Vintage Hi-Fi Info
All contents of this Website are Copyright. Original research, photos of our hifi & all unquoted text is ©2011-2018 by select45rpm. This is all published freely on the internet by us to further the scene, not to give any seller or forum 'expert' undeserved credibility. We Do Not Authorise any Copying, Republishing or Quoting, even as rewriting Our Research In Your Words, of using or linking to any of our Sections on ebay, any sales sites or anywhere else. No-one else has formed these opinions, so don't steal them as yours. Please do not link to our site on ebay sales trying to use our unique info to play buyers for a sale suggesting we are authorising their sale, as we are not.
|*See our NEW Hi-Fi Blog page
lots of New Sections since Jan 2017 that add a wide range of Hi-Fi & Tech related subjects plus opinion on Hi-Fi News 1970-1980 as we read through.
See the BLOG page for More Amplifiers looked at in this way...
Other Vintage Amplifiers & Receivers... "Other Amps" Page.
Ones We Researched In 2013-15 But Haven't Tried...
We have tried many amplifiers because they interested us, see the 'Top Amp Reviews' page for all we've had, good or bad. Looking through ebay we see plenty of Possible Amps to maybe try, but we research them well & more often than not decide not to try further. Buying Old Hifi is always a Gamble & an Educated Gamble is a better way. So this page covers all Researched ones that were on the Brands pages of Old. Ones we have had & tried deeply are on the Top Amps page. Any missing haven't been looked at yet or don't really interest as in most post 1978 gear.
The Tone of this page isn't too positive with attitude aplenty at being disappointed at what we see, it gives a raw view on things so it stays. This page gets amps reviewed solely by looking at their circuitry to see if we are interested in trying the amp. We've circuit-gazed on enough amps now, having to work them out to upgrade, to know what is good circuitry & what is bad. Some simple design amps are great, some are too basic, some busy circuits can reveal less direct circuitry, yet others with pointless power amp input circuits do kill the sound before it gets a chance, the differential & extraneous circuits are not good design for the sound quality despite their ubiquity in search of unrealistic specs. Very low THD but musically disappointing was noted as early as 1976 in the Hifi press, probably listening to Pioneer amps. Be sure when we see an amp we do like, we snap it up & are proved right in the fact it was a good one & the Top Amps page reflects this. But this lot we've seen at a useable price & researched it in hope, but often resulting in being glad we didn't bother. There of course is the possibility we are not completely right, or wrong as you may call it, as we've not had these amps & one we'd never dream of buying, a 1984 Sansui, after hearing it changes opinions. Opinions are flexible & things are quietly deleted. These are base on our criteria of amps we like, not to say these amps are bad for everyone but with a preference for 1967-69 amps & valves, especially having upgraded dozens of amps now, some of these are a bit away from our hifi desires. Lots of fans for these amps despite our opinion as you'll find online, our opinion is just our opinion, if part of an opinion over a lot of words typed. And by doing that you naturally only are interested in the better items & the interesting ones. As with our Record Dealing, we find the sleepers & set the scene with them making them the "new wanteds" when the false idols of the past are revealed to be not all they are hyped to be.
Ranging from 1950s Valve Amps of low spec to late 1980s Black Fascia Amplifiers that were falsely sold as Hifi or Audiophile items, hyped by Magazine Editors. Some real awful designs we see in most of the 1980s ones with the 1980-1990 era being the worst ever in Hifi History. If these ones we don't like are yours, rather than getting annoyed knowing you have a Lousy amp, read the Top amps page for ones we like & understand a little more why the 1967-77 era is The Golden Era for Hifi. some of those on Top Amps aren't expensive to try, so if it awakens an interest to hear better, compare a Vintage amp to a Modern one & enjoy.
THIS PAGE IS OUR OPINION, IT MAY NOT BE YOURS.
It may not be Ours now on Some, it was written 2013-2015. Some Brands we looked at lots of post 1975 models to try to find anything good, such as Sony & Trio-Kenwood. Knowing how cost-cut so much Hifi was after 1974 makes it very hard to find anything good as most went into the Discount Stores. A lot of those we put "No" to are amps that others rate. Some are clearly unaware of the Huge Range of Hifi as we are. To be told an amp with an IC block for a Power Amp is "Great" shows their ignorance. But read this page aware we prefer the 1965-72 era & Valves to see why many Amps that were rated a few years back we can see as False Idols. Any amp with ICs & Cost Cut design isn't going to be very good however big & high power it is. The page does add those we found interesting, if finding them to try is another thing. To see "No", "Average" and "Interesting" is what we see them as based on looking at photos of the amp plus seeing the circuit diagrams. Enough gazing at circuits can tell what an amp is very likely to be sounding like. Even if the amp is a bit lacking it can show ones that could upgrade well. This is how we decided which amps to get to try & upgrade. This page is a page of thoughts & pre-buy opinions.
Oh My! Your Opinion Is Very Harsh!
This page was us Researching Amps that caught the eye in 2013-15 mostly, often seeing the chance to get one on ebay etc. More written to remind us why we did or didn't like an amp. Some Opinion we'd not agree with now, some should be deleted as it reads a bit badly too, but we're not rewriting the page & further amps we put on the blog now. It's written in a Blog Like way, initially so we'd not bother looking at the unliked Amp again, or remember one worth a try if in better condition. We aren't concerned with Pleasing Everyone with our Opinionated Opinions. "Daring & Honest Approach" one said. Telling It Like We See It is our take on that. Not that we'd cross into Bad Manners with things, if something is considered Sub Standard, only elaborating on why is considered a Valid Opinion. The old Blues song-lyric ideas of "Judge Me Not On Looks Or Wealth, Kindly Judge Me For Myself", but "It Ain't What You Used To Be, It's What You Are Today" takes any amplifier at it's base & look at it for just what we see. Some Sony were World Class, then Quality dipped hugely but signs if improvement, but then off the boil again. Similarly, if you find a potential new partner, never look on Facebook or Twitter too deeply about them as you'll only see other's opinions, especially how family treat them still like the teenage-them, not how they'd be with you. Some act very unlike how you see them as they still play up to appearances, rather than being themselves. This is why we found so many Great pre 1971 amps by taking a clean look at them, they were unknown to us. Other's Opinions are often inaccurate, beware the Forums. Go have 6 to 12 people you know but don't know each other asked about How They See You and be amazed-mortified in how they think of you, if they are honest enough to even say. You can be Many Things To Many People: What We Don't Like may be just what you want, you might be the same person to everyone & like an unchallenging audio sound, if perhaps why you are happy with a Portable Radio or i-Pod perhaps, blandness can't be escaped. Bland people don't have it in them to freak out & wake up their minds, a naive relative cringingly asked a dreadlocked guy when his son was going to become a Rasta, the younger typist on hearing this ignorant comment said 'you either is or you ain't' on seeing the guy's reaction, to which agreement was forthcoming. You're born wise or bland is the key, the wise can't stay bland for long as it upsets the mind. The wise can still look bland on the outside so others don't notice, or choose to grow hair oddly or get inked as is the way if many phonies catch on too, but the real freaks see through it. Oblique Digressions aside, to read our non hifi waffle gives the idea this is how we tackle hifi similarly.
Often we are not pleased with what we see & it gets written that way. No need for certain spiky words to express disappointment with us explaining what we see is not to our taste. Our Taste in Hifi may not match yours, we like a big open sound free of limitations & compromise: it's why we upgrade them just to see how good they can be without going too far into altering resistors. Some people will be Much Easier To Please, as was the General Public when these were bought. Many bought amps that were acceptable but pretty ordinary, look at the early 1970s Hifi News adverts, every shop had the Quad 33/303 & Leak Delta ranges, yet few had Sony, Hitachi or other more specialist quality brands. We know from playing music on speakers to those who are used to 'entry level' hifi, such as a portable cassette player or CD player, to hear the huge dynamics of Real Hifi scares them, It's Too Loud yet it's like anything, experience the Better and You'll Not Want That Old Thing Again. No Hifi buyer will be happy listening to an i-Pod or music squawked through a Mobile Phone, it'll just grate. Similarly the Connoisseur of Fine Wine, Classy Cars or Lovely Ladies won't want less. Yet some are happy with a Three-Legged Dog, a repro of a rare item or a broken but reglued Clarice Cliff as things aren't that important to them. Not all crave perfection, can afford the best & perfection is generally unobtainable, we've yet to find The Perfect Amplifier. It's your level of Reality awareness & obsession which drives things you care about & others you couldn't care less about. Image may be everything, but undersell yourself as a Person or an Amplifier, but be sure there are those that will see past this & realise the Good. This page seaches for a basic level of Quality that we've found gives good results. It is possible that we are wrong, probable that we aren't, but having dismissed an item, how would you realise your mistake? Are we ever going to get a Pioneer A-400?
Tell Us Of Amplifiers & Receivers You Like...
We'll look at them in a similar manner as the rest of this page, if we can find the circuit diagrams we'll write up our Opinion. We're not here to massage Egos though & as you can read, we can look at a circuit & tell what it'll sound like to a certain degree. If you have a Transistor amp from 1962-1990 you like that we've not put on our Top Amps or Other Amps, let us know & we'll research it. UPDATE: As of March 2016, we've not added an amp to this page in over a year. We hear of 1970s & 1980s amps others recommend & naively rave about, but a quick look shows they aren't worth investigating further. UPDATE 2018: Further amps we look at are on the Blog. No one board late 70s amp is going to be anywhere near the 1960s transistor amps for quality though there will still be good ones pre 1975 & some of the 'high end' ones will be good too, if those over 100w are rarely for quality, just high power. We've played our rebuilt valve amps & transistor amps for a few years now & the best 1980s one we've found is the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X which after a huge amount of upgrades can only come close to the best 1960s amps. We'd love to find more, but midprice 1980s gear like a JVC AX-Z1010TN we were told of we really can't be bothered looking further at seeing how average early 1980s it's built, no quality. The trouble with Forums is many will rave about mediocre amps as they've not heard the better stuff. You can only rate Hifi & Music if you are well educated in it, as with Wine, you need to taste the Best Vintage Years to judge a £4 bottle of plonk properly & be sure some £4 bottles aren't bad for what they are, but to the Connoisseur it may offend their palette, but forgetting it will stil have the same effect for fluid & alcohol as any other. That JVC AX amp will play music but we'd feel Lost at Sea having to hear that daily, knowing of better. 2017 UPDATE: We add more Untried Amps on the Blog Page about amps we see on ebay etc.
GERMANIUM AMPS: These are the early style Transistors before Silicon ones were found to be more stable & reliable. Any pre 1965 portable radio that's not valves is Germaniums, our 1963 Decca doesn't work right but a 1959 Ultra does. This is a problem Transistor as the UK ones are not sealed & grow crystalline 'hairs' inside the transistor which shorts them out. The Japanese ones are made differently & we've never had problems with them. The UK ones age badly & if working will sound very limited & blurry, if oddly intriguing. Go buy an Armstrong 526 amp to see how bad they can sound, the early Leak Stereo 30 (not Plus) is similar. Go read our 1966 JVC Nivico MCA-104E Top Amps section for how great they can be, after all Guitar guys like Germaniums.
• More 1977 Amps we look at on the Hifi News section on the hifi Books & Mags page... HERE
BGW 202 Preamp & 100 Power Amp.
Enigma Variation 1 Preamp & 2 Power Amp.
Hitachi HCA-8300 Preamp & HMA-8300 Power Amp.
Lecson AC1 Preamp & AP1X Power Amp.
Luxman CL32 Preamp & MQ3600 Power Amp (Valves).
Sansui CA 2000 Preamp & BA 2000 Power Amp.
Trio-Kenwood L07C Preamp & L07M Power Amp.
Yamaha C2 Preamp & B2 Power Amp.
*Added a quick rating at the start of each from Interesting, Average to No. Also 'Outpriced' for ones that sell beyond the value we see them as amplifiers, not collector items. (V) indicates Valves.
A brief look can tell, so worth adding if not writing up more...
Trio-Kenwood KA-1500... 1975 30w amplifier looks smart but rubbish circuitry puts Tone stage after the power amp. Seen this with cheap modern amps, unusual in 1975.
Sony STR 6040... 1969 22w version of the superior STR-6050. Aux on this has that lousy through a 100K resistor to put through the Phono stage & even Tape In isn't straight in either. Budget gear only really. Beware there is a 117v only model plus a multivoltage. One seller reckons it's a 1965 model, not so, if the early ones in brochures have the 1965-68 brown levers which don't appear to be on the sold versions.
Saba Studio II... 1965 8w receiver. These are rare in the UK so to have a look. Details show every transistor is a UK-EU Germanium so unlikely it'll work as these Germaniums age badly, 'tin whiskers' grow inside the unsealed cases. The Japan-USA Germaniums are made properly so don't have this issue. It looks like a cheap Radiogram innards with layers of radio station text. DIN outputs for speakers, no Phono inputs if some 4 pin input for a Turntable possibly. To have a high grade one for collectors may appeal, but with bad Germaniums & tatty grade, it's utter junk. In the 1966/67 Hifi Yearbook Saba Studio IIA Transistor Stereo 20w £120 20w has to be music power. Another reason why we don't bother with Continental Amps.
Accuphase E-203 amplifier ↑
No. Oh Dear. We've seen this brand touted as something very special for a while, but now seeing one at a buyable price we go look in hope of trying one. Circa 1976 is the date & it has MOSFETs on the front panel wording if the case looks 1970. But the Horror on seeing the circuit of this 70w amp is a bit shocking: stuffed with ICs. the Preamp for some unknown reason needs 6 ICs for L+R, a double FET & 2 transistors to work, when others can do it with 3 or 4 transistors this is severe overdesign. The Phono stage for MM & MC is laughably overdesigned with 12 transistors, a double FET & an IC. The circuit is hard to figure out as ICs are everywhere & so many transistors. Power amp needs 3 more ICs for L+R plus 5 transistors per channel & the MOSFET output. We thought the 1980-81 Sony amps were the worst overdesign, but this is ridiculous & touted as 'High End' it's going to live up to it's name of Accuphase as the sound is so tailored with excessive circuitry, it stands no chance of sounding fresh & open like the best amps. Is this all we are going to find now? Overdesigned crap? Very disappointing. "they are made, above all, to achieve true high fidelity sound reproduction" is the hype on HFE. The typist thinks they are talking out of their Accuholes.
Accuphase E-202 amplifier ↑
Interesting. Much Better. After the disgust at the E-203, to now have a look at the earlier E-202 to see why the brand has a reputation as being 'better'. 100w. Age is hard to tell but it was first in the 1976 HFYB for £375 when Marantz 1200B 100w was £425 so competitive. Now this is better: No ICs so it could be a 1973-74 model as the looks are very different. Some boards are plug-in type & transistors are less numerous: Phono x5 inc a differential, Tone-Pre-Filter is x6 if on 2 boards (x4, x2) & a bit hard to trace without taking ages. Power Amp x13 with doubled output transistors. Power supply is a crazy 13 transistor design though. This is more typical of the 1973 era design & on this we'd estimate it should have a Good Sound but hard to tell but one that we'd try. But the later Accuphase stuff as seen above is ridiculously overdesigned.
Akai AA-5000 receiver ↑
Interesting. It's a 1966 Germanium transistor amplifier, the AA-5000S is the later slightly 'improved' version of the same amp with Silicon output transistors & a very cool retro look. Likely 25w RMS. There is a risk only the output transistors are Silicon in the "S" version, as wording is a bit vague. For collectors only perhaps. But as we're finding Japanese Germaniums are still good, this seems more worthy. The first Akai amplifier with the later 1966 AA-7000 we have reviewed being their first receiver. Well styled amp oddly looks like 2 units but it's one with vertical amp boards. Looks very quirky & would be a good one to try. One on ebay Nov 2016 was collect only & came with 25w rated Akai speakers, the AA-5000 may only be 15w-20w as speakers are usually rated higher. another one on USA ebay shows it close up, those obscure Japan early looks, fiddly slider switches unlike the superior AA-7000 show it's an earlier model. A nice looking amp with wood side cheeks, size looks about the size of a smaller amp like the Rotel RA-610. It'd be nice to try, but to buy from USA at just over £200 not knowing power rating or having any circuits makes it not worth trying yet. The AA-5000 manual online is a later 5000 series range, not this. The flyer states the AA-7000 is "100w music power" it's 40w if the AA-5000 is "110w music power" but the transformer size shows the ratings in the ad are misleading, 100w MP per channel & 110w MP L+R so in reality the AA-5000 is probably no more than 20w-25w. Only has 2 larger caps so it'll be a semi-complimentary design like the Sansui 3000A that needs to be spot on not to put DC voltage on the speakers. Probably not worth getting as the AA-7000 is far superior.
Akai AA-5200 receiver ↑
Average. One from c1973 we didn't fancy bidding too high as 60w supposedly says one misleading site but has ICs in it. Part of the AA5800, AA5500 & AA5200 series at a supposedly impressive 120w, 90w & 60w but really only 45w, 30w & 20w in RMS watts into 8 ohms, hmm. Unfairly putting 120w for 60w+60w @ 4 ohms. 60w per channel, which is only 45w in real terms. Odd they weren't in The HFYBs. The ICs are LD3120, similar to the Teac & in the preamp stages, all the range with 2, 3 & 5 ICS respectively. Considering they are unfindable if yours are damaged, buying is risky.
Akai AA-5800 receiver ↑
Average. It's a 1974 amplifier, £178 new, that one foolish seller says is "Valve Like". Yes, it plays music too being the nearest Reality of it. 45w with 2 ICs says HFE so we go see, expecting nothing more than midprice as the brand usually is. Seller says it's "Very Rare" too, as if anyone gives a hoot if it's rare or common, it's the Quality. Also says "Built Like A Tank" but only 11.5kg, so no it isn't for the Third Time. Amusing. Inside the ICs are 2 in the Phono stage. It's still the early style with several small boards & a low Transistor count. The Manual shows two lesser models AA-5200 & AA-5500 which have ICs in the Tone stage. The sort of amp that we've not bothered with as Serviced up they don't sell very well not anywhere near the price new in 1974 even.
Akai AA-6000 receiver ↑
Interesting. A 1971 45w amplifier. Odd looking too but 11kg says it could be interesting as a quality made one, odd sort of wood cabinet too. Not been to keen on their Receivers of this era & they are certainly better lookers than this ugly pup. A non-worker in April 2013 sold for £92 sounds a little unlikely if a 2 bidder war from the bid sheet. Let 'em have it, can't see much in it at that price. Ah, see why: one foolish forum says it's 120w from 1971 & people believe it. Oh dear.
Akai AA-6300 receiver ↑
Interesting. 1971 20w receiver beware the misleading power ratings saying 80w Music Power, 40w Power, it's not, it's 20w. The supply voltage is 50v & the output cap is only 25v rated so is 20w. Looks interesting with coupling transformers & very low transistor counts, if a 1970s amp with 20w isn't quite the amp to fully upgrade. Not added one to this page in ages but having success with other Akai, to look at a 1971 "40w Music Power" one, but our Receivers page shows this is actually 20w RMS per channel. This harks back to the 1966 AA-7000 with transformer coupled power amp, which is better than the usual splitter type. But the Aux uses that awful into high resistor into Phono stage played flat, instead of doing it direct. You can use the Tape In to bypass this lousy Aux stage & a few amps we've found like this. Beyond that, using Tape In, one transistor for Tone, two on the Power amp before the TX, not differentials & straight to the Output P-P pair. That is a very low transistor count. The IC mentioned on the front is in the Tuner. Looks interesting, but seeing the small 25w rated 2SC1061 output Transistors, it's never 40w.
Akai AA-8000 receiver ↑
Interesting. It's an earlier one, supposedly 90w from 1970, £185, likely 40w & weighs 17kg in the wood case. Insane Tape deck controls on a receiver. Front panel a bit midprice looking if similar levers on the turn knobs like a 1970 Pioneer SX1500TD. Back has a Remote Control for said Tape player looking like a Valve amp connector. More worries are using some sort of Headphone type jack for set A. You can bet newer users will plug wrong things in & trash it. Actually Akai use the 6.3mm jacks for Speakers on all 1966-72 higher models.
AKAI OVERVIEW: Seriously Underrated, the early models are High quality, if the later gear, as with most post 1975-77 brands gets tainted by low priced junk. This brand of later years appears to be a low end Japanese brand, much offered in the Discount Stores in the early 1970s. But the pre 1973 ones are higher quality so can't be dismissed. we got an Akai AA-8500 now on the reviews page. As with Pioneer these appear to be average to adequate but at least Pioneer managed to keep some class for the huge discounting, Akai just seem to be 'everyday product' by the mid 1970s so turn up a lot on ebay & we're just not really that interested in averageness. But the early ones are up there with the Best Main Brands.
Altec Lansing 704 receiver ↑
No. Someone asked us to give an opinion on this, a bit unworthy we see these, but it adds to the story of early 1970s 'Stereo Gear' being nothing special to the point of disposable like today's gear was as so cheap. A brand we saw on doing the List of Amps-Receivers page & groaned at seeing their low status, ignoring them as too low power, if a 1966 15w amp would interest us, this won't. 12w budget gear sold by the ton in Comet type discount shops 1972-74 by seeing the Hifi News ads. Note amps with big name-model printed numbers usually means cheap junk, look at Eagle. The brand moved up in class in later years & this looks like a typical early 1970s receiver by the look of one on Youtube. Not worth our interest though it'll give a hint of the vintage sound, 12w is just not any use as it'll clip out & give hideous harmonics as did the 12w Philco Ford amp we had. But if you find one for £20-£50 worth a try to get into vintage, but there is a huge amount better than sub-budget gear that was made to sell to ex-radiogram users. It won't be Hifi for sure though, don't pretend it is. It's for Granny to play Radio 4 on. The guy wanted to recap it, well for a first try it will teach you things, but unlikely it'll make much difference to the sound, assume they are optimistically expecting miracles out of it. See the Amstrad below for a similar opinion. This sort of gear has it's place, but is just everyday audio, not Hifi.
Amstrad 'Executive' EX 330 amplifier ↑
No. In 1977-78 this range of Amstrad 'hifi' was brought out. Alan Sugar is known as a canny operator & made his fortune selling low quality hifi & computers to the masses. After all not everyone could afford the expensive stuff & still wanted a taste of the Technology. To exploit a market where buyers has limited funds & wanted new gear is the gap in the market as the amount of budget gear by 1970 as shown in the Hifi News ads is far more than 'the good stuff'. Early Amstrad as offered 1971-74 were cheap & cheerful if the buyer was often far from being on returning it as it was unreliable. The selling prices of these early items was extremely low & you gets what you pay for: 1972 Amps list page shows Amstrad Stereo 8000 7w £26, 1976 has Amstrad IC 2000 Mk III 25w £59 & 1979 this amp Amstrad EX-330 35w £78. Perfect fodder for Comet & other discount stores, if sneered at by everyone else since, but be sure you knew someone with an Amstrad or used one yourself, so lose the snobbery. The EX 330 had a matching tuner EX 303, a 7070 casette deck & 300 speakers, all matched together & despite being UK made look very Japanese with brushed aluminium fronts & the similar layout. A bizarre TP12D turntable that only has arms not a full platter to support the vinyl isn't good as the vinyl isn't damped right. Earlier Amstrad were crude 1974 looking budget items, these you cannot deny look smart. Be sure many a system was bought as a First Hifi & the teenaged owners will have liked it. Clearly not going to be the best hifi but in their own budget realm they are likely not bad really. The problem later came as Amstrad made the Executive SR301 Hifi Racking System, just a cheap chipboard-vinyl wrap shelf cabinet system available in fake Teak, Walnut or the despised 'Black Ash' look. This led to Amstrad going even more cheaper with those one piece plastic front units that were built into the cabinet yet looked like separates, the double tape deck, graphic equaliser plus amp, tuner & turntable. Plus an obligatory smoked glass door & big but very cheap speakers. You got the idea the glass door was the most costly part. This became the dreaded Rack/Stack System that were everywhere by the mid 1980s in some of the most hideous mass-market items ever made if thankfully long since binned. But again, this is what the undiscerning buyer wanted & going into hundreds of houses covering all walks of life in the mid to late 1980s as part of the family junk shop-removals game, these things were everywhere & having been interested in record players in general since using ones in the shop from the early 1980s, the lack of the Better Stuff we cover here was noticeable. So the EX 330 amp, it's probably adequate for what it is, a 30w amp, but as it's a UK made item, what is inside could be surprising in a not-good way. One EX 330 amp sold for £34 in Feb 2015, £8 for the tuner & £15 for the tape deck shows no collector respect in price. The back shows 1960s style phono sockets & DIN speaker outputs if the front does look smart. Some styling at the back like Ferrograph amps suggests their manufacturing. The dumbed-down write ups these items get it amusing... "EX 330 incorporates two large Power Watt meters, which indicate volume levels, finished with a quality matt black background with white legending for the readout. Situated by the side of these meters is a push button which alters the range of the meter scales from 30 watt to 3 watt, this enables you to set volume settings on both hig and low volumes, at the same time of altering the scale setting. This button also switches the volume from the speakers to a lower level". My, we are impressed will have echoed the homes of prospective newbie buyers. We see it's a mute stage with meters that are likely the fore-runner of those ghastly flashing light EQ readputs that came later, just for decoration. Other sections are covered in the same way, but nowhere else explained these things in simple terms. But snigger ye not, this is what impressed the expected buyer & Amstrad were giving the people what they wanted, if being worlds apart from what the typical Classical-loving Hifi News reader would consider. Suffice to say no service manuals exist as Amstrad have no credibility in Hifi circles, but to be fair, the EX 330 range seems as good as the lowest Technics SU-7100 model of 1978 as we reviewed when we had one. The odds are ICs are in here as was the Technics, but again it'll have been adequate if in a modest way. One site shows inside photos, Amstrad named main board & capacitor, but likely custom-made by anyone. ICs & transistors mix, a bit crude inside as UK hifi always is, transistor output stages. Axial capacitors & generally the smart Japanese styled front hides typical early-mid 1970s construction inside. A book not to judge by it's cover & by the lack of them on ebay, probably most are long since binned after they packed up working. But they look nice & will have impressed many at the time at the low prices which after all was the intention.
Armstrong 127M receiver ↑
No way. One of their earliest ones, this is a tuner amp, if a very mediocre one. No real data findable but it looks early 1960s. But we've slated Armstrong over & over but how about this? Must be about 5w as the transformers are tiny. Very basic looking on top & underneath is hopeless. But bids are up to £190, it makes no sense. No wood case even. We really can't see the point in buying anything Armstrong especially this mediocre for a tenner, but others clearly disagree. Totally un-upgradeable as so basic, but this one is in high grade, likely as the owner boxed it up again fast after hearing how hopeless it was. Certainly one for the collectors, to us as an audio item, nil points. a Mono FM Tuner & Stereo amp, the 227 was the full stereo one. Aimed at budget buyers new & starter valve amps today, but when the Rogers Cadet III is easily found, why bother with the awful Armstrong stuff? We are so tired of the Armstrong rubbish we can't be bothered to get annoyed it anymore. They were a very budget UK company who later had some amusing advert hype stating how great they were. Please do not buy any Armstrtong hifi, you'll only regret it.
Armstrong 426 receiver ↑
No no no. Sadly is a Germanium design again, predating the 500 series, but this one will appeal in looks to those in love with the colour Pink, ie Women. All pink lettering & a pink light. Honest. Looks stylish if you're unaware of the pinkness too, but probably in need of major surgery to get it working which sort of spoils it. But you can't deny it has a designery appeal, for The Ladies... who don't collect Hifi. Oh well. One seller shows inside photos, it's just the later 526 in a different casing, mostly Germaniums as the 626 is, the same crappy 10 years earlier looking parts & plug in boards like Leak use. For how we rubbished the 626 on the "Avoid" section on the Top Amps this will be no different. It uses the weak UK Mullard Germanium transistors that age inside & the sound might be working but it'll be very aged & bandwidth limited with heavy distortion. Do NOT buy any Armstrong gear, until perhaps the 1974 600 range as they are cheaply made with low grade out of date components, yet when new sold for midprice when much better was out there.
Audio Note (UK) Valve Amps
No as too expensive for what they actually are. As readers of Hifi mags for several years, you could not help but notice these stupidly priced Valve Amps. The apex of using components made of silver & other 'precious-precocious' matter. But on seeing an Audio Note Oto on ebay, a basic Line Level integrated amp of the most boring casework, we look deeper. It looks like a Kit amp & the facile oversized wording on the glossy front looks a little naff as par an Eagle cheap amp. The fact a previous owner took out the original input sockets to fit those £2 each Gold ones shows it's easy to mock, so we'll refrain. PCB with the main valves & circuit on. plain open bracket transformers give a cheap look. The power supply is feeble as is the whole amp. It must be an ultra-budget one as the seller wants £899. 10w $3850 new in 2008 for the Phono version looks very overpriced to us. But no circuits & the parts used look standard fare. So onto the Audio Note Ongaku, but these are $79,000 new in 2006-08. Uses huge 211 valves for 18w Class A. The transformers are Pure Silver which covers a few $K but where is the rest of the value put? Ah, in your ego for massaging. the circuit found on HFE shows there's not much to it, 5 valve stages per channel, 2 adjust pots, 15 resistors, 2 electrolytics & a low value coupling capacitor to limit deep bass, oops. There is a complex NFB stage. The power supply is configured to give 960v if the 500v capacitors are low spec, it uses 5AR4 rectifier diodes that are usually not used as slow & limiting capacitance. So what? is the opinion, though for $79K it must have something going for it. The case is ugly & plain, gold coated brushed aluminum probably with 2 controls, 2 preamp driver valves & the 2 output valves as a Class A Stereo amp with 3 plain block transformers. It has no style or class at all. Look at the HFE gallery, ugly plain boxes is the Audio Note ideal. So who it going to buy it beyond those who spend for 'kudos' rather than worthiness? The SET Class A triode crowd go more for no NFB designs, this has NFB. It's an integrated with no Phono. Ebay shows no sales of these big amps or others similar & to assume very few ever sold beyond the ones passed round the Hifi Reviewers, they just seem hideously overpriced for what they are.
Audio Reflex AGS 150 receiver ↑
No. This is a cheeky rip off of the Yamaha CR-1000 with Marantz lettering & Tuning wheel. Did read up on these before & opinions of 'avoid' were noted. Anything pretending to be a high quality product with signs of cheapness is not for us.
(V) B+O Beomaster 608 Valve receiver ↑
No. This is their earliest Valve amp sold 1961-64, 15wType 608 Integrated Stereo Amplifier ECL85 £52 new in 1963 which is the wood case one with the Tone lines long window on a blue fascia. One sold for a hefty £557 in Aug 2013 though others usually sell for much less. It has 5 valves but as this early, Germanium transistors too making it a risky buy & with the combined pre-output type ECL85 output valves not the highest quality design at all.
B+O Beomaster 1000 receiver ↑
No. This was their next effort, a 15w all-transistor from 1964 sold until 1971 & oddly looks more 1973 in design, sold with or without a MPX FM decoder, 2317 with, 2318 without. Early ones 2312-2315 have Germaniums, there are 2 circuit versions findable online, the earlier one has many Germanium, the later 2316-2317 one has Silicon in the Audio stages but still a few Germaniums in the Tuner.
B+O Beolab 5000 amplifier ↑
Interesting. We've yet to try one, but ones have been on ebay for high prices so worth investigating. It's the amplifier-only forerunner of the more sucessful Beomaster 3000. It's confusingly rated 60w, but into 4 ohms as B+O speakers were, today's 8 ohm speakers would rate it about 40w. Sold 1967-72, it can't be that rare. But for the few that have turned up on ebay, they are certainly collector's items, as was a rare Sinclair Neoteric 60 from 1968, a very designery piece, what that sounds like will remain unknown to us. There appears to be 2 versions from scant info found & the insides look messy compared to the more organised innards of other Beomasters above. The matching tuner confusingly is named the Beomaster 5000 though it runs 88 to 108MHz unlike the Beomaster only going to 104MHz. From ones we've seen, lettering wearing off on the aluminium slider board is a big problem for looks, though one on ebay in early July 2012 was complete. It's a stylish item looking futuristic & retro. We assume the sound is not dissimilar to the Beomaster 3000, of a good quality. We read technology moved on by the 3000s & looking at the circuitry, it's a bit like the lousy Scan-Dyna amp in some ways. So until we find one, that's all they wrote. Update 2018: We see one on ebay July 2018 & to see the input & output connectors are all DIN with some Phono plug duplication as the Beomaster 3000 has, but it only lets you use skinny cables as the spacing is tight on the feet height. As always, the screen printing on the sliders wears off especially on the volume. Inside it's hard to work on as layered boards so one we'll never try as worn print puts buyers off & there are no repro panels yet if there should be.
(V) Braun ↑
Interesting but Mostly No. This brand has transcended from mere Home Audio & Hifi into a Fashion Style icon brand noted for the SK5 Snow White''s Coffin radiogram. Braun CSV1000 is a 55w integrated amp. You can find the Service Manual stating 1965-67 is it's era. All Silicon too like Sony in 1965 & some familiar transistor numbers 2N3055 etc. A quick look at the design suggests it's probably an interesting early amp for DIN system users, try find one. Actually we did & £900 starting bid for one in Germany. Looks wise it's little better than Lab gear, 6 push buttons with 6 small lights, 6 odd levers, 5 grey knobs on a plain white fascia, a grey top lid & a DIN plug on the front & more on the back. 40cm wide, 33cm deep, 11cm high. Nothing designer here & clearly the high price based on another reputation, just like mediocre Clarice Cliff sells just for the hype of a few wild ones. The CSV1000 we would expect to sound as good as the Sony TA-1120A but again with limitations of age & lower capacitor values & the large input resistors. Not one to recap & max out as too expensive as a collector piece. Braun CSV13 is a similar looking version of the 1000 with 12w output, but is actually all valves ECC83 & EL84 but Diodes for the power supply as usual. Again the serevice manual is findable. 1967/68 HFYB shows valve amps 12w CSV13 £95; 30w CSV60 £120; 15w CSV250 £89 & the CSV1000 55w transistor amp for £294. Braun CSV10 is 1963-66 all Germanium transistors, same plain looks as CSV13 & it has the bad AD type EU Germaniums meaning a full rebuild on a 8w RMS output amp isn't really worthwhile. Braun CSV500 we could have got, but looking ast the circuit, the Line Inputs see a large resistor before any amp stages, the build looks crappy like a 60s German radiogram & overall not for us. Braun CSV1000 again similar, both all DIN plugs & probably DIN specs for input ratings. Odds are you'll not find any with English front lettering.
(V) Decca Decola PX25 amplifiers ↑
No, too early. We've seen a few of these on ebay making very differing prices as well as 'selling' but relisted again. But now one seller has two of the innards to use as Stereo & wants £5000 for them. Firstly, deep disrespect for whoever trashed 2 Decolas to get the innards out, they have separate on-off-volume-selectors so will always look like, er, Radiogram innards. The Decola cabinet was not the heaviest made, the works sat on top of the speaker-cupboard enclosure but with the velvet style finish it is a nice looking unit. But to butcher them for the innards is unforgiveable. Both look a bit different with new bits here & there, but the idea is truly awful. Use the PX25s built into a new chassis would make more sense. We had the very stylish Murphy A138R gram from the similar 1949 era a while back & it was clearly more Hifi than other radiograms & was seen making £400 last time we looked, it had PEN44 push-pull output valves. But the Decca still has very early circuitry that isn't going to be Hifi enough, hence the sale no doubt. Do not butcher old Radiograms for the innards.
Average-No. One reader asked why we had no Denon on the site, so we had a look. There are no Receivers listed in the HFYB though HFE site shows two that look 1970s vintage, the 55w GR-535 & the 80w GR-555 & the Amplifiers in the HFYB only start with the PMA-500 & don't start to get into higher quality & power until the 1980 book listing has the 1979 range. So they are a bit late for us, a brand that was popular, but whether it's any different to any other 1979 era, they all looked the same and sounded the same by then as cost cutting was the deal now. A huge amount of Denon AV receivers though the 1989 Denon DMA890 110w amp with early DAC is perhaps their best, if we'd not care for 1980s Hifi. The 1977 85w Denon PMA-850 is rated highly by some, but seeing the awful overdesigned power amp, six pairs of sodding differentials per channel with the phono & preamp both being differentials & push-pull, just too much mess here. A large receiver 1977 80w Denon GR-555 looks interesting, all transistors, not sure it'd be a very loud 80w as the HT is only using ±50v main caps like 50w ones do. A plain awkward looking amp in only a vinyl wrap case it hides the secondary controls behind a flap which we're not keen on. One sold Jan 2015 for only £236, either not so well known or not rated as other 1977 big receivers are. The service manual says Nippon Columbia. The circuitry is more appealing if the circuit diagram is awful quality sadly to look too closely.
Eagle 7600 amplifier ↑
Average. Because we done our research we tried the 60w 7600 which is their most powerful one. It's far from a piece of junk though, well made inside with TO3 output transistors, looks like a typical late 1970s Japanese made amp. 10000µf 50v power supply capacitors. Big transformer approx 11cm x 9cm, relay. Shades of Yamaha & Pioneer with certain parts. But it's just a typical item of the era & clearly budget was the idea. Never got it working as a trashed power amp board with parts unrecognisable with no Manual or any Eagle on HFE & on the basis of what one would sell for based on their low style image, really not worth trying any other later models beyond a 15w valve amp. Eagle R7200 30w receiver from 1979 looks like any other Japanese amp, it's probably a competent effort if just everyday audio gear.
Electrocompaniet AW 2 X 120 M amplifier ↑
No. We have no intention of buying these sort of modern amps, but as the Specs & the amp were on ebay in March 2014, we had a look to see why it's £1375 secondhand, huge drop from £3800 new as the seller quotes. Firstly it's a power amp only with only XLR inputs. Appears to be Class A only. For the £3.8k price new it's miserably just a black metal box with a bit of perspex as a fascia. No pretty polished metalwork, all very dull. Max peak current they state is 100 Amps. It's 120w rated & is bridgeable with another 3rd channel possible inside. Your electric cooker only uses a 30A spur from the mains box. Next bit of BS spec is THD at half power as low as ‹0.002%, the Damping Factor & NFB will be very high. Stated as 120w 2 channel, bridgeable to 400w with a 2 ohm load, as in car speaker moron systems to 800w bridged. Absolutely useless. This is the trouble with modern 'hifi' it's total BS overdesign to impress idiots. We hate it. 800w of Class A at 2 ohm is highly unlikely & the thing would put out so much heat it'd self combust. Takes 72 hours to 'burn in' and needs 2 hours to wake up before optimal on useage. We still hate it. An amp should be at it's best within a minute or two allowing for capacitors & valves to heat up. Inside it'll be oversized this & that, be sure ICs a plenty & whatever they use for output stages if actually discrete transistors, will be uneconomical to repair. Sadly this sort of 'high tech junk' is no different to the lousy Sumo monoblocks we demoed before wisely preferring the Tube Technology valve amps. Still, there is always a market for this sort of amplifier, though you have to wonder if those who think they are so great actually know anything about what is good Hifi. You didn't expect us to like it, did you?
Ferrograph 60+60 amplifier ↑
Average. A rather crappy budget quality amp overpriced by one ex-employee of Ferrograph having a mania for it. There are many better amps than this lousy effort. Used to be a £60 amp before the bidding wars & should still be as the 20w version is currently. Actually this was first advertised in Nov 1973 as the HFN/RR pictures the silver front one, so it's not so rare as on sale for up to 7 years. One seller shows plenty of photos of the (only design) silver front one so we can take a better look. Inputs are Phono or DIN for Tape & Phono for others, but these look the old type of long pin needed phono so modern ones with shorter central phono plug pins might not connect right as we found on other amps. Outputs are DIN plugs only which is pretty poor & 60w should have proper wire connectors as DIN speakers are usually on 40w max as skinny wire is all you can use. TWO BADS already... Inside is fibreglass PCBs & axial capacitors like the 20+20. Construction is like the Rogers cheapie transistor amps Ravensbrook & Ravensbourne & doesn't look anything like the superior Japanese items. Our opinion just on looks with the rubbishly sliders & cheap vinyl wrap is not a reassuring one. It looks budget priced junk like those Rogers & how it can be a true 60w RMS per channel looks a bit unlikely. Most British Hifi after the Valve era is far less quality than the Japan & USA product. Why it got a crazed bidding war is because one of them was a worker there until it closed in North London in 1980 after moving around several times. We know the 20+20 has a basically good sound on first listen early on in our amp buying, but on closer listening it's rough & unsophisticated as well as way underpowered in all design. Excessive gain tone controls. It looks mediocre inside & having seen inside one & expecting some classy design it's disappointing junk. It'll not be any better sounding than the 20+20 which only got a 3rd league "also recommended". To recommend it or this piece of junk higher would be irresponsible. We don't like. We haven't heard one, but we spent quite a while with the 20+20 until we tired of it. The 60+60 is a later design but still very much like the 20+20 in many ways. AC ripple was very high & a gritty unfocussed sound was served up, as well as having awkward axial capacitors & tricky to bias. Back panel on one shows Phono inputs as well as DIN but only DIN outputs & an odd switch for 4-8 ohms or 8-16 ohms. Still looks cheaply made with wonky buttons & vinyl wrap. The price for a working but unserviced or unrestored one really should be no more than £120 like similar budget Amps like the Goodmans receivers. We'd not bother buying one at any price beyond turning a profit, in case you were wondering...
(V) Fisher ↑
Interesting. We are aware of the Valve amps which as nice as they are & the UK Hifi Yearbooks show they were sold in the UK unlike the early Marantz or McIntosh, but valve amps always need a lot of work so careful buying is needed. Fisher also changed owners a few times, the original company sold in 1969 to a company Emerson best known for ceiling fans in the USA & then to Sanyo. As with any market, they saw the easy buck & cheaped out is the general opinion. The fan company gradually turned the brand from specialist to mass market outlets which it seems meant quality dropped right off after 1971. A USA reader adds:A tip on US Fisher equipment. Their tube equipment is often regarded as their finest. In receivers, look for the 400, 500, 500B, and 500C, the 800, 800B, and 800C add power output and AM tuner. And as a rule sweet sounding units. The Fisher tube gear is worth evaluating for yourself. I think the all silicon era at Fisher was around the time that US manufacturing gave way to outsourcing. The Japanese made 201 Futura series is excellent sounding, sweet and lush if power output is 20 watts/channel into 8 ohms.
(V) Fisher X1000 Valve amplifier ↑
Interesting, but outpriced. This was on ebay May 2013 & a very high grade one in the case £2225 it made from a Finland seller. For how high grade it was for 50 years old, all bright knobs, bright fascia & strong lettering, inside very clean, coupling caps redone, wood case, diodes & some mains ones done if they couldn't bother to get axial high voltage ones. Seller had the matching FM1000 Stereo valve tuner in the wood case selling for £1220. For that sort of money, it's still quite cheap compared to the McIntosh & Marantz valve gear, but it's still encouraging. As pretty as it looks, for that sort of money too, only sensitive restoration should be done, only capacitors will really need doing as well as valves.
Fisher TX100 amplifier ↑
Interesting. This was on ebay & one forum shows inside pictures. Early Transistor design. Looks like the designers had not much idea what to do with the layout. It looks awful inside, a huge amount of space wasted & ceramic IC blocks that are resistors & capacitors like the Tone of the Trio-Kenwood TK-140E & will be so inaccurate. To rebuild the whole thing would be a wasted effort for it's 15w rating. Interesting for the small plug-in transistors like the 440 we had & the output transistors are likely Germaniums. Always worth seeing inside these early amps & the design of this makes it one to not bother with. HFE has a service manual which is interesting for the Do's & Don'ts of Transistor working & soldering as this was an early one. Transistor count seeing it in circuit form is Phono x2, Tone-Pre x2, Power Amp just x5 the lowest we've seen though it has coupling transformers for phase splitting like the Sansui 3000A has. It will sound interesting but it'll soon bore with only 15w & the aged parts & ceramic network lumps called PECs aka Packaged Electronic Components. McIntosh use these nasty things in the early preamps we had. A starter budget amp of the era, is the ebay one worth the £300 in the (unseen) original box? No. £100 tops as a curio.
Fisher 200T receiver ↑
Interesting. This is the lower power of the 440T we sort of had a few years ago, never got it working & in poor grade with no lid. A manual for the 220T exists so assuming the difference is just adding MW on the 220T. This will be similar so a fresh look in light of re-interest in Germanium amps (the 220T isn't Germanium) after the JVC MCA-104E impressed. 20w RMS this one. It runs Preamp which is Phono with the last FM tuner stage for the separation control, as early receivers often did, this is 2 transistors; Passive Tone Controls; Control Amplifier: a single BC147 which ages badly in Leak amps, then Power Amp pre driver & driver, 7 transistors in total, if what the last 5 are isn't stated. The power amp board is similar to the 440T but underneath & can't find top inside views to see more. It'll be Germaniums again on those last 5 transistors, but if it uses BC 147 etc it'll probably use the poor Mullard AD ones, the 440T used RCA numbered ones we remember. This makes this not such a good Fisher possibly & it's later as it has a FET in the Tuner so isn't 1966, FETs were first in Tuners in 1969. The seller of this one is one of those 'hasn't a clue' upgraders, putting coaxial caps instead of bothering to get axial & by the size of the main cap just puts like for like, but leaves plenty of old caps & ceramics. Are we the only ones able to upgrade properly? Will we go down in Hifi History as Legends, Pioneering proper Hifi Upgrading? Have we already? Have we influenced the Vintage Hifi market noticeably already? My....
Fisher TX300 amplifier ↑
Interesting. This is a 36w £169 amp from 1965. Looks like the valve era gear but it's Germaniums though it could be upgraded to Silicon. or it could sound great, depending on the quality of the Germaniums. It does look smart in the big wood case so off to find a manual. Doubled output transistors to get the wattage which for 1965 was unusually high as our Amplifiers page shows. Any hope that not all transistors are Germanium is not so, the 2N2914 are though the 2N code was used for both types. At least these are the Japanese ones not the UK Mullard AD140 type that age badly. The circuit is interesting & for such an early design it's sensibly designed if perhaps a little soft sounding. The amount of Germaniums probably keeps it really as a collector's piece rather than one to use critically. One on ebay for £265 delivered in May 2014 with a repro case of good quality is either a bargain for the rarity or a bit high for a shelf sitter that's not really for using much, it went unsold which is surprising really.
Fisher 440T receiver ↑
(We got one of these as seen on the Reviews page) Interesting. 20w Germaniums. From 1968. This was the first disappointing one tried of this brand as a fairly early on in terms of doing this hifi site, not doing well with Fisher yet are we? It was messed with by some fool, diodes were wrong & burnt out a capacitor with overvoltage. Then on doing properly the main capacitor got hot & 1 side of the transformer did too, no doubt bad capacitor or duff transformer even as voltage was very low. The amp was used a console amp, so no top & no base either which is common on Fisher gear. The transistors seemed ok as not shorted but again they were Germanium, which may be a good thing based on the 1966 JVC sound. The amp front didn't clean up very nicely & with all the problems together with lack of interest, it got parted out & more money in spare parts. Fisher sold out shortly after, no doubt only the valve amps they made are worth buying. Probably would be a good amp if you can put up with or upgrade the Germaniums not so much against it as all the bads on ours as people are buying the spare parts, though they may fit the valve versions too. The back transistor board sold fast to Japan for example, it could be these are Germaniums used in guitar amps. On seeing the 200T above, this is similar but a better amp, Google finds pictures of a nice grade one in the wood case. The black squares are the power amp with the TO3 output transistrors on the back heatsink under a cage. Just a shame ours was so bad as even in JVC amp mode it'd probably still not work. But at least the parts of it were snapped up to keep other amps going.
Goodmans Model 150 receiver ↑
Interesting. This appears in 1976 with the 1977 HFYB saying it's 110w into 4 ohms, if 70w into 8 ohms. One site gives the specs which look decent & it weighs 18kg. This is therefore the Only Monster Receiver made by a UK maker. Goodmans had a good pedigree with years of making Speaker drivers & their early 1970s Module 80, 90, 110, 120 & 150 are decent sounding midprice receivers. As with many brands their name became tainted in the 1980s with mass market crap, but their earlier receivers, some with very 70s styling, are worthy with the 80 and 90 being on the Top Amps page. Sadly finding circuits for these is impossible though the Module 80 is the same insides as the Ferguson 3483 so at least that circuit is findable. Looking at photos it looks a bit 70s goofy-retro like others, with lozenge shape buttons & a big tuner window with a presets drawer like old TVs had, lights up with green displays, not a classic silver front at all. All DIN sockets & a touch of cheapness here mean it'll still be a midprice item. But the Goodmans designs were decent & this would be one worth upgrading, if we could find one, as it appears to be the highest powered UK receiver. A forum reveals it's worth by having a circuit diagram so we can look deeper. Transistor count: Phono x3, Preamp x8 includes Buffers & Filters, Power Amp x16 a bit busy. For this, it's going to be like most 1977 era amps & not as good as the earlier ones. One sold for just £57 in Nov 2013, but we remember seeing the grade was a bit rough.
Grundig V1700 amplifier ↑
No. We've known Grundig since their 'Party Boy' portable radio as a kid, but have never found any hifi to try as it's usually only low powered & midprice at best. This one we were told was good. looks wise it's awful & the matching tuner seen on a non working pair leaves you feeling pity for a popular brand to issue such ugly hifi, but this was typical in the 1980s. Ignoring the roadkill looks, the circuit shows this 1986 25w amp is all transistors, if typically an IC for the Phono. One site gives it a glowing review but unhelpfully-stupidly says "Caution, do not modify or refurbish Grundig products: the final result is always worse." what a sweeping foolish comment to make which leaves not one word said on the rest of the site credible. Any amplifier can benefit from a Professional Service & Upgrade, look how many we've done. We are only interested in Qualified opinion, so on we look with ours. Odd circuit, where are the Tone stages. We are shocked to see, like some other lousy 80s amp, that they are After the Power Amp Stage. Awful 80s technology like that 1978 Technics mini system on the main Reviews page with it's pulse supply nonsense. The circuit otherwise is very simple, the preamp stage is a differential then the bias stage & the power amp is all push-pull. From looking at the circuit, it should be a clean sound but soft & bass light. Low spec is guaranteed in all places. This sort of amp shows better circuitry is known, the power amp design is decent in theory, but you are not going to get a quality amp here & for a 25w not worth upgrading. An interesting one at least as we try to look for better 1980s amps, but the 1984 Sansui as we review is perhaps the best one there'll be.
Interesting. The reason why we've not had one becomes clear, there aren't exactly many sold in the UK, range a bit limited if one 150w power amp & nothing before 1972 for the 1973 introduces them. The USA giants McIntosh get almost overlooked in UK HFYBs yet other USA brands like Marantz dominate amid the Japanese brands. 1973 belatedly starts the brand in the Hifi Yearbook, though the A100T 35w amplifier is mentioned in the 1964 HFYB it clearly wasn't sold in the UK. In those days things could be imported, as USA Blue Note jazz LPs have UK duty copyright stamps on. On deeper looking, HK started out with Valve amps, done a Transistor range in about 1968 then the ones first in the UK are a 1971 range. The HFE site adds some early Amplifiers: A230 15w valve amp, an odd boxy A300 12w valve amp, A500 valve amp, the rest are late HK or PM models. Receivers: 75 is a Quadro receiver as are 100, 150 & 900, photos findable of the 900 online look interesting for the quality. Early receivers Two-Ten, Two-Thirty & Two-Hundred. 230 is a 1968 transistor receiver, probably 30w, 200 & 210 are both "50w IHF" & 210 adds MW to the tuner, 200 is FM only. The first Amplifiers to get sold in the UK are in 1973 with the Citation 11 & 12 60w pre-power combo. Later a Citation 16 a 150w power amp but no integrated amps until the 1980 HFYB with the 60w '505' being their best. Receivers beyond the 730 & 930 are only low power until 1980 with '560' 40w, '670' 60w & Citation (receiver) 80w.
Harman-Kardon 75+ Quadro receiver ↑
No. For the lack of much 1970s with HK, to go beyond Stereo & look at this Quadrophonic receiver, just to have a look. Phono is an early IC like the Teac AS-100 uses LD3130 which probably is only 3 transistors. 45w for Stereo & 18w x4 for Quadro, it still rates. Tone x3 transistors if 4 stages for quadro, an inverter board for Stereo-4CH mode, x8 for the Power amp, again 4 stages. Not sure how loud it'd be as 45w is only ±24v HT, though the inverter board is like a Bridging mode to use all 4 stages as Stereo giving the extra power, rather than leaving 2 unused. But bridging means running 2 amplifier stages together with one output signal which could easily blur the sound. Headphones has 'Back' and 'Front' mode, an interesting idea, but humans only have 2 ears so a bit void there, unless there really were quadro headphones. One on ebay Nov 2014 lacks the decoder so to use it only Stereo makes it pretty useless as a quadro amp, why would anyone buy a quadro amp & not have the decoder? The Marantz one we had in the 1990s was similar, can only assume these were sold off cheaply when quadro failed & no decoder to keep it cheap vas bo-one wanted quadro anyway. 20kg heavyweight but it sounds soft says the seller & for how marked the case is, not really worth bothering with. The Bridged Stereo idea will require both power amps to be identical or it'll sound blurry, or soft, the inverter board drives both power amps & the outputs are linked to bridge. there are 2 higher models 100+ at 57.5w and 150+ at 75w for Stereo use.
(V) Heathkit S-99 Valve amplifier ↑
No, had one long ago. We had one of these years ago though didn't do much with it as it was damaged externally & it hummed quite clearly in audio & casework. These were real Kits a person bought & constructed themselves, though you could buy them ready made. For the age of these, sold from 1959-68 they were high spec for a 1959 design. These are from the early 1960s, so you'll be buying a 50 year old item, do not expect it to work properly, selling prices rarely go over £100 as they are known as too aged internally. On looking at the circuit, it looks pretty decent though in sight it's very cramped with the boards not being too accessable. It uses easily found valves & once understood it's probably good for a rebuild as the capacitors as shown on other sites are well past it & the amp is usually in poor grade internally. Our opinion is they are not worth buying unless you really want to totally rebuild it & for that effort you'd get a decent early valve amp, so if you can take the challenge we'd recommend it on that basis if the exterior & fascia was tidy. These are not the greatest design by looking at a few, a cramped messy wired preamp. the fascia unfortunately is fixed to the case with tape that, as with the Quad II preamp & tuners, the tape ages & ruins the paint, so it'll always look awful unless you remake one. The outputs are 3 ohm or 15 ohm, use 15 ohm for 8 ohm, but not 3 ohm & 15 ohm but not the ground as one amateur thought was good. We see even tatty rusty fascia ruined-used ones making £100-£200. Do buyers have any idea of what is involved to get these working to be reliable? Nearly all the components would need replacing as so aged, off spec & too far gone, basically you'd be left with bare boards beyond the valve bases. The amp hums in an electrical & mechanical way so it will need work & upgrading to do right. You could easily put 30 hours & £300 in new parts to do this right, if you have the skill & patience. Heathkit had a long run in Hifi kits from about 1958 adding many models, their 1977 range in the HFYB was including a high power receiver even, but by 1978 HFYB they'd vanished... if they return with just the 1219 premium amp, receiver & tuner in 1979. Heathkit were certainly of their era, where people could build a decent quality Hifi for themselves & know the results would be good if the instructions were followed. For seeing the quality Heathkit were, we got the 1971 Heathkit AR-1500 receiver as on the Top Amps page. But as time went on, Heathkit had to get very sophisticated for the later 1970s with the 1219 range. By 1979 Maplin arrived in the HFYB keeping kits alive with Velleman & the kits Hifi News promoted. But sadly the buy a kit & make something worthwhile ethos isn't 'trendy' anymore & people like us who will go further to fix items to kep them alive is sadly a dying art.
(V) Heathkit S-88 Valve amplifier ↑
No, too early. Just seen this one on ebay too. Looks like a 1950s first Stereo job. Inside top is tidier than the over-busy S-99 making it easier to restore. Underneath is a rat's nest of untidy wiring by the person who home-built it & the usual ancient capacitors. Can't imagine anyone wanting to use it daily if restored, so what's the point of buying? But any mediocre valve amp will find a buyer, a mono Tripletone amp of not much use even sold for £55, why do these people want them. The S-88 is a lesser amp than the S-99 but easier to restore as a first amp you restore sort of thing. But will it sound any good & not hum like crazy is for the daring buyer to find out, for £175 or an offer, insane buyer too. Buy a Rogers Cadet III instead.
Heathkit AA-21 amplifier ↑
Interesting. As seen on ebay Oct 2013, a smart 1950s USA design a bit like the Trio WX-400U. Except this is Germanium transistors & a very advanced early kit amp. Cool backlit looks if a bit like a 1970s Creda electric cooker perhaps. Coupling transformers like the Sansui 3000A has though for the looks it has to be 1963-64. Doesn't appear in the 1963-66 HFYBs suggesting as the seller says the 240v was an unknown, so probably an import or Army buy as the Sansuis were in the 1960s. Fascinating it is, but also one for Collectors rather than for using. Germaniums age & the capacitors will be in need of redoing, old 10% resistors inaccurate & there is one of those ceramic capacitor blocks like the Trio-Kenwood TK-140E had that we rebuilt. So you'd end up totally rebuilding it & then the Germaniums would likely be soft sounding. Only the AA-22 is in the 1965 HFYB & it's a very plain boxed effort if 20w RMS for the time is decent. Lots of presets under a hidden front panel mean lots to service, so as we said, for Collectors only, not really worth rebuilding, though a Museum piece for sure.
Hitachi HA-5300 amplifier ↑
Average. This is another late 1970s amp supposedly 60w, nice fascia like Yamaha but the bland rest of the casework lets it down, sold for £129 delivered in June 2013. The brand doesn't appear very interesting for the fact it was not a big player which is a huge shame after hearing how great their 1971 receiver is. Apart from these few & later Hitachi are system type items, though there are also some big HCA pre & HMA power combos too from 50w to 200w from 1977-80, yet the brand never hit the heights of Sansui, Trio & Pioneer. The usually helpful TVK site surprisingly is unaware of how good these Hitachi are, or maybe only the 1971 range was? HA-330 looks nice like the bigger HA-5300 but an IC in the Phono stage, if the rest is discrete.
Hitachi SR-903 receiver ↑
No. An ad in the 1978 HFYB is unusual. It paints the picture that a person knowing nothing about Hifi would write the advert script. But the reason for including is they make a big deal out of "The 75 Watt Receiver That Delivers 160 Watts when You Need It". Is this something magical that is newly invented? Two amps in one? "Hitachi have cracked it with Dynaharmony... two amps in one. One 75w RMS per channel for lowe & medium outputs and another that boosts the power to 160w for momentary peaks". Oh right, it's sodding Music Power. Coat back, on, you've not pulled tonight, mate. After how good their 1971 amps are to spout this nonsense is a bit silly. It goes on saying you don't need your 160w amp as this delivers that when it's needed, but it'll not deliver 160w continous, only 160w for a fraction of a second. This false advertising of Music Power has blighted Hifi forever, despite being made illegal in the early 1970s, PMPO still was common in the 1980s-90s. The service manual openly states 160w is IHF Music Power, well all amps quote that, 50w RMS 120w Music Power etc, but we only take interest in RMS. As it's a 1977 amp, lots of circuitry on one board is the disappointing first opinion. Phono is an IC, Tone-Pre is a bit messy to see quickly but appears to be x4 transistors & Power Amp x13. Typical 1977 era design, nothing particularly special to deserve such a OTT write up about nothing particularly special. It's a 1977 75w receiver that was £334 which is pretty cheap with 40w-50w receivers at this price. How many fools believed their hype though? Ebay prices £60-£120 shows it's not one that gets much interest when the 1977-79 ones usually make higher prices based on Monster Receiver desires. Unexciting, huh?
JBL SA-600 amplifier, JBL SA-660 amplifier ↑
Interesting. We noticed this on reading through the Hifi News mags where it was mentioned in 1966 but not sold in the UK. We had an email asking for us to upgrade this, so remembering it, to have a look deeper & add a new one to this page. USA amp with smart looks like the exotic Japanese amps. JBL is James B. Lansing, a brand still known in later years. But what are these? 40w Amplifiers. The build is rather offputting with crude styling inside & axial (lengthways) capacitors. The service manual & schematic show this to be an early Differential amp, as far as we've found Differentials never sound as good as earlier designs. So two minuses so far. To upgrade this based on knowing the huge amount of work other pre 1967 amps need makes it impossible to price. What are the transistors even? Only given JBL numbers & likely Germaniums. Based on the KLH 27 amp we've had, the designs can be very low spec & cause major problems on upgrading, the KLH 27 took months to redesign it. We'd try an amp like this if it was ours & take our time on it, but with the above are we that keen on it really? To do it properly, it'd need a full rebuild & be sure it'd need redesign that takes time to perfect. To get an amp like this & give no estimate but say "it is a big job that could get expensive" is the fairest way. The reason why most will just recap like for like is as they don't want redesign issues & difficulties, we have the nerve to try these & believe us when some really can try our patience, but not to give up & why the KLH 27 is for sale working beautifully & not in the bin if be sure it's had given much annoyance on the way.... So for amps 1967-68 onwards, these are more predictable & possible to estimate. Pre 1967 we'd fairly say it's probably going to be too expensive & the results could be excellent or still a bit disappointing. Of course you can't do business without giving a price idea. Here we can't & we've seen the inside pics online. We could do it, but it'll not be cheap. For our own opinion, if we got one at a decent price, we'd take our time & do it as good as it could be, simply for research, but aware that work put in would never be got back as reselling, but on interesting amps this is what we do because it interests, to see how good it can be. But is this one worth the effort? As with some valve amps we can predict how much they will need, maybe effort is better used elsewhere... Seeing prices on ebay, only the Power Amp version JBL SE-408S, tatty one with no top case made $680. To us... the buyer must be insane. All original & crappy with it, the mismatched size output transistors are as designed. Sometimes you just realise that that one's best left as for having upgraded as many amps as we have, this could sound good but just need too much work & redesign. You'd not use the power amp daily & amps we choose are good enough for daily use.
JVC A-X9 amplifier ↑
Interesting. Another one we were told was worth investigating. Several amps in this range, so we'll go to the top range 100w one with a respectable 16kg weight. "DC Super Class A" is it's selling description, as if anyone knew what that meant & only the A-X5 user book is online not saying much else. To find JVC magazine ads would elaborate. Solid looking silver face amps with minimal controls if it does have Tone as the lower plain area is a flap hiding controls, not keen on these hiding-things-away flaps as well as they tend to break off too easily. 1981 HFYB lists it as A-X9 'Super DC' 105w £571. JVC we liked the clean honest sound of their once-ignored-like-a-turd early amps that have a SEA Graphic EQ, but these are unlike the 1980s hideous IC based EQs. JVC stuck with the SEA feature which in use is less precise than typical Tone. By the late 1970s, JVC were a big brand much talked of by Ford Capri drivers so after having made some profit selling those plain silver boxed 1976-79 amps, this one a bit different emerged. Specs show a true 100w with a high damping factor of 200, which generally doesn't reveal how the sound is, if it can mean it's not as open sounding as one with a DF of 15-40. Still made on separate boards like 1970s better hifi was, but are there any nasties? The Phono board appears right next to the heatsink with no shielding. The centre power amp drivers board is very cramped stuck in between the heatsinks. The preamp circuit is busy with all transistors if likely FETs are packed as double FET ICs which are no bother, no MC stage here if 1979 a little early beyond the few 1960s ones. One IC is shown on the preamp but it's not in the signal. The power amp starts with a lot of Differentials & FETs, but so does the Sansui AU-G90X, but then has a huge amount more for their autobias circuit, excessive for sure. The power supply is typical if modest. But overall it is an interesting "New Breed" type amp, so off to ebay to find nothing selling or sold, only the AX1, AX2 & AX4 low models. As with these later amps, sales will have been low at the higher price & odds are most will have seen years of use unlike the earlier ones that got stored away after little use. This can make finding a nice one very hard.
Kenwood...*see Trio-Kenwood below
Krell 700CX power amplifier ↑
No. Well away from what we consider trying for our Hifi pages, but this amp is 700w into 8 ohms & a terribly useful 2800W into 2 ohms. All a bit ridiculous unless you play your music in a Stadium on a bank of huge PA speakers. The seller's write-up shows they know these huge amps & says some interesting things, typos corrected, like he's been sniffing some powder..."...it has brutal power and almost every speaker proves it's best with an amp of this calibre.Yeah, 700w amp on 50w Tannoys. The controlled dynamics of 700cx is nothing less than addictive. The 700cx has the warmth and inner calm. 700cx has an impact and way with bass paired with a delicate smoothness and inner warmth, a transparency and control that is almost unmatched by other manufacturers the openness and total freeness. If you have great speakers, just bring the big bass and explosiveness as being shot out of a cannon...and midrange to die for that goes straight to heart with incredible treble alignment that gives 3D holographic placement of huge sound stage. Voices, pianos and violins sounds so lifelike..."well he is after £8800 so has to hype it up a weeny bit. We know the sound he describes as some of our best amps do this, but probably differently to a 700w amp. It must have 12-20 output transistors per channel to get the huge current in the wattage, but why do you need it? Because The Lord gave you a tiny one... Sadly you'll never find circuit diagrams as there is/was big competition on these dumbass floorboard benders. The few on HFE have 80-120 damping factor but a high 1.4v to get the rated wattage. Max power is 6000w, a little unlikely for more than a millisecond as that's 25A on a 13A plug, the power a Cooker on full uses. It would be unfair to criticise what we've never heard, but we can bet all the Rice ever owned by Uncle Ben the recapped Sony STR-6850 we played as typing this beats it for true musical quality if not volume and it cost us just 0.34% of the Krell asking price. These sort of amps we aren't keen on, from the troll comment on the Amps Review page, you can see the sort of buyer. Why do you need 700w with such huge current for Domestic use? Are you using 80dB sensitivity speakers?
(V) Leak 'Point One' TL12 amplifier ↑
No, too early. One of the few early 1950s Hifi classics. Mono naturally, one speaker required. Not the tidier looking TL12 Plus from 1957. So one making £2600 in April 2014 needs looking into as it shows inside pics. The range as on our amps page isPoint One/TL10 10w KT61 £28; Varislope/TL12 12w £45, TL25 25w KT66 £34. KT66 on the TL12 also. It's an early amp with the preamp box & the power amp unit with a connecting lead. Gold casework with open transformer cases in days when they were hidden away in a cabinet. So they look industrial rather than attractive. The preamp is loose with nothing beyond building it in to use it which is a bit awkward.The wiring underneath is very tidy like the Quad IIs are though this is tidy it means signal cables are together with AC heaters & the capacitance for smoothing is very low by today's standards. Early preamps are usually substandard as the Quad II preamp was awful with noisy button thuds & little gain on the tone as on the ones we had. Very basic preamp with lots of useless Filters that were good for 78s & limited range speakers, but not what you'd use today. The preamps only sell for a small amount separately, the money paid is for the power amps. But the TL12 amp has those 1930s style big resistors like our old gram has & 50uf is the highest value axial capacitor. All beautifully made if sadly with aged low spec components. Harsh but true, we'd never dream of rebuilding one of these as it'd never be good enough & too much would be new it's too extreme. The transformers are huge & this is the appeal of these amps, the Reggae Sound System operators used these huge transformers to make their own amps, but you'd never dream of touching anything here as we didn't on our 1932 gram, original is the deal. Based on the Quad IIs sound it'll sound nice but very limited & nothing modern Hifi about it. The sound used with suitably aged speakers will be a delight but it's a Rose-Tinted view of Hifi & us as upgraders would find it a frustrating item to use unless it was still in the cabinet it had been in, assuming that cabinet was a classy item. But the price tag on these does make us wonder what the buyer does with them as it's beyond Hifi. As an idea if these were of little value, the capacitors would all be upgraded, the resistors are usually very wide tolerance if not aged, the wiring loom would need optimising & then the valves depending on if they looked darkened from use would need replacing & some are not made anymore. Strictly a 'survivor' piece best for a Museum. Not for Hifi use & certainly best left original. One TL12+ amp & preamp on ebay Jan 2015 in museum quality with the original boxes will be a huge bargain at the £750 the seller wants, some fool actually best-offered it instead of jumping. Too early for us but what a beauty.
Leak Stereo 30 amplifier is a bad buy... ↑
No. This is **not** the clearly badged Stereo 30 *Plus* and the first version is one to avoid as it has crappy UK Germanium transistors & an awkward design all on one board. Note we say "UK Germaniums", the OC & AD ones are made by Mullard & unfortunately are known to be unreliable from new as the transistor was not sealed to the air in manufacture, so the Tin Coating of the transistor casing grows 'tin whiskers' which short out or affect the transistor. Germaniums themselves as we've found with the Japanese ones are actually great, it's just the bad reputation the UK Mullard ones used by Leak here & Armstrong used them from 1967-73 in their 400-500 ranges. It could be possible to get the Japanese equivalents & get the LS30 to be a different beast. Sold from 1963-68, it's only 10w. Why several of the germanium 30s have got bids over £100 is a mystery. Others go unsold for £20 so something strange there. The listing even shows the 18 transistors used, AC 107, GET113, OC44, AF118, GET538, AC127Z & AD140 are all Germanium. A collector's piece perhaps but UK made Germaniums have known aging problems & the sound will be soft & wallowy if it actually even plays loud enough from the aging. 20AS is a Silicon Diode, VA1055 & VA1039 are thermistors. It was a very early 1963 design & by 1968 the 30 Plus version was available, so Leak at least realised & were fair to buyers unlike Armstrong who had the cheek to still be selling their rancid 500 Germanium range in 1973. **Do not confuse with the decent 30 Plus which is 15w, with the 4 plug in boards as it's basicaly the same as the Stereo 70 & Delta 30/70**.
Leak 3900A amplifier ↑
Interesting. This is part of the 1977-78 Leak revival range, after market forces made the UK manufactured 1973 range too expensive, which is a pity as Leak were well loved in their quality midprice way. These were custom made in Japan by the same company who makes Rotel brand gear for Rotel, if it's not actually made by Rotel. The Nov 1977 Hifi News review states it is based on the Rotel RA1312 but with quite a few UK customisations such as bigger meters, different selectors, no rack handles & probably like the Leak 3200 receiver we had, it may have DIN connectors. It is 80w & £284 new at the time so again aiming for the upper midprice market. The HFN review likes the amp & says it has a clean if dry sound & say the amp copes well at higher volume & for 80w it should, unlike the 30w amps in the test too, early subjective reviews here. Unfortunately no service manuals findable but the Rotel RA1312 does so if we assume the innards are basically the same the Leak should be a decent amp, all transistors with only an IC for the Mic stage & doubled output transistors. Circuitry suggests it will sound pretty decent as does the Rotel RX603 receiver but none of these were exceptional amps, only really the Yamaha from 1977 are a step up, from those we've tried. Knowing the other Leak & the Rotel RX603 this is likely a decent amp but doesn't really have the potential to be a Top amp, but for those buying one to use, we'd rate is as worthy.
(V) Leak Stereo 20 Valve Power amplifier ↑
No, too early. Only a 10w amp & pretty basic despite the size. From 1958 if various colours until 1962 with the bronze first, gold second & upspec green ones the last, as a seller's copied info states. We did see one in person years ago, but never had the preamp so pointless really as it needs the higher output preamp. One is on ebay & the seller states "it has the usual mods & upgrades". Big alert to us. People rarely do it properly. Idiot alert straight away: too lazy to buy Axial caps so has small coaxial (2 wires at one end) ones, oh dear. Then the Speaker outputs, likely worthwhile, but to us a "No" as they chop out original parts. Buy adaptor plugs or make them, do NOT chop up old amps. Doing the insides is OK, but hacking the outsides will put buyers off. Whoever done this has no idea what the ¬ type symbol meant & put the Red +ve socket there. These are amateur crap "mods" & clearly no idea what they are doing or what parts are for & doing it properly as one aware of design would. So it'll be weak using the same old values. They appear rather oddly to have put 3 bypass caps on the old spec value power supply caps. This is mediocre. Why anyone would want to buy lazy work like this instead of having an original one to do & still be disappointed with as the design is so old. In defence of the Stereo 20, it has good size output transformers & a clean internal layout. But the design is so old & values so out of date, frankly either buy one in original grade or don't bother. You could max a rough looking one out & still not be happy with it. Without going into design territory too deep, well where are the Valve bias adjusters for a start? Fixed bias is no good for "doing it properly", though it's acceptable. The Rogers HG88 mk III has a fairly crude bias slider to balance the output valves, but nowhere does it say how to bias. Look to modern guitar valve amps of quality for how it's done. The Leak valve amps are just too old. Buy them carefully & get a good one. Saw a much better 'restored' one on ebay in Aug 2014. They done a very neat job, nice to see good work as it's not common, sourcing NOS valves but sadly they have no design knowledge & just replaced like for like values. Explains why it's For Sale as it won't have been much better than an original one. Looking at the circuit this time to see the circuit. Not impressed: high value signal resistors to weaken the sound, typical low spec capacitors, EL84 outputs a strange design, but overall not a bad design at all, if upgraded like we have the Rogers HG88 Mk III, But that'd never be possible as the EZ34 valve rectifier couldn't cope with our high spec. Another Vintage Valve disappointment & to bypass the EZ34 with Diodes is not as easy as you think as the EZ34 drops the voltage quite noticeably. AC heaters on the input & splitter will reveal hum if you upgrade beyond it's capabilities. We've tried these things before, see. The nicely restored, if not upgraded one makes a modest £560 which is reflecting Buyers want either Original or properly Upgraded, not just Restored. April 2015 shows a late gold one bought in Harrods that appears to have sold for around £1100, very high grade & all original which is unusual, a rare direct-from-old-cabinet find. To call it 'Mint' is fair if the filter control knob has crumbled a bit & they state a resistor & capacitor are bad as pictured, but where do you match the original ones? As it's not working right possibly, it's very overpriced & not the Museum piece after all. But it's still just 10w & still has the very low spec & aged capacitors. A Museum piece it all it is, if a worthy exhibit, but to use one even fully rebuilt the user will soon become wearly of as 10w isn't enough in valves for anything but a backgrround volume & be sure bass is severely limited. It makes us wonder who buys these in anticipation of using them, but for the amount offered on ebay, the buy it, tire of it fast & resell it to another dreamer must be the deal. It's not much to look at to modern eyes, the preamp will be awful & clunky likt the Quad 22 preamp & on pushing in the buttons, the preamp case will slide away if put on a table to as it was only made for building in a cabinet. Think carefully about useability if one of these catches you eye & the Rogers Cadet III is 10w also & much nicer to use.
(V) Leak Varislope Preamp ↑
No. Not had one either, but one on ebay in almost mint looking grade as built into a cabinet showed inside photos, equally gleaming. £450 it sold for in April 2013 which is very high. Stylish looking 1950s styled front. The Varislope preamp has many types of EQ for Input, all pretty redundant today unless you play prewar 78s with varying EQ. Phono ones RIAA, 78DE, 78NE, NARTB (NAB) for odd lateral type EQ which from early LPs & a 1950 UK Decca Export 45 shows this EQ sounds too dull & bassy with RIAA EQ. Then it has Tape, Tuner & Extra aka Aux. Phono 1 or 2 switch, Rumble Low Filter, the Stereo switch has L, R or Mono pickup but no L+R setting, and Balance. The Filter has 4, 6 & 9 kHz settings & the Slope part is like a roll off to get 6db per octave or something much stronger, but all will just lose detail as well as 78 noise etc. Bass & Treble have scales ±5 to whatever db gain they were. The back has closely spaced Phono sockets of the large hole variety, a thin bodied quality cable with a longer pin will work, some budget cables are too big on the body & the centre pin is too short, the original centre pins were much longer. High-Low input level switches like the Delta 30 & 70 still had, if not ideal for modern use. The Valve base looking thing is for connecting to the Power amp, eg the Leak Stereo 20 above as it will provide the Mains HT & Heater power. This means the Preamp is not much use unless you have an external power supply. We've never heard one of these preamps, but based on the Stereo 20 it will have the same sort of high 1.4v for full power output, not a more typical 500mV, as the Quad II do compared to the Quad 303. To use with a Leak power amp is the only option. The spec of this preamp will have given all control to the user in the days of early Stereo vinyl. The insides are sparce, not even a capacitor for the Voltage like the Rogers Cadet III pre half has, so it would have had to pull direct from the power amp about 2 feet of wire away. Big 1950s white resistors may have been matched as tolerances were 10% still & the ancient paper in oil waxy type 1500pf capacitors are the typical British Hifi part before the Polystyrene ones were introduced like the 1965 Rogers Cadet III uses, the waxy ones were used in early Radio & have a characteristic smell once they get warmer. It will all have a retro charm, but it will be soft & polite sounding, as well as aged, rather than the fidelity we'd like from Hifi. For the Pre & Power going for about £700-1000 usually, is it money well spent to please the modern buyer in terms of sound? It will impress, but it will be a muted quality that will frustrate from the limits of the design.
(V) Lowther L18S valve amplifier ↑
No, too early & outpriced. This was on ebay Aug 2014 selling for only £1200 with the SCU Mk III preamp. Lowther amps were mostly 1959 designs & clearly sold so few the old stock were still offered in the 1971 HFYB with 1975 being their last year. But this listing lets us see the insides. This one is a later effort first in the 1967/68 HFYB though likely earlier & is a Stereo power amp at long last we noted before & 18w for £47. As it's a Lowther, it still looks 1959 with a bare chassis with plain transformers & a very dated preamp for the late era, had they not seen 1965 Sony TA-1120 all transistor or Sansui amps? Very out of date, but well made if still very old fashioned. Serial number was 167 & other Lowther seen on ebay always have very low serial numbers showing sales were always very low. Look at the Leak Stereo 20, it's competition, if a 10w Stereo power amp, it at least looked smart with a tidy external layout, the Lowther look was still randomly based on Radiogram innards to be hidden in cabinets. Not the sort of amp we'd ever try as too much would need upgrading & the lack of space to do things properly would likely be an issue & probably why the price was quite low for the brand. We often wonder what people do with these early valve amps, use them once & put them on a shelf never to try again? Seems a bit of a waste but to restore & upgrade is going to put buyers off. A strange world these early valve amps live in. As with the Quad II set up, it'll sound nice but still be limited in the dated spec components & expectedly lousy preamp.
Luxman SQ-77T amplifier ↑
Interesting. The 1965 Lux SQ77T is a 12w Germanium though the Mk 2 is Silicon it appears though we saw a Germanium type transistor on the board. A seller with a Mk 2 for £450 has high hopes on his 20w amplifier, based on misleading web info. Unfindable speaker output plugs that look a little too like mains plugs of later years. Rare in Japan it appears, will be interesting to see if the £450 seller gets offers. Sadly another seller unaware of reality in selling, it went unsold with realistic offers refused. Early non UK-EU Germaniums are worth buying.
Luxman SQ-707 amplifier ↑
Average. This appears to be their earliest & highest power one, 48v/24v working voltage for the Push-Pull on an early 1000µf coupled design makes the SQ-707 30w at most & it looks a little cheaply made on the casing. Like with the earlier Yamaha from 1971 we had, Luxman too looks like it upped it's game on the later amps as this just looks pretty average. Transistor count is Phono x2, Tone-Flat x2 and Power Amp x6 which is very low parts count so it will sound good or have potential to at least. But it looks like any budget amp of the era, vinyl wrap & a basic case mean we'll not pay £140 delivered to try one as we doubt it sell for much more serviced up. Nothing of the Luxman class on this one. Beware two versions: the later is the 1973 clamshell one. Confusing.
Luxman SQ-1220 amplifier ↑
Interesting. This is one of their 1968 range, 40w amplifier. 1970 HFYB lists it as 50w for £123. Not had one but seeing one for sale & the pics of the inside always interests. It looks a bit haphazard in places, empty spaces underneath & awkward axial capacitors to make upgrading less easy, but overall looks pretty decent & larger capacitors suggests the power supply has been well designed, 2 being the output coupling ones. But for the start price of £400 it seems Luxman overpricing is going on & we watch many & many just don't sell. How it would compare to the 1967-69 Sony TA-1120A & the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 would be interesting, but not at that price. Another one shows it has a Variable NFB Damping selector of 2, 10 or 80 so the circuit needs a look as Valves are usually about 15 giving their open bass sound. Still achingly plain even in the wood case. Unusual speaker connectors & what looks like a MM step up stage on the back. But no circuit diagrams easily found so it'll stay a mystery unless we think this seller's £500 is worth paying... we don't. This appears to be the first Luxman amp imported into the UK by the 1970 HFYB listing, but the June 1968 Hifi News has a whole page ad for it if no UK distributor noted, only the address in Japan & an Australian agent. 50w output into 8 ohms. There was one on ebay late March 2015 but seller wouldn't deliver & sounded incapable so it went very cheap. Oh well. The service manual is now findable & the ad shows it clearly. A rather plain looking amp with Tone controls for Left & Right which is annoying in use as Tone should be equal or it shifts the Stereo image. Four central switches, two more switches with 3 more rotary controls. Comes in a nice wood case with Palisander veneer says the ad, now you know, if it's still stylistically a bit naive. The circuit looks good if the spec is aged, but as with these early transistor amps, some can be excellent if often unique designs as these were First Generation amps. We are still looking therefore. In Nov 2015 a nice looking but non worker appeared to get shill bid up to £184, a hefty 46 bids with lots of "desperate newbies" after an old 'broken' blind buy. Not for us... and insulting to real bidders.
Luxman L-11 amplifier ↑
Interesting, revised view based on their 1978 R-1040 & valve amps from 1979. One anonymous reader says this (to him) is one of the best. So always looking for interesting amps, if none are ever "the best" until you upgrade & recap them, let's have a closer look. L11 100w £625 from 1980. 18.5kg, no Damping Factor shown on the specs. Lookswise it's very basic, without the look of the L-100 which made you feel like it was expensive, this is a basic box. Looking at the circuit, ignore the IC-looking triangles as this just means R channel is the same as L channel that is all discrete parts. Transistor counts include Differential. Phono x8, Pre-Tone x6 including stepped Tone controls, Main amp x16 but inc doubled output stages & 3x differential stages, oh dear... overdesign. This will probably sound fresher than the L-100 but look at the wonder of the 1967 receivers & see how amp design is done simply & without all this differential nonsense. The L-11 probably is much better than most 1980 amps but overdesign as in the L-100 requires too much NFB. The L-100 phono was hard & overdesigned, this has 2x differential stages, odd how others can just use 3 basic stages & sound great. Later Luxmans past 1980 aren't seen in a good light from what we've read as they sold the company, but they did make more cheaper amps to survive & then they made the premium ones too. Does the L-11 interest us. If one was cheap enough to fix & try then yes. Can't find any selling or having sold to get a price idea. Looks like a dual mono type design like Harman-Kardon used & at the price clearly not aimed at casual buyers.
Luxman L-308 amplifier ↑
Interesting, if an old opinion before trying the R1040 receiver, we're finding Luxman to generally be good but to be fair to our attitude here, they are overrated as are Marantz. This is a classy looking amp, but what's that? Vinyl wrap case, not wood veneer. How strange. 1973-75 55w RMS. One nice site lets us board gazers look inside. They recapped it so not sure what electrolytics they used originally, until looking further & seeing they were Nippon ones, ok but not as reliable as Elna. Leaving ceramics & tantalums on the board shows the "restorer" wasn't wised up & probably replaced like-for-like in values instead of upgrading values. It looks well made with an air of Early Sony about it, if not the obsessiveness of all the shielding cans of the Trio KA-6000. The Phono RIAA tilt feature is useful for Vintage vinyl to have as a feature as the L-100 has too. Certainly one we'd try, it's sleek retro looks as with others in the brand do appeal. Looking a few years later in 2018, the L-100 is their best one, the L-308 looks a bit cost cut. One for £625 is way overpriced as sadly is typical of ebay these days, they put serviced & recapped prices on raw gear that if auctioned would make a more realistic £250 price at best. Hard buying amps to try these days.
Interesting. There are very few receivers, but quite a lot of Amplifiers that were sold in the UK as well as others that were Japan only like their early valve amps. Early Transistor Amplifiers: 1967 SQ-301 50w, 1968 SQ-505 30w, SQ-606 30w, 1969 SQ-507 60w, SQ-503 30w, SQ-707 17w clamshell design, 1970 SQ-202 70w, SQ-1220 50w, 1971 are updated complimentary designs reusing earlier numbers (no output capacitor type): SQ-503X 20w, SQ-505X 30w, SQ-507X now only 50w, SQ-700X 20w clamshell design, SX-700XG 20w budget version. Invaluable info in this Luxman section condensed from audio-heritage.jp Japanese site. Receivers: 1968 HQ505 50w, 1974 L-606 35w.
It has to be said Luxman could be as cheap & ordinary as any other brand of the era on lower range gear, the early SQ-707 in it's tatty wood case & big lettering "Solid State Stereo Integrated Amplifier" is as naff as Eagle could be.
• • • Earlier valve amps: Amplifiers: 1962 SQ5B 14w, 1963 SQ11 16w, SQ63 12w, SQ38 10w with 2 later versions SQ38D & SQ38DS still 10w in 1964-65, 1964 SQ77 10w-12w as updated in 1965, 1965 SQ65 28w, 1967 SQ78 10w. 1968 SQ38F 30w using the same OY15 output transformers as the 1979 LX-33 & looks very like it if the valves & circuit differ. The similar SQ38FD is 1970, SQ38FD-II is 1974 & revived as a 'Signature' version in 1995. The LX-38 is a 1978 version, if all use less regular output valves. The LX-33 1979 minimalist if superior EL34 outputs version is noted below. Other SQ are transistor amps. The various versions of the long-running 1968-74+ SQ38 became the 1979 LX-33 if simplified without filters etc. Some of the 1963-64 ones are like most Japanese valve amps with quirky looks but probably too early to upgrade well. For Luxman to bring out the 30w SQ38F/FD/FDII in 1968 & keep it alive even in 1974 with the FDII version, the 1978 LX-38 & to revive it in 1979 as a modern style with the LX-33 is fascinating to find out. The SQ38FD has 12 valves, but 8 are difficult ones, 12AX7-ECC83 are the first ones, 6267 (EF86), 6DT8/6AQ8 (ECC85) 50CA10 outputs are the tough ones. The plainer style of the LX-33 is based on the Luxkit A1033 version. Receivers: 1963 HQ33 & HQ34 both 10w, HR35 4w budget range. Later pre 1984 Valve Amps MQ3600 50w stereo power amp is actually 1975-78 according to TVK, as is MB3045 50w monobloc power amp. 50w stereo power amp MQ50 is 1983-85 as they were selling up. LX-33 30w EL34 intergrated stereo amp is Nov 1979-1984.
HFYB Amplifier listings these are all mixed up confusing the issue of the numbering even further. 1972: SQ202 80w, SQ507 60w, 1973: (SQ)507X 50w, 1975: L309 75w, CL350 preamp, M150 75w power amp; 1977: L100 100w (see Top amps), L80V 50w, L80 40w, M4000 200w power amp, M6000 300w power amp, C1000 preamp, 3600 preamp, 1979: L31 38w, L81 45w, 5L15 80w, 5M21 100w power amp, 5C50 preamp. Valve Amps. MQ3600 50w, CL32 preamp; 1980: M12 80w power amp, B12 150w mono power amp, L5 60w, L11 100w, L2 33w, L3 42w, L10 55w, C12 preamp.
Receivers: 1970 HQ555 50w (typo), 1973 FQ990 70w, 1974 R600 30w, R800 40w, 1977 R1500 75w, R600 30w, R800 40w, 1979-80 R1050 50w, R1120 120w, R1030 30w, R1040 40w, R1070 75w £540, 1981 R2040 42w, R2050 55w.
In 1984 Luxman merged with budget brand Alpine and was sold off in 1994 & 2009. So the pre 1984 Luxman only is the premium brand started in 1925 as Lux Corporation.
(V) Luxman Valve CL32 pre MQ3600 power amp ↑
Interesting. Part of the 1979 Luxman Valve amp release, appearing only in their 1979 complete catalog & gone by the 1980 one. Apparently a brave attempt to reintroduce Valves as Radford did similarly with ones in 1980, if the above Luxman section shows Luxman actually kept with valves 1962 to 1984, if the CL32-LX33 ones are repackaged to a new market. But here all the improvements in Valve amps made by Guitar Amp users & advances generally are what these valve amps are. MQ3600 50w £470, CL32 preamp £480 in the 1979 HFYB. The LX-33 30w integrated valve amp arrived late 1979. TVK site states this is a 1980 amp which is wrong if 1979 HFYB list them. The preamp comes in a wood case or not, hiding any sign of valves beyond the heat. The power amp is a 1950s styled open chassis. All 3 were sold as Luxkit kit amps too with different numbers. The odds many made it to the UK are unlikely, the LX33 isn't even in the HFYBs. The later CL34 is similar & 2 on ebay for £940-1500 shows their pedigree as does a CL40 sold for £1000. The MQ3600 50w stereo power amp has 4x 8045G output valves that relate to similar bigger output valves. But as with the LX33, bass is very limited by old spec values & the power supply is modest too. A 3600 on ebay for £650 reveals it's on a large rectangular brown painted base, long lengthways, with the cage on looking like a 1950s amp & with it off not dissimilar, with transformers & capacitors much like the early types. They had the preamp too sold for £600, a slim case with the valves all under the main cover not giving away it's valves at all until you leave an LP on top & crinkle it. Compared to prices elsewhere, these are a bargain. The CL-34 preamp looks much better with the rosewood case if the similar Luxkit A3034 looks a bit tatty in the case. The 34 has a big computer style cable taking the inputs to the selector, but it's just unshielded flat cable going right over the circuit & will pick up hum. Not very good on that. The 32 has the selector at the back with a long selector rod which has to be better, an odd change. CL-32 phono is 4 valve stages (2x valves per channel), two stages for Tone, one stage as a buffer on the output, so 7 valves used. Front controls are Selector, Tape Monitor, Tape Dubbing, Mono-Stereo modes, Bass Filter, Attenuator, Output selector & Volume. An issue that may limit buying is the voltage is either USA 110-120v or UK-EU 220 or 240v, but not selectable. There are solutions & experiments in it, but it'll not be easy. Luxman CL-32, Luxman CL-34 & Luxman CL-35 are the three main valve preamps from 1980-83. They are offered at high prices if sell prices are much less, suggesting they perhaps aren't so great, the Tone stages are fussy unlike the LX33 one.
(V) Luxman LX-33 valve amplifier ↑
**We review this on the Amp Reviews page, if this stays as a long section... Very Interesting. This is a 1979 30w EL34 based integrated valve amp, 19kg of quality, appearing in the 1980/81 complete products catalog & the 1981/82 one put after the system & turntable suggesting sales were weak by then. 1982 Japanese brochure shows a low 138,000 Yen price which was £358 in 1982 now heavily discounted as the L-34 was 168,000 Yen, if no valves listed at all by 1985. The Luxkit A1033 version was now 89,800 Yen, clearly not selling many. In 1983 Germany the LX-33 was apparently 2,798DM about £752. Whether this amp was sold in the UK isn't known as it's not in the 1980-81 HFYB. With Phono & Tone stage, it looks like a transistor amp from the tall fascia but the open grille shows the valves & lets all the dust in. We've looked closely at this amp & see a few issues that could all be upgraded if a lot to do. But the trouble with these First Revival Valve amps from 1979-80 is the market for them will have been very small in UK & EU, after all it was stuck in the 1976-79 Monster Receiver years which all died away very fast with the 1980 ranges. One site says this came out in Nov 1979 & was available until 1984, probably just selling off the unsold ones cheaply by the end. As great as they will be, not much wanted at the time despite Luxman trying hard to sell it & even when getting our TT amps in 1998 few people beyond the wise took interest in Valve amps until the Internet started growing interest about 10 years ago & the Fatman valve amp for i-pod era. One having apparently sold for £1800 shows good interest in this amp, as well as what the TVK & a German hifi-studio site shows that we rate very highly on just seeing circuits & photos shows it is perhaps the Best Vintage Valve Amp there is, it needs upgrade but the circuit design is exactly what we want, Vintage still as just pre 1980 but not the 1950s & 1960s vintage with all the shortcomings of age. Looking closer reveals the amp has a serious weakness: no proper DC Heater section, it just uses a negative voltage in series dropping the 12v each valve on the Phono-Tone section. what's worse it uses the Bias negative voltage to this. The power supply is still 1960s spec, if perhaps in 1979 there was no need or ability to make better. The front panel sells the amp a little short of the truth... "To cater for the specific requirement of sophisticated audiophiles this model is designed under full command of perfect knowledge about vacuum state technology of existing tubes". Not sure daisy-chained negative voltage AC heaters from the bias voltage, a lousy tone control sort of based on the Baxandall one but nonsensical, a nasty gain spoiler & low spec caps is the best there was, even in 1979. But don't let that put you off, many hours upgrading should bring a gem out here, the basics are all here without needless filters. As we put on the Valves page, this amp has all you'd want from a Valve amp, Phono, Tone & mostly easily found valves.
Marantz pre 1973 ↑
Interesting on most. Marantz 22 is actually a very early 1969 receiver, 40w. This sounds interesting. Looks well made inside like 1969 receivers always were, Pioneer-Sansui-Trio looking. But a tatty German one for £160 is too much to try, unlikely worth that even serviced. Need the wood cases else just a plain tin box, WC-4 or WC-3 for the 22, if £100 to buy from USA. Nearly tried one, but then got the Service Manual, would you believe an IC-op-amp in a 1969 amplifier pre-output stage... oh dear... MC1741 in a tin can with a ridiculous 17 transistors equivalent in it. That is disgraceful. We'd like to try an early Marantz, but all will need circuits to see what is rubbish or not. The Service Manual has several Update Bulletins so it's a problem one. Next was the 1970 pair Marantz 26 if only 14w and Marantz 27 30w. Marantz 29 looks very cheap 10w style. Earlier are 1968 Marantz 18 30w with a Tube Scope & the Marantz 19 50w looked at below. An early looking one not in the Marantz pages elsewhere is a SRC 500W which is supposedly pre Marantz who were only named Marantz in 1975, BS indeed, but inside some nasty STK block thing & it looks very basic & 40w power on the back is the full power so assume 10w. Unlikely to be Marantz at all thinks us & cheeky to suggest it is. Marantz 19 is a oscilloscope type Tuner, 50w, like the big monster receivers had, use limited & a bit pointless, it has a valve power supply as a CRT tube. Custom calibrated Tuner dial & hand painted on some this early, odd. The service manual is complex, the only problem bits might be 2 FETS. One to be left for the collectors as prices now & when new are insane. Some rate it The Best Receiver Ever, we doubt it having known a few 70s Marantz, a soft sound it will be. Some other numbers are receivers with a turntable music centre style. Models 23, 24 & 25 all have the same or similar MC code ICs, not just Tuner stage ones. Very disappointing. The 25 was sold with a fitted in Turntable too. Model 26 is only 14w with early version of 2215 series looks, Model 27 at 30w looks like the 2215 in styling also, Model 28 is 20w with a Turntable, Model 29 is all DIN inputs for the EU market, looks quite basic so likely only 15-20w. 2200 is the first of the famed range & is an odd looking one with a big tuner dial & very rare we read, as seem the 'model' ones, but 15w isn't much. Early SS Amplifiers Marantz 30 from 1970 with 60w is the more usual silver styling, then the 1030 starts the more usual series with 15w from 1973. As with these early ones, they are often the sweetest sounding with valve styled sound & as with other big brands are well under appreciated, if perhaps not always great in themselves, early Pioneer are OK if not as good as they could be, early Sansui can be exceptional or trouble designs, early Trio are mostly only 20-25w but sweet. Nothing found on the Marantz 30, so ??? on that & the risk of ICs & lack of any, who cares until one turns up?
Marantz 2500 & 2600 300w receivers ↑
No, mostly as outpriced & needless. (Opinion of about 2014, some isn't current...) These are perhaps the biggest power output Receivers made in the Receiver Wars years with a huge Yamaha & Pioneer into the game. Here we can find the Marantz 2500 circuit diagram, so have a look. Like a 1986 Pioneer 200w the output stages are ridiculous, it has FOUR transistors where one suits lower power amps, so Eight per channel, 16 for the output stage. All that does is deliver a huge current to inefficient speakers. We know the doubled Transistor amp is not the best Hifi, if the Pioneer SA-9500 does it well, others don't & 8 per channel means you will hear 4 blurred images of the same signal creating a fuzzy blurry sound. (**Not true, the blurry sound is many other things-2018). There is no way to upgrade, the design is stupid & why anyone who listens to music needs these amps is explained by those who put 2000w stereos in their Car: they are posing idiots. These amps make huge prices though unlikely they sold many as the prices new in 1980 were about £1200 for the 2600. But how cheap were they sold off at once the Bubble Burst? So the Power amp stage has a whopping 25 transistors. Without looking too long, it has Five differentials & then onto the driver stages & 8 outputs. All absolutely unnecessary crap, the complimentary amp usually has one differential, but 5 is ridiculous, we've sniffed at amps with 2 sets. You can see the theory of it, but pre 1972 amps got along fine without them as do valves, though a valve differential circuit is known. Now to criticise more, we look at the HT, it's +87.6v and -87.3v. Based on earlier amps, the HT usually means 0.66% of it will be the AC output as on our Power Ratings page but often it can be as low as 50%. Assuming it puts out 55v maximum, it's a bit higher than 43v the 100w Yamaha CR-2020 puts out & without the extra current it's probably not much louder than a 100w amp, based on volumes from efficient 45w amps to inefficient 100w ones. So all you are getting is excess current capabilities & a blurry sound. Oh and an oscilloscope. In all purposes for Domestic use, there is no real need for anything over 100w & some 60-80w ones sound as loud. You think you're a big boy having amp like that? Not so, our 100w valve amp puts out a clean 95v AC as we tested it harshly once & you can hear the capacitors sing even, no transistor amp is designed using higher than 95v for the capacitor voltage. All seems a bit silly now. (2018 opinion: a bit harsh, some should be deleted here but that'd mean rewriting the page).
McIntosh MC2505 power amplifier ↑
Interesting. McIntosh are the USA favorite brand, yet UK buyers got very little. HFYB only shows them as available, if no listing details in 1974-75. But a 1966 Hifi News ad shows at least one big shop was importing them, the 'Telesonic, London W1' shop offered the McIntosh MC225 Amp & Pre Amp for £195, they also show Dynaco, Scott & Sherwood showing limited UK distribution of USA brands & not many had Trio or Sansui either this early.
Interesting & tried some long ago. In about 2003 we bought a McIntosh power amp. It was the MC2505 50w Transistor Stereo Power Amplifier, sold 1967-77 $549.We then bought theC26 Stereo Transistor Preamplifier, sold 1968-78 $449;and after selling both then bought theC22 Stereo Preamplifier Valve-Tube sold 1963-68 $279, to maybe use it as our main preamp, but sold it on fast too. McIntosh appears late in the UK market, only getting a brief mention in the 1974 as the range wasn't ready for the book yet. Oddly similar appears saying a range is available, but no details in the 1975 & 1976 HFYB, if nothing after 1977 what happened? What a strange way to treat one of USA's favourite hifi brands. The MC2505 was very likely a UK buy yet the guy had no preamp for it. Looking on ebay, quite a few in USa, but nothing in the UK & on previous looks barely any must have sold in the UK explaining the odd HFYB situation due to bad distributors, Wilmex of London E1. As with all McIntosh, it needs those bulky Panloc cabinets or it looks incomplete, so we got them too. Not cheap, but they certainly looked smart & together with the C24 preamp the sound was extremely detailed with an excellent soundstage. But compared to our valves at the time, it still sounded warm & soft: treble was too rolled off & bass was a bit lacking as well as volume not being as loud as it could. The "magic" of sound is not possible to put into words that don't sound like the hack excited hype you read these days. For the way the amp was designed, adjusting the NFB actually raised quite a loud background hiss with only a fairly minor change, so it was put back to original & sold on at a profit. The magic of the sound hasn't been forgotten though but has been found & now surpassed. They were big & impressive looking units, no doubt losing plenty of ceramics & better caps may bring it up to standard, but they aren't cheap.
McIntosh C22 & C26 pre amps ↑
Interesting & tried some long ago.These are all valve preamp or transistorised preamps respectively, that we had at the same time as the MC2505 amp, on getting the Amp alone. Matched with other power amps of non McIntosh brand, the C22 was just a nice sounding amp of it's era 1964-68, a £1000 unit 8 years ago but for the current $3500-5000 price, you'd be crazy. There was too much circuitry in it, too many unnecessary features & the noise floor was pretty high compared to modern amps. But the C26 did sound great (to us in 2003) with the similar era C2505 transistor power amp we had at the time & was exceedingly musical in a way we've tried to find on amps using the same tracks that revealed it's greatness, to the point it did leave you dazed at how "real" it sounded in the midrange. But it wasn't perfect, bass was a little light & treble was a little soft, but the midrange was excellent. Background hiss was noticeable on some speakers, the early transistors can be upgraded as we've done with early Sony & Pioneer. We've since found that midrange on some amps we mention in these pages, it's out there to find. We sold the McIntosh lot on & they went fast. The prices they go for & knowing they need upgrading means we'll stay away & the only receiver they made in transistor years is an awkward looking thing yet it makes £1000+, the ceramics they used in the preamps were those odd 3 in one package blob types meaning finding which value was used in which part would take some finding. And then all your work might reveal weaknesses.And bad power switches.
(V) McIntosh C22 Valve preamplifier ↑
Interesting & tried some long ago. At the time we didn't know it was so early. These are USA voltage only & the transformers aren't rewireable like some are to use as 240v. In 2003 the going price was about £1000, what we paid inc shipping from USA & what we sold it for in the UK having bought a 110-240v step up transformer to play it. Now ones as nice as ours in the Panloc cabinet are more like £3000-5000. A C22 without the case sold for £1750 in June 2013, not as high anymore. A good investment once as the internet has made these amps far more appealing, look at UK prices on Rogers Cadet having tripled too, supposedly. The C22 is a 1963 design with those huge resistors, valves at the back & the odd type ceramic capacitor blocks with multi values like we see in our Trio WX400. We had a good look inside it & it was certainly a fine unit in every way, it had the useful Bass Boost NFB Damping Factor switch, but different to how the Sony STR6120 does it as the C22 is a preamp only. Too many adjusting pots may have been needed in the 1960s. It had a lot of switches & controls that all seem unnecessary & all seeming too much & too nice it got sold on. It didn't match our valve power amps well as a high output & a "sea of hiss" as a background. They work best with their own power amps as similar hiss was found with the C26.For being a 1964 design, for modern users it'd need so much reworking to make it too much to do.
McIntosh MAC 1900 receiver ↑
Interesting if a bit average. 55w receiver, Solid State sold 1973-78 last price was $949 probably about £600. Looking at the circuit, 0.22µf caps will mean it'll be Bass light as we found out on other early McIntosh. Plug in boards mean easy to work on like the Leak 30/70 & Sansui AU-999. Transformers on the McIntosh can be easily rewired for 240v, though the Valve pre we had before couldn't be altered as an earlier design & likely never exported. Just found some inside photos of the MAC 1900 which are the decider often. This is where we start to back off a little. It's very neatly made, like the Fisher amp that was too far gone & with similar looking bits, if no Germaniums by 1973. Old looking parts for 1973-78 though, like UK Ferrograph. Axial caps, dome head transistors, coupling caps that look small & are 0.22s, a big disc ceramic. More ceramics on the Tuner & it looks like the B+O small can type capacitors if early grey ones. Looking deeper, it has nasty tantalums too & more ceramics. Transistors are soldered into hollow pegs which would be fun to desolder. The amp board looks like most we'd replace as bits don't look too hot. Is this what we saw in 2002 with the other ones?
McIntosh MAC 1700 receiver ↑
Interesting if a bit average. This appears to be the earlier version of the above, still with Valves in the Tuner stage.Rest is Transistors. Earlier version is the all-Valve MAC1500 30w. The 1700 is a 40w receiver sold 1967 to as late as 1973 until the MAC1900 replaced it says one useful McIntosh site with annoying gifs to distract you. Bare without the cabinet, but no panloc buttons on this one. The Service data doesn't state what Transistors it uses, for the age assume Silicon. There is a 'start here' type bulletin to introduce service techs to a Transistor amp, a little worrying if the person ain'tau faitwith transistors in 1967 he shouldn't be taking lids off. It's a semi complimentary design wioth 4000µf 50v caps with ±37v on, nice power supply design. The preamp transistors see 75v it says, unusually high, other design looks a little odd too as clearly their first Transistor era. Hints that it could sound nice but mellow based on the ones we had above, but certainly quality is here but for the upgradeers delight. The power amp also has high voltages, as clearly using Valve HT for the Tuner, one sees 47k off a 105v HT line to put just 0.65v on the first transistor of this stage, the other is -39.5v, strange indeed.
McIntosh MA5100 amplifier ↑
Interesting. This is their first Transistor amplifier & one that seems worth trying as similar to ones above...
NAD 7080 receiver ↑
No. This is not a familiar one & not in the HFYBs as on our Receivers page. 95w says the seller, so we investigate. Looks like an upgrade version of the NAD 7030 as it looks similar, but maybe not sold in the UK though early NAD were popular in Germany. Not much around but a part of the service manual shows it's 90w with a high 120 damping factor. Inside it looks a bit like the NAD 300 & we didn't think too well of that 100w receiver after rating the NAD 160a winner. The manual is buyable for $5. The trouble with the ebay one is the Tuner doesn't work which could be easy or a pain & there is a minor crack which means it's been dropped. The seller has recapped the amp, though we aren't keen on other people's work as they just replace like for like, not using upgrade or design as we do so we'd have to redo it properly & an extra unknown is there. Saying the Tuner needs alignment usually means they fiddled with it putting it way off the correct settings & the risk of cracked ferrite cores. But we don't like the fact it's a later 1979 style cost-cut two PCB job, these amps are usually a compromise & the mess of wiring puts to even take it at the starting bid for the work involved & risk a deal we'd pass on.
Naim NAP 250 power amplifier ↑
No. We've never been keen on the "hair shirt" sort of idea that Naim & Linn hifi offers. As 45rpm record dealers, the Linn turntable with only a 33rpm setting is a travesty. The Naim ethos has annoyed us too with it's stupid "upgrade" add on partswith annoying names & sort of insulting the buyer by apparently selling inferior items to start with. The upgrade power supply items we'd see as pointless as the original item itself could be upgraded inside. But the thing is we never see the circuits or even the insides much & we have looked. But before typing we see an ebay seller offering an upgrade-service on this amp with an inside photo & remarkably HFE now has the circuit & part of the power supply of this 1975 125w into 4 ohms amp, might only be 60-80w into 8 ohms. Firstly the inside photo, axial caps on the PCB, a single PSU for L+R, TO3 transistors & a mass of neatly tied together cabling for input, output & power, which suggests a high crosstalk & low stereo imaging will be an issue, if otherwise the NAP250 is decent if pretty basic & unremarkable. The circuit PSU shows regulators & adjust pots as well as a current limiter, a little excessive. The power amp has 12 transistors with a differential pair & the last 6 transistors are the push-pull pairs. C6-C7 are unusual too. Other circuitry we've seen in these later amps & it will just restrict the freshness of the sound. Overall we'd say it has potential but there are some obvious limiters in the circuit & cabling, to know the full power supply would add more, but it just doesn't seem to be anything special to us. Overall it just looks like pretty average midprice gear.
Nikko TRM-30 IC, TRM 40B amplifiers ↑
Interesting if Average. The TRM 40B is an early 10w-14w rated amp, the TRM-30 IC maybe lower power and it has the early thick film very basic IC which is usually little more than a few transistors. Both likely 1967-68. Early build style if only 10w means not really worth trying for the rebuild needed as low resell price. Has the early looks & appeal of an early Coral amp we had if power was better there. Very modest spec inside the tiny TRM 30 IC amp, if still nicely made. Transformer coupled, it has the ideas we like, but at 10w or less, neither will sell for much even if rebuilt is the problem, they still need the work like higher powered amps, if the work & parts would exceed the resell price. A pity, but realities. The orange IC block NA 90003 is the Phono stage & on the TRM-1200 we review the similar one had failed, so odds are this will be dead if an equivalent circuit is findable via the TRM-1200 if very limited space to build it. The TRM-30 IC is best avoided sadly.
Nikko STA-501 receiver ↑
Interesting. An early 1967 design as transformer coupled for the power amp splitter like other 1967 receivers we've had. Only 18w though & a bit random looking inside shows an ebay one in Mar 2015. Phono is an IC if it shows 2 transistors inside, why not just build it on a board? But seeing resistors on thie inputs is bad, the Aux goes through a 220K or 1Meg resistor as 2 Aux inputs. This is sadly not very good & similar was used by Sansui in the 4000 & 5000 receivers. Two bads like that makes us lose interest. Looks smart with the black fascia, odd slide switches & a little amateurish looking, if like the early JVC if with a proper tone. Nikko STA-701, or ST701 as the HFYB typos these, may be better but still only 25w. All silicon on the amp stages if some Germaniums in the tuner.
Nikko STA-8080 receiver ↑
Interesting. A brand we've only had one medium powered amp of, but liked it. Hard to find ones of 40w+ with this brand, so finding a STA-8080 & STA-9090 are their top two at 45w & 60w, to have a look. HFE wrongly says no schematic, we see one. All transistors on this 1975, Phono x3, Tone-Pre x3, Power Amp x8 a straighforward design with the obligatory differential of the era, fully complimentary so no earlier than 1974. Bit hard to read the blurry specs but from what we can see it'll be of a good sound, a little soft on volume & low on deep bass, but sadly many are as buyers who bought rumbly turntables complained so bass was banished. It's probably going to rate Great or better & would upgrade well. Just doesn't quite stir our interest like the pre 1970 ones do.
Interesting on pre 1975, if No for later. A brand we are sick of seeing on listings. Their vintage 70s stuff is pretty average & today they are just a mass market 'product' sort of company. We've looked to find only the 1975 Model 732 56w being more worthy, the 1974 (or 1970 say other sources) receivers like Onkyo Integra 234 are only 22w or less, looking quite like a Leak 2000 but decent, but that's it.
(V) Pioneer LX-34 Valve amplifier ↑
Average. This is a 1967 Stereo valve receiver, one of the very last with the Sansui 500A. SX-34 11w £94; LX-34 adds LW £98. For this late it's still the rat's nest of random wiring not a PCB like the Transistor ones since 1966. One seller says theirs works perfectly, but with old high voltage capacitors it'll develop issues sooner rather than later & to recap it is extreme work as we found with out Trio WX-400U. It should sound 'very nice' as the amp version above should, but not many people can do the work they need which is why valve receivers don't sell well unless fully working, even if old caps but revalved. Buy with care. The fascia of it couldn't look more plain & no wood sides even leave it looking very dull. Another one for sale with better pics, it looks very basic, nothing like the Sansui 500A. Plain silver fascia in a metal case, a bit like the 1966 Sansuis. Has a Magic Eye for the tuner, a large capacitor like a radio uses & small output transformers for it's 11w. It just looks a very basic item, not many valves for the Tuner & ECL82 output valves which are the combo TV type 2 stage ones. It's just a bit crappy really like a budget 1962 era not the Gem the Sansui 500A is. Not very interesting, though for what it is, it'll have a nice but limited sound. One not to expect too much from recapping.
(V) Pioneer SM-83 (SM-500) Valve amplifier ↑
No, too early. One on ebay made £400 in Germany April 2014, again a very high price for a raw valve amp. This one looks very Japanese with unusual font & smart styling. Looks about 1961-63 with 9 valves & all original aged parts, a huge job to upgrade. Transformers are quite small suggesting 10w or less so quite a basic amp if a nice looker. But looking at the underside, after a proper upgrading just about all of it would be renewed as we did with our Trio WX-400U. We get the idea buyers aren't aware of the work involved or are buying these just to have as shelf sitters, to attempt to use these aged valve amps can be risky. We're not trying to put people off them, but they need a lot of work to be useable. UPDATE: Actually 25w RMS per channel & new in mid 1963, HFE site reckons it's 1970. We got the circuit diagram so see the Jun 2018 blog for more.
(V) Pioneer SM-B201 Valve receiver ↑
No, too early. Pioneer SM-B201 Receiver we've noticed before but never saw good photos of. One on ebay June 2013 is apparently getting bids over £300. The seller says"bought new in 1964 for £60 approx on special order from a dealer in Surrey (Lloyd & Keyworth),"and"The SM-B201 has 19 tubes, which includes the two 6E5 eye tubes. Each channel uses a 12AX7, driving a pair of 6BM8's in push-pull output. 5AR4 rectifier. The filaments of the 12AX7's are supplied via DC from a separate power transformer winding, rectified by a germanium diode full-wave bridge rectifier with a R-C filter network, which also supplies the fixed-bias for the output tubes"Also the seller has the paperwork & interesting to see what a brave, dare we say Pioneering Hifi buyer was paying a huge amount of £££ for:"Garrard Laboratory Series "A" Turntable Which Cost £17 new; Wharfedale RS12/DD 12" Full Range Drivers Cost £24 new; Pioneer SM-B201 Valve Receiver Cost £60 new; Hifi Cabinet From the Record Housing Company Of London. 27 Guineas new"This is Hifi History & needs publishing beyond a sale of such. They should have bought a Garrard 301 we can hear you all yell, but no plinth and no arm is advanced buying. The Lab A Garrard looks like a lesser version of the 4HF with the same arm. Wharfedale will be good ones we'd expect. It's unusual a Non-London dealer would even be able to order such an item, but good to see. Even in the 1990s some shops couldn't order in certain items unless they had an account with the distributor. The amount of Hifi shops at this time was still tiny on looking in the HFYBs. The 1965 HFYB lists 2 receivers as on our Receivers page & the distributor was C.E. Hammond & Co in Windsor, Berks. The SM-G205 was 11w £89 & the SM-Q300 was 15w £89 also, unless it's a typo. It's the strange 'dual tuner' design as pre Stereo MPX there were odd ideas & this will probably be a 1963 though the HFYB only lists the SM-Q141 stereo receiver with MPX facilities though UK no MPX FM yet 14w £70; FM-B100 Mono receiver 10w £49. The HFYB is only as good as the PR guys giving them info & clearly items are frequently missed in these books. The SM-B201 has some of the style of the Trio WX-400U if a bit lab kit looking too. The input Phono sockets look the same too-big type like the Trio had. Input labels like one 1960 Pioneer Receiver we saw once on ebay. The Dual Tuner is MW/SW one side & MW/FM the other. The HFYBs tell of BBC experiments with TV & Radio with dual broadcasts on different systems, play both together to get Stereo, though FM & MW are very differing quality. It failed & probably was a poor idea to think buyers would even buy. Slider switches for 'Loudness' and amusingly 'Whistle Filter' making any Muzzy Marcellino broadcasts pointless... Did anyone notice one output transformer was a replaced one, oops... there goes the value. In size it look very basic compared to the size of the Trio WX-400U. Very densely packed underneath for all the circuitry is hardwired & will be a very advanced job to redo as 99% looks original. The final selling price was £500 which is ridiculously high & a bit unlikely too for one of these, £500 2 top bids, no-one bids even numbers, let alone "three" £480, £500 & £500 private auction hmmm... usually the valve receivers are £150-200 simply as the amount of work to do is very high. Can't believe those bids at all. Other prices are of interest: the Garrard sells for £225 supposedly, every bid in multiples of £5 not £3.66 hmmm again, the Wharfedale speakers were sold separately as one looked reconed, £124 original and £93 recone which are more probable. Our opinion based on much auction watching, and it sours it for us. The cabinet can likely be found in a skip near to the seller no doubt as these are uinwanted which is sad as it's part of Hifi History. The Quad II system we got in 2003 was in a big cabinet, never saw that either. The ugly cabinet we got our silver-grease Garrard 301 & the Dynaco in shows why many are abandoned. One in Oct 2014 supposedly with new transformers (eek.) makes £475 which we find unlikely & probably the same one as earlier with both transformers replaced. With a rectifier valve dates it to pre 1963 & perhaps only 8w-10w?
Pioneer SX-300 receiver ↑
No. This is an attractive looking receiver, but at just SEVEN WATTS transistor it's barely enough to frighten off a bee & the bee probably makes more noise. What sort of buyer would be happy with 7w RMS? One who played undemanding music at low volume, the Granny market, though at their age you'd hope they had more money spare. Any receiver with a hardboard backboard is the lowest in the range. Pictures of the inside can be found online. The fascia actually gives the idea it's not so feeble & still has a decent look. Worth seeing how an amp in the same range as the SX-828 in 1973 is made. Phono x2 transistors & bass naturally very limited, works on a mighty 7.8v HT. Some oddl;y high value resistors before the preamp to again limit any chance of clipping too easily. Looks like Preamp is x2 though not clearly definerd, no pre out-power in here. Power amp is just 6 which is very low. So it'll sound actually pretty clean but 7 watts would need very high sensitivity speakers 100dB+ to be of any use today. Capacitor coupled so a 1970 design at the latest. Very basic power supply works on 33v so about 16v per output transistor. Modeswt indeed but the audio stages are all transistors. As it's a Pioneer you see them offered for £100+ but realistically it's probably worth £30 more for spare parts as knobs & switches will match others.
(V) Pioneer SM-B200A Valve receiver ↑
No, too early. This appears to be 8-12w one of the first Stereo receivers the fascia shows an MPX setting so 1962 isn't clear. The 201 above is the updated version apparently. It fits in with the 15w SM-Q300 below & has a tube rectifier which does sound pre 1963. Seems to have sold well for it's era, much on Google. One sold for a hefty £420 on ebay late March 2014. One of the receivers with a bit of charm in the design like the Trio WX-400U if awkward controls, double Tuner awkwardness & if only 8w not enough power. The seller says it basically works but wisely sells it as Not Working as the have read how these amps are full of dodgy parts. We do wonder who pays these huge prices as the work to rebuild them is huge as we know with the Trio WX-400U & Sansui 500A valve receivers. We've looked at the Pioneer valve designs on a few now & found them to be decent but not the best or most sophisticated. The Trio & Sansui are the best Valve receivers we've tried though USA ones like Marantz, Fisher & Sherwood could likely be good too. But why the huge prices for unusable amps?
Pioneer A-400 amplifier ↑
This was our 2012-14 opinion, we'll not get one, but as with the NAD 3020 budget amp that was very popular, to have a deeper look at the circuits on the april 2018 Blog section. No. Classic or Crap? A 1990 50w "classic" is what we've read since it came out. What-Hi-Fi award of the year too, but does anyone remember any other early 1990s amps? Ebay has 5* reviews if the trending price is £104, funny. Budget Amp it is. Be cause they weren't much good & Coprolite in a pile of white turds will always stand out. Those saying it compared well with £1000 amps were liars. We don't believe that for a minute in comparison to better earlier gear & it has a problem for most users: No Tone Controls. A sleek glossy top black section like the C90/M90 combo below but a grotty grey bit where required controls would be. Otherwise a typical black tin box type of amp, £240 new is only midprice of the time & oddly only 1 pair of Speaker outputs. Yamaha were putting 3 on their late 1970s receivers. One site lists a daft Hifi Choice review..."As good as amps costing up to a thousand pounds" but bearing in mind what late 1980s-early 1990s amps sounded like as per the one below, it is pretty meaningless to one who prefers the 1967-72 era sound. There is a 400X version that we've read only lesser reviews of, spoiling a supposed classic sort of thing. It's like grading turds... A300 is the 30w version, specs show no Damping Factor but expect it to be way over 100 as was the usual. Looking at the circuit in the Service Manual: Phono has an IC plus three transistors, as expected at this price & era & not many if any without one, the Pioneer C90 is choked with them. But the Power Amp stage is ridiculous, 20 transistors. It will sound way over processed, when other amps can do the same much better with 8 on average. The Power supply is modest so the scratchy sound will be obvious in this amp & as of typing one is selling for £73 delivered, not interested, sold for £83 in the end, clearly today's wiser buyers don't like it much. Bass will be pretty ordinary too as all those awful transistors will need heaps of NFB to keep the gain to the standard, if an amp with 8 transistors does it with only a little NFB, here you have a lot more, if not all directly in the signal, but NFB will be squashing the life out of the sound. From this, the A-400 is a real stinker to our 1967-69 ideals of sound, for people to rate it as a classic shows what rubbish was made from 1980-90 for this junk to be rated in 1991. You could buy any decent 1970 amp & enjoy the sound far more than this overdesigned mass market nasty effort. We looked at it without prejudice, but the Power amp 'design' is a stinker. Vintage Hifi fans will hate it. Seeing yet another & being tempted, to re-read our comments & also to see how it's made inside. Where are the big power supply capacitors? Not in here. It's just a small board thing with a selector board and a front controls board & the A-400X is even less with just one board, lots of empty space & much cost-cut. If you seriously think either of these modest things can take on the similar powered Sansui, Sony, Yamaha & earlier Pioneer from 15-20 years before then you'll be disappointed when you hear the better earlier stuff. WE WERE HAULED UP BY A READER... saying the A-400 is a great amp amid it's peers & that our comments were beneath us. Perhaps it is, grading turds is possible after all, but we find the 1980-1990 era the absolute worst in Hifi history. This page actually is our blog of amps we've looked at & didn't like or did but haven't tried yet. It's not edited to sound bland, if we think an amp is bad, we say it, we don't resort to 'language' to express our distaste at certain hifi, it's the feeling we had on researching the item. The day we care about upsetting someone who loves the amp isn't going to come as the views would become worthless. We might buy an A-400 if one was going cheap just to see how right we were & then upgrade it just to tell the tale & feel we wasted our time. Who knows? We've not fancied the A-400 looking closely above, it's cheap nasty modern rubbish to us & have tried & heard enough modern "classics" to know it's rubbish. The modern Marantz PM6002 was loved by the Hifi press, we know it is mediocre & dumbed down extremely harshly. Similarly the 1968 Quad 33/303 others love, but our non-salty criticism is when you've heard some of the amps we rate highly from the 1965-70 era & then you listen to the feeble excuse for sound the A-400 & plenty of other popular-at-the-time are, then you can then understand. We care zero for old opinions as we have rubbished far too many & still see lazy design based on 30-50 year old circuits on "improved" modern 21st Century gear. We helped revive Yamaha hifi & much more as ebay prices & interest show, good amps went unwanted until we got lots of them & said how good they are. We influence the vintage hifi market by being harsh on amps that deserve to be criticised as overrated & shouting about ones we rate as great. We get no £ backhanders to say some mediocre amp is great, we thought the A-400 was rubbish the minute we saw inside it & we are hifi design educated enough now to know exactly how an amp will sound. To say we are undermining "respected professional reviewers" is the issue of integrity we differ on, reviewers are PAID to give good reviews to sell mediocre gear to the masses who know no better as they only buy cheap stuff, not paid to be honest & give bad ones. Next year the brand issues another model that is praised heavily too, though we read the Mk 2 of the A-400 is hated by some, be sure it's just been cost cut to sell more based on What Hifi rating it so highly. We, on the above, have looked at circuits in knowledge of superior amps & tear this amp to bits, 20 transistors in the power amp is going to mangle the music so much it bears no resemblance to the beauty of Sound the best 1967-69 amps can offer. We put "Classic or Crap" to give the idea we feel this amp is overrated. We know how cheaped out Pioneer became by 1975 with each range being cost cut so harshly we really don't fancy trying the big SX-950 type again as they need so much to upgrade. Pioneer are a "cookie cutter" company who deliberately cost cut to undersell better brands like Marantz in the 1970s. People love Bang & Olufsen too, but we have our honest opinions elsewhere. If you don't respect our opinion by hacking into an amp you love, you should learn your Hifi deeper & then you'll see why by trying better hifi why the item is fairly criticised. You'll get more music pleasure out of a Leak Delta 30 for £50 on ebay is where you can start. Our 2018 opinion confirms the above, it's just mass market nasty sounding budget gear. Please buy something better...
(V) Pioneer ER-420 Valve receiver ↑
Interesting but ultimately no. Appears in the 1967/68 HFYB as 15w, so will be a very late valve receiver as is the SA-400 below & the Sansui 500A. As Pioneer 1967 Transistor receivers SX-700TF & SX-1500TF we rate highly, no doubt this is a good sounding one. If very plain looking to the point of more than a bit ugly. Pioneer manuals are usually comprehensive & so is this one. Phono x2 valve stages, Pre-Tone x1 valve stage. Power Amp is x1 input, x1 splitter & the x2 output valves. 12AX7/ECC83 x5 & 6BQ5/EL84 outputs so all easy ones to find. Still with the awful ultra-low value coupling caps 0.02µf and 0.05µf as well as a few higher. The tone stage isn't too great which was a problem in the Trio also. NFB is very high for a valve amp using 2.7K. Overall it's going to have similar problems to the Trio, but we got the Trio to sound great. The Pioneer benefits from a Valve Phono the Sansui lacks, but unprogressed ideas in design will make this a lesser beast. Power supply is similar to both Trio & Sansui with the AC hum adjusts that are best upgraded to DC. It has the usual awful paper in oil caps the other two use as well, so expect to replace them before any longer use or risk failures. Looks nicely built if not the best fascia layout. The rear antenna & phono sockets are good usual sized ones. Found an underneath photo the usual hard wiring if not too untidy. The usual aged caps to replace, the big red resistors like the Trio. LX-420 is similar but with LW & SW tuner added. A wooden case exists for this amp too. Whatever the amp is, it's not as classy looking as the Trio or Sansui if it would rebuild well after a huge amount of work. Pioneer we used to consider a lesser brand on most of their items, only rating the 1967 receivers as ones in the league of Trio-Kenwood or Sansui, but the 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 Mk I changed opinions for the better, if only after rebuilding, though the SX-828 was liked. One on ebay May 2014 'rebuilt' but the most amateur basic job with no design sense as usual reveals it's an amp possibly worth us rebuilding properly, but the fact it's only 15w when the Trio is 18w & for the awful mess underneath, the Trio & Sansui were an organised mess this is a random mess it's one for us to avoid. It has the same bad headphone design as the Sansui. These vintage valve amps & receivers are really not very good for the quality that came with transistor design are they? We've looked at it a few times, one on ebay Nov 2016 but 'no' every time.
(V) Pioneer SA-400 Valve amplifier ↑
Interesting but ultimately no. This is a silver fronted valve-tube amplifier, appears to be 11w from 1967-68 which is very late, but Pioneer were one of the last Valve amp makers, clearly they were still selling enough even in 1970 as the HFYB lists the receivers only. In the 1968/69 HFYB typo as SA-40 with part info only & no price, gone by 1970. Looks like it would have had some sort of wood case as it's just a tin box with a very plain look to the fascia. It's not one we'd pay £250 to try out, but one seller has put inside top & base photos so to have a write up is worthwhile. 4 lever switches like the SX-1500TF has, 5 rotary switches, one with the plastic lever like the SX-1500TF & the others plain. A Mono switch was discovered by 1969 which makes it easier for Vinyl. 4 'x' head screws hold the fascia on, no doubt Marantz saw this & used similar for their 1971 receivers. Tape, MM Phono, Ceramic Phono, Aux, Tuner & Tape plus a DIN socket doubling for the one Tape input. Fiddly screw connectors for Speakers is less useful. 3 preamp valves, 2 in shielding tubes. 4x ECL82 type dual preamp & power amp type valves is a hint of cost cutting though they are respectable enough. A previous owner had put a foil shield in a misguided attempt to apparently cut RF, but it's not needed at all & is foolish to leave it there blocking ventilation. The usual rat's nest hardwired underneath still in 1969 though not much compared to a receiver. The power supply looks very feeble compared to the Rogers ones. Low value coupling capacitors as typical will constrict the sound but are much upgradeable as we did on our Rogers HG88. As with any valve amp, rebuild it with new caps & upgrade things it will be a great little amp as 1969 vintage, but the boring case is the limit if looks matter. 11w will be as loud as a 35w-40w transistor amp. For a person to buy to restore & use, it seems a good one, if not a top quality one for the ECL82s. They could have fitted 2x ECC83s for the preamp as room enough & put EL84s in, our Trio WX-400U does the power amp this way. a clean original one in the original box sold for £275 August 2014. For a very basic 11w valve amp it's a healthy price, but for us, we'd see to upgrade it to the standard of the Trio WX-400U would be a wasted effort to do more than just replacing aged parts. The dilemma with Valve Amps is basically they are really not good enough to upgrade.
Pioneer SA-500A amplifier ↑
No, as too low powered. This is a semi complimentary version of their first SA-500 amplifier. Sadly it is usually found with the control knob caps missing as the glue dried out. Only a 10w one says the Pioneer ad & not one we'd bother with but as one seller shows the inside of one we can at least take a look. For 13w it is rather basic 3300µf 50v capacitor is all you get & a small heatsink fitted to the power amp board with TO-220 type transistors. You can find some amateur who recapped one & just put in a modern smaller sized 3300µf 50v cap instead of realising you can upgrade, if we recapped it we'd find the biggest 50v or 63v one of the same diameter, in this case as high as a 22000µf 63v will do if there is enough height. We see this so often even on "prestige" amps & oddly no-one is wise enough to tell him that on the forum. This was a particularly bad forum with other nasty ideas. Careful reading them, folks.
Pioneer SA-700 amplifier ↑
Interesting but low power. This is a 27w into 8 ohms amp, rated "34w" as a typo as 4 ohms is 31w, no 34w shown anywhere & is their highest rated amplifier this early, clearly the receivers got the most attention with the SX-1500TF being 45w in 1967. BEWARE one site foolishly lists this as 85w which is the Music Power rating.
(V) Pioneer SA-810 valve amplifier ↑
Interesting but ultimately no. This appears to be a very late valve amp from 1967, or 1969 as one site says that is a little unlikely. Apparently the Japanese SA-81 amp, plenty of early amps didn't make it to the UK, though Google shows info & some valves might be the obsolete ones making it tricky. Not the c1973 transistor amp of the same name. Probably a 10w amp like other Pioneer & as worth rebuilding as any valve amp really, if with the usual risks.
Pioneer SA-900 amplifier ↑
Interesting. This is a 50w amp from as early as 1969 by the brochure date if only in the 1972 HFYB, or it's 200w if you believe the naughty music power hype, soon made illegal. The amp we looked at to see the progression in Pioneer, but this is still the earlier era before Pioneer went from the more midprice SX-1500TD type to the SX-828 which is of much higher quality. This still has the W15 or W23 type boards, the SX-828 advances to mostly AWK or AWX type boards signifying a change in quality too. As we see it's 1969 it's still a capacitor coupled amplifier only going to be quite like the SX-1500TD it looks like in style.
Pioneer SX-939 receiver ↑
Interesting. 1975 receiver with 75w supposedly though this year Pioneer ratings were often misleading in the HFYBs as noted above. The user manual says 70w RMS both channels driven if 75w at 1kHz which makes it 75w to us as these amps are usually limted in deep bass. Not tried one, but a seller wanting too much has inside pics so we can have a look. Straight away, 8x TO3 output transistors on the heatsink in the top. Current doubling & fuzzy audio as they never match HFE on transistors so you'd get one playing slightly different making a confusion not a sharp sound. Noted this on Yamaha CA-1010 especially. Inside top looks much like the SX-950 range otherwise. Only 50v on the main caps if 10000µf, it'll not be a loud amp but wattage of higher current, works on ±48v which is very similar to the 85w SX-950 & will probably do 36v clean sine though it'll sound rough as the SX-950 did. Yes, we're losing interest already. Cost cutting was the deal by 1975 & Pioneer were always the 'one below' as makers compared to big names like Sony & Trio-Kenwood. No pic of the underside though it'll be basically the same as the 950 again. Oddly it still uses the 1967 type voltage changer. One of those amps we don't need to try to know what it's like, it'll be disappointing & probably just scrape a 5.5/10 & not be worth maxing out as the other later ones weren't. Next...
Pioneer SX-980 receiver ↑
This was our opinion on this amp around 2014. It stays, but we got one to upgrade in 2018, so see that review. We've not read our review on getting the amp so we can look at he amp afresh with it in front of us. No, too late & further cost cut ICs. "The Pioneer SX-980 is an AM/FM stereo receiver with constant current loaded 2-stage differential amplifier, and direct coupled 2-stage Darlington single push-pull DC configuration power amplifier." says it's write up. Are we supposed to be impressed? We're not. It's still an oversized Tin Can like the SX-850 & SX-950 are, they aren't big to fit in more goodies, they are just big with lots of free space, though this has a strange open gaps type heatsink. A properly adjusted amp will barely break room temperature so why the overdesign? The Tuner is choked with 4 ICs when others might just use one. The Phono is a HA1457 which we've looked at before & found out it has over a Dozen transistor stages inside it. Shite. The protection circuit which was oversensitive in the earlier models is now just an IC. So we don't like it. On to the spec then... 'constant current loaded' sounds like it's current limited by low spec power supplies as we know the SX-950 has. Music is a variable signal, current should differ in relation to peaks, or is that too simplistic? 2-stage differentials are 'supposed to be better' though try telling if an amp has one or not, this is overkill to have two, go read the theory behind it & then think why. Valve amps don't have them. Direct Coupled, well plenty of amps are. It's a fully complimentary amp too as was the type by 1978-79. Darlingtons are similar to doubled output transistors but in one transistor case, it'll mean they are better matched (hopefully) than just using double sets but it'll mean 80w doesn't play as loud as you'd hope it would. But to us the obvious cost cutting of the 980 over the already cost cut 950 means we'll rate it lower than the 950 that just scrapes a 'recommended' on our Top Amps page. But as with any amp, if we found one with an 'earner' in it, we'd try any amp regardless if we liked it from reading up on it & then know for sure. Shocking. One on ebay shows the back panel plate. It's an 80w amp yet the plate shows the maximum power it can draw from the mains, eg a 3kW fire. Here it only does 210w max. The 70w Yamaha CR-1000 draws 250w, yet the 110w CR-2020 draws 690w. The 45w Trio-Kenwood KA-6004 draws 270w. The Pioneer sounds current limited by the 210VA or 210w rating though for those into upgrade design the transformers are only quite small compared to the huge CR-2020 one, the SX-950 one is only usual size a 45w 1970 era amp has.
Pioneer SA-1000 amplifier ↑
Interesting. There aren't many Amplifiers of a higher wattage until the 1973 SA-1000 "94w" £147 as noted below, shame on 94w not by adding L+R but 94w at 4 ohms continous as the manual states & also states other confusing ratings. This one is 57w into 8 ohms continuous but only 47w into 8 ohms 20Hz to 20kHz not stating the -db limits as older amps are often rolled off on the bass. Works on ±41v which suggests 47w is still the more accurate rating. Knowing how sweet the 1967 SX-1500TF sounds & then the 1969 SX-1500TD loses quite a large amount of that lovely sound, a 1973 one will likely be similar to the late 1970s SX-950 type sound & not the most interesting to us.
Pioneer SX-1010 receiver ↑
Interesting. This actually is a 100w RMS into 8 ohm continuous output 20Hz-20kHz, 110w is to 1kHz only say the specs, so some are not so wrong for the 1974 range. 100w in 1974 is early, Yamaha were only 70w at the time. Having got the service manual might as well have a look. No ICs in the Audio Stages typically are in the Tuner. The circuit is poorly scanned from an old photocopy so hard to read much. Transistor counts per channel: Phono x4, Tone-Flat amp x4, Power amp x16 inc 4 output transistors & 2 for differential. This transistor count is still on the better side before the overdesign spoiled it, but knowing 1969 Pioneer loses the sweetness of the 1967 it will not be their greatest, but 100w is impressive. Seems to be a Semi Complimentary with ±54v HT the parts lists confirms it's not a fully complimentary one as the diagram is so poor. 18000µf 63v for 1974 is high spec too. But one on ebay as a non worker makes out the capacitors were bad & taken out, not likely says we. Risk of trashed amp is high sadly. It sounds a worthwhile one for us to try though.
Pioneer SA-3000 amplifier ↑
Average-No. A reader alerted this to us & on seeing it's part of a premium smaller sized "Mini Component" system with the usual other pieces if built like a bigger amp with what looks like Dual-Mono, worth a look at the circuits. An old TVK page shows the SA/CT/TX/PS 3000 system & the cassette deck especially has high retro looks appeal. 40w from 1978 apparently if the SX-3000 receiver is 1980. As part of a system, the spec is modest which from our viewpoint means a cleaner design, Phono x3 transistors, Preamp is passive with Tone controls working directly from the Aux level with no gain or even a buffer, hmm. Power Amp is x9 with the obligatory Differential. It should deliver a pleasing Bass-light sound as per a 1978 design, if the passive preamp & tone isn't so good. One of these items to own to admire with the eyes more perhaps. A case of us seeing plenty of Hifi now & as well as this page getting looks at many more, this one is pretty standard stuff, if it'll please until you, er, hear better.
Pioneer SX-1050 receiver ↑
Interesting. The SX-1250 below looked interesting so to look at the 120w SX-1050 is worth a go. Huge sized receiver & looking more purposeful inside than the SX-950 type with an unusual toroidal tall transformer & oddly small heatsinks for 120w, not that many amps run hot when adjusted right, the SA-9500 ran room temperature always. ICs in the tuner as always, some of the equivalent circuits the manual shows are insane looks like 50-80 transistors per IC which is nonsense as the Sony STR-6120 does it all with individual transistors & sounds the best FM tuner we've heard in non valves. The Phono, Tone & power Amp stages are all Transistors. Not as well made or comprehensive as the SA-9500 as receivers generally weren't. Power Amp has doubled output transistors & 15 in total fairly like the SX-1250. So again in light of giving the SX-1250 a Good Potential rating this gets it too. But again knowing the SA-9500 is stuffed to choking with spoilers, the quality we crave is likely well hidden with low spec design & them spoilers.
Pioneer SX-1250 receiver ↑
Interesting. After success with the SA-9500 Mk I time to look at this again as it's their biggest receiver. It's a genuine 160w into 8 ohms full range power. Huge improvementy on design to the SX-850 & 950, a neat toroidal transformer in a can, 4 power supply caps & sideways fitted poweramp boards with side fins. Not that it should run hot if biased right, but looks are the thing here. The TVK site suggests it's the favoured one, the SX-1280 will be cost cut like the SX-980 is & the huge SX-1980 is going too far. Power it undeniably has & that's rather appealing to some but we've stayed away from the 100w+ ones as they are unsually very overdesigned having excess power if not the sweetness of the lower powered ones. Big cased receiver with the silver SX-950 looks, a bit gaudy or heaven to varied buyers. The block diagram is easier to follow than the blurry circuit so Phono x5 transistors including a differential pair, Preamp is x5 with a FET & transistor at the start then 2 more transistors & a buffer output. All quite decent so far. Power Amp x15 including a differential & doubled output transistors for higher current & the circuit is actually reasonably modest so no overdesign here like the SA-9800 has. Working on ±70v & ±68.8v it should put out about 75% of that as clean sinewave which is 52.5v with the 160w being for higher current. Roughly means it'll be a little louder than the Yamaha CR-2020 but not much if you work out the dB gain. On the basis of this, the SX-1250 could be a good amp, or it could be like the SA-9500 & a great design ruined by every spoiler they can think of. It has good potential.
Pioneer SX-1280 & SX-1980 receivers ↑
Interesting. Two of the Biggest Ever Pioneers, 1977 Pioneer SX-1280 is 185w, if not quite the 270w of the 1977 Pioneer SX-1980. 27.6kg still a hefty amp if the SX-1980 is 35.4kg. These are huge, 556mm & 560mm wide. We saw one of these huge ones years ago either the 1280 or 1980, sat on the floor like a coffin & the guy used a home made valve amp as a preamp. It sounded dull & unexciting, if the smoothness of Tannoy 12" HPDs made the most of it, a dull sound it was, but more likely bad matching or aged Pioneer than a bad amp overall. Firstly the SX-1280, 185w but still with spring connectors for speakers and remarkably the SX-1980 is similar. The SX-1280 is not exactly a pretty amp, more the fat leathery dog of Hifi compared to some, all big & silver fronted with 4 meters & the typical SX-850 styling. Classy isn't it, but Pioneer knew their market in the 1970s wasn't ready for more stylish casework. It has 2 Phono inputs, just one Aux, 2x Tape, Adaptor in for Graphic EQ or Dolby unit & Pre Out-Power In in case 185w wasn't enough or you trashed the output stages. A seller of an SX-1280 says he's recapped his but as usual no photos, but to see the cheap £4.99 Phono cables he's using doesn't inspire confidence. An odd mix of wood & aluminium front but the back half is black metal with heatsinks. The poor scan of the service manual shows a type of power amp much copied by the 1980s, toroidal transformer & 4 main caps with L+R on each side with the heatsinks. But the preamp & tuner is not so pleasing: pretty much like the SX-850 type, 2 front units & tuner on one board. As is typical with Pioneer, even at this level, the power supply looks very average. The SX-1980 is a taller unit with more of a Pro-Studio look if still much like the SX-1280. It still has a Low Bass filter with the manual stating Turntable rumble, sadly some were still foolish enough to use a cheap turntable with an expensive amp, so the idiot-proof filter is needed. Why you'd ever need to use High or Low filter on any amp is a mystery, but it's there as the consumer wanted it as is Loudness. Still built much like the SX-1280 if a bit tidier on the preamp-tuner. On both the Power amp is typical of the era, lots of FETs & Differentials. They both have a huge lot of voltage-drop diodes which adds to 20 diodes per board, that'll be fun to repair... HT voltage is ±68v on the SX-1280 & ±80v on the SX-1980, only ±12v difference if 85w different showing the huge current the SX-1980 has with the tripled output transistors to the doubled ones of the SX-1280. So what do we think these will sound like? With the several Pioneer of the 1972-75 era that these are like, the Power Amp stages in Pioneer are usually excellent. But the SA-9100 & SA-9500 preamps were too complex with too much switching & options which sadly limits these quite heavily. These are 1977 amps by the service manual dates so are still before the IC-riddled 1979-80 era. All transistors here on both beyond ICS in the Tuner as typical. Pioneer on the SA-9100 & SA-9500 certainly had a good sound, if only once serviced & upgraded. as original they were severely bass light as well as much limited-dunbed down by the SA-9500 if the SA-9100 was much more open. The risk here beyond the High Prices these go for is the amount of Upgrading to really get the Best Sound out of these, but like the 9100 & 9500 ultimately find the preamp limits things. Therefore they won't be World Class.
Pioneer SX-2500 receiver ↑
Interesting. A hard one to find, still shown in the 1973-74 catalog if a 1971 amp & remainder stock as the more modern looking SX-828 was the top of the range. Power ratings (8 ohm) are 84w one channel, 72w noth channels at 1kHz if only 58w 20Hz-20kHz showing it's quite rolled off at the extremes. It's an upspec version of the SX-990 & the earlier SX-1500TD if the SX-828 spec outdoes it in most ways, if there is a typo it's 430VA/340w max, not 220w as the catalog states. It has the same sort of adaptor for MC transformer in the side hole, that has a plastic cover with the SX-828. The only problem with early Pioneer are the lousy speaker connector blocks, hard to use & expensive to buy. But as it's so like the 1969-70 ones, we know how it would sound & it'd upgrade well too. The Autotune Tuner feature is one you'd need working right, vintage tuners when not working are very hard to fix without test gear.
Pioneer SA-8100 amplifier ↑
Interesting. This is one we see for sale, so have a deeper look. Decent looking 40w amp & still with the 1960s style voltage changer on the back. Circuit shows all transistors 1974 a bit early for ICs by most makers, fully complimentary outputs. 9 transistors on the power amp is low, though still having 0.47µf as the input to the power amp is ridiculously low. Stepped Tone controls, not pots & just 4 transistors in the Tone stage is good too, but we are aware how different a 1967 to 1969 Pioneer sounds for the NFB they started to use to lose the transistor noise. 1 more in the Filter amp but only if switched in. This should be a better sounding Pioneer, but once again we know how cost cut the big SX-950 range were & even worse on the SX-980. Just from circuit gazing, it'll be a pleasing sounding amp but other vales used suggests it'll be quite an unexciting amp with not much bite either which usually means the grainy sound will be to the fore. Damping factor is edging towards high with 60. Clearly a good basic design, but in need of some upgradecing to really bring it out else it'll probably only be a fairly typical 1970s amp sound, probably not dissimilar from the Sony TA-1140 that will be a better built amp, but the Sony can go further once biased right as stated elsewhere. This is probably the first review ever of an amp made by someone just looking at the circuit rather than hearing it. For the entry price & the fact it's a non worker & knowing how bad these Pioneer can go if faulty, to try this one isn't an option for the work & parts it'll need & for what it'd sell at even as a nice grade looker.
Pioneer SA-9500 Mk II amplifier ↑
Interesting. Just to have a look to see how much the Mk I & Mk II differ, it's hugely. The service manual is dated Nov 1976 so a 1977 range. The outside is just a regular amp case not the kooky side connectors. The back panel is for the connectors in & out with the heatsinks inside on either side. Looks like they made it easier to get into & ditched that awkward stepped pot. But this time it has 2 power supplies, one for each channel so 2 smaller transformers. What benefit this actually brings is probably more of a fashion feature, after all the preamp is not split. The switch assembly is now one big board that has other sections on it also like power supply & speaker switching, but phono & tone are still on separate boards. Still a fixed mains socket as the Mk I has, the Sony amps & receivers used the kettle plug type. It's still nicely made with no ICs but not as fussily built as the Mk I with only tone control pots & no FET on the Tone input stage. Power amp has 11 transistors so has good potential to sound like the Mk I though other stages differ.
Pioneer SA-9900 amplifier ↑
Interesting. The upscale power rating version of the SA-9500, with similar styling with the side connectors. The advertisting fluff on the Pioneer SA-9900 is "The SA-9900 is a top of the line stereo integrated amplifier with state-of-the-art technology and advanced features. Differential amplifier circuits are employed in the equaliser, tone control and power amplifier sections. Each amplifier section is supplied by a balanced power supply system that assures excellent DC balance and stability, while nearly eliminating switching noise during control operation". Er, so what? Many amps have been doing exactly that since 1971 & the pre-complimentary era amps were doing pretty much this in the late 1960s. The SA-9500 was a good amp after having tried one, but this heads a bit into overdesign. Onto the Circuits and Transistor Counts: Phono (Input Circuit assembly) x6 including the FETs & PP output, Switch asy. x1 as a Buffer, Tone (Control Amp asy.) x6 inc 2x FET, Filter Board x3 inc 1x FET all as Buffers, Power Amp x14 inc 3 sets of Differentials & the doubled outputs. Also x3 more for Power or Protection. The Protection circuit x7 as one unit. We tell more on the SA-9500 on the top amps & this will have similar issues of heavy dumbing down, if revealing a similar sound for the huige job of upgrading, but not for us.
Pioneer SA-9800 amplifier ↑
Interesting. Worth a try perhaps but very overpriced, only 100w rated, unlike the huge Marantz 300w ones that some find essential. The blue Fluroscan meters range. This is a supposedly 'better' amp than the earlier SX-9900 plus the dubious thrill of blue meters, nasty things says we. It has cartridge loading like some Marantz biggies which is a nice feature. Another one shows it had a wood case available, but for the stupid 'flashing lights' fluoroscan meter all else is cramped up. The connectors are all on the back panel on this one & not too different in style to the SX-950. THD of 0.001% says it's over-engineered to our ears for a start. The manual amusingly says "Don't connect an Iron or a Toaster to these outputs" meaning the AC sockets on the back meant for tuners etc. Some people, eh? It has MM & MC inputs. 15000uf caps shows a good power supply on it's low 55 volts. The Service manual is very wordy just like the 1968, it describes the circuit & goes beyond what you'd expect to be told. 2 separate power supplies like Harman-Kardon. Many separate boards show this is aiming at a very different market. The Phono has an important-looking "Interference Switch" which is just a resistor, to stop RF which we're getting on the B+O as it's piled on others. It seems to be the biggest & most wanted one. But it'll only sound like the SX-950 receiver with a little more power? Saw one on ebay so let's have a look deeper. This one looks smart in the wood case which was optional, looks more professional looking than the receivers which are a bit clunky tin boxes. Has those fluroscan blue meters, which are distracting unlike Yamaha's needle meters. These sort of displays can fade as they age with heavy use. Damping Factor is 55 so a little high compared to the best sounding ones with 30. Reading the Service manual, it's the era of "important" circuits to reduce this & that, but just end up mangling the music. "The Current Mirror provides push-pull operation in this stage, which serves to cancel even harmonics & further increase gain" Why? It just adds extra circuitry & kills the real sound. They use these 'add -on' designs to make up for failings of ICs, just to get the 0.005% THD specs. Doesn't look as well made as the Yamaha CA-1010 it would have competed with. The SA-9800 blue fluroscan meters are very naff, we had one of the low models as found in a dumpster years ago when only the volume control needed tightening. This dubious style is like many that copied this on cheap 1980s systems, the meter is pretty useless being graduated 0.001w, 0.01w. 0.1w, 1w, 10w, 100w. In light of another overdesigned amp still sounding good if flawed, the 1984 Sansui on Top amps, this is worth a listen, but the trouble with Pioneer is we know how cost cut the 1975 SA-9500 Mk I was, this is a 1980 model.
PrinzSound SA-5100 amplifier ↑
No. An early looking amp with 2SD180 output transistors which are amid Germanium era ones. One site says 1974, it initially looks 1968-70 to us. Probably 15w & a Japan made amp made for the UK Dixons shops, selling for £34 new so is really nothing special. IC preamp too so it likely was sold in 1974 from a 1970 design to fill up discount stores like Comet who were big in 1972. Annoying sliders & 1970 type screw connectors for speakers if otherwise an amp we research as it has potential. Just everyday Stereo gear & the IC kills it for us though it might be fairly decent beyond that, probably capacitor cooupled as 1970 if not worth us trying though.
(V) Quad aka Acoustical Mfg Ltd. ↑
Sorry quad, you really don't interest us with your Transistor gear... No, if ranging from too early, average to too late. We have already written about some including the Quad II system, but we've just not felt like getting any since. They are ugly clunky looking things in the Transistor era, clearly selling pretty much the same style into the 1980s if with higher output powers on the later models, the few that they bother to make. It's a British Hifi thing too, we've tried some prime UK brands like Ferrograph & Sugden and not been too impressed, preferring the more sophisticated Japanese brands as our Top Amps lists show. Ferrograph were as lazy too, the 20w amp from 1968 was refashioned into 2 further amps & still sold in 1980 before they closed down. The Quad II power amps are something special though the 1.4v they need from a preamp is awkward & you can't change the design as we had a deeper look at the circuit. Your preamp needs to be a high gain, not the typical 400mV. With the big mismatch to any preamp including those amplifiers with pre in-out connectors, all you hear is a too-low volume version which hides the designed sound, so you have to use the cranky Quad preamps. It appears the Transistor ones are similar though later ones we've not researched. The preamps are noted elsewhere & often as being awful on the Quad II & the 33/303. Looking at the 1978 Hifi Yearbook, when the Monster Receiver & Overdesign specs were the fashion, lazy old Quad still had the Quad 33 pre for £90 & the 303 45w power amp for £98. But it's still a 1967 design being sold after 11 years. The power amp will still be useful but you have to have the preamp & hope it stays put when you push the buttons, as it was designed to be built into a console. This was the height of Hifi fashion in 1967 and since 1958 when making Hifi more Home friendly took off. In 1978 you could buy the Quad 405 100w power amp for £145 & the Quad 50E 50w power amp for £82 but the same preamp designed in 1967 was your lot, so it'd still have the mismatch 1.4v pre out-power in issue so the power amps won't be much good with other preamps unless you upgrade. We do note below the Quad 44 preamp which may have come later, though it has a nasty surprise inside. We don't see much appeal in them do we? Quad is a brand the collectors have liked for a long time & many are in use after decades & been upgraded & fiddled with. You can really only use the pre & power together & for the small sizes, why didn't they make an integrated version or Receiver? Laziness again. These ancient looking Quads must have been sold to older buyers, no hip 70s Cat would want that old thing especially when better could be found in this era. The 303 power amp is a very basic item inside & you see many upgraded ones online to see how basic it is. So for us who live in the UK, British hifi has never inspired us as much as the Japanese. Those who make the basic components make the best amps, which is why for a long time British was Best in the early Valve era with many UK brands doing well. Mullard were a huge company who designed valves we still use today & are still made today as they are wanted. Sad that Mullard fizzled out in the early 1970s by making cheap Transistor amp kit modules & the BC147-149 transistors that age badly and sound lousy like Germaniums do too. We may look out for a 33/303 combo at the right price, no point paying a high price, servicing it up & only getting the same price back as they are around & prices seem steady.
(V) Quad II Valve system ↑
No, if had before long ago. We had the complete system in about 2003: 2 monoblocks, the preamp & the FM & MW tuners. It was in exceptional original condition, We got £1600 for it & it appears sellers today are still aiming, often in vain, to get this price. But theirs are rarely anything as high grade & original as well as fully working. The Quad preamp was a disappointing thing, awful loud thumps as you changed inputs, if the case would stay still even on pressing the hard buttons, these are only really made for fitting into units. The tone controls had little gain & using it on another power amp it was seen to be crude thing as is reflected in the interest in them now. The Tuners were as usual with Gold flaking on the Tuner Dials as they sadly used Sellotape to fix them in & the glue reacts & dries. The fascias are pretty unrepairable, though today you can bet some enterprising soul will make new ones. The Tuners were OK if hardly the quality of reception & sound tuners from later years became, and you needed to buy a Stereo Decoder after 1964 when Multiplex arrived. All in all, the preamp & tuners are sadly mediocre. The 2 Quad II monoblocks are rated at 15w, but due to the high output from the crude preamp, it takes a very high 1.4v to get to max output, or you'll never understand these cute amps. We bought add-on connectors with Phono plugs, those who drill holes to put connectors in the case are not understanding at the very least. Looking in the HFYBs other amps sold on checking in the 1964 book had 200-400mV for max output which matches better with modern gear. So therefore the Quad IIs sounded too soft & low except with their own mediocre preamp.
Quad 33 + 303 power & preamp combo ↑
No, every time we look, no, hell no. Overrated junk. This mediocre UK amp combo was first out in 1968 & remarkably you could still buy this in 1981, what a lazy company. We were later told to look further, so we looked at the circuits deeply... No again. This is one we've not thought too much on as it's early (which means crude on UK transistor amps) & clearly from other's reports it has a lousy preamp like the QUAD II has. Probably like the Leak Delta-Stereo 30-70 the preamp has too much gain, though the Leak is at least switchable to lose the input gain into a resistor, which is hardly ideal. The 33/303 will match with other pre & power amps as the sadly hopeless Quad II spec of 1.4v for max power is now 0.5v so matching & mixing will be possible both ways, if not backwards with valve Quad unless you alter the gain. Seeing a nice combo for £175, a further look reminded us why we'd bypassed them before & seeing how much people modify these in the vain hope of getting quality sound out of them, well unless we find ones cheap to resell, we'll not bother. These were remarkably still for sale in 1980, ancient clunky old design with 0.5v output. We see plenty for sale & some make good prices, or maybe they are the same ones eternally relisted by buyers disappointed with them. In February 2013 the Pre amp & Tuner in the wood case with the Phono & Tape plugin cards & the Power amp all make a huge £456 on a Private listing where you never know who's a real bidder. No ideas of the inside if altered or original & tired, no idea beyond "very nice condition and fully working with all the leads" For this sort of money you can buy way better vintage amps & have money left over for some vinyl. It'll need a full service to get it to it's best, yet few bother servicing & just plug it in & use it oblivious to anything. You can't tell or help them can you? The 1967 design of the 45w power amp looks quite familiar, much copied no doubt & likely does sound good. But with the ropey preamp it's not at it's best. For Transistor amps, it appears 1969 is the first year of "improved" (aka tamer) designs, though oddly Pioneer's 1967 amp sounds more natural than the 1969 one. The preamp looks like plug in boards inside as well as the 2 on the back panel. UK amps use parts like axial & the Mullard tropical fish caps, all making any chance of upgrading hard as space will be limited. Almost every week of late a full system is up for sale, the latest one supposedly has new electrolytics if not shown well. Our opinion of these isn't very high & we're not that interested in trying one knowing other UK early transistor amps are disappointing. A case of knowing many better amps. But they are ugly beasts, DIN plugs, slot-in boards for Phono EQ & the fact the power amp block is a lump by itself with the Quad wording only really on the back unless you want to see ugly wiring. It's still basically the 1959 Quad II system done transistorised with the 2 valve amp monoblocks as one lump. Old fashioned mains supplied by another unit & to still be selling this 1950s style in 1978 is ridiculous. Clearly aimed at Grandads who can't understand the new fangled modern 1978 type system. Maybe that's why so many are for sale, people buy expecting them to be nice, they are clunky to use & limited as well as not user friendly with the preamp needing holding down or it moves as you press buttons like the Quad II pre does. Stick to their later stuff & sadly this means it'll be 1980s design ideas. Some do have a wood case to put the Preamp & Tuner in, but the Power Amp is still a box on it's own. ONCE AGAIN we look, this time having found the Circuit Diagrams. The 33 preamp is all BC109 transistors, a good transistor that is still rated today. Phono stage with the plug in board for various cartridges works on just a weak 12v supply meaning it'll only sound modest for the circuitry. The Preamp starts with a Buffer stage again on 12v, the coupling caps so far are very low so Bass won't bother you. The Tone stage, 12v once more, has a ridiculously low input cap which will limit more than just bass and with 'soft' values to keep the sound modest again. The power supply is very low spec like the Ferrograph so ripple will be high. The chances are this will sound nice but very limited on Bass & dynamics. It could upgrade but a lot will need doing in that small box. It is nicely built inside based on valve stylings, it was a 1968 design after all, but all very modest. The 303 power amp is a few boards, a transformer & most space is empty around the power supply-output caps. Resistors on both are like Leak ones & some aged looking parts compared to the far more advanced Japanese-USA product. The 303 power amp has a very low input capacitor keeping any chance of Bass locked in your imagination only. It has some long obsolete UK transistors further in the stages but equivalents will be findable. The early stages are unusual & not very good at all with more ways to limit the soft sound from the preamp. The later stages seem decent enough though, but stand no chance to give their best with the previous stages being so weak. It's the British Hifi problem: UK brands were generally years behind in the 60s & 70s & we've tried quite a few but they are mediocre generally with only Sugden being better. For the 1977 HFYB to have a Alba cheapo amp rated as The Best British Hifi in Alba's delighted advert shows how bad British Hifi is. The amount of Amstrad & Armstrong garbage hifi sold is only because they were cheap & heavily discounted. AND ALSO we see a 303 someone modestly recapped showing the bad old capacitors are like the ones Armstrong & B+O used that are ready to fail if not already. It's just a very mediocre amp... DID SEE one that a EU seller carefully restored if only upgrading the power supply 4 caps. Changing the Tone pots unless broken (unlikely) is never good, though their work is neat & we don't see very many others showing inside pics like we do. Seeing more of the insides shows it's made using similar parts to Leak used. But they never read this section of ours & kept the original low spec, sort of making it a wasted effort, hence their sale of it. The power supply caps are usually badly aged, the blue Erie ones are TV grade junk, so any new ones would improve it. It's a nicely made amp as are the Leak (not the Delta 75) but it's still only lower priced gear, not budget as pre budget era, but not much more than midprice. REALLY? One magazine reviewed one left unused for 10 years, so no service or adjusting first then. They were "staggered to how good it was" yet say it was noisy, imprecise, had weak power, sounds like it was lousy but they won't admit it. Also "Bass wasn't absent or lacking in extension". Again they know nothing, they only played Pop & Rock, no Reggae, Punk or Soul to really test it, the circuit is deeply limited on Bass & what they are hearing is the false ringing 'Retro Bass' You may think we should shut up & get one to upgrade "properly" but these are always £250 the pair so for the work in it to do it properly, we'd outprice it. Ugly stupid thing too. But oddly popular amongst novice Hifi buyers, then again crap cars like the Golf GTI on Wheeler Dealers Trading Up have a big fan base of those who never went looking for better. NOW WE KNOW WHY they are always 'upgraded', they use the same TV grade low quality capacitors like the Leak Delta 75 & Goodmans Module 80 does, these always fail so need replacing. In March 2015, four of the tattiest ones sold for £51-£70 each, wired as monoblocks 90w into 16 ohm. We hope the buyers are happy with their XLR connector altered dog rough gear... For the modest price these make, they appear to be bought to try & then resold after finding out what we've put above: it's just not very good. We don't pull our punches, we deliver it straight in the bolts... "The history of Quad is one of audio excellence, it's early products were all firsts of their type and cast the mould for the audio components which would follow for many years afterwards." says some Quad hype on HFE. We disagree to a point. The Quad II in 1959 & Quad 33/303 from 1968 were still basic items & yet the ideas still offered as New well past any sensibility.
Quad 44 + 405 power & preamp ↑
No. Very bad IC designed nightmare... Hugely overrated multiple IC riddled rubbish. What's even more shocking is this was New Product for 1976-77, yet it looks as aged as the 1968 33/303 range, both you could still buy new in 1981. The 405 power amp remarkably has an op-amp 75p piece of lo-fi crap on all the input boards. Oh, but the preamp has loads more lovely ICs to mangle the sound further. One seller kindly photos the preamp insides showing an odd mix of 1960s style boards with 4x 14 pin ICs and even worse the pre-tone has at least 3 more op-amps. Utter utter crap. How this junk is touted as Best Of British Hifi shows how awful the majority of British Transistor Hifi is. We've tried to find better, but there isn't any beyond Sugden in the pre 1980 era, sorry. Upgraded they say, waste of time upgrading amps with ICs, the damage to the music has been done. Later saw another power amp on ebay, not very impressed still, but the seller reckons the main caps bulging a tiny bit is due to failure. We don't rate these later Quad at all. For the fact we've never tried a 33 or 44 system means we think they are not worth the effort & for the amount of them for sale making £250+ they we expect are being bought & offloaded once their ugly looks & awkward operation is tired of, when so much better Hifi is out there, these later Quad shouldn't get a look in. Quad did update with big power amps like the 909 but that is 1980s stuff. This one is noted as "Current Dumping" which sounds a bad idea, so time to investigate the circuit, but an IC preamp, who are they kidding here? The input circuit is awful, a high 22K resistor is the first thing the preamp signal sees & a very low value cap. Then after the cheapo IC it gets another highish resistor and another, all guaranteed to kill the sound, but not untypical. The rest of the circuit is like no other one, using preamp BC214L as the driver as part of this awful current dumping idea. Our verdict is clear: skip dumping is more fitting, it's very low quality junk without even hearing it. Like most Quad, they sell well but are they the same ones being resold after the buyer tires of them within a week? A 44/405 set with 'factory upgrades' putting CD plus messing with mains connectors made £460. Seeing the useless Filter Slope, Tone Tilt controls obsolete pre-power connecting it makes you wonder why anyone would enjoy using these crude awkward things. But they do, it's the sort of mentality that is years out of date, the sort of mentality that thinks 'late 1970s Pioneer' without considering or being aware of the huge amount of better Vintage Hifi. Still, look out for it on ebay soon as the buyer tires of it. Serial number likely 47376 in Dymotape & the CD board & red power sockets board. British Hifi stinks. We should look closer at the next Quad range, the 405 was upgraded to 405-2.
Quad 66/606: Into the 1980s-today ↑
No. As stated above, you could still buy the 33/303 in 1981, you could still buy the 44/405 from 1976-77 in 1981. These appear to have sold well, but the buyers must have been of narrow thought to think Buying British was best when this basic junk was all you could get by then. Did they not see the vastly superior Japanese & American product & consider it instead. Flat-earthers. Quad 66/606, Quad 77/707 120w from 1995 if a 77 monoblock of 150w exists, Quad 99/909 probably early-mid 2000s were the lot beyond a few pro-rack mount 240, 510 & 520 amps after the Quad 50E expired. The Quad 66/606 is more within our scope, it's an odd mix of still using the useless filters & slope controls yet adds a CD stage. The Quad 66 preamp as you'd expect is stuffed with cheap op-amp ICs at every possible stage. The optional Phono is an IC then 2 transistors. It will sound utterly awful is our estimation & Bass is ridiculously low due to poor 0.1µf coupling caps in several places, this probably will create that awful thick ringing 'retro bass' that becomes tiring very quickly. The ICs work on +8v/-9v. A few more transistors are used as buffers but fairly high value resistors in the audio path will ruin any chance of realistic hifi sound. It's a Particularly Awful design yet again & for the fact this junk was touted as Best Of British still using awful design that no Japanese amp would dream of using, it shows Quad buyers probably only use them for Background Muzak as Hifi credentials are absent here, in our opinion. The Quad 606 power amp with it's huge logo like cheap items crassly show instead of small suble logos again sets the scene. Current dumping again, read the Quad 44/405 review about that. 606 shows transistors as least if 1x IC but still the no-Bass 0.1µf coupling. Some odd design for the current dumping and triple output transistors to get the rated power, but then dump the current, what is the point of that? Overall it's little better than the previous model beyond higher power. To anyone considering buying any of these, are you insane? Have you no idea of anything better than this limited bass-light mediocrity? There is so much better out there.
(V) Radford STA15 power + SC22 preamp ↑
No, too early & outpriced. One just sold for £1800 on ebay. We hope they are happy with it & look at it Daily, they'll unlikely be playing it unless they rebuild it & few can. They first appear in the 1965-66 HFYB. Preamp £32.50 new but the self contained power supply version which this one lacks is the SC22P which was £37.50 (or £37.10s if you must). The Power amps introduced are the MA15 £25 15w Mono; MA25 £31 25w Mono; STA15 £40 Stereo version & STA25 £50 Stereo version. £50 may not sound a lot but £50 in 1966 would buy you £726 today. Looking at the STA15, it's not pretty but buyable in basic terms at around £750-1000 today looking at new brands out there. In relation the Rogers Cadet III was seen as a budget amp at £34.50 & today is a £250-350 used buy. Money terms are hard to compare on Hifi as that makes the Cadet III value £500 new today which isn't Budget today, though we have mass markets not around in 1966.Didn't think much of the design we noted on writing this up.The idea of paying £1800-2100 for these old amps is ridiculous to us. But in real terms of buying a modern Valve amp with preamp & phono, maybe £1800 isn't such a high price for the Radfords, but 45-50 years old, aged design & ugly looks isn't a good buy if you want daily use factoring in the cost of a rebuild.
Radford SCA 30 amplifier ↑
No, too risky. 30w transistor amp from 1968, actually 15w+15w say others, one on ebay Xmas 2014 in awful condition. No circuits findable. The ebay one looks totally trashed with now dried gushing main capacitors, burnt capacitors from red hot resistors as the capacitors sizzled & many axial ones looking ready to pop. A bad over-hot resistor inside somewhere unventilated adds to the badness to burn the case. Remarkably it looked interesting still, but deeper searching shows it's best avoided unless working & even then it's a bad design destined never to work for long, almost like the Leak Delta 75 receiver. Apparently fully complimentary outputs which is early, but it has a strange thyristor regulated power supply. The unobtania here is it has non polarised output capacitors, nearly all other amps use polarised ones, how you'd overcome that is the unknown & with the rest so trashed, just about worthless. This is where the forums can help as others have them not working either. Truly a parts amp if yours wasn't so wrecked, to get this to repair has too many bads to overcome. Based on how we didn't like the lousy Radford HD-250 this is like race gambling on a deceased three legged mule. For Radford, stick to the valve amps, they appear to be popular, their transistor amps are disappointingly poor. This is why the Japanese product of the 1967-69 era is just so superior & reliable.
Redgum [2015 era] amplifiers ↑
No. Modern Australian made amplifiers we were told of, see their site. This shows one of the insides, nice to see old style TO3 output transistors, toroidal transformer as typical for the slimmer size, but the lack of Capacitors for a power supply is a bit of a concern. We've not heard these & there are no circuits, so we can only review their site really. Their ideas are the Utopian Hifi ideals of more detail & less curtain in front of speakers sound, yes, but so are many others who fail to deliver. Their outlook does sound aware & their love of Deep Bass that every amp made since 1969 lacks is refreshing, though we can upgrade Bass into most amps, sadly buyers complained too much in the 1970s as they used cheap gear so Bass is never what it ought to be. The fundamentals of Bass need good circuitry to support them, but we don't see that here. In design, deep bass can be exploited by playing with 'the curves' of the amplifying device. Here they use MOSFETs which to us brings a yawn as a FET isn't really so good in Hifi as it is isn't like a Transistor or Valve, it only has one set of variables & trying to upgrade a FET circuit brings no change as the FET itself with it's own specifications, you want different ones: you get a different FET. Sorry, Redgum, we aren't convinced at all. The boards are tiny, the spec looks very low, silver solder? Who cares. It just appears one of those designs that have no idea of Valves or the pre 1969 Transistor Hifi ideals that we take & have the cheek to put into much later amps, with varying success. Why is Current Limiting here considered a Good Idea? Far from it says we. From just looking at the board, it'll likely have a bright fresh dry sound from the low transistor count, but finesse will be very lacking. The sort of thin grainy sound the 1986 Sansui AU-G90X had when we first heard it, but this sort of amp as the Redgum is would defy upgrading with it's feeble spec where it matters. Redgum appear to have some of the right ideas, if not executed in a vintage-enough way perhaps they should get some 1965-69 amps to learn more about why we aren't keen on what we see. And make a proper full amp with Phono & tone as many buyers still want.
Revox A50 amplifier ↑
Revox A78 amplifier ↑
Interesting if often bypassed so No. These are the two often seen, but we've not fancied one as with the A750 or B750 below. A50 is the 25w amp from c.1968(1971 HFYB) & the A78 is the 40w from the 1974 HFYB, it has very closely fitted Phono input sockets & DIN output sockets. Not too wild about it & it has similarities to the Sugden A48 in more than just numbering. Made In Germany if a Swiss Studer-Revox brand so it'll be EU quality that hasn't impressed us too much. Revox are a big name in Open Reel Tape decks & be sure there's some Teac quality of sound in these early ones, but with the matching tuner with similar lab-kit looks, we just don't sound very keen. The ones we've seen have been tatty looking which doesn't help. One on ebay for £1950 is a joke, though others 10% or less are buyable, but after looking closely, it's that EU type construction that never gives the quality, stupid controls flap, all uninspiring after knowing the superior Japan/USA gear. It'd need a full recap & we'd be seeing the mediocrity & be tired of it fast. It's not all about making an earner, we just don't see it upgrading to be particularly great.
Revox A750 amplifier ↑
Interesting if often bypassed so No. This one is 60w in the 1979 HFYB, looks much more interesting, though this person has recapped but used the same values if higher voltage. Missing the point in the extreme, but design knowledge is needed, explaining why he left ceramics too. Lots of plug in boards, the same flat relays like the Luxman has. The brand looks a bit cottage-industry like UK brands as Radford & we weren't keen on that one. We do prefer the Japanese amps as is clear they are more advanced in many ways. A750 Mk II is similar, though an eek. at their big speaker binding posts, all bare metal & about 3mm apart, just asking for trouble & even a stray screw could land in the cleft. Foolish. The space for the speaker connectors is only the same as the Yamaha CR-2020 outputs. The B750 is a 40w amp.
Revox B285 amplifier ↑
No. This is a ridiculous block of Lego looking grey lump with several ICs, so not for us as late 1980s probably. We're not finding much warmth to this brand beyond the B750. Can't see it sounding better than our fave 3 as of typing: Sony STR-6120, Pioneer SX-1500TF & Marantz 2265B. The contruction is bitty with lots of boards, lots of odd components, limited space to upgrade. Luxman like in some ways & also Studio gear looking to as not visually attractive beyond the hard looks. Reading the forums where many appear to be found faulty isn't a good sign & wheras the audio stages should be repairable, once it gets into IC control & switching the odds are the IC will not be findable. There are reasons why we like the pre IC era beyond just the better sound.
Revox A720 receiver ↑
Interesting but No. Pre-amplifier with FM tuner is a bizarre 1974 very early 'digital' light type number display, Nixie tubes. These use a Valve to show the numbers which are layered inside the valve & light. These use 185v for these tubes, the service manual calls them "long life digital readout tubes" & predate LED & similar displays like DVD players have. The numbers are layered so a "1" is furthest away & the "9" is towards the front. Ugly perhaps but kooky & deeply retro indeed. First saw these displays in some greengrocer shop scales in the early 1990s & they still worked fine after many hours use every day, if refurbed. You can find a newly made clock in the USA with these Nixie tubes in, if their wood deco styling is a bit mismatched for something sooo 1974.
(V) Rogers HG88 Mk II valve amplifier ↑
No, too early. The one before the Mk III and... you get the idea, the 1962 era version. Still the old Gold fronted one.1962 HFYB: HG88 is now a Mk II with 12w £42 or £38 no case.It'll be as ancient as the Mk I we had & it still has the GZ34 valve rectifier, a serious limitation in Hifi as capacitance is limited to put after one & they aren't as 'fast' as Diodes, though it's only 50Hz, how fast does it need to be? To pass RF through it without affecting the rest perhaps. One on ebay without a case & amsingly sold as "restored", but we still see the old capacitors throughout, the mains ones will be dried out & on the point of failing. Still the old Mullard mustard caps that deteriorate too, not that they are poor items, they just age. So why on earth are bids going £492 to buy it? Assuming the bids are genuine & they look so, the buyer clearly has no idea of what we wrote above on how much work they need. Allowing the reader time to recover from shock & inevitable hysterics at the buyer's folly, well it's their money. The Mk II isn't a common one, rarer than the Mk III though the Mk I is found most as it's not worth restoring so they get sold. The faceplate is uncorroded except for a curve over the volume where the lacquer's gone. Mk II has little of the filter stages, 7 can capacitors of HT voltage, output transformers similar to the Mk III & a nicer speaker connector row. Multivoltage is limited to a plug on the transformer top. But all the old capacitors are here."The amplifier is in very good physical condition and has been professionally restored"sounds like a bit of a con to us, serviced doesn't appear to cover it even. The HG88 Mk III we had 2 of all the main early power supply capacitors were dried out, the inside ones were better but do fail too. Can only assume the rarity of Mk II & the summery weather has something to do with it. Look out for it being relisted shortly...
Rogers New Cadet amplifier ↑
Interesting, but only to sneer at so No. This is a depressingly lousy looking amp, looks 1966-68 perhaps with components used, but remarkably with nasty STK015 IC amp blocks & a very cheap look & not much in it either. Odd how we've never heard of it before as it would have been in our Henry's catalog surely unless it was not rated worthy. DIN speaker plugs, 3 DIN inputs, black front oddly symmetrical with a huge balance knob as it get used so often (?) & input & filter switch rows. The 10w IC you can find the basic 8 transistor circuit equivalent of, for the lack of finesse in it, it's bleak & rather amusingly awful if probably very futuristic using the 15th ever design IC amp block. Looks like it occured before the Ravensbrook & Ravensbourne amps & we finally sold our Ravensbrook receiver we are relieved to say. No, we don't want one. Rarity is a good thing sometimes too.
Rogers A75 & Ravensbourne amplifiers ↑
Interesting to Average. The A75mk2 is a 1980 amplifier. We've sort of drawn a line at 1977 onwards being a not-interested era. 1981 HFYB has the A75 series (?) as 50w £239 & the A100 60w for £299. Ones are selling for about £125 which isn't much, one missing a knob isn't worth buying as you'll never exactly match it. We were initially impressed with the Technics SU-V707 but later found it, well you go read the Technics page. We'll check out the circuit diagram & see what it has, we can read circuits & know if it's a good clean design or a mangled OTT one, so here goes... Well that wasn't much good. No circuits available anywhere, just comments saying the caps have gone bad which for a 1980 amp sounds unusual & the 100 is better as the 75 is muffly which doesn't tell much. Oh well, it'll be looked for with others we consider as a worth a try as well as those we see & research. As the 1968 Ravensbourne case style predates this, odds are much is comparable. The Ravensbrook is a healthy 45w into 8 ohms, as only found reading the 1968 Hifi News review, despite the midleading 15ohm rating of 25w which will have lost them sales & is still misquoted as 25w into 8 ohms by many. It's an ugly looking amp, no way to say it's not, if basically the Cadet III type brown lower panel & oddly placed button control group at the left that the A75 series has. A DIN socket for Tape recorders but strangely a DIN for Headphones when the 1963 Trio WX400U has the regular 3.5mm socket, this will have put off buyers too. Rubbishy plastic knobs on this lose the brightwork caps so more ugliness if one we saw has original looking metal ones. The back has Disc, Radio & Tape Loop via Phono sockets if the Speaker outputs are DIN sockets as is the Ravensbrook receiver. It shares some of the Cadet III-HG88 mains parts but does look a little grim overall. Another one on ebay shows the base is open showing the TO3 transistors, meaning full HT is on them, assume it lacks a grille. The teak wood case is like the Leak Stereo 30/70 & Sugden A48, we thought it a bit poorly made lacking the tooling precision of non UK ones. So much for English Woodworking skills. 45w is good but knowing how we thought of the similar smaller Ravensbrook on getting one in 1990 & thinking it was a bit pathetic & just oozed cheapness as was the opinion of the Receiver version. These amps have transformer coupling & there will be a risk of bad UK Germaniums as the early Ravensbrook have. It'll just sound the usual rough UK sound with only the A75 ones possibly more interesting. Seeing a few of these, most have DIN output sockets, but an early one has the more typical bar of screw connectors. Inside the 2 driver to output coupling transformers & plenty of UK axial capacitors & the Mullard stripey capacitors with low values. Not really very appealing to upgrade one of these & usually the control knob cap covers are missing in some way. As you'll read on this site, UK hifi really doesn't appeal to us & beyond the Tube Technology valve amps, UK hifi past the valve era just is so behind the Japan & USA gear. We try.
Rotel RX-800 receiver ↑
Interesting. Not many higher power Rotel made until the late 1970s ones, this receiver is about 40w, 50w into 4 ohms says HFE but no specs on the detail sheets. The circuit looks good, it should be a nice amp but it has DIN sockets for inputs and speakers. Looking quite like a Pioneer from 1972 it has wood veneer case & green tuner lights, a quality midprice item that is expected to sound good. But not overly exciting thinks us & then seeing the DIN sockets. The manual shows typical Phono sockets & the typical 1972 type spring speaker sockets, but this must have been a limited run for EU, it's with a German seller. We'd like to try it but we've found DIN socket amps however good they are, just don't make the prices they should, only selling for about 2/3 the non DIN price for similar. To upgrade it & even if it was as good as the Harman-Kardon 930 there's not much in it for the effort. Pity.
Sansui AU-70 amplifier & TU-70 tuner ↑
No, Sansui valve amps are not so good. This is basically the Sansui 1000 receiver from 1964 in two parts, we review the 1000 below. The AU-70 is a little industrial in looks if not unpleasant, the odd slider switches & basic meters make it look a little naff though. As this is 28w the output transformers are very big for a 1964 amp which will give it much credibility. But we now know the Sansui 500A more & know it actually has the basis of being a fine amp if with all Audio valves being obsolete, the oversized Phono sockets & the fact it'd need a full rebuild leaving little of the original apart from fixings perhaps we are the only ones aware of the huge amount of work to get it into something great. There are 12AX7 (ECC83) valves in it but suspiciously it has a small box visible from the top that is likely the typical Sansui transistor Phono stage. The 1000 receiver has Transistor Phono & the 12AX7 are for the pre-tone, the 6AN8 are for the power amp driver & splitter & an odd 25E5 output valve on a low 320V HT. The Tuner is a bit plain looking if 1964 Lab Kit looks again are oddly appealing. Again as we found with the Sansui 500A the Tuner will need a full recap as it'll sound muddy & soft as the 500A one did. A huge amount of work needed to bring these up to a high standard. To the point that no-one would dream of tackling it & despite our woes with our 500A the end results can be wonderful as our other Trio WX-400 woes, both on the Valves page, reveal. But we are mad enough to tackle these amps for our own interests. These sold for £340 & £145, unusually high prices for raw amp & tuner, but perhaps the buyer doesn't realise the work they need to even start to use them, the oversized Phono sockets & the rest.
Sansui AU-101 amplifier ↑
Average. The first amp we ever repaired a few decades back, though what it needed beyond output transistors we can't remember. A 15w amp for £40 new 1970-72 era. It's a starter amp into Sansui, but we've noticed this amusing write up by an ebay seller that we feel duty bound to comment on. The AU-101 we remember from the early days of a Rogers Cadet III & Leak Stereo 30 & they were nice sounding modest amps compared to the stuff we used at the time. "This phenomenal example of Legendary Sansui AU-101 is by far one of the most musical amplifier in the planet at any price range- have compared this with Naim nait 1 and Cyrus 1; The Sansui AU-101 simply blows both of them in this department (IMO). It has also superb built in phono stage that really sounds sweet. The sound can be described as warm, detailed, spacious, very dynamic and has awesome timing. The bass is very tight too especially with the loudness switch engaged - it never sounds thick or woolly. The tonal quality of this amp is one of the most accurate I have ever heard. The relatively low rated power belies the actual sound level these amps achieve - even I was amazed with its high current delivery." Loudness switch indeed, to be seen but never heard. You never need a Loudness switch, you need a new amp or speakers that match it better. Loudness sounds exactly as he says it doesn't oddly. High current delivery at 15w isn't possible. If a 15w starter amp is the best he's heard, in fairness he's started well, but no. We remember the AU-999 before it was recapped, it was very bass light actually as Sansui heavy-handedly used Bass Filter stages aka High Pass filters in amps of this era. No amplifier is Legendary. But the AU-101 in high grade for £110 might still a good buy, if you can trust the seller after such nonsense typed. But unfortunately it has been "upgraded"... -Speaker terminal has been upgraded to high quality gold binding post - speaker connection will take standard banana plugs or bare wire (this simple but essential upgrade allows you to connect wider range of speaker cables) -Power cable has been shortened and added German IEC Audiophile connector (this simple but effective upgrade allows you connect a high quality power cable of your choice - IEC type). Again there is never any reason to mess with any connectors unless they are broken. The mains wire comment & alteration is needless. It's a piece of wire carrying mains, our views on cable are elsewhere. The amusing thing here is the Sansui amps have 2-core mains cable & his 'improved' way adds an earth cable as 3-core. Connected to fresh air. We avoid fiddled-with amps like the plague as who knows what else they've done.
(V) Sansui AU-111 amplifier ↑
Interesting, but No. Sansui valves aren't so good. This is not to be confused with the 15w AU-101 transistor amp above, they look quite similar as well as the numbering, if the AU-111 is a 40w Valve amp from 1965. The schematic shows straight off a Transistor in the Phono stage, Sansui loved the hybrids. The rest is all valves with 12AX7/ECC83 in the preamp which is good. 6AQ8-ECC85 power amp driver & 12BH7A for the splitter is unusual, these are basically ECC83s if taller, though the circuit will differ. ECC85 is almost an ECC83 though not exactly. 6L6GC output valve is one that is still made so no problems there. These appear to be a straight glass version of the bigger KT66 if bias differs. The problem are the two power amp driver-splitter valves & the transistor input is fine done with a valve really. One on ebay in May 2014 typically has the same spec capacitors used, denying the amp a proper modernisation, a 0.01uf audio cap we see but that's design work to do. For some reason they fiddled with the bias putting in new bits on a PCB, oh dear. But lots of the bad old grey paper-in-oil caps remain, the person is an amateur & amateur fiddled amps are more work to undo a mess. Overall the AU-111 does appear to be a better amp with a few minor worries & still the AC heaters with hum adjust which will always limit the fidelity. Oh, it sold for £1420. This is the thing, people know nothing about upgrading amps & don't see the issues we do. Perhaps we shouldn't tell. Another on ebay Oct 2014 is more original & supposedly upgraded if no pictures prove & for £1050, hmm. Still with the conical oversized Phono sockets (useless sadly) & quite a lot looks like the Sansui 500A if this is an amp not a receiver. But as we've had & hated the 500A for how poor it was, this with a nice 40w & KT66 style output valves is still a "no" on seeing the awful Filter stage: does the signal really go through a (R52) 680K resistor as well as a 68K & 51K? Yes it does. Still has awful 0.05µf coupling caps. The foolish gushing seller says this amp is "almost perfection" but we see a very mediocre amp especially with that shocking filter stage, similiar to the Sansui 1000 we noted too, that would need so much rebuild & we've been there & done that with the Trio WX-400U. We are looking in vain for another good vintage valve amp, but Sansui are not for us with this overhyped 'Flagship' model as we see too many flaws. The best Sansui is the 3000A, but it needs a lot of upgrading.
(V) Sansui 220 Valve receiver ↑
No, too average. This is circa 1964. We had one just before we started these pages, it sort of worked although the Bias adjusters fell off & needed surgery, this happened with the 3000A too. It was all valve though with a transistor for the phono first stage, one per channel and a valve for the second stage which is a bit odd as all valve phono can be good. Has a magic eye for the Tuner unlike the later 500A. It needed recapping fully & it was such a plain boring looking thing, no FM Stereo Multiplex on this lower model & the underneath was a real rats nest even untidier than the Trio WX400. It sat looking at us for a while & then we just sold it on, or tried to for quite a while, but covered costs so no big deal. Couldn't be bothered with it for what it offered, to spend a lot of time doing it & new parts & then barely covering costs as we found on selling the Armstrong valve amp. You could hear there was a quality sound amid the failing capacitors & to abandon wasn't nice, but you have to consider the result & with lack of interest twice. Lack of interest can be a problem with these valve receivers as we've found with our Trio. The Sansui 250 is the FM Stereo one. The SM series with 11, 18, 21 & 80 are earlier with better styling, though the Trio WX400U is far the prettier amp as you can see on our Best Looking Amps page.Seeing one again on ebay, it's quite a basic one & if no FM Stereo doesn't bother, the 10w or so it puts out will be adequate, though basic it'll be.
Sansui G-301 receiver ↑
No. This was the 25w one we found literally in the gutter at the back of an Oxfam shop, hoping for someone to take it away & fix it, we obeyed their wishes. Looking now at the very similar G-3000 26w, it's a very cheaply made item, inside 2 flat boards 1 for all amp & power stages, the other for the tuner. To show ourselves we could do these repairs after some dry years, restored it to nearly perfect working just for the hell of it & sold it on ebay for £40 to cover costs. After that we got the Sony TA-1150 & then the Sony STR-6120 & the rest is here. We did use it but it was a while ago & don't think it's much more than just general 'Stereo' gear, mass market style.
Sansui AU-317 amplifier ↑
Average. This was a 1978 50w amplifier, rejigged as the 'A' version 60w by 1980. Seeing one worth researching it. Proper TO3 output transistors, but all power supply & power amp on one board which is the usual thing of the era. No ICs. Transistor counts reveal more: Phono x6, Tone-Flat x4, Power Amp has the 2xFET IC that's just 2 FETs so not a proper IC to us & 13 transistors. From that it probably is one of the better of it's era, typical Sansui power supply detail is good, but it'll not match their earlier efforts from 1967-69. But it will share design ideas of the basic 25w one above & for us we'd want to improve it, but we don't have enough interest to pay £125 for one & not get much more once serviced as it's another black faced 1980s-looking receiver to buyers. The Sansui manual is as detailed as earlier years & why Sansui are a popular brand, but they had to make cheaper basic models like any other to survive & be sure many more basic ones sold than the premium ones.
(V) Sansui 500 Valve receiver ↑
No, Sansui valve amp with difficult circuitry. This earlier Sansui 500 (no 'A') from c.1964 is one of the plain box looking receivers with a brown metal lid & appears to have a valve phono, but has none of the classy looks or size of the Trio WX-400U. FM stereo decoder fitted on a PCB but a small looking amp like the 220 we didn't fancy doing. The underneath is one of those Rat's Nestno PCB types as was typical. This one in 'good condition' despite a fascia dent & all original but untested says the seller & we believe that don't we?. No we don't. It sold for £190 delivered, you can be sure it'll never get finished once the buyer realises how much there is to do. The buyer of this is into Home Cinema & Subwoofers so clearly a newbie in Hifi well out of his depth. Dust gatherer or fast resell guaranteed. Beware the Sansui RA-500 is a pretty useless "reverb" amp that creates added echo on tracks & may be good on early Mono ones, but a mess on Stereo tracks, bypassed by digital today.
(V) Sansui 500A Valve receiver ↑
No, we do cautiously put it on Top Amps, but it's not as good as we expected. We actually had this very late 1967 receiver, but don't really think itdeserves to go in the Top Amps page. Here's why. The Sansui 3000A was issued a few months before & the 500A appears to have been a rushed effort to those not wanting to try Transistors yet. It had those awful oversized phono sockets that was very tricky to redo. We recapped our one & found it disappointing to how great the Trio WX-400U was, though the 500A ultimately helped the Trio to success. The 500A FM Stereo tuner was dull & muddy, on recapping & upgrading it was hugely better. But then come the problems. The 500A unwisely used 445v HT, as read on our one, with 420v being the spec. But looking at other valve amps 420v is for an EL34 or KT66, not a EL84 type valve, you get the idea they just used the 1000 transformer save designing a new one? The 7189A/EL84M can take 400-500v & guitar amp users are known to go over the limits. But the trouble is on hifi you are using it at home where Safety is expected, the 500A was a nightmare as by the time we gave up, it had trashed 5 valves, with lightning white flashes inside as the cathode & grid have ruined, things like flash-over & low emission, but this was on the brand new EL84Ms too. So the HT is too high, but that's not all. The Tone stage was utterly rubbish, such a poor design the Low/High Filter was put in just bypassing the Tone in effect. Ful rebuild to a better spec required. But then it has ECC85 & ECF80 valves, neither the best for Audio, they were Tuner stage designs. So because we can, we put ECC83s in with some redesign. It took a little fine tuning but all that did was pull down the output valves so their current was very low. It showed up the AC Heater hum as we found with the Trio but set it to DC on the audio valves. All was sorted & it got playing well but then for no reason after 15+ minutes another valve flashed over. A new EL84M is about £20 so the fifth one trashed & the amp clearly unreliable, it got abandoned. Beyond the HT being too high, it appears the amp has a strange circuit for when using headphones & setting it off speaker mode it makes the headphones too quiet. This setting puts an 8 ohm internal resistor across the output, the tall white thing inside. Without it, the failure is the HT on the plate rises so trashes it."You must always use a load with tube amps because, without it, the primary impedance will approach infinite resulting in an excessive voltage on the plates of the power tubes."says one site. Again, that's a catch-all comment to cover inferior design, no other valve amp we've had has ever needed loading & even our TT amps read steady using the headphone box. The 1963 Trio we see has a set resistor in the design to make it not need this & the Rogers HG88 Mk III has nothing as it has no headphone. The Pioneer ER-420 is similar though & Trio got it right therefore. But the reality is the 500A has 470 ohms as the headphone resistor, we altered ours to match the Trio & with the headphones being 40 ohm there is still enough loading, but the 500A is just not a good design. The Trio is stable & is easy on EL84 valves with 350v HT, but the Sansui 500A is inferior in HT, Tone, obsolete valves & AC heaters on Audio. We've read the 1000/1000A are problematic too & with a heap more obsolete valves, bad Phono sockets & other junk, Sansui have dipped hugely in our estimations for valve amps. They were adequate when new, but unlike the superior Trio valve amps, the Sansui don't give well to rebuild-upgrades.
Sansui TR-700 receiver ↑
Interesting if low power. This is apparently Japan only from May 1966. One was on ebay in 2012 & it looks like the early Trio-Kenwood transistor amps. Looks a bit bare without a wood case as the fascia edge is big enough to fit a case. It looks very 1960s Bachelor Pad like the Pioneer SX700TF, but any buyer will have a job servicing those awkward rocker switches as we found in the Trio WX400. It'll be 25w like the TR707A which has a different controls combination on the right. The seller shows the inside top, but not the base, but the base may be a rat's nest like the Valve ones being this early? The top inside looks like the early Trio again as does the fascia, likely parts made by the same company. It will likely sound like the early Trio & Pioneer which will mean a wonderful clean open sound, but sadly much power limited & a roughness to the sound. Also the early small transistors are very noisy in background hiss & we uprated the Pioneer SX700TF ones to get a cleaner sound, but still with the lack of power roughness. You'd need to redesign it too much. Unlikely we'll be trying, but it's a nice very early Transistor receiver amp, but don't expect the AU-999 type control that they had by 1970. There are likely Germaniums in this as so early but without a service manual if the one on ebay Sep 2015 has the circuit diagram much browned. the trouble here is the amount of work it will need will likely put it out of a gettable selling price & we've known how good the Sansui 3000A is. For a 25w amp we'll see how low they go for a smoking one, risky buy even for us.
Sansui TR-707A receiver ↑
Interesting. The first Sansui transistor amplifier from May 1965, predating the Sony TA-1120 by 6 months, though easy to see the Sony is a far superior design. The TR-707A receiver is 18w RMS for Stereo if the manual says 23w continuous for the one channel only rating. No valve tuner front end as Pioneer were still using in 1966, this is a crude earlier version of what became the Sansui 3000A but is fascinating for it. It certainly doesn't look like you could use one daily as the Sony TA-1120 does with ease, this looks ancient. 2SC245 output transistors are actually Silicons though the tuner looks very amateurish. Many are Germanium 2SB381 & 2SB378 are in the Phono & Preamp, if there are Sony named silicons underneath. Sadly it has the cone shaped Phono sockets like the Trio WX400U & Sansui 500A valve receivers as well as the earliest Sansui 3000A had, these are useless for modern cables as they stretch them to break or just fall off. An interesting one in a historic way, but as typical of early tuners it'll probably not work & the 3000A certainly is a far more professional looking item, the insides here are very random looking. The service manual is on an AK post so we can look deeper, the Phono & Tone are all Germanium if the Power Amp is one Silicon, a transformer for splitter to the Output Silicons, just 3 transistors though the preamp looks like some of it is power amp related level. No bias adjust, output is capacitor coupled. Has to be the Only Transistor Amp with a Power Supply Choke like the best Valve amps use. The Tuner looks like it's all Germaniums. Our Top Amps page shows the 1966 JVC with things the other way round: Silicon preamp but the Germanium drivers & it sounds sublime. We've put Germaniums down until that JVC simply because of how awful the UK Mullard AD140 type ones are, but the Japanese ones are much better made. One we'd like to try, but not at the price one seller wants & another from USA is not much better once delivered. To put the last 3 as Germaniums based on the JVC ones would make it fully Germanium, just for the hell of it. But for the Gamble of it, the odds it's not working right are high too. Plain looks like the last Sansui 250 range valve amps with a wood patterned metal case & usually a white power switch if the manual shows a black one, in case it looks replaced. Fascinating if not essential.
Sansui AU-777 amplifier ↑
Interesting if low power. One of the early 1967 Transistor models this is the amp in the same series as the 45w Sansui 3000A if it's only 25w as the amplifier. Oddly the 3000A is semi complimentary but the AU-777 is still capacitor coupled. Another site says this is from May 1967 as the first all-silicon transistor amp. The 3000A came later in Sep 1967. For the Japanese market the TR-700 from May 1966 was their first transistor amp but will be Germaniums. So to look at the earlier ideas for the 3000A in the AU-777. It looks like the AU-999 with the all-blacxk fasdcia, stepped tone controls & varied switches for Flat Tone & filters. No splitter stage transformer in here either. Some quirky design here as with the 3000A with capacitor coupling in the power amp an odd one. Ideas like Pre out-main in & inductors on the output stage would be the normal over the next few years. Hard to tell what it would sound like as soi unique, but for how good the 3000A is, it should be a good one. Pity only 25w though. We'd try one.
(V) Sansui 1000/1000A Valve receiver ↑
No, Sansui aren't too hot on valve amps. There are 2 versions, 28w RMS Sansui 1000 & the later 40w RMS Sansui 1000A. 1000 has a line of output valves at the back with anode caps, the 1000A is transformers & more usual type valves at the back together. This is another early receiver, a very plain silver box like their valve amp range, but this 1000 & 1000A are Valves only. The 1000X is a 28w receiver all transistors, ignore the 100w IHF peak power nonsense, so the 3000A appears to be their first receiver over 40was the 1000X looks 1969-70 with the same speaker connectors as the AU-999 has. Looking again at the 1000A, quite plain looks but nice with it, a brown metal casing, no way a wood case would be used like with out Trio. The awful way US ebay lies saying "no additional import charges" but a $600 one gets $137 shipping then $278 import charges payable in advance by some awful 'service' & we think UK imports are expensive. Unbuyable & unrealistic. One deluded UK seller has a dusty one, not recapped, not even cleaned but apparently working with risky old capacitors, if the original box for £825. Considering it'll always need a full rebuild, to pay £200 tops on any 10-15w valve receiver is realistic, though this one is 40w we'd not expect it to go over £350. One stated to be "professionally restored" sold for about $800 but no pictures to prove so expect a lazy like-for-like refit, no design upgrade etc like we did with our Trio. For the fact the Tuner stages are usually a pain & the amount of work, as with the Sansui 500, do we really need it? One big problem with these early Sansuis is the oversized Phono sockets that won't take modern Phono cables without wrecking them. The 3000A on the earlier 1967 ones had this, but by 1968 the standard type was used. To do surgery to replace the 1000A ones is hard as the board has the Input wording. Sites say the 1000A was the last & most perfected Sansui, not so says we, but the 500A is from 1967 matching the 3000A transistor amp. Sansui 1000 is 1963, Sansui 1000A is 1964, Sansui 500A is 1967. The 1000A has 4 bias adjust pots putting it into a much improved league of Valve amp. Sansui 500A/1000/1000A all use 2 Transistors as the Phono stage which is the only minus. Another minus on the 1000/1000A is the High Filter uses 3x 50k resistors so the signal goes through this after Tone before Power Amp. 150k resistance on your Audio is poor & will limit the quality heavily if you know better.
Sansui BA5000 power amplifier ↑
No, beyond our scope at 300w. A reader asked about the BA range of 1978 power amps. Not the sort of amps we'd see unless paying the retail price. The 5000 is 300w, a huge 49kg lump with the typical excessive output transistors numbering 16. But the rest of the amp was quite modest after the excesses of the huge Yamaha CR-3020 & Pioneer SA-9900, both way over designed. But the fact of 300w being useless, unless you are worried about being man enough, means it's a stupid amp to bother with, though people do. The 2000 is 110w, 3000 is 170w & 5000 is 300w. All part of the insane Monster Amps-Receivers game & only the 2000 shows in a HFYB. We don't think much of these 100w+ monsters, we had a Pioneer M90-C90 combo that we've put on the Top Amps page just scraping a recommend, go read our verdict. These huge amps we just have no interest in when 20w valves or 45w transistor amp can deliver such a fine sound.
Sansui 5500 receiver ↑
Interesting. 1971, 55w. Seen one from an Italian seller looks impressive, Inside pretty much like the Sansui 5000 but amp boards caged & a bit more of a ground shield between tuner & the caps and power amp. 55w rated to us, but 45w showing the amp is limited like the 5000 was, ie very low on deep bass. Still Capacitor Coupled so a 1970 design. Tone x3, Power Amp x7 transistors so likely quite similar overall to the 5000 if it has a lot more buttons & finally gets away from the lousy Aux through Phono board idea that limits the 4000 & 5000.
Sansui "Eight Deluxe" receiver ↑
Interesting but getting overdesigned. Looks impressive, Sansui calling it Deluxe & making an amp that looks more Pioneer 1972 range. Plenty of inputs too for 4 channel & Noise Reduction (Dolby) units are not much use. A 1971 receiver that's in the 1972 HFYB as 60w for £294 & we noted others have the lettering wearing off which spoils looks. It's the first Semi Complimentary Sansui after the 3000A from 1967 was too, but Sansui ditched this on the 4000, 5000 series & 5500 because it was problematic. At last we can see the Circuits as HFE has these now. Sadly it shows that overdesign & silly circuitry that earlier amps never needed is the thing now. Phono x4 transistors but a PP output stage that Pioneer & Yamaha later did. Tone-Pre x5 including 2 buffers. Power amp is a bit shocking as 15 transistors. The 5500 before it only needed 7. Includes 2 pairs of differentials, circuitry we have never seen the point of when earlier amps sound so good without it. For what the circuitry shows, it should sound fairly like the 1969-70 ones but the overdesign has been found to weaken the sound & dynamics. It adds to the picture of Sansui as you can see we are not pleased with their later IC stuffed efforts & this Sansui Eight Deluxe is the first of the ones losing the fresh sound of the earlier ones.
Sansui G7500 receiver ↑
Interesting if likely No. A 90w one from 1978-79, an era we'd generally not try, knowing how cost cut Hifi became by now. But as we were asked about upgrading one & finding it's all Transstors in the Audio Stages, worth a deeper look. Transistor counts: Phono x6 inc a FET differential & a buffer, Tone-Pre x4 comes straight from the inputs after Loudness & Volume control, an unusual way, Power Amp x12 with 2 for FET differential, 2 other differential & the later amp stages with one for a protection sensor. Why all these differentials are in all post 1972 amps when earlier ones sound better without them is the mystery of (over)design, perhaps it's just easier to do that way. The Power Supply has an IC for the relay timing. We can see from an inside top photo that the cost-cutting is evident & certain parts look very low spec, we spent ages upgrading the 1975 era Pioneer & all that can be cost cut is, sadly this will be much the same. The circuitry is a bit mediocre in places & with all the differentials upgrading as well as earlier amps will be a task indeed. It's one of those amps that has promise, but the task to better one so cost-cut will be a challenge. Worth investigating though.
Sansui 9090 (DB) receiver ↑
No. This remarkably is one of the highly prized Sansuis from 1976, together with a confusing 9090DB from 1978 which is quite a different amplifier despite looking just about the same. But we've not heard one & a look at the circuit in awareness of how some of these Monster amps are cheaped out, especially the later Trio-Kenwood, it is worthwhile. It's got an IC we see, but don't run away yet, it's the same NE545B that's in the NAD 300 for the pretty useless Dolby circuit. BUT...oh dear, our kindness was ill repaid, the sodding tone-preamp has ICs as we scroll down the pages. In both Phono & Preamp-Tone there sits like a turd in a puddle, nasty ICs. It might sound OK hidden amid aged components & the usual spoilers, but try to upgrade it & the ICs will limit you every time. What looks like a Mic input has another IC. The rest of the power amp stage is discrete transistors, but once sound is mangled by a cheap IC, forget it. The £398 price in 1977 should be a giveaway, compare the price to the Yamahas, it's over £100 less. We nearly got one a while back, on seeing this, we are losing interest in these amps one by one. The person who rapidly paid £325 in late 2012 clearly has no idea what quality is, but is drawn by 110w rating. Read online & all most care about is wattage. The early one from 1976, not 9090DB. It looks interesting, 120w, but oh dear, sodding ICs too . It will never be Superfi. Flat Amp-pre Tone board F2543 has 1x BA312; another Tone board F2544 has 2x BA312; Equaliser (Phono) has 2x BA312 as well as 5 more in the Tuner circuit is not so bad. BA312 is a 7 pin thing, 3 transistors & 4 resistors, but still a general IC with general values. Cop out. Not interested. How hard could it be for a supposedly premium product to use 3 lovely transistors instead of a sodding IC? There is a quadrophonic version of this, the 9001 which transistors in the power amp & output transistors, 11 per channel. The power amps are acceptable, but the ICs in the Phono & 2 in the Tone-Flat stages as well a more in the quadro sections are more style over sound quality. 120w for 2 channels, 60w for Quadro is very high power. But sold to a market that wanted excess power not quality & despite Sansui doing well for us in 1967-69 amps, by 1970 the sound was already lacking. That 1979 G-301 above sounded just acceptable for the masses. Too much circuitry & the ICs make this "Monster" Sansui one we'll not be bothering to try. The 60w Sansui 7070 is sadly similar with ICs again in the Tone stage & the big PCBs instead of the separate small PCBs from earlier eras.
Sansui AU-9900 amplifier ↑
No, average, overdesigned. After seeing a very nice selling page on ebay June 2014 for one of these, worth a closer look. 80w from 1976 & very similar to the 110w AU-11000 though just 30w extra seems a little pointless. Beautifully built in the similar sort of new breed that the Pioneer SA-9500 has. All in Black & huge heatsinks inside which seem a little excessive. Unlike the Sansui 9090 receiver, no ICs in this, it's bad enough they are in the receivers though. But looking deeper into the Circuit some rubbish design is the first you see, Audio through a 10k resistor & a 0.47µf capacitor is truly awful. The preamp is similar. It'll be very low on deep bass & will need a lot to upgrade if bad circuitry is used like that. It has an excess of differentials 5 in the preamp & other preamp stages are bloated with too much circuitry, if the power amp is not excessive. Disappointing, we'd thought it could be a winner, but not leaving it all original. No wonder the guy is selling it. How it can be considered 'better' than the other big amps when it itself is substandard is the chasing-your-tail myth of Hifi. This is why we upgrade these things. His £890 price is a little futuristic especially for an unserviced amp, but what it'd be like fully upgraded like we do them would be interesting at the right price. Again it gets the silly hype of being "Valve Like" with good bass he claims, We can see within seconds Bass will be mediocre & limited. Doubt very much it'll sound as pleasing as the Sansui 3000A or 5000X we've had recently.
Sansui G30000 receiver ↑
No, overdesigned. Heading the pile in Boy Racer fool type amps, this insane-stupid 300w two-piece receiver is on ebay Sep 2013 for £3350 starting bid. Why would anyone need 300w? What Transistors does it use? What is the HT voltage? A G22000 is only 220w, why would you even need that much? Because you are gullible and believe this is 'better' so go buy it & stop reading our page as it's not for you to know the Hifi truths. Neither made it to the UK HFYB so maybe wisely not imported. $1900 new in 1979 says the seller. Oh dear, the Power amp is 4 pairs of Paralleled output transistors & the HT is only ±86v so a high current is in the 300w. The 100w Yamaha CR-2020 uses ±58v. Transistor count per channel on the G30000 is Phono x13, Flat Amp x12, Power Amp Driver x17 +8 output. Tone stage in there somewhere but we lost interest. The excesses of the Monster Receiver era & amusing that it was considered to be worth building, sales will have been few. One to point at & laugh, to buy one may be a dream of some. Finally sells for £2587, we can only hope it makes up for their other shortcomings in life...
Sansui B2101/C2101 pre-power amplifier ↑
Interesting but No. This is the 200w pre-power amp in the same series as the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X on our main reviews page. It has the same x-balanced circuitry as the Jan 1985 Hifi News ad reveals. Now the Sansui AU-G range of 11X, 30X, 33X, 55X, 77X, 90X & 99X all have this advanced Balanced Transmission Line type of design if the 77X & 99X have ICs in the audio stages, so redundant to us. Only the 90X has all transistors with the IC looking item on the driver boards just a double FET. The Pre Amp is C-2101 a 6kg, but it reveals to be like the 99X with ICs in Phono & Preamp so limited. This sort of makes it pointless to continue with the M5218L ICs if the preamp only switches them in to use the Tone stage. The M5218L is a general purpose op-amp (ugh...) 17 transistors per channel, when the AU-G90X does similar with just 7. The first half of the Preamp can be considered Passive if the Tone stage isn't used. The second stage is all discrete components, differentials & PP stages like the AU-G90X preamp is. Phono only has the IC for the MC stage & the rest is quite like the second part of the preamp. Power supply is complex with many regulators if the spec is quite modest as the AU-G90X is. The preamp is typical 1980s black if more like the 99X than the 90X. The Power Amp rated 200w is 18kg & has those flashing bar meters much like the Pioneer C90/M90 used. For the 200w it uses 8 output transistors per side, doubling up on the very similar AU-G90X design with similar toroidal transformer & four main caps in the middle of the amp with L+R power boards each side. It does seem earlier in design to the AU-G90X & they don't use 'Hot' and 'Cold' instead using ± on the speaker outputs. The HT voltage is ±43v, up from the ±31v of the 90X. It is just a plain metal case, no side cheeks to soften the look. Overall opinion on both is the AU-G90X wins for having no ICs in the audio stages, most amp users will use Tone controls on speakers so this will limit the sound which otherwise will be much the same as the two higher models. As of typing Apr 2015 a pair on ebay.de for €599 to €890, the lower end appearing to be sell prices. Be sure they will sound bass-light & much like our 90X opinion: thin & a bit rough-harsh, if they will upgrade well, but still the Tone ICs are the weakness. These two together don't look particularly appealing, probably keeps prices lower than better looking pre-power sets & the 90X is the best looking of the series.
Scott 260 aka HH Scott 260/13 Stereomaster amplifier ↑
Interesting. An early 30w transistor amplifier from 1964 as the schematic is dated. Expecting all Germaniums but mostly Silicons 2N2926, Germanium 2N2613 (3rd in Phono), Silicon 2N3053 with the familiar 2N3055 or 2N3235 outputs. For just one Germanium it could have predated the All-Silicon Sony & Sansui by a year. For being so early it should be interesting & 30w in 1964 was a very high power. For looking at it though, a full recap will be needed on all electrolytics which are awkward axial ones. Spec will be low too & it would certainly be a job to upgrade & the results will be interesting if it looks quite basic as did the Fisher 440T. A gamblers amp indeed, whoever scanned the circuit missed about a 3cm strip of the preamp & missing some of the caps on the control knobs is tricky. Probably not a good one to try for us, they made bigger power ones that may be a better gamble.
Sony STR-6200F receiver ↑
Interesting if hard to find a nice one. This was the next big receiver Sony made, but it's apparently rated 100w says the 1973 HFYB, double the power of the 6120 but actually is 70w RMS says the Service Manual, appearing in the 1973 HFYB for £354 inc PT. The 6120 was £386. The STR-6055 was £160 & the STR-6065 isn't in any HFYB. But on seeing a 6200F for sale, the back uses the module type heatsinks like the TA-1130 so internally it could be much different too. On getting the Manual, it's dated 1973 but clearly is a later version with updates as it's a 1971 design as 1971 ads exist. 70w true, if stated 60w for 20Hz-20kHz simply as bass is limited, so we rate it a 70w amp. It's very different to the STR-6120, but similar to others in other ways with obvious changes by just seeing the photos in the Manual: Power Amp is on the upper half, Tuner front end moved, has a Relay now, Tuner boards differ, power cap siting differs, amp stage is the 4 piece heatsink like the TA-1130 as is visible from the back. Underneath has 2 of the Tuner boards, a Protection circuit & more advanced power supply like the TA-1130. Most of the Tuner looks the same with upgrades & FETs added but the MPX board is new. The Tone board is not so new, read on, the Power amp board looks like the TA-1130 one. Transistor counts are Sony STR-6120 has (per channel) Phono x3, Flat-Tone amp x3, and power amp x10. Sony STR-6200F has Phono x3, Flat-Tone x3, Power Amp x11 & looks like the TA-1130 again. It will be Bass light unlike the STR-6120. The Power Supply is not as high spec as the 6120 even, though unlike the 6065 more space is in here, why not go higher spec? The Power amp is the same as the STR-6065 with the odd tiny change. Phono the same just input cap differs, Tone is different as stepped like the TA-1130, but no FETs, it's actually the same tone stage as the STR-6120 with the odd minor upgrade. So what is the STR-6200F? The 6065 Phono stage, the 6120 Tone Stage, the 1130/6065 Power Amp, very similar to the 6055 one, in the bigger 6120 type case & most of the Tuner is the 6120. But it'll be Bass Light as the 1130 & 6055 we have are. The "F" is for FET, none in the Audio stages. FETs in the Tuner stage, but the Front end has 3 FETs like the 6120 does. One FET in the muting... as the 6120 does. None in the Lim-Det section. The MPX section is the ONLY DIFFERENCE as one FET on the input, not on the 6120, the MPX board is a new design with 2 less transistors else basically the same. Whether there is a STR-6200 with no 'F' is not clear, the tuner glass & back plate clearly shows the 'F' & the manual states for serial numbers 801351 onward, so maybe early ones were slightly different? Having at last found inside pics of this, "A Bit Of A Mess" is the first opinion as bits of board from the 6120 tuner underneath, other new ones on top here & there. Input wires go under the Power Supply board & it seriously lacks the pro look of how the 6120 is put together.
Sony TA-2000 & TA-2000F Pre Amp ↑
Sony TA-3120 & TA-3200F Power Amps ↑
Interesting. TA 2000 + TA3120 45w from 1968. TA-2000F & TA-3200F 100w from c.1970. We've seen the pre & power combo before & we nearly had a pair for the £600 quite a few years ago when we had the first STR-6120, the general price they make but on seeing what you get based on vague info & photos of the items, we decided not to. These were first issued in 1968 as the TA-2000 & sold until 1971-72 as the TA-2000F FET version. The Preamp sells for more than the Power Amp showing the Preamp is the more wanted, but surely the pair together is how to use them? The Preamp has all the switches & adjust pots you'd ever want in 1970, but as with the Sansui AU-999 & the USA McIntosh, the majority of those features are of no use today. Inside it's all laid out seriously, but so is the 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000. It'll be based on the TA-1120A & STR-6120 in the preamp stage & the power amp was very like the TA-1130. The preamp was TA-2000 then later a TA-2000F adding FETs like the TA-1130 has. There are actually TWO power amps both looking identical but one is the 1968 45w TA-3120 capacitor coupled and the other is 100w TA-3200F semi complimentary with differentials so c.1970. The "F" versions should go together as should the earlier non "F" versions. Input to the TA-3200F is rated at 1.4v which may be too high for most other preamps, the Quad II had 1.4v but many are 400mV meaning if you match another preamp to the Sony power amp you'll not get enough volume. Looking at the Circuit, the later TA-3200F is overdesigned, the -110db noise floor suggests high NFB & no Damping Factor is quoted. Transistor count appears too high at 14, though it says what they are for, ie 4 for the 'Paraphase' modified Differential which is excessive, 1 for Bias, 1 for Pre-driver PP splitter, 4 for overload protection, 2 drivers & 2 output transistors per channel are otherwise ok. The weakness will likely be the input stage. Compared to the similar TA-1130 power amp that is basically in the STR-6200F too, this is different but the sound of the TA-1130 was just not good enough whatever we tried & it didn't like upgrades other amps can take. It works on ±61v HT and ±60v elsewhere. It has Speaker Protection circuit & a Power Limiter which is selectable on the front panel meaning it'll Mute if a certain power is exceeded rather than limit the design spec, to save lower power speakers, though if you need to use that, why buy a 100w amp? A Normal/Test switch limits Bass under 30Hz set as Normal. All very nicely made if you need the wood cases to show them off at their best. The 1968 combo at 45w is just a more busy preamp to the 50w TA-1120A. The c.1970 combo with FETs at 100w will be more like the 65w TA-1130, a pair at £889 on ebay Feb 2017 shows they use the same spring connectors as the TA-1130 has. For us the earlier version would interest more, but it's just a 2 box version of the TA-1120A, the 1965 TA-1120 is the one that interests us more, a reference amp for us.
Sony STR-6060 FW ↑
Interesting. The numbering confused a bit, the STR-6060, 6060F and 6060FW is the late 1967 front flap receiver. The 6050 is an improved version looking more like the STR-6120 without the flap. Both the same size & spec at 3w if othjers rate it at 40-45w. The apparently upgraded "F" or "FW" version is from 1970 but is still a rare amp. Looks very early with several axial capacitors mounted on boards & likely will have those noisy transistors like the TA-1120A had. Much to upgrade & probably not going to be as good as you'd like having the axial caps & not enough height. Maybe not sold in the UK as not in the HFYB. It looks primitive inside compared to the classy STR-6120 & would likely have a wood case though all appears to be a rare item. An enormous 470µf 25v axial cap of today would be little bigger than 2 of the nearby 473 film caps. If the TA-1120A is the learning curve to the later amps, the STR-6120 is the Sony perfection after learning with the 6060. Makes us wonder if it plays very low & has the awful headphone socket in preamp nonsense. One actually turned up on UK ebay with the wood case too & sold for a modest £75, missing one black lever part & sold as non working by someone who was told to bin it. Any amp like this is a gamble & where would you get the brown lever part? Knowing how much of a 6120 we've actually sold proves parts are wanted but not findable. For the fact the STR-6060 would need severe rebuilding with difficult capacitors to fit makes it a bit less appealing & it would have the wooden case too. The STR-6120 is so well set out this looks a mess, we don't fancy the work to get the same good results. The front flap is fussy too so we'll pass but it has high potential to sound excellent after a huge rebuild.
Sony TA-1120F amplifier ↑
Interesting. The third version of the 1965 TA-1120, the second was the 1967 TA-1120A & this 1971 TA-1120F is a strange mix of the TA-1120A preamp & the Semi Complimentary TA-1130 amp that came later in 1971. Absolutely no circuits or service manuals findable for free or to buy even for the TA-1120F which is a pity though it'll likely be a mix of the two with minor changes. The preamp has big green coupling capacitors not the kooky big red ones though the Tone stage still has some. The front still has L+R Microphone as the 1120A has on the back, no Tape Head, 'F' stuck on letter on the fascia & still the smooth control knobs. The rear has the 1120A type speaker connectors but the TA-1130 type heatsink & 2 main capacitors for ± voltage. Apparently sold from 1971 to 1976 if clearly few made it to Europe, one on ebay is in the USA. Seems strange to make a third version then quickly issue the TA-1130 with FETs in the preamp, what the 'F' stands for here looking at the boards will be different to the limited spec of the TA-1130. Appears the 1120F is on a lot of websites only in Japan, maybe it was only for the Japanese market & sold well there, but other markets got the 1130 & 1140.
Sony 1975 V-FET Amplifier Series ↑
Interesting but No. Varied if mostly far too risky. We see these offered fairly often on ebay, maybe people try them & are put off by the apparent risk associated with these and sell them on fast as prices seem high? We know of diode problems that may kill the fragile V-FETs, it may by hysteria like the Sansui 5000 as noted elsewhere though. The 1975 range they appear in to be TA-2650 43w with 2 ICs; TA-3650 60w with 3 ordinary FETs; TA-4650 30w V-FET x6, FET x4; TA-5650 65w V-FET x10, FET x9, Damping Factor of 50 but a total of 61 transistors & 31 Diodes is stupidly overdesigned, to us it'll sound awful. We saw one at a reasonable price, but 10x V-Fets is too risky, another sold as non working starting at £180 if no bids is optimistic, be sure the V-FETs are damaged, though it looks reasonably well made inside, still the same pathetic power supply the 3650 has if at least 2 caps not one double one; TA-8650 80w will be V-FETs too, but Damping Factor of 200 is very high so will sound very flat as too much NFB & too many transistors is clearly the deal on these overrated things. If a V-FET is damaged, these are noted as "unfindable" and if there were any around in the pre-internet days, they'll be long gone. For the risk of overdesigned circuits on this 1975 range killing the sound & the fragile V-FETS we'll stay clear of these. Oh we already have. This is our site with our opinions, but on hearing the later post 1972 amps that others rate, we just don't find them as musically pleasing as the early ones. We do see others rating these later amps, but really until you hear how good the 1968 Sony STR-6120 is, you may just be fooling yourself thinking these sort of amps are better. In March 2014 the 65w TA-5650 in high original grade in the box made a huge £770 which appears to be a museum piece collector. Having had the non V-FET 60w TA-3650 it sounded quite decent, the level of a TA-1140 midprice, but was rather cheaply made in every way. Seen those go unsold for £125.
Another supposed V-FET (no it isn't...) is the Sony TA-F7 from 1977-81, silver fronted 70w amp, but V-FETs were only a 1975 early idea. The one on ebay looks very well built with toroidal transformer & smart looks like the Pioneer SA-9500 has inside. Recapped properly by the looks if you can't see the driver boards & replaced outputs. Why the craze for FETs in amps beyond Tuner front-ends is a mystery to us, they are clearly unreliable & why a standard TO3 or any 1980s type output transistor is supposedly 'lesser'. As with any amp the design needs to be good, so to lok at the circuits... doesn't fill us with joy, all preamp stages have a lot of transistors & the odd FET, lots of circuitry. 28 transistors on the power amp with FETs past the outputs which are typical TO3 transistors. The buyer was lied to, no V-FET at all & better for it. 2SC1124 & 2SA706 are familiar outputs as used in Yamaha amps we've had. Well that's the joy of ebay sellers for you, misleading. Later Sony have yet to impress us as this site shows, this looks well built but the excess of circuitry in the preamps is likely to lose the quality & leave that cold sound. Not really the sort of amp we'd go looking for, but we do get these sort of amps to service & upgrade.
Sony TA-5650 amplifier ↑
No, V-FETs. So we had a look at the circuit. A poor old photocopy is all there is making it a bit hard to read. Transistor counts: Phono x4 inc 2 FETs, Tone-Flat-Filter x4 inc 3 FETs, but the Power Amp is x 17 which is way overdesigned. The output is the doubled Transistor idea to boost current, but it will be playing 2 slightly different versions of the sound & making a blurry sound unless it is perfectly biased, for which it offers no facility. Looks like 2SJ18 are the output V-FETs & one ebay seller has 2 for £40 each, better hurry. These are shown as "P-Channel Enhancement MOSFET" on the datasheets. The overdesigned power amp has a Transistor protection stage amid it too. We really aren't too keen on the ideals of this amp at all, it's overdesigned with too many transistors, it has a weakness to need a protection stage, not just the Speaker protection stage after. From one site irresponsibly scaremongering, but doesn't explain..."As all of Sony's 1st gen' V-FET units, the diodes and some resistors MUST be changed otherwise they'll take the amp section away and quite rapidly."Oh dear, read the Sansui 5000 section for similar. The V-FETs are a problem as very early ones, as are any early FET as finding equivalents is much harder than with silicon transistors. DC bias is set very high at 90mV, knowing what DC bias is actually about means the bad high bias ideas blurring the sweet sound of the TA-1140 will likely be in here too. These are early spec V-FETs & we don't know their bias needs from not having the amp, but if they were regular Silcon outputs, 90mV is going to run very high &hot, heading towards overheating & damage already. No-one appears to have researched that & even the TVK user bit says nothing about Diodes. Only Class A runs hot, adjusted right any non-valve or non-Class A can run very cool. Already too-High Bias going even higher will get thermal runaway & destroy the output transistors. Big deal, EVERY amp can get that. What are they trying to hide with 90mV bias even? The idea of these V-FET amps is worrying. If you want to buy one of these, your risk is your own, they will certainly sound disappointing from what we see. The Diodes you hear of maybe are on the power amp board IT22A (1T22A?) or 1S1555 which are board mounted & if the amp is biased right & other parts good they'll be no problem at all. The IT22A are used in the STR-6120 tuner section too, lozenge shaped black diodes that are like a zener with a fixed voltage. No reason for them to fail as like any part if misadjusted or other parts faulty. Would Sony really put in underspec parts? Replacing them with incorrect diodes will have caused more fatalities than cure a non-existent problem. It's all suspect with how these "faults" can apparently exist as timebombs in amps used & stored away 35-45 years & still work fine on reawakening them. There are 31 diodes in this amp say the specs, which ones they mean is never said. One seller of this amp appears to not know what they are talking about either..."The V-FETs are said to have the warmth of valves with the directness, clarity and bass of transistors."and how many hack reviewers have used that one... Valves outdo Transistors for bass if only as more NFB is used.
Sony STR-7800SD, STR-6800SD, STR-5800SD receiver ↑
No, unfindable IC output amp blocks. First in the 1978 HFYB if no price shown. 5800 60w, 6800 85w, 7800 125w. SD version has Dolby FM feature, useless then as now as UK never adopted Dolby FM. The non-SD versions appear less findable. For how surprising the TA-3650 60w no V-FET one sounded this is perhaps the only option to try a later Sony. Similar squarey style to the amp with the Tuner in the middle of the fascia, so we've seen these ones or similar before. USA models have Dolby FM loop through like the Yamaha CR-2020 does. STR-7800SD exists to see & 125w on this one makes it a Monster Receiver at 22kg & possibly not sold in the UK as not in the HFYB. Incomplete manual shows ICs only for the Tuner on the 7800. Either could be worth a try, but sales were low. USA prices for two sold $180-300 are lower than the 125w would bring with other brands so not much known. No circuit findable on the 6800 but one seller says it has the SS120A Darlington output stages which cover the ± signal & voltage in one as the STR-5800SD circuit shows. BUT.. no details of this item are findable, none for sale on ebay so it'll be Obsolete so if the amp is damaged on the outputs, unfixable. Same as with the V-FETs. The 5800 manual shows the SS120A is a 10 pin Power Amp IC block similar to the STK type. The IC block contains the Driver Stage & Output Stage, only the Protection & early stages are Transistors. Blurry part Service Manual for the STR-7800SD shows one of the earliest Round Toroidal Transformers that would become more common shortly, if more a fashionable thing or cheaper to make? The Output Power 'items' are on Heatsinks, but on the 7800 they are Regular Transistors 2SA747A & 2Sc1116A as in other amps of the era. The 6800 & 7800 range are apparently highly rated for their sonic quality. So only the Sony STR-7800SD has regular TO3 transistor outputs, the other two 5800 & 6800 use the obsolete SS120A Darlington IC blocks. To buy an amp with obsolete output stages as with the V-FETs is highly risky. Seeing inside pics of a STR-6800SD it's nicely made, has the small ICs which are just Double FETs like the TA-3650 has & then the SS120A are fitted to a heatsink via a plug-in cable. Looking at the boards construction on the 6800 is still not dissimilar to the 1971 style with wide spacing, but this was their 2nd best quality item in the range. From looking at forums to try to find more photos, the non-starting relay is a common problem as we found with our TA-3650. Appears to have the Power supply at the top, Pre-power on one board underneath & assume Tuner boards are on the top. But for the IC power amp only the 22kg STR-7800SD is worth buying, but a 125w Monster Amp will only be found in the USA from what we found. Perhaps the 60w TA-3650 is the best one after all?
Sony TA-1630 amplifier ↑
Average. Low model from 1975 is some cheap looking thing with what looks like a hardboard base. All 22-25w of it, yet one foolish seller almost wets himself in delight describing the thing to all-to-believing buyers. An Investment says he. Ah, that's our ebay... Proper output transistors though be sure for how minimal the rest looks ICs are likely to choking point. The amp clearly set the style for the majority of later amps with nearly all on one PCB to make it cheap to make. BUT NO ICs. That's a surprise. Transistors all the way: Phono x2, Tone-Flat x2, Power amp 2 in the differential then just 6 more to the Speakers. We are amazed. Especially as the TA-1050 & similar do have ICs. If it wasn't 22w we'd try it just to prove sour ideas wrong or right, it will sound clean but likely unsophisticated. Makes us wonder what other ones in the range are like, or maybe from what we found above there is nothing much beyond the unreliable V-FETS?
Sony late 1970s STR-V series ↑
No, too late. The STR-V5, STR-V6 & STR-V7 sadly all have an IC stage in the Tone amp, HA1457, from the ICs page..."The equivalent circuit is findable for the HA1457 & it contains a ridiculous 15 transistor stages & 7 resistors", but proper transistors in the output stage & everywhere else, ignoring the Tuner stages. Pity. The other 2 we haven't found Circuits for are likely to be the same. The only amplifier versions of the receivers in 1981 are the pre-power ones. STR-V x series: 3 = 28w, 4 = 53w in 1980 HFYB, 5 & 6 not detailed but look like the 7. But a 3 stage IC as the circuit shows is not a good IC, so is it worth bothering only to hear rough treble? Sony, you ought to do better. Did they in the 1981-2000 era? Probably not, says us staring at our Sony monitor & had a Sony camera, as well as the one below, music is not important today like it was in the 1970s. People are mostly unaware of what good Hifi sounds like, you can see Sony only really knocked out a few early gems. Go buy those.
Sony STR-V4 & STR-V4L receivers ↑
Interesting but no. This is the best one of these, on paper at least. It avoids the IC in the tone strangely, maybe it was the prototype design & they didn't see fit to redesign to put the IC in? Odd looking 53w amp with a Tuner preset flap on the top row on the V4L but not the better looking V4 version, an odd change. Then middle row is the Tuner dial & 3rd row are the usual controls. If you prefer later amps this could be worth a try, but with the 2 early ones at 50w doing so well, doesn't appeal too much to us, but always worth knowing a better one potentially exists. But post 1978 amps always have unfocussed treble that needs upgrading, no doubt this would be similar. Saw a 4L on ebay, typical mass-market midprice mostly on one big board job though an oversized transformer. Has those odd type power transistors that have a wide metal part beyond the centre bit & these can be long obsolete. Saw another V4L, the awful layout on the fascia is like a 5 year old designed it, it is illogical. Plain tin box looks made for stacking a Sony system. There isn't even an Aux input, just Phono & Tape, how mean. Just looks very midprice.
Sony STR-V5 receiver ↑
Interesting. This is one up on the V4, again the odd tuner in the middle with controls and meters above & more controls below. The fascia does mark up on this series leaving them look tatty as the TA-3650 showed. Inside is our interest: the power amp boards in the heatsinks are cramped by having them facing inwards as a pair, but they are Transistors, not IC blocks as it looks. Big Toroidal transformer & at least separate power supply caps, not the lazy one piece double cap like the TA-3650. But for an 85-90w receiver it is 19kg weight if it just looks ordinary domestic mass market product inside, nothing fancy or well made looking like earlier Sony receivers. The sound is probably decent like the TA-3650 but it's just nothing exceptional or interesting enough to get one.
Sony TA-F5A amplifier ↑
No, hell no. Appears in the 1980 HFYB this is a late Sony to dare look at, risking insanity for sure, but it is 70-75w & the strange 'Pulse Power Supply' needs investigating as we thought amps worked on DC not Square Wave pulses as it suggests. Pointless Gimmick Idea to cover up mediocre sound we fear... are we right? And then some. The Manual says it's certainly different put inside a metal box & it still rectifies somehow so what's the deal? Mains is only 50Hz, you hardly need Fast Acting Diodes even. This involves 4 transistor type items that must have matched HFE (gain) to succeed. Oddly in the very early years in the 1920s, crude pulse oscillators were used to rectify voltage, but a group of Diodes overtook the Valve rectifier in about 1963. But no, it's sadly just a BS thing, it still uses 4 diodes to get the starter for DC then generates a 20kHz signal, just within hearing range of younger folks. The benefit they say is it stops hum, well an interesting 1967 Panasonic amp we got shortly before typing this has the lowest hum & noise of any amp we've heard as it has... Good Design. But oh dear, Sony you are mocking here, the Preamp is an IC with Differential & Push Pull circuit & then the Power Amp early stages are an overdesigned IC if then it has 4 transistors: two as drivers, two as Outputs per channel. So they make some needless Power Supply & then put ICs in for the rest. How far away from their early years this junk is. The deal here is to save money on the expensive main 2 capacitors that drive the Power Amp, the biggest value they use is 2200µf 50v & following the circuit there is NO Transformer.. AC mains goes to a Primary Rectifier with minimal capacitance, then via a basic small transformer to the ±v HT that drives the amp. Now this should sound a little familiar to those who fiddle with things: look inside TVs & DVD players & they use a similar sort of cheap design to get the required voltages & make things a lot cheaper to make as no expensive Transformer or Reservoir-Smoothing Caps. Pictures of the inside are online & it's depressing. Big empty space, no Transformer, small caps. The Death Of All Hifi Started Here Folks. It's a design much used today in many things, we think it's cost cutting & not Proper Hifi, but it was the future in 1980. Cheap, mass marked IC stuffed miserable Dead Lifeless Audio Equipment started with this amp. The fool seller has the cheek to call this junk "Audiophile" proving it's a term as useless as "Rare" in collectable items especially Records. Fascinating to find this out, but the amp will sound like the worst amp you've ever heard. One is on ebay £80 bids or Buy Now for £120 in Aug 2014. We ran away screaming.
Sony TA-AX2 amplifier ↑
No way. This is another odd 25-30w Sony from as late as 1981, but it's little higher than a Biscuit at 55mm high. Of course it's stuffed with ICs & a nasty STK output block, but we've moaned about these for long enough without looking deeper & this shows the contents of it. Input is just an IC NJM4560DX for both channels with EQ in the NFB. The rest is the STK block & seeing the circuit we are Horrified. STK463 has Differential Amp, Regulator, Current Mirror, Emitter Follower (Buffer), Darlington Circuit (preamp stage), Muting & Power Amp. Now the Tone stage is interesting as it is on the Output from the Power Amp in a passive Tone circuit. It couldn't be anymore bland & generic if it tried. There shockingly are a pair of Transistors on a Muting stage. For the hell of it we offered a low offer on one just for the perverse joy of seeing what upgrading it would do. Then 5 seconds later reality hit & we cancelled the offer, we got over our madness quick. It'd only end up in the bin so why bother. A laughable end to what Sony became in Audio Entertainment after the joy of their earlier ones.
Sugden A21 Mk I ↑
No, sounds underspec & seen much fiddled with. This is heralded as the first Class A transistor amp from 1968, early Sugden ones have a black fascia. There is a large Hacker combined amplifier with record player alongside, later the Music Centre type that was 10w Class A too. We've not tried one yet though the Yamaha CA-1000 & CA-1010 have Class A & if the amp is still original, a difference can be heard, but the CA-1010 & CA-800II maxed out we've tried a few times & can hear no difference. The Hifi News review from April 2011, one ebayer selling the original Richard Allen branded version quoted them, remarkably gave it an 88% score for sound quality. We'd not dare give % ratings compared to our own valve amp as it's meaningless. More on this foolish % score on the Top Amps page. so using aged capacitors, be sure it's an amp likely off spec as Class A runs hot & whatever weaknesses the design has. We use a marks/10 rating but are forever upgradecing the ratings. No amp using Original Parts can rate over 8/10 as there is room to improve. Sadly this amp appears to attract more idiot attention. Amp Labs offer a ridiculous severe-major rebuild of a 40-45 year old amp changing much of the Power Supply, Rear Panel, Heatsink, Connectors & even the Power Amps get new boards. Just leaves the front controls, case & transformer. To us in disgust at the abuse of an old classic, why the hell don't you just buy a modern version by Sugden & don't butcher an old amp so severely. Heavy Handed improvements are never a good idea as it takes an amp away from what it was into a grey are of "somebody elses modern crap ideas" that a person wanting an A21 will not want. Do improvements subtly or go buy another amp.
Tandberg Huldra 9 ↑
Interesting if probably no. Tandberg are a very popular brand in parts of Europe still & their Tape Recorders as Wikipedia confirms, were popular as more advanced than most. The Hifi News adverts show pride & success with the Tape units. This is a triple-hybrid receiver from about 1968, with 15w output, Triple as it has 2 valves for the Tuner front end, Silicon transistors for the main part of the amp yet Germaniums for the output stages & output drivers. Quite a mix of design here. Of the Huldra range, the 8 is from 1965 and 10w hybrid, the 10 from 1972 is 25w and starts the typical design style, the 11 is 1977 power unknown & the 12 is from 1978 before the company went bust, a pity as 1979 was the busiest hifi year ever. The Huldra 9 is the best looking to us, if still a bit radiogram innards looking in a few ways. The innards are shown in the service manual. It has several Germaniums, not the reliable Japanese ones, but the dodgy UK Mullard ones that crystallise inside as unsealed & 'grow whiskers' to short the transistor out. It uses AC126, AC176 for the preamp drivers & AC150 for the output stages. Others are familiar BC transistors as in European hifi including B+O gear. Valves are 1x ECH81 & 2x EF89. All on one board with tuner cans & probably plug in power amp boards. It looks a hard one to get into & to upgrade one with the axial caps would be quite a job. But the circuit is decent, a good preamp & just 6 transistors in the power amp. The mix of 3 types of amplification is tricky & likely the AD Germaniums are as soft & weak as the UK Armstrong amps. If it was working right with good Germaniums or upgrades, it should sound decent. But the problem here is construction as found with B+O & the awful Scan-Dyna & even the opinion on the TR2075 & TR2080, their best one isn't too positive.
Tandberg TR 2075 ↑
No, just don't like these EU things as too many are junky. This is their most powerful one on a £300 ebay sale, it just looks like any other 1977 "premium" type amp, smart, with some quality but cost cut. The same looking ordinary front, wood finish looks smart, insides look typically cramped & it looks a pig to work on. It looks like a cheap brand aiming beyond their status. It's one main board with cabling untidy & probably is hard to service, if there are some refined touches. Phono sockets & a bit of a mid 1970s Pioneer look to things beyond the fascia. A lot of these European brands are like this we've found & not jumped in to try beyond B+O. Not for us unless cheap is the opinion. The TVK site doesn't feature any of these amps, though they usually list the best stuff they do have favourites & list some ordinary items eg in Sony. Another optimistic or deluded seller wants £1000 for theirs, we don't think so, it's got no class in looks or internals to hit that sort of price. Seeing a later Tandberg TR2080, the insides usually not shown, but it reveals how they are made. The 2080 is not badly laid out, typical bad dark red caps like B+O use & axial caps, looks hard to work on as untidy cables & as it's a 1978 model, the typical issues of the era. So why the seller expects £780 for it we can't see the value in it at all. Similarly the Tandberg TR300M amplifier we saw too & it looked pretty cheaply made too, hardly a £100+ amp serviced up. We passed. Just don't see money in them really, cheesy looks though the Manual on the TR1000 was comprehensive, the looks don't hit it for us. The 1968-9 certainly isn't for us, so Tandberg we can call finished with unless we find a 2075 cheap enough. Later 1980s Tandberg seem more sophisticated in design, but are 1980s amps after all. The Valves range Tandberg Solvsuper 10-70, 10-71, 10-72 6w-8w tabletop radiogram face type units £61-£83 appear to be like 1940s table top radios& not really Hifi items. Hybrids really as one with photos shows valves & Germanium transistors. Still looks like Radiogram parts to us, one apparently sold for £226, bet they weren't pleased with it. 'Avoid' we reckon is a wise choice. Another 10-71 shows it has a hardboard back & Germanium output transistors, the valve section will likely be the tuner. For $1400 & missing two control knobs they are having a laugh apparently. another seller reckons this is "finest vintage reciever [sic] ever?" No. says we. The styling is a bit Legoland. One photo site shows it's a all-on-one-board-job for Phono-Tone-Pre-Power meaning it's still midprice quality, even the Pioneer SX-950s we are harsh on are with multiple separate PCBs. The Tuner appears to be on a higher up board. Inputs are Phono & DIN together to give an option. How it'd compare with the Yamaha CR-2020 might be interesting, but we're not too keen on these EU type amps.
Teac AS-200 ↑
Interesting. This is the first TEAC amp from about 1968, 40w if it turns up in the 1973 HFYB which seems a bit unlikely. Early odd design with a flap hiding controls, not a good feature though as it's little different to hiding hifi behind doors in awful cabinets of the era. Inside it looks different to the 1971 AS-100 & seems to turn up in Australia as we've only seen them sold there. The only other flap amp was the Sony STR-6060FW from 1968 if the idea was revived in the 1980s. It looks a quality amp & no doubt will sound as good as the other early TEAC, but that flap would annoy us. Quirky looks with wood veneer button caps & the flap similar. Still one worth trying if nearer than half the planet away.
Teac AS-M30 ↑
No, average. This looks c1977-79. Probably the most ordinary amp we've ever seen. Plain aluminium front, black tin box the rest. No style no flair. Phono plugs are the sort fixed direct to the PCB by this time so it'll be very basic inside. Based on the 1971 amp it could be good, but it looks so ordinary one fears for it's sound quality. As in one legs it swiftly as it'd be hard to sell on even serviced up as were others we tried & had for ages before they sold at a 'just go' sort of price. Not into storage or ordinary.
Teac A-R600 amplifier ↑
No, too late. we are still looking at Teac after the winners from 1969-71 but there's not much else sadly. Loads of midi system gear but this one looks a late 1980s-early 90s seperate. But straight away IC for Phono, IC for Preamp & 18 transistors in the Power Amp. Overdesigned disposable mass market crap sadly, next. But we had to look though...
Technics SU-7700 amplifier ↑
No, average. A 50w amp from 1976 but IC phono & a very basic preamp, to the point there isn't a proper one. Output stage all transistors, but for a non worker, barely worth our effort for the sell price. Would like to try a higher power early-mid 1970s Technics though, but not this.
Technics AU-8080 amplifier ↑
No, average. A later styled amp 74w RMS at 1kHz, 72w 20Hz-20kHz. Mid 1980s? Hard to see the circuit as scanned by an idiot instead of stitched. Double FETs aren't ICs really & but ICs in the Tone stage is a no-no, so we lose interest. Otherwise all Transistors but nothing special or even worth us trying. Next...
Technics SU-V90D amplifier ↑
No, overdesigned crap. Seller on ebay Aug 2014 says it has Special Features and at £250 worth a look. He complains of watchers but no buyers, so we investigate. 100-115w output, Digital-Analog converter, black metal case if a better looking one, if grading turds is feasible. Manual date code suggests 1988. The circuit is as you'd expect is sadly fiercely overdesigned, the Power Amp needs 21 transistors & an IC per channel. Loads & loads of ICs, FETs, the odd transistor, some odd Transistors with resistors in aka ICs of the Darlington type. Utter modern shite says we, it will guaranteed sound Awful with no life or passion in it's miserable self like the Sony 550ES we unfortunately bought. Be sure this sort of overdesigned rubbish is what most post 1985 amps are, the 1985-90 era is perhaps the worst in Hifi. Typically overdesigned with a huge excess of useless ICs based on how good several of the 1967 Receivers sound with good honest circuitry. Perhaps the worst amp circuit we've ever seen. you didn't expect us to like it did you, but the idea to find a good late amp to upgrade like the earlier ones get is perhaps impossible as ICs & stupid overdesign is all they are.
Trio-Kenwood Model 600 amplifier ↑
No, overdesigned. This might be a Kenwood only, but fits in here best. One we were told had made an encouraging price €450 recently & looking at the amp online it looks a little like the KA-6000 so we had a closer look. 1975-79 says one site & 1977 says another which matches better with the 1976 manual date. It's a 130w amplifier of a style like the Pioneer SA-9500 Mk I & Mk2 with that more modern style of building plus monoblock type power supplies for the power amp if the preamp is just powered from one. Never really seen any benefit to this, though 'it loks good on paper'. Looking at the circuits, no ICs which is unlike a lot of post 1972 T-K gear. Don't like the power amp, remarkably three differential pairs = overdesign. The 1967 Sansui 3000A needs none of this to sound great so why overdesign? 18 transistors per power amp channel is too much. No way will this be amid the best sound, less circuitry is more sound. The Preamp gets an "it's all full of effing FETs" as we look, yes FETs everywhere. On other amps these have not proved to be a good idea beyond using a pair as the first differential. Phono has 6 FETs per channel & no regular transistors. The Tone-Pre has 9 FETs. No way will this sound anything like the best amps, way overdesigned, too many FETS, too many differentials. The best design amp of this era is the Pioneer SA-9500 Mk I but it is choked with spoilers hiding perhaps the most perfect 1975-80 era amp. It's a case of those unaware types paying big money for Pioneer SA-9800 unaware it's overdesigned too.
Trio-Kenwood KA-4000 amplifier ↑
Interesting. This is the one below the mighty KA-6000. On seeing the service manual, this 32w amp is a very stripped down basic version of the 6000 with not much in it, compared to the high spec of the 6000 & like their 25w late 1960s receivers. The amp will have a nice sound as TK always do this early but things look a little too basic here with transistor counts Phono x3, Tone x3, Power Amp x7 plus x2 for protection circuit. Power Supply is minimal spec unlike the complex KA-6000 & TK140X. But it'll be good for what it is if upgrading it too much would not be recommended, as with most under 40w amps. It was £78 new when the 6000 was £105 which we always thought was very cheap/a typo for what the amp actually is.
Trio-Kenwood KA-7002 amplifier ↑
Interesting. The slightly awkward looking one between the KA-6000 & the KA-6004. A 1971 50w amp still with the 1969 look but with updates such as push buttons, if the back still looks the same & it has the MC phono stage. The front panel has a lot of controls, various Tone options that probably never get used beyond the typical one, just like the Sansui AU-999 has. Three speaker sets, 4 mains output sockets, 3.5mm Mic sockets like early Sony used & clearly Trio putting every feature into this amp, which is wider than the KA-6000. Inside shows it's a Semi Complimentary design if still with some old style hard wiring underneath. The basic Amp is quite like the KA-6004 which has a few large resistors in the signal path in the High filter & the stages in the preamp are complex as is Low Filter if again resistors in the signal to limit quality. The power amp has the typical Differential but only 8 transistors shows the amp should should good if the over fussy preamp is the limiter, as we found with the KA-6004. A good amp, but the KA-6000 is still the best of the early Trio-Kenwood amps.
Trio-Kenwood KA-8004 amplifier ↑
Interesting. The bigger version of the KA-6004 from 1972 with 60 watts & Damping Factor of 30 still, it will sound no different in theory to the KA-6004 if the extra transistors in Phono & Tone will degrade it. The KA-6004 is therefore the better amp in our eyes if for the ears to decide if we find one.
Trio-Kenwood KR-7070 receiver ↑
Interesting. It's a 90w (actually 65w RMS both channels driven) from 1971 is impressive & seeing one on ebay shows it needs the wood case or looks lousy & it can have a remote tuning box as an accessory.Full width amp if a little taller 17" x 6.5" x 15". Looks are not the best though. Not the later KR-V7070. would need to see the circuit before buying one, it could be overdesigned & not our style. There is a circuit sheet but only in lo-res unless you pay, but we can at least see the Transistor counts. Head (Phono) Amp inc MC stage like the KA-6000 x1, Tone & Boost (Flat) x4, Power Amp x7. A mid section is a 5w Mono amp for a centre channel. Not overdesigned at all, so it should sound as good as similar. But until we find one with the case, TBC. One seller in Poland has 2 without cases. The lower 70w (55w) KR-6160 in the same range looks like the lower power design fascia.
(V) Trio WE-8S Valve receiver ↑
No, too low power. This is a very early Valve receiver of about 5w & it shares some design with the vastly superior WX-400U above. A French site shows pics inside & seeing one on ebay caught our interest. But the underside is even more random than the 400 and the same painfully low 0.05µf coupling caps. Too early for FM stereo, this looks about 1960-61? Trio first appears in the 1964 HFYB with their new 'Tuner Amplifiers' section with the W-38 7w for £84; the WE-8S a mere 3 watts for £61, note just 1 output valve per channel for Class A & then the WX-400U 10w £104 all inc PT as Tuners were subject to, but Amplifiers weren't.
(V) Trio W-38 Valve receiver ↑
No, too low power. One on ebay shows us the under insides so we get a closer look. Seller says FM is Mono only & it looks earlier than the WX-400U. W-38 is only a 7w receiver. The chromed fascia border is only grey enamelled here & it still looks nice with a very 1960-62 look. ECL82/6BM8 outputs are expected on a lower range amp. Someone replaced 4 power amp caps, the same low values as typical & there are a heap of the bad grey paper in oil ones elsewhere. From knowing our WX-400U when it was first here it really can only be used for more than 5 wary minutes after at least recapping. Again a full rebuild would be needed & at just 7 watts it's probably not worth doing more than just the bad caps. The service-user manual is findable of this one & in it's day it was a quality item, but 7 watts in valves is a bit low for true Hifi which only starts with 10w minimum. The manual has a little scare about the Headphone socket switching, the WX-400U has no issues if you ignore, but we've not tried the W-38 it may differ. The manual says 14w music power & 10w undistorted so as with the WX-400U the rating will be higher if you dare to rebuild it to high spec. A valve rectifier gives it's earlier age away & all heaters are AC. HT is only 221v on the output valves so don't expect to upgrade it too much & 10w might be optimistic. It does have a MM & Crystal-Ceramic Phono which is very early to find. A nice amp for sure but a huge amount to do to better it as usual.
Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 receiver ↑
No, too gimmicky. 'Jumbo' 55w £279 from 1973 though elsewhere we see it's indeed a big size but 33w and with a Electronic Rhythm Composer generators like organs have, but why? One is on ebay May 2013 so we can have a look. It appears to be a Hifi Receiver with Guitar & Pedal inputs. The 'Composer' bit appears to be a similar generated backbeat like a Hammond Organ has, these Organs were popular in the 1970s, but to mix with a Hifi based item is insane. From our Amplifiers page, JVC-Nivico in 1972 offered similar product. It has all the Organ settings too like March & tempo adjusting. Ridiculous item. It may be interesting to try one but odds of all features working are risky & be sure the buyer wants all the silly features. Even a Reverb setting meaning a spring in this era. 4 sets of speakers are useable, they were going for the small nightclub user & only 2 sets at once isn't noted so be sure all 4 sets were used at once & fried these. It'll probably be on ebay for ages, so go have a look, you might like it.
Trio-Kenwood KA-7300 amplifier ↑
No. Hardly going to be much better than the IC ridden nightmares that the once great Trio-Kenwood became. This caught our interest as the Sept 1976 Hifi News has their advert for it & the deluded justification for using IC Power Amp Blocks... "To eliminate unevenness in performance caused by lots of individual manufactured parts, we developed one integrated unit called a Darlington power block". Er, if you say so, you're the experts after all... will have been the unaware buyer being told an IC general purpose design is better than discrete components. This is an open lie, all transistors, resistors & capacitors have a tolerance level, transistors are graded sometimes to the HFE level so you can choose. But the NFB in the amp will balance even the most randomly picked components, so the lie can be proved. The ad goes on to state why instruments blend together indistinctly giving a fuzzy blurry sound. It's because they use low spec design & general purpose ICs. Their answer is two separate power supplies, a nice idea but we found with the Harman-Kardon 930 that uses this that other weaknesses in design ultimately limit it. But 1976 Trio-Kenwood claim to be the only company doing this, but the HK930 is a 1973 amp. Pioneer read the ad & revised the SA-9500II with the double power supplies. They boast of having "special circuitry that protects both speakers and amp in the even of a short" be sure it's a Relay, yup it is on looking later, as often used since 1971 & we've not even looked at the circuit yet. The amp continues a horrible trend that the Pioneer SA-9500 from 1975 had: the stepped attenuator, utterly useless says we. Also just a plain metal box looking design if a wood case would make it look much better, there wasn't one. HFE says it's 1977 but the ad is in the Sept 1976 HFN mag. 65w, 14kg, Damping Factor of 60, a modest amp compared to some but 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, 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.
Trio-Kenwood KR-7400 ↑
No. 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.
Trio-Kenwood KR-9400 ↑
No, 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. The Power Amp has 11 transistors & has a chance to sound good, but not with that lousy preamp. You can see after 1972 Trio-Kenwood dipped heavily in quality by using ICs like they were a good idea. Only for their balance sheets. Reading foolish comments on one useful site shows why Kenwood used this junk, people really have no idea at all about sound quality..."I love the "clarity" at various volumes with all types of add on accessories. Adding a high quality EQ along with top notch speakers will only enhance the quality." Oh dear...
Trio-Kenwood KR-9600 aka KR-9060 ↑
No way. This is one of their biggies from 1978, rated 160w. After being teased by a 160w Pioneer, having a look to see what other high powered receivers there are. 160w RMS at 8 ohms, 200w RMS at 4 ohms. But the truth is what the HT voltage rail is: a pretty low 67v, the Pioneer SX1250 uses 20v more. But oh effing hell sod of damnation etcetera, what is this... The Power Output is via a sodding IC block.. Run a mile... We knew their mid 70s lower range ones use these STK type crappy amp blocks, but a 160w one, eek. A STK type amp block is a cheap nasty averaged thing with the circuit in IC form, not discrete components. No chance to upgrade the circuit by designers, and there are no quality touches to the IC. Found one for sale, $299... 10 pin pure complimentary power amplifier. Obsolete to be such a high price & if yours fails, it's a bin job or find someone to design a 160w board for you. Disgusting cheap nasty compromised lazy crap, the typist is in need of bed rest & nursing after finding out the supposed top end amp like this is such cheap disposable crap after all. There are ICs in the Tuner section which to us is OK as sub line level use, but as a power amp, oh my... Reading on, the TA200W power amp 'coprolite block' has the internal equivalent circuit shown, so some liar on a forum (how strange) claims it's his design. Per channel it hides 5 transistors, 8 resistors, 1 diode & 2 capacitors which are so hard to design, make a PCB & buy the parts, ugh. All the rest is looking like a decent amplifier, but beware those big triangles on circuit diagrams as they are the ICs. Sadly the buyer who jumped fast to buy it for £250 on ebay thinking it was a bargain, 160w monster amp, cor. They will be blissfully unaware of the crap they've bought. Up to buyers to research & we like to give a heads up on a stinker, before it fills the room with it's foulness.
Trio-Kenwood KR-10000 ↑
No way again. Even a large 80w likely has those sodding IC block output stages. TBC. Goes to the expense of dual mono power supply & then puts this rubbish in. Only buy if you haven't read this page. Makes you wonder why people rave about useless amps like this that are permanently limited, they clearly haven't tried the pre 1972 stuff & we doubt they ever will.
Trio-Kenwood KA-7100, KA-8100, KA-8150 ↑
Interesting. 75w from 1977 is actually all discrete transistors.
There is an IC of sorts but it's just 2 independent FETS in one case as was typical. Runs on ±50v. Over £200 is one KA-8100 on ebay... well it sold for £175 so we look deeper as we've not been keen on later ones due to the high risk of ICs. Big spec parts on some but all on one PCB is not a good amp & often hard to work on too. One site goes to pains to show them working on it which is good to see inside the amps without having to buy them. It actually appears to be a better amp in late 1970s terms. Looking at the boards it probably is in the league of similar Marantz & Pioneer of the era, not the better quality of a Yamaha but certainly a better one for this brand that started well pre 1970. The early Trio-Kenwood are interesting amps & good quality, but it seems by the mid 1970s they discovered the cost cutting ICs on looking at one 50w amp since forgotten. Buy Trio-Kenwood with care if you want the best sounding ones. ICs in the line level audio stages are always a compromise. Our first idea of Kenwood being a bit crap & finding a catalog of theirs in the gutter one beery night is perhaps fitting, if their pre 1972 gear is a different thing. BUT... the Trio-Kenwood KA-9100 at 90w has an IC output stage, eek.
Trio-Kenwood KR-6030 ↑
No, average + ICs. This is from 1977 is an 80w receiver. Looks much better in the big wood case so we have a look. Tone & Power amp is all Transistors though Phono is an IC HA1457 as noted elsewhere on the ICs page it's a Bad One:HA1457 contains a ridiculous 15 transistor stages & 7 resistors. Now looking at it beyonmd the pretty wood case, it's nothing special & we're not spending £160 to try it. Serviced up we'd not see enough profit helps dismiss is at that price.
Trio-Kenwood KR-6400 ↑
No. This is from the mid-late 1970s is all transistors on the Power amp but ICs in the Phono & Tone. Just an unremarkable midprice ordinary one.
Trio-Kenwood KR-8340 ↑
No, quadro is pointless. It's a huge Quadrophonic receiver from 1973. One on ebay July 2014 looks impressive, but we are aware TK used ICs a lot by now & Quadro is pretty useless. But a manual is findable so are we judging it harshly? It's actually all Transistors but as 4 channels a huge amount of circuitry. Manual shows KR-7340, KR-8340 & KR-9340. The circuits per stage are with low transistor counts if quite a few stages adding to the total transistor count. On the basis of this & not going too deep into it, it will have a good clean sound but with an excess of stages there will be limitations on power supply etc for having so much circuitry, so it'll never be the highest quality, but also limited by the obsolete 4 channel Quadro. Collectors like these for their beefy looks, limited sales & if properly deeply serviced the price is worth considering, but not one we'd go out of our way to try.
No, average & UK bad Germaniums. Beware it's the poor UK quality Germaniums & just 10w on both models despite the 200 stated Silicon in the HFYB, it's not. Don't bother. One seller in Nov 2013 has the 200 amp & the FM200IC tuner in hope of restoring them. But for the fact UK Germaniums are often bad like the nasty Armstrong brand ones, hardly worth the effort for a 10w transistor amp. In 1967 the Sansui, National-Panasonic, Trio-Kenwood & Pioneer offered 45w transistor receivers that we've had, so why bother with this mediocre 10w thing. Seller says 'easily restorable' not so, a full rebuild to do it properly like some we've done takes a lot of effort to redesign-upgrade & not always worth the effort either.
Yamaha CA-610 ↑
Interesting. This is 2 below the CA-1010 and the one below the CA-810. Still a 40w amp with the nice styling though. But it has several ICs in the Audio stage: Phono & Tone are just one IC per channel, 2 in the Phono, not sure about the Tone one, blurry numbering on the only hints a bigger IC for both channels. Phono one TA7136P is a familiar one from another amp aka ECG1085, a small inline IC, 3 transistors & 4 resistors, but too much fixed for our liking. But the Power Amp is 12 transistors per channel, much less than the crazy 21 of the big CA-1010. For the fact it has ICs ultimate fidelity will not be here, but for the improvement of an acceptable 12 transistors in the power amp, perhaps this amp will have shades of the CR-820 sound which we rated as pretty decent. 40w is also in the ideal power range for nicest sound as few amps over 50w have the music quality, both read more on "What Is a Good amp" page. The CA-410 is also 40w but with No ICs, it must have been a range before the CA-510 & without HFYB listing any in 1979 hard to know for sure. The CA-610 will give a good idea of what the Yamaha range is about & be sure it will sound more interesting than some 1980s black cased effort of similar power. To a buyer starting out into better Vintage Hifi, an amp like the CA-610 is still a good start.
Interesting. 45w looking like the CA-1010, worth a look as it might be a sweeter sound, but seeing an inside photo, where is the build quality? Not here! It looks midprice averageness, all on one board with one extra for the tone controls. A miserable metal bar heatsink divides the amp & selectors go to the back, much like the 1980 amps range like A-550. The quality is like the CR-820, all cramped up & not much space to do anything & be sure it gets too hot in some way. A bit of a shocker to see 1979 budget type build on a 1977-78 amp but the cheapness started here. Not for us.
Interesting. We've not had before or looked at it's circuit, but the brochure says 'Darlington amplifier' meaning output stages? Not so, just the similar design of one if not the same as the Darlington transistors like the B+O Beomaster 4400 uses, which are 2 transistors in one, ie ICs. The service manual shows there is an all-DIN plug version for EU regions, only the USA one has the Phono. Maybe why we've not seen one. 30-35w rated still worthy of having as Yamaha do underspec the ratings, the CA-600 they rated 43w in a test says this brochure. Transistor count is Phono x4, Tone x2, Power Amp x8. No buffers or PP stages in preamps here.
(had this one now) is 20w with DIN sockets on the EU version, as did the earlier CR-500 & CR-700.Phono is an IC, Tone x2, Mic x3, Power Amp x9.
Interesting. 15w & Phono is an IC, Tone x2, Power amp x7 plus one for power supply on the same board, basic stuff therefore. The vinyl wrap wood case is gone & a metal wood effect lid is the deal. If you only want 15w or 20w then these will still be far better than the majority of the others in their competition.
Yamaha CR-3020 ↑
Interesting if probably No. This is the biggest in the 1970s range. Not had one yet to try, but have looked closely. We've seen a couple on ebay making high prices, one in Germany sold for £734 early Sept 2013 and the case had a few dings. Based on how good the CR-2020 is once correctly set up, the CR-3020 would certainly be interesting. We've got the service manual & circuits to go through to see if bigger is better as we find it intertesting, though read on & see why we won't really want one. The US model has extra Dolby FM inputs & the power output sockets like the UK CR-2020 lacks as we found having to buy a new back panel. It adds a few minor additions to the CR-2020 front, nothing really essential. The DC-AC switch is like the Marantz 1152DC, just means capacitor coupling or not, of little use really. Some have multivoltage as the service manual shows, one of the few Yamaha ones found complete. A hefty 37kg weight & 632mm x 191mm x 498mm size, so 11cm wider, 7cm taller & 13cm deeper than the CR1020 & 2020 and 18kg heavier, it's enormous.. 160w RMS, but a higher damping factor of 70 should not be too different overall, the CR-1020 shows 40 or more, the CR-2020 shows 40. High damping means higher NFB & lower bass response. The CA-1010 has 45 or more, but it still is bass light. Circuit depends. The CA-1010 has 10db tone gain, the CR xx20 top 3 receivers have 12 to 13db gain. Much bigger finned heatsinks take up much space in the middle of the amp though the other pics on the manual are too xeroxed dark. The User Manual Circuit found is Clearer & reveals the circuit is a one page effort & needs good scanning. Oddly it has 0db on the meter as 100w, the same as the CR-2020. The CR-2020 works on ±59v & 110v resistored to 71v (some are negative voltages), the CR-3020 works on ±72.7v. Output transistors are one model number higher than the CR-2020 ones ie 2SB554 to 2SB555 if the specs are less (huh?). NFB is a 10k resistor compared to a 12k on the CR-2020. CR-2020 outputs 43v clean sine at 1kHz with 59v HT, expect 52v with the CR-3020. The quality Yamaha sound will be there, it'll be a job to recap as the CR-2020 is, the bass we suspect will be a bit light & higher damping may mean it will sound a bit boring & not go as loud as you'd expect, meaning at 160w it'll not play too much louder. An amp too far wethinks. These enormous versions of good amps, as we found NAD 160(a) to NAD 300 aren't always a good move up. Do you really need 160w of power? As we are running out of Good amps as those made is not as many as we'd thought, the CR-3200 now should get a Transistor Count like the CR-2020 'Getting Technical' section adds. This will reveal the height of Yamaha design (or overdesign) as the 1980 xx40 range was a big dip in quality as ICs took over. Phono x 11 has an IC for the MC stage as does the CR-2020, then a baffling double FET & then what look like double differentials, though the circuit a bit blurry to be sure, but then two stages of Push-Pull in a Phono. This design sounds way overcooked, not needed when others deliver a nice sound with 2-3 transistors. The Pre-Tone board is equally overdesigned to the point of our ridicule. Again 2-3 transistors can do this stage beautifully, but no, they use a hilarious 18 transistors. 3x Differentials inc FETs, the doubled PP stages then the controls then more PP stages, some which may be Buffers. Absolutely insane. The Power Amp is minimalistic in comparison, only 24 transistors. 3x differentials inc FETs, 3x PP driver-Output stages with the last one the Doubled Output stage. The Power Supply 'needs' 25 transistors. The design is awfully OTT, it may only have a grainy sound from too many transistors, or maybe it's not bad. Sadly these 'Monster Amps' are for Boy Racers only, not Hifi fans & this one is ridiculously overdesigned, but looking at the earlier Yamahas, it seems they threw every idea going into this one to impress a certain sort of buyer. Not us though.
Yamaha AA-70 receiver ↑
Interesting if likely average, so No. We estimate this 1969 receiver at 25w is the true RMS rating, not 60w. You can find a 1969 Yamaha catalog on a German site that just shows they mostly made Music centre type receiver + turntable items: MC 40, MC50, MC50A, MC50B & MC600 some are in the 1971 HFYB Systems section. A range of Loudspeakers & most interestingly the AA-70 receiver which is like the MC-3 mentioned below. It is actually slanted front styled like the MC-3 as in it's the same unit sans turntable. The problem with this AA-70 is it's just the receiver version of the 'music centre' version with a turntable in the lid, the size is large & big enough to stand a turntable on top. For the fact the insides will be spaced to accomodate the turntable workings of the music centre version it'll not be great. The design isn't bad though. The catalog only lists misleading Peak Power nonsense, so the 1972 HFYB is the key as 30w RMS, size 18.5 x 5.25 x 17.25" 34 transistors & 25 diodes all for £140. We found an original Service Manual in Canada. The Service manual is dated Sept 1971, says it's "70w" per channel into 4 ohms, "60w" into 8 ohms, if how it's using watts as RMS or music power is unknown, 11kg weight. Music centres MC-600 (E) use the same receiver exactly. From photos shown the back has Phono sockets or DIN to input a Tape player, an 8 track is shown. DIN speaker outputs, Phono stage & Aux inputs. Transistor counts are Phono x2, Tone x2, Power Amp just 6 with 2x 470µf coupling capacitors. Not sure if 60w is correct as only 63v HT to be divided & 35v output caps. The 50w Sony STR-6120 uses 93v HT, the Yamaha appears to be more like 30w RMS amp. Based on our experience of the CR-700 & CA-700 this will probably sound nice but not of the high quality of construction like the 1973-78 ranges. A rare MS-3 receiver-with-turntable small size music centre like the Hacker GAR series, sold very fast on ebay for £160 in Oct 2012. The early black type fascia at a slant & a midrange turntable with a perspex lid. Odd looking as the fascia is like a receiver & looks a bit chop & add on with the turntable, giving the idea makers could custom-add their own turntables. It doesn't look like the CR-700 but is similar. It's not their earliest one though sales must have been very small outside Japan.
Yamaha Pro System B1, C1 & UC1 ↑
Yamaha B1 Amplifier, Yamaha C1 Preamp, Yamaha UC1 control unit
Interesting if unfindably rare. This is three large black fascia units of full size just slightly narrower than the CR-1000. The UC1 is a Control Unit with meters & adding extra speaker outputs when powered by the B1. A 5kg unit as big as the others if much less deep & you can add a Remote Control. The C1 is the Preamp for 3 Turntables MM only, 3 Tape & more features of minor use. The B1 Power amp gets the most written as it has Vertical FETs & a total of 14 FETs of varying types per channel. V-FETs are what Sony use in their 1975 range, so if not Yamaha inventions, Yamaha did get to refine the design. It states it has "the massive power of Transistor Amplifiers combined with the Sound of the Valve". Don't they all... High spec new progress in Hifi is this Power Amp, but those unfindable V-FETs & 14 FETs per channel is a bit excessive & we've found FETs are best used sparingly in Audio of this era. B1 specs are 160w @1kHz, typical 196w. THD 0.02% typical 0.005%. DF of 80, SN ratio 100db. 37kg. The preamp is of the CA-1010 style with an excess of 29 buttons & levers. The Power amp is mostly a large black box with a silver lower third with a few controls. The UC1 is 2 big meters, 5x Speaker switches, remarkably a Rumble Filter just in case an idiot bought it & used an Autochanger? The TVK site shows photos & links to a Japanese site to look inside. High End Hifi of a genuine sort brought Design 'improvements' in the lesser ranges. To us it does look a little excessive & will need a good Service to sound it's best. The rare V-FETs make it a risky buy as with the Sony V-FETs. Rare range & even rarer in all Silver but not issued with a wood casing. Be sure they sold in tiny amounts & probably none in the UK this early. With any sort of more experimental type designs were not to get big sales & for 1974 a bit ahead of their time what the mid 1980s onward became more regular with certain Hifi Mags championing the exotic designs. The Power Amp probably is the wanted item today to use with a less complex preamp, but that would spoil the 3 piece concept. In mind of Yamaha varying the Tone of their amps from Soft (CA-1000) to Full On (CR-1000) to Balanced (CR-800II) to Overcooked (CA-1010) to Softer again (CR-2020), where does this fit in?
Yamaha CA-44 amplifier ↑
Average. HFE lists the Manual of this one, no clue to it's age though Black Fascia if sharing some 1970s features, could be before 1982 but after 1977 as it has level meters like the CR-2020. 25w rated, it could be an obscure budget-midprice range. The circuit is all Transistors, no ICs so to put it around 1977-78 seems sensible as by 1980 Yamaha unwisely choked even it's best amps with ICs until the A-720 of 1986. Also transistor numbers are the same era.
Yamaha CR 2040, 1040, 840 receivers ↑
No, ICs excessive. The next range in receivers from the 1978 range was the 'oh dear' IC stuffed 1980 range the CR-2040, CR-1040, CR-840 etc. This is for the 1980-81 range & we're a little cautious with good reason, read on. Ones to be careful even buying cheap & faulty as odds are those sodding big ICs aren't findable. The CR-xx40 range is a very sad start to the slide down the hill into mediocrity after growing with the above ones. The Pioneer peaked with their SX850/950/1050/1250 range, if perhaps we aren't too keen on the lower two, but the xx80 next series was cost cut even further & ICs crept in.The 1980 range, at a time when the hifi bubble was bursting is the 120w CR-2040, 80w CR-1040 as well as similar 60w CR-640, 30w CR-440 & 20w CR-240. You can find more info on the web, the CR-2040 looks too 1980s & loses the charm of the earlier ones. It has mosfets, another leap too modern perhaps. Again they spectacularly overheat says one reviewer. Built in obsolescense. Oddly the rare 1981 HFYB shows them as "No rec. retail price" showing that they had moved from Hifi shops to Comet type mass retailers. Sad. Looking beyond the horror of ICs in the CR-840, it actually sorts out some problems that the earlier amps get. The lamps are a perspex block type like Pioneer used in the SX950. The power switch is a push type one not the microswitches that fail. The Tuner is less pretty, a groove between metal looks 1980s which it is really.Even the big CR-2040 is stuffed with ICs everywhere, best avoided says we.
Yamaha R-2000 ↑
No, average. This is a 1981-82 digital tuner receiver in silver. 150w at 0.015% THD which is meaningless with all that IC grit, DF 60+. Also there is a R-1000 of lower wattage. But as heavily stuffed with ICs to drown it. ICs everywhere. tuner is an early Digital one where you have to hold the button to tune, takes ages. Later designs used a typical turn knob where speed could vary. Tuner stage obviously, but 2 in MC Phono (per channel), 2 in MM Phono, 2 in Flat Amp, 4 in Tone Control, 3 in Spatial Expander, pre-power amp 1x STK block, only the power amp stage has transistors. If it goes very cheap as only half working, it may be worth it to see how it actually sounds. But the thought of all the ICs made us only bid meanly & we pity the winner at £50. Tee hee... Saw "another one" with inside photos, a real messy design with big STK amplifier blocks & likely obsolete output transistors, if transistors even. This is why 1980s amps are not very popular & need careful buying. It seems to be the same one from earlier from the seller's description, why they want rid so fast & not for much profit or covering repair costs?. Probably the same one turns up on ebay Nov 2012 & all you see is ICs, ICs for the tuner as always but ICs everywhere. Horrible thing & will guaranteed 100% to sound horrible unless you know no better, which sadly is often the case, buyers seem to go for the late 1970s high powered ones regardless of how lousy they often are. Only the CR-2020 range from 1977-78 are of any quality we've found. Oh well... Well it sold for a ridiculous £288. It's full of ICs. It'll sound crap. But there is no telling the Boy Racer who must have more Watts than they'll ever use. Laugh at them & you reading this are the one who isn't so gullible.
Yamaha AS-500 amplifier ↑
No. A modern 2010 amp that is much seen on ebay as used or new-ish in silver or black finish. The Yamaha AS-501 is the 2015 model, the Amazon price of the AS-501 is only £282 for the same 85w spec adding a DAC & USB power outlet otherwise it looks the same. The trouble is buyers seeing an 85w amp for £282 will think that's all Hifi has to be, remaining ignorant of the £KK sysyems & the Best of Vintage. This sort of amp is disposable & if you get over 3 years use out of it, consider yourself lucky. Your money can be so much better spent than on just "everyday product" like this. As HFE has the 500 service manual, we can take a look. Outside mimics the classic 1973-80 design with the flat rotary controls & inside photos online just looks typical 1990-today look, messy control wires & generic looks of today, nothing showing quality & not too clear if the audio signal cables are shielded as they are plug-in board type or ribbon type. Doubt anyone would much care anyways... 10.3kg plus remote, you can hear us yawning. But that's not helpful is it? But all these tin box amps are pretty much the same, made to last a few years & be binned as so weakly made a repair won't be lasting. We are here to look how this compares to the Marantz PM6000 family. 85w here puts it more with the higher power PM8000 series. Dampling Factor of 180 isn't good & the SN ratio of 100db suggests it has many limiters in the design. More advanced on the back,. i-pod dock socket (we assume...), subwoofer output & a speaker impedance selector which seems odd. As always the Remote has functions for a CD player & Tuner to make you buy the rest of the range. Looking at the Service Manual, the Power Amp is all Transistors, just like the 1965 Sony TA1120, so much for advances in technology & ICs. Fifteen transistors for the power amp including differentials plus two more for protection. The circuit really is nothing far off the 1977 Yamaha CA-1010 or CR-2020 type circuit from 33 years before, it looks decent enough if some low spec & average volume will blight it, but similar spec is in many amps of the 1970s so there is no need to make it better for the buyer who doesn't deserve it anyway? The control stages of these modern amps are the best part of them, no stiff controls, it's all relay switched & done by remote, all based on techniques found in VCRs in the early 1980s. The preamp next but Line In & CD in has a bizarre extra circuit but it says 'no use' so it sees no circuitry as it's not used, huh? Phono is tiresomely just an IC op-amp. But here comes the badness: the whole preamp & tone is one huge IC. Surface mount Ceramic chip capacitors & just general purpose crapulence. But what do you tight buggers want for £280? The customer is an idiot who wants 85w, remote control & "the best sound" for pissy money? Look back at our Amps & Receivers page & see what the 1977 Yamaha CA-1010 cost in 1980.. it was £400. 1977 £400 is £2000 in 2010 money & yet this amp is only £282. The manufacturer of big brand audio gear cannot justify making better product as it wouldn't sell, the base line 99p shop mentality means you can't get the quality or long lasting products anymore. This £282 amp will sound much like the Marantz PM6002 we had, safe, boring & polite but clean enough to "sound good" to the thoughless audio buying masses who demand all this for £282. To try to understand the amount of spoilers in this is impossible: the huge preamp IC is a fixed item. The Power Supply is many regulators but it'll be low spec just to do the job. the 2 main capacitors are just 6800µf 56v with about ±50v HT. It's depressing isn't it. The idiot reviews on amazon for the 501 all give it FIVE STARS, it's depressing that so many are truly unaware of how good hifi can sound & think an IC riddled £282 amp is perfection. Mass market sheep who buy each i-phone is likely too. Let them enjoy their delusions, for those who aren't gullible, we've written a whole site on why you shouldn't be buying £282 new 85w amps. Many will still use this thinking 'it's great', break it, bin it & go buy another unaware of the mediocrity they spend their money so thoughtlessly on. Meh...
As with any site offering unique info that will annoy others to have truths told, our policy is to publish Trolls after finding out all we can. This fool wants his ignorant opinion published as our Email page says we will.... Headphones give far greater insight into Sound Quality than Speakers as the sound is right on your ears. To realise the extra precision found testing via headphones, without room reflections. Amps can sound 'good enough' on speakers but on headphones it usually reveals weaknesses that we upgrade to improve & then the improvement shows on speakers. Explains why mediocre amps are kept as better quality sound isn't understood until you hear it. We test amps on speakers too as is obvious if the troll bothered read properly.
This troll posts on Audiokarma...."I was fighting my own stupidity in the end..." says them. They didn't bother to read the email page "Got Comments..." note
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question: Measurements of sound through headphones must be the sleaseast way gain any insight to sound ever, and ever, and ever.I guess you make a good buck out of your shitlist.Or are you part of it