Hi-Fi Blog... Page 4 - 2020
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January 2020 Blog
We Get Letters. This One Wants Us To Change Our Opinion? No Chance.
Our Graham Slee section on the Turntables page Here got a message... It was considered Trolling but to answer it is required as it's a bit strange. January 2020 we had a message from a person who is a civil and structural engineer, 38 years in his job. They wanted us to REMOVE this section saying it was unfair as we hadn't heard the item. If they read our site more they can see we can predict how things sound from Circuits. So to look for other reviews, it's a Niche item, hardly an item they'd look on a Vintage Hifi site for opinions, if we get those who believed the 1980s-90s Magazine era Hype yet now find more pleasure in Vintage. The Modern Hifi scene is driven by Reviews, to question any Review on Sites that are Sponsored & for how Amazon is, easy to buy Glowing Reviews. We don't want Adverts. This unprofessional demand deserves publishing really, but to wonder what they will alter their Professional Opinion on so easily if 'requested'... We asked them to Send us one to Review, but they know we'll not like the item. It's up to the Buyers to decide what is good, to have one want an opinion Removed is Questionable. Our Opinion below is Our Opinion. It stays. Other Opinions found online, those Forum ones show the expected opinions, lack of bass, a sound they don't like if don't know how to describe, some say it's slow & dull. Others fumd it good but usually opinions from those who know little on a subject are irrelevant. The Best Phono stage has a "Solid" sound, ie no Blurryness with the Sound Fully Resolved, full Bass if not into Sub 10Hz Bass that can upset from Huge Power on Warps, Needle Drops etc, plus a Knife Sharp resolution of Treble with no Grain. To get this from 1960s Vinyl is difficult. We know this sound, we put it in our Valve Amp. Graham Slee: try to do a Valve Phono Amp sounding like that. Verdict is on seeing who the Messager is, to consider it just New Year's Spirits, rather than malicious, us not wanting to publish his silly comments that may affect his job if seen. But to question anything unusual is our way of dealing. ↑
Rare Times: Unboxing a NOS Hitachi SR-1000 Receiver From 1971-75.
A Customer sent us this one to Rebuild. It's Brand New says you so Why Touch It? It's 44-49 Years Old, it still will have aged & the design will still be compromised. Unused Electronics especially Capacitors can go dusty & dry inside, had a 1967 Sony TA-1120A that got crackly noises early on so was abandoned, all the Capacitors there were bad from Large to Small. We've held this a while to Open Properly & Blog it Excitedly, the seller actually plugged it in to show the Fascia lights working, best leave Unwise Things to others to gamble on, we'd be wary trying it. Abandoned Goods left somewhere for Decades until the Building is Cleared out, rather than a Sold one just not used much. We looked at it on arrival & Brand New outer features were a joy to see. Go see our Used Rebuilt one on our Solds Gallery, the Wood here is perfect & unfaded. The Marantz style Speaker Connectors are nearly always Dull on the Plating, here they are Brand New, looking initially like they'd been polished up, no they are Real. The Box is a White Carton with "Hitachi" & "Lo-D" logos as varied marketing in some countries. Box in nice grade beyond a heavy small tear from Warehouse storage that doesn't affect anything. Several sets of strings wrapped round washers riveted to the case. Open the flaps, card sides with handles, if to pick out the top packing that's card with Polystyrene to fit solidly. A bag with the User Manual plus Fuses, typical "T" antenna cable, some RCA Phono plugs with no wires fitted, a blue cable with a "Y" fitting probably for Earthing a Turntable & a blue small cloth with a Hitachi logo. Amp sits in another sculpted Polystyrene piece if a big open gap under for Mains cable. The light grey cable is 2 core with a EU type plug, it's a Germany version as it has the 'FTZ' number on the blanking plate over AC outlets. Only ever opened & used by the seller to show it works. The back is a delight, bright shiny metalwork, shiny screws, no chewed Antenna screws, RCA Phono inputs all gleaming. The Top Lid glistens crisply in the light for the paint effect, the wood as untouched & sharp is really nice to see. Left wood side has a large 'Caution' sticker. Switches & Levers are precise, the Volume a little stiff from unuse. The base cover is bright with only a few tiny age marks. The fascia gleams, it is a joy to see this in NOS grade, if it'll need careful handling as in take bits off & store them away whilst working on. It's the "Wow Factor" here for sure, going back 45 years or so & seeing items NOS with only a slight musty smell in the box. All very nice, but we have to take it apart now. See what decades of storage as NOS in a dry place. The Inside Story. The lid has been off before, screws reveal & clunky lid removal marks inside. It gets Wowed at, it's perfect, all those Tuner parts that are usually greyed oxidised, all gleaming here. The row of six tuner core cans are gleaming. Have a sniff inside, it smells like New Electronics. The Tuner boards that lay flat are often dusty with dried damp mould & dirt, here they are as you'd expect here, perfect. The only sign of possible disturbing so far is some upright resistors & big film capacitors need straightening, if this could be as made based on wonky components as soldered in. Tuning Counterweight is unaged as these often go oxidised, the Tuner cord is perfectly new, no nicotine or grease here. The three large Nippon Capacitors look like new ones we get to Rebuild with, if the original values tell they are old, we'll cut these open later to see how they age. Underneath. This as seen on quite a few amps looks Brand New as it's underneath. Signs of leaking capacitors & corroded base lids from decades of dust & damp often age the lids, none of that here. Rubber feet like new. As this clean isn't so rare, the base never undone since tightened up in The Factory. The inside of the base lid is perfect with it's goldy Cadmium plating. Underneath is perfect, no leaky capacitors as old capacitors only leak once used. The gleam from unexpected components as unaged is rather special. We took photos to add. As it's been plugged in, so will we & hear what it sounds like as 45 year old NOS, as close to the original era of it's use. ↑
Hitachi SR-1100 Part Two: Plugging It In And What Does It Sound Like?
It is NOS Brand New, only opened by the seller & plugged in likely for a few minutes to Photo & try it if it still works. We've looked afresh at the Circuit Diagrams to see it is rather heavily limited in several places. But it plays Stereo with all the fascia lights working looking very smart. First try without earplugs, don't want loud noises as some amp do on first try, it sadly has that Transistor hiss, more loudly on the Left with Headphones & small amount on the Right. Hopefully this isn't in the basic ICs that are Phono & Mic, as they show the same transistor shape inside. Maybe it Hissed on first try in the Original Owners shop & was abandoned? So even without use the dreaded 2SC458 maybe just ages to go hissy, if 1969 HFN comments say these were even going hissy as new. Play the music again, Bassy Reggae is our starter. The SR-1100 sounds clean & crisp, quite small in soundstage. It's a thin bright sound, clean, no gritty grainy sound but lacks confidence on anything below 1kHz meaning Bass is very weak, it sounds sort of Balanced without Peaks but No Deeper Bass & No Richness at all. For the Bass we hear, it could be 20dB down on what an Upgraded amp can do. These type of amps are misleadingly tested to show 'Flat Response' if the Reality is how much more Volume to get it Flat, they don't tell you that one. This is what we put in our 2013 review, thin sound. Really Great Looking amp, nicely made with Care, but Sound is More Puny than other amps which are often tamed too much, this is just why this amp is Rare, it wasn't liked. HFN/RR mentioned this or the amp version, but their Reviews were worthless at the time as Nothing About The Sound. Buyers would rely on Shop Demos, "It's Nice But A Bit Thin" will have been the opinion. Tuners are Working here if not put Antenna on to critically listen, if our 2013 one we remember as Good. NOS like New, but the Design is Heavily Compromised as No Richness or Bass. As upgrade to our mid 2013 ideas, we got a much better sound if the work to redesign it to get that sound is another thing. ↑
Remembering 'Problem Amps' That Needed Redesign.
The 1971 Hitachi SR-1100 was a Problem Amp as it is extremely dumbed down to have No Bass, No Weight to the Sound & Not Be Very Listenable despite the Treble & Mid being pleasing in it's way, showing Good Upgrade Potential. Our 2013 one we did a lot to, if ideas 6.5 years later we see even more that can be done. Too many limiters, once sorted left it too Loud so all we could do was Reduce Gain in the power Amp. Today we see more Sophisticated ways of doing it. But where did these Ideas come from, we find unusual issues & the Joy of Problem Solving. The 1974 Pioneer SX-828 we had mid 2014, our 'Solds Gallery' gives the date the Photo was taken on our Computer with the Details tab. This amp must be The First we saw as a Great amp but Very Limited. To Just Better Things to see how good it can be but still sell it on as in "Those Days" it was easy to find Decent Amps at a Nice Price, not like Today's Overpricing of Raw Amps. Over the years we've found 1970-1972 amps to be of Great quality, but only once Upgraded, as Original they were So Tamed. The Sony pre-power pair from 1970-72 Sony TA-2000F & TA-3200F are ridiculously tamed especially the preamp. Why Do They Do This? Even the first Amp we bought new, 1986 Realistic STA-2280 beyond all it's ICs & unshielded ribon cable for Audio was again very tamed on Bass. The Teen us used to use the Expander & Loudness to get Bass, if on getting the amp a few years back, to hear how Awful that sounded. But Several Amps we've had will have sounded Poor to Buyers hearing Shop Demos to Wonder Where's The Bass? The Deeper You Get into Hifi as we have, the more Dumbing Down you find & it's not just post 1975 or 1977. The 1965-67 First Generation Transistor Amps are the Least Dumbed Down, the 1962-64 Germanium ones aren't really of the Quality yet. ↑
The Reality Of Valve-Tube Receivers aka Tuner Amplifiers 1962-66.
In Transistors, some Complex Amps & Receivers are a big job, the 4ch 1972-75 era ones perhaps the most complex. But in Valve-Tube Receivers, these are very difficult & into a Different League as if you want it done properly, not just a feeble 'repair' that still keeps the weak original design, it's a big job. Our 1963 Trio WX-400U we had for 3-4 years. Initially 3 years where we rebuilt the thing adding DC heaters to all the preamp & power amp first stage, to lose the Hum Adjusting control. It was a great sounding amp, if at 10w with no real preamp gain beyond the Tone stage which gave no gain set flat, it wasn't quite loud enough on 95dB speakers for Daily Use. To us, Daily Use is what people want these amps for, if to rarely realise the work & costs involved. The WX-400U we got back about 2 years after selling it, the buyer had unwisely 'Tube Rolled' believing forum types that "a certain valve sounds better" yet they are amateurs unaware a circuit is designed to suit one valve only to have voltages & currents right. WX-400U returned half burnt out from Tube Rolling was the sad reality. Big repair job & as it was here again, it got a lot improved, such as individual output valve biasing based on the Luxman LX33 design. To bias the Tube Pair equally as Push Pull is vital, to have L+R valves equal is not so important. Again to sell it. To think We'd Never Do A Valve Receiver Again as they are far too complex to do for a Customer. 2019 we get a Pioneer SX-800A as we review. After several years since the Trio, this impressive 35w RMS Tuner Receiver from 1966 appeared great. But on working on it to try to Upgrade like the Trio, the Pioneer is just too tightly packed underneath. This makes it very difficult to upgrade correctly & working out 'best effort' compromises is a chore & to be in a certain mood to face a big challenge, with hoped ideas not working & needing to do it again more than once to get it right. So it's a slow job. Then we hear of a 1963 Sherwood S 8000 IV 33w receiver very much like the Pioneer. To tell the potential customer of the Reality, they're probably still in shock. Get Real On Valve Receivers. Yes they can often look very nice, the Trio ones with chrome looked very smart. But look inside, the top section is busy but it looks tidy. Few sellers do the underside photos as the Hard Wiring or 'Point To Point' wiring is very untidy & random looking that will scare the newbies away. To work out what does what takes learning, you'll only have a circuit but no 'board layout' as there's not any board. but to just replace a few bits is a waste of time & to be aware of low spec to not get issues. To see an ebay auction for the 1966 Pioneer LX-34B "Parts or Not Working" fairly says the seller, if the amp looks decent grade, it's over 50 years old so it will be unuseable, it sells for £354 for a 10w receiver. The buyer will naively think it's an easy fix. A forum shows the Sherwood one being 'repaired-rebuilt', they are just doing it like-for-like to avoid the many issues & still get lots of problems. All their work & often it'll be resold, as it's not very good sounding. The Sherwood guy was fairly told we have the Pioneer & to want to do another in a year's time maybe as these are just too much. Our Trio taking 3-4 years helps us forget how much was done. On better ones the circuit is much the same 1963-66 if the earlier Pioneer with 2 Tuners & Valve Rectifier are a different thing again. Valve Receivers should really only be bought by one who will do the job themselves to Learn, to get another to rebuild yours, to deal with older alterations & add valve biasing, well a huge bill is what it'll cost & how good will it be? Hiss & more noticeably Hum on valves with AC heaters & hopeless Hum Balancing controls. Valve Amps can be done fairly cheaply on like-like replacements if you do it yourself. To want it Upgraded with Redesign, who would be Able to do it & Want to take on a big job? ↑
We Found A Valve Amplifier So We'll Just Plug It In.
Ebay sellers still do this on Amps & Audio Gear like Radiograms going back to the 1930s. Our 1932 Pye G/RG is now 88 years old, it works on replaced power supply caps, all else is original, but do people still plug these in to try? You bet they do, if the Capacitors will usually be Dried out & Mummified so likely no harm done, but no voltages, if can be repaired as we did with a 1936 Murphy A30C Console Radio in mid 1990s. Plugging in Valve Gear in 2019 is High Risk to the Point of Stupid, if also be glad they took the risk to tell what happens, possibly. Circuit Breaker & hand by the Power Switch is required on any unknown amp plus to check Fuses are the specified value first. Earthing is an issue too, so care is needed with 2-Core mains as it's Not Earthed, don't touch metalwork. But Plugging In Valve Gear is Risky, so we'll tell you of ones we remember. 1961-63 Sterns 3w Mono amp, in 1992 this was 30 years old & it worked fine, no problems. 1965 Rogers Cadet III again in 1992 no issues. But not all was good. 1962 Pye Black Box Stereo 'Gram' if not a Radio, one we played often in 1981-82 was only 20 years old then. To get another around 1991 it needed a few coupling capacitors as silent. It then worked fine if one day not too much later thick smoke as the Tarred Transformers were overheating to bubble the tar. Something shorted & that was it. A 1963 era Heathkit Oscilloscope still worked in 1993 if again the Transformer smoked & finished that. The Smoking Ones probably could be repaired now finding Circuits, if Transformers can go Open Circuit for Faults & be only repaired by getting a Donor Unit. The Rogers Cadet III main capacitors are Long Dried Out on every one you see, even sold by supposed Techs & how they still work is just them hanging on. To use any pre 1970 Valve amp beyond just a Quick Try is highly risky. What do £2000 buyers of Early Lowther etc do with them? They are not safe to use. They need many parts replaced to be useable tht loses originality. Be Sure many have plugged in Valve Amps & trashed them to a degree, these may stll be sold as "For Parts or Not Working" with the buyer 'hoping' it's not trashed too bad. ↑
Loricraft Pro Record Cleaning-Washing Machine.
We've known of these for Decades as Record Dealers. Never saw any point in getting one though. These Machines are Expensive & Require-Demand you to buy their Cleaning Fluid. It's probably just an old Record player deck slowed down & bottles of cleaning fluid much like Kitchen Detergents. We don't see the point in them & that Sheep-Like way to get you to keep on paying for Basic Detergents. Loricraft has a Vacuum attachment to dry the grooves. Loricraft ones look just like repurposed Turntables & a quick look shows £1000-£1500 will get you one, plus £59 delivered for 5 Litres of their Fluid. We're trying not to Laugh, it's certainly For The Sheep & in all our years dealing we've never needed such a thing. Listening to Tracks we recorded from Vinyl 10-20 years ago, we were far more tolerant of background noise, yet now we find some too noisy, if DC Art Sound Restoration Programs can sort that, if only to use Subtly, not the Heavy Handed way CDs are "Remastered" using Tiny Monitor speakers that Big Speakers show up as Over-Filtered. The cleaner the Vinyl to start with is the thing, if some Mint can be Noisy & some VG- Scuffy ones can play EX. Records arrive to us today, one is stated as "EX Some light signs of play, No Skips, Jumps etc".Cleaned on a Loricraft means nothi gb to us, we always wash our way. Bit amateur to say No Skips or Jumps on EX, if often 'Warps' aren't mentioned. Most records are extremely slightly warped if you put a light point on the record, but a Warp is only to be Noticed if the Arm moves more than extremely slightly. This 1965 Soul Record is certainly a "Nice" copy if "EX" is a little overgraded as minor marks more like "EX-". No Warp on the Record. So how does it play as "Loricrafted"? A 10x bigger Magnifier shows it's really EX- if nothing worrying. It does show the Grooves aren't as Clean from Debris as we can get, a little greyness of dust remains that we'll better. Both sides to us play fine, if the B side they hadn't played so it's a bit noisier & the grooves not properly clean. In terms of an ebay buy we'd not say anything as we can better it, if a fussy buyer may return it. Once washed our way, deep black grooves where it was dirty grey. Any washed record still needs one play through to be it's best. Loricraft cleaning isn't anything as good as hyped, have thought this on ones said to be Loricraft/Keith Monks clean etc, if to allow for lack of skill or using unfresh fluid. We used to Auction UK early Stereo Classical LPs to the Japanese & South Koreans to know how fussy they are on getting "Mint" vinyl. We never had any returned, if that was selling 10-12 years ago. Of Course certain types will only 'Feel Important' if they buy the Loricraft system, but we have before put how we wash records & because it's too simplistic they laugh, so we keeps it quiet. Gives far better results for pennies. Record Dirt, as most dirt, is dust, grease, nicotine, animal debris. Look in the Kitchen Cupboard. ↑
The Repair Shop: Reel To Reel Player.
The last Episode of the Series features an 'Elizabethan' brand small Reel To Reel Tape Recorder-Player. A British Brand that were much advertised for Tape & Amps until the company closes c.1970 if long after their peak advertising years. Unusually small player unlike the bigger European makes. Actually in very good condition if it had been kept since the 1962 year the repair guy said. Very simple inside, just one belt, several idler wheels & a basic power amp state with Bias for Recording. He found a 220K resistor that was 279K, out of spec, but you'd actually often find values this far over 20% tolerance but it could actually be a 270K in good order. The resistor he replaced it with looks nearly as old as the original one. Polishing the Tape Head with Metal Polish, that 'Autosol' brand Car Spares shops have, but he just put a big blob on without removing parts, so will have left polish in it. He gets it working, it just needs capacitors & servicing, if things were broken & missing the job would need a Parts Machine. We heard the guy with his 'Sailor Jerry' tattoos is from North London, the entrance sequence they made him retake & perfect it, if the collection & play one is one take to keep things spontaneous. Sharp ears will hear slight tape hiss, so the tape sound was transferred & 'post produced' to sound like it was playing live on the episode. The Show loves to show the Delight people have in getting sometimes really trashed items back, often turning 'rubbish' into something worth having, the Sentimental Value is the thing & the darndest or surprising items give such pleasure which can be nice or a little over sugary. In reality a shop could transfer a Tape cheaply, but as with 'Antiques Roadshow' they are after the story, the tape eventually showed them singing "My Old Man's A Dustman" that maybe isn't as interesting as they hoped, if to hear Departed Voices. ↑
Running Your Hifi In. Deep Listening Required.
We Rebuild a lot of Amplifiers, we listen to them as soon as done & on the Best Ones we can listen over an hour, simply as it sounds good right from the first try. What Sounds Good To You might not please us at all is a Reality we need to state. Thin, No-Bass, Soft & Grainy Sound is unlistenable to us. You may be Surprised to Hear after Five Minutes a Refreshed Amp can sound great, sort of puts the "Running In For Days" Myth away. The Truth on these Long Run-Ins is You will get used to the sound more. The Ear compensates for Lacking in Hifi by a Built-In EQ in Your Head that alters your hearing, much in a way you can pin point conversation in a crowd. We've yet to hear of Anyone else realising this, if perhaps no-one has heard as many Upgraded amps as we have. Therefore you can get used to substandard Hifi & only realise on hearing a different amp. Old Original amps such as we found with a Rotel RX-1603 Monster Receiver, can sound Awful as too aged, the RX-1603 despute some nice upgrades still sounded Lacking. Rotel are a bit Cost Cut as are later 1970s Pioneer, if we know the Rotel RX-603 actually has a clean sound, the RX-1603 was disappointing. So Run It In for 8 hours, it woke up the 2 Main Capacitors but it revealed one or more was faulty, so to replace both. These aren't as Expensive as they used to be & the RX-1603 was much improved. Cutting the Big Caps open revealed the ne neares the rear was dried out, likely in sunlight to get dry in 30+ years unused. Running In reforms some capacitors, but is a False Economy to use, such as all the Rogers Cadet III you see still have the aged main capcitors in, these are Bone Dry inside & failure will soon come. ↑
My Old Car: Is It Still Alive?
People become very attached to Cars in a way some are with Hifi. You'll never find the amp you had years ago, if you probably will find another of it, if not your exact one. So to Cars, there is a Website that you can see if Your Car Is Still Alive. Everyday cars usually long gone after 10-15 years if Classics can still be around. This site can track the MOT & Comments made which is going to get a lot of interest. "Wheeler Dealers" Series 9 had a nice 1960 Jaguar Mk 2 that family had one in about 1973 if the amounf of Fuel it needs made it not economical to run with the 1974 Fuel Crisis. Big light Grey beauty, reg number may be in old photos to see if it's alive. The Mike & Edd Jaguar was last MOT Passed by the owner in 2017 if not since, probably got issues & Garaged up. You can see the 2011 fail & restest as done by the show or the previous owner as some is a bit obvious. The site is Cazana.com. Surprising how many Car Registration Numbers we can remember from Nice & Daily Cars to Trucks, if none are alive. It is possible older cars got replated with Custom or Bought numbers long ago so won't be found. "Chasing Classic Cars" has found old cars by their Chassis Numbers, if one Wayne found after many years was much altered so not really as he remembered & by then the Car had a long New Life with the Current Owners so best kept with them. The 'Facebook' of Cars, but you can find people you knew decades ago, but des anyone really want to be contacted, if perhaps those over 80 may see it differently. ↑
Swapping Around Your Amplifiers.
Our First Written Blog of 2020... If you Love Your Hifi then you have Several Amps to Swap around. It's Essential as even with us Upgrading Amps to a similar Ideal, they Always Sound Different. Over Xmas we had the Trio-Kenwood KR-6340 4ch-Bridged Amp on for over a Month. Would have put the Sansui TR-707A on but found a crazy hidden upgrade. The KR-6340 sounds exceptionally good, the Stereo Width & Clean Detail is a joy. But it does have a Regulated Preamp & needing to 'tidy' the design to stop RF, to hear a tiny lack of detail. On getting an order for one Big Amp we had, to try it for a few days, the Marantz 2385. Adjusting the Midrange Control to better suit TV listening, it sounded very decent. Crisp ad Weighty if not as Wide Stereo as the KR-6340 if very few amps are. But a time comes when it's got to be Packed & Delivered, so try another amp with Doubled-Parallel outputs, this made the Marantz sound very nice & the KR-6340 could do with some more weight to the sound. So what to try next? The Akai AA-8500 had been sitting pretty on view since Xmas. so try that. The KR-6340 looks we got a bit tired of, it sits wired up on the Coffee Table-Chest for easy swapping. That sounds nice. The AA-8500 we redesigned the Preamp to make it with no NFB, if the no-NFB KR-6340- sounds quite different. Swapping from One Amp to Another in a different order reveals a more Neutral Sounding Amp can get a bit lost after one that is Great but not as Neutral. The Solid Sound of the Marantz 2385 as our upgraded version sounded fine & was enjoyed, the Rich Sound with Clean Treble, ICs no problem here surprisingly. To go to the AA-8500 which again only for Our Upgrades is very Sweet & Neutral with no NFB beyond the Power amp one. This gives a effortless soundstage with dynamics wider & actually the Power amp isn't much upgraded yet. Still liking the AA-8500 ovr a week later. To keep listening until something that could be bettered noticed. ↑
A Jukebox On "The Repair Shop".
We'd missed some Episodes so got nearly all Series 1 over Xmas. The early ones have the Jay Blades guy doing more hands on stuff, but seeing how he & the clock guy bodged a nice clock by crudely filing a groove instead of redoing the problem was very cringeworthy. By Episode 6 recorded months later than the First Ones, the show gets more slick. The Jukebox is a 1957 Wurlitzer 2104 a less ornate one if looks like the one in Neighbours TV Show Coffee Shop once had. We've never had interest in having a Jukebox if have seen many in Pubs & Clubs of old. Once we loaded up a Jukebox with about 6 songs & it must have been faulty as it played the wrong side. The "Repair Shop" guy says Jukeboxes need Servicing Once A Year. This to us is rubbish, a 60 year old jukebox left unused for decades needs a full rebuild, not just the odd Repair so you pay a Fortune over Years of Repairs instead of Doing it Properly to get 10 years good use, based on us knowing our Valve Gear. Once Valves or mechanical gear like Turntables gets past 10 years since last redone, it starts to age rather quickly. The thing is the shows in the First Series are shorter so really rush through making complex jobs seem easy. We could repair much Vintage Stuff but the trouble is Customers think it's a £50-£100 job when in fact jobs can be way higher in cost & for the Money a real pain to try to repair & source new parts. No Repairs or Rebuilds are easy. The Wurlitzer to us isn't so apealing, as with other 1950s & before Radiograms & Record Players there is a lot of Crudeness in the Build. In it's Day it wasn't crude & the fact they still play Decades later, but Crude means Very Difficult to fix or replace if broken. The amp stage is only shown top view & be sure New Capacitors will have been needed. But our 1957 EAR Triple Four Portable Record Player is still on 1957 Capacitors & works, if it's not had too much use, it's not a Use Daily item. Also on the Show one of those Clapping Cymbal Monkeys as seen in Films & Chumley with one on 'Pawn Stars'. The Toy should have more face movements than it does. The Steve guy says it's not repairable as bashed up too much, if in reality as the outside is in good condition you could easily buy a 'Donor' toy to get the parts from, this happens with Cars often on TV shows & the Car Restoration Scene has influenced our Hifi exploits. But getting Hifi spares relies on certain USA ebay sellers parting out amps if in reality a whole amp with faults is catching up in price on sets of parts. ↑
The Woes Of Buying Vintage Amps.
The Best Hifi era is 1965-1978. Only Thirteen Lucky Years when Quality Amps were made. We've had plenty as this site shows & there will still be more Good Ones if weeding out the Best & then seeing Overpriced Raw Amps stops this becoming Worthwhile Financially. We sold the Marantz 2385 & Sansui AU-G90X but way short of what they "should" go for for the Amount of Rebuilding & Upgrading. The Interest made them Worthwhile if The Market isn't Aware Enough of Rebuilt Amps. age is getting these Amps failing now. Actually Most Amps we get are far from Use Daily Quality, they Hiss, Hum, Crackle, Uneven Balance or only Work One Channel. To us this Doesn't Matter as we'd only get the Amp to rebuild, but knowing it Works is Important as that Pioneer SX-1000TDF we just couldn't get working & suspect it was a Reject when sold New in 1967. Looking around for Amps, the Knackered Amp Status is Sadly Everywhere. Seeing Swollen Capacitors & Ones Ready To Fail as Not Designed well & excess Heat issues, yet it still "Works" so the Unaware Seller puts a High Price. How Long it'll last until it Fails is a Real Problem that buyers just aren't thinking about. But "It Works" but several we've had recently that are Way Far Gone still are being sold as "Working" without saying Obvious Issues. If a Customer is Aware of this & Buys to Rebuild it either Professionally, Like-For-Like or Try it themselves, you at least know it's Not Use Daily Quality. But the Majority Naively Buy To Use As-Is without even Servicing it. Popular brands like Pioneer & Marantz are very often Faulty now. There is an Element of "What Do You Expect It's 30+ Years Old Now". But Sellers Try It On, they 'Hope' you'll Accept or Not Notice a Fault, today as of typing one record with an Ash Burn on the B Side. Another we knew had a Rare LP that jumped from Pin Marks, yet sold it on ebay for a good price, as it's not a Record that gets played so accepted as otherwise it looked decent. Another sold us a nice EP record if more noise than music, we return it as useless yet they resell it to one who won't play it so again just accepts it as an artifact. One 45 sold in a very odd way, turns out both pics are pics found online, not the actual record, yet it's actually decent so acceptable with no label mess. We just buy to keep or return. Sellers often Sell as "Nice" yet obviously not & expect you to Offer a Price which is usually higher than it'd go for as Described right. ↑
February 2020 Blog
What Happens When Amps Stop Working?
Beyond it Working but very Rough, still Unfairly described as "Working" when it's Not Useable, What Else Goes Wrong? Today with Multi-Channel AV Amps, they fail & put up an Error Code. Often this Ends the Amp as not worth repairing even on £1000+ amps. Two Years Use is fairly Standard Today & the amount of Broken AV Amps on ebay shows this. On Older Amps, it'll often Just Fade Away rather than 'Go Bang' as when Outputs are Shorted. Age in many ways can stop an Amp. The Problem is "Not Woking - For Spares or Repirs" amps can range from a Standard Fix or Not Be Worth Keeping Alive, based on Repair Bills & Resell Prices. Most Amps Are Repairable if often we've gone much further to keep an amp alive, like that Sony STR-6120 that got half wrecked, too good to give up on if a Huge Rebuild. We've seen Higher Model amps in "Not Working" go £500+. Recently seen ones go £250 when one that works can be bought for £500. We'd not Gamble that high because from having had amps like this, it can be as Bad as trying to Repair Old Repairs that is very time consuming. How do you know what is wrong? A Nice Grade Amp kept Boxed but not working to a Tatty Rusty Scratchy one, there is Unknown in Both. Don't bother with externally damaged amps as once £££ put in to work nice it still looks tatty. When we first started Buying Lots Of Amps in 2011 to find ones with Damaged Power Amps to ones needing just Servicing. But now nearly 10 years later, they've Aged more yet Overpriced with Untold Issues. Compare Vintage Hifi to Vintage Cars, some can be got going easily & others will need a lot done. How do you know? You can only Buy it & Try It. ↑
Upgrades On Cars By Amateurs vs. Hifi Upgrades.
Recent "Wheeler Dealers" had a Mazda RX 7, a 1978-2002 Sports Car that is a popular one. The previous owner has Poor Taste adding horrible 'upgrades' like he just bought anything in a Car shop that would fit. In Hifi thankfully there is no Shiny Chrome Knobs upgrades if people used to put extra bright Coloured LEDs in & even putting Green LEDs into a Sony STR-6120. These are easy to get rid of as usually 'upgrader' just does it simply. Upgrading Hifi is about bettering Circuits. You can't just Upgrade one section as some amateur thinks on Forums etc, the whole amp needs to Fit the upgrade or you will get big problems to Fault Find on, even recapping Like-For-Like will bring problems on some amps as the HF response is higher. Cars move on roads so must be to a Standard not to be Weak, if Hifi is so often Rather Tame. That Mazda once made nice again sold to a Happy Chap who had one as his First car, the Age Group who want these Old Cars if the Market for Vintage Hifi can be to Original owners as well as Younger knowing them from Family having one. To Hifi, the Vintage Scene we saw early 2000s was mostly the Big Silver Pioneer & Monster Amp scene. It grew as TVK site still shows with the "High End" Gear if we've Championed the 'forgotten' gems that sadly are way overpriced on ebay if these can still be bought Reasonably if rarely Cheaply. Those Monster & Silver Pioneers we've had quite a few now & to say despite the Boy Racer looks, the cost cutting Build Quality does let these amps down & we're hearing-seeing these are starting to Fail now. As we seem to be the Only Ones who Upgrade, we can see there is Good Potential in these to upgrade to Keep Them Alive & Be Much Better than Original, if done Subtly. We see others doing Tidy Like-For-Like Recaps & Repairs but to Upgrade is Very Risky if you aren't a Master Fault Finder aware of Design. Our "Solds Gallery" shows the Benchmark for 'Doing It Properly'. Upgrading takes a certain way of Questioning Everything & being Confident enough to Try Your Ideas which is Taking Away the Cost Cutting & Limitations of the Priced To The Penny Design, or 'Early Days Design' in the pre 1970s amps. There really is No Way to teach this. In Cars there's More Money behind it so Clever Custom work is growing as "WD" shows which we find so Great to see. Where will Hifi Upgrading go? We wish others would try, but not seeing even slightly any of it out there. ↑
The Younger Generations And Hifi.
Today's World is Want It Now - Don't Want To Learn - Expect To Get Free Help. People buy Audio & Hifi to get 2 years use & throw away. Vintage amps may give a certain amount of use until it fails. Be sure the E-Waste companies scour Recycling Yards etc to find Anything that has some value. Be Grateful for the Bottom-Feeders as they help Rescue gear to put Online. Thankfully people get Older & Wiser, if becoming Wiser today is a tricky one. Say they buy a Pioneer SA-608 today to use, a 40w amp from 1978. It lasts a year or so for a £100 buy. It has ICs in the Phono if the rest is Transistors. There needs to be a Realisation that Pioneer are a Good Brand, it Looks Nice & "We're Not Throwing That Away". Off comes the Lid. Fault obvious to see such as Burnt resistor etc. "Why Don't You Try To Fix It?" Beyond what the Cynical Media says, most Younger People if not Infected with Selfies or Trashy behaviour are Still the Nerdy Interested types crying out for a Challenge as 'That's Not Allowed'. "I've not got £100 to buy another, so I'll try it." Of course they're New to the Subject & it'll take a few amps to try, but once they get it right, they may get more to fix from Friends & reap the Success of Repairing things. Big Ego boost too. That may be 1 in a Million, but so are any Trades. Wonder how we started out. Don't be put off by fools who won't trust your work, prove yourself. Be The Parent who gives your early Teen Kid a box of records to play or gives them old but working Hifi. That'll be their Trade if they enjoy those things. Worked for Us, if now the problem of Value of Goods. What used to be 20p records & £20 amps can limit what you get to Play with. ↑
Ebay Vintage Hifi Scene Feb 2020.
Having a regular Deep Look to see what there is, at the time we get the 1969 Pioneer SX-2500 after our Dec blog got it & 2 others looked at. Ebay has run their £1 ending Fee game for the 3rd time as typing, it helps bring out stuff but a whole lot Relisted yet again. Said many times of Ridiculous pricing if some do reduce, many don't. The amount of 1970s Marantz gear at optimistic prices shows how well they sold, if Marantz & Pioneer really are starting to fail now. Not so much Pioneer, their SX-434 type lower models still worth having if 15w if enough. Not so much Sansui if the Sansui 220 (transistor) at just 5w is crazy, aimed at Granny Radiogram ex-owners so there was a market, but 5w is mean. A Few selling Serviced or "Modded" gear, a few offering Rebuilds far too cheaply risks cheap components. "Modded" amps usually are best avoided from holes cut to fit Mains Sockets of Speaker sockets untidily. Power in Amps means money if still many Dreamers with 20w-30w amps at £200+ for Raw ones, no Money in it for us to buy & do a Standard Recap. Others like the JVC MCA 104E 15w Germanium, decent price if too much to rebuild. Sharp STA-31 nice 23w receiver but DIN sockets puts us of as does getting a Sony STR-6850 again. Still plenty that is worthwhile, the pre 1976 JVC are still 'sleepers' & for the sound on the JVC JR-S 100 series & earlier, great buys for Sound quality. The amount of "Everyday" amps from 1980-1990s we generally bypass as the Quality isn't there for our interest plus ICs are standard. The Amps we've rated are now very hard to find at any price, unless you want USA buys with Import costs, if you do, go for Global Shipping, tell them to pack very well & Import Fees are Half what UK Customs will charge you, as in you get a Customs Charge letter. Plenty of EU amps on ebay.de, a fresher range than the general UK stock, if EU amps appeal. Beware to check they are 240v, 220v is generally accepted as safe, Brands like Luxman you generally see 100v-110v Japan models, much too highly priced in comparison to what a 110v Pioneer SX-850 compared to the 240v model goes for. Step Down transformers can be bought if are not ideal, remember to turn it off too. Compared to say 8 years ago, the amount of Worthy Hifi to us is very slim pickings. The overpricing puts a Raw Aged Amp sometimes higher than it's worth Rebuilt. Also Resell Price even much Rebuilt & Upgraded can be far from what it should, the Marantz 2385 as example. Just remember you are buying 40 year+ old gear that will not be perfect. Some may treat it as "use until dead" then go buy another. ↑
Rogers HG 88 III: Love Is In The Air?
Crazy bids to £520 on Valentine's Day for an Original if Humming HG88 III. It's made in 1966. The High Voltage Caps are always dried out. Failure may damage one of the Transformers. It needs a Full Rebuild & Usually the Output Valves are soft sounding, if that's the Warm Cuddly Valve Sound many think Valves Sound like, if that's incorrect. We've rebuilt Two of these recently & done our way, they are Lively Fresh & Bassy sounding. As Original through the Hum they are a mix of Grainy Treble, Blurry Midrange & Lumpy Bass. The HG88 III we Recommend as really The Only Valve Amp worth buying, forget the Cadet III as 10w isn't enough power, if 15w as Valves is. Quirky amp with it's Tinny face plate & Formica cabinet. It's well made and looks a 'Friendly Face' as many of these sold in 1966-68. Seller doesn't realise the Power Switch is replaced though. A Rogers Cadet III, the early 2-part one, sells £240 the same day. We had a top grade one, it worked fine once, then the 'umbilical' cord began sparking, nothing would fix it. We had to part it out, the one on the Solds Gallery. Would expect similar problems here perhaps & not really worth more than parts as fairly sold as a 'Restoration Project', so Cadet III is not Recommended by us for several reasons. The buyer thinking the HG88 III is 'Use Daily' is dreaming though, unless they're coming to us for The Magic on this amp. Has all the correct Knobs & Buttons which isn't always the case, if the Mains wire is unsafe as split. To plug it in without a visual check is risky or worse, it works on 400v+. A Rebuild by us is a higher priced job if you Fancy Upping it's Game. New Valves are extra, these are hard to find as Obsolete if NOS are around from Old Stocks Worldwide, good searching required. Based on the Sound, our Opinion as well as the Owners, it's Money Well Spent, Nothing Today comes close to a 'select45rpm' rebuild. HG88 III Raw... they'll be disappointed in the untidy aged sound. HG88 III Rebuilt by Us... Love Will Indeed Be Found. ↑
Amplifiers We See If Not So Keen On To Buy Now.
After nearly 200 different Amps & Receivers, some we'd always buy if the price was right to rebuild to resell. Ones like Sansui AU-G90X & Marantz 2385 for all the work didn't sell as well as hoped, if working on both was Interesting, new Ideas found & still worth having known. But not to buy another one & go through all that again, as it's not Financially viable. To Rebuild for a Customer is another thing if these are advanced amps to do. We do Hifi as it interests, not be the TV Repair Guy type stuck with Boring Repairs that are not Satisfying to do. See a Pioneer A400, the one many rate as great, if we don't like it. One £115 delivered isn't worth us getting as No Tone Controls which are needed for Speakers, if it'd even match. To even get it to try & sell on, we've studied the circuits to see as written up before. Then the Quad 33/44/303/405 pre-power. These are Dismal to us, Sound Shaped & Tamed to suit the Quad Electrostatic speaker, they are just too far away from Quality we like, ICs, circuits well studied again. Horrible things to build in cabinets, these do sell if how many get resold? Leak Delta 75 receiver is one we really tried, if 1 good amp from 4 is because of the cobbled together design & messy build. The one on our 'Solds Gallery' sounded decent when we redid it in 2012, it's a nice looking amp if with far too many issues plus DIN sockets. Bang & Olufsen we did early on if never found them capable of taking upgrades for lack of space as well as just too much just TV grade quality. We've done 1960s Valve-Tube Receivers & have the Pioneer SX-800A here for a customer. We did the Trio WX-400U over about 3 years initially, but to condense that into a job is tricky. That amp had enough space under so kept us interested. To do Valve amplifiers like Rogers HG88 III etc is more logical, but Point-To-Point wiring of valve receivers with limited space is another thing. 1975 Sony V-FET receivers turn up fairly often. They could be worth trying beyond the fact Obsolete Output Transistor Types. If these go dead, you're finished, as spares long gone. To convert FET to Silcon TO3 type, if possible, leaves an amp too modified. Germanium amps like the 16w JVC MCA 104E were fascinating & sounded nicely Retro. UK Germanium amps with AD140 etc are another thing. ↑
Free Advice 'Questions' We Don't Answer.
Despite what we put on the Email Form, there are always those who try to word it hoping for Free Advice. If we wanted to Forever answer questions we'd do a Facebook page that would generate so many questions if rarely anything that would bring a Job or Sale. One asks about a 1995 Harmon Kardon HK 680 a 85w amp. Swollen caps they got replaced 8 years ago & want to know what values are best. Oh really... Free advice on Upgrades. How do you think we work out upgrades? It's our Trade Secrets based on design knowledge & years of experimenting with Questioning all we see. To upgrade wrongly will bring no end of problems & ones we Experiment on often still need huge amount of time to get the best. We do it as it Interests. This is why we don't see Anyone doing upgrading. Well known about mid 1990s amps & Computers with Exploding caps, we've mentioned this before. If you have an amp like this, it needs a full rebuild as bad caps could make it not worth repairing as too much could get damaged. No reply to that as No Job asked for & we don't want to deal with other's old repairs & be stuck with an amp that could never be any good for Construction & other issues. They Found Us on a Forum, read nothing of what we say yet expect Free Advice... We could spend 4 hours a day answering Questions that give us Nothing, or beaver away at doing Amp Jobs of Customers or Our Own. Which will we choose? We actually tried a Hifi Forum many years ago, early 2000s. They don't like Radical Ideas & Never Ever Answered Questions we had. Forums are occasionally found on Googling for info, but Forum Strings of Comments rarely go anywhere. This is why we started writing this site as Info needs telling to create Interest. Find things out & Tell to a General idea, if not Specifics. ↑
March 2020 Blog
You're Buying Overpriced Junk...?
Time is Marching On. When we first started getting Amps from various sources including ebay, this was 2011, it was possible to buy Amps & still be able to use them. We sold plenty as 'Serviced' which to us means properly checked, run in & adjusted. Some needed Repair, if to concentrate on the Finished Product, rather than what it used to be, ie full of dust & spiders or caked in Nicotine. All can be dealt with, if of a certain Quality. We had Fun with that early era, trying 'sleeper' amps that you don't see anymore, after our Reviews. Now it's 2020, nine years later. As blogged before, some popular amps are going beyond useable now, some are too far gone, others you can still use if you'll find them getting tired now. Others rebuild amps Like-For-Like at least keeping good amps alive, if perhaps the Amateur Rebuild quality shows to us, they still at least work well, if we prefer the Long Sleeping ones that are as Original, simply as it's easier to follow rather than wondering why they put 100v capacitors when the circuit shows 16v. Not that hard to order the correct parts is it? Set the scene not to sound arrogant, but Amps we've been getting ourselves & for customers, They Are.. Overpriced Junk. Not the amp models are Junk, but High Prices being paid for Amps with Obvious Faults. Beware "it lights up but I've not tested it" or even "In Working Order". Yes, it may "work" as in makes Sound, but be Honest, it sounds crap with Hum, Hiss, Instability & Crackle. Nobody can use this as Hifi, buyers want Plug & Play. They Love Music but aren't Techs to remedy issues. Amps like that, often with all those noises, they need a proper rebuild. The amount of work in some amps has caught us out a few times, Amps we rebuilt & upgrade over 1-5 years, to condense Learned Ideas into an Amp Job, it is found to be a for bigger job than expected. Valve Receivers the biggest jobs to do, if Valve Amplifiers are still big jobs but better understood. The Trio WX400U we spent 3 years on it, got it back, far more ideas over another year. Ideas learnt, but WX-400U was a sane design. You're Buying Vintage Amps, but we are tired of Overpricing knowing these "Working" amps are often on Their Last Legs. Ask them, Does It Hum, Hiss, Crackle or seem Unstable. If they say "Yes" then reply "Why Are You Pricing It Like It's Use Daily?" This is the Only Way you'll get Realistic Prices on Vintage Gear. What does the Buyer of a "Working" Vintage Amp do when it has One or All those issues? They don't use it, they don't trust it to not Ruin Their Speakers & who wants High Background Noise? What we've seen Happen is they Relist it for Auction & Get Far Less than their Seller charged them for it. Our Rogers HG88 III in 2012 was £175 to us if the seller paid £350 to a 'Top Rated Seller', on getting the amp we were surprised at what junk they'd been sent. Action needs Taking on Sellers who Overprice Hifi that is Not Really Useable. For us, we buy Well Chosen Amps knowing they can be with Extra Noises and we'll Rebuild them so as long as their is Some "Working" to the Amp it's fine, But Only if The Price Is Right. Some Amps & Receivers are "Rare" now, Rare in Any Grade. You might find a 9/10 grade one in USA for £800 delivered if you can get a reasonable one in UK for £200 or less. Good Looks matters as in Condition, if to get a Cheap Externally Tatty one is soon Regretted, on realising What A Great Amp that is. As of typing, we get three amps we've researched. One from USA the expensive one, sold as 'Serviced' too, if pics tell it's original enough. But "Working" but Hum & a bit of Crackle isn't really what a Non-Tech Buyer wants. Bought to rebuild, it's acceptable to us aware of likely issues, but perhaps not to you. Another was fairly described as with lots of issues, on getting it, we're happy with it but it's way too far gone so we'll not even risk plugging it in until some repair is done. Would you really pay good money for a 50 year old amp not rebuilt? Probably not. These Online Sellers are just going by what Restored Nice Amps are going for, yet pricing their Aged items far too high. Ask the Hiss, Hum & Crackle Questions & stop paying too much for Aged Hifi that often needs an Expensive Rebuild. As with Cars, only a small few Lucky Ones get Rebuit to a Useable to High Standard. The other Aspect is, what are you buying 50 year old Hifi for? It's always going to be aged & with one or more unacceptable issues. Rebuilt it'll Outdo anything Modern, but to take into consideration the Rebuild Cost. If the amp is one you want & will get it rebuilt, then if Rare, don't lose the Buy for pushing too hard. Let it sit Overpriced for a while, even with Free ebay listings, it'll usually get reduced, or later message to haggle. We tried this, a very nice amp but having a rough one, to know it's issues. See a nice one at £700, try our idea out, offer £300 saying "these are usually very hissy needing rebuild". This is 'Insider Info' knowing what another of the amp sounds like to push facts that are likely their issue too. £300 offer accepted. Didn't expect that. Now we have two of the same amp, if the lesser grade one, what to do with that? More in the next Blog. **March blog only one blog published, the ones below written March-April if World Events got it left a bit... ↑
April-May 2020 Blog
Beware Of Missing Pieces Inside Amplifiers.
So what did we get for our £300 offer on a £700 listed item? It's the JVC 4VN990, not yet on Reviews. The amp externally is 9/10 beyond a small scratch on the fascia top edge. Beats the first one we got easily for condition. That first one was all working if a Sea Of Hiss due to those 2SC458 that are mostly hissy, needs rebuilding. Items in far worse grade than expected are best just Returned in hindsight, rather than Haggle a part Refund. The better one had someone clean the controls, a while back by the base lid inside marks. But somehow the large metal shield piece was missing as were the screws. It has a sticker showing inside board details so how could you not know what it was from? Check Google Images to see your Amp is complete. The first one was complete so to swap that part out & sell it off cheap to one who's pleased with it & will redo the hissies, so not for us to store disappointing amps. To send it back is what most would do seeing it was poor grade, but what a great amp it was for design & build, to go buy the £300 offer one. We'll review the amp soon & tell more. Another recent Amp buy didn't picture the mesh cage over the power amp, Pioneer SX-2500 not reviewed yet, to see it on the Manuals as well as Online. Mentioned this to the seller, they found it, probably didn't realise what it came from & pictured it in place before sending. The amp wasn't hissy at all on using Aux, but after using it for 20 mins to hear a Seashore sort of sound its still with a noise that makes it imperfect. It is 47 years old, fair deal at the price, if with noise it's not worth High Prices, if perhaps to get a High Grade one that Works if realising a Rebuild is needed we were fine with it, if maybe another wouldn't accept it. You need to Ask about Hiss, Hum & Crackles to get a Reaistic price. Any other buyer may complain about noise & the missing part, if it's how Aware the Buyer Is as with many things. ↑
1979 Hitachi HA-7700 Amplifier With Power MOSFET.
These following Amps were ones seen in 1979-80 HFN/RR. They looked interesting or made strange claims, so to try to look deeper. 1980s means MOSFET outputs. Only 65w if 16kg weight. The Hype is they are "Better" yet by 1980 Cost Cutting is Extreme, the HA-7700 amp looks very Bland Looking yet it Claims to have Maximum Linearity on the Push-Pull output waveforms with no Clipping within it's Power. As with most Great New Ideas it's just another Gimmick as be sure 1965 Amplifiers upgraded properly from their Old Spec can do this. But in 1980 so Cost Cut makes us wonder. 0.02% THD it claims, a Worthless Spec as said by us many times. Seperate L+R Power Supplies is worthwhile but only if done well. The Manual shows quite a plain amp if Tone is hidden under a flap. Flaps are acceptable for little used features, but Tone under a flap will annoy in use. March 1979 dated, large boards with multiple stages on is he 1979 cost cutting we don't like. All Transistors on Audio including Phono is unusual for 1979. MOSFETs 2SK133 & 2SJ48 are Long Obsolete if to find Equivalents may be possible, or not. Pics online show Double Power Supply. This attempts to give better L&R separation, if in use these really don't show any improvement as other areas are still lacking. The Power Amp output has quite a lot of Diodes to keep things tidy, or to tame it to give good specs. For 1979 certainly better than the usual, if MOSFETs could be a problem if repair needed. Online photos show interest, it's survival on early MOSFETs possibly the Protection IC wth 4 error stages to monitor for Faults saves it. Recent sale £270 & a faulty no-flap one offered for £60. Not one we'd find much interest in. ↑
1980 Griffin G82 Integrated Amplifier.
Plenty of obscure brand amps around by 1980 but this at 100w needs looking further into. "Using New Techniques To Achieve Unsurpassed Sound Quality" is the HFN/RR ad. But we've never heard of them. HFE has nothing, little on Google either. Their ads are a bit silly "Best Thing Since Sliced Bread". Didn't sell, if that could just be poorly promoted. ↑
1979 Pioneer Magni-Wide Amplifiers.
More Over-Excited types of Advert need looking at. This covers the Pioneer SA-9800 "Non Switching Amp". It claims to give the Three Dimensions Of Sound: Pitch, Intensity & Duration. Pioneer are sadly far too Cost Cut by 1975-77 even so how do they do this "Magic"? Pioneer amps are Notorious for 'Current Limiting' so how the amp can be what they claim is interesting. Blinding Buyers with Pseudo-Science that Quality Amps can already do but Don't Brag About? To think it's just Marketing Gimmicks, Pioneer sold well, their post 1975 amps don't age well, they sound rather Rough up louder for the Cost Cutting if they are still popular to buyers. Later Pioneer do upgrade well, a huge amount to do, their audio circuits are better than they sold as, as in good scope to improve. ↑
1977 Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 4400 "Still Prefer Valves"?
This is a cheeky one, Bang & Olufsen on the 4400 receiver that betters the 3000(-2) & 4000, if is a bit on the Tamed side to be Real Hifi make this claim, first seen in the Dec 1977 HFN/RR. "The Transistorised Receiver For Those Who Still Prefer Valves". What?!? Valves had their last new models in 1966-67 so what are B&O on about? Their Fluffy Ad is very vague & pretends that Transistors have Evils that they really don't, confusing graph of levels in the amp & meaningless waffle based on the amps pre 1977 that we've upgraded. We've read their long wording & really can't find Anything that makes Any Sense. By knowing the Tame Slow sound of B&O gear they seem to be trying to suggest their designs that sound smooth & polite but never are Rock amps are somehow better. B&O were aimed at the Richer Buyer for The Looks, if with Audio that's not so great. Ideas of Harmonics and Distortion, but Darlington Outputs we're not keen on, they are sort of ICs with 2 Gain stages & all a bit crude forcing such high gain. A Darlington was in the 1973 Heathkit AR-1500 receiver Tone stage, it sounded awful & rough so we redesigned it to sound much better. B&O's advert is best filed under The Cat Litter Tray & Let Kitty give their opinion. B&O are trying to suggest things that really don't follow through. We've had several 4400s. They are better than the 3000(-2) & 4000, if still quite crudely made and not very upgradeable. Construction can be tricky on the Brand, not ones we'd try again. B&O 4400 has nothing "valve like" about it. To this day, amateurs still say their 20w IC riddled amp is 'Valve-Like'. Valve design & the 'Valve sound' is based on well designed minimal circuitry. ↑
1977 Leak 3900A Amplifier.
The Leak revival by Rank Group who bought Leak from Harold Leak in around 1972 was brief, as by 1979 the brand was dead & never revived. Leak as with Rogers were UK brands that gave good value in Valve & Transistor, if never the High Powered 'High End'. Leak 3200 receiver is on our Solds Gallery page & to see it's a Japanese made amp to UK designs & made by the Generic manufacturer who makes Rotel, we've wrote on that before. HFN/RR review Nov 1977 says the sound is with quality but no warmth to the sound, typical 1979 really "Cold & Clear" are terms they use. Having seen the insides online, it's not one that appeals to us, it's just not very good as again is typical 1979 build. Amp is compared to the Rotel RA-1312 if having had the huge, needlessly huge, Rotel RX-1603 it was just so cost cut that shows on the 3900A insides. Two Power Supply Transformers for L+R supposedly. These sell fairly well, but to a crowd who've not heard how much better earlier amps are. They have a Retro Look if they seem lacking. Could upgrade better perhaps? No Manuals to tell, if the Leak 3200 we had was nicely made if midprice quality. ↑
Quad 405 Amplifier Reviewed April 1976
We've written before on this amp, Current Dumping, Error Signal & Tuned to the Electrostatic ESL 57 it does not appeal at all. Gordon J. King who in 1978 had the cheek to criticise other Reviewers yet is so bland in his own reviews where he just rewrites the User Manual & gives no opinions on Sound at all. Why bother with his worthless review? Because it's all we have & don't fancy getting other Hifi Mags of the 1976-80 era. But there are pages of waffle & tech tests that tell very little, 10kHz Square Wave looks too Slow on the Rise Time showing Quad are Tamed & really his Review is just a waste of paper. HFN/RR was clearly 'Sponsored' by Quad, getting their Brand onto all Hifi Yearbooks 1956 into mid 1970s. Letters in HFN/RR said Dealers only stocked their Old Fashioned gear to get the ESL57. Nothing wrong with Quad tailoring their Amps to suit the fragile Electrostatics, if they are Not Full Range amplifiers suitable for other Loudspeakers. It appears many use these with non-electostatics so miss a lot of what better more functional, better looking & high powered amps do. If you have a Transistor Quad amp, then you don't really have a Hi-Fi, you have a Tailored Product. It may sound nice, but Exciting it'll never be. ↑
1982 Technics SU-Z1 Amplfier.
An Amplifier called "Suzi". Was it deliberately done to attract The Girls? Actually it wasn't as just a continuation of the 'SU' series. 25w amp weighing just 5kg is a bit of a worry, if this was 1982. It's a Budget Amp if still looks 1970s in silver. Can't find any price new if £100 will buy one today. Good seller as often on ebay & still working. A little surprising to see the Entire Amp is ICs. HFE has 2 reviews, one is a newbie opinion knowing no better amps & the other butchering it internally is just unwise. It's just a cheap amp now & then. A starter amp into Vintage if little more. All the ICs are tragic & be sure turn it up just past clipping it's a Sea Of Fuzz as ICs are no good on Power Amps. ICs can be adequate on Pre Amps if Phono on ICs was never good. Phono is an 8 pin Op-Amp for both channels, no wonder CD was considered 'better' soon after. Volume control board with Loudness into a pair of ICs for Power Amp first stage with Tone then into a STK block for L&R Power Amp output. The Power Supply beyond a pair of decent 45v 6800µf main Caps is laughable. The amp must sound thin & grainy with no kick or bass to it. But some like the amp, so look deeper, it must be tailored to sound 'better' in that Tamed Way. Actually there is quite a lot of Taming to save putting any Quality in here. 25w amp not going to be used by Rockers, but the amp is rather feeble. No Protection, No Relay. Very Budget amp here. But if a cheap 25w amp is what you can afford & need, the 'Technics' brand will mean their 'Budget' is better than some Amstrad thing. But read our 1978 Technics review. ↑
1966 Marantz 7T Pre Amplifier.
A Customer had one of these, said it wasn't working. Photos online show it's early with a Hard Wired configuration with Transistor sockets similar to how Fisher used. All with Ancient components we have just replaced in other amps, like 1970 era Sansui. But photos never tell the whole story, so we accepted it to at least try. Knowing USA Fisher amps like the 440T & 600T can be redone nicely, to just think we can do something with it especially as a Marantz, right? Arrives in the wood case, looks very nice & clearly untouched. Has paperwork with it that read through says it's "234v" instead of USA 117v. The case, as with early Fisher is still marked 117v range so has it been plugged in at 117v or 240v UK? Don't like this uncertainty, no way will we just plug it without knowing. Wrong Voltages will cause Damage, if this had no visible signs, if the Transformer status is unknown. Further digging for info online & inside the amp shows it is wired for 234v so will use 240v range, wires joined on a board pin make this clear. The 234v is hidden in paperwork, the Case says otherwise. But the customer is non-committal after saying it didn't work before, so who knows? Fuse not blown, no burn smells. But Not Our Amp, Not Our Risk, if to initially ask for Authority to try on 240v before looking further. On taking the base lid off to see further how it's made. Ridiculously, they use long bare wires to join point to point, just metal solid core wire, no shielding or plastic covering as others show. Don't like that & see one of these messy wires touching two transistor leads so there will be hours checking every messy wiring & diffIcult repair needed. the Transformer label says the Transistors are hand picked, as in to match & suit the circuit balance. Fisher Phono stages remembered, you can't get anything like those anymore. Ancient valve-era styled capacitors as seen in Radiograms, the two 80v axial caps growing scales wlll need replacing. To get involved with this amp is just not worth the trouble it will cause & decide just to charge a small fee & have it returned. The circuit schematic is complex if we can see it's quite limited so the Marantz 7T isn't really one that Buyers will go after, if the valve "7" version makes money, this is surprisingly cheap on recent sales for same quality, £400-£500 if without the case. There are many later Marantz preamps that are of more use. This if it did at least work could be Hissy & Humming plus who knows what with those tricky early Transistors. We'll try Crazy Amps like Sansui TR-707A & the insanely built Pioneer SX-800A valve receiver as they are understandable. The Marantz 7T is just a Collector's Piece to us. The Marantz 7 valve pre is much more wanted, if over 50 years old. In a Parallel Universe, maybe we'd get one cheap & end up rebuilding the whole thing & still not have it good enough. The work in it would be several times it's value. It's too early, be wise & don't consider it as Hifi despite the Classic Looks. To Not Want to Work on it is a First for us, but it could be a big job to get it right after doing work to get it at least going. To look at it from the Customer's viewpoint, they'd not spend that & we can't realistically say it could be rebuilt at a reasonable cost & yet only be worth far less. Redoing Hifi is always "Best Efforts" but here to spend on it with the Voltage Issue & seeing a shorted wire, best to not get into what could have many more issues. We Don't Win Them All... ↑
1969 Marantz Model 22 Receiver.
We had a look at this a while back on the "Other Amps" page as an brief look if seeming not one of the USA made early Marantz. These are Rare if getting the Marantz 7T & not liking it, to look further to see what early Marantz are like. One highly priced at £1120, to see it in pictures & now see HFE has the Service Manual. One online that gets rebuilt is interesting, if there is an IC on each channel of the power amp, a LM 741 that is usually a standard op-amp if the older 'can' version is found as NOS. Op-Amps are 'General Purpose' Audio gear, for Marantz to use these instead of a few transistors is not good. Manual tells it's Made In Japan which is news to us, the USA built ones must just be the early valve & '7T' models. Power Amp with the ICs gets looked at first. Zener Diodes to Regulate IC voltage again is poor. Marantz are 'supposed' to be quality, but that isn't. Op-Amp is a Generic Differential & the other Transistors are Drivers. Works on ±34.5v as a Direct Coupled amp with no Output Capacitors. Marantz going for 'Selling Points' by using New Technology. Phono stage is One Transistor per channel then One FET used as a gain stage. 4700µf main capacitors & a Relay with Protection circuit. Actually this is the First Amp to use a Relay on Speaker Outputs, a Relay in the 1965 Sony TA-1120 is for Mains. The Power Supply, for some good design beyond the ICs, is very modest as shows inside the amp. Tone Stage is Baxandall type design. It's a strange amp trying to compete with Teac who did Semi-Complimentary design & an IC in the Teac AS-100. From the Circuits, sound seems as it'll be a bit Tame with little punch, looks like it could be a "Dry" sounding amp. We're not that impressed are we? As with many amps, it could upgrade well with us redesigning, but at £1100 start price it'd end up getting too expensive, unless it was one that a Customer was to keep. ↑
Updating Classic Hi-Fi For Modern Needs
'Wheeler Dealers' Mike said similar on 'S15 E22' about a smart 1971 Chevy C-10 Truck that Ant updated to be what the User Today wants. All very well researched based on years of ideas by others. The Truck was very nice already from lots of external work & prettying, if the Engine etc was still more Stock. Vintage Amps look Retro like that Truck & they are Attractive items of Desire. You want Hi-Fi to look Pretty to use them Daily though if most Amps pre 1980 are Tired to some degree if Cars need MOT to be used, Hi-Fi just gets used until it goes faulty. All 'proper' amps have Aux inputs so you can use Modern Inputs, Speakers & Headphones connect up easily if many like the 4mm Speaker Plugs, it's not always wise to alter them. Things like 3 Core Mains with Earth are essential as Inputs from AV gear isn't grounded & a 120v "Floating Ground" will cause issues as we've found. We've got a JVC 4VN-990 amp newly here as ours if with only the old Single Insulated 2 Core Mains able, we've not tried on Speakers yet. Sound Card via the Line In-Aux Grounds for our Desk & Headphone use. Old Amplifiers & Receivers are still all very useable if their Capabilities are just about Always hidden by Pricing Costs & requirements of the day like Heavily Reduced Bass. Don't need that Bass Cut now & perhaps they never did, if cheaper to make. We want to Upgrade to Get The Best. It takes at least a Year to get the Best from an Amp, to work on it, to use it, to study the diagrams plus comparing to other amps as we use them on Speakers. Our current TV-Speakers amp is the 1970 Akai AA-8500. Doubled Outputs give it good weight, but it's all too hid As Original by the rather limited design. We redesigned the Preamp based on fairly recently found ideas & beyond a very tiny bit of hum as not completed yet, it sounds awesome. Looks great, Sounds Great & Use Daily. The amount of Work in Amps like the AA-8500 is high & costs to Experiment. We can't do this on Customer's Amps to keep prices reasonable, if no reason Why a Good Amp couldn't go further. ↑
Sansui 3300 Receiver c.1971
A Reader says they were Inspired to Buy this Amp by Reading Our Pages, so to see what it is as not a familiar number. To see 'F1450' is the latest board number, it uses a mix of earlier numbers as tried & tested designs, the 1970 Sansui 350A we have has numbers slightly lower so 1971 seems right. You can't go wrong with early Transistor Sansui & we've had several models now & did purposely get the 350A as it's an updated version of the 1967 Sansui 400 we liked. Power rating says 28w per channel at 20Hz-20kHz, if at 1kHz it's rated 45w+45w if each channel, who plays a Stereo amp just one channel? At 1kHz both channels into 8 ohm we'd consider 35w or so. The 16.7kg rated weight is heavy for a 35w amp, has a wood case, photo on the Manual shows the semi-slanted fascia like the 350A. Apart from likely Aux into Phono stage, this will be a Great Amp & will Upgrade to be as good as any early Sansui. Predictions, now facts, look at the circuits. A 49 year old amp can still work, but you're likely hearing a Tired Amp & Lacking Proper Bass as was typical, if these Upgrade well. Insides photo is in the Manual, unusual with the TO3 output Heatsink laid flat. Looks a Midprice build inside if so was the Sansui 400. Circuit is Aux to Phono via a Resistor, Phono board with 2 transistors per channel. Unusually a FET after selector & before Tape Monitor, FET as a Gain Stage not a Buffer. Tone is a mix of NFB and Passive. There is Sound Shaping if Limiting here, Tuned to Sound Good if perhaps a bit Hard Sounding for it. Some amps are Tuned well, but Deep Bass won't trouble you. Risk of Transistor hiss in this one, as with many 1969-1973 amps. Power Amp again has Taming & as 1971 still Capacitor Coupled. Power Supply has Three Transformer windings, Pre, Power & Bulbs. Still a Quality Amp, it'll sound a bit limited as most amps do, if Sansui always Upgrade well, we've got Three of theirs here as proof, the 350A, the early 3000 & the TR-707A. Hearing our 350A as original, it does sound good for a Raw amp, the limits we can hear from Higher Up The Sound Quality Tree, but Sansui at this era were big sellers as they sounded good. ↑
How Hi-Fi Repairs Were Done In The Past.
Customers want a Reliable Estimate on How Much a Repair or Full Rebuild will cost. To see if it's worth their Time & Money, in Our Case to see if We are happy to Quote a price on seeing if Results will be worth their while. 'Money Pit' Unsure Repairs can be tricky. We make the Customer aware on a Non-Worker & ask Authorisation to Start or Continue with the unsure Outcome that may not work out, not all Amps can be Fixed within an Estimated Price. We won't Spend Your Money without a Good Chance of Success. Over the years to know how Repairs were done, the Family Philco-Ford amp power switch failed, a latching type switch, it stayed in Repair for about 6 months if they will have Quoted a Price yet delays in Sourcing Parts. Six Months is very long for a smal repair. Our early Hacker GAR 550 we had one Power Amp Module overheat then Fail. To us now, it's an Easy Repair, yet the same JMS repair shop said it couldn't be done, so we just wired it inside in 1988 to be Mono output into 2 speakers. This didn't last as probably the Speaker load was now too low in Ohms. A few years later helping in a Charity Shop, to see more Electronics, to see a Big TV in the Teak Doors cabinet. We had to collect it with the Driver, but soon found it didn't work too well so we were given it. People often used Charity to dispose of their Junk. The TV's Picture Geometry was poor, it had big Resistors that were made to Melt to act as a Fuse if Overheating. A Repair Sheet that was recent showed the last "repair" was a 5p resistor plus labour VAT etc making a £30 total. We learn in later years that the Tech doing this is Paid as a Job, not per hour & looking at the TV we couldn't see any New Resistor, the Tech just Resoldered the Fuse resistor. Old TV Grade Repairs are just done "To Get It Going" we've seen many of these "Rubbish" repairs, yes Rubbish, they use Any Old resistor, they don't have the right Resistor so twist two together, use ones that are oversize. Pride in Work clearly not if you get paid a Rate Per Job as it may be easy or it may take much longer than a job was paid to cover. We bought a big TV in 1991 when our first 1987 bought Salora was going bad a bit of capacitor replacing by us didn't sort the fault & beyond us. The 1991 shop was a Repair Shop & there we saw the Bored Guys doing the Repairs. Ironically we did TV repairs as a B-TEC in Electronics, TV being the nearest to Hi-Fi. The Tutor guy saw our potential & said "How Boring TV Repairs Are" to us as we talked to him. This is why we seek Interesting Jobs, some Boring Jobs we've done in the Earlier years, the jobs we'd not want to do again, one with Unfindable parts on a £150 job with a CD player, they had to order a tiny Volume pot from Japan whick UK folks couldn't do for the language difference & understanding, he was from Japan so could do this. But the CD player quality was only Average, why bother fixing it, buy New is a better option. Biut there is Plenty Good Stuff out there Worth Fixing, if you can't afford a Repair, put it on ebay as "Spares & Repairs" to find a willing buyer, if Not Working is a huge risk to the buyer, it's only worth a Fraction of a Working but tired one. ↑
Amplifiers That Play Rock Guitar Convincingly.
Our Reviews testing Amps on this reveal Not Many can do the sort of Hard Guitar Riffs, as on the two 'Joan Jett' 1980s hits. Weighty Guitar is in some Amps as Original to a Degree, if once again Upgrading Brings The Best, if the Amp has to be Decent to Start with. Ones of 15w can do Rock Guitar to a certain level & 100w Amps can't do it right. Amps past 1974 rarely do Rock Guitar well as the Designs.. yes we'll say it again.. are Cost Cut with Limiting aplenty. The First Amp we got fairly decent Rock Guitar from was a Budget 1979 Consort amp as on our Gallery Pages. ICs & past 1978, but a Simple Design based on older ideals & this after Bang & Olufsen gear was a step up. ↑
Matching Amplifier Power To Speaker Sensitivity.
This is covered on other pages, if it's still one buyers aren't sure about. We use 95dB Tannoy Golds. 95dB or more is High Sensitivity. 88-89dB is Medium Sensitivity & what a typical Speaker rates as. Ones were around in the 1980s as low as 81-83dB that created a rather silly situation of 300w amps into tiny speakers to get volume not much higher than 15w into 95dB. 12-14dB is a lot of gain difference. These 95dB speakers can play a 15w Transistor Amplifier well, it fills the room if not much more especially with Tone being used. We found this with the 1966 Coral amp & played Bassy Dr Who surprisingly well 15-16w amps like the Yamaha CR-200 & CR-400 play equally well if amps later than the 1975 ones won't be The Quality these are. We've done tests with 20w amps, 45w amps, 100w amps & 160w amps. On 95dB speakers, all play Great, but once you try it louder using the Higher Power ones, soon the 20w starts flattening off played louder. It's good for normal levels if not much further. 45w copes better & on 95dB speakers you'll really not want for more so maybe the 100w-160w ones are a bit wasted as you'll not need the extra gain. We had some 1992 Tannoy 609 a while back, the first Sony TA-1120A at the same time, 607s & 609s are 88-89dB & the 50w TA-1120A played them quite loudly if not too much more as riding on the 50w output with the Volume Pot line at 12 o'clock position. If you play 15w amps on 86-89dB speakers odds are the Volume may not be loud enough to Fill The Room if will be Useable, if the Risk of going into Distortion especially with a good sounding amp will appear. Beware Running amps on Clipping causes DC on the Flattened off Peaks which can Burn Out Speakers. 95db Speaker = 15w Amp. 88dB Speaker = 45w Amp. 82dB Speaker = 100w+ Amp. These are values we've tested. Also the Room Size needs to be taken into consideration, these values are for a British medium sized lounge. 95dB Speakers in a Large Room will benefit from the 45w amp, Tannoy 15" Golds are 50w rated (Continuous) which will allow higher peaks, if no-one's tested how far. ↑
Why Are Our Upgraded Amps So Much Better Sounding?
We Upgrade our own Amps & go further, just to see What the Amp Can Bring. Getting Very Advanced now if Subtle Redesign is a Long Job as is Perfecting things to Test & Sound Right. We were asked "What's The Outcome You Expect From Doing This" such as our 1970 Akai AA-8500 redesign. We do Records & Hifi as they were Initially a Hobby, what Comes from it is hopefully Sales & Rebuild Jobs. The Records scene is still lively if it's much narrower over the last 10 years. Hifi we've helped get Interest in Vintage if the Difficulty is to Convince How Great these Amps Sound, from ones like the 1973 Yamaha CR-200, a 16w receiver that sounds great as Recapped with Upgrades. We could go much further, if the 16w rating & eventual Sell Price could only go so far. To do a £1000 job on it would bring a Top amp, but 16w still & we Price Realistically as we do like to sell amps. The 1973 Trio-Kenwood KR-6340 we kept after listing for a while & did some great upgrades on. The Sell Price now we've finished it is a bit higher, if that Increase is small for the Work done. Custom Work as said on TV shows with Custom Bikes, you never get back what you put in as the Market can only go to a certain price. Those wanting their Amps Upgraded to Keep decide if they want to pay the Price to "Do A Job", Some Do & are Very Pleased with the Results. Our Work is Not a Cheap Rush Job like TV Grade Repairs that are often of Poor Quality. We Like Rebuilding & Upgrading amps, we'd not take on Boring Jobs. Interesting Amps keeps the Interest. ↑
So How Does The Customer Know Our Upgrades Are Good?
Simply they play them for a Day or Two. They Discover more Detail, Cleaner Sounds & a Proper Bass. Then they try their Old Amp & Hear The Difference. We do Chat on Emails to Customers to Hear their Opinions, many do reply & others come back later to say they Loved an Amp we Sold them or Rebuilt to want to try more. One Customer who had our 1966 Akai AA7000, we got it back as they wanted to sell one amp, they still have the 1966 Fisher 600-T. People's Needs change if we hear they've bought ebay amps. The Overall Quality Now of 'Raw' Amps doesn't please us, if we can See The Potential based on The Circuits, an early JVC amp they got as original has No Bass & not much Punch to the Sound. They've heard Better & now compare hoping to find it in Original Amps, it's Rarely there even to a small amount. They got a Midprice Trio-Kenwood amp & were disappointed with the 'nothing' sound too. We could rebuild & upgrade Both to Sound "Our Way" if of course that costs, you're buying Raw £100 amps but the Reality is Unimpressive once you've heard Our Amps. ↑
Has Anyone Reviewed One Of Our Amps?
A Customer asks this too, they have bought a few great amps, Sony STR-6120 & Yamaha CR-1000 so they know Great Sound & have fun picking up Bargains at Non-UK Markets. Always interesting to hear & see what they find. As for Reviews Of Ours, we've not heard of any, beyomnd Customer Responses. We could print them, if seeing Other Types Of Website with Quotes seems a bit false. They're not going to say a Customer who got an Amp Rebuilt later Complains the Tuner now has issues. We would tell as just have, but the Tuner worked fine for Us & wasn't part of Our Work Done as we say about Tuners. The likes of "What Hi-Fi" surely have read us but we are "Too Punk" about Hifi, Questioning & Pulling Up on things we see as against Our Ideals. We don't want Adverts on the Site as that means you must Pacify your Advertisers by Publishing Untruths in the Pursuit of Money. The Income would be nice, but we see how 'Hi-Fi News' were playing to the Advertisers, especially Quad. ↑
Our Amps Are Great Value Compared To Overpriced High-End.
The ideas of Quad, Naim, Meridien & Linn don't appeal to us, they aim at Unaware Buyers, they Satisfy a Certain Buyer, if not us. Ugly plain boxes with Mediocre Innards, when we have the 1970 Akai AA8500 plus others that are Real Beauties. Plus they Sound Awesome, if that again is us Self-Reviewing. The Trouble with the Hi-Fi Press is much is Paid Advert Reviews. the 1990s HFN magazine was full of Crap Reviews telling nothing, Ken Kessler talking rubbish about anything but the amp. We read HFN from 1993-1996 & their wonderful Vintage Supplements got us interested, ironically Ken K was responsible for these based on his earlier mid 1980s "Anacrophile" Vintage HFN articles. KK was bored of Modern Gear therefore yet the Old Stuff had him write very differently. We read the First Vintage Supplement many times. So you get one of Our Amps. Two guys from Norway bought quite a few of our Earlier Finds & Rebuilds. They compared them to High End Gear costing over £30K at times. Power Ratings obviously Differed, yet for Sound Quality ours Won every Time. This was actually before we got Hardcore into Upgrading so Good opiniions to hear of. We go for a Clean, Accurate & Powerful Sound regardless of 15w or 150w. It can be done, if each Amp is Unique with Ideas suited depending on many factors, such as Space, Initial Listening & Resell Price. Price is overlooked if the Amp interests us to go further, in hope of Keeping It as a Reference. ↑
What Are Our 2020 Reference Amps?
The 1979 Luxman LX33 valve amp, our design in their case & hardware, such as Transformers & Boards. This gets played a lot for Vinl if on Headphones. The current TV & Speakers Amp is the 1970 Akai AA8500. The Sony pair TA-2000F & TA-3200F are still here as is the 1966 Sansui TR-707A. None of those amps are 'Finished' yet. Amps we've not started Reviews on yet await our Interest, who knows what they will bring? They were all well Researched March 2020 with Looks being Important as well as Good designs. Many of pur "Excellent" rated Amps we do Sell On, to only Keep ones in Progress or Ones that we've not started on yet. There are Problem amps that can sit ages with ongoing thinking about them to Resolve issues. As with any Advanced Work, to only do it if In The Mood to be precise. ↑
Where Do We Go With All This?
We're not the type who'll put up with a Boss. To just go with it & see what Happens. The Economy will pick up once the Hysteria of Coronavirus eases off if the scaremongering has hurt people. Being part of a Company who wants to Dilute your Ideas won't work. We're Happy doing Custom Jobs & Selling Amps. It could Grow as more hear about us, if Who Else Does What We Do means we have No Competition as it takes attitude to Question Designers of Old & have The Confidence to Better their Designs. They were Restrained by Pricing & Managers, No Amp ever is Perfection & even ones we Upgrade further still sound different. There used to be Audio Fairs since the mid 1950s, but Impossible to Demo gear in a Noisy Arena. Hi-Fi Listening takes place at Home over Days, Weeks, Months & Years. To Trust in One who Writes all this & shows Detailed Photos of Amps we've done is our Best Advert. We don't want Boring Jobs which Drain Interest, to work on Unsatisfying Amps doing work that Won't Ever be Good enough, to Our Standards, as the Amp was Poor to start with. ↑
What We Are Currently Listening To.
Expanding on the 'Reference Amps' blog just above. For Headphones & Vinyl, the 1979 Luxman LX33 valves still on the case, ther chassis, our design Using the Technics SL-150 with SME 3009 II Imp arm with still that old 1970s Goldring 850 as the Conical Stylus suits 1950s & 1960s Vinyl best. For Recording New Stock, 60 tracks, it's a bit of a Chore recording Music that you're not wanting to Listen to. For the May Record Update, we quit doing the MP3s as YouTube is a better tool. Nearly Three Hours to do, if Pause a few times, record one large File & edit later. Using our Tube Technology Valve Phono stage to Record Tracks for Our Own Use onto the Computer Sound Card & via wires & varying impedances it sounds very nice on the LX33 to monitor. Our 2008 design preamp not so good on the Preamp as it needs a tidier rebuild, if Phono is good after a bit of wiggling valves to get it sounding hood, it only gets used Twice a year, so we sold the Garrard 301 & SME as why keep two. That all works well. So for Speakers in a Room for TV, the Akai AA-8500 with our preamp redesign has done well since before Xmas. It sounds so good, but to change it just Today, as of typing, for the Sony Pair TA-2000F & TA-3200F. Both with a huge amount redesigned if tge last work we did was about 18 months ago with the new Alps Blue Volume Pot & redesign to lose the TA-2000F having far too much gain & slight Hiss. Not a good design on the TA-2000F but far more useable than the early TA-2000F with fixed boards & high NFB. Not played this in a while, dust tells. The sound after the AA-8500 is of a similar balance, our ideas in both. But the Sony Pair are huge sounding on Dynamics. Watching "Wheeler Dealers" S15 E11 with the pretty 'Fiat 124', the noises from Tool clinks & their Soundtrack are just so much bigger. Big Dynamics in Hifi is Not In The Original Design as it sounds like Studio Gear. To upgrade to get that is Extreme, not many amps can do that & a lot to redesign to contain it. Still not looked at the 1973 JVC 4VN 990 or 1970 Pioneer SX-2500 so they'll be our next Challenges. Both carefully picked looking at Inside Photos & Circuits. To consider Our Version of the Sony Pair as References now, will the new arrivals Replace the AA-8500? To be found out. Next Day with the Sony Pair, as of typing this in April, the Slight 'Fear' of the Huge Dynamics now used to. Just so much more Effortless. These type of Amps do need some getting used to as the Design isn't in Domestic Hifi if is in Valves. The Reason Why we were Happy with the Valve TT amps for 12 years, if Fidelity with Transistors appears to go further. Not tried the Luxman LX33 valves since we gave it some New Ideas. By 20 May the Sony Pair are still on, Great Sound if always the Want to try other amps, the 1966 Pioneer SX-800A Valve Receiver will be our next to try, itching to try it. ↑
Some Messaging Are Just Tyre Kickers Wasting Our Time...
Had one with a Sansui QRX-9001. 4ch version of the big Sansui 9090DB. 120w x2 60w x4 is one of the highest power 4ch amps. Has Broken Volume control & usual aging issues. Needs a full rebuild plus the Key Part. To us if a key part is broken, you need that item as a 'unfindable' spare or forget it & part yours out. You might find one parting one out in 1-5 years. To tell them it's a big job, we can do it as with the Trio-Kenwood KR-8340, all 2ch done great with lots of Upgrades in ours, way beyond the price. But then they reply & have the cheek to Quote a Long List of what Another Restorer more into 4ch Quad use thinks needs done. Be sure Our Rebuild for 2ch Use is way different. Seeing that list, we just tell then Go Try Elsewhere. It's insulting as they clearly Want A Cheaper Job & to Dictate terms that they have no idea about. Don't Want Customers like that, Get Rid instantly. We have No Interest in using 4ch Amps as 4ch on 4 Speakers beyond the 2ch Bridgeable ones. We have no 4ch Gear, Decoders plus with So Many formats, it's why it Failed by 1976, the market was impossible when around from Hifi Mag reading. So, "P. Lowe", you go find someone else, your "Demands" are insulting & clear you expect Miracles yet want a Factory Spec Rebuild with Other's Ideas as Upgrades done Cheap. You'll find no other in the UK who'd even look at the amp. The Nature of the Business is those with these Big Amps will try to Shop Around. You might find one that'll take 2 Years, we can Turn Over Amps in Weeks-Months as we get Stuck In, as it Interests. The Reality is How Many will Tackle such an amp, problems will be expected here. But with a duff Volume that can't be replaced if might be Repaired, we'd give it a try if get the Key Part sorted first or not then go any further. Tell us what to do like that like we know nothing & off you go. Read the Website, Do Not Insult Techs, they'll Never Do work for You once they feel Insulted. ↑
Messages Ask For Replies, So We Publish. Keeps Things Alive.
A 'Matthew Tayler' sends this message. We put we'll Publish comments that are of a Certain Hmm Nature. they've not read us much it seems. Typos are theirs... "I cant help thinking there is an element of ur comments rubbishing most hir fi accept jap receivers. Like u can see an opening for surplus extraction because some far east stuff sounds fine. I have tannnoys and they can be very hard to get sounding right. Some people prefer celestions etc. I have both and tannnoys dont worry them. You could include tannnoys in ur overrated overpriced British hi fi category. However u are right my Sony 7015 is far from rubbish and neither is my onkyo budget amp ov the year. In fact its far more modern sounding. Just the thing u would dismiss as boring. It sounds excellent thru my 8 grand tannnoys. My mate hates it and loves his naim amps and speakers overpriced though like my tannnoys. U get the point?". They don't seem to Realise the UK Amps we aren't Keen on We've Bought & Been Mostly Disappointed with. Japan copied the Best of USA & UK starting from 1965-67 to give a far more intelligent product. This is Our Site, Our Opinions, No Advertisers so you get Unbiased Opion which should be Obvious. Many are on a Budget so to tell that Certain Amps are Better is what has helped Grow The Scene. There will always be ones who prefer Tamed Boring Hifi like Quad, Linn, Naim etc. You'd think One who can Upgrade to Get The Best from Hifi is a Reliable Opinion as they go deep into the Circuits to Understand. Our Opinion may not be Yours, if as they agree later, they see We're Right. Much post 1978 Hifi is Too Cost Cut or Too Dumbed Down. The pre 1974 stuff is The Best if still you need to Carefully Pick The Best. There are a lot of Japanese Budget Rubbish Amps as well as many Rubbish UK ones, the Cheaper end of the Market always is Disappointing, you Gets What You Pays For. Low Model Technics & Sony are laughable as Our Reviews tell, but we'll not try more like those. £8000 Tannoys & a budget Sony STR-7015 isn't well matched is it? As with anything, Your Money, Your Choice based on Experience or 'Bloke Tells You'. You can get used to a Bad Amp but only Realise it's Bad once you Hear Better. Much in the same way Husbands Tire of the Boring Wife & go Sniffing around. Get a Great one to start with & upgrading will not be such a worry. But we're still Purposely Seeking Out Good Amps & actually have 5 here we've yet to start on. Will any be Keepers? Learning Always. Opinions always welcome, but a Challenge will be Answered. Plenty of Forums & Facebook Groups on Hifi, we don't do these sort of sites for the simple reason you'd be Bombarded with Questions, we get plenty through the Site we use the Autoresponder to Deal with. Many love British Hifi, if we've tried a Much Wider Range as the Site Reviews should tell you. Bit 'newbie' picking on a subject that's been Dealt with Many Times. All there to Read & Search Through. ↑
June 2020 Blog
One Amp Has Been Getting Our Attention.
Hifi still getting Messages & finding out more still after these years. The Blogs keep coming. we do write a lot & try not to Repeat. The Fact is Your Aging amps need attention, from those we get ourselves to see the issues & failings.. The 1966 35w Valves Pioneer SX-800A (SX 2000) has been getting Rebuilt. It gets plugged in First Time on 22 May. Need some Hi-Fi Progress for the Tedious Situation as said above. As blogged before, it's a Crazy Design. Valve amps usually Hardwired Point To Point so the underneath is a Real Rats Nest. To Recap with Upgrades in Limited Space needs a Compromise that is the only way. The 1963 Trio WX-400U has more space so we can upgrade more freely. This is no Slouch though & it possibly may not be that much of a Compromise, if it needs more Testing & Work after a first try today. Cleans up nice, looks nice inside if a Bit Smelly until it's had some use. We plug it in & Works first time too, if Huge Care & Checking to be Confident. We've rebuilt the main parts of the amp beyond Tuner. To trust yourself to then Plug It In takes more than Just Nerve, you make sure it was Done Right & Check then Check again. The SX-800A played fine, needed Bass added to fill out the Sound. There is light Valve Hiss, the WX-400U was never that quiet. The amp itself is too Complicated & Cramped on the Advanced Tuner stage compared to the earlier Pioneer ER-420 that to try to fine tune the design is just too much. But we got an ER-420 ourselves to help understand the SX-800A, it's a 15w version without DC preamp heaters. But with that, we can spend years on it. Haven't even plugged it in as bad capacitors if the seller showed it 'working', we don't risk obvious faults. ↑
Rebuilding High Powered Amplifiers & Receivers.
Any Hifi pre 1980 may still be Useable, but from those we've had & the many Messages, these Older Amps are Failing Now. No point just Servicing & Repairing, if you want years more use a Rebuild with Upgrades is required. 1980 is 40 years old, how many 40+ year old Cars are out there as Original on the Road? None. Only ones that are have had Big Money spent to keep them going. Big Ideas in Hifi we have seem changing. Some of these Big Later 1970s amps used to be making good prices as "Raw" but now they just Sit Overpriced as the Reality of what they cost to Do Properly. Had one with a late 1970s Technics SA-5760 wanting it worked on & the tatty case redone. We don't do Woodworking, if you need a Cabinet Maker to Reveneer & finish to a high standard, if to keep it Authentic, not Piano Lacquer gloss. These 100w+ Receivers are a lot of Work. It is not a Cheap Quick Job so the Technics guy just gets a quick reply as they are just Tyre Kicking. We see a Huge Amount of Good Cars on USA TV shows, only a few get Fully Redone, the rest line up as Parts Cars. Many sadly use Good Amps until they Fail & never get them even Repaired, which on Pre 1980 is just a Patch Up as the Amp is too old now. The Technics guy is looking at a £2000+ job in Total yet they probably think £500 is enough based on similar 'rushed' questions. We got that Marantz 2385, rebuilt it with upgrades if the resell price was a lot less than buy price & work involved. To get it to perhaps Keep as a Reference but to find out it was a Bit Late for us got it Sold On. Well worth The Spend on Rebuilding if it's an Amp you'll keep be it a 12w Sony or a 185w Marantz. The Amount of Amps We've Rebuilt yet since Sold adds to Our Knowledge, if doing Rebuild Jobs helps Balance. We see others doing Like-For-Like Rebuilds nicely, only a tiny few, if they Don't Upgrade or Redesign, so you'll be getting the Original Amp back if only refreshed. Commercially Sold Hifi is made to a Price, Cost Cutting is found in amps from 1971 & this means Quality is Cut. ↑
Don't Buy Vintage High Power Or Complex Amps If You Don't Want To Spend On Them.
Meaning Pre 1980, if now ones mid 1990s are starting to fail. It's Time For A Hifi Rant... We get Too Many Asking for High Power amps of 100w+ 150w+ etc to be Rebuilt. They soon vanish like the one above once told an Estimate. Just take the Lid Off & See How Complex it is. These Dreamers may remember taking these sort of amps in for a £200 repair & not realise how little was done for that money. We do Full Rebuilds With Upgrades so your Tired Darling can be Use Daily again. It's a big job. Lots needs Replacing, Lots To Test, Lots To Service. This will cost you £1000+ on nearly all 100W+ ones & the More Complex ones too. Early Transistor Amps from 1965-69 can be Big Jobs too. Until this was Realised, many wanted Quality early Amplifiers like Sony TA-1120(A) & Trio-Kenwood KA-6000. Little interest in those now, because The Cost hasn't been Considered. If you Want the Best Vintage Hifi, it'll Cost You. It's well worth it, look how many Amps we've Upgraded. Forever Searching For The Best perhaps, but then another Amp comes along & changes it all again. Even now, as in 2019, not done much in 2020 yet if back on it. For Rebuild-Upgrades we can put the Best of Our Tried & Tested Ideas, if once it comes to Custom Work, then it can get Experimental, which isn't what we'd do on Customer's Amps, if can do versions of what's worked well, but Dry Experimenting can take Years to Perfect. These big Pioneer & Marantz 1970s Amps are failing often now. They are Tired Sounding if they are still working, but you'll know of faults that you just accept. What happens is the Amp will fail one day, might be a minor fault or you might ruin a 200w power amp needing a lot redone. 1980 is 40 years ago. Do you Drive a 40 year old Barn Find or even a Temperature Controlled carefully stored one? They need 'Recommissioning' the Car Shows say. Hifi isn't on the Road with Safety needs, it can still work. Got a 1966 Pioneer ER-420 valve receiver on the desk. Badly leaked Capacitors mean we've never plugged it in, if the dozy seller chanced it, their risk & for us to know there's life. Not many people Need 100w+, if it's nice to have the Bragging rights, if you'll never need to play it so loud, the Amps under 50w are usually much less to Rebuild, if a decent 12w or 50w receiver is still a Receiver so still needs a similar amount done. We can do a certain amount with Tuners, rebuilt the 1963 Trio WX400U valve one & 1968 Sony STR-6120 one, if silent tuners may need £3000 of Test Gear to Align etc which we have no need to get into. The Best Costs, will Cost to Maintain & will be a Major Job to Rebuild, if well worth the Money. As Reality Hits, the Dreamers wanting Top Money for Tired 40+ year old Amps that then stop working will be On Them to reprice realistically. Only then will prices become realistic again, cheap tired amp spend good on rebuilding it, then it's worth the high prices. Only thing is, not many out there Offering This Service as Like-For Like even, Upgrades are not Offered by anyone as they don't have the Experience to Offer Reliability. ↑
DC Offset Is Important To Test on Amplifiers.
This DC Offset can easily be read at the + & - Speaker outputs. Generally to Test with the Amp not connected to speakers, to read the Value the Amplifier outputs. How Many Bother To Test This? All these Raw Unserviced Amps just Plugged in to Use without any checking is sadly how it is, sellers plug in ancient Valve Amps. It goes Bang, Blows the Fuse or Works to some degree, if often far from it's best. DC is a Voltage that will Permanently be on your Speakers. It may be no problem in use, but it should be Adjusted. We have a JVC 4VN-990 4ch amp, excellent amp for sure & we'd like to try it on Speakers to hear it properly as Original. Get a temporary Earth Wire added to use it safely, but to check the DC Offset as with any amp. Here the R was 10mV which is fine. The L was 400mV & no adjusting could make it go under 300mV even. Speaker trying abandoned. It has a Fault on the Power Amp, should you just trust it not to get into issues with a Load on it playing Music/TV for even 10 minutes? No, it's a faulty amp, not to be Trusted. The DC Offset levels we've tried on other amps to see the Relay Cut-Off & once past 1000mV (1v) the relay clicks off. Early Amps pre 1973 are mostly Capacitor Coupled whih Blocs DC if you are still Trusting the Output Capacitors. Not all later Amps have Relays, usually only the Higher Models do, the rest of the time only a Fuse will save your Speakers. Most likely the Fuse will blow too late, if it will take a few Minutes to Fry a Speaker coil. Valve amps are Transformer Coupled so as long as the TX is fine, it's safe, if an extremely loud noise can still Fry the Tweeter as Overpowered. Most will Blindly Trust Hifi to use, but with So Many reporting amps failing now & they won't spend the money getting them Rebuilt, it's their choice, hope they sell them on or try a TV Repair Guy who'll have No Idea. Hifi Can Get Damaged, old Speakers with unmovable cones are Fried if can be repaired. Once an amp reads faulty, we'll not risk ruining it, if we can 'save' the amp. The Hifi Intelligence is miles away from Cars as they have a MOT. Hifi is treated with little care still. This is a Professional Opinion. We've had over 200 Individual Model Amps to know the issues that can arise. As with a lot today, many will just Blindly Plug & Use until it fails. Fuses blow to save amps thankfully, if it depends on the right Fuse fitted & how fast it works. Fuses blow for a Reason, Safety, if often they blow after damage done or don't blow at all. Relays may cut out on High DC Offset on later amps, ie past 1976. The early Relays are sometimes so basic they'll only cut off with Transistor Failure, some seem so Basic they just operate Speakers On-Off with no 'protection' beyond Fuses. Only by working out the Circuit can you know what the Relay actually does. ↑
Pioneer Speaker Plugs: There Must Be A Better Way.
These Speaker Plugs are making early Pioneer less useful. The Blocks with screws for Bare Wire or 'Y' spade Connectors are really only for very thin wire, such as 5A Mains Cable. Try to fit anything Better & they will Fall Out too easily as the Wire is too Heavy. Owners years ago pulled the Speaker Plugs & usually dealt with them by Not Realising you Need Those Speaker Plugs. Therefore they are Rare even with the amount of Pioneer Amps & receivers sold 1967 to 1972, as in the 1972 SX-828 has plugs, 1974 SX-838 has Spring Connectors allowing more ideas to be fitted to Short Cables as in our Ideas shown on the Sales page. Any wire fitted to the Speaker Plug will Fall Out & Not Be Reliable in use. We've seen ideas for new plugs involving twisting a USA AC Mains plug as the pins are the same size, see these & other Tatty Jobs as what is offered as the Original Plugs are £25-£35 each these days if offered not so often. The Plug Socket is the thing. Again we've seen a Pioneer SX-2500 where big 4mm sockets were fitted, cutting metal between the plugs & roughly cutting to make higher. It Looks Awful. But we have an SX-2500, it has no Plugs that aren't much use if the Idea Is We Make Something that can be Universal & Looks Good. What's Inside The Socket? Got one as a spare from a parted amp. It's a Square Block in a metal bracket. Two screws undo the case revealing Springed Contacts like a Fuse Holder. The Case is Bakelite so don't bother trying to Drill a Rectangular Hole as the Drill will catch & break. A Hot Soldering Iron won't melt Bakelite. The inside shows a Square Hole which Will give something for a 5mm Drill Bit to keep steady in if unless done very gently, you'll still crack it. The only option is to Dremel out a Hole with a suitable attachment to avoid sticking as a Drill can. Then the VOSO 4mm Plugs we use often, don't use those Dangerous Metal Cased ones, the VOSO are Insulated. But then the VOSO screw isn't long enough? To keep the Original Plug Block is possible, but to need to Alter things. To Be Continued... ↑
Pioneer SX-1980 Receiver : Just Too Much.
This is a ridiculously big 1978 receiver, 275w but 35kg & it doesn't come apart into two manageable pieces like the Rotel RX-1603. It's a Desk Wrecker to need to struggle with 35kg is a bit much for us. The amp we've seen online how others do just like for like Restorations. Pioneer despite 275w is still Cost Cut. The Power Supply is poor with their usual overheating. To Recap & Upgrade we could do, but certainly not currently & for the Cost Cut it'll Not Please as for lack of Quality as the RX-1603 did. Overblown Size & Power. Saw one in about 2002 lying dead on the floor, huge thing the guy used as Power Amp only which tells. Sleepy Sounding Thing. Pioneer & Marantz are failing a lot now, the Cost Cutting plus aging components, often the same type of parts fail as the Quality wasn't so good. SX-1980 is All Transistors beyond the Tuner. We first looked at this in 2012 for the 'Other Amps' page Here. To find the Circuit Diagrams were Low Quality stopped learning too much if as a Customer asked we found there's now a High Quality scan on HFE. The Power Supply is a Bad Joke, how many Diodes & lazy Zener Diodes? 275w amp could be well used or never played more than 30w. These are seen online with Heat Marks, plus as with the Marantz 2385 these never got put away so could have 42 years use. If it was a smaller amp, no problem, but 35kg lump isn't what we fancy doing currently or perhaps ever. Interest in 1965-74 amps mostly as they are Manageable & give Great Results, the SX-1980 recapped & upgraded will be a Huge Job plus likely a Frustrating amp, we've looked at the insides online, only the Power Amps unplug, if the Bulk & Preamps etc stays in the main lump. Quick Look At Audio Circuits. This shows the Sound will be that rather Flat Overloud Sound that Limits Bass. The Marantz 2385 was far from Real Hifi with it's Limited Design. We've tried a few of these Huge Power Amps now & for the 1977-78 era Build quality, they aren't as Good as we'd hope for as TOTL gear. Actually Expected this if you read Older Pages, as Early on we didn't like the idea of these Overblown amps, Muscle but No Brains. The Marantz 2385 is rather heavily tamed, it puts out 185w but not anywhere near Hifi Quality if we got a better sound for a huge amount upgraded, but we've now Sold it. SX-1980 Power Amp has a lot of Limiting, the Bias stage has the equivalent of 14 Diodes, is that Good Design? Never seen that before, which says it's not. The Monsters Went Away Fast. By 1980-81 these Huge Amps were Long Gone as they didn't sell & back to 50w again, with the New Deal of Pre-Power amps to get you paying more. The big amps like the Yamaha CR-2020 were Heavily Discounted to Clear from details we've seen. The SX-1980 types are the Pinnacle of (Foolish) Hifi Excess, but Real Hifi they are not. Our Recently Reviewed Amps 1966 Pioneer ER-420 valves, 1969 Pioneer SX-2500 & 1973 JVC 4VN-990 are Exciting & Interesting Amps, the 1978 Pioneer SX-1980 just doesn't please & could be a Nightmare in several ways. If it was more Manageable we'd try, but gotta draw the line on these Huge Power amps once Excesses & Cost Cutting Issues are seen. ↑
Replacing A Hi-Fi Item You Liked Is Overwhelming.
It certainly is, Early Blogs-Articles-Pages had us trying to find Headphones & ESL lightbulbs. If you've been happy with items for a long time, going to better them is a Real Task, especially once you've Lived with Something for 20 years. Lightbulbs were good to Improve on, get stuck in, but now not got many left, what New Current Bulbs are would need Researching again. One messager says They Dread trying to find a New Amp if Wisely are asking what we think. Their Marantz amp below is the one they ask about, we'll look next. People get stuck on things that suit them & Change is difficult past 40 we've found. You see Older People's houses still with Items they bough in their Prime, a then-82 year old neighbour in about 2007 still had 1950s items including Naughty Aluminium Saucepans, bent up & dented as well as the 'condition' that they are known to cause. To buy different sets of pans since setting up your own Home, ours the Third & Best set. As long as they are good to use, why buy better. Those Alu Pans should have been Binned in the 1980s, but Habit. Having To Research today is A Huge Job. To go by Recommendations such as on Amazon, read the One-Two Star ones deeper than the pointless Five Star. We do that, ignore what seems foolish but listen to in depth comments as they Know, as we put into Our Reviews, if looking to Upgrade matters more perhaps, the JVC 4VN 990 & Pioneer SX-2500 were well researched if you never really know until you have it to try. With Amazon, we often buy via ebay, get delivered by Amazon fairly often for their Drop Shipping if they get 'Prime' free post which we can't so take your pick. To use the item & then re-read the comments to see exactly what they mean by Critique, but alse see through the 'stupid' comments. Weigh up the facts under your own Knowledge. To buy an Amplifier on Amazon is a £200 effort. Just Don't Bother is Our Opinion, £200 can buy you far Better as Vintage, if always the age issues. Quality Today is a Real Problem, you can usually only Buy Crap Made In China, hopefully things will change after the recent upset. You can buy things like a £400 Anglepoise as we Blogged of a while back, or go buy 20 of the £20 ones & throw them away once too tatty. Beware of Dishonesy Descriptions: A "Leather" Office Chair we're sitting on now is Crap Office quality with Zero leather, made to last 1 year & be binned as Offices don't care about Lifespan. Will Offices be a thing of The Past now Working from Home is so easy? Your Heat & Your Food is a nice Corporate cheat. Replacing New Goods needs a lot of Time to research. Repairing & Rebuilding Good Vintage Items as you Kinda Love Your Amp is Wise: It's Recycling by keeping an item of Quality Alive, be Proud to 'Do Your Bit'. But since about 1980, Hifi has become Disposable. It's too cheaply made with much too much Cost Cutting. You got 30 years use out of it, Lucky You. To repair these Amps can be done, but having done this, the Results are Always Compromised by the Original Design anyway. How we'd like to find another 1980s-1990s amp with qualities of the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X, if not to fool ourselves it has many weaknesses & compromises, it did bring a Quality Sound as Original to consider Bettering It, but like the Marantz 2385, we sold it. You see these Car Restoration shows, how Happy They Are with the Model they liked all done up to Today's Spec as we do with Vintage Amps. All at a Cost Naturally, but once you Live With your Renewed Beastie, you'll be So Pleased. Us Rebuilding & upgrading Amps we use brings Great Joy & Achievement to keep That Old Amp Alive. If Vintage is better, Why Buy New? Again to Cars, the Tech today on Electric Cars makes the Petrol Classics seem a little Quaint & "The Joys Of a Vintage Car" said Wayne on 'CCC' after his £2M car seized the brakes & nearly caught fire. How Many series of 'CCC', Series 15 due soon? You see he loves those cars & nearing 70 he'll keep going as it keeps him young. The Vintage Stuff Restored right Has Soul, modern gear is often just a Pastiche in looks & far too much Technology. To buy a Car today, most would do a Contract to Replace every two years & not care. But to buy a Bland 'Tin of Fish' to fit in amid the other Bland Cars parked where you'd park is a bit Soul Destroying. That's Why You Should Stick With The Old Stuff. If it's in Good Grade & Done Well, these things should go up in Value. But it needs Younger Interest as those £20M cars today, in 20 years, who will buy them? The Value to later Generations epends on The Love for them. We used to buy Vintage Cartoon annuals as a page shows. We got loads in 2000-2010 getting some really Rare Gems & High Grade ones. But they were mostly ex-Attic finds so later Generations never knew of them. The Book Market for Computers & E-books has really narrowed, it leaves Books a bit forgotten, a real Pity. Introduce your Hi-fi to Younger People so they'll appreciate them & want to keep them alive. They'll be pleased you got it Rebuilt 20 years before they got it as it'll only need minor work to keep it going, much like us buying Car Boot amps since 1990, the 1978 Harmon-Kardon amp we got for £10 was only 12 years old. Now it's 42 & if you like it's Smart Looks, keep it alive, don't buy some Modern Disposable IC Riddled Nothing. ↑
Marantz PM 84 120w 'High End' Amplifier From 1985.
This is the one mentioned above. This era 1980-1998 pre i-pod dominance will hold some Gems, but beyond the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X and the few similar preceding models, the Era is just Too Much Midprice-Budget gear that really doesn't interest. We sit waiting for Interesting Later Amps to be mentioned, yet finding the Best is as Unknown as Pre 1977 was before We Told Info by actually Buying & trying ones that interested. We bought the Marantz PM 62 in 1993 with the CD-52 SE II as was probably the Last Big Selling Hifi. The PM 62 we've had again to review, ICs included if Power Amp was all transistors. The 1976 Marantz 2385 recently if what of the 1977-1983 Marantz years? The 1978 Marantz 1122DC we have if not done much yet, but 1980s is the 'Lost Era' in Hifi, maybe deservedly? To The PM 84 II manuals as this has a few versions. Nice one-page scan instead of awful chopped up messes as the 2385 one was. Firstly, it looked well made with a Black Fascia & 4 control knobs obvious. What else is to be found, this is interesting so far. To see ICs in the Preamp is a Sign Of The Times. Be Cautious. They can sound nice if ±13v heavily regulated (strangled) power supplies are easier to make & design, far from the pre 1974 era. The PM84 II Schematic, what's all this, only a part circuit of the Power Amp. Service shows full details, such as 'Aux In'. Phono is first stage Transistors, then another with FETs & ICs, a quick idea is MM/MC like Yamaha did. Another board shows Power MOSFET, a 1980s 'Design Classic' if why they are any 'better' than TO3 outputs. The Question of availability on MOSFETS etc is crucial, some are easy, some long obsolete, here they are Doubled Outputs for 120w, 1970 Technology as in the Akai AA-8500 etc using MOSFETS. All Fashion Designing to us. Power Supply with typical Regulators. Their Tone/Flat board, several separate boards is good. Tone with it's own Regulator may seem Funky design, but why the need to restrain? ICs for Tone is expected by 1985, FETs after the Tone as a Differential is an odd one, why? Tone Control on another Board, looks like Tone Gain is limited. Specs don't say the ± Tone Gain, possibly the 'Un-Useful' ±5dB version. Tone on the AU-G90X was far from ideal & an odd design. Here it's the standard NFB type which is good. Power Amp is where it gets messy. Power Supply with too many Voltages for the Input stage from the Pre-Tone, a big IC like the PM 62 has, all those pointless stages to us, if again it's Fashion Designing. Hmm, several ICs, can you find them still? Our PM 62 in 1993 we needed parts & after a while, they're not available anymore from the Wholesalers 1990s had like Willowvale. If the amp is faulty on the ICs, you may likely never get one if you never know what's found & put on ebay. Risks high for Obsolete MOSFETS & ICs, the sort of amp that could not be repairable if faulty. Tech Pleasure with this is Low as What do You Do? Have to sort out issues & then find a part unavailable. Charge for work that leads to No Results. We've Encountered this before, to the Fair & ask the Customer what they want to do, explaining the risks. It's not Happy Work to Spend Your Money & Say It Can't Be Fixed, after having to do work to realise this. Why few will touch IC amps & why the Pre-IC stuff is Forever Repairable. This looks a Quality Amp of the Era but is Junk in terms of what we do. The Risk of Obsolete parts is a Worry if those Parts may be fine. There are Reasons why post 1980 gear isn't liked. The Gloves-Off Opinion is IC-MOSFET amps if Obsolete parts are the Risk... Go Buy a New Amp Vintage or off Amazon. we don't like Spending your Money, asking if we should continue offering Risk Assessment & then realise it's a No-Go as Bad Tech issues to Return a Useless Amp you paid to be Worked on. It's Disposable. It may Indeed Be Fine if we see it & test it out. It's Really Up To You, we Don't Like Risky Jobs if you can decide how far to go. Might Be Fine... Might Not Work Out. Best Efforts Can only be how Experienced a Tech is plus the Ability to Source Parts. We tell them that a lot more briefly & then get a reply saying "My friend knows someone who's quite local who has agreed to have a look at it at the first instance. I will heed your cautions around how fixable the amp could be. Thank you for your advice, I will be in touch." If another less experienced wants to try, let them. Interesting to look at the Amp in detail in Vain Hope of a Good 1980s amp but we're not keen, they'll have heard similar from elsewhere perhaps. To think Positively to see it as Learning if again seeing Crappy IC & MOSFET amps that are Best Avoided for the Risks. Unfortunately it just adds to what we put on the "Post Us Your Amp" email: It's Your Gamble & Your Instructions on these Difficult amps. NO GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS ON POST 1980 AMP REPAIRS. Some amps sadly are designed to be Disposable past 1980. Ones with Direct Coupling if faulty can ruin a lot of components, ones with Computer type very fine board track & surface mount components are usually unrepairable as they’ll never be reliable or possible to do tidily. We check out possible amps to work on Online before asking it to be sent, to warn it could be a gamble to try to fix & end up a failure within a reasonable amount spent on it, we will let you decide what to do. Some want to take the chance & some walk away to sell it on ebay. We can only do ‘Best Effort’ on any Hifi jobs. The more amps we see, the more aware of post 1980 poor construction we get so can see likely problems, but as with anything, the unknown will be there as with finding replacement parts that can be obsolete. We wrote that about 3 years ago, stands good. Wise Tech learns from other Nightmare Amps to see the problems. Let the Customer decide. Newbie Tech unaware would take it in & be caught out by Unfixable errors. It might "Tidy Up" to keep going, but we're Here for Rebuilds, not Gambling on known difficulties with ICs & MOSFETS. Is it Rude to say their amp is "Disposable"? No, it's Risk Assessing. The Customer has a Risky Amp, likely there is No Friend Who Knows, the person asks about their Amp as any will do. You're Welcome to Ask, how many out there can do what we can? A few Worldwide is The Truth of it & Nobody Does Our Upgrades. It's just a Pity that not all Tech is not Longer Lasting than 35 years (!) when the Pioneer SX-2500 still on the desk from 51 years ago, they were made to last 10 years originally. Plenty Amps out there less reliant on ICs & MOSFETs. But what do you want from 1980s Gear? We Tell It Straight To Not Waste Your Money. Many messaging are pleased for Truth & do come back with a Better Amp or buy one from us all Restored & Upgraded. Interesting to Learn, if the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X still seems the Best of the Era. ↑
Do You Really Need An Amplifier Of 100w+?
The PM64 owner says he doesn't Play It Loud but likes the Control & 'Warmth' of the Marantz. Warm Sound is an Amp that needs Servicing or Rebuilding in our Experience. Soft mellow amps aren't really Hifi, as Fidelity is Low. 120w giving 'Better Control" really depends on your Speakers, if we've played 15w Transistor Amps that control our 15" Tannoys fine. Currently we're playing the 100w Sony Pair TA-2000F & TA-3200F as mentioned often. The 1967 Sansui 400 we Maxed Outjust to see How Good It Could Be as the Circuits looked decent & have the similar 1971 Sansui 350A to do similar with. Both are 20w. We've used the 25w 1966 Sansui TR-707A & never found it's power lacking. Big 15" driver 95dB speakers are Easy to Drive, 6" driver 87dB ones need that extra 8dB gain from bigger Power Amps & 15w won't be enough & likely 50w will be on the verge of Clipping for Playing Louder, so 87dB Speaker will need 100w, unless it's a cheap one that can't take 100w as rated. Certainly some Boy Racer Kudos saying "I've Got A 100w Amp" if you're Older now, a 100w amp as we saw in the late 1980s was a Dream. Now it's a Reality, the Power isn't required if a 100w amp can be a great sound or an overdesigned tamed bore. Start with a 15w-20w amp & only go Higher Power if you Really Need It such as with Huge Rooms that UK Folks don't really have. It's cheaper to get a 20w amp & 95dB speakers than 'Waste' 100w on Bass Weak 6" Drivers. Hear 15" speakers & lesser ones will never be good enough. Be sure Higher Power Amps are More Tamed than 15w-20w ones, the limiting in the Marantz 2385 was so you cold Brag of 185w but only ever Output a Sound that you'd Need To Fool Yourself was as good as a 20w amp, as in the pre 1974 variety. ↑
July 2020 Blog
A Damping Factor of '710', Holy Cow.
We were told of a 2014 Luxman C900U Preamp & M900U Power Amp. One of those Huge Crate like set ups. Kind of Floors you to see '710' as the Damping Factor. This is Insane. The Noise Floor of 123dB to 126dB shows this Thing has extremely high NFB in multiple stages. How they get that Damping Factor is with Much Controlling, Regulating & Just about Strangling the Amp. It's Stupid. It does have ±8dB Tone Control if with that much Limiting, would you Hear It on Speakers? Power is only 150w if 1200w into 1 ohm, never heard of any speaker beyond 2 ohm Car Sub ones. Preamp looks very plain & the Power Amp looks like Building Site or Heavy Lab kit. We doubt very much it plays Music in any way we are Familiar with. We're used to 15-30-50 Damping Factor, written about DF before on the site. It's in Brand New Condition & seems like The Missus wants rid of it which in this Case, better than Divorce as the Set costs $19,990 per unit, yes a 'Pocket Money' $40K the pair, about £32,000 as of typing. These Sort of Amps are Probably Loose Change to the Sort who spend £5-£20M on a restored Beyond New 'Classic Car' that has Zero Soul as way over-restored. Their World, let them compensate. Wouldn't Mind Hearing it, if Used to go to a Local Hifi Shop & hear their Big AV systems often, they Sold Loads of Big Money Setups. "Where's The Midrange" as written before, the Sound was always lacking Detail if to be fair not knowing which "Theatre Mode" they used. But hearing similar amps play Music, not so far off. Horrible Sound. Luxman, what do we think of their amps? The LX33 we use a lot for Records is a Valve amp, the design is all ours beyond fixtures as the Luxman one was extremely poor in several places. We think it needs More Work of late. A recent FQ-900 receiver from 1969 was a strange one, see the Review. £32K for a Luxman is a bit Questionable for 150w. Their Current Flagship Model, yes but why do Really want to sell it, price not shown. Dare we say once it's Lifespan passes in 5-10 years, will it be Repairable with Likely Tons of ICs & Surface Mount Tech as is everywhere. Obsolete Parts is the Killer, our 1992 Marantz PM-62 they actually were 'Out Of Stock' of Custom Parts after 5 years, this is 28 years later, Parts Are Discontinued even if they exist. The Built-In Obsolescense of Today means your £32K amp may fail & just be a Plant Stand if a Rather expensive one. Shall We Read a 2014 Review? You can Google it, so no need to link. Darlington Circuits, we don't like them, Glorified IC & they sound Harsh without Taming. Fully Balanced means it's Bridged as we are finding Interesting with the 1973-74 Quadraphonic ones. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X was Bridged with it's 'X-Circuitry'. Bridged Power Amps we've had Success with if to get the 1973 JVC 4VN-990 to get one of the Best out then still with Pre 1974 Ideals before Cost Cutting. But back to the £32K thing. Stepped Controls aren't so good if 88 steps here, will it be enough? Stepped Volume is Frustrating as the 1975 Pioneer SA-9500 Mk I showed. Their Review used Tired Cliches that we avoid, means nothing until you've heard better. Those Cliches are like How Wine is Described, everyone's Opinions differ as it's just Fluff Talk. Their Review gives the idea the Sound Is So Smooth, the Results of High NFB & Taming. Does it have Any Bite or the Ability to Scare you with Fresh Dynamics & Still Surprise you after Many weeks? Our Sony Pair does. "Faultless" another Word they Use. Worryingly so, Music itself is often Raw, does it Iron Out The Rough Spots? We know it's Not Possible to get Perfection with Every Sound Source, some 45s are mastered Beautifully, others are like Sandpaper if it takes skill to make them Listenable. CD & other Digital Formats only Play what was Recorded then Mastered. The Review is Meaningless. How Good is the Bass? How Fast is the Sound? What is the Rise Time-Slew Rate which is what Hifi is about of only mentioned in about 1977-79 as the HFN/RR mags revealed. The Review tells None Of That. How Big Does It Make Your Ego Feel to have spend £32K based on what tells nothing much. Five Years Warranty for Your Money & after that, Parts Available? The Reviews lists the Expensive Filtering Cabling they use too. Great To Make The Sound Even More Filtered. Look at the Speakers they use, possibly 8" drivers but those awful Towers Of Drivers type, not big 15" drivers, "These Amps Look Stupid & Ugly" is what Women would say & we'd agree, one site has these stacked out with the Tower speakers. Inside Photos show both Pre & Power have what looks like Four Channels, if this is for Bridging. They look interestingly much like Vintage pre 1990 amps in General Build. No Idea of Circuit Boards if for 2014 be sure Surface Mount if you can see components, the Board will be like the 1995 Spectral DMA & 200 Arcam FMJ preamp. These we found are Not Repairable, the Computer type boards can't be Soldered so if can't be done reliably, it's use it & bin it. It's Typical of this age & doesn't please us. So they are $19,990 each, but where is the Money Spent? They are Seriously Overpriced but appeal to those Corporate Types who don't understand Reality much. If it Fails, they'll just replace it. For those who Read This Site, don't think for a Minute that at £32K the pair it's Better just for the "You're Worth It" price tag. Used Price says £16K preamp is a £8K buy already & they are still Sold New as Unsellable Stock. Fifteen Used For Sale as of typing is Telling, why Don't Buyers Like Them? We just told you. Horrible thing, please don't buy them. ↑
Are We Intense In Our Writing?
Just saw a comment on a Record Site. They think we are Intense. Perhaps we are, they can't take it as we realise. Telling Facts without the usual Boring Waffle or Unintelligent Guesswork. Questioning things that Seem Questionable is Our Interest because it so often proves "Experts Are Wrong". Much of what you Read Online & In Books is Padding saying Nothing. As the Above shows, Reviews of Serious Money Gear yet barely anything at all when it comes to What You Want To Know. We've read tons of Books & Sites to feel the Need to Do this Site on Hifi & Records as The Info wasn't Out There. Experts are usually Egos being Paid to Promote A Viewpoint. 'Valve Gurus' with Poor Amps that dumb down so obviously. The Current Ridiculous Overreaction has commenters on the Sensationalist "Daily Mail" Waking Up to see Big Pharma only cares for Money, this now a Mainstream View. Careful what you let the Masses know though, that creepy "50 Shades Of Grey" stupid book made Specialist Stuff Mainstream & they couldn't handle it. It's Unpleasant Stuff for those with No Love, it's now accepted as 'Normal' which isn't right. We won't be Irresponsible like Hifi Forums often do & tell you How To Upgrade & have many putting Specific Advice as Global Advice. Leave Tech Work to Techs, it takes Decades to learn if we found Free Advice Seekers want to Know It all in 5 Minutes. Are We Intense? It Gets Results, the Info slowly Works Into Agreed Thought. Look how the Vintage Hifi Market is now compared to 2005 Forums that show they had no idea. It'll always bring Money Makers Overpricing, but those Amps do sell, if usually on Auctions as The Buyer now knows 1970s Amps are Old & need work. The next step is when Upgrades Like We Do becomes Mainstream, it'll never happen. Websites that have Forums generally Don't Like Fresh Opinions, they are happy to treat certain Genres like Stamp Collecting & the ones with 95% of Boring Comments with the Admin 'Moderators' Run For Free by Retired Know-All Bores who know Very Little if Challenged. All Best Avoided, if you have Opinions, do them on your Own Website. Commenting on News Sites or Forum type sites gets your Comment Old & Forgotten in 5 mins to a Day. ↑
Lockdown Is Getting People Just Ask But Not See What We Do.
It's pretty clear we're not keen on Modern Amps Stuffed With ICs. Protection Mode & other Rubbish is Really Not Our Thing. Amps past 1995 Are Not Pleasing To Us & See No Quality in Despite the Cost of These Things. Hifi past 1995: Only the Manufacturer Can Repair These, if still existing & often there is no Service on these Obscure Brands. Buy - Use - Bin is Today's Disposable World. It's a Bit Of A Con. We're Asked after they get told "No" from others is the post 1995 Hifi Scene, asking anyone they find without seeing their scene. The risk with Amps past 1980 is Unavailable Parts. The Ultra Fine track that isn't Repairable. NAD S300 is a 2001 100w Dual Mono Amp, the typical blank box thing. S:N ratio only 88dB & Damping 110 which for Modern is better than that '710' damping nightmare. "I am currently using a fully working Nad S300. I was thinking of having it recapped after waiting a video of some guy using bigger better caps. Can you tell me what this would cost.". They Watched YouTube seeing someone's Video of altering it, as risky as Forum advice. Photos online show Resistors, not surface mount, but that same layout as the Unrepairable Track type. We did a Service on the Spectral Pre-Power as Reviewed. That Awful Board Track. Even as recent as 1995 it had aging issues that needed Parts Replacing. The Computer Motherboard type Construction may look neat with Surface Mount Parts. but it's Not Possible to Repair these. In 1999 it seems this ND amp was £1500 new, but 21 years later it'll be Aging yet £1000 a typical asking price is a Mug's Game. Bit like paying High for a Flat with only a Short Lease Left, more than what Rent would be for that time. To Get 10 Years Use out of Anything Electrical today is Rare. Buying a 21 year old amp is not what we'd recommend if a 54 year old 1966 Sansui TR-707A is because it can be worked on well, if needs a huge amount to make it "Use Daily". The Guy's question is a bit Newbie as you can see. What Does He Expect? How Would Anyone Know the Amp is made 'Unrepairable" without trying other late gear? NAD is still that Grey Budget 1980s Brand to most if they had to change. This stuff is not what we have interest in. How would you Price It? Things like just doing the Main Caps, we saw the 2005 EAR construction, What Trouble Will It Bring? They'd Want it Serviced too, oh the Control doesn't work right as an IC is faulty, they can work 40 years, they can go Faulty. Anything with Custom ICs from 1970s VCRs to 7.1 Multi-Channel amps only have a Finite life. Use it like a Car, you can Search to see 14 years is about your Lot. That's New from 2006. But Older Cars from 1920s-1980s are still going as TV shows state. The Reason why is they are Well Made & Without Computer Control. Same with Hifi, if the More Hifi We See.. The More We See Is Unrepairable. The Rule in Hifi is Not to Work on Hifi you Don't Like. We don't turn down Pre 1980 Hifi unless it is far too large, such as a Pioneer SX-1980 blogged above. The Marantz PM-82 for risk of Unavailable parts as blogged & then this NAD S300 turned away. Again it's the sort of Amps many will turn away. They'll also likely turn away the Pre 1980 & Valve Gear we Love Working On. It's why we put We Are Specialists. NAD S 300 is Badly Designed. We saw the Bulletin about it Overheating, a very common issue to shorthen the life of Tech. Modern Rubbish you may think, they never tested it properly. But the 1977 Yamaha CR-2020 has a Bad Overheating issue as on our Review. The rather unsure notes say use a Variac which is not good. Board Burn Marks & DC Offset not right. Hifi pre 1975 is a Different world. We Dig that Stuff for a Reason. We've not put 1963-1995 for Transistor Amps & 1960- Date on Valve amps, if later ones try to be clever with Autobias, no Circuits there & ICs make it... Disposable. Oh Well. ↑
Accuphase C-200 & P-300 Preamp & Power Amp.
A Customer finds these Interesting amps Worldwide so it's well worth a Look as finding Amps of quality is what we like to Research. Especially after Miserable amps like that NAD S-300 thing. We see these as a pre Power pair in matchhing Wood Cases hich usually means pre 1975. Classy attractive Amps, silver fronts with a lower black strip & symmetry in design shows care. They have the sort of Speaker Screw Blocks like 1967 era Sansui & McIntosh use. C-200 a 1975 preamp, the HFE write up from the original Literature catches the eye, Push Pull Circuitry is that Class B type design that Yamaha & others used & it's what ICs have in. Not a design that's Necessary as Class A is way Superior, if Class B is "Easy" to design. 14kg unit, if 80 Transistors & 35 diodes, No ICs is a relief after our "Other Amps" two, if 35 diodes for a preamp with no Tuner is a lot. ±14 dB of Bass & Treble gain on Tone. The Class B Push Pull design is busy, it has a Headphone Amp like the Sony TA-2000F does plus the 160v HT stages similary & as in the later Marantz 1122DC. P-300 is a 1975 matching 150w Power Amp of 25kg. All Transistors, the IC is for the Relay. The Circuits are Complex & to go through them looking for weaknesses would take a few Hours. The idea is so different to the IC later Accuphase, the Class B stages are what IC technology uses as Low Heat. ↑
Valves Do Age, Even Preamp Ones.
Standard Design Unaltered Valve amps generally Age more on the Power amp ones, they go "Tea Stained" inside to tell you they are getting old if can still be good if they Bias Correctly. Get a Valve Tester? We got two AVO curved front top lid ones in 2002, the late 1950s versions. But looking inside, they're Not Much Used if still Old & are they Calibrated? Sold them on as it's better to go by Biasing & How A Valve sounds. Playing the Luxman LX33 the Phono isn't as Smooth as it should be & the stylus is good still. Got some new ECC83 valves, the JJ ECC 83S are fine, if their EL34s are crackly on our Untamed Amps. The Focus the Phono stage had lost now returns. How long do Preamp Valves last? The Rogers HG88 III from 1966 can still be good on their obsolete ECC805 valves. These valves run fairly cool even with the Heater. Running Valves "Hot" & with Inadequate Ventilation makes them not last so long. As with People aging, if you see them often you don't notice, Valves can go softer sounding without it being obvious as you regularly listen. Some brands differ in tone also & age differently. Easiest Way is just keep Spare Preamp Valves to swap to see if The Current ones aren't so good if you suspect the sound isn't as good. Power Amp valves such as EL34, EL84 etc should Bias evenly. A Power Valve that needs Higher Bias is aging & Amps with Adjust pots can only go so far without Upsetting the Whole Bias. This means one valve has gone bad, they can even fail to not work so do nothing yet it still plays Music fine at TV level use, if turned up louder it reveals the failure as you're just using half of the Push-Pull pair if at lower levels. Buying Matched Quad sets of output valves makes Biasing easier as New, if they'll still age. On Fixed Bias amps, the Matched Quad will read closely on all 4. If one is noticeably out then you can only replace that one if then it'll not be matched to the others even if good. Be Sure to get the Correct Valve, the Game of Tube Rolling is a Dangerous One as "Equivalents" can have very different Spec as said regarding the Trio WX-400U. The three ECC81-ECC82-ECC83 seem similar if the Specs differ to need different circuits. You can redesign the Circuits, the LX33 had an ECC85 so we redid it for ECC83 to have all valves easy to replace. ↑
Living With Valves - Living with Tubes.
UK call them Valves, USA call them Tubes. Here's an Update since having used the 1979 Luxman LX33 a lot for playing vinyl. Assuming Your amp isn't still running on Aged Components, a Valve Amp is actually fairly easy to live with. Don't put Records on top as they'll be All Curly from the Heat, simplistic but we see a Fisher Valve amp that the seller Does't Like as.. It Gets Hot. Valves have Heaters inside & can run at anything from 50°C to 120°C. Biasing needs only be Checked maybe once ot Twice a Year unless the sound deteriorates or other issues such as Noise or Hum. Bad Valves can run Very Wrong on Bias & Cause problems, if generally you'll Hear It Complaining as Valve Amps you'll find will do. Even New Valves can have problems from being New, put 2 new valves on our preamp to hear it 3 days later going in & out on Volume so to play it Stereo to hear where the issue was. Found it, so just cleaned the Valve Pins in WD40 which cures a lot of issues if it's What To Try First. In our case it solved it & the amp had been checked whilst 'On The Bench' if haven't checked Bias recently, but not a thing to get Obsessed with. We see the 'Shuguang' EL34 output Valves are getting a little Browned in the top section, the 'Tea Staining' is just how some valves age, but not a Reason to Renew if to check Bias we'll do next time. What goes wrong with a Rebuilt Amp, ours is up to 5 years old & really it has no issues, as everything is Renewed. Older Valve Amps can be Noisy on Resistors & Lack Fidelity for Just the Age of it, you can Rebuild The Lot as we may do on the 1966 Pioneer ER-420 if it pleases us. The 'Tube Technology' Set Up we used for many years from 2002 until trying Transistor Amps now shows Age. The Chrome Monoblock transformer covers need polishing as whited from age. the EL34s need a new 2x Quad set, Bias it up, recheck after a month & ready to use. Rebuilt too many times if still safe, if the PCB for Output Valves isn't a good idea, hardwiring is better. The Power Amps if open in the Air only get Dust to tidy. The TT Preamp is now a 2008 version by & not so easy to keep maintained, we tried to do another preamp if never finished it for Transistor amp use. The Valve sockets not so good & to "Wiggle" the valves shows it needs doing better, it gets used twice a year to Record New Records Listed. It could be done a lot neater if, other amps to do & Transistor Amps to play. Older Amps like Rogers HG88 III, Fisher X-100B, Trio WX-400U, Trio W41U & Pioneer SX-800A are Aged. Controls depend on How Much Used if generally these are still Good. To Check them on vsaried components that aren't being replaced, if Ideally All Should Be Redone if the work can be Hard or really too much for how these amps are Hardwired. Usually a Vintage Valve amp is nearly All Old with only a few parts updated meaning Problems can be Wild & Varied. We'd not use such Aged Risky amps, the 1966 Pioneer ER-420 has bad capacitors so we've not even plugged it in yet until at least part done. Generally with Valves, Problems will only get worse if there are Problems as our TT Preamp tells. New Shop Bought amps, beyond their design limits seem to last 10-20 years before Issues arise, the EAR Yoshino one from 2000 was rather aged from use, left too long we'd think if others Drive The Car Into The Ground as was the 1980s idea before MOTs toughened up, you could drive badly Rusted Cars around still. Computers are not so Unlike Valve Amps, you use them all Day & about every 6 months work needs doing, we've Dated repairs on ours since 2013 to see the thing always needs work, worn out Fan just this Month. Dust is a problem though, open amps or ones with Grilles pick up Dust & ones with big EL34s or KT88s need careful Dusting around if a quality 1" Paint Brush will deal with that easily enough. Luxman LX33 issues actually not much. The Input Sockets not the Best & the Outputs we put 4mm Sockets on long ago. The Amp Feet are a bit small, we bought some nice 2" Thick Rubber ones if a Customer's Pioneer SX-800A got those. The Controls are Easy. The lighting originally is old Bulbs so we put LEDs which light a bit differently but are fine. ↑
Trying For Good High-End Amps?
We get told of Interesting amps in Transistor & Valve from later years if still Vintage. The post-1974 Era is Difficult, our Reviews page have far less than 1963-73. Not a Case of Being Blind to later amps. The Trouble is beyond the Mainstream Amps & Comet ruining the Scene with Heavy Discounting causing Cost Cutting, even the 'Monster Receivers' aren't as Good as you'd think, if there is Good Scope to Upgrade. The 1974-75 era started with "Clever Bastard" designs, usually trying to "Solve" issues that were never there. V-FETs, MOSFETs, Class B Push Pull in Transistors & Valves, a pre-cursor to the designs used in ICs. In Valves the "Guru" type of designs with a certain awful 1975 Preamp by Luxman being the Height of awful design deliberately tamed to get High Specs on test results. This nonsense has never left Hifi. What Should you Buy Post 1975? Something made Pre 1974 is the Easy Answer. We really look into the Circuit Diagrams, the Schematics. Some are ridiculously hard to follow with multi-page amateur scanning and lines to trace that are often 3 feet long (1 metre) on very close thin lines. It's to stop you understanding the design & their Compromises. Some Amps we've seen are like the "Curate's Egg", overall a Stinker if Parts are Very Good. One USA Valve amp from 1974 laughably uses Nine Zener Diodes to Regulate a 450v HT that's used on the Preamp. We do not like zener diodes as they are "Crap Lazy Circuitry" & therefore become Common by the Mid 1970s. The 1970 Hacker GAR series lazily used a zener to regulate the preamp. Zeners in Non-Audio certainly an easy way to Regulate, but in Hifi is a No-No. The 1984 Sansui AU-G90X is still the "Best 1980s Amp" to us if that had so many things less than ideal, such as Preamp boards put Back To Back with no Grounding Between. Cost Cutting just like the Crappy push buttons. The Thing Is the 'High End' scene is So Phony & the Reviews like adverts there isn't much cred to us. Many have Told Us they were weaned on the 1980s-1990s Hi-Fi Mag Culture with Linn, Nain, Meridien etc. Only years later are they Finding This Stuff wasn't so good as it was hyped. Boring Amps do not Stir The Soul. We've Tried The High End as the site tells. 1970 brought the Sony TA-2000F & TA-3200F that are called High end as is the 1965-67 Sony TA-1120(A) for the 'ES' tag. The Sony Pair we have now are awesome, ridiculous amount to rebuild & redesign as Sony clearly scared of 100w. The Preamp still could be bettered, those FETS are not ideal. The seller got rid as he said they sounded lousy, we had to agree. The Original Design is really not very good. The 1973 JVC 4VN-990 we recently got shows a High End Style that is more 1980s-1990s for the Classy Build quality. All These Fancy Pre & Power Amps were standard by 1980 after the Sony Pair & Pro Gear like the 1970s Amcron-Crown set New Standards. Of course the Valve Era was Pre-Power as was Quad with their Tamed Efforts. Some 1980 ones were just 50w & cheaply made to be a Cheap Entry point. Then came the Cottage Crowd making amps to satisfy the Hifi Mag crowd if equally as Despised. Are any worth playing? High End Means Expensive is the General Sneering Idea & with Good Reason. Amps are about design for the Best Sound. High End usually is Ugly Plain Boxes if some are more fancy. Always got to Show Off with the Solving Issues that aren't Wrong. There are a Breed Of "Audio Buyers" that Rave about these 500w efforts & rave about them as 'The Best' which of Course They All Are. But once you Know Vintage even as Original, the Modern things will lose the appeal. All you can do is Try Them, Circuit Diagrams aren't public as the makers of Tube Technology told us the Chinese makers just copy them, but didn't they always & go one better? If High End Appeals, the Best advice is get a Home Demo as we did in 2002 with the Sumo Monoblocks & the Tube Technology valves, you'll have an opinion much better than in a Shop. Buying Big amps like the Musical Fidelity pre-power as They Looked Nice & Blokey, the Valves were Too Hot in Summer & getting a good Ex-Demo deal is asking for a Quick Sell-On. Sometimes to Buy at a Price you can Move It On at gives you more time to try. Shops May Trade-In your 'Mistakes' but depends if they want them be they Mint & Boxed. The Way we got 200 Amps reviewed on this Website is Only By Buying Them. ↑
September 2020 Blog
Didn't Upload any Blogs August 2020, if ones written, need re-reading before posting...
Vintage Valve Amps & Receivers: Part Rebuilt & Sold On Fast...?
We took Hifi more seriously in 2002 with getting the Tube Technology 100w Genesis & Preamps. They Bettered other Modern Gear we Demoed, to get to Know your hifi shop so they'll let you Home Demo. This was pre any chances of finding Circuit Diagrams, not that TT are on HFE & probably won't be. To see things looked a bit too "Regulated", there is No Need to Regulate 400v DC as it stays steady unless Valves go weak. How much better with Redesign to get rid of that, so that was Our First Upgrade. for questioning what you see as wrong & changing it. Of course an element of "A Bit Crazy" and "Having The Arrogance To Question Designers" if today All Can Be Questioned for having Played The Game of Risk Taking which is what gets The Upgrades & probably why no-one else will go as far as we do, finding great improvements. Those who just rebuilt parts of 1960s Valve Amps are staying within their Knowledge & just doing it Like-For-Like are really Missing what Potential there is, but it's Advanced & best not tried to stay safe. Upgrading is Risky, Deep Fault Finding required. Expensive New Valves to show they mean well & Capacitor stuffing, a really bad idea as are Solid Metal 4mm speaker sockets as so easy to short circuit. We recently rebuilt the 1966 Pioneer SX-800A to a certain level, it could have gone a lot further, if after doing what we had, too cramped & risky to go further. The Owner loves it, but how much more could be done with other less Over-Cramped designs. The 6 power amp valves we checked to see & hear they were still good. No real need to spend £200 revalving, if the preamp ones weren't great. You Only Need To Re-Valve when they Won't Bias right on Outputs & The Preamp ones lack a certain Quality, as the Blog 2 above tells. Without The Upgrades which take a huge amount to work out & do neatly, these 1960s Amps get Sold On Fast as they aren't that good to Modern Ears, our Valve Rebuilds are. In 1965 they may have been "State Of The Art" but Today they are Tame, they get used a few times & moved on. Any Amp that's Tired Sounds way off, the amount of owners our 1976 Marantz 2385 had as the sound wasn't really Hifi. it was once we Sold it, if we too Sold it. But it did sound Excellent, it was just a bit out of our Interest Zone if did get Speaker use for Several weeks. The Vintage Cars Comparision again. Nice to have the Old Looks, but many on "Counting Cars" wan't a Car with today's Ideas if done Subtly. But it costs them $30K to $60K. How Much to Really Fully Rebuild & Upgrade a Vintage amp? Can't really do that for Customers knowing it has taken 2-5 Years. Some amps need so much it needs the Time, if letting it Sit 3-6 months to think of New Ideas. We actually Dream Upgrades, intense, eh? Ideas come unexpectedly, thinking on it is required. But not to do risky things on Customer's amps until it's proven good on ours. We'd not want to do another Luxman LX33 as it's all Our design & after 5 years still getting New Ideas. To do a Practical Version keeping Costs reasonable would be very hard as the LX33 is so far from it should be. The % of Improvement in Upgrades maybe gives 60%-80% of the 100% a Maxed Out Job over 2 years can do. A possible 20% better is a Nice Gain if Moneywise it's Not so Economical. The Learning curve idea, big Gains initially to a price if then smaller Gains that for us are Great to do to Add To The Skills Box. The Pioneer SX-800A we way underpriced, if still delivered Use Daily Quality. The amp was far too Complex with extra Tuner circuits to the Pioneer ER-420 we actually had to get a ER-420 to make sense of the SX-800A. Receivers with Tuners add a Huge amount to sort. If you want to Try Valves, stick to the Amplifier Versions, the Built-In Tuner adds far too much to do. We can do it if it's Mindblowing. Not Sure what we'll do with the ER-420, if as of Sept it's been played with the main parts done if on a lot of old parts still, to be completed. On the "Other Amps" page review shows we'd sort of 'Had Enough' with Valve Receivers for a while, 5-6 years it seems until another one. Valves are worthwhile still. ↑
Best Results Are From 1965-1977 Era Amplifiers & Receivers. Post 1980 Isn't Usually.
Yet More Messages about Post 1980 Amps. It's Got Issues. Is It Worth Rebuilding. Do you want to Spend The Money? We Don't Do Repairs & Servicing as Economically it's a Waste Of Your Money to get One Day to Five Years before Something Else Fails. In the 1980s people were "Proud" their Amp was in The Shop & they get it back with an (2020 Equivalent) £200 Bill detailing just a Resistor was replaced. Back in for Repair again soon & likely many times as Repair isn't Doing It Properly once it's.. er.. Knackered but Rebuildable. It's Usually more of a Pain on post 1979 gear as cheap parts wear out & unworkable hair fine track. To send back what are Essentially "Bodge Jobs" is not Us, it's TV Guy type Repair-Make Do stuff if Today they don't do much more than Order Boards or the Old Teeth Hissing "Cost You An Arm & A Leg Mate". Those With Quality Amps 1963-78 are in with a High Chance of "Forever Repairable" beyond ICs & V-FETs etc. The post 1978 "Hi-Fi" just is Made To Be Disposable as said 'Once Or Twice' here. Yes, it's Your Amp you've used for 20-40 years. It's Not Economical to Rebuild & Most won't Touch it. Amateurs on Forums will try to repair as we've seen Hopeful Posts, go for it, get the Manuals & try to fix it at least. But then the Thread Ends as it ended up in the Bin. We Are In An Old Fashioned Trade. We know Good Hifi is well in the Past. The Wise listener is realising Old Rebuilt is best. Modern 'Hi-Fi' claims to Be Something if it just gets you buying Unrepairable stuff. We sell Old Fashioned Records when by 1993-95 a Cassette was the 'Pop Single' medium, then CD by 1996-98 if Vinyl trickled along. Records have Really Caught The Imagination even of Under 20s who love "Vinyls" and call any record "Album" as ebay newbies show. The Music is Timeless. the Amps are Timeless. But Nasty Old Money is the Decider what Lives or Dies. A Beloved Amp may stop working but be kept as an Ornament "One Day..." but it just gathers Spider Webs & Dust. Not a Bad Thing as the 1963-78 amps we get are Mostly like this, used 2-5 years & put away so can be Aged in places if not far from New elsewhere. New Parts & Skilled Labour aren't Cheap, Parts need Equivalents & Ordering Stock parts to look Neat is a Job itself. Take the 1973 JVC 4VN-990 amp, to redo it you need to order loads of bits, we have many of these in stock so easy, but to order all you need on Farnell or RS is a real Big Job. Then to fit neatly & trust yourself to Plug It In. Takes Years to learn how to do it right, but you've got a Rare Skill then. But People Today watch a Youtube Video & think they can then do complex stuff? Please Do Not Do Amateur Experiments on pre 1980 Gear that has Value & can be Redone to be Use Daily. If you don't want to spend on Pre 1980 gear, put it on ebay at a Realistic price & sell it to one who may keep it Alive. ↑
Valve Phono Redesigning.
The Tube Technology Phono stage we first got in 2002 was made from actually 3 units. The Local hifi shop wanted Rid, so we got all Three. Looking for the Model Names, not the Tube-Tech cheap looking later brand, Tube Technology did attractive cases. The Two-Box Preamp "Prophet" is the one with Heavy Regulated Voltages, sounded far better without them even as early as us first trying in 2003. The 2013 version of their website shows these as "Classic" now, if the weeny 800x600 screen size & tiny print is strange not to have updated it. Nicely made with Firbreglass PCBS if no Tone, The Phono wasn't so good & it lacked what we wanted. The Power Supply box adds a Buffer Stage as valves. Buffers are Useful connecting Rec Out if in Valves it didn't really make much difference as Buffer after Preamp & before power Amp. To get the One-Box Phono Stage preamp, the "Seer", if not interested in the MAC one with Valves sticking out the Top & MC Transformers, pretty Basic insides. The Seer Preamp Case was given 'bits' of the Other Preamps & Adding a Tone stage. Actually rebuilt the 2003 version in 2008 & still have it to use as Blogged recently, if it could do with a 2020 rebuild. The 2008 version recorded 21,000 tracks to CD we keep to play & later to Hard Drive as .wav format. The 1979 Luxman LX33 we decided to do as RIAA rather than the different TT version which was fine Back in the Day using the Panasonic CRT Television with it's Output actually altering the Impedance, a thing we only found on getting the Flat Screen TV. The Phono EQ isn't right now, if we used a 1956 Decca Test Tone Disc to Create a 'Filter EQ' to match it back, by Running EQ on the Thicker Sounding Phono tracks. Not ideal is it. We still use The TT pre to Record New Tracks but as you can imagine it can take ages to be bothered to Redo the Tracks. Got 2017 recordings still Unsorted & Mar 2019 ones not EQ'd yet & even Sept 2019 ones plus Apr 2020 ones still as the one long file. The Vinyl gets played so why it gets left. What's this Blog about? The TT pre 2008 version long before we started with Transistor Amps still sounds Great, a slight low level background noise is lower than the Vinyl Groove Noise. We Recently changed the LX33 phono looking for a Smooth Vinyl Sound from Vintage 45s to mke the Best of the Roughly Cut ones which are more numerous than you'd hope, the level of Distortion is often 20% or more based on the Graunchy Sound, but that's How Vinyl Always Was. Many are Mastered better so Vinyl is still Listenable aware of the Distortion as Mastered. So we try '#1899' Record stock number, a 'Dave Robin' 1966 45 on Eyemark. Still the Same Copy as many years ago, the 2013 version on the Computer from an earlier CD. It has a few Clicks from Small Scratches. The LX33 plays this very cleanly. Using the SL-1500, SME 3009 & Goldring 850 still, the Stylus well used if compared to a New Stylus it's still good. Vinyl always washed to not Wear the Stylus. You see where this is going now. To compare to what is likely a 2008 recording, they sound pretty much the same, over 12 years later. The 2008 focus is finally in the LX33 if using Goldring G-850 not the Roksan Corus Black based on the Goldring 1012. So much for Garrard 301, SME IV & expensive stylus. We've tried the 'RCB' cartridge on the Current Turntable. The Tonal Balance is a bit Brighter, the Quality can depend on the Stylus Size. G850 is a 'Budget' stylus apparently, but can be 'tuned' to sound like a Cartridge you can buy Used ones for £200 still. You'd think this is for the Better Resolution of the Phono Stage, not the Big Money a Cartridge. Very Precise Cartridge into Overdesigned Modern Phono or a Cheap 1970 one with it's Conical Stylus designed for Older Vinyl. It's possible. A certain level of Compression is needed for Vintage Vinyl & Via Valves it plays the Music to it's best, a very long job to get right to be able to get top sound from vinyl & not use expensive gear. Playing Vinyl right now, the best vinyl records are like TV Sound quality, if some are Rough as mastered if Focussed better. ↑
Amplifier Restoration Kits, Really?
We've seen these "Bags Of Bits" on ebay for several years now. You've got an Expensive amp so a £100 bag of bits is all you Want To Spend on it. Fool's Paradise. This is A Problem. Are you an Experienced Technician who's worked on Hundreds of Vintage amps over decades? Unlikely, but it's a "Great Saving" on what the Few Capable Techs Worldwide would charge. Hey, if you Think you can Do It & Learn Skills on Expensive amps to Redo on the Cheap, your Amp & your Choice. We see the Results in Buying Amps. It's taken us nearly 30 Years on Hifi to be our Standard which is Way Advanced on amps of our era. The Fact has to be Few Rebuild kits ever get used. Look inside these Amps, they are Complex, Valve Amps with no 'Board Layout' is Mindblowing. "Hey Man this is a Mindf-ck" is the expected response. The reality is Predictable & sounds like we're trying to Put You Off. But you pay to get Wallpaper put up, Kitchens & Windows fitted as well as Car work. You see the Messed Up Jobs amateurs do thinking they can be an Instant Tech who watched a YouTube video. The Sad Thing is many Great Amps will Get Ruined & as we've found to Redo Bad Jobs is Bad work to do as Double the Job. Don't jump into the Advanced Stuff straight away, learn on £50 amps that you Can Mess Up & Throw Away. These Kits Guys are just after your money knowing you're just being Cheap & they know the Outcome. The 1970s Heathkit Amp Kits gave a huge Manual telling how to Build it Successfully & it seems many did by Surviving ones, if Heathkit were Quality. Please Don't Mess with Expensive Advanced Amps, you'll ruin them as we've seen. No 'Pro' would buy a Cheesy Upgrade Kit of Average quality parts. A Yamaha CR-2020 we got for just £30 once as an Amateur made a Mess. We Rebuilt it to get a Great Amp again if a lot of work to Undo Messes & then Redo our way. The Amateur Can't Solder is a Common issue, burning up track, using wrong parts & just making a Bodge of it. Just like TV Repair type Amp repairs. We'd like to Encourage New Hifi Techs but it's not Current Technology here. It was in 1992 in the Earls Court Electronics College we went to, if Today it's ICs, Modules & Computer Control, so maybe why they Closed as their Ideals were outdated. Just don't Jump into thinking you know it & then ruin amps. How do you think we Started on amps? Make it up as you Go along as in 1990 no Manuals or info. How many did we Ruin & now feel Sad that it was like that, if in those days Vintage Hifi was of no interest & £20 then bought great amps. Car Repair Kits. Just watching the smart 1964 Volvo episode. Ant gets a kit to rebuild The Brakes after Mike gets the Discs refinished by machining a clean surface, Brakes in a Car are Major, your life Depends on them. To get a Brake Caliper kit is great that these things are still made or NOS. But to Trust yourself to Do a Good Job is the thing here as with these Basic Aftermarket Amp Kits. We don't use Kits, we use Parts & make each amp Rebuild an individual job. We have Drawers full of Parts. We see older rebuilds we did & do them Differently now. The Skill To Do The Job must Not be Underestimated even if you get Hifi Kits. They'll only be Basic Like-For Like, the sort we see Up For Sale again as with No Upgrades Vintage Amps can lack what is Expected. It's Why we Question Designs to Upgrade. Are Kits in Hifi really worth the effort? Re-read this to understand it further. Please Don't Think You Can Repair or Rebuild Vintage Amps if Unskilled. 100% Guarantee you'll Ruin it. That Volvo 122 Amazon they Recommissioned as in 'Got Back On The Road' for just £500 parts which is unusually Low for the Show if the Car was tidy. 28 Man Hours, a Garage may charge £50-£80 per hour if it's usually Priced as a Job. Total £2000 job in Reality. They don't add on Servicing, getting MOT done, buffing the Paint etc, it's not quite a true total. Very Nice car with style. Is it Use Daily? Probably not as to rely on it may be risky as time tells with old cars. We rebuild Amps to be Safe to Use Daily & use them ourselves to be sure & to trust on our Tannoys. Kit of Parts is only a tiny amount, for Cars Kits of Parts needed mechanically is great. Amps Kits of Parts you can order online to us aren't worth buying. Car Buyer. Nice end to the Volvo story was 2 mid 20s aged Women bought it, they had the same car in Black & wanted one each. Big smile says they loved the Car. We get Women buying our Restored Amps, if yet none wanting rebuilds. Seems Women like the Finished Product. If we can offer Amps at the Right price to make it worthwhile to get to work on & Sell, we'll contine. But putting Big work into Amps that were for Our Interest & not getting anywhere near the Price is tricky. To Decide which ones to do to Sell or to Max Out to see what they bring is The Game here, trying that Photax- Concertone amp & breaking it for parts within a month shows we're not into Playing Safe as this Hi-Fi 'Lark' is a Hobby too. For Our Interest. ↑
New Valves Still Need Use.
Years ago getting EL34 Winged 'C' Svetlanas, we used to buy 6 if only needing 4 per TT power amp. In those days you bought New but Not Run In & Matched ones. One EL34 valve we remember glowed on the Grid wires so was Faulty, but put another of the Six in, it was fine. This is why sellers now Run In & Match. But the valves haven't been Played For Audio. There's the problem we just had. Bought 3x JJ ECC83 for the Luxman LX33. Two for The Phono & one to try elsewhere. Front Phono Stage & Second Stage, rather than Two stages in one valve, the L+R version is better to have more PCB space. After only 2 days the Phono kept "ducking" in as much the Phono level went right down & then back fine. Maybe a few times in a 2 hour session. Which valve is it? Swap in the Unused one, not the Front valve so the Second one was at fault. "Ducking" in & out is similar to Motorboating or Power Supply dips, if not one hour between. Old valves weren't a problem. So an ECC83 as Tested & Matched can still Fail. No problem at all now. Unfortunately you can still get Duff Valves as you need to Use them. Swap valves around if one Misbehaves, as in Swap Left & Right. Only question the Amp if that makes no difference. Buying New Valves is Expensive on some with ECCs being £12-£16 each. The thing is with Phono you can get a bit too aware when Dust on the Stylus from New Arrivals that might slightly Mistrack until played at least twice, plus the 'Fear' of your SME 3009 not being 100% on the bearing as we had before. Each time the Fluff or the new ECC83 was at fault. Er, that's an Odd Blog... Tells of Valve issues you can find amid brands, some are better than others. Insight. ↑
How Can We Do That If Incomplete?
Guy with a Technics SL-1500 wants the board recapped & wants to send just the board. How the Hell can we Test it & calibrate it? Cheap jobs they want always & they want to drop in for a quote too. Never Read a word about 'Mail Order Only'... Sigh. We had our SL-1500 all recapped & upgraded for sale, huge bargain compared to the ebay price for Raw, far too cheap. It should go on ebay at a better price as not an Amplifier as with the SME & Garrard 301. We did & sold it fast, if to an Unaware, never heard of the Speed adjusters. That sentence deals with a Blog venting on this, if weeks later a Blog can be pointless, so re-read to edit. Back to the SL-1500 questioner: "We'd assume you'd have a PSU" they say. Really? They think a Tech has Test Jigs for every Amp & Turntable ever made. Ever been in a Repair Shop? They have only the Basics like Meters, Generators & Oscilloscopes, plus outdated broken gear to look purposeful, like Wobbulators for Tuners. Today it's Just Plugging Boards, unlikely they have much. The SL-1500 board you can see has several plug ins. To assume all are available without the Turntable itself is 'Illogical'. Hi-Fi is getting further away from Mainstream & people aren't bothering to read things. ↑
Smooth Sounding Hi-Fi?
The Term is Difficult. Like "Warm" that can be Aged & Muddy if Cozy Sounding, or what is actualy 'Full Bodied' rather than a Thin Trebly sound that is often what Modern Audio gives. "Smooth" is in Modern Hifi like the Marantz PM 6002 where it had Over 100 Spoilers to Tame the Life out of the Music to get away with what is an Unimpressive Mainstream Amp. Hifi to Us Must Be Fast, Open & Punchy. Modern Amps won't give you that & only really Upgrades give you this. 'You're Right' say Owners of Our Upgraded Amps. But This "Smooth" Sound is very advanced to get without limiting, as in the case of the Luxman LX33 that we're doing more upgrades to, as we collect up New Ideas & Hear That Sound Elsewhere. You only Know Top Wine from Tasting The Best then the £5 Bottle that just does nothing for you now. Both will Hydrate you & Do Wine pleasure too, if Quality means more to some. In doing Two Alterations today, the Phono sounds even better. The Sound is Flatter, the Treble Detail is Better giving Added Smoothness & Depth to 1960s 45s that can be so Rough sounding. Removes layers of 'Cloth' from your speakers or Headphones we use for playing Vinyl. The Deeper the Upgrades, the Better The Focus. We're still using the Goldring G850 as with this Phono Stage quality, the Expensive 'Roksan Corus Black' doesn't really do much better except for Custom Stylus sizes. Smooth Sound but with The Quality to keep the Speed & Dynamics. The Two Upgrades we can hear make the Amp Even Faster as the 1µsec Sony Pair gives, at least the Power Amp does, Preamp not rated. The Deeper to Look to find more places to Upgrade if the LX33 on PCBs is very hard to work on as ours is now. The Faster an Amp is the less squishy Compression a Track has, as found playing Loud Cut 45s, Fuzzy Sound earlier USA Vinyl & 1960s Ska that is Much Improved. To keep it looking Tidy inside is Important too, no stuffing Huge 630v caps where only 50v would be used. Valves just give so much Scope to Alter & Vary the Tonal balance. Valve Sound Infuenced by Transistor Sound is ironic. Looking at Modern Valve Amps, they've not Got a Clue how to Update the Lazy Old Mid 1950s ones they all Copy. Actually this Change has made Records we were getting Tired Of into Renewed Interest as the Sound is more pleasing. The thing is Knowing what we did to get that Improvement, why not do the same with Other Parts? Depends what their use is, you can put £2000 of new Exotic Film Capacitors into a Valve Amp & not really hear any difference. Any Design Based Upgrades take So Long to Work Out, the LX33 we got nearly Six Years Ago & are still finding more to do. Similar with Hifi Brands Improving Over The Years, if more the pre 1980 designs. Sometmes the Big Brands went "Too Far" in making their Amps too good in Design & Quality, then Dumbed Down the Amps to hide, as blogged about the 1970-1971 ranges. Next Day after looking at our 2003-2008 TT Based Phono stage, to remember ideas that keep us still using it to Record 45s. Go further & yet again the Sound Improves. Deeper. Smoother, Very Fast as Crackles that are a Great Transients Test now Sound more. A Slow Phono Stage will hide Scratch & Crackle better. Here the Odd ticks in the Vinyl that any High grade 45 can have. Just opens up busy sections more. Some 45s are cut Extra Distorted if these are a great Test of Focus & Resolution. Extra Fast Amps are like early CD with Sampling Rates. A 1969 'Chess' Gospel 45 with Massed Choir in sections currently playing is so Focussed & the Lead is 'So Solid' sounding. The Studio Ambience can be heard & the Lead is Miked away from the Group as many voices. Wasn't so Obvious before. Makes you wonder how Well Mastered 45s were done. the late 1960s Pye ones on Transistors sound Fizzy, likely Leak ones as rather limited in Dynamics. A 1964 Decca Beat 45 that was considered 'a bit rough' now Focusses much better. A 'Very Rough' 1963 RCA looks 'Sandpaper Grooves', still sounds a bit Blurry if way better Focus, if here the Vinyl is just Not Mastered Well. A Very Loud cut 1967 that makes us Wince at how Unlistenable the End was is better, if Decca weren't as Hifi as the Stereo Classical LPs especially the 1960-67 era. Many UK 45s 1958-1967 were Cut Too Loud with not much dB variance to be 'Radio Friendly' & why many say these are only good for a Dansette. Not so. Blogs like this Ramble a bit, if putting thoughs afresh into a Blog instead of Boring Cold Mannered text. Some Blogs may mean nothing to some as advanced design stuff. Some Blogs are more understandable we know... ↑
Pioneer Custom 4mm Sockets. The Best Version. Designed By Us.
Been thinking on this for years, since getting the 1967 Pioneer SX700TF that's on our Photo Gallery. The Plugs are Rare as thrown away on old wires unaware they were needed. Every version relies on the Weak Springs in the Plug Sockets. They stay put for thin Bell Wire, but anything thicker pulls the Plug out far too Easily, they can just fall out. Other crude options using a USA Mains Plug with a Pin Twisted but use Bare Metal Sockets are a bit Risky for obvious Shorting Reasons. Our Wonderful Solution is as THIS photo. We've been thinking on this for ages since we got the 1969 Pioneer SX-2500 & it's about time 'someone creative' done this properly. The Photos show how it can be done. The Black section with the slots is fragile Bakelite if the sockets have four square holes to contain the weak spring. We offer this To The World to show it can be done, if it's up to you to work the rest out. You Want This Now? As we've worked it out, we can do this for your amp. To Build & Fit we'll only Do on Amps supplied for Upgrades. It's Too Advanced for most to fit & it Requires a Useable Vintage Part. Further Thoughts. There are fitting Variants, the 1967 ones screw on to the chassis, the later ones go behind the back plate. Both are the same with the fixing plates. To do this For Customers, to have the Amp in for Work, rather than just one job. Previous Buyers or Upgraders we'd do just the Connectors for. Your Amp must have unbroken sockets. The 4 Sockets on the part is too wide to fit through the hole so we must do things a certain way. Originality matters, useless socket updated is Way Cool. UPDATE. We fitted the same sockets to our Pioneer SX-2500. This is the RESULT. To fit is quite a job, if it looks 'easy' by the completed job as the Best work often does, as The Repair Shop tells. It's Far From Easy, if Looks Perfect as one said, as it's The Perfect Solution. ↑
Capacitor Quality Can Really Reveal Itself.
In doing the Luxman LX33 Phono Stage. Capacitor Quality just as Manufacturers of Expensive Capacitors tell... It Does Make a Difference. It Surely Does. But the Problem here is only in Certain Applications does this matter. In Transistor amps, the Panasonic FC Capacitors are Great & Test very well as well as Sound Great. Here they are used for Coupling. In Valve Amps for the High Voltages & Size usually Film Capacitors are used. The area where this is Critical is where a Signal is Grounded or Limited such as Phono or Tone. Here the Capacitor needs to be of a Very High Quality, but only if the amp is Very High Quality, it's Wasted fitting in a Rogers Cadet III if these actually use Polystyrene Capacitors already. The Cartridge needs a Load Capacitor of varying value to bring the Cartridge into Sounding Balanced. Here we tried some fairly expensive ones but after more amp changes now found them "Smeary" as well as a little Harsh from their Effect. Swap around other Capacitors but soon find the Value was fine, but a different Capacitor got from 'Somewhere' was much better Balanced sounding, but where from as the markings find no info. Digging around found 6 more that came together. These are mostly marked '630v' and are Rectangular not Tube shaped, so they'll be Silvered Mica which are More Stable than Polystyrene ones as is a Recent thinking. Silvered Mica are in Certain Amps as Original, eg Sony. In Valve amps to use High Voltage Capacitors as standard, 250v, 400v & 630v. We've used these, they are the Most Expensive & are certainly good, if Application Dependent. Not to be confused with nasty round disc Ceramic Fizzy sounding capacitors or other early types. Again the Sound on playing the same batch of 45s is better. Alter one thing & another is then different needing another changed. That's Upgrading, it takes Ages. Listening Tests On Phono. One 45 earlier was not a nice listen if known it for decades. Sounds better now, if does reveal the recording is a bit compressed. The thing is you've listened to the ''smeary' one first & now the change. The non-smeary Silvered Mica capacitor certainly adds a smoothness to vinyl, some UK 1960s 45s really need it. Play a batch not played for a few weeks as sorting through. One noted as 'rough' is now very different, others sound surprisingly different, as played with the "smeary" one previously. ↑
Valve Tube Receivers From The 1960s. Big Job To Do Right.
We've done a few of these now. Valves got our interest early on with the Tube Technology ones in 2002. Lots upgraded over the years & the Genesis power amps last worked on in 2014. Much good done if the PCB construction isn't so good on higher power EL34s, the Hard wiring way is a lot better. PCB soldering on High Voltages doesn't last too well. The Luxman LX33 is PCB on less demanding stages so has aged well after 6 years of forever upgrading. The 1960s receivers unless Rebuilt & Heavily upgraded are a Waste of Time as you'll still have a Weedy Spec Amp & they don't sound good to Modern Ears. Receivers take such a lot of learning, there are no Board Layouts for the Complex Underneath that not many sellers show. To know circuits to learn the Design & Number the Capacitors is a Major Job. The Pioneer SX-800A was an extreme 35w one, we gave it good spec so it had Quality that would please today if so much more can be done as the Finesse on Clean Treble is a Huge Job to get right, remember 6 years on the LX33 with some great improvements in the last year. It takes a lot of Thinking to do this. We Get Messages wanting Our Valve amp Rebuilds. One today on a 1963 35w Fisher 800C thinking a Rebuild will be £800-£1000. No chance. An early amp will be even more problems to Solve, a quick estimate to do all Except the actual Tuner Stages, if the Power supplies will be done is easily £2000-£3000+. Who knows what the Results will be until it's done. As typical when they way under estimate the Cost, unable to even reply, timewaster. The thing is Who Else Can do these Valve Receivers properly? Can't say we're too keen knowing the problems of 'dropped' as they tell. Thinks as it's in good visual grade it'll be cheaper, can be BNIB or Dusty Attic find, still the same job to do: Rebuild &Upgrade it. To see what we called "Silly Rebuilds" adding stages to solve issues they guess at but No Upgrading. The results won't Please, you'll not play it much. The Pioneer SX-800A customer we asked as they've had it a while now & they're loving it, as it's got Worthy Upgrades to be Worth Playing. The SX-800A was a very difficult amp to understand as it has so much Tuner Circuitry, thankfully it worked well. But we had to get it's predecessor the Pioneer ER-420 to understand the Extra Busy 'Mess' underneath. After the Trio WX-400U we did the W41-U Amp version, if no other Valve Amps beyond our LX33. The SX-800A was a Huge Challenge, if we got there with quite a lot of compromises. But the ER-420 is here now & as of typing the ER-420 is on the desk awaiting the main Capacitors we Ordered the day before. We've not played the ER-420 as it was bad on the Leaky Capacitors, yet the Seller dared to plug it in so it works as in lights up on the sale pictures, we'd not Dare plug it in. The ER-420 is still a bit cramped by the EL84 outputs if otherwise it's 15w Amp stages are all ECC83 which is the Best Design we've found. Dusty Dead looking thing as it arrived, hours to tidy it to bring it Back to Life if there are Always Issues with 1960s amps. In our case, the Bass Rotary was glued on, we got it off but it Broke the Spline Rod Part & revealed half was broken before. Now to have a Stub & 2 bits, if you can get them out of the Knob section without ruining which we did for soaking off the water based old glue which is usually not the case. What else can you do? Try to fix it if not strong enough & not central unless you have precision tooling & machinery. Look for a NOS one hopefully will do, we found some Vintage ones. We actually have the same ones if Dual Gang, maybe to improvise? ER-420 as of end Sept working on still, main stuff done, new Valves to order & the Broken Bass we fixed, see how it lasts. ↑
Comparing Upgraded Amplifiers. Sansui vs Sony.
Sony are the 1970 TA-2000F & TA-3200F second version. Hugely Upgraded as the Original was so Tame. Sansui is the 1966 TR-707A, Recapped, upgraded, new everything almost if the Resistors design is Original as it's so pleasing, if a little Retro. Ours can go further in redesign too we found if it's a tricky one & the Background noise at 2am quiet time is very low now. Sony been used for a few months, very detailed, very wide Stereo & very fast sound. But the Need to Swap Amps around as all Sound Different even if Upgraded with Similar Ideas. The Sony needed a few days to get used to after using the Sansui for a while, the Treble Dynamics seemed very Wide. Now after a few Months the Sony is got used to, the Luxman LX33 gets upgrades based on hearing the Sony sound. To try the Sansui again. It's not as Wide on Stereo if has a more Free Bass sound as Damping Factor is less. The Midrange on the Sansui is more lively with Peaks in the TV Sound being more Noticeable, the Sansui appears a bit more "up" in the midrange that is a bit more realistic. The 'Retro' sound is that Open Bass that Valve Amps can do, if with Less Natural design features that introduce Ringing, the SX-800A valves had this if to put Real Bass takes a lot of redesign. For a 25w amp the Sansui 1966 sound will be hard to better, if as always to try the Pioneer SX-2500 & JVC 4VN990 are the next challenges. Damping Factor is the Difference to give that 'Effortless' bass that is in very few Transistor amps. The TR-707A is the 1966 version of the TR-700 that's a 1965 version perhaps a bit too early. Next came the 1966 Sansui 3000 then the Sansui 3000A from 1968 as their Top Models if the wonderful TR-707A design was never used again as designs went m ore into NFB & Easier To Build designs. The Sony TA-2000F is a superior version of the earlier fixed boards TA-2000 that we're not keen on. The TA-3200F has no FETs despite the 'F', the later version without the extra protection board is far better, if the power amp is the better of the two, the preamp may better if FETs are not as good as Transistors in the use here, they lack the 'bite' that retrying the TR-707A reveals. Some Blogs we type, to then Re-read to publish. It made more sense before, it shows an insight... ↑
Valve-Tube Receivers. How It's Done Properly.
We see higher powered Valve Receivers & how those on Forums do them. Annoyingly. Frustratingly. One says on a 35w Kenwood KW-1000(U) that it takes just 8 hours. They clearly just chop & change, Like-For-Like totally Wasted Effort as it'll still be a 1965 Valve receiver with a Feeble sound. It'll be 'Got Going Again'. You never hear "How Great It Sounds" because 1965 spec in 2020 is just Not What The Modern Listener Wants. They're a Waste Of Money as why do you see 'Rebuilt' valve amps online going fairly cheap? They are Disappointing to the point of Crap. 8 hour job is a bit of a TV repair guy type job with No Quality or Care to make it better. We Upgrade with Attitude giving your Soggy Sounding Amp a New Lease of Live. To Learn the Circuit, to Identify & Number Components, this can take Days, Weeks and even Months for time to Think on Upgrades, so you understand the amp as this is the only way to Better it. Lots of Redesign to make it 'Upgraded' similarly takes ages to do as well as sorting & ordering parts. Some sections can be very fiddly to take Hours to Do Right, as you must Think what you are Doing more than Transistor amps. As of typing, the Pioneer ER-420 is on the Desk getting just that done. Trial & Error is a huge part of Upgrading, you can buy parts to never use them as a better Idea comes along. You can go as far as you like, DC heaters, Bias adjust per valve. we did the Bias for the Trio WX400U, took absolutely ages to get right & the Results were Not Much Different to getting a New Matched quad of output Valves. You can Replace nearly Everything to go Further up the Quality Ladder, some do make a Big Difference, but again, look at the Planning & Work in it. We've had our 1979 Luxman LX33 for nearly Six Years & still are finding ways to better it. These Long-Running Amps get Ideas we can Condense the 'Best Value For Sound' to give Better Upgrades, if the Hours you can put in 'To Not Do Very Much' really can fly past. Basically the Typical Valve Receiver or Amp is a 53-57 year old Tired Mess. Looks tatty inside from Dust & Corrosion if for the 1963-67 era they didn't get Used for long as Transistor Amps were The Thing by 1967. The Work to Get That Dead Looking Thing into a Smart & Use-Daily Upgraded amp is Extreme. ↑
Customer Pays As Much For Basic Recap As An Upgrade From Us Would Be.
It's a New Scene. Vintage beyond the 1977-79 Amps was Nowhere pre 2011. Amps are Aging as this era is over 40 Years ago. This Site Tells You Better Is In There, Why Do We Upgrade So Many Amps? It's For Our Interest, if buying amps just to Resell isn't Financially good, ie £300 for an Amp put £1000 upgrade in & sell for £850 is no Good, if we do sell ones we've finished with. Here the Marantz 1060 is a 30w Amp, a nice Rebuild & Upgrade is going to be 'Under £750' as we sad to a Questioner, based on their spend, if to see it to quote. Said they'd be Happy Having it to Original spec, er, why Bother When we Upgrade & Like-For-Like Recapping is a Waste Of Time when an Upgrade is Way Better Value etc, said it too many times. Deaf Ears means they accept a Lesser Job at around the Same Price. Up To Them, but they don't read Reviews, why Upgrades are worth doing & will end up with an Amp that's not too Exciting. It's a Specialist Scene to Upgrade, Who else Can & 'Advertises' they can? Still if Hundreds wanted Upgrades we'd be Overrun. Those Who Know Upgrades get Addicted & can't listen to Original Amps anymore. We can Listen to Hear Potential, if not to Use a 40 Year old Amp as it Doesn't Please. In a World with 'TV Sound Bars' that are Laughably Poor, it's a Case of Not Knowing Better Hifi, which is Sad, but for the Consumer to Realise. The last "Big Buzz" in Hifi was around 1992-93 with Marantz CD52 CD players, Tannoy Sixes & suitable Amps. Then the world went AV & i-pod. Over 25 years ago. Man happy with his 1988 Mini won't know what a £100K Sports Car is about. The Guy accepting the 'Cheap' job at a High Price said "The price was not significantly less than yours. I am content to have the unit perform more or less as the original without significant upgrades as long as worn out components are replaced. As they replied with a quote before you I don't think I can reasonably change my mind now. Sorry to disappoint you." We think they'll be Disappointed, a Like-For-Like Unskilled rebuild should be a lot less as little time in it. But the Marantz 1060 is a High NFB amp with Weak Bass, highly likely to have that lumpy Retro Bass that sounds awful on speakers, but if you've not Heard Better, it'll do. Why contact one who Upgrades if 'Bog Standard' will do? ↑
Multiple Speakers From One Amplifier.
Earlier amps pre 1966 usually One Pair Of Speakers per amp. We only use one speaker set, fine by us. But by 1967 you see Two or Three Sets of speakers, usually to use only two at once. A messager asked about this, the idea of running 2 sets is going to strain the amp is what we see. Seeing Two Sets on 15w amps is a bit ridiculous, it'll only be Good for Background music at low level. The 1967 JVC 5040U has 3 speaker output pairs if options to only use Two maximum. Why overdrive a quality amp & expect 4 speakers to give a good sound beyond Background Level? Illogical. They may be of Different Impedance with varying Curves. We'd not recommend two sets for hifi use therefore. The 1971 Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 has 4 speaker pairs. Buy Two of the Same Amplifier, rather than just expect too much. In PA Amps there are 'Master & Slave' amps to drive Multiple speakers loudly. The 100v Line PA Amp output idea too, this uses a 100v 'carrier' to keep the Quality over long runs. The idea with 2 or 3 speaker outputs is never explained beyond to use 4 x 8 ohm speakers not 4 x 4 ohm ones as you'll over load the amp. To use them in One room or Another if not both is fine, using just one set at once, but the Speaker Set in another room may use 50m cables which is Not Hifi. Cables do deteriorate the Sound over 10m even with big cables. We don't like the idea at all, go buy another amp, even the same amp twice. Stupid Idea in terms of Audio Quality, but it's like Loudness, a dubious feature amps must have if few use. Today the Multi Room idea is similar, those Long Cables & Matching Speaker Loads. Hardly Hifi is it? ↑
Oh Dear... Dangerous Plug Wiring.
We've seen Hundreds of Mains Plugs on Amplifiers. Sometimes No Plug, Sometimes a Plug Well Fitted. Sometimes a Nightmare. Worst Plug Ever was one bought from 'Cash Converters' when they were New in late 1990s, a plug with the Fuse Soldered as Wire, as in No Fuse. They clearly thought it "Improved Sound Quality" by half reading some Advice & applying it appallingly. For the Shop not to Check is Shameful, but pre PAT Test which requires the plug checking. We've had Live & Neutral swapped, not such a problem as Older Single Insulated Cable allowed either way. But Neutral & Earth swapped is Interesting to see once, clearly it worked as Neutral is "Return" but a little Scary. So Aug 2020 we get a 1973-75 Photax Concertone 333 Receiver, see the review. Plug wiring is "Amazing". Took some Photos to show. Plug Double Wired which in the 1970s The Family did similar with the Philco-Ford set up, 3 units twisted into one & onto a long wire to use just one plug. No Soldering, just twisted & taped. Ridiculously Unsafe, if behind a 'William Lawrence' Sideboard only Kids crawling undeneath could get caught in it. The Photax plug is crazy, 2 sets of wires into one plug. 13A fuse as typical. The Outer Covering cut long so the LNE wires outside. But the second set were Cut awasy leaving... Live Mains to touch. Then to see the Live Wire for the Amp was Broken, later to find the screw was loose to not connect at all. Neutral Pin a bit 'sparked' from the Plug Socket contact area, to find the screw was barely gripping again & some plug burning shows it was Overheating with the Sparking. Dangerous? Amp still here if Fire Risk would be possible, if it seems the Amp & other Plugged item could have been crackling so the Amp put away. In the 1970s the Standard way to buy New Goods was with No Plug. Wasn't until the 1990s that Fitted Plug was the Normal. Just crazy how careless people were with Plugs, if the Era of using a Lighbulb Socket for a Hoover in the 1930s would likely be familiar still. Safety is Thankfully Hugely Better Now, if this is one to show. Bought on ebay from a Home Seller, this Dangerous untested stuff is House Clearance gear. 'Working' said the listing, so they plugged it in.... oh. ↑
Be Very Careful With Forum Advice... Readers Think It's Universal.
Forums are for Newbies & Ones thinking they Know It but generally Don't. The Advice we've seen is a Risky thing to Post, one Idea that may be Correct uniquely is considered "Global" for every amp ever made. One Sansui amp with some fool scaremongering about a type of Diode that is used in many amps from the early 1970s, but they said it was 'dangerous'. No it wasn't. Mentioned this before about the 'Sansui 5000' series receiver. Today we hear that "Vintage Amps can't take CD players at full volume so need an Attenuator". No they don't in general if some UK amps like the Leak Stereo/Delta range that are bizarrely not with a Standard Line in, only Old Fashioned inputs based on Old Tape & Radio Spec, too quiet or Too Loud for CD as we found with a Delta 70 in 1992, plus they record Tone onto the Tape, not Flat-No EQ. Japanese & USA amplifiers are a Huge Step Up in quality from some UK gear of the Leak & Armstrong gear. Rogers are fine with CD if have level adjusts on some like the HG88 III. Don't Feel Foolish to Ask Us if you've bought an Amp as the Buyer did today, as in Asking for Upgrades on it. Much of What Is On Our Site answers Questions you'll not find elsewhere, so much was Unanswered in Hifi Books when we wanted Answers, so we work it out ourselves & tell to Keep Hifi Alive. The early 1950s Quad gear can be used with a CD player into the Preamp-Control unit as an example. Beyond those Leak ones can't think of any that are wrong, it's Rare & Illogical. If we had a Leak Delta 70 with it's Silly Input Levels, we'd redesign it to be Modern Spec. Attenuators on Hifi just loses Quality. ↑
Technics SL-120, SME 3009 & Garrard 850 Cartridge Update.
Update on the Technics & SME got in July 2018. As Blogged before, the Dodgy Seller swapped a Bad SME Bearing from another Deck, to see they put early 1960s SME on another 1970s Technics gives their game away. Bearing Sticks so bought a Spare from one who Damaged the Headshell, Lucky Bargain. It works fine if it is Used so do Wonder Sometimes, if to find Extra Dust on te Stylus that Slightly Mistracks. Hearing the Sound via our Luxman LX33 redesign shows every detail including slight faults. Aug 2020 the SL-120 is slow starting up, the switch goes on but the deck stutters then works as it should. Not good. But taking it apart, we Recapped it, so just to Service the insides, but just two years later. Works as it should now, but has to be known that these aren't 100% reliable. The Garrard 301 & SME IV were fine for many years with only the Bearing needing a better Bearing Gasket as it leaked a bit. The Goldring G850 we've used the same stylus well over a year. Records always Washed properly before play so Low Stylus Wear. Swap in a New Stylus, the proper Goldring one & records sound much the same with either stylus, so keep using the old one. The SL-120 with Wire Plugs & Mechanical Switches will always be the Weak Point. Later Direct Derive Turntables, the SL-120 is around 1975, will be more Electrically controlled, but like a New Widescreen Computer Monitor we got, the Power Switch has been pressed a lot so isn't Confident in Use. All Things Wear Out. ↑
October 2020 Blog
Knackered Amps For Sale? A Little Survey.
Ebay sellers are very clueless on Pricing. They think amps with external damage & faults are still worth high money. To who? We wouldn't buy a findable amp in Poor Grade as we'd buy to Rebuild & Buyers don't like Damage or Missing Parts so it's not worth buying. A Rare amp or a Great Bargain aware of the USA Spares Sellers is worth considering. One Yamaha 1977 Amplifier we've had twice the seller reckons is worth £550 with known faults & noticeable fascia damage. In reality it's a £150 amp as it's only for a Tech to try. Best Offer lets you offer what you think it's worth, aware of issues. Fascia Damage means we'd not buy. Instant refuse on a real offer. Email them to see what their best price is & amazingly they are pompous to say "we'd refuse £300 but we may consider £350". They'll never sell it, like one who badly photos amps to show they're sold on commission at very high prices, yet still "Raw & Aged" amps. Another 1969 Sansui with issues all amps have, the sort of issues a Rebuild needs, if from Our Messaging, few are wanting to spend doing. The Sansui has a hideously rough lid & other rust. Unless you get it powder coated as metal or veneered if wood, best avoid, Insides may look OK but you never know until it arrives. £120 they reckon, the sort of amp that would be £30 a while back, to offer £60 yet the arrogant seller counter-offers £100 "won't cost much to do up, others £250". Clueless, this is the Reality of Lack Of It to sellers. The typical TV-Grade 'Bodge Job' to get it going is money wasted on an amp that old. Car Sellers are wised up, if it likely took Decades to get fair pricing, but Amplifier & Receiver sellers think 40+ year old gear is useable "with a little work". A Rare Amp that would cost over £500 from USA & still get similar issues to find a UK one in mostly OK grade for £200 on offering is worth buying, for the Hell of Trying an interesting amp. Be sure we check the Circuits to see it's worth having & Hifi is Fun so go for it. Blind Buys like the 'Photax Concertone 333' to find STK blocks, but it was £50 so worth a gamble. As it stands the PC 333 is an interesting amp we can upgrade & do tests to see how an early STK block behaves. The amp was 1972 so just before Spec nosedived, so it's still a clean sounding amp amid the aging. We've Mentioned Overpricing on Raw Amps & put a line on our Sales Page to try to Stop Greedy Sellers pricing Loft Finds like our Use Daily Amps. "Use Daily" is very important, an amp to Plug & Play, not worry it'll Naff your Speakers. Website "Hifi Shark" tries to show pricing Worldwide for 'Raw' Amps, a bit messy though. Ebay for 'sold Items' is more reliable, if to beware ebay can be 'sold' to try to inflate a price & then see it relisted fast as there was no sale. Unaware buyer believes one was sold & buys the next one. Heard of this before with Speakers, the buyer found the £1000 price they paid is usually £600, so got trapped in the 'sold' scam pricing. Knackered amps with Noises are one or more failed components. You could fault find, but that's time wasted. We just rebuild the whole thing, could take many hours to find the fault wasting the customer's money, when to just rebuild to "Use Daily" is a far better product. ↑
Medieval Sound System?
"Home & Away" has 'Colby' with a 1970s Retro Hifi System, a Realistic receiver with the sliders as blogged before plus a thin CD player on top & what look like Home Made large speakers. On 26 Aug's UK Episode, 'Willow' called his Hifi Gear just that. To Non Hifi Folks, it's Old & Out Of Date as not MP3, I-Tunes or whatever gets played for free music like YouTube. But it's now Retro Cool, at least the amp is, the speakers with pushed in central domes are not a Branded job. Home & Away do choose Vintage Hifi for the Retro looks that can be bought cheaply compared to Modern Gear, the characters wouldn't have the Funds to buy new always, we lived on Secondhand Gear until buying the Marantz CD52 SE Mk II & Marantz PM62 amp if not the Tannoy 609s that it demoed well with, as at that time we had the Lagonda speakers if modified by then. Medieval Audio is 78s & Cylinders really. Just like the Virgin Media guy on seeing our 1966 Akai AA 7000, we have it here still if sold for a while. He couldn't comprehend Vintage-Old Gear is of any value. Back in 1990 Car Boot sales & Shops had these old amps at £20 regardless, not so long ago, but time has appreciated them, if perhaps WE are the ones setting prices yet sellers offer aged goods thinking rebuilt costs aren't much. Ask us how much a Rebuild is on a Quality Amp, the parts alone can Cost £300 on more complex ones, so the unaware idea it'll cost £300 all in is Dreaming. It's an Idea of what Younger People think & why the Majority still buy Modern Crap that has no Character. ↑
Amplifier Collectors Or Hoarders?
UK TV's "Hoarders: Britain's Biggest Hoarder" was a strange guy of 72 with what should be a Nice Semi House as others in the Street were. But his was Derelict almost stuffed literally to the Ceiling. The Liverpool Guy was cleary overwhelmed clearing it, he was calm in a previous episode. House Clearing is a great business, you get to keep what you find & be sure there were some Goodies amid the Rubbish. We've bought House Clearance grade amps, some end up at the Recyling Yard if be sure Rubbish gets picked through by several before it Really Is Rubbish. Now that Guy was a Hoarder, but a Dirty Bugger for how Filthy the Kitchen was. 'Bio-Hazard' for sure. He was a Collector too & to hear he paid £2500 for a Clock Garniture, as in a 1920s Clock with 2 matching Vases, an item seen as 'Tat' these days & worth £300 tops said the Dealer, optimistic says we. Set the stage, What about Hifi Collectors & Hoarders. Are We Hifi Hoarders? On seeing that TV show to see it's Time to throw out the 'Shopping Subs' they brought over 'The Holiday' that we'd not eat, own brands are often not good on Tins. Throw out Old Cups when we only use Pint Mugs, why Keep Clutter. Got Drawers full of DVDs we'll never watch, who wants a whole Series of 'Frasier'? Got bored with it long ago. Stuff to Sell or just Bin. Hifi we do Hoard to the point it's Not Working to sell, if it's in the line to be rebuilt. That's keeping things moving, we do have loads of 'useful' parts if it can take years to find a use, as in a Marantz 1090 missed a Hex Bolt, if we had three from about 1992 still. A lot will never be used & needs thinning out, if careful as last time to then want that part only a while later. Hifi Hoarders keep non working 'projects' that they'll never do, don't want to do that, fix it or break it up for useful parts, not wanting to much. Hoarders can store Collections tidily but to never use is still Hoarding if the quantity is excessive. Hifi Collectors keep a selection of nice Condition working Goods that have a value, this isn't Hoarding. To Buy More & Sell the Lesser ones is how Collectors work, we know this from Records. To keep the Best items to Use them, like Stamp & Coin Collectors stare through Magnifying Glasses looking for Variants, Book Collectors actively Read the books & Car Collectors keep a Temperature Controlled Garage or Warehouse and actually Drive them, even if only once a year. Back to Hifi. We keep Amps around to Keep Upgrading & Use them, plus ones purposely got to Rebuild & Sell, if looking for Interest or Unknown to keep them interesting. No piles of Dead 1980s Budget-Midprice-System stuff for us, we got that stuff very cheap in the 1990s. ↑
Pricing Upgraded & Rebuilt Amps.
As Hifi Techs who Dare To Upgrade, to keep a certain amount around. Once an amp is considered "finished" usually it's to sell, if putting a lot of work into amps to not see a profit pays in learning new ideas. Not to purposely buy a £300 'Used' ebay amp, £250 to get USA to UK including Shipping & Imports, put at least £1000 upgrading & rebuilding to only sell for £900 is not the way. We do sell our experimental Amps like this, to get £800 for a 'Raw' £200 amp rebuilt seems good, if it certainly doesn't cover the amount of skilled labour if we did more to use it ourselves. Buying Parts is expensive too, the total really adds up. Customers wanting these Rebuilds & Upgrades can choose how much to spend, at a point in Hifi time where, despite all we write, they still price any work at TV grade repair guy prices, which only repaired one minor thing often. Up to the Customer to understand the Deal here... "Use Daily Quality" is what we offer. ↑
Hi-Fi Reality: Bad Amps Only Good For Breaking Up.
Just breaking up the Photax-Concertone 333. Utterly Crap amp, despite all the Tooling to make it, plus it wasn't built poorly, it just sounded Awful. Could be a factory error putting in the Wrong Resistor on the STK-031 IC Power Amp blocks, but with no Circuit, we've spent enough time on this trying to Rebuild & upgrade to hifi Spec, see the review. The 1966 Rotel 100AMP was Rubbish too, pre & tone on a tiny board is ridiculous, plus No Circuits. If it can't be made sellable it's Junk. The 1966 Akai AA-5000S we had for sale for over a year is a great amp as it stood Upgraded for sale. We worded it to 'let it sit' rather than sell it seems, this without the Germaniums Hiss & retro sound can be a great one plus the £2000 London retro shop looks, that'll get Rebuilt further soon. It's Rare to Need To Break up amps, the last one was the 2005 Marantz PM 6005, reasons were it ultimately passed being worth fixing & the weedy Volume Controls wear out so Useless Disposable now, so we did. Waste of T ime & Money, if what isn't really. Did you get Some Pleasure from it & enjoy ripping it apart. Not all Lost then plus Learning Not to Buy that Crap again. Early on we kept getting Leak Delta 75 receivers, out of 4 only one rebuilt to be good & we sold it, the one on the Gallery Photos. Leak kept messing with the design leaving unknowns causing the amp to not be worth the effort. In the days before Upgrading, but to see ones on ebay, walk on by knowing the 75% Failure Rate. Useful Parts. Keep anything that is Rare or of Use. All the Screws are invaluable to put things tidy after some get lost or mismatched. Coloured wires in thicker guage than new get kept. Tuner Boards not much use if the Small Grey Hex Ferrites are invaluable. the Photax has 4 of the Unfindable IC that the 1971 Teac AS-100 uses, a great amp but useless with a Bad IC. These are only found buying parts amps, so £50 each x 4 is the sense in keping parts. we kept 3 of the Marantz Fascia Hex Bolts since about 1991 and after 29 Years managed to Use One just in August on a Marantz 1090, try find these pieces. To keep Rotary Knobs, Controls, Switches & anything that your Decades in Hifi tell you that are useful plus any odd bits that can find uses. Input Sockets, Fuse Holders and Feet all come in useful. Not worth keeping cases or big metalwork. Transformers are useful, we had to buy a wrecked amp to get the Transformer for a 1969 Sony STR-6050 & it made a good sellable amp so that was nice. Today's Amps don't offer much in parts, the weak Controls on a 'Breaker Amp' will be what finished it, if Screws especially the Dome Headed ones we are glad of quite often. USA sellers often sell parts, the idea of breaking a good amp is best avoided if it gets you a Rare Part. We had that first Sony STR-6120 & ended up breaking it up 10 years ago. Some parts much wanted if no takers for the early Transformer or Tuner Glass, if we keep the Glass still. What We Have Sleeping in terms of Amplifiers is different. Some amps need time to Sit, that 1967 Pioneer SX-1500TDF that just kept ruining is abandoned if complete. Too much time spent. Two others we'll keep in a drawer as tricky ones, but ones that are not far from useable, they'll never get broken up, the Pioneer stays for the while... UPDATE October saw the Rotel RX400A broken up as just too crappy with issues we didn't see much value in. JVC VR-5525L was so badly Butchered by some fool it could never be safe. An amp that would be fine if untouched, but this was a real cheat. The 1967 JVC 5040 has been in a big drawer a few years now, never found any to reuse so to break that up. The 1967 Pioneer SX-1500TDF was Faulty from new & is a parts amp, if not too break that yet. Not great breaking amps if money to buy & try to work on, if over the years there haven't been many. Vintage Hifi is Gambling after all. ↑
So... Why Bother Upgrading?
Upgrading is to Undo Limiting, Dumbing Down, Grainy Sound from Cost Cutting & just because it gives a Superior Product, which generally gives a Proper Bass, the thing Most amps lack. We're Teasing this, but we don't tell how as Simply Each Amplifier is Different, plus it's our Game we've learnt over the Years. What Works with one Amp gets another going Unstable or Making Noises. Takes Fault Finding Skills to sort that out & it can be extra Difficult as well as just not working out if an idea did elsewhere. All Amps benefit from Upgrading, as in Rebuilding the lot, not some Cute Generalised Forum "Tweak". There are many Amps that Benefit from Components changing. There Are Exceptions, as in Amps to Rebuild the lot but not Alter A Resistor as the design is so good. But as if you'd be Sold An Amp that good. Actually there are a tiny few have such a good 'sound' so why go further? There are also Amps as mentioned before that were 'Too Good' so they were deliberately Dumbed Down to not be too good. You may love your Amp you've had 20 years, but you've not hear The Best it Could Offer Upgraded. It Is Possible To Go Too Far and Keep Upgrading in search of what the amp can't offer. This is because other sections of the Amp weren't Designed so well or doing too much brings up the limitations of the design, so to 'pull it back a little' to keep it behaving. Goodmans Module 80 a few years got Japan-Style Upgrades that do well, but the Goodmans was OK within itself, but 'opened up' it was lousy with all the limitations covering poor design. This can apply to Japanese & USA amplifiers too, even some of the Best have what gets shown as 'poor design' for trying advanced ideas. To remove stages so features like Filters don't work isn't the idea with Vintage. We used to hear of Tone stages being Removed which is Awful, you'll never match the levels & Tone is a Standard with Vintage Hifi, we don't try 'No Tone' amps. An idea is with Upgrading more brings up Hum, to get rid of that Hum is tricky. Some Amps are designed to give a Richer Sound by various design means, a Retro Bass, a Studio Sound. These are best left as without it, to get the Bassy sound back is extremely difficult & by it's original means it sounded better. To 'Over-Upgrade' can lose this sound. To get it back can take a huge amount, it's where Experimenting happens. Upgrades are Experiments that worked well. ↑
Marantz 10-B Tuner, A Quick Few Alterations?
Classic Tuner that gets a good opinion online, if a 1965 Valve Tuner, a little off Our Interest, if we did Rebuild the Trio WX-400U tuner & the 1966 Pioneer ER-420 is tempting to do also. Valve Tuners as the Rebuilt WX-400U did, sound like No Tuner you've ever heard, none of that Grainy Low Bass sound. The Marantz 10-B has an Oscilloscope & a lot of Circuitry, 21 valves, clearly made as a "Best" as the early 1967 Sony ST-5000 tuner is with Germaniums, not the later version the STR-6120 used. 1965 Tuner will still be very aged if low power so Capacitors will likely still work, but 55 years old on Valve HT Voltages is pushing originality a bit far. Look on ebay to see $3000 - $5000 ones, if Auctioned ones at $1800-$1900 is the reality. But the 'Messager' just wants a Quick Job, a little cheeky, eh? The 'Messager' clearly bought a USA version, appears to have Primary Windings that can be rewired to 240v. An earlier Blog told of a confusing Marantz preamp, we didn't like such High Risk on an Unknown unit to even plug it in. So we returned it. Gambling on a Customer's Unit is unwise, because you'll be liable for any faults, be they hidden or obvious, or obvious once it got wrecked, so stay away if it's not your Expertise. The type of Customer asking this is best avoided, what's their game? Why not do it yourself? Anyone trying this needs to be a Valve Tuner Expert is why. McIntosh preamp we had in 2002 had wires to make 240v, it's our amp so we tried it & success. A Fisher 700T we swapped round a 240v Transformer into a 110v amp & both were a success. But again, both were Our Amps. They ask for 110v-240v conversion & the De-Emphasis Circuit to UK spec. Fifty Quid Job? We'd not touch it at any price, it's 55 years old. We're not Tuner experts if can do good, but to our limits. Marantz 10-B works on 295v Max on secondaries, if many other voltages. If the 'Messager' wants Tech Help, get it 'Brought Up To Date' not just ask for High Risk jobs leaving them wide open to unknown faults. It's What You Know, valve amplifiers we take risks with as we know them, but Voltage Change on Tuners is not to get involved with. Play Safe, use it on 110v & don't mess with it & don't expect another to take your risks so naively. Interesting to Look & Blog though. We'd not want one, 21 valves & an oscilloscope on a complex 55 year old tuner that is highly priced. Don't try to get a 'Bargain' without the alterations, pay up & get it done in the USA. Once FM is turned off, what will it be worth then? ↑
The Skill Of The Restorer: Keep It Looking Old But Refreshed.
This is how we play it. Been enjoying "The Repair Shop", if to see Work Done needs years & decades of Skills, to see the Younger Ones do Restoring to their High Standard, others will be involved to advise, such as 'Will' with the Woodworking Skills, some of what he does is very Old Timey. The idea they painstakingly do restoring instead of doing what isn't so crucial by much faster methods, machinery, tools & chemicals will save Many hours of Elbow Grease. To see Tatty Rough Looking items, to just bring it to "The Right Side Of Nice" is how we've always done that. Helps to have Restored Furniture, Car Bodywork, Enamel Signs & present Vinyl Records to a Pleasing quality despite wear & damage, if to avoid that grade usually, to still have them worth having & playing. With Hifi, before "American Restoration" where Rick does very high quality jobs & the Car Shows like "Wheeler Dealers" and "Counting Cars" generally keep it more Original, if the other USA Hot Rod type ones we don't like. Cars must be '100 Point' Restorations to make a Rusty Barn Find that can be tidied, but they make it like Brand New. It's Got No Soul. "Chasing Classic Cars" started to realise this. At the other end of Restoring 'American Pickers' goes more for the Rat Rod look pulling heavily rusted cars from the Trees that have been out in all weathers for decades. Even that 'Aerosmith' bus, it needed another van to rebuild it as it was too far gone probably on 80% of it. With Hifi not to buy really Hard Used ones, but a few we get & make missing pieces, currently the Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 from 1971 needs a few bits, it was sold at the right price to accept it like that. Money is the Thing, you can throw £1000 restoration on the 1973 JVC 4VN-990 to get to a certain level, or we've done ours much deeper just to see how good it is, estimated cost likely Double. We did get a rough but working one as told, but seeing what it was, to get a better one & sell the other on at cost. To get tired amps externally takes care to buy one worth buying, the insides can be rebuilt with New Components so that doesn't bother us even if it's Faulty, but not heavily cracked boards or bad burns, if again much can be remedied. Tatty Wood Lids can be made to look decent with 'not much' for knowing how. Restore Just To The Right Side Of Nice is what 'The Repair Shop' does & see the Happy Faces. Minor Age Damage can be tidied to look 'Wife Friendly' which in the case of Hifi is required, who wants to look at a Beat Up Amp? Is It That Important? We have a 1977 Marantz 1090, a good sounding amp one below the Marantz 1122DC. It got 'Recycling Yard-ed' which is frustrating, can't people see the quality in these goods? It has otherwise a decent fascia, if lower right has a noticeable knock & the other corners with only light knocks, if the case is fine. Find a New Fascia sometime to sell it when we rebuild it, but it's on a side table in the lounge so gets seen every day. The damage isn't really offensive, it's not perfect but cleaned up it still looks acceptable. But to get the Full Money once restored, a better Fascia is needed. It was missing a fascia Hex Bolt that really stood out, but we have a few. Honest Tatty versus the Pioneer M90-C90 with lots of paint scrapes & missing a flap to us is no good, we sold it on as not worth bothering plus too many ICs. Incomplete like the KR-6170 needs sorting, Marantz 1090 corner damage could be sold if the money is with a better fascia. The Insides of an Amp matter too, our Gallery Photos show how neat they look. Neat as New wasn't always done, to line up components takes time, the KR-6170 has parts uneven as made, works right, if we like it tidier & do it this way. ↑
1980s Bad Hifi: McIntosh C29
Look on HFE & see "9 ICs" on a Preamp & we're a little shocked. Message asks if we can upgrade it, they say it sounds "Disappointing" if the 1970 "MC2100" power amp will be good, based on ones we know, it's a 105w Stereo or Bridges to 210w. Looks like the MC275 era ones still. Output Autoformer is Transistor Coupling, not the P-P section but the output. The C29 pre is the interest, 1980s Hifi is usually a Poor era, but 9 ICs is not good design, it's Fashion for Magazine Ads. 9 ICs on 2x Phono, 2x Tone, 2x Filter, 2x Headphone amp & 1 more for Input Selector. No Transistors or FETs allowed. Amazingly it seems 'Aux' still goes into the Phono stage, adding to the Tame Sound. They're making an Experimental Amp, but All ICs will be all Class B Tamed design with Limited spec. Hopefully McIntosh abandoned this Insanity, if they still make their Retro Cased Amps & Preamps today, some at Hefty Prices as ebay.USA shows. What Can We Do With The C29? Put it For Sale is the only recommendation. An amp with ICs in one stage like Marantz 2385 can still sound good, if we Sold It for other reasons, like Filters & 4 Gang Volume Control that is a hidden stinker. We got an IC Output Blocks 1971 Photax-Concertone to see what ICs are like, but the Preamp was a Bad design wasting Much Time Upgrading it thinking there was an issue, but there wasn't & as no Manuals, break it for Parts. Maybe the C29 will be Broken Similarly, if ICs Unfindable, it'll be Useless, if 'what would damage them' is a question. A Preamp that's All ICs is like the 1986 Pioneer M90/C90 combo, we had no interest in it's 200w of IC if it was Transistor Outputs. the Preamp sounded Flat & Boring with Minimal Tone Gain, it was not pleasant even using the Pair as only 1 channel of the Power Amp was bad, notice a Protection Circuit lacking to allow it to get Hot on the Bad side but still play. Horrible Era for 'Hifi'. This is what puts Us Off 1980s Gear if the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X we had one here to try before getting outs, if now Sold as not a Good Match on 1968 Tannoys. Early ICs or Minimal ICs may still be interesting, but 'early' as in pre 1975. But a Whole Preamp of ICs Sends A Shiver... ↑
Lead Free Solder Mis-Sold as 60/40 Lead/Tin Is 'Fake' Solder.
Plenty Online about this. We've mentioned Lead Free Solder before, we tried it when 'Maplins' forced it as the only Solder they had in 2002. Maplins is no more as Tech shops moved on, the 1990s selling Components then trying to be Tandy/Radio Shack failed, if Online they were mediocre. The Solder We Use is 60/40 Lead/Tin. Used it for All Our Amps for the last 20+ years. To not realise there wasn't another reel with the last bit of the 250g reel, so to buy some online. A previous seller of 'Nedis' Quality Tin/Lead solder, Taiwan/Netherlands, now gone, so just try what was a good seller on ebay. But it seems the other Many Buyers haven't Got A Clue. The Lead Free Solder the seller supplies is Fraudulently sold as Tin/Lead 60/40 so the Goods are 'Fake', they are the Lead-Free stuff. Lead Free Solder is universally used in all Electronics today. It isn't Bad Solder, but with Vintage Audio it has the Old Stuff, the Lead/ Tin solder. The Second Photo on that site is like we did, melt a longer piece & it looks Dull & 'Not Right', the Real Lead/Tin remains Shiny. You can still get Dry Joints with Lead/Tin Solder if that's more about Soldering techniques. The 'Fake' Solder that is Dishonestly Sold as "60/40" has just that Number on the label, no 'Pb/Sn' the Orange 'Bad Solder' photo with 'Solder - Core wire - Jinhu - Made In China'. Commonly found Online still Dishonestly sold as Lead/Tin which it's not if it's Misleadingly labelled "60/40". Like buying a Sliding wrench Spanner, one dishonest ebayer puts an enlarged hand on the item, so you think that's the size & the wrench turns up Toy Town size, if sneakily given the actual tiny-useless measurements. All is a Con as you should know with Unbranded Made In China crap. To be Fair, not all China stuff is Rubbish, but Price Dictates. But Is It Cheap Crap as Lead-Free? Try a Repair. If it was Honestly Sold as Lead-Free it's much better than the 2002 era Rubbish Maplins & others had. It Bloomed to very powdery looking, the flux bubbled & soldering was very poor. Seeing our 'Ground Loop Isolator' to stop Double Grounding Hum was loose on the Sockets, look inside to fix it, it's got Lead Free Solder as is Everywhere today. The Isolator's Solder is bigger on the Connectors & the flow is reasonable if not as good as Lead/Tin but not Poor as it's lasted 5 years of much use. Lead/Tin solders much neater if on big areas you still get the Flux excess on the surface. Conclusion. Lead Free is fine on fixed small simple joints. But anything that can Move during solder cooling is High Risk, do NOT use Lead Free. It goes crumbly as it takes ages to cool & it never 'sticks' as the Lead Free is not stable enough. We'll only use 60% Tin, 40% Lead on our Hifi, poor economy to trust Lead-Free on Vintage. Avoid Made In China stuff that tries to cheat. See it has Tin & Lead on the label, or Sn/Pb the chemistry codes. Just '60/40' is a dishonest fake marking. Wiring Larger areas depends on how much Metal must be heated, ones with Several wires like Valve Amps won't Solder right with Lead-Free but will with Tin-Lead. 250g of Tin-Lead is around £12. If it's cheaper it's Lead-Free whatever wording is said. Price of Raw Materials. The 'Jinhu' stuff is Lead Free, is falsely sold as Tin-Lead. If it solders to a White Dull Bloom, it's Lead Free. ↑
The Fascinating Sound Of Worn Out Valves.
Been Rebuilding the 1966 Pioneer ER-420. Last time did the Main Multiple Caps, a Design job to do it properly. Big Job as found with the 1966-67 Pioneer SX-800A. This is Design Upgrading, to just do Like For Like isn't go8ing to please as you'll just have the limited Original Design. it's why Recapped Valve amps get sold On, they are Disappointing. Our Upgrades are Another Thing, Big Full Bass & Crisp Treble. The ER-420 we played last time, sounded well on the way. Doing More it Reveals the Valves are Best Replaced ECC83 & EL84. The SX-800A actually was decent on the Output Valves if the Preamp ones found poor early on. But the ER-420 sounds Awful Hifi-Wise if Interesting to hear. To play it with Bass Filter makes it more listenable. without it Deep Bass Harmonics are Extreme, a 'Knackered Valve' sound you hear on some 1960s Vinyl as they didn't Master them well. Pure Distortion. But Bass Filter On, the Sound is Pleasing if New Valves will Improve it a lot. The ER-420 sounds soft on Treble if the Midrange is Clean & Clear. Upper Bass is Lively & Just as other Valve amps we've done reveal. The Trio-WX-41U 1963 Valve Amp had the Same issue, it's EL84s were similarly awful, even more Worn Out Sounding so the Midrange was Rough. New Output Valves transformed it. Bad Valves Sound Soft & Can be Noisy to a Degree. The 1979 Luxman LX33 when we got it had the Original Matsushita EL34 Output Valves in. Amp not much used but New Ones Improved it, Treble was a bit Dull. The Rogers HG88 III is a bit of a problem you'd think as the Brimar ECC807 are long obsolete if unuaually they are usually OK & enough NOS ones out there as Rogers sold well on the 1965-66 Valve amps as Good Value For Money, as you got in The Olden Days. The Knackered Valve sound shows itself more on Rebuilt Amps as the Old Valve has "Burnt In" to the Amp. If the Valve & Amp never played Deep Bass before the Valve will become suited to that amp's design only, but once a Seeingly Good Valve sees the Upgraded amp it'll not be Compatible anymore. It'll still suit a Like-For-Like rebuild if the design isn't altered. This is why Like-For-Like Rebuilds are what Others Always Do, Upgrading brings Many Issues as we find Experimenting. Only the Tried & Trusted ones go into Customer's amps. Need Some Wins In Hifi. We done more on the ER-420 as other amps are giving Problems to Solve. It gets a Bit Much when 'That Sodding Amp' still won't behave, if a bit of 'Positive Results' is Good For The Soul. ↑
November 2020 Blog
How Transistor Amps Age.
Two States of Amplifier that still work if 40-50 years old. 'Work' as in to use to check it out, some can survive one play session & be with issues next time. Up to you how you trust a 1971 Amp or Receiver, if it's Rare we Trust Vintage amps to try on our Tannoys, or even the External Test Speakers from our old 36" CRT TV of old, no point ruining big speakers if DC Voltage may be on the Outputs even if tested, your gamble. One State of the amp is Damp Stored, Insides & Outsides Crusty. Put in a Sged, Garage or Attic-Loft still leaves weather Hot & Cold to affect which ages anything left away from Living areas. These are usually Best for Playing as Damp only affects Visuals after a Service, the Internals can still work fine if a lot to get Serviced to be useable even to try. The Other State is Dry Stored in the Living Sections of a Home, or as is found with Higher Power or Marantz, they get used still after Decades. These Sound The Worst if Look the Best if not handled, to see Top Grade Yamaha CR-1020 & CR-2020 as Bought For Gran in 1978 & it stayed in One Place until the Home needed clearing. The Ones with 1978 BBC Update Radio Station stickers, one Careful Lady Owner. Heat & Dry Air dries out the Capacitors to a Degree, had a Harman Kardon 930 that was kept back to a window so the Power Amp was Dried Out. Similarly the Rotel RX 1603 one of the Huge Caps was left similarly so they had deteriorated. 'Keep Out Old Sunlight' the Manuals say. Ones used by Careful Folks who kept the Box to keep age away once stored will still be old if the working condition depends on Warm or Cold. ↑
Many Amps Have Got Too Old Now, 2013 to 2020 Has Seen Aging.
In 2013 we sold certain amps as on the Gallery Pages, now 7 years later we're finding these have aged beyond useable, still a lot of these For Sale as 'working', if the 1969 Pioneer SX-2500 described as "working" comes with untold crackles & hiss, so being realistic on age is needed. Some 1995 era amps made with 'Bad Capacitors' have been known Bad for years. As with any old item, maintenance is required if the general Hifi Idea is use it until it fails. Not just Capacitors failing, the earlier ones once Recapped bring out Noise & crackle on other parts. Some early amps can need Boards totally rebuilt to bring them up to a High Standard, not so uncommon for only a few Original Components beyond fittings to be left, but 'renewed' like with Cars, it's still The Same Amp. To see the Yamaha CA-700 from 1971, the exact same one as on our Gallery. We sold this in 2013, worked fine, if now in 2020 it's making noises as we only recapped a part back then. This & many others prove using Aged Original amps is Living On Borrowed Time. Might be good 10 years, might fail next week. If you use Original 1970s amps still or even 1960s ones, keep a check on them for DC on the speaker outputs. If the Sound goes, then that's an easy signal, but to avoid wrecking speakers is the reality to be aware of. It is Good to hear how an Original amp sounds, weak treble & vague bass as on a 1967 Pioneer we blogged on before. Money is always the reason why old is used until it fails. It's Sad that you're missing how Good it could be Upgraded. Plenty to read why Rebuilt & Upgraded is a great bargain, if perhaps only if you're looking to Get An Amp in the £1000-£1500 range. See our Sales Page for Our Rebuilt Upgraded amps often under £1000. Most ebay sales on Hifi are £200 or less, with Amazon new Mass Market Amps at that level too. Why Spend £1000+ on some 40-50 year old amp? Because they can sound... awesome. ↑
We've got Two of the Sony STR-6055. How Good Is It & Comparing.
1971 40w Receiver. Had a few of these, but after Years of Similar Type of Amps, the 6055 is a lot better than first thought. To only realise this selling the last one after a time up for Sale & hearing How Good it sounded, the buyer got a Bargain there. Similarly with the Yamaha CR-800, used to be easy £65 buys often so not much notice taken, but now to see how they both Fit In amid other 1970s Hifi, Higher Quality than previously thought. Did compare TA-1140 to STR-6055 if went to Upgrade the TA-1140 more. The 1140 Tone stage wasn't very good so redesigned it to sound As It Ought To. The STR-6055 is a better design on Paper if to see the Amp Boards not Shielded like the STR-6120 to think it a lesser model based on earlier amps. But it's not, the STR-6200F is a 60w version of the STR-6120 if still used 1968 Tuner Boards the STR-6120 has. The STR-6055 gets a fully new tuner, it is altered somehow in the Build Run as the 6055 Tuner Glass spaces FM 100 to AM 1000 close or apart. Earlier & Later versions do change components, the Late Run one has differences as on the STR-6055 review. As the Blog Above about Dry or Damp storage shows, two amps can sound very different & have noticed this before, they've aged differently. The Damp stored one sounded great, the Dry stored one the typical sound lacking. We're just hearing the Damp stored one nearer to Original, if Rebuilt-Upgraded they'd both be the Same. The Damp one was the German edition, the Dry one the UK edition with the 5 Fuses board. Had we found a 'Super Sony Variation'? No, it's the difference in aging. The Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 we have was a damp stored one & still sounds great, to get others in that 1971 series that were dry stored they don't sound so good until Rebuilt. They still Rebuild-Upgrade well, to keep looking & revisiting amps keeps the Interest Alive for us. For those wanting Old amps to not spend & gamble how long they last, the Crusty looking Damp stored ones play Better than the Warm Home stored High Grade ones. ↑
Seeing Previous Repairs on Vintage Amps Makes You Nervous.
Actually it'll drive you Mad, as 'What Did They Do?" Trying the 1969 Pioneer SX-2500. Rebuilt it, sounds Awesome with some 'Nasties' as Made. Amp going nicely until the Preamp which reveals their problems they just 'papered over' but we want to solve the issue & now have. Look on the Top Side where the Tuner Boards are, the Amp & Autotuning works fine. But looking under a 'shelf' type plate, see the Bulbs been redone, Lead-Free Solder colour tells that. Different Bulb for each Lamp. LEDs for us on most so all good there. Tuner Cord looks too clean for a Used Amp, the FM Tuner was used most as the plastic was more aged. Pioneer tuners always work we've found, unlike Trio-Kenwood from the era. The SX-2500 originally had a two-colour lamp on the Tuning Pointer, they put a single bulb in to have it working, if those bulbs are long obsolete, by some Electrical Tape the repair was of maybe 20 years ago. But the Tuner cord is right by the Bulbs solder points so unless you're careful the nylon cord goes 'ping' as the soldering iron touches it. 'Rites Of Passage'. One main loop & a smaller one behind. But why is the Spring so stretched, it doesn't grip enough. It's 3 times as big as one we had to nick from the SX-1000TDF. So that amp is now for parts sadly, it's like new inside so by sticker remains on the lid it was faulty as new, if how is a mystery. Getting the spring off, the 1000 cord broke just by pulling it, it knew. More Amateur playing on the SX-2500, messy soldering to free boards, we didn't need to unsolder, but they left a pin tag loose & frazzled the 410pf with clumsy soldering if it still works. Also one small push button they managed to lose so put a similar, hard getting the right one, if we did. To see careless repairs is tiresome as it takes ages to go through, if now the amp with LEDs, new Tuner cord by them, new unstretched spring rare part added. How much Time & Money would it be if it was a Customer's amp? Always the Unknown & Big Risks with Amps others have messed with. We like them untouched & dusty. But bigger Amps like the SX-2500 will have got looked at to Recommission it, if clearly not done too well. ↑
The Difficulties With Tuner Repairs.
Continuing from the Pioneer SX-2500 blog... Recapped the Tuner which is a slow & fiddly job, some Tuners work fine as this did & plays Stereo fine, if others then need Aligning, Ferrite Dust Cores often found broken, these need careful handling & nylon tools which we can't find now & ours are rough. You could still buy the Cores in a 1970 Henry's Radio Catalog if these became outdated or ones like the Yamaha 1977 tuner used different ones. A Metal Hex may do the job, but if they are tight, they'll break & crumble the Ferrite Core. Lucky is the Tech who kept the Ferrites from other parted amps, our Akai AA7000 needed the full set top & bottom redone as they'd gone crunchy. FM works now, if aligning only possible seeing another AA-7000 to copy it's settings, what's the odds of that? AM still silent though. Tuners usually work beyond the 1967-69 Trio ones in Receivers, if 1970 Trio-Kenwood are good. Something fades in these, one we had worked if left unused for decades. On listening to it, sadly it started to Fade Away in use leaving FM eventually dead, if the later stages were still 'there' the Front End seems to be the issue. A stand alone Trio tuner that is only on when switched on so used much less may work, our Trio KT-5000 here & the one on the Solds Gallery worked, if the boards Trio used changed a lot amid models. One we know has a Sony STR-6200 tuner, it won't play Stereo FM if they generally do. These often can be aligned if there is a good Mono signal to start with but it may be something else. STR-6200 uses most of the STR-6120 & second TA-5000F tuner without the front slider. If a Tuner is Dead & it's not Power Supply, the odds of getting it work is highly unlikely, if the AA-7000 got lucky. How Useful Is FM these days? Some Countries have FM turned off which is a shame & based on DAB radio, it's a poor decision. Receivers & Tuners will be wanted with a Working Tuner as long as UK FM lasts which should be another 30 years based on the amount of Portables to Hifi Tuners & the Age of the User. That expensive Marantz above only holds it's value until FM goes, Old TVs can still be played via an input, if the Collectable ones are For Display really. One Guy on 'American Pickers' said his Radios, as in 1920s-1950s era don't work as they don't need to. They look Pretty, if why keep 200 on shelves, too many. If you want a Radio go buy one at Radio Shack he said. Simplistic, if a viewpoint. If it can be made to work cobbling parts, do so. Our 1932 Pye R/GR floorstanding Radiogram works, all original except a Reconed Speaker as it fell to bits & doing mains safer. Not tried it for a while, if back when getting it, to get the Table Top version to swap the whole innards, as our one High Grade case & Turntable, if the Radio part had changes. To not want Visible Parts as new, the old Capacitors there if disconnected, but new ones where it mattered hidden away. ↑
Test To Destruction? Yes We Do.
Our Power Ratings page
we've done for many years. It simply Reads Clean Sinewave Output into an Oscilloscope. It reads in RMS so is relating to Watts power, if in a More Genuine way, as it's not Load Dependent. See how little voltage gain increases to Watts once you get over 100w. We could read it over an 8 ohm 25w Resistor, but Speaker Impedance isn't Flat & this just levels things. The Sinewave ratings match power well. Our Upgrades will deliver more Current, if only changing a Transformer to higher voltage will increase the Sine, assuming you've designed it right, a thing that's not worth trying. So we Turn Up All Amps to Max on the 'Scope reading & record it, we sometimes miss putting the rating so not all amps we've Reviewed are there. Bridged Amps can be Tested like this, but Not with a Mains Oscilloscope. the Battery 'Velleman' one is best for readings as quick to do & no Ground Reference to bother Bridged Amps. Test Them. To Test both channels, to see the amp is Good. Or not in the case of one Amp of ours. It read about 25v which is low for the Power if it clipped evenly. The other channel gave 34v reading. Something isn't right therefore & to tell us this, it blew the Speaker Fuse, actually the Power Amp Fuse, if the good side still worked. It biased up right on both, if with the good side playing higher, a lot of clipping caused the Failure. No problem to sort it out, who wants an amp only 'good enough' as it would have been if not Tested to see the Clipping AC voltage. More work needed if how else would the slight lacking in spec be noticed? Highest Power. The Marantz 2385 is the highest power amp we've had yet. 56v clean sine for 185w, the amp played it with ease, no Relay issues or much heat even. It had no repairs & clearly a reliable amp, unless you connect it to 'untested' 1975 Marantz speakers & crank it up loud as the Buyer did & slighty damaged it, but that's how people use Hifi, plug it in without checking. Those Sine wave Tests are a Guarantee the Amp plays it's Power at Clipping with No Issue. ↑
Battle Of The 1970-73 Era 20w Receivers. Part 1.
Got these a while back, if they're 'On The Barbecue' ready to get Sellable. 1970 Sansui 350A, 1973 JVC VR-5525L & 1972 Rotel RX-400. Sansui was £127 new in 1970, assume others priced similarly. We got these after finding the 1967 Sansui 400 a very decent amp if it took a lot to Upgrade, if we did this to see how good it was. It was Awesome & the buyer was similarly delighted too, them buying a non working one from USA to get the Wood Case & the missing metal control knob part. We looked in vain for one like that, if they got lucky. An 'ooh' on seeing it cased & complete. So carefully picking some later ones 1970, 1972 & 1973. At this time 20w by the Brand Names still gave a worthwhile amp, Midprice in it's day is High Quality of Today, build & weight still good, if the ones that sold most in their day. Based on Amps found, 20w of this era was a person buying a good item, away from the Lousy UK Gear of Similar power that was Budget quality. 1973 is Generally the Last Year of Quality Amps as even the Big Brands go Cost Cutting & ICs, to find decent Hifi to our taste after 1974 is difficult. Good looks here, the JVC & Sansui look good, the Rotel shows it's a lower model more if there is a RX-200 & RX-600 also. The RX-800 we've had before. So far the Sansui has pleased with the sound, via 'Tape In' avoiding the 'Aux into Phono' limiting. Rotel sounded decent if the build was a bit lightweight. The JVC not played yet as not useable yet. Earlier we had a National-Panasonic SA-5800, we've listened to that as reviewed & it's 23w is sounding much like the 19w of the SA-6400X 4 Channel receiver. Sansui needs the most done as Hissy Transistors. As of typing, the 25w Sansui TR-707A is our Speakers amp. How will these all Compare? Part Two to follow... ↑
Battle Of The 1970-73 Era 20w Receivers. Part 2.
Working on these Amps is Part 2 in Sept 2020. Rotel RX-400A done up nicely, some poor build on places we had to tidy as not to a standard we like but pleased with it now & like the Green Fascia. Redone in one go, works first time & sounds better than expected. Not a Full Bassy Sound for the Design. Unfortunately issues added up & to not want to sell an amp that's like that, so Broken Up for spares is the only option. Second one JVC VR-5525L was a very different story. Looking closer some amateur has way overdone messing around. We can't Sell an Amp like this as everything has been messed with. It's Garbage inside, another Bad Ebay Deal, if we've not realised it was this Bad. Output Transistors wired badly, random Transistors for the Driver stage, things unsoldered & put back untidily, Recap was as expected, but we'll leave this one as the fool actually cut the Transformer wires & soldered them back. One has already pulled loose from the Multivoltage block so who knows what else is bad. The amount just to tidy this wreck isn't Economical. Should have sent it back, but left it nearly a year now. Pity to abandon an amp that could have made a nice price redone, but too far gone. Never heard it play, if bought it knowing it'd be decent if not ruined. We'd not Work on a Customer's Amp this messed with & don't fancy the work on such an unknown with more risk of Issues & not of Sellable Quality. Too Much Monkey Business. The Sansui 350A is next, parts ready for that one too as to get these ready, hopefully, was the idea. This plays very nice as original, so you're next. JVC new bits go in the Box of 'Changed Ideas' as often to buy a part & then decide it's not right for some reason. Shows we care what we do with our Amps. UPDATE: A 1973 Nikko STA-5050, a 24w receiver is a late arrival into this Test. This & the Sansui are the Top Ones here on Headphones. The Nikko is still wprk in progress as it's nothing special on speakers if it can be upgraded. See the Review. ↑
Untidy Wood Cases. What To Do.
A Wood Case on a Vintage Amp adds a Lot of Style, it makes a Nice Amp Look Great. If the Amp or Receiver had a Wood Case, you'll be pleased how different a nice grade one looks. These Wood Cases can be 45-55 years old now. Furniture is rarely Perfect, if it can look nice. See how 'The Repair Shop' does Wood Restoring, the 'Will' guy has a lot of advisors & he does a good job if we see weaknesses. Because We used to like buying old Furniture & Radiograms, to want to better the finish. Of course the Original Finish in Nice grade is best, but that's uncommon. Our 1932 Pye G/GR gram is original finish & one we showed it to was surprised to see it on original lacquer & we've seen 'bald' ones where the damp flaked the finish off. We've still got some of the later furniture we restored, if early years to realise How Wrong some Radiograms & Radios looked all done up to look too new, the wrong colour for the Age, as in 1936 Murphy Floorstander Radio with too dark finish, as not realising stripping the finish loses the Patina. This came from repairing cars, our 1986 Ford Sierra needed a lot of minor rusty bits done so to learn techniques from that. The 'unrealistic' too-new finish ones we sold on, one really nice 1949 Murphy gram only needed the top lid redone & there's where Original showed as best. To do that with Amplifier Cases. Not really gone into Metal lids to finish, these days a powder coat is the best way, if also hard to find the skills anymore. For the 1970 Sansui 350A it had lived a low life, the type of amp someone revarnishes the top as it's marked. It looked awful. Can't just strip the unwanted varnish, got to bare wood it. Nice Walnut shows a few top scratches but not too bad so we'll not go further than lacquer & polish once the surface is clean. Big Caution with Wood Veneer is it's Very Thin. Sanding a case will wear the corners away, to use Wire Wool. The 350A had two old Sansui stickers, one for 240v left a slightly dark ring & the other 'tested' factory one didn't. Stick them back once done. The Pioneer SX-2500 has a cigarette burn, the time it takes to burn means the veneer is burnt through as a Rotel RX-800 proved. Light sand to be sure, but just relacquer & a bit of Paint Art to hide it. Plastic Veneer wrap amps, to avoid tatty ones or get them Reveneered in American Walnut like Yamaha used on the CR-2020. To see a tatty wood case revived is like cleaning years of Nicotine & muck off an amp, the Change can take it up many levels. Only if done right. See some of our Wood Restorations on the Solds Gallery. A Sony STR 6120 in the dark case was bashed up on one side (pic not shown), the Coral amp was painted Dark Brown, the Sansui 3000A in the wood case got a quick refinish plus others. ↑
Nasty Amplifier. I'm Going To Smash You Up For Parts.
Sadly it's part of Vintage Hifi. See ebay USA sellers with parts for good amps. Usually the Power Amp isn't included, but these are a bit Foolish as it's an Amp we maybe could have Fixed. Optimism in Hifi Tech Land is Required, to go further to try to get a Result aka an Amp to Use or Sell knowing it's Safe & Reliable. "Use Daily Quality", Work More on it or Part It once a line of vsellability has been crossed. Some amps to never give up on as it's a Good one, a badly damaged STR-6120 got it rebuilt in an extreme way, to see if we could, see how much better it'd be & 'because'. Forever Repairable are certain Good Amps, we've done this many a time because "No You Don't" when it keeps giving trouble. Remedy it, give Hifi attitude & it pays off, like Upgrading. Why Give Up? There comes a point with amps that are just not giving any results or become 'too rough' from trying to deal with old repairs. The STR-6120 got more done in a Price way than we sold it for, but it was the one we Imported from Canada on selling enough parts of another STR-6120. You will live whatever it takes. Sounded great once it was sellable & reliable again. That's the thing too: Can It Be Sold as Use Daily? Minor issues you can get, but too many that devalue it each time, learn when to quit. All those Screws, Tags, Sockets etc etc always come in useful. Depending on the Quality of the amp, not always the Power to decide to Smash or Not To Smash. Boxes full of Bits, get rid of the chassis bits, would the Fascia sell? If nothing is sellable, get rid fast as it's not Good seeing failures. We've given up on a few over the years, just not worth bothering with some, if also ones you've spend hours on. Only The Lucky Ones Live On, much like Old Cars. Since typing, one failed amp supplied a Rare Volume control to another so the other amp lives on perfect with it's New Part. Faulty From New? We have an almost Brand New 1967 Pioneer SX-100TDF, we know from others of it that it's a very decent amp with a pleasing sound. But this one must be Made Faulty & Sticker Traces show it was known Bad long ago, maybe the Day it was Sold & Plugged in by the Buyer. Decided we'd tried enough as well as each repair the very thin track gets worse. Abandoned but left intact, lots of Unused New Parts in there too. Oct 2020 another Pioneer SX-2500 we see needs a Tuner Cord Spring. Any Pioneer of the era would do if to buy a whole amp from the USA or the Tuner rotary part that never goes wrong. What would it cost £100-£150-£200 for a spring. A certain exact size spring. Oh we've got one in that SX-1000. Perfect. Rare Exact Part in a Spares Amp. Plenty more useable parts as the SX-1500TDF that was just too unreliable once taken apart, those parts certainly got use. The BNIB Hitachi SR-1100 was Faulty from new as Hissy Transistors. That Pioneer is a real mystery, sometimes you only find what was wrong when half of it is in the Parts Pile or Bin. Adds to the Knowledge. ↑
1970s Amps & Speakers In Their Context When New.
Another Lower Rated Power Amp gives a Top Sound, but in 1970 the 20w Sansui 350A wouldn't be partnered with Tannoy 15" Lancaster Golds. The Receiver about £130 new, pair of Tannoys £120. Usually a 20w amp, being considered 'not top range' would just get a pair of £30 boxy speakers & never reveal it's True Quality. The First of our Selling Amps we tried on our Tannoys was a Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 4000, the black fascia one. They were OK if never the Best Sound on Headphones, a bit lacking in Finesse despite the brand hype. But instead of being used on the cheap looking B&O speakers, on the Tannoys the B&O sounded a lot better than expected. Clearly matched way ahead of it's target Market. The Tannoys sold well, they are 50w so will have been paired with higher power amps. The Buying Guides offered ideas of price & Amp was generally double-triple the Speakers buy price in a Hifi Mag's System. Afford Expensive Speakers: Afford a 'Better' Amp. 50w Tannoys made for Sony STR-6120 of the era, the Tannoys first out late 1967 probably to match the Pioneer SX-1500TDF & Sansui 3000(A) plus a few others as we Review of the 1967-68 era. So many amps, even more Loudspeakers. How Do You Pick The Very Best? Buy Them & Try Them is the only way. The More Amps we Upgrade to understand why the 350A sounds like that, compare to other amps to see the Differences. ↑
Battle Of The 1970-73 Era 20w Receivers. Part 3.
The Conclusion, and from Part 2 you'll see it didn't quite work out. 20w amps by 1973 were into an era of Huge Cost Cutting as the RX-400A or still built well but leaving ridiculous connectors for Output Transistors, the JVC. The Era of Amps with TO-220 Regulator size Output Transistors instead of the 'Perfect' TO3 marks a change. Some TO3s are from the 1960s & still currently made, because they are much used & reliable. TO-220 Transistors can go 80w 7A like the TO3s if generally the amps that use these 'Regulator' type outputs are stepping into Cost Cutting territory. By the 1990s MOSFETs as outputs are a different thing, if no better than TO3 amps & circuitry less good sounding. So we're left with Nat-Pan SA-5800, Sansui 350A plus adding the Influencer the Sansui 400. All Three of those are really great amps, the 350A just wins for the Precise sound once upgraded. The 19w Nat-Pan SA-6400X 4ch Receiver isn't Bridgeable but the Sound is as great as the SA-5800. Magazines of the Era say 19w-23w is "Medium Power" and as these ones show, the quality is still there. "Low Power" is Under 5w to 15w, 15w is useable today as a few 15 watters reveal on pre 1974, needs 95dB high sensitivity speakers, but those 10w UK Amps that were numerous from the Early Germanium 1962 era to the last UK Budget Brands that faded after 1971 are Not Really Hifi. Hifi is 'High Fidelity' and these other ones are just 'Stereos' or for Background music. 10w Valves in the Rogers Cadet III is Hifi if maybe not loud enough if the 15w HG88 III is. Not To Forget Quadro Amps & Receivers. Bridgeable or Not, again 15w is still worthy, if bridged makes the 1973 Marantz 4230 12w x 4 but 2 x 30w which is usually underrated once upgraded. 15w-25w 'Medium Power' amps of Quality on 95dB sensitive speakers will be all you need in typical UK rooms. The 20w Amps Battle didn't happen as expected. The JVC VR-5525L would have been fine if a High Grade one, the Rotel RX-400A was a lighweight sound & build which would really only be a 'Radiogram Upgrade' but to see RX-200 10w & RX-150 7.5w shows Rotel were aiming very low, if HFE reviews show they were Starter Amps, but not Hifi. Both Nat Pan receivers were very decent, a rare clean sound there. But buying 15w or less by 1975 is a very different thing. Remember Hifi needs Quality to be accepted as Hifi. The Sansui 350A wins, but remember We Upgraded It A Lot seeing the Potential & still see further with it. Sad about the Rotel, JVC & the Photax Concertone being Bin Food but that's Hifi. Sansui 350A & Sansui TR707A together as 1970 20w & 1966 25w are not so unlike, if the TR707A background noise isn't as silent as the 350A is. How they manage that needs finding out. ↑
1990s Sony Stack System : Restore It?
Becoming 30 years old now, these Stack Systems were Popular at the time. Are they Vintage Hifi worth keeping alive? If they Mean Something like it was Dad's Stereo then it's a line of Yes or Maybe Not. Sony LBT-D905 you can see on Google, what it comprises of, no Cassette by now is surprising. But look how Cheap they are £150-£200 to buy as Used today. Imagine the amount of ICs. It's under the category of "Disposable" to us as the Price Today tells. What Tech would want to go through a System like this. Not worth the effort. If this system Means Something in a 'Repair Shop' way then search around, you'll find Barely Used ones in the Box still. Some owners barely use items & look after them well, which can mean stayed in it's box on top of the wardrobe cupboard. Restoring is generally for "Prestige Goods" not Everyday Stereos like this. Seen these at the time the cheaper Flashing Light ones, wasn't impressed. Days long gone so People will be Fond of them. Anyone getting Sentimental about i-pods & even DAT, Minidisc yet? To bear in mind 'quality' was not what these items were about, there is No Collector Interest in these & never will be as they are just as Disposable as a Kettle or Toaster. Even if you found a tech to offer to do a Stack System, usually with Cassette, the Price will put you off if you expect all to be good if even possible. Only the Early 1980s Stylish ones are getting interest for Early Computer Looks, but the insides aren't usually much. For Us to Restore It? No. we'd have No Interest in this type of 'Stereo' as it'll just frustrate when finding broken plastic or unobtainable ICs. 'Repair Shop' again, they Restore items that shouldn't be, to see the Bored look facing working on a Rubbish item. One Binnable Transistor Radio a prime example, why not look on ebay for a nice grade one to keep it as a Nice Item, rather than try Restoring something that usually would be binned. ↑
1980s Pseudo Hifi: Mission Cyrus 2.
Known these since the Mid 1980s. Never ever considered these as No Tone as well as part of that Linn-Naim-Mission-Meridien type UK Hifi that to us is Not Hifi at all, but a dry attempt to make a Popular item cheaply yet give it Kudos for it's mediocrity. We've had Many Agree to this Opinion of Hifi Mag driven items. Here there is No Expense wasted. MC2 has 4 op amps, this is not Hifi for sure. All on one board is again as cheaply made as possible, input sockets on the board too. To hear of parts breaking & the cases need repainting, Bins are made for a reason. No, we don't like these sort of amps, to work on one would be Miserable so we'll say no. Reading the 1970-80 Hifi News Magazine, these UK 'Cottage Industry' amps appear through the years. Strip out all User Features, make them as Bland looking as possible then Insult Buyers with "PSU Upgrade" boxes. Hifi for Unthinking Sheep. But some will have only have heard this stuff & know no better, or got one cheap or free so it's a step into audio. One we see will Rebuild the thing for just £139 delivered back which is a ridiculousy low price, how can it Cover skilled Labour plus parts? Wil you ever get it back? One on ebay offers £25 ro look at any Transistor or Valve amp, no info, no nothing. What would they charge you. Be very careful who you Send Hifi to for Repair as who knows if you'd get it back. Up to you to trust such cheap job. Some deserved snarling on the Mission Amps & with good reason. No Service Manuals if Google images show the one-board job & the Op-Amps. To wonder what board track is like, these Fibreglass boards often have very thin track that's hard work or on later could be Unrepairable. We are 1963-1978 era Hifi Folks, this later stuff we find miserable as it holds no interest for the Quality or lack of it. It's Mostly Disposable. If you have £500 budget, we'll tell you Sell It & Go Buy Something Better than to try to Polish a Turd. They sell on ebay £100-£200 which shows their level for mid 1980s gear. It's Fine to have as a Starter Amplifier, as in Amp & Speakers upgrade from Earbuds & a MP3 player on the Phone, but the Quality isn't there to be worth spending Money on. A nice 1973 Marantz 4230 4ch Receiver in front of us now pleases us & will give great results if a hard one to work on. A Mission Cyrus 2, if ours, as with the usual Quad amps grumbles, we'd listen to it, review it expecting bass light with weak grainy UK sound & sell it on quick. A MC2 with PSU supposedly made £413 recently if with 'funny bids' & (1) rated withdrawing bids, think what you may. 1980s Hifi is the Worst Era, even the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X is a very different amp to a pre 1974 one. ↑
Transistors For Vintage Gear.
We have Given Up Trusting 'ebay sellers' for these now. Fakes by one 'since 1983' company was a disgrace. Also Vintage Ones are not always available & not so keen buying now. To buy a 100 batch from China is not so good either, fakes unlikely on the small & medium power, if life has changed on who to buy from. But it's Surprising which Transistors are still available new as Popular as well as tried & tested for decades as good ones, ie the TO3 output 2N3055 first seen in 1969 Bang & Olufsen. 1990s 'Cricklewood Electronics' shop had boxes of them on shelves, the DJ market must have used them heavily. One we had used often we saw in the 1971 Revox & these are still currently made so are on Farnell. Other 1970s ones we've lost supply on & finding new ones easily bought isn't so easy, they have NPN but not the PNP. To get the Complimentary NPN-PNP pair is best, if often we see wildly varying ones fitted as old repairs if they seem to work fine, it's not professional to us. One we use a lot has to be the Japanese version as the UK equivalent has the Pins in a different order, 'BCE' is standard if 'CBE' can cause problems as often the 'BCE' are in a straight line. It's fine if you design for the 'CBE' but they're not compatible with awkwardly crossing over pins. Very pleased as of today to find some currently made ones we can use, the plastic cased ones better, as in the Sansui 350A & Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 the old style potentially hissy or aged corroded can ones to update, the 350A a bit tight to fit the metal case ones as the cases on slightly different voltages can touch too easily, so the new found ones will go in there better. Transistors are not so difficult overall, if the amount of 2SC & 2SA ones were for Cost Cutting more than being so crucial to replace with. A Black Art is finding equivalents & to understand the criteria, the old transistor books that suggest equivalents we found were often quite wrong & today the info sites we just use for the Data taking no notice of equivalents. Germanium Transistors we've rightly avoided the UK ones as they go bad as lousy 'Armstrong' UK amps tell. The Japanese Germaniums are reliable if the Hiss is a bit much for Modern Tastes. Germaniums we now consider 'not useable' for Hifi, if the Initally Pleasing Sound was more the Design than the Transistor as proved by the 1966 Sansui TR-707A of ours now all Silicon. The 1966 Akai AA 5000 S has Silicon Outputs but Germaniums as all but one on the Pre-Power amp. We fairly said it sounds Great but is a 'Bit Retro' for the Hiss & limitations. Despite the £2000 London Shop Designer looks it never sold. This amp we can now dig deeper into to do as Silicon so took it from Sale a few Months back. But that didn't work out, the design is for Germaniums, with Silicon it oscillates violently. So back to as it was which was still decent upgraded as before, but without a lot of Tricky Redesign it stays Germanium. ↑
1957 Leak TL-12 Is It 'Audiophile Hifi'?
Seen one for sale by the owner who had it rebuilt a year ago. But now it's suddenly "Not Wanted" as the Dreams in Hifi are Rarely Realities, especially on pre 1966 Hifi. Like-For-Like rebuilds are often disappointing, it's why we upgrade. The earliest we'd go is 1963 with the Trio WX-400U & W41 receiver & amplifier. "High Fidelity" means 'The Best' Audio Gear of it's time, the 12w TL-12 monoblocks were certainly Hifi of their era if reading the HFN mag 1956-1980, the "State Of the Art" hugely improved from 1957 to 1963. To see the TL-12s rebuilt with Like-For-Like capacitors is all you can do with the limited EZ34 valve rectifier as current is limited. The Original 32µf+32µf capacitor can & fittings still there, assume the Not Very Good idea of 'Capacitor Stuffing' used where they fit in 2 new capacitors to keep the can. To see the Old Carbon Composition Resistors from 1957 isn't good. We first heard Valves on the Stern's 3w Mono amplifier on the Prewar 1939 Tannoy speaker we had. The Sound is intriguing as so simply done, an Eerie Sound, if Hifi it's not as No Treble Tweeter on the Tannoy & No Bass from the Sterns. A 12w Valve Amp is borderline Useable for the Power. You're not going to get too much out of it. This one for sale shows how they are used: they are Overloud or Too Quiet for Today's Components & the Preamps as said before are Clunky & of little 'Hifi' use today. To use an Attenuator sort of Defeats the Purpose as the Power Amp is still too loud in gain level, if some need 1.4v for Max Power the TL12 needs only 125mV says the seller. As with the Leak transistor amps, the designs do not match the modern 'Line Level' that the 1963 Trio played at & soon became the standard as did 8 ohm speakers, based on the USA & Japanese amps. The 'Fisher' brand led the way in the early Hifi years which Japan copied with early Pioneer, Trio etc. Why Bother Then? They are worth bothering with, if only for those wanting a 'Retro' sound. To be Aware of what they sound like, there is a lot of Hype about Single ended Directly Heated earlier valves, if without NFB that Leak developed from an idea from years before, the Frequency Range is strong on the midrange if a huge amount less on Bass & Treble. a 'Cosy Warm' sound that is pleasant but far from Hifi. The small polite rather flat thin edgy sound is what you'll get for a 1957 design, it being overloud does it no favours. It brings a limited range of sound if it's One to Hear, either you like it or don't. We had a Quad II system in 2002 when we first got the Tube Technology valves. Quad was thought nice on the Power amps if the Preamp was lousy. Matching Pre to Power amp gets the Levels not matching, if using a then-recent Rotel as a preamp matched better. It's a sound to hear & move on if it's not Bassy or Punchy enough for you. But don't think it'll be anything like a 1969 Pioneer or 1973 Marantz etc as it's so early. ↑
Complaining About An Amplifier's Design?
This is what we find with some Amplifiers & Receivers we Upgrade. The Design is 'Not Quite Right' so in Pre-Production they add little design features to Overcome what isn't ideal design. Poor Design & Papering over The Cracks is annoying. You'd Never Know until Daring to Try To Upgrade Further. Sometimes these are showing changes were made before the Boards were created. There is no real rule to this, no way to know until you try things that suit other amps fine. To get silly noises & instability we first found with the 1970 Goodmans Module 80 receiver, putting in Good ideas that worked fine with Many amps showed how limited the Goodmans design was. But it was 'cleverly designed' to sound good enough as itself & why they sold well, British Design in Hifi & Cars is usually only Just Good Enough. To see obvious limiting to try to better it but it revealed a ridiculous amount of poor design. Designs are tamed to allow Cost Cutting & to use cheaper components, but to try to better them reveals they can stink. This really only starts with amps past 1969 & past 1974 it isn't more Common as you'd think by the Comet Discounting craze that spoiled Hifi past 1974. By 1984 the Sansui AU-G90X was, beyond tricky construction, an amp without the Bad Design if there was a lot of Cost Cutting. Some amps upgrade very nicely, it shows which are the great designs. Some are best not Upgraded too much as Insane Issues arise, to put it back as it was in places a bit defeatist, but to only sell Upgraded Amps that are Reliable & without annoying quirks. We sell ones we've finished with, if to look at other models in the range as the Top Model isn't always the best. To keep a few to Use & Rotate as References plus the Inevitable Few that take ages to be their best or reveal issues but we see they are worth doing more with. See Why Very Few Dare Upgrade? You really never know what an Amp sounds like until Recapped & Upgraded, then Decide to do more or not. Will it work out? The 1970 Sansui 350A is a great amp we're using on Speakers as of typing, if since sold to one who really wanted it. 20w amp yet at TV level it gives the Deep THX type Bass & extra clean Treble. No Background Noise either. The amp stood out as Original & Upgrades brought the Best of it out. To Redesign to a Point, but still to keep Originality. ↑
Vintage Hifi 1963-1973 Is The Best.
We keep Buying Amps from this Era as they are the Best Years. Just 11 years from going past the first Germanium amps to the Sorry State of 'Comet' Discount shop really upsetting the Hifi Scene by 1974. Just Compare a 1973 Marantz 4230 4ch receiver to the 1977 Marantz 1090 amplifier. The Build Quality is miles apart, the 4230 is very nicely made if tightly wired, the 1090 we weren't so sure on if it gives a better sound than expected. There are a lot of Budget Amps in this era, UK 10w ones we'd not touch, the UK Leak & Rogers perhaps the best UK if we've not had any for a while now. Comparing to "Wheeler Dealers" the 'Edd' episodes were great each episode, been watching the 1967 Ford Mustang S9 one, what a great car, but the more recent 'Ant' episodes especially of late are far too many post 2000 cars that are Boring to us. Ant as 'Griff Rhys-Jones' type of guy gets a bit samey when Edd until his last series was always well into the Car as he got the best ones. The post 2000 featured car ones we're skipping through as little to interest, if the USA Bosses are likely forcing the Modern Ones. We've had Over 200 Different Amplifiers & Receivers, there are still many more we've not tried or even considered so this will go on for years still. The Joy of seeing a Well Made amp continues into 1973 & some brands like Nikko made their Best in 1973 & their 1975 range was still the same quality. Certain Amps like 4 channel ones that are Bridgeable & the 20w ones have revealed more Good amps. Ebay full of overpriced 'ordinary' amps not selling is a reality, if the Cheaper Buys to us are more interesting. Ebay clearly follow us & one seller putting £450 on a raw Sansui 350, not the 350A just shows the unawareness. A 20w Raw Amp will need work so £100 or less is typical. Ebay Auctions rarely go over £200 as these amps need work if once Rebuilt they Do Sell. Plenty claim to Recap & Service if with No Inside Pictures, we Bypass them too, no idea what they did, good or a mess. We prefer Untouched Amps to not have to wade through another's effort & even ones with No Manuals online we'll try if having the Circuits is always much better. As of typing this to put online, a 1972 4ch Akai AS-8110S is our latest arrival. Another Fascinating amp. Keeps The Interest. How Nice that people stored these amps 40+ years, a different generation. Original Box & Gleaming or Dirty, Dusty & Tired is randomly what you get. Keep Them Coming. ↑
December 2020 Blog
'Bargain Hunt' Music Compilation: Record Players.
Episode from 30 Sept with Natasha. Looking at Record Players, from BSR & Fidelity low end to more Specialist Turntables. You can get an app now to see what speed the Turntable turns at if ones like Technics have Strobe lights for that. Good to get these Platter Spinners shown as The Kids seem to like these & Vinyl. But Natasha says they need Servicing, sure they do on any pre 1990 Hifi. But Misleadingly says From £50 to Service & Replace Parts. That's far from Reality unless you get an Amateur to fiddle & make it worse. Turntables need a full strip down & clean, electronics on Direct Drive need recapping. See previous blogs about the Technics SL-120 & SME 3009 we got after selling our Garrard 301. Hours spent to get Right to Our Standard are extreme. The worst job are the Autochangers especially 50s & 60s ones. It took 8 hours to do one we have in the similar EAR Triple Four from 1957 as on the Solds Gallery. If you encounter broken or missing bits, you'll need a donor one to get those, assuming theirs isn't broken or missing too. The Early Cartridges you can still buy the Stylus from old 1970s NOS so will be Forever Around like Radio Valves from the 1930s as there are few needing these parts. But try to find an Old Cartridge beyond the MM ones, the Acos ones etc that are bigger are long gone. Some parts you can still get like the Switch Capacitor, if Broken Controls for Garrard 301 you can get idler repro ones as with the driver rubber wheel if not things like Bearings or Motors. These items seem cheap as they need a lot spent. This is why those Retro 1930s Styled Record Players like 'Pawn Stars' has on their back shelf are popular. Similar with Cassette, the problems they'll have 30 years later. One Bargain Hunt seller puts "All Radios & Record Players Working Perfect(ly)". Unlikely to be anywhere near Full on Spec to as New on 50-60 year old items, even as BNIB NOS ones, but it'll work to a degree if with typical annoying issues that won't please, just like Old Amps we get. The Work Required. This is why we won't touch these sort of items now, if certainly have before, the Cost to do it Properly is rarely understood. Bin Food once again should be considered, Go Buy a Better Grade One as someone will have a 9/10 of your tatty 3/10 one. As well as being very frustrating work to find a broken or missing part you can't get after spending 10 hours & it's not useable. To not fall foul of that, to explain a certain amount must be done before a price can be decided, taking apart like Clocks Steve on the 'Repair Shop' does when he then discovers issues. We had a Garrard 401 mid production one to fix once, the weak pressed brass pieces broken was a big problem, what can you do? Learn How To Do It Yourself is always the option, good luck. ↑
Working On Hifi Can Make You "Lose It" More Often Than Not.
They only showed this once on "The Repair Shop", Steve Clock guy lost a screw but had jars of them to find another one. But in reality, screws & parts go missing all the time. First Look On The Floor as the Floor Is 'Magnetic'. Bits you removed if an idea didn't work, to find them to put back, so keep them for a while. An old Diode spec in one Pioneer amp wasn't replaceable with a modern Diode without redesign, so just put the original one back. But where is it. Not anywhere is the answer after over an Hour looking. It's somewhere though. Desk top with a piece to stop things falling behind. Found one Diode very fast but the other was under the Widescreen Monitor stand as it sticks out too far & gets caught, so Diode under there. JVC 4ch amp has black plastic pieces on the front Rotaries that the metal screws to. One went missing, hours looking everywhere is insane. Amp just put away as bit missing if put other stuff to screw it back. Keeping Tidy is a big issue with Tools & stuff messy. To reorganise a drawer that is usually open to get to tools, looked in the at least three times for the JVC bit. It's not there. But on getting into the bits of swarf that accumulate, the sodding thing was there, how was it not seen? Two months later to find it. To look for things you Distrust The Bin so rake through it by emptying it out. Main Bin gets filled by Small Bin so again rake through, if that never ever finds things so why bother. Remembering What You Used It Last For can find things, one insane Lost One was a 12" metal ruler much used to er, measure things, part of one of those Set Square sliding ones. Where is it? Mid 1980s one nicer than the new ones we bought two of to try to replace it. The Scanner we use Twice A Year to Scan up Records with Picture Sleeves. The ruler... makes a border where the Scanner Underscans so it gets used there. Guess where the Ruler was? Losing Things Can Be Interesting. At an age where Teddy Bears beyond one were cleared out, 'Too Old For Those'. One we've had since 5 got put in the bin soon after as the head came loose if it survived getting roughly stitched & still was around. Bear Expelling (were sold) done 6 years later when older but didn't think where that tiny one went assuming mother binned it in that way they do. Moving House another 4 years later, Bear was found lost in a fitted Drawer Cabinet where it fell behind & under. Tatty old 1950s thing given by a Neighbour 'Mr. Bailey' most likely. As moving just put it in a box to move. Didn't think to throw it away as it survived so it stays even today. A Thing Hid to not be Discarded, Survived finding as "Oh It's You", have a Photo with it even. Nothing wrong with a bit of Sentiment. Bear never got a name even. ↑
Recapping Like-For-Like Can Bring An Overbright Weak Bass Sound.
The Original amp can sound Balanced with Treble, Midrange & Upper Bass. Deep Bass is usually lacking Amps well into the 1990s. But the Sound when you Bought New was Usually Designed to Please, else you'd take it back. How They Sounded on Cheap Speakers was what we didn't like back in the late 1980s, so always looked for The Better Speaker. You get a Decent Amp & think to Recap. You don't understand Upgrading, best not to do it Blindly as you will likely get even more problems. Just to Recap the same values will put New Capacitors in. The Old Aluminium Electrolytics have lasted well, some 40-50 year old ones can still work, if A Gamble to Use Them for the Age & Reliability that has certainly made amps Bad over the last 10 years. These Older ones like Elna & Nichicon were the Best in their day, if they weren't as Advanced as Modern Ones. The Frequency Range of New Ones can be a lot wider so end up sounding Too Bright. Also with Transistors as trying to Do Silicon on a Germanium Amp, the 1966 Akai AA 5000S, this we had to put back as far too much to redesign it & access was too tight to try more, designed for the limits of Germanium caused huge Oscillation. The Older Capacitors will have Aged & sounding "Warm" as in Softer Treble lacking Detail to a Degree, but they Sounded Fine for you to Consider Recapping. Now Recapped your 'Nice Warm' Amp Sounds Horrible. Bass is much less, Treble is too upfront & it sounds 'Bright' but it's not a nice sound as too thin sounding. We know this from our Early Recapping. But we looked deeper to Upgrade & are still finding Great Ideas. To hear a recapped Trio-Kenwood KR-7200 described as "found it too bright, later slowly realised that's how they supposed to sound" is proof this Recap Effect is probably more Widespread that ones we found, before wanting Better by Questioning Why. The Trio-Kenwood pre 1974 are Great amps with a Clean Sound if getting good Bass isn't so easy with them. We try Upgrades to Get The Best Sound, some are Extra Difficult to get Good Bass from. The Thin Sound sadly is You Recapping with Higher Quality Parts, the aged but nice sound lost forever, unless you upgrade more. Hifi Should Sound like we can get from Upgrading: Full Bass, Solid Midrange, Crisp Treble, Fast, Unmuddled Sound. To Upgrade to get that is actually Very Difficult & not many amps are capable of taking such upgrades. We Go Further if can 'put it back' if it's too much. But to Better It is the Upgrading Challenge, it's experimental, may not work too well or works great to sound how we like it. It's Gambling. ↑
Sony Receivers In The STR-6xxx Series
We get a Range of these if the numbering is a bit Random & covers 1968-73. STR-6036(A) from 1973 is a 14w all transistors amp, see review, 'A' is for Plug In Mains connector. STR-6040 is a 1969 15w/15w one with Aux into Phono likely the only Sony with this, the design is very basic so should sound good upgraded, if not 22-24w as some misquote, TA-1120A sized. STR-6045(A) 1971 narrower like STR-6040 with 20w/20w, differential version if pdf misses the first part of the preamp to not know if Aux to Phono. STR-6050 1969 30w as reviewed, STR-6055 1971 40w as reviewed, STR 6060F 1968 40w pre the STR-6120. Brown Levers & Front Flap, yet to try one if know it from researching, quite early design still. STR-6065 a 50w version of the STR-6055 if rarer. STR-6120 the 1968-70 Classic Sony as reviewed. STR-6200F the updated STR-6120. STR-6800SD which is a later 1976 85w one with Dolby as IC but IC Power amps is a huge no-no. STR-6036(A), STR- 6040 & STR-6045 are basic range ones for Power & size. ↑
A Deeper Look At The 1967 Sony STR-6060FW Receiver.
Had a brief look on the Other amps page Sony STR-6060 FW if at the Time hadn't seen one to know too much. 45w rated into 8 ohms. Have collected Photos of this if now you'd find plenty, it took ebay sales in USA to research. Early amp build with Axial Capacitors & ones fitted underneath like the 1969 STR-6050 that replaced it. Our Review reminds of the Hopeless STR-6120A Headphone socket that works from the Preamp, not the Power Amp as the STR-6120 does. To rewire for Modern Use we did on our first TA-1120A if it's required if a bit of a job needing spare parts to do right, as in Headphone socket that disconnects the Speakers. We have the Dark Wood Early Full Wood Case, TAC-5E, so to see if a STR-6060FW is for us. The FW manual is dated 1968 so to assume it's the only version. They all have the Flap & Brown Lever Switches. 6060F on the flap, 6060FW on the rear label. A pic set from a 2014 sale shows it gets dirty inside & has some TA-1120 features the 1120A doesn't, so assume it's 1967 pre the TA-1120A. A bit Crudely Made after the STR-6120 & to expect to Rebuild a Huge Amount here to a Standard we'd be happy with. A cleaner one on the top section looks more inviting, if usually to expect a dirty one for the open grilles. But it's Sony so it'll do. Circuits get a look next. Phono x2 Transistors, Flat Amp which is before the Passive Tone is x3 Transistors, one a Buffer & NFB around this stage. Powr Amp a little like the STR-6120, runs the early stages from 72v. To Estimate the Sound isn't too promising, Retro Thick Bass for Sure & a Rather Tamed Sound overall would need a lot changed, is it worth it? A 7 Transistor Protection Circuit probably like the TA-1120 slow start one. But the Headphone is done properly here like the STR-6120. Overall with the silly Front Flap & seeing the Circuit, it needs quite a bit to waken up the Sound. Having got Best Sony Results with the Sony TA-2000F & TA-3200F 100w pair, this would be like getting another TA-1120 early one, if we did sell that not wanting to go further with it. ↑
Sansui AU-9900 Amplifier: Is It Worth £1500 As Raw & Original?
Probably not, it's 45 years old & will be Aged with Untold issues. 'Raw' Meaning in Original Condition. Their ebay Write-Up is Ridiculously Sugary & Mint it's not with several minor scratches visible. "Designed specifically for the ardent audiophile" means you are being sold a false dream by hype wherever they copied that from. 80w Amplifier from 1975, HT is ±46v. Lower Spec version of the 110w AU-11000 says HFE. Had the pdf of the Schematics-Circuit Diagram since 2014 so likely on 'Other Amps' which it is Sansui AU-9900 amplifier. To see a lot of Overdesign if very nicely made didn't appeal then. Look Deeper. Phono needs Two Differentials & 2 Cascaded sections, why? It's per channel, not L+R on one board. The Design is a Joke with heavy limiting more than once. This is far from what Sansui means to us. Preamp stage similar with a similar circuit & more limiting is not Hifi at all. For tone-Pre it's 3 of these Differential & Limited Stages, this is Very Poor but so tamed it'll sound initially impressive but soon you'll realise it's Crap for such a Tame Limited Boring Sound. Power Amp continues The Bad Design, suspect a Thin Grainy Sound if the Preamp wasn't So Tamed to have The Clueless on the AU-11000 version saying 'it's the best' sort of unaware nonsense. How can Anyone Rave about this? The Same Way Snake Oil sellers do, it's just Fancy with No Quality in Design. Shame on you Sansui for Selling Out. But think a little, 1975 was the Start of 'Specs Wars' by that Tim De P guy, his designs as mentioned more than once are so sculpted & tamed to give Unrealistic & Useless specs which caused a Backlash by 1977 as HFN/RR & others told of Valve Amps sounding far better. THD of 0.08%, who cares, Harmonic Distortion is usually -80dB down so you'd never hear it so just to pretend their Ghastly Over-Designed Amp is "Better". If this amp for £1500 is in such 'high grade' it's probably as it sounds so Boring so was Little Used. This sort of Overpricing will continue until the amps start to fail in 1 day or 10 years use. With such a bad design it's not really one to Upgrade if you can recap it to find New Caps may get it sounding Too Bright. These sort of 'Boy Racer' amps are Not Us if to look deeper to find out what they are about is not good to see. So Very Hard to find Good Design past 1974, they always have to try to be 'Clever' with Overdesign just to get Worthless 0.08% THD specs. If we were asked to Recap-Upgrade this one, to have to tell you'll not get much Better from it, if to Refresh it, the Design just is not the Quality it claims to be. Opinion by one who has had 205 Amplifiers as the Review pages show, not including Duplicates & Upgrades to Bring The Best Sound Out. Others may Rave about Amps like these. Try these sort of Amp then try pre 1974 ones & you'll find far Nicer sounds in those. It's why we don't go out getting these amps ourselves, got the 1977 Marantz 2385, got a good sound just to try it but sold it on, Is the Market Losing Interest in these Type of amps now? ↑
Trio-Kenwood KA-6000 & KA-6004 Amplifiers. What To Do.
First got a KA-6000 in 2013, it was the Trio Amp & Tuner on the Solds Gallery. Wasn't into Upgrading so Intensely as now & actually Sold the pair in 2014 & Regretted it Soon After. Worked Fine too, if 7 years later has now revealed Amps are Aging a lot. KA-6000 & Sony TA-1120 early one both great amps we had at the same time around 2015-2018 when the TA-1120 & the early ST-5000 tuner we decided to sell. KA-6000 has extra Heatsink Spaces to take Doubled Output Transistors, if both versions of TA-1120(A) have Doubled ones too. TA-1120 considered too hard to work on & risk of loose wires for taking it further. KA-6000 got a lot done. It brought out Issues that Upgrading will reveal, if things like Loud Clunk on Turn On. The Worst is the Bass Filters Stages, these are Direct before the Power Amp, after the Volume Control. Horrible Loud Click & Instability wobbly sound are just too much so the Filters had to go. Yes to Lose Original Parts, if the only amp we've found this with. But it had Doubled Outputs added by now. The Buffer Stage board behind the Volume control brought huge problems of RF so it had to go too. Perhaps to consider selling it instead? But them to put the TK-140X II/KR-6160 Power Amp Board in, rewiring all the pins. All Worked if Experimental stuff but it's neat looking still so why not. Then to find the Power supply as just one Secondary Winding & the Hot Resistor wasn't so great & also it's Pre Out level was 400mV not the typical 1v. KA-6000 starting to reveal the weaknesses if Recapped & Upgraded more sensibly, it's still an amp worthy of Excellent. The Power Supply can be redone to lose the Hot Resistor & keep a good sound, the Hot resistor actually spoils the sound beyond a higher stage of upgrading, the Treble goes slurry. The lousy Tone Stepped Control & Tone Mode wires get too messy so to go Rotary seemed a good idea if there is an error in the circuit diagram as L channel hasn't worked since as it got boring as well as more messy. An idea is KA-6000 should be Sold On if it's still Very Custom, but not yet. Still looks the same if now eyes on the Trio-Kenwood KA-6004 that's not sold in a while now. Out of sight to keep it safe, up for sale if forgotten it really. The untidy inside tidied better & on having two at the same time before, to swap the best Fascia & parts if to keep slighly corroded lid & case to balance the looks. KA-6004 with all the lever switch caps is rare too. KA-6004 was considered a better amp than the 6000 in several ways, had 4 of these now if never rated it so high for the Messy Filter Boards & how cramped the Power Amp looks. Look on ebay & the prices are now Too High for Raw amps, the days of £100 buys fading away means this KA-6004 & Sony STR-6055 have got looked at again. KA-6004 sold £185 for a dented lid, rusty & missing the inside cage & a STR-6055 in the first full wood case sold £350 in Dec 2020. Where did the interest come from? KA-6004 has Two Secondary windings & a Regulator for the Preamp, so it's done properly. The KR-6340 styling in the same range has it more familiar & a bigger case size appeals too. But to Play It. Recapped & Upgraded to a Point to Sell, it's not in the League of Much Further Upgraded Amps & for the Price it wouldn't be Expected to be. Good sound here if further brings better Focus & a more Confident sound, if the Nikko STA-5050 interestingly bettered it as original. It'd need a lot more done, does it deserve it? The 4ch JVC 4VN-990 more to do if to hear how that sounds. KA-6004 amp is well made with Shielded cabling if those Tatty Filter Boards that contain a Gain Stage to 1v level & a Buffer, so they are needed. Nice to have an Amplifier not just all Receivers which is why the KA-6000 stayed. Is it worth selling KA-6000 & taking the KA-6004 up to a higher level, the KR-6340 had a very nice sound & on testing it before packing it up, a little 'hmm' for how good it sounded. The KA-6004 deserves Our Treatment is the Current Opinion & get the KA-6000 for selling as Customised. KA-8004 is a higher power if some of the design didn't please as Blogged recently. KA-6004 was considered better than the 8004. Blog on Thinking aloud about the KA-6004. Decided to rebuild it further. ↑
Upgrading The Trio-Kenwood KA-6004 More: Into Experimenting.
Far More to Upgrading than is Realised, you need to Know Audio Circuits, Find the Best Ones plus Have The Nerve to Question All You See. Hardly a 2020 talent, ideas these days just accepted as 'experts' are beyond Question to most, if we see things far more logically, if it's their world, not ours... This Gets Experimental for the fact Ideas are being tried that have worked in other amps but Each Amp is Individual & Results can differ so much. Some ideas cause a Heap of Problems & need Fine Tuning as it can bring out Weaknesses in an Amp that were previously hidden. Poor Design 'Patched Over' to be Good Enough to Sell if it can catch us out & be a Huge Pain to Resolve, as in We Better Their Design. No-one else does this & there's probably no chance anyone else ever will. Your 1970s Tech just followed 'the Rules' to turn over a Job as quickly as possible. Ones today only know how to swap boards & parts, if from experience they can't do that right, based on the VHS era where we complained of Back Tension fault on a Top Range Panasonic S-VHS yet the idiot tech just took out (stole) our Expensive Drum Head & put a Cheap one in, still not solving the issue. This was a Turning Point, if that's how "Pro's" act, Sod Them & Do It Ourselves. We Solved the Back Tension issue soon after if the Unit wasn't so good now so bought a Newer One. So the KA-6004 awaits getting Some Quality to take it into a Higher League as we tried & got with the KA-6000. Experimenting is a Dark Art, some works well but others can just not work or need alterations to work right. The KA-6004 sits on the Desk as we type now, learning the Circuits much Deeper now to see what to do. Then the Experimenting begins. Will it Work Out Well or Is It A Waste Of Time. Having done quite a few to a Higher Level, this one Holds Promise. Often one part of a design won't let you do as you'd like which in terms of Selling An Item, not to overdo it if The Experimenter will as the KA-6000 shows above. A Lot to do in this one, much to question & to do then check it all works together. Some of these Further Upgrades can cost Too Much in terms of the Amp Resell Value & What a Customer Would Pay. So to be Careful which ones we go much further with, as putting what could be a £2000 job into a £750 amp to sell isn't the idea. The Amount to possibly alter & redesign is quite extreme here. Trio tamed this one a bit much explaining the softer sound even to Recap-Upgrade & Sell level. Another Question is Speaker Outputs, the Thick Bare Wire plugs we don't like to use. One ebay seller drilled the case for cheapo 4mm plugs if it looks very amateur. The piece of 8 Springies could be made to take 4mm sockets & to be done neatly. We've got a Trial 4 Plug section to see what it looks like & how it'd fit, with just unscrewing the old part. If that works (it did) then to try the Deeper Upgrades, has to be Useable, the Plug & Wire idea is OK to test with if not for Longer Use as are Wires do wear leaving loose Strands of Wire. Haven't Rated this as a Loudspeaker Match yet if other Trio do well, again to check it before doing any changes, it does well enough. The 1973 Yamaha CA-1000 didn't match too well if the CR-1000 on a 1975 dated one did. Rare to get a Quick Win on Hifi, but the 4mm Boards we made a while back do Fit In Exactly & very neatly too, if to see how well it does first. Just to swap one Red & Black pair to match the case marking. That Success means the KA-6004 is On The Barbecue now for it's Higher Upgrade, as in to keep it. Some Upgrades done on 'The Worst' brings the Clean Focus that this Amp should have. Bass needs to Grow if just for that shows the KA-6004 they Overtamed too much. It's a Relay Amp so to Try It for Upgrades as the Relay needs to work. Already the sound is much better if Thin Bass & Raggedy Edges to Treble shows a lot more to do. So Near But So Far is the Game Of Upgrading. Having Four of this Amp since 2013 & only think to Upgrade More in Nov 2020. Doing Maxed Out Upgrades finds those that Do Most Change so Amps We Upgrade for Customers or Sale can have an Economical Upgrade without doing everything that may not give that much Difference plus to keep it Stable in use. A Rambling Blog there, to justify doing the KA-6004 "To The Max". We did & it's been on Speakers over Xmas & Jolly Nice it sounds too, really chucks the Big Bass on some TV shows yet is a silent background on speakers. The KA-6004 wasn't without issues. The Review of the KA-6004 needs updating now... ↑
One Board Amplifier Designs: Not All Are Stinkers.
The Earliest one of 30w+ is the 1978 Marantz 1072 we just got. Needed some parts if the 1122DC supplied those. Marantz seem to have Pioneered this sort of design that became The Standard by 1979 if other Amps didn't do it very nicely so Easy To Put Them Down. The Marantz 1072 is in the 1977 range with the 1090, 1122DC, 1152DC & 2385, if changes in construction make this much easier to build than the Wire Monsters like the 2385 is. Board Track replaced all the wiring but a few. Done right it seems acceptable if preferring the Older Amps & Multi Boards as each are Isolated. The One Board Design turns into a Horror soon after & the 1993 Sony TA-FA3S was a High Model but The Construction was Dire, with Direct Coupling, Weak Soldering of Heavy Regulators on thin soldered track. They become loose & unsoldered & the awful MOSFETs because of these issues are ruined. It's called Built In Obsolescence & to get 20 years use, lucky you, but it's Not Repairable as Too Much gets Damaged from no Capacitors to Couple Stages. The 1978 Marantz 1072 is still built as a classic amp with these required coupling capacitors. They do not affect the sound if used correctly & to see this 1978 amp with Early 1980s build is Interesting. It has the Selectors on a Metal Tape to the Inputs near the back, saves lots of wiring if ideas used by just a few Amps as early as 1969 such as the Sansui 4000 & others. The Marantz 1090 was a messy build without the PCB direct Phono inputs or the Metal Tape style Selectors. Are these Hifi? If done well as here, why not, if the PCB track needs to be thick enough & not spaced too close as Modern Gear is. The Marantz 1072 track is thicker than the hair thin ones of later years so it's fine by us. Next The Design & Where It's Put. Phono stage is on the Left near the front. Further right is the Preamp. The Power Amp left & right are with the Power Supply in the middle, shorter distance than some older amps where there can be 30cm or more of wire between. Wires at the top are for Speaker selector & outputs, raised up higher, plenty of pics online. Output Transistors on a Proper Finned Heatsink, not the crude Marantz 1090 way & not the awful Transistor plugs that Killed the Marantz 1122DC. Transformer on the right away from the rest. This is Good Design if lacking a Relay, if there is a Protection Circuit in the Power Amp. The 1072 isn't cramped up like the 1090, it certainly is like Later Amps in Build if as the First Generation, before Cost Cutting hit more & made 1986 Realistic STA-2280, the first New Amp we bought in 1987. This suffered from loads of the Computer Cable connectors unshielded wire, ICs & just not that pleasing when we got one a while back. Hearing of a 1983 Trio-Kenwood KR-1000, the insane silver computer driven 120w receiver, this too has those Not-Fi type connectors & a Mega amount of ICs for Control. An amp like that is probably Unrepairable if Faulty as the Control Circuit could be limiting, just like your dreaded 'Error Mode' that never get fixed as too expensive. 'Buy A New One, It's Better...' they say... ↑
1950s Home Made Valve Amplifier & Speaker On "The Repair Shop".
Seen this as a 'teaser' on several episodes if now to see it on S6 E8. Tuner Amplifier it seems, with a Slider to Tune, not the usual dial, cord & window. Home Made, it looks of a Quality that Home Constructors did back then, pre 1958 as not Stereo possibly, based on the Enthusiast Magazines. In Real Terms it's not to any design as Custom, so value on it will be small, if Historically Important to the Owner. The show gives certain ideas away but you'll probably not see much. So to watch the show again & add more. Inside both Amp & Tuner are All Home Made to the cases, so not bits put into a big case. Very well made with the squared corner wire bending looms like the Quad II & all the right bits of the era, if it'll not be like Hifi as we know it. But despite it being clean & tidy, the ancient capacitors & resistors. Some won't work, but like our 1932 Pye G/RG radiogram if you're lucky, to get a low use one not fiddled with. The Radio part is on a 9v Battery so it'll be later as Tuner boxes will be Transistors probably Germaniums, older batteries possibly used when new if 9v not 24v etc. Home Build Amp not one of the 1940s 'Williamson' ones with hefty transformers. Uses a Variac to bring up the Voltage, if not much use on Transistor amps with Regulators as that can bring Voltage issues. Seeing it up close, AFC on the Tuner, Aluminium controls look like c.1963 era ones you could buy in 'Henry's Radio' in the late 60s still. Kit made innards as things like Complex Filter with several stages. But only Mono for c.1963. His Testing using 1kHz loud test tones showed it sounded a bit rough & the Home Made speaker a bit silly to risk it, if the reality is it'll be much tested before what is filmed, like 'Pawn Stars' shooting 18th Century Guns, they don't just chance it. They 'played' it, if to assume post-production sound as too crisp despite the thin sound. Makes you wonder what they do with these things after. These sort of items just to rebuild, no point upgrading as too early, if not seeing a Valve Rectifier as likely is a 1963 build at the earliest. Will they Use It more than once? Not if it sounds weak. Not all restoration is worth bothering with. ↑
To Jan 2021 Blog...