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Our Hifi Blog section - 2017 to 2024

Hi-Fi Blog Page 1 - 2017 + Index

*Regularly Updated*
....Monthly Index just below...

A Blog on Hi-Fi, Audio, Tech... plus the Hi-Fi News Mag 1956

If you've just found our site, have a read of the Main Pages first. This page adds to those in one place. All new sections go on this page, the only pages we add to are Vintage Hi-Fi Reviews when we get new amps. The Blog covers subjects we discover from Hifi itself plus what the 1970-1980 HFN/RR mag interests us with.

What Are We Blogging About?
Mainly Hifi with Light Bulbs, other Restoration TV shows. The entire set of the 1956-1980 Hifi News Magazine gets a digest & critique. Blog style can be random, not all makes sense as written 'live' on discovering things, but why edit it to be tame? No Book or website tells as much as we do. We're Not into giving Upgrade Hints, that's our Job & our research. Positive angle on things, we've all had bad ebay buys & suffered packing damage or useless amps, but it makes dull reading. Most Hifi is Good, a small amount is The Best, we don't mean 'High end' overpriced, the 1965-1973 era is the best to us, just Eight Years as Hifi Matured then succumbed to Cost Cutting. The 2017 Blog is Huge, from becoming limited with the Main Pages format plus all the 1970s HFN/RR commenting.

With a site like this, seeing updated sections isn't so easy...

We've been adding to this site since 2010 & some pages are just sections we wrote & sort of put onto a suitable page for reading, if impossible to do much with now. Indexes have been done for some if not all yet. We get new amps to review & these you can see in order & this page will be random sections plus links to new sections on specific pages. The new amps we get will still go on the Reviews page. Putting order to things limits creation.

We've been reading through 1970-80 compete set of Hi-Fi News & many sections below offer comment on things in those mags. Picking the articles that interest us through the magazines.

Your Hifi Messages are Answered Here...
If we see it's an interesting subject, we'll write it up here. Answering in emails beyond Sales & Service hides ideas, so to keep this fresh, it goes here. Blogging is far freer than the long pages which are hard to add to & at a later date the sections below might get moved or indexed.

**Updated Style Jan 2021
Blog keeps growing to be a Huge Info section if Indexing Sections by heading a bit pointless as that was so long & a chore to do. To do One Page per year & keep the Month as a Jump Link to show where you are reading this from Browser Link colour changes. Search covers all Hifi pages, so to simplify things.


January 2017 Blog.

What do we think of Hifi as of Jan 2017.

Our main interest is the pre 1972 era in transistors & valves, if there are still plenty after this date that could be good, for the earlier years, we've tried the majority of the Best. Some like McIntosh & Marantz from the early years are too expensive to buy to try now, as is a lot of later quality amps. To Rebuild & Upgrade amps that are selling for over £1000 as original does go into a different market. Based on our sales, most buyers can deal with amps to about £600 & past £1000 the market really narrows. As what we do is far more advanced than what most do, as we upgrade using design knowledge, seeing the worth in this will take time to grow. We get emails with people with midprice amps hoping to get then serviced & upgraded, but we do point out that generally most amps aren't worth spending the money on. We're not just here to upgrade average amps as it's not very interesting & the limits of amps can often make them a wasted effort & wasting your money. In Oct 2016 we got a Goodmans Module 80 & as it was one of the first vintage we had, to upgrade it fully to see how good it was. we'd had one before as on the Gallery page if now with a proper circuit diagram we did it fully. Putting good ideas in that other vintage cope well with, the Goodmans was truly awful as we went far beyond what it could cope with. There are reasons why amps are dumbed down & it was laughably poor given top spec. It didn't survive & we could have upgraded it less & sold it for £300, but we wanted to try how far it could go. Another nail in the coffin of British Hifi & for that, we'll not bother doing similar with any Rogers or Leak. Not a waste of effort as it lets us see how far you can upgrade. As of Xmas 2016 we used the 1973 Realistic STA-220 amp, we've not even fully upgraded it yet but the sound certainly appealed. Can't even get a circuit diagram as a one-year model that used the capacitor-coupled older design, by 1974 everyone used semi-complimentary & differentials. Only got this amp on thinking the 1975 Realistic SA-1500 was good, but the STA-220 is in another league. So many times we've just got an amp that looked interesting & it was worth a try. Do our usual work on it & then sell it on. Some stay here as references but they get used too. Looking at the ones we have for sale currently, all were got as they looked interesting & were worth us working on them to firstly see how good they are & also to sell on. To keep looking for unknown sleeper amps has proved very worthwhile & buyers of them we hear love the sound. The Dokorder amp & tuner pair another blind buy, we fully rebuilt the amp to the resistors just to see how good it was & we used it on our Tannoys for a few weeks. Far more work put into that amp than it sold for, but when things are done for research, it doesn't matter. The KLH 27 amp we have for sale was a real tricky amp to upgrade, it needed a lot redesigning to have it working right. It was here nearly a year, getting looked at every few months as thinking time is needed. Now it's sorted, we sell it on, although we'd like to keep all the "experimental big job" ones, we are here to sell. The more good ones we find the less there are left to find. Every amp is treated like it could be the best one ever & they all get done to our perfection as our photos show. It still keeps interesting. Three years ago we wondered "is that all there is?" but look at the Recent Additions section on the reviews page. Hifi is doing well, it is Seasonal, Nov-Dec are not Hifi buying months, but we get lots of emails asking about upgrades. Loudspeakers still appear to be the most confusing area as some match amps better. Post 1980 Hifi is still a mystery area to us, so much is overrated junk is a fair comment. But we got the Sansui AU-G90X from having one here to service & got one ourselves, but there is no way we'd just blindly get an amp from this era. We don't play the 90X beyond comparing so we'll put it for sale again. Even modern-new Hifi is still not that different to the basic 1977 designs, if the designs are so dumbed down to give 'technical excellence' if little in the way of music pleasure. Hifi still interests us a lot & for the increasing amount of upgrade emails we are getting, interest in Hifi & getting the best out of it is slowly gaining interest. The stumbling block as ever is the Cost, as well as finding an amp good enough to upgrade to start with. For all the Amps we've upgraded, none is "Perfect", some are at the top of Excellence, but every amp does have it's own quirks. We use the Luxman LX-33 valve amp for recording Record Sales Soundfiles, it sounds great, but the design of it is ours, not Luxman's & it's taken over 3 years to get to how it is now. It's still not 'perfected' but to realise that will get more ideas tried out. All adds to the Skill we put into amps we Sell & Upgrade.

Audio as of Late 2016.
The mass-market approach to Audio, we'll not call it "Hi-Fi", is mostly very mediocre. The Gadget Show in it's populist approach shows TVs with 4K HD pictures, but as a Dec 2016 episode showed, the fact that flat screen TVs are of no physical depth, the speakers inside are probably as bad as 1970s TVs. Most are fitted below the screen edges firing down, just a long elliptical speaker of no Hi-Fi quality at all & certainly no acoustic wadding or design. No Tweeters either. Why should they bother though? There's no room in the TV cabinet & anyone into Cinema Sound will buy a 5.1 or 7.1 Stereo receiver & use a TiVo or Sky+ box to use the digital optical outputs. We really couldn't care for the tiny satellite speakers & a sub idea as where's the midrange? For TV sound using a chosen amp plus 15" Tannoys gives far more full sound & the realism you wrongly think only speakers placed around the room will give can be delivered by big speakers. What Was That Noise? Was it outside or on the TV? Skip back the TiVo & it was on the TV sound but sounded like it was not in front as the speakers are. Headphones or Earpieces are how music is listened to today, or the tiny 'speaker hole' in the back of a mobile phone with it's heavily EQ'd sound. On EastEnders at Xmas we were led to believe the crappy speakers on a laptop would be enough to fill the pub with 2w of 'power' and many buy those powered speakers to get 15w, the same sort of junk that was around in Cassette days. Sound Quality has really been forgotten & considering 1979 was the Peak Year for Hifi sales, 38 years ago is approaching two generations ago. Most won't have a clue how Music can sound & explains why The Music Scene of today is dead, the Singles Charts used to mean something to all ages & the Album Charts are often just Compilations or Oldies. As bleak as it sounds, many are content or ignorant of how music sounds, just like Teenagers were content with Transistor Radios or Dansettes in the 1950s-1970s. But all it takes to get people interested in "Better Sound Quality" is to be cruel & let them hear Hifi done properly & they will forever crave it. Some will "forever upgrade" but only once they hear Vintage Hifi that's been Serviced & Upgraded will they be happy with what they hear. The amount of emails we get does reveal people are waking up to audio again, wiping the MP3 dust from their eyes & they really do want better sound. We don't advertise this site at all, it's only found by Googling & by reading our slightly random pages do you understand how music in good sound quality can better your life. Look on Amazon, Record Players are popular items, cheaply made Retro things are getting people enjoying the physical appeal of having a recorded item, not just a digital file. You have records, your interest is on that one record, not like a CD you put on & lose interest after Track 3. The pleasure of Music. On American Pickers they picked an old swinging pub-club & found Bose 901 speakers & a 50w 1980s Marantz SR-4000, the nerdy delight with Mike on seeing those items was a joy, he remembered them from his youth. But us on just having got the Realistic STA-220, a young guy pricing up a building repair, he saw it on the desk & was captivated by how well made & packed with mysterious parts it was. Forget how the media portrays the trashy element of today, there will always be those more thoughtful interested in vintage quality things & just like us at his age, he'll probably crave getting something that good. The typist has been reading an annual for an xmas break from Hifi mags, as on our Pre War Annuals page, it was from 100 years ago. It is a little scary to see that's all they had in 1917, they made toys out of matchboxes & bits of cork & played games with bits of paper. Be sure the poems in the book would have been learnt 'by heart' and often the illustrations were coloured in. Because they had nothing else to do. Their storybook heroes were the 18th century nursery rhyme ones & that only faded away by the TV era of the early 1950s. Before that kids only had their imagination & were often left bored. Today from what you see, the kid of today must be entertained every minute, they have no imagination, they'll just be another sheep in the system. Years ago things were "special" or "a treat", nowadays it's daily chocolate biscuits & all you want. Nothing is special now as the sleazy tabloid news sites & their daily nudity prove. There are 'special' things still around & to find them takes your challenge to find & then you too can write a website about Vintage things & get others interested in it. We can see the obvious increase in interest in Vintage Hifi since we started this Hifi site in 2010. People are finding joy in vintage tech a lot more, vintage gaming is a huge market. But collecting has really tailed off this century & even since 2010 we see the Records, Books, Coins & Antiques market really falling away except for the best things & even then prices can be fickle. The most thriving market is Vintage Cars as 'Chasing Classic Cars' shows, but this market is a narrow one driven by rich white guys who have money from biz or retiring. No guarantees the prices will last for long. But music will be forever around, if many just want it for free, but the human need to own things means collecting will continue, if only of things they see as valuable. What previous Generations considered collectable is not always what later Generations like, look at Chumlee on 'Pawn Stars' with Trainers & Gaming. Most younger people aren't bothered about Quality in Sound or quality in anything sadly, they'd rather spend it on partying or tattoos that will look very dated in a few years, watching the Strong Man over Xmas, those random zig zag pattern ones look so naff & dated now. The current trend is intricate 'wallpaper' design ones, if who bothers to see what they are, they all look a mess from afar, especially worded ones. If they want patterns on their skin, buy a loud shirt & have the option to update it when it becomes dated. An age in your life will come when you realise "This Isn't My World Anymore", things you liked are gone & past 30 you'll want those things back & new markets appear with people wanting things that seem unlikely. But with Music it's still a great track after not hearing for 20-30 years & hearing it on good Vintage Hifi bringing the soul of it alive will keep you young & interested, if maybe only in certain things. 'Your Retro World' can continue for as long as you want it to, the ability to cherry-pick the best of the past is one of the best things in life today. Goes a bit off-topic here but to compare Hifi & Music to other subjects is interesting. That could do with some paragraphs, but it's a blog...

What Amps Are We Using?
Over Xmas we used the Realistic STA-220 & still have it on the speakers now for TV. Using DVD & TiVo to need 2 Aux inputs & Realistic is one of few pre 1975 to have this. You can use Tape input or Tuner on amplifiers, but a compromise. Using L&R sliders for Volume isn't as quick as Volume & Balance but how often do you change volume? On TV sound channels & even shows differ in volume so fairly often. Our 100w Valve amps aren't getting use as the "JJ" brand EL34s are great but these are far wider range frequency response than the old Svetlana Winged C's that many rave about. The JJs are much more detailed which is good but based on the design the amps & the Luxman LX33 has, the Miller Effect causes crackly noises that are very annoying. Enough about that online, but things need altering to stop the crackling. Some designs go too far to make amps universal, but suitable values can be found. The Realistic sounds great on TV, if the midrange setting needs 2 notches back. Is this speaker mismatch? On trying on headphones after doing some upgrades, it shows the amp set flat on tone on some tracks can be far too much midrange that is a bit overwhelming, if on most tracks it sounds fine. It shows up some of our earlier CD recorded tracks aren't quite as clean as we'd like them, but went unnoticed before on speakers, headphones are unforgiving. Now of all the amps we've had, only a few 1977-78 Yamaha have midrange & on headphones and speakers it was fine set flat. How accurate the response of the Realistic is will be measured once we get the main caps done. To have no circuit diagram for an amp this good is a real pain as we need to see the design schematic. Some stages can be traced by track but it's too complex to try to draw it, if sections can be worked out. It's had a few problems over the weeks it's been used, long stored & something spilt in it during storage does get problems, if these are now sorted.

Old Amps Can Be Smelly & Not Perfect Grade.

1972 amp smells a bit musty with the lid off & needed a good clean inside from the open lid grille. Musty smell is dry mould in the wiring looms, what are we going to do with the lid, a fine walnut with a nice colour if stains on the front edge. Based on doing up old furniture years ago, sometimes to leave it be & just gently tidy it to be "wife friendly" grade, if accepting flaws. To refinish veneer is tricky as the faded colour will go once you sand it & the risk of sanding through to the base wood. Lots to do to make Vintage Amps look home-worthy, if the least to do is the best option. We upgraded a Technics amp recently, the amp was good but the fascia was scratchy & the lid rusty. Not attractive. The guy said he'd get it powder coated, but to match the colour is the issue. Wood can be tidied, but low grade metal with paint or coatings usually is best avoided, unless you can get a spares amp to swap parts. The Coral A550 amp pictured in the 'Solds Gallery' arrived here painted black & badly done. Looks nice now but to strip the paint, smooth & lacquer neatly. We've seen repaint jobs on ebay amps, one seller proudy said he repainted the top, but it was laughable, streaks, runs, bald bits. As with amateur hifi work, to undo the Idiot's Mess is often a big job, more on that on another page. We're not linking to pages that subjects that appear again are covered fuller on, 'Search' box will find that easy enough. Also as with any wordy thing, some may be repeated again.

How to do tell a Stylus needs replacing?

Our Goldring Elektra has had a lot of use & now at least 18 months old. It's not perfect on some 45s that aren't mastered too well. To have a new spare one is wise for anyone playing vinyl, if it naffs or the tip falls off, to have to wait, search & not play vinyl is a downer. Compare records that you think sound a bit less than they should & hear how crisper the new stylus sounds. On some it may be noticeable, but if most sound 80% as good as the new one, then keep using the old one. One of those microfibre brushes is essential to keep the tip clean & a check with a basic x14 magnifier loupe, if it's one of the items that we waste time searching for a lot, sometimes to have two of the same item to allow for 'Murphy's Law' makes sense. As the £50 vs £200 Cartridge section linked above shows, we tried both turntables again. For the fact our Valve Phono stage is our design, we're finding the difference between the Technics & Garrard combos now being of the same quality if the tonal balance differs. Yes, a direct drive Technics can be as good sounding as a Garrard 301. But in reality, your Phono stage doesn't have the resolution ours does & we've tuned ours to match the Goldring, in normal use the more expensive one will beat the cheaper with ease as the cheaper sounds rough. But with top resolution, it's very different, we didn't expect to say that.

Hi-Fi In Context is the thing

A person buying a midprice turntable will buy a midprice amp & speakers. We've played some amps we've not rated 'excellent' once upgraded, based on headphone use, but on the 15" Tannoys they sound surprisingly good, but in reality someone with Tannoys isn't going to use a cheaper amp, if we have been surprised how good some can actually sound used on speakers way out of their class. We've not tried every amp on the Tannoys, but you can see how they match on the Loudspeakers page & of those we've tried, beyond mismatches, none sounded awful, neither did a modest Arcam amp. The refined speaker will make even the most modest amp sound good. But a cheap speaker can render a great amp as awful for mismatching & being too much quality for it, which is why most Hifi is dumbed down especially on Bass to be universal. Free Advice?

Don't Do Repairs on the Cheap.

Sadly the idea of Hifi repairs is often far from professional. We've seen some laughable repairs by lazy techs too idle to get a 0.5w resistor so they use a big vintage 2w one, ones twisted together mid-air to nearly make the value. A transistor fails so they grab "any old one" & shove it in, but it's not the right spec, seen this in a Yamaha amp twice including a ridiculous one on a 110w CR-2020. Resistors slightly burn, but it still works so they leave it be & don't even tidy the burn mess as found on a JVC amp last year. None of this is acceptable to our standards & for the ease to get the right parts these days, we do it properly as it makes us look bad if we didn't correct rubbish old repairs. When output transistors fail, we'll usually replace the set to keep all from the same batch, if one seen on a 1980s amp has one failed-repaired one of the same package type if a different number, so chances of wrong spec & mismatch. Some transistors past 1980 can be expensive or custom ones for the amp only. Finding equivalents is possible but a dark art & even cross-reference books we've found give wrong ones. Like with cars, no-one's going to look inside so bad repairs go undetected. Trust with hifi is the thing. Would we trust a bad repair on an amp we'd put on the speakers to try for a while? Amps not too well known if we use them for TV sound, they aren't trusted to leave plugged in overnight for a week, when they'll be off during the day, so they have to gain our trust.

Where's the Continental Hifi

...asked a French reader. We are UK based so have tried many of the UK brands & popular models. There aren't many beyond Bang & Olufsen and Scan-Dyna, the rest is some USA & a lot of Japanese ones. More a case of what is found in the UK is limited. The main problem is of the brands they mention... Grundig, Philips, Saba, Schaub Lorenz, Revox, Esart, Telefunken, Braun, Wega is the ones you find in the UK are usually the lower end models, 10w to 25w ones, or higher power ones too expensive to buy to upgrade & sell on. We've looked at some EU models including Tandberg on the "Other Amps" page. EU amps often have DIN sockets that we found with ebay selling that aren't so popular with UK buyers when UK & Japanese amps have more UK style connectors. a DIN connectors amp therefore can be price limited as UK buyers aren't so keen. EU & UK amps usually use axial capacitors (wire at either end), these we can get but these aren't the Audio grade coaxial ones so for those we've done these seem to be a compromise for our upgrading. Some of those brands have some impressive higher power later 1970s amps but the risk of ICs puts us off too, again based on upgrading limits. We've had those wanting to upgrade 20w Philips amps, but we fairly say it's not really worth spending the money on a budget amp. We'd certainly like to try Continental hifi of good quality & 40w+ power. But is the quality of Japan & USA there? Bang & Olufsen are popular but they aren't as great inside as ones of similar power from Japan & USA are far superior in sound & have good looks too. It'd be good to add some better Continental amps to our reviews, we'll see what we get offered to upgrade & that seems worthwhile, but aware of the above comments.

The Risks of Bang & Olufsen gear.

We had a question asking if we could sort out a Beomaster 8000, a very retro stylish 100w RMS into 8 ohms receiver. Now we've had several B&O models & several of each of them. B&O look great but the build quality inside isn't so great, nor are the parts used & the designs are a bit lacking compared to Japan/USA amps. This one is an IC-stuffed advanced control unit from 1980 so the technology is likely the first of it's kind, B&O were certainly creative, but "disposable" is the truth of B&O. To actually fix a 37 year old very complex IC high power amp is probably very high risk, you could sort out 90% of faults & then be stopped by it needing an IC that isn't findable. Fault after fault could occur unless the thing was fully rebuilt. B&O don't even make replacement stylii now, so to buy a parts amp & cobble bits is the likely thing & have it fail again, we had to buy 3 cheap Beomaster 1900 amps to make one good one, a huge effort as poor construction is B&O usually, worn & broken bits inside. In repairs you have to be very careful not to waste a customer's money or create a money pit & the odds are the 8000 is just that, it could be fixed & better than new in some ways but getting there will probably not be worthwhile for a customer. There are reasons why B&O gear for spares-repairs are often found, to repair them is usually too expensive & will often be a huge challenge. If we had it here to get working, it'd need to be done right. We expect the questioner has tried others before & got a big "no" without explaining why. Not all things last forever. Stick it on ebay describing the fault & get rid is the best idea.

Sorry Your Amp Isn't That Great Really.

Another tricky one, we get messages by those proud of their amplifier they bought in 1974 from their first wages, it may be a good brand & you've enjoyed it, but a 15w one is only entry level past 1967. They think servicing & upgrading is a cheap job too, but aware they'll never go anywhere with it, to reply stating this to not be anything other than informative. This is stuff that's already written about on the site. Very casual way some people approach things, but we'll not waste your money on any job that we don't see worthwhile.

Energy Saving Lightbulbs: Which To Choose?

This is a tricky one as the market is changing a lot. LED bulbs are now a lot cheaper & are made to look like old style bulbs. But we've not tried any yet. We've tried all types of ESL bulb since they came out about 10 years ago. Some were too heavy & large for a desk lamp & the light was poor. The first satisfactory ones we only found a few years back & they're not made now, stocks running out. These were Lloytron 5600k Cool White - 1160 lumens - 20w. These weren't perfect in use, first of a good idea though, they blinked, some were a bit noisy, they failed too quick by burning a resistor inside that was the wrong spec based on lack of space. They also flashed when off due to long wires & electrical therory. But the light was great. In comparison a 60w old style bulb matches a 2700k bulb & the yellowy light is vile knowing the daylight bulbs, if it suits some places. The desk lamp uses E27 Edison screw bulbs, not the B22 bayonet ones, so when the last one failed on that resistor, to find Lloytron sold out. But they've been improved, the current one we use are Prolite 6400k Daylight White - 1150 lumens - 20w. These are 'bluer' than the 5600k as we've noticed looking at the computer monitor & to adjust it bluer, the bulb physically is smaller & lighter. Use elsewhere, they are slightly blue light which isn't perfect for TV watching, if a few days later on updating this we are used to them. They do smell a bit on first use though. Certainly fine for Kitchen & Bathroom as well as desk use. These appear about 20% brighter on an estimate, they don't flash when turned off now. Turn on & it takes a second to start seems odd though. The days of the Kitchen Fluorescent being too harsh white lighting & the yellowy light being preferred is an odd one, we much prefer the whiter 5600k-6400k light now. ESL bulbs are an updated version of those, if without the flickers before starting, updated tech. Using old bulbs they are too hot & the light is poor, the design is from the late 1800s after all. Wikipedia lists Colour Temperature & the colour light that suits you needs experimenting. How well these have lasted we'll tell later... *UPDATE: the 6400K Prolite ones we've had to get rid of, the light was good, but they stink if used hanging down & the heat sends the plastic brown already. OK for uplighting, but turn the Anglepoise down & the stink starts. Technology good but bulb plastic is poor quality & clearly not tested for the heat. Back to the Lloytron ones again.

February 2017 Blog.

Bad 'Sophisticated' Ideas In 1960s Hifi Design.

We were reminded of the very expensive Trio Supreme 1. Trio Supreme I 33w bass - 23w midrange - 15w treble crazy multiamp system ignoring ideas of phase-shift £280... on our List Of Amps page. This we've looked at but never found the circuits to see what it's exactly about. The idea as the ads show is it is a TrI-Amping idea that splits the Audio into 3 frequency ranges, top, middle & low, to supposedly have dedicated amps & the speaker that goes with it to apparently sound better. The TVK site has pics, but we can't see any way to bypass it as it's 6 amps. Crossover switch on the back probably only makes it a 2 channel 33w amp. How they fit all that into an amp seemingly no bigger than the Trio KA-6000 is a mystery. HFE has the circuits now, not seen that before... 36lbs = 18kg. It has the typical early stages, then a phase splitter & Low-Mid-High amp stages as per the power ratings above. The "Defeat" is just as a 80Hz-40Hz Bass Filter, there is no 2 channel option, TVK are wrong. It has a Phase switch too. The design of the High Pass-Low Pass will certainly give unnatural effects to the sound, it is way too basic. It can work in Digital, but with just a few components it's pretty hopeless. There are 6 channel adjust controls under the front flap as one on ebay shows here to balance the outputs, but one to avoid really. The ebay one shows it's much deeper if very modest inside, a small transformer & the 'card' bit is a bit of asbestos as the TK-140E had inside. This all really sounds awful thinking to us. To bandwith limit audio creates ringing to sound unnatural, to use 3 amps per channel will introduce Phase Shift errors & then for the fact it's late 1960s, gain tolerance of transistors will very likely affect the sound. The Supreme 1 contains 6 channels of audio. Historically interesting, but not one to play.

Say No To Bi-Amping, Bi-Wiring & Multi-Pre/Power Amping.

The whole idea of Bi-Amping & Bi-Wiring is a lousy one, if good for manufacturers & dealers as you buy more gear. Others think to use a Preamp from one amp & a Power amp from another, as in from integrated amps, or to add a separate Power Amp to a Preamp that is now too low power is a good idea. No it isn't. A 25w preamp is designed to work well with a 25w amp, to run a 200w modern amp from a 25w amp's preamp will not sound as you think it might. Similarly those using a graphic EQ in a 'Hifi'. You do need Tone in most rooms, but Graphic EQs are nowhere the quality of a Tone Stage. A simple but quality Hifi will always beat a complex overdesigned one.

Hifi Fuses £65, want to buy some?

One on ebay now, Rhodium plated, silver fuse wire 13amp. Utter nonsense, it's like putting a pint of bleach in the sea to clean it, it'll have absolutely no effect whatsoever. Also 13A allows for 3kW power like a room heater or kettle. The Fuse Hifi needs is based on the max wattage (VA) capabilities at near-destruction. A 700w amp may be best with a 5A fuse, but a 300w will be fine with a 3A. A 13A fuse will allow the amp to damage severely before failure. Mains cable in houses today is either the age of the property or rewired when code updated in the 1970s from round pin plugs. It's general quality mains cable, not OFC or 8-nines. A one-inch fuse of higher quality is utterly pointless as your amp mains cable will be typical mains quality & only filters in the amp will "improve" the mains. The mains quality we've found is cleanest Saturday evening to early Monday as factories are closed. For the amount of hash on the mains, even BT put TV-Broadband onto the mains circuit as a carrier, only what's inside the amp helps & even then as we've fitted 'all the tricks' into one amp, we can tell Sunday electric is still the cleanest. There are a lot of shysters trying to part you from your cash with useless ideas. We saw one fuse like this advertised as "slightly used", as in they tried it, felt stupid for believing the lies, or maybe it fused straight away, but it's "nearly new". It's like those who buy bottled water, tap water you can put through a filter jug for very little, but people like to believe rubbish they are told & feel better having paid for a product or service.

We want to buy a kit of Hifi upgrade ideas and have you tell us how to do it.

Our upgrade & service work is only done by us on your amplifier. We do not sell ideas, kits of parts, cheap options to do professional work, or even want to answer one who thinks we are willing to help their clueless ways for a price. No easy options, either you try it yourself or pay for it to be done. DIY Car repairs or use a garage. Hang wallpaper or try it yourself. Professionals offering a highly skilled service exist as amateurs thinking they can do a pro job often make a mess. You can learn how to hang wallpaper or do basic car repairs, but to upgrade electronics, mess with mains voltage & keep it reliable for safe use is hardly what any professional would want to guide you through. You'll expect endless help as you'll make a mess. Get real. We did a BTEC on electronics & in reality it teaches you very little practical work. You can be booksmart on formulas, but learning to upgrade hifi is a skill learnt by one who looks at things with a very different view of things to your usual tech. Look around to see how many offer professional upgrade work. The best you'll find usually is TV grade repairs who are scared to even recap as that goes into design territory that they can't solve. So please don't ask for easy options, we won't reply.

Why Do Some Cables Sound Better Than Others?

New section linked at the page top that's on the Turntable-Phono-Cable page. Explains what expensive cable is all about. Do you need it or is your amp good enough to sound great with "cheap" cables? Expensive cables can actually make an upgraded amp SOUND WORSE simply as your amp doesn't sound rough now so the expensive filtered cables are making the sound TOO DULL as we found on the Phono Cables section linked above.

Sound Quality is So Subjective

We've said this often on other pages, you can get tuned to one "sound" & find others not to your taste, but try another amp for a while & then the others that are unaltered since sound very different. One that sounded too harsh was because the amp you were used to was duller sounding, your hearing compensates & "hears" adding EQ, crazy but true, all other variants on that theme can be hearing-compensated. How 'realistic' the vocals sound & how wide the Stereo imaging is varies amid amps too. The amp we've had on the speakers over xmas now sounds very different to the one we used for a while before that we thought wasn't quite as good, but it now appeals more. The precision on playing distorted bass notes is superior for definition on this amp. There is a chance as we'd recapped it's complex power supply it's now working at it's best after use then sitting a while. It's all in the mind? Perhaps not with this one, the precision is noticeable on speakers compared to the previous amp playing the same TV shows as watched just earlier. Just shows how important it is to Live With An Amp for at least a week. 10 minute shop demos are worthless as you can be dazzled by non-neutral sounding hifi & well-chosen audio tracks.

Well just to show how difficult amp comparing it, we'll illustrate it here. Two amps much upgraded, we're not saying which as that causes a mad rush for an amp that you'll only get "raw & aged". Trying the same amps from the day before that wowed with the first amp, this time try the second amp first. As you'd expect, to wonder if it was working right the day before, if it was, as today it's the one that gets the old cliche phrases 'amazing' etc. This one on the same tracks sounds different, the upper bass a bit thicker & treble a teeny bit less crisp. The 'lesser' one from the day before now sounds more neutral giving an extra depth to the music that the other doesn't quite have. How can they sound so different one day to the next? "They" don't, your grasp of audio reality has differed as you used different amps as the first amp you played, got used to it's characteristics & referred to another. In reality, either amp is as good as the other, but compared together, you hear the differences & find what was 'better' before is now less neutral. Try the same thing another day with the other amp played first & the opinion will revert. This is why we grade amp sound no higher than "Excellent" as you can play any amp rated this way & be happy with it. Those grading stars-out-of-five are probably not comparing the way we do. There is no perfect amp, but there are amps "perfect" for you until you hear other ones. To be happy with amp for 10 years & only hearing other amps do you hear what you're not hearing with yours.

In Hifi Reviewing You Need References.

In the above 2-parter we used another amp with valves as a reference. The Pt.1 winner didn't make the reference amp sound so good, it needed a notch more treble but was then a bit unbalanced. The Pt.2 winner is closer to this amp if the upper bass is more like the Pt.1 one & half a notch of treble matches it. So to play the same tracks on the valve amp to be used to how it makes them sound without the treble gain. Hearing adjusts to that after a short while. The valve amp is clearly more neutral as one track reveals fine detail if without a slight edge transistor amps with wider bandwidth & limiters bring to the treble, a form of 'ringing'. So back the the 2 transistor amps above, the Pt.2 one first. This is a mellower sound than the valves, treble does have that slight edge if it sounds not unlike the valve amp in most ways, if it doesn't have the deeper dynamics of the valve amp. The Pt.1 one doesn't have the open bass of the other two & sounds a little lacking in soundstage depth, it sounds flatter as in hearing 'depth' to even a mono track. See how the reference amp shows the Pt.1 one up, all are wonderful amps, but different. The next amp to try therefore is the Realistic STA-220, after all it pleased on the speakers for several weeks. Use of the Midrange control on speakers is required, if on headphones it's set flat, so why is that? The STA-220 is a loud clean precise amp with some interesting design for the age. Here it sounds as neutral as the valve amp, but we've not done the main caps on this one yet. The reason why the STA-220 needs midrange adjusting is the sound is too loud & precise for smaller rooms so needs taming back, we found this with the valves. Most domestic hifi is tamed similarly & runs out of power with volume midway. Some amps are more PA worthy & just get louder, if cleanly loud. Both the Pt.1 & Pt.2 amps start to run out of power, the STA-220 & valves just get louder.

So how does the Sansui AU-G90X sound compared to these 3 above?

It has the precision of these amps, if it is very matter-of-fact with the sound, 130w of power is really more than you'll ever use. The sound you can reach out & touch if it doesn't have the warmth of the earlier amps. The sort of amp maybe better for speakers as on headphones the 'master volume' is a bit higher, gives huge dynamics, but a little more than reality. It is a sound you can get used to & find other amps lacking the huge dynamics, but the dynamics here are better suited to PA or Studio monitoring. It sounded a bit alien on first play on typing this, now after 15 mins, your hearing learns it's character & it then sounds right. We have found the precision & neutrality of the 90X sometimes sounds harsh, cold, lacking in upper treble, a bit grainy, cardboardy & too tight on the bass. But this is as other amps are lacking in some way, if maybe playing in a more musical way. The cry of "it sounds too clinical" could be thrown at the 90X but an amp like this needs big speakers, if you use it with 6" speakers it'll certainly sound 'clinical' as small speakers have no bass unlike bigger ones. The ear naturally EQs dull sound to sound brighter & with this mind-EQ you play the 90X & it sounds awful. Now we're used to it's sound, to try the other ones again. The Pt.2 one has the wallowy bass the 90X doesn't if the sound is clean, it's not as upfront which can be made to sound more like the 90X with volume up & bass down. The Pt.1 one again sounds just a little flatter in dynamics. Strangely overall all not so different beyond that if the power is limited as designed. Shows the calibre of the amps were comparing. The STA-220 compares well too, if all 3 are a slightly easier listen as more neutral being not so upfront. The Pt.1 & Pt.2 ones we'd still likely sell, if the STA-220 is the one that goes back on the speakers & it is the 'unknown' one with no circuit diagrams found yet.

Who Repairs Tuners these days?

The above was asking about fixing the Tuner. Tuners are a bit of a pain, if they work you can align them easy enough, but if they are silent & basic fault finding can't tell anything, then sadly it'll never work. Having recapped the Sony STR6120 & Trio WX400U tuners, we've learnt the basics of the tuner, but once they are silent, where do you begin without test gear? We asked one older guy about fixing a working tuner that didn't go Stereo, we were quoted 'anything up to £900'. As with our upgrades, it's the hours work to do, if hardly worth the spend here. He has the alignment gear & Tuner knowledge, but as Digital takes over, an analog tuner is becoming redundant as some countries are turning Analog signals off, as TV has been.

Do You Use An Analog Tuner Anymore?

Those who buy our amps tell us they rarely use the Tuner, so the Tuner not working isn't so important. The Aux input is the main use for CD, computer & TV as well as Phono stages for Records are still used by many. We like records, this is a Record Sales site after all. Tuners aka Analog Radio is probably more an in-car thing as well as DAB & internet radio being today's versions, most use it for background music. Radio is still listened to, in 'Eastenders' they use DAB radios that has more stations than FM, AM/MW today has hardly anything beyond sport chat. In days of the typist's youth a radio was an essential thing, it was your music. The typist was 'tuned in' from the age of 7 to 22 by which time we'd strayed far from commercial pop. Capital Radio 194 was the main station, until one evening aged 11 was heard by mother listening to an adult health program, having forgotten to tune to Radio 1 & they found Radio Luxembourg 208 which was a nice find. Shops played radios, cars blared them out, but today it's very silent, nobody whistles pop songs now as the Top 75 is just teens musical product, to dare to listen to Radio 1 or Capital FM these days is hard work, if Radio 2 we listen to on receivers sometimes, if the music can be tedious at times to get channel changing jitters. Receivers with Tuner stages might not get used much today, if they do add a nice Retro look & Retro may be a narrow market as a recent 'Bargain Hunt' proved with huge losses but it's more interesting than the dull stuff they always show.

We Do Design-Based Upgrades By Ear & Then Test They Are Good.

Some amps need some subtle redesign. By comparing all these amps our benchmark can only get better. See the above, one "The Pt.1 one again sounds just a little flatter in dynamics.". It is very similar to another amp as it's the receiver version, so looking again at the circuits, if for the first time in quite a while, we see something that we have encountered with other amps such as the Sony STR-6120 & more recently the Trio TK-66. Don't like that design, out it goes & once correct it sounds very different. So to compare back to the amp version & the flatter sound is still in that, the circuit is almost identical in the altered part. Where's the fresher sound of the receiver version? The bass sounds restrained, the treble isn't as crisp & the soundstage is noticeably flatter. This is why we need circuit diagrams to understand the circuit & see weaknesses. Now trying the STA-220 again, it is very much in the league but now it sounds a little lacking which if we had a circuit diagram could redesign it a bit, but beyond the tough job of board track staring, it's not easy to work out. Still with the original main caps, the Jam track noted below shows it up a bit now. Took a while to better it though.

What sort of music do we use?

It'll upset the 'experts' to hear we use 1970s & 1980s Reggae recorded from original UK & JA 45s with the weakness of production & solid basslines really showing how good the amp can resolve. Some tracks used to sound muddy & indistinct on lesser amps, the height of resolution on these tracks with some amps really brings the detail out with challenging music. When we had the McIntosh pre-power combo, one muddy Reggae track sounded like no other amp could resolve & for quite a while we searched in vintage amps for that sound again. The first that gave this sound was the modest Consort CA-4000, before that we'd had a bit of a run on Bang & Olufsen gear that really is musically far from the hype it gets. The modest Trio TK-150 at only 13w gave a taste of the sound, if not the power. Now we try more with amps to surpass that McIntosh moment & that same muddy track with a difficult white noise tape hiss background now sounds so much more detailed. The vocal on this track, Ken Boothe 'Let The Water Run Dry' on the Studio 1 repress LP now sounds clear, focussed & precise, the female vocals used to grate harshly on lesser amps, now they have a presence & balance. Another one that gets used as a test track is Joan Jett & The Blackhearts 'Crimson & Clover' for the hard rock guitar riff, it needs weight & focus. To go Reggae to Rock is quite a different sound as it's far more produced. The Jam 'Start' has a very hard hitting dynamic intro so that gets used a lot too.

Largest Monster Receivers of the 1978-80 era.

These hardly sold in the UK if shops did have them to order. For back breaking desk bending the Yamaha CR-3020 at 35kg & 632mm wide, just over 2 ft has to be the biggest one. At 35kg also is the Pioneer SX-1980 is 560mm wide, we saw one once, the owner had it sat on the floor & had the arrogance to use it as a power amp only. It sounded very tired & to assume the preamp had problems. Huge thing. We'd like to see either of these to service & upgrade, but be sure they are as huge a job to get up to spec as they are physically. There are even huger power amps of recent years, but to think there's stupidity in deliberately overdesigning the metal cases to make 50kg+ monoblocs. Similar to those who need huge cars as status symbols & the usual reasons why. We've had some of our 1960s Upgraded amps compared to these 500w monsters & for the fact a home set up doesn't need 500w, those testing our modest 20w amps like Coral & JVC ones all agreed for musicality, the 1960s ones outdid these huge dumb things with ease. With 95dB speakers the 18w-20w of those 1960s ones is actually enough to fill a room, if not to extremes, but loud enough to be able to tell. Yes, a dinky 7kg amp with 20w is more musical than a 50kg 500w monster. In cartoons, Monsters were usually huge furry things Bugs Bunny could easily outwit, named for a reason size & lack of intelligence. The Monster Amp era of 1978-79 is for the huge sales of Disco, Bee Gees & John Travolta films, those big amps to play that seems rather cruel. To create huge receivers with 160w to 340w, the most ridiculous being Marantz with the 300w 2500 but then felt the need to make a 340w 2600, the huge one with the oscilloscope. Likely great fun to use, the apex of 1970s Japanese & USA hifi insanity, but be sure they'll need a huge amount of work to sound right & for the hot bulbs in plastic fascia surrounds issues.

Don't Butcher That Amp.

We had a question about restoring a 1977 150w Pioneer SPEC-4 power amp. These were popular amps with the chunky looks & rack mount features with a good range of other components. But what someone has done to this one is remove the power limiter, the manual says it wisely limits more than 180w into 4 ohms, to stop it getting unstable & damaging. The unknown & risk here is a big problem, the amp has little value as who'd trust it knowing an amateur messed with it, no pro tech would take out a worthwhile part. We read of those ripping out Tone Controls & using the amp flat. Well your amp to do as you wish, but it has no resell value now. What we do in upgrading you can see it's always subtle & in keeping with the originality. Amps must look tidy if rewiring the mains to 3 core & sometimes replacing useless speaker connectors. We saw a nice Yamaha CR-1000 but some fool had badly chopped a hole in the rear panel to put a kettle plug socket in, thinking it actually needed it. No it doesn't.

Awkward Speaker Connectors.

If speaker connectors are useful in some way by using ideas we put on the Sales Page for awkward Speaker connectors, we'll leave them original, but if the buyer wants them altered to look subtle, we can do that. We don't use garish Gold Plated huge metal ones if it can be helped, the Gold wears off & the large metal areas invite shorting too easily. Subtle & Authentic Looking is important. Spring connectors aren't great but to use a 4mm assembly with a wire is adequate as are early Sony connectors that are for 3mm plugs. These are some we've used... Connectors 1 Connectors 2 Connectors 3 Connectors 4 with DIN speaker sockets getting the DIN plug screw block attached to the first one. Some suit some amps better. If you think the bit of thin wire isn't much despite it being 10cm long, then look inside the amp & see often the cable inside is much thinner, no more than hook-up wire. It's fine as it's only short. You could waste time rewiring the inside & realise it made no difference. Keep it as original as possible.

Not Always Quite What It Seems.

Seeing a cheap 13w Trio KA1200B of 4.9kg being described by one ebay seller as having "amazing clarity" to have a look at the circuits. Expecting a cheap ICs design for 1977 , but instead we'd not expect it to have capacitor coupled outputs & you'd expect differentials, not so here. The circuit actually looks like the 1968-69 13w Trio TK-150/KA-2000 & probably is this basic design. So for a 1977 amp with a 1968 design in, oddly the rave review probably is similar to what we thought on first getting the TK-150 that helped start our hifi obsession you read of. Why bother redesigning a lower power amp when good sales of the 8-9 old design show it's a good one.

Experience Shows in Hifi Opinions.

The Realistic STA-220 we got & the seller wasn't too sure about it, so after servicing we said it worked ok, has a few issues & sounds a bit tired. They thought it sounded great & in relation to a cheap modern amp it probably will do for the livelier sound, but here we judge all based on upgraded-recapped amps & after some upgrading the amp sounded of high quality, if in reality it's now better than it was when new for higher spec. This shows that those getting vintage amps just plug them in & use them, no checking, no servicing, no nothing. They'd do the same with cars if MOTs weren't there to keep them up to standard on main issues. Out there in Vintage amp land, probably 90% of pre 1990 amps are used "as-is", probably way short of how they were when new, but reading other sites, people learn to live with things rather than be bothered do anything until they pack in. The world of good sound they are missing.

Are They Right?

One seller put on a modern Luxman valve hybrid amp... "If you're reading this and wondering, don't hang around - they're rare as anything and if you miss it you'll think about it for ages..." if you know of something you'd like & you miss it by hesitating then 'yes'. If it's only a consideration with others then 'no'. To see something you're not sure of as it's not described well, the seller even when asked won't photo the problem, then stay away. To check the seller's feedback & see the buyer left a good comment may get you mumbling, but don't forget... that...

Their ideas of 'acceptable' may wildly differ from yours

A classic example we know of was the Rogers HG88 Mk III that's on our gallery page from a few years back, well "it" sort of. The one we got it from left good feedback for the seller they got it from, but soon realised it wasn't so good & beyond their knowledge so they put it to sell at half price cl;early unsettled by how poor it was. On seeing it, to think a supposed hifi dealer would sell that as working was a bit of a shock, lots of problems & noises together with bad old repairs. It got a full rebuild & needed a second one bought as a parts amp to do the job properly as bits were missing & found the parts amp better grade to use it as the main amp. Taking the best parts to make one good one & getting enough back parting the other one out paid off. Maybe our standards are just very high, see our sales & solds amps to see if that's so. We do all amps to a standard of 'maybe we'll keep it as a reference amp' so to bring the best out in it.

Hifi Variations amid a model number?

Amps in the earlier years often changed designs, the Leak Delta 75 got a lot of changes as it was a poor thrown-together design, the other Delta 30 & 70 were always the same as good designs. The late 1960s transistor amps varied often amid the same model for tuner technology advances & adding in minor changes with that, the B&O Beomaster 3000 to 3000-2 is only very subtly different. We've found this also with the Yamaha CR-1000 & these changes can alter the sound, see the CR-1000 review for more on that one.

Early 1967-69 Pioneer - Not had one for a while.

Last Pioneer we had was the 1970 SX-990 with 28w, actually the only pre 1972 we've tried on speakers. Did have several 1966-69 ones early on if not revisited them. Need to try the earlier ones again. But the trouble with Pioneer was until the SX 838 range they had those truly awful speaker plugs, as we thought on trying the SX-990 with heavier cables as they have little grip in the sockets even if tightened, so the plugs fall out using 4mm plug-socket block as 'Connectors 1' linked above. Only designed for the thin basic cable like DIN speaker cables use, bell wire grade. To try to fit any sort of better socket is a tricky one, have seen awful messes online, but there's little space to even make a neat board without having to do surgery on the case. So best to keep it original. The plugs are hard to find as long since binned so buying online isn't cheap as the SX-828 gallery pics show it needs 3 sets. Most amps you can use the connectors to a degree if some of the plain screw types are not much good. Pioneer are a problem one. Only when we get one again will we think of better solutions to keep the looks tidy.

Be Careful with Bulk Hifi Sellers/Brokers.

We got an amp here today from customer who got it from a Netherlands bulk seller. All nicely photoed & said to be 'working perfectly' aren't they always, but the signed service sticker on the back that gives it cred appears to be the one from probably early 1980s as the sticker is aged & dot matrix printed, all they did then was badly replace bulbs & manage to lose 7 screws including a big washer. The most insane thing they did was unsolder 2 wires & leave them hanging in mid air, not taped over, just left. It's a Yamaha CR-1000. What problem that hides we found out later, it hid loud hiss on a filter stage so they disconnected it rather than fix. These big sellers are usually brokers who sell gear on commission, have dealt with these before. The trouble is the amp in question is 44 years old & many will just buy it, use it without getting it serviced or checked. The sellers here will hear a complaint, they know it had a "minor issue" but play on the "part refund" game, leaving you with a problem amp & a large repair bill that you didn't want. The amp in question has loud hiss on one channel, the seller said they didn't hear it. If they tested it in a noisy shop odds are they would miss it, not very professional. The reality is, this is a large complex amp, we'll need to fully check it amid the complex servicing to see what else foolish they did years ago. For those who think servicing & upgrade costs are a bit too high for them, with us, you know you're getting a thorough job done as you can see our Gallery pics to see amps we've worked on & sold. Depends if you know how much better Hifi can be from having heard it.

Are You For Real? : India High End Audio

We get one who claims to be a 'high end audio company' in India if their website is 'undeveloped' who has very odd ideas of what restoring a Grundig SV140 should be, hardly more than general audio quality 50w 1969 amp, they want it repainted, rechromed, the wood redone & it fully rebuilt with original capacitors if wanting it new, huh? We refer them to the quality of our rebuilds as the Gallery pages. We add the Dokorder amp back to show one which we actually rebuilt down to the resistors. Then we hear the amp isn't rough, so why refinish it & then they have the cheek to say "don't know if you can". Wary already of odd ideas, an insult tells you it's time to go after 8 emails sent by us. A case of they think they know it all, but haven't a clue about negotiating. To stay away from what could be a nightmare job. You find someone capable, which is pretty rare today, you let them take the lead, send them the amp & as found before. The first Sansui AU-G90X guy was like this.

It was said in the 1960s-early 1970s that Japan made excellent amps

But their sales skills to other countries were very poor, so wisely got UK distributors who could deal with sales & service. Reading through the Hifi mags of the era reveals this. The UK distributors clearly did a great job as the amount of Japanese Hifi in the UK reveals. On ebay you'll have seen the remarkable hard-sell on Chinese valve amps a few years back, the quality doesn't look too good if they rave in a very outdated way with pictures with 100+ words added. India is an unknown in hifi, the fact that their Number One Audio Mart has to say All Products are Brand New & 100% Original tells the problem of faking has made trying to get credibility difficult. The world forever changes, learning how to deal with the Western World clearly needs schooling.

Beware of Circuit Diagram & PCB errors.

You'd think it'd be perfect as someone will have checked, but the truth is there are errors, misnumbered components & the worst is marking capacitor +/- wrongly on the PCB & on the circuit we've seen this. You do a nice job & then are made to look foolish as someone messed up so yours messes up too. It'll cause other issues which then you have to repair after finding. Years back, the service manuals would get an update bulletin telling of errors once others suffered them, but today with sometimes 3rd gen photocopy quality, you are really left to find out the hard way.

Unreliable Antex Soldering Irons Pt 1.

Recently these have "new improved" more flexible rubber cased wire. Much better you think, until it suddenly stops working. It's not the element, it's the cheap cable that's always too short so gets strain. Not copper strands but steel, which breaks far easier in strands as it doesn't have the same amount of bends in it before it fails. Take the plug off & pull on the 3 wires you connected in the plug. Odds are 2 will pull away very easily. For the moving around a soldering iron gets, to use steel cable is hopeless. Rubbish cheap cable to save 2p on copper cable. Update in May section... these versions soon disappeared...

Audio Innovations 1000 passive preamplifier.

And it's been upgraded with some silver wire. Yours for £330 on ebay we see, to wonder what the silver scrap value is... Passive preamp is a switch box with a volume control. Some who think Tone Controls & Mono switches aren't needed will run a 300w+ power amp with one of these. To each their own. However much you think this is a good idea, to us it's one of the Jokes in hifi, but they do sell it appears. All cables inside it are not shielded cable & some are tightly twisted together. This will give a filtering effect for the electrical characteristics of that & as with expensive cables, some will swear it "improves the sound" as it tames whatever else they are using. XLR inputs & the awful stepped attenuator idea that limits precise volume control use. Do you really need any of this? No, says we, but there are those Hifi Mag readers who believe the hype they are told & probably rarely play music to listen to.

Your CD player doesn't last forever?

Message about a Roksan ROK 1 CD Transport, hardly what we do work on, but it won't play CDs. One of those expensive Hifi Mag raved items from the early 1990s, 24 years use is pretty good compared to household items. But 1990s CD players are so outdated for the technology, by the mid 1990s a separated DAC was the 'thing to buy' so the use the ROK 1 with that. They contacted Roksan who said 'it can't be fixed' as likely the control ICs are damaged, so we are asked if we can fix it. Clearly not read a word here then. It's just a disposable bit of audio gear however much you paid, if someone may want it for spares. Couldn't care for CDs beyond using them to record vinyl on to & a DVD-CD burner-copier on the computer is all we used for. For the huge advances in computer tech a CD is just a data disc, any differences in sound are in circuitry after the DAC inside. For the fact a decent plug in Sound Card will better any CD player gives the idea 'why bother' with a CD player if you're happy listening to non-vinyl sourced music.

The Goldring Elektra cartridge

This does show it's weakness playing loud cut vintage 45s that are cut Mono. In the ideal world, a Phono stage should have Mono switching right on the input before it's amplified, but none do, unless you do this yourself. This tightens the focus greatly. But play a Mono 45 with the Mono switch set to Stereo, it can be a nasty screetchy mess & the Elektra does suffer with this, on louder higher frequencies the Elektra isn't too sophisticated & can give a metally sounding imprecise sound set to Mono. We'd not using for archiving vinyl, but for general play it suits. Would you even notice that? The sound of YouTube videos is generally pretty awful if they copied the vinyl. Some don't even Mono it, others are lacking bass or are dull sounding. Those who record the sound in the room with a camera instead of using hifi are unlistenable, if as always, some will be happy with the most unnatural racket as they know no better. Older videos are heavily compressed & misguided noise reduction using poor monitoring gear loses the life, much like CDs which is why we don't play music from CD, only from Vinyl we recorded onto CD since 1998 with the first CD recorders. (this also on the turntables page).

Hi-Fi sadly goes Modern in 1970.

From reading Hi-Fi News magazine, reading the 1970 year currently. it starts to get far more aggressive, which means far more cheap crap as you'd expect. HFN mag adds 'Record Review' mag to make a larger magazine & already the huge 50+ pages of ads are not quite what you'd hope. HFN clearly dumbs down from it's earlier idea of only covering Genuine Hifi Items, it clearly is just after ad revenue. Pages of adverts from Discount stores with cheap junk that's long since been binned, stupid adverts with unprofessional selling ways, still misleading 80 watt power that is either 40w+40w RMS or 80w music power meaning 15w+15w RMS. Sugden with their silly hype about Class A being superior & still cheap 10w amps with oversized lettering letting you know they are cheap, one 10w amp is just £14.50 new. Few shops list the quality amps we like, you probably still had to go into London to buy Sony, most shops still just sold the UK amps & some budget ones. a few with Lux aka Luxman. How consumers bought Hifi is probably like today, just buy it as it's there or some slick salesman flogs you the gear the shop wants rid of. 1970 in Hifi is not very encouraging & for the Discounters, the amount of cheap gear is at a high. Then quality is lessened as huge discounts are bad, as today with food when cheap is all most care about. Having read some later mags, it generally gets worse until a resurgence in quality by about 1976, but then the Hifi mags & their pointless reviews about specs & ignoring sound quality do revive things, a few brands continue with quality but most do sell out 1970-76 is the truth of it.

Shall we use LED bulbs?

The trouble with the tiny incandescent 5mm ones is they don't last very long, the amp we use for records now needs a second bulb in 3 years. These 5mm bulbs match LEDs size so to try some, the prewired ones best save messing making them, 10 for £8 delivered, then foiund out the seller buys them on Amazon to make £2.50 profit & gets Amazon to deliver, hmm. Yamaha use these bulbs for meter lighting if an LED is only a 25 degree angle light. But for face-on lighting, a case of "why not try?". But for amps that use the fuse-type 30mm bulbs or bayonet, these last much longer so to source original bulbs is still worthwhile. How the white LEDs will look in our amp is to be found out, but we're tired of changing the tiny bulbs. We'll see how they fit in a Yamaha for meter lighting too, if the reality is the yellow light as white will need adjusting to not look too bright. Hot bulbs are a problem in plastic surrounds as they age the plastic badly as 1978-80 Marantz are notorious for crumbling plastic. We already fitted green LEDs in the Sansui AU-G90X as it still used the tiny bulbs & was aging the plastic, it can work fine for straight-on lighting if the LEDs take a bit longer to go out on turn-off. These needed adjusting to be the same brightness as before, what some fitting LEDs to amps don't understand so a sun-bright LED on an amp front looks lousy.

Hifi News & Record Review 1970.

The magazines combine in Oct 1970. We've found reading through all since 1956, just missing a tiny few earliest ones, that HFN itself is actually more interesting in the pre-transistor era as it's the pioneering Hifi years. By 1967-69 we found the magazine less interesting for the waffle & endlessly repeated ads. The music reviews were embarrassed by anything Pop or Jazz even, if a few token Sgt. Pepper & Simon & Garfunkel LPs got awkward reviews. By Oct 1970 Record Review is failing so to combine the two into a much bigger magazine. A magazine full of stuff that has little interest. Music Reviews in Oct 1970 were endless pages of Classical & MOR, with just one Bonzo's Hits LP reviewed. By Nov 1970 they add a 'current pop' section with Fred Dellar who clearly doesn't like the music as his phony pointless reviews show. RR rates by numbers, many records get a high 45/50 rating showing little interest in the music, if the LP by 1970 was usually very different to Singles & hardly the sort of music we'd play. The Hifi section had a long boring article about record warps & pages of maths equations in justifying random things, who cares? Records reviewed are mainly Classical with pages of stuff we just bypass about Radio & even News & Audio Fair reviews tell little. 45,000 buyers of HFN/RR it says in the mag, be sure most bought to see adverts & deals on items plus a hope of reading a good Hifi review which they didn't get. Be sure the adverts were the main appeal as what other magazines were there until What Hifi began from a few earlier failed mags. If you want Rock, Pop, Jazz etc reviews you bought the Music Papers, not stuffy old HFN/RR. But the ads were mainly for cheap budget junk, some of the better brands were rarely in these shop adverts & Sony is rarely featured until Nov 1970 when 3 shops have ads. Most stuff advertised is just the sort of cheap 10w if you were lucky record players with useless speakers, just to upgrade from the radiogram with. We really thought the mag past the valve era would have been more interesting... For the 45,000 copies sold the mag is hard to find full years of as most were thrown away. The usual amount of items reviewed were just three & these describe features like an ad brochure & do tech tests, no subjective opinion. We'll keep reading as the 1956-80 era is what we cover & it shows how things changed. 1970 was a year of cheap junk stereos sold at cut prices & the bigger shops were feeling the pinch as buyers could at least be free of their high prices & snobby service as the letters make clear.

Other People's Thoughtless Hifi Modifications.

We do like to look & see what others do on amps they sell. It does show how awkward speaker connectors are the main issue with what people change. See our suggestions to still use the old connectors earlier in this month's blog. Now as you'd expect this is where amateurs go & butcher amps. A Yamaha CR-200E is an entry level basic one of about 16w from c.1975. Still an attractive & worthwhile amp so treat it with respect. It has spring connectors with small wire holes, for use on 16w you can use 2mm 'bell wire' cable & still use it fine, but today's idea is 3mm+ cables with 4mm banana plugs, previously called 'wander plugs'. Make a short cable with a 4mm socket it on, 3" of thinner wire is as what's inside the amp. But what the Butcher here did is hopeless: they fit large metal cased Gold 4mm sockets, the + and - are about 2mm apart which is just asking for you to drop something carelessly & short the amp to damage it. Put headphones on the top, cable dangles behind & shorts etc. If you must fit 4mm sockets as we've had to do, use the more basic ones with red-black plastic cases to stop shorting & still look retro, those cheap Gold 'plated' ones are just a light dip of Gold that wears off. But with that Yamaha, keep the original fittings & improvise. They fitted a 13A heavy mains cable, amps under 100w are fine with the 5A cable we use when rewiring. As we see it, a butchered amp like this isn't worth having, just for the poor idea of the Gold speaker posts.

Buying Tired Old Valve Amps.

We see lots of Rogers Cadet III & a few HG88 MK III around. These are always still with the original 50+ year old capacitors. These may work as such, but those high voltage capacitors are now totally dried out & to use the amp regularly is heading for problems. The trouble is these are two or three capacitors in one can & replacing them properly is why few will dare tackle them & one repair shop refuses to replace them 'as they still work'. You can see a HG88 Mk III on our Gallery page & we recapped it fully, the pics don't tell too much as we did it neatly. The Cadet III is a fairly crappy entry-level valve amp on using a very aged one, the 2-part one being more problematic. We just see these old valve amps & knowing the ones we've rebuilt, the amount of work in them is extreme as they need redesign. But on a more basic level, you can upgrade with like-for-like to copy the original design & hear it sounding fresher, but even then you'll find it sounds very lacking in what you hoped it'd be like & this explains why Rogers valve amps are commonly for sale, buyers buy, try & say goodbye as it's not quite what they expected. For the money spent, a transistor amp realistically will give you more for your money, but Valves rebuilt properly & at a high cost for the work will sound great. Valves you can't go into thinking of getting in cheap is the reality.

Hifi News Magazine Jumps The Shark Dec 1970.

We've found the 1970 HFN a bit poor to put it mildly. Acres of clearly general quality audio gear all with false 'music power' ratings which are added together for L+R so your "200 watt" Sansui Eight is still a decent 50w RMS per channel, but some "80 watt" ones are 15w-20w & clearly are deceptive, if the laws were soon to change. The proliferation of non-hifi cheap 'stereos', one piece table top units with pathetic speakers rubbishes the ideals of early HFN. Thankfully most of this stuff got binned decades ago, but it shows how far away from Hifi the HFN mag is. Their editorial realises this saying the UK budget brands that all shops have will soon be gone, brands like Armstrong, Dulci, Teleton, Sinclair, Tripletone & Metrosound are now considered junk, if Leak & Rogers are still popular, they soon sold up. The shark-jump was a full page Grundig ad in a supposed Hifi Mag offering... a Mandello Radiogram, no specs or power ratings if they are proud of it's polyester fake wood finish. Probably 5w, we had use of one of these years ago, it was rubbish in every way, if it played sound, it didn't last long before it packed up & was very easy to smash up to bin it. All the years of HFN trying to better the public's perception of Hifi & they allow crap like that to get advertised, all about the money. The editor realises this by having to add RR mag into this 2 months earlier & worried about more junk stereos appearing they sadly say.. "it would be a pity if the great new music loving public found in the end that it had merely rehoused its modest stereogram in three hard-board backed boxes". Sadly in hifi & any prestige thing, Pearls Before Swine is the idea, most were happy buying Hillman Imp cars instead of Jaguars because it's all they can afford. In those days adding 'go faster' stripes was considered cool, all laughable, but the reality is you can outprice yourself in your marketplace, a thing we are careful to be aware of in pricing our upgraded amps. Hifi came of age in 1970 but it disappointed it's elders.

Sony & Akai in 1970.

Sony & Akai were barely featured in HFN from 1965-70 until the last few months. These were very high quality brands, just look at the early brochures by both brands. By 1970 they start to get advertised more, but even by 1970 Sony make very basic 10w Sony TA-1010 as they see this cheap market is where more sales are made & this amp is often seen for sale way overpriced for 10w. By 1972 Sony ditch the high quality amps & start making more midprice-budget gear as this is where the money is. Discount stores lap up what was once a quality brand & like Pioneer, cost cutting hits more over the coming years.

Early Important Brand Names: Now Something Very Different

Don't Trust the old names on newer gear. This was said in the HFN with one 1970 editorial. As with today, the brand names are owned by others so as with Cadbury's now sold to Kraft who ditch the quality chocolate for tasteless muck, the brand name means nothing, they still sell enough to unawares. Here HFN was complaining about HMV, Marconi & Decca who in the valve days were of high quality, but by 1967 some of these brands were on cheap BRC (British Radio Corporation) radiograms, those buying the brand name hoping for quality of old were left disappointed. Today with big faceless Corporations buying all the trusted brand names, you are often buying a very different item. 'Kit Kat' in the 1970s-80s had "Rowntree's" embossed in the chocolate until Nestlé bought them out, so still a good product. 'Ready Brek' essential fuel for cold days & it was supposed to make you glow radioactive red, but never did, was owned by Lyons but now by Weetabix. The quality of Weetabix was very variable at one time, we complained about this & the quality is more standard now only if you buy 12 packets, the 24 ones are cheaply made with no taste. But Ready Brek still has hard bits & lots of black oat bits in that isn't so great despite their hype & Weetabix still suffers with a hard mass of dust compressed into a lump that you can find amid, inedible. Mass market Corporations are only interested in 'good enough' & those 1967 HMV grams were the start of this selling junk under trusted names. Panasonic as we say elsewhere on the site were hot in the late 1990s but soon it was found their DVD players were cynically designed to overheat & fail within 2 years as internet pages told, so again the greed in cheating buyers once they've trusted you means Panasonic aren't much these days. Big brands can be great on some items, but poor on others, eg Bosch washing machine great, Bosch fridge packed up long ago. Hotpoint washing machine a nightmare, Hotpoint fridge great.

March 2017 Blog.

Running In New Hifi or New Capacitors?

You can imagine we've recapped many amps & generally after recapping the amp initially sounds lousy but after 20 minutes playing more dynamic music the change is obvious in that amount of time. Bass is the main lacking on first try & Treble can sound a bit strange, but 20 mins brings the sound out, this is why Reggae is good music to use for the Bass. Others say run it in for days-weeks but based on what? You have to run a new clutch or brakes in on a car as it takes time for surfaces to compliment eachother to get maximum contact, but in Hifi it's just getting the capacitors used to the working voltages & how they'll be used in a circuit. A Phono stage working on lower audio levels will take longer, but using Aux the circuits see higher audio levels. We recapped the Realistic STA220 on the output capacitors that pre 1971 amps often have & the sound was lousy until 20 minutes later, so knowing that from other amps to just play it for 20 mins & hear the better sound. An old idea that you must run in amps we've proved isn't really necessary.

Running in Old Hifi With Old Capacitors.

The idea you can 'reform' a 40 year old capacitor is a cost-cutting idea we've read of. To try this out by running in the amp for hours rarely brought the sound back, it's a false economy. Old amps have been stored for decades in damp or dry places, things age & generally recapping a long-ignored amp is required, or it'll never be very good, as in below original spec.

An Idea Of Avoiding Recapping?

Recapping is a big job, it needs to be done properly & we upgrade doing recapping. But how can you tell if the amp will keep going for years more? Only by using it which may or may not be risky. Some brands age better than others, we've had 1967-69 amps earlier on that were still fine to use. But then others 10 years newer that were obviously bad & even the 1998-2005 general quality capacitors in all gear were notoriously bad. Only by using it until it fails is your way of finding out, not very helpful. But based on all the amps we've recapped, the difference in quality of sound for recapping is the clue. The older it is & the higher the power means the bigger the difference, be it used lightly if regularly or used hard & left sleeping 30 years. A 1969 15w amp will likely stil be fine but a 1969 50w one will have problems or get them soon with more use. any amp pre 1967 or any Valve amp needs checking visually for signs of problems, that's a skill you learn. Before 1971 we'd recommend recapping all but the tuner. Don't rely on PAT testing as it's just a 30 second 'does it go bang' test. By 1977 as with Yamaha, some sections need a recap by design if you can leave others as original, as in you can still use it fairly sure of it being reliable, depending on the quality & some major brands used better caps than others. Past 1980 you can still likely get more years use once serviced. But it's only a general idea. The way we gave an idea to a recent customer on a 1979 amp, making clear it's no guarantee, was to check it when servicing & run it in for 4 hours & check again.

Outdated Speaker Positioning Ideas To Ignore.

This is another tired old idea based on aged ideas from when Stereo was first available to the public by 1958-60. You see the old hifi mags & the 'Hugh Brittain' technique to us is awful, to toe the speakers in to the virtual line axis meets at a "sweet spot" in a seated position seems so wrong. So much for Stereo, the sounds converge & then past the "sweet spot" they'll have crossed axis so the balance is wrong. You'll get phasing errors. Toeing-In was always the idea even in 1990s hifi mags & be sure it's still quoted today. To us, ignore that. Have the speaker, in our case 15" driver ones, firing straight down the room. Stereo will spread out naturally the further you move away from a speaker & you will get wall & ceiling reflections & floor ones too if you don't have carpet. Speakers bounce the sound enough around the room as it is, so to add by toeing in as much as 45° seems pointless.

But today's idea of a speaker is a bar you put under the TV

This also with Subwoofers is even worse, thin compressed treble & thin upper midrange & then wrongly adjusted boomy bass with no 'male voice' lower midrange is one we said years ago in a Hifi shop "Where's the midrange" says us knowing our 15" speakers & the know-all salesman had no answer beyond saying others wanted more bass. A younger guy demoed an AV set up as they had it on, so to hear what people are buying & the sub was set way too loud & boomy, on being told how awful it sounded they didn't really understand. Audio on TV where people are talking should sound realistic like when people are in the room talking, if very few amps deliver that sound. Not many people know what good sound actually is anymore, the Hifi Peak Years were 1977-79. Can you listen to your nasty TV speaker bar & lumpy Sub for more than 2 hours? No, because it's unrealistic sound will give you a headache. It is far easier to sell flashy crap than real quality in anything. Look how many listen to those i-pod earphones & phone speakers, they don't know sound can be better. Your challenge is to educate your kids to what great sound can be like, assuming you know what it is.

Johnny Staccato TV series from 1959 is the earliest one to feature Hifi

& Records in, he was a crime busting Jazz lover & the series, now on DVD, is one of the best vintage ever, together with the 1960s & 1980s Twilight Zone & 1960s Star Trek. It features Johnny playing Records on the sophisticated hifi-amps of the era, barely any of it British made, but as a 1960 Fawcett Hi-Fi Guide USA book shows, the range in the USA was way ahead of the UK & this is where Japan started by seeing the USA gear & making their own. The Fawcett book shows UK Garrard autochanger record players & UK Leak amp & preamp, but no other non-USA brands. Amplifiers & Receivers by Lafayette, Dynakit, Jensen, HH Scott, Heathkit, Sherwood, Shure, Knight-Kit, Harman-Kardon, Eico, Fisher, Marantz, Stromberg-Carlson, Paco, McIntosh, Grommes, Bell Sound, Ampex, Bogen, QualKit, RCA. Leak from the UK also. Shows pictures of Hudson Radio in New York City which is very well stocked. UK was never this sophisticated, if New York high-speed life since the 1920s-30s has influenced worldwide progress.

Risks buying NOS Old Power Transistors.

Some amps need obsolete transistors that can still be found NOS, New Old Stock, but for the age of these being 1960s-70s these have been sitting around as unwanted stock for decades. You can still buy some 1920s-1940s Valves for old radios as NOS & these will take decades to run out as the use of them is limited. But transistors we've had arrive slightly electrically damaged, the readings are wrong & this if used will work but it'll give big problems. They could have been stored loose in a box, blackened, dirty, crusty & bent pins give this away & a shock of static electricity can damage a transistor. They may deliver them in antistatic bags but they've been in that box 40 years. So to save problems, to check them before use & get free replacements. The sellers know from selling others that NOS can be unreliable so not hard to get a replacement, if to test it again. They probably paid 25p each for £8-£15 transistors so to replace not check saves time as is the way today. Of course, you trust NOS but then they get a rougher batch & then only when you get circuit problems is the truth found. Fault finding skills.

What Did They Buy In 1971?

Onto 1971 brings a batch of HFN marked 'Dept Communications' & the reader marked off what they wanted to buy. Are they picking out obscure gems? Of course not, on the F.Cave of Surrey ad, a long-running company, they pick the Garrard SP 25 Mk II at £10.95 even though the Mk III is at £12. Clunky Rumbly thing, only the rarer Mk IV is any good really. Then at Trans-Headlines Ltd they want the Shure M44E at £9.25 & the plinth-cover for the Garrard at £4.50. They add on the back they want Celestion Ditton 15 for £23, if appear to have a 15w amp already. Budget gear they'll have tired of fast & not used much or bought better a year or so later & put those in the loft.

In 1971 only a few bigger companies did Mail Order

worldwide, if using the Post Office. Only Comet offered Securicor who were the nearest to a modern Courier. The USA names like DHL & UPS were too expensive direct & still are & Comet must have got a good deal with Securicor who were more for Cash & Banks. Only with the Internet & Courier Brokers like Interparcel who started in 2004 did the big discounts by Couriers start & Parcelforce were very slow to get into this, only since about 2014 did they turn up on Interparcel & offer collection, as they had to offer it to compete. UPS & Parcelforce are the best UK Couriers currently.

Omnidirectional Speakers

These to us are a bad idea, the 1971 Sonab adverts idea was to fill the room with sound. But you'll get hardly any Stereo image from blurred & randomly reflected sound, the HFN editorial makes comment on this based on a letter a previous month. Omni speakers will hide weaknesses by blurring them into a "wodge of sound" as HFN puts it, hiding how flat & lifeless cheap gear sounds. We tried speakers on an open baffle as was the idea some stated, again the open back gives the omni sound but no bass as it cancels out. HFN in the 1970s will reveal plenty more silly ideas that briefly are popular, Quadraphonic sound being the biggest waste of time, that starts arriving already in 1970.

Do you need Filters On Amplifiers.

British amps like Quad revelled in filters. To tame poor recordings was the reason why. To tame poor Hifi design is more the truth. With 78rpm records the shellac noise does need filtering some may claim, but 78s we recorded to digital in 1998 before getting rid of them we just recorded properly with correct Stylus sizes & the correct EQ which isn't RIAA as everyone wrongly plays 78s with, the noise levels except on worn ones is still acceptable to us when recorded properly. Reading HFN since the 1956 issues, as in recently, not since new, Filters were used to cover up poor cartridges, rumbly turntables & poor amplifiers. "A Filter Is Essential" was the idea, "that LP sounds edgy on the strings they'd say". We've never used filters on Amps, the extra circuitry we know in some designs spoils the sound.

The first Cartridge we ever used

was the Goldring G800 & still have one here. In the 1980s this was decent enough on the family Philco-Ford M1550 amp we reviewed, if finding the amp recently the preamp was a disaster. Trying the G800 on getting the one here it sounded very poor compared to the Goldring Elektra, the treble & upper midrange was messy. We've not used it in a while so now with our valve phono stage we'll put the G800 on a different headshell & try it on the Technics SL-1500. *Review continues below...

Worst Ever Record Reviews are the Hifi News/Record Review ones.

Ignorant insulting Rock, Pop & Soul reviews by those who think Frank Sinatra is the best singer, a lazy artist to us who applied his narrow Rock-Hating formula to endless dull by-numbers ballads with only a few worthy of our playing. The March 1971 one shows this well, to call the Impressions a "Negro Protest Group" deserves a 'dry slap', clearly unaware of their wonderful 1958-67 era, they criticise Edwin Starr badly & rate low, a 1950s R&B Doowop compilation of classic tracks, if in fake stereo, is insulted with the lowest rating & perhaps the deepest insult is to low rate the Johnny Burnette Trio LP & a 1954-55 era Bill Haley LP similarly. If you don't like or understand the music, leave it alone, don't reveal your narrow-minded ignorance. But sadly HFN/RR don't learn, these self-defined "superior" types never do as the world forever proves, not many have played both sides of that 'fence' to understand. As we put on another page their 1980s reviews were just as insulting & worthless. But they just simply love any 200 year old Classical cover versions, pages of the boring stuff & insipid MOR pop. CBS issue a range of "Greatest Hits" Classical composers LPs, dumbing down to the bits you'd know from TV & Film, but they applaud that. So to avoid their ignorant narrow opinions, another section of this increasingly tedious mag to avoid.

Goldring G800 Cartridge review.

This is on the Turntables page too... This was first released in 1968 as the Goldring 800, later called the G800 & variants with different stylus profiles G800E etc. So trying it on the Technics SL-1500 after usiing the Goldring Elektra on a different headshell. There is a difference in focus between the modern Technics headshell & the original one, so to bear that in mind. In weight it's heavier in itself than the Elektra & needs the counterweight rolled back, oddly to the expected place to use the weight, not right up to the pivots block. We've got a new elliptical stylus in, the generic replacement one. It'll take a few known & recently played 1960s Mono 45s to get used to the sound, but it's actually pretty good. It's a little different handing a heavier cartridge in cueing up a record. Last time we tried the same cartridge was about 5 years ago & it seemed a bit rough. The sound on our self-designed valve phono is enjoyable. The overall sound balance is a little more bassy & the treble is more extended. Playing a Mono 45 to switch out the Mono switch gives a nasty mess with the Elektra & we are tiring of how it mashes the treble unnaturally. The output seems a little lower on the midrange so the volume needs turning up slightly which brings up the background noise of the amp a bit. The opinion so far is the G800 betters the Elektra quite obviously. G800 stylus £14, Elektra stylus £35. So to put the G800 in the newer Technics headshell, sound tightens. After a few more known Mono 45s, the G800 is easily the better, smooth midrange, fuller bass if not boomy, cleaner treble & the important play Mono 45 in Stereo is more like the Roksan Corus which is based on a Goldring 1012. The output is better on the newer headshell too for reasons obscure. One known 45 on 1966 Island that sounds 'rough' with bad 'rip' sounds, one track actually sounds right, oddly we've had that 45 for ages & only ever recorded the Jamaican copy as the UK sounded rough, is this the conical stylus or the cartridge?. The G800 sounds cleaner on several other 45s, the heavier build has to keep the sound tighter than the lighter Elektra & the weightier cartridge stays in the groove better, as a better match to the SL-1500. The white stylus is a Conical Stylus that appears to suit 1960s 45s well. To get a G800 on ebay for £20 & fit a £14 cartridge for sound this good is one of the best Hifi Bargains. But this is our opinion using our high-def valve Phono stage & it didn't sound so great using transistor phono stages. As it's 1968 it is likely it was designed with valves in testing, further playing reveals it is very decent, if not Roksan Corus quality, actually not so far off it. We're not putting the Goldring Elektra back on the Technics SL-1500, the G800, for us, is vastly superior. How strange we are still using the same cartridge we first used with a Garrard SP25 Mk III & the Philco-Ford M1550 amp when a pre-teen first playing records. Catches you up.

Conical vs Elliptical Stylus.

We play 1950s-60s singles a lot as the website name suggests. The Goldring G800 reviewed above we've played lots of known 45s on since & the conical stylus is a very different, we'll get an elliptical one to be sure. The sound is more intimate even when using the Roksan Corus on known 45s. The Conical stylus profile doesn't get as deep into the grooves is the typical reason why elliptical or bi-radial stylus is preferred. The standard G800 is 5 thou & an Elliptical is 7 thou x 3 thou. There is a possibility we're playing slightly deeper into the groove to find better condition grooves, but we've played Mint ones that were unplayed in the 60s. The treble isn't softer at all, it's all better focussed, if that could be the G800 cartridge. Ours has to be the Conical as at 1.5g it doesn't track quite so good, but 2g is right. A 78 stylus exists for the G800 & we used the G800 before getting the Roksan Corus. But we remember it costing £14 & G800E stylus is £16.50 now. The only way is to buy a 800E one & see if they are different, the one on it was unused. To be continued...

Been playing a lot of 1960s 45s on the Goldring G800 & oddly it has a retro appeal with tracks we've played since the 1980s on our Hacker GAR500 or 550 & the G800 with the conical stylus was the preferred cartridge. Remembering " it used to sound like that" instead of the thinner elliptical stylus sound, is it the G800 or the conical stylus? To be continued... It certainly makes 60s vinyl that can be as rough as sandpaper on the Elektra sound focussed. To get the idea that Mono vinyl was quality tested with a conical stylus. One rough 1965 UK London 45 by 'The Twilights' sounds awful on everything including a 1.1 thou Mono elliptical stylus on the Roksan Corus that still leaves a bit of a buzzy sound, playing the recording we done years ago. Here the G800 plays it better without any cringy face expressions, if the record is very roughly mastered, the G800 brings a crisper sound that would have got through an uncritical quality control. The Elliptical Stylus appears to have been introduced by Shure in 1964 with the V-15 if unlikely many UK buyers bought Elliptical Styli until the 1970s. So those very loud cut Decca 45s do sound best with a Conical Stylus. The G800 catridge has been sat on the SL-1500 for years, but tiring of the Elektra recently, remembered it was there & to try it. On one 1965 UK Columbia record a midrange distortion that we've not heard on playing that before suggests conical may not be the ideal. On another very loud cut UK 1966 Ember 45 to hear it not quite get the full sound out as it goes a bit dull. On a UK 1966 Reprise 45 is brings a clean focus to it. A UK 1960 MGM that 'rips' badly on the Elektra, the sound here doesn't rip if it sounds a little flattened. USA 1950s singles sound cleaner with the conical stylus.

The G800E stylus arrives as as we put on the Turntables page for Specs, the E version is in grey plastic, so the white one was conical, care needed on buying these therefore. The G800E we got from StylusStore on ebay. So to try the few 'very different sounding' 45s with the elliptical set at 1.75g play weight. The roughest one is The Twilights one & the G800E plays it cleaner than the conical. The 1960 MGM is crisper, it's rough but doesn't 'rip' like the Elektra did. The 1966 Island mentioned earlier is rough on on early section, but the G800 & G800E play it better than the Elektra, the 800E have a more detailed sound. The 1966 Ember on the Elliptical sounds crisper on the section the Conical dulled. The 1965 Columbia on the E loses the mysterious distortion. The 1966 Reprise is fresher still with the E. Verdict: The Goldring G800 with the grey Elliptical stylus still sounds great. In comparing to the Elektra which is ragged on the upper midrange & treble as well as being louder as the midrange is louder compared to the bass, the G800E is still much more refined.

More Goldring G800E opinions.

We've played lots more 1950s & 1960s 45s as you'll see in our Records Stock. The idea even after using the Roksan Corus & having to fuss with Stereo or Mono stylus sizes, is that the 1968 G800E was designed to play singles of the era that were mastered roughly so it was tuned to tame the roughness which it does better than the Roksan & the price of that before it was discontinued edged over £200 last time we looked. The G800E is findable currently for about £40 with a new stylus. For vintage vinyl it's a must. Playing records we've known since the 1980s to hear it "sounding like it used to" is a strange one, reveals the Roksan is for LPs of a later era. We used it as a pre teen & also on the Hacker record players so played a G800, never being aware of the "E" version until the Hifi shops & Mags recommended the Roksan, which was useful, based on the Goldring 10 series & easy to get multiple stylus sizes made. We've had several G800s over the years, take the top lid off you'll see a solid metal cased 4 fixed coils of wire that the stylus end sits, see Wkipedia about 'Magnetic Cartridge" for more. This is a solid item & resonances are going to be low as the thing is solidly made, as is the idea of anything turntable. Not ripped an Elektra apart before but it's not as well made, a metal case isn't encased in plastic & the size of the inside coils will be a smaller size. Can't read inductance on the meter if the Elektra has nearly double the coil resistance 815 ohms to 470 ohms. This suggests the G800E is a simpler better design & as we find in amps, later overdesign limits things. The Roksan is 720 ohms. Construction plays a large part in the sound by those readings. Another difference is the stylus profile suits certain UK 1960s singles better, the Roksan & Elektra don't play them so well as the tip is more sharp so it can ride the groove bottom leaving a muffly sound. This faulty or incompatible groove is heard on some 1963 & 1967 Decca pressed 45 & a few 1966 Pye.

Hifi Shop Comparators & Demos are Unreliable.

These were the "in thing" in the early 1960s if interest in them waned. What they were was an elaborate switching unit to compare 6 turntables, 8 amps & 10 speakers as an example. Early ones used valves as buffer stages & the wiring loom was miles of cable as one early HFN showed. But all that wiring will have introduced more problems. May 1971 HFN tells of why you should avoid buying via them, as the shysters were now misusing them to sell rubbish speakers of which most were & still are. Play the cheap high-profit ones loud & you'll not be bothered with 'noises' as the speaker may not even have a tweeter & no rumble bass problems as the speaker rolls off below 100Hz. Play the name brand ones with full range sound quieter so they don't sound so impressive in the demo as the 'noises' that are found with cheap sources & amps becomes more obvious. Mr. Amateur buyer is being cheated, they're getting a limited range speaker like radiograms used & they will be happy with it until they hear better & forever upgrade. Shop demos of later years we found were just the ex-demo gear they wanted rid of & be sure they knew which speakers matched the amp to give the sound you hoped for, but never find on your speakers. The only way to decide which amp or speakers to keep is to buy & try a few, mix & match over a few weeks then flog off the others.

PAT testing is not to be trusted as a cover-all.

Having heard 'Bargain Hunt' mention this on 2 newly made lamps, the idea PAT testing is a guarantee of safety is very foolish, if it satisfies 'Health & Safety' selling electrical items that you couldn't sell for a short time years back. PAT test just very basically tests safety. Portable Appliance Test is vague term for domestic electronics that use the mains, Wikipedia tells more. To test basically the case isn't live, it doesn't go 'bang' or the mains cable & plug isn't damaged is simplistic, if common sense today ain't what it used to be. The amount of hifi we've had has revealed some ridiculous things as you can imagine, a mains fuse plug soldered a thick wire across where a fuse goes, a nail in a fuse holder of a Leak amp, awful twist & tape 'bodge' jobs, our pre-teen home stereo was like this, 3 units twisted together with a longer wire to use just one plug, laughable. If you pulled on the wire it'd all come loose & be live. Inside is where the problems are, burst mains supressor leaving a live mains lead 5mm from the case is the worst non-user one we've seen. Parts can be burnt from overheating & on the edge of failure, but like an MOT it worked when tested. These would all pass an amateur PAT test as they don't take the lid off to even look. On ebay electronics can be sold without a PAT test, if public sales in shops have to by law, car boots & markets can do as they please. Get any used mains item checked over professionally by taking it apart, if how to avoid the PAT test 'reassurance' lie being offered as the test?

We Can Upgrade Valve Amps - Why Haven't We Got Them For Sale?

The Trio WX400U as an example. The amp as original will need recapping to even use it. If you just copy like-for-like the amp may be useable, but it'll not be very good. To upgrade anything will bring out the many weaknesses in the 1963 design & as we had one, we just about redesigned it, just for the hell of trying. Ideas to try & to solve problems took ages, we had the amp 3 years & had previously redesigned the Tube Technology amps so not newbies to valves. The reality is any amp in the current market which isn't really aware of what upgrading properly invoves, will only make a certain price. To put double or triple the amount of work in time & money to only get back a third or a half of your efforts is hardly a good way to deal. For our upgrading research, we can upgrade valve amps to a reasonable level & not cost you a fortune. The amp will be much better than it'll have ever been, if not to the heights of our own research-upgraded amps. Even transistor amps can take way more work than the resell price, the KLH 27 needed a lot redesigned to cope with being upgraded, it's great now but it was here a year trying ideas on it. Every amp is a new challenge, some are easier than others & some are very advanced, but we do it to add to our upgrading skills. You see this on vintage-custom Car & Bike shows where they can spend $75k on it & the resell is only $25k. But if you want to use the item or learn from doing it as we do, to do it fully is worthwhile, just the reality of resell prices will mean we'll not get a 1960s valve amp or receiver in to upgrade to sell simply as they all have the same redesign needs. If you have one & want it upgraded properly & are willing to pay, then we are here.

Oh no not the Pioneer A400 again.

Ebay adds reviews on amps now & silly people think "this is one of the best amps ever made". Compared to what? 1990 What Hifi Award winner £250 new means nothing more than Sales Hype, don't you realise that yet? Other post 1980 Budget Amps is the answer if they tell. We've written on this amp on the 'Other amps' page if we can tell from the circuits what it'll be like so don't feel the need to spend £120 on it as we've heard enough of these amps to know. Great Value For Money they all say, maybe it is, but don't pretend it's anything more than Budget Gear. There are great bargains out there, read above about the Goldring G800. Pioneer A400 has IC phono stage which is typical & IC Phono stages are universally mediocre which is why CD took over. By the power amp circuit it will be of a decent volume but rather tamed on bass & treble. It'll have that "flat" sound we just can't listen to for knowing the "bouncy" full sound of earlier & upgraded hifi. No Tone Controls either, to keep costs low, not to be "better quality". Various other design weaknesses reveal it'll have a soft tamed sound with no real "musicality" to it. It'll certainly not have 'punchy bass' compared to a real amplifier, it's all about what you know. Cookie-Cutter Hifi that will please the Masses & exactly why we write much on this site to help you see beyond these boring amps. The A400 will have that rough "exciting" sound that earlier Pioneer SX950 suffered with because they are so cheaply made. The "power supply" is laughably poor, if cleverly done to keep the last penny down. The inside view is equally hopeless, no quality on this one-board piece of junk. Pioneer were one of the first Big Names to get into Comet 30% discount territory & they cost cut heavily by the 1975 ranges, even the SA-9500 is heavily cost cut. Ebay prices on the A400 vary hugely from £200 down to £30. HFE has more reviews of this, they say it has "no harshness" well we thought that with amps years ago & the better you go & with upgrades what sounded acceptable then is now awful as you've tasted better. To educate your ears to better sound, rather than show your lack of knowing better sound with naive rave reviews on mass market junk. To upgrade an A400 to our standards would be a waste of money, you can't make a cheap item into something of quality, we've upgraded enough amps to find weak design in some of the better amps even.

When do Amstrad & Alba arrive?

Two brands that will make many think of rubbishy silver plastic stack systems, those one piece chipboard & smoked glass things that were commonly around until CD players arrived. Be sure 95% have been thrown away so you'll find they are quite rare actually, as are certain Cars of the era. The Alba AU 700 is actually reviewed by HFN/RR as they get sent one. This is how mags got reviews, they didn't go buy them or ask for them, explaining why reviews are usually 2-3 per month. Alba is a real low brand today if they survive as baseline items will. Actually Alba submitting this for review was genius, as the reviewer thought this 12w RMS was actually pretty good for what is is, much as the Pioneer A400 was. A basic but smart amp if it has DIN sockets. No filters if this leaves money to make what's there better, has Tone controls & a typical transistor line up. It did sell well as it was mentioned in later mags so to get it reviewed helped it along. The circuit diagram shows it's not unlike the Philco-Ford M1550 we used as a pre-teen. The inputs go through various resistors & then into the preamp, a bad idea that was commonly used & isn't upgradeable. The rest is basic enough to sound adequate if the input stage will stop it being much more than adequate, if it's only £34.50 new. The Amstrad Stereo 8000 arrives June 1971 with a simplstic advert showing a very basic very cheap looking amp, at least the Alba looked respectable. 7w RMS for £25.95 is for ex-Radiogram owners & from what we've read about Amstrad it was buy Saturday back into Comet with it on Monday as it packed up. "Ingenious electronic circuitry" shows the level of the item here. Sadly no service manuals exist as you'd take it back or bin it once the guarantee ran out after a year (or six months). An 8000 MkII pics of the inside found online, rather shockingly cheaply & messily made, no better than a cheap radio or radiogram & all DIN sockets. Even by 1979 Amstrad Executive as we mention elsewhere was a nice outer case but the same rubbish insides. Mr. AMS himself is a shrewd guy though, sell mass market gear very cheaply to the undiscerning who will buy it by the skip load, but unreliability was why few likely bought one again. But this stuff is in a "Hifi" mag. HFN/RR really did sell out as by 1973-74 the magazine grows to a huge size stuffed with lots of high quality good stuff as buyers soon demanded quality again after being stung & didn't mind paying for quality either. Only kidding, it was tons more cheap nasty stuff that got binned fast thankfully so you'll not see it around.

We Don't Like the 'Lifestyle Ethos' of Linn, Naim. Bose or Bang & Olufsen

Nor the cynical way they & their paid Hifi Press reviews-adverts dictate that you should buy this as 'this is what you need' especially with Naim. External things because the internal one wasn't so good really despite you paying '£HowMuch'. Linn LP12 doesn't even play 45rpm records so, er, useless to select45rpm us. This Hair Shirt sort of Hifi we've never heard beyond the awful Musical Fidelity & don't wish to really, unless someone wants us to upgrade theirs. Plenty of Photos online if strangely no service manuals & circuits. Why the secrecy? To hide how ordinary they are perhaps. These sort of 'Lifestyle' products as Linn & Naim surely are, also are Bose and Bang & Olufsen try to sell a certain "dream" & the buyers end up with ugly Naim gear or futuristic design (as in pre 2000) with B&O, nasty sounding Bose plastic one-piece 'clock radio' or a strange idea of 'perfection' that Apple do with their computers & phones. Some really can't see past the hype or that other items are better. We know the power of saying amps are great with our site, the Yamaha brand we've helped revive but readers weren't fully reading things that meant it may not be for you or it needs work done to keep it working, so at one time ebayers were overpaying. We've already wrote of what we thought of the Naim NAP 250 on the 'Other Amps' page. We had a nice message from an ex-convert... Thank you for a wonderful informative website. Spent hours on here and ended up with a fabulous vintage Technics AU-8080 from the 70s. For many years I was caught up in the snobbery of British hifi and thought the Hifi News and Record Review was the bible for us audiophiles. Wish I spent all those wasted thousands on a pair of Tannoy Golds from the late 60s. Seriously thank you. Any chance you could do the same for turntables? Sold my Linn LP12/Ittok/Goldring 10 years ago and looking to get back into vinyl. Well put about The Snobbery of HFN/RR & similar mags, which is laughable compared to the 1970-71 comments on HFN/RR 'policy' on this page already.

We do know later Hifi...

We used to buy HFN/RR from about 1987-98 which got the Vintage supplements mentioned elsewhere on the site. The HFN/RR reviews we write of on the 'Hifi Books' page & what was initially interesting soon got boring as the bias for certain British brands got a bit much & it went away from our interests with Digital. The Tube Technology integrated amp review got us to get the Genesis monoblocs & preamps as reviewed on the site. What they raved about we soon saw wasn't so great really, much upgrading of the TTs & getting a Sony STR-6120 after liking the Sony TA-1130 that we've seen the same one several times again. The STR-6120 sounded great on the Tannoys as did the McIntosh pre-power. Only by trying these amps did we find out how good they were. To try Modern "Hifi" like the huge Musical Fidelity ones again a tiresome UK brand the Hifi mags raved about we soon got rid of them after finding the valves too hot one summer. Again ex-demo Hifi Shop amps bought at a good price so could sell at the same price & be glad they went. So there's how we toyed with Hifi Mag "Hype" and realised by trying older amps & valves that there is where the Real Sound is.

Asking for a good turntable without spending Garrard 301/SME prices.

As said above, we're happily playing the Technics SL-1500 & Goldring G800E on Mono 45s & it sounds perhaps better than we've heard those records in a long time, if for Hifi Testing we use later Music usually. We're using our totally rebuilt Luxman LX-33 valve amp & we've not played so much vinyl since the 1990s. You play more as it sounds good. But what the Technics & Goldring will sound like on a transistor amp is to be found out, as we want to see how what sounds great on our valves sounds like on something you can buy, ie our sales amps.

Transistor Amps with the Technics SL-1500 & Goldring G800E.

To be very pleased with how this sounds on valves you'll read above, but how about with Transistors? On the Sansui AU-G90X it needs the input Mono'd & with this the sound overall is decent, the 90X phono stage not having the high resolution of the valves is noticeable & bass isn't very expressive. But we designed the valves to 'our' sound based on the Decca Test LP. So for high quality Transistor Amp users: use the SL-1500 & G-800E with confidence. The only 'original spec' amp we have here is the Yamaha CR-1000 & again the G-800E sounds fine. The CR-1000 is a duller sound than the AU-G90X if without the harder midrange of the 90X. Trying the Goldring Elektra shows a higher output but overall at the softer resolution of the CR-1000 you're not hearing the sweeter sound of the G-800E, giving the idea those with £500 cartridges aren't really hearing any improvement if the phono amp isn't detailed enough. We've written before about Poor Phono Stages, supposedly ±0.5dB accurate to RIAA but sounding lousy. Have a listen to our MP3s on the 'New Additions' page on the top bar of this site to hear what we are hearing, if those were done with the Elektra & MP3 compression, but gives a good idea of what vinyl can sound like. As with any cartridge that sounds right on better gear, the cheap ID-riddled amps will make a real mess of the sound as they can't resolve the detail with their puny generic designs. Hearing the often awful YouTube videos from 45s where they don't even use a Mono switch reveals what many hear, blurry no-bass rough unmusical mess.

Comparing the Technics SL-1500 with Goldring G800E to the Garrard 301 with Roksan Corus

Firstly with playing the .wav recording done on the 301 & the other from the 45 on the Technics. Bearing in mind one valve phono stage we've only designed recently & the other, also valves, is from 2008 or one of the two earlier versions going back to 1998 & 2002, the G800E one is preferred as it's new ideas. This was expected & to try the Roksan on the newer design amp now. Previously the Roksan was thought to be a bit too bassy & trebly, the G800E in memory-of-sound seems to be midway. Not taking the Roksan off the 301, last time we did that the cartridge actually broke as one of the pins pulled out of the cartridge so unfixable. Always something weak to make you buy a new one. The G-800 on the 301 would be interesting though & we'll have compared both long ago. Trying the Garrard 301 & Roksan itself now, a strobe platter one may appear not much use with ESL bulbs, but if you look closely the strobe pattern still shows if you put it fast or slow. The 401 has it's own strobe bulb but not the 301. The Roksan is closer to the G-800E in sound, it is still slightly bassier with the treble needing one notch back on some 45s. The stylus profile is different & one UK 1964 RCA 45 has certain rough midrange sounds that the G-800E played smoothly. This is why we got the 1.1 thou Mono stylus & other larger ones to overcome that issue. The Goldring 10-series stylus we use just doesn't play some old 45s quite as well. A sort of swooshy muffly sound reveals the stylus tip is too pointed, not truncated enough to suit Mono 45s, so it doesn't quite read the grooves fully. Even trying a larger stylus tip still shows a roughness if this is the actual record mastering, that RCA 45 doesn't have the rough bits now on playing it, if the recording isn't the best, it does sound better on the G-800. Garrard 301 vs Technics SL-1500. Based on the above, is there really any need to keep the 301+SME? Playing one slightly crackly 1966 USA MGM 45 we first got long ago, the Technics system played it very well. Here the Garrard one using a stereo stylus plays it with extra treble of the Roksan, making it sounding a little unbalanced as the treble & upper midrange isn't quite smooth. Playing the same track as we recorded to CD long ago reveals the same thinner-overbright sound. Playing a 1959 UK Decca, it needs the bigger stylus as the Stereo one is too pointed for the groove. We have the same track recorded to the computer to compare & the G-800E version is far more balanced giving a more enjoyable sound without the thinner sound of the Roksan, the G-800E bass is far richer giving a better 'acoustic' to the track. Back to the Roksan, it does have a slightly better focus but the richer bass makes it seem less intimate as not so balanced, if +1 on bass fills it in. From testing the Garrard 301 years back comparing Oil to the earlier Grease bearing one, the Oil was the better sound as the Grease damped the sound. The 301+Corus are with a solidness to the sound that this 1959 single reveals the Technics+G-800E do very well, if the 301+Corus has a different sound but is more refined. In terms of out-of-ten, if the 301 is a 10/10 then the Technics is a solid 8.5/10. In terms of cost of buying one, the extra cost gives an extra quality, but as we've already said, will your Phono stage actually reveal this? We can reveal it & as the MGM record shows it's not always the balanced sound you'd hope for. The less bassy & brighter sound isn't really balanced right. Playing the recording of the MGM 45 & the disc now shows how much better we can make hifi using headphones to design, rather than on speakers which never gives the same detail. If your Phono stage is shop-bought spec you'll never even notice the difference is the reality. In terms of which Turntable is easiest to use, we use a velvet slip mat to play 45s & never turn the motor off, if with LPs some prefer to turn the motor off. The 301 with the levers where you put your hand to cue a record isn't great, the lever tip sticks in your wrist side as you cue up, if it stops wearing the paint off. The Technics is quicker in use to cue up for quick play of 45s. We played one 1965 subtle folk music Eyemark 45 on the 301+Corus, the sound was a delight. Back onto the Technics+G-800E the difference in sound was noticeable, the treble isn't as solid, the treble & overall gain is different. You can see opinions have changed in this section, but leave it as written to show how opinions change. Trying the higher gain Elektra shows both have the same slightly grainy treble. The Technics SL-1500 original arm is the weakest point of the whole unit & arms for how they damp the sound, or not is the difference, damping from lack of rigidity loses quality. Fit a high range SME to the SL-1500 & the differences to the 301 will narrow. The old-style SME 3009 is mediocre, only the post 1980s ones are worth bothering with. To fit a 3009 in the SL-1500 will be no better.

More Goldring G-800E vs Roksan Corus.

The trouble is when you've heard the better sound, the other even if very good isn't enough. We can hear the 'slightly grainy treble' in all the records we've played since. The urge to hear the G-800E in the 301 is required even knowing the Corus popped a pin & broke last time. The 301 on the plinth is a bigger unit by far compared to the Technics & not for regular use, but where's the weakness? In the SL-1500 arm or is it the G-800E. So we try... the answer is found very quickly, the G-800E in the 301+SME is much better damped now & reveals the roughness of the cartridge. It is actually brighter, as in the treble is more extended as not damped. The G800E isn't easy to fit in the SME as the wires get squashed up. The G-800E is fine in the Technics SL-1500 but give it a turntable & arm of much higher quality & it reveals it's not in the higher league now. Horses for Courses. Didn't try the Roksan on the Technics but based on the swap it'll have the cleaner sound if the Technics arm will dampen it a little which may not be so serious as the lesser cartridge in the better turntable & arm. Roksan has a brighter tonal balance that resolves treble with better focus, if then the phono stage may be too trebly which could upset the sound further. The stylus profile of the Roksan isn't ideal for vintage vinyl so needs custom made ones to get the best sound, the G-800E plays records better in that sense. We did try the Roksan on a Trio-Kenwood KR-4140 long ago & compared to the Goldring Elektra it sounded oddly too dull, revealing more mismatching issues.

He who is happy listening to a portable radio is the lucky one

as they know no better sound or care, it's all music after all. Songs you heard in your teens you learnt on poor sounding radios & stereos, the music got you, not the quality. To hear a great song on a cheapo portable cassette player & it hit you to go seek it out on Vinyl is The Joy Of Records. A Reality Check is required. Be sure next time we play 45s the Technics & G-800E will be good enough, as we're listening for The Music, not The Perfection. But to know The Perfection from designing it & knowing sound means our Hifi opinions are a little different to Mainstream Hifi Press.

ESL Light Bulbs: Can they be Dangerous?

If they are smelly, YES we would advise. As you read above about these, the Cheap quality of today is a real problem with some of these. The Lloytron ones are no longer made as LED ones are cheaper if they aren't inspiring us enough to try them, the corn-cob type ones don't seem very good if ones in traditional light bulb shape are growing & the angle of light is far better than single LEDs that only light forwards. The Prolite ones we've got rid of as they stink. The Lloytrons do at least last if they burn out a resistor on failing, one out of many was noisy if the insides otherwise in good condition with only minor plastic browning. the Prolite ones are very different. We'd consider these a Fire Risk for the poor construction. After only a few month's use, bought mid January 2017, the fact is the bulbs hang downwards means the glass coil tube heat goes upwards. There is very little ventilation & taking one apart the board & components looks pretty burnt with blackening on the components side that is away from the bulb part. An inductor looks burnt too & for using 2 more months either something would fail or it could catch on fire is our opinion, there's enough to burn inside is the problem. In putting bad reviews like this, we need to show photos as proof, so here are three. Prolite 1 Prolite 2 Prolite 3. These have a European "CE" stamp on which we doubt has passed any UK Safety standards which are usually much stricter. The box says it's to EU packing standards if the Prolite box hides it's maker info under the base card flap. Their website claims they have 40 years in bulb tech, well if that was true they'd test these dangerous bulbs properly & know how dodgy they are. This is our independent opinion based on buying 4x E27 & 4x B22 20w 6400K bulbs & having now thrown all away as they are DANGEROUS based on severe overheating & burning plastic smells. These 'Compact Fluorescent' Bulbs are still on their site & have a RoHS tag too if oddly no details of country of manufacture if the usual cut price makers who know of the overheating as construction has extra wire soldered track side to stop the track burning out. Buyer beware, these things are legal to sell it appears, but too dangerous to trust says us. We told the ebay seller about this, ignored as you'd expect. So we blog it. If these ESL bulbs run hot & start smelling straight away, it's not them 'burning in' it's them burning permanently & sadly you can get used to the smell until another notices it, a bit like why cat women can't smell their 20+ smelly cats. It pays to complain about bad products, we did this on an ebay review about a certain brand desk lamps & to shut us up we got one replaced for free & one repaired, even though they were 8 years old then. We'll not mention the brand as they came good, but in reality one didn't last very long so we rebuilt it with a ceramic bulb holder before it burnt the switch section so use it still today.

ESL bulb colour temperatures.

This is another issue, assuming the bulbs are of better quality. The Lloytron were 20w, 1160 lumens spiral ones, 5600k Cool White. These we've used for a few years & beyond a few failures, happy with them. The Prolite 'Compact Fluorescent' 20w, 1150 lumens spiral ones are 6400k Daylight White. These are too small built for the design, see above. The 6400k light is too blue & after using them for a few days went into a shop that was usually well lit, it seemed oddly dim now, if after 10 mins eyes got used to it again, as initially it was very yellowy light for being used to too-blue light. 6400k isn't good for Home Use as it gives things a blue tint that is unrealistic, the 5600k is slightly more golden in back comparing & is a nicer light.

The E27 20w Lloytron aren't made anymore so what else is there?

LED ones buyable from Italy but they'll be too heavy for a desk lamp springs as the tech is still new. As with a lot of things in life, stick with what you know & trust if new is too unsure, so to find an Amazon seller with the Lloytron 4U CFL 20W E27 240V 5600K means we buy a few to last until tech improves.These ones are still good as they don't smell, the Prolite ones were awful.

Goldring G-800E update.

After playing some more vinyl, as you'd expect knowing better sound, you crave it & the G-800E doesn't quite give it, a roughness is apparent that, er, grates. But we're not buying another cartridge as what else is there? The G-800E stylus hardly picks up any needle fluff unlike the Elektra. So what do we do? Rigidity is the thing with anything Record Player, solidness give better control, any form of damping loses stylus tip energy. Take off the cartridge, pry off the top metal cover & look inside. Look at what can be made better & more rigid & deal with that, if subtly. The difference in sound is as much as changing the SL-1500 headshell for the modern Technics one. Much smoother now on records played just earlier. Treble is actually higher as better resolved & needs pulling back a notch. Does it sound much more like the Roksan? Yes. Not totally there, but a sizeable improvement. Just a pity the output is a bit lower so volume up on valve Phono brings up the background noise more.

My Amp keeps making click noises at regular intervals.

Not strictly true, the amp itself doesn't, other things in your home or very nearby do. Switches, thermostats, timer switches if aged get dirty contacts & when they switch off or on creating a mains spike. We've seen this on an oscilloscope: crap is on the mains. Modern gear has MOVs & suppressors & older gear uses mains chokes, these should stop mains noises being picked up by hifi, but not always. One valve amp picked up hum when room heaters were on, we fitted all we could to stop the noise, but nothing worked. What did solve it was a totally redone ground wire circuit in the amp, well into design territory. It doesn't hum now. In checking every thing we could, mains wall sockets were replaced & some had poor switch connections, darkened from sparking. If any often used mains socket is over 10 years old, replace it with a new one. In days of Analog TV the picture could pick up all sorts of noise as did car ignitions etc on MW radio. So if you have noises like that, generally finding out what goes on & off will sort it, if new switches etc will need buying, so get an electrician in. You can fit capacitors to stop the amp picking this up, but these ideas you do see in amps, such as small capacitors in certain places, but generally this will just dull the sound, so best to find out what makes the noise to deal with that directly.

1971 Hifi Shop Advert gets into trouble with Pioneer.

Aug 1971 HFN/RR advert by 'Audio T' put a very strange ad in the mag, but clearly had no-one else read it first. "Common Sense? We wonder..." starts the ad. "We just cannot believe the public are totally stupid, but the way things are, really makes us wonder." They go on about Discounting & buyers only buying the cheapest things and try to illustrate a big £100+ discount of £450+ to £350 with one all-Pioneer system but a smaller £65+ discount on Cambridge audio/SME/Spendor £410+ to £355 system. This is foolish, they say one "represents quantity discount" & the other "quality in sound but a terrible discount". You see the problem, it suggests Pioneer are "tinsel boxes" the ad bleats on about. What the ad doesn't understand is RRP & lowest Discount Price vary by brand, but having read enough ads, the discounted price is with several shops, so is the real selling price. But Pioneer are discredited as "the biggest discount at the expense of sound quality". So much for 'Common Sense' by Audio T. The Pioneer SA-900 amp is a 50w-60w amp, we've not had but it's far from cheap junk as the ad implies. The Oct 1971 HFN/RR has to print an apology & public retraction on p1795 & Audio T has to use a half-page ad to do similar. Audio T continued into the 1990s at least & Pioneer are still active. Generalising using a brand named goods is risky. To say specific Prolite bulbs are a Fire Risk & put pictures as proof is fair comment as we do above.

Realistic-Tandy arrive in the UK October 1971 HFN/RR advert Pt. 1.

Not that you'd know it was them on p1777, they trade as ROC Electronics Ltd, London W2, but in their line drawings the 'Realistic' brand shows. They offer budget gear as you'd expect if Realistic did make better quality as the 1973 Realistic STA-220 receiver mentioned above shows. They arrive properly by late 1973, see pt. 2 below in June

Comet in Sept 1971 HFN/RR show why they grew so big.

They offer Securicor delivery which is the equivalent of Couriers today that only really took off with Interparcel in 2004 getting big discounts from the big companies most never used as too expensive. Comet brands are the worry, to see why the quality of Pioneer & Akai dipped heavily past 1972 & the usual Alba, Amstrad, Dulci, Ferrograph, Goodmans, Leak, Metrosound, Philips, Rogers, Sinclair & Teleton. Rotel appear too. But it makes Akai, Pioneer & Rotel seem cheap brands being lumped with the rest. Pioneer SA-900 amp RRP £134.10 Discounted to £95.95 is 28.5% discount, showing Pioneer RRP doesn't mean much. Ferrograph F307 amp £62.00 to £44.00 is 29% discount, showing Comet demanded these reductions & the better brands gave up, diminishing their brand names for doing so. Audio T just above weren't that far wrong if they worded it too specifically. Comet were only 4 branches then, Teeside, Hull, Leeds & Birmingham. They also offer the real cheap "Hifi Stereo systems", a Fidelity UA 1 Music Master with speakers for £31.95 is foolish to belive it'll be any good, if Audio T saying 'stupid' is a bit too harsh.

We have a portable Sony stereo system, can you repair it?

We get found by Google & messages come without much reading of us, so to be told a portable CD player clock radio boombox thing Sony ZS-D55 wasn't cheap & we like it, can you fix it, please reply. But we've already explained this sort of gear is disposable, 5 years use & you bin it is the cynical idea of today. It's an insult by the makers because they see how mobile phones have such a short life & people accept this & no-one would bother fixing it. Parts if findable will be expensive plus labour to fix it will cost more than buying a new one, therefore it's disposable. Probably £150 new 5-8 years ago, you've had it's life, 50p a week, be grateful. £150 is not cheap depending on your wage, but Sony don't care, it's good enough to outlast the guarantee & be sure it has weak parts that will purposely fail so it's disposable. Ones for £20 used online show the opinion. We work on better quality Vintage Hifi, not general electrical goods, we do make that clear.

We were asked why we don't have much on Loudspeakers.

The answers are on their page, most Speakers are awful & most do not give you the true sound. To judge by Headphones first then take to our 15" Tannoy Golds which can make nearly any amp sound good, we put a list & rating of every amp we've tried on them. When you know the best Speakers for the types of amps you like, why bother with others? Read that page, tells you plenty no other site tells you.

We were asked about opinions on a Marantz 1060 amp.

You see Silver Marantz of the Classic 1971-78 era hyped up on the web & high prices asked even for the lowest power ones seems unrealistic. We've had a few as our Reviews page shows. They are good but they didn't really inspire us to try more is why we've not tried more, compared to Yamaha who we've certainly revived people's interest in. We've found Marantz soft sounding for design & spec & the 1152DC amp for it's power rating was feeble. The 1060 is a 30w amp from 1971-78 continuing into the 1060B, lots of controls & it's a nice retro looking amp. The circuit diagram is findable, having a quick look just now it's a typical sort of design but a few bad limiting design features in there, if the sort of ones we've more recently redesigned in other amps to lose that soft lacking-detail sound. Maybe we should try a Marantz again, not had one since 2013. They are well built, nice lookers especially in the wood cases. But the trouble is entry price is often high & to put the amount of work into one to resell, is the market ready to pay for Amps Upgraded Properly, who else subtly redesigns amps on upgrading. Food for thought though.

The New Breed of Tech is Very Exciting.

You can see the advances of today in the TV shows. Take Electric Cars, not those naff looking small things, but meaty ones like on 'Counting Cars' TV show Dee Snider of 'Twisted Sister' had with his Tesla Model S. Electric Car of advanced design shows how things have progressed, if it looked boring on the paint job so he got it customised. That car is awesome & betters petrol engine cars, but the price of £66k upwards isn't as high as you'd think. The real amazing show to us, a rare genuine use of 'amazing' was Wheeler Dealers S13 E12 with the 1985 Maserati Bi-Turbo, but it was an early Electric conversion left unused for about 15 years. Tech moves on & the modern Electric Motor & Batteries were a real look at the Future, sort of leaving you feeling old as it will take years for this stuff to replace oil based engines. We've Google Street-Viewed places we've known & some are getting those Hi-Tech buildings way out of the league of what else is around, as in tired old 1920s-30s buildings. The old ones will all be gone in 50-80 years if time catches you up. In terms of Hifi, it's strange that we can upgrade & redesign Old Classics in a similar way as that 1985 car got to give the sound quality we crave. What will become of Hifi in 50-80 years time will tell, but we're still using 1920s design loudspeakers & the amps of today are little advanced from 1977 designs despite the 'hype'. It's good to live in the past to a degree, but to crave the better parts of modern life to better the past is what we are doing. Maybe we'll be noted in Hifi History for our efforts, if it takes time for buyers to realise what can be done if they dare to spend a bit more on upgrades. We do all our experimenting to see what can be done, each amp adds to the knowledge.

Loudspeakers: B&W CDM 1 NT loudspeakers plus Tannoys.

We mention these B&W on the speakers page if we didn't like the sound much after using for a while as speakers on the computer, using a Rotel amp, we've had a look on ebay & it probably was the Rotel RA-02 or RA-03, we've not added it to the reviews not remembering which it was. It was discounted to £200 in about 2004? The RA-00 range all look the same but add minor features to keep up with mobile devices. The Rotel amp inside was dismal, the preamp IC-op amp wasn't even put in the holes evenly, so it sat at a slant. We did try the power amp stage with the valve preamp & it actually sounded pretty good, if the preamp stage with the IC lost a lot of quality. After the Rotel amp we got a Sony TA-1150 & then the TA-1130 as both reviewed. The B&W speakers in cherry wood were £700 new, if the wood was nice, the exposed MDF stained edges were a bit naff, the top tweeter rubbery finish was annoying & the thin grille looked better off. We tired of the sound of these & did have another smaller new pair before that, no idea what they were, but 5"-6" bass drivers just don't give a good full sound was the opinion, knowing the full voiced Tannoy 15". You can get used to small speakers & pretend they deliver bass, but in reality it's just your hearing compensating, if the B+W did match the 15" Tannoys turned up loud for quality in some ways, the CDM-1 NT were clean & uncoloured, but power hungry & still didn't do bass very much. Don't home Demo speakers by just playing them loud, try them at lower levels like you'd play watching TV. The Tannoy 15"s sound spot on at any volume.

We got a £20 pair of Tannoy 605s (continues from the above post)

The simpler crossover leaves more of the real sound, the B&W crossover was complex if the speakers too good to mess with so sold at half buying price, which isn't a good idea, but market prices dictate. The Tannoy 605 speakers were much better at lower volume, at the time we did Cartoon sound restoration & needed a monitor, if hadn't got into headphones by then. Blogging things remembered from 10-15 years ago can never be much of a review as some late amps on the Reviews page shows, more being opinions at the time which will differ a lot to today, if the same TT valve amps & Tannoys were around then to have a reference. TT valves still here if we've barely used them in the last few years.

Even getting Tannoy 12" Golds in a cheaper cabinet

didn't satisfy our sound ideas shows how much the 15" Lancaster Golds are so right. The Tannoy crossover is fairly complex & the treble choke reduces the tweeter sharply to only the higher frequencies the Bass driver can't deliver. As you can expect, we tried a few things but without the treble choke the sound was very unbalanced, so decided to put it as original, past recapping, and learn the Tannoy sound. Took a few weeks to get used to it in the room, but never looked back since.

Shall we try a Marantz 1060?

One on ebay now no case but suspicious extra Marantz sticker £325. One in a pretty wood case is £650. Ones no-case sold for £250-£300. We did have the Marantz 1152DC in 2012 & the problem was buying an amp that was fiddled with & it was too much at that time & with a poor service manual, today we could deal with it to perfect the beast. The trouble with the 1060 is it's only a 30w amp. If we got the best out of it as we're currently doing with another tricky one, the Yamaha CR-1000, we'd have to ask at least £800 for it & without a wood case, or as much as £300 extra for the wood case? There's the problem. The market is still pretty unaware of upgraded-recapped amps we do, it knows recapped-restored ones, but we go much further. At the current time it'd not shift a £800, but would more at £600, but at that price we can't do all the upgrades to lose money on selling it. Only amps of 40w or more seem to upgrade the best.

Annoying Radios & Devices played on TV shows.

Eastenders the other day was excruciating beyond how dire the show generally is, but something to watch whilst shovelling food. They don't actually 'play' the music, they get the sound dept. to dub stuff on that they have the copyright too. But they badly compress it with bandwidth limiting to sound like modern things which sounds truly awful to the point of unsettling when the rest is in Hifi. A tinny portable doesn't sound like that in real life, it is listenable as are mobile phone tiny speakers, if far from Hifi, still listenable. This suggests BBC do their sound work on those BBC LS 5/3 etc type speakers so don't really hear what it sounds like. Most amps play midrange softer than reality if the STA-220 we're using is spot on for voices, which can be an acquired taste. So unless your Hifi is as precise as that amp, you'll probably wonder what this is about. It's what you're missing is the answer.

1971 Leak Delta 75 receiver.

This was made after Harold Leak sold out to Rank Audio & sadly despite it being a very decent looking amp, it's a real stinker. It's cobbled together from old Leak parts, the Tuner stages obviously & other boards seem random & varying in quality. The power amp stage is a real mess & was forever altered as we found buying 4 of them but 3 were just so unreliable they didn't survive. The one on our Gallery page must have been a very early build without the AM antenna inside & all the alterations. Lucky is the one who bought that. This gets a blog entry as the Nov 1971 HFN/RR shows it's debut and it's based on the Wharfedale 100.1 receiver if using Leak parts. Both are 35w & later in the mag it shows the 100.1 in a Comet ad, a 'Continental' styled stepped front unit RRP £139.00 Comet price £89.95, a huge clearance discount. A lids-off pic of this found online shows it's a junky mess as the Delta 75 is, the rubbish of UK hifi sadly. Leak under Rank Audio soon brought in the popular 2000 receiver that sold well, if it's far from Hifi quality. Sadly most UK & Continental Audio gear really isn't very good quality & only with the late 1980s Cottage Era did UK hifi get some quality.

1971 Amstrad 8000 Mk II & IC 2000 amps.

The Nov 1971 HFN/RR has 2 full page ads together for these. We all know they are"skip fodder" is why you don't see these around now. the 800 Mk II was £28 for a 12w 'Music Power' amp, probably 6w RMS. The ad does sell it well though, inside pic of the parts & even a 1kHz square waveform showing how "good" it is. Amps don't like square waves we've found so see testing with them pointless, what they sound like & how stable they are matters most. The IC 2000, or "1C 2000" as their ad states, is sold as "Amstrad - pioneers of integrated circuits". Again the inside parts pic & the IC output amp stages likely some sort of STK amp block first used c.1969 in the rare Rogers New Cadet that we saw on ebay long ago. ICs are death in "Hi-Fi", they are never any good, if in Digital era with the huge advances they are better, but never "Hi-Fi". The IC 2000 is £43 for 20w RMS which is great value, if ones on ebay for £25-ish not working shows most got recycled long ago. You have to admire Amstrad's adverts, we've seen their 1979 era ones too & they gave the masses what they wanted, such as more than they thought their money would buy. Later we see the Apr 1972 issue reviews the IC2000. It's all ICs beyond one regulator transistor. The reviewer clearly doesn't know what to make of it & is 'disappointed' with it. It's not even stable on using treble turned full. Too much put into it & not done properly is the idea, well of course it is. It does rate 18w not 20w as the ads say & it says ICs aren't very good for Audio, if the Distortion ratings are adequate in reality. But it picks up hum from poor design. Easy to sneer, but 18w for £43 is very cheap if put in context. Buyers wanted too much for their money, this is what they got & it sold well.

Hi-Fi News Magazine Adverts For The Lads & Musty Raincoat Wearers.

We've mentioned this on the Books-Mags page but for the joy of how foolish adverts in the 1970s could be, look at Lind-Air of Tottenham Court Road, London in November 1971 HFN/RR & it's in the Dec one too. Half the double page spread is a woman stretched out wearing only a bra, a pained expression & her hand covering where the sun don't shine. What's the point of that? To get your attention, in 1971 this was a rare sight in non-top-shelf magazines & will have pleased many guys with horn rimmed specs & comb-overs. Their selling line is laughable too "We Take Off More... and give you something extra!" Sex sells, or it used to, it's everyday 'meh' now. Even Barbra Streisand gets a 'babe' pic courtesy of Eagle amps "I have this thing about going to bed with Barbra Streisand" is the heading & the next line "When it comes to pure woman, Barbra Streisand takes a lot of beating". Er, ok... make up your own jokes or non-PC disgust at that one. Eagle amps were very cheap if not bad as Japanese made, to find Eagle amps of their later era of higher power in good grade is impossible almost. Just to finish you off, Sir... the Duette amp by JJ Silber distributors returns. A naked man & woman sit & her arm carefully placed so that not everyone would notice a little something poking out. "Duette for lovers of pure sound". Strange range of amps going back to c1967 Germanium ones. Their next ad was again the two who couldn't afford clothes, this time a cheeky pic of her is noticeable. This was the era of Top Of The Pops cheap cover version LPs with teasing girl pics & all those Reggae compilation LPs with again women unable to afford clothes. A move on from the Cheesecake of the 1950s-early 1960s which was a move on from 1940s Varga calendars in a day when they could only print drawings in terms of 'art'. All very fascinating & like a lot of things, how life was then, not for today's stupid double standards mindset to grumble about.

Amplifier Sound Quality We Aren't Keen On.

You can read enough of what we do like. The less-nice sounds are not so easy to find on our site. We've upgraded one amp we've had before, all the 'standard' recapping & upgrades done as it the adjusting. But there's no further redesign than as with recapping. We've not heard this sound for a while now, the big 160w Sansui was more refined if we could see it could upgrade more. This current amp here, that we'll not name, is a mid 1970s one. The sound we find hard to deal with, it is bright, it still shows low spec that we know is in the design which leaves a sound lacking depth & smoothness. The mark of the best amp is in resolving detail on complex or not so well-recorded music which is why 70s Reggae & 80s Rock are such good types of music to test, Classical doesn't really have enough going on beyond the louder sections, Classical is "lots of quiet" that's not hard to reproduce, unlike the full-on crescendos. Resolving known tracks into a bright tizzy mess is not Hifi to us at all, it might suit dull speakers & why that brand as the amp is remains so popular. It doesn't have the grunt to fill out the bass of hard Rock & The Jam "Start" sounds really awful as the amp just hasn't got the high spec in it that we can add, if it was our amp. Even playing slower music, it's just not "our sound" & brings grimaces and it's a bit disorientating even. Trying the Sansui AU-G90X, to use a later era amp to compare, is so different, the music has depth & realism. It appears on first try to not be as 'sweet' sounding as it could be, but the 90X being so clean you can play it too loud & this can confuse too. Playing Mono Reggae it needs turning down a little proving that's true & the apparent harshness is you playing it too loud, on headphones.

You go on about "Low Spec", is it possible to put "High Spec" into any amplifier & make it the best amp?

No-one's asked us that but it's one worth noting. The answer is not just "No" but "Hell No". We recently got a Goodmans Module 80, perhaps the best of the UK early 1970s amps for reasons of upgrading, not having axial capacitors like Sugden & most UK brands. For the hell of trying, we put in all the high spec that other amps can cope with to a degree, but the Goodmans showed why it was so limited in the first place, it's not a very good design. Giving it the best revealed it to be laughable for the noises & limitations of the original power amp, it was impossible to try anything to stabilise it beyond putting it back to the original feeble design. The preamp was laughable too, using several controls it caused problems that you couldn't sell it having & again to put it back to how it was would have solved it, but negating the whole point of upgrading it. The idea of upgrading is to keep it looking as original as possible beyond new components, to rip boards out & put in a different design won't get you a customer as it's 'too fiddled with'. In our upgrading, we've had to tame down some amps to keep them good in use, switches & controls on some amps can cause problems in use unless tamed down as the original design, hardly a good design but the makers made it to sell as-is not for us to upgrade decades later. You certainly can IMPROVE any amp, but to expect all to be The Best generally doesn't happen as there is usually a weak point that stops progress. If we had found "The Best" amp, we'd not keep trying more amps, if there are some that come close though. Notice that no-one has ever designed an All-Digital power amp giving 200w output to drive any speaker. Only when that happens will we be worried.

Even the Best Amps have some really poor design.

Not saying which, but shielding of certain sections is essential & trying one just now it does obviously affect the sound, unshielded it's a little lacking in focus compared to being shielded. This one has the power supply backed onto the preamp-tone stage with the boards about 1cm apart. Another has the power supply right on top of the Phono stage if both are about 3cm apart, it will affect the low level signals. These amps aren't budget amps, they are some of the best we've ever had. It's like they design it to perfection & dumb it down in every way possible. Undoing the dumbing down is the game here.

Can We Do Rush Jobs Like They Do on TV Car Shows?

The ideas of this rush job is pure fantasy strictly for TV land, the latest one is "Big Easy Motors", a very dumbed down show sadly. Here they get long abandoned rough grade cars & have them apparently restored, sourcing rare parts, rebuild, repaint & fully test & making top money in just two weeks. This sort of nonsense has been in other Car shows & they all earnestly rush around, make mistakes, have problems but always have it ready "in two weeks". Impossible, utterly impossible. We've wanted to get some amps ready to try quicker, but it just doesn't work out that way, one we've had here 6 weeks is nearly done if waiting on parts. You have to plan what condition it's in, what needs doing requires time to think on new projects, to make a list of parts to order, then order them, hope they are in stock, then find the time & be in the mood to do the work. Other stuff to do often & you don't always feel focussed to do certain intense jobs. Things often don't quite go as you plan & some extra work & thought is needed. Then once you've done it, you need to test it & use it, to fine tune it, to find out what can be bettered. With a Car there are far more things to test & check, with an Amplifier, very often problems require fault finding skills to remedy as no upgrade is universal. The Trio WX400U valves receiver had three years work into that as we learnt the amp, you'll be able to do the next amp quickly? Not so, the valves Luxman LX33 we use for playing vinyl has had over 3 years into that too & could it be made better still? The KLH 27 we have for sale took a year to get right, it sat idly for months sometimes, but to complete it was the idea. Rush Job? Not in any reality we know.

April 2017 Blog.

Biasing Power Amplifier Stages.

This is usually difficult so not many bother, if aging amps does mean settings can drift & repairs-upgrades affect the settings too. The Yamaha CR-1000 appears simple enough to bias until you go to do it. Much care needed & turning off the amp between connecting test points to avoid errors is worthwhile. The CR-1000 needs the differential biased, not many amps do this which is why differential-design amps lack a certain quality, beyond cheaping out on parts. Next is DC offset, on post 1971 amps without output capacitors, as near to 0v needs to be on the speaker outs, if some amps are within the 100mV range which isn't perfect but no problem in use. Then AC bias, if your amp runs hot it needs Biasing. With the settings done right, the sound is slightly different, more precise on the treble, if it is subtle. With Valve amps, Bias can be used to alter the sound, running 'hot' or 'soft' in sound quality, if Transistors are different. If you don't know how to Bias an amp as with anything electronics, leave it be.

To wrongly fiddle with Amp internal settings can damage the amp.

Some may not do much, others can end up trashing the amp instantly or or soon after. Not all amps give correct instructions on how to adjust or even what the adjust pots actually do, the early Trio-Kenwood & JVC-Nivico being notorious for not giving any ideas. You can circuit-gaze & work it out by trial & error, very vague.

Don't Fiddle with the inside parts of Tuners
Once people fiddle with Tuners thinking it'll repair a dead tuner, it'll likely never work again. Those ferrite core "screws" that tempt the fiddler often are found crumbled from misuse & replacing them means getting a junk amp to find them again. Aligning Tuners is possible by ear & meters on the amp, but if it's dead it stays dead unless it's a more obvious fault.

The Yamaha CR-1000.

We've had a few of these & it always had a clean but harsh sound. The CR-1000 is one of the best looking amps, it's well made but the sound isn't for everyone. So we've got another one a few years after the last & put all the upgrades we've found with other amps since into this one. Not exactly many more amps to try unless it goes into 100w+ ones like the 160w Sansui 1979 receiver. The idea of the CR-1000 all upgraded which was quite a challenge, is it appears to have been designed to perfection, then cost-cut to save as much as possible to keep the price low enough. But cost cutting cuts the quality, if the meaningless THD etc specs appear to remain. We've done similar upgrading on the CA-1000 & CR-2020 & neither could quite get to the level of quality as some earlier amps can. To try this again based on the Realistic STA-220, still no manual, if it's been on the Speakers with TV for months now. Upgrading it fully with a lot of redesign in effect really does bring about a change in the harsh sound to something totaly different.

EMI 1515 AR Amplifier.

One of these in the original box just sold for £208 with 45 bids. It's just a budget 15w transistor amp with DIN sockets, the Hifi mags are full of these for about £30 new in the early 1970s. EMI Emisound brand is a rarer one & the late 1950s EMI valve oscilloscope output preamps like the Stereoscope 555 are on our Amplifiers List page in 1960-61 before Clarke & Smith take over. Turns up in the 1975 HFYB on our Amps page... EMI 1515 only 15w £47 if first since valve era. The May 1973 HFN/RR has a full page ad, it's really a bit of budget nothing with all DIN sockets & 'Perfection In Sound' promised... Why a budget 15w with big wording on the front as cheap amps do makes this, has to be a collector issue that hyped Ferrograph a few years back, now prices are much lower. In reality it's probably worth £50 as an amp to use, but the collector aspect kicked in here.

1972 Hifi Shops Making Worthwhile Systems for Customers.

We've seen a few shop ads doing this since the 1970 issues, but by Jan 1972, two shops actually make worthwhile buys for customers. The system is an amp or receiver, turntable, speakers & all the cables. Useful to many buyers for sure, plug & play instead of wondering what cables to buy. Most shops llike the awkwardly named "F. Cave" just list all stock items in a long priced list, er which one would the buyer choose? We know most of the amps from doing this but in 1972 when new, how would you have a clue? Laskys do this very well & be sure many shop will have copied these ideas as it gets a buyer in & out with something they will know goes together well. 1972 prices mean £49 can buy you a very basic Amstrad 8000 II system, including £15 for a pair of speakers will be the weakest link. Others in the £49 to £125 range start to add better amp brands like the £69.50 one with the Trio KA 2000A & the £86 one with the Sansui AU101. In the £120-£212 section you get Trio KA-4002, Leak Delta 30, Sony STR6045L & Trio KR 2120 receiver, modest amps-receivers but ones worth having in 2017 even. In the £200+ section Trio KA-4000 package £200, Trio KR-4140 package £268, Sony TA1144 package £295. Leak Delta 70 + FM tuner + Leak 600 speakers + Dual 1219 turntable for £305 isn't exactly cheap, the quality is good midprice then & now. Another package is Quad 33/303 + Electrostatics + Thorens TD 125AB turntable + Shure V15/II for £370. Trio KA-6000 + KT-7001 tuner + KEF Concerto speakers + Goldring GL75P turntable + V15/II for £395. Top Price Stereo system they offer is Trio KR 7070 receiver + Tannoy 15" York + Transcriptors turntable plus arm + V15/II for £550. A Quadrophonic JVC Nivico system inc MCA 105E amp, GB 1E speakers x4 with stands & a MTR15ME four channel tape deck for £625 seems a bit obscure as no real tapes & no record player for Q4 type discs, but it shows what there is. Buyers do like to be suggested things that one that knows them has put together. Other shop ads offer only cheap £100 or less systems & as Leak Delta 30/70/75 were new, to see the older Leak Stereo 30/70 amps in ads for just £5 less, but no Leak ads or writeups introducing the better looking Delta range, if much the same inside.

Audio T are at it again...(odd comments on Hifi brands)

The March section above shows them foolishly getting Pioneer upset, so in Jan 1972 to see them criticising specs given by amp makers as being pretty worthless does seem a little baiting, if no names are mentioned & they do slightly alter the specs to not upset Trio-Kenwood with the KA-2000 by the looks of the specs. "How should one read a typical piece of propaganda from any manufacturer, knowing that they, along with all other makers only make the best equipment available? Frankly, very cynically". We can see it's that Trio amp as it's the only 13w amp of the era, so will others. To quote the misleading Music Power & RMS per channel using only one channel of a stereo amp is a valid comment & the laws of advertising did change shortly after. The old trick of 80w RMS amp then find it's 40w+40w or a 200w Music Power amp & find it's 22w RMS per channel are the sort of nonsense they are trying to stop. Frequency output of amps is usually shown as flat even below 50Hz, but we know of one amp of this 1972 era with severe bass limiting filters that reckons it's only -1dB at 20Hz, the truth is at 20Hz it'll likely be -50dB for the severe design & little natural bass until over 100Hz. It's like they do their specs on the prototype & then dumb the thing down severely to sell it to you. "It's got no bass, can you upgrade it" we are asked. Yes we can. So audio T in their clunky way do again have a point & this does appear to have gone towards IHF standards being introduced for Power Ratings, if 50w IHF isn't quite 50w RMS but far more honest than 50w Music Power is.

What is Music Power Rating? We've played with this before to test.

It means Power Output going beyond using the amp for general continous use for playing music. It's the power an amp can generate for maybe One Second in terms of coping with Peaks in the Music program. In reality, the amp will just clip off as can be heard with many amps going past midway on the volume, a 'flattening off'. Some Music Power ratings even used an external power supply to boost the ratings further. Yes, use a 500w power supply on a 75w power supply amp, as in VA transformer ratings, not RMS watts. Utterly meaningless. One one amp we tested with a relay to not trash the amp, we got 44v clean sine out of, so you can see it's the NAD 300 on our 'Power Ratings' page, but to keep turning it up well into clipping to see the maximum waveform voltage before the relay kicked in, testing on the oscilloscope, no speaker connected. It could go to about 53v with clipping severe enough to burn speakers out as enough DC in the signal. This 53v is the same voltage as the ±HT supply to the amp, so to full 'music power' before the Relay cut in. Based on 53v being 160w as the Sansui G8700DB is, RMS is 100w, Music Power is 160w+. If you had speakers connected, you'd likely trash them & for the heavy current draw you'd likely trash the amp if it didn't have a relay to save it. We've found with the modest 12w Philco-Ford amp that the low spec original design means at full power, the power supply is in effect "no longer there" as there is no time to charge the main capacitor. So 'Music Power' means 'we tested it just before it exploded' and the HFN/RR reviews reveal this is what they did in testing amps, if never mentioning sound quality. In testing amps for our Power Ratings page, we push them to full clean sine power, but not beyond just a bit of clipping as we find the voltage output. To push every amp to Music Power output would be foolish as you'd trash many of them. What would 'Music Power' actually sound like if your amp didn't explode? Take a small portable radio, it may sound clean at low-medium volume within itself, but turn it up full & it's a ghastly distorted noise. This is you playing your 0.5w radio at full Music Power. What use is that to anyone? Exactly.

1970-72 HFN/RR has got lots written, how about 1956-69 era?

We knew you'd ask so the truth of the 1956-69 era is it's of a different era. Pre 1970 Hifi was more a specialist market, most kept with their Radiograms & the 1965-69 Transistor amps will have sold to specialist buyers. You can see we've had most of the best 1965-69 amps now, only a few we've not tried beyond the UK-EU ones that don't really appeal, as in the Quad 33/303 that gets our revisting opinions on 'Other Amps'. See more write-ups on this era on the Hifi Books & Mags page

By 1970 Hifi comes of age

The HFN mag itself changes hugely over the 1970 year. Discount stores & acres of budget gear introduces many. The 1967-69 HFN mags were mard to find & we expected those years to be far more interesting, in fact they were pretty dull. The 1956-64 era was interesting as it was the pioneering hifi years, if little you'd play daily anymore beyond a Garrard 301 turntable. "Hi-Fi sadly goes Modern in 1970" as above is when it starts to get worth writing about. Is it sad though? Unfortunately it is, the big brands all cheaped out as the Discount Stores wanted the proven brand names too cheap, Sony, Akai & Pioneer lost their way & the quality of amps generally got worse past 1973. We'll keep reading the HFN/RR until the Dec 1980 one & a good idea of the Hifi World will become apparent. Has anyone researched the chaging Hifi Scene 1971-80 before us? You read it here first, as in beyond those who lived it when you don't see the change until you look back.

1965 Eagle TSA-218 amplifier.

All Transistor 40w says the original box it comes with, nice looking early amp. We have this on the amps page as Eagle add TSA.218 20w integrated Transistor £48. The back shows 240v & 50w which is the VA rating, not power output. This suggests 20w Music Power which is likely 12w RMS. It'll be Germaniums if the better Japanese type, proper Phono input sockets & screws for outputs, looks not unlike the Trio WX400U on connectors. But just 12w for their price says it's left to a collector, if it's a nice rare find.

1978 Leak 3900(A) 80w Amplifier.

One on ebay in very sorry state, looked water soaked & on having seen similar that rusty, one best left alone. Nothing to do with the 1972 Leak Delta range of the brand, this was a short lived 1978 range. The inside pics of others show it's not particularly high spec build, it looks like a cheap 40w amp of the era inside, if it does have multiple boards, it still looks midprice quality. We've had the modest Leak 3200 receiver before. Sellers always say it's based on the Rotel RA1412 amp, no it isn't, it's Custom Built in Japan by the makers of several Japanese brands. It's like saying the Realistic STA220 is a Hitachi amp as a lot of Hitachi parts & boards. But "Custom Made" means to a non Hitachi design, if it uses their manufacturing build style & parts. Water soaked Hifi can be risky, we had a Sony TA-1140 in it's half rotted box out of a loft, it was very aged inside, but it cleaned up well & after quite a bit more work was good to sell. Another Sony TA-3650 was caught in the floods & mud of a few years back, the seller didn't bother to tell the truth, if we got a refund. It was rusted even on transistor legs, unreliable, too tatty to bother doing up though we tried, it got broken up for parts. The illogicality of ebay shows a nice 3900A working one if collect only made £102, if the rusty sad one made £124 as they posted it, seller says it's very low volume which could be anything. It'll need a full rebuild. To buy visually low grade hifi unless you have a spares amp is not worth bothering, as to upgrade it to be it's best, you still have a tatty looking amp. One we upgraded was rough, they said they'd get it powder coated, but on seeing it in use, it's in a hifi rack so the rusty & marked finish isn't so visible. But you'll know it's rough grade, depends if that bothers you, but resell value will be compromised, £600 if nice grade, you'll struggle to get £395 for a tatty one. We had two of the wonderful 1966 Akai AA7000. Externally in good condition if very poor & aged inside. These are worth buying as we improve the insides & the outsides look good still.

The aging of 1970s Yamaha Main Capacitors?

We've had quite a few of the Classic Silver 1973-80 Yamaha amps & receivers & as the spec is good as is the Nippon Chemicon brand, we've never replaced any. The CR-1000 70w receiver from 1973 we decided to put new ones in & to cut the old ones open to see what would they be like inside. Some amps use capacitors that age badly, they go dry or grow crystals to go crusty. Some that are of high current will age badly as will any pre 1969. So what were these like? Both still good for 10 years further use easily, no crusty insides & still properly damp with not much smell to suggest they were becoming stale, some can smell a bit sour. So these 44 year old capacitors could still be used. It's only really ones pre 1971 that can be aged that may not last 10 years. Some brands are known for being bad, but no maker in 1973 would expect the amp to be used 44 years later, in general most large caps post 1973 will last for years more use if they aren't damaged. The 18000µf 63v ones in the 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 will still be good & strangely for the size, the ones of 42 years later will still be the same value for the size.

Recapped Nikko NA 890 Amp on ebay.

Always interesting to see how others restore amps, sadly many are pretty poor from the efforts we've seen & we had to redo it properly. But this guy is on his way to better things, if sells his work very cheaply. They've redone the top metal lid, the thin paint on these can mark & rust & here they've redone it nicely. You need a paint gun, not a spray can to do large paintwork areas well. Inside most recapped if not the cleanest inside & the caps look like general quality ebay bought ones, not the quality ones we've used for years. As it's a 1979 amp, build isn't much quality & probably a working raw amp is £100-ish. But to redo the lid & recap is several hours work, yet they only want £200 for it. They did a Sansui 4000 redoing the wood case & recapping, but not upgrading or adding the finesse as we do by the looks of it & got £400. They'll sadly get into ebay dodgy territory where bad buyers want to exploit someone who does decent restoration work, the USA sellers are wise to this. We've only sold amps on our site now since 2013, if we have all these Hifi pages to get attention.

Good or Bad Idea? LEDs in Yamaha 1973-78 amps.

We've got some of the bulbs, but to try LEDs as said above, for the fact the small incandescent bulbs don't last very long. Seeing hideous ones on ebay that don't even try to keep it subtle, overbright beacons to dazzle you are so wrong. But to try to get the bulbs is preferred on bigger bulbs like the fuse size ones, for tiny LES size bulbs, the LED is the way ahead. Here the White LEDs are white light as you'd expect, not the soft yellowy light of a bulb, more a soft blue light that's more modern but not offensive to us. The 5mm LED White X000H834VZ ones with wires & the resistor already included, Red wire to 10v DC voltage of the amp, black wire to ground. The light is as subtle as the bulbs & for the fact they'll last 'forever' in this case to fit them is a good idea & they look good in the dark too. They fit snugly in the casing holes too. The Tuner Dial bulb is different in use, how will that be lit? The bulb lights it subtly the yellowy glow. The thing with LEDs is you can alter the brightness with a resistor, to connect to Valve HT of 250v+ is possible if using larger values like 100k or more, the generic LED uses a 510 ohm resistor. The odd thing is the Yamaha CR-1000 actually has LEDs for the Tuner & Power lamps. LEDs only invented in 1962 & these were Red, the first non-red were only in 1972. So for Yamaha to use LEDs in 1973 is the earliest we've seen, other amps like the Sansui AU-999 (see our gallery) look like LEDs but they are bulbs & other amps use Neons like Sony did. LEDs were first around in calculators & watches, first intoduced in 1968. Yamaha could be the first amp makers to use LEDs? Despite LEDs being more common by 1984, the Sansui AU-G90X still uses bulbs for the input selectors so we put green LEDs in instead. But for replacing household lightbulbs & other sorts of small bulb, we're happier with the fluorescent ESL bulbs & for the cartridge fuse type 30mm bulbs & other medium size panel bulbs, the incandescent ones will still be our choice.

LED in Yamaha 1973-78 Tuner Pointer.

The next one to try. Does it work? Yes. The LED resistor won't fit in the space so to fit another one elsewhere. The light from the LED put any direction lights the pointer much the same. Again to find the +v side & if you've not lost the green filter rectangle the light is a subtle green much like the bulb gives. The browned spot inside of the bulb space shows it'll eventually brown the plastic which then crumbles away like Marantz light displays do, so here an LED is a good idea, if it needs modifying to fit.

Reviewing our Upgraded Amps?

We don't usually go too deep into how much we can improve certain amps, simply as some we do just for our own interest. The work involved would be too much to charge a customer & to say an amp that's difficult hides near perfection but you'll never afford it is a bit mean & beyond the scope of a Hifi site as it's Custom & Design work. It may say "xxx" on the fascia but the insides are ours to some degree. It can be "bought" though as the more we upgrade, we can offer a good amount of our upgrading at a realistic price & then you will hear a good taste of vintage hifi at it's best. We've never had any complaints that the bass is too deep & full, the treble too clean & detailed, but it's what upgrading brings. Some amps do better than others & some can really test your sanity as it's not always as predictabler as you hope, however much you check things.

For site readers, the reviews do show ones we've upgraded.

The lowest upgraded rating got by the 1975 NAD 300, a difficult & restricted amp if we'd certainly get better out of it now than the last one we had. Upgrading has to be "everything equally" else you get weaknesses & be sure as with the Goodmans Module 80 mentioned above, you can upgrade too far & reveal how lousy it really is. Generally the big brand ones all upgrade well regardless of era too, if some need more. Sony, Sansui, JVC Nivico, Yamaha, Fisher, Pioneer, Akai, Hitachi, Marantz, National-Panasonic-Technics & Trio-Kenwood are perhaps the best brands, note all are Japanese except USA Fisher. Some were great only on a few amps so can't be included so generally. We just don't rate UK-EU hifi & you can see we've tried, to try 5 of the ill-fated Leak Delta 75 shows we tried again after the first was a success, but the others didn't get there, strange obsession there. Valve amps are huge projects to upgrade, how to price rebuilding the Trio WX400U for a customer? To pick out more worthy upgrades & keep the price realistic, if it'll stil be a huge job.

Where Have The Electronics Shops All Gone?

Finding a 1974 Tandy-Realistic UK catalog online, looking for the STA-220. Tandy was a great shop, never claimed to be top end stuff but a Tandy was nearby until the early 1990s. Bought our first new receiver amp & new tape deck there. They had all sorts of electronics including parts like resistors & capacitors. Soon after Maplin took over similar territory from starting out as a components-only shop until seeing the Tandy ideas & done them in a bigger way. Got our Fane speakers from them plus cables & parts as well as computer motherboards & hard drives. All gone from your High Street now. Yes, it's all online, but you dont get to look at things in person now & see things to think you'd like one of those. Things we liked we saw, looking online is so wide. You can look at our Gallery pages of amps & receivers we've had, looking inside gives an insight into amps & be sure ones we research, to see what it's like inside is important as seeing the circuits. Tandy used to be around in the high steets until the 1990s & from looking at the 1974 Tandy catalog we remember our first electronics thing was the 65-1(?) Electronic project kit with the spring connectors with various things mounted in a box, but it didn't do much really, these were still sold into the 1980s. Good things to buy your 11 year old kid, because it creates things as this site proves. But those shops & seeing lots of old items is what got us interested, where would you start today?

It Works So Why Bother Servicing It?

Why bother servicing your car? Because it has to pass an MOT past a few years old. No MOTs for Hifi. Controls get noisy, they don't work right. "Wiggle it & it'll work for a bit" sadly is how many live with Hifi. They are unaware of how aged their amp is. Take a high grade little used Sansui AU-666 amp. We found two fuses failed in it, but only soft fails, but one was a 4A fuse. The amp is a 1971 build by the serial number code so it's 46 years old. On thinking to try it on our speakers, at least check the DC offset to be safe. One side was 120mv & the other was 35mV. Not too risky but far from it's best as it should be 0v ±50mV which is a little vague as it can be set to 0-3mV easily. Why are the values so off? Because it's 46 years old. You could use it once serviced even, you don't need to recap if it is better to as a 1970-71 amp. But unserviced, look what's happened. It's blowing fuses as it's inaccurate so pulls too much current likely at turn on. It's aged. Put a higher amp fuse in & it'll not blow the fuse but what else could it damage as the fuse won't save it? It'll trash the power amp needing an expensive repair as often resistors burn & transistors to replace as a matched set. Why bother servicing it? To keep it reliable.

Does Your Amp Have Thick Honky Bass?

Then it'll be very limited on real deep bass. Some amp designs were so scared of bass & those with cheap rumbly turntables, they ruined the amp designs with heavy bass limiting. We've got the Sansui AU-666 here, a really great looking amp, well built, sounds decent on headphones, but on Loudspeakers, the limited bass creates ringing that is that thick honky bass & it sounds awful. It is possible to upgrade the amp to bring back the real Bass, if as with any upgrade it's not a simple fix, the rest of the amp has to be able to cope with deep bass or problems arise, especially with valve amps.

We Don't Usually Try Amps On Our Loudspeakers Until Recapped.

To not want to trust any unfamiliar amp on them is why. But the Sansui AU-666 as directly above revealed this great amp sounding surprisingly lousy on speakers. Features of the circuit limit bass & create a false thick bass from ringing. The Yamaha CR-400 we thought sounded pretty good on headphones, but to see the circuit was a surprise, it wasn't a later circuit, it was what it only is made as. So what does it sound like with similar bass limiting, if not as drastic? To test DC offset on the speaker outs confirms if it's safe to try & having used it on headphones, it seems safe. Slightly worried by the fact we're rating amps as 'Very Good' for original, based on Headphone use, thankfully the CR-400 sounded great on speakers as unserviced & original. A little limited & noisy controls, but if it was the only amp to use, we'd not be upset having to hear it for TV sound. Not bad going considering we watched hours of TV with the CR-1000 just earlier. Of all the amps we've had only very few have the awful 'T-filter' such as the Sansui AU-666, AU-999 7 the NAD 160A, if not the NAD 160. Oddly the Sony TA-1120 from 1965 has one too. From the AU-666 on speakers, sadly those ones will sound awful too, until upgraded.

Hifi News & Record Review: Tarring & Feathering Time.

Stand up Stan Britt & be prepared for a virtual if historical pummelling. Up to April 1972 copy now & it's been a dull read so far in 1972 mostly. But the ignorant reviews of High Quality Oldies LPs by this fool who doesn't like or understand the music is typical of the ignorance by 'Classical Is All' type writers. To understand the ratings as 1 is top, 3 is below average & 4 is rubbish, to give two cassette versions of United Artists label LPs a C:3 which means poor sound:poor music to the staple 45s of record collecting "Golden Oldies On The Move" and "More From The Vaults" are both great LPs that started off the reissue scene. He even says he doesn't know the era, but so his opinion is worthless. An obscure Eddie Cochran "The Legendary..." on UA also gets an H:2 which seems better but 'H' is for old 78 transfers. The ignorance is worsened by a 5 cassette Elvis Presley lot, the 1960 "Elvis Is Back" has several top tracks, yet a B:3 here. The "How Great Thou Art" Gospel LP with 'Crying In The Chapel' is given a shocking B:4. Stan Britt, you're a disgrace to record reviewing. The others are 1970s LPs, if you don't ever play 1970s Elvis beyond the limited few new-recordings chart hits 1970-72. He liked the easy listening Mamas & Papas, A:1 on those if only a few hit tracks are of that quality. Googling his foolish name, he's a Jazz guy & won't be reading this as 3 years too late. For knowing of the two-faced Jazz Guys that sold out to make weak Rock & Roll records in the 1950s, to be so narrow-minded in your reviews aware of this, hang your head in shame for rubbishing quality music you clearly don't know. The other music reviews are better sorted to those who appear to understand the music, if Fred Dellar opinions are now tamed down probably as the "we're not giving you review copies if you're not nice" type, which makes a review bland & pointless. Sadly the same issue commits the crime of putting 'Motown Memories' STML 11200 stuffed full of Northern Soul Club hits of the time amid 'Sing Something Simple' by Cliff Adams Singers in the "Popular" aka MOR-Easy section. Just laughable. If you wanted real music reviews you bought the Real Music Press papers or the specialist Soul Mags, the extra-square HFN/RR is not for anyone but it's readership. Each copy sold about 54,000 copies. For the relative rarity, most will have got binned within a few months & very little beyond the Ads will have been read.

We Have Played Classical via the Expensive UK LPs 1956-63 era.

We tried these more to see what the fuss was on expensive ones we used to sell several years ago. Classical is just endless Cover Versions likely done with little passion, but note-perfect playing-safe to make a clean recording is probably all you get past 1964-66 which is why the prices drop off heavily. Collectors want the early 1958-63 Stereo UK LPs for more than just the rarity, they have the name conductors & soloists on them, Wilhelm Furtwängler LPs were especially wanted we remember. Did play some of those to see what the fuss was, Johanna Martzy solo violinist on one early UK yellow cover LP was more an acquired taste as just solos, but the quality of both was very obvious. The best Audio was on the 1960-62 era Mercury plum label UK LPs with USA masters. The UK Decca Stereo Wide Band weren't quite as well mastered as the HMV or Columbia ones & some with "a lot of quiet" even on top grade played-once copies the vinyl background noise sort of spoiled it. Stereo LPs are the thing, a £500 Stereo LP could be worth £3 as the Mono version. Found a load of Decca Box Sets of the right era, but all Mono meant they were worth very little, even Mint & complete. Classical Music is very familar as 'Greatest Hits' CDs show, but for Music, we've never played Classical to enjoy it. You can see the sort of music we like as we have Vinyl of that style in stock, this is a Record Selling site after all.

1972 HFN/RR is getting to be a very weary read.

Tons of ads for cheap junk repeated every month, tons of Classical reviews & boring articles. The Letters & News page is the most 'interesting' if the 'Crossover' Help page talks in such a long-winded talking-the-obvious fluffy chatty way. They still number the pages by year, not by issue so May 1972 is p815-p1006. 192 pages plus the inner covers & back so 195 pages plus the front cover. 39 pages of ads before the Editorial, then the main magazine section then 53 pages of more ads. But the magazine section had adverts on nearly every left page, 26 full pages of Classical Reviews. Not much to read really. Once we've 'read' these, do we really need to keep them? We await the 1976 year when their reviews finally get subjective if that's for another day.

Phono Cables: Why Spend More? Update.

After using the Goldring G-800E for a while, the treble can get tiring as the cartridge played Mono sounds a bit 'metallic' on highest treble which is for the cartridge, not the Valve preamp. The blue Straight Wire Chorus and green Sonata get a swap over, the Sonata being the more expensive £40 vs £60 in c.1998. It certainly tames the harsh treble losing the 'metallic' sound for the LCR capabilities. After playing a few tracks that were too trebly just the day before, the Sonata cable very noticeably rolls off the high treble to a degree, like a High Filter in an amp, on the 10kHz+ frequencies & by ear probably by about -3dB if the LCR effect smooths it too. A much cheaper way than the cable to get the same effect would be to adjust the Cartridge loading on the amp. In reality for the muddy resolution of nearly all Phono stages, you'd never hear the difference. On the less crisp Goldring Elektra it made it too dull. We've used the Roksan Corus Black with G1006 stylus on the same preamp & using a non-standard SME cable, as the other one broke too easily, the sound was very clean, none of the 'metallic' sound. The G-800E now sounds sweeter if treble is now better contained, rather than rolled off as the SW Sonata cable did. To give the G-800E a more balanced sound brings a cleaner midrange too, if it's an unlikely match, as in using a cheap amp on non-cheap speakers will make the amp sound better than you'd think. So these cables certainly act as a filter, taming cheaper gear. The only difference we can notice is with a Phono Cartridge, for CD-Line level cables made no difference if they can do on Loudspeakers if the cable gauge is too thin as one who bought our second Akai AA7000 very clearly found. But the idea is still, with "the best", you don't need expensive cables to filter roughness & harshness away.

Are Expensive Cables a False Economy?

The previous about using the SW Sonata to look at the price today, not made if $150 is quoted which is/was likely £150. To buy a used Goldring G-800 catridge & new stylus is about £35, if maybe they'll get wanted with our review. To use £150 cables makes it sound nearer the £200-ish Roksan Corus Black, now discontinued. So the numbers are very close. For the prices of some 1m interconnect cables going £250 to £400 based on rather foolish ideas, surely to buy a better "thing" and have better overall sound with the "cheap" but unfiddled-with cable designs. We still use Maplin silvery-blue off-reel interconnect wire with plugs we fitted as bought 20 years ago & the speaker wire, if with new 4mm plugs is the same one we bought for the Sony TA-1130 in 2003 on using the B&W CDM-1T speakers. That is QED Balanced Design Concept cable with about 3mm of bare stranded wire, unless you go over 200w you need no bigger, if we put the Ferrites, as on the Turntables page, on both ends. Found some old cables we used on the speakers with the valve amps bought around 2005, these are with 'Airloc' plugs that aren't very strong on the ends, cable is 6mm diameter per conductor, a pearl effect outer plastic onto what looks like TV aerial cable with a central wrapped plastic part that probably acts in a LCR way. Even for short lengths it was 'recommended' by the Hifi shop. Waste of money for the weak plugs & the QED wire is more user-friendly for swapping with amp comparing. In the days of making our own speakers we used huge bi-wire 4 conductor cables, like dark blue Plasticene when you buy it new, awkward ugly things. The sort of 'better cable' hifi shops used to recommend. Only got rid of those on getting the Tannoys, seeing that bi-wiring was not necessary. To use the QED BDC cable clearly the 'Best Buy' of the lot, if to fit plastic cased plugs not those gold metal ones that risk shorting too easily. We've spent, we've seen it's not worth the money & now keep it sensible, adding the Ferrites for speaker cable. The better your Hifi, oddly the cheaper cable, if of the right gauge for the job, is better for it as you don't need the Filtering. Ferrites are Filtering but it's to reduce RF 'contaminating' the Power Amp via Speaker cables to stop your amp amplifying RF hash & wasting energy.

Transistor Phono Stages Incorrect Loading.

The trouble with older Phono stages is they don't ever get the typical 47k ohm plus 150pf loading correct. On amps we see anything 68k to 220k & rarely any pf loading or if there is, the amount is too low. With some amps past 1973 like higher models Yamaha CR-1000, CR-2020 & Pioneer SA-9500 you get an option of loading the resistance, the CR-1000 being the earliest we've seen from 1973. For the muddy sound we hear some of these stages sounding as, to set to the 100k is crisper, but in reality it's inaccurate & on better phono stages 100k can emphasise sibilants that 1960s singles can be very loudly cut with no limiting. In upgrading amps, we'll correct this as it brings a better focus to a Phono stage.

No We Don't Restore Cassette Decks.

Cassettes are the Bastard Hell Spawn of the Hifi format, why anyone in 2017 would want to use one we find hard to see. Crinkly tapes, stretched & ripped tapes, the dull non-Hifi sound of cassette meant it was great for Car stereos & background music, but never for 'serious' listening. The joy of CD-R being out in 1998 eliminated the things forever. A Pioneer CT-93 rated on HFE to be one of the best. Unlikely, it's just a standard size deck, not one of the huge ones. Plastic parts, nasty belts to replace. To do this properly is going to cost too much, it needs stripping down to service like Turntables do, maybe a new head, pinch rollers. The risk of 25 year old plastic snapping as you'll have to bend things such as clips. Could be a big job & the risk of unavailable parts & high annoyance means not for us. But we say on the Servicing-Upgrades page we don't touch certain items, so why ask? More trouble than they are worth as found fairly recently with a CD player.

Amplifiers That Have Preamp-Tone to Volume then to Power Amp.

This is potentially the best amp design if it's very hard to do as you have to design to avoid clipping on maximum tone. The benefit is the preamp is at full volume always & the sound is better for it, instead of a low-level signal after volume going through tone as there will be irregularities beyond what we cover here, impedance varying & sound balance differs by level. This we've just noticed the Realistic STA-220 made & designed by Hitachi has. Beats the Hitachi IA-1000 & SR-1100 for design if there are similarities to show it's a Hitachi design for Radio Shack. One of the best post 1973 amps, if Radio shack dropped Hitachi for Fostex so the STA-220 wasn't around for a year even. So what other amps put Volume after Preamp? The 1966 Akai AA-7000 sounded great for that design. So to go through amps we know to find more that have this feature: Dokorder 8060, Heathkit AR 1500, Leak Stereo/Delta 30/70, 1967 Pioneer SX-1500TF & other 1966-67 ones SX-700, SX-1000 & SX-2500, Rogers HG88 Mk III & Cadet III, 1965 Sony TA-1120 if 'T' filter ignored, Trio-Kenwood TK-140E/X any version. This is a fascinating thing to research as so few amps do this design. The 1965 Sony TA-1120 does if no other Sony does after. No Marantz, JVC, Rotel, Sansui or Yamaha if the few Leak & Rogers ones do. JVC early ones have the SEA after the volume. Trio KA-6000 & 4000 is very near, just the buffer stage on low pass filter after volume. The Yamaha CR-1000 has the Tone Amp & Filter Amp after Volume which adds a slight hiss, if not wanting to remove sections. Filter stages in amps often degrade the sound more than Tone Controls are unfairly blamed for. Not even Accuphase on the 202/203 or an early Acoustic Research have this. The Pioneer A-400 has volume before power amp, but it is so basic with no tone or filters it's not the same to compare. Does this mean this design guarantees a better amp? The Leak ones are good budget amps if not much upgradeable. The Pioneer, Dokorder & Heathkit depend on how good other sections are. The Rogers valve ones did have a clean sound if the Aux input stage is poor. The Sony & Trio are very decent when upgraded. Therefore it is a factor that can help make the best amps, but the rest has to be designed well too. The Heathkit AR1500 to be careful in setting the input pot gains to be sure it doesn't clip on tone.

When Did Marantz & McIntosh Arrive In The UK?

May 1972 HFGN/RR introduces them, Marantz distributed by the snappily named Pyser Britex (Swift) Ltd of Wembley & McIntosh by Wilmex Ltd, London. Marantz certainly were popular even on the 1972 ranges, if McIntosh barely made a mark on the Hifi Yearbook only getting a brief mention if no listing a few years later as we wrote on the Amps-Receivers page. Marantz first ad on p.894 will have caught the eye & probably annoyed about 'those darn Yankee overpriced amps' as the 50w Marantz Model Nineteen sits on a Mini car bonnet the header is "This Receiver costs more than the car" as the 19 is £800 & in 1970 a Mini was £600. "Marantz - We Sound Better" they say, you do sound good but you sound too soft for cheap preamp build quality. The 1973 catalog on HFE is a fascinating read, you'll not see those top range ones in the UK, too expensive. The Marantz 19 was a 50w receiver with Oscilloscope CRT display for FM MPX Stereo only seems a little pointless today, if the world of Radio seems forgotten for Digital. The first McIntosh advert appears in the July 72 issue "McIntosh is here", appears it was only whispered which is a shame, half a page ad with the McIntosh MA 5100 integrated amplifier sold from 1966-72 so a little late to the UK to then be discontinued the same year. McIntosh amps are high quality & in the Panloc original wood cabinets with the slanted legs, not the repro ones, they really do look very classy. The glass fascias can age but maybe you can still buy new ones to replace? McIntosh 'assured performance' is they fully tested items to be the specifications as published. In 1972 comments made in HFN/RR of some Hifi being a gamble if it'd even work, if Japanese amps seem to have been the most reliable to trust selling them untested by the shop in sealed boxes, how times change. The MA 5100 is a 45w amp with a Differential which has to be a first for 1966. The things with McIntosh that were not so great we found on having ours years ago are the passive 'integrated circuits' orange blocks that have ceramic capacitors plus resistors, similar to the Fisher 600-T & the fact the preamps had so many adjust pots & filters it seemed excessive. To buy these today is an expensive buy & having considered a receiver as on the 'Other Amps' page, to upgrade already expensive amps may alienate the buyers.

The Mystery of the 1972 Realistic STA-220 now solved.

It's a totally Hitachi built & designed amp. The Hitachi IA-1000 power amp board is #251839 & the STA-220 power amp board is #251968, for the IA-1000 being 1971 this has to be 1971-72. The power amps are quite similar so circuit diagrams not so essential if the STA-220 is autobias as is the Trio TK-140X later version. The Hitachi amp & receiver we rated highly if found the receiver a bit cramped. The STA-220 can be considered the "Lost" Hitachi receiver & is one of the best receivers ever made, but hopelessly rare as Radio Shack changed to a cheaper manufacturer & for it being an expensive 60w receiver when new, a bit beyond UK Tandy buyers at the time. The 32.5w STA-150 has the same odd back panel cases for the output transistors as the SR-1100 has. The IA-1000 amp was a great one if it was severely dumbed down & too much gain made it need some redesign. Both IA-1000 & SR-1100 have IC phono stages that were unusually poor compared to the rest of the amp.

Digital Active Speakers: Meridian MSP 5500.

We were asked if we could service these, the amplifier stage, speakers but it has 1996 digital DAC inside, if sold 1996-2009. The fact is it has tone & is part of a Meridian system means it'll be stuffed with ICs. We could look inside & service but as we found with other more recent gear, you have to work out adjusting by track tracing. This brand & these 'lifestyle' type systems we weren't keen on in when buying Hifi News in the 1990s. The fact it'll be as early as 1996 means outdated digital is likely, you can get it upgraded as sold until 2009. 3 way active speaker with 3 amps for 3 drivers. One pair sold for £1000 in March on ebay, black ash painted wood isn't very attractive, the one asking is getting theirs refinished. But considering it needs a Digital input, has a basic onboard computer of sorts, has the big Meridian remote, we'd need the whole system. The speakers weight 85kgs each when packed says the ebay seller... Not our thing it appears. Offering an item like this to a valves & pre 1980 amps restorer is like giving a Smart Car to a 1920s Bugatti vintage guy. It's alien & they won't like it. It'll give them purple fits even. Do we reply? If it'll only be a negative "not our bag" type reply, no point. But gear like this is "try the manufacturer". As for recommending dated digital gear, don't: stay away from it. Buy separates always, to be forced into buying one Brand for all is very restrictive. Be sure our upgraded amps have been compared to some hugely expensive overblown overhyped gear. sound for sound, remembering 18w is enough to drive 15" 95dB speakers well, the vintage amp will better the digital nightmare for sheer musical pleasure. For those having this dated digital stuff: sell it whilst it still has value. We get comments from those trying good vintage & they are so glad to be free of the Hifi Mag BS hype, having wasted ££££ on what they were told was good. Even the cheapest of our Upgraded Sales Amps will give more musical pleasure than some Meridian system.

Careful Matching Speakers To Amplifiers By Minimum Ohm Rating.

The 1966 Akai AA7000 says "Min 8 Ohm" on the back, it has one pair of speaker outputs duplicated as 6.3mm Mono jacks, it states "Speaker Output" implying one pair only. Later Akai AA8500 uses these as Speakers sets A&B if no note added, if the user manuals would tell more. We used our first one on the Tannoy Golds for 6 months daily & the second one for 3 months. Not a problem as 1969 date stamped cabinet ones are 8 ohm. But to use Celestion Ditton 66 speakers got problems. The user manual is a bit vague Impedance 4-8 ohm amplifier matching if the HFE page says rightly it's 4 ohms. Many amps say you can use 2 pairs of 8 ohm speakers, but not 2 pairs of 4 ohm or a mix of both, simply as it'll increase the amp load. So if an early 1966 amp says 'Min 8 ohm' then play 4 ohm speakers, the amp will get into problems & as the buyer found, repair is needed. 4 ohm speakers aren't what buyers today expect, some pre 1968 are 15 ohm even. If you use one 4 ohm speaker pair on say the Yamaha CR-1000 it'll cope fine as the design is a few generations along. But the 1966 Akai AA7000 is a 1st generation one with transformer coupling. The CR-1000 adds "Each Sp Imp is 8 ohm min at A+B system" which in English means use 4-8 ohm speakers for one pair, but if running 2 pairs all speakers must be 8 ohms or you'll trash the amp.

Yamaha With Their First HFN/RR Advert Oct 1972.

"Anybody could do it. Yamaha have done it". The first Yamaha receiver was 1969, but here they introduce the CA-700 amplifier & CR-700 receiver. We've had these, they're not bad but strictly 'mid price' quality compared to the 1973 CR-1000. But what does their naive header mean? "Anybody could have produced this intelligent, comprehensive range. Yamaha got down and did it". But all Hifi brands already do according to their adverts, the best 8 track tape player by BSR Macdonald, maker of vile budget turntables, for £24 says one & crappy Armstrong talking like they are a quality brand. The 1971 Yamaha range including a YP-700 record deck paint the picture of quality if not aware of the build quality of Pioneer who must have influenced the classic 1973-78 ranges, to improve this range. What's interesting here is "You won't find Yamaha in the cut-price shops" which was a wise decision seeing how Pioneer, Sony & Akai had to heavily cost cut for being sold too cheaply. The selling methods are more modern than some brands by the UK distributor, if their ad heading is weak. The brand didn't sell too well until the 1973-74 ranges. The UK CA-700 with all DIN sockets keeps it limited in appeal, the weak mains selector cover is not quality & internal construction with the stacked Phono stages isn't very inspiring either. The UK CR-700 similarly all DIN sockets & a messy power amp stage wiring isn't great. It's like Yamaha increased in quality from CR-700 to CR-1000 in 2 years by about 100 times in quality.

Modern Battery Charging At Last Hits The 21st Century.

At last the tech is improving on these, our Sony Xperia phone charges very fast compared to the previous Nokia one. Even Energizer AA/AAA ones are way improved, the old silver block one breaks & used to take ages to charge as well as it getting a bit too warm. The 'New Breed' ones are ACCU Recharge a black plastic unit with the obligatory plug power pack. This one tells you if your older batteries are bad too, the new ones charged in under an hour & the old ones showed one was 'bad' by flashing the display showing which one was bad, if the tiny print 'manual' tells this to confirm. But this does get pretty warm, the batteries 43°C & the charger case 37°C & the plug pack 40°C as it charges the batteries faster with more current. No warnings about making sure these are given ventilation, as if you covered them over, the temperature will go 20°C higher at least, as found with overheating Yamaha amps with & without the top lid on. so much for 'Safety'. Gets too warm, it fails quick. In use, it turns itself off once charged, which is progress. But how to store it, messy to keep around, we put ours in a loose component's spare drawer to keep it together. Not ideal really. It's like with Digital Audio, only once it goes mainstream does Tech improve. a computer Soundcard & CD drive is good enough these days.

Can We Get Rid Of Plug Top Power Packs Next?

But there's the problem still, those sodding plug power packs with long skinny wire, you'll have several for several different things & knowing which one is the one for the item takes searching as power ratings differ. One for the oscilloscope, one for the parcel scale, one for the phone, one for hair trimmers, one for a PP9/9v battery charger plus others for landline Phone, Broadband, TiVo & be sure there are plenty more. They are a pain, but cheap to make instead of a proper power supply. No need for an expensive transformer as even our 2002 DVD player runs from mains. Toothbrushes have been induction charging for years if that takes a day to charge & doesn't keep full power for long. It'll be interesting to see how induction charging advances, but it's slow.

Questions We Get... Why haven't we tried Onkyo A-5 & A-7 amplifiers?

We only review amps we find interesting for our own research or ones we get to service or upgrade. A-5 is a 1979 45w integrated, A-7 is a 1979 68w integrated. By 1979 Hifi was so samey & these are no exception. With no brand name you'd guess many brands to wonder who made them. Onkyo known for cheaper systerms these days if the brand has some history. To go look at the manuals... one HFE reviewer was "blown away" by it. Must be a hifi newbie as they survived to write, this later vintage just isn't very exciting once you've heard all we have. The circuit shows the A-7 is all transistors but by 1979 it's very predictable, based on Yamaha 1977 designs of differentials & P-P stages in preamps which we know doesn't sound as good as the 'simple' Class A earlier designs. The power amp has double differentials on the inputs, it looks like a P-P differential stage, never seen that before or even see why it's needed. The HFE says "some say the power supply is overbuilt", really? Pretty average to us, poor in places, they've not seen Yamaha ones. It probably sounds decent amid others of the era, but too much 'rubbish' circuitry that gives low THD actually loses music value & this is typical of the era. Seeing an inside pic the construction is messy, if it at least has 3 separate PCBs, it's just typical 1979. Only digging deeper would we see how good the spec is, but it's not got the quality to upgrade too well & it just doesn't really interest us.

The Blind Hypocrisy of Hi-fi News/RR Nov 1972.

This shows you how unaware of their own pomposity the HFN editor, John Crabbe clearly is. 1972 HFN/RR has been a real bore to read through, the amount of ads for rubbish audio gear heavily outweighs Hi-fi. 270 pages this month for the Xmas market. Yet the Editorial bleats on about Radio, Stereo didn't fully arrive with the BBC FM until about 1990, the Top 40 was on FM if before that it was MW only for Radio 1. Here the comment of pandering to the "lowest common denominator" by playing too much Pop with Adverts as UK Commercial Radio was about to start, Capital Radio 194 started in 1973. Here they moan about wanting an oasis via a subscription radio channel for their own agenda types of programming, ie boring 'intellectual' chatter & 'serious' Classical Music. They forget that 'Classical' was once just the Popular Music of the day & dismissed as rubbish in the same way they do all other types of music they don't understand. But they seem to miss they allow the "lowest common denominator" to advertise in their pages, cheap nasty junk amplifiers & ghastly speakers & other long since binned items. HFN/RR complains about what it allows a public voice in the press! HFN/RR is a stuffy out of touch magazine that takes in the rubbish audio to merely get ad revenue. In the early days they used to only include genuine Hifi, but now play an awkward populist base-line advertising schedule to keep Discount Shops alive, if with their classical-only ideals & pages of deeply boring articles. 64,000 copies sold they say, read for the ads & binned with the Radio & TV Times. These double standards are the sort of rubbish "the self-styled elite" think is acceptable. Amusing to see such a blatant hypocritical comment in the Editorial. This huge amount of rubbish audio adverts continues until the Nov 1975 issue then as a more realistic mag like "What Hi-Fi Sound & Vision" takes over, the magazine sharply loses size as the general buyer doesn't like HFN/RR as it's patronising & has boring front covers. But until 1976, it's really the only main UK Hifi mag so we must suffer it. The What Hi-Fi/Haymarket brand goes back to 1968 but it seems not to catch on, we have a few early copies to read one day.

Early Unknown Amp: Grosvenor TT-200.

Must be c1967-68 as 'All Silicon' and rocker switches. Has early Sony styled control knobs & Tone is for L+R individually. Probably a Made In Japan one. The back is Phono inputs & typical screw outputs with DIN for Tape only. Fuse is only 0.5A which means it's probably a 10w amp. Looks well made & for £85 to a collector probably worth a try, if to buy to upgrade just 10w not really for us. But there's a write-up on what we see, like the early Eagle amp above, interesting if the low power is the thing.

Goldring G-800 Elliptical or Conical Stylus?

We're Record Dealers too so we play a lot of UK & USA vinyl from 1949-72 as our stock shows. Not played this much vinyl since last Century... We've been using the G-800E 'grey' elliptical stylus since the above, but some 45s are becoming a bit untidy sounding, the risk of hearing too much detail is you hear the rough bits too. The G-800 conical 'white' stylus tried on two 1961-62 UK singles (Del Shannon 'Ginny In The Mirror', Shirelles 'Baby It's You') we've played for many years & the conical one is a smoother sound. On playing a 1964 one (Yardbirds 'I Wish You Would') the conical loses fidelity & focus that the elliptical brings back. To play the Shirelles one again with elliptical & it brings a crisper sound as well as the mastering distortion is more obvious. But for the 45s buyer in 1961-62 with a cheap Dansette or Blue Spot gram, they'd never hear much treble or detail. Whether you'd use Conical for a smoother sound or Elliptical for more detail if hear mastering distortion is depending on how good your Phono stage is.

Gadget Show Nonsense: £54,000 Sennheiser Headphones.

These are Electrostatic ones driven by valves in some way. Turn on & the EL34 size valves rise up out of the marble cased box, er... that'll not last long before crackles appear. The most stupid thing is the 4 presenters who act like they have an IQ of a biscuit now which is embarrassing, only listen to it for 10 seconds & Jon turns it up loud & says it's great. Utter nonsense, deeply patronising idiocy. It takes known music much used for testing & at least 30 mins if you can stand the sound of the amp before you can decide anything, read our 'Deciding top amps' page. Google Sennheiser HE-1 for more.

We'll stick with our Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones

If these are now discontinued if the 50X version at £122 on Amazon. Detachable cables now may be the only difference as well as a box to buy to fold them into. In use these are still great, they took time to "burn in" & the headphone ear pads don't last too long as they age & crack if the non AT replacements are ok if not quite as comfortable. We got those in 2013 as our Headphones page shows. After 4 years regular use, the headband vinyl is now starting to crack & fall off which could leave black vinyl bits on you & on wiping them the colour comes off too. The cable has survived fine with the long spring section on the plug. But as with anything these days, it now looks tatty after a few years use, similar with our John Lewis "Leather" chair, it still good as a chair, but not much Leather in reality. Cheap airskin type vinyl wears off, the arms are vinyl covered leather, the vinyl long since bubbled leaving raw leather. The back & seat are vinyl over cloth, that's worn off a lot now, the silver frame paint wears, one of the wheels kept breaking if we sorted that by gluing in the metal post. Things aren't made to last & the "Leather" chair looks awful now, the padding went flat within a few months. You sort of feel conned, even buying it half price as a clearance. 'Go buy a new one' would be the way for an office after 3 years use.

Biasing Valve Power Amps.
This is critical to do & to check occasionally too, usually once the valve is used for a few months it'll be stable. With some valve amps the adjust pots are either one per valve or one that has a balancing pot. The balancing one is less accurate in terms of reading stability but for EL34s it's acceptable. To DC bias the EL34s to your chosen value then check the AC bias which means an oscilloscope is needed plus a test signal, to balance the splitter stages in P-P so that the halves are accurate. We've found that ECC81s are better here, as in for the driver & splitter, to get AC bias isn't too difficult. ECC83s are strange here, sometimes they can bias right but be found way off & unadjustable another time, probably as the ECC83 is a lower current higher gain valve & hasn't aged well, the ECC81 is the opposite. Valve designing can be very critical, to have volume after the tone stage but to not clip is a very difficult one to design, if we've done it. This is why most amps, valve or not use the volume before the tone stage as it'll likely clip when the power amp clips, lazy design. More on that above as we researched some transistor amps with volume placement. The Luxman LX33 is an integrated valve amp, so with 11 valves all from the one main HT source if via resistors & capacitors, as the valves age the voltages change so here it shows why a pre & power in valves is the better option as the pre & power aren't together. 

A Lesson in Buying Hifi: Buying Vintage Amps as Raw & Unserviced is A Gamble.
This is what we do to get amps we feature here. It certainly can be a big Gamble, as you are buying from amateur sellers. To them it either sort of works or doesn't. Some will openly lie & say it works when we can see from inside it never worked in decades, this is rare but does happen. You can also get an amp that's been serviced & used recently, this generally is not the case. Today we got a receiver, arrived intact more by luck than their soggy box weak packaging, the seller has sold quite a bit of hifi & they pack so poorly. It had got knocked a bit so the fascia caught the buttons, if to take lids off & adjust the fascia screws, more than you'd expect to do or know how to remedy. It's a 1970s amp so over 40 years old. Not too dirty inside but not ever been touched. Checking over & a basic service it plays music. But on first use, it's not too great as obvious hissy-noisy transistors & a bit dull sounding. Noise here was a loud "white noise" hiss & also a continual rustling sound that often means bad capacitors. The noise here will sound on speakers & isn't really acceptable to use is the truth of it. The back transistors get a bit warm too, showing it badly needs servicing & adjusting at the very least. To us, doesn't matter as we'll upgrade it, but to you buying it, we think you'd complain it was noisy, you'd want a refund & would feel cheated, or maybe you'd not notice the hiss? The seller aware it was "tired" yet added a comment on posting about letting it run in a bit which is a guilty comment. It looks like a long abandoned attic find, probably used briefly to check by the seller who found it hissy so wanted rid. Just for the bloggyness of it, we'll contact the seller like we are non hi-fi people & see what they do about it. This is what you'd be doing if you dared buy a vintage "raw" amp. It's not a scare-story, it's the reality of buying raw vintage hifi much like car shows buying long-abandoned cars. We know what to expect & can fix problems, to the point of external condition being good matters more as we can sort the insides. But a typical buyer probably wouldn't buy an obscure older amp, if they'll buy 1978-90 ones which are generally more reliable for not being serviced, if they can have issues too. If we had this amp sent to us as a job, we'd recommend it had new transistors & a recap which on an amp & job like this would be more than a basic job. It's why our serviced & upgraded amps are at the prices we put: the amount of work & new parts needed. The seller now says they knew it was noisy but gets better over time, or you get used to it is their hope & try to blind with misleading waffle guesswork. This is what you get buying vintage raw goods, put up with it or return it. We'll try them a bit further, but we're not returning it, but just to see what you the reader would get buying a problem amp that this would be to a non-tech buyer. It's an amp that needs a major rebuild is the truth here. It's useable, but it's noisy. The real deal on buying anything vintage is you need to be aware it is aged & will have problems, but here with loud hiss & crackle, the seller is trying it on. The small Eagle amp we mentioned above since sold, whoever buys thay will have a 50 year old amp with possibly a lot of problems. Now the hissy amp seller admits for the second time it was hissy & it's acceptable. No, we expect sellers not to hide obvious faults. This is why sellers like the Eagle one say it powers up but they've not tested it. This is fair & shows there is a clear risk in you buying, they haven't made out it works though it likely does as they'll have tried it, but with issues but you know the deal. A seller with a Yamaha CR-700 fairly says... "in working order, there is significant cracking on the right channel. Music can still be played through both channels but attention is required." You know exactly what you're getting, though it's not worth £150 as faulty. It'll need a recap & a service plus possibly new parts. It'll be more than a £300 job if we had it, though others may do a cheaper job on it, we do it properly to last for longer, not just repair but renew. Buying vintage Hi-fi is Caveat Emptor, have a good tech nearby & be prepared to spend a lot more than the amp cost to rectify it if you get a 'problem' one. Not all raw amp buys are this risky... but every amp over 20 years old needs servicing. 

Very Early McIntosh C4 Mono preamplifiers from 1954.

We were asked about servicing these. But they are very early Mono preamps sold 1954-58. They need a McIntosh C30 power amp or similar to power them with the octal cables so there is no way we can test these without. They are far too early to give any sort of Hifi Sound you'd want to use today, if the aged retro sound may suit 78s well as they have old type EQ curves. To upgrade & recap these as so early wouldn't really be worth it for the type of buyers. A service & 'keep it going' is the best to expect, if 63 years old, they are never going to be use-daily. These are collector pieces if in good condition. We used to see high prices paid for these pre-Hifi Stereo era amps & a pair supposedly sold for $1000 with no wood cases. But what are you going to do with them? Leave them to collectors. 

Phono Cables Update.
Above (Phono Cables why Spend More?) we mention using Straight Wire blue Chorus and green Sonata. Having done a few changes to our valve Phono preamp, it sounds a little too smooth now, it lacks a fresh air on the sound that is usual. It sounds a bit boring if the preamp changes are giving higher fidelity. The cables to swap, the expensive green Sonata goes & the blue Chorus returns & so does the fresher sound. These more expensive cables are quite harsh filters that can tame rough, as we'd found the Goldring G800-E was giving, but a slight redesign & no need for the known higher filtering. So if your Hifi is a really good one, your expensive cables could be spoiling the sound by being too harsh filters. No-one ever found that out before, probably as most 'Hi-Fi' needs taming. 

May 2017 Blog. 

A Lightbulb Moment: Time to try LED bulbs- Pt.1.

Not tried one yet, but looking on ebay to find a 96w equivalent one E27 15W GLS A70 LED Bulb, 1550lm 4000K Canyon LED. The Lloytron one were good before as regards smell, but the latest batch are too smelly, a sickly burning treacle smell as the bulb base gets too hot. The only trouble with LED bulbs is not knowing the weight, so to try just one. The Anglepoise lamp can only take a certain weight on the springs before it droops, you'd think they'd sell uprated springs. Having to resort to a 60w filament bulb is very strange, the yellow light is awful, but look at white things for a minute or two & your eyesight alters the white balance a bit to make it more as expected, we did live with yellowy bulbs for over a century. After a few hours back with a 60w bulb, the yellow light gives eye strain as you try to white balance it, seeing a white computer monitor & street lights-daylight. We'd rather have the ESL smell if to try to get away from these type. 

We've Upgraded Many Amps: What Is The Difference Between The Best Ones On Loudspeakers?

Using Tannoy 15" Golds, the difference between a lot of amps is actually not too great as surprising as that sounds. This is based on Serviced, Recapped & Upgraded amps only. Serviced but Original amps vary a huge amount. But Upgraded the difference is subtle. All have a clean precise sound, crisp treble & deep full bass if not boomy or slow sounding. The real difference is in The Detail an amp can bring. For TV sound to find a TV show with a good echoey room as on 'My Cat From Hell' S5 E17 is one we noticed before so kept the show. Here the couple at the start are in a lively acoustic room that can range from quite flat so you'd not notice on some amps to the 'veil falling away' leaving an effortless sound where you can place them in a virual 3D way on the most detailed ones. This is Soundstage that the best sounding amps can bring even to Mono music, the depth on old mono 1960s Ska is there for the finding. This sound can be got with Valve amps for the minimal circuitry & in transistor amps less circuitry does mean a more tangible acoustic. Some amps we hear "as designed" are as flat as can be & lacking in any sort of depth to the sound, yet owners unaware of better champion these boring sounding amps. The wide open 3D soundstage is rather unusual to hear, it's a little confusing as you lose any sense of where the speakers are. You've read many hyped reviews where they pretend amps have "holographic sound staging", but it's unlikely any shop-bought amp will have that sound for the fact amps have to be tamed to be universal. We know the places they tame & once upgraded the sound opens out even more. Whether you'd appreciate that sort of sound is another thing, odds are you would as other amps we've got this sound from but sold on, the buyer does notice there is something different in terms of detail & they are hooked. It's a sound only 12" or bigger bass drivers will deliver, unlikely a 6" bass driver will even give you a hint the amp is that good. 

How About A Good Amp As Original, How Does That Sound?

We've got a 1970 Sansui AU-666 to upgrade. Very nice looking amp. The sound offers to us an obvious good one to upgrade, but as original the sound on known tracks is a bit cardboardy with a fairly flat soundstage if it has reasonably good Stereo imaging, it does good enough but does sound limited. This amp as the AU-999 we had a few years back has some very harsh bass limiting, not so obvious on headphones but it sounded awful on speakers with a lumpy one-note bass that was embarrassing to hear from a quality brand, as the owner agreed by wanting it upgraded. The slightly blurry midrange as most "raw" amps have & an edgyness to the treble as it's not properly resolved. Bass is there but it's limited & misses the deepest bass, if most amps do to keep the complainers happy... The sound does have a good balance beyond the limitations that is the main reason why it's well worth upgrading & for this being a Sansui, to upgrade is better known to be worthwhile. If it was an 'unknown' brand, to listen for the overall correctness of sound rather than a weak blurry mess or thin scratchy sound cheap 1980s amps have. If we can play a few tracks & not mind the sound despite hearing weaknesses, then that is a good amp in need of upgrading. An amp like the AU-666 will be a joy to upgrade & the owner will get back a very decent amp. 

The J. L. Linsley-Hood 75w Amplifier - What Is It?

We've seen this on ebay before & despite searching at the time, found very little on it. What it is is told in the Nov 1972-Feb 1973 HFN/RR, it's a home build kit amp endorsed by Hi-Fi News mag. Complete with wood case & fascia, Powertran Electronics of Kent would sell the lot for £57 as a Jan 73 ad shows if another company appears to offer the parts £30 for the 30w version & £36 for the 50w version, so where's the 75w version says you? It's 75w Music power. The hype really suggests you are getting the best design "if you want the best amplifier in the world" and "years of experimental design..." suggest you should throw everything else out & get this instead. The amp is described with full circuit designs over 4 issues & we're far from impressed, it seems like a strange mix of very outdated 1950s ideas with a very complex filter stage that has little use in 1973 & it has op-amps in the preamp. Jan 73 shows the preamp, to us it's totally useless. All inputs even the 'Mag PU' go through large resistors, the lazy way to avoid building a proper phono stage. so Aux can go through 100K or even 470K & for 1972 who uses a Ceramic cartridge still except ultra budget stereos? The more we look at the preamp, the more sighs etc & it brings, it is truly awful repeatedly, the sound will have no chance of sounding natural, it will be a very contrived false sound that would impress the unaware. Now John Linsley-Hood is a known name, born 1925 & started out in Audio in the early 1940s. Wikipedia shows he's best known for a 1969 Class A amp kit in 'Wireless World' a home radio-audio builder's mag, if HFN/RR got him for this effort. The old-fashioned ideas abound in this amp, the sort of ideas British Hifi sadly often used in the 1970s. It's like us criticising older amps but knowing how to better them, one of an older age won't understand & we heard one amp we sold long ago on ebay went in for repair as the owner damaged it & told him "we'd put the wrong things in" as he could only think in straight lines to the circuit & from what their repair did, they foolishly took out even parts as originally designed that we kept. The JLH preamp has just about every awful idea we see as wrong in it & there's not even a 'Tape In' to bypass some of it as you have to do with a few Sansui that use the 100K Aux input idea. The last section contains the line by the designer "the best amplifier I've ever heard". Not with that awful preamp it isn't. But to look at the Power Amp stage which was in the Nov 72 issue. They call it a "Direct Coupled High Quality Stereo Amplifier". Here that means a Differential with no Output Capacitors as the design allows. Again the sighs on the needless limits to the first stage of the design, it uses nasty tantalums also. Some design is very much of 1972 the Differential, FET etc to make 12 transistors per channel. From seeing the pre & power amp circuits, the sound will be heavily contrived, the sort of 'compression' that certain amps use similarly that initially sounds impressive. But listen further & compare to fresher sounding designs & the flat limited sound will become tiresome once you notice it's not an honest sound. If JLH thinks that is "the best amplifier I've ever heard" then he's clearly not listened to the superior sound of Japanese & USA amps from 1965-72 to compare. You can see our favourites in the era in our reviews. Would we buy one to try? No, it's an awful design with no way to better it or bypass lousy ideas. 

Buying Advice: Buyers Are Now Looking For Our Best Rated Amplifiers & Receivers.
We've kept the ratings 'unexcited' to not narrow the field too much as we know we have influence here. Original amps rated 'Very Good' are the Best Ones, if Upgraded ones rated 'Excellent' can be at levels of Excellence, as in just scrapes excellent to really high excellent, but all worthy of the standard rating. We got in to these pre 1977 amps when they were pretty much ignored, we are responsible for 1973-78 Yamaha being rated highly now. Look at old forums, the later 1960s amps were found for small money if them being so old, the owners don't really understand what they had. But to Service & Upgrade these reveals which are the best. Some we'd buy again to upgrade, some we've been there & don't see anywhere further to go, such as the overrated Bang & Olufsen gear. Prices on wanted things climb & seeing high prices on early Sony when they were often £40 not so long ago, now they aren't. But don't forget in the excitement of these appealing retro items that can sound great too, these are still old items. Like an old car it'll probably work but be past it's best... "tired" if it can be bettered & even made better than new if you want to pay to get the best. Here you have with us the skill of the upgrader who looks way beyond the accepted ideas & has upgraded many amps to be sure these ideas work & are reliable, if they'll scare your standard TV grade tech. We're getting asked for these amplifiers, don't forget the receivers too were often as good or even better spec, a tuner-amplifier is a nice item to have, if not all tuners are reliable after all these years. To just decide you want "that" pre 1977 amp is all well & good, but be aware you'll need quality speakers of 12" or bigger bass drivers to hear these at their best. To play them into insensitive 6" drivers will get the power rating at the edge of clipping if big speakers with 95dB sensitivity can play an 18w amp adequately with full THX type bass like Dr Who TV show uses. But play a great 50w amp into 88dB 6" speakers it'll run out of power & you'll not understand why we rate it highly. To upgrade even a modest 18w-35w amp with our ideas brings a musicality that the original amp never revealed. All nice to dream of, but you've got to Find The Amp, try the non-UK ebay sites, be aware of Mains Voltage on some if many are Multivoltage, not all are, read the back panels. Buying from USA will get a better selection, but be aware of Shipping Charges & Import Duties. If you want it, cost doesn't matter if it's a high grade one, but buy carefully. Ask our advice if you want to buy to get us to upgrade an amp. The Best Amps need a lot of work to do them to the quality we consider is what they need. This can all add up to a Major Buy, so be aware to do Vintage properly isn't a cheap option. If you want the best of upgrades on a complex amp it'll cost a lot more than a typical £300 upgrade. It's good to see Hi-Fi heading towards the TV Car Shows scene where a good vintage item is bought & the customer wants to spend to get the best out of it by updating it but keeping as much originality as is possible. Interest in this is growing we see. 

Not The Same Sound: Hi-Fi in the Same Product Range.

You'd think models in one range would be much the same, maybe they are today, but in the 1970s, each amp could have it's own character. Take the 1973-74 Yamaha range, all models we've had sound different, the CR-400 is fresh & lively, the CR-800 is detailed if more rich-warm sounding & the CR-1000 as original is very upfront to the point of harsh which is good for larger rooms that can eat up the midrange. Even the 1972 Realistic range made by Hitachi differs in sound. With the same upgrades on both STA-220 (60w) & STA-150 (32.5w), the 150 actually sounds fresher with deeper dynamics. The 220 is a little flatter in dynamics if both sound much the same for the difference in power. The 150 has less circuitry than the 220, if only one transistor per channel less on power amp & pre amp. These both lack circuit diagrams if are very like the Hitachi SR-1100 design, where these differ beyond that is the mystery. Higher powered amps usually have more circuitry so will sound more controlled perhaps, not all are like this, but to find the Yamaha CR-400 sounding quite like a much upgraded CR-1000 shows that the basic 'sound' is there but with different designers on each amp the 'tone' of the amp can differ wildly. But in terms of Sony, some of their under 25w amps are very 'gentle' sounding compared to the 40w+ ones. For the 18w CR-400 to sound that good for a 1974 amp is unusual. In our experience 40w-50w amps usually are the best sounding, lower power can be good too if at least 18w, if plenty are just low priced junk. To get the sweeter sounds out of 60w+ amps is possible on a minority of them, but they need a huge amount upgrading, way beyond what any customer would expect to spend on an upgrade, but we've done it with our CR-1000 just to see if it's possible. It is. How do we know which 60w+ amps will upgrade well? Easy, just upgrade them, there is no way at all to predict how any amp sounds when upgraded. It'll usually be in the range of "Excellent" if barely scrapes it or high-ends it. 

A Lightbulb Moment: Time to try LED bulbs- Pt.2.

The Canyon LED 15w bulb arrives. "Could last up to 20 years" says the box. These are called "GLS bulbs" if that means General Lamp Shape. Colour Temperature on the box says 2700K-Warm, 4000K-Neutral & 6500K-Cool, if never saw any 6500K ones. 15W, E27, 220-240V 50/60Hz, 1550 Lumen, Neutral white. The Lloytron ones were 1160 lumen. Out of the box it looks like an old type bulb with a bigger base & fittings like other ESL bulbs. But obviously the weight is more, the Lloytron weighs 61g & the Canyon is 107g which will be too heavy for the old Anglepoise springs, maybe they sell upspec ones that are the right tension. LED bulb in the Anglepoise, it stays correct if not extended too far, if the bulb is too big so hangs out the bottom, Risk of it dropping for the weak spring & breaking. But the light is impressive, much brighter as the Lumens rating shows. The Anglepoise needs a stronger set of springs to use normally & other sprung balanced lights will have this problem too as they were designed for 35g weight traditional bulbs. The globe part doesn't get warm if the end of the white section gets a bit warmer, 29°C on the globe if much higher 57°C towards the end after 20 mins on, if now after 40 mins up to 72°C. After over an hour, no bad bulb smell at all, they do rate it as 'lasting up to 20 years'. After nearly 2 hours there is a bit of a smell, could be traces of the previous, so try it longer. These Canyon LED bulbs are way better than expected, 4000K at this Lumens rating is proper bright daylight, not the bluish tinge, equivalent 96w seems low, we used to use 150w bulbs for this sort of brightness & the ones of similar size we got could light a room, so going to get more of those. We'd say at long last, quality ESL lightbulbs are here, the Spiral type ones based on Fluorescent bulbs are already being discontinued as the Lloytron ones are as they are good light but too smelly. The plastic used here is much harder bordering on Bakelite type plastic so no smell. Google shows how much brighter a bulb can be, why is this info not easy to find, the hopeless 'Gadget Show' should be telling of this tech. The Brightest LED Bulb Overall: The Feit BR40 LED Bulb is currently the brightest led light bulb available — it is rated at 2500 lumens approximately equivalent to a 250 watt incandescent bulb... is what Google says. So 1550 lumens is a 150w bulb brightness compared to that as we said above. Very hard to find info on these bulbs, the ebay & Amazon sellers don't give enough info so as with Hifi we review, go buy the thing & find out yourself is the only way. 

Desk Lamps & Hot Bulbs.

The Classic brand is Anglepoise & we bought two in about 2002. These were about £250 each then, if now long discontinued. With the old incandescent bulbs, the shades got hot. The ones we have are all chrome with triple-stepped round bases with a rocker switch on the top of the double-layer shade, a limited version of the Type 3 if none on ebay etc. Several new models have been released including the Anglepoise Type3. “The Type 3 is hand built and uses Brass arms to create a fluid movement. It has a base that has been turned out of a solid piece of steel for extra stability. The shade is double skinned, increasing the light output and making the shade cooler to the touch” The lights are great, until they fail & can be used as an uplighter with a screw removed. But the bulb holder & switch is poor as it's made of plastic. Not metal like earlier Anglepoise or ceramic like outdoor lamps, it's plastic. The 2 mains wires are held in on a crude sprung metal piece that pushes against the thin side of the plastic fitting. Originally these were sold as 100w compatible as the design has a double shade. Plastic fails when it gets hot unless it's almost like Bakelite. So you can imagine the weak plastic breaks under spring pressure & the light doesn't work. We made a fuss about these expensive lamps not lasting long as a poor design on the crucial bulb holder & we got one repaired & the other totally replaced, they had old stock clearly & knew they were problematic to sell as they returned with 60w bulb stickers on. But we asked Anglepoise about heavier springs to find the light was discontinued & their current range can only take 60g bulbs. But we mentioned the bad plastic holders & remarkably they still use them, having not improved the design. The desk one has now failed completely, the ceramic bulb holder we fitted in still got hot & so goes the plastic. We're still using it now, the ceramic E27 holder is on ebay & a way to hold the bulb temporarily in the shade & unplug it as no switch. To try other ideas to get it working with a switch, even one on the mains cable will keep it going, we're not buying a new one. To have a smart looking lamp but it not last long, you'd do better buying 12 of the £20 at the time DIY shop ones, use & throw away. But these cheap lamps have no style so to endure repairing the 2002 ones or go buy a Vintage Anglepoise. We actually bought a few of the refurbed ones on ebay before getting these new ones. The old ones are usually old painted ones with the paint stripped & the metal polished. They looked a bit crappy as aluminium dented shades don't polish up well & the small lampshades were really only for 40w bulbs. So having found we had the top range Type 3 , as the label says, we're not getting rid, rebuild the bulb holder & switch somehow. UPDATE AUG 2017: We found a neat way to fix this instead of just having a rattly mess that's maybe not safe. Get a "Vintage Industrial Lamp Light Bulb Holder Antique Retro Edison E27 porcelain" from an ebay seller. This has a metal outside with threaded ring with a flange. The flange is conveniently the same size as the inner shade top edge so drill holes to secure with nut & bolt. Tighten all up & push the flange thread bit to lock into the main body to hold it from twisting undone. No glue works with bulb heat, so don't bother. Then just fit a in-line cable rocker switch & it just leaves a bit of the cable sticking out the top if you use the plastic wire grip if possible to hide it inside. Leaves the switch hole open but switch on hot bulb is a poor idea unless it's the side slider ones like old standard lamps used to have. The weight of this is less than the bigger ceramic ones so the lamp arm can stretch further without dropping & an ESL twisty bulb fits within the shade depth. You read it here first & we publish it as this Type 3 Anglepoise Lamps Repair will keep the expensive lamp at least useable. 

How Does a Very Badly Aged Amp Sound?
The way an amp ages depends on a few things. Beyond user damage shorting speakers, amps go bad in just a few ways. Amps stored in a warm place for 40+ years will often have dried out capacitors, one Harman-Kardon amp had the wood case bleached at the back edge so it sat in direct sunlight. The power amp capacitors on the back panel were dried out & it was rough sounding. Valve amps using 300v+ capacitors will always be dried out, yet people still used Roges Cadet III & HG 88 III amps without a thought & worryingly one tech stickered one without thinking either, they'll not last very long & risk of damaging transformers. Just because capacitors look good the insides can tell a different story, a Sony TA-1120A one of the earliest 1967 ones looked perfect but all the caps were dried out & crusty, even the smallest ones. Our 1965 Sony TA-1120 has obviously leaky capacitors & it sounded awful with crackling & humming. So to get a 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 that we've had twice & both were still useable, to get this early one with a silver rear badge & 190w rating, we were told it was bad & got very hot. To try it out to at least get an idea, it was quite remarkable how bad it was. Probably sat in a warm house since 1969 until the owner got it a few years ago & they never used it again after it got too hot. Checking it over, nothing looked bad, underneath the capacitors smelt sour, so to give it a quick dry service & plug it in on the usual Circuit Breaker. Got music out of it, a dull small sound on the music, if there was loud hum that varied in tone & volume with the volume control changing, then it got loud crackles so we decided to leave it be, at least knowing it basically works. Other bad amps include exploding capacitors on Goodmans Module 90, exploding mains capacitors actrually on our first KA-6000, it goes off like a firecracker with a puff of smoke. Scary? Amps shorted or transistors failing the resistors catch fire & burn the board if you don't catch it fast. Amps overheat so the heatsinks can be too hot to touch, hot enough to melt plastic. Don't under-estimate the Fire Risk using old electrical goods, they need to be checked out first & not just useless PAT tests. Never heard one that bad before, right on it's last legs & to use it further could damage a lot & the only non-repairable things in an amp are the Transformer & whatever gets burnt as it fails. It'll get a full rebuild & recap which on a complex amp like this isn't cheap to do it properly, but the results will be a "renewed" amp that sounds great & could easily give another 40 years use. 

The Woes Of Mail Order in 1973.

HFN/RR had dozens of pages of adverts, some offering big discounts on full ranges by many brands. Back then people believed this meant the Item Was In Stock. Not so, any shop will only have a certain range of goods as was still the case pre internet late 1990s-early 2000s. They got a sale order & they ordered one in from the distributors which means middle men & the vagueness of their professionality. Usually this would work out so the customer got the item within 7 days based on our buying then, but as with any items they could be out of stock as none left & the maker hadn't discontinued it but wasn't going to make anymore. We did hear of distributors getting one from a shop that had one 300 miles away to get the sale. Buyers wrote into HFN/RR saying they could be left waiting months & sellers did nothing which is bad & they get a free loan in effect. Selling rules thankfully changed & the 'Amazon' model of selling knowing exactly what was in stock is today, we go order electronics parts & know exactly how many are in stock, 20,000 of regular items with Farnell. You know exactly where you are & today these long unexpected delays are rare, if depending what you buy. 

1973 Hitachi Hi-Fi Flyer: Amplifiers & Loudspeakers.
Found this in the May 1973 HFN/RR. It's interesting to see the full range when we generally only look at the amps & receivers. Covers the IA-1000 45w amplifier & 55w SR-1100 receiver. what's harder to tell from even looking through the Hi-Fi Yearbooks is ones in the same range, as often ranges could be mixed together & confuse. Here the colour flyer shows the amps with the lids off which is unusual. Both these are great amps if the SR-1100 is a bit dumbed down & having IC phono stages that aren't in the league of the rest. The Loudspeakers are news to us, the Hitachi HS-1400 W Acoustic Super-Woofer 4 way speaker system. Good looking unit if the multiple drivers are never good & it has a downward facing bass driver with a front port gap at the cabinet base. Tweeter, Midrange & smaller Bass driver facing forwards. The complex crossover always means these never sound as good as you hope, the power rating bearing in mind the 45w-55w amp ratings is 20w Music & 8w RMS. What use is that for matching with the amps? Then the Hitachi HS-5000 2-way speaker system is a bookshelf monitor type, typical looks if again 60w Music & 20w RMS. Be sure some buyers were sold these low powered speakers & ruined them. That makes no sense, even JVC offered a 50w speaker for their 1967 JVC Nivico 5030, if not a 75w one for the JVC Nivico 5040. There is a turntable, Hitachi PS-77 belt drive transcription turntable on a floating motor, the platter floats 6" above the unit for their photo, their wording will have confused. Mentions the cheaper PS-33. Nice flyer to see, if no prices. 1974 HFYB shows PS33 at £94, PS77 at £170, IA1000 at £148, SR1100 at £189, HS1400W at £129 & HS500 at £139. Looking with today's eyes, the amps are worth having, belt drive turntables are still less welcome than pulley drive or direct-drive & the speakers probably not much use. 

Linn Sondek LP-12 arrives May 1973.

Another from that issue shows this controversial-loved-hated brand making their HFN/RR debut. Castle Precision Engineering (Glasgow) have bought a new factory to make Linn transcription decks. A turntable that will be familar to many as the looks were timeless if simple, but no use to us, we're select45rpm, the silly thing only plays LPs at 33.3rpm. No provision for playing 45s or 78s. They are aiming at the Classical buyer or the 'serious' buyer who doesn't play 45s or EPs. One for your James Last LPs though, but that sort of buyer still bought the easy listening pop like 'Peters & Lee' which was a No.1 hit that year. HFYB shows it wasn't that expensive to buy £46.30 for the chassis & £59.40 for the plinth & cover, compare to the Hitachi prices above. But it's got no arm, what use is it? Put on a Vertigo spiral LP & hypnotise yourself? The idea was you bought an arm, usually a SME 3009 with the blurry-sounding 'soupstrainer' headshell & thought how clever you were. Their design is quality though, 9lb platter, oil-bath bearing as Garrard 301-401 has, if it's still a cheapo belt drive like many plasticky music centres. In reality you could likely fit a 45rpm spindle on the motor & fiddle with it to change speed, a bit hair-shirt though. What is most telling here is the 'same' Linn Sondek LP12 was previously sold as the Ariston RD 11 until Nov 1972 as stated, this appears to be the same item renamed? The 1973 HFYB features it distributed by C.W. & J Walker of Cleckheaton, Yorkshire. But it's actually different, 8.75lb platter on PTFE bushes, not oil, so the LP 12 is an improved version. The idea of a one-speed turntable may please the Classical crowd, but in reality be sure most Classical buyers will have a few 45s & EPs they can't now play. 

Sansui AU-9500 Amplifier 75w from 1974-75.
On getting a nice Sansui AU-666 to upgrade, to then look at what Sansui did after. The 9500 is in the similar black fascia if it's one that's clearly liked so we've never found one yet, or at a price to try as is often the way. Bear in mind Sansui are sold in Discount Stores at this time, so cost cutting is here as we can see having typed this. HFE has an improved scan of the User-Service manual so to have a look, the poor scan in 2 bits is messy. A worry with Sansui is Aux into a large resistor as the 4000 & 5000 receivers have, but thankfully not on the 9500 or we'd not bother looking further. Signal still goes through a 12k resistor though. Complex tone stage has a FET on the first stage, we don't like FETs as mentioned before. But Tone has an excessive 8 transistors. The sound of an amp is defined by the preamp. Some circuitry we aren't keen on here, a few sighs etc we utter... it will sound lacking in fresh dynamics & bass will be limited, it'll sound 'small' much like the AU-666 did if without the harsh 'T' filter. Power Amp has doubled output transistors & fully complimentary design NPN & PNP outputs. 16 transistors including a differential & protection is typical. Power supply is a complex one & brings some more sighs as it's not great. As with any amp with a reputation, those who rave about it haven't heard better. Much scope to upgrade to be a very decent amp, but as we see the design, it's still going to sound weak & lacking. The reality is the sound we crave is what we upgrade them to, with as-original amplifiers all are nowhere as good as they can be & not all upgrade to be quite what we hope. The AU-9500 is one we'd like to try to upgrade, but with £550 for a tired one with a boring metal case on ebay, no wood cases by 1974, we'll wait. 

More on LED bulbs for Amplifiers: SMD type.
We got one amp & the previous owner put LED bulbs in. Not the nightmare of over-bright Blue LEDs that don't use the original fitting some amateurs think is acceptable, light so ultra-bright you enter an alternate reality. Not so, these are new 30mm Fuse Bulb type ones, sold more as Car Vanity bulbs. They have a 2 element SMD (Surface Mount Device) LED fitted into a cartridge fuse ends, these are made for 12v use so to use 8v like many 30mm bulbs use works fine. The whole unit is little bigger than a typical bulb, it might not fit all amps, such as Sony STR-6120 where the bulbs are tight. These LED bulbs need to be fitted with the light source pointing the way the light needs to be, easily done by rotating. Just put them in, no resistor needed. Other SMD LED bulbs like this can be bigger with a larger PCB & more SMDs, the sort used in car lights. Oddly the SMD LED is not a new thing, old clock radios with red elements going back to the 1970s used these, a tiny dot of light if today the light is much brighter & proper white. Advances in Car Lighting have brought advances in LED bulbs & this helps other areas. The amp that had LEDs shone through a blacked out board with blue numbering. With the LED it shone blue & was rather pleasing, not too bright either. But back in with the correct spec incandescent bulbs it was dingy & green with yellow light + blue lens = green. These LED bulbs were £3.29 delivered for 2 of them, no different to what the old bulbs cost. Whether all amps can take the light & size is another thing, but for Marantz receivers from the late 1970s that have a weak plastic lighting unit that ages badly with lightbulb heat so it crumbles, maybe too late to save those, if 3D printing could have repro ones made. But better light units with metal casing will now no longer get hot. Looking at what else there are, high brightness LED that are "error free" for cars with heatsinks on the back of the LED section, CAN-bus compatible, but these are larger 38mm size, much like the old 'doorbell' festoon bulb with pointed ends, never used in Hifi amps. The LED bulbs we had to try were 4 SMD smaller area ones, the current ones are a larger are 2 SMD unit with 20 lumens total. As with any technology, it's just 'luck' that these 30mm bulbs are used in cars, when it comes to different types of bulb, small bayonet ones USA amps use, push in types B&O use, torch bulb 6.3v etc there don't appear to be any, so to use a typical LED with a resistor & alter the fitting appears to be all you'll get. This new bulb tech is exciting, to finally have better light without heat to use in many amps is one of the last obstacles to 'old life'. As years go by maybe the less regular types of bulb may get LED versions, if it's probably unlikely without a wider use such as car lights. But as with torch lights, new torches are a very different design, no need for traditional bulbs, so there will still be a need for old-style bulbs as that's all there is. A 5mm LED can replace a 5mm LES bulb, Yamaha bulbs etc if you need the ones with a resistor fitted in & then there is light leakage through the back. In some ways LED lighting has taken way too long to arrive, only over the last few years do most cars have white LED lights now, if 'Wheeler Dealers' was talking of these in 2010, prives have now only come down for retro-fitting & new cars being made with them. On Trying The New LED Bulbs... these ones are about 1mm too big on the boards for a standard 30mm bulb fitting, you can put them at a slant or file off the tiny extra bit, so it's not perfect. The earlier 4 SMD unit ones have one 'pip' of light, the 2 SMD ones have 3 'pips' of light so are the same brightness. The correct 8v 0.25A incandescent bulb looks feeble in comparison. See the Photo New LED Bulbs as it shows 3 different bulb types in the Realistic STA-220 bulb holder unit. First is the old-type bulb as spec for the amp, 2nd is the earlier type with 4 SMDs with 1 'pip' and the 3rd is the current 2 SMD with 3 'pips' per SMD, notice we filed the corners to fit. The old type bulb in normal room light is very dim & orange coloured, the new LEDs are bright white if they flicker as the power supply needs some upgrading, flickering LEDs may not last as long, the 50Hz flicker is obvious. We like the LEDs & they are a very worthy upgrade without looking garish or upsetting our sensibilities of upgrade. But beware you need to file off the fibreglass PCB corners to fit, 2mm x 1mm off the PCB is away from the board track if it's a bit of a nuisance as the STA-220 needs 7 of them. Fit once & forget though, takes a few minutes to do the lot. In use the tuner display instead of a dim green is now a fresh blue if brighter as you can see by the bulb differences, it's not garish looking & complements the amp well. 

Comparing LED bulbs to Incandescent Bulbs in Amplifiers.
This is almost impossible to do in photos as photo lighting varies between one photo to another. But we can do the impossible: we have 2 of the nearly-same amp, Realistic STA-220 & STA-150. The STA-220 we're keeping & it has all LED bulbs except for the Tuner pointer & the 'Auto Magic' feature. The STA-150 has the correct 8v 250mA bulbs in as pictured on the link above. To have one on top of the other to compare. The Tuner pointer is the same original bulbs so is the reference. New LED vs Old Bulbs. The top amp has a gunmetal grey fascia, the lower is silver-aluminium. Any uneven lighting is due to bulb heat aging the tuner fascia, slightly browning it, if you could replace the plain diffuser layer. The top amp is dingy green, the right meter is noticably orange-brown light compared to the crisp but not too-bright lower amp. In reality with your eyes, the lower amp is just right & the top amp is a bit darker, but cameras alter & ours doesn't focus too well sometimes either. The lower amp lights do flicker still, maybe you won't notice, but we do & this requires a little power supply redesign, we've not looked & we don't have the circuits as said before. The lower amp looks great to us, the top amp is dingy, but it is original. The bulbs get warm after longer use & heat ages plastic as the darker areas in the top one show, it had more use than the lower amp we noticed. 8 bulbs cost us £13.16, the dreaded 'free post' so you overpay post each extra pair, but no other selling way. Farnell & RS the usual parts suppliers surprisingly don't have these bulbs (as of typing) as they are Car Parts & hardly what any new Electronics use. 

Getting Modern: LEDs in Amplifiers: DC or AC power supply?
The idea with LEDs is they are most reliable on DC. The Yamaha CR-1000 uses DC for it's 4 bulbs so no problem there. Many older amps with bulbs use AC direct from a Transformer tap, the Realistic STA-220 does as it's not unlike the Hitachi SR-1100. AC LEDs will flicker, as in they turn on & off repeatedly. Failure or going dim over time is the problem. the whole idea of White LEDs is still fairly new as you'll have noticed as cars & streetlights (in the UK) are now generally white. Ideally to use AC to convert to DC would be the best idea. With Receivers you often have Tuner voltages that are DC so possibly to use that instead, if correct voltages & current capabilities of any circuit may not have enough current available. To make AC into DC is the only way really, but it's redesign though. Just for the bloggyness of this, we'll leave as AC just to see how the amps with AC bulbs last. Be aware some amps use Neon bulbs that can run from much higher voltages, these are a different problem. A Neon is often a glass bulb if has 2 bars inside with no filament or some look like a valve. As for LEDs needing a series resistor, between the LED & the voltage, the earlier '4 pip' ones have a surface mount 270-ohm resistor. The newer ones have similar if 240-ohm as there are '6 pips', this is for 8-12v use. Possible to run LEDs from 240v DC as valve amp preamps use, but you need larger value resistors. 

Do Most People Care about Good Sound Quality?
Sadly it'll never be a "Yes" as a lot of this site already tells. Most are happy to hear the Music as the awful quality of the majority of YouTube videos prove. Ones from 5-8 years ago were still in low bit rate era for quick upload, if today there is no need for that with Broadband much faster for many. Plenty copy Vinyl to the Computer in ghastly sound, not even playing Mono tracks Mono & then post on YouTube which is there really mostly to sample music. Many will 'save' the tracks to keep via various means. To us, most YouTube videos even from CD are thick & muddy sounding with little dynamic range so no detail to the sound that we know is there on the records, if occasionally some are not bad. The old idea of hearing 'better stereos' was they were amazed at hearing sounds in the tracks that they've not heard before. But look on Amazon for the "Stereos" of today & it's sound is usually defined by the Loudspeakers as it was in the 1980s with Music Centres etc. Small plastic cased speakers sound awful, if maybe the electronics after years of computer progress may not be as bad as 1980s "stereos", but with rubbish speakers you'll never know. The Hi-Fi mags used to get letters about those only interested in listening to their Hi-Fi not the Music itself. Also the man happy playing a Portable whatever for his Music is the lucky one. So go and Annoy Him by playing your fancy Stereo at him one day & he'll never like his cheap thing again as you showed him up & will forever be in search of "that sound". Still, it'll keep him busy if forever unsatisfied. 

Vinyl Sometimes Is Not As Hi-Fi As We Want It To Be.
We play a lot of vinyl & the truth is the higher resolution you get with vinyl the more roughness you reveal as well as clear detail. Stages of Phono Stage quality range from muddy hiding the roughness, to more detailed but poor focus so roughness can grate. Then to resolve vinyl really well with good focus can reveal the rough mastering, some 45s we've known over 20 years & playing one just now, that is so rough, it was remembered as rough but not so obvious. Look at the record grooves which are pure VVVVV pattern showing whoever mastered it was an amateur & clipped the music. This is sadly often on all eras of vinyl. Sometimes to hear "just for the music" in lower-fi gives more pleasure, especially in public. Our first Record Player was the Hacker GAR 550, after playing lots of Radiograms & Music Centres. The Hacker itself not bad if not great, but the Speakers that came with it were far from accurate sounding with paper tweeters & thick foam fronts. The Hacker had that thick false "Retro" bass that sounds honky one-note bass if to a teen it's great as you know no better. Your Hi-Fi Head wants to hear the songs in your sound quality demands of today, to hear them on the same 'stereo' you did long ago would upset your sensibilities today, if that inaccurate one taught you those songs that are now part of you. A similar odd ago-now one we found was when aged 8 to dig up an old wood & brass spirit level in the garden, a Hockley Abbey one of modest quality that we still have. But it's the one we've had ages but it doesn't satisfy the soul as it's tatty & cheap regardless. So a few years ago to buy a better one "to remind us of the old one" in the higher ideals of today. This one was a Kelly & Sons, Liverpool one in ebony with brass fittings on the base & with the original screws it looks the part. So to have both levels now shows a confusion of reality & assumed ideals of the level we found. Similarly hearing your old favourites in high resolution & seeing they aren't quite what your mind sees them as. A similar "fooling yourself" is looking up old friends unseen in decades on Facebook, some you'll still think of as turds, some will have done better than you thought & some will not lived well which bursts your balloon of your memory to go looking. Thankfully many women you'll never find as married names hide them, so not all the dreams have gone. The lesson here is to not go looking for perfection in the past (or now) as you'll never find it, only variations on it as upgrading all these amps shows no one amp is 'The Best Ever'. Some records we get after not having for years, the song is remembered fondly & we'll have it on the computer from recording the last copy, but having the record is best. To play some not had in 15-20 years leaves you a bit neutral after the first play as it needs to be re-assessed with your current ideals, if then it can hit you as great as it did years before after a few plays. One 1950s R&B 45 we got, played it once & thought we have no wish to play it again, but a few days later it was next in the pile & it was enjoyed again & again since. With some records we do find their day has passed though, slower tracks can suffer this way, not having the patience for them can 'hide' their appeal until just played & then the song hits you. Generally slower songs have a harder time being 'accepted' by the typist today as can Big Chart Hit records that we have had lots of copies of. Songs that were "Ours" as in unknown unwanted obscurities are the ones we play & to find years later that maybe for our efforts these songs are now known by many others is sort of strange. We certainly have 'discovered' a lot of great obscure 45s & seeing them on YouTube, CD compilations & Reissued 45s is nice as it's our find you're enjoying. Life goes on... we certainly like to discover The Best Records & The Best Hi-Fi in our years of interest, and you're reading the site of one who dares to try the obscure in a big way so find the good stuff. 

Hi-Fi News/Record Review Finally Understands Rock & Pop.
June-Aug 1973 has a three-parter by Michael Slade called "Pop" if it covers Rock mostly. Considering the music they talk of is no more than 10 years old, we thought the first part was intelligently written by someone who understands the Music, instead of the dull looking grey accountant-type guys you see pictured on the pages. Can't find anything on Michael Slade on Google that is obviously him, must be a Music Fan as they used to call them, but it's not his job. The first part covers Bob Dylan, The Beatles & The Rolling Stones as "the most important artists of the era" for their Pioneering work, if all 3 can be summed up by us as actually just initially covering Woody Guthrie, Motown, R&B & Muddy Waters songs. Bringing such music to the mainstream is the point though & to read these articles in a dry Symphony-obsessed mag like HFN/RR is good progress & we'll look out for Reader Letter opinions on the articles. Part 2 was more about Live Stadium Rock mentioning high power rigs Pink Floyd used & Part 3 seems to repeat Part 1 adding in Hendrix, Bowie & others. To just state that Albums are the most important format we'd not agree with, the Single was the thing until 1969 if at the 1973 time of writing, big Albums did define Rock better 1969-73 if most will only know the Singles from them unless they bought the albums. Most albums pre 1969 beyond The Beatles, Stones & Dylan were a few filler tracks with the hits, only really the further scene like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix & Jefferson Airplane as well as The Monkees, did Albums go a way to be a worthy buy. In 1973 this is all very recent to be able to look back to see perhaps. A good effort though, if "Pop" was the wrong word to use. For us as Record Dealers & Music Lovers, the Rock & Pop scene 1970-76 pre Punk is the least liked type of music, we've played enough of it but it mostly doesn't appeal like pre 1970 & the 1977-82 era. 

Fascinating Amplifier Circuit Designs.
We can read amp circuits very well now, some are much too complex with too much 'modern rubbish' like current mirrors, multiple differentials & the like. Not especially the design ideas are 'rubbish' but in our experience very few Differential era amps, post 1973 usually are as good sounding as earlier ones, the design just isn't very good. This gives very good specs but generally doesn't sound impressive. Most amps ever made have much the same basic design beyond overdesign, but only one we've found has the NFB from after the output transistors used in two different places. It's the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X the black label UA1384J version only. There is an earlier more common silver label that is the same amp as the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000. But the UA1384J version uses NFB from the output to two different stages which is unique as far as we know. The circuit is on HFE & on the page once rotated it's the second circuit version. The amp itself once upgraded is certainly one of the best Vintage amps as is the KA-6000, if it needs a lot to upgrade it as you'd expect. The TK140X isn't actually a great looking amp for the dreary lid & plastic control knobs & it'll likely have a dead tuner, but it's one we'll keep as a reference for the unique design. The KA-6000 does a similar double NFB to the same point but from before & after the output capacitor creating a tiny delay & a blur to the sound, the UA1384J does this to perfection. No DC Bias to adjust, the adjust pots just balance L+R audio (AC bias) on older less closely matched transistors. Is it the best Power amp design ever? Is it Reliable? The one we have is the one on the Amps Gallery, it arrived back trashed after catching fire & the buyer had used it for over a year. It's a bit of a wild one says us as we've found out from rebuilding it & trying more upgrades. 

The First Modern Amplifier from 1965.
This is the Sony TA-1120 released November 1965. It is a design based on nothing before it. All Silicon Transistors too makes it a World First. It was too good & too complex so it swiftly got redesigned as the TA-1120 first seen May 1967. It has two separate Phono stages of differing sensitivity, for MM cartridges. HFE wrongly states it's 1969-71. The TVK-The Vintage Knob site that we used to read before much else turned up appears untouched since 2012 features it. The TA-1120 & TA-1120A are actually very different in many ways, the preamps are totally different, the power amp is very different too if the rear section of the amp is much the same. A lot of "Firsts" with this amp, all Silcon transistors, stepped Tone controls made with discrete components, not a rotary pot, Pre Out-Main In connectors & Tone cancel switch. Too early for MC Phono & a Mute switch which arrived on 1969 amps. The better USA amps by Marantz & McIntosh which were still Valves or Germaniums & as our Reviews page shows others did arrive by 1966 like the Akai AA7000. The nearest Receiver to the 1965 TA-1120 is the Fisher 600-T if it is mostly Germanium transistors & even a valve for the Tuner. Having just used ours in comparing to the Fisher 600-T, both upgraded but still pretty much original, the sounds are different to a 1973 Yamaha CR-1000 that has the quality but not the low Damping Factor that gives the Sony & Fisher their pleasing sound, the Yamaha is much tighter sounding. We upgraded & rebuilt our TA-1120 but kept all the resistors as designed original, nothing altered, to at least keep the original sound of the amp, if it's much better spec compared to when new. All the kooky non-electrolytic capacitors left in it too. It may sound a little less detailed than some, but the joy of early Sony is that rich neutral sound that no other amp brand got close to. To see a 52 year old amp still sounding great, as rebuilt, is sort of strange, it doesn't look so old as Sony used the classic design until 1973 as the TA-1140 & TA-1150 are still in the style. The 1965 Fisher 600-T looks old if again all rebuilt on capacitors if the original circuit & Germaniums left. The 600-T could be upgraded more & made all-Germanium with higher spec & redesign, but it'll then sound fresher than a 1965 amp & sort of lose the pleasing originality of the sound. To not over-modernise both 1965 amps suited because they sounded so great. So the TA-1120 is The Daddy of All Modern Amps, but note the Nov 1965-May 1967 date & the TA-1120 manual shows serial number 1001-4000 of ours in a 5100 serial has just a few changes on the power amp, ours was faulty on those added bits so remove them & put it to the earlier design. So 4000 were made & very few made it to the UK, see our TA-1120 review. Since getting ours after looking out for one for over a year, to only know of three others including ours shows the rarity. The TA-1120A is much more findable. The design of the TA-1120 we cover on our Review makes good use of Buffer Stages which do make a better amp if few later amps use them, the 1972 Realistic STA-220 has a buffer on the Power Amp input stage as does the TA-1120 but not the TA-1120A. The TA-1120 goes with the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X UA1383J version as one of the Best Amplifier designs. How strange both are rare amps... 

What Don't We Like In Amplifier Designs?
There's a question. We've gazed at enough circuits & criticized enough amp to know what usually means good sound & what means it'll never be much. Some we've covered before like ICs a general purpose circuit with no finesse that will never, ever be Top Hi-Fi. Some Op-Amps use a ridiculous amount of needless circuitry & some can have 16 transistors in them. We don't like FETs beyond the MOSFET output. FETs don't allow much to be done with them, much like ICs, the design is fixed & FETs are usually not upgradeable in any way, as we first found with the 1971 Sony TA-1130 & 1975 NAD 300. MOSFETs are commonly used as output stages in amps past mid 1980s, they need an odd way to test & why are they needed when typical NPN-PNP output transistors in similar case sizes are fine. FETs are known to be good in FM 'front ends' as the 1968 Sony STR-6120 was the first (?) to use them. Darlington Transistors. Just a double transistor for high gain instead of using 2 transistors so it heads into IC much as ECL86 valves do, which are a driver & output in one valve. These output Darlingtons first noticed in B+O amps mid 1970s & a preamp one in the Heathkit AR-1500 tone stage & sounded better redesigned without it. Zener Diodes. We don't like these at all, it's a lazy way to pull an unregulated voltage down to the required voltage. Much seen in later amps, the zener is also a current limiter. The zeners used in the 1973 Yamaha CR-1000 power supply is different, the lazy ones put HT to ground are the trouble, but knowing people will read this & snip them out, they are usually there to set 25v from 40v as an example & without them you'll likely get problems. Unshielded Preamp Cable For Line-Level Audio. We've seen this in some higher quality amps that should really know better. Cable is shielded to stop hum though by dumbing down or careful routing of the cable, hum can be kept below an audible level but upgrade it further & the hum shows. Very short cable runs to Tone Controls won't cause problems, but to see unshielded cable disappoints as it will cause crosstalk also. The amp with the unshielded cable went from preamp to tape monitor switch to volume, so 24" of unshielded cable per channel. Glue on PCBs to hold capacitors. This is annoying & serves no purpose at all, except possibly when they wave-solder the boards. The capacitor doesn't need glue & it's often a pain to scrape it off without scratching the boards. The Yamaha CR-2020 overheating power supply uses glue on the hot top regulators & glue dries to a crusty black mess that may be slightly conductive, if we've meter-tested some to 20 Megohm & found 'not so', but it looks messy. Big Capacitors Fixed to PCBs. Main HT caps soldered onto the boards, usually with a blob of glue. The trouble with older amps is they can use obsolete multi-pin capacitors & to upgrade the main caps will just leave things looking messy as modern caps won't fit the board holes. Found this on the Yamaha CR-400, it has 3 pin ones & not much room to do neatly, so to leave as original after testing seemed best on an 18w amp. Germanium Transistors & Diodes. The USA & Japan made ones are high quality & should give no problems, if some are unfindable now. The problem ones are the UK & EU ones made by Mullard & others, AC140 & OC91 etc mean "poor quality". Early Transistor radios used Germaniums & some you'll see have 4 wires. These lousy UK-EU ones were badly made with tin lining the case insides & as not fully sealed, the tin oxidises creating 'tin whiskers' which as are metal will short out the transistor from inside. The extra 4th wire you find snipped on old portables to try to solve this, but on a 1964 Decca radio we have it 'works' but no sound as a bad Germanium somewhere, it uses AF114 & OC71 germaniums. But an earlier Aug 1958 Ultra radio still works as it used different Germaniums like Mazda XA101. 

What Will Fail In Amplifiers Over The Next Decades?
Certain amps can be forever repaired with transistors, diodes, resistors & capacitors. But the User-Interface things such as Volume Controls, Selector Switches & Push Buttons are already heading into risky territory. Generally the 1965-73 era ones are serviceable to be good again, but it's the later ones that were common by 1980-90 that will finish amps off. Those tiny potentiometers for Tone & even volume are already known to wear out, the 2007 Marantz PM5002 had a ropey volume if we got a spares one & the 1984 Sansui AU-G30X had a tiny balance control that was worn out, we took it apart to see how weakly & small it was. Nothing to replace either with is buyable. The smaller size PCB mount pots used for Tone as in many Japanese amps, the earliest we've seen are the 1972 Realistic STA-220, are still good as in an area that's not used too much & none found damaged yet. Volume controls get a lot of use & can be inaccurate once they get worn. The trouble is most have a Loudness circuit if ALPS Blue can sometimes be found with Loudness taper, we've yet to use one to replace. Sliders again the Realistic STA-220 has & these are large size ones as the 1968 Dokorder amp has so no issues there, but cheaper sliders on 1970s portable gear ofen failed fast, matchstick to hold the volume right was a known issue, but they'll be long since binned. Wraparound Wires On Posts. Instead of soldering a wire to a point on a board, an idea that Hitachi then Pioneer started in 1971-72. In repairing & upgrading be sure some will break off as the wires are too short. Currently these 45-46 year old amps aren't having a problem with these machine-wrapped binding posts, but bare wire wrapped tight onto bare metal post will get worse, just look at unused ones they are greyed from light oxidisation, one post used may still be bright under, but it's not sealed & you can't solder them either as the wire has slightly oxidised too. Hot Lightbulbs. These have already ruined many of the 1977-80 era Marantz receivers as hot plastic goes brown & crumbles. But as LEDs mentioned above shows, there are some soloutions to this. Some bulbs such as FM indicators rely on the bulb dropping the voltage so an LED probably won't work. All these mean that junk audio heads to the skip, but for unaware people getting house clearances etc today they do treat all old gear as junk, if hopefully these days there are those raking through e-waste & wised up. 

Upgrading is Design Work & We Must Fully Test The Amplifier.
Many will only recap like-for-like as this takes no real skill. Still needing to buy quality parts & do the job neatly isn't often seen in amps we've had that have been 'messed' with. One Repair Guy won't even recap unless the capacitor is bad, but falsely states recapping is risky because the can't rectify problems. We Can. We've been upgrading amps since 1990, learning what can be done & mastering it, starting from basic ideas early on. Today we can recap-upgrade to really Bring the Best out of a good amplifier. Often this needs fine tuning in the realms of design & no two amps are the same, even differing models in a range. To be sure the amp is good to use is the main thing, to check it's Stable in use, no noises, wobbles or unpredictability is a must. Switches & Controls once the amp has settled for 1-2 minutes after switch on have to be acceptable in use. Some amps are with minor noises on controls as made & to be aware this is how they are. Loud crack noises on speakers in use are scary as you don't know if it'll trash the speaker. To run the upgraded amp in for several hours & then test & adjust to be correct. Some amps again aren't perfect with some differential-era amps having 100mV on the speaker outputs & no way of adjusting. As long as DC on the speakers is no more than 100mV it's safe to use, if it's not ideal, it's the best it can be without having to overdo things, originality is important too. So to Upgrade takes design knowledge & problem/fault solving to rectify what is unexpected & be sure nearly every amp will have to be fine tuned to a degree to keep it safe to use. 

1973 Brings The Peak Years of Quadraphonic.
The idea of 4 channel sound has grown since 1970-71. JVC Nivico unwisely ditched all their Stereo amps to just make 4 Channel ones. Adverts & articles said it was the Next Logical Step up from Stereo, but it was unsurprisingly a big failure. Too many 4-channel LP formats. The Amplifiers were expensive yet usually only 10w-15w per channel. The Budget Stereo makers latched on to sell even cheaper versions, all to a disinterested Public. By 1974-75 Quadraphonic was considered finished. Looking at circuits of the higher power 4ch amps, the Stereo mode was often by Bridging two rather low spec stages together, or just using 2 of the 4. We first had a Marantz 4ch one with Dolby so it was a high model, £20 junk shop buy in about 1996, one of the 4230 or 4240 ones with Dolby & Dimension control, all look much the same inside, if ours had 7 control knobs looking at a blurry photo of it so can only be one of two. 4230 goes for about £150-£200 in USA & the 4240 nearer to £200 so hardly much wanted even for Marantz & the retro appeal. Playing with Dolby was interesting if also pointless. Long ago, but don't remember it sounding very exciting, around the time we got a Rogers Cadet III as one is sat on top of it with our first Technics SL-1500 found about the same time. Looking at the Marantz 4230 circuit as it's crisper than the 4240 one, the circuit is a busy one to understand, to the point you'd need the amp here to see what each board was without taking ages to work it out if the Service Manual does state what the numbered boards are for. It basically is two stereo amp boards for 4 channels of amplification. 4 channels are made into 2 by BTL-Balanced Transformerless Connection aka Bridging as we state. The one we got had no 4ch decoder & from looking at later Magazine ads it seems these ones were sold on cheap after 1974 as there'd be no use for 4ch but it's still a Stereo amp. To see how cheap these are discounted will be revealed as we read more HFN/RR. The idea of Multichannel only really resurfaced with 5.1 Stereo on Film Soundtracks for Domestic use. The idea of Multichannel has no appeal to us, the fact big 15" speakers can deliver a full sound with enough Stereo width & "it's behind you" effects are not unknown, using tiny 3" speakers & a sub is far from our ideas of Audio. To get a Quadraphonic amp since hasn't happened, we've been asked about upgrading one, the owner of a good brand one said it sounded dull & blurry as we would expect. It's not really worth upgrading was the reply we gave as it'll never be what you want it to be. How we'd get to check any 4ch decoder & all the inputs is the trouble also. Explains why the Marantz ones don't make much. Avoid quadraphony, unless it interests. (**2020 opinion on 4ch amps is very different)

The "Whoomp!" Factor in the Best Amplifiers.
You may think we sit around playing amps loudly all days, Sadly yes, we do & it's so boring... not. It's research. The "Whoomp!" factor is how hard the amp can deliver a bass whoomp yet still give clean detail. We've known one as a great test track because it does just that at the start, making it a regular play since we've been comparing amps. It's by Intaferon with "Steamhammer Sam" from 1983. For the low spec of many amps as original, we rarely heard & felt this delightful phenomenon, as even on headphones if played right it can appear to hit the desk & make your back feel it in the chair. If that's just what you're looking for from an amp, you'll need it upgraded as no amps are sold with this sort of quality. The "Whoomp!" is a mix of large dynamics with enough power to deliver them without flattening as well as high quality to not leaving it sounding rough. We've not gone all "What Hi-Fi" on you, but delicate sounds are important to get but so is a good kicking amp sound... we'll stop writing the w! word as you get the idea. This is what some amps can upgrade to bring. We've played a batch before typing, two 50w amps, two 60w amps, one 70w amp & then a 130w one. A mix of capacitor coupled & differential era amps, in reality neither if done correctly are the best, which is why we'll play transistor amps of any year 1965 to date in search of the sound we want to hear. Amps with doubled output transistors such as the 1965 Sony TA-1120 can do the whoomp! well if ours is still the original resistors design if all upgraded & it can be heard not quite giving the precision. The other 50w has the precision & has a good amount of kick if not quite the TA-1120 amount. The two 60w amps, fully upgraded, are obviously 10w more power & a little extra weight of kick. One did bass deeper so appeared more lively in comparing back. The 70w one is also fully upgraded & a real experimental one. The sound of this was a little scary & brought chair-effect bass kick through headphones. That was especially pleasing. All of the others beyond the TA-1120 have the quality of focus that makes a great amp. How about the 130w one, you know which one it is, the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X. We've said the sound does differ from early amps & to hear it play was not as expected having played it enough times. The amp goes loud like the 70w one but there was no bassy kick at all, we turned it up but it got too loud rather than bring out the kicking bass sound. It has doubled output transistors so has a hefty current in the 130w. But it didn't have the sound. It appears to have a high damping factor that as the term means, it damps the sound to sound flatter. See June blog for a Valves opinion.

Damping Factor In Amplifiers.
Continuing from the 'fun' above... The 70w one has a DF of 70. One of the 50w has a DF of 29. The TA-1120 has a DF of 70. The AU-G90X has no DF findable if THD is 0.003%. These THD specs are totally meaningless if the sound as it was originally was thin, lacking real bass & a bit edgy. THD just tests how distorted a sine wave gets, of no use when your ears tell you. We had the Musical Fidelity A308CR & it sounded lacking in 'excitement' with it's DF of 250, the AU-G90X must be similar. Based on amps we've plyed & found the DF in the specs, 30-70 is a typical "Good Sounding Vintage" with Valve Amps & some early low power transistor amps of Silicon or Germanium having lower DF. One early transistor amp had a very low DF of about 10-15 & this is perhaps not good for speakers as it doesn't damp them at all. It may sound exciting but we heard from the one who bought it that they were a little scared of it on the speakers for the bass. Damping Factor is related to Output Impedance. In the early 1960s ideas that anything above a DF of 20 was of no use, but clearly amps having a DF of 250 or more do lack the richer sound. Output Impedance explained on Wikipedia, if they say a High DF has better control of a speaker, not true in terms of music, if too high it restricts the cone movement. You'll have seen cheap speakers flapping wildly, these are poorly damped in themselves and/or the amplifier. 15" Tannoys even playing a loud 50Hz tone barely move as they are large & well damped, so don't need a high DF to sound good, but cheap speakers or ones for PA work do.

Amplifiers With The Best Tone Controls Sound Best On Speakers.
We try all our amp on the speakers & we're finding the most enjoyable ones are those with a good Tone stage with good gain & not too thin on treble or too thick on bass. The 70w amp above is a little lacking on speakers as we do need Bass & Treble gain to watch TV at a certain volume. Some amps need only about half of the gain to sound right, some need full treble gain & could do some more. The same 70w amp has an awful bass gain, it gets too thick sounding without just adding deeper bass. So which one sounds best on speakers usually has more than enough Tone gain. The specs may say it has ±10dB but in listening ones with that range can sound so different. All a part of Matching amps To Speakers, as our Loudspeakers page tells more on. In testing a few amps that are all upgraded here, the 'tone' of each varies. The choice of a less midrangey sounding amp that emphasises detail more for treble being clearer & bass more prominent. Then another amp with a fuller midrange, still has the quality if a more neutral balance. Then others that you need to use Treble gain to max & not really get enough treble. Others that sound a little flat & 'small' in soundstage, but also can be more intimate. All sound different. Which one appeals in tests like this is actually difficult, live with one amp on speakers playing TV sound for a few days then swap. One will have more of that but less of the other or vice-versa. Overall to play male voices is the decider, to sound full without sounding too thick sounding, as in sound, not the voice owner. All a matter of taste. For TV sound, some channels are better than others, but generally HD ones sound better than SD ones, even switching between the same show as broadcast.

Matching Amps to Speakers.

This is often asked in Google searches to find us, we've added a list of amps we've tried on our speakers on the 'Loudspeakers' page. But the fact is we're using one of the best ever speakers, Tannoy Monitor Gold 15"s & these can make a modest amp sound good. The "Best Tone Controls" section just above shows how even amps we've upgraded with our best ideas still can sound very different on speakers. There is No Other Way to find what matches your speakers best than to try a few amps in one Listening Session. Most will have smaller size speakers & most of these despite the hype & selling prices only give an idea of the sound compared to a 15" speaker that is as big as a piece of furniture. Small speakers are unable to deliver the full lower midrange & bass. You can get used to the sound & think it sounds realistic, but it doesn't even sound like a person talking in the room does. we've always found speakers disappointing & first built big cabinets from old heavy chipboard in the early 1990s & fitted 12" then 15" Fame 200w PA drivers & the suitable tweeter, in those days a bullet tweeter. But homebrew speakers need a good crossover, we just built them the same sort of size as a pair of 1960s 'Rigonda' speakers, the piano finish ones that came with a low power musc centre-radiogram type thing, they weren't bad but on reflection they'd not sound so great being used to how the Tannys sound. The first speakers we bought were Sony APM ones in all-black, likely the '22ES' model. Silly square driver made from a traditional cone fixed to a board of aluminium foil with a honeycomb grid making it rigid. Less surface area than a cone is the reality. The tweeter was a soft dome one & they got cranked up with the Realistic STA-2280. Bass from the STA-2280 was awful we found on getting one again a few years ago, heavily bass limited, so as a teen to use Loudness & the awful IMX expander at least filled it out. It must have sounded really awful.

Have we enjoyed writing this Hi-Fi Website?
We've just re-read & indexed the 'Deciding Top Amps' page which was an extension of the 'Hi-Fi Reviews' previously called the 'Top Amps' page. The Top Amps page used to rate amps we had in order of those we liked best & gave them marks out of ten. Seems a little odd now, to rate our current batch we know is too hard to do. the later version grouped these amps as Top Amps, Highly Rated & Recommended, the basis for today's ratings. Our Hi-Fi pages were just one long page until Oct 2011 which started out with a section on old record players which is the 'Retro' Old Players page still online. And then it grew... Some of it towards the end duplicates newer sections further up & is still a worthy read, if it does show our progress. Finding amps that better ones known was enjoyable, to progress from a 13w Trio amp & B&O Beomasters to find amps that gave more detail & quality. Of slightly more recent years, to upgrade amps having surveyed the 1965-78 amplifier & receiver scene including revisiting ones that in retrospect were of better potential than others to upgrade. Upgrading early on could be very unpredictable in what amps would upgrade well, not a case of skills lacking but the amps themselves. Realising no amp with ICs will ever upgrade to be as good as you hope first found with the 1986 Realistic STA-2280 that we bought new in 1988 & got another one back in 2011. It got recapped losing a lot of the low spec bass limiting that was obvious on revisiting, but in those days not going into more upgrades, even then the fact it had ICs could be heard as a weakness that other amps could do better. Finding Yamaha amps when these were pretty much ignored unlike today because of our interest, the first we got was a CR-1000 in 2012 as the price seemed good & the amp looked nice. Understanding it was another thing & only very recently on fully rebuilding-upgrading another one do we get to hear how good the amp is, instead of the harsh sound the amp is. Then finding some great 1965-67 amps & receivers, the early JVC-Nivico were ignored until we found them, getting a good selection of them as we did the Yamaha. Only now after trying so many amps can the ones that we liked best be known, we've sold most on as we're not collecting them. But still surprise unlikely good amps like the Realistic STA-220 that is mentioned a lot above turn up. Several times over the years we've thought there can be no more good amps to find, we still think that as of typing, but then another appears. Has it been enjoyable helping progress Vintage Hi-Fi like no one else online. You bet it has, long may it continue.

The British Hi-Fi Boom 1972-73.

HFN/RR Sept 1973 publishes some interesting data from BREMA, British Radio Equipment Manufacturers Association. Sales of UK brands of Audio including all types from Portables to Hi-Fi grew 94% from Jan-May 1972 to Jan-May 1973. This means 384,000 audio systems of any description sold compared to 187,000 in the previous year. This naturally only covers UK brands, the USA & Japan brands sales are not mentioned. Record Players took a slight dip but as Tape grew it's just a stats difference. Be sure most of these sales were for Non Hi-Fi gear by Radiogram & Music Centre-System makers, the budget end of things & portable radios, if not covering TV items. Department stores get 30% of sales, Independent Hi-Fi shops get 40% & the Discount stores get 30% which is a little surprising, if "multiple retailers" as the term is for the Dept Stores could cover Discounters as the terms are blurred. It reveals the old Green Shield Stamps brand turned into Argos as Wikipedia confirms, we remember books of stamps were given away & collected to be exchanged for goods in a similar way as Argos started out by selling for cash. How many forged these stamps, the cashier never bothered to check the stamps too closely. Argos at one time was a hugely busy shop for general goods by brand names so they will have shifted a lot of Audio items. For those who know UK History, it didn't last long in this boom as by 1974 Power Cuts, Strikes, Three Day Week & Petrol shortages took over... It'll be interesting to see how Hi-Fi fares in the 1974-75 mags, on going through the Hifi Yearbooks for Amps & Receivers it was a slow time, if at least it killed off Quadraphony.

Fake High Power TO3 Transistors Trashed My Amp. Pt 1: Is It An Easy Repair?
We are very careful buying Power Transistors online & stick to established Electronics sellers, if you then rely on them to not sell fakes, but this happened to us on one of our own amps. The seller is one we've bought from before, we needed one MJ802 for an amp, it's a 200w 30A 100v one so a high spec one. The same amp we'd used for the last 2 days on the speakers with an equivalent in, so the amp was trusted. But we got a fake if paid the usual price for it. It caused a small puff of smoke from one of the resistors if then blew the 3A main fuse, on 240v this means 720w rated so a full short occured. The transistor was a fake of an "ON" brand one which Farnell etc stock others. ON are a reputable brand related to Motorola, but as just one had failed, to buy another of the same brand is fine, as the others test correctly. But look at the photo Fake Power Transistor it has a burnt dot on the case that wasn't there before. We tested the transistor was right before using it, the Diode tester on the meter showed about '560' which is a little high we thought for new ones, usually it's about '490-520', but to allow for production tolerances as this isn't unknown. All tested correct so fit it & then that happened. Dropping the transistor on the table after pulling it out it makes a tinny noise unlike real high power ones so is a 100% fake, to drop another real high power transistor or any other makes a more weighty dull noise. We now have to check the whole R channel isn't damaged further & it worked fine the last 2 days with an equivalent used instead, we had the amp on the speakers with TV sound for several hours so it was trusted as it tested fine. Testing the amp, it trashed a total of 5 transistors in various places. A repair on this particular amp is not so easy as we searched for equivalents of the same case size, no joy finding a matched pair so to use similar but of a different type means to replace all 4 in the amp. An afternoon wasted, if it's sad to see it wrecked so eventually it costs us about £40 in new parts & have to match replacements so 1 bad out of 4 L+R channel means all 4 must be replaced if the original transistor is obsolete to keep the amp in balance. To fairly charge 3 hours work & test to be sure it's reliable for it's heavy trashing of the power amp plus courier costs for a customer makes buying a £3 transistor & getting a fake could easily be a £150-£200 repair in total. The amp now works again & is trusted. It needed a LOT of new parts for reasons of obsoleteness & matching all correctly. For replacing so many, ie the whole lot on the power amp boards we replaced the differential pair too matching the HFE. So one amp now has 18 new transistors at a cost of £42 just in parts. Plus easily 5 hours work in all. See June 2017 for Pt. 2.

Unreliable Antex Soldering Irons Pt. 2

The old "new improved" more flexible cable with steel strands not copper has proven totally useless. The wire just breaks as it's not got many bends before breaking & the cable is too short. A new one goes back to the copper wire as they'll have got complaints & adds a moulded plug so is the new batch. But we're not throwing away a failed cable one just for the bad cable. The new one has 50" or 127cm of cable. The "new improved" one is down to 40" after breaking 3 times now & it's a pain. As with many things today, wire not long enough to save a few pennies & guarantee failure, we expect previous 'failed' ones would work if the cable was redone. So to do that. But we've cut 72" or 183cm of cable to fit, allows enough use & movement with no strain, we fit this length to amplifiers on rewiring as it's the right amount to use, around 6ft or 2m of cable is a proper cable length. To repair a soldering iron needs... a soldering iron & once one fails we'll have a new one ready & have a new spare at all times. It's like with any tools, you keep losing one, solve the problem by getting 2 or 3 of them. Wasting time 'looking for lost small things' is one of the most annoying things in any repairs as well as 'oh, it went on the floor' & even 'it fell inside a drawer that was slighly open'. Being aware of the annoyances & there'll be the answer solved most of the time. another thing with Soldering Irons is to keep them lasting a long time, don't tap the tip on the iron spring stand as it'll weaken the insides & usually, despite what the box states, don't pull off the soldering tip as this often causes the elements to fail for the strain on it. Only remove the tip to replace as the one we have is getting a bit holey further up as the plating goes & the rest disintegrates with the heat. The re-wired soldering iron works fine & as solder throws out more smoke now it shows the steel wire must be poor in several places so it rarely gets the full temperature. A small £4 desk fan keeps the smoke & fumes away. We don't use the Lead-Free solder, it solders poorly like a dry joint & needs a higher temperature. Only 60% Tin /40% Lead is any good. When Lead-Free Solder was first out we got some, found it soldered badly & the fumes gave a neck rash. Always to use 60/40 on vintage gear as mixing the types may not age well.

How To Successfully Trash An Amplifier In 'Normal Use'.
There are several ways & all will be as 'successful' as the other. It'll cost quite a bit to repair the amp, so only try these if you want to get your amplifier repaired regularly... Some amplifiers may save themselves with fuses & relays, a 'Protection Circuit' often isn't quite what you think it is & both relays and fuses may not trip in time to save damage. This is written as a 'How To' guide as it's what people do to trash amps & then they need repair. This is how they do it... Connect speaker wires badly so strands touch the opposite connector to create a short circuit that will wreck the output stages for an excessive current draw. It is possible to do this to an amp & as the current needs about a second to grow, you may get away with not trashing it. The only way you can try this is to look at the amp as you short it & see things start to burn & power off quick enough. Turn The Amp On Then Off Then Back on all within a few seconds. On high spec amps including upgraded ones, the voltages need a minute or so to settle. Doing this careless on-offery can make the amp totally unstable so it'll trash the output stages & burn things. This is why many amps have low spec so you can do silly things to them & not get into bother. Treat High Powered Amps with Respect. High Power is 40w+. Plug In an Input with the Volume Turned Up & The Amplifier Switched On. If the amp doesn't have a proper Mains Earth there will be a floating AC voltage on either input possibly which will put a huge signal into the amp. The outcome could be fried speakers especially tweeters & it can trash the power amp. Cover Your Amplifier with cloth or similar so it overheats. This one may take some time to do, but Your Cat may find the warmth from your amp appealing so it sits on it for an hour. Poor ventilation causes heat build up in small cabinets also. Put A Pot Plant In A Saucer or Outer Pot On Your Amp. Beyond watering the plant & dripping water, you're not that silly, but excess water that collects in the outer container will be subject to outside condensation & the condensation collects & becomes water drips. This happens to furniture too & why the plant pot has marked your prized antique as the wood sat wet despite the outer pot protecting it. Pull Out A Valve With The Amp Still On & Replace It. Probably commonly done by guitar users on smaller ECC83 type valves, if the risk of not plugging the replaced valve in correctly could get pins mixed up. But to yank out a working valve will upset voltages & could make a loud noise to damage things. Unlikely anyone yanks out big EL34 output valves with at least 400v on them & for how hot they get. You may burn out resistors & transformers, a speaker could burn out too for the loud noise. Put 240v into an amp made or set to 110v. This is a more advanced one, double the power into a 30w amp makes it a 60w amp, right? But instead you'll burn out the power supply & possibly ruin the main transformer. A 500w (VA) rated amp is the same VA rating at 110v or 240v as the 110v draws double the current. We've never seen an amp trashed thusly, so it's only an estimation as it'll pull in double the current at 240v if set to 110v so it'll depend on the design of the amp. All Very Foolish Things To Do, So Don't Do it. But we've seen the outcome of most of these & to repair for the amount damaged could easily be a £200+ repair. Then test it out & trust it again. Would you trust an amp that had heavily smoked, gone bang or caught fire previously? As techs we can & have, but the owner of one we got back trashed was scared of it & wanted rid, so we bought it back & were unsure if it was repairable. It was, but the cost to a customer can get too high to repair & then forever think "that amp" nearly did whatever they see it as. Be careful out there.

What An Upgraded Amp Can Bring You... Long Forgotten Happiness.
For the risk of sounding like a Life-Changing advert, it's what we hear back from those buying & getting amps upgraded by us say. The owner of the Sansui AU-666 mentioned above & on the reviews page had a great few days rediscovering his Record Collection hearing it in far better sound than they'd heard before. No mere sales hype, we've been playing a lot of vinyl on our Luxman LX33 valve amp to the point of finding great tracks we'd not taken much notice of. One we've had for 12 years, it's a rare one so unknown is realised to be a lost gem as have a few others. How did we miss that? By not taking enough notice. Enjoying Music on any Hi-Fi that makes it sound Better Than You've Heard It Before makes you Feel alive, escape the never-ending misery of Life Today, as the News pukes every negative thing that happens in the world at you. By properly getting back into Your Music that you've probably known 10, 20, 30, 40 years. Remember more carefree times & notice How Old you've become forgetting to Play Music & take notice. Playing your Old Tunes whatever they may be revives you & soon you'll see how Dead & Miserable other people your age look because you've Woken Up to Life again... because of Enjoying Music again. Yeah, cranking it up loud in the car & wailing along like you used to long ago. Note people you see on TV shows like 'Bargain Hunt' the ones into music or are eccentric never seem as aged as the ones with boring jobs & boring lives. Never forget Music is a very powerful Happiness Maker. Middle Age woes of having affairs, buying stupid cars & dressing like a 70s swinger are the painful excesses of realising you're half dead, forget all that, put on some tunes & let the years fall away. "Still Got It!", yes, but it's old & wrinkly now... Don't feel embarrassed that Your Music Is Old, it's now Modern Classic, we're surprised how much 50s & 60s music is on YouTube these days. Be sure anyone hearing these songs from 50+ years ago won't care how old they are if they like them. In the 1980s & 1990s the sort of music we like & sell on this site wasn't expensive to buy as it is today so we got through loads of great songs for the chance of trying for small money.

June 2017 Blog. 

Doubled Output Transistors Pt. 1.
Not many amps have these unless over 100w as it increases the current to push amps to 200w+ territory. But in Vintage there is just one Amplifier (we've had) that has this, the 1965 Sony TA-1120 & also the 1967 TA-1120A. Originally the idea was to give higher power when Transistors were no more than 50w rated. The 1965 Fisher 600T Receiver does this also with Germanium outputs to get a true 45w, likely other early Fisher use similar design, if to find one is the challenge. The extra current even using modern transistors is obvious audibly as double the instant current does give more weight to the sound, even on Headphones. It's like hearing the Damping Factor is lower as in how different they can sound on the early 'DF 15' ones, but it controls Speakers better than that for the extra current. The sound has more 'authority' & the 75w Pioneer SA-9500 with Doubled Outputs sounds similarly fuller. There is another 1960s amp, the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 that has heatsinks with 2 empty spaces. Originally it had 2SD213 (100w 10A) in the first TK-140X & the KA-6000 has 2SC898 (80w 7A), depends what was available it seems. So no real need to Double the KA-6000 outputs despite the spaces. But we had some spare fittings so spent ages wiring it to Double Transistors, because we can. The difference was obvious, more confident weighty sound like the Sony has. Comparing KA-6000 & TK-140X now both upgraded the same, the Doubled Outputs of the KA-6000 does give it an extra finesse. Hard to put in words, maybe like hammering in nails, not so satisfying with a light Modern hammer, but use a heavy old Vintage hammer it just feels better as more weight to it so hammering is more confident. Yes, it's a great idea, but as with anything upgrade, it requires further redesign & if the amp isn't capable you could end up trashing it. Don't try this on your amp, it's advanced stuff. Best to look for amps made with Doubled Outputs to hear how the sound is different. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X has 8 output transistors, but as it's a balanced design, it's not the same thing. Of the Yamaha 1970s amps only the CA-1010 & the huge CR-3020 have doubled outputs, if they are 100w+, the CR-2020 gets by on a standard set. The 1971 Akai AA-8500 has Doubled Outputs & again had the extra weight of sound. The 1977 B&O Beomaster 4400 has doubled outputs also. Not all sound as great in other ways though, they do all have the extra weight but the rest depends on the design & how upgradeable they are. 160w amps like the Sansui G8700DB have doubled outputs, but despite the high power the sound had none of the quality as the design was so cost cut. To fully upgrade an amp like that fully would bring it's best out, but could it cope?

Germanium Amplifiers? Why Bother?
Germanium amps are from 1962-66 mostly. Only the USA & Japan brands are worth trying, forget the UK & EU ones with AD140 as these age badly. We first found Germaniums in a few 1966 amps we've reviewed & the Fisher 600-T is mostly Germaniums from Input to doubled Outputs. The KLH 27 amp we have for sale currently was all Germanium on the Power amp but the trouble with Germaniums, they aren't very powerful so to do the KLH right needed Silicons. But just having Germanium outputs gives the smooth Germanium sound, in reality the rest aren't so important, just the Outputs TO3s. Germanium transistors aren't as wide range as Silicons so have a different treble characteristic for not needing to amplify to 1 MHz or more range when Audio is 20Hz to 20KHz. Less power wasted amplifying inuadible RF hash gives the smoother sound. the JVC MCA 104E has Germanium outputs 2SB407 as our Solds page shows, these only amplify up to 400kHz as an example.

We Say It's a Good Amp.. Then Oops! Too Many For Sale.

This is an odd one but not unknown. We rated the 1973 70w Yamaha CR-1000 as a great but difficult amp & there was a glut of them at one time making high prices in about 2014. The trouble here was our comments about the amp being a hard match to speakers were being ignored, on some of the run if not all as we later found out. It's still a great amp & we have one we've fully upgraded to lose the harsh sound & ours, for some early production run reason, sounds great on speakers. The current "bother" is the 1972 40w Akai AA-8080 receiver. It's as great looking amp with Pioneer SX-828 styling & despite being a quality midprice amp, for some reason it's become "common" if it's still a great amp as we reviewed it. But the first one we sold the seller needs to sell now so it's on ebay at a price cut & they slightly marked it, their amp now after many months with them so don't think it's anything to do with us selling it. Then we had a second one we sold but then 3 or 4 more "raw" AA-8080s are around, one sold for £99, another optimistically wants £200 for it when our first upgraded one is up for £290. So much "raw grade" hifi is way overpriced on ebay & there they sit forever. It's a shame to see good amps sit, but that's how it goes. Akai, like Yamaha were pretty much ignored until we rated them, similar with the 1967-72 era JVC-Nivico. We have influence with these amps, so are careful with what we write, but if too many appear as the word is out it's a good one, it messes up the market. The AA-8080 was around in the first Hifi Boom era of 1973 & in all the Shops and Discounters so it will have sold well as it sounded good. Similar happens with Rare Records, people see the price goes high so a lot of copies emerge. Some sell at high prices as the demand is there, but once a person has a nice copy, they don't need another & at some point the market wanting to pay top price is satisfied, leaving buying to those less willing to spend top prices & the next high grade copy of one £500-£600 regular seller goes at only £300 so no copies offered for over a year now.

Doubled Output Transistors Pt.2.
A High Current Amp does give a much richer sound. The idea to try the KA-6000 further was inspired by another amp having that weighty sound despite it having single transistors. That amp was the one that got wrecked by the Fake Transistor & it's the Heathkit AR-1500. Getting ready to compare them & the fake transistor trashes it if that morning we'd enjoyed playing the AR-1500 on the speakers using the temporary replacement. Playing some of the tracks used the day before with the KA-6000 on the AR-1500 reveals a similar weighty sound if it's not quite as sweet sounding as the KA-6000 yet. But we tried it again for the TK-140X sounding great but looking a bit unpleasing. Both amps have Tone Defeat & the AR-1500 sounds better without Tone on. The Heathkit you probably think is some crappy kit amp & most are. But not this 1973-74 60w amp it's top spec, a real great looking amp with a heavy cast fascia. But it's not respected as it's not known so goes ignored. In comparing the AR-1500 & KA-6000 the output clean AC is the same 31v as is the TK-140X, but the AR-1500 is the better for precision & control, the "not as sweet sounding" is as it's slighly more trebly than the KA-6000 that can be a little soft, if we'll upgrade it more.

Hi-Fi hit a Confident Peak in Late 1973.
The HFN/RR mag becomes it's hugest ever in Nov 1973 with 310 pages, Dec 1973 is 300 pages & even Jan 1974 is a large mag. All have a luxurious thicker paper colour Sony section picturing some very obscure but nicely Retro gear of all types of Audio from 10w Systems to the TA-1130, 1140 & 1150. The Nov 1973 issue has some rare ads from Brands we've not seen advertised, it was like Day Had Finally Broken on Hi-Fi-Audio as everyone had to be in the mag or you were nobody. This optimism is great to see but History knows how bad the UK got in Jan 1974 with strikes & 3 day week misery. The Dec 1973 for the first time ever puts a Rock Group on the front cover, not their usual deadly-dull pics, if Nov 1973 had German stamps with Hifi on. The group is "The" Pink Floyd doing quadraphonic with Alan Parsons. Be sure many Rock buyers bought HFN for this, page index says page 2587, they tiresomely still number by year, not issue & where is it? It's a Memorex tape ad. It's on page 2583 & is just about tech stuff on the "DSOTM" mega-selling Album, the one with 'Money'. Not a very interesting article to most. The Feb 1974 mag understandably is half the size at about 160 pages & it never recovers by the size of later mags for The Economy & 'What Hi-Fi' taking over the populist market in 1976. They explain Feb 1974 was supposed to be 10 pages of articles & 70 pages of ads extra, if 3-day-week got it limited if oddly all the regular dull articles & Classical reviews are here. March 1974 is back to 190 pages suggesting the 70 pages of ads was a lie as you don't cut advertising, the ads got cancelled is more the truth & at long last they number per issue, the tedious numbering by year was very out of date. The late 1973 adverts in a mag that was selling over 60,000 copies was really the peak of Hifi-Audio sales until the 1978-79 era. Ads for Quadraphonic & Cassette were aplenty, if Cassettes thrived, Quadro died a death as it was impractical & not very good. The ads were in colour often & not just lists of shops discounting, but the USA-type glossy mag type ads that people buy to frame them for Retro reasons. Money was being made, a good range of quality brands if a huge amount of cheap stuff certainly kept buyers happy, until it all went bad. Even today, Brexit, Bad News Stories & Election worries put buyers off buying. If no-one buys all suffer, but in reality life goes on, but confidence gets weakened. Hi-Fi did revive by 1978 for the Disco & John Travolta scene, the Japanese Monster Amps scene made Hifi-Audio boom again if this time by 1980 it swiftly fell off again, see the 1980-81 sections on amps-receivers listing page. Since 1980 we've had the CD boom in about 1988-94 that rode the early 1990s troubles as CD was to replace Vinyl & Tape. Only really MP3 & i-pods changed the Audio scene from 2001 if only got big after 2004. Audio changes it's face but Quality in Hi-Fi has never been at the heights of the pre 1980 era. They don't know what they are missing...

Heathkit AA-1214 Amplifier & other Heathkit.

Knowing how great the 1971 Heathkit AR-1500 is, a kit amp that is of high quality with great looks & heavy build, to see the AR-1214 with inside pics. UK first got Heathkit transistor amps in about 1968 & the Nov 1968 HFN shows a double page advert with "New!" on some of the range. The power ratings need understanding as The AR-15 is 100w RMS, but that's 2x 50w also 150w Music power, in the days of misleading specs. So... AR-15 receiver 50w, AA-15 amplifier 50w, AR-14 receiver 10w, AR-17 receiver 5w?. AJ-15 tuner also. Also an earlier range AA-22U 20w, TSA-12 10w. The AR-1214 is new in 1972 & is "50w" but in reality 25w IHF means 15w RMS per channel. The AA-1214 amplifier with 15w also means it's not so great once the power ratings are found. The outside of the AA-1214 has some quality to it in the fascia & side boards, Phono inputs & awkward screw connectors for speakers, like the UK Rogers ones. The inside is not so hot, it has an IC probably for the preamp, if the AR-1214 receiver doesn't. This one really does look like a kit amp & it's not too impressive seeing all main stages on one board. Only with the 1971 AR-1500 do Heathkit get into Top Quality Hi-Fi like the later AR-1515. This has more modern styling & the Tuner is a digital display. Other models we've not heard of on this site with a good listing of Heathkit, if not many will have been sold in the UK. Heathkit did kits of TV sets even & a 250w amp was one of their later efforts. But most of these will have been USA only as UK Distribution changed so the brand faded as few wanted to build kits.

You Want To Buy Vintage: Don't Narrow Your Sights Too Far...
We're getting those wanting Vintage Amps, but they are looking at the 1965-72 era with 1977-80 ideals. There are really not that many findable amplifiers around 40w-50w in this era. You can see those from our reviews page & from ones we've had, we hear that the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 & Sony TA-1120 or TA-1120A are the only choices that's being considered. There are other 1965-72 transistor amps that are mostly USA only like Fisher, Marantz, Sherwood & McIntosh that could be great too. Beyond us saying these amps could be 48-52 years old & need a full rebuild at a price that's not anywhere cheap to do it properly, buyers are missing out on receivers that are usually more plentiful in the 40w+ range. You may not ever use a Tuner as what is broadcast isn't your music & in testing receivers we usually use Radio 2 as the sound is uncompressed, but the music can not be our bag as it's a tame BBC channel after all. Receivers look great with an attractive Tuner stage dial & meters, on the best of these having a Tuner in with the Amplifier is no compromise. Don't forget the 1978-80 Monster Receiver Wars was based on.. Receivers & some of these were 160w-300w if why you need the power is another thing. There are some great amps & receivers of 20w to 35w that put out a good volume & are great value with good looks. You'd not bother with under 40w past 1972 as this heads into too-cost-cut territory, but we still remember the 1966 18w Coral A-550 & 1966 16w JVC Nivico MCA 104E that sounded great on speakers as they had enough volume even at 16w-18w. There will always be those seeking the best, well the truth is NO AMP is the best, the Trio KA-6000 has a Low Filter that is after the volume & can cause problems once upgraded, the Sony TA-1120 uses 100v bulbs that you can't replace & will need a huge rebuild. The TA-1120A has no proper headphone & will be bass-light for the kooky original red case capacitors. Some of the 1967 40w-45w receivers like Pioneer, Sansui & National need a lot of work to sound good. There is no perfect amp, all have issues. Just because we say the TA-1120 & KA-6000 are great amps, are they what you want & will they match your speakers? See our Loudspeakers page, a TA-1120A on 1992 Tannoy 609s sounded awful as it was a mismatch so sounded far too bassy with reduced midrange, see the "Bad Speaker Amp Match #2" section. If your speakers are low sensitivity & small drivers to use a 50w amp will be right on the full power to get a decent volume as your speakers are inefficient. Don'ty just jump in & buy the "easy answer" as it probably isn't what you need or will match what you have. We see our page views & getting info on amps to pick "The Best" is the main idea, but without any idea of what they sound like, you could end up being disappointed, or having to buy different speakers.

We Can Upgrade The 1965-69 "Sound" into quality Later Amplifiers

We like the 1965-69 sounding amps best & there are some into 1972 that have the same sort of sound if generally by 1973 things get cost-cut even with the big names like Pioneer & Sony. But even these cost-cut later ones: we can upgrade them to put some of the 1960s Quality into them, we've done this with some we've sold & in the case of 1972-75 Pioneer, these upgrade well if do need a lot upgraded. If an amp is midprice as is revealed more by looking at the insides, these upgrade well, but results will vary, some amps upgrade better than others. Look at our 'Hifi Sold Gallery' & the ones that look well made inside are always the better amps.

We don't get many asking about Valve Amps.
Hopefully our Valves pages have been read & to see how much work these need to rebuild & then the maintenance needed as well as the heat. Valves are great sounding, but to be honest, transistor amps can usually do the same & better overall. We've got the 1979 30w valves Luxman LX33 & after 3 years redesigning it, it's still not as good as we'd hoped, if in the June section it finally arrives. The original LX33 design is very poor in many ways sadly,. but an upgrader's dream. The Trio WX-400U we spent ages rebuilding & it did sound very nice but still had a background noise & 10w isn't really enough power. We'll rebuild Valve amps for customers, but to try another Rogers HG88 Mk III or similar, we've been there & done that, found out the limitations & moved on. Valves can sound sweet, but really the only valve amps that will please the modern user actually don't exist & never have, as the designs are so limited. The 2004 Prima Luna was a modern valve amp we had to try when upgrading & repairing & found it had some poor design. The owner of it sold it on, bought a Class A 30w amp for £2k+ and soon sold that on as it didn't sound so good as well as being way too hot in the room.

Phono Stages Still Best As Valves. 2003 compare Arcam FMJ C30 to Our Valves.
But for Vinyl we'll gladly suffer the heat of valves & regular crackly noises on the Luxman LX-33 if we try to lose the noise just as so far we've not tried to get a Phono stage as good as Valves in Transistors. Maybe we'll spend ages designing an Ultimate Transistor Phono stage. No FETS, no ICs. We bought a Arcam FMJ preamp, FMJ C30, both look the same back & front. The inside was a nasty surface mount & IC preamp & awful user controls, but the Phono stage after a little altering was actually very decent. We recorded a few Reggae 45s with it & our Valves & hardly any difference, if that was 2003 opinion. The FMJ C30 preamp has the circuit diagram, a 15 transistor & one op-amp thing, looks horrendous. Got the CD-R with both versions of the tracks recorded, need to dig it out & compare again... A CD we recorded late 2003 & it's got a rare 1968 Rocksteady track "Summertime" by Lloyd Clarke on UK Island, a crisp clean Bunnie Lee production, now a big money tune, if one we borrowed at the time to record together with the Ska cut of 'Artibella'. Easy to tell the valves version, the sound is deeper & it copes with strong sibilants well, resolving them properly, this was our Valve Preamp design probably only done in 2002-03. The FMJ C30 version is very close, but it sounds less open, it gets slightly mushed in the detail & the treble sibilants aren't as well resolved. The sound doesn't quite get you as involved as the Valves version does. The 'Artibella' Ska cut by Stranger Cole & Ken Boothe is a 1965 'Studio 1' cut, not the 1970 repress either. This from a crackly JA original is a great test which is why we recorded it to compare. On the FMJ version it's a bit flat sounding with treble a bit lacking. The valves version digs more detail out giving a soundstage that the FMJ just doesn't reveal. The mastering of 1965 Ska is hardly Hifi quality, but it shows how good an amp is at resolving detail. Just to be sure we got the FMJ vs Valve versions right, the 'kept' versions are the valve ones.

COMPARISONS: How Detailed are a Range of Amplifiers?
(based on the above test... )The amp we used to compare the above was the Heathkit AR-1500. To try other transistor amps, the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X next... 'Summertime' on both sounds much the same, if the FMJ is slightly weaker, not by very much. 'Artibella' again not much different beyond the FMJ slightly flat sounding. Next the Yamaha CR-1000, be aware all amps tested here are much upgraded ones, not "stock-original" versions. This amp is a different sound, on both versions of 'Summertime' it offers a deeper soundstage if the valves version is better detailed sounding more intimate. 'Artibella' sounds different too, if the valves version is more detailed on the rough recording. Next is the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X. Sound is very different here too, the sound appears very tight, stiff sounding with all the sounds there if it lacks a warmth to the sound. The AU-G90X is an amp you can get used to & find it more precise than others, if the music lacks emotion for being too precise. Trying a few other tracks, the AU-G90X sounds ploddy with a cardboardy sound that you either love or think is cold & clinical. The Realistic STA-220 & Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 next with the same opinion as the TK-140X. Back to the AR-1500 again shows it's a richer sounding amp if also a little more detailed than the others. Comparing amps together is interesting if your hearing can alter how one amp sounds in comparing to others, giving the mindboggling idea that "today the amp sounds dull, yesterday it was too bright". As long as the quality is there in the amp, you could live happily with any of these amps & get used to them as we have truing them on speakers. There is no "Best Amp", it's all a case of perception. If you like the sound of it, then it's a keeper. For the chance to test amps together, to try the others that are up for sale, might find a surprise. The 20w 1967 Trio-Kenwood TK-66 we've not played in a while, it got recapped with not too much else done beyond rebuilding the power amp. It does sound like it could upgrade more, it has a freshness that could be brought out further, 20w amps can sound very sweet & this certainly has enough volume to it as did the 20w Fisher 440-T. Hearing the TK-66 after the others is a nice sounding amp & it'll get more upgrades, if as usual Trio dead tuner issue. It sounds sweeter than the KA-6000 & TK-140X. Last to try is the Realistic SA-1500 amplifier. Modest looking 35w amp but it has a fresh lively sound. Another one that could upgrade further & sound way beyond what it looks & is expected to sound like, but then the reality of selling it comes in, so to not go too wild on it, though it could take more upgrades. The Pioneer SA-9100 didn't sound as good as this one.

What Transistor Amps Have We Enjoyed Using On our Loudspeakers?
We use some of the amps we have here on the Tannoys for daily TV use. Ones we've enjoyed most are the 1965 Sony TA-1120 used for a few months, 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 used for a few months, 1966 Akai AA-7000 used for over 6 months, 1969 Trio-Kenwood TK-140X used for about a month, the Realistic STA-220 used for about 6 months & currently the 1971 Heathkit AR-1500 is on the speakers with a pleasing rich sound giving more weight to voices than other amps, so it matches very well. Others we've used for a day to a week just to compare them. Some match better than others, some have a more Retro sound like the Fisher 600-T that was not as fresh sounding perhaps, but very enjoyable as it was pure 1966 sound. We usually only try upgraded amps on the speakers, not wanting to trust 40+ year old original amps, if many do buy "raw" amps on ebay etc & just use them unserviced & unchecked. Too Risky says us.

In Testing Hi-Fi A Neutral Sounding Reference Amp Is Required.

Time & time again we find listening to one amp upsets the hearing balance of what is "Normal" by being too bright sounding & it makes Neutral amps wrongly sound soft & unexciting. First noticed this in 2012 with the awful Radford HD250, an amp so harsh & bright as well as over-loud it really messed up comparing. We gave it a low review as it was a horror, if it's hyped as 'Reference quality'. Earlier today putting some TK-140X type upgrades in the Trio-Kenwood TK-66 that's up for sale. After giving it a good listening session we then tried it on Speakers, a 20w amp with a good sound if not the dynamics on speakers of the Realistic STA-220 we used to compare to. So then blow the dust off the 1967 KLH 27 that is being ignored as it's a tiny amp & 110v. After a very quick listen based on the TK-66 listening, how nice the KLH 27 sounds. Clean crisp treble, open bass & a lively sound that can give a bit of kick for 25w on the Germanium output transistors giving a pleasing smoothness to the sound. More sophisticated sounding than the TK-66 that has an odd Tone stage as it's limiter. the KLH 27 has all the TK-140X upgrades done long before which surprised. Application of ideas. The KLH is a great amp upgraded but as-original it's not very good at all as the power amp is poor, we rebuilt ours & had lots of issues with it. But that was long ago... We looked at the KLH just the week before, if didn't play it seeing it has lots of unshielded audio signal cables, clearly not so critical in some amps but it is in others. So after revisiting the Heathkit last month, to revisit the KLH. Good job no-one knows these amps as they'd be long gone. Early days still on Vintage Amps & Upgrades if the above does show progress that we see.

1973 Harrison S200 Amplifier - What Is It?

This appears in the Oct-Nov 1973 HFN/RR with a photo of it. The futuristic looks appealed so to look closer. £169+VAT in 1973 buys you a 100w per channel British Made amplifier. It has early touch-sensitive panels like B&O did on the 1976 Beomaster 1900, what looks like Chromed control knobs all on a black fascia with a light panel below with push buttons etc. Gimar Ltd of London WC1. LED output meter is early & 'computer controlled' logic function selectors, if it's just likely a simple transistor switch circuit having seen the B+O. Does feature in the 1975 HFYB but missed the 1974 & does feature in others to the 1979 one. Did it sell? Have we seen one? Appears to be a rare one as not much on Google if there are pics of it. Toroidal transformer & a few PCBs on end close together in a row with no shielding. Hard to tell if the parts are of good quality or Goodmans-Leak TV grade if some are larger film capacitors so it could be a good one, if it does look a little 'British' in quality, that Kit-Amp look. Seems Harrison-Chapman carried on into the late 1980s making Power Amps in Disco type rather than Hifi quality, so the S-200 must have failed. Pity as it looks interesting. Nothing on ebay of recent so Rare it is. For it being a UK amp, hard to tell what quality it'd be. 100w for 169 in 1973 sounds a bit 'midprice' as the 100w Marantz 1200 is £399 if Pioneer SA-1000 94w into 4 ohm is £148. One we'd try if we saw it, but Rarity means only you reading this probably have one long gone unworking that needs repair-upgrading. We'd like to see it. HFE has nothing on the brand, so one of those mystery amps to spend ages working it out.

We see your Amp on the Solds Gallery Page... What Did It Sell For?
A naive person just asked this, no reply for you. No doubt they have one & want free pricing info instead of putting it up for auction. As if we're going to put prices of upgraded amps once sold. We know the trouble with publicising the pricing on our Serviced Amps & then Upgraded Amps. The person with Raw untouched Vintage Hi-Fi has no realisation that Work & Servicing can add value & Upgrading can add a lot more value. A "raw amp" in nice visual grade working or not but not trashed might be worth £100-£150, properly serviced & working it could be £250-£300 & Recapped-Upgraded it could be £450-£600+. But the unaware person with the raw amp doesn't see anything beyond the top price, explaining why there is so much Overpriced Aged Hifi on ebay. There is one website that gives selling prices for "Raw Amps" & as this is the Reality of what original untouched amps sell for, so Google for Hifi Shark. We just put in the Yamaha CR-1000 & to see a range of prices $200 to $590, but no way of knowing the state of the amp on sold ones, from not working & tatty to pretty in the original box. It shows one for $399 plus $280 shipping & import charges making it an expensive buy for a UK buyer & it's a 117v-only one so further care needed. We first got a CR-1000 in Nov 2011 for £90. Had no idea what it was if it looked nice & not a high price. Yamaha were totally ignored at the time, only us saying 1973-78 Yamaha are very good has got them recognised as being worthy since. In these earlier days when we were learning the sound of Transistor Amps as Original, we spend ages Servicing it but didn't really understand it for the loud harsh sound & eventually sold it May 2012 for £250 which was an earner for the work, if it now seems very low now the market has progressed. Pricing Amps needs care, as does upgrading them knowing they'll be for sale as the Market gets cautious over about £800 for fully upgraded vintage amps. We just sold one of our Best Amps with a lot of upgrades for a price that doesn't reflect the work put into it, but to price to sell it, as it had other issues. In reality the "value" in the amp was about Double the sell price, but we do these Upgrades as Research which gets techniques found that we can put a good amount into amps we get paid to Upgrade yet keeping prices affordable. Research & Development of ideas, the ones that make the most difference, rather than some that are a lot of work for no real difference.

110v USA-Japan Amplifiers, Is it worth getting the Transformer Rewound?
We like the KLH 27 but it's a USA only amp so is 110-117v only. It needs a Step Down Transformer, which is OK to use, but the SDT does get warm in use & needs turning off each time. To ask a company we found on Google if they could do this is worth a try.... Some Amplifiers have complex transformers with multiple taps, these would be expensive to rewind & may not fit the transformer case as 110v needs less turns of the enamelled wire than a 240v & also for current capabilities. To ask a pro rather than try to work it out & then see we haven't got the tools to wind the wires neatly. The KLH 27 has 2 Mains wires to the Primary input & 2 Secondary output ones plus Ground wires, an easy one to do you'd hope. The Fisher 600-T we've sold has a 110v transformer if UK 240v ones were made, but to find a UK one will be impossible. The Fisher 600-T transformer has 3 secondary windings, 152v for the Tuner valve, ± 36v for the Power Amp with other supplies taken from the + half, plus a 6.3v one for bulbs & valve heaters. In the case of the Fisher, it may not work out as stated, unless they could get the specs of the original 240v one it'd need more calculations. To do the KLH we'd expect to be simple enough, they'd test it to get it's specs & make a 240v version exactly in the way you'd expect them to, as in calculations & the right SWG wire size for the job. We'll see what they say... Got a message back from their Trainee Sales-Designer, er, not reassuring, not sure if they are that keen, trying to offer step-down transformers. You can see we like to push the boundaries with upgrades, so to see what others can offer in transformers as be sure the idea of USA voltage-only & SDTs aren't appealing. To see if a non-standard size transformer of 120VA with 48v plus ground can be rewound. Other 150V 50v ones are buyable for about £45 but the size is too big by far, the KLH one has laminations size 95mm x 80mm x 33mm if the metal case ends make it 85mm. The 33mm deep is the difficult part as ones to buy are usually more square. Appears custom Vintage Hifi ones are better quality so smaller than the ones you can buy online today, or the ones in many UK made amps. Grain Oriented Steel rather than Standard Steel, probably a purity & eddy current related matter that Wikipedia will explain deeper. Looking at USA & Japan built amps where transformer tech was more advanced than today appears to offer, unless you get several thousand made. We asked the transformer company for pricing, they've not bothered to reply as it's clearly beyond them. All we get is some trainee fool wasting our time over several messages. We find this often sadly, we can do advanced "Old School" things but try finding someone to do similar for you... They do reply several days later, but they just want to sell a new item that won't fit. We asked for a custom job to rewind an old transformer. It's not hard to do, 240v will have more windings of smaller SWG wire & to fit an old transformer could be done easily by those around 30 years ago. But skills fade away. We tried to get Tuner Glass made by companies, they printed it badly to need a new one done that was acceptable for telling them how to do the job right, then the next one for a different amp they messed up so we just returned it & gave up. How many people out there do Amplifier Upgrades with Design knowledge like we do... none it seems.

Putting New Speaker Connectors On Amplifiers.

This is still controversial as you'll see some do it very badly with gaudy Gold wiped huge metal things leaving an amp easy to short as they are too close together. We've found the VOSO ones on ebay are good. No Gold plate nonsense here, these still look 1970s so are good. To replace the screw ones on the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X now we've sold it. The buyer wanted the 4mm connectors so to charge £50 to fit the set of 8. See the Old Connectors and the New Connectors to see. On the Trio to use the original boards after carefully removing the old connectors worked well. It does take skill to do this neatly & not get into problems, not a basic job. We've used this amp on those original screws with the Gold Blocks that are meant for early Marantz amps & don't fit the Fisher 600-T as they are just too wide to fit right. Using cables on those 4mm blocks here was not a problem as the screws fitting has a notch to hold the Gold block in place. But they aren't permanent & the screw can come loose which again could short the outputs. We first put the VOSO on the 1966 Akai AA-7000, then on the Sony STR-6050 as the Sales page shows. These we think are a worthy upgrade & in reality no screw connectors are good enough unless you use fork-spade or ring connectors which can still come loose & touch. The VOSO are small enough to fit neatly. There were ones smaller still around about a year ago if these looked a bit too cheap, These we use are fine. For other connectors, it's up to the Customer what they want & we'll fit them once paid, if some amps we still prefer to use other connectors. For the Yamaha CR-1000 with the typical spring connectors and early Sony that have the 3mm sockets with side wire holes we use (as on the Sales page) Connectors 1 that also shows the Gold blocks. For the KLH 27 we use Connectors 4 as the screws undo fully as do the Fisher 600-T & 440-T ones. The old screw connectors were for thin wires like you see on FM antennas, but these aren't buyable now unlike DIN plugs. If an old connector can still be used like Connectors 4 which you could make with a bare wire like Connectors 1 then the fact you add a small length of thin wire, well look inside the amp to see how thin the wires are to the connectors. Only for long lengths do cables need to be bigger size. DIN plugs aren't much good for thick cables, we've never trusted old ones as you're trusting whoever made them & ones with screw connectors inside seem a bit amateurish. The small Realistic SA-1500 amp has DIN sockets, if we fitted 4mm plugs it'd sell much better. Bang & Olufsen gear is usually DIN connectors & the trouble there is no space to fit anything better, if B&O buyers are more in into how they look than the sound.

Fake High Power TO3 Transistors Trashed My Amp. Pt 2.

So to cut the Fake transistor open & also a real one that trashed because of it. Fake Power Transistor insides. These MJ 802 are very high power 30A 200w transistors if a commonly used one & were the original ones in the 1971 Heathkit AR-1500. See the picture labelled with the Fake on the left & a real one on the right. The fake lacks the extra metal plate inside to cope with the high power so sounds tinny on table drops. The square dot bit in the middle is the actual transistor workings with 2 wires connected to the pins, the case is the Collector as standard. The fake one you can see part of one wire that blew up & the other will have come loose & shorted the case Collector to the Emitter pin which in the design is 0.47R from Ground, so it's as good as shorted. The mess inside the fake is it blowing up, it looks like a Spot Welded joint as this is how a MIG welder works with a reel of wire, see Wikipedia for more. The real one is far better made & despite it being totally shorted, the wires are still intact & are held in place by a white paint type glue as the makers know of weaknesses & what happens in a failure. On the real one only the silicon area will be damaged, for the fake one to explode on turn on where there can be a high instant current peak, it didn't survive as the silicon part is half melted. The fake may be absolutely anything, it could be an old lower power one with fake printing on, but for the tinny noise like early TO3s make sometimes it's likely all fake made as a 10w transistor just to read as believable, but never cope with a turn-on surge. If it was your amp damaged by your own buying of a fake transistor the repair bill would be those parts plus 3 hours labour if it was more like 4 for taking time to try to find equivalents. £150 repair you'd be billed for plus Courier costs. Other amps could be a cheaper repair, if this had obsoletes. Now we know the signs of Fake Transistors, another one to be careful of, even from trusted sources. It did seem right to have tried it as was the price. You have to put trust somewhere & it bites you back sometimes, as life shows... getting it back working right again is the skill.

What Cables Do We Use On Loudspeakers?

The cables we use on our Tannoys are cables we bought in 2005(?) when the Sony TA-1130 was here. We'd tried the bulky bi-wire stuff, it makes no difference & it's too big so looks ugly. Using 5A or 13A mains wire, even the Solid Core stuff isn't good enough. The one we use today is QED Balanced Design Concept cable. Pearl coloured plastic 3.5mm diameter over multistrand copper of 2.5mm total size. Plugs were 'Puresonic' Gold plated ones, yes, the Gold wears off as barely a lick of it, an Audio Con if ever, it makes Zero difference. The trouble with these all-metal cased ones is on some amps the 4mm sockets are very close & too close means shorting & repair bills. Only use metal cased ones if the speaker posts are widely spaced. But the springy bits don't keep tight for very long so we actually use some basic plastic red-black cased ones with the obligatory Gold plated pin. These plastic cases are safe on any 4mm socket even if as near as 2mm apart as plastic doesn't conduct. Why spend more? You don't need to. Silly mags & sites hype cable, but we've been there & found out it's just a marketing tease based on pay more, feel better. As an example of paying more, as we have our valve amps on top of the Tannoys, with isolating feet naturally, we only needed short cables. These we got maybe in about 2004, Hifi Shop Recommended. Utter rubbish in use says we. The QED X-Tube XT400 SPOFC Air-Core ™ Technology Speaker Cable. It sounded no better or worse & is as big as TV aerial cable, if 2 fixed together in the pearly plastic. The Airloc plugs they have a machine to pressure fit we found very poor as they break so easily as there are grooves cut to provide the spring, knock one & off it snaps in the amp or speaker. The cable itself reeks of lies & hype, it's like a TV aerial cable with a centre core wrapped in copper foil that's empty unlike TV cable & a typical braided mesh outer ground that's used as the conductor. Look on ebay for QED Airloc & be shocked at the prices, in about 2005 ours was about £50 & we'll never use them again. Forget all the rubbish you read about Speaker Cables, go buy some decent OFC multistrand cable & put some FERRITES on the ends as this really does make a difference, see below. If you need over 10m of cable, you really should just move speakers & amp closer as you'll end up getting losses in the sound which will affect the treble first. You see 100v PA systems, the 100v is a carrier voltage that the audio sits on to not get losses so a huge building can be set up for PA with a 100V PA system. But don't put 100v DC on your speaker cables as you'll trash your speakers, 100v PA systems use special transformers.

My Cable has Directional Arrows On It.
Then your Cable is telling you to plug it so the sound signal travels in the way the arrows go. Directional Cable as you'd expect relies on how the copper wire was rolled & the arrows claim to match the way the wire was made. The laughable "fact" the Molecules that make copper are apparently aligned in a certain way when the wire is stretched to get the required size means cable "sounds better" one way or another is totally unproven, except on forums & by those selling said Magical Cable. You can probably find much on these illusionary cables on sites frequented by Linn & Naim types. But the trouble is if you have cables with arrows on as our 'Straight Wire' ones do, the psychological effect of plugging them in the right way makes you feel better in case some Linn user comes visiting & tells you your arrows are pointing the wrong way. Next they'll be selling Directional Paint that you must brush up & down only, not left to right. Silly? So are Directional Cables. Get a tin of solvent & clean the arrows off. Why Do People Believe Cables Are Directional? The fact is "you don't know for sure" and as some 'expert' says so, it must be right & you do as you're told. But look at your 'expert' are they the ones selling or marketing the silly cables with pseudo-science. The same nonsense Women are told about Beauty products. People may sneer that you haven't got expensive cables & use basic speaker connectors, but they can't prove theirs is any better.

The Art of Cable Selling Ideas & Promises.
One who saw our QED Balanced Design Cable blog above is told it's no longer made if a 'Performance Original' one replaces it. It looks the same. The specs claim it's lower capacitance , which is odd as most cables are purposely made as LCR filters, as in Inductance-Capacitance-Resistance, to tame rough "Hi-Fi". This new one has Capacitance of 39pf per meter, Inductance of 0.59µH per meter & Resistance of 0.015 ohm per meter. Typical cable lengths will be 5m to 10m. The values are vey low on this 'honest' cable & at £4.50 a meter very good value says we & neat looking in use. But how about Capacitance? The output stages of most amps have a LCR circuit of much higher values, so in reality does Speaker Cable make any difference on a quality upgraded amp be it £4.50 a meter or £200 a meter. No it doesn't. It's all about selling techniques & psdeudo-science. The only cables that affect Audio are ones from Cartridge to Phono stage as the voltages are tiny. But how do what Hi-Fi tests find a difference on Loudspeaker Cables & some Amp makers suggest a High Capacitance cable? Because some amps are badly designed & should have these "features" in the amp already. The cables argument will continue forever if you're only using poorly designed low spec amps. We can use "cheap" basic but good cables because we're using our Upgraded Hifi. To use the basic QED cable works for us, if on lesser amps it may sound rough as it reveals Your Amp is rough & fancy cables apparently tame it. This influenced the below posts looking at "why" amps have output filters.

Have We Forgotten Valves? Time for A Listening Session.
The much rebuilt 1979 Luxman LX33 gets a look as we had a look inside the 100w TT Genesis monoblocs & didn't fancy trying all that just yet. Putting an older set of JJ EL34s that the LX33 used before, the things are still as rustly as ever, which is really annoying as *everything* to stop that has been done. Biased up right one is biasing high but can be settled if likely it's the noisy one, the rustling just won't shut up. Ignoring that as music covers it, if not acceptable really, the sound is fine. After playing transistor amps for Aux testing & the LX33 only for vinyl, it's sound on Aux is quite different to Solid State. The LX33 is designed as Ultra Linerar, if we've altered it to Pentode mode, which is a design thing, not just a quick alteration. Treble is different, trebly music still has the crispness if known sibilants don't extend so far, suggesting Transistors can be 'peaky' on treble? Or is an impedance matching diffference? Reducing the Soundcard volume & upping the amp volume, the characteristic is the same, so it's not clipping. The rustly valve has to go as it's annoying & the new set goes back. These bias right but are crackly & rustly until they warm up fully & then just the odd noise. The JJ valves are good on preamps but on Luxman & TT they do make noise as we noticed they were more trebly & deeper on bass compared to the previous Svetlana Winged 'C's. Changing valve set makes no difference to the sound on the treble sibilant. Musically the sound is very different to the 1965-71 Transistor sound, as different a the 1984 Sansui is. The valves has a different upper bass with more neutral treble than Transistors. As for the "Whoomp!" tests above, the 30w Luxman can deliver a full sound with enough kick to scare you into saying salty words, which is nice. 30w in valves has the relative volume & power of at least 75w in transistors, in terms of sound. Testing on Headphones here firstly. The Valves sound is very different & needs a little familiarising with tracks used before. Using the "Reggae tracks in Phono Stages Best as Valves" post, the Valves version of "Summertime" on the first lead vocal SSS sibilant on the title appears to clip a bit. Putting the Soundcard at half volume it's the same. This wasn't noticed on Transistor amps, it's the 2003 recording. After all we did rebuild the Phono in 2008... we have 2 of the preamps & the 2003 version has been mid rebuild for a few years now if no circuit board done, the rest is. That track sounds again very different on valves, a more personal sound with tonal differences that are unusual to hear after not playing valves for Aux input in probably nearly a year... The FMJ version of the track is actually not that different, the sibilant is unclipped beyond the actual record mastering. Both sound great if maybe the FMJ dynamics are a little flatter. Onto the "Artibella" track, a hoary old Ska cut from a crackly record if it has depth to the sound, with the close acoustic of the Jamaican studio audible, very few amps can bring that out, the room must have been very small compared to UK ones & is if you see Studio 1 studios on TV documentaries. The FMJ version lacks the depth of the sound more noticeably, if some may prefer the less dynamic sound on old vinyl. Checking the Bias again it has gone a bit high so needs adjusting. Valves do clearly bring more detail to the music, if transistor amps with ever-more transistor stages will lose detail. Here the valve count is (stages count) 2 for Phono, 2 for Pre-Tone, 1 for Pre-Driver on Power amp, 1 for splitter & then 2 for P-P outputs. Aux to Output sees 5 amplification stages. The Heathkit AR-1500 we have on the speakers currently has 2 on the input stage, 1 for Tone, then the power amp ignoring the 'Dissipation Limiter' is 7 transistors. So 5 on Valves, 10 on Transistors. Each Transistor will affect the sound. Rock Guitar on Valves sounds very different on the much-used Joan Jett tracks, not as up on the treble on these busy tracks as all transistor amps give, a more live sound. Electric guitar means a Marshall stack usually & they have valves. Learnt again by itself after not using it for Aux input in so long as other amps progressed was a good diversion & then to compare back. Conclusion: The Valve sound, if not the overused Ultra-Linear design, is more neutral than Transistors as less Gain Stages to mangle the sound. Ultra-Linear doesn't sound as good as the now little-used superior Pentode mode, if it's used a lot in later amps as it gives good specs & cleaner sound using cheaper designs. Pentode needs doing properly to sound good, we've done it in the TTs & LX33, ultra-linear is a safer sounding design. The non Ultra Linear Pentode mode has a more Personal sound as the dynamics are more open. But Valves are still high maintenance, they get hot as designed, use valves on a warm day & the room will be noticeably warmer. Output valves need replacing every few years on regular use & to get a good valve amp design on an amp "as made" is impossible as they are all aged poor designs or newer amps copying old designs on the cheap, regardless of price. See below on "Valve Sound" & Valve-Transistor compares. You can find Good post 1967 Valve amps lazily copying old designs, but sadly Excellent Valve amps are only found in radical rebuilds. Full redesign is what the now-sold Trio WX-400U got too.

1979 Valves compared to 1984 Transistor Amp.
We put the Valve amp sounds just above as different to 1965-72 amps as the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X does too. No-one will buy that as they have no idea of what upgrades are in it & how good amid itself it sounds. (Goes to play it...) You're expecting to read a put-down of sizeable proportion, but not going to happen. The AU-G90X actually sounds very like the LX33 valves. Treble is a little different if the overall sound is actually not that different. The midrange-lower treble could do with a little more strength, if this does have quite a few transistors in circuit. The AU-G90X from Aux to Output is complex. Tone is 2 differential pairs with a driver & P-P stage so 6 transistors if one is voltage only. Power Amp has a differential & then as it's a balanced groundless design it has 2 differential pairs "per hot & cold side" then a driver. Onto the main Amp & 3 sets of P-P pairs. The transistor count on the Power Amp isn't comparable to a regular Transistor amp, it has 29 transistors in total. On the 2003 valve & FMJ Phono tracks, the AU-G90X sounds precise if again as with this amp a bit more midrange-lower treble would make it sound more like the valves, but as in all compares, the LX33 may be less neutral. The "Summertime" sibilant is much more tamed here, the whole track sounds less involving if it's still very 'together'. The FMJ version sounds no different, the flatness the valves picked out is not noticeable. On "Artibella" it's served up well if again lacks the 3D sound the valves brought out. the FMJ version is a little flatter but very close on the AU-G90X. Back to the Valves, on "Summertime" the veil is removed to reveal the deeper soundstage & the sibilant still sounds a bit clipped. "Artibella" is also deeper sounding. Despite all the balanced design of the AU-G90X & all our upgrades it still does lack the fine deep detail of the best amps.

1979 Valves Compared to 1971 Transistor Amp.
Back to other Transistor Amps, the Heathkit AR-1500 won the Transistor Amps test which is why it's on the speakers for TV sound. How will it compare to the Valves? To play the valves again to get the 'sound' back after the AU-G90X. The Heathkit is with the fresher sound like the Valves has & was based on the Trio TK-140X we sold after putting similar into our Trio KA-6000. A more bassy sound than the valves if the overall tonal balance is different. Higher treble louder, lower treble a little softer, midrange not so upfront if upper bass is slightly fuller. Again testing on Headphones. The softer lower treble & midrange appears to be a Transistor Amp characteristic, the less amplification stages in Valve amps do make this area the most obvious difference. The "1979 valves" is a bit incorrect, the entire design beyond transformers & case is ours, but it's based on a 1979 design.

Three Compares on Speakers: 1979 Valves vs 1971 Transistors vs 1984 Transistors.

Three great amps, as tested on Headphones. Now to try them on Loudspeakers, Tannoy 15" Golds. To try the Heathkit AR-1500, Sansui AU-G90X & Luxman LX33. But remember these are all much upgraded & very unlike the original Stock Versions. First is the Heathkit. we like this as it has a clean precise punchy sound with an accurate lower treble-midrange to make voices sound natural. The upper bass is fuller than some amps that makes it sound good for TV sound if using Bass Control carefully to not overdo that. Sounds great at low night-time levels too, if the volume control is a little unbalanced right at the start of the volume travel, if this is common for the era. Next the Sansui. This needs the 4mm speaker sockets on wires as the connectors that look like 4mm have no metal innards which is 1984 foolish thinking worried about safety not convenience. It's not quite a perfect match to the Tannoys, a bit midrangey with Tone not having enough effect. It sounds lively if it'll be better suited to later speakers. Valves with the LX33 on speakers is something very different. The sound is huge, voices are as clear as the person being there which depends on who they are if that's good or bad & full bass & treble unlike the Sansui. This sound is great but it's too big for most rooms, if it's great fun, it'll easily annoy the neighbours as it sounds like a PA & be sure you'll crank it up loud. The Realistic STA-220 has a similar full voice, if not as rich, so to use Midrange to tame it helps.

Design: Why Amps Have a Resistor & Capacitor Load on the Output.
This is an interesting one yet it's never explained. We've considered it to be a RF filter & in a way it is, but it's more complex than that. The 1965 Sony TA-1120 is the first transistor amp to use this & just about every Transistor amp since does too. It's seen as typically a 0.1µf with 10 ohm to ground. Some use different values but generally the idea is the same. Later Differential amps use an Inductor coil similarly. So what does this do? Silicon Transistors can amplify way beyond the Audio range so need this, Valves & Germaniums go much less. Sony discovered this early on so the 1965 TA-1120 had a lot of R&D put into a brand new design. Should you rip these out of your amp? (No) What happens if these aren't on an amp? A few like the Cambridge A50 Mk I, Leak Delta 75, the Armstrong 500-600 series & some of the Transformer coupled amps don't have this. Can't leave that untested, so in testing with & without, at 20kHz 'with' is about 1% louder on the 'scope as the amp isn't amplifying much higher frequencies & a tiny ringing effect as the circuit would have. Going up to 50kHz+ is the same. One amp with what looks like a harsh 2.2ohm + 0.22µf gave this result, so the standard 10 ohm + 0.1µf with or without a speaker load makes no difference to the sound in any way at all. So leave them be and as designed. But why should you need them? Read on...

Amplifier High Frequency Radiation Is Broadcasting & Needs A Licence.
The USA FCC Regulations (FCC Declaration of Conformity on Wikipedia & the linked Title 47 CFR Part 15) appear to be about Radiation above 490kHz or so... "devices operating below 490 kHz in which all emissions are at least 40 dB below the limits". To be sure that the amplifier has these 10 ohm + 0.1µf fitted to keep it using your speaker wires like an aerial in your room, but it seems to be an idea that's just accepted if never questioned, except by us as it's how we upgrade. No need to remove the 10 ohm + 0.1µf as the above post shows, you could end up getting a visit saying your amplifier is broadcasting unwanted signals & could cause interference with other legitimate broadcasting. Reading one HFN/RR article recently about early Radios, in 1936 you could have your Radio Licence revoked if your Radio went into oscillation & broadcast 'whatever' into the air. So that's why the circuits are there. Years back, Hifi & Radios picked up "ignition noise" as the car parts weren't then fitted with suppressors so it broadcast the spark noises which was very annoying say letter writers to HFN. Big items with motors now have suppressors in the mains & any mains item should have a 'click suppressor' on the mains switch. We remember using an old drill without a suppressor & it sparked a lot inside as worn out, but with the hifi on it picked up a lot of noise, this is the same sort of thing. Worn brushes & motor contacts will spark & broadcast the noise to others. Even today some amps can pick up thermostat clicks as the thermostat is old & should be replaced, but how would you know? Even older Light Switches & Mains Sockets need replacing, we've found ones that get heavier use well sparked inside & these will give out interference. Ferrites are on a lot of cables to not pick up or radiate by limiting bandwidth.

Transistor & Valve Bandwidth aka Frequency Ranges
The fact is a common 2N3055 transistor is rated at 2.5MHz & could go higher on modern ones is the deal here to need the output circuit mentioned above. Earlier ones aren't given a higher frequency & looking at spec sheepts you rarely see the FT (big F small T as FT, transistion frequency, unity gain frequency, see Wikipedia etc) if those that do usually put about 1MHz. FT of the MJ 802 is 2MHz. Finding FT of an EL34 valve isn't possible if amps with them claim 10Hz-40kHz if in reality the spec of the transformer will dictate. The obvious test is try our LX33 amp & see how the frequency rolls off. Comparing to the 20kHz reading it's steady at 40kHz & only starts to slightly roll before 50kHz, going to 100kHz & the max, on the generator, 200kHz it still reads 95% of the 20kHz value. The JJ EL34 valves do seem to have a wider range than the original 1979 valves & the Svetlana Winged 'C's probably why the amp keeps rustling as it's too wide range, if the transformers cope. Germaniums are considered to be smoother for not amplifying as high frequencies, but with the 30w 2SB407 in the JVC MCA 104E, a spec sheet says these are still 400kHz, so that puts that 'old opinion' aside as why Germaniums sound different.

Square Wave Testing on Amplifiers.
Since the 1960s, using a Square Wave to test an amp's capabilities has been a staple of amp testing, if subjective listening didn't really start until 1977 as a section on the Books & Mags page shows. The creation of a square wave in an analog generator means high gain & chopping the ~~ waveforms once very loud to get |_| shapes. You'd not what to hear a 1kHz squarewave played loud, it'd cause speakers problems as the flat top of a square wave is DC voltage which will trash a speaker of lower power. Reviews used to use square wave tests as the be-all of amp testing & by looking at the slant to the left or right shows if too bassy or too trebly, or lacking bass or treble. The transient capabilities of the amp will show on the left of the square wave & often you see overshoot & extra ~~ harmonics. We've gazed at enough of these in amp reviews, but never really gone to test an amp properly. Using a Soundcard for Square Wave testing is no good, you need a generator. Soundcard is OK on Sine Waves, if not perfect as output isn't totally flat. Soundcard on Square Waves shows awful harmonics & overshoot, as it can't cope. We have a Sine-Squarewave generator, a 'Seesure Signal Generator' that they used in the Electronics College so we remembered it & bought one years ago. It's basic & we should get a better one really as this test is useful now. Testing this on the scope, a clean proper square wave is output, only at over 30kHz does it lose square-ness. Put that into the amp via Aux to test, if making sure the Generator only puts out about 0.8v to not overload it, line level 0dB is 1.024v on our 'scope which is about 0.7v RMS. We tested all the amps we have here, to write that up we decided not to as in reality we're just testing Our Own Upgrades, but add in an overview below. Not got a "raw" amp here to test. Got a nice Sherwood 1973 40w receiver arriving & be sure it'll be tested to see how it sounds & tests before we even service it, assuming it works well enough. To test amps with 2000µf main caps like even the Realistic receivers had would reveal how worthy our upgrades are. The Sherwood will get a good testing & you'll read it below...

What Do Square Wave Tests Reveal?

To us, it confirms what we already know, we test & upgrade "by ear" rather than going for calculations based on other's ideals, upgrading by "knowing what's good" & "how far to push it" then much testing & listening to further things. Our upgraded amps & now these Square Wave Tests (SWT) proves we are Rather Good... The best ones of our upgraded Transistor ones were Sony TA1120A, Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 & Heathkit AR-1500 - not in order & remember these are much upgraded. The modest Realistic SA-1500 we have for sale put some very respectable squarewaves, way better than we'd expect. The waveforms we've seen in HFN/RR tests are sometimes very poor compared to our upgraded amps, the overshoot & ringing some amps HFN/RR tests shows their low spec & poor designs. Why they test using 2µf capacitance across 8 ohms appears odd, the results are messy, but they are actually simulating an Electrostatic like the Quad ESL 57. They do review the KA-6000 but do no SWTs on it unfortunately. The Yamaha CR-1000 we thought it lacked enough deep bass & the square wave proves it so more to do. The March 1974 HFN/RR reviews the similar Yamaha CA-1000 & their waveforms are similar to ours as upgraded, if subtle shape differences reveal the upgrades, if listening tests of the CR-1000 as original to upgraded-rebuilt reveal far more quality that square wave tests can't show. The Sony TA-1120 we've left still sounding 'Retro' yet it tested the best if does sound great on speakers, only on headphones does it reveal the age, the design is a little tailored to give such perfect squarewaves. The fact only by educated listening Aware Of Better can you evaluate if an amp sounds good enough to bother upgrading. Hidden amid low spec, grainy sounds & lack of bass we can pick out the best amps by knowing good circuits as this site proves. SWTs don't clearly reveal how Wide the Stereo is or how detailed & dynamic it is, it won't fully reveal if the sound is flat sounding, if ones with a rolled off left side of the waveform are lacking Treble definition as rise-time could be better, ones with a raised right side are imbalanced as too rich on Bass. Testing Square Waves needs Tone Stages set Flat or the wave tops won't be horizontal. So SWT is useful to make sure the amp is neutral sounding, if your ears in testing & comparing will reveal that, seeing ones in HFN reviews sets the standards, often the original amps aren't testing too well. By doing Sine Wave Tests the results can appear to rise in treble when in fact the SWT is more accurate as the Soundcard may not be so accurate, if it was too trebly it's be raised up on the left of the wave & have ugly harmonics, much like The Soundcard does to a Square Wave, maybe the Sound Card is giving the Harmonics? Testing just a spot frequency just shows a ~~ shape. We only use the Soundcard for testing 1kHz on fault finding or Power Rating tests. See below about Rise Time-Slew Rates in amplifiers.

The 1973 Superscope Brand... is it Marantz?

HFN/RR mentions the introduction of the 'Superscope' brand in early 1974. Yes, it is a Marantz brand, but their budget brand as a cheap looking Superscope A-245 10w from 1973 on ebay reveals. But as it's half board on the rear with a gap for the connectors area, not hardboard like some EU ones are but it just looks cheap. The Superscope brand was marketed away from the High Quality Marantz brand of the era, even their 10w ones in 1973 were still way ahead of the discount store junk. But Marantz knew they had to make junk of their own so they'd rake in the bucks as junk sold well because more cheaper goods sell that premium ones. The later A-545 46w from 1978 looks more like the Marantz amp style of the 1152DC type of amp, if it's just generic stereo gear with all costs cut no doubt. HFE says the brand was introduced in 1954, so Marantz bought the brand it appears. A Superscope R-350 20w receiver from 1973 looks better than the 10w amp. Not one we'll look to try as already seeing the lesser quality. Past 1972 to be very careful buying amps for our interest, to recap & sell on, Superscope just don't have the cred, despite the Marantz link, Marantz quality they ain't. Not that Marantz are quite as great as hyped either...

Realistic-Tandy arrive in the UK - Pt. 2.

After a strange test-the-water advert in Oct 1971 Tandy finally get to the UK in High street Shops as the Feb 1974 HFN/RR reports. The Tandy Corporation founded 50 years ago has 2,000 stores in the USA. Towards the end of 1973 they launched in the UK via a Wednesbury, Staffordshire warehouse & intended to open 70 stores around 80 miles of Birmingham, if there was actually then only one shop with 8 more planned. Tandy-Realistic-Radio Shack is all Tandy & the shops were Franchises much like Kentucky Fried Chicken & other chain shops are. About £14,000 for you in 1974 to set up a Tandy shop if Tandy provided & chose the shops. Says that as well as Hitachi making for Tandy under the 'Realistic' brand, so did Panasonic, ITT, Sony & Fisher. Panasonic, Sony & Fisher seems unknown to us, but the Hitachi links are only found if you had the rare 1971 Hitachi range as we did. Tandy sold all types of Electrical goods beyond Hifi & we have a fondness for the shop as it was all there was like this until Maplin appeared by about 1993, only shops in London like 'Henry's Radio' were along the same sort of lines. The Maplin shop we used a lot faded away a few years ago as so much is dealing online. Generally there were few browsing the shop even in the 1990s as their huge catalogs covered all the stock for an early 'Home Shopping' & go in the shop with a list of code numbers you wanted. Ironically we discovered Henry's Radio opened a shop in the late 1970s right next to the shop that became Maplin when 'John Collier' sold up, if a side-road between. So the Realistic STA-220, STA-150 & SA-1500 as a UK 240v model were only sold around Birmingham until more shops appeared. The Hitachi ones are rare items with limited distribution, if an amount will have been made. We'll watch out for Tandy ads, maybe they did Mail Order as the 1971 ad tried to.

Input Sensitivity on Amplifier Specs?
The typical 'Line Level' input usually via Aux, or via Tape In via Phono sockets on some amps, is stated on many amps as 150mV. 'Line Level' means the output from a CD player, TV, DVD player, Blu-Ray player, DAC that you put on your TiVo & likely others. Mobile Phones headphone output is not the same thing. The Input Sensitivity should be considered "Line Level" on all non Phono or Tape Head inputs, if read on about DIN Tape players. Ignore the spec sheets therefore. What 150mV means is the amp needs 150mV to reach full output before clipping. On testing power outputs using 0dB 1kHz signal, the volume rarely goes above about "3" to get full clean output, if most music sources are not playing 0dB all the time. Typical Line Level output from a CD player or Sound Card, at full 0dB output, is seen as 1.028v Peak To Peak on the Oscilloscope. This equates to 0.7v RMS roughly & why if you input a Line Level source, the volume only needs to go up slightly, not advancing it well past halfway. This depends on Speaker Sensitivities & on getting Yamaha CR-2020 amps that were raw & uncleaned, dirt marks showed that the amp rarely saw past "2" on the volume, which goes up to "10". No CD player will be louder than the 0dB output of 0.7v unless it is amplified in some way to be a preamp with a remote control volume. Also, some Power Amps quote 400mV sensitivity for full output & others like Quad II quote 2v for full output. This means you need a preamp with higher gain or standard gain to match different brands of pream to power amp. DIN In-Out Sockets. These days it's far simpler, but in the 1970s DIN in-out on tape connections was far from Line Level. We remember the Hacker GAR550 by recording tapes into older DIN machines gave the right volume as they were matched, but our new double tape from Tandy even at the highest recording level wouldn't record at the right volume. The DIN tape input-output on amplifiers usually goes through a 100K ohm resistor, which is of no use today, if any Cassette, MiniDisc, DAT or CD-R usually records at Line Level. DIN sockets for Tape are the only problem on older amps, if usually they are duplicated by standard Phono Sockets that are Line Level.

Modern CD players: Are They A Waste Of Money?
Looking on Amazon the Marantz CD5005 is £150 down from £240. In reality that's all you need, don't spend any more. We had an earlier one of the same spec in 2008 & there was a huge difference in quality to the 1992 Marantz CD-52 II SE. We had a Marantz pro CD-R for a while before that, the only difference was it burnt CD-R blanks with a stronger pattern instead of the weaker domestic version, CDs are mastered on these after all. We heard of a Lector CDP 603 that one customer bought for £1500 & was having trouble with as the Output is too loud. It should have a Volume Control on the Remote surely as it appears amplified in a pre-amp way. But here it has 2 ECC 81 valves as DAC output valves if you'd never know as they are hidden away in the boring but round cornered dark grey/black case. We found the 2007 Marantz PM 6002 beyond ICs & severe dumbing down to be little different to a 1977 amp. You really don't need to spend a fortune on Digital Audio Sources these days, so much R&D has been spent on Digital sources if don't expect it from your Phone. Expensive CD players are part of the silly 'Audiophile' nonsense that's existed for Decades promising much but rarely delivering the hopes & a different sort of Upgrading to what we preach where these kind souls buy £2000+ items, use them to criticise yet never enjoy the music & then are easily cajoled into selling or trading in their 'old rubbish' as it has become for the New 'Better 'Delight. For the advances in Digital Audio you no longer need to care about High End sources as that £150 Marantz will be good enough, if it has not the Kudos. Is the £1500 player a waste of money? It depends on your outlook, if you are a realist, it is a joke, but if you believe hype in Hifi mags that are usually glorified paid adverts, the bias of the reviews can only be 'Wonderful', you will end up wasting money & saying that 'select45 site' was right after all...

Put Your Money In Amplifiers & Loudspeakers Before Anything.

To where you should best spend your money is mainly on just 2 items, the Amplifier & the Speakers. For Music Sources you have your Computer Soundcard, buy a 3.5mm jack cable to Phono pair & hear how good it sounds. Our 15" Tannoys can make a modest amp sound great as our reviews show, but average speakers can hide even the best Upgraded amp we have. Hifi is a difficult game as there is so much of it & the best stuff is old & needs servicing or more. But stay away from overpriced modern gear, think of things in a penny-pinching mean way as in laughing at £1500 CD players & £500 cables, but don't be so mean to buy cheap without some standard of quality. On getting some of the amps we've reviewed, we were surprised how "they" could dream of selling an amp that good. The reason why, beyond having no use for it or wanting the money is usually they had no idea it was anything special. Loudspeakers are where the problems come, as most Loudspeakers are total rubbish, any with more than 2 drivers are no good for giving an accurate sound despite any hype you'll read. Even vintage ones that were good sellers like the Leak Sandwich now sound muddy & lousy. Only a 2 driver speaker of good size, at least 8" bass drivers is needed for a fuller sound. We even found the cheap 6" Tannoy 605s better sounding than expensive B&W CDM-1NT so sold them off when we used them for Computer sound before getting into Headphones. Forget anything that needs a Subwoofer or a Sound Bar as that's mediocre. Best buys in speakers are Tannoys from 1968-80, see the Loudspeakers page. As for an Amplifier, we've recommended enough on this site, some are easily found like Leak Delta 70 or 25w Japanese Silver amps from 1977-79. There's a good start. The biggest mistake many make is thinking "Expensive" Means "Great Quality". The one buying a £1500 valve CD player sadly has believed a shop or forum hype saying it's 'the best thing there is'. They clearly don't realise how good their recapped-upgraded Teac AS-100 amp is, this was the first Transistor Amp we found, beyond the Sonys STR-6120 & TA-1130 that had the power & open sound quality after getting stuck into Bang & Olufsen gear, finding it OK but not so great, if it did sell well. As you can imagine, we told them to ditch the silly overpriced Lector & try that Marantz CD player... but they'll need to realise that for themselves.

Armstrong 621 Amplifier from 1973: Is It Worth Upgrading?
This brand gets a deserved mauling on this site for their 1960s amps, the 1966 Armstrong 221 valve amp was truly hopeless even after recapping it as it didn't work when we got it as the cheap capacitors had obviously failed. Then the Armstrong 500 series with the 521 amplifier & 526 receiver were just so poorly made & using several of the poor UK-EU Germanium transistors such as the AD140 outputs. These UK Germaniums age badly & probably started failing within a few years, any left working will have been 'lucky' ones with a better batch. The adverts for the brand were making out their 400, 500 & 600 series were of high quality, a quick look inside will tell you they are budget junk. The 1973 Armstrong 625 we had & is on the Gallery page. These to be fair are far better quality overall than the earlier ones, if they do still use cheap TV grade components that could make an expensive recap for all the awkward axial (lengthways) capacitors it uses. The main capacitor on our 625 exploded after a brief use, left unused for decades & only got more use with us, it exploded it's insides all over the amp making a mess. The wiring & construction is poor with no grounded casework, the underside is just a plastic tray & the top was just the wood veneered lid. Look inside, it has ITT capacitors, ITT is TV grade & you'll see these in Leak gear too, all probably ready to fail or best replaced. Construction is poor as you can see & the boards are hard to work on for how they are wired. To look on ebay & see a USA 117v one on USA ebay, all DIN sockets too. To upgrade this would be a waste of your money as we know the results will not be very good as the Goodmans Module 80 review shows with these Budget UK amps & be sure the non-grounded casework will bring problems. But to recap it to keep it alive is worthwhile, if perhaps your money is best spent getting a better amp to upgrade. Not everyone knows better sound, the 'old friend' is trusted even if it's way past it's best.

Audiolab 8000: One Of The Biggest Selling Amplifiers Of The Early 1990s.

This was a typical "What Hi-Fi 5 Star amp" and as it was the early peak years of CD, it sold many thousands from Richer Sounds most likey. It's a midprice amp of ordinary looks, some of the range have Phono Stages. This amp is a very common amp on ebay with some selling for £200. To us, it's a general purpose amp like the Pioneer A400 is which will ruffle feathers, but it's to get you thinking why we don't like it. You'll buy one, play it a bit & not play music much as it doesn't inspire you. Then you'll sell it on ebay & go buy something similar but as boring as you've not read our site & aren't reading it now. But you are so to get this far into our site, you'll get the idea pre 1980 sounds best. But back to the Audiolab 8000A (Model 207) as we have the circuit diagram & user manual. 60w RMS, with ±6dB Tone that you can switch out plus a Phono stage. Generic basic looking amp much like every other everyday Stereo amp since the early 1980s really. Useable, but just product, if must be well enough made for them to have survived in larger amounts. Cambridge Systems Technology, not related to ARCam but there probably were earlier links if they went separate ways. MM Phono Stage has 8 transistors, the typical Differential & P-P output that Yamaha first did around 1978, why does it need all that? Tone has 7 transistors, "Flat" is switchable if not 'Source Direct' as you may assume as it comes after the 7 transistors, not bypassing them. The Power amp is dismal too, 20 transistors plus an op-amp on the input, made of 2 pairs of differentials and a surprising 4 P-P stages including the outputs, but no adjust pots for anything. The power supply is equally miserable, we can accurately estimate it'll sound thin & grainy as well as boring. It is the sort of Vile General Quality Mediocre Amp that defines why Vintage is just so much better. In terms of newer amps past 1990, you'd probably be better off buying a £200 new amp from Amazon than buy a mediocre 25 year old amp like this. But many will love it as they've heard no better. This really is the problem with Hifi, many really don't know what The Best Hifi Sounds like. The excited reviews of this amp on HFE are unfortunate, these are the owners of his mediocre amp & they love it saying how great & transparent it is. They have not got an idea of Hifi at all... But it's for them to find out there is better. Maybe it's good they keep their Audio Heads In The Sand with amps like this championed as the wonder as there aren't enough Vintage amps for them... and they'd not understand them anyway as we've seen amps we rate highly & sold the seller the amp they then sold on as they didn't understand it.

Buying Amplifiers From USA: Is It Worthwhile?
We've done this enough times & the issues here are the High Post Rate for a Standard 12kg amp packed well. Global Shipping that ebay does is often around $130 to UK, but be aware they add on Full Import Charges that can up the price a bit unexpectedly. If you like the amp you see, do a "Buy Now" & see what the total is, you won't buy it yet, but the full price in UK £ will show. Global Shipping is an Economy Service & make sure the Seller is told to pack it well as it'll have a rough ride here as the aged looking boxes will reveal. We bought one that the foolish seller despite being told to pack it well just put it in a box with a tiny bit of bubblewrap, as in just 2 squares of it & the poor amp arrived bent up, pretty much trashed with broken tuner glass & bent tuner dial mechanism. Another issue with buying USA amps is not all are Multivoltage so look at the pics for 117v or 110v-120v on the back. If it shows 220v-240v also then you're safe to buy & adjust the voltage on the amp on the back or inside via plug-in blocks. If you are a gambler, you can dare buying a Sony TA-1120A & the early Tuner that's actually only marked 110v on the back, if the amp has 110-240v. The Sony ST-5000W tuner, later version is ST-5000F(W) with the slider on the front, only states 110v but has the usual black plug-in block if the Service Manual showed it's Multivoltage. The Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 comes in a few minor variants, the earliest are Multivoltage as the switch on the back reveals, if we've seen a USA 110v-120v one that's not Multivoltage. It has voltage marked on the case which all amps should do. the Fisher 440-T & 600-T we've had as 240v versions if the case still states 110v-120v if a sticker would have corrected that. To be careful of voltage blocks set to the wrong voltage when you import & carefully fit a plug but forget to alter the voltage. Putting 240v into a 110v amp will cause damage minor or large, we've never seen what happens. Putting 110v into a 240v amp could be a problem too, drawing excess current. So is it worth Importing An Amp from USA? If you like it & want it, especially if it's in nice grade, accept the price as if you have to go to USA for one then it's not easily found in UK or Europe. Snap it up, tell them to pack well & if they don't use Global Shipping be aware there can be import charges to pay before you get it delivered. Importing from Europe is easier, no Import charges & delivery is easy. The only issue is some amps that are 220v only, to use 240v is slightly over voltage. It may or may not matter if the voltage it runs on will be 240/220 higher, ie 9% higher so a 50v HT will be 55v. Depends if the amp has 50v capacitors & how good the tolerance is. Your risk to take.

Transistor Amp Hype: It Sounds Like A Valve Amp. The Reality of Valves...

What does this actually mean? It means they are guessing as they've likely never even heard a valve amp. The general idea of Valves is from hearing old & aged ones with a lot of limiting in the weak designs. This often leaves a bandwidth limited sound, but it does sound nice in a small polite way. It'll never Scare a Mouse or Shake the House: it's a warm sound that sounds smooth but with little detail. It's a nice old fashioned limited sound like your Granny's old Record Player or Radiogram. "Takes a few minutes to warm up". But having had Rogers Cadet III & Rogers HG88 Mk III they are valve amps, do they actually sound "valve like"? Different sound to an old wallowy Radiogram, as aged & with valves that need replacing they are a bit lo-fi with a clear but unsophisticated edgy slightly rough sound. Does your transistor amp sound like that? You've not heard a valve amp... The 1979 Luxman LX33 is wonderful fully redesigned when it's not making crackly noises. As original it was lousy, we had a Luxman R-1040 1978 receiver here & it was obvious the R-1040 sounded better even as original. The LX33 was boring sounding, no real bite or life to it. The original design is very poor sadly. Ours was found in an attic & it had been barely used as the valves were still good to be used once we started upgrading it. But it never really sounded that good in itself, the design needs a full redo leaving little beyond the basics, the heaters & circuit are lousy. Does your transistor amp sound soft, tubby on the bass & uninvolving? Then it sounds like a Valve amp. The Tube Technology Genesis & preamps sounded nice on first getting in 2002 but soon the sound was thought very limited. It sounded like a modern Transistor amp, not valves like the Rogers Cadet III did. The design is too safe & using regulated HT voltage really limited the sound, but to alter it changed it a lot. Does your transistor amp sound slow & restrained despite a nice sound it's still a boring sound? There's the reality of valve amps, they are generally disappointing. The designs are old, even on modern ones that just copy the old Mullard or Williamson designs from the 1950s even copying old spec. The vintage amp valves are likely now low-emission & the circuits are low spec for old ideas. We upgraded a Trio W-41 amp & the sound as with the similar Trio WX-400U was great once upgraded, but as original the WX-400U was too aged with lots of bad capacitors. On first recap we got it playing better but it still sounded way short of where it ended up, after 3 years of gradual upgrades & putting DC heaters that no vintage 1960s valve amp has. The Luxman LX33 being upgraded at the same time helped the WX-400U improve & the WX-400U helped the LX33 improve. Valves upgraded can better Transistor amps as less circuitry, but in general "The Valve Sound" is considered a warm tubby bass sound with smooth midrange & not much punchiness or dynamics. On much upgraded amps, you'll maybe be disappointed to hear they sound more like Transistor amps, if read the two above posts with "1979 Valve Compares" to see how upgraded Valves compares to Upgraded Transistors. You don't have to fully upgrade a Vintage Valve amp like the Leak Stereo 20 that often sell on ebay. what do buyers think of the sound? Odds are they play it a bit & sell it on, not understanding it. If you want a good start into valves try a Rogers Cadet III or Rogers HG88 MK III. But be aware they are 1964 & 1966 designs which are getting past 50 years old. They may work but will always be past their best. Not easy is it?

Amplifiers Speed: Slew Rate & Rise Time.

Both Slew Rate & Rise Time are the same thing, if they are measured in different terms, search online for more. The whole idea of Rise Time is found with Square wave tests, see above in this June section for more. Rise time gives a squarer waveform side instead of it going more 'cog shaped' \_/ instead of |_|, if that's the lower half of the waveform but all the characters there is to type. Fast Rise Time is equatable to sounding more like a PA amp as the 'Master Volume' is higher, or the circuit has been fine tuned to give a better reading than it sounds. The Sony TA-1120 is an example of an amp with 'circuit shaping' to give perfect square waves. But in reality you're playing Domestic Amps & these are designed to be less upfront so the rise time will be slower giving the 'cog shape'. It's not a bad design, it's not wanting to sell PA sounding gear to Home Users, although some amps do & it does sound great if can be overpowering. The Sony TA-1120 is an example of an amp with 'circuit shaping' to give perfect square waves. Certain design features make an amp faster than another, running hot in valves is a similar idea. Care is needed making a very fast amp as without good design you get overshoot on the square waves rise side as it's not controlled & overshoots normality. A mix of poor design & low spec is why some amps have bad ringing. But we've noticed transistor amps are slightly brighter on treble from inbuilt limiters that valve amps don't need so you will usually see a slight tidy but controlled peak, if not with ringing harmonics after it. Look online to see square waveforms & that will make sense.

Recycled Amplifier Designs in 1971-72.
By the early 1970s, a lot of Amplifiers were being custom built in Japan by manufacturers who took no credit for this on the casework. The 1972 Realistic STA-220 & STA-150 are superior versions of the 1971 Hitachi SR-1100 receiver. Now we found the 1971 Sherwood S-7200 was later used as the NAD 160(a) in 1972-75. The Sherwood is noted as 1973-76 by some, if many clues reveal it's a 1971 design as we put on the Amp reviews page. We've liked the NAD 160 & have had several, it's a very decent midprice amp, the Sherwood is a better made version as the higher quality casework shows. so we've thought the NAD 160 was a great amp, yet wondered why the NAD 90 & especially the NAD 300 were not so good in comparison. Made by different companies to a different design it appears. Getting the Sherwood hoping to find a new designed amp inside & to find a familar one used on a later amp was not what we thought to get from a USA brand, But due to costs even Leak in 1978 got their last few amps custom built in Japan, with comparisons to Rotel being made, if very different amps in reality. By this era, good designs will have been copied & altered slightly, but often we've put an amp looks like another & by 1979 most amps all looked so similar. Even the Akai AA-8080 was in some ways not unlike the Sherwood & NAD, so this Japanese company must have been makling amps for several Brand Names. Very unlike the 1965-70 era where each amp was an unique design. Even 1974 Yamaha look like they are made by different factories, compare the quality of the CR-1000 to the lower CR-800 & CR-400. Never realised Generic Design started as early as 1971-72.

Square Wave Tests Part 1: On a Raw Unserviced 1971 Amp.
The amp is the newly-arrived Sherwood S-7200, the one mentioned above that the NAD 160 copies. It got too hot on the heatsinks after sounding quite smooth, but once biased right, the crisper sound reveals the amp's low spec. So to test an amp as-original & then again once we've upgraded it. A better built amp than the later NAD 160 with a better fascia & lid that look so 1971-73. 1kHz test. This tests very good, a very squared wave with a tiny overshoot as is typical as stayed in an above Square Wave post. A little wobbling of the top horizontal shows a little lack of spec giving very minor instability. The Generator outputs a perfect square. 10kHz is again a typical Domestic amp waveform, a little 'cog tooth' as rise time is a bit slow, testing other amps this is still a good pattern & compares well to others, if upgrading it would improve. 20kHz on our test reads 4.4v & up to 100kHz it dips heavily to 1.5v 100Hz gives a good square pattern with just minor edge rolling if going lower frequencies shows it rolls off below 75Hz with 40Hz giving a severe tilt down, but looking at other Square Waves in HFN/RR reviews this is typical for amps as made, to stop buyers with rumbly turntables complaining is the excuse, if cheaper to make is the reality. For the Sherwood review we put... "This sounds pretty good, a lively fresh neutral-balance sound if it gets grainy on busier music giving an unpleasant sound, a restrained bass & it doesn't cope too good with high treble, sort of flattening & spitting it a bit, it'd sound fine to many, but a sound we know is low spec." The Square Wave tests reveal bass is limited, but for the rest the Square Waves tell you Nothing is wrong with the sound, it reveals nothing of the grainy sound if seeing how much it rolls off over 10kHz is the only clue. We tested our Luxman LX33 valve amp & at 100kHz it was 95% of the 20kHz value.

Amp Makers: It Gives good readings for Hifi mags, it'll do... Square Wave Tests.

This is how Amp makers can get away with cost cutting designs, it reads good on Square waves so will give good THD readings too if they never state at which frequency, or how distorted the sound is at very low levels. Not that we have the gear to test, but the Sherwood S-7200 advert claims 0.7% distortion at 40w which is actually not a great reading. The user manual clearly shows a heavy roll-off over 20kHz, -4dB at 100kHz if we saw it was about a third of the 10kHz value. Doing some Square Wave readings on the Sherwood S-7200 as original & unserviced beyond biasing right, 25Hz & 50Hz has a heavy downward-to-the-right slant, 100Hz is flat at 3v, 250Hz is 2.9v, 500Hz is 2.8v, 1kHz is 3v, 10kHz is 2.8v, 20kHz is 2.7v if very cog-shaped as slow rise time, 30kHz is 2.5v, 50kHz is 2.1v if 100khz is 0.6v. So this amp is actually reasonably flat with a treble dip of up to 10% by 20kHz as the readings show. How will it compare once upgraded to our own ideals?

Early Rotel FAX 200C as Martel-Roland Valve Receiver.
One of these on ebay with the case & original box for £100. Bargain? Probably. Now Sold. But what is it? ECL82 valves mean likely 10w which is nice on Headphones but not quite enough on big speakers as we found with the 10w Trio WX-400U. The 200C has PCBs like the Heathkit S-99 which are easier than the messy hard-wiring. But do we really fancy doing another 10w valve amp for ourselves, been there & done that now. The work required to get it going is not too much, but to get it with better spec than the weak original design is too much. Just replacing like-with-like as many do, it'll sound OK but it'll not inspire you & you'll sell it on thinking valves aren't that great. But it's a budget priced receiver like the Sansui 220 we had before we started writing the amps up. It's aged, parts could be broken & old repairs, needs new valves. With that Sansui 220 we just sold it on to get the money back in about 2010 on seeing how basic the design was & not fancying the job on an amp with no FM Stereo & a single Transistor for Phono. Looking at this & that now, we'd not really want to get into one again. We'd upgrade for a customer based on what they wanted to spend, but the reality is these 10w amps are not powerful enough for modern use.

The earlier Amps have Early Designs as you'd expect, the first Proper Transistor amp was the 1965 Sony TA-1120 & by 1967 the First Generation of Amplifiers was here. By 1969 the Second Generation was here with some designs being much tamer than the earlier ones, perhaps more accurate to say 1969 was 'Transitional'. We've given "Generations" to amplifiers but more research gets more known. Really only the Differential-Era amps that arrived 1969-73 are the Third Generation & will be fully compatible with 4 ohm & 8 ohm speakers. We upgrade & test on 8 ohm speakers, our upgrades bring out the best in the Amps & we can be sure that 8 ohm speakers will work well. Some like the 1966 Akai AA7000 say "8 ohm speaker only" which is clear. Some say nothing. Some suggest 4-16 ohm speakers will suit but in 1969 they won't know what came later. IMPORTANT: CHECK THE SPEAKER IMPEDANCE. Some say Impedance 4-8 ohm which we've found is misleading as it's really only 4 ohm. We've found twice now that Celestion Dittons are a bad load for early amps. Ditton 44 (100w) & Ditton 33 (25w). HFE wrongly says "8 ohm" but look at the User Manuals to see 4-8 ohm. It can't be both resistances, it's 4 ohm. If you use these 4 ohm speakers on early amps, they will likely overheat as the load is half so the current is doubled. It may or may not damage the amp, but it's "User Error" which it does take these issues to realise. The Ditton 44 user we told to add 4 ohm resistors to the speaker cables & now the amp works fine. The Ditton 33 is told the same, but to use 25w speakers on a 50w+ amp is risky in itself. But we do know Celestion Ditton 66 work fine on the 1968 Sony STR-6120. It appears to depend on the amp & speaker match. Avoid 4 ohm speakers on pre Differential era seems to be the best advice.

How Can You Tell They are 8 Ohm or 4 Ohm? Online Specs vary a lot.

This is the problem. Tannoy Golds are stated as 8 ohms with 5 Ohms minimum which means at Resonance Frequency. By the time the 1974 Tannoy HPDs arrive they are stated as 8 Ohm Nominal as does the recent Tannoy Prestige brochure that looks like it's with the old 1960s drivers still as such a great design. One site reckons 4 ohm speakers are only for High-End High-Power amps, utter nonsense as 1969 Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 3000 & all other B&O are 4 Ohm rated amps to use with 4 Ohm B&O speakers. Search "Speaker Impedance" on Google & read on "Nominal Impedance" on Wikipedia. Note 'Impedance' does not quite mean 'Resistance' but you can put a Multimeter on the Speaker Inputs. See Wikipedia for "Electrical Characteristics Of Dynamic Loudspeakers" to see an example Impedance Curve. It's not a straight line as Impedance varies with Frequency. some speakers will dip too low & this causes amp-speaker mismatch & as some are rated 4 ohm, they can dip to 2 ohm which is too heavy a load for an amplifier so it "complains" by getting too hot. On the "ECODL" Wikipedia page it shows a graph, 8 Ohms Nominal as designed has the resistance going over 32 Ohm at some frequencies if it dips to 4 Ohm minimum which is where the trouble of mismatching happens. Overload something & it stops working at it's best. Use an Electric Drill & press too hard when drilling something difficult the Drill motor slows as you're overloading it & could damage the Drill Motor. Overloading an amp with an excessive load does the same thing. If the speaker is 4 Ohms nominal you can now see the problem. Note that Impedance Curves are in no way related to Sound Output Curves, the Impedance curve shows where the Speaker can put a heavy load. All Speakers are designed differently. The Tannoy Monitor Gold 15" read on the Inputs tests at whatever Frequency the Multimeter tests at. They are rated 8 Ohm Nominal yet read 5.6 Ohm on the meter which is typical. So to see a "x0.7" meter resistance means a 4 Ohm speaker will read 2.8 Ohm & could dip to 2 Ohms minimum which the amp can't cope with.

How Does a Big 1980s Amp Test on Square Waves?

The Sansui AU-G90X with 130w. This is an interesting one. Fully balanced design with a lot of Transistors in it (Actually a Bridged Design like some 4ch Amps). Preamp-Tone is a double Differential, a driver & a P-P stage like a power amp, 8 transistors including 2 FETs for one diff, if it's just on Line Level, A design idea first done with Yamaha Amps in 1977. Why is that needed? Power Amp is where the Balanced design is. A differential pair drives 2 separate stages for "Hot" and "Cold" as they call it, with no ground reference beyond a few circuit resistors. Each stage after the input diff is a pair of diffs into a P-P stage, then into 3 more P-P stages including the outputs. A total of 29 transistors for the L channel. Is that a good design? The Square Wave tests were not as good as we'd have expected, not terrible but it shows signs that upgrading brought out weaknesses in the design, there were certainly a lot of limitations in the design. We're here to push amps way further in upgrading & to do Square Wave Tests now is our next step of progress. So looking at the circuit for the first time in ages, ignore what they do as it's proven not good enough now upgraded way beyond the original weaknesses and put our ideas in. The amp has proper Bass now & nearing the friendly warmth of earlier amps, gone is the stark cold sound. Earlier the same day got the Sherwood so had that as a Sound Reference. It took some altering-redesigning to bring out the best & pleasingly the AU-G90X now sounds like a "Proper" Amp. At last it has a rich full bassy sound but still with the precision of the original design, the "Whoomp" sound it can now do with some weight behind it. So if we'd not Square Wave tested it, we'd not have seen how average the waveforms were & to see what to do to sort that. The fact it has so many transistors isn't the problem, poor design elsewhere is. The low spec of the original design hid it, if upgrading a complex amp like this shows Sansui didn't put enough "fine tuning" into it, keeps the costs down. We tried it on our 1969 Tannoys if it still doesn't match as well as an earlier amp, the midrange is more prominent giving an imbalance that's not too listenable. It'll sound great on modern speakers that are with different characteristics, the sort of speakers you can see the cones move on as less damped. The 1969 Tannoys don't move visibly at all.

Can we make any 1980s Cold Sounding amp into the Friendly 1969 sound?
The answer having looked at enough 1980s amps is probably not. Only the best ones that can upgrade elsewhere to cope, the thin sound is also due to dumbed down design & low spec. As found above, the AU-G90X still doesn't match 1969 speakers well if now sounds far nicer on headphones. The 2007 Marantz PM6002 we had was so dumbed down & with ICs in the Tone stage that getting a better sound for their spec just wouldn't work out. The AU-G90X is already a high power 130w large amp so has far more potential. The smaller AU-G30X we got to compare it to this was not worth upgrading. Is it possible to make this 130w amp sound like a High Power version of the Sony TA-1120 or Trio-Kenwood KA-6000? We got very close to it, but it will still be a later sounding amp in someway as the circuit is more complex. The Yamaha A-720 from 1986 with 105w we had in 2012 we remember it was cheaply made, a one-board job that isn't Hi-Fi quality to us, it sounded very grainy if Class A bettered it, the sound was awful to us. The 65w 1992 Marantz PM62 similarly was still really only midprice gear as was the A-720, so not good enough with the Power Amp driver IC. Really the only 1980s amps that are possible to do this with are the Top Range ones without any ICs, Phono stages either if possible & they must have several boards, none of these low-end one board jobs like the A-720. Ones with side cheeks to add a bit of style beyond the tin box are the ones to consider. The big 200w Pioneer C90/M90 probably would be good, if only on the power amp, the preamp was awful. Bearing in mind this is experimental fine-tuning that we first did on a Yamaha CR-2020 to get it sounding more like "our" sound & the Heathkit AR-1500 from 1973 has this done too making it in a very different league.

What Would A Perfect Transistor Amp Have?
We've written the Perfect Valve Amp one on the Valves page. But to do similar for Transistors. Some things would be similar. Power should be 40w or more. 50w-60w will ber enough for nearly all users. Anything over 100w is more for vanity or very low sensitivity speakers. Proper Tone Controls. Tone Controls of ±10dB are necessary as no room has ideal sound & some sources need a little altering in Tone. A Mono Switch is necessary for playing Mono vinyl & to deal with Bad YouTube videos where they record Mono records in Stereo with added noise. No Filter Switches. Filters were much used in earlier Hifi days to deal with Noisy 78s, Grainy Ceramic cartridges, Rumbly Turntables & any other unwanted noise. But hifi is about the Highest Music Quality, not filtering sounds away that should be improved instead. Filter switches we've found can spoil a good amp. No Loudness Control. Some will still use these to cover up for thin sounding speakers. But every Loudness circuit is a basic thick bassy boost & edgy treble that loses quality. Make other things better instead. Loudness can be ignored in an amp as all it does is add extra gain by tapping to a louder point & boosting bass & treble. Power Switch as a separate lever switch or push button. From knowing vintage, many add Power Switch to Rotary Controls like Volume & Speaker selector. These rarely fail, but if they do, to repair is impossible. 4mm Speaker Sockets with bare wire holes. These only became popular past the mid 1980s. Before that you had awkward screws or spring connectors with tiny holes not suitable for even the QED cable mentioned above. Some can be replaced with better if some are best left original as we state elsewhere. Power Off Mutes Output. On older amps that don't have a way to mute the output, the 1965 Sony TA-1120 does, the sound if left with the volume as before will just fade away into a distorted mess. It seems a bit amateurish. Relays sort this one out as the relay disconnects the speakers the split-second the power goes off. RCA Phono Connectors on Inputs. We don't bother getting DIN socket amps as buyers don't like them when paying for Upgraded Amps. DIN sockets are General Audio Quality but not for the Enthusiast. B&O, Quad & some other 'prestige' brands still use DIN or custom plug connectors. No FETs. FETs are low spec & are no good for full volume Line Level. To use them on the Input stage of a Power Amp is often seen if there you'll reduce the volume with the Volume Control. There are other ways to use transistors instead of FETs & those amps with MOSFET drivers we just don't like as said elsewhere on the site. All Discrete Audio Stages. This means No ICs on all these stages: Phono MM or MC, Tone, Preamp, Power Amp Driver & Power Amp Output. 'Discrete' means made of Transistors. This covers the next few too... No IC Power amps. Some of the big 1976-80 amplifiers use IC output stages, from the 'common' STK ones to other custom ones. For the fact if they get damaged they are unfindable to replace, the whole idea of a general purpose amp block is not Hifi. No Op-Amps. Again Generic ICs that you can do equally well with Transistors. To add that some IC-looking items are actually 2 matched transistors or FETs for Differentials in one case is another thing & these are fine if you can find the part still. 3 Core Mains Cable is essential on nearly all amps. In the past a Record Player would ground the amp as does using the Computer sound Card. But using TV sound sources only, there is no ground & there is actually a 60v-150v floating AC voltage on the amp case. It's not truly 'Live' as such if touching the case & a grounded item wil give a tiny electric shock.

Hi-Fi Repair Jobs We Wish We Hadn't Started.
Some of what we do is "Make It Up As You Go Along" & then perfect it. It's how The Wheel was made after all. One particularly mind-bending repair was on a 1980s amp that had the Speaker Connectors broken & also the board they soldered to had ripped off the PCB from Courier damage from an ebay seller packing poorly. No original parts available. Amp useless without it beyond headphones & to add to the difficulty the Protector-Relay board was the board it ripped the track off. But that was not all, without the old connectors the PCB which the Protector-Relay circuit was on is now left floating loose as it was held on with the Speaker Connectors. Then the added fact the case of the relay sits blocking 4 of the 8 holes with 1cm space between it & the case panel was the real difficulty. To spend a few hours trying to work it out but had enough so left it to the next day. As you can imagine, now it's all fixed, looks almost like the original, but it took many more hours to devise a good way to do it plus parts from other amps & bits found in a box from who-knows-where. Jobs like this are to the max of problem solving & the "luck" of having spare bits to do it properly. Time to design-problem solve & make the speaker connectors: 6 hours in reality. Parts used were already here if no more than £5. Boxes of bits accumulate when an idea is thought of, the parts bought yet a better idea comes along & those parts don't get used, but will be there for future raking through & use.

1978 Luxman M-12 Power Amp, Is It Worth Repairing?
80w Power Amp from 1977-80 says the TVK site. Is that the back or the front? Looks are not the thing here. Plain box with a big grille. Noted to have ICs so already we're not interested. But it's worth noting here as the nasty ICs that are known to be bad & fail are now findable as a modern rebuilt board to fit in the space the bad ones are in. It's still an IC, but good to see someone has made some of these to replace-upgrade a bad part. But an IC is still an IC & for the Power Amp to have these isn't good. The schematic shows the amp is all transistors apart from this DML-01 input stage IC, likely a differential & gain stage. Why they can't do it all in Transistors is actually so they can "brag" it's got "Up To Date ICs" even if they are lousy ones. Probably easier to redesign as Transistors as it's hardly going to be complex. We don't think much of the amp, lousy looks, build quality inside isn't great. Far better 80w amps out there than this is the reality. Is it worth getting the New IC blocks to fit in, you'd need to do all 4 at $33 each, assuming there's any left as sometimes one person has to bulk order 50 to get theirs & they sell off the rest. Go flog it on ebay & buy something better & more reliable is the best advice. The enthusiast may love a project to get those new parts for, the realist can see there's far better out there & a power amp of only 80w is a bit pointless, then again Quad seem to sell the things. To use one brand as a Preamp & the Luxman as the Power Amp rarely works out well as impedances & more can not match the other. Either buy the matching pre or stick to an integrated one.

Why Do We Warn Of Some Amps as Use 8 ohm Speakers Only.
An amp in 1965-69 will have been designed to suit 8 ohm speakers. At the time Valve Amps mostly played into 15 ohm speakers with the 1958 Heathkit S-99 9w Valve amp having a 15 ohm & 3 ohm tap only. 8 Ohms was decided upon to make it an easier load than 15 ohms, HFN mag at the time makes note of this being a good idea & it appears all transistor amps were designed to 8 ohm. 4 ohm speakers were not a Standard Design at the time & why the need for them appears an advertising one to make an amp appear more powerful, if in fact you're just driving it harder. The 1967 B&O Beolab 5000 is rated 60w into 4 ohms & therefore this is a EU idea. The 1965 Fisher 600-T is aware of 4 ohm speakers as it has a Switch on the back to select 4 or 8 ohms. This actually just alters some circuitry, only for Speakers 2 does it add a 4 ohm resistor in the circuit. It here alters the NFB to be less to run 4 ohm, as in 8 ohm has 3.9K-ohm NFB & 4 ohm has 8.2K-ohm. From that it appears if you use 4 Ohm speakers it gets the amp unstable as the load is half & the 8 ohm NFB is too much so instability means it can oscillate causing overheating. NFB here means NFB from the Speaker outputs back to a certain point, the Main NFB circuit.

Upgrading Usually Gives Far Superior Square Wave Readings.

Since trying Square Wave Tests on several amps including the ones we are selling, our Square Waves at 100Hz, 1kHz & 10kHz are way more "square" shaped than what Hi-Fi News/RR reviews are giving on the vast majority of the ones they fully test. Sadly they don't test the Yamaha CA-1000 of maybe other Hi-Fi Mags tested more. Note we don't say "always" as the Sansui AU-G90X proved upgrading revealed weaknesses that sounded & tested fine, but Square Waves brought it out, if we've sorted it since. The general Square Wave that HFN/RR finds is far from accurate like we've read on our upgraded amps. The 100Hz is sloped down to the right showing Bass is rolled off too early. 1kHz is usually the best if not always & 10kHz is often seen with a slow rise with a noticeably curved rising edge. This means the amp is "slow" & the spec is mediocre. As an example the April 1974 HFN/RR reviews a 20w Metrosound ST40 amp that's £59.40 so not a budget one but a midprice one. The 1kHz is even sloping down to the right showing bass is very limited to show on 1kHz. The 10kHz has a poor rise-time with a slow reaction up & down. There is no 100Hz waveform as it'll be very tilted downwards from Bass limiting. Metrosound to us are Budget Junk, even at Midprice level. Cheaply made UK amps with big writing on the basic fascia. The other one they review is a Philips RH 720 receiver, 30w into 4 ohms which they read at just under 20w into 8 ohms, but at £225 it's very expensive compared to others on our List of Receivers page. A 30w Yamaha CR-600 for less & far better quality was £11 less. Philips is EU made stuff we're not keen on as mostly it's Budget Quality, even at £225, with none of higher power. Again the Square Waves are poor, actually the same on 1kHz as the Metrosound if the 10kHz is even slower. Even the review says the amp is noticeably dull sounding to some who listened to it, at last a bit of subjective opinion. But the reviewer reckons you can make it better with adjusting Tone which suggests Tone is inaccurate, "turn Contour (Loudness) to 1 & use half bass cut", ie Bass at -2.5. It'll sound awful. But these two are amps we'd not even consider trying or upgrading, they are just General Audio gear if the Philips one is very expensive to be so poor.

Square Wave Tests Are Useful But Not The Only Valid Test There Is

Leading on from the above post... Bearing in mind these are Domestic Amps, not PA Amps, to have a "slower sound" suits the Domestic User better. We can make certain amps sound like PA amps with the higher 'Master Volume' but they are too loud if great to hear, but not really suitable for Domestic Use as you'd annoy & the background noise can be too high. Some amps are tailored in design to give a perfect 10kHz waveform, the 1965 Sony TA-1120 does this, but ours still has the original resistors circuit & it can sound a bit grainy compared to other amps. To make a perfect 10kHz waveform on another amp is nearly possible without limiters, if then as we found with the Luxman LX33 the amp is almost flat in gain up to 200kHz. When our new Audio Generator arrives we'll test how much further it goes. Square Wave tests are a good one to know, but to test by Ear is how we've done upgrades before & it reveals how right we are on Upgrading.

More Early 1970s Brands Made By Hidden Others.

The Fisher 205 receiver on ebay currently, so to have a look, Oh, it looks like our Realistic STA-150 made by Hitachi, because it will be. Metal case, different fascia but the back connectors & most obviously the output transistor plastic covers are the same. Fisher sold out in 1969 to Emerson after making a lot of good quality amps & more, if later ones get the opinion of not being so good & sold to Sanyo in 1975 & then Panasonic in 2010 says Wikipedia. The Fisher 205 is stated as 1972-73 says HFE which matches Realistic & Hitachi. The Fisher 205 manual on HFE covers the 215 also. The manual gives a list of parts including prices which is unusual. The manual is still in the style of the 1966 Fisher 600-T. 66v suggests it's much the same as the Realistic STA-150 in power, 30-35w. The circuits do look different to the Hitachi-Realistic though. One forum thinks Hitachi is likely, but we're the first to prove Hitachi on the Realistic, only from having Hitachi SR-1100 & IA-1000 to compare the board numbers. So therefore Fisher will be high quality as were their pre 1969 models, only the Sanyo 1975 era-on will be the Budget gear. We had a Sanyo DCX-8000, it wasn't bad but still clear to see it's cheaper build quality. One photo of the insides of another (later) Fisher shows the Hitachi logo on the transformer, if other parts look less like the 1971-72 Hitachi-Realistic. But one of the Fisher 205 is very similar looking to the Realistic STA-150. The STA-150 transformer has 2217761 & the Fisher 205 has 2217451. Appears Hitachi custom made more amps, are there any more they did?

McIntosh Hi-Fi: Why Is It So Rare In The UK?

Info on the brand evaded all the UK Hifi Yearbooks. Few shops actually stocked any. We've found a May 1974 HFN/RR ad by 'Southern Audio Services' in Kingston-On-Thames, Surrey. First one we've seen. The Prices tell you why McIntosh gear is rare, as the typical Audio Buyer was into £50 amplifiers & general Budget gear. The MAC 1900 receiver £605, MR 74 tuner £453, MR 77 tuner £492, MR 78 AM/FM tuner £605, MX 113 tuner-preamp AM/FM £492, C26 preamp £250, C28 preamp £350, MC 2105 105w power amp £467, MC 2300 300w power amp £934, MC 2505 50w power amp £323, MC 250 50w power amp £271, MC 2100 105w power amp £359 & MA 6100 integrated amp 70w £430. Expensive, but quality worth paying for, we've had the C26 pre & MC 2505 power amp, in the Pan-Loc wood cases they look very classy. The Best Brand in terms of Quality, outdoing Marantz. We'd like to try a MAC 1900 or MA 6100 but these are always around £1000 which is nice to try, but all upgraded & recapped it'd put it into a higher price that may alienate buyers who may want it "all original". Proper Hi-Fi Upgrading is still a growing scene.

1974 Bose 1801 250w power amp
Yours for £498 in 1974 also in that ad mentioned above, a brand that may be good early on but is a bit of a Glossy Sunday Mag Ad brand of today with 'Lifestyle' products that are not Hi-Fi at all. The Bose 1801 HFE says is 1.5v input so needs a louder preamp & is a hefty 82lbs 37kg. It's in the same sort of league as the bigger McIntosh power amps. What use 250w power is remains more a low sensitivity speaker game rather than using it as a PA amp. LED display is early & it has Tripled Output Transistors to get 250w into 8 ohms & 400w into 4 ohms. Disappointingly it has an IC op-amp on the input stage & remarkably a high 100k resistor limiting the input, explains the 1.5v input. Two bad things already is a bit unexpected. Despite all it's power the early stages suggest it'll not be PA quality at all, but a softer sound. Bose & BS design started early it seems. Service Supplement updates show R3 runs at 150°C & often fails, er, why not use a 50w resistor to run cooler? But it's left on the Board to cause problems. R3 drops -85v to -16v with a reference zener diode, rubbish design says we. "Bose, Better Sound Through Research"... sounds like they didn't test it properly to keep needing Updates publishing over a few years . To repair one could be a big job for overheating parts & failures.

Square Wave Tests: Quality 1972 Amp, Left Unused for over 40 years as Damaged, now Repaired. How Your "Attic Find" Amp really tests.
We got a Rotel RX-800 receiver, a quality model & one that will upgrade very well. 55w. The UK model without DIN sockets. Needed quite a major rebuild to get it working so unused since at least 1975. As on the Review we found it sounded very "asleep" & as unused for so long, hours running in won't revive it fully. The risk of dried out capacitors does happen as the last Sony TA-1120A from 1967 got very rough & noisy quickly to find even the smallest capacitors were bad. To get a better sound balance +2 on Treble & -2 on Bass showed how far off it was. The amp is Unserviced, the Power amps run cool & all works on the amp. But it sounded very Aged & very Tired, a soft sound with little life to it was unusual to hear. We tried it the day before so it might have improved after 30 mins use. It actually does sound a lot better as voltages on the capacitors have to a degree "reformed" themselves with a voltage, if it does sound better now with Tone flat. So now the tests will reveal what an unusued for 40 years amp tests like after 30 mins use a day before. 1kHz is square if curved on the rising left edge, if not bad. 10kHz is much more curved on the edge revealing how aged the capacitors are & at 20kHz it's quite 'cog-shaped' so has slow rise & fall time. 100Hz is very slanted down to the right showing Bass is limited if it did have a "retro bass" sound on first try, thick & wallowy. Possible to Square it up with about +1 on Bass Tone. Here 100Hz to 10kHz readings shows a drop of about 15% on the 10kHz reading. Overall not a terrible reading if obvious that Treble is noticeably dulled off & Deeper Bass is lacking, if some of that will be the original design. You probably could live with an amp like this, but the dull treble won't improve unless with recapping as we've found with many amps testing the sound before & after recap-upgrading one stage. This is quality amp, if you bought some budget 20w amp from the same era unlikely it'll sound or test anywhere near this good. The listening test improved it for 30 mins use & overnight sitting once reawakened. Do you really need to recap? Actually this amp is quality made with Elna small electrolytics & Nippon Chemicon main capacitors. We've found Pioneer & Trio amps with these going back to 1969 still sounding acceptable as this does. But you're not getting the best out of the amp & for one left unused or used for 30-40 years, we'd not recommend it goes into daily use. The unknown becomes the reality when faults occur, again enough testing amps & keeping some with original capacitors until we felt they could do better. The Sony STR-6120 we kept all-original for over a year & the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 similarly, if once upgraded, the difference in quality & confidence in the sound was very noticeable. So keep it original & below it's best with treble lacking, not much kick to it & bass limited, or recap-upgrade it to see how good it'll be. The Rotel is waiting on the printed manual surface post from Canada as the pdf ones are lousy, so we'll find out in a month or so.

BBC-Rogers LS 3/5 Monitor Speakers arrive in a May 1974 advert.
We've read many saying how wonderful these BBC monitors are, but we do wonder. They are TINY, just 18.5cm x 16.5cm x 29.8cm. Frequency response is claimed to be ±3db from 80Hz-20kHz & ±4dB 60Hz-20kHz. Hardly proper Monitors if they have no deep bass. How would the BBC hear windy bass noise on microphones? It'd go unheard. The Definition of Bookshelf Speaker but hardly going to compare to Tannoy 15" that most Studios used as they are full range. This sort of feeble speaker leads to ghastly subwoofers & satellite speakers of today, this is where it started to go wrong. Low sensitivity speakers needing higher power. But these are only 25w at 8 ohms. More in the series appeared, a larger LS 3/6 was out at the same time in 1974, but this little bastard started it all & it gets far too much praise. It seems the LS 3/5 was only short lived as the LS 3/5a is what you find info online on. Wikipedia says the manufacturer altered the drive units so needed to be revised. Professional it's not. They don't know of the May 1974 advert on p.170 with the speakers made by Rogers themselves in London SE6 who soon sold up with another company taking over Rogers & others later making this under licence too. Wikipedia adds it has "little or no bass" and a "peak at 160Hz to give it the idea of bass" also "a nasaly quality" which is a midrange peak and "rising volume over 5kHz" shows it is again where dishonest speakers with boosted fake bass, sucked-out midrange & scratchy treble begin. The LS 3/5 is a Hifi Killer in all the bad ways. Now we know why we don't like them. It's not an honest "Flat Monitor" speaker at all. 1969 Tannoy Golds are called Monitor Golds & their flat smooth open sound was used by Recording Studios, TV Studios etc as they trusted it as a True Monitor. We never realised how dishonest these nasty LS 3/5 speakers are, yet they are used to review amplifiers for many years, hiding how poor the sound got as you can't hear it properly. It's sad that mediocre goods are hailed as being Classics, by those who clearly know no better, even reviewers.

1974 Rogers New Cadet : Rare & Ridiculed?

We've been looking out for this in the HFN/RR mags & at last it appears as a prototype pictured in the June 1974 issue. See Here. As nothing is found online, worth adding the image. We did see one several years ago on ebay & it looked a bit different. The picture shows it's case is about the same size & height as the older valve Cadet III. Black fascia with full symmetry of one large control knob with 4 buttons below on each side with 2 sliders in the middle, a Headphone socket & oddly a matching screw to hold the fascia on to keep the symmetry. Here the rotary & push button controls are silver aluminium if the one we remember had the big rotary ones in black, if they may be replaced from an 1980s amp as they were plain styled. HFN/RR describe it as a 10w 'no-nonsense' unit retailing for around £40 suitable for the hifi beginner. Seeing it's modest status & price compared to the Ravensbourne & Ravensbrook perhaps we are being mean... The reason why it's ridiculed is as we saw how very basic it was. We thought it was a 1968 design initially, it is mostly a big STK amplifier block & the construction was poor. So it was 1974, at the same time as the LS 3/5 speaker was launched if Rogers brand went broke so was sold via a receiver company to Swisstone as Wikipedia states. The dates we'll find more accurately as HFN/RR reports on it as sad that this brand failed. The New Cadet has little found beyond our pages if one says a matching Tuner was made too. The New Cadet was swiftly ditched so will be a real rarity if Rogers continued with the new owners having success with the Panthera A75 amplifier that was an update of the Ravensbourne with the same layout in a black case. Looking at the HFN/RR the Rogers LS 3/5 ads run until July 1974, nothing Aug-Sep 1974 if return Oct 1974 with the new Panthera A75 & that ad continues into Jan 1975. Suggrests Rogers changed in Jul-Aug 1974 & the New Cadet was abandoned, maybe only a small amount made.

July 2017 Blog.  

How Long Does It Take To Get Used To A Different Hi-Fi Amplifier?

We try some amps on the Tannoys & generally it takes at least Two Weeks to be familiar with the sound of an amp, to learn it's ways and how it plays familiar Music or TV shows. You'd have to like the sound or find it different enough in a good way first to try it for 2 weeks. We've had the Heathkit AR-1500 on the speakers for a few weeks now & find the sound very pleasing as daytime TV or quieter at night. Full sounding amp with nothing lacking in it, if as-original it was not better than average, it certainly upgrades well. This shows why Home Demos or Shop Demos are useless. A brighter, bassier just or more unbalanced sound can fool you on a quick demo as being "better" but you'll soon tire of the sound that's not neutral once you give it a few days' use. Only having the amp in your home playing in your room on your speakers playing your Music or TV at your Tone & Volume settings. It is possible to get used to an amp that sounds fine but then play another & it has a bit more of what the other lacked. This could be deeper Bass, Stereo width & detail, Treble crispness & headroom-dynamics to deliver a bigger sound. So to try the Realistic STA-220 that we'd used for several months earlier in the year & found it great for TV use. The STA-150 sounded no different on speakers. But how will the Realistic sound after weeks of the Heathkit? Realistic needs a minute to settle or the volume crackles as voltages are still rising, 2 mins later no volume noise on use. The Heathkit is semi-complimentary with ± HT of about 40v so settles faster than the Capacitor-Coupled Realistic which is +HT only at about 90v so more voltage to rise to. Much more dynamic sound, a huge sound maybe a bit too big for the room & as it has a Midrange control, to turn it back 2 notches to suit the room. This is a useful feature & probably why it was designed. Big sound, big dynamics but still as clear. The Heathkit suited the room size better as-is. Both amps are 60w ones. Both are excellent sounding, the Heathkit a richer sound, the Realistic a more dynamic sound if not as rich sounding. Both play louder on speakers very well. This is the problem with 2 good amps, which do you keep? Both. After 2 days with the Realistic, fresh lively sound with wide stereo & full dynamics, playing TV at speaking voice volume, sort of miss the richer Heathkit sound, such as male TV voices with a richer fuller sound. The Bass on both is the same level, just the Heathkit is the fuller sound. Heathkit seems to do a more solid "sss" on sibilants, it's not clipping as we've tested it, the tonal balance just differs. watching the '1950s Tom Jones' program, the richness suits music well, a very untypical sound for a differential amp to play, if it's a lot of our redesign in places enough is the original if much improved. The 1972 Realistic does sound great if needs the midrange reduced via the Tone, if the 1974 Heathkit is a better match.

Why Does The Valve Amp Keep Crackling Yet Later Be Fine? Now Cured.
This is an annoying one & it won't go away. But it doesn't crackle when used on the speakers in another room. Luxman LX33 amp on the desk right now, barely a noise from it since turning on, got headphones on it. Plug Aux in from the Soundcard that has a Ferrite on the cable & an isolating transformer to stop Earth Noise, if we rewired ours differently as not all amps have Earth. Still no noise apart from a very occasional low level rustle that is typical on valves using headphones. No hum at all, hardly any background noise at half volume until Phono is used. Not plugged the Turntable in yet. But first plug in the "Rec Out" cable to the Computer that has no transformer if has Ferrites. This brings a little more noise briefly if nowhere as much as usual. Using the Scope the background noise using Aux is 12mV, with Rec Out plugged in altering the impedance if not the sound, noise reduces to 3mV. Plug in the Phono which has no Ferrites & add the Ground cable the turntable needs. No extra noise & the scope shows the same 3mV noise in the same pattern. Amp on Aux still, all plugged in, just the very occasional rustly sound if nowhere as annoying as before. Unplug Phono & it loses that tiny bit of noise. Found some more Ferrites, put on the Phono cables. No real difference to crackle-noise with or without. Put a Record on & play it, 3 mins later no extra noise. With the Ferrites it has better focus so Ferrites do help on Cartridge inputs as the cable is an antenna in today's Wi-Fi world, without the Ferrites again it loses focus if only very subtly, it's noticeable as an extra smoothness with the Ferrites. Play more 45s, ones played the day before & they do sound more focussed. The amp is on the desk, not about 4ft away on the side next to an outside wall. Cars park below & they all run on computers with alarms on, Is this the cause of the crackling? Excess RF hash being picked up from outside by the Turntable cables? Played more 45s, but no annoying crackling on amp or disc. Turned the amp off to let the voltages clear & turn it back on, put back in the usual place, there are the noises again. The amp certainly picks up stray RF put there. Swap cables the Straight Wire Blue or Green makes no difference, if once the amp has settled voltages the crackle is minimal. Picking up RF on the Turntable Cartridge to Amp cable clearly the case here, Ferrites on the Phono cable into the Phono stage sorted it, if this amp is so sensitive it picked up noise made by dirty fuses slightly sparking in the House Fuse Box. Now you see why Hifi is dumbed down, to hide all that crap & noises. But to have an amp that's wide open & to realise the causes is the answer. Not a fashionable thing to do. On further use, the amp still picks up RF to crackle until the amp's been on an hour then it's quiet. Voltages settled in about 2 mins we test, so why aren't Ferrites stopping this? To test further...

Get Ferrites On All Cables.
See our Ferrites page section Here. The amount of high MHz crap in the air these days, Phones, Broadband & who knows what. Valve amps we've had picking up Police & Fire Engine radio if they were nearby. Not that you'll be told those frequencies publicly to stop them getting blocked. 850MHz to 3GHz is the Frequency Range most Mobile & Broadband operate on. Security systems can work on 433MHz that is possible, Car Alarms & Home Alarms. Looking at our Turntables page that covers Ferrites, the Würth ones we just added to the Phono cables block 1MHz to 1GHz+. No wonder the amp sounds better not having to amplify RF hash. As we wrote long ago, but didn't add on Phono cables thinking the LCR circuit in cable & amp would solve, not so. Your amplifier wastes energy with these ultrasonic sounds, you can't hear beyond 20kHz, but high spec amps will pick up RF & amplify it too. Explains why the EL34 valves didn't last long as they were likely amplifying high level RF. It got us improving the amp many times & each time the sound pulls in tighter. So much for valves being soft & warm, ours can amplify 100kHz at 95% volume to 20kHz & we'll test how far it can go. On buying Ferrites, check the Frequency Range that they will work on, some can be the incorrect type & affect the Sound quality or be too high & miss the RF you want to block. 1MHz-1GHz will block the main problem ones, if Broadband is now in 2.4GHz & 5GHz as in "2G" and "5G" as Routers offer options on. Würth Ferrites Wurth Elektronik - 74271112 on RS site are code number 367-5297 & smaller size new ones are available. The Spec Sheet shows 1MHz- 1GHz if over 1GHz the graph suggests usefulness well over 1GHz, if not shown oddly.

Hi-Fi News Finally Wakes Up To The Modern World Aug 1974.

We've read this magazine since the first issue in 1956 & just miss 8 issues, Oct & Dec 56, Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Oct 57 & Jan 58. Of course we've only got & read them in the last few years or so, got the set up to Dec 1980 if didn't find ones after that of interest, trying one per year to 1989. So the Early HFN from 1956 up to about 1966 are actually an interesting read, lots of articles that show tech progress, visits to factories & despite a skinny mag well worth reading. By 1967 things change, we expected the 1967-70 era to be a far better read than it was & it's got dull reading since as the above shows. Bringing in 'Record Review' brought in some awfully dull aged men with dull narrow views & creepy pictures plus pages of Classical Cover Version reviews, up to 20 versions of the same work in the shops in 1973 we read. Some of the mag is still as it was 10 years before, if not as interesting. But in early 1974 HFN/RR advertises for a new Deputy Editor & by Aug 1974 at last the mag becomes interesting again. Ray Carter got the job, but they found Martin Colloms who in his earlier HFN/RR days starts to do subjective Reviewing, see the Books & Mags page as we look at early subjective testing. But in the Aug 74 brings MC with an article on the Tuner-Amplifier aka receiver plus he reviews the Sugden A48 with another reviewing the Hitachi SR-1100, both amps we've had. Their square waves on 10kHz show the limitations in these amps. There's an article on Yamaha at the time the CA-1000 was out & the rare FET pre-power B1/C1/UC1 were being readied. This is what a Hifi mag should be about, not just boring chatter, boring Q&A pages padded with much waffle & boring Music articles. 60,000 copies sold per month at this time, mostly for the ads is likely the truth & binned soon after, unread. Brush away the boring old 'superior' men, the boring John Crabbe editor & his dry 'Hifi In The Home' book. This is where it starts & by 1976 "What Hi-Fi" mag will change things more. Soon come the Subjective reviews that went too far in Tech Testing to make 0.001% THD a way to go at the expense of sound. It improves, but it gets worse too for it. But despite this new freshness to the mag, by Nov 1974 it's back to the usual boringness, pages about unimportant nothing that's been well trodden over before, like still trying to justify hopeless Quadraphonics & Omnidirectional Speakers.

The "Experts" Were Totally Wrong... They Usually Are. Early Transistor Amps.
We've all read that early Transistor amps, pre 1970, are supposed to be harsh sounding with a "Transistor Sound". This we've proven is totally wrong with many USA & Japanese Amplifiers from 1965-70. These ones are high quality, high spec designs that sound great as original & they upgrade the best as we certainly do know, look at our reviews page. You'll notice we aren't keen on UK & European Hifi, we've tried enough like Rogers, Leak, Armstrong, Radford, Sugden & B&O. Some of these are the ones with the rough grainy sound well into the 1970s & oddly most amps including USA & Japan after 1979 offer this imprecise mess as "Audio" for severe cost-cutting unless you get the top models. Before we tried amps that are now wanted because We Liked Them on this site, no-one else has bothered to look properly at these Japanese ones. We have helped revive Yamaha & JVC-Nivico as well as the early Sony & early Trio-Kenwood. The early amps you can still read of on early forum pages, they were found cheaply, thought to sound great but weren't understood. So for Martin Colloms to repeat this "Accepted Lie" in the Aug 1974 HFN/RR as he talks about Amplifier designs, is frustrating as he talks it to mean All Early amps. "The constituent components and circuitry of these early units were of a poor standard, and the result had a bright and fatiguing character known as 'Transistor sound'. Distortion values were usually around 0.25%, a high proportion of which arose from unpleasant crossover effects. Initially well received but subsequently condemned 'transistor sound' was the result of poor design." What an ignorant comment to publish as uneducated "fact" in 1974. We were aware of this sort of talk & it's what has kept the pre 1970 gear back until we bought them cheap & saw them with fresh eyes, ignoring previous wrong opinions & wrote them up here. Yes, the 'rough sound' is with some of the UK-EU brands of names our List of amps & Receivers page shows, but the Far superior USA-Japan gear was rare to find outside of London via a small few shops as the 1965-70 HFN mags reveal. Even Sony was "Rare" in the UK until about 1971 if first appear in the 1967/68 HFYB.

Have "Experts" ever tried the 40w-75w USA-Japan Hi-Fi from 1965-70?

Clearly they haven't & add to guessed accepted misinformation much like amateurs on Forums do is irresponsible. The USA hifi brands like Marantz, Fisher & McIntosh led the way in the mid 1960s, Japanese companies took ideas from the USA designs to create theirs, but UK-EU amps took from Radiogram low tech to make their inferior goods. The article barely looks at design in the way we do to upgrade, missing so much that maybe only we have ever knowingly tried. The UK-EU amps pre 1977 generally are of poor or limited-tidied sound, look how crudely the B&O Beomaster 3000 is, the Sugden A48 is crude & "An Ugly Frog" say Audio-T in their Aug 74 advert, that's before the even uglier Nexel version. Rogers & Leak are crude, Armstrong with their cynical obsolete-component designs & construction. Do not compare the superior USA-Japan Early gear to the Mediocrity of the Early UK-EU stuff. Look at our List of Amps page, by 1963 various UK brands start with Transistors, they'll be the poor UK-Germaniums so we've never bothered try but seen enough to see the cheap quality 10w things. See the 1965/66 section with what we saw in Transistor amps in that year. The USA-made 1965 Sherwood S-9500 is the first Silicon Transistor amp sold in the UK that we'd bother trying... "the first Silicon Amp sold in the UK as Sony TA-1120 & Sansui TR-707A not in UK yet". By 1966/67 book loads of cheap UK transistor amps that will have the nasty sounds. These companies soon faded away, as their amps were outdone by better. Only the Akai AA5000 & the Sherwoods will be different. By 1967/68 book Transistors rule if very few of quality we'd try listed. Why MC quotes an uneducated generalisation is based on Hifi Mags only got gear to review if they were sent it, the 1965-70 era of HFN has very few of the Amps We Like reviewed, so ignorance is understandable at the time, but not in 1974. Maybe the best 1965-70 amps were up in the attic replaced by "better new ones" by 1974 & only a few people rediscovering them in later years realised how good they were. we only got to try them by seeing they were cheap & interesting, to actually have them here to try. The result is this site.

State Of The Market: What Actually Sells in Hi-Fi Over £300 on Ebay...

Looking at UK Sold items, the usual modern "Monster" stuff that doesn't appeal to us, £4000-£5000 for a huge heavy metal box with 300w-500w power, a few £3000 7.2 channel AV amps that devalue heavily. Naim, Chord, Sugden Masterclass etc. A few very old Valve amp if barely any new valves are selling. Nothing there to interest us. The sort of stuff others have compared our Upgraded Vintage Amps to & all agreed our 18w-30w amp as on our 1966 era reviews bettered anything for pure musicality if not power, but shows you don't really need 300w or more than 60w unless your rooms are huge. Not a trace of Wood Finish on the first 200 sold sorted in £ order. The £800-£1000 level appears to be the limit for nearly all buyers as we've found. Several we found apparently "sold" at unrealisticly high prices yet relisted, one seller appears to try to price-fix Pioneer gear, so we'll ignore them. Sugden C51/A51 ugly pre-power made £690, a working one not serviced or any testing done. Up to the buyer to service, or probably just plug it in & think no more on 40 year old gear, oh... Around £600 come some ones that are more interesting to us, 110w Trio KA 601, Luxman C-1000 preamp. Then a few valve amps recent & vintage. Acres of boring post 1990 plain metal boxes silver & black. £500 for a Rogers HG 88 Mk II serviced they say, but it's a poor c1962 8w amp, we had one long ago. It'll need a full rebuild & still sound too aged, looking closer it's just about original with 55 year old dried-out capacitors on 450v or so. A Sansui 8 apparently makes £500, but it's attic-find grade, seems unlikely to be worth more than £100 like that. A couple of Sugden A21 10w Class A amps make around £400-ish, exposed rear transistors with voltage on means they lost the weak clip-on plastic covers it seems. High grade Pioneer SX-890 makes £425, again just a working one. £385 for a Marantz 2225 receiver, 25w & no wood case, if Marantz do get overpriced, to sell at that price is interesting. £360 for a Quad 33/303 is very high, average-scruffy grade & tested but original is a bad buy. Ugly Sugden A48 II makes £350, resprayed but still looks like the Mk II inside. £349 for a Rogers Cadet III if relisted sells for £329 but it's the awkward 2 part one. £340 for a Marantz 1060 which is 30w. £340 for a high grade B&O Beomaster 3000. The idea here is most of the £300+ sales are plain metal boxed modern power amps with MOSFETS & boring sound. Leak & Quad still sell, some valve amps sell. But to be honest, that was a disappointing look at 3 months' of ebay-solds. No-one does Upgrades, ones that state "Serviced" are just doing the bare minimum. To buy it working but original is still accepted as the way, to use 30-60 year old amps just as they arrive is risky. Even going to £200 isn't very interesting either. But... this is ebay, 10% fees & can-the-seller-pack-it-properly means a lot of sales are found via ebay & agreed off ebay with "Seller Ended The Listing Early" & cash on collection.

Restored Vintage Hi-Fi is still a Very New Scene.

It still seems Restored Hifi has a way to go, it's not understood widely if we do see interest in Vintage has grown Hugely over the last 5 years, as the above saying those wanting just the Sony TA-1120(A) & Trio KA-6000 without really knowing why or knowing what they sound like. We've got the Heathkit AR-1500 on the speakers for sound. But before we upgraded it more it sat ignored as the tuner doesn't work on FM, it is a top amp & a real bargain for the sound. The 60w sound of that would put every amp that sold £500+ on ebay to shame for Musicality. But you don't know how good it sounds, so you just read & wonder... Some are taking the chance & are delighted beyond expectations with a recapped & upgraded amp. We only get a certain amount of Amps as they are always Recapped-Upgraded, but to get ones that we see as interesting & worthwhile, rather than buying £500 ones, putting £400 of work into them & not finding buyers at £900. Vintage Hifi isn't that advanced on Upgrades yet... as in who else does this? It's a skill that couldn't be put into a book, it's years of learning & applying to an individual amp, there is no blanket idea that works on any two amps.

Some Amps Cannot Cope With Certain Speakers With Difficult Loads.

We've sold well over 200 amplifiers & most buyers do communicate back & until very recently, we never heard of any Amplifiers getting into trouble driving any Speakers. Quite a few of our rarer 1965-68 ones went to buyers who used good Vintage European speakers & they never told of any problems beyond how they set the Tone Controls and Loudness (eek) to get the Sound they liked. But there is the question of Ohms Rating of Speakers buyers will need to have when they Go Vintage. They may not have got better speakers yet but will use an amp carefully on low powered speakers & have no problems. But some amplifiers are designed only for 8 ohm speakers, the 1966 Akai AA-7000 says 8 ohm only. The 1965 Sony TA-1120 rates power for 8 ohm & 16 ohm speakers, the 15-16 ohm ones from the Valve era. 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 states 8 ohm & 4 ohm, The Problem Speakers we've found are those that are 4 ohm rated & have multiple speaker drivers, such as Bass, Mid & Treble. The crossovers have to be well designed to keep the impedance curve from having nasty dips that go too low & will cause amps problems. You may buy a 1966 amp but use 1977 speakers on it.

The Ditton 22-33-44 speakers are DANGEROUS to use on some amps earlier than 1973
This coincides with the start of Differential era when amps became Semi-Complimentary with No Output Capacitors. Some amps like Teac used Differentials as early as 1969. The other amp the Ditton 44 was used on was the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X, the later version. But the KA-6000 is rated for 4 ohm or 8 ohm speakers, but in 1968-69 the designers were aware of Properly Designed Impedance Loudspeakers, not the foolish Ditton 22-33-44. See a Celestion Ditton review HERE highlighting the "Hard To Drive" and "Needing A 4 Ohm Capable Amp" The Review calls them "Poor" on Impedance Curves. Look at the link above. The image we found online, maybe from Hifi Choice mag. To see the huge dip on the right appears to set the Impedance below 2 ohm, it could be 1 ohm even by the divisions. This is reckless design, but no-one noticed as the 1965-70 amps weren't being used, the "new better" ones were. You can read in the blurry text that the severe impedance dip is seen as a problem. Clearly the 1970s Dittons have an awful design to have a low dip in Impedance around 2kHz, there's where the amp gets into trouble. How many amps have these awful speakers trashed? 2kHz is the loudest part of Human hearing, which is where Alarms frequencies are at. The "problem" speakers are known as Celestion Ditton 22, Celestion Ditton 33 & Celestion Ditton 44 introduced in 1973-75. Another used the 80w Celestion Ditton 66 on the 1968 Sony STR-6120 & had no problems with it. There will likely be other multi-driver speakers that have "Hard To Drive" characteristics, best Google any potential speaker to see if there is any problem in driving. We'll add any more we find, but we aren't into Loudspeakers much to know them like amplifiers.

What Is The Design Difference To Suit 8 ohm & 4 ohm Speakers?
The 1965 Fisher 600-T amplifier has a switch for 8 ohm & 4 ohm speakers on the back. It doesn't add a 4 ohm resistor into the circuit, it alters the main NFB on the Power Amp. Using 8 ohm spec NFB on 4 ohm speakers that draw higher current upsets the stability of some early amps, so the NFB is altered. The whole question of design & NFB on amps that suit 8 ohm & 4 ohm speakers is more complex than we will cover & there is no easy fix to sort out an amp that is 8 ohm speakers only to use 4 ohm. Get different speakers to suit the amp. As will be the way with things like this being read, oh we'll alter the NFB of the amp. But that is design work. On amps with Protection circuits that should mean all transistor amps, there is a chance the protection could cut in on using heavy speaker loads, if in reality these early 'protection circuits' aren't even explained how they work & to keep set at the original marked settings if without understanding the limits of the design.

Got A Good Amp That Cost £500+? Buy it Speakers Of A Similar Quality.
The 15" Lancasters in 1974 were £144 a pair & the Rotel RX-800 that was available at the same time was £178. But buyers could get £50 speakers & think they were good enough as some slimy suited salesman on commission said they'll do & so you never heard how good the amp could be. The RX-800 is an 'unknown sleeper' though it'll be found now we like it, another one on ebay recently sold for just £60 as collect-only, Tannoy 15" Lancasters are now 42x that price & prices are forever rising, yet the speakers were less than the amp when new. Why even bother with Multi-Driver speakers? Why only spend £100 on speakers, they aren't going to be good enough for your quality amp. With Speakers, on ebay if condition is good, the best speakers make the best prices. £300-£800 is where you'll find the better ones, including 1970s Tannoys if over that may outprice them for most buyers. Treat your amp to something better with the superior 2-driver design. There are so many Speaker Brands & Models, looking at the Hifi Yearbooks the Loudspeakers section is always much bigger than amps & receivers combined, until 1973 as shown in the next section.

Avoid Multi-Driver Loudspeakers: Difficult To Drive & Poor Sound.
The Dittons have 3 drivers & an over-complex crossover that's where the problem is & the fact 3 drivers lose the midrange despite the dubious idea of adding a driver to better it. More 3-driver Loudspeakers may be a bad match with poor impedance curves, not including passive Bass driver ones, that wrongly think adding a Midrange to possibly "improve" the specs we know sound worse as the crossovers are too complex with heavy gain losses which spoils the sound. Instead of giving a better midrange as they offer, they actually sound 'sucked-out' on midrange, we've heard this on speakers we tried in our earlier days & similar with ones with Boosted Bass & Treble as the LS 3/5 above give. Many budget & midprice Loudspeakers & Headphones today offer a false non-flat response to make cheap gear apparently "sound better" by building in a 'Loudness response' tailoring in to the speaker. The trouble with 3-driver speakers is the Crossover has to be overdesigned & it loses what it thinks it improves: it's poor design & be sure there are a lot of 3-driver units out there & you're missing the full 'voice' of the music & probably complain of scratchy treble. It's the speakers. One expensive one with a ridiculous 6 drivers we said to the owner they'll never sound as good as Tannoys but they don't want to hear that as some 'expert' says how great it is. Look on Google there are Crossover Circuits for these 3-driver amps, look how heavy the designs are, shunting most of the Bass Driver upper range to ground with big capacitors, the Midrange is high-treble limited by Capacitor & Choke & the Treble is more typical. In limiting any sound via LCR there is overlap & ringing, here is where the Ditton 33/44 are poor as they never tested it properly to release such 'difficult' speakers.

What Ohms Rating did Celestion Loudspeakers & other early brands use?

The Celestion brand has been around since the Radiogram days as Celestion-Rola & Wikipedia says they formed 1924 so one of the very earliest UK brands. Together with Goodmans, an early brand that was popular for Audio & PA speakers, as was Tannoy. To look at their Hifi Speakers via the HFYBs to see what there was. Plenty of earlier ones as drive units only predate what you'll find as on the Loudspeakers page so to look from about 1965 when the Hifi Separates scene grew so a Speaker in Enclosure as it was then called. 1965/66: Ditton 10 tiny sized bookshelf speakers 10w £16. 2 drive units no ohms rating given, if looking in the Drivers section both Studio Series CX1512/CX2012 were 15 ohms 15w-20w ones. 1966/67: same. 1967/68: Ditton 10 now stated as 3-4 ohms & 15 ohms versions; Ditton 15 slightly larger bookshelf speaker 15w £24 rated at 4 ohms, both 10 & 15 are 2 driver speakers. 1967/68 looking at Other Brands also has ARENA HT-range as 4 or 15 ohms versions. Norwegian DNH B-445/T is 4 or 15 ohms, EMI EL.100 & others are 3 or 15 ohms. Goodmans are 15ohms, Grundig are 5 ohms, KEF Cresta confusingly says 4-8 ohms, can't be both, it's 4 ohms. Leak Sandwich is 15 ohms. Philips are 8 ohms when mentioned. Pioneer CS-51 is 16 ohms if CS-20 is 8 ohms. Rogers 15 ohms. Sansui 8 ohms. Sugden 15 ohms. Tandberg 4 ohms. Wharfedale 8-15 ohms again confusing. Makes no sense at all & many brands don't state the ohms rating either. You get the idea no-one had a clue & you plugged it in & hoped for the best. Some 4 ohms ones could have easy to drive impedance curves & not cause any bother seems to be the idea here. This will continue through the 1970s no doubt. 1968/69 brings Celestion Ditton 25 & the first of the "confused" ohm ratings, 25w at 4-8ohms, It's 4 ohms. "Studio Quality Monitoring Loudspeaker" they say with 12" driver at £55 each. A photo shows 5 drive units & described as 12" long-throw bass driver. Throws what, low compliance so it moves more? Two pressure-type midrange HF units & pressure-type ultra HF unit. The extra 12" bass driver is just a passive radiator. This pointless 'radiator' design was much used in the 1980s-90s. Photo findable online shows it needs 5 chokes & 4 capacitors. Why would you buy that 'junk' when a vastly superior Tannoy 15" Lancaster at 50w was just £60 each? 1970 gets Ditton 10 Mk II now rated 4-8 ohms after 3-4 ohms on the earlier version. What is different? The specs are the same as the 1965 one if just 6/- more expensive after 5 years. 1971 All Ditton 10-15-25 are rated 4-8 ohms. 1972 Adds Celestion Ditton 120. Not heard of this 20w one if bass, tweeter & passive only, no midrange if still rated 4-8 ohms. Did they test it or just putting the 'cover-all' 4-8 ohms? 1973 has a huge 55 pages of speakers including photos. Just to compare 28 pages inc pics of Receivers aka Tuner-Amplifiers as they call them & 33 pages of Amplifiers. Celestion range grows adding 4 more: 'County' is a 25w bass & tweeter £21(each), Celestion Ditton 44 floorstander 44w arrives with bass-mid-tweeter £54 & Celestion Ditton 66 bass-passive-mid-tweeter 80w £99. The 66s were no trouble on a 1968 Sony STR-6120, if note the big leap in power so these ones will be new designs. The Ditton 44 is known to be a difficult load. All get the usual 4-8 ohm ratings. The 44s are cheap to buy in 2017 as £100-£150 seems the ebay price, hardly compares to Tannoy prices & once you compare them as the STR-6120 user did with 66s, out go the recessed sounding Dittons! To be fair, they do look good & are an effort towards better Hifi speakers, but they are nowhere compared to Tannoys. Save up & buy some Tannoys from 1968-84. 1974 same. 1975 adds a 'Hadleigh' budget £19 speaker, no details. 1976 we see Cerwin-Vega! speakers, the mad loud ones, these are 4-8 ohms. Celestion add a new 22 & 33 but no info. Adds UL6 20w, UL8 25w & UL10 50w with varying drivers but no Ohms rating mentioned. 1977 Celestion Ditton 33 are "40w peak music power" which looking at ULx ratings is 20w continuous. 1978 has lots of models, not good idea to confuse the market with 10 models: Ditton 11, 22, 25, 33, 44, 66, UL6, UL8 & UL10. They now rate all at peak music power falsely doubling the Wattage ratings on the non-ULx ones, hmmm. 1978 adds Hadleigh Mk II small bookshelf or music centre speaker 4-8 ohms, 10-20w. The only Power Ratings that matter on Loudspeakers are Watts Continuous. 50w Continuous could mean 100w Music Power on peaks, but play a 100w amp very loud into it rising to 100w+ on the meters & you'll trash them. 1980 Celestion go 8 ohms only. This Yearbook has 78 pages of Loudspeakers, many modest priced but some going over £1000 like the Boothroyd Stuart Meridian M1 active speaker, power rating not stated but £1400-£1500 to you. Also the ghastly Bose 901 in 'IV' version, the idea of scattering omnidirectional sound onto wall corners & backatcha is a poor one first hyped in the early 1970s. But sadly Celestion feel the need to add yet more speakers, so we'll type it up, if sod doing a whole page on speakers like the Amps/Receivers ones as Speakers don't interest us much except this for finding out how bad some match amps. Ditton 15XR 10-60w oddly says 8 ohms, Ditton 551 20-140w again 8 ohms, Ditton 442 20-120w 8 ohms £340 & the biggest Ditton 662 20-160w 8 ohms £584. The last 2 have 13" bass drivers plus a similar passive. 1981 same. It's interesting how Celestion finally put 8 ohm proper instead of the confusing 4-8 ohm when they are really only 4 ohm. 4-8 ohm implies they are compatible which the Ditton 33 & 44 are clearly known as bad speaker to drive.

My Amp Gets Too Hot, Is It Mismatched To The Speakers?
If any unserviced transistor amp gets hot, it can be because the amp is in poor condition. Not including Class A transistor amps or Valve-Tube amps that are designed to get hot. some early amps have 'dropper resistors' that throw out heat, but it's as-designed. A Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 we're upgrading for a customer, they said it got very hot on one side. The KA-6000 has L+R heatsinks on opposite sides. On getting the amp & trying it, it was in very poor electrical grade if it played music with bad noises & crackles, didn't try it for long as too rough. It got hot for them if they used speakers as it was in poor condition inside, if the speakers were the problem overloading it, both sides would get hot. Maybe it sounded better for them if the overheating got it sounding rough for us. Amps with Relays that started appearing in 1971 will 'protect' you if you overload an amp, if these later ones will generally be fine on 4 ohms. Can you damage the amp with mismatched speakers? If you don't notice it as a point of 'too hot' will come, but if it still plays music when you've noticed it was 'complaining', it'll work again when it's cooled down & you use headphones or different speakers that match. An upgraded amp should be fine, but one all-original may be aged already & pushing it too far could damage it. But here it's entirely your gamble to try it again once you've realised you've overloaded the amp & let it cool down. Sometimes there is only one way to find out, to try it, but with your hand on the Power Switch ready to turn off & don't use it on good speakers, use cheap test ones or headphones.

Dishonest Power Ratings: At Last the Dec 1974 FTC Power Output Rule Arrives.

This concerns inflated power ratings pre this date. "200w amplifier" yell some amps, but in reality they are 50w RMS per channel, 100w Peak per channel & added together. Even in 1974 HFN/RR review a few amps that are wrongly quoted by Power Ratings, such as the old "55w if one channel only plays". who would do that in reality, no-one. That 55w amp is really a 45w one played both channels, why lie about a minor increase? Even in 1974 Amstrad put the IC2000 Mk II as "80 watts" but then in the same print size put 20 watts RMS per Channel into 8 ohms which is misleading but then correct, but why the 80w? 40w peak per channel added together. Some 50w amps can be "300w" on the rear panel, this means the VA rating in Watts that the amp can draw from the mains in it's original design at full output or severely into distortion towards destruction. The FTC- Federal Trade Commission a bit laughingly took 10 years to decide that Watts should be honest, it's aimed at advertising. The first power rating you see on Stereo Amps must be the manufacturer's rated minimum sinewave continuous average power in watts per channel into speaker loads such as 8 ohm or 4 ohm with all channels driven equally, allows for 2 channel Stereo & 4 channel Quadraphonic. The Ohms rating that the amp can work driving, the frequency range be it 1kHz test or full 20Hz-20kHz, plus the rated Total Harmonic Distortion THD at any power, obviously the best specs will be told, not very low level where distortion can be higher which is still a way to hide quality. To be sure the amp is capable, to play at a third of the max volume with a 1kHz sinewave for one hour, at warm room temperature 25°C. The rated power should be at all frequencies,k ie 50w at 1kHz but only 43w at 50Hz says it's a 43w amp. We don't agree with that as upgraded amps will perform better, so the 1kHz rating is suitable. To test at full power for 5 minutes at these frequencies to get the rated power with Tone set flat. A good idea, but it doesn't really say if peak-to-peak or RMS ratings, as 100w p-p is 70.7w RMS. None of this "Peak Music Power" of 400w in total before it destructs & this sort of false wattage resurfaced with Cheap Double-Cassette systems with flasing lights & graphic equalisers. One cheap system we saw as 400w on ebay had a 45w amp if you looked closer. How did they get to 400w? Looking at the Yamaha CR-1000 from 1973, they are on their way to telling the real wattage, but it'll confuse the layman... Dynamic Power 200w IHF into 4 or 8 ohm. Continuous RMS power with each channel driven at 1kHz, the lie of one channel plays with the other silent, says 100w/100w into 4 ohms, 80w/80w into 8 ohms. Continuous RMS power with both channels driven at 1kHz is 100w/100w into 4 ohms, 75w/75w into 8 ohms. Then the Continuous RMS power at 20Hz-20kHz with both channels driven is 85w/85w into 4 ohms & 70w/70w into 8 ohms. We'd consider it an 80w amp, the design has limitations to reduce power at the deepest bass & highest treble as do all amps. But once upgraded losing the limitations & the rest we do, what would it rate then? The sinewave voltage would be the same if current could increase the power to a degree.

Interesting 1973 Receiver: Akai AA930

Part of the AA920 30w, AA930 42w & AA940 66w range. Also an AA910DB 14w Dolby one. Chunky looking amp, a bit Pioneer looking & it has those awful Pioneer plugs for speakers on this which is a pity. Heavier wires means plugs don't stay put & we've not recently had a Pioneer to devise a better way. Tried the SX-990 on the speakers & plugs wouldn't stay put, even after taking the sockets apart to give more tension. Nice amp otherwise & one we'd like to look further into & write on the blog one day... Power amp in the Service Manual shows more Pioneer styling, heatsink fixed flat to the PCB with TO3 2SC1111 transistors soldered to the board on the AA920, hard to tidy old similar Pioneer repaired ones we found. AA930 & AA940 have a different fuller heatsink. The Service manual covers all 3 models & hard to see which boards to go which amp without doing work to sort it out, we'll not. A FET on the Tone as boards just have serial numbers not per-model. Has a relay on all models? Very hard to follow the manual, not totally sure if Aux goes to the Preamp or via the Phono board, not clear enough, if maybe Aux to Phono board only on the AA920 as the AA930 & AA940 have a different board. The Pioneer style speaker plugs put us off if the rest of the AA930 & AA940 appear decent as many of this era can still be. AA940 is a 15kg receiver, one on ebay for £300 delivered. A lot to recap & upgrade, would it sell for £700 upgraded. Always the dilemma on high buy prices unless it was one you'd keep.

A New Signal Generator To Do Tests With? Not So Easy...
We got one on ebay, supposedly a MHS 5200A but they sell you a MHS 3200A & put a 5200 user manual disk in. Probably much the same. We tried it, found it utterly frustratingly useless as it's with no common sense how to set it to output a 1kHz Sine Wave at 1v like the Seesure one does. Bought some cables to do BNC to Stereo Phono plugs & now just tried it again. The User Interface on this is still utterly useless. To try to do the simplest thing with it & check what it outputs was a wasted effort. Set it to 1v as on the display & it outputs 0.36v on the scope. Set it to 3v to get around 1v. Not trusting that in use. To do the most simple thing on this MHS 3200A is utterly hopeless & for £53 you'd not expect Lab Grade gear but not rubbish like this. But we found it was useless to do the simplest thing & on seeing the 3200 sticker on it & the display showed, to get a return as misadvertised was the way out. They actually refunded fully & said 'keep it' rather than return, they know it's worthless. After trying it again, not even worth trying to sell it cheap on ebay as it's rubbish. So the joy of smashing it up & binning it was ours. Sometimes the best way to deal with bad electronics. All we want is a reliable Sine & Square Wave generator with variable output, not as crude as the Seesure, if going higher than 100kHz to test bandwidth of amps better. Long ago we got a valve waveform generator but had no real use for it so as it worked sold it on ebay in around 2002 when we got a few of the big Avo valve testers before realising how ancient & hardly worth the effort sold those on too, as in they're too old to be reliable unless calibrated. This is the sort of Generator we want now, if perhaps not a 1960s Valve one. Some on ebay are not Audio Frequency ones & now knowing how bad the Made In China new stuff, to keep looking for the sort of useful gear they used in the Electronics College, which is where we first saw the Seesure, they did have mains powered ones. Heathkit will make these, one that's non-audio range shows ones we've seen before with the big dials if they are a bit too old, 1950s-60s. But a Feedback FG 601 is exactly what we want. Push buttons & Dials, a 10MHz superior version of the Seesure, if a bit old-style with 4mm socket outputs, could be 40 years old, these appear popular looking at solds. Looking further find a better one with modern BNC outputs, a Thurlby Thandar Function Generator TTI TG120. These are listed for £150-£230 elsewhere & this is a 20MHz one for £80 delivered, so we get that one. Found via the $300 one their website & the pdf user manual. Must be a recent one to have the manual online. Now discontinued, if RS has it for £227 plus a RS calibrated one for £295. Buy rubbish, bin it then buy the best one as 'used' for our needs. It arrives, just the unit, no probes, no mains cable, no book or CD so what is it sold with? Aim-TTI TG120 on RS site that shows 'Discontinued. Checking it on the scope, it works after a bit of switch use so a service is needed really, as initially the 1kHz rise time was awful. Checking on Sine & Square it is not really any different to the Seesure one, if that gets unstable below 100Hz. The outputs can be set to Phono Cartridge levels, if to use the scope to set, so a dual-input scope is required. At 40Hz as we see in the HFN/RR tests, the slant is actually the generator, so it's hardly the perfect |_| we'd expect from a modern item. Probably why it's described as "low cost" compared to the £2000-£9500 ones with digital readouts & waveforms displayed that will do 1Hz square as a perfect square we'd expect. That is real Lab Grade gear at Pro prices. In reality if the Seesure was more stable below 100Hz it'd do fine. The current Aim-TTI TG310 is 3MHz for £179 if the RS Pro AFG 2005 at £230 has a display & number buttons, we prefer the rotary-push button type. For the price paid, the TG120 suits our needs fine, if needs a dual channel scope to use correctly.

So Now a Better Oscilloscope Is Needed.
Looking on RS for Digital Oscilloscopes, ours is a modest Velleman HPS 10 one that's useable if hardly Lab Grade as it's a 2002 dated design. New ones start at £18,000 if more modest ones start at £280 in the RS Pro range. We did think to get a better oscilloscope as the Velleman doesn't age well with a lot of use, flimsy stand & display cover. It's not meant for heavy use & the top mounted BNC connector often needs asdjusting & even resoldering inside. For the nature of electronics, be sure plenty are used little & sold off, if looking on ebay shows lots of the old TV-screen analog ones, but why bother with those they will be 30+ years old & the new £280 RS one will be far more accurate than those, some things are best bought new. One to add to the buying list. Having used the Signal Generator, to check what it outputs is needed so that puts a Dual Input Scope. The RS Pro IDS 6052U is a dual channel scope as in both displays visible one top one lower, see the Input from the Generator & how the Amp alters it. Older Scopes often only showed one Display at a time so switching needed.

Old-Time Skills Need Keeping Alive Or They Get Forgotten.

Watching Series 8 'Wheeler Dealers' with the Frog-Eyed Sprite car that they do a wonderful job on, they both say about the old-time skills that go into Restorations fading away, use it before you lose it. Here the old metalwork dull & marked is professionally polished to look great again, losing the scratches & keeping an original part alive. Having watched shows like this & the better USA Car-Restoration shows, to do the job properly is a nice thing to do if costs have to be kept in mind. In Restoring Hifi, the scene is still much where it's always been, we do see more claiming "Serviced" based on our ebay selling time, but they rarely show the amp insides. Buying ones stated to be Serviced we wonder what they've done as it's tired & noisy on the controls. We got cred by showing the insides of amps we were selling & some did mention this site if we didn't link to it, our style was noticeable. Even now, you rarely see inside pics & those that say they recapped don't show it, if a few show all the old pieces. The TV repair guys got things working but with all the amps we've seen, TV repair guys are philistines with zero care for quality because they are doing a cheap job because cheap & working is all the customer expects. Any old thing will do if it works means incorrect transistors, wrong resistors or twist-together to make nearly the value as it'll do. We see these old repairs fairly often & out they go as they are lousy. Today's Repair Shops we hear often have no idea about pre 1990 amplifiers, it is 27 years ago now, they only know about swapping boards, nothing about fault finding, finding equivalents & doing repairs. So in Hi-Fi what skills are fading away? The obvious one is Tuner Repairs, the TV repair guy had to fix TVs & old Valve radios so would know the stages of a Tuner. We've learnt these by recapping the Sony STR-6120 tuner & the valve Trio WX400U tuner, making both way better sound than original. But we've had a few receivers with dead tuners in the Front end stage that needs lots of test gear, the problem is the Tuner is powered all the time, unlike a separate tuner & some don't last the 40-50 years. The life of new goods used to be 10 years max in the 1990s, today a Mobile Phone gets a 2 year contract & then you buy a new one as the Smart Phone tech has improved. Woodworking skills are fading away too, with TV shows saying to paint old furniture & create awful messy things that housewives like. Having got old furniture since a teen to redo the finish was the idea: strip it, sand it, stain it & relaquer-varnish. But that's not so satisfying as having the original finish as much as is possible with it tidied. The trouble with amps is the wood veneer is often very thin so to sand out a scratch you go to the base wood. Skills that are forgotten are you can water-soak a scratch & most of it comes back as it's squashed the grain, we've done that a few times. On TV you see these Blokey New-Age shows about making Swords & other Traditional Metal items. This has Craftsmen ideas of old being revived as it suits the fear-of-being-emasculated beard-growing men that he is a man still & these old ideas being revived will get them looking at other old ideas once one is mastered. Their skills are impressive, if it's not a practical item, more a Rites of Passage thing to make a sword. But in Hifi, beyond Repairs, there don't appear to be many-any who are doing what is being done with Vintage Cars like we do, restored to modern standards if keeping as much original & not looking wrong. We used to see amps, before we started putting Hifi on our Records site, on ebay as "recapped" & think stay away as the job done was uneducated & badly done. Buyers didn't want recapped or altered as they never show any inside-amp pics. But you'll see from our Gallery Pics, we show exactly what the finished job looks like, that's nice, done with care, we trust that & we'll pay a premium for good work using good sensible new parts. You'd think by now more would have taken our ideas of selling, we see many now copy our way of photoing the outsides compared to one blurry picture of the front only a few years back. When we sold Coins over 10 years ago, so many ebayers copied our photo style. Look at our Record pics, done in a light box we built that gives a good pic on nearly all labels including hard to read Gold ones. We want Vintage Hifi to progress so put all this online to give an idea of what Vintage Hifi can be. Do people want to learn the skills to Restore Hifi properly? There's the problem, it takes design knowledge, the nerve to ignore accepted ideas doing it your way & then progress things. We see this with the Car Restoration shows, but with Hifi it's still a bit unknown. Only those taking a chance to buy one of our restored amps will know how great it sounds. In reality, we'd sell more amps as Serviced but Original & buy the usual Pioneer or Sony ones that sell often. There's no real way to sell them beyond this site, to have a shop where you do a 20 minute demo teaches you nothing. Sound is a Virtual thing, we've spent years experimenting, learning what Good Sound really is & having the nerve to try to better things. The Hifi Buyer still is unsure of what Upgraded Hifi is.

What Do You Need To Repair & Align Vintage Analog Tuners?
To test these we can read how in several Receiver & Tuner manuals, but you need Radio Frequency test signals & Signal Generators. The 1967 Pioneer SX-700TF receiver as on our Gallery page helpfully gives the full details on how to test & many other brands do too if not all. We just got a new Audio Signal Generator, it goes to 20MHz. a new Oscilloscope we'll probably buy soon is 50MHz rated. The SX-700TF manual says you need a 10.7MHz "Sweep Generator" as they call it, if it's a fixed frequency needed. Oscilloscope to Tune various adjustments. With that test gear you can do a basic setting & in reality the Meters on the tuner will help with that, assuming it plays Radio at you to some degree. But then it gets more advanced, to test for 88MHz signals is beyond the Oscilloscope. Then you need to generate 90MHz & 106MHz which relates to Radio Station frequencies & that's beyond our Generator. You need a Generator & Oscilloscope up to 300MHz & a RS Pro 300MHZ scope is £1217+VAT, The 300MHz generator doesn't exist, it's a 1000MHz one & the cheapest is £1332+VAT. So to Repair Tuners with new gear buyable on RS Online site would cost you £3058 inc VAT, £3K of Test Gear. Then you need to have the Special Ferrite Adjusting Tools, we can't find them to buy anymore. You need spare Ferrite cores of several sizes as be sure some fiddler cracked them by forcing them with a metal hex tool, can't buy those either. You see the high cost & problems already. Then there is Fault Finding parts that work on very low 2mV at Radio Frequencies. To find the parts as with a lot of Hifi repairs takes a lot of problem-solving. With Valve Tuners, for the low power of them, the 1963 Trio WX-400 ones all worked fine & we got a great sound from it once upgraded. But if Tubes were damaged or failed, where do you get them? Where do you get FM related Transistors, 1960s FETs & early ICs. Unfindable. Fixing Tuners is sadly a Dying Art & relying likely on Test Gear going back to the 1950s even as why would a Repair Shop buy new if old worked, if probably unused in 30 years it's pretty useless. If you know a Tuner Repair specialist with all the gear, then you know someone likely 70+ because it's a skill of yesteryear.

Hi-Fi brand "NAD" Arrive in the UK - First Advert.

Sept 1974 had the first N.A.D - New Acoustic Dimension ad. Features the NAD 60 a 30w RMS amplifier, the NAD 140 a 30w RMS receiver & the NAD 160 a 45w receiver. NAD are a UK company as Wikipedia shows, formed in 1972 & best known for the NAD 3020 which was a good seller, if the stark grey looks were to show money was spent inside not outside. Grey. We've had a few NAD 160 (a) as it's a great Midprice Amp with a clean honest sound, upgrades well if a bit critical on Biasing to stop it sounding too warm. But the truth of the NAD 160 design is not as you'd think, it's a direct "steal" from the Sherwood S-7200, it's the exact same design with maybe just a few tiny changes if the boards & layout differ, compare the Schematics & they are the same. The 1970s Silver NAD amps were Made In Japan, the NAD 60 & NAD 90 amplifiers we didn't think were very good, the NAD 90 with foil-covered paper between amp boards looks amateurish as does the construction in general. The NAD 160 is well made, the big NAD 300, receiver version of the NAD 200 amplifier we found a poor design with low volume, bad cable routing & the typical NAD overheating. British Hifi brand Made In Japan. The NAD 140 is more or less the same design as the NAD 160-Sherwood S-7200 if a 30w version. We tried a later 120w NAD C370 but it got damaged by poor seller packing, we had a look inside, didn't play it, but sadly it was made in the "Bad Capacitors" 2001-05 era & the amp was in need of a full recap, if would have been worth doing, the fact it was just about a one-board job would not have pleased to work on, it's sadly in the Disposable E-Waste category for the bad capacitors as a full recap would be a more advanced job. That's why we rarely try post 1980 stuff, for a 120w amp to be E-Waste shows the reasons why.

Open-Loop Bandwidth, What Is That?
In the HFN/RR Martin Colloms Tuner-Amplifier Pt 2 article he mentions Bandwidth of Amplifiers. Open-Loop Bandwidth as always Wikipedia explains it best: Open Loop has no Negative Feedback, Closed Loop does. The "Loop" being the term used for NFB. Not open as in no input plugged in. NFB is used to Broaden the Bandwith by flattening the Gain Level & reduce distortion. Early Single-Ended 4w valve amps have no NFB so only operate on a limited frequency range. MC states an Open Loop Amplifier only has a limited Frequency range of 1kHz to 5kHz so the 4w valve amp may only operate at 500Hz to 3kHz, much like Telephones are limited Bandwidth to not give any Bass or Treble as the old style Telephone pick-up & earpiece was very limited. This same sort of Narrow Bandwidth is what those playing Music on a Mobile Phone Speaker hear & sadly know no better. Closed-Loop Bandwidth can be far greater in Hifi. Buit the MC article says few modern Amplifiers Open-Loop have a wider range than
1kHz to 5kHz if that's unimportant as you never hear the Amp without NFB. With Valve Amps to lose the main NFB works, but with Transistors you'll only hear a "noisy waterfall" sound of hiss, we actually heard this when a wire came loose on a Pioneer amp, not a thing to purposely do, if it caused no damage. If music was playing it would be deafeningly loud & would be a problem. The NFB is designed to keep the Hiss level down & increase the Bandwidth & lower the Distortion. MC goes on about a preamp having a Bandwidth of 300kHz perhaps & the power amp only 1kHz to 5kHz leading to Transient Intermodulation Distortion, but no amps are designed without NFB, bit pointless to go on about TID if it'll never occur? The question of TID is tediously repeated through the later 1970s reviews if pleasingly Letter Writers to HFN/RR found it similarly pointless. In experimenting with amps, we found NFB can be useful, but overdo it & the sound ends up flat & boring, as in Modern amps & their over-safe designs. Using NFB in a heavy handed way gets better specs, if the 'real sound' is apparently unimportant.

Why is the 1973 Rotel RX-800 Receiver a Rare One?

Japanese Rotel were distributed by the big Rank Group who also owned Leak & Wharfedale. Look through the 1973-74 Hifi Mags & nearly all the shop have Rotel. But sadly so do the Discounters. The RX-800 is a well made amp as we found on the Reviews page, separate boards, quality parts, an early Relay amp & clearly beyond the Midprice status it got sold at. RRP was £178, Comet offered it in Mar 1974 for £126 yet another shop has it as low as £110. The Rotel RX 200-400-600 range change to 200A-400A-600A by late 1974, if no RX-800A exists. Power ratings are 10w-20w-30w-40w. Ours failed on the power supply if could be for any reason as it's well made, so it's not an unreliable amp. Simply the Discounters were selling it far too cheap, so clearly Rotel stopped making any more as selling it for £110 in 1973 was just too low, the £110 could be the End Of Line price even as it doesn't appear in the shop ads anymore beyond the odd one remaining. This is the trouble with Huge Hifi Discounts, a Quality item can't be sold that cheaply so make a cheaper quality one if that's all the market wants to pay for it. Looking at the 1977 Rotel RX603 we had, you can see the cost-cutting that many brands were forced to do to sell a comparable product. Marantz 2245 a 45w receiver of the same sort of quality retailed at £279, Rotel offered similar in a 40w amp for £178, the big price difference is why Marantz could afford to be Discounted, but Rotel had priced too honestly & had to stop making the RX-800. Quality is the thing with Yamaha too, the Yamaha CR-1000 is top quality with equal build quality, the Yamaha CR-800 that sold well has the good design but it is very obviously only Midprice build. Going into the 1980s with the Technics SU-V707 computer controlled amp, good design but really poor generic build quality. After 1973 there is still quality, but generally the base-line is much more cost cut to compete. Pioneer were hugely discounted, the designs are good but the amount of upgrading the Pioneer SX-838 needed as spec was low to sell.

What Does The Relay In An Amplifier Actually Do?
It's to switch the Speaker Outputs On & Off if certain conditions in the amp are correct. It's a 'Protection' Feature of sorts. In the 1972 Rotel RX-800 to see what the relay does is interesting as an early Relay amp, Turn amp on, delay, click on if the +HT voltage is correct. No overcurrent or wrong Bias detection, just won't turn on if +B voltage isn't correct. Earlier Amps had a varying sort of 'Protection' if none actually cut the power from the output stages, they either silenced the preamp as the Sansui 3000A did, or other sorts of Muting circuit like the Trio KA-6000 has, if working out or setting that remains a mystery. By silencing the preamp, you heard the amp had 'stopped' so went to investigate was the idea. We had one amp back that the buyer misused & the muting had silenced the preamp but it didn't turn any power off so the mains transformer got so hot it melted the potting & leaked it out, if they finally turned it off to save it on smelling it, plastic parts inside had melted from high heat. They used 2 pairs of 4 ohm speakers can be the only idea how they abused it, if the amp still lives. Protection, er.. not really. These amps pre 1971 generally were Capacitor Coupled so you'd not get a high current 40v+ DC voltage to fry the speakers if an error occured. This is the reality of what unserviced & non-recapped amps risk. To use speakers like the Tannoy Gold 15"s to be sensible in what amp you use as a speaker repair would be very expensive. Either the Capacitor Coupled ones, Relay ones or Valve amps with Transformer Coupling are sensible to use. As great as one amp was, it had direct coupling with no output capacitors & no Relay so to be wise & sell it on, even if we liked the sound. The Realistic STA-220 has capacitor coupling so we feel safe with that. Some later Relay stages do similar sensing excess Bias Current & annoyingly can 'lock you out' so as with modern gear & error codes, it's left to a tech to fix & maybe just needs an adjusting. The Yamaha CR-1000 relay is a more complex one & for the Overheating Power Supply it can remain silent or cut in & out which should tell you it needs repair, if usually people don't & give it a whack until it fails. So with amps if your speakers are expensive, using Transistor amps the Relay is a good thing to have as are Capacitor Coupled outputs. The JVC MCA-104E has a more severe protection, a few other amps have this 'reset' red button idea like Nikko, a circuit breaker that chops voltage off the Power Amp when it's off the spec for drawing too much current. Be sure you'll just reset the button as with Home Electrics with Circuit Breakers & it'll work again but why it tripped remains unknown. We'd investigate as there must be a reason if try finding the cause, but the general idea with most users as with replacing fuses, it works again means 'who cares'. Until next time...

A Big Name Hi-Fi Brand Actually Got Banned By Shop Sellers in 1974.
Audio T shop who are known for having odd adverts have an interesting one in the 290 page huge Oct 1974 HFN/RR. The Nov 1974 is a 320 page effort. Here the ad says "I Treat Them As Duff When They Come In". The problem of manufacturers being complacent & not doing quality control properly, leading to big troubles for the sellers. The USA & Japan brands used to advertise about their quality control & reliability is what got these brands popular. In 1974 the sales law was put on the Retailer to solve troubles which is unfair, the Manufacturer makes them but takes no responsibility, the law soon changed. They say a number of Dealers actually Lost Money in selling this brand, as they got bad units. No brand is noted, but "one manufacturer's modules" is stated twice. They get annoyed about "Manufacturer's Propaganda" about Reliability & Compatibility so it seems the Dec 1974 FTC rule came in just in time. So who is the brand? It's not the budget brands like Amstrad, Armstrong, Alba etc, it's not Sinclair who do modules for kit makers, have 2 & 4 page ads in following months also Sinclair Amp Modules appear in the 1975 & 1976 Yearbooks but gone after then, as Sir Clive went into Computers that no-one used & the C5 car bike thing that you could slide under moving lorries with if you dared. Some brands do go out of business as is the usual way. There were quite a few cheap UK brands often seen in the 1971-73 era ads that by late 1974 get replaced by known brands with better gear & only really Amstrad & Alba popular in the shops. Some brands like Ferrograph seem to fade away & move premises a lot. So what the 'bad brand' was probably could be narrowed by looking at ads & HFYB, but it'll only be a budget brand we'd not care for anyway. Reading for more months still doesn't reveal which brand was 'banned'. To never find out...

When Does Modern Hifi in 1979-1990s Ideas First Arrive?

November 1974 HFN/RR has a 4 page advert by Technics. Their items look like 1979 designs as so many companies copied their 1974 range. First is the technics SL-1300, the semi-auto version of the Technics SL-1500 that arrived soon after & the one we use for daily play as the Garrard 301 & SME isn't so user-friendly, SL-1300 was £154 new. Then a Tuner ST-3500 with that 1979 look again with a low 0.3% distortion, price £144 new. The amplifier is the Technics SU-3500 a 43w amp, HFE think it's 1976-77. The Phono stage is the same sort of differential & PP output style Yamaha started using in 1974 amps, Tone has the same which is unusual. the Filter stage spoils it with the signal going through large resistors, hardly 'modern' design there. Power amp the usual design of later years. But such harsh bass limiting on every stage will have given it a thin sound. For the bad filter stage not really one to upgrade without removing the filter stage. So much for good design Technics... £169 new. Still worth a try, but a look on ebay shows 5 at £200-£280. For a 43w amp that's not serviced or recapped, that's much too overpriced due to the brand name, like Marantz is overpriced. The looks are much like the 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 if it still has lousy screw connectors for speakers. But then the First Front Loader Cassette Player the RS-676-US at £244. All other cassette players were the top loading versions & in the early 1980s loads of those around as they were got rid of. This is the first advert showing a front loader in the UK. This should have created a big interest in 1974, modern finally arrived. Technics make a CD-4 Quadraphonic amp SA-8500X but Quadro had just about died as too many formats & not enough records. Who sits in the middle of a live concert, it's ahead not behind. £399 for 28w x4 or 80w x2 by the usual bridging blurry method. Loudspeakers they have too, again looking much later than 1974 with Titanium Tweeters instead of the poor paper cone ones that were usually the way. Some of the Technics ideas became standard in Hifi within a few years. Together with Yamaha, Technics were the two brands that modernised Hifi. All for the good in the first few years, but sadly heavy cost cutting soon reduced good intentions to cheap ICs & one-board designs.

Quality 1972 Amp, Left Unused for over 40 years Pt 2.
Service Manual arrived, to work the Rotel RX-800 power amp board out as it's the first board we'll recap. Oddly there are no board markings at all, to get the Manual with the printed layout was essential, the lousy photocopied version was unreadable. Time to work that out & plan the upgrades. The old capacitors condition is the thing here, one was freshly leaking & a critical one in the design. Beyond making a mess, if it failed by whatever would have happened with hours, days, weeks more use may have caused damage. The other caps looked dry if a few a bit dusty & swollen looking as in risky. Preamp with a leaky cap too, clearly a high risk amp now. To use for one month if it lasted that long could have caused major damage, not a scare tactic, but the truth of failing components. It might have just blown a fuse & not damaged much, but Failure of Critical Parts is the deal here. See the Rotel RX-800 review for more as we upgrade it.

Differential Era Amplifiers Really Can Be As Good As The 1965-69 Ones.
We've tried lots of amps as you can see. A preference for the 1965-69 ones is clear. They upgrade well, are good to work on & give good results. But Differential Amps we've wondered why so many are nowhere as good as the Earlier ones. Is it the Differential? No it's not. The first fully successful Differential amp we've upgraded was the Heathkit AR-1500 from 1974. As original it has good quality but doesn't sound so great, but upgrades very nicely. The buyer of it had the matching Heathkit AS9560 speakers & said our AR-1500 was very impressive compared to what they had. Open sound with full bass if not overwhelming, a full soundstage with clean extended treble is what they will have heard. We used it on our Tannoys for a while, if ultimately we're here to sell Hifi not keep all of them, though we'd certainly keep a few dozen if we did. So success with the Heathkit & now it's sold. Next Differential amp we get is the Rotel RX-800. A well built amp but as with any amp, we really have no idea how good it'll sound until upgraded. It started sounding like the Heathkit did, so go further with it. Still on the original 4700µf 50v power caps if these will get upgraded soon. As with the Heathkit a full rich sound with Volume & Bass like amps 60w+, not the 40w this is rated at. Got the Yamaha CR-1000 here with much upgraded if this one matches Speakers well, the Tone stage isn't as good as the earlier amps, so more to do to get the sound the Heathkit & Rotel give. The Sansui AU-G90X got upgraded more & now has a friendlier sound. So it is possible to get The Early Sound out of Differential Era amps. But the limits will be to better quality amps, not those budget jobs with nearly all stages on one board with hair-thin board track. One remembered one that sounded awful was the Yamaha A-720. We've looked at it more recently but the sort of amp design really doesn't give enough scope to upgrade. The Yamaha CR-820 similarly for how cramped the main board is with hot transistors & budget design. So you find a later Differential amp with better separate boards, the question then is overdesign, the Class A preamps are the best, the Push-Pull design that became popular adding FETs really isn't that upgradeable as we found with the Yamaha CA-1010. So that does limit things quite a bit.

Buying LED bulbs for Amplifiers, 30mm Fuse Bulb type.

These are often in Japanese amplifiers & as written above, the current LEDs are great & no heat compared to hot bulbs which make Marantz tuner-bulb assemblies go brown & crumble away. One amp needs 9 of these bulbs, unusually high amount. Do we buy 10 from a China seller supposedly in UK for £3.69 delivered & risk half not working as we've found with cheap LEDs before, or buy the same ones that needed trimming as used in the Realistic STA-220 for £16, buy the trusted ones always. These bulbs are called various names on ebay LED Festoon Bulbs, LED Fuse Bulbs, LED 28-30mm bulbs, LED 30-31mm bulbs. Don't get the 36mm ones as they'll be too big. These sort of bulbs are used in many Cars as "Vanity Mirror Bulb" so the tech is advanced. All of the 10 bought worked fine. Avoid being too cheap on buying items, we'd never buy generic unbraded capacitors that some think are OK to recap with, they are junk & we just bin them on doing it properly.

Tannoy HPD Loudspeakers arrive November 1974.
First mention & advert for these. HPD is "High Performance Dual" The ad reads "The Outstanding New Monitor" with High Power Girdacoustic Cone with High Temperature voice coil & Tanoplas Surround. Improved & Uprated Crossover network. The Girdacoustic are card girders stuck to the back of the cone to stop cone breakup, if the 15" Golds are so solid we can't quite see why this was needed. High Temperature Voice Coils pretty much as the originals. The bad thing sadly was the Tanoplas Foam surround. All types of Foam until more recent years were animal-based oil-based foams. These are not stable like synthetic foam so they deteriorate & crumble away to dust as we find often with foam strips behind fascias. The whole cone edge is this bad foam if they can be "reconed" as in just redoing the edges, best left to a professional to be sure the voicecoil is centred right. Power Ratings increaed, 10" 50w 27Hz-20kHz, 12" 60w 25Hz-20kHz & 15" 85w 23Hz-20kHz. all are rated 8 ohm via the supplied crossover with 5 ohms min so will be safe to drive.

Problems of Mismatching Between Some Early Amps & Some Later Speakers.

The difference between the 1968 Tannoy Gold Monitors & the 1974 Tannoy HPD Monitor is the edge surround is much freer on the HPD so you'll see the cones move, the Golds don't appear to move even played loud. HPD are fitted in a Ported Cabinet, the Golds were mostly in Sealed 'Infinite Baffle' cabinets. Therefore the Golds are "Well Damped" & the HPDs are "Lightly Damped". This means some earlier amps that are more Free on the Bass can get into problems. We noticed this a while back playing a 1967 Sony TA-1120A into Tannoy 607s, the amp-speakers were an awful match as the sound was far too bassy even set flat. Some cheaper or lower range speakers are 'tailored' to have bass boost & treble boost which only makes them sound worse. The Tannoy 609 was a better quality speaker so was more 'natural' sounding. That was an "Open Sounding" amp that needs "Well Damped" speakers to sound correct, after all the 1967 amp was designed for that type of speaker, it didn't know what came later & odds are most amps were replaced with "new better ones" so few knew of that sort of mismatch. On the opposite end, the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X is a very tight sounding amp, we upgraded it to bring a bit more warmth to the sound. But it's never matched our 1968 Tannoys as "Well Damped Amp" plus "Well Damped Amp" means it sounds too midrangey with Tone Controls giving hardly any variance to the sound. "Compliance" means springyness. The Tannoy HPD speaker era as known by the cone-pumping that is often shown as a speaker working are High Compliance, ie not very Damped. The high damping of the amp needs a 'loose' speaker to sound right. But the rare few that mismatch as "Tight + Tight" and "Loose + Loose" will both sound awful. It's all down to amp designs & generally most HPD-era amps sound good on our Tannoys as the Loudspeakers page shows. But we found with one amp we sold, it's perfection on the 1968 Gold Tannoys, but oddly on the customer's 1974 Tannoy HPDs it is poorly controlled by the speaker being so lightly damped that it gets into big problems as the speaker cones flapped & got worse with big cone excursions, in & out over an inch they said. This with a well-upgraded amp that is capable of high power peaks on deep bass could be using over double it's power & the amp doesn't like it so gets warm. The speaker flapping is at around 10Hz so you'd only see it not hear it. But the same amp on the Golds was fine, on for 6 hours use & not even warm on the heatsinks. But the poor speaker match to the HPDs is the problem. Hearing a good description of the problem, to tame down the amp on the deep bass sadly is the only option, it'll not affect the overall sound, but to limit it so it'll not get into problems with the HPDs. The amp & speakers are a mismatch. We can only alter quite a few things & let them try it again. Ideally to have several pairs of speakers to try amps on, we use a small modern test pair, but don't really have the need to get a big HPD pair, if to get one of the 1992 Tannoy Sixes series seems worthwhile. Mismatches causing bad sound & 'issues' are rare we've found. But as we find them as with the Ditton speakers, we'll add it here. Ideally to have good range of speakers such as Tannoy Golds, Tannoy HPDs, Tannoy Sixes, Yamaha NS1000, Celestion Ditton 66 & other popular brands, but then, as with needing Test Gear for FM Tuners, it all starts getting expensive.

Another Compare of Technics SL1500 & Goldring G-800E with Garrard 301.
Last time we compared the Garrard 301/SME/Roksan Corus with the Technics & G-800E the Corus was considered too harsh on the midrange. But now with more Ferrites to stop the Crackle noises that are rare now, to try a compare again. The Luxman LX33 is so sensitive it picks up foxes farting. Playing a Blue Beat 45 from 1960 in high grade, the rougher vocal mastering the G-800E tells you of honestly, the Corus smooths it a bit but doesn't quite please as it lacks the defined sound that the "lesser" system does reveal. The G-800E is a 1968 designed cartridge & it certainly does suit Mono era 45s better. In use the Technics is so easy to cue up you don't need to be too careful because it's got a good height range as in the pivot lets it raise up more than the SME. The G-800E being light grey & the Corus being, er, Black means you need a light to see it. The 301 has the Speed Lever right where your hand rests if it does stop hands wearing the paint, the Technics is starting to get a bit glossy in the touch area. The Technics & G-800E are easier to use, sound great if perhaps not the ultimate smoothness of the 301/SME/Corus. The 301 cables have Ferrites on from long ago, yet the crisper focus of the G-800E system wasn't quite there. On first hearing the G-800 with the conical stylus we thought it made 45s sound 'proper' again as we'd used that cartridge on the family SP25 III & Philco-Ford amp as well as the Hacker GAR 500/550. Neither of those are in the league of "Excellent" but as with the G-800E today, if it gets you playing more vinyl, then you like it better. As with comparing amplifiers, some may not be as 'perfect' as others, but they have a Musicality that soothes your soul.

Do People Really Listen To Music Played on a Mobile Phone?
Yes they do. Depressing isn't it. We played some Music Videos on the tiny 10mm x 2mm 'hole' that's a speaker on the base of the Sony Xperia phone. It's a tinny racket if as it sounds "Telephone" with nothing more than a limited range around 2kHz with nothing Bass or much Midrange if it's understandable. It sounds lousy & will make you lose interest in life itself. So put the ATH M-50s into the Headphone socket as it does unscrew to show the 3.5mm jack instead of the Hi-Fi 6.3mm jack. Here the sound is very soft sounding, hardly any treble, it sounds like playing an amp with Treble set to min with High Filter on so is at least 20dB reduced. The 'telephone' region from about 250Hz to 2kHz is mostly what you hear if the amplifier is so feeble. So if you plug cheap headphones with the Fake Sound that boosts Bass & Treble it'll suit the undiscerning. Played on Flat headphones you can get used to it after a few songs if it's certainly very limited purposely to not overdo the Flea Power of the Amplifier. Phones have a Graphic Equaliser to try to boost the sound if it didn't do that much even set high on the treble. The "sound" via either is just Background Music quality, you'll never get into the track as it just doesn't inspire. Or so you may think, to be familiar with the limited sound on headphones a great track can still get the feet going, it did with us much to our surprise or disgust. Music is Music, don't forget the first music you learnt was from a cheap transistor radio for decades. Most families had a radiogram or at best a Music Centre in our early music years, don't remember seeing many amps beyond a 'Solid State' worded dark fronted receiver that must have been a Sony STR-6036 or similar. The thin sound of earphones & earbuds will make it sound more trebly as is likely the idea of the dull sound. You can buy a 4w amplified speaker, the same sort of lo-fi starter gear that you could add to a Walkman type cassette player. It's a step towards wanting better, ie Real Hifi.

All Music Is Free On YouTube.

As depressing as Mobile Phone Audio is to Hifi lovers, it does get Music Heard & be sure YouTube is a lot of people's Jukebox as it's free unlike Streaming or actually having to buy the music. YouTube used to be just a file-sharing site & you could get videos pulled for copyright, if now you can upload nearly anything & you may get copyrighted content, but no-one cares as they can register to get paid per click, as "Monetised by Claimant". So 1 Billion hits on a new artist can rake in as much money as selling a CD, probably more. Nothing is owned is the thing that's a bit sad, humans like to own things. Looking on YouTube of late, if a 1950s-onwards song Hit to Rarity isn't on YouTube it's nowhere. So much you can hear from Rare Blues to Current Pop, much of the amateur stuff in ghastly sound where they don't even Mono a Mono track so you hear stereo noise. Some of the Record Player Systems used are truly awful. Free Music in any sound quality is still more Free Music than you could ever hear with Radio before just a few years ago, YouTube has exploded since 2011. It's legalised Piracy really, if Monetised they'll allow it. And the LP sleeves used to say "Home Taping Is Killing Music", Free Music never kills music, it gets more hearing the older stuff if they care to look. If we see an unknown 45 online, to use various sites & ultimately see if it's on YouTube. It's helped us find some good ones if stopped us buying more we didn't like.

August 2017 Blog.

Misleading Amplifier Power vs Frequency Range Tests.
As the 1970s go on, more tests appear in the HFN/RR. Square wave tests being the main test if by Dec 1974 they show other Oscilloscope screenshots. How the non tech reader would have a clue if the amp suited them is beyond us. You just bought what you thought was good in your price range & lived with it, as with buying a Fridge or a Car. Not many learn the technicalities or particularly care. The gripe here, not just for this amp, but the general ideas of reviewing we question, is as on a Sherwood S7900 review, a 60w receiver that came after the S-7200 we have as of typing. Only by understanding these screenshots will you get an idea of the technical capabilities of an amp, but not have any idea if it sounds dynamic or flatter sounding. HFN/RR test the Power output at 20Hz it reads 64w, 1kHz it's 72w & 20kHz it's 69w per channel with both channels driven. A good rating for a 60w amp, if it doesn't say if 1kHz plays 72w what power is at 20Hz & 20kHz. You'd think it was the 64w & 69w, but not so. All amps as we say with Upgrading improve in quality & most often Bass is much improved. According to the tests 20Hz lowest bass is only slightly less, so it's very accurate you think. But in reality, 1kHz might have the Volume control at "5" yet at 20kHz it might be at "6" and for 20Hz it'll likely be at "8". Not so good then is it, but it's the reality, but the specs & tests mislead. So in the case of the S-7900 look at the Square Waves as that can be telling on frequency response & how good the spec is. Not exactly, some amps can be craftily designed with NFB to give wonderful square waves yet still sound flat & boring. All these advanced screenshots led to the Spec Wars that were started in 1975 with the High End Luxman Tim De P gear as he designed them to have the best specs ever, but what do they sould like? The S-7900 is poor on 40Hz squarewave showing Bass is rolled off heavily. The 1kHz one shows a similar tilt down to the right showing it's quite a limited design for bass, if the 10kHz looks respectable. Then they show 5 sweep test traces which are useless as they have no number scaling. A 200Hz-200kHz test suggest bass roll off in the 200Hz region if too vague.

The 1974 Sherwood S-7900A Receiver service manual is findable
This makes a compare to the review better explained, so from their tests we can Circuit-Gaze & estimate what it'll sound like. The manual gives a lot of hints on test gear to use, if the circuit is an awkward one to trace. But it has IC output stages SJ1902-SJ1903 with 2 transistors, 2 resistors & a diode, some sort of Darlington plus a Double Transistor & a MOSFET in the Tuner, be sure all long obsolete. These sort of amps as with V-FETs & any IC output stages we'd avoid as "unrepairable" as parts are 'unobtainia'. Bass is severely limited in the S-7900 design as the square waves revealed. Looking at the S-7900 we hear a lot of "sigh" noises being made as we type this, very dumbed down design. The sight of Zener Diodes in designs to us is rubbish as it's a lazy & poor way to set voltages as said above, a few here including one on the power amp. The Square Waves tell the story a little, but on getting amps as with the S-7200, to look at circuits to see it's a decent one, if the S-7900 we'd never want to try for the obsolete parts. This is the problem with the Higher Range amps of the 1974-77 era, a lot have these issues that we'd avoid. It's why we tried so many Yamaha as their designs in this era are more to our taste.

Earlier Transistor Amplifiers Need Time To Settle Voltages Once Upgraded.
We put this on the Sales page & Upgrades page. From testing one amp below, to at least allow the amp 1 Minute to settle before use. Why do we say this? The earlier amplifiers with a single voltage supply of +60v to +105v take longer to charge up once upgraded as the main capacitors are higher spec as is the design itself, because it is design based upgraded. Upgrading means it pulls more current which is why you can't just upgrade part of an amp, it all has to complement the rest to not be a weakness. This is redesigning of some sort. The +105v HT was the 1967 75w JVC Nivico 5040, the highest power Transistor amp we know of in the 1960s. The Sony TA-1120 & STR-6120 work on about +92v. Most later amps past 1970 used Semi Complimentary designs with the familiar ± voltages, if the 1967 Sansui 3000A could run at ±38v to give 45w. The other Semi Complimentary early amp is the 1967 National Panasonic SA-65 of similar ratings. The design was critical to be adjusted right & later designs by those brands went back to the Capacitor Coupled & + HT only. Another thing on later amps is they use multiple transformer taps with multiple power supplies, ie a Receiver with one at ±12v for the tuner, ±25v for preamp stages & a ±55v power amp one, usually this runs from 2 taps. These later amps use regulators to drop the voltages & even after upgrading they start up quickly as less voltage to charge to. The earlier amps 1965-69 were still based on Valve Amp ideals & if you look on many Valve amps they use hot resistors to drop voltages. So this is what the early Transistor designs used. It can take 1-2 minutes for the voltages to charge fully & in that time the amp may make noises as it's not ready. As an example one amp with a main + voltage, a resistor drops the voltage to another capacitor if it's not used in the amp, then that voltage is dropped via another resistor to a capacitor to provide preamp voltages. You could probably just use one big resistor but it'd get too hot, so two is better. Ideally the amp's transformer should have another tapping, but it's early. How long does it take to charge the voltages to the Stable Working Voltage? There are no regulators in this design. The Main +HT voltage is 89v, the intermediate +HT voltage is 48v and the preamp +HT voltage is 24v. So we'll time the voltages to see how long they take to settle. 89v jumps instantly to 88.4v & settles to 89.3v after 20 seconds. On turn off after about 1 min it's under 10v if likely takes a few more minutes to get to zero, this is the same for all capacitors as they are linked via resistors. The 48v is much slower, at 10 sec it's at 28v, 20 sec it's at 38v if climbs to 48.2v after about 2 minutes & still climbs to 48.5v after 3 mins. The 24v voltage for the preamps is even slower, 6.5v after 10 secs. 13v after 20 secs, 17v after 30 secs, 20v after 40 secs, 22v after 1 minute & settles at 23.8v after 2 mins. In this amp, the 24v powers the early power amp stages so you can see why the amp needs time to settle, in this case leave the amp for 1 minute before changing inputs, adjusting Tone, if putting Volume up or down is fine.

Our Vintage Hi-Fi History Started Here.
In 2002 we got a few white Garrard 301 turntables & a high grade Quad II amps-preamp-tuner set & got a top auction price of £1600 that buyers never touched for over 12 years, because we photoed & sold it properly. Vintage became more interesting than new if swiftly-sold Arcam & Musical Fidelity amps were our last tries with new gear. The first Vintage Amp we worked on was in about 2003 getting a Sony STR-6120 for £10 on ebay. It looked nice, but didn't work. Years before that, the Sony TA-1150 was one that we first got in about 1990 at a car boot for a fiver, looked like a skip find & in those days too far gone to be fixed if we did try, today we'd sort it easily, but that's 27 years of learning later. The TA-1150 on getting one in about 2003 we did get the Manual so did upgrade it a bit & found the preamp IC had sloppy design adding to the rough sound. But it sounded good, better than the modern amp we used for the computer. Looking at other Sony to see the earlier TA-1130 to buy that, oddly an exact amp we've had back three times as buyers didn't understand it & the last time it needed repair. The TA-1130 bettered the TA-1150 so to look for other Sony & found the big STR-6120 being given away that cheap as it's not an easy one to fix. Got it going again, but eventurally it got parted out in 2010 as it had too many bad repairs before we got it to be reliable if parting it out got us enough to buy the STR-6120 on the site front page.

Setting The Standards In Hi-Fi Restoration.
Where do we get our ideas? We work it out ourselves... All we've seen is bad TV-Repair guy repairs in getting all the amps we've written of, beyond ones untouched. To see poor work repeatedly & know it deserves better. The Standards we decided upon were to use the Best Sensible Components, no need for the needless Exotic parts as we soon found the Panasonic capacitors we mostly use are of very high quality. Make it look nice, do a tidy job, put the capacitors neatly unlike the often-seen amateur jobs using cheap unbranded caps & left standing on long wires when no need to. Attention To Detail is the thing, because it looks more Professional. In 2011 the USA History channel showed "American Restoration" aka "Rick's Restorations", the ideas of "doing it right" as also seen with "Wheeler Dealers" shows they like to go the extra to do a good job. Convincing buyers that you do a good job needs Photos & our Gallery of Sold Hifi shows nearly every amp we've sold, if some we have had duplicates of. Very few who claim to sell "Serviced" Hifi dare to show the inside pictures of their work & the quality of parts used. There are still lots of Hifi forums that go on abour Restoring Vintage Hifi, but there are very few who actually do it properly. A few ebay USA sellers do rebuilds on the'Monster Receiver' era amps, but we see they don't upgrade, they just rebuild to spec, a wasted effort that likely sounds no different to a little-used working one. The Skill of Upgrading takes learning Designs as well as having the nerve to experiment & upgrade really into untried territory. An amp we can design-upgrade won't look out of place beyond new components, buyers again trust on seeing detailed photos. We are still learning as anyone doing this sort of work should say, if the learning curve position is much flattened out now & a lot of the Blog page shows new ideas as we find them. Speaker Matching will always be the most difficult part of Hifi simply as there are so many different speakers as we found above. Our efforts are bringing a Quality into Hifi that is still pretty much unknown for How Great It Sounds, except by those buying or getting their amp upgraded by us.

Planned Obsolescence In The 1960s.
A repeated BBC4 2012 documentary "The Secret Life Of Rubbish" fascinated us. Secondhand goods are other people's unwanted goods or rubbish at some time if dealers & collectors evaluate them as Gems Of The Past as we've done. All of the Amplifiers we've had were unwanted, maybe not all rubbish, but many were stored-ignored for decades before we got them. Buy Junk and Sell Collector's Items is the game. In the 1960s & well into the 1980s goods apparently "improved" with newer models of Domestic items including Hifi seemingly "better" every year. The Peak Years for Hifi as we see it are 1965-73 which is based on Boom Years & before heavy Cost Cutting of the mid 1970s. Today you get a new Smartphone on a 2 year contract & the last few we've had the older phone seems so ancient even though it was a marvel 2 years before. Even needing a new camera LCD display recently, we used the Phone Camera that does oversaturate reds-pinks but overall it makes the camera we usually use seem so old fashioned. In Hifi Valves were swiftly overtaken by Transistor amps as our List of Amplifiers page shows. The 1959 list shows the huge growth of Stereo, if many stayed Mono into the 1970s. The 1963-65 years show the growth of Transistor if most were mediocre UK ones, only the 1965 Sony TA-1120 that UK didn't get until 1967 was the trend setter. Year by year after 1966 Amplifiers & Receivers apparently were better each year than the one before. People believed the Hype & bought the new one, unaware the one they put in the attic was better sounding & would be more wanted decades later. Thankfully attics, lofts, cupboards & garages are where "rubbish" is stored, they don't really want to throw it out if it works or is broken, so there it stayed for decades. at one time in around 2010-2014 these attics were raided as the internet was now big business & there was a glut of good stuff around, Hifi & Vintage Annuals especially then. There have always been Records around as these don't often get into the attic as small items as 45s & LPs. The attic means "it is rubbish" & be sure plenty good things ended up at the tip or in a skip also, if there are always those who will rake through skips who will find good stuff. We remember getting a great piano black laquered late large 1950s TV from a House Clearance, it still had the label tag on it & all the books. This was about a year before the typist moved out of home so nowhere to keep it. Sadly it ended up at the tip if "you bastard" at the one who pushed it off the truck. Hopefully it got rescued if perhaps damaged from the drop it wasn't... Today such a TV in the 'found' grade would make a few hundred quid, but as with anything, where do you keep it for a few decades? Those kind souls who put their "rubbish" in the original cartons with the paperwork & stored it away are the ones who provide for those who now seek out these old items. UK life does move a lot faster than some countries & some items in Hifi are more often found overseas. Planned Obsolescence is seen as a joke today if it still goes on. But if good Hifi from 40-50 years ago can be restored to be used daily as it's useful, spare a thought for the kind souls who kept it in it's "Wilderness Years" when it had no value. We rarely hear where Amplifiers came from, usually ones we get are a few 'pickers' away from the source. As with the Rotel RX-800 we can only assume the woman who used it for a year or so put it away for 40+ years only for it to get refound maybe only at a recycling centre. There used to be Secondhand & Junk shops, but sadly that scene faded in the 1990s, now you just get Antiques Centres stuffed full of overpriced stuff no-one really wants, except 'Bargain Hunt' buyers.

Quadraphonic Sound From Vinyl Records 1970-1975
The tedious threat of Quadraphonic ('Q') sound taking over from Stereo was pushed down the throats of Hifi Mag readers for those 5 years. It grew steadily until about 1972 it got more "popular" as in lots of Amplifiers & Receivers were made as 4-Channel to cope with the multitude of Formats as recorded on discs. Marantz & JVC made the most 4-Channel amps & receivers if most main makers jumped on the idea, some wisely ignored. But despite a last push in 1975 as the May 1975 HFN/RR shows, it all died off by 1976-78 with likely loads of these unsold amps discounted in the last few years. It failed. It wasn't what the Public wanted, many were just getting into Stereo Separates from the days of the Radiogram. Letters in HFN/RR tell of those aware of good Stereo who heard 'Q' sound & found it unnatural & poor sounding. If you hear Live Music, it's in front of you, you don't stand in the middle of an Orchestra or sit in front of a Drumkit in a Rock group. Foolish idea. The worry we've thought was the fact a Vinyl Record has a high frequency carrier signal, will amps be able to even reproduce that recorded groove pattern right? There is a photo of a 30KHz CD-4 record groove in that magazine, it shows obvious groove wear so after a few plays on the typical 3g-5g playing weight of cheap turntables, the high frequency carrier wears off leaving only the Stereo info. The idea that 1.5g to 2g is the accepted weight, be sure many never bothered to adjust things causing heavy groove wear on a very fine groove moulding on soft vinyl. The stylus tip will get very hot in use & the wear is the tip being too hot melting the grooves. The 30KHz groove pattern even magnified hugely is a pure VVVV pattern. Like a metal file, it wears out on the 'teeth' of it, the record wears similarly in the contact area of the stylus. As Record Dealers we barely saw any Quadraphonic LPs, for the hype you'd think they'd be common as unwanted like most 70s LP vinyl is, but the public wasn't buying them. The idea was you sat in the middle of 4 speakers with then toed in conforming to the outdated 'Brittain' idea. Hardly practical in a semi-detatched British house & the power ratings aren't enough for huge rooms. So it died & the world is littered with useless 4-channel amps that can be bridged to Stereo, but the bridging idea is more for power than Hi-Fi Quality, so the general idea is unless you want a soft blurry sound, avoid those 4-Channel amps. Decades later we got 5.1 & 7.1 surround, equally useless beyond DVD & Blu-Ray movies specially mixed to add "Excitement". To us, Audio Sound is In Front Of You, so why bother with anything beyond Stereo.

Marantz Paid Shops To Directly Over-Promote Their Hi-Fi In A 1975 Scandal.
Yes, it's true. It's printed in April 1975 HFN/RR in the Editorial by the usually conservative John Crabbe. He's outraged by this. The problem was a brand was offering "cash bribes to retailers to sell specific brands & models". It's sort of an In-Store advertising, but the deal in shops was you took Advice from the Salesmen. He was in simpler times seen as 'your friend' & you trusted him to give you the best advice. But here you're being advised to buy Marantz because the Salesman gets a backhander. Not so different today with the dodgy deals such as selling unsuitable cladding for tower blocks, someone is on the take. But naive to think in 1975 that this is new. Biased advice is sales spiel but in this case to buy a Marantz if you could afford it, you get quality, if we've found the Marantz brand is well overhyped, if again with Pioneer as blogged below, they do upgrade well. John Crabbe doesn't directly mention Marantz but says "stop it" or we'll publish the brand name in June, allowing only 4 weeks or so for printing deadlines. Comes the June 1975 issue, under the heading 'Spiffing News' which is the term they call these backhanders, they reveal Marantz is the culprit, but also publish a reply by the UK Pyser Distributors. The Executive Director of Pyser calls it a "Direct Incentive Basis" & reveal they've cut back on Magazine Adverts, which always seemed a bit 'superior' in tone. The idea is with an 'incentive' the Salesman does the sell on the item better, regardless of if it's what the customer wants or needs. The Spif (Sales Performance Incentive Fund) deal is actually to promote Marantz Speakers more than just the amps & receivers, to buyers of the amps, not so unfair perhaps if try name a Marantz Speaker model, we can't. The 1975 HFYB only lists a few Marantz speakers (price each not inc VAT) Imperial 4B 40w music £35, Imperial 5 40w music £49, Imperial 6 100w music £66, Imperial 7 100w RMS £88. The Imperial 7 is a 12" bass, 3.5" mid & 1.75" tweeter, 45lb weight with adjustor switches. DEcent speakers of the era, if the 3-driver ones never sound as good as 2-driver ones. 'Name us then' is their closing note. In July 1975 issue they found another brand doing this but they were kept anon as they stopped the idea. One defender of the 'spiffing' idea says they lived with their head in the clouds by going on about it. their response was "We'd prefer the clouds to the gutter." Looking at this with 2017 eyes, certainly a little naive of how business works, to publish seems foolish & the Pyser reply shows an honesty but a foolishness too, if time showed Pyser soon got dumped as UK Distributors.

Audio-T says Pioneer SA-9100 Sounds "Foul" In A Dec 1974 Advert

This one is true also, page 223 has an Audio-T advert. They don't say the brand & model but do say "In a review about a £250.00 amplifier the reviewer said 'it is probably one of - if not the best integrated amplifier I have ever tested." His figures were impressive and so were ours when we tested a sample 65 + 65 watts 0.02% THD. IT SOUNDED FOUL (in block caps on a separate line). Another unit gave the same results". They then go on about not finding out why it sounded "foul" & decided that Lab Tests were pretty worthless. Oddly much as we've thought. Just because an amp gives great Square Waves doesn't mean it's the Best Sounding, though that will mean high quality. What Audio-T in their tactless way are doing is realising the Low Spec Cost Cutting that crept into Hifi. Now we've had a SA-9100 & upgraded it for a customer. A wonderful amp it certainly is, great looking, all the controls. Our review is cautious at the start about "silly hyped opinions" on this amp. We wrote a lot on that amp as we saw it was trying to be a good one but needed a lot of upgrades & if it was ours today we'd have gone much further. We gave it a "Recommended-Very Good" suggesting that as-spec it's not as good as it ought to be. The truth once upgraded it'll probably be amongst the Best Amps, but as original it's disappointing. "Foul" is an ignorant description, we don't hear what speakers they tested it with. To state the review, price & power rating makes it easy to see the amp implied. Of course Pioneer weren't pleased with this & the Director of Shriro Ltd the UK Distributors gets a letter reply in the March 1975 issue on page 95. They rightly criticise such a foolish opinion in an advert. Audio-T later said the Lecson pre-power was "Reliabity Was Always Suspect" in an ad if changed it without complaint later in May 1975 instead saying "Japanese Standard Reliability" which is questionable too. Got to love it though. Maybe that was the Banned Brand as in our Blog above? But back to Pioneer, they try to bluff about going on about 'crossover distortion' that was never an issue with a 1965 Sony, only cheap amps got that. Then the useless TID (transient intermodulation distortion) that only exists with no NFB on an output stage as mentioned above. Goes on about overloading so use a higher power amp to get clean highs which is true. But the BS line is "There is still so much we all have to learn about how the ultimate sound can be influenced by the components of the system and their interfaces." Yes, Pioneer were supposedly still "learning" after making the great 1966-67 Receivers. Not an admittance of the amps being cost cut using the lowest spec so we can fool the reviewers but not please the listener. Audio-T may lack subtlety, but we do tend to agree with what they mean, if you can't go round saying it so directly in a time when the item is new. Hifi Mags can review badly, but they tell you an item is rubbish, as with a few including a very expensive tuner, but still end on a positive note as they don't want to lose advertisers who won't read the harsher opinions. We await the next Audio-T outburst with sheer joy at their punkish ways, if wonder are they still trading? Shops in 1975 in Eton, Berks, Huntingdon, Cambs & London NW6. Yes they are, 50 years of Audio-T if at all different shops after 42 years. They probably tamed down the ads with a new ad manager, but to still be in biz with many shops shows they are a popular shop & not many Hi-Fi street shops left now.

The State of HFN/RR in 1973-75.
It's a very dull magazine with regular columns inherited from the RR side that are endlessly boring with nothing to interest 99% of those who bought the mag just to see the lastest deals. There is still loads about 4-Channel that no-one cares about. Some interesting adverts on specific items, but still lots of Lists of gear in-stock with all similar prices. Together with the tiresome Classical Cover-Version bias that takes up so many dry pages as the need to have 20 versions of a symphony seemed good sense and the unreadablesness of the Non-Classical reviews which we used to read but their style of just leading into them with not even the artists highlighted isn't worth the effort. Then the tediously waffle-y replied Help section & only really the Letters section can be interesting. Reviews are still just about worthless, the worst review in it's content was in the May 1975 edition about the Sanyo DCX8000 receiver that we've had. The review is utterly worthless, you'll get as much from a Sanyo brochure & their tests are growing but really of little use to the reader. They don't say a thing about how it sounds or even if they recommend it or not. Gordon King never a great reviewer as we've seen other reviews of known amps & why would you buy from that review? We need to try some other Magazines as HFN/RR in the 1968-75 era is hopeless. Thankfully after a few years away since the Duette & Lindair ads, the good old sexist adverts return to break up the boredom. Fuji Film on page 176 have a nude female on the beach with their state of undress obvious. What's the point of that? To advertise their new Cassette range, Fuji who? Who's the bird with her baps out? It gets republished the next month if oddly Fuji don't appear in the advertisers' index. And that's not all, page 179 with a Howland West has a Bunny Girl with a tray of drinks wearing 'Waferlite' headphones. as if the little dear would know if they were good or not... We await the letters of complaint & hope there are more cheesy ads like this.

What Else Is There in UK Hifi Magazines?
Reading the HFN/RR mag is very dull with grey old men & their "my friend & colleague..." type fawning as the bore Donald Aldous does repeatedly, the June 1975 page is a brown-nosing affair with name dropping aplenty. He's the leading writer in Audio & Domestic Electronics don't you know. Hope he retires soon (as in 1975 mag reading) taking most of the dull bores with him... no such luck, DA is still boring us into 1980 if one of the bores goes if his 'Things I Hear' column is taken over by another. The 1980s HFN/RR with Ken Kessler & Barry Fox were rambling but at least they were on your wavelength. It really does seem HFN/RR is a dull magazine that leads the way until "What Hifi" arrives in 1976 reducing the magazine size which is obvious by mid 1975 already. But having tried one per year of 1981-90 found them not interesting enough to get the set. There are other Hifi Mags such as "Hifi Choice", "Hifi World" & a later "Hifi +", also "Hi-Fi Weekly" which seems optimistic, "Hifi Answers" which is a Haymarket mag as is "What Hifi" as is "Hifi Sound" which we have a few 1968 ones of. "Popular Hifi" another pre What Hifi mag, they certainly tried a few formats all which didn't touch HFN/RR if they are more down to earth. One called "Audio" that seems more tech oriented by the cover, as is "Wireless World" the kit making mag that ran for decades. But as with other things we get into, there at the right time. You'd not build a set of HFN/RR today as sellers put £5-£10 each on them. Once we've read through the HFN/RR lot to Dec 1980 we'll look at "Hifi Sound" if buying more at £10 each is pointless, a year of a Hifi Mag is about £25 plus post.

July 1975 brings the Dreaded Naim & Linn Adverts.

We don't like these UK brands. The whole idea of their "Hair Shirt" way of selling what is fancy overpriced 'Lifestyle' Budget Gear as it has no user controls & isn't that special at all, much like Bang & Olufsen and Bose. Imagine a TV with no Brightness, Contrast or all the other features LCD ones now have. Yout Computer Monitor similarly has lots of adjustments. But to Linn & Naim you don't matter, you accept their forced ideals once you've been foolish enough to buy it. You do need Tone Controls as no one room sounds the same. Even new amps still have Tone & the less useful Loudness though we know even with our Upgraded Amps that some still use Loudness like it's a Tone stage. So an ad in HFN/RR by "Hi-Fi Corner" in Edinburgh which is an early Russ Andrews venture, a known Snake Oil vendor. The ad wastes 2 pages duplicating things but £1300 gives you NO tone control, NO filters, NO speaker controls, NO auto lift-lower device, NO 16, 45 or 78rpm, NO speed adjustment & NO interchangeable stylus assembly. Not much different to a 1970s Amstrad Stack System really, if it has multi speeds. the arrogance of 33rpm only is insulting & the rest is Budget Gear as they don't have to bother designing Useful Features that Hifi has had since the 1950s. Sadly this Linn + Naim stuff was believed into the 1990s as better. How often did they listen to their 'Stereos', not much we'd expect as it wasn't friendly sounding. £1300 in 1975 bought you a Nain NAP 160 power amp, NAC 12 preamp, Linn Sondek LP 12, SDT 180 transformer likely to cover the poor motor spec, Grace G707 arm, Supex SD900E cartridge & Linn Isobarik DMS speakers. "The Closest Thing To Real Music On The Market Today" it bleats. The new face of British 'Budget' Hifi, but sold at a very high price for what it is. We've never had these to try but enough online shows they are all nothing special. Buyers of our amps & readers have told us they used to subscribe to the Linn & Naim ideals, but on hearing Our Amps they realise how much time & money they wasted on this stuff. From those who bought it & believed the HFN/RR hype that bored us when we bought HFN/RR from about 1992-2000. By now Bose are plugging their useless reflective Bose 901 speaker. The overhyped averageness in Hifi that we are Crusading against really takes control from July 1975 & much of the "Hair Shirt" stuff at overpriced prices you see today springs from this, simply as people believe it & will today spend £10000 on this hopeless dream. What do we mean by "Hair Shirt"? Accepting that to suffer huge inconvenience that Linn & Naim offer is better as others have told you it is better, the Sheep effect of today. The amount of expensive "upgrades" Naim & Linn offer should tell you something...

Later Stories With Amplifiers & Receivers We've Upgraded & Sold
It's surprising to see ones we've upgraded being resold on ebay, and even hearing how the buyer trashed it by doing careless things with it. But Electronics of any type are susceptible to damage by just using it or not treating it with respect. The Sony TA-1130 we first got in c.2007 we've had back three times, even saw it for sale again before we got it needing a minor repair. Clearly a misunderstood one, the first time we got it back the first buyer half trashed it also, if we sorted it as these sort of amps are forever repairable. The Yamaha CA-1000 we've seen sold once, the buyer of it we know didn't understand it & needed helping which started off our 'After Sales Help' section on the sales page. We've recently seen a Sony STR-6055 we partly recapped being mis-sold as fully recapped so put the note on our Reviews page. One bought a Akai AA-8080 amp & needed to sell it again despite clearly liking it, maybe moving countries? The Trio-Kenwood TK-140X on the Gallery page we got back in a trashed state after the buyer did something to cause it to catch fire after using it regularly for nearly 2 years. We thought it was too far gone & cut the cable off, but then decided to rebuild it which was too big a job to charge a customer as work done would have eventually cost way more than we resold it for. Then the Sony STR-6120 that's on our site front page. We sold it to one buyer who used it on Celestion Ditton 66 & 1980s big Tannoys, but their changing needs meant it had to be sold so we had it back then resold it to another who apparently used it for 3 weeks & it got turned on with volume up full after their kid messed with it. Needed a huge rebuild after they got another to try to fix it instead of sending it to us, the idiot repair guy shorted 90v on the power amp causing lots of (repairable) damage including the main capacitors from the huge spark. We wanted it back so offered a good trade-in amp for it, as STR-6120s aren't around now. Seeing the awful repairs & using incorrect parts plus other stupidity shows there aren't many capable Hifi techs out there. It'll live again, but as with the TK-140X, the rebuild job is too high to get a customer to pay, the STR-6120 rebuild will likely cost 1.5x the price they bought it for, so far it's exceeded that. We finally get it going March 2018, it got tried then left as others came along & the amount to keep it reliable more than others would do, new transistors, capacitors & resistors is just doing it properly not knowing what may be 'slightly' damaged. Then the Trio WX-400U 10w 1963 valve receiver. We rebuilt & redesigned this to perfection, great tuner once redone, but the buyer unwisely tube-rolled it as said elsewhere so it half trashed it by severely upsetting the voltages & currents that we'd designed DC heaters to work spot on, Got it back & with the glass broken so got one made from perspex. But it needed a huge amount redone. It's sad to see an amp that had a lot of effort put into come back wrecked by user misadventure. All Hifi needs to be used carefully & respected. People are Careless with Electronics & it's why selling Premium Hifi on ebay is too risky as it invites them to damage & return it, which is why we gave up & now only sell on this site. Here we get buyers far more aware for having read us.

The First Subjective Group Test - July 1975 on Seven Loudspeakers.

HFN/RR at last takes the concept of Subjective Opinions on a Group Test. This appears to be a World First if many Hifi mags copied the idea later, because it's a good one in theory. But here the idea is they wasted their time choosing mediocre speakers by 7 makers, none of which have any Credibility in later years, as in we've never heard of them. Prices range from £155 a pair to 5 being under £200 with one at £375 & another at £590. In price order they are SMC AL 12 £127, Sansui ES200 £155, Quasar Q52 £170, Marsden Hall 3522 £176, Goodmans Acromat 400 £198, Omal TL6 £375 & Dalquist DQ10 £590. A poor selection of Speakers with only Goodmans being a 'proper' speaker brand. No Tannoy, Wharfedale, KEF, Richard Allan, Bose, B&W, Celestion, Ferrograph, Gale, JBL, Leak, Lowther, Luxman, Mordaunt-Short, Pioneer, Quad, Rogers, Sonab, Sony, Spendor or Technics as the 1975 HFYB shows of brands recognised as worthwhile today, plus lots more obscure or budget brands. Their 7 speaker selection is greatly flawed as is proven by the opinions. Get the magazine to read more, but overall opinions of all regardless of price are "mediocre" with some good bits amid bad speakers. We know the 1968 Tannoy Gold Monitors, we hear a beautiful smooth sound that plays deep sub bass correctly, all with no colouring, no edginess, fully open sound, unlimited transients, no boominess, no boxy sound or huge dips in the response. But here all are notably poor. They rank them on Smoothness, Mid Frequency Coloration, Overall Tonal Balance, Transients, High Frequency Performance & Low Frequency Performance with some silly "weighting" to give the first two 1.0 weighting by Treble as 0.71 & Bass only 0.66 so poor bass & treble isn't marked down. The results are pointless as you'd expect, all are obviously "not very good" yet the rating in 1-6 order is Marsden Hall "poor presence, rough treble & dull", Quasar "colored midrange, unsmooth treble", Goodmans "coloured midrange & edgy brittle treble", Omal "muddled & cloudy, smooth vague sound", Sansui "boxy, poor bass, smooth but coloured sound", Dalquist "unbalanced, smooth but dull, coarse sound but open" & SMC "peaky, compressed, tiring upfront sound, harsh, thin & mid distortion". Those are summarised opinions of 10 who tested these, clearly some contradictory remarks. On the basis, all the speakers are poor, none sounds crisp, smooth, balanced, not coloured or boxy with fully extended deep bass like our 15" Tannoy Golds do. This is why we've never bothered with any other speaker in 15 years now, just about all other speakers are rubbish. Some of the better brands we noted just above could have the odd good model amid ranges, but we have no real interest to try lots of speakers. Their test covers objective tests like Frequency Response off axis and 2m away etc, Amplitude Distortion, Doppler Distortion which is a mythical thing like TID, Impedance, Efficiency if that's shown as 0.5% instead of 90dB later ratings, Crossover frequency. Then they pair one speaker of one brand with another to see which sounds best, a worthless test as results disgreee with any other results. They plot sets of Frequency Response direct, off axis & 2m away which is pointless as every room differs. The Sansui has an obvious midrange peak & poor treble-bass readings that we'd suggest it mismatched their amp from our Speaker Matching Tests. Here we see Impedance Curves if their graphs need care as not all are at 0-25dB if only the Sansui dips to about 3 ohm at 7kHz & Quasar to 4 ohm similarly. You need to be careful reading Impedance curves as some are smooth like Omal, & the Goodmans and quasar are all over the place, but it doesn't really relate to sound & the choppy curves are often the 3-driver ones. These group tests with 10 opinions is just too confused. It takes an educated ear, not puffed ego to tell what sounds good or not. We don't know the speakers they use at home or even what amplifiers they use as clearly to us the Sansui doesn't match. You're reading a site written by a Tannoy 15" Gold user who knows there is no better speaker now or then as 15 years daily use with them proves. We've tested them with lots of amps as our Loudspeakers page shows. Who you'd trust recommending other speakers is the thing, they'd need to know the "Best 50 speakers" 1968-2017. We only pick up from reading reviews, books & more that Tannoy are the King of Loudspeakers. Other brands from the 1975 era that go back earlier & are into the 1990s we highlighted in blue as "worthwhile" ones that are noted as popular. Google "Best Loudspeakers In The World" and you just get lists of $5000+ modern speakers. The Best Loudspeakers In Our World are the Tannoy 15" Golds in Lancaster cabinets. some of the modern Tannoys that just about copy these may slightly improve on 1968 Perfection, but they are out of our price range as yours likely too. We'll note any further group tests with our criticism if we did on a 1977 article... 1977 Hifi News 8x Pre-Power Reviews - Our Opinions. Similarly we spent ages reading through & typing all that, but decided it was a waste of time & didn't put it on the site for quite a while as it seemed pointless, but it shows what 1975-1977 readers will have thought "We have no idea what the result is"... A letter in a later issue saw the whole effort as pointless too, if more for the huge price differences. HFN/RR replied saying having a group opinion (to them) seemed better. We disagree, multiple opinions in the review dilute it heavily. People have different hearing capabilities beyond learned knowledge & egos. But Loudspeakers are very personal, a lot more than Amplifiers. Some may love the flat lifeless no-bass sound of some speakers as they only have a limited knowledge of hearing sound. We heard a Fatman valve amp play 'music' through tiny bookshelf speakers in a shop once used to the Tannoy Golds. It had abslutely no definition to the sound at all. "It sounds awful" says we which upset the sales guy who made excuses that made no sense. We've not been in a Hifi Shop for a few years if in later years most were more into selling AV gear & whole room installations, or the megabucks huge amps that we heard & didn't think too much of. The Hifi we hear are amps we get or are sent to upgrade & we write about it here.

The "Real Thing" In Loudspeakers First Heard in 1963 At A Trade Fair
Interestingly the HFN/RR Editorial that same month as the 7-way tests above goes on about hearing "The Real Thing" in Loudspeakers over 12 years before, so in 1963, a "wonderfully open uncoloured sound". The speaker was in production until quite recently they add. Yes of course it can only be the Tannoy Monitors, the Silver Monitors introduced as early as 1959 were replaced by the Gold Monitors in 1968, then replaced by the very different HPDs in late 1974. A speaker so good there are still "Classic" versions of it being made, at prices that seem high, but reflect the quality & the cabinets are going to be expensive to make. Get some 12" or 15" Tannoys of any era & you'll never care about other speakers again.

More On Square Waves: What Do They Actually Tell You?

September 1975 HFN/RR with the Harman-Kardon 430 receiver tells a lot on this. Now we've had the highrer power HK 930 & it's a Dual Mono power supply if this is for the Power Amp only, the Preamp runs from only one Transformer PSU. Sadly most HFN/RR reviews tell you nothing more than user features & tests that mean little to most, as many are about Tuner Stages. Here the Harman-Kardon receiver is sold with the Square Wave Analysis Of Audio Amplifier Performance booklet that is selling you a better product it appears. On getting our HK 930 it needed recapping. It did seem a good amp initially to upgrade if ultimately some design especially the power supply we felt was best left as it wasn't so good. Here the HFN/RR review tells about Square Waves, for an amplifier to replay the square wave it has to be capable of delivering harmonics to square the wave edges, as in 1kHz needs a 11kHz bandwidth which is easy as 20kHz is the usual Hifi amp limit. To get a squared 10kHz wave is much more difficult as the amp needs 110kHz headroom to deliver the harmonics. Anything less & the rise time will be slower which if poorly designed gives a dull sound, similar to using High Filter on the best amps. So to get a perfect 20kHz your amp needs 220kHz bandwidth without high losses over 20kHz. For Bass tests the HFN/RR reviews use 40Hz which is always far from square shaped showing heavy bass limiting & phase shift from doing that. It can be done as Sony found out in 1965 with the complex Sony TA-1120 amplifier that uses certain design as nearly all amps do to get these "perfect square waves" if in reality the sound can be a bit flattened if sound more pleasing to most users than the huge dynamics sound we prefer, a sound that's only found in our upgrades. The HK930 uses similar design tricks & the HK 430 will too. Their rise time is 1.9µs when other amps are more like 7-12µs from seeing earlier reviews. We know how they do this & it didn't upgrade so good, suggesting a bit of a compromise here. The slower rise time curves off the 10kHz+ square waves on the leading-rising edge. One reviewer of another amp thought the design of one amp could do with "faster transistors" which reveals they don't know what they are talking about which is a worry, there are no 'slow' transistors by 1975 or 1965 even once Silicon was used. So most amps can get respectable square waves by tailoring the design & not really needing to go too high spec on it to get good Test Results. Sadly by 1975-76 Test Results were all that mattered yet at the expense of Sound Quality, but it looked good on paper & buyers believed it. So initially Square Waves tell you how good the amp is, but manufacturers got wise so tailored the designs to test well but who cares about the sound? This is why the majority of Hifi past 1975 does not sound very good. The trouble with fast rise times is you need good spec to deliver it else it's that harsh thin no-bass grainy mess like the 1985 Yamaha A720 sounded. Good Spec is Expensive, or it's rolled off on Amps you buy once "Special Ones" are used for getting Hifi Mag tests to sound less grainy. You think makers don't make better ones they know will be tested? As with any good test idea it gets abused so the A720 can boast 0.005% THD distortion in tests but in reality the sound was so awful it could be 33% distorted to what a better amp can play it as. Just proves Specs are utterly useless if they can be manipulated.

It Started The Amplifier Spec Wars In 1975: Luxman C-1000 Preamp

Continuing from the above with Square Wave Tests, Tim De Paravicini designed this in 1975 under the idea of getting the most Spec-Perfect design possible. Good to find these things out, but it messed up Hifi. Be sure it's not going to sound fresh & open, it'll be hugely tailored. We knew of this & the matching power amp, as from the 1976 HFYB...
M6000 300w power amp £1375, C1000 preamp £475 as they stand out in the List of Amplifiers page we did. Will we like it? Hard to follow the Manual is likely deliberate 'Time Muting Section' is the Relay. The 'Winker Board' isn't a typo & a Flat Amp. Looking at the rather awkwardly shown circuits, there is some obvious "sound shaping" that plenty of other amps use, the Aux input design is unusual as is the next stage, probably is a transistor version of an op-amp. The power supply of the preamp is very unusual too, it mostly relies on regulators to be sure it's as well behaved & safe sounding to give excellent specs. We hate it already. It does have 2 main capacitors after the rectifier & limiting resistors. The Phono stage looks more like a Power Amp in design, Differentials & Push-Pull stages means 12 transistors. Yamaha CA-1010 used a similarly over-designed preamp that ultimately limits the quality of the amp as we upgraded our last one fully & that's the weakness: Overdesign in search of high specs for Mag Reviews. The Flat Amp section of the C-1000 is where the real sound shaping goes on, the design is laughably complex & impossible to work out unless you have a degree in electronics design, it's as messy & self-correcting as the later Current Mirror type IC nonsense. The C-1000 has inputs from the power amp to control headphone & speaker switching. It has 4 stages of Filter which in 1975 will have been little use, but again showing off & excess circuitry, if it's passive. You may be impressed with the specs, but it's so unnatural unlike a good early amp based on valve design that uses just a few transistors with honest circuitry to give a clean sound. The Luxman M-6000 300w power amp uses tripled output transistors, ones custom-made for Luxman which will be unfindable. It has two sets of Differential Comparators as they call it & a Relay Output Protection. Poor Circuit diagram that's blurry makes it hard to follow. The odd input stage on the power amp is like the Aux input, it's labelled as a Voltage Regulator again to tame to get the high specs if it will sound boring. The power amp for 300w will sound quite soft, it's not a 'hot' design, works on ±87.5v. Probably the Power Amp sounds better than the Preamp, but at the prices when new, you'd likely just buy the pair due to the speaker switching preamp. We just can imagine how tame it'll sound in search of it's Perfect Specs & it's not upgradeable too much either. This sort of Preamp & Amp ruined Hifi is a fair comment.

Do You Want An Expensive Hifi Repair With A Guarantee?
A 13 Aug 2017 listed 1969 Rogers Ravensbourne amp on ebay shows the Service & repair sheet plus £370 costs to service, check & replace a few capacitors. The amp is from 1969 & in very high visual grade, but it's 48 years old. The seller now optimistically wants £475 for it to cover their 2012 repairs. Note "Repairs", if we had an amp like this, it needs a full Recap as it's 48 years old, to have failings means the rest is on the way out as we've found out enough times on testing amps. At £370 no wonder they can guarantee it for a year, For that sort of price we'd just about recap & service it to be good for many years. Our 'Guarantee' of it being redone new is better than a hope & prayer that nothing else 48 years old will fail. The seller got it back & never used it for some reason. We have a certain amplifier to upgrade here as of typing. We found after recapping the lot of this 1969 amp that one of the output transistors was faulty in an odd non-electrical way. No good to us, we throw out the set of 4 & replace them with a set of working ones. If one is bad from a batch, it's not worth risking the others. We happened to have a set of the exact same ones so put those in as part of the job. Most Hifi repair techs are nerdy types who have no attitude or experimentation. You've read our site, we are a different breed with an ability to fault find, redesign, upgrade & still give an authentic looking item as our sales pages show. We do it properly.

Use This Integrated Amp as a Preamp & Another Amp As The Power Amp.
You're doing this as neither are any good in your ideas of sound. It's a waste of time really, sell both & go buy something more what you want. Using 2 amplifiers as one for the preamp, out the pre-out sockets & into the power-in sockets of another is never a good idea, except to cover when one doesn't work right so to at least have music. But then you're using a faulty amp? All Terrible Ideas & just a quick fix that probably doesn't sound very good, because it's unlikely the output level or impedance of one will be right for the other. One using a passive preamp is wasting their time. You'll also find a bad preamp to amp match & it'll be hissy because the volume outputs differed & the impedance differed. We found this with a high gain power amp matched to a low gain preamp. The whole idea of using Pre & Power Amps is to use the one designed to go with it, anything else will be a mismatch. We've compared Yamaha amps that have pre-power in-out sockets & between the models we tried neither sounded the same as itself used as an integrated. The preamp is designed to compliment the power amp & the power amp likewise. We tried a 25w Leak 1978 amp into the 110w Yamaha CR-2020 early on & it still sounded like a 25w amp because the Leak Preamp was designed for a 25w power amp. Swapping around the CR-2020 preamp into the 25w Leak sounded mediocre as it didn't match well.

Passive Preamps are A Wasted Effort On Nearly All Integrated Amps.

What is a Passive Preamp? Why do Hifi Mags hype them as so great. It's BS as you'd expect except to a tiny few high gain power amps. A Passive Preamp is just a switch & volume control box. Who cares if it's silver wire, it's utterly meaningless & of use to only Modern Amps, as in post 1986 that have No Tone Stages. It's No Use to use one on Vintage Hifi simply as Vintage always has an Amplified Preamp. Amps with "Source Direct" button you think are Passive Preamps? No they aren't, they amplify the signal still. If a power amp like the Quad II with 1.4v to get full power is used with a Passive or Low Gain preamp, the sound will be small & low volume. Some power amps with 0.4v to get full power will play much louder & will be suitable for a Passive Preamp. But how you live with no Phono or No Tone Stage is your choice. Those who swear by Passive Preamps usually haven't heard good Vintage & prefer their flat lifeless sound, likely rarely playing music as it sounds boring, but the Mags say it's good. Most Vintage preamps have 2 transistors giving gain & tone control, some add buffers. A Passive has nothing & you'll most likely be playing music too softly & think it sounds better when in fact it's not giving the power amp enough gain.

Car Audio Systems In The 1970s.
The HFN/RR October 1975 issue has an article about In Car Entertainment. In these days it was pretty basic. USA had started earlier with Radios in cars to Record Players even a 1930s 'Laurel & Hardy' has a 78 player if it's likely a comedy thing, but a RCA record player for a car is a reality as were smaller sized Philco Pocket Records. But the 1970s UK Car Scene the typist knows as much time sat being driven about. Car Stereos start about 1972 by the Ads, brands like Harry Moss & other budget type ones. In those days the Car Radio was a set size to fit in the dashboard or a Console with the two rotary switches with fixing nuts on. It's the only design there was well into the 1980s until the bigger fascia digital type ones just pre CD arrived, the pull out type you hid under the car seat. In about 1974 a Car had no real fittings for a Radio, more expensive ones will have had a console fitted, but on cheaper cars the middle column by the gear stick was just carpeted. To buy a chipboard & vinyl covered thing you could fit a clock in to go with the obligatory 'Go Faster' stripes was the dream of 1970s man. Before that, Portable Radios often had the Speaker on the back & a car aerial socket so you could put it on the dashboard & use it as a radio. Later cars with radios often had a central one-speaker from this idea. One L-reg 'Scimitar' the family bought in 1976 was more flash with an 8-track & four speakers, 2 in the kick panels or door cards on the front doors & 2 on the rear parcel shelf. It sounded awful as when an Aretha Franklin 8-track was put on, her loud voice was painful so a book over the speakers was required. 'Motown Gold', 'Country Life' plus Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck & Jack Jones were much played over the next few years. Did remember hearing a 1970s era Elvis & thinking Elvis Was Rubbish if that was before he died, to hear the better earlier stuff. The HFN/RR article doesn't add much more to that, beyond saying early 12v valve radios needed a voltage oscillator to make DC battery into AC which seems a bit odd. Car Speakers were just those small Big Mac sized boxes with no tweeter or damping so poor sound was guaranteed. Even a 1983 Ford Sierra we later had was just the 2 tiny speakers if by now built into the car fittings. Big speakers cutting holes in the parcel shelf was the only way. But Car Audio was always lousy, FM Stereo lost signal, MW lost signal in tunnels or in weak areas, DAB of today breaks up badly. Then over the Car Engine Noise & road noise with open windows you're not going to get much Hifi, but it was the musical company you wanted, aware it'd not be very good. The front speakers in cars were always down low so detail wasn't going to be heard. The days of CD players you could pull out or ones that turned the fascia to 'hide' it long since replaced by built-in ones that no-one bothers to steal. Stealing Car Radios was a nuisance & in those days be sure if it showed it'd be stolen, we know that one, the window repair costs more than the things were sold for by the chancer. They also nicked our great Reggae tapes we recorded from the Radio which was more annoying. Car Stereos live on today in huge power whoomp things, but generally today it's rare to hear music in cars on the road, the elephantine 800w amps for morons is a thing of the past. As with a lot of things today, the fun in it seems to be missing...

What Is Vintage Hi-Fi Used For? Are There Hi-Fi Museums?
Some amps we get are in barely used grade. They still work & are all original, if they are 40+ years old. We had two Fisher amps that were in this 'almost new' grade, but it was later found the wood cases were repros. What do you do? The owner of one bought it to be upgraded, they didn't mind the repro case. A dilemma of to keep it all original but still 1966 spec on 1966 capacitors? Are there Hifi Museums? Are we butchering old amplifiers that are this original? The answer is like you see on 'Counting Cars', they get highly original high grade cars, but the owner wants it upgraded to be like driving a modern car & some will lose a huge amount of originality from original paint to numbers-matching engines. But it's what the customer wants. They want to use the Hifi, not have it as an ornament. They got the amp all recapped as this was their reason to buy, the fact it was higher grade than expected isn't of any importance. There probably are Technology Museums with mint and boxed gear on show & those rare finds are best sold on as Collector's Items. But when it comes to Hifi, beyond the Valve era, people want to use the item. You used to see £3000 being paid for highly Original Rare 1950s Valve amps, but be sure they'll never be used & is a market far from us. Valve amps are mostly best left original as the preamps are so poor you'd never really use it. The other valve amps pre 1967 need so much to upgrade & redesign it's unlikely we'll try another for ourself. These all-original amps from pre 1970 will never be reliable to use more than briefly & even then plugging in 60 year old electronics is risky as we've found with old Radios & Radiograms. The capacitors on 1930s radios 20 years ago were mummified & long since dried out & useless. Those trying 1950s-early 1960s valve gear are risking major damage by plugging them in, Rogers Cadet capacitors are dried out & on the edge of failure. So why are we writing this now? We had a Sansui 3000A owner who wants it upgraded but wants to keep all the original capacitors in it. Yes. Missing the point totally of Recap-Upgrade is to Refresh & Modernise an amp to be useable daily. You can't have it both ways unless you go back to 1967 when it was new, in 2017 it's 50 years old & to use regularly even if it looks good is with a high chance of failure. A Sony TA-1120A we had recently looked barely used inside, but all the capacitors were bad as unused for decades kept in a warm place & once recapped we found out why it was unused, it crackled which needed fault finding. You either get it fully recapped & upgraded or keep it original but don't use it. But the thing here is they are in the USA meaning shipping both ways puts them off & are just fishing for free advice of what to do & will get their tech to do it as they already mention. No reply necessary...

Hi-Fi Gets "Modern" By Late 1975.
The adverts tell the story, the big Japanese brands like Sony, Sansui, Trio-Kenwood, Technics & Pioneer are clearly doing well selling reliable gear. The UK brands have almost died away by now, generally the UK budget stuff was very average at best & the Japanese Amplifier brands brought better quality & reliability at similar prices. Through 1975 the shop ads lose the cheap gear that littered the ads from 1970 onwards. Leak is almost finished, Rogers trickles on but neither in the way they were in earlier years. The only UK brand to the fore is Amstrad with one shop 'Major Audio' in Essex & Surrey putting that brand to the fore. But by now, the big Japanese brands are putting sophisticated adverts extolling the virtues of their goods, Wharfedale spending 5 pages of waffle seems a bit desperate. The Cassette market now has 3 brands offering front-loading cassettes & the top loader ones swiftly go out of fashion, even if they were very expensive to buy new, they were densely & heavily built compared to the later IC designs that could be a lot cheaper. British Hifi brands seem to be more Loudspeaker based now for the importing of Japanese brands would add to the cost. Quadraphonic thankfully has died off after a last effort early in 1975, but no-one cared. These big brands continue well into the 1990s as the brands most people bought, but with heavy cost cutting the "Jap Crap" term was fairly put, if brands like Sony catered for both ends of the market. The UK buyer still thought anything by a brand should be good quality, but by 1975 the ideas of cost cutting were advanced so even Sony's V-FET amps still have that cheap look like their low range amps, the thin aluminium fascia marks up too easily. Hifi Came Of Age by 1975, the hard years of 1973-74 taught lessons & generally the quality of most brands weren't as good as you hoped. Yamaha with their 1973-78 ranges we found interesting & clearly helped revive the brand with our site, because they were better quality on their higher models CA-1000, CR-800, CR-1000 especially & CR-1020 and CR-2020. European brands continue such as Bang & Olufsen (overhyped) and Philips (budget quality) despite their 'Simply Years Ahead' tag line. Tandberg seem to sell more cassette decks than amps, we've not liked their gear to try one even after our years trying amps. Soon the budget end as Amstrad did seeing sales of their separates drift away to the Big Names, will turn more to Music Centres & the dreaded Stack System one piece smoked cabinet chipboard junk. Teleton were already offering acceptable one-piece turntable-amp-tuner-tape table top units, some were better than others if they were popular. Most houses the typist visited in this era into the later 1980s still had these Console type units, if by the early 1990s it turned to CD players & ghastly flashing light double tape efforts that won't have sounded as good. But 1975 is where a clear turning-point in what buyers were buying. Those buying the big expensive high powered amps & receivers were still the minority.

Bad Capacitors From 2006 Still Causing Problems: Our DVD Player...
We've written before about the Rubbish Quality of Capacitors used in DVDs & Computers from 2004-06 era. Ones on some amps from the 1990s can be as bad, the cheap quality cost cutting went too far. Notorious for failing & exploding. It affects Hifi too & a NAD amplifier we saw had the caps in a terrible mess. Our 2006 Panasonic DMR-EX75EB-S DVD-160GB HDD recorder is now 11 years old & you can still buy a similar 500GB one as the DMR-EX97EB-K which is a similar Freeview-500GB HDD & DVD recorder. Not much change in 11 years beyond HDD size as with computers. Watching the DVDs of "The Bill" as the Early 1984-86 series are heavily edited on the current Drama TV repeats. But the Panasonic buzzes when the fan is on so needed a weight on top. Why does it need a fan thinks we as it still hums. Last fixed it in 2013 when a tiny IC under the main board blew up from a failed cap hidden under the top front board, Ours has heavy heatsinking & top holes drilled, the feeble heatsink means this is probably the only one left on permanently for 11 years that still works. But looking at the power supply it's just 2 small heatsinks that get warm to about 50°C of the heatsinks will be enlarged to lose the fan. All caps we checked & marked & found one that's swelling up ready to explode & probably damage the power supply if not more. Caught it in time. C1150 a 68µf 35v capacitor is the problem. By looking at the circuit, if it failed possibly it'd take out a complex switching IC1150 & Q1200 which is a 'Photo Coupler' LED-Transistor item, some sort of safety type thing that's not findable by it's part number. It's on the timy mains transformer too, so if it shorted or went open circuit, it'd be a big repair. You'd not get it fixed as part not findable. Not looked at the insides for 4 years by our work dates, so good job it was noisy else it'd not last long. Ah, but why bother checking things, you can go & buy a new better one for £260.00, it's only money. A 450v 47µf is the only other electrolytic cap on the 'Live' side of the power supply, C1143 is the power supply cap, the value is hopeless like 1960s valve amps as AC ripple will be high. The brand are ones on 1960s-70s amps that we'd rate 'reliable' Elna & Nichicon, but for another 8 caps on the power supply, redo the lot as 10-11 years old. We don't usually put tech stuff on this site, but as a warning to those still using electronics of this era, get it checked or you'll end up buying a new one. Working on tiny surface mount boards makes a regular soldering iron seen 5x too big, some of the ICs are so tiny you'd need skill to solder. Time to check & recap, 3 hours plus parts. Servicing is the thing. Most don't think it's worthwhile. Ours works good now but how long will it last? 11 year old DVD player with limited HDD size of the era, you'd not pay half the price of a new one just to keep it going to avoid certain failure. By the dates we wrote inside, it failed after less than 2 years buying new in 2006, we got a cheap working but damaged case one to cobble good bits into ours, build a better heatsink & have serviced it a few times since. In terms of a customer paying for all these repairs, sadly use it a few years & buy new is the thing. Built In Obsolescence is so cynical.

Poor Design & Construction of Modern Mains Powered Electronics.
We've found that the items themselves can be good, but as ever, they are severely dumbed down to be cheap & to convince you a more expensive one is worth buying. You can be sure we take no notice. TiVo box has no Audio Outputs, only a Digital out so needs a DAC. You can easily spend £200-£300 but we know how advanced & standardised Digital is by finding £20 OEM DVD-CD recorders for the computer & £99 Soundcards good enough. The £99 Soundcard has a very low noise floor if the Square Waves it outputs are far from Square on the Higher Frequencies. So to be mean & get a £10 DAC with a Plug Top Power Pack, the nuisance of today. We recap ours with better capacitors to give a cleaner power supply, the AC ripple from these cheap transformers is unacceptable. But then the £10 DAC sounds fine, so why spend more. Looking at the 2006 DVD player, the power supply is in that modern style, there is no big mains transformer as they are expensive. The Panasonic DM-R75EX one is like other modern gear of low power, it's adequate but mediocre. Low spec & excess heat build up is why the User Life of Electronics today is so short. Built in Obsolescence & deliberate cynical things to break are in Phones & Cameras so if you do try to fix or Service it, you'll break it. We'll not give too much detail as it's messing with the Live Mains side, but heat is caused by high AC ripple & improving the design does reduce heat. Input 240v AC goes to one fuse on either Live or Neutral depending how you plug it in, as with many electrical items, various bits to de-hash the AC, rectified "Live" at 240v AC to 329v DC with high ripple as original spec then hugely stepped down to 12v by a small transformer that finally isolates from the mains & then the rest to supply other voltages. Typical designs in TVs & Desktop Computers if probably the VHS scene helped create the slimline designs unlike the bulky transformers of old. The circuitry is good, the spec is deliberately poor to make you think you need to buy a more expensive one. Ours still plods on, only gets 5 digital channels now meaning more problems, if the DVD player is fine. Must be the only working one on the planet as it's not made to last 11 years & even the synthetic rubber on the HDD drive fittings has turned gooey so trimmed tap washers needed.

Was It Worth Recapping the DVD player with some upgrading?
We recapped it to a degree firstly, without upgrading too much. Watching the same DVD set that has been consistent in quality, now the picture is crisper, the sound seems of a better quality too. To upgrade as always is design based upgrading, you need to understand the circuit. Recapping improves the quality of the voltage supplies so what you see & here is more sophisticated, the basic GUI of a 2006 machine is a lot crisper than before & the picture is a lot smoother. But sadly giving it better quality revealed that really was only a temporary fix, the voltages now correct give the dreaded HDD ERR message & the clicking of the HDD drive whatever we try to do. The fact with these DVD recorders is they are now too old: the HDD is the old type plug in connectors & even if you could get a new one, the Operating System is on the HDD & from what we've read online, you need a set up disk to copy the OS onto the HDD. So a final take-apart to look under the board, no issues, so time to give up. In reality 11 years use is exceptional from a DVD player, we got 3 years more use by repairing it before & for the fact TiVo records all we want, no real need for a DVD recorder so to just buy another DVD player to watch DVDs with. Modern tech may be great to use, but for the short life of these things, it's a rip off as in reality this DVD player was known to be failing after 2 years use. Any new electronics we get we take apart to look for areas that will be the first to fail... On breaking it up to recover useable bits, how easy it is to break, drop the thing & it'll never work again. Feeble construction.

Is It Worth Upgrading The TV Similarly?
Service Manuals for LCD TVs or similar will be available, if some easier to get than others. Looking at a basic Fault Finding page on our LG one, the idea is either replace boards or Repair/Replace the Power Supply. It gets warm inside & we've already added extra heatsinking on a few places & drilled case holes as the picture driver board was just hidden behind a closed cabinet. The quality of plastics used in any goods these days can be very poor, they age & crumble away or they smell. Stuff made Last Century would go yellow on white plastic but unless it got hot, like the c.1977 Marantz receiver light sections, the plastic would stay solid. The Marantz ones got too hot, went brown & just crumble away. Looking at the circuits for the boards is a job, where's the Power Supply board one? We're seeing 5v, 2.5v, 1.8v, 1.2v so the boards on such low voltage are unlikely to go wrong as with much modern gear, but only external damage or power supply failure kills them. Old CRT glass TVs used to need 8000v+ to energise the TV tube. Low Spec & Overheating. The 53 page manual is apparently findable, if it's actually a typo & a smaller screen one, but there is no Power Supply circuit diagram in our correct one. The nature of Service Manuals is often "Secret" and "For Training or Servicing" or "For Internal Use Only" as they are giving away all their tech ideas. In the case of the TV, to work out. Having worked out how the DVD player power supply works, the TV power board looks very similar. Based on the DVD failure, we'll leave the TV alone, unless it needs repair.

September 2017 Blog

Ebayers Overpricing Raw Unserviced Aged Hifi Is A Problem.
The section above with the "Expensive Hifi Repair" shows about Unrealistic Pricing by ebay sellers. A 5 year old service doesn't add anything to the value. A 5 year old recap & upgrade done like we do does, if we can get premium prices as our stock is fresh from us, rather than used since by a buyer. The biggest problem we see in the last few years is those who see the Prices we put on Serviced & Recapped-Upgraded Hifi that has had many hours work plus parts, not to mention the skill to do this, but think their Raw Attic Find is worth Top Money despite being dirty, untested & unused for decades. One Sony TA-1120A is on ebay for £550 currently. It is filthy & appears untested by a supposed Valve amp seller. It's a huge gamble at any price, to ask that much with no info is totally clueless, but they list it for Free so sit & hope. You could message them offering what we'd consider a realistic 'gamble', ie £150-£200, but you'll get ignored or abuse. Let it sit until reality hits. You can see how many amps we've had to try, upgrade & review. We still find ones but the more that we try the less there is that we haven't tried. Some like the Realistic SA-1500 we're selling very cheap for mostly recapped, but it only looks what it is, if the sound is a lot better than you'd expect, it just sold to one amazed that we'd sell it at that price for recapped, but we do experiment & gamble, the sale price covered costs. The amount of work in it is about 1.5x the sell price, but it was one to buy cheap & see what it was, this led to buying the Realistic STA-220 which was an excellent find. Ebay is stuffed with overpriced stuff, much is worthless junk in any category, but those with good items pricing Raw Gear at Restored Prices are stagnating the market. All Hifi needs servicing if 20 years old. Hifi needs recapping & upgrading if pre 1970 so those 1971-1997 you can use as original once Serviced & Checked, but not at Serviced Prices. To service a complex amp or receiver can be £200+ easily for the amount of taking apart it needs plus adjusting & checking with use. But Ebayers putting £300-£400 on a £100-£150 raw amp aren't going to sell it. Tired cabinets on hifi reduces the price too, we priced the SA-1500 to sell & reveal it was a bargain. SA-1500 sold now & sounded as good as some £500 amps we've tried.

Growth Of The Vintage Hifi Market Since 2011
In terms of "Used Hifi" before we started our First Record-Players Page all buyers wanted were the same few 1977-80 Monster Receivers, like Marantz, Trio-Kenwood Sansui & Pioneer. Big high power things yet of low spec & high risk of ICs. USA buyers were more aware & they had McIntosh which has to be the most wanted Vintage Brand, if not much known in the UK as limited distribution. When we started getting amps to review in 2011, the UK World was one of clear out & get some cash, or take it to a recycling centre as space was needed or estates being cleared, unaware of any value. We've seen amps with "thrown in the air recently" type dents, which is too high risk to buy. Ones that are good amps but in ghastly corroded condition are too risky too. What is an unknown attic find amp worth? We had a few Sony TA-1140 amps buying for £30-£50 early on & serviced the resell wasn't much over £120 then which seems very modest now. Today prices for the interest online which we know We Are The Ones telling more than anyone else, if Manual & Info Sites are invaluable, the truth is no-one took interest in Early Sony, Pioneer & JVC-Nivico or 1970s Yamaha until they read our opinions. We just bought them as they looked good & see how many Pioneer, JVC & Yamaha we've had. Interest ups the prices but it limits the amount out there that are in limbo or in attics forgotten. With Records we deal in, the 1950s & 1960s are long enough ago for the original owners not to be around to have them, the records have new owners with collectors or dealers having them. The Hifi 1965-80 era is still recent enough for original owners to have the later ones, if a 35 year old buying an amp in 1973 is now a scary 79 years old, you see why they've been sold & moved on. It makes the supply less once an item finds a new owner who keeps it, if with this site we've cetainly created Interest from Nothing on the pre 1977 era, to get Hifi to Service & Recap-Upgrade means we still see more amps than those we sell. But to see a £600 good mid-late 1970s amp that's raw grade to buy & us recap-upgrade will put these big complex amps over the £1000 price. We've found the £600-£800 level is where buyers want to be in today's economy. Plenty of £1000+ exotic amps on ebay that never sell, see the July "State Of The Market" section. See our Sansui AU-G90X, it's there to show "we can do later amps" if finding a buyer at the price is another thing. We know we have to do work to a realistic level to not outprice for buyers, similarly with upgrades we offer levels of upgrade to suit them. One recently we said to the owner that there are more upgrades at £xxx cost, but the reality is the amp will sound way better than they imagined for the job done so to go the last upgrade they'd probably not see the benefit to.

There Aren't That Many Really Great Amplifiers.

We started getting most of the amps we review in 2011 which isn't that long ago, but in terms of Vintage Hifi Coming Of Age, it's prehistoric in reality as we say above. Our Reviews Page shows Recent Finds plus Ones Revisited. Having up to 20 amps here at once early on before we got deeper into Upgrading, some good ones got Sold Too Fast. Plenty of Amps we rate as "Very Good" as original & "Excellent" as upgraded. The level of Excellence does vary from "Just About Excellent" to "Really Excellent", if which ones is for you to read & try. Finding some previously hyped later amps to be disappointing compared to the earlier 1965-72 era, a point came when some needed revisiting. A few we didn't think much of earlier on yet another of the same amp revisited was found to be far better, especially when we started trusting them on our Tannoys after wanting to learn them on Headphones which Levels The Field as Speaker matching can vary a lot. The Leak Delta 75 receiver we got 4 of & only one survived, a truly awful messy design. The biggest change of opinion were on the Yamaha CR-1000 & Yamaha CA-1010, if ones like the Goodmans Module 80 we thought was a good midprice amp but found it couldn't cope with high upgrades like the USA & Japanese amps could. Worth pushing it to see what it could do, but ultimately the limited design is cleverly crafted to be mediocre but still sound quite decent. Another reason why we don't go much for UK or EU amps. We don't like the Linn Naim type amps but would like to hear them if anyone dares to send one in to service, if our opinions as on the Other Amps page are a bit cutting. We've looked at the Quad 33/303 & Pioneer A-400 a few times by understanding the circuits & seeing inside pics online. We aren't going to change our opinions so won't buy one as we know we'd not like it. It'd be hypocritical to get one, upgrade it & try to sell it after we've put it down. Some amps we'll get again because they upgrade well & are reliable, even the NAD 160 that overheats, we sort it & it's fine then. Some brands we've had enough of such as the 1969-77 Bang & Olufsen as they are overrated. We know the 1971-80 Marantz are overrated & certainly overpriced too, but they do upgrade well.

Budget 1974 Sony TA-1066 Amplifier We Were Told Was Good.
It's a smaller version of the Sony TA-1050 type amp from 1974 with 20w. A later version of the 1973 Sony TA-1055 which has an IC for the Phono stage, if the TA-1066 has 2 transistors. Both 1055 & 1066 look pretty similar with Aux to Volume to a Buffer stage with Tone in the Differential Power Amp, then to the power amp with Push-Pull with the main NFB into the Tone stage. A simplified circuit for a 20w-23w design. No true Aux on the TA-1066 if Tuner in does the same thing, Aux is only a 6.3mm Jack input probably for an Open Reel Tape Recorder. The designs are well tamed throughout with deep bass limited, if as we found with the JVC Nivico lower powered amps, it likely will sound very musical, but at the power it's not going to be too lively for the tamed design, if the JVC were. These sort of Better Budget priced amps are what helped get rid of the Budget UK brands as the sound per pound was better. Both are probably scarcer than the TA-1040 or TA-1050 & were replaced in 1975 by the V-FET series that had similar low powered models in the updated styling, like the Sony TA-1630. These sort of amps go very cheap on ebay auctions, if as always we'll say they are 40+ years old & a service will improve them a lot. But if you're paying £50 or less, to spend more than double on servicing when it still works means it'll not get serviced, it's just a cheap amp to use. Looking on ebay for Sold prices, the cheap prices some Sony amps make is quite surprising, the sort of ones we'd bypass as many will have ICs, but for the newbie to Vintage, there are your bargains, even the Leak ones are getting more expensive.

1968 Luxman SQ 1220 Amplifier.
We've seen this 50w amp around if not had one yet, £123 new in 1970. We write more on it on the "Other Amps" page & consider it "interesting" with... It looks a bit haphazard in places, empty spaces underneath & awkward axial capacitors to make upgrading less easy, but overall looks pretty decent 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. One on ebay with a tatty but restorable case shows it up close. Odd looking amp for sure. Very plain fascia with just a raised line, 8 rotary controls & 6 lever controls. A power light & headphone socket. The rear is where is looks like a Pre Amp as where are the Speaker outputs? They look like Phono Input sockets but are 4mm sockets which is a lot better, if very closely spaced. Tape Head, Phono x2, Aux x2, Tape by Phono & DIN plus. Needs 4 power output sockets which is unusually high. Pre Out-Power in sockets with a level control for the Power In. The ebay one shows the rear panel paint faded with some cleaner used once. Two big holes looking like Valve holder sockets are a MM Phono step up option, try finding those after nearly 50 years. The ebay one is tatty & looks matter to get best prices for upgrading, so for how we'd redo it, needs to be better grade, not one covered in scratches & stains as it'll never remove unless you reveneer it. Still one we'd like to try, but another time. It sold in rough grade for £320, but the trouble is a full rebuild would put it over £1000 & at that sort of price, buyer wants high grade looks. The grade of this externally is poor if complete, could be tidied if a reveneer is probably required. Comparing to a high grade one visually shows how tatty it really is.

Vinyl Record Woes: Where Did The Cartridge Stylus Tip Go?
Usually a Stylus needs replacing for 2 main reasons, first is you naffed it so bent the cantilever to make it useless. Straightening it out can be done if you squash the bend flat, else the cantilever tube will snap, but it's way off standard so best to just replace it. Second we've only seen a few times once on a 1965 UK Soul 45 & just recently on a 1963 UK Ska 45. The arm got dropped on the record, the stylus tip broke off and stuck into the record itself. To pick it out will wreck the grooves & leave a hole to upset future play, but if it's left in it's probably a Sapphire one that could damage a Diamond stylus as it smacks into the remaining bit & either clicking or jumping. Generally the records are in well-partied grade & common ones so it doesn't matter, but these two were Rare & wanted titles. You'd only tell a stylus tip pushed into the grooves by finding a loud click & using a 10x magnifier to see. Autochangers can wreck a stylus tip too, the autochanger mechanism drops the heavy head onto the record leaving run-in marks & one time it'll break off. When this happens the glue cement on the remains of the stylus assembly will leave ugly worn groove marks that may or may not hiss with a standard stylus. The heavy 1950s record arms are often on springs with the autochanger, think you can outdo the changer & pull the arm back to not wait for a changer cycle, but the arm may slip & gouge your record. In terms of Record Players, only when Magnetic Cartridges became standard by the late 1960s with the Goldring G-800 being introduced in 1968 with Shure doing similar a few years before. Rare to see a gouged Classical Lp as they rarely got played if ever. The Wanted 45s loosely in the "Pop" scene are the ones that get damaged. The Elvis HMV & Bill Haley 1956 LPs we've seen often with ruined first tracks. Even seen a 1969 Rolling Stones LP with these bad scratches. Another thing with 7" records especially of the 1960s is the owner of a non-autochanger or switchable record player annoyingly yanked the stylus out as the music was fading leaving an annoying 'click' on the fade out that's there forever. You only find out by playing it. As for people replacing the stylus as it's been used a lot, they don't care until it breaks is what we see, even old steel needles will be used well worn & greying the grooves. Another one is a record with odd minor tiny burn marks that radiate out from the centre. This is from cigarette ash falling from someone looking to see what the title was & dropping hot ash on the record. Probably happened quite often on party records & they will click loudly so got thrown away, but did see Ska one like this & it took a while to work out what happened. This is why High Grade Vinyl can make such high prices on Name Artist vinyl, most were well played. That was the idea in the 1980s, you only found the rough copies, today to find high grade copies of Hit 45s is easy. Only the EPs & LPs covers are the hard things, rare to get EX on anything 1950s or 1960s beyond MOR stuff. We got an unpicked box of 300 singles just recently, you never know what you'll find, but it looked like the dregs of parties over several decades, records left behind & the slow ones that weren't good Party Tunes. One nice grade Beatles 45 with shoe heel dents & scrapes on showed it got thrown on the floor & staggered drunk over. Odd to find a box with nothing later than 1984, but a few things of use, but not much as too bad grade.

Want to buy a $20,000 Valve Amplifier?
Our initial advice is... Don't. The Whys for Sound are all over our site. But mostly we say "No" for the problems of repair & revalving. One asked about an expensive VAC Phi 110 Integrated Valve Amp made in the USA. Cautions in the Manual say not to use without a Speaker Attached or Load Resistor. That is poor design for a start, the 1963 Trio WX400U had a load resistor built in that didn't affect the sound if the 1967 Sansui 500A didn't & as we found that trashes valves. The VAC amp in the manual shows all the valves are encased in glass with just holes in the top over the 18 valves, 4 of which are KT88 output valves. Based on how hot our 100w monoblocs with 4x EL34 get, they need to be in the open air & unsurprisingly the VAC never models are open cased. Buy any item that is complex, the Phi 110 uses fussy circuits to auto adjust & sense things, all pointless to us, but there's the selling point. But what if it goes wrong or you damage it? The asker is in the UK, so go look on the VAC site for UK Distributors who can help, oh there aren't any. They say theirs needs new Valves & is faulty, be sure the poor ventilation caused problems & the IC based logic circuits or similar are damaged. You'll not get parts in the UK is the reality. You've bought a Turkey. Regardless of the merits of the amp, the brand does appear decent if it's far too fussy. Our 100w monoblocs had a delay circuit that there is no point for as proven by our 10 years use it of with the IC circuit removed. So what do you do? You ask around to see who could fix it. We had the Prima Luna one here a few years back, the design wasn't so great & it had an IC based autobias. If it fails, what do you do. With no circuits the only option is to use your knowledge & get a new IC. This is why we don't like ICs as they quickly become obsolete or are cheap general purpose ones. We could get it sent to us & there is a good chance we'd say it's not repairable unless you get the parts. The VAC manual recommends it's own valves which isn't actually a money-maker, but they designed the amp to known valves & all versions of a particular valve do differ slightly. But the main problem here is a specialist item with No Service Base in the UK. You can send it to France or Hungary & expect a huge repair bill for the fact new valves of a custom type will not be the price you expect. Only buy Specialist Goods if there is a good distribution & service network in your Country. Email them. Spending big money & being left stranded if it fails is a waste of money. Our opinion on these overdesigned valve amps is ditch all of the fussy circuitry & design it properly so it works "old style" & stays reliable for years. This is what we did with our 100w monoblocs. The only problem with altering things losing original features is buyers won't trust it or like it, which is why we keep our upgrades looking nice. Our Luxman LX33 is totally rebuilt & redesigned so only the case & transformers are the original & even then we ditched Ultra Linear as it's a lazy design that loses the 'real sound'. The trouble is any amp buyer today expects Digital Capability & the obligatory Remote Control on modern gear. The VAC offers what the buyer wants, but it's not reliable & is too complex, as with Cars today. Research well before you buy Expensive Goods. Will you get it repaired by anyone?

Why is it $20,000 when it was New?
The model for "High End" Hifi is the buyer expects a certain build quality, remotrs, digital & the kudos of good design visuals. Musical Fidelity A308CR we foolishly bought in 2002 was exactly that, expensive casework of admittedly lovely quality & high on Man Appeal to look the business, but can't imagine women think much of the all-metal looks. But the inside circuitry was disappointing to the point it looked the quality & with cheap op-amps of a midprice unit, even using cheap ceramics instead of poly-type caps. There is a lot of Hype in any Prestige Items, the truth is the many of the sort who buy them are just buying for the Ego & showing off, look at Diamond Clad I-phones. We've seen some very high quality gear in awful grade found in certain types of non-ebay Auction as the arrogance of some treats it with contempt almost, the "we can buy a new one so who cares" idea. With Valve Amps the Audio Note Ongaku type amps with exotic capacitors supposedly better than the sensible stuff we use. Buying a dream is a lot of it. Inside any amp, a circuit board is still a circuit board, the Tube Technology ones use a thick fibreglass one, but with Valves the high voltages aren't so great on PCBs, hard-wiring is more reliable or you'll naff an output transformer & then the amp is finished. High quality or Vintage in high grade is pleasing to the ego & after a while these items will be your items to keep as they make you feel good to have them around. But as the above says, reliability can upset your dreams. In buying expensive cars, such as a Rolls Royce the build quality & performance is way ahead of a Ford Ka, if the old cliche of both get you from A-B, some like the style. We've not heard many of these 5-figure type amps, but two buyers who had several of our great 1960s transistor amps took them to compare with these huge expensive amps with friends & all agreed the sound from our upgraded amps beat any amp for Music Pleasure. Yes a 20w amp plays music more pleasingly than a £50,000 500w amp. Interestingly the 20w amp must have had enough volume to play loud enough to show itself. You buy expensive things for the Kudos & it's nice to have them around. But how long will it last?

The JJ EL34 Valves Are Still Crackling.
Nothing will stop the rustling noise. It comes & goes even depending on music played as we play records often. Nothing found online via Google, but asking a Guitar Guy, the EL34s by JJ are notorious. Others call JJ's "Edicron" which used to be ones Maplin sold years ago & were always reliable, so why is the EL34 a problem? Maybe in Hifi amps of gentle spec they are fine, but our valve amps are designed to be more like PA amps which is with guitar amps so the problems that an aged 1960s amp wouldn't reveal. Got to go therefore. So what do we buy? Did use Svetlana winged 'C's for years if these aren't made anymore. The JJ EL34s seemed more dynamic on Bass & Treble, which suggests they are "tweaked" to sound more impressive & cause bother with amps that don't need that, or maybe are just neutral without roll-off as other brands do. The JJ EL34s actually sound great, a lot better than the Winged C's or 1979 Matsushita ones did. Ebay shows 'Golden Dragon' we used those in the 1990s with the Rogers Cadet III & found them unreliable. Shugang at £61 for a matched quad set is another brand, sounds Chinese rather than the Russian made ones, the EL34B is marked China & is another tweaked design. But another seller has a quad for £39 which seems too cheap. Svetlana WCs are £132 for a quad, they were £20 each from Maplin in about 2002. Electroharmonix set for £76, Mullard reissue ones for £149, these are Russian-made ones by a US company who bought the brand, not real Mullards.

EL34 Spec Sheets JJ & Svetlana Winged C's
We asked the seller we bought ours from before for the JJ spec sheets as couldn't find on searching before & straight away we see the "Ca" Cathode to Anode(Plate) capacitance differs. On the Svetlana it's 0.6pf, on the JJs it's 10pf which is the sort of value you see used in FM tuners for coupling in the front end. A Valve has a Cathode to ground, an Anode for HT Voltage & Audio output, via a coupling capacitor & the Grid for the signal input. The JJ & Svetlana are just about the same on "Cg1" at 15.5pf & <16pf respectively and "Ca/g1" or "Grid No 1 to Plate" 1.3pf & <1.1pf. How extra capacitance to 'ground' affects depends on design, amps with cathode bias or a low value resistor will differ in design. Using Ultra Linear or Pentode mode will too. Both our amps were Ultra Linear but are the superior Pentode design. The JJ-Edicron are a popular brand. Any Guitar User just wants no rustling, but we've found out the problem, the Pentode mode 'G2' HT resistor needs altering slightly which we already have done that lessened the noise, but clearly needs more. We don't really want to buy loads of EL34s when we know the JJ ones sound great.

To Properly Solve The JJ EL34 Crackling-Rustling Noise?
Looking at many EL34 designs & for the fact we prefer the superior "Pentode" mode, not the lazy design "Ultra Linear", the issue is the JJ valves are wider bandwidth than Svetlana & the 1979 Matsushita which was very noticeable on first trying them. The problem is Bias to not only have the correct Current but the supplied Voltage at the valve, not just the supply. Get that balanced right with the G2 voltage & then the sound gets noticeably better. The 10pf spec is unlikely to be the problem. Ultra Linear is lazy as it doesn't need such accurate design. The Luxman LX33 originally has the - Bias HT pulled from the Heater supply is laughably bad design, so we added another transformer inside for the ECC heaters with regulation too. Our EL34 Pentode outputs are slightly based on the Fender 5E5 guitar amp design, that uses 6L6 or 6V6GT Beam Tetrode output valves that are similar to EL34s in some ways, plenty online about these valves. For Valve Amp design, we've always found Guitar Amp sites are far more detailed & the designs are "Classic" ones that many modern amps copy. We used the LX33 as Ultra Linear until earlier in the year & it does reveal how accurate design must be, the UL design is lazy & lacks the 'life' of the Pentode mode. The LX33 is push-pull if looking at the Single-Ended one EL34 output type amps, the Pentode P-P is much closer to that idea than the Globally Accepted but lazy Ultra Linear. The Trio WX400U was a Pentode type design on smaller EL84s & the sweet sound in that is what got us considering the Pentode mode. Now to look at the 400U circuit to compare. That we put DC heaters & adjustable bias in, so actually not unlike the current LX33. Putting the amp back in the usual place, not an unwanted sound from it, yes the headphones are plugged in. Just a very slight transformer low noise, a lot quieter than some transistor amps. There is no rustling or crackling at all. To play some 45s with loud treble plus the needle drop sub bass can trigger the rustling as it upsets things.

Our Earliest Hi-Fi Exploits To Those That Started This Site.
The Family Stereo was a Philco Ford M1500 amplifier with a Bush Arena cassette deck that the pause didn't work so the then-11 year old typist took apart & fixed. No-one noticed it worked again. Came with a Garrard SP25 Mk III & Goldring G-800 plus the Philco-Ford elliptical speakers that probably had tweeters fitted across. 12w basic stuff, the amp we had since & the power amp is decent but the preamp is poor. the SP25 Mk III we had on getting the Hacker again, the Mk IV is far better for rumble & hum, the G-800 we've revisited above & still use one today if a bit modified. All DIN plugs with the 3 mains wires remarkably twisted together with black tape onto a longer cable. Not even soldered. Adapter plug blocks were buyable so why no separate plugs to be safer? Within itself it offered a decent sound that was basic but clean. We certainly played a lot of Vinyl on that until it got sold & not replaced. So to the Family Junk Shop that had Record Players, Radiograms & naturally Records. The one that stayed around the longest early on was a Stereo Pye Black Box, the table looking one with piano lacquer top. why it got a hole cut in the top to fit an 8-track is best not mentioned so we won't. A range of music centres & other radiograms never sounded so good as the valve Pye. The first "Stereo" we got was a Hacker GAR 550 & then a GAR 500 when it packed up. Both were the perspex top ones if usually the wood lid ones are found. The speakers were corrugated foam fronts & having seen them on ebay since, the foam long since crumbled away. The Hacker getting one later had a decent sound for what it was, again the Preamp was a weakness. The speakers were boomy & on playing 45s that had a certain sound, on a proper Hifi they sounded very different. Rubbish speakers on a good Hacker. The first Amplifier we bought was the Realistic STA-2280 & we got one a few years back. The sound was thought very lacking in bass so as a late Teen to use Loudness & the awful IMX expander brought more bass. On trying it more recently played like that sounded a ghastly thick mess of fuzzy sound. We recapped ours to try to give it a better sound which partly worked if the cheap design & ICs stopped it be anything better. Speakers we used were Sony APM 22ES silly square bass driver with a honeycomb woofer with less surface area as flat not conical, the treble from the Realistic was very rough which appears to be more amp than speaker on retrying the amp. But by then our amateur amp fiddling got the Realistic going bin-style & then a Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 3000 was found for £20 & was thought much better sounding. A progression of amps like Marantz Stereo & Dolby Quad receivers, a Harman-Kardon 1978 receiver led to buying a new Marantz PM 62 that we got back a few years ago. Again limited by the power amp driver IC it upgraded to sounding better than the Realistic. But on the speakers we had the sound got boring. Then found a Rogers Cadet III in a charity shop for a tenner & up goes the sound quality. All were "improved" in a way of working things out & realising weaknesses in the Rogers preamp, worked out without circuits in those days. Then to buy the Tube Technology Monoblocs & Preamps that sort of remain if unused for a while & monoblocs foolishly sold for the Musical Fidelity A38CR pre-power crappy things if sold & another TT set back strangely fast. The Buying Vintage Amps game started with getting the Hacker GAR 550 back & wanting a better sounding amp as the Sonys STR-6120, TA-1130 & TA-1150 had given. The first STR-6120 was a rough one got for £20 on liking the TA-1130 that we got going but it's a difficult amp & it ended up getting parted out to buy the one on the site front that we have back again half wrecked now. To find the modest first version of the Trio-Kenwood KA 4002 & think how nice that sounded, to get more Trio, Bang & Olufsen, a 1986 Sony TA-F550ES was thought lousy & quickly sold on. Tried several Leak Amps including the 75 & 2000 receivers. The prices back then appear so low now, but that was the market on pre 1977 amps back then, few were money beyond the 'Monster Receivers'. Confidence soon grew with better prices for some of the bigger amps, Yamaha & Pioneer. Soon we were way ahead of the Market, offering Serviced & some early recapped and upgraded amps. But the trouble with being ahead is the ebay scammers want a piece of you. So for a few years now we've only sold Hifi on our site. Not with as many amps as going more specialist, but still keeping it real & offering Upgrade Work brings more amps to try out also. Have we changed the Vintage Hifi Scene? A lot, look at Forums pre 2010 to see how it was then, if it's still got a ways to go regarding Recapping & Upgrading, as only on buying or getting yours done will you see how worthwhile it is. Credit certainly is due to sites like 'The Vintage Knob' that used to be the only site telling of 'unknown' amps, some German ones similarly, the Service Manual ones like HiFi Engine & elektrotanya, without them these amps wouldn't be understood so well by us. As for Forums, these can still be useful, if to be careful of the random unqualified advice. We first read 'Audio Asylum' if there are a few better ones like 'Audiokarma'. Google brings images of amps so we can see the insides & understand if an amp is worth trying or getting here to work on for a customer.

Amplifier Rise Time, Settling Time and Slewing Rate 1: Thinking Aloud.

The HFN/RR reviews have been noting this for a few years by 1976. Initial write-up about it showed 'early days' so to leave them learn what is good and bad, in their opinion, before researching it further. By July 1976, the start of that Very Hot Dry Summer, they review the Audio Reflex AGS 150 receiver that was 50w & £250. We have looked at this rather dismissively on the 'Other Amps' page as it's visually a rip off of Marantz for the typeface & tuner fly wheel on the top half of the fascia & the lower half is a rip-off of the Yamaha CR-1000 lever switches & CA-1000 rectangular rotary controls. Also it has a 5 band 'tone control' strangely like the JVC 'SEA' idea. Even has a reverb unit inside. The review says it's overall decent & good value. The specs on the AGS 150 seem decent, 50w, Damping Factor of 100 is typical of the era if can be drier sounding than earlier amps. Rates well on power output at 50w-55w. The review shows the rise time & settling time oscilloscope readings. Settling time is like a ball bouncing the initial overshoot to level off doesn't look good on either, but what frequency are they using & at what voltage? Pointless not saying, if probably 10kHz at one third volume, could be your guess too. Settling time is 25 µsec, Rise Time is 3.5 µsec & Slewing Rate is 7v/µsec. Without comparing to any other HFN/RR tests very fast rise time without enough 'weight' to tame it suggests a typical 'grainy sounding' amp. Slew Rate seems very fast similarly. But what does that mean? First to find a Yamaha amp review & hopefully the tests... March 1974 reviews the Yamaha CA-1000 & it shows 7µsec Rise Time, if no other values. But Dec 1974 has the Sherwood S7900A which is based on the later NAD 160(A) with Rise Time of 7µsec and 4.3v/µsec Slewing Rate. May 1975 review of the Sanyo DCX 8000K that we've had has 6µsec Rise Time with 6.67v/µsec Slew rate at 40w into 8 ohms with a Damping Factor of 40 if no Settling Time test yet. Those three amps suggest 6µsec Rise Time is good & 7v/µsec Slewing Rate is a good standard for the 1974-76 era. A faster Rise Time can sound cleaner but without good design behind it, it sounds rough. This is what we deal with with our Recap-Upgrades, designing the circuits to have better quality without price restraints, if keeping looks tidy still. Based on how these amps sound is another thing, the Yamaha has a clean sound but a bit dull sounding. As Originally heard, as in after Servicing but still original, the Sherwood/NAD has a good sound if does sound a bit slow as the Slew rate suggests, "Slow" also means lack of Kick, but at 40w it's designed to be within 40w & the costs provided. The Sanyo we thought had a clean lively sound, not the highest quality but a "fast" sound that pleased so we upgraded it more, if it's still no better than a good midprice amp. The Yamaha CA-1000 is basically the CR-1000 if the CR sounds very different, the CA sounded clean & nice but a bit dull, the CR again clean & nice but a much bigger PA sounding volume. The fast Rise Time is revealed in the 'Kick' the CR-1000 has at 80w as the HFN/RR review tested it at. The reviewer of the Audio Reflex with 3.5µsec says "too small" as in 'too fast' for the spec & quality in the amp. Slower amps sound smoother, fast amps, as Our Upgrades bring are very fast amps with enough quality to control.

Amplifier Rise Time, Settling Time and Slewing Rate 2: What's It About?

The above looks at the ideas of what 1974-76 amps brought. Some are faster so have more kick but can still sound a bit dull. Feb 1976 HFN/RR has Gordon King with "Three Amplifier Obscurities". His reviews we've not thought the best of, if to be fair he is in the transistional era & they are still finding things out, but rambling waffle is a problem with HFN/RR in general. This does start to lean towards the Subjective Opinions rather than just Objective ones that few will understand, we type this as we learn what it's about. Square wave tests we've covered above & these are what's used to reveal AR, ST & SR credentials. The article says Rise Time was used in the Williamson 1940s Valve amps with 5µsec which mostly betters the few above. The idea got forgotten as is typical of good things & good ideas, if USA Amp makers are now using 'Rise Time' as a good way to tell a good amp. Rise Time is the time it takes for a very fast start transient, such as small percussion instruments, to rise from 10% to 90%. It's similar to Reaction Time in driving a car & applying the brakes once you need to do an Emergency Stop, too slow & you crash, too fast & the car flies up, if brakes aren't that fast. a slow amp blurs the leading transient or clips it, one very fast needs enough 'weight' behind it to control it. Settling time is as stated above. Slewing Rate is less obvious, it's told in the Feb 1976 HFN/RR as "slewing rate is the fastest rate of change of output voltage that the amplifier can provide before it runs heavily into high frequency distortion". This is partly the "grainy sound" if there are actually several factors involved all at once or singly to give "grainy sound". You can make a grainy amp "slow" so it sounds smooth, a cheap way of designing. We know what tricks they use & how to overcome it in our upgrades. "Slewing Rate limiting applies essentially to the Power Amplifier section" says HFN/RR, if that's not actually true as we've found. They also go on about 'slow power amp output transistors' which again is nonsense. But it is a 1976 opinion here. They tell how to test Slewing Rate is to test the amp at it's highest rated frequency (20kHz, 100kHz etc) & then to raise the test frequency amplitude (gain, volume) until there is the start of clipping & see how far it goes until heavy clipping. Some may call 'heavy clipping' the Music Power, as in a 50w amp may put out 25v clean sine on 35v HT but can go to 35v with a huge amount of clipping, then it'll trash the amp or as we tried this on a relay amp, the relay cuts out, if your tweeters would be long since fried. To then use a maths formula to work it out. Slewing Rate is therefore related to Music Power as we just described. Pretty useless to know if you want undistorted music. Amps like the 30w 1990s NAD with 'soft clipping' use a limiting circuit to apparently improve the Slewing Rate/Music Power capabilities by not allowing fast transients to 'crash'. 7v/µsec Slewing Rate appears to be a standard value, to work out the Amplifier HT to clean Sine Output is a similar thing, if again useless. Only Rise Time & Settling Time are the ones that matter therefore. We've been improving these Rise & Settling values on our Upgrades, if you'll not upgrade the Slewing Rate without much major redesign, as inincreasing HT with a different mains transformer. Amps we upgrade will increase in Power as more current (I) available, but the Clean Sine Wave voltage (V)is never any different unless the amp has severe limiters. Power (P) = I x V. Watts are Voltage x Current & often tested into a dummy 8 ohm speaker load at 1kHz.

How about Rise Time, Slewing Rate & Settling Time Values By 1980? Pt 1
To look at the last few issues of 1980 to see how the tests read. This is now after the Monster Receiver Wars of 1978-79 & just before it gets boring as the Big Amps vanish to be replaced by Midprice plain silver boxes, often Pre-Power combos in this era as the 1981 Hifi Yearbook review shows on another page of ours. Well that was pointless, by then they are reviewing groups of Speakers, Tuners , Cartridges etc together rather than more randomly as before. to find an Amplifier-Receivers group test. The only 1980 issues of any use about Amplifiers is the Jan 1980 reviewing 8 amps from £80 to £800, sounds a bit unbalanced & the June 1980 with 4 Receivers more similar in type. We've put this into 3 parts as the below gives differing results based on the person doing the test. Gordon King vs Martin Colloms. This is our condensed version of what HFN/RR gives & what we conclude from the tests & their opinions. We know some of the brands, if we've not had any of these amplifiers. Maybe it'll help us try some later ones as we've not got many earlier ones left to try, beyond the big money ones.

How about Rise Time, Slewing Rate & Settling Time Values By 1980? Pt 2

So the Receivers, Gordon King testing rather than the more precise Martin Colloms. The receivers are 50w Marantz SR-4000L £189, 50w JVC RS-7 £203, 60w Yamaha CR-840 £285 & 120w Trio-Kenwood KR-8050 £499. These are a bit alien to us & by 1980 these will have been selling in much smaller amounts so we've not really been aware of them. They look good still in Silver & certainly worth trying if the risk of ICs & Power Amp STK output blocks is the worry, the Yamaha 1980 range we ran screaming from as 'Other Amps' tells. The test results are 1.5 pages of Tuner specs, Power Ratings in dB gain & (Watts), how pretentious, Headroom at 1kHz & IHF (Music Power) bursts is how bad it got in tests & specs, Recovery from 10dB IHF burst overload, Harmonic Distortion, Small Signal Response -3db Aux input, Slewing Factor at 8 ohms, Damping Factor, Input to reach 0dB level (full power), S/N (signal to noise) ratio, Stereo Separation on Phono, DC offset voltage. Some of those specs are pointless. No more Rise Time which matters more we see, Slewing Rate is now Slewing Factor with just a number, assuming "v/µsec" as Wikipedia states. Stereo Separation is a good one, if better to test on the main amp as some amps are very narrow stereo & others are unlimited, if very few amps have that design. Recovery From Burst is similar to Settling Time if "Burst" means whacking it right into distortion. We're not pleased the Rise Time value has gone, it's the Most Important One. But Slew Rate/Factor is >5 (5.3 approx) on Marantz, >5 on JVC, 4 on Yamaha & 5 on Trio-Kenwood. But by 1980 the cost cutting was well established & maybe Rise Time wouldn't be very good, a Slew Factor isn't as punchy as the 1974-76 amps.

How about Rise Time, Slewing Rate & Settling Time Values By 1980? Pt 3
The Amplifiers has a good range & is a Martin Colloms effort. The amount of data MC puts here has to be seen to be believed, what readers thought at the time... they didn't buy many of them as they had their big 1978-79 Receivers still. NAD 3020 20w £80, BGW 103 pre/410 power 200w £730, Exposure III pre/IV power in Mk II versions 70w £750, SAE 3000 pre/3100 power 50w £440, Quad 44 pre/405 power 100w £450, Sony TA-F70 90w £350, Pioneer SA 8800 80w £300, Rogers A100 50w £300. The 10.5 page review is typical Martin Colloms, very in depth but totally alienating to the majority of readers & still not really have an idea of how they sound. Only by raking through the test charts do you find the Watts Power & Prices, many will have given up on after being scared off by too much fact but nothing Subjective (until later) beyond the typical describing features & build. No wonder nobody bought them as little easy to see idea of basic facts given. Interestingly it shows mechanical noise level, some amps can hum if put on a resonant surface like a table or sideboard with Rogers & SAE being quite audible which is not acceptable if the Sony was silent & others very low to fairly low, if not a dB noise rating. Interestingly some have high DC offset Sony & SAE tested 35mV which in use is no problem, only once DC offset gets over 100mV is that unacceptable, 35v DC offset is the amp damaged & speakers fried in comparison, if Capacitor Coupling (pre 1972) & Relays (post 1971) will save yoour speakers as will inline fuses. The Slewing Factor is >7 on NAD, Exposure, SAE, Pioneer & Rogers suggesting a punchy sound, if low values SAE at 1.6, Quad at 2 and Sony at 3.5 suggest they are safe/slow sounding to the point of boring, so Slewing Rate being the only factor does tell to a degree but not as worthy as Rise Time. The Transient Overload on the slow amps is not good, so again that tells, 30µs-100µs is good on NAD, SAE, Pioneer & Rogers, the 0.5ms (500µs) on Exposure & awful 10ms (10000µs) on low frequencies with Quad show they are slow, our opinions on Quad amps as on 'Other Amps' now have facts to prove, current dumping Quad 405 is a bad design as the Intermodulation Distortion ratings are very high compared to the others. Other factors like THD, S/N noise level & frequency range are unimportant, only the S/N on the pre 1970 amps may not be as good as later amps. A 'lost' Subjective section is hurried over with only Phono input rankings which is pretty useless as Phono stages are often mediocre in amps that sound great via Aux as the results show. So via Aux the rankings are NAD, SAE, Pioneer, Rogers, Sony, Quad, Exposure & BGW. The 'fast' amps sound better if the 'slow' amps can often be well crafted amid the slower sound which can please some listeners who find the bigger dynamics sound a bit too overwhelming. The final opinions are the NAD is great value & sounds good as proven by huge sales of these grey beasties, the Quad wasn't liked "the Quad 44/405 combination presents a difficult case best resolved by stressing the unusual versatility of the preamp". The power amp is seen as the weakness, not great for driving 4 ohm speakers for 1980 isn't acceptable, too expensive, bandwidth is not as wide as the others. It's junk made with ICs is why, we've never liked these as 'Other amps' tells. Pioneer & Sony are liked. Some amps like the Rogers are considered "bright" meaning bass is low & mid-treble sound exaggerated. The tests reveal the British Amps aren't in the league of the Japanese ones as in Quad & Exposure, the Rogers being the better, if generally the Japanese amps appear way advanced. In reality we've found Pioneer to be very cost-cut & sadly low spec with a limited & grainy rough sound if they do upgrade to be far better as the designs are good. The 1980 era Sony were safe & boring sounding, the concept of Quad is poor, Rogers were always worthwhile if the transistor era were just budget amps until the A75. NAD were always known as a good sound if the NAD 200 & 300 aren't good. The SAE, Exposure & BGW are unknowns to us, SAE & BGW seem interesting if Exposure sounds poor. As for looks, Quad & Exposure are pre-power ugly things, SAE is a bit too gimmicky, the others look decent if perhaps the silver Pioneer even with blue flashing LEDs has the best 'classic' look.

September 1976 Finally Sees Hifi News/RR Get Modern.
Firstly it's interesting for the front cover, as for the first time it has an attractive female on the cover. Usually it's balding guys with combovers or dull-serious Classical types, but later issues actually feature proper Hifi on the cover, of a Hifi Magazine, if only a few did before. She certainly has an impressive pair of... headphones on & there appears the need to do 3 photos of her expressions. The pretty faced Miss probably only 20 there, if in 1976 means she's now 61, time certainly races on by. We wonder who she is, no name given in the staid cover photo comment or the headphones article. Here's the cover, maybe you recognise her? We know guys of a certain age will remember when women were like her, a nice face to look at from the era of Lynda Carter's 'Wonder Woman'. Scanned ready to print & frame... or cut out & keep. Also it finally brings Subjective Opinions as first started by Martin Colloms if a new writer Paul Messenger introduces 'Subjective Sounds' that's only covering speakers on the first one & the "luvvy" Donald Aldous writes the Editorial as John Crabbe doesn't do much. Donald's column 'Soundings' is amusing mostly for all the 'my colleague' name dropping as said earlier & the fact he can write a whole page without really saying anything.

Technics SL 1200, SL 1300, SL 1400 & SL 1500.

By Sept 1976 these have been available for a while, if no shop ever prices them & neither does the Hifi Yearbook. But a shop 'Radford hifi' does, if they're unrelated to the Radford brand & a bit of fuss HFN/RR wise tried to get the shop to change it's name. The Technics Record Decks are priced at SL-1500 £105, SL-1400 £133, SL-1300 £168, SL-1200 £124 & SL-1100 at £173. The 1976 HFYB lists 1300 as a direct drive automatic, it's the same look at the 1500 with start & end automatic features. SL-1100 is a direct drive early version available as SL-110 without an arm, 1200 is the DJ's favourite as it's a smaller sized unit & has sliders for speed adjust, actually first released in 1972, SL-120 is armless & SL-1210 is in black with multivoltage. The 1500 is the one we have as mentioned on the Turntables page. 1400 is a semi automatic with a line of controls on the front edge. 1500 comes in Mk I & revised Mk II as well as an armless SL-150 to fit a SME arm in, if you want the slanted gap base plate not the vertical one. To see more on these, see 'Vinyl Engine' site as the HFYB doesn't give much or pictures. We had an early SL-2000 that's a 1976-77 like the SL-1500 but it's a cheaper version, ours was faulty as the speed controller IC wouldn't work right. There are lots more Technics turntables, the SP10 being the 1970 introduced professional version that got 3 versions & an external power supply.

Why the Akai AA-1020 gets a poor review: Settling Time issues

To look at these factors in the reviews, to see what the waveforms show. The Akai AA1020 20w receiver is the next one down to the AA1030 we've had. Our review thought it "
Adequate silver fronted amp that could upgrade up well, but it was just nothing special at all but certainly not bad either & well enough made, not just a one board job." August 1976 HFN/RR reviews it. The Rise Time (small signal) is 2µsec "Unnecessarily fast" they add. Settling time is 50µsec which is very slow "Protracted and excessive ringing" they say. Slewing rate 6.5µsec "Good for power output" But the waveforms are terrible, it's like an undamped trampoline with huge ~~ waveform slowly fading, instead of a clean rise, compare to the Settling Times above. Slow settling rate together with fast rise time & slew rate is therefore a basdly Damped Amp if the Damping Factor doesn't reveal this with a 57 to 44 rating at 40Hz & 20kHz. To us, it shows the amp is of typically low spec & this amp will sound grainy on hearing one now. It's too cost-cut to offer a AM/FM 20w receiver for £154 in 1976, if there are cheaper ones. To look at the AA1020 circuits which we only looked at a few weeks before as we were asked if it was worth upgrading, the answer is it's a Budget-Midprice Quality unit that would upgrade better but at 20w you'd be better buying at least a 40w for the benefits. The design we'd consider decent, a lively design as is proven by the specs, it'll sound fresh & lively, but clearly it's lacking to have it be ringing so badly. Overall the circuit is fine, bass won't go to deep but as with other amps of the era, the 'finesse' of earlier amps is noticeably lacking & be sure they use ceramic capacitors which are useless for Audio. This cheaping out in a few areas spoils what should be a good amp. This is what we Upgrade. The AA-1020 would upgrade well, if again just 20w limits it. They cost cut it too heavily, as Pioneer do. Quality designs with not enough quality parts is the problem.

Really? The Sansui 9090 Receiver "One Of The Finest In The World"?

Our Verdict: No It Isn't, Not Even Slightly. HFN/RR Oct 1976 adds a Supplement about making various Hifi systems from Hifi separates, a very belated thing to be doing & by now the "What Hi-Fi" effect is certainly wising up this often dull magazine. The 9090 was one of the big Silver Monster receivers that until a few years ago, pre 2011 when we started our Hifi site perhaps, was all that Vintage Hifi meant. Now the writer Angus McKenzie, MBE you can read about in a Stereophile article, he created Olympic Studios if was blind by 1959 when 26 & he's a long running regular in HFN for his 'Stereo/FM Radio' section that is a very specialist page, but the guy knows his stuff. How many amps has he measured? He says 100 if this will be Receivers as FM radio is his bag & at the time a FM Receiver was a bigger seller than the Amplifier-only versions. We'd need to see how far back his reviews go to see what era he knows as "the last few years" doesn't suggest by 1976 he knows much earlier than say 1972. In 1966 A.H. Uden did the 'Radio' page & Angus started "Hi-Fi Choice" in July 1983 by later numbering if he started writing in the "Early boom years of the 1970s" which will have been 1972-73. So the guy only knows the post Capacitor Coupled era, doesn't know valves. To see where he's coming from to make such a claim. One who knows the 1963 valve era to Modern Hifi will have a broader view than one who will have known Hifi pre 1972, but not gone so indepth until c.1972. But we have found the quality in Hifi is heavily on the wane past 1970 if there still are decent ones. We did look at the 9090 on the 'Other amps' page if what we put we'll revisit... Oh dear, it's got useless ICs in the Phono & Preamp. 9090 & 9090DB are the same amp, DB version adds Dolby as did some Akai of the era. "
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." To put aside the deadly ICs to see what the design has to be able to tell it's sound. We did have the 1979 Sansui G8700 that was generally good but very low on the bass & still a bit too cost cut with a messy power amp stage, if the 1969-71 power amp stages were similarly too small to do neatly. It is depressing to see ICs in a preamp of a Top Range 120w receiver, there is no need to cheap out, but that's the deal here. The power amp board at 120w is a plug-in type board with both L+R plus 4 fuses in total. The power amp board circuit brings sighs as we look at it. Bass light with a high resistor on the input isn't a good start, typical differential pair, main driver, bias-protection, PP drivers to the typical doubled output transistors. The small power amp board certainly has weaknesses & not much space to upgrade so probably isn't one we'd try for our own ways to see how far it could go, even if it didn't have the preamp ICs. Some of the IC boards design is ghastly & appears very tailored to initially sound pleasing but to one who looks at amps from an upgrade perspective, the Sansui 9090 is a real stinker. It'll sound nice, not too involving, no real kick or excitement to the music if it'll sound smooth but ultimately boring, the design signs are obvious to us. The 1979 Sansui G8700 was similarly safe sounding, nice sounding but it'll not excite you & bass has no chance of flapping your speaker cones. Not wanting to totally rubbish another's learned opinion, but to give such praise to the 9090 from one who has only tried post 1972 writing in 1976 it probably does sound great, but with zero awareness of Valves & The Early Transistor amps, his opinion is rather a limited one. It's not one we'd even consider to upgrade & 'max out' to see how good it'd be as the ICs ruin it. The rest could probably upgrade pretty well if it would need to be a compromise. It's an attractive Monster Receiver with black tuner dial & a sensible layout that isn't too cluttered. It certainly has Man Appeal for being a 'proper piece of kit' but now you've read this far, the innards are compromised. What a pity, we do look hard for good later amps & would like to praise one, but as the tone of 'Other Amps' page shows, we're just not really finding them. 'Yet' hopefully.

October 2017 Blog

Elliptical vs Conical Stylus On The Goldring G-800 plus Goldring Elektra.

We have compared this before & found the Conical slightly less detailed as above tells, if to compare again after playing an early 1950s USA Mono 45 the sound was more together. A UK Stateside 1963 copy of Martha & The Vandellas 'Heatwave' on SS 288 is very well mastered from the Mastertapes, not a rough sound like Marvin Gaye 'Can I Get A Witness' on SS 243 is. Recording 'Heatwave' intro onto the computer shows the Elliptical is 2db down on the Conical if the stylus cantilever is the same. Adding 2dB gain to make them the same volume, you'd expect the Conical to be less crisp on the treble, but not so, the sound is more upfront sound, focus appears stronger. The Elliptical sounds a little looser with focus less balanced, but is that an illusion from the conical being too upfront? Still got the Goldring Elektra, it sounds better for the valve Phono preamp changes, if it does sound less dynamic than the G-800 on either stylus. So to record 'Heatwave' & compare once normalised to 0dB. After playing the 3 versions together, the G800E is preferred as detail is better. G800 conical is a bit harsh on the treble as the groove detail isn't read. Elektra with an elliptical stylus is less detailed on high treble by probably 3db estimating by ear if maybe it's more neutral as the midrange sounds good? The waveforms on an early treble patch of the track are telling, see here for the image if putting a MP3 will just be compressed, the waveforms are real to see. The G800 conical is noticeably different as it misses detail & adds treble distortion, no good in reality. Which one of the G-800E & Elektra is the most accurate is less easy to tell from the waveforms. Play the Elektra first after 10 minutes typing this, it's acceptable but not the most lively sounding. The G-800E has the fine crisp detail that we've not heard from the SS 288 record before. The G-800E is preferred as it gives low distortion as compared conical to elliptical & has better crisp focus than the rather dull Elektra. The Elektra can sound rough on some Phono stages as it lacks the crispness. There you can see how misleading first impressions of Hifi Sound can be without reasoning & testing behind it. The neutral & detailed sound always wins out, the dull one can sound rough & the over-bright one becomes tiring. The dull Elektra as found on other Phono stages hides a midrange roughness that our valves can resolve better but it's still found to be dull as a design feature to try to lessen a more limited sound on transistor preamps that aren't as high resolution as valves can be. But any cartridge can sound rough on an average transistor Phono stage, we first tried our 301/SME/Roksan on a Trio receiver & it sounded worse than the Elektra which suited it better. Horses for Courses perhaps, but the fact a 1968 Cartridge buyable for £20 used plus a £15 elliptical 'unbranded' stylus can sound so good is great to find, the new Roksan Corus Silver we find is £400. The 301/SME/Roksan we tried on our Luxman Phono stage & it would need a different design on the EQ section as too midrangey with different capacitive loading needs. On a different preamp the Roksan combo gives a subtly smoother more focused sound than the G-800E but in reality it's not far off. The G800 to Roksan Corus will have different specs in inductance, internal resistance & capacitor loading needs, but to find these specs appears hard on the G800. To find a Goldring G-800SE April 1969 review shows the response dips 1dB between 1kHz & 10kHz if over 10kHz back to 0dB with a peak around 17kHz. This is probably where the Roksan is heard to be midrangey for the phono stage designed by ear to suit the G800. Nothing in Hifi is perfectly level response & it shows how items can be matched to a 'perfection' by fine tuning. As the above shows we designed our Phono to RIAA test tracks from a record & then made it suit Vintage Vinyl to what we consider as sounding right.

1976 Electrical Safety Regulations On Hifi.

This was supposed to tidy up sloppy design regarding Live Mains & High Voltages to make things safer for the user from Kids to any Average Joe who used them. It's the reason why mains plugs have the plastic bit on the 2 smaller prongs, Live & Neutral, to stop fingers touching the pins whilst still connected. The typist knows that one unplugging the Xmas Tree lights & getting their first taste of Electricity, some older properties still had unfused round pin plugs & that was one. Some electronics past 1976 still have awful designs like one tape deck with mains going in thin board mounted links exactly where you'd pick it up with the lid off. Others seen from 1975 with clumsy fuses soldered but onto wrap wires sticking right up so easy to be touched with the lid off & even a 1971 Marantz with a line of fuses poorly fitted officially so they were right on the easy-to-touch area, we put fuse covers over as ridiculous & too easy to touch. The 1976 regulations tried to get the 'Double Insulated' idea which is little more than the item not being able to have a live case, such as a hairdryer, if some Hifi is with the Double Insulated 'Class II' square symbol under the idea no fault can cause the case to become Live as it's isolated, see Wikipedia for more. Live parts must have basic insulation & another layer of insulation between the Live part & any exposed metal casing. Some amps we've seen with Mains Fuse holders with the uncovered metal part 1cm away from the metal casing & no Mains Earth. The old Japanese-USA type cables with 2-core cable with just one layer of insulation were outlawed, if in reality these continued on Imports, the 1979 Sansui G-8700 we had to Service just had one of these 'skinny' cables & no earth on a 160w amp, we advised they get it rewired properly. This is why we rewire most amps with 3 core mains if there is a stray "floating" voltage, because today with few using Record Players, there is no ground connection & be sure TV-Visual gear has this floating voltage, as in Meter to Ground to the Case often shows 80v-160v stray voltage. It's isolated from the mains by the transformer, so isn't Live but can give a minor shock & cause other problems. On modern gear you will find plastic 'boots' on the back of switches inside the unit, this is a later Regulation. some amps only had a layer of card between mains switch terminals & bare casework. Many of these things are hidden away under casing with 'Do Not Remove' warnings, if inside some amps, the designs can be poor so leave mains parts too easy to touch. Even the 2007 DVD player has a mains fuse & Live parts, no insulator over the fuse if there is no lid gap to even poke a knitting needle in as was a popular hobby for some. A Workshop in a Commercial Premises would have a Mains Isolator, so if you touched a live 1970s TV Chassis you'd not get a shock. You at home can risk touching mains.

Rebuild Ratings on the Hifi Reviews Pages.
This is worth adding to give readers a better idea of what's involved in rebuilding, recapping & upgrading amps as we've done the work on them. It's fine people thinking the Sony TA-1120(A) & Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 are the best amplifiers & ignoring the receivers, but these are major rebuilds as so much to do to do it right. The TA-1120A is easier, but a TA-1120 is one of the biggest rebuilds. So to add a brief idea, worded to say "It's gonna be expensive" or more a typical job. We get customers buying an amp & wanting it upgraded, this gives an idea of what to expect.

What Is The "Tape Head" Input On 1965-69 Transistor Amplifiers?
A short-lived idea was to take an output from an Open Reel Tape Machine direct from the Tape Head, so you didn't need to buy a Tape Player with amplifying electronics in. The output level is basically the same level as a MM Phono Cartridge & the Tape Head amplifier is part of the Phono Stage with a different 'NAB' or 'IEQ' spec equalisation. The only trouble with this is the Tape Machine won't be able to record as no Bias Circuit for the tape recording requirements, so by 1968-69 the Tape Head input became obsolete as the Tape Machines added the full circuitry to give a Line Level output. Line level is CD, Cassette, TV or any other Digital player output including a modern DAC. The Sony STR-6120 early version had a Tape Head input, if by 1970 it was obsolete, so instead the 'Aux 3' version has an extra line level input.

What are DIN Socket Inputs-Outputs On Amplifiers For?
On a vintage amplifier 'Line Level' is Aux, Tuner or Tape Input. But not DIN input as that is to a different spec again. The DIN inputs & outputs are often much lower for an early 1970s cassette idea & aren't compatible. The Hacker GAR 550 record player from 1970 we had in the late 1980s & the DIN socket was fine for the early Top Loader Cassette Decks that were old fashioned by then, if buying a new one, the DIN socket output was too low. It goes through a 100k ohm resistor as typical which will just limit the dynamics similar to Amps that put Aux through a big resistor into the Phono stage. DIN for a Phono input is the regular level, DIN for Tape only suits the early spec of Tape Players. If the Amp has Phono sockets for Tape as the better ones do, this is Line Level Input & Output. DIN sockets for speakers are the standard level, if to be careful using old cables that may be faulty, only use new ones you can still buy. Old ones were often home made or with screw connectors that could be badly done or aged & can short out the amplifier damaging it. DIN sockets on Speaker Outputs are usually found up to 40w, if the skinny cable really isn't thick enough, explaining why DIN speaker amps aren't popular in the UK, if Bang & Olufsen use DIN on nearly all amps.

Classic Vintage Amps Are Getting Very Old Now.
A little obvious as the years pass by, but the fact the Amplifiers that we rate, especially the 1960s ones, are turning up very aged looking. We just got an early 'Tape Head' Sony STR-6120 to rebuild. Bought from a USA auction the fascia & wood case are like new but the amp itself is rather tired looking with old repairs & leaking capacitor mess. The early 6120 chassis wasn't plated like the 'Aux 3' one so it can get corroded. This one was built into a console of some sort with the base plate but the top lid was unwisely left in the original box with the wood case explaining their high grade. By the cobwebs underneath & corrosion probably long stored in a damp outhouse if the fascia is unmarked, not sure how the grades differ unless someone has swapped chassis & kept a high grade one. The top lid being missing on receiving it if strangely a minty lid was findable & likely the one that came with it but got forgotten, or not realising the metal lid goes inside the wood case as standard. Aged corroded metal, worn out capacitors, old repairs never done very well & a 'graveyard' looking amp, yet the seller put a YouTube video of it playing, if clearly they had no idea of what needs doing so moved it on fast. At least we know the Tuner works & the amp does too, but we'd never plug it in looking that far gone. But this is how non Tech people treat old amps, unaware they could damage them by just plugging a 49 year old amp in. The early 6120s are always way past their best. We had two of the wonderful 1966 Akai AA7000 receiver, both were in awful condition inside, one fairly sold as 'not working' as a resistor smoked so they wisely left it after unwisely plugging it in. The second was said to be working, a total lie as transistor legs rusted away & idiot unsoldered transformer wires that we only redid knowing the other one here at the same time. These 1960s amps often have long been stored in attics or damp places & are very aged inside. Like 'Barn Find' cars, they need a lot of work to bring back to life. They were used maybe only a few years & for the "New Is Better" hype that continued into the 1990s in Hifi, the 'better' was stored away unawares until life brings these items out again, usually deceased estate clearances. Some old amps are often filthy inside from open grilles & 40-50 years of dirt we've seen on a JVC as a thick grey blanket of muck, like your Vacuum Cleaner bag contains. It gets damp so the muck gets moist so sticks to the insides. Extreme cleaning needed if we're not putting how here for safety as people will do that unawares. Like any forgotten finds in Hifi, Cars, Furniture, Records, Coins & Books ageing of things can seriously deteriorate the item. Not all Hifi is restorable if in rough grade. Some 'dead' looking items can restore up well, depends on your skills & determionation. Ebay sometimes shows ancient valve items that are often too far gone, but may be useful for spares.

Linn Sondek LP12 Turntable Review From October 1976.
As HFN/RR gets modern for the 'What Hi-Fi' threat, it at last brings the group tests where amps are requested, bought in or borrowed to test them. Before this HFN/RR only used to review what a Manufacturer sent to be reviewed & ideas that "well tested & chosen" items were submitted for test & moans that big sellers like Leak transistor amps got no reviews under the basis of 'we're already selling enough...'. The Linn Sondek LP12 is a famous turntable where few are. Infamous perhaps, but it's only for 33.3rpm use which is no good to us as 'select45rpm'. We do mention it earlier on this page as the Ariston RD11 is very similar as designed by the same person, Hamish Robertson. It's a good looking design that stayed in production since 1973 if today it's a Linn Klimax LP12 with many variants in between in that cynical Linn-Naim way. The review by Frank Jones may delight Linn Haters as it complains how ridiculously awkward it is to set up out of the box. LP12 is belt drive from a 24-pole brushless motor with a servo to regulate speed & is locked to the mains supply frequency, as is the Garrard 301 needing 60Hz spindles for the right speed. Heavily made with a quality finish that'll pick up fingermarks easily though. It's got decoupling springs, which is obsolete when a 301 can be fitted on a heavy ply plinth with sorbothane feet. Springs are a pain as the damping ages & one collector we knew used a Thorens that wobbled around alarmingly, sold by a Vintage Hifi Shop probably telling them it was normal. A lot of work to Assemble the LP12 sounds a poor deal on the buyer, if dealers usually set things up. after assembly & adjustment is needed too to make the platter ride at the right height by adjusting a screw so it doesn't scrape on the plinth. What a nightmare, not acceptable & likely it was improved after a bad review like that that says there are no instructions to tell you about adjusting, bizarre. Possible to still scrape the plinth even after setting up, poor design with hopeless & needless springs. Springs damp the sound of the music too, just like the lousy 'soup strainer' SME black holed headshell. It appears to bounce around in using the controls too. The reviewer is trying hard to not say it's rubbish as the sound is affected by poor design, a lack of rigidity is where Turntables, arms & Cartridges lose quality of sound. Nut then the reviewer says despite the suspension issues it can be thoroughly recommended, really? Later the fact LP12 is only one speed is seen as a cheap out to bother building a 2 or 3 speed changer. To prove that's not true, the closing line in testing 2 other turntables is this: "Personally I can see no reason for opting for the Linn unless the styling and very conservative engineering approach appeal to you", as in wear that hair shirt if it makes you feel good. The Fons CQ30 is the recommended one if the looks are not so modern, a bit 1960s Dual looking, it plays 30rpm to 100rpm via three push buttons & adjusters, with 50Hz or 60Hz not affecting use. The LP12 sounds poor value when the LP12 with Grace G-707 arm is £160 complete & the far more versatile and better sounding Fons is £144 with an SME arm. The Grace arm looks like a 1950s skinny rod thing, yet it used to be raved about.... by those too cheap to buy an SME.

Restoring Vintage Turntables - Is It Worth It?
As with any Quality Vintage Hifi, 'it depends' is really the only rough idea here. we got asked about a 1973 Philips GA-212 turntable, a belt drive unit with electronics for the speed regulation, seems a fad idea trying to be halfway between a Direct Drive & a typical Motor & Belt or Motor & Pulley design. Beware Forums as every bit of Vintage greatness or junk will have someone raving about it as they paid $10 for one in a Thrift Store. This one had a loose arm we were told, we don't know the turntable & unless it's screws or bolts loose, it could be broken. Broken means 'no good' as you'll not find parts unless getting a parts machine to cobble one good one from, if risking needing 3 or 4 to make one good. For Philips only being a General Audio quality company despite their "Simply Years Ahead" they are just every day gear. For us to get a midprice turntable to work on has no appeal, time again proven with these with CD to Tape to more tried before that it's wasted effort & not good for the customer. To fairly say sell it on ebay for spares-repairs & go buy a working one & probably get a working one for your selling amount plus £50-£100 is better than spending £200+ on a rebuild only to find out it's not reliable on the electronics as we found with a cheaper Technics SL-2000 from 1975 mentioned just above. Again it's back to us turning down general quality gear, getting a reliable item is often more trouble than it's worth & not worth spending on. But if you have Quality, which means no Belt Drive turntables even if Linn think that's quality, then quality is worth spending on. Look on ebay to see what a Turntable sells for in good condition, if it's under £100 it's not worth bothering with, but with Technics SL-1500 at around £150 these days, this seems to be a good start idea with some 'Classics' going £500-£1000+. Even then you may need rare parts from a spares unit or to buy remade parts as is possible. Just don't bother spending fixing up budget-midprice gear.

Buying A New DVD Player Isn't Quite So Simple
Continuing from the Sept blog about the DVD that finally got binned mid October, what to do to get a DVD player? You want HDMI, 1080p upscaling & a Digital or even better Line Level Audio Outputs. The first two are standard, but the Sound on even a £50 player, very cheap if ones for £27 are on Amazon. We had a Multiregion Sony DVD player got in about 2007 for £50 new & it had Phono socket Audio Outputs. Very cheaply made thing, is it worth getting one so cheap? Never push the DVD drawer on cheap players, always use the Remote as they are so weakly made inside. The picture quality wasn't as good as the Panasonic DVD, if better than expected but it felt cheap in use with feeble GUI on screen. We'll need to research better what there is, but that's the thing today, dirt cheap for poor quality is the normal & we do not like cheapness in anything. Bargains are great, but cheap goods are a waste of money, always go for at least midprice unless you have the cash for the top range gear. Not an item worth buying used either as be sure it'll be on it's last legs ready to fail. On Amazon £169-£199 is the higher price range, but you can get a DVD-HDD recorder for only £100 more. Multiregion players shows no-one cares about DVD regions which is good & how it should be. A 2012 year Sony DVPSR760H one has Phono outputs for Audio at £64, weighs 1.4kg in the box tells how flimsy it'll be. A 500GB Panasonic DVD-HDD recorder is £269, if a HDD recorder player by Panasonic is as low as £120, a PVR with no DVD player. We'll stay away from Panasonic as the quality ain't what it used to be 1990s-2000s. We got a LG TV a few years back, not the greatest one but with careful adjusting the picture is way beyond what you'd think. Maybe LG is a better choice for a DVD player.

Now Bought A DVD Player in 2017.

In the end we get an LG DP542H DVD player with 1080p upscaling & Phono Outputs for sound for a modest £45 delivered from Amazon as the spec was better than the Sony & the weight of it better at 1.7kg. Says it's Multiregion. We'll use it for a while & then seeing it's OK to see what can be upgraded to keep it going, if the TV had decent quality electronics we found. No point buying a DVD-HDD recorder as no use for it & it's all there is out there. Our LG TV bought in 2012 was good value despite the plastic sheet behind the light bars getting smelly, so we wallpapered the metal casing & painted it white to have the correct brightness so no plastic smell now. Inventive is us. You can see Brand Loyalty there as with us trusting Panasonic from the early 1990s VHS days to 2006, if we'd not buy their stuff again. It arrives, small box, what's that but seller's address tells. Titchy thing. Now we're used to getting quality things as the Amps we like were expensive in their day, so to get Modern £45 delivered DVD player is a bit like going buying 2p sweets (if they exist still). Weeny thing with a slim drawer, 360mm x 200mm x 42mm high. A fixed mains cable at least, instead of another annoying plug-top box, Phono sockets for RGB + audio as per older & scart compatible connectors, Coaxial out by Phono for Audio, if not Optical, plus L+R at Line Level plus the expected HDMI. 9w power consumption & 3 '+' head screws to hold the lid on. Front has a USB socket & basic controls. USB cable included shows LG are making an effort to please users as with old style Video outputs, for the price it's pretty good so far. Remote is small but of a better quality than the cheapo Sony one we had, it'll not embarrass you & has 2x AAA batteries included. Register Online or by Phone for a Guarantee if it's a typical 1 year one & be sure you'll be spammed forever. The reason for the cheap price becomes obvious, the paranoia of today means people want Warranties & Protecting, the cost to "protect" your £45 DVD player gets 3 years' Protection for £68, if it covers ones to £500. Be sure there are those who'll pay it too. The 3 years includes the Free 1 year plus £68 for 2 years extra which is even more daft. The first TV we bought in 1986, a Salora one got a 3 year warranty said "to be a good idea" & guess when it got it's first fault... 3 years & 1 month later the Teletext module naffed costing about £80 back then. Be sure manufacturers know it'll last 3 years if it's fine for the first Month let alone a Year. Only a Fool buys a Warranty on anything. Picture quality seems decent if only watching will confirm. 'Set Up' on the Menu does certain things if they don't tell you what they are, so "DRC" is On by default but that's Dynamic Range Compression for Cheap Stereos & "Vocal" is likely Vocal enhancement EQ at around 2kHz again for non Hifi use, also On by default. How anyone would easily understand the settings is a mystery, but be sure at £45 few will even look. But realistically this is the market of today, so for the advances in digital tech of today, why should it be more than £45, if only watching & listening will reveal more. Verdict after playing is the Sound is as good as any Digital source. Picture takes a little TV adjusting to the 11 year old one. Then you see it has "Resolution" button which selects Upscaling levels, 576 original, 720 & 1080 with either "p" or "i" settings, meaning Progressive (True HD) or Interlaced. We found on a 1980s 'The Bill' DVD that 1080 is too blurred with unnatural picture movements as in it almost seemed to distort the image as the upscaling was too slow, so 576 was preferred as it was less filtered & looked the most realistic in use. The picture does appear too noise-reduced in all settings, people's hair lacks definition up close & there is no setting to alter this. Overall it's decent enough picture wise, colours these days are standard as is sound via Line Level outputs, but a bit too soft, watching the same episode initally as last watched on the old player which was set with noise reduction not full to have noticed the difference, here noise reduction is 'max'. For the money, it's good enough for most users, but we noticed the 1080 upscaling was poor to the point of distracting so can tell a good picture even on 30 year old TV show from DVD. Maybe there are codes to get 'inside' it to alter this. On looking at HDMI AV2 input on the TV which you can set by Input on most TVs, to turn off all Noise Reduction & Digital Noise Reduction makes the 576 version a lot better & now we'd say the picture betters the 2006 DVD-HDD recorder. It's all in the Settings. To get the full User Manual of 24 pages you need to download it online, as seems the way these days, a 24 page booklet too expensive apparently. BLE is 'Black Level Expansion' if it doesn't seem to do much. After watching regular TiVo recordings, the DVD looks very unrealistic in picture colour even with Sharpness set to the AV1 setting & Noise Reductions off. To use the TV settings to lose the greenness of the picture helps, but this is advanced setting skills to know how a picture should look good, or at least it's best. The user of this DVD player as 'out of the box' will have by default poor unrealistic sound to sound too midrangey & compressed & poor unrealistic picture quality especially if using the poor 1080p upsampling together with poor colour balance. But that's why it's £45 so 'average user' goes to buy something better, or so they think. So by some years-learnt skills in Picture & Sound you can make it into a far better picture & sound, but most will never even realise. Read on...

Fake Enhanced Picture And Fake Enhanced Sound Of Today.
But that's not the full story, continuing from the DVD review above, to see how the same show we watched looks like "raw" on the Computer with no 'Improvements' that TVs & DVD players show. It's not very sharp, the colour isn't too strong & the 'Part 2' idents on "The Bill" which are dark & sharp on the DVD-TV are far from that here. So a 42" TV has a lot of picture processing to look good, we've put our custom settings in & the LG DVD clearly does a lot to give sharp edges, deep contrast with noise reduction. We did notice this 'effect' with restoring picture balance on old cartoons & what looked right on the Computer could be too dark & over-contrasted on a TV, even the old 36" CRT one. As with Sound as any Soundcard reveals, you can add an exciter 'Crystalise' to fill out dull sounds, add Bass, Graphic EQ & mess around with Multi Channel sound from Mono which all sounds awful to us. You can mess around with Poor Picture sources & Poor Sound to get better than you could 10 years ago. We've got decent sound from whisper quiet Cartoon soundtracks hidden deeply in a Sea of Hiss which is not easy as all the harsh 'Restorations' of 78s on CDs prove. Even the Disney Early Cartoon DVDs a few years back we found their sound was lousy so did our own Restorations, instead of their hissy muffly quality. The Audio Source you hear today is a lot more straightforward from Digital Sources as so much development money has been spent on Computers, TV, CD, DVD etc so why bother with a CD player & transport, if some still believe that older stuff is better which it's not anymore. You'll only get the Sound the CD mastering gives & often CDs are so bad sounding, we don't play music from Commercial CDs as the sound isn't real, only Vinyl is on pre-CD era music. But getting Top Sound from Vinyl, as you'll hear on YouTube is generally awful with their 'Stereo' giving ghastly EQ via cheap IC op-amps & no Mono button. The idea of Multichannel is pointless to us, as in 1971-77 ideas of Quadraphonic, you sit in front of Live Music, not amid it, so any Quad 4 channel. or modern 5.1, 7.1 etc is just fake as you don't sit amid whatever the sound is. But it gets you buying loads of speakers & those huge unreliable AV-Receivers stuffed with ICs & worthless on ebay once they fail.

There Are Still 1960s Sounding Amps As Late As 1978.
Yes, you read that right. We'd love to be able to say lots of late 1970s-onward amps are great, but most we've heard are uninteresting & lifeless compared to the best we've found. The late 1970s amps in general are more Musical than early 1980s IC jobs, by 1978 generally the Old Quality had gone. So a casual buy of a NAD 3030 30w silver fronted amp surprised us with a great fresh open sound with wide Stereo. See the Reviews page for more. But there are two others in the range: NAD 3060 is 60w & NAD 3080 is 90w. Are they any good? Never seen them to even have got the Manuals. The NAD 3030 is Silver & later Black fronted, maybe the others were Black only? A NAD 3080 on ebay in black for £330 is actually the dark grey gunmetal colour as the 1976 Technics was & it may have hidden them as it looks more 1985 style. That sale has an old review that says much as we do on the 3030, but often the later amps sound sweeter on 30w than 90w. The NAD 3030 is on ebay with several in either silver or grey so not so rare, just ignored & unknown by the prices. But the NAD 3080 doesn't please us... the Phono & Tone-Pre has typical overdesign of the era, fixed Bias on the power amp you'd think, but actually the manual shows to read values & solder in different resistors which is an odd one. But the killer is an IC on the power amp first stage, plus related zeners which are lazy design. A CA3100 early 'can' type IC like in Tuner stages is a long-obsolete op-amp, says HA2525 is a substitute. Don't like op-amps for audio so sadly NAD 3080 is a "no" to us which is a pity, but this is typical by this era. NAD 3080 works on ±50v which seems modest for 90w when 45w Sansui 3000A from 1967 works on ±45v. The Slew Rate is wrongly put as "40v/NSec" which is a typo of µsec, 40v seems unlikely too with 50v supply, the NAD 3030 gives 15v/µsec which is already very fast if it sounds it. The NAD 3030 is a throwback to better designs, probably why it still has Semi Complimentary outputs. No manuals findable on the NAD 3060 so whether it's got the overdesign & ICs is unknown.

Speaker Placement: Ignore The Old Ideas.
In older speakers such a Tannoy & others, there are Corner Speakers. Are these any good? The cabinets will be a different design & the internal volume won't be as big as a typical Tannoy Gold Lancaster cabinet. There were no Corner Speakers made in the 1970s by Tannoy showing it's an old idea from the Mono era where just one speaker being used, to put in the corner would be often done. The old fashioned Hugh Brittain idea of "Stereo Seat" to us is useless, so we'd advise with bigger speakers put them flat to the wall with no toe-in & have them firing down the room. this gives far better Stereo than the awful idea of a "sweet spot" where the Stereo image would get closer to a point & then be apparently incorrect beyond that. A Stereo mess & why this idea still continues is because nobody thinks how poor an idea it is. Personally we've never toed-in speakers since the 1980s on realising it was pointless & looked messy.
For smaller speakers that can't really fill the room with sound, to site them on stands to be the right height in a seated position with the treble driver height a little lower than in-line with your ear height. To have the speaker actually pointing at you, rather than just put somewhere that's easiest. Bad ideas like fitting speakers in the ceiling or mounting high up on speaker brackets not even tilted down like PA systems in a Disco etc would do show how little thought goes into speaker placing. You see on TV shows they have a tiny micro stereo & the speakers are 2ft apart high up on the shelf, being little better than a portable. This is only TV & the systems are never used, but as with putting Flat Screen TVs high above a fireplace so your neck is always looking up & then these unthinkers wonder why their neck aches. TV should be at a height that is visually central when sitting down, no neck bending & probably why TV stands of earlier years were just that height from early 1950s TVs to the CRT TVs that needed a strong stand, but today the Flat Screen comes with wall brackets so it's put anywhere. Look on any House Selling site & see the TV today is usually put way too high up.

Can We Restore Amplifier Casework & Fascias That Are Scratched or Rusty?

You'll have seen TV shows like "Rick's Restorations" who can recreate artwork & only the Ted guy does it properly. He takes a tracing of the artwork on paper plus photos, if to photo or scan parts will be a more modern way. Previously they used to get it wrong as with the Toy Train in an early series & the bad idea of stretching a Font to fill out, instead of looking for a Narrow Font to do it properly. If an Amplifier fascia is scratched then your only options are to put up with it with a bit of tidying or paint to hide it, go buy a spares amp to get a better fascia, or to recreate one as mentioned above. Fill & paint the fascia & apply the lettering to look as near original. A big job & who will make the lettering is the problem. We saw a 1970s Technics amp recently on ebay that would have had the dark brown-grey fascia, but the person polished the anodised colouring off & made it shiny aluminium. Some fascias have embossed lettering which could make this easier, but here it was printed so clumsy added lettering in those rub-down transfers made it look truly awful. Scratched & Rusty casework maybe is easier as it'll be more plain, lids can be repainted or powder coated, to use Paint Stripper not sandblasting as the metal is thin. But unless you match the colour & do it to a high standard, a blotchy streaky paint can job will just look rubbish. The back panels with lots of text need recreating & will never look good unless done properly. The idea really is do not bother buying rough cased gear, buy a higher grade one in the first place. If you can only get a scratched fascia rusty amp then if it was fully rebuilt inside & sounding wonderful, it'll still look rough & you'll have wasted your money on it as the looks will put 95% of buyers off. Wood cases can be refinished & vinyl wrap can be reveneered in wood to look better, but to keep original looking. We're at a time in Hifi History where Good Amps are rarely broken up for spares as the amps themselves make better prices. To buy carefully in the first place if looks matter. We had a 1986 Pioneer C90/M90 pair in scratchy grade with a front flap missing. Used by idiots to do that to expensive gear & the owner got it in a storage unit type auction & used it for a while without having it checked until it failed. It could have been repaired with a lot of work & cost, but it'd still be tatty. So we just sold it on for them as it stood & the optimist dealer who bought it never offered it for sale as repaired. If you want High Grade Hifi, buy it like that to start with. Bad Grade insides don't matter unless badly burnt or broken, they can be tidied, but the outsides will only be what they are.

Amplifier Comparing: Slew Rate & Sound Opinions Plus What to Sell Next?
To use early 80s Rock and 60s Ska are the best test styles for Dynamics & punch plus Ska for the Dense sound that not many amps can focus. In playing a Spectral DMC-30 pre & DMC-90 power amp, to try a few amps in comparision. The Spectral as the Reviews page reveals was very accurate but needed Bass Gain & slight Treble cut on the Computer Soundcard. A 100w pre-power combo, it is as-original if serviced improved it a lot. We didn't think it was as fast sounding as the NAD 3030 as reviewed & in the '1978' section just above. Then onto the Sansui AU-G90X that's up for sale if it's clearly an unknown & you don't know what you're getting, if plenty we've written. The Slew rate is massive on this amp, to the point of being intimidating on headphones as Dynamics so huge, it'd suit a big room is the idea. Spectral, with some Bass Gain & Sansui are certainly great amps up there with the best of their era. But to try the 70w Yamaha CR-1000 that we've upgraded a lot to get the best out of it. Here the sound is more of the sound we like, that sort of sound the NAD 3030 has, more effortless, more friendly & scores high on Musicality which is the only purpose of Hifi really, if understanding it takes a lot of amp comparing. The CR-1000 as upgraded has a huge slam, fast Slew rate if not as unnaturally huge sounding as the Sansui is. The fuller bass lacking on the others is welcome, this amp is the preferred one of the three & it's the best looker too, oh why do have you dust on your buttons... To our ears after many amps Valve & Transistor, the CR-1000 is accurate & neutral, an amp to play on headphones for hours, if the Sansui can make you weary. The problem with the CR-1000 is the Tone stage is poor, the Bass goes way too thick sounding as we found out early on with the Yamaha CR-2020 Bass stage & Treble hasn't the same amount of gain, so it's one we'll try more with someday as on speakers with Tone added it's not quite there. Going to the 1969 Trio-Kenwood KA-6000, again much upgraded with doubled outputs too, the sound is different again. The midrange seems a little further back but it adds more depth & gives wider Stereo, plus more open Bass. It sounds more Trebly than the Yamaha with knife-edge accuracy on high treble, if that's our upgrading. As for speed of the amp, it's not as fast as the Yamaha giving the extra treble as found with the Spectral & the recovery time gives a slight blurring that we can hear from the Slew Rate research above. The KA-6000 does sound great on speakers. To find out how to better the Slew Rate on an already much upgraded amp is the Design Challenge. Sony TA-1120 the 1965 one next. This again sounds different, it scores near-perfect on Square Wave tests if the circuit is a bit more 'designed'. This amp is all upgraded with new capacitors & transistors but still has the original circuit & resistors. This does show as a blurring to the sound on headphones if it does sound great on speakers, just a bit more upfront than the KA-6000. The TA-1120 does have a lot of 'slam' to the sound showing a fast Slew Rate & could be made better with some circuit redesign, but we kept it original to have an amp more original sounding. We know it could be made to sound a lot cleaner, but working on it is a tough one with wires soldered to board backs & the case needs taking to bits. Next the Realistic STA-220 at 60w which sounds similar to the Yamaha CR-1000, this has a fast Slew rate & a good kick to the sound also, if the Yamaha does it more confidently with Rock, the Realistic comes close. CR-1000 puts out 37v clean sine, STA-220 does 32v & that increase does set them apart if 70w vs 60w, the CR-1000 has been tested in the Hifi Mags of the day as getting 90w. STA-220 as we've put elsewhere has been on the speakers most of the year as it sounds so good on speakers. This write-up helped us sell the STA-220 as it's very like the CR-1000. So why not try the Realistic STA-150 too? 32.5w rated with 24v clean sine. Actually much the same sound if the Bass isn't as strong to not overdo it at the power rating, but it still does Rock well. The STA-150 has less circuitry & actually sounds crisper than the 220 if the bass weight is the obvious difference. Two great rare amps here & as the STA-220 later sold we tried more with the 150 as below. So after playing the NAD 3030 the day before, give it a fresh listen after this lot. This is serviced but all original. The sound is in the league of the Realistic amps, bass isn't as strong as not upgraded but it has the same Musicality the Yamaha does which is why we played it for 2 hours the day before typing this. At 30w the dymamics & speed of the amp is not what you'd expect at all. One to upgrade & sell as at 30w we don't want to overdo it, but it's certainly a surprising one. The Sherwood S-7200 35w receiver which the NAD 160 receiver is based on is serviced but not upgraded, one to sell once it's done. It obviously needs recapping so not fair to tell more than the review shows so far. The purpose of testing is to see which amps we need to keep as references & those we like but can sell. On the basis of this the Sansui is useful but to sell it wouldn't hurt, the Realistic STA-220 we did sell.

Comparing Transistors To Valves -plus- The Question of Harmonics.
The last one to compare with the above amps is the Valves Luxman LX33 at 30w. First hear it's in the league of the Yamaha & Sansui with a fast rise time & a clean open sound, not that the 'raw' LX33 sounds anything like this. Valves do sound different to transistors for the minimal gain stages, as in Rock has the bass weight on guitar if the midrange-lower treble of it is less upfront but it has a faster sound that nears how the Sansui sounds with it's 130w. This suggests there is a Valve Sound & Transistor Sound, but in reality Transistors with extra circuitry can reduce the lively sound, if the Sansui does it's best to recreate that. After playing the above amps, the tonal balance of valves differs for going through less amplification. In tests in HFN/RR about 'Musicality' it shows Valve amps have a better range of Harmonics to Transistors. The question of Odd & Even Harmonics we can compare on an audio program DCArt, so using the Virtual Valve, to enhance Odd Or Even Harmonics on Vinyl recorded by Valves played on an Amp with Valves, with the settings similar, makes no difference beyond adding a bit more "air" to the recording as you'd expect from enhancing any frequency, so that didn't tell much. One thing that is noticeable after playing those Transistor amps is the Valve sound took a few songs to get used to, the sound seemed a little less trebly but now with the deeper more effortless sound the treble is more natural. This we've noticed often with using the 100w Valve Monoblocs over the years, the effortless sound of Valves designed right is your Best Transistor Amp with a few veils over the speakers removed.

Why Bother Servicing, Recapping & Upgrading?
"A 1974 Yamaha Still Works Fine. What Should We Do with It?" we were asked. You have a quality amp, but the reality is it's 43 years old. You can still use it if it pleases you, we're not here to get you spending money. But the reality is, why do we Service, Recap & Upgrade amps? Because we know how much better they sound even after a Service. A 20 year old amp we had recently we tried as it arrived as the owner said it made odd noises, we played it until we heard the noises & then turned it off. In this case it needed a deep servicing only. As arrived we thought it sounded a bit boring & lifeless. Once serviced to try it again & it's far more fresh sounding totally transforming the sound, if it did reveal some weaknesses in the design. This amp was actually the Spectral preamp & we'd already serviced the amp for the customer as they tried to find out where the problem was. Another recent one the NAD 3030 we thought sounded great once Serviced if it hums slightly & as it's 39 years old we'll recap it if maybe the main caps are still good as they are a decent spec, if in reality to replace them is a better deal for the future buyer. To sell the NAD as serviced it makes only a certain price. Once recapped it puts a lot more confidence in the amp for the buyer plus they get our upgrades giving a better quality of sound. Upgrades bring cleaner midrange, crisper more extended treble & a fuller bass as most amps are limited on Bass to stop complainers as was found in the earlier 1970s. Better spec will give a faster cleaner sound overall. The NAD will sound great once upgraded & the buyer will have a better version of the original that should give years of use as basically it's been renewed with better quality parts to those in 1978. So for a 1974 Yamaha, to get it Serviced we see as a wasted opportunity & who knows if we'll find parts that need replacing. If the amp matters, get it renewed, service-recap-upgrade & the amp will sound so much better than the tired one you've been playing. It all comes down to Money is the reality. But look at how much you'd spend to get even slightly near the quality of the Yamaha & realise your old amp is a far better bet to get refreshed than buy New Disposable IC stuff that has a dull boring safe sound as we found with the 2007 Marantz PM 6002 that as you'd expect was a "What Hifi 5 Star Amp".

November 2017 Blog

Hifi Stupidness Gets Excessive By 1976.
Sadly it starts to get a bit silly by 1977. The above things like Slew Rate & Rise time are important to know & put into terms what we see as a Fast Amp or one With A Good Kick to it. As shown above Subjective Sounds & Musicality are what "experts" are trying to match up with oscilloscope readings & pages of dry data that we look at but think "who cares" to. Paul Messenger with his "Subjective Sounds" column talks more sense if soon comes to say the 'bouncy' Linn & 'stick' Grace turntable-Arm is "the best" which is odd as we share the opinion on both as early reviews above show. The "SS" column does ramble on quite like Ken Kessler of later years but is interesting for the fact PM is playing old valve amps, which in 1977 were still probably all original & unserviced with 1959-64 ones with 13-18 years use, so as for direct comparing new to aged & used sort of loses some cred to us, but it's a start. The Real BS starts with a French-Japanese man Jean Hiraga in the March 1977 HFN/RR, from a French Hifi Mag "Revue De Son" who worked in Japan at the time. He helped reintroduce Valve Amps into Japan with Luxman being the main name doing well with Valves. He believes in musicality as we certainly do too, but how do you quantify it? Here they use "Amplifier Harmonic Distortion Spectrum Analysis" which instantly glazes over the eyes of many readers. It just shows a 200Hz test signal is being used & showing the low level harmonics. Do we listen to Sine waves in music? It's as limited-worthless as Square Wave testing can be, the 1965 Sony TA-1120 gives near-perfect Square waves as designed if we can hear deficiencies in playing it, if to 'upgrade' it with resistor circuit changes like we have with other amps would lose a good Reference Amp. They are trying to justify Harmonics often 70dB down on the signal as being important, but just using one test tone. Harmonics are unwanted extra "echoes" of the sound & are said to be better than others as in Odd & Even Harmonics. In a Valve section just a few sections above we tried to hear the difference adding Odd or Even harmonics & found with Valve recorded Vinyl to digital played back through Valves there was no difference beyond a mild treble gain, neither sweeter or rougher. Nice idea to test for these things, but pretty pointless, as only comparing amps tells the differences. But by July 1977 HFN/RR takes this as good fact & bores us with "New Amplifier Tests Proposed" to further confuse beyond the excessive Martin Colloms testing mentioned above. "Measuring What We Can Hear" is the article by Gordon J. King who we've not found such a consistent reviewer reading years of mags in months. Here it adds Harmonic Waveforms at various levels with the noise floor coming up in the lower level ones. To us this is still pointless, our trained ear can tell when an amp is "clean" sounding which means without blurring from poor design, low spec, weak power supplies, dumbed-down design & less importantly with harmonics having some effect. But the waveforms don't reveal the amount of amplifying stages or NFB used, we look at circuits to see ones we call 'overdesigned'. Some can sound accurate, but unnatural. The Sansui AU-G90X is overdesigned, it has a very clean sound once upgraded, but it's 'too loud' as in not matching realistic levels of gain as in the real world, everything is 'too dynamic' & it can become wearying on headphones, but if you have a big room it'll suit well. Here the amp has too much amplification, a "Master Level" higher than reality. The need to want to quantify what is heard as good in terms of numbers, graphs & waveforms shows how pointless most of it is. It's taken us years to learn about good Hifi sound & on speakers only getting Tannoys first in 2002 & playing a Sony STR-6120, the various McIntosh preamps & power amp plus the Quad II & preamp did we really first taste "real sound". Pages of tech data we don't remember from HFN/RR when we used to buy it in the 1990s, most reviews were waffle about unrelated things. The only way to tell if an amp sounds good is to be aware of it through use & comparing to other amps that are known references. No amps sound their best until serviced and older ones need to be recapped & upgraded is a truth if it sounds like an upgrade service advert, but still an amp like the NAD 3030 with mild hum can still impress as original once serviced. So 1977 started the Hifi BS In Earnest says we... it brought acres of boring magazine pages as we'll tell as we read through HFN/RR until Dec 1980 & it brought the 'Monster Receiver' wars where Marantz made a 300w receiver but just had to make a 350w one too.

Looking For Vintage Amplifiers & Receivers On Ebay + Our Upgrade Ideas.
We've sourced quite a few amps from ebay over the years & to look to see what there is shows we still find Hifi very interesting, as this Blog page reveals. We've already said in the first October Blog, it's expected as we've helped Vintage Hifi grow that prices will rise, but overpriced is another thing. A decent looking Sony TA-1140 for £120 is what we used to sell Serviced Ones for in 2011, now it buys you a working one in typically unserviced grade. Not had once since 2013 & never properly upgraded one. The preamp board with the Power supply on too was a bit miserable if the Power Amp board was like the STR-6055 receiver more or less. See, we know them well & the amp will upgrade well, but again as with the Toshiba above, it's not a New one to try. A valves Leak Stereo 20 "with new capacitors & resistors" they say. Not done very well, spot the amatueur who puts coaxial capacitors instead of bothering to find the correct axial, wire at each end, ones. Blue main caps of the two-caps-in-one-can low-spec type which are buyable on ebay, but blue instead of gold painted is again amateur. £800 for a 10w valve amp is overpriced & 10w is not enough even on 95dB speakers, you'll need 105dB ones & then hear the background hiss. The seller we got a Rogers HG88 Mk III from via their buyer who saw how untidy it was so got rid at a loss as too much for them & again we see feedback saying they sell rough ones that need a lot of work. £450 for a HG88 III in a nice case as original is typical, but they need a full recap & some redesign, so naturally the buyer of a 1966 amp will be out of their league. Feedback comments these known sellers we've bought from get we see as revealing Buyer Ignorance is often the issue. Explains why we put so much on the Sales page as Vintage can need understanding even all Upgraded to Use Daily Quality, no-one else offers this quality. A cheap Quad 303 amplifier that looks original seems cheap, but we've looked at these too many times to even bother now. The circuits are just not very good & if we were asked to upgrade one as recapping will be needed, to be realistic about what it'll bring as upgraded. We nearly fall off the chair seeing an amp we've wanted to try, it sort of works & gets bought. 1967-68 Pioneer SX-1000TD 50w into 8 ohms, not seen one of the high power Pioneer in years, 2013 as our Reviews page says. Had the later 1968 Pioneer SX-1000TW before in the wood case, if the TD one has early IC for the Tuner as the label shows. These usually came from Army & Navy stores as did the 1960s Sansui. Hums loudly & smoke comes out a bit, but to us, who cares, we'll rebuild it, but this is advanced stuff & likely a fairly expensive rebuild for a customer with risks as any amp has, this may need more work than even we expect. See the Reviews page for more. Pioneer tuners usually work as this is said to. Later than the SX-1500TF we had & before the less exciting SX-1500TD if based on the 1966 SX-1000. Now this is Interesting Hi-Fi again, we've not successfully upgraded one of the early 1967-68 Pioneers, the SX-1500TF had too many bad repairs to be reliable, if the 1969-70 ones upgrade well. To work out how to do Speaker Connectors better than the awful weak plug-in ones too. The only early Pioneer we've tried on our Tannoys is the 1970 SX-990 28w one. The SX-10000TD turned out to be in very high grade but an advanced repair. One seller has two of the same Decca portable radio from 1964 that we have, but sadly they never work as they have 'bad' UK Germaniums in as we say elsewhere. A Leak TL 10 'Point One' Mono amp someone found in a hoarder's back bedroom lost for 35 years, probably longer in reality for the item, the seller wisely just brushed the dust off & didn't plug it in as people often do. Pre 1958 Mono amp of basic looks, but a Rare Survivor, does it get brought back to life or just kept for Historical Purposes. At £1195 it's yours to decide, now reduced to £995, in reality to spend over £200 on an aged untested Mono pre & power amp would be too much of a gamble but it apparently sold so expect someone to have paid at least £700 for it on an offer, not a good buy. All original underneath if the yellow cap is a later replacement so it's been well used in it's day. What would we say if we were asked to bring it back to life. Here we'd not go for upgrades, to recap as best as is possible to keep it looking decent, but it's not original then. It's not upgraded either & the reality is the sound will be very nice, but very ancient sounding as is our 1932 Pye G/GR gram. So it's a 'decorative piece' if it's not attractive like a radiogram can be. The preamp was built into a cabinet with doors & the power amp was hidden away to be never seen. What do you want it for really is the question? These usually get bought by a dreamer who thinks "one day I'll get it going" and it stays in their back bedroom for decades longer. If you did get it recapped without upgrades & all checked, you'd play it once or twice, think "that's nice" & never play it again. We believe Valve amps should be recapped with upgrades to be used daily as the Rogers HG88 Mk III on our 'solds' page from 2013 when the buyer got a bargain compared to the value today, that was our earlier times before prices woke up. But... if the valve amp is too early or power is under 10w, it's probably best left original, we'd not upgrade a Quad II as there are too many difficulties with it as our review says, you'll not like the clunky noisy switching on the Quad 22 preamp. A Rogers HG88 Mk I or II we'd not consider worth upgrading as too early & only 8w. To repair is the only option & it'll not really be what you hope it'd be. Why so many Rogers Cadets & HG88 IIIs for sale is likely the same ones bought, tried & sold on seeing it's beyond what was expected. The one we looked at a few days ago is the Consort CA4000 with matching tuner. Early on we thought this sounded pretty good for what it was, but it's Laskys sold decent budget gear, if the ebay one looks tatty as the fascia paint wasn't matched to the metal to stay put. After trying several Bang & Olufsen Beomasters, this amp didn't sound confused on midrange like the B&O did, so it may be basic inside to the point of cheap, but it was interesting at the time, if not worth upgrading, seller wants £140 delivered on both which is probably fair if in high grade, but scruffy it'll be under £100, so expect to see it for months unless they are realistic, we still rate the amp 'Recommended-Very Good' so it's a better buy than some. These amps are from ebay sellers not us, we're just putting ideas on what's available if readers are thinking to buy to get serviced or upgraded.

The 1968-70 Sony STR-6120 Receiver. One Of The Best Ever Receivers.

Yes it is, but it's one that's nearing 50 years old & like all higher power amplifiers of the earlier years, it'll need a rebuild to be it's best. The 1971 HFYB shows this was £387 to buy new which is at least £5000 in today's money. We have the 'Aux 3' version back as written above, but we also have an early 'Tape Head' version we're rebuilding for a customer. It was fitted in a console without metal lid or wood case, if they got the wood case & the original box which is a rare find, the wood case stayed in the box since new. Had to get them another metal top lid which completes it. The amp itself has high grade fascia, knobs & rear panel, but the inside is very tired looking as stored somewhere damp for decades. Cobwebs & leaking capacitor mess underneath, if despite that it can be tidied to a degree. Amateur seller showed it worked by a YouTube video so the FM Tuner is good, a rather loud hiss as is typical & once we recapped the main caps it did work if with the hiss & some rustling a bit hidden amid. The issue of people just using old amps without getting them checked is foolish, one here had leaked a lot leaving a rusty mess inside the base cover. The sound on a quick test was better than some STR 6120s we've had beyond the noises, suggesting it wasn't used much. The 100v main caps are usually in poor condition & smelly. The front one was all crusty inside, way long gone if the rear one with an easier job was fine. The output caps similarly crusty with lots of powdery growth. The amp would be working possibly an hour, day or week & then you'd get failures. So this is why the 6120 always needs a proper recap, every 6120 we've cut the caps open once removed & it's always bad. Elna brand caps are good ones, but 50 years old they are no good on non-tuner sections. The badly leaked one was still a bit damp inside, with more use it'd leak more. We've seen old capacitors in valve amps similarly crusty & nearly dead. You need to replace them even if they "look" ok. Or just use it & hope for the best until it fails, gets damaged & costs more to repair. Some lower powered amps going back to 1969 we've found still with good capacitors once cut open, but only by cutting open will you know. So there are the problems capacitor wise. Again with all the 6120s we've had or worked on, none ever have the original 2SD88A output transistors as all have had repair. The 2SD88 inside under the amp is a regulator. The output stages run on quite long wires from the power amp board & can be over 30cm long. Not the best design if it doesn't affect the sound, it can be a real pain once you get bad old repairs & the wires come loose, this is a big problem with working on a 6120. Only one fuse, a wire soldered thing hanging in the air is odd, better tidied. So it can look quite ancient when dirty & unused, the 1965 Sony TA-1120 looks prehistoric. It's the first Real Vintage Amp of Quality we got in 2002 so we have a bias to like the thing. It can be a difficult amp to repair though as just one fuse can cause quite a bit of damage. Buy carefully, get it properly rebuilt & you'll have an amp to treasure.

Those £4 USB Desk Fans... How To Repair One.

Useful small desk fan that plugs into a USB save having a bigger noiser mains fan on. How they can make, sell with a profit & deliver for £4 is a mystery. It arrives by RM24 which even for Bulk Users must cost £3 so where's any profit? The motor & casing is fine, but the very thin USB wire isn't & they break so easily as it can be pulled apart when trying to strip the wire with fingernails to reveal 7 strands of very fine wire likely thinner than a hair. So as ours broke suddenly late on a Friday, to scrape Four Whole Pounds together will not get one until Tues-Weds which is an 'eternity' wait when you've come to rely on it especially with blowing solder fumes away. So in our usual way, let's fix it. The motor has thicker wires if the skinny USB cable breaks either inside from stretching or pulling away from the switch, or just if you look at it too hard. Get another unused thicker USB cable & fit that. To find which wires give about 5v DC on 4 wires in a regular cable, here we use the Phone charger block not the computer USB, is a quick meter test, if one pairing gives 5v AC, you want the DC. Wies found, others cut if not to short against the inner foil shield & a bit of Heatshrink to tidy. Wire to the fan & the switch. Fan works again, the "I" is the 'On' position. So just to fit something to 'strain relief' the new thick cable to not pull it sharply & get similar, a cable tie with a bit of superglue to stick to the cable if not the case completes the job. All for a USB cable that's likely about £3 to get a stronger one, our found one says "Pluscom AWM 2725 80°C 30v High Quality USB 2.0 Cable" so it was a broadband USB extension cable if a few years old now. There, enjoy your fan & it'll only fail when the motor seizes up & then you can oil it & it'll likely work again. Cool. Yes we are, we've got our fan working again. UPDATE: The new one did arrive, the thing with these fans is the blade isn't always balanced so our old one could vibrate more, but the new one barely vibrates, so swap blades over as the new one pulls off the motor easily. But the older orange one has a different motor with the coils visible, so the only way is to put the thick cable on the new white one. Same outer but different inner. Turns out the orange one with the coils visible runs faster than the more simple white 'Kingavon' one & the blades are a different shape. Noisy one better. Now you have a choice or maybe the USB cable wiring we did gives it more power?

By 1978 A Certain Type Of Overdesign Becomes Noticeable.
Amplifier designs from Phono, Tone, Preamp & Power Amp all seem to get overdesigned by now. Ignoring the budget gear or lazy companies still offering aged designs, they try too do too much to try to get that "perfect sound & specs". For all the amp circuits we know, we can see a lot of this was first done by... Yamaha. Don't get us wrong, some more complex designs can still sound excellent, but more often than not by 1978 the designs are rushed, low spec & cost cut to lose the better early sound if still be able to get high THD ratings yet sound miserable & unmusical. Bass limiting was still done even on 160w amps like the Sansui G-8700DB revealed. Here the excess design comes from Differentials being introduced, the design done well is possible but not common. The earliest amps that are findable to have a Differential are 1969-71 TEAC that used the same basic circuit & the 1974 Heathkit AR-1500. Differentials done well as the AR-1500 & Yamaha CR-1000 reveal, if only once much upgraded, that they are neither bad nor better or really that needed when late 1960s amps can match them, again much upgraded. The fussy designs are power regulators & even lazy zener diodes to pull a voltage down. Then by the early 1980s more 'rubbish' like current mirrors & op-amps become common, apparently adding more circuitry to overcome bad or weak design. It gets further away from the Valve styled designs as more circuitry is added. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X appears overdesigned if it's a balanced design, but why does it need so many differentials & push-pull preamp stages, 17 transistors, when we know the Preamp on the Trio-Kenwood KA-6000, with just 7 transistors on MC to MM phono, pre, tone of which 3 are buffers, sounds so much more natural without the 'too loud' dynamics of the 90X. "Why" is because showing off complex circuitry with ridiculously low THD despite having a grainy edgy sound is more important than how musical the 1978 NAD 3030 with some slightly excessive circuitry & the awkward edge soldered boards as Yamaha first did with the 1977 Yamaha CR-2020. But the worst idea in modern amps that means they'll get a fault & wreck loads more to make the item unrepairable at a reasonable price is the awful idea of DC coupling with no coupling capacitors as was typical even into the early 1990s. Found this nasty one with the 1995 Sony, one part trashes, as in shorts & so does the rest. DC Coupling or not was an option on 1977 Marantz amps like the Marantz 1152DC. A pointless idea if it means cost cutting as no need for coupling caps, until you need to repair the thing & 'give up' is now an opinion unless you replace every transistor. Built-in Obsolescence.

Beware Those Amplifiers With Nasty "T" Bass Filters.
We really see no need for these & as it only is on a few amplifiers we've found, we've only actually heard The Effect of a "T" Filter on speakers with the Sansui AU-666. It sounded really awful, bass was thick & limited, one-note bass. The AU-666 upgraded removing this circuit which isn't easy to do transformed it. Why anyone thought this was a good idea makes no sense. It's usually between Preamp & Power Amp. "T" Filter is the circuit design shape to ground the deepest frequencies. The heavy Bass Filters seem to be an old idea from the Valve days if in reality there is no need to limit bass if the amp is high spec, but in 1965-67 as the TA-1120 & Pioneer 1967 range have them, the spec was still modest & just out of Germanium era. The Sony TA-1120 from 1965 actually has one if not hard to remove the effect it's not a 'feature' that many will have realised ruins the bass. So far 1965 Sony TA-1120, 1970 Sansui AU-666, 1970 Sansui AU-999, 1975 NAD 160a (not all of the run) plus 1966-68 Pioneer SX-1000TA, SX-1000TD & SX-1000TW have this, probably the SX-700TF does too. Heavily reducing Bass is often 'built in' to Amplifiers anyway for tiresome cheap-ass complainers using Rumbly turntables on better quality amps, so realising most Loudspeakers can't play deep bass, manufacturers past 1967 just decided to just limit bass in general to shut the whingers up. You gets what you ask for... and probably never realised unless you use 15" speakers not tiny bookshelf ones. But us in upgrading these amps, out come these nasty bass limiters & for all the amps we've sold & upgraded, no-one has ever said bass was too much. Extended Natural Bass rather than excessive unwanted slow bass. See below about "Retro Bass".

Buy It - Use It - It Fails - You Feel Cheated - Throw Away - Buy New.
From what we can see this sort of way of Hifi Life seems to have started around 1995 with Built-In Obsolescence getting more & more cynical. The price you paid doesn't matter anymore either. With Domestic Goods like Mobile Phones, the one 2 years later is so much better as we've found, if the Apple scene is a known bad buy. Fridges may last 5-10 years, Washing Machines can last 20 years, Vacuum Cleaners can last 15 years, Microwaves can last 15 years & all still be going if the last 4 we've needed to Service & repair to keep going. But the "Throw It Away" scene we've found after 11 years with a decent DVD player as unrepairable as the HDD failed as said above. The Desk chair we got was a John Lewis "Leather" one if it seems none of it is leather just fake vinyl so a dishonest sale. The wheels break if you lean over but new wheels not in crumbly plastic are buyable. The £4 fan we fixed above because why not fix it. Our Oscilloscope was a Hand-Held Velleman one but by that nature it got dropped too much so to get a desk proper type one. But Hifi is like Computers & anything Audio Visual, buy it knowing it'll be thrown away in less time than you'd hope. In some cases new is better as Quality, Formats & Connectors change purposely to outdate yours so in TV-Visual market it's expected. But with Audio we can rebuild amps from the 1960s & use them daily. They can be "forever repaired" as long as parts are available & maybe more importantly someone has the skills which are dying off in the Disposable Tech world. Give it 50 or 100 years, it is likely any Non-IC based Amplifier can still be made to work. Note "Non-IC" as this is where the problems start. Most ICs are custom ones from V-FETs to STA blocks & once the spares supply is gone you have very little option, some build a module to replace a V-FET but it doesn't look reassuring. The post 1995 scene shows Computer Techniques in building, surface mount components were in a 2002 Arcam FMJ 30 preamp which we thought was 'not Hifi' so sold it on fast. Ceramic chip capacitors & other 'rubbish'. Bad Design sold to you as "Better" is the big lie of this, Direct Coupled Amps such as the Sony TA-FA3ES from 1995 will be unrepairable as we sadly found out because if one transistor shorts it just about trashes the lot as without capacitors the full voltage can cause damage, just as the makers want. The The Base Line with Hifi is... if it has ICs it will fail & likely unrepairable as ICs are often no longer made as custom designs, if sometimes they can turn up. The ICs with lots of hair-fine pins you'll never replace. Any item with Computer type very thin track on double sided boards is Unrepairable because you cannot unsolder them without a high risk of damage, we tried on Computer sound cards, you can only tag one on top messily or bin it as they want you to & go buy a new one. Any Custom V-FETs or Transistors beyond a usual findable type are 'Unobtania' as some sites say & Not Repairable. We found with the 1993 Marantz PM-62 that after 3 years main parts were said to be "No Longer Stocked", yes just 3 years, based on either stocks running out or just discontinued so you buy something else. But The Hifi we like on this site is "Forever Repairable" because it uses traditional components that are still widely available. Be wise when buying your Next Hifi, see if it can be repaired, email the makers & see what they say. If it's 110v only & needs shipping back to the USA, then don't buy it. If it's priced £200-£1000 accept that it's probably Unrepairable & use it until it dies like with Domestic Goods. You can see our embarrassment on buying a £45-delivered DVD player & not thinking it was so great, but that's the Market Place of today. What the Scene of Performance Cars is like with £100k+ cars all run by computers, well how long do they last? A traditional popular car we found usually lasts 10 years from new before becoming a moneypit & very few end up as Classic Cars as TV shows prove. A look on the road shows you the Year Plates to see that not many cars are over 10 years old now.

Do We Still Not Like Monster Receivers?
We'd like to like them, they are the biggest amplifiers physically of the era with the highest power output. They certainly have a look that has Bloke Appeal as these were really the only Vintage amps considered worth having when we first started writing on Hifi in 2011. Yes just 6 years ago seems a whole Hi-Fi generation away, because it is. The first one we heard in 2002 was the massive coffin-sized Pioneer, either a SX-1250, SX-1280 or an SX-1980. Even through mid 1970s 12" Tannoys it didn't sound very good, slow & blurry. It clearly needed a service we'd say now. The trouble is the 1976-79 Monster Receiver era was right in the depths of Cost Cutting & despite huge power & huge cases the lack of High Spec in build is noticeable. We had the Sansui G-8700DB 160w receiver, as with the Pioneer SX-950 that started it, we early-on considered these "oversized tin cans" as huge size but not the expected weight of it, as in meaning if the "Original Monster Receivers" 1973 Yamaha CR-1000 or 1968 Sony STR-6120 were that size they'd weigh 30kg+. The Pioneer SX-1980 weighs 35kg, the Yamaha CR-3020 weighs 35kg & the Rotel RX-1603 is 33kg to show the biggest ones are not just the tin cans of the earlier models. The Sansui G-9700 200w amp is only 22kg. The Marantz 2500 250w is only 27kg as is the crazy 300w Marantz 2600. We saw the Sansui G-8700DB as with a lot of potential to upgrade as the low spec was so obvious, but the power amp boards were a messy small design & other cost cut ideas. The Pioneer range gets heavily cost cut to undersell other brands in the Comet type shops which lost the quality. The Pioneer SX-828 we had to fully upgrade to see how good it could be as with the Pioneer SA-9500 Mk I amplifier. These were shockingly low spec & to upgrade to a standard we consider worthy was an enormous job on both. But it proved Pioneer were good designs if just excecuted to cut the last penny. The SX-850 & SX-950 similarly would do well. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X 130w amp we saw quality & much upgraded it again to see how high models upgrade, A huge improvement in the sound from the cold original sound, just a pity they don't match 1969 Tannoys too well. If they could be designed to match we'd keep it on the speakers for a while to really hear the amp, but mismatch means "midrange too upfront". The next big problem with Monster Amps is ICs. Some use them as Output Stages, others use them in the power amp or preamp. To us this is not going to upgrade well as we first found out in 2011 in upgrading the 1986 Realistic STA-2280 that we first bought as our first new amp. The poor construction & ICs just ruin the sound with slow blurry lo-fi unpleasantness & every amp with ICs or Op-Amps in the Audio Stages still sounds this way. Today ICs are everywhere & for the huge advances in Computing they can deliver decent sound in Line Level terms, after all a Soundcard or DAC is based on ICs with no other option. We'd love to get one of the huge 35kg Monster Receivers to upgrade, it'd be a no costs held sort of project & not really one a customer could get into as the job price would be too wild to estimate. But then once it's done to perfection, what would it sell for? The buyers of Monster Amps don't understand the Sound based on Valves & 1960s amps & won't pay the price for it. so as with our upgraded Sansui AU-G90X even priced very modestly, it sits unsold & unasked about for a year, whilst the earlier amps which can be upgraded to a better resell price are going out & leaving it behind. We'd just outprice ourselves, as in upgrading a Leak Delta 70 amp.

Rotel RX-1203 Receiver, Any Good?

This is the smaller 120w version of the huge 33kg Rotel RX-1603. We never looked at these on the "Other Amps" page for some reason. The RX-1203 is all Transistors beyond the expected Tuner ICs, it looks a good design & not excessively overdesigned, still a sane design. Power Amp has Doubled Output transistors as typical to get to 120w, the main power amp board has 2 differential pairs with only 13 transistors including Bias so not too busy if working out the circuit is always a challenge to see what they are used for. The circuit diagram found is in bits & hard to follow not in one big sheet, but the preamp has no ICs & no FETs either which don't belong in Audio beyond Tuners & later output Mosfets. The preamp looks overcooked with obvious signs of a controlled design so it'll sound nice but not particularly exciting. We thought the Rotel RX-603 to be a good clean sound but similarly not having the fresh fast sound. The design is well tamed to not really give the full effect of what 120w should have. Undoing the taming as we've found can be done to a degree but without complex redesign it'll still be what it always was & this is what we've found with other High Powered amps before. The Yamaha CR-2020 we upgraded a few times but it just couldn't lose a slow soft sound, if the Yamaha CR-1000 is a different beast & upgrades to perfection if a total rebuild & redesign into that was excessive but just to see what can be done. Monster Receivers & Amps of the 1976-79 era will never sound as fresh as the 1965-73 era, as they were tamed in the first place.

A Review Of The 1965 Sony TA-1120 Amplifier & 1967 ST-5000W Tuner.
These are both the early Rare ones of limited production before the TA-1120A & ST-5000FW arrived. Amplifier Power on, after about 5 seconds a relay clicks on. This doesn't mean music plays yet, there is a delay circuit that takes 30-40 seconds to bring the Preamp stages on, often one chanel arrives before the other. quirky. 'Safety' light is always on if the bulb is still working, so goes Off if there's a problem. This has no Headphone socket if we had made a box to use with the suitable circuitry & to connect to the Speaker outs. Volume in use on speakers needs turning up to around 10-11 o'clock position for the design of the volume & is similar on the TA-1120A & STR-6120. A tight accurate sound with the rich sound that not many amps can do. Noise Level on this amp is as low as modern tech, as low as -110db says the manual, even with volume up high barely any noise compared to some amps. A real no expense spared design & it gives near perfect Square Waves even on higher frequencies which shows how good the original design was & for our upgrades. In use the Balance control may need the occasional rotate back & forth even after servicing which we did again on taking lids off to photo. With Stereo tracks, Stereo is very wide & the amp is very punchy & fast sounding. There is minor heat on the left of the grille as voltage-drop resistors put out some heat as designed. Plays Rock with convincing weight that not many amps can do. It sounds well controlled if certainly can kick too. To be aware it's still a 50w amp so 95dB speakers like the Tannoy Golds are means it'll be at it's best there. We're writing this as it's time to sell these on after a brief test of the market & had 2 interested, if the price is not for casual buyers. We've not altered the resistors design beyond losing the "T" bass filter & some amps can be even crisper on treble, but why alter this more when it's an awkward one to work on & to hear how good the original circuit is after 52 years. Benchmark Design for sure. On goes the ST-5000W Tuner & even with a basic T-antenna it pulls in Stereo with ease. The Tuner we got with a TA-1120A from a Studio so the Tuner was kept serviced & working. Tuner sounds crisp & detailed. The STR-6120 tuner based on the ST-5000F sounds as good as this, if perhaps treble de-emphasis is still set to the non-UK value, if we're not altering. Pulls in Stereo through the whole 87-108 tuning range & with a basic aerial that is very unusual. The Tuner if recapped as we did with the STR-6120 we have back sounds very fresh. Tuner has all bulbs working. A wonderful creation inside, build quality is ancient but high quality. Tuner has the original 2-core wire with USA type blade plug to use on the Amp's Power outputs to not have 2 UK plugs.

Realistic STA-150 & STA-220 Receivers, Top Sounding Amps.

We had both of these, both upgraded similarly & they sounded very similar too if the power rating is 32.5w & 60w. On comparing to the Yamaha CR-1000 as we rebuilt it, the STA-220 just about duplicated it except the CR-1000 is rated up to 90w in tests. So to see which Realistic sells. The STA-150 has no takers since listed in June if the STA-220 went within 2 days of listing as it's the 60w version. We've used another amp on the Tannoys for TV sound since & we found it punchy but a little distortion shows it needs more work, if ours is very experimental. So as the 220 was sold to get the 150 out. It sounded great on speakers as does the 220, if the 220 does have more weight to the sound. So as a buyer decided which we kept, to try more upgrades on the 150 to give it a bit more weight. The main HT voltage, on a late capacitor-couled output design, was 66v on the 150 & the 220 has about 85v which is quite close & shows the current of the STA-150 is kept limited. The 150 has a little less circuitry on the preamp & power amp which does give a slightly sweeter sound so trading power for more detail is the deal. The 150 was designed first as the board numbers revealed. 220 output 32v, 150 output 24v. Some upgrades later, the amp already has the spec to cope, else upgrading is a wasted effort, the punchy sound of the STA-220 is in here now & it actually has more punch even, if it's all in the upgrades. Would say the 150 is a faster sounding amp & it certainly is very dynamic for a supposed 32.5w amp, it's probably nearer 45w now as the clean sine output suggests with other amps. The idea of volume sliders may not appeal, but it gets rid of the Balance control & it's resistance between L+R on some designs before the 2 gang later ones. In comparing to the Sony STR-6120, the Realistic STA-150 is a little sweeter, if the Sony does powerful deep bass with more confidence, if otherwise they are very similar based on our upgrades which are similar too.

Pioneer SX-650 Receiver Needs Help... Any Good To Us?

One looking a bit sad on ebay, if £60 delivered for a non worker is certainly worth considering. Not looked at the lower models if 35w is worthwhile, we know the bigger SX-850 & SX-950. Service Manual quickly tells it's sins so it's not for us. IC for the preamp & even worse a big IC output block. It's an SP-40W, a custom made one if like a STK block. As you'd expect "out of stock" after a search, if these can turn up as old stocks are found. A Sanken 8 pin unit with a contoured silver case. Preamp-Tone is a TA7136P that was used by lots of amps so you'll still find that as it's unlikely to fail, these are an upright SIL type IC with 7 pins findable on ebay USA for not much. So the SX-650 despite looking a nice amp, what do you do with it? To fit a new power amp or cobble other amp bits into a working one that no buyer would trust. Only good for spares if in reality the spares aren't much good beyond parts that are shared with other amps like knobs & switches. Disposable Electrical Goods with Built-In Obsolescence one again. It may need other work & the output block is OK, but a big gamble with bad odds, even if got working & recapped it'd be an earner, not for us.

Sony STR-6120 Part 1: What Does It Sound Like As Sort Of Original?
We've got an early 'Tape Head' one to rebuild, so to hear what it sounds like as near original as we can get. But as the above says the Power supply had to be recapped with our upgrades & then it revealed there was an impressive Sea Of Hiss so to update hissy transistors. Now the Hiss has dried up, to hear what it sounds like on the original Elna grey capacitors. Output capacitors upgraded bring a fuller sound than having heard other 6120s as original, when the poutput caps are bad it sounds very limited we've heard on other 6120s. The boards are tricky to work on as the wires don't give enough movement, if the Aux 3 one has longer ones, so the risk of loose wires is guaranteed which can cause big trouble in some places. The Headphone circuit is poor so once it's altered the sound via headphones is much crisper. We did start to write a review of it on the original Headphone circuit but found it was a bit slow & dull sounding needing +2 on Treble, but then altering it gave such a different opinion. Sony STR-6120 on original Headphone design isn't showing it well at all. But the Sony TA-1120A Headphone circuit is useless. The amp wasn't heavily used to try it on the original Elnas if we'd not trust it for a long use. The design is different to the Sony TA-1120 or 1120A & we are rather surprised how good it sounds even on original small caps. There is some 'retro' bass in the design which we've not altered & to work on it like this was deliberate to see what the amp sounds like nearer to original. It's a little tailored in design as are the 1120s but it sounds very balanced which we didn't expect on original caps. why bother upgrading & recapping? Oh, because you want to use it daily & have it reliable. We'd not trust it on our Tannoys until fully recapped shows our wise caution, but it does sound great. It's certainly fresh sounding, punchy & the slighly retro bass does certainly please. Upgrading we've done before & it can lose the richer sound until upgraded a lot more with redesign which is a difficult one. We upgraded the Realistic STA-150 a few days before & the STR-6120 sounds very like it, if for upgrades it has much more weight to it in the deeper bass. Trying hard to find fault in the sound, but it's not easy. The STR-6120 we've raved about since getting one in 2002 for good reason. Trying 'Start' by The Jam is a very telling track with the clean intro, here the amp on original spec can't play it with the dynamics of upgraded amps if it has the richness to do Rock guitar with weight if again the dynamics a bit limited. Be sure the amp as all original wouldn't sound like this, there is a lot of upgrading in it already & new non-hissy transistors. The rear "Bass Boost" switch isn't necessary on headphones or big speakers if it would fill out small bookshelf speakers. We found it sounded a bit unnatural on big Tannoys as the mid bass gets thicker. The rear "Bass Boost" switch just alters the main NFB loop, it adds a thicker upper bass to suit small speakers that sound lacking, but on Headphones & 15" speakers the Bass Switch is unnecessary.

Sony STR-6120 Part 2: Comparing to the Upgraded Realistic STA-150.
So after playing this a while, to get the Realistic STA-150 in to play the same tracks & hear what's different. The STA-150 got a big upgrade as a buyer decided which one of the Realistic we'd keep & the 60w STA-220 sold fast. It's far more dynamic than the Sony with a more natural deeper bass & Stereo is wider. Dynamics extend further as Slew rate is audibly faster, the STR-6120 was sounding good within itself with some design tailoring, the STA-150 has had all the upgrades the Realistic STA-220 had. The STA-150 is perhaps a little scary sounding for the dynamics & the Sony is maybe a little easier on the ears. We remember a relation couldn't take the huge sound of our 100w Valves on the Tannoys, because they weren't used to it, only playing Car or Portable Cassette CD Players. But once you're used to the big sound you'll crave it. The STA-150 was rated 32.5w if the spec was unusually modest. The 24v clean sine suggests 45w-50w & it certainly sounds like that now, if not quite as loud as the 60w STA-220 on trying louder to see where it flattens off audibly. Back to the Sony reveals the slightly tubby retro bass & the smaller dynamics if it's still very similar to the STA-150, the old caps not quite as extended. Turned up louder on headphones, the Sony doesn't quite get there, it sounds a little restrained, volume in the 'wipe area' of the 'Volume' word doesn't give much gain & towards the higher it flattens off with less volume than the STA-150, the 31v clean sine is higher than the 24v of the STA-150 if the STA-150 plays louder with more punch. This is what upgrading brings. Here the STA-150 is equal to a 50w amp from a 32.5w original rating, if that's not a typical result. As we put just above, the bigger sound of the STA-150 is wanted again, but it's in the other room again. Next time we'll play the Sony recapped with upgrades, if nothing too much altered to reveal what full recapping does, plus another STA-150 compare.

Sony STR-6120 Part 3: After Recapping The Power Amp Board.
Recapped with upgrades, the sound is very different to how it was the last time. For a start, the Volume pointer is set lower to give a good level revealing aged caps limit the gain. The sound will take a few tracks to waken up the new caps, about 20 mins does it, if initially it can sound pretty lousy & vague. The 6120 quality is clear to hear, if the preamp & Phono caps not done so to hear the aged original caps that sound blurry on busier treble tracks giving a vague grainy sound. So to do them next. Gone is the vague sound & it sounds great, finally brought the quality out. Gone is the retro limited bass too & it's still quite like the bass of before if more natural & extended with good weight for Rock. Earlier the same day we wrote the Sony TA-1120 review if that's further up as sections get re-read before putting online. The STR-6120 is a much crisper fresher sound if beyond that not so unlike if 50w here does leave you wanting more power perhaps so you need 95dB sensitivity speakers to do it justice. Be sure the STR-6120 was designed for the Tannoy Golds as no other speaker of that quality in 1968. This amp can be a real tough one to repair if it goes wrong & the board wires don't leave much movement, but this one has behaved well as have other ones, if not all. This early amp despite tired looking inside upgraded well, if it reveals old repairers just use any old transistor, one was very wrong spec for the section. Upgraded to a sensible if not extreme degree, the amp sounds Wonderful, all you want from an amp with the original design hiding higher quality. Deep unrestrained bass hit on playing a TV show wasn't matched by another amp. The Midrange on this amp is so smooth & treble fresh and detailed. A good reminder why we rate this Amp so highly, if it needs an expensive rebuild to bring the best out, but you'd not regret the spend.

What Is "Retro Bass" As Mentioned Here?
Beyond the needless "T" filters mentioned just above, "Retro Bass" is what quite a lot of Vintage Amps have, even into the mid 1980s as the Realistic STA-2280 has this. Some call this "Coloured Bass", "One-Note Bass" or "Bass Hump", it's a thicker upper bass with no real deep bass & can vary a lot. Part of the reaction to fools complaining about Rumbly Turntables, manufacturers just limited all deep Bass to stop complaints & realised it actually sounds "better" on first listen. Limiting Bass causes it to "ring" electrically meaning it slightly boosts the lower frequencies it allows through, similar to Cartridge Loading ideas. Similarly as heard in the Rogers HG88 Mk III it can when done too harshly cause quite nasty midrange distortion, the HG88 after dealing with that became very smooth. Retro Bass can please on first listen, gets the buyers in but then they tire of the sound, but compared to an amp as original without limiting or once upgraded, the deep bass that was missing is now heard & comparing back the Retro Bass is a One-Note bass. The only problem here is deep bass needs higher spec so it's not just a quick upgrade, the rest of the amp needs to be able to control it. So if you're thinking it's easy to deal with that, you could end up with an unstable amp as we found upgrading the 1963 Trio WX-400U still using the original design. This is why most recapping will just use the same values as trying to better just one part will get problems, such as instability which is very wobbly bass, volume changing as the amp can't cope a sort of 'motorboating' & this isn't what you want on speakers as you'll probably burn them out. An amp is designed to be good amid itself, to upgrade to lose "Retro Bass" needs a lot done. Will Retro Bass suit you or annoy you? It depends on what size speakers you use. Some use bigger Floorstanding speakers of 10"+ size whilst others use smaller even Bookshelf speakers. Big Speakers are more honest sounding in general, the retro Bass will sound a bit false if maybe only on comparing amps will it show, maybe you'd prefer that. Small speakers are generally 'Top & Mid' only with even the better ones having very reduced output below 100Hz Upper Bass which is why many waste money on Sub woofers. The Retro Bass here will make your small speakers sound fuller & the deep bass below 30Hz-40Hz won't be heard on these. So which suits your needs? We asked one customer on finding Retro Bass on their amp which speakers they'd be using to give them the option. They chose our upgraded version & the amp for our upgrades coped very well & became far more natural on speakers.

Tone Controls: Are They Essential Or Nasty Rubbish?
We had one ask if Tone Controls or any sort of Sound Shaping as in EQs do not belong in High End Hi-Fi. Sadly this reader has not read our site more yet still believed the hype of Hi-Fi mags as their Amp proved. We've heard the dull boring sounds of those who claim Tone Controls are bad, a flat lifeless sound & we notice they don't play music much as it's uninspiring, if on headphones they played it lots more as the Headphones have the Sound Shaping built in. You can see nearly every amp we've had & reviewed has Tone Controls. But we don't use them in testing with Headphones, as for a quirk of recording music since the 1990s, the tracks on the computer are recorded with no RIAA Treble cut if the Bass is right. This means we can play any amp Flat & not have to rely on the Tone Controls which is a far better reference than the varying Tone Control designs. On the Tannoys we need Bass & Treble gain for "our sound" watching TV not loudly. The Loudspeakers page reveals amps we've tried & how they match, plus effects of Tone on some. The trouble with Tone Stages is there are no accepted ideals & amps differ from a feeble ± 5dB to an excessive ± 18dB. Tone stages can also be too thick sounding on Bass which the Yamaha 1973-78 amps have & some despite saying ±10dB sound nothing like that, if played flat it sounds good on speakers, adding Tone doesn't do much & neither does it on Headphones. What can Make or Break an amp if you are needing some Tone Gain is unsurprisingly the Tone stage. Some can sound great on Headphones played flat but on Speakers can be lacking in detail if the sound played flat suggests the amp should sound better. Some brands use cheap Ceramics in tone stages, Marantz remarkably do so they sound soft & blurry. The best Tone Stages we've found give the right sound at plus 2-3 allowing a bit extra if the TV source on older shows is a bit dull. The worst give little gain or sound too thick on bass suggesting no-one bothered to test what they sounded like. Any Tone stage with ICs is never going to be any good, the decent 1976 Technics SU-8080 had a lousy IC Tone Stage that was fine played flat but lost a lot of quality with Tone on even set flat. This sort of later IC design is probably where the 'Tone Is Bad' idea comes from. The non-IC designs if done well as the 'NFB' design can sound excellent. The earlier 'Passive' designs we've found are not very accurate even playing flat. When Tone Stages are Essential they are worthy of being called Hi-Fi. If Tone Stages are bad, with ICs & Ceramics then they are Rubbish & best not used. Bad Tone stages sound weak, grainy & unpleasant. Good Tone Stages don't sound of anything.

Strange Transistor Design Stages: Complimentary, Cascade, Differential.
As we started taking an interest in Hifi more with Valve Amps, this site was us finding out more about Transistor Amps, to see later amps from about 1971-72 adding extra transistors to "do things better" appears a bit pointless to us, but this is basis of later Hifi where Current Mirrors & Cascade Bootstrap circuits amid the 1992 Marantz PM62 power amp early stage IC. More on this on the Valves & ICs page. Buffer Stages aka Emitter Followers are worthwhile as these isolate a later stage from altering a previous one, such as Record out & Tone Stages which we know affect a design unless it's well tamed. The earlier ICs page didn't look to deeply at what these do & you can find Wikipedia is a good source for info on tech matters, as is wiki.analog.com. The design of the Sherwood S-7200 receiver from 1971 was later used in the NAD 160 receiver from 1972, the same makers of both using a good circuit. But we see the Tone Stage of the S-7200 just has 2 gain transistors before & after the Tone Controls, but the NAD 160 adds a second transistor in a 'Complimentary Cascade Pair' type circuit. We need to understand "why" this is considered better, as we actually found the NAD 160 tone can make extra rotary 'fff' noises on using Tone, if once upgraded, but the S-7200 is silent in use. So the 'improved' design is worse, right? On the Common Emitter-Collector Cascade the input resistance aka Impedance is High & the output is Low. Gain is nearly independent of load resistance. Why not design it better in the first place we think, why use extra circuitry to make up for issues that need not exist as the 1965-70 era amps prove? With the Complimentary Cascade Pair issues are known so they are trying to be clever adding more design to cover weaknessess of over-saturation aka distortion. But one single transistor does the job fine. It's just a load of nonsense if probably gives better specs as it's messing with the original signal. The Differential is mentioned often above, it becomes Standard for nearly all amps with 1969 Teac being the first big brand to use them. If designed well it's as good as earlier amps, the Yamaha CR-1000 proves that if it can be adjusted to be right which is rare. Differentials are usually 'Long Tailed Pairs' going back to valve era for non-Audio uses, so why is it needed now? It gives good specs as in THD Distortion readings still with average design & low spec parts is what we see. The Differential is partly a Buffer & it involves NFB as the Differential has one main output but 2 inputs, one is from the volume control signal as 'V neg' and the NFB side is the 'V pos', diagrams show the signal is 'inverted'. But look as we may, to see why a Differential is needed is the Mystery. Earlier designs used NFB easily enough & one amp even used 2 stages of NFB. But looking at earlier designs, these are more complex, the Differential is what the Op-Amp is, easy to design & with IC versions who needs to design it well? We've now looked at enough Differential designs & they vary a lot, an IC is fixed design. The Differential means NFB is used, it gives better specs but it also flattens the sound. Overcooking designs with dumbing down to be Universal & cost-cutting is why so much later Hi-Fi sounds boring.

Protection Circuits: Are They Any Good?
The idea is to not fry your speakers if the amp gets user-damage in use or parts age & fail from owners not getting Hifi serviced even if 30+ years old. Early amps like the 1967 Sansui 3000A that's direct coupled had a pretty hopeless circuit that muted the preamp so a fault would mean the amp silenced. That's all, you could still get ±40v on your speakers which would be DC so would fry them. The 1965 Sony TA-1120 has a relay & if you totally short the outputs this is said to turn the amp off via a Circuit Breaker circuit involving the relay, we don't fancy testing it though. For 1965 this is very advanced tech, if it does take about 30 secs to play music on turn-on. Here you are further protected by the output Capacitors as these block DC, so even if an output cap fails the relay will do the job if it's adjusted. Onto later amps with Relays, some have very basic circuits that only sense if Bias Current is too high like the JVC 5521-L & turn the relay off, if ones like the Yamaha CR-1000 & CR-2020 won't turn the amp on if voltages are wrong so really will save your speakers. So with Capacitor Coupled outputs to speakers this is an added safety assuming the caps don't fail & Relays can vary in what they do, if likely by the 1977 era they became more sophisticated, if only circuit gazing will tell for sure. Capacitor coupling can still fry tweeters as we found with the Dynaco ST-120 amp when an input cable got pulled & amp put out a loud shriek as only the + was connected & fried some high power bullet tweeters as very loud audio will clip & put pure DC on the clipping peaks which on a high frequency will be as near DC for it. You're not protected at all really are you?

Acoustic Research Amplifier, 50w from 1968
No model number, ARA is the model name. Heard of the brand but as USA never seen one to try. So to be asked about repairing & upgrading this. Manuals findable, but seeing the inside is the thing, it's an amateurish random mess & will use big axial capacitors & other outdated parts like UK-EU amps of the era. Not the slick quality of USA or Japanese amps. This all seems built into a metal box with 'dodgy mess' being the opinion on the customer saying that is the amp. We've seen UK-EU amps with this sort of build & didn't fancy trying, some we found had strange designs that you'd have a job getting parts for let alone working, as in one had high value bipolar capacitors that no-one makes. 1968 Reviews rated it highly, but that's nearly 50 years ago. The 1965 Sony TA-1120 is ancient inside but it has a logical design so we could deal with it. The early Fisher & Akai similarly. The ARA is too random & to get it to the high standard we'd want to give to a customer, we just see it as an expensive job that in reality is better spent on a better made amp. It has possible Multivoltage connections, not by a plug but several wires & resistors to solder as per the manual. Built this badly we'd be wary of it if it was ours, let alone a job for a customer. As it stands, we'll not offer a rebuild & voltage change on this as it'll cost them too much & results may not be good. There are just better amps out there. Not all Vintage Hifi is worth rebuilding.

Here's Where The Cables Lies & Hype Starts...

The Hiraga guy is at it again Aug 1976, now saying "Can We Hear Connecting Wires" plus 'proof' of square waves being different. But we know this is down to the LCR characteristics of cable & using 100kHz test tones the mindless fool sees how some cables at this high frequency mis-shape the square wave. Basic stuff if you've ever looked at a square waves & use a Low-High Filter or twiddle the Tone controls. Sadly this "gee-wow" stuff influenced a whole Industry telling half-truths to spend your money in believing 'experts', but we've mentioned this before above & the page that has 'Cables' info on. It is BS as is all the Harmonics testing, it means nothing if the amp doesn't sound good & only one who has listened to many amps & redesigns-upgrades can really know what sounds good & even then comparing several amps in one session needs doing as your hearing can be fooled or misled. A later HFN/RR reader's reply compared Cables to Transmission lines says for Speaker cables, they make No Sound Difference, if later years proved the higher capacitance & induction can tame badly designed amps. We know Ferrites do make a big difference on speaker cables blocking RF hash. The whole idea of Cables is deceptive, the more basic cables of good quality are better as the LCR effects are limited. The more expensive cables are Designed with higher LCR values & will make poorer amps that sound rough appear tamed so "better" in the ears of the inexperienced listener. For us, a good basic Speaker cable with Ferrites on both ends is all you ever need. For Phono connecting cables for Turntables to CD players etc, the LCR effect we found as shown above & on the Turntables page can again tame the sound, but by bettering the design, we found these Expensive Cables then sound too dull, if only on a Turntable Cartridge output. On Line Level there is no difference as the signal is louder. Sadly the Rubbish about Cables still continues in the Hifi press, but be sure these 'Reviews' are little more than paid adverts. reading the News Media online, so many stories are sponsored but this isn't revealed. it's like "Black friday" it's all a Con based on Consumer Hypnotism & the promise of Loss Leader Bargains that oddly are 'Out Of Stock' before you get there. They never existed is why.

1977-1978 Hifi Amplifier Arguments In Hifi Magazines.
HFN/RR has several articles about this. It starts from the Jean Hiraga guy, then Paul Messenger who is briefly HFN/RR assistant editor until John Atkinson takes over later in 1978, the job was advertised we noticed. Martin Colloms is the third one of the New Breed. Most of it is certainly interesting, but as a Jan 1978 letter by John Lindsey-Hood who made the less than great 75w amp mentioned above, he is spot on about amateur Loud Opinions being taken as fact, the "Hifi BS era" really starts in 1977. Peter Walker of Quad isn't pleased by the nonsense either, but the Quad 33/303/405 amps around at the time are seriously flawed & limited designs as we put on the 'Other Amps' page. The Old Breed stuck on out of date British Hifi disagree with The New Breed who are still in their early 20s so don't really have enough experience. Don't discount the older Hifi Pioneering Names though, they started it all if are now too old to get new ideas. So we look at this from 40 years on, we do upgrades that no-one else has ever worked out because we are crazy enough to try & don't mind trying things with the knowledge to upgrade further to satisfy it or get out of it if it's going too far. Design Based Upgrades on Hifi is unique to us. So we know that cost cutting & low spec is the badness in Hifi of the 1977 onwards era plus overdesign to get silly specs but the amp sounds boring. Based on seeing the parts in Yamaha amps of around the 1977 era CR 800-1020-2020 & CA-1000-1010 there were better spec parts around, big 10000µf capacitors were in the 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 but makers like Pioneer, Sansui & Trio-Kenwood chose to cost cut to save pennies & hope you'd tire of their amps & but next year's model under the Sales Hype of "Better". An amp like Pioneer SA-9500 Mk I should be a great amp, but like the big SX-950 types it is so cost cut where it doesn't show too much that Sound is Poor. No wonder writers like Paul Messenger raved about late 1960s Radford STA 25 valve amps as the design was honest & fresh on an amp probably still on spec after 10 years light use. The Musicality Debate seemed to head into Sounds More Liked if not Sounds More Correct with jokey cartoons about finding the simple valve amp in a Dansette or the Decca and EAR portable record players as on our Solds Gallery. We still have another of the EAR one & the sound may be basic but it is listenable in Retro Consideration of what it is with 4 speakers inside it was way ahead of a Dansette. To us knowing upgrades, no amp we rate higher than "Very Good" as original because none even as Serviced are as good as they can be Upgraded. A few may rate "Very Good-Excellent" in reality & the grade "Excellent" does mean just scrapes excellent to high excellent, without narrowing the ideas too much. So the Arguments about Hifi amplifiers are a bit pointless. Get 50 of the Best Liked Amps of 30w or more from 1975-79 era. Throw out the ones with ICs in preamp or Power amp. Throw out the ones with No Phono or No Tone which means the Naim type stuff. Throw out most of the ones over 160w meaning the 250w-300w+ Marantz & Pioneer as you just don't need the power & the sound will suffer in quality. We did put "Small Ones Are Much Sweeter" on an earlier page section & this is still true, the 30w-40w amp isn't usually overdesigned so has the sweetest sound. The 18w of the Coral A-550 & JVC MCA-104E was a delight, if power was only just enough on speakers. Ones 50w-75w can sound less open & by 100w even with the big Yamaha CR-2020 & CA-1010 with all the upgrades we couldn't get the fresh sound that some earlier amps can do. So overall arguing in 1977-78 about Amp designs seems rather pointless as they miss the whole idea of Low Spec from Cost Cutting. All is interesting to read & it explains "Why" the later Hifi Scene is so difficult to pick out the few Good Amps from the majority of nothing special ones, which do include 'wanted' IC type amps that we'd not bother trying ourselves.

HFN/RR Reviews 'The Sex Pistols' 1977 LP in January 1978.

"Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols" yells the very basic yellow & pink LP cover, naturally with the early Blue label. We had a copy to borrow only very recently so recorded it & the Xmas 1977 Benefit Gig film on TV shows how important this lot were. "Bollocks" you scream, what is the meaning of this outrage? Either their trousers were ripped, or they meant the Bollocks in the Charts under the term "Rock & Pop" since 1970. Shite like Glam Rock, Prog Rock, Country Rock, AM-Friendly Rock & Teenybopper Pop, the worst years of the genre if thankfully Punk gave us 5 good years 1977-82 if it rapidly descended into 'Live Aid' & more shite like Stock-Aitken-Waterman if briefly reviving for Britpop if not for long. Three utter classics "Anarchy In The UK", "God Save The Queen" & Pretty Vacant" we play often on testing amps to see if they can bring the detail out in these. The LP version of "Anarchy" is a re-recording if well crafted to fool 99% of you. It was released 28 Oct 1977, so HFN/RR's Fred Dellar in Jan 1978 probably wrote his in Nov-early Dec 1977 after having the chance to see what The Popular Music Press had to say, if not sitting for too long. The review gives it a "B" for Sound Quality & a "1" for Music Quality which may have you thinking he's trying to be 'Down with the Kids'. "And even if what they are saying is sheer nihilism, expressing distrust and disgust but offering no solution - which is a downright inane attitude to adopt" if then says the Hit singles are "gut grabbing". Overall says it's excellent in parts, no shades of colour or pace in the music as it's blockbusting riffs all the way. To close he wisely says their deliberately disposable music may not be so disposable after all. Written a bit dryly by Dad it appears & checked by one years younger is the idea, it's a considered if rather square opinion. But it's HFN/RR so it's acceptable & probably braver than was expected at the time, if The Stranglers & The Damned LPs were previously reviewed, the Damned one got bypassed too easily. We found the LP beyond the 45s tracks the same sort of energy, the standard sort of lyrics, a few 'fucks' to upset Grandma, but that's the point & a love ballad would seem out of place. Their point is to shake up the stale tepid music scene, far from inane to awaken minds & it's for others with power to offer solutions which they never did & never do. Sadly Punk burnt out very fast & most of what is called Punk is New Wave or the sort of Sham 69 type Oi-Chav-Punk that is moronic, unlike the wiser Sex Pistols idea. A good time will have been had blasting this LP out in 1977 & it's as much a classic as "Sgt. Pepper" is today, if with the pretention exchanged for raw energy & attitude.

Oh Dear: Pioneer SX-6300 - The Idiot's Way To "Upgrade"

This laughably bad effort is on ebay late Nov 2017. The person is a dangerous foolish amateur, fair comment when you see the pics & see the ghastly Forum & Hifi Mag unskilled ideas of "Upgrading". Notice none of our amps use any of these "ideas" as they are all totally unnecessary. Ripped out the Multivoltage round fuse block & fitted a 'Kettle' type mains socket leave hole gaps. Removed feet & put huge conical spike feet. Say they took out all the internal wiring & replaced it with £75/m silver plated cable plus other types of 'fashion' cable, but unaware of the basics. They took out the 8 speaker connectors & fitted 4 gold plated ones yet left the other 4 holes open, they took out the original Phono sockets & put... Gold Plated ones. They took out the Headphone socket too. Now they say it has Mains hum which is from their bad rewiring, earthing inside amps is a fine art to get right. Look at their photos inside, their "expensive" cable is actually unshielded so will pick up hum & it's done very messily. Still with original capacitors we see. Absolutely None Of This will make the slightest difference to the amp beyond making it sound worse as they found. It is worthless beyond parts & to say it has been independently safety checked is ridiculous as open holes aren't safe for a start. The person has butchered this decent budget-midprice amp & it's only good for spares. You'll never work out the bad rewiring inside. They've just read forums & think they know what upgrading is cobbling together half ideas, this is the worst one we've ever seen & we've seen some bad 'upgrades' on ebay which we'll never go near at any price, or want to rebuild properly. They seriously got it wrong here & think you will buy it. Upgrading is to offer a nice tidy looking product like the Car Rebuild shows offer, not some hacked about ghastly mess by an amateur. What is the Pioneer SX-6300? The amp is only worth about £75-£125 in good working 'raw' condition, a 1975-77 20w amp that's basic but not junk either. Phono has an IC which is typical for the age & level, Tone has one transistor plus a typical selection of Filters & User Controls, Differential Power amp input with Driver, Push pull Driver then Outputs all as Transistors. Design is modest for 20w if it'll sound pretty good & would upgrade well. It's not a high-end model but it looks well made for a 20w amp & seeing a worthwhile amp trashed this badly is just sad.

1974 Sansui 881 60w Receiver - Any Good?
This 1974-1976 range is often on ebay, if usually the lower power models. These are in the HFYB with misleading "Music Power" Ratings, not RMS... so to look at the Manuals to find the RMS at 1kHz rating, some models show a reduced 20Hz-20kHz rating but for us upgrading these the 1kHz rating only matters as the designs must be rather limited, 771 40w or only 32w. The actual Power compared to the Music Power to fool you into thinking it's a bargain, the 221 is 30w Music power yet only 8w RMS. Full Range is 221 8w £96, 331 12w £106, 441 12w also, 551 16w £139, 661 20w, 771 40w £221, 881 64w £286. The looks on all these are that fairly generic Pioneer SX-828 and Akai AA-8080 style if smart looking. Only the 771 & 881 are 40w or more, the others may be fine if low power is acceptable if under 20w isn't going to do much, an 8w transistor amp is a bit pathetic, but kept the price under £100 in 1976 for a Stereo Receiver. 221 & 331 sold well & be sure many believe the 'Music Power' ratings from misinformation. The 881 gets looked at. The ebay one is never going to sell for a ridiculous £275, broken top grille & out of storage rough look, £75 to us seems expensive even. Typical ebay overpricing by amateurs. But what is it? Inside photo shows Transistor outputs, Power Amp section for L+R on one plug-in board under a metal case, Main Selector at the rear to avoid the long wires inside if they make no difference if done well. Looks a good amp & some early use of ideas mentioned. Still an amp with separate boards unlike the later one board efforts did even on higher models. But the Circuits reveal all isn't so great: IC Phono stage & even worse IC pre-tone stage. The BA312 IC used here, a 7 pin inline one with 3 transistors, 1 can be designed as it has no resistors on it, if the other two are fixed resistor values to be generic & pointless but it's cost-cutting. NFB in the IC plus on the design will five it that 'boring' sound. No point looking any further perhaps, the Preamp is hopeless with ICs, but so much of the post 1974 era is so to look further to tell the story. Oddly the 551 has 2 transistors not the IC on the Pre-Tone if it's only 16w. Even better the 661 20w has No ICs at all in the Audio stages, the 771 similarly, so the 881 with ICs is a lesser beast showing the Top Model is trying to be clever but fails for ICs. The 221, 331 & 441 have IC power amp STK type blocks if with no other ICs, a real mix of design amid the range. 881 will be lacking in Bass if not too severely, 661/771 more limited. It's just why we don't bother much with these later amps as they are too predictable & don't always upgrade as good as we hope, plus resell price as Upgraded is limited as the amps are nothing too exciting. The 551/661/771/881 will probably sound 'nice' to the average listener, deep bass won't trouble them too much but they'll not be using 15" speakers to hear it anyway. That sort of lively if thin bright sound without much weight to it is common by this era & likely the deal here. A 64w amp for £286 in 1976 was on the cheaper side & some looks decent but the design is just 'cookie cutter' as Pioneer & most other brands became. Just not very exciting stuff.

December 2017 Blog

Buying Raw Untested Unserviced Vintage Hifi Online Is A Gamble.

We've bought quite a few of the Amplifiers we've had from ebay, the days of finding junk shops with the Old Stuff is long gone & ebay opens the country to you. But the risk of overpricing as we put on the September blog is only part of it. The Amps we are interested in are Old. The ones we look at are 54 years old if 1963, 44 years old if 1973 & 34 years old if 1983. Amps that may have been gently used occasionally for all their years or more likely shoved in a cupboard or the Attic where the extremes of weather do age things. The Warm Cupboard or Home Amp may look better grade if usually the capacitors will have aged more. The Attic Amp will have been overall cooler beyond the few hot days UK gets, but the Damp Air & Attic Dust means it will have aged more externally & internally with open grilles letting in all the muck. So that's what Vintage Hifi turns up as. But sellers on ebay even ones with Used Hifi Shops are Notorious for over-describing tired amps as "working well". Of course Caveat Emptor is the thing, but "working" to some can mean the Bulb lights & that's all they've tried. We've bought enough amps & had enough to service & upgrade bought this way to know usually the lids aren't even taken off to check, yet they paid a high price for it. Some say the amp is "Serviced" based on seeing buyers liked our Serviced Hifi when we trusted ebay & before we got into recapping & upgrading which gets those wanting to take advantage, so we've only sold on our website since 2014. "Serviced" can mean anything from Dust brushed out to one who's looked at it more, changed bulbs & cleaned switches etc, but only by seeing inside photos that few offer can you tell. Some sellers we see just put "Used" and no descrpition at all, so it's in perfect condition but still 45 years old? Not many can look at an amp & say "that's been changed", "that's not the correct fitting" or see the parts that have been changed, one apparently 'nice' Rogers valve amp had lots of alterations & missing parts, yet undisclosed & a very high price. The one who saw it was going to buy it for us to upgrade, but on us telling them of the problems they wisely lost interest. They could have bought it without showing us the non ebay listing & ended up with a much bigger rebuild bill as parts would need correcting & replacing missing parts. We can buy interesting amps & not really care too much if there are problems, if it takes a lot longer to work on than expected, but there's a profit in it. Got a Sony 1970 era amp here now, needed a new fascia, missing a rear Phono control knob, power switch lever broken & soldered. Inside it's greasy from nicotine & dust so needs a good clean as it's not nice. Parts to get to fix the switch sometime, unlikely to get the missing knob & the fascia was found to make the amp worth getting. We got the Sony as the first buyer was told it worked great, but it sounds aged, tired, dull on treble, a bit rough up louder, it's an old amp that is in need of a recap as a service won't be economical. They compared it to Upgraded Amps they bought from us which made the differences in sound wider. We see the potential but the first buyer takes a loss as it displeased them. The reality is buying anything Used comes with Risks. The only real 'guarantee' of Hifi being as you'd expect is when the seller says they've tried it, it hums a bit & crackly controls, here the amp is in need of servicing but is likely to be good. The cynical ones that lie saying it works & it arrives with transformer wires unsoldered & rusted transistors with the pins fallen off does happen if rare. Then they pack it badly even after giving good packing info so you get a dent on the fascia that lessens the resell price. But don't despair, look at our 'Sold Hifi Gallery' to see some amps looking smart in & out that arrived looking sad & tired.

An Ebay Seller With Some Great Early Sony Gear

We were asked what's the deal, are they really that good inside too? Seller says they are "perfect" & they are real beauties in the wood cases plus the other early Sonys, if not got a STR-6120. The thing is the outsides & wood cases can look to be in Top Visual Grade as not stored in an attic, but as the above to this section shows, the insides could be extremely aged with the usual noise faults & tired sound. The Sony TA-1120A we got with the ST-5000W tuner hadn't been used in decades & was in extremely bad condition if the insides looked good, the capacitors were all bad & to see one that bad was unusual. Full recap needed. There is No Perfect or As New in Vintage Hifi overall as similar to Cars, simply as they are Old. To just say they are "perfect" and not describe working condition may suit a collector, but there are sadly no Hifi Museums & the interest is from those who want to use these early amps. To use a pre 1977 amp, over 40 years old, can bring up issues over time, be it one hour or three months. The typical buyer just plugs an amp in & uses it until it goes wrong. 'Chasing Classic Cars' recently found some quality 1980s cars long stored unused & in remarkable visual grade with very low mileage, but the show revealed these were not 'key in & drive', they were aged under the bonnet with engine & brakes etc issues. Vintage Hifi is no different. We've yet to get an amp sent to us with "I just bought this, an you check it over fully to let us know if it's reliable for regular use" because if it's over 20 years old it will need some Servicing which seems a waste of money to a buyer if it works si they just chance it. Unserviced amps from the amount we've had will never sound as good as after servicing & a full check. But we say this a lot on this site, but only ever hear if the amp gets problems & even bad failures from use without realising issues were already inside.

Pioneer SA-9100: Beware Taking Advice From Forums.
We've mentioned plenty of times on this Website about being very careful what you believe on Audio & Hifi Forums & especially Taking Advice on "Modifications". Not to do us out of a potential job, but these Forum Types are amateurs who glean bits of info from many sources & think it applies, as well as scaremongering about errors they make, but publish & have others believe it. No Tech would bother with Forums or bother posting answers to amateur's questions, if also the Pro Tech started as an amateur, got Qualified & then really is a Pro Tech once they have paying customers, if in reality the Qualifications don't give you much Practical Experience, only years applying the skills do. Odds are you'll Wreck the Amp is the outcome, or not be able to sort it & sell it on as Broken as we've seen these sort of amps. For us to remedy bad work is a pain & takes ages as we've found out several times. One seller with the SA-9100 & the TX-9100 quotes "Common Faults Rectified" but dares not to show any of what they've done as they've recapped it too. They have also have "replaced the parts as per the recommended component lists" which may be the Forum ideas or the Pioneer manual ones, who knows. The asking price for both in wood cases is either overpriced, reasonable on the base items or a bargain for the work done, if you'll only know by buying. The worry should be the Forum Ideas put into the amp. Why do all that & sell it? Looking at our SA-9100 review, we were certainly 'gloves off' with it because of the silly hype it was getting. The majority of amps that were in the Discount Stores got cut to the bone on costing, notice Yamaha never went into Discounting, if even Marantz did by 1978 with new distributors. As with anything you read online, be careful what you believe if you can't see what else they know. To think you can upgrade Hifi as this seller thinks they have, based mostly on Forum Advice as they admit, is one to steer clear of. Who knows what they have done, if it was done well they show photos, right? The Pioneer SA-9100 does have issues, but many amps of the era do too but can be sorted out fine, the overheating, the strange circuits & low spec as well as taking it apart is a bit of a job. Replacing Transistors is usually done incorrectly, we had one just recently with a mid 1970s power amp repair evident with one wrong spec transistor that worked for sound, but there was no Bias which will affect how it plays & matches speakers. We've had a Yamaha amp with "any old transistor" shoved in, again totally wrong spec. Buyer Beware.

February 1977: Consumer Research & Customer Satisfaction in Hifi.
This is an interesting one as it reveals from a survey which brands sold the best & which were reliable in the years when still recent, rather than us looking 40 years later & only seeing ones that survived. This may only cover Cassette Players but in general you bought the same brand of Hifi for all, unless you were a deep enthusiast which by 1977 was not many as they just bought as recommended by magazines & shop staff. Firstly it shows that in 1977 the idea of "New Is Better" was still believed, as proven by many great amps stored away after only a few years' use & the latest thing bought, an idea that carried into the 1990s when people really believed one piece stack units with flashing lights were better. It shows that 1-2 year old Hifi was mostly owned, if a huge drop off on older gear with what appears only 0.5% still using pre 1971 gear. Shocking in reality when the Best Hifi for Sound & Enjoyment is the earlier stuff. It also lists the Brands of Hifi in the survey in order with a "per 1000 respondents". Bear in mind Cassette mechanisms were generally not made by UK makers if they were imported from Japan to be built into UK machines. This stil gives a good idea of what was popular, but UK brands like quad, Leak & Rogers don't get a looki in as they didn't do Cassettes. So out of the 1000 the numbers are: Sony 167, Akai 89, Amstrad 58, Philips 56, Pioneer 56, National Panasonic 48, Sanyo 46, Hitachi 45, Technics 43, Aiwa 27, JVC 25, ITT 25, Bush 23, Goodmans 21, Grundig 21 etc. These show a lot of budget items & portables mixed in with Hifi units, but Sony are way ahead, if you look at the Catalogs of their products, Sony by 1975-77 had gone mass market & doing very well. Sadly there are no similar ratings for Hifi Amplifiers & Receivers, if by 1977 beyond adding in the 3 UK brands, Yamaha, Bang & Olufsen, Sansui & Trio-Kenwood you'll have a good idea of what was popular. as for Reliabilty, you'll be yelling "Amstrad" but despite the early amps not being so reliable explaining the Mk II & Mk III versions issued quickly, in their era Amstrad were trusted, if after 40 years only the strongest or forgotten ones survive. The rest of the table relates to brands & models of cassette player & at a rough idea the cheaper ones aren't as liked as the more expensive ones as you'd expect. Cheap gear like 'Waltham' is low rated, but it's mass market fodder. Interestingly an "Upgrading" Table shows brand dissatisfaction with 34% wanting to swap brands. The idea of buying cheap & tiring is a fool's game, to buy good midprice or better is where you should buy. You only regret cheap stuff, not paying more for quality as is the thing today.

Subjective Sounds, Musicality & Irresponsible Reviewing
It would be fair comment to say Jean Hiraga & Paul Messenger are the two most blameable for the "Hi-Fi BS" that continues today. Mentioned more above. PM champions the Linn-Naim-Mission gear that Hair Shirt Wearers adore, but many cannot stand. One letter writer gets annoyed with the "Musicality" debate saying another system betters the PM raved about one. All opinions of course, good to bring new ideas but the April 1978 article mentioned below shows where it goes wrong. But one leveller of an article by Gordon King gets the idea spot on: Musicality is easy for the untrained ear to say "it sounds better" but the fact is a 1950s Dansette can sound more Musical than a poor sounding Turntable, Amp & Speakers that tries to sound more detailed but is poorly designed so sounds rough & "unmusical". For us Upgrading Amps, Musicality should be "Sounding Right Because It's Designed Right & Sounds Accurate". The blame of lesser amps being more "musical" because the detail is less hiding roughness is the problem GK sees & is spot on too. Unfortunately in that May 1978 issue he reviews 3 receivers Rotel RX-603, Yamaha CR-620 & Trio-Kenwood KR-4070, of which we've had the Rotel & the CR-820 version, but his review is so boring with none of the subjective opinion that is worth backing up dry technical matters & regurgitating the user manual as most of the 'reviews' are. The review is 7 pages long, seems more interested in the Tuner than the Amp stage, graphs of frequency response appear perfect on deep bass yet restricted on high treble with the Trio appearing too rolled off on treble. Spectrograms of the amp with a 200Hz test tone showing harmonics will mean nothing to most & no results of Slew Rate if Damping is shown if it rarely means too much to the amp sound unless very high. Do these 'better' reviews actually add anything, we think it's a wste of time in these HFN/RR trying to judge if an amp will sound good or not. We can usually predict how an amp will sound from the Circuit Diagrams, if that's based on years listening & looking at circuits to see why that sounds good whilst that hyped one doesn't. The Objective Tests we do on amps to see how they match up, but only once upgrading with tried ideas & hearing it sounds good, the Square Wave tests merely confirm or sometimes can still reveal a little more upgrading is needed, if the amp can actually take it. Educated Subjective is what this Website tells you of, if we are 40 years later than the Reviewing Battles on 1977-78. See below for Martin Collom's opinion on this.

Sexist Hifi Adverts In the 1970s.
Thankfully these do appear evey now & then, because that was the advertising ideas of the time. It appears a little quaint & embarrassing now, but that's History for you. Howland West Audio proves it on p63 of the Feb 1977 HFN/RR with a well-appointed bikini wearing one standing at 3 angles wearing headphones, as if anyone noticed that, under the dubious guise of "HW headphones for weight watchers". Sadly not in colour though. Opposite page another bikini wearer on Paul Messenger's "SS" page if it's a woman thankfully, not some Jethro Tull hippy. Always in these ads no cables, nothing playing music, but nobody thinks that far. The Nov 1977 HFN/RR on p162 has a "birthday suited" blonde woman looking right at you as she presses a button on a no-power Tungsram 3F receiver with the line "Try running your fingers along Danish LEDs". Considering we've never seen a Tungsram receiver doubt anybody bought one yet probably wrote into complain about some 'starkers bird in an advert' & that Mother spat her tea out all over the cat on seeing such filth. Amusing because it's done tastefully & isn't sexist to 1977 eyes. The pretty faced Pixall record cleaner one appears monthly by now. May 1978 has Ampex with yet another bikini clad 'Rambo' styled ad "The Ampex Invasion is on!" those with blurry eyes may have misread the brand name as something else. Considering the HFN/RR readership as revealed by a survey a few years before shows most were 35-50 & in the range of Office to Professionals, these sort of ads you'd think would be more plentiful.

Can We Hear Connecting Wires & Turntable Mats says Jean Hiraga.

Aug 1977 HFN/RR has the wires one to be follwed a few months later by the Turntables Mat one. Getting rather silly by now & the letters pages find this to be nonsense with jokers saying a pancake or raw sausages make ideal turntable mats. Cables we've mentioned they are just LCR circuits, some badly designed & usually British amps needed high LCR spec cable to not get into problems, revealing a supposed 'better' cable that some believed. The article shows square waves on 100kHz affected by levels of LCR to lose the squaring, how surprising. Just buy some good basic QED cable, ignore the expensive fancy stuff & clip Ferrites on the cables. End of that. Turntable Mats is another early years of guessing. From turntables that balance the record in mid air on a few points or arm bars leaving the record undamped are poor designs. A rubber turntable mat needs to dampen the metal turntable platter & support the disc. But we ignore that & use a piece of old Cotton Velvet from some old curtains as a Turntable slip-mat over the Garrard 301 & Technics SL-1500. you don't need anything else except to be sure the Stylus Set Up Geometry is right. Any hype about one being better will depend on how well it damps the platter, the Technics decks with a cheap bit of foam as a mat miss the point of damping totally. You can hear differences, but it's all it is. Keep it sensible & most of all, beyond buying the Hifi, keep it inexpensive but never restort to cheap quality.

When Did Hifi Racking Systems Appear?
September 1977 HFN/RR has an advert by Amstrad. They had recently introduced the Amstrad Executive Range that we cover the EX-330 amp on our "Other Amps" page, It's Japanese looking gear but still the same cheap innards, but it looks the part so on a budget it still looked purposeful. Amp, Tuner & Cassette Deck with a Turntable on top in the "Executive SR 301 Hi-Fi Racking System" is just that, four unit audio items in a chipboard tower cabinet, if no smoked glass door yet. Pioneer did a similar Stack if the adverts appear after Amstrad, so to assume Amstrad either copied Japan-only units, ones based on Rack Mount gear or did start the Rack-Stack system with the cabinet. Toshiba do one with separates Turntable, amp, Tuner & Cassette plus 2 probably mediocre speakers that don't do the rest justice by late 1978. Naturally being Amstrad, to quickly see they could make a cheaper one-piece unit pretending to be 4 units became popular by the early 1980s together with the ubiquitous smoked glass door. People were proud of these in the day as the lie of it being separate units wasn't realised, but the quality was budget as were the similar CD era ones. Musically fills a budget hole, but to get one today to keep for Nostalgia or Retro needs, the odds are Tape Decks long failed, rubbishy plastic turntables & STK amp blocks means 95% of the silver-era ones must be disposed of by now. What a pity...

What Has Gone Wrong with Amplifier Evaluation?
Martin Colloms asks this in the Oct 1977 HFN/RR. He's spot on, in response to the "Musicality" Paul Messenger idea & good to see one magazine take both sides. MC is a very thorough reviewer & does put some subjective opinion in, but on the main his reviews are far too technical & will have alienated most readers as shown above on a multi amp test. MC raises the points, but we give our opinion on them, these are not MC's views, get the mag for those. The article starts by criticising Amplifier Design, not quite realising the Dumbing Down & Cost Cutting of the era, but noticing things are not what was once familiar. Cost cutting started with 1973-74 ranges & to find Quality Hifi after this date is not so easy. Bad designs getting too much NFB applied to hide bad designs to give good specs but not sound too exciting, the lack of "musicality" in a simple way without quantifying what's gone astray. Crossover effects of Push-Pull amp we've never seen that on Oscilloscope tests if we don't get budget gear. Noise Floor aka S:N ratio improved over the years by extra NFB & manipulating designs, the 2007 Marantz without all it's limiters still had the amount of hiss a 1970s amp does so the transistors aren't better as is claimed. Bandwidth meaning 20Hz to 200kHz+ needs good design to do right, the hearing level is to 15-20kHz but to roll off much before 100kHz causes square waves to be less true even at 20kHz as we've found testing. But some earlier amps are very rolled off on high treble that even the treble sounds dull, nothing new here then. Excess output over 20kHz creates the rough grainy sound that tests good for THD on sine waves but is musical sandpaper that has low enjoyment value. Power Supplies on earlier amps could be well designed, later ones could be very cheaply made adding to the rough thin sound if once again the THD tests can't tell poor design. The rise of Differential Designs in all Pre & Power stages helps get better THD but if poorly designed they again can sound awful. The "TID" transient intermodulation distortion idea MC sees as a 'red herring' & probably only found in cheaply made amps. All of this shows Specs at the expense of quality design is why amps got sounding worse. Traditional Tests like Distortion, Linearity & Power Bandwidth really tell you very little & hearing the amp will reveal those. Square Waves are useful to a degree, but amps can be designed to give perfect square waves by limiting & NFB design, but still leaving a roughness to the sound that reveals the 'overdesign' is only there to fool you into buying it, not long term pleasure. The Difference In Amplifier Sound is admitted by MC as he did the amps test a few years before & we certainly agree to 'waste' so much time upgrading amps, never really knowing how good they will be until upgraded as some amps can be tricky, yet others upgrade wonderfully. So to see Peter Walker of Quad, by now an aged gent of 61 years, to say that Amplifiers Don't Sound Different & try to prove it will be interesting, when we write that up. You can do every single test on an amp, but only comparing amps, one day start with one amp, next day start with another so to test 3 amps over several days is the only way to compare. Group tests with different personal awareness levels are too vague as those MC tests revealed. "I Like This Amp" or not is the basic test, but it's who is listening to say that is the thing. Each upgrade we've found brought Higher Resolution, to then be aware of that to listen back to other amps. In the same issue "Old Amps For New" by Richard Elen 'takes a light hearted view' at the amplifier performance criteria. the trouble is he adds 'Richochet Effect' to the terms & it is then accepted as Letters over following months prove, an idea of the sound made by a speaker is richocheted back to it to add a distortion. You might as well say on a Hot Day Hifi sounds different or adding Rubber Balls to furniture to diffuse the sound alters things. Oh they later did. Hifi reviewing starts to disappear up it's own ass when articles like this are published, this was when Paul Messenger was Deputy Editor & propably why he got The Boot soon after.

Paul Messenger & Subjective Sounds April 1978.
This was written after he left HFN/RR as by March John Atkinson takes over as Deputy Editor & he stays with the mag for many years through the late 1980s. Unfortunately & rather unfairly PM is apparently made to look foolish at an AES (Audio Engineering Society) debate on Hifi, brave man to try new ideas in front of Learned Fellows who have been into audio since Pre War & have fixed ideas. They appear to have disagreed with him on Hifi Fact & Fiction matters & his page tells he tries to point out "No Loss" and "Musicality" in Hifi, both of which are good things, but also says some Shyster Hifi Maker is selling questionable speakers sold as 'with added musicality'. "Information Retrieval" and "Niceness" appear to be what makes up 'Musicality", which is true to a degree. To be accurate sounding, to be well defined with no apparent loss to the audio source but still have enough good spec to sound pleasing is what we see as 'Musicality' but in reality very few amps we get once serviced can deliver that. Cost Cutting, Dumbing Down, Low Spec, Overdesign & noticeably 'Tweaked' designs to get good specs at the expense of sound are what our Paul is coming up against. PM's efforts are the brave actions of the Younger Man with good ideas, but ahead of his time & too wild with ideas that people aren't ready to accept. What do people think of our Hifi Writings? We tell it like it is with 40 years later from PM to focus things & you can see just by the interest in Vintage Hifi that we have made an impression, if it'll never go mass market. PM may seem random & Linn-Naim-Mission loving, but he was looking at New Ideas that were just starting out, the 'Alternative Hifi Scene'. Anyone who tries to to shake things up is fine by us, but it seems HFN/RR as Deputy Editor & the AES debate was too early too soon. You can read a recent bio by him & he actually ran HFN/RR for 6 months as John Crabbe was away with surgery as it only slightly mentioned in the mag at the time. But from reading the dry pages of waffle by many writers in earlier years, Donald Aldous even modernised his 'my colleague' style to be a better read in later years, the shake-up in the Hifi Scene from 1976-78 was needed, if at a time when Hifi was not sounding as good as it had 5-10 years before for the Discount stores forcing Cosat Cutting. This leads to the strange Peter Walker & Quad face-off about "amps don't really sound different" that'll follow below. As if all amps sound the same, we'd just buy one & never upgrade, a Dinosaur view from PW if respect to the guy, we don't like the Quad transistor amps...

MOSFET Amplifier by Hitachi Arrives May 1978.

The first appearance of a MOSFET (metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor) Power Amp Output Device comes after other manufacturers like Sony & Yamaha used V-FETs which by amps remaining today don't seem very reliable & spares are long gone. The MOSFET has the'negative temperature coefficient' as a highlight, as in if you misuse, misadjust or just damage the transistor it won't get very hot, but it'll still fail anyway. A strange way to test a MOSFET is found online, nothing like testing a regular transistor & they need careful handling for Static Electricity issues as do some ICs. In buying spares the MOSFET may suffer from "not findable" on the early ones & to buy findable replacement ones can be more expensive than silicons. The amps are HMA-8300 200w power amp & HCA-8300 preamp at £410 and £220 in 1979. Hitachi say the benefits are 'extremely fast switching', if we've not found any 'slow' output transistors beyong Germaniums, 'Increased bandwidth' will be dependent on design as spec sheets on earlier TO3 silicon transistors reveal huge bandwidth. 'Amazingly less distortion' based on 0.001% not being low enough plus the lie of amplifiers taking 15 mins to reach optimal use, 1 minute settles nearly all non-valve amps. so Hitachi are playing the game of hype, mocking other makers by name as they got there first as Hitachi make semiconductors. It's just a New Thing & for some years a MOSFET amp was the thing so throw out your nasty old amps because MOSFETs are better. In reality a MOSFET amp sounds like any other amp, if by the 1980s probably cost cut even more & op-amps used more. MOSFETs aren't that wonderful really, or bad either, if appear to use less power in operation as looked at further in FETs blog below. FETs use Gate, Drain & Source & can be likened to Valves Anode, Cathode & Grid as well as Silicon transistors with Base, Collector & Emitter. Wikipedia will explain more on MOSFETs.

Two Big Group Tests By Subjective Means: June-July 1978 in HFN/RR.
We were hoping for something interesting, a pioneering review in both cases, the first being Peter Walker of Quad comparing groups of amplifiers such as the Quad 33/405 & Quad 22/II to "prove" that all amplifiers sound the same. We'd like to see any proof of that. The next was a test of a Quad 22/II, early Germanium Pye TGS30 & the Quad 33/303. As with most 'great ideas' the results were hopeless, the first one did a big & meaningful write up & the Conclusion was put as a Stop Press with "there was no conclusion" meaning angry words on being made to look foolish so they'll not conclude the experiment. The second was no better, there was no conclusion on which amp sounded better, which was liked more or preferred. Utterly totally Useless. You cannot do Tests of Hifi based on more than one person's opion. Take one opinion, take the second & third and publish all to let the reader know. But the second test was pointless as they got Students to give opinions. We'll condense some of the articles to show how clueless it all was. They reckoned on the second test that the least amp was the more favoured one after tasting two before. Nonsense in the extreme. More on these sort of tests as further articles appear in HFN/RR.

How We Test & Compare Amps, There Is No Other Reliable Way.
We've been testing amps for several years now. Take any amp we rated "Excellent" as serviced & recapped-upgraded, beyond there being levels of Excellence as in just scrapes it or high excellent, the amps even upgraded with our own ideas will still all sound different. Firstly we get to know the amp, this is after Servicing to see what can be upgraded. To hear a quality amid the mediocrity is the gamble of upgrading & not all upgrade well. In Comparing tests, to first play one amp to Use Headphones Only firstly for at least 30 mins using certain music as we've stated elsewhere. Be familiar with that amp. Then try another amp, note what it betters or is lacking compared to the first. Then try another, then another, to try Seven Amps is possible. But this test is with known amps & the only real way to rate amps is by multi tests, it's how we decide which ones to sell. It's not a one-day test, it needs to be over several days o reset the hearing & take away the guessing that can creep into tests. So one day try a Sony first, next day try the Sansui first, next day try the Trio-Kenwood first etc. To keep testing all the amps to be able to rank which is best. One amp may be more neutral & sound duller compared to a brighter sounding amp, one may be too loud & make the neutral one seem boring even. Generally on Headphones, the amp you can play for 2 hours or more is the better one, as you don't tire from it. Many many hours of amplifiers on Headphones listening by us over several years, you learn what to listen for. The amps we prefer are Fast Sounding, shown by higher Slew Rate. But with a Sony pre-power we found it sounded fast but had poor focus & detail with a false Retro bass, this is one to upgrade. The amp needs to have a good kick to it, very few "stock" amps of any age can do this, but it's what upgrading & redesign can bring. Treble has to be sweet & clean, any harshness or leading into musddled midrange is not a good sound. The sound to be effortless with depth & wide Stereo separation. Amps do very noticeably differ on this even once upgraded. It can take years to learn how to compare amps & as we said we start with headphones as this brings far better detail & the drivers are right on your ears. Amps on Speakers Testing. After finding the best of a bunch of Amplifiers, then to try them all on Loudspeakers. This can instantly alter things as not all amps match speakers the same way. An amp can sound high Excellent on Headphones but not match your Speakers too well. One amp we tried to see if it was worth upgrading we tried as barely Serviced & despite it sounding quite poor on Headphones it surprisingly sounded great on speakers, with some issues in consideration. As with headphones, to try the amps for a few days, few weeks, few months to see what you like. Some can be a bit tiring as not quite matching right so the midrange can be a bit too overwhelming, some can sound nice but then seem too nice & you find the sound 'wrong' on trying another amp. To live with the amp & get used to it. Of all the amps we've had in the last 2 years, the 1966 Akai AA7000 with 2 of them lasted for months on the speakers & then the Realistic STA-220 & currently the Realistic STA-150 for upgrading it further matches even better.

Forum Advice: Put In Bigger Power Supply Capacitors.
This is the most common 'advice' Forums give. Is it a good idea? Not always so it depends where you start from: Take the Realistic-Hitachi STA220 & STA-150. These had a 2200µf 'low value' main cap as do quite a few earlier amps, some like the Pioneer SX-1000TD we're working on only has 1000µf if there are two to double the value. The sound quality of the amps were still found to be very high based even on the original spec, it's all in the design therefore, if 1000µf-2200µf is too low & can be betterered, if higher than 10000µf is generally not needed unless you are over 100w & pushing it very hard. Amps past 1977 have high enough values to keep them if still working fine. Big caps take longer to charge too. One asked if an amp we upgraded that had 10000µf should be upgraded more, we said it's not worth it & turned down a job by not misleading the customer. We see ones on ebay as upgraded & they just do the main capacitors leaving the smaller ones, often they do the awful 'capacitor stuffing' or fit in weeny ones for like-for-like. We've cut open enough big capacitors to see how they age & some can be as good as new yet some are dried out & crusty. You'll only know that by replacing so on amps that have capacitor coupling & the 80v-95v HT then these can usually be too aged. So for the 10000µf amp guy to pay to get the amp 'upgraded' to bigger values, the first problem is the original ones are a smaller diameter so that limits the task straight away. You could put 4x High Grade "Licked By Mermaids" exotic type ones, as your Forum no doubt will recommend & in reality it'll sound no different. The usual reason why recapped amps, especially Valve ones, are sold is because it doesn't sound any better just doing basic work renewing parts. Trying to glean bits of info from what Amateurs on Forums say is a risky game as said above. "People Believe That It's True Just Because They Read It" says a 1965 song by John Bryant. Read our site, we're not giving away upgrade ideas because there are no universal upgrades, each amp is different & even getting another of an amp we've upgraded before, we can do it very differently having found new ideas with other ones.

1993-96 Technics SU-A900 Mk II: Repairable or Disposable Modern Gear?

The Electronics Tech world of today we find depressing. You can only buy cheap stuff as getting a DVD player above revealed. Some gear is good, most is mediocre & even hi-tech Smart Phones are badly designed but that doesn't matter as you'll get a New One after the 2 year contract ends. The SU-A900 was a 90w integrated amplifier in 2 versions, Mk I must have been lousy as no manuals found. Pics online & the manual show it's a typical generic looking one board job, it's got microprocessor control, relays, the stuff users want. About £400 new at the time so not a budget amp. Standard minimalistic black fascia with a flap hiding controls. We don't like the flap type amps, even Sony did this on a 1960s receiver that we've not bothered trying. But of course "Disposable" is sadly the only thing once it fails, we certainly don't want to work on an amp with IC for Tone Control & even worse a one-block SVI3205B IC amplifier stage, like those ghastly STK blocks. One unit for a 90w amp, be sure the spec inside is very low & the amp as always with IC will sound thin & grainy with zero musical pleasure. But buyers bought this stuff as the amp looks decent on the outside, but inside it's crap. The IC block you apparently can buy for £32-£35 on ebay from China, both look different & if you really trust a 90w IC bought on ebay, then that's your gamble. Odds are one or both is Fake or at best a generic knock off. Once again the post 1990 stuff gets you again, buy it use it bin it or flog it as spares-repairs on ebay for £20 as someone may want the case fittings. We advised the one who asked about it, thinking the amp may not be what we'd work on or upgrade, to just sell it on & go try something earlier that sounds more pleasing. The reality is the thing is 21-24 years old & you got all those years use, so go buy a new one is the manufacturer's opinion, ".... but next time, throw it out after 5 years as our new ones are improved compared to the earlier one you, huh huh, bought before....". Cynical we know, but it's tech today. Look how few 1980s & 1990s cars are around, disposable similarly.

The Overpricing of 1973-78 Yamaha Amps on ebay. 
No-one took notice of the Classic Era Yamaha until we got our first CR-1000 for a mere £90 in 2012 just as it looked nice so why not try it. Yamaha in Hifi got a bad reputation for not so good AV gear in the 1990s so the brand was just about ignored. Look how many we got. But This Website got Yamaha it's cred back as we got quite a few of the higher & second highest models. They upgrade nicely, look great & sound rates them 'Excellent' once Serviced & Recapped. So the market tags along, intitally going wild for the CR-1000 because they didn't read how upfront it sounds & it doesn't match speakers as well. A harder-edged rewrite to our review got the message through, if it does upgrade nicely. But the Yamaha CA-1000 Mk I/II, CA-1010, CA-2010, CR-800, CR-1000, CR-1020, CR-2020 & CR-3020 are really up there with the best 1970s amps. As you can imagine if you've read this site, the Yamahas need Servicing to sound right, the CR-1000 we first got sounded very ordinary so to fully service it brought back a lot of it's life. It upgrades very well too as do all the Yamaha including lower models like the CR-400 we still have for sale. So to now see CR-2020s for £400+ in 'raw' grade knowing all will fail from overheating is pushing the prices too high for us to buy & recap. We offer a rebuild to stop the overheating which will always fail & the relays stay off, it's not a quick fix to do right. CA-1000s offered on ebay now for a hefty £600 to £900 from Japan is way overpricing. The CA-1000 featured on this site we recapped & then sold on a bit too quickly on getting the CA-1010. It reappeared for sale about 2 years ago & only made about £300 as the seller who never understood it sold it badly too. As great as these Yamahas are, to recap-upgrade is tricky as most are with tightly packed boards, the CA-1000 has a crazy cramped board under the inside black metal cover for example. A Yamaha is an amp to cherish, but it needs servicing at least. On the border of needing recapping if on these it's not as unreliable as Pioneer or Marantz, so you can use them. But the hideous overpricing of the CA-1000 meaning Seven Are On Ebay should tell these dreamers something. We know the prices recapped-upgraded CA-1010s sold for in the last 2 years & these ebay prices are way too high for raw unserviced amps. In auction they'd probably sell for £180-£250 from what we've seen if most of the amps we've dug out of obscurity & rated highly are pretty unfindable now as they were expensive new so limited amounts around. Only time with these not selling will get prices reduced, but human nature means they only look at offer prices, not the £168-£319 (with midprice tuner) real 'Sold' prices.

Earlier Amplifiers May Make A Thump Noise on Turn On.
This is how some amps are designed & upgrading can bring it out more. The Trio KA-6000 does this on ours as we upgraded it a lot further, if we'd not do a customer's amp to leave it with issues that may cause bother, responsible upgrading rather than just do whatever & worry the user. These noises are annoying or at least unpleasant but having read the voltages with a simulated Speaker load, it puts a typical thump or click noise from a sharp voltage transient. Will it damage speakers? 6v-8v RMS from a 50w amp that puts out 31v RMS show it won't cause bother beyond the noise. This is only found with upgraded amps of the Capacitor Coupled type & the issue with the KA-6000 is the main Speakers aren't connected until the amp turns on, the HT voltage & current haven't settled yet as there are no regulators if the voltage has nearly fully risen if lacks the power to be stable instantly, so this noise is heard connecting speakers by the internal switch or even plugging them in with the amp off. Solution on the KA-6000 is simple, put speakers on the "B" set not "A" set & turn the amp onto the "A" set, leave it settle for a minute or two & turn the speakers "B" on, similar to a relay action if done manually. No nasty noise at all then, so sorted. Other amps like the Sony STR-6120 have no thump issues as the power supply is regulated if still takes 1-2 mins to settle. The Capacitor Coupled amps don't have the lower ±HT of later Semi Complimentary or Fully Complimentary amps, these have one higher voltage & the 'mid point' voltage, ie half HT, is on the Coupling Capacitor blocking the DC HT from the speakers. Some amps have different designs & no turn on thump, but to let the Capacitor Coupled amps 1-2 minutes to settle before using the controls is what we have long suggested on Sales & Upgrades pages. These issues can be sorted in the circuits so it's useable in seconds, but it involves dumbing down the design which can almost negate the ideas of upgrading, a short wait to use the amp makes sense.

Bad Sony Soldering c.1972-1973: It's Bubbling.
We've noticed this on the 1971 Sony TA-1140 that was available for a few years until the 1973 V-FET style range replaced it & to narrow the years down, the second version of the 100w Power amp Sony TA-3200F has this. It may exist on other Sony amps of the era. The problem is they used a Wave soldering Machine, typical for the PCB era, but here they either didn't clean it out properly or used a bad batch of solder. The evidence is a thick gooey but dried mess of Flux on the boards as the Solder had far too much Flux in it. This is a big problem as it creates Dry Joints which means the solder joint is poor & not soldered right. For the excess flux, the Solder on resoldering actually Bubbles as the trapped flux burns off. It leaves holes & dips in the flux. Flux is not conductive so get a bad looking joint & you could have a dry joint meaning circuit errors. The TA-3200F actually had one joint so bad it didn't carry the 62v to a Push Pull Driver transistor, if oddly it still worked which makes no sense. So for the TA-3200F there is only one way to be satisfied with it, take the board out meaning unsoldering about 26 board tags with wires & resoldering the whole lot. Solder Flux should only leave minor traces in use, the huge flux mess & then allowing it to be sold is sadly the result of cost cutting & probably why Sony TA-3200F power amps are usually in poor grade. We hear that Sony TVs had issues on more recent TVs, perhaps the awful Lead-free solder was to blame then.

Six Amplifier Test October 1978 HFN/RR.
The HFN/RR past 1976 really doesn't have much for us to get interested in. Arguing about Subjective Sound that in later years of HFN/RR seems to be all ones like KK talked about, when he actually stopped rambling. Here in 1978 Martin Colloms does this test like a 1977 one as on our Books Page done before we started the Blog. After all the vagueness of Paul Messenger who quickly got booted from Assistant Editor & his 'Subjective Sounds' show he was given a severe talking to, ended up in July 1978 reviewing a budget Dynatron Music Centre & clearly not pleased with having to do that. So to see a MC article is initially a bit of a relief as his word in the early years we see as the Authoritative one, if his 1990s writings were far too constrictive we thought at the time. The pre-power amp combos, no integrateds, are Harman-Kardon Citation 17S pre 16 power £880 for the pair, Technics SU 9070 pre SE 9060 power £515, Exposure III pre & IV power £500, Boothroyd Stuart Meridian 105MC pre & 101 power starting from £520, Hitachi MCA 7500 pre & HMA 7500 power £640 and TVA Prototype pre & Export power, Power is £640, pre isn't a production model which is a bit strange to review, if it's a Valve system. Looks-wise the Hitachi is 2 big silver units with rack mount handles & analog meters on the power amp, the other non Valve ones are rather dull looking black-grey boxes looking like early 1980s gear for not being silver. Meridian needs 5 boxes to do the job properly it seems by the photo with the 'upgrade power supply' nonsense starting here. Linn-Naim-Meridian are the "Hair Shirt Hifi" that we've never liked the concepts of or looks of. To open the article, MC neatly sums up the Subjective idea as marginal, suggesting all amps DO sound the same & listeners must be "mad or fools". This isn't helpful & we'd have expected better as opinion, as we can clearly tell big differences in the Sound of Amplifiers based on Headphone & Speaker use. Some may not drive speakers universally well, if Headphones is the leveller & where we start. It's all opinions though & the more to read however wild they are or however shuttered they are adds to the understanding of the 1970s Hifi Scene. If Hifi really was all the same sounding, we'd be happy with the original designs & never wish to upgrade or alter things to try to find 'better' in it. Some amps can sound quite ordinary yet upgrade to magnificence, if the only way we find out is by being crazy enough to try things, get good results that test well & sound great. We don't just think Outside the Box, we think outside the Factory the Box was made in. (To be continued...)

Electrostatic Loudspeakers & Headphones.
These have long been known as Difficult Loads for amplifiers as the HFN/RR tests show they usually have trouble in tests, which they simulate with an 8 ohm resistor plus a 2.2µf capacitor in parallel across the speaker outputs. This usually gives a solid square wave in tests but with quite an obvious overshoot that suggests the amp isn't designed for Electrostatics (ES). The only ES speakers produced for many years were the Quad ELS 57 which were made from 1957 until the ELS 633 arrived in 1983. Read more elsewhere about these, if the very sweet & open midrange is the strength if bass is weak & treble is dependent on positioning so a flawed gem. Suited to the Quad II & the later Quad 33/303, the power handling is never really quoted if the 33/303 is 45w. the problem with the ELS57 is the Impedance Curve is rather brutal, the crossover on a 1972 'Studio Sound' review found on HFE shows despite a 15 ohm rating, it dips below that at 20Hz area & even more severely from 8kHz upwards, with 20kHz being around 2 ohms which is too hard a load for many amps that are rated 8 ohm on one or two pairs, 4 ohm on one pair but not 2 x 4 ohm as it'll be 2 ohm & overload the amp.

To Jan 2018 Blog...