C if those won't get that hot if the amp is laid out well. We used the Tube Technology 100w Genesis monoblocks for up to 16 hours most days & the EL34 valves we checked Bias & after about 2 years they startred to get too aged & not Bias up right. 16 hours a day lasts 2 years so to assume 8 hours lasts 4 years & 4 hours if used to Watch TV with you'll get 8 years. so if your Valve Amp gets used fairly often, Valves over 10 years old are going to be past their best. They sound weak & blurry as well as they can add Hum, we found this with the year 2000 EAR Yoshino amp & new valves improved it a lot. the Rogers HG88 III was still on 3 of the 1960s Mullard & they were very aged sounding if new NOS Edicrons sounded spot on. This is for Power Amp Output valves. The Luxman LX33 the last valves we found crackled on the amp, the JJ brand if they are fine on amps that are more tamed, but again past 2 years regular use they started to sound aged & the paint lettering faded suggesting this is a clue to knowing thyey age, if the Svetlana Winged C EL34s on the TTs the paint faded long ago & still tested good after several years if not used as much & probably are good for another few years. Preamp Valves run a lot cooler, the HG88 III ECC807s ae long obsolete if they run cool so if undamaged the 1960s ones could still be sounding good, but be sure a new NOS set would sound even better. To stick to valve amps that use Valves that are still made, ECC81, ECC83, EL34 etc are the most popular ones.

1971 Sony TA-1140 vs Sony STR-6055. Pt 4: Comparing As Upgraded.
Both amps can do better, the 6055 we'd initially say is the lesser sound as original for being thin sounding but once upgraded the Bass is fine. For us not needing a Tuner, the TA-1140 may get more done if still to get a better sound from the STR-6055. Later... Some Blogs about comparing show the enthusiasm with these amps, if in the end we didn't keep either to upgrade more if did try with the TA-1140 but decided not to do anymore. They both upgrade to give a decent sound & both deserve the 'Excellent' as upgraded & both sound decent on our Tannoys if not a great match. These are both Midprice Amps but still with the pre cost cutting years so still keep a good sound. But with so many other amps to try more with, these will be for sale & the buyers will be pleased with them.

Searching For The Best Sony Amplifier.
The Best receiver is the 1968-70 Sony STR-6120. But with the early amplifiers there are only a certain few in the 'Classic Sony' styling before V-FETs & cost cutting spoils the brand. The Early ones are Sony TA-1120, TA-1080, TA-1120A, TA-1166 & TA-1144 as blogged above which are Non- Uk 1969 models, then the TA-1130, TA-1140, TA-1150 with ICs & then by 1973 a different design with low powered TA-1010 15w, TA-1055 23w & TA-1066 20w. The early omes are all worthwhile, if the ICs of the TA-1150 make it a marginal choice to us. The TA-1120 1965 amp is a masterpiece of design based on no previous Sony amps, they never did Valves, if it does suffer from Overdesign, Bass Limiting & a lot of NFB in several stages that flatten the sound. It's tough to work on & we did sell our one, if perhaps it could do with a deeper upgrade, the NFB keeps it not. But it's a Historical Amp for so early & a rare find too, if the fact it needs a rebuild will put many off it. TA-1080 is a lower powered very rare version of the TA-1120 if try to find a manual to see more. The 1967 revamp as TA-1120A simplified the Preamp a lot if it still has the NFB & as nice as the big film capacitors look, it's the start of Sony amps limiting Bass, even the STR-6120 has these, if we consider them as Upgraded, not the original spec. the TA-1130 by 1971 got a bit too designed with all FET preamp that the TA-2000F preamp has if that's a better design, the TA-1130 is a difficult one. The TA-1140 was out the same time as the TA-1130 if the design & build is very different. The Preamp here is weak if it can be bettered to give a sound that the other Sony amps can't do which inspired this blog. The TA-1150 is the First Sony we ever got in 1990 as a £5 wreck & it was beyond us to fix at the time, no manuals in those days, but having one several years ago, the ICs & design weren't really Classic Sony, if we'd try one again, the trouble is the Overpricing Online. Beyond the TA-2000F pre & TA-3200F power amp which once hugely upgraded sounds wonderful, the ones noted above are quite tricky to pick through. Based on knowing these, the TA-1120, TA-1120A & TA-1130 probably rate equally if one is better at what another isn't so good at, another has better upgrade potential. Perhaps the pick is the TA-1130 but the FETs are tricky, TA-1120 is too complex & far too hard to work on to upgrade further, the TA-1140 could be their best but after trying more upgrades the construction let it down. TA-1120 is perhaps the most useful if the useless Headphone & limited spec coupling caps make it less easy. all great in some way but not in the league of the STR-6120 or the TA-2000F/TA-3200F pre-power. On getting a TA-1150 to try it preoperly it sounds good, the ICs we're not sure of yet if the design lacks the weakness in the TA-1140, so to upgrade it. No definitive Sony Integrated Amplifier then, if the TA-1150 we'll blog on later..

Trio-Kenwood 'Model 600' Amplifier from 1976
We looked at the Trio-Kenwood amps & Receivers past 1972 in the Aug 2018 blog & the 600 series amp together with the 500 & 650 appear interesting.
"1976 100w Model 500 & 130w Model 650 too, not heard of those before & all likely rare ones. Not sure why 600 & 650 are both 130w if the manual confirms it. Ebay one at £1150 says "600 Supreme" which isn't the right name, just a plain looking amp that hides beneath a generic looking outer plus having rubbishy screw-tight bare wire connectors."... is from the earlier Blog, but to look closer at the 600 as one is on ebay if too expensive & worth a try? The Circuits are all 'Transistors' but actually FETs are extensively used like the 1971 Sony TA-2000F preamp. Phono is all FETs with the Class B Power amp design later used in ICs to use less power, 6 FETs per channel. Phono & Inputs go to Volume then the Tone Stage which is unlike the KA-6004 which has Tone before Volume which takes better design. Tone 'needs' 9 FETs & is hard to follow for us & likely the sound suffers with so much overdesign. Low & High Filter uses all FETs again, 4 more. the Power Amp is nearly all Transistors if it 'needs' 4 Differentials & one is a FET pair plus it has a lazy Zener Diode to set voltage. Too many FETs, what do you do if one needs replacing as the specs are so precise & long obsolete. It probably sounds good, but having a FET Sony preamp, to have another heavy-FET amp that looks that plain & not looking like it's a 'Supreme' design, it's just not worth half the price to us.

Marantz Big Amplifiers: 1180DC & 1250.
Both on ebay so to see which, if any appeals. The Marantz 2385 sounds great & we use it often, but have no real use for a Tuner & the Receiver is rather big. 1180DC is 1978 with 90w. 1250 is the second to Top Model from 1977 with 125w. 1180DC looks like the ill-fated 1152DC we had early on if these days we'd fix it right. 1250 is a bit plainer looking if with Tone Sliders for L+R as if anyone ever uses that & both are rather manically busy with perfect symmetry almost with 6.3mm jacks the same size as push buttons. 1180DC first as the build is like the 1152DC, push-together boards & components hanging down a real fun amp to take apart if the power amp is well packed if logical like the 2385. Transformer has 2 taps, one for Power Amp & the other for Preamp, one Relay. 2 main caps are 18000µf 63v like the Yamaha CA-1000 uses. Phono is all Transistors if that Push-Pull Class B type design on 5 transistors, 2 as a Differential. Tone isn't marked but 2 stages have the complex controls in between, 6 transistors with 2 Differential stages as is the Fashion by now. Filter amp very complex switching with 3 transistors if 2 are Buffer Stages. Power Amp looks complex with several Differential stages with one as FETs. we've not worked out the complex 2385 power amp fully yet if it does sound good, it is very busy with 21 transistors including Doubled Outputs. Not keen on the Class B Preamp stages, that sort of design ruined the Yamaha CA-1010. 1250 next. It's not that dissimilar, 17 transistors in the Power Amp if adds a Buffer on the Pre Out stage, 1 more Transistor for Class B on the Tone plus another before the Tone Controls, Filter just the 2 buffers. Both are Rather Busy but so is the 2385 & it sounds great, if only after Servicing & Our Upgrades. The one big capacitor as pics show is the 2x 14000µf 70v caps in 1 can idea like the 2385 uses, still good today but the amps are getting older. 1250 less appealing for too many features than the 1180DC which would be more like getting the 1152DC to Conquer this time.

Most Loudspeakers Are A Compromise Or Just Not Very Good.

We did Blogs on seeing reviews in the later 1970s Hifi News mags, there were some poor results. See Aug 2017 "
The First Subjective Group Test - July 1975 on Seven Loudspeakers." plus more after that, we've Blogged a lot on Speakers. We hear others are looking to buy speakers but the Tannoy Gold & Tannoy HPDs are now very high priced if worth it, you won't regret buying the 1967-80 Tannoys. Beware of Amateur Opinions on Forums. "Sounds Great On Acoustic Music" this is a worthless comment. Simple music is easy to reproduce, today's bland pop is made for Mobile Phone speakers, no Rock Music today as that sounds awful played that way. Any half-decent speaker can do Simple Music adequately. Another one is "Great For Vinyl" to us that means the speaker sounds soft to hide how awful Vinyl sounds through IC Phono stages & even on a Gadget Show test, modern amps still play Vinyl very soft sounding with poor treble despite being true to RIAA. If Music Matters, you want to look for ones that handle Rock Guitar to sound convincing, to hear big Orchestra full volume blasts with good detail, to play Simple music without a Boxy sound, to play 70s Reggae with a Bass line to Quiver your Liver, to play any sort of Loud & Busy music with the ability to show layers to the music, not just a thick blur of poor sound. Loudspeakers should sound Realistic & not tire you out for sounding unnatural. Most Loudspeakers Are A Compromise Or Just Not Very Good because the Hifi buyer often spent big on the Amplifier yet was not advised to buy speakers of the same quality. There probably are good speakers beyond Tannoy Golds & HPDs, really your only way to find ones that are good are to look at ebay ended items, look for the speakers that regularly sell for £500+ but beware there are sellers who Fake Bid to try to set a price on an item that in reality isn't that rated. You Hi-Fi Readers really need a Site that has had 180+ Speakers to Review them Independently & tell what they see. We have reviewed over 180 Amplifiers & Receivers from having them to try & upgrade. But until someone does that, buying Speakers is the hardest part of Hifi buying as so many are not of the quality. Our Brief Advice is if you want the rich open sound you need at least a 10" Bass Driver. Avoid the speakers with Midrange as that reduces the sound for complex crossovers, this poor idea is a fashion item from the 1970s that appears to be what you are told is good, but isn't. All those we've heard from that have 3-way speakers find the 2-way ones like Tannoy a huge revelation in sound from the sucked-out midrange of lesser speakers. Buy some, try some, compare some, keep the best one. Buying Speakers is like Dating, you'll not very often find the first you try is The Best, unless you buy Tannoy Gold or HPDs. Look at the 1960s-1970s Tannoy ads, a large percentage of Studios use Tannoys as reference speakers.

Looking To Get a Marantz 1080DC Amplifier: No Good To Us.

There are Four on ebay. One is priced up Double Price by dreamers, one not far off & nobody pays those prices is the truth. We found similar foolish pricing on the Marantz 2385. Two more though, but Neither are any good to us sadly, so as Readers will try to buy similar, here's what we see. The UK seller one won't even reply on asking for more photos as the listing says to ask for, really? Other items have totally different backgrounds to the photos that suggests they are a Hifi Broker. Custom Wood Case suggests it has no metal lid & just one cropped photo is rather hopeless. To find they block us from asking again shows they are not playing fair here, do they even have any goods? One to avoid. The next one is in Switzerland, it looks good if only 2 photos isn't very professional. Said to be Faulty on One Channel which from the amount of amps of this era we've had is typical, if it needs a full recap to be reliable. The price is a bit high & they put a very high shipping if will probably do it for a lot less once packed they said. Too much gamble here. But to then see Switzerland to UK gets Import Fees as not an EU country, typically 20% VAT plus a £12 charge. It's too expensive as the Total Price to buy the amp, to tell the seller this & suggest a better price where it would work. Too much overpricing on ebay, some sellers wise up if others let them sit forever, possibly they don't have the goods & are Brokers too? Global Shipping is cheaper than Customs as Customs also add on the Shipping Charge & often read non UK Currency as £ Pounds. It's easier to buy with Global Shipping which is a Pitney-Bowes service in USA & it comes very slowly to the UK & ends up via 13Ten & Yodel. But Global Shipping is very slow & it treats parcels Very Roughly & it needs the seller to pack the item properly, not in a box only slightly bigger than the amp with weak bubblewrap as be sure the amp will arrive damaged unless packed very well when it will arrive safely. Global Shipping is insured.

1965 Sansui TR-707A: It Fooled Us... It's Germaniums.
After the 1966 JVC MCA 104E we liked Germaniums if that amp was very sweet if not particularly lively sounding. Then to get the Duette amp that had Germaniums & found it fascinating but rather untamed. Then the 1964 Fisher 600T is All Germaniums beyond the Phono stage & it has a lot of Sound Shaping to get a very nice sound, if not as honest in design. But then the 1966 Rotel 100AMP upset the opinion as it had difficulties needing PNP Germanium outputs converting to NPN Silicon & without a Circuit Diagram, it's for Sale so it worked out, sort of. Th 1965 Sansui TR-707A we've known of for a while & finally got one from USA. Didn't look too much at the design as it was wanted so on Recapping it to see what spec is in the amp, it found relaced Silicons with the Driver ones being way off what the originals should be, typical TV-Grade repair where they just use anything. on playing it Recapped if not Serviced much, it sounded oddly Retro, so serviced it & had a look what the amp is. The Black 'Sony' Can transistors are all PNP Germaniums which is a huge surprise, just assumed they were Silicon as Sony brand. Sony have been using Transistors in Tape Recorders so these Germaniums must be for that design. The TR-707A is a few months ahead of the 1965 Sony TA-1120 if that's All Silicon. Now Serviced the TR-707A is a lot fresher sounding if not redone the 4 big caps yet or the wrong Drivers repair, it's not a much-used amp usually caked in Dust & Nicotine. To understand Germaniums do Hum & Hiss a bit can be accepted & to hear how a Properly Designed 'Honest' Germaniums Amp can sound. The TR-707A sound once mostly upgraded is a fascinating one, it has the Sweetness plus the Kick of what is still only an 18w amp (into 15 ohms) but has the quality of a more Powerful amp if not the Gain. A Rich sound with an open Soundstage. Even Rock Guitar it delivers convincingly, don't remember the JVC or Fisher sounding that good. As Original it wasn't really useable as a bit unstable & too noisy, but even a brief listen didn't say it'd be too great or suggest it's Germaniums. Comparing-Remembering other early Sansui, the 3000A wasn't this Fresh & Open Sounding, the wide Stereo of the TR-707A & 400 aren't in the 3000(A) as it uses a lot of NFB. The Aux goes through the Phono Stage via a large resistor, if it's done well. It has the Crispness & Bass of the 3000(A) if a much clearer midrange. The 1965 Sansui TR-707A is the Best of the Germanium Amplifiers with ease. Once upgraded the TR-707A has a little background noise but it sounds awesome, see the review.

European Amplifiers... Where Are They?

We've not bothered much with UK & EU amps for quite a while. The last UK Goodmans Module 80 we got to try to upgrade to the standard the Japan & USA amps can do but the Goodmans revealed what awful design it was, if carefully tailored to be good amid the original design but no better with severe control noises & insane Instability. A Belgium customer shows us interesting EU amps they find, Carad, Braun & ESS that show the quirky build but seeing the Circuit Diagrams they look pretty good. The main thing with EU amps is DIN connectors that Bang & Olufsen buyers don't mind but generally we found the DIN amps less popular to UK buyers. But there are still Good amps to try. We started out with Bang & Olufsen but now avoid them as we've had enough of them really as the build quality inside beyond outer looks just doesn't match the Japan & USA gear, the Beomaster 3000 has some poor quality, But for seeing worth in the EU amps again, to see a nice Revox A78 from about 1971 we have to get thart. This & the A50 we've looked at before on the 'Other Amps' page but never found one in good grade. Then to see a Grundig SV80M from 1966 if sold as a non worker a modest offer got that. All DIN connectors & a Hardboard back is a bit Radiogram but the circuits look good despite some of the bad EU type Germaniums. Both of those will be on the Reviews pages. In the days of the Family Shop we saw loads of Radiograms from the Blaupunkt-Blue spot ones to many types of other Gram from good ones like the Pye Black Box Stereo Coffee Table one to lousy ones like the 1967 compact HMV one. A lot of EU receivers are like Radiogram Innards as we put on the Receivers List page. The quality on one early 1970s we took home in about 1990 to borrow as ours wasn't working was a lousy affair. Radiograms were often lousy if the early ones 1930s-mid 1950s appealed by the later 1990s if more for the looks. So to be wary of the Quality of the UK & EU gear unless it's a higher power, 40w Revox & 30w Grundig have got our interest. See the Reviews for more. Update: The Grundig arrived damaged so got returned, if we had a good look to see how difficult it'd be to work on let alone upgrade. The Revox A78 we tidied & Serviced to sell rather than recap & upgrade for seeing difficulties there too. There are reasons why UK-EU amps soon were Made In Japan, the build quality is just superior. Did these two restore our faith in trying more EU amps? No they didn't, we did well to ditch the B&O amps we had often early on, that Trio-Kenwood KA-4002a amp certainly showed how much better the Japan & USA amps are & with them we've learnt the skills to bring the best out in them. The first try to better a UK amp to the Upgrade quality Japan-USA amps can take was the Goodmans Module 80, but it only showed how poor the design was, just heavily tamed to sound good amid the whole amp but do little else with.


To Jan 2019 Blog...