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Hi-Fi Blog... Page 6 - 2022

See the MAIN PAGE for the INDEX.


January 2022 Blog

More Horrible 1980s Amps, No-One Will Want To Try To Repair These.

1989 180w Akai AM-95 & 1988 100w Akai AM-73 "Digital Integrated Amplifiers". These were likely sold as Something Special back in the day. We're asked about these, not tried later Akai so to see these are Heavily Stuffed with ICs means they are unrepairable & to even bother with them is just not what we as Hifi techs would want to get involved with. A Non Working One will never find anyone to dare fix it, so it's Disposable. Put it on ebay as 'Not Working' & let someone take it cheaply for parts. There seem to be a deluge of these type of unrepairable amps, in reality you got 30 years use, well done, get rid & buy something New or try Proper Vintage that can be forever repaired. You can see they tried others to repair it, unaware that a Tech has to think there will be success to tackle an amp like this & they've had time enough to realise these amps are best avoided. As for asking for Repairs & Servicing, just not worth the aggro, these are 30+ years old & probably need recapping plus the risk of worn out controls. A Harsh Reality.

Non-Working Amps Can Often Be Too Risky To Try To Repair.
Worth Trying.
An old amp that Powers Up & Lights Bulbs if is otherwise Very Rough & Noisy in use at least has it's Status Known: It Does Work even if not useable. An Amp that Blows Fuses & gives nothing in terms of life could be absolutely anything wrong. Signs of Damage can help narrow it down, if seeing nothing that looks faulty leaves the Tech to fault find, which can take ages as much testing is needed. The 1971 Marantz 2270 arrived like this. We take the challenge as this is Our Era & one of those 'Forever Repairable' type amps. We got it going as our review tells. Getting a Dead Amp going is a great thing & what causes it to blow the Main Fuse can be a lot more obscure than expected. Not Worth Trying. The type of amp like the 1989 Akai ICs amps above is where Techs don't want to spend your Money on what is a pure gamble. It may be a repair that could work out, or it could end up finding one Bad IC that makes the Amp useless. Would you Spend Hundreds to "Try" to Repair an amp & then be satisfied the Gamble failed & you have a Dead Amp & Wasted Money? It's where 'Beyond Economical Repair' comes in & not to spend is wisest. For Less Money than a Gamble you could buy another working one & swap the best external parts to it, knowing the Amp was a working one. But the 1980s IC stuffed amp isn't a good buy thesedays, maybe it's time to buy a better amp, as in easier to repair.

A Few 1963 & 1965 Valve Receivers With Updated Years.
The More We See in the Early years, the better to date them, with HFN reviews & ads helping. A Big Design Change is a small slider that Fisher & Akai used in 1963, the big ranges of USA Fisher valve amps are therefore all 1963, if continued to be made & sold into 1966. Those saying Fisher valves are late 1960s are clearly just guessing the first year of manufacture. By 1964 Fisher were onto versions of Early Transistor Amps like the Fisher 440-T with better rocker switches. The sliders on the Akai AA-5000 date it to 1963 too perhaps, the 1966 Akai AA-5000 S is a sneaky 'rebadging', the manuals show several versions of Transistor used with Germaniums still in both models. 1965 Trio WX-400U, 1965 Trio W-41U plus backdating 1963 Akai AA-5000, the non 'S' version.

Five Amp Compare On Original Amplifiers Not Yet Upgraded.

Makes a change to have 5 Amps to actually be working & test together as Original. Two more 1963 Akai AA-5000 & 1966 Sanyo DC-60 aren't useable. These following are ones that are Ours plus two Customer's Amps. To compare these Five Quality Amps to give an idea of what we hear & consider them to sound like, being Worthy of Upgrading. On Headphones only, we don't trust old amps on our Tannoys until rebuilt, if have tried a few in earlier blogs. Treble & Midrange quality the main idea, on Original Amps Bass is usually lacking in the Deep Bass under 50Hz range. This weak Bass upgrades well & always much improves, it's why we upgrade. Using only two test tracks "Uptown Top Ranking " and JJ's "Crimson & Clover". Two have slight transistor noise Pioneer & JVC. In no particular order, 1971 Sony STR-6065 70w. USA-EU if non UK model, was trashed beyond repair on the power amp if amazingly we got a spare working amp board & haven't altered anything else beyond the repairs. Bass limited, so about +2 on Bass fills it out better. This is a high quality sound with Treble & Midrange sounding very decent, wide Stereo on Rock it is detailed if not the bass weight yet, some treble slurring is noticeable as it is aged. This will upgrade to probably be the Best Sony integrated. 1967 Trio-Kenwood TK-140X 53w the Black label 1st version. This has 2 nasty Bass Filters in the design & has No Bass really below 100Hz, +2 on Tone isn't great. But it has a nice clean sound, Treble & Midrange as good as the Sony if not quite the open sound. Receiver version of the KA-6000 & is a great amp upgraded, bettering the KA-6000 in either version. 1966 Pioneer SX-1000TA 40w-50w actually still works as original. A different sound here, a more refined crisp smooth sound with more kick to it. Not the Bass weight if otherwise this isn't the more sweet sound of the 1967 range. Will probably be the best sounding Transistor Pioneer once upgraded & we have the 1969 SX-2500 too. Next is a bit Different, the 1973 JVC 4VN-880 25w x4, 55w x 2. A 4 Channel Bridgeable Amplifier. This all original if very rough on arrival, much work needed. Not the typical SEA Equaliser as the 4VN-990 we have has, this has standard Tone Controls. Sounds like the Pioneer for the crisp smooth sound & at last Some Bass & more weight on Rock. Very punchy sound for 25w. This does sound the best one here so far not taking Bass into consideration, the others are still The Best in Vintage & not as Serviced as the JVC needed as unusable originally. Last one is a 1971 Marantz 2270 70w. This has the Retro Bass that upset the 1977 Marantz 2235B. Quality sound here, a little flatter than the JVC, Bass here +2 is a bit Retro lumpy, if otherwise another of The Best Vintage, rather different to the soft 2245 as we had years back. 2270 needed some repair to try & may still be lacking until recapped-upgraded as a little 'shoutiness' noticeable in comparing to the JVC which has different design. Interesting Batch of Amps, some of The Best there Are. The JVC one wins as original, if to be fair it's much serviced, some of the others aren't much serviced yet. To rate 1-5 is a bit pointless as such quality in the amps. The STR-6065, 4VN-880 & SX-1000TA were ones we purposely got for seeing their circuit designs.

Auctioneers Like Easy Wins Only?
Plenty you see on TV & for those taking 'Bargain Hunt' items they are aware it's dealing with low value uninteresting items, but they get seen on TV so Free Advertising. 'Dickinson's Real Deal' is more interesting as it features higher value interesting items, often 'sleepers' that can do well or fail badly. Notice how displeased they are if the seller sets a Reserve too high as they get no commission as Unsold. Our first taste of Auctions was in 1987 with a Cliff Richard 'Taxi' acetate, hear it on Youtube. It made £750 which is very high & Cliff wouldn't make that price these days. 30% commission at Sothebys plus Insurance for them to store is very expensive, today 10-15% is typical, if the high rates get the best prices, we got back about £480. We've got a Paul Simon acetate, to see prices on Popsike for released ones are around £200 as only Unissued Acetates make big money. Paul Simon a low profile artist currently if an important one. To be lazily told it's a £100-200 item shows they've not understood what it is & even with all the info we've found, to not even try it at a better reserve is sadly the sort of way we find others deal. We continued by asking them about Auctioning Vintage Hifi, not that we'd do that with our Upgraded Rebuilds, but generally with the main money items like Garrard 301-401, Lowther valve amps, Tannoy Golds etc, the more established prices. Even offered them 'Hifi Shark' as a pricing site. To try to further Vintage Hifi, but not even a reply shows these 'hipsters' are no different to any auction house. Our Website in Records & Hifi has Always been about Promoting The Sleeper. To Keep Music & Hifi alive with interest in things previously bypassed. The Auction House should be more willing to take chances, but the reality is the Old Sniffy ways of decades ago are much there still.

1959 Garrard 4HF Turntable on 'The Repair Shop'
This turntable we've mentioned on the Turntables page before. It was a Popular one with UK's Jamaican Reggae scene in later years, the D-shaped one that came on a similar Garrard plinth. Uses a nice Garrard motor & bearing which is why it was picked & it has a captive arm that's of good quality for the age as we had the seperate arm to try. But Old it is now, Steel Turntable platter no good for Magnetic Cartridges & the Wire Wound Speed Control will always be long burnt out & leaving it run too fast. The Garrard spares guy we rang about 30 years ago groaned about that long unavailable part, we had a nice grade one back then. So to see what the TV show does with a tatty one wil be interesting. The Love the UK based Jamaicans have for Music & the home-made Sound System is great, if not so widely known outside music circles. The 4HF here was in bad condition, no slip mat, parts seized, no cartridge & said to be 'burnt out' on the motor, possibly the speed controller. It's too far gone & to buy a better working one, ebay has ones £200-£300 plus extras like a PVC cover. A working one sold £205 recently. Motor was fine, he didn't strip it down to service like we did on the 301 & 401s, big job but to do it properly. Mechanics quite basic, motor similarly a more budget version if the Bearing on the Platter & Spindle is more like the 301 style, the oil version. To build a new plinth makes it a neater piece. To see what they do for a mat & the badly corroded aluminum arm plus the speed controller. Mat they use isn't the right one, these you'd never find unless you get a parts unit & some do crack badly. No mention of the speed controller. They use a crystal flip over cartridge, the sort still buyable in the 1980s & old stock around, you'd never find an original beyond parts units. Makes a decent job of it, arm polished bright & the owner is 'well pleased' playing Don Drummond 'Man In The Street' a classic 1965 Island Ska 45, speed a bit wrong shows the speed controller was broken.

The Problems Recapping & Upgrading Some Amps We've Had.
We've bought amps for several years now to Upgrade them to see if we can get 'Excellent' from them, as in just scrapes it or a High Excellent. Problems meaning 'Overcoming Poor Design' rather than just having a faulty one needing more done. Some Amps Upgrade well, others are Obviously with Rubbish design such as Overheating Power Supplies that knock the amp out, others with Low Spec Cost Cutting & the Ridiculous amount of Bass Filtering in amps of all years 1965-1982 which may surprise. One such amp that did give an Excellent after much more work we got asked about, Akai AA-8080 from 1973 on reading the review to remember how much it took to be it's best & then another one we upgraded too must be an altered design mid run as it wouldn't upgrade the same way, to update that review. Then the 1973 Pioneer SA-9100 we aren't pleased with as the Review tells, it has some awful design plus the extreme Bass Filters, plus a hard one to work on. Question asks if £450 will upgrade it is way short of what any 'better' 60w amp would cost to Rebuild to 'Use Daily' quality & no point not doing the job right. No point saying what it'll really cost as you can tell a 'no sale' as they didn't even bother to see if we'd had it to Review. Note the '1973' and both brands in the Comet cost cutting problem that upset the Hifi Market as much blogged about.

The Idea A Full Recap With Design-Based Upgrades, Full Service & Testing

... on a complex 60w amp is only £450 shows too many not reading much or anything to realise this is Not Cheap Work, do it properly or don't, go sell it on ebay. A quick reply to see if they even reply back & then say more as many just disappear, ones thinking even £200 rebuilds a complex amp to realise they'll never become customers. '£450 Won't Even Touch It' is a good line to at least get a reply, if usually they can't really afford that. To say 'Cheaper Rebuilt Amps On Our Sales Page' rarely gets a reply. A Sense of Reality & Worth in Upgraded & Recapped Amps for The Costs & Skilled Work including Redesign is not an easy Concept to get through. Imagine if Hundreds realised how Great our Work is & having a possible 30 Amps to work on, no good to us as it's only one person doing this.

Ferranti Mid 1930s Bakelite Desktop Radio Wireless.
We've had lots of Old Radios & Radiograms over the years, if only keep the 1932 Pye G/RG Radiogram as it's a smart looker. Old Radios as Valves & early Transistor Portables you see on TV fairly often. Are they that interesting anymore? The Stylish ones are, the vast majority are pretty dull & most will never work again as they probably will Cost Too Much To Fix, the age old issue. 'The Repair Shop' has the Ferranti, here it's got the full set of control knobs & in decent grade externally which often isn't what you find. As with Hifi not worth fixing, the Radios still stay around in hope. Usual Valves, Outsize Capacitors inside, 'Goodmans' speaker the electromagnet type that was out of date by about 1936-37. Also the Tuner Glass lettering still good keeps it more worth keeping. 'The Usual Suspects' replaced, not as neat as we'd do it. But then Powered Up it burns an internal Transformer, so it needs a donor, which for the amount of tatty-cased unwanted Radios is probably not too hard, as is finding NOS Valves as there are enough of ones past mid 1930s to last forever, in terms of Radio ones. Amplifying ones may be much more difficult if over 5w. It does risk Unobtainable parts & as it's a Tuner, to need the right Test Gear. He sounds worried. Once done, said to be a big job as it needed a better tuner chassis as the other one too damaged, the Speaker replaced & a part of one front control knob found. It works, owner very pleased. Originality. Collectors like as much Original on early valve Radios. This may need several Parts Units. Our Pye has a very high grade outer, original cloth, original electromagnet speaker if reconed as it crumbled. To get a Pye G radio to swap the main block as it had a replaced transformer, still had the 'pepperpot' capacitors that are left for looks & all resistors and other capacitors as original which must be rare. This is how you want these early items. A piece of card as a base to keep the spiders out, we've not plugged it in for ages after getting it right adding the old style cloth cable as 3 core to have it grounded. It worked in an eerie 'lost' sound, if not to pretend it works perfectly as so original, Volume Control not great. It's 90 years old now. What's Not Good on old radios, radiograms & radio console units is the wood stripped giving a much darker finish than the sunfaded old one & the speaker cloth being tatty or replaced with something too new, even if a good pattern.


February 2022 Blog

People Just Don't Read Things. To Not Understand What They've Bought.
This is a Vintage Hi-Fi website. We Do Hi-Fi Jobs. It involves Recapping & Updating the Amp or Receiver. We Always Add Design Based Upgrades to improve the amp. Your Hifi as original will use parts to keep to a price to match the competition at the time, plus them being Decades old, they're past their best. Some amps we've heard that were being used still are very far gone, yet still used. Like you & others getting old, changes if seen often aren't noticed. Since 1973 Cost Cutting due to "Comet" wholesale pricing almost upset the scene. This means the Amp may be a great design but made on The Cheap so it's far from it's best. To see there are certain great amps 1969-71 that are made penny pinched & deliberately dumbed down to be 'not too good' is what we've discovered. We Question anything we don't see as right, clearly not a popular way of thinking as life over the last two years shows. To be Spoon Fed others ideas is basically what all Shop Bought Hifi is. All Designs of Anything are other people's ideas & the amount they change shows no-one is ever happy, if to see these changes over years shows the Best Ideas soon get forgotten. Our Unique Design Based Upgrades put back an amount of what was dumbed down at a Reasonable Price. We have gone a lot further to see how much better amps can be, with ideas added to the work we do over time & still realising new ones. Most Hifi people just Recap 'Like For Like' as the manual schematics show. This is Not Upgrading, it's Renewing parts. To Alter Designs as we do in our Custom Upgrades is a very different thing. To keep an amp hum free & stable can be a real problem which is why old time techs won't even recap, scared of issues. To send one of our Amps to a Book Smart Tech will not be understood, they'll foolishly say it's wrong as they can't think there's any other way than Booksmart. They'll do things wrongly & even totally trash the amp, as the poor Sony STR-6120 got as blogged before. It still lives. We have complex amps from as early as 1966 in 'use daily' quality with advanced rebuilds. The amount of work in some amps we sell is way ahead of the selling price, look at the Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 on our sales page. We bought it as it's Rare & looked interesting. Perhaps the grade should have left it, but we wanted it & now price to sell it. Profits nowhere in this one, many hours work, if it was an interesting one.

Cheap Modern Valve Amps, Oh Boy...

We get messages. They are only asking, but some are a bit unaware. To Blog it to Tell the ideas we get are sometimes Difficult as with the Blog above. We're here to do worthwhile Hifi Jobs, not just take in Anything that will likely be a Big Problem based on previous experiences. An Audio Innovations Series 300 Mk2 is some modern Class A 25w thing. Said to be 'hissy'. No circuit manuals on these if they are usually nothing special, made with Cheap Parts & to see the resale price of these tells they are Budget items. Then they think it'll be fixed for £200. Probably the sort of amp that is for Newbies to try the valve scene. To offer budget valve gear to one like us once it goes faulty, having had a couple of ones well over £1000 new to find they aren't made well. Our 1992 Tube Technology Genesis were over £4000 RRP when we got them, if to get ex-demo hugely cheaper shows the mark up on these. After over 20 years we've changed so much & to think a PCB is good on High Power for an amp used often tells us to Be Wary of any more modern valve amps. Better ones can be rebuilt as with that EAR Yoshino one, to then realise the lousy design. We don't want High Risk jobs on Budget gear. £200 wouldn't touch a rebuild, no Manuals, Compromised design. To learn it would take time & the Results even if you spent a more realistic £1000 may not be so good, so to just tell it how we see it, and never get a reply back...

The Problem Of Retro Bass.
On this one again. The Marantz 2235B guy we upgraded his well used amp to give a nice use daily joy with new bulbs making it a nice unit. 2235B has Retro Bass & why they liked the sound so asked it to stay if upgrade the rest. Amp returned sounding Hugely Better if the Retro Bass became a problem, they heard it as we Reviewed it. They thought to get it done further without the Retro Bass, if to be fair, we can't be totally sure how it would sound, it could need a lot more Upgraded to sound like other Marantz do. We liked the 4ch Receiver sound, if the 4ch Amp we heard their bassier sound if weren't pleased seeing it's 'Sound Shaping' similar to Retro Bass, so sold it on. We have been doing EQ for ages, so to know which sounds need boosting or cutting to sound more Natural. Retro Bass involves 'Ringing' on Audio, which makes a One-Note Bass. It has No Focus in lower Bass & you miss all the deeper bass as it's 'squashed up' by the Ringing Effect. The 2235B owner said it's like 'Having Loudness' on all the time, we suggested to use the Tone more to adjust. Currently they'll keep it as-is, if the Midrange (500Hz-2kHz) won't be affected by Retro Bass. We have the 1971 Marantz 2270 here, it amazingly for a top 70w model has this Retro Bass, so we'll upgrade it to Our Ideas, rather than risk a confused buyer. The 2235B owner can see our Review when it's done & maybe decide again. More in a Blog next Month.

Retro Bass Is A Cheap Way To Get A Punchy Sound That Can Please.
We first knew it with the Hacker GAR record players & it made 1950s & 1960s Singles sound more punchy & to EQ things today, to remember this sound on the same 45s decades later is a strange one. They Sound Better for a fuller sound, if in reality we have far better Record Playing Gear now, they can sound a bit thin. Bass has to be limited on Vinyl else the grooves would be with too much movement so Tracking would be a problem. A reason why a 12" single version of vinyl by the 1970s Disco era was popular as grooves more spaced gives a louder bassier cut, in theory. One recent amp that had us Questioning this was the 1969 Sanyo DC-66. We had no Manuals, but it had a well crafted sound, it had Retro Bass, if with no info best to leave it with the Retro Bass. We tried it without it & it was very thin if clean sounding. Not knowing what else to safely alter as the circuits were far from any designs we'd seen in some ways. But the Funny Thing is is actually Sounded Good on speakers, the Marantz 2235B & others were awful on our Tannoys. The customer who sent it for a Rebuild liked the sound too as it had when returned done. What in the design balanced it is still unknown.


March 2022 Blog

Retro Bass: Test It Out With Sine Waves.
In Hi-Fi mags you'll see amps tested with Square Waves & showing degrees of tilt & more, showing Poor Response & RF issues. We understand it, but like all those endless stupid graphs in the Media for the last 2 years, to learn what it all means is often not worth the effort knowing. Theory has a base in Hifi, if Listening is the real way to describe, backed up with Test Results to confirm things. Some play Musical instruments like a Master without understanding the formal notes & sheet music meanings. We've tested Hifi a lot to see How Good our upgrades are, that 1971 Sony TA-1130 we had a few times a few years back got tested & was found flat 20Hz to 20kHz. What it was like Original we never tested, but as Upgraded it was as it should be. But to upgrade it to be that good, it has to be kept stable with other ideas. The TA-1130 power amp is like the STR-6065 & TA-3200F power amp, it's a very good one. So to test an amp similarly with known Retro Bass, to see what it actually does, knowing how it sounds on Speakers & how a similar Marantz 2235B sounds & confuses the owner who initially liked the Retro Bass sound. See what it reads at from Input to Speaker Output as was the TA-1130. The Marantz 2270 is the one we use, what we've done already won't affect the readings, to read Sine Waves on the Speaker Outputs using Test Tones into the Aux with the level set to match what you'd use it on Speakers at mostly, ie 3-4. What will it test like? Typing this before trying anything. You could test only the section with the Retro Bass, if having tried similar, it doesn't quite tell true as impedance can affect outputs, so Aux in to Speaker out is the way you use the amp after all. Test It. Set all controls Flat, Loudness & Filters off. Set 1kHz as a 10.02v reference on the Velleman battery scope using the Soundcard. Not the most accurate, if a quicker way than Generator & Proper Scope, if we're looking at the Below 1kHz ranges, this way shows over 1kHz less accurately as the readings always rise, which isn't as wanted. See the Graph Here. Quite obviously an Uneven Bass, the 'Ringing Effect' will pull the Frequencies into a 'One Note' Bass with a clear Boost in the 40Hz-80Hz range reading around 11v with 50Hz going as high as 11.82v. This eases back to 'Flat' only by 300Hz, so a thickening of the Sound will be Obvious. It does as it says, as 'Retro Bass' but it's artificial if will please on cheaper speakers that are playing 50Hz much reduced. 'Retro Bass' can fool you that it's Bassier, but here we show the Blurred Poorly-Defined Bass Under 80Hz is shaped into a Peak of 10%-18% which is quite a way off Flat. An amp should Ideally be Flat on Preamp & Power Amp, with Phono obviously different. If you want more Bass or Treble, use Tone, we do, but to have the Option of Hearing It Flat as all Rooms differ in sound. Retro Bass is what it says, an Old Fashioned 'Cheap' way of getting Bass of sorts. The Marantz 2270 upgraded well to bring a fresher Bass & doesn't need it as the basic design is good.

Another Radiogram On 'The Repair Shop'.
This time a Grundig one looking mid 1960s. It's nice the Owner is sentimental about it, the outer case looks in good order. But the insides are broken she said & the Turntable a replaced one. Nightmare job, the replaced Turntable usually means the space has been cut bigger as soon revealed & having had this on older Grams, to get it to look right is tricky. The Tuner cord sounds broken, can be restrung if this can be difficult even with the Repair Manual. The innards are budget EU TV-grade quality & to even get it working will be a big job. How will our guy do, he's not the best Tech from previous jobs, bit of a Bodger. Better to look online for a complete & working one for £50 as it often the way. Interestingly Jay says "the bass was beautiful" on these Radiograms, clearly an old memory & way off even Retro Bass mentioned above. An uninsulated open box wth severely limited Retro Bass usually sounded truly awful & boxy, if the earlier Valve ones made of better quality sound far better in their rather crude non-Hifi way with limited real Treble & Bass. Bass must be very limited as speakers in the same case as a Turntable could get Feedback Howling & the springs help limit that. What they do to the unit won't please The Purist, if perhaps it's best when the innards are so rough. They get another Grundig radiogram, a nice condition late 1960s or even early 1970s one as it has Slider controls. Radiograms still were selling into the 1970s until Music Centres that sat on a Sideboard became popular. They fit the Turntable & Tuner-Amp part from the Donor unit into the owner's old case. So they got a complete & working one for £50 perhaps, if not getting quite the same one, it's an acceptable repair, plus they get two Speakers to fit in as well. Donor Gram gets a side panel used as the Turntable plinth part which makes a good job. They play it, a very dull soft sound here perhaps is post-production sound, these usually sounded brighter & louder. The owner delighted & won't remember how it exactly looked. Overall not a bad job to not deal with the low quality parts by getting a donor unit, if not replacing anything. Repairing lower end units is generally not worthwhile, go find a better one.

Comparing Sleeper Amps to Sleeper Koalas?
Being of an age, the Koala Bear (they're not Bears) was just a static image with it never on TV so it never really mattered. An Australian Icon if they're still not that well known or cared about it seems to the masses in the EU regions. Barely in UK-EU-US Zoos even. The Internet has got the delightful Koala noticed as it looks like a live Teddy Bear & can be a fascinating animal that is actually very interesting beyond it's 22 hour sleeps high up trees & eating rubbishy leaves. Two versions, the Northern light grey smaller one & the Southern larger darker grey more furry bigger one, as in Adult Koala sizes. "It has What?" is what reading about them will reveal, as do YouTube videos of one chasing a Truck & one being spoken kindly to in order to get it out of a Car plus more. The young ones (Joeys) are ultra cute as looking at the Irwin's Facebook pages show often, 'Salt' is a very handsome one. Plenty of Facebook Koala groups. Only noticed the Koala again in January from the 'Crikey! It's The Irwins' on Animal Planet that are also showing the Steve Irwin shows again. Not seen these, 20 years ago not into Animal shows & not liking the Attenborough or BBC ones, so to see them now after having it as the main background channel after years watching 'My Cat From Hell' which makes you not like selfish cats so much. Seeing Zoo Animals interacting with us Humans shows much happier animals in a way not even UK's Chester Zoo with "The Secret Life Of The Zoo" can do. All these lovely fascinating animals from Australia to discover from Crocodiles to Komodo Dragons & all the Furry Ones. The more traditional ones now shown having character adds to the interest. To find the Tasmanian Devil is real, not just a Bugs Bunny character. Koalas are Cute when small, entertaining & funny when grown & an animal that needs to be better known. The Adult wild Koalas are interesting & from seeing the Horror on the girl's face on S2 E1 of 'The Irwins' on mating to see this is no dozy animal in reality. Fascinating & Likeable too. It is like Discovering Sleeper Hifi which we certainly jumped deep into over the last Ten Years, much joy seeing a Koala & watching the same bits on TV to keep up the joy of seeing our furry buddies. The reality of the Koala is a sad one, it costs the Rescue Zoo on average AU$7000 to 'repair' a Koala over a year & Australia Zoo has helped many. Koalas have a lot of problems & now are 'endangered'. Seems they are much loved by those lucky enough to meet them, if still rarely on TV otherwise. Good Hifi is Endangered too, much will have been thrown out over the Decades, or it looks for one who'll spend properly to keep it alive, the amount to do some amps justice will scare off many sadly as Vintage Hifi is often too old to use if some still is, it still can be risky trusting it. Finding Koalas again certainly a joy, the much loved Meerkats are more like Stoats & Mink to appeal as wildly, the Koala really is an unique animal. If only it had a bigger brain, ate better food not to sleep 22 hours a day, but it's unique ways keep it alive. You can do 'Star Trek' Fingers, now try 'Koala Fingers'. For a wild animal that's only in one country, the Koala brings happiness unlike any other, beyond domestic Cats & Dogs. Save The Koala. Long Live The Koala.

April 2022 Blog

1970 Belgium 'Carad 2001' Tuner amplifier aka 'Thorens 1250'.
We heard of this 35w one in 2018 via a Belgian contact. To see inside Photos shows it's that typical EU type build, part PCB & part hardwired. Said to be good sounding, if with problems as the age would suggest. To hear it's also the Thorens 1250 as Google shows the same fascia is how UK & EU amps were by then, some sold under other brands if the same innards. The one who mentioned the Thorens is one of those who wants to be told, For Free as always, how to Upgrade it & Wanting help how to do it & train a newbie, oh boy. Not deserving a reply as you'd expect, are we not offering a Rebuild & Upgrade service here? To always get one who thinks this occasionally, freeloaders despite making it clear. The Carad looks like other EU amps like the Revox & also the UK Goodmans. They have a style that can look good, but lids off to get that EU style radiogram innards build. The thing is these are not the quality of Japanese & USA amplifiers as we've tried, to even recap Like-For-Like is going to bring problems & upgrading just won't do like the better amps. Many like EU amps, but it's the reality, quality lacks. To do Upgrades on Amps we know can take it, the Carad as with the last UK Ferrograph years ago & Goodmans we had, we'd not try these again to upgrade as UK & EU built amps are a very different beast, even to Budget Japanese amps. The more amps we see, the more that we'd not want to deal with is a sad reality. Imagine the TV Repair Guys of old dealing with 'difficult' amps, but they were just Repairing & to imagine how many were given back after it was too much. The Hacker GAR-550 needed repair in about 1990 & after a few weeks, it was back as 'Unrepairable', to see when we got one again in 2011 that it was very repairable, if perhaps too big a job or beyond their knowledge? Hifi Repairs are not teachable beyond a Specialist Course & most of what you do is beyond what they teach. Basically, if you need to ask beyond potentially risky Forum advice, you really shouldn't be messing with Hifi as you'll ruin it.

Wiring Build Quality On Some Amps Is Extremely Poor.
This relates to the internal Wiring, not the PCB or case work which is usually not a problem if in nice grade. An Amp should be designed to be Repair Friendly. Many liked their amp & wanted it fixed regardless of it being Top Range or a Spirited Low Model. The absolute worst thing in amp repairs is getting Loose Wires. The later designs with plug-in boards & connectors are made for easy Construction & help Repairs. The very complex 4-Channel amps by Trio-Kenwood are a masterwork in wiring, done in Factories usually by Women as they have calmer manners & better Patience. Kenwood amps are nice to work on as are others like Pioneer & Sansui. Sony are a little more fussy with the STR-6120 a real 'loosie' one if other Sony are later & better as complaints will have arrived. One Prestige brand, who we'll not name, as they are otherwise Great Sounding & Reliable, sadly suffer from 'designed by the thickest person' to put it calmly. Some boards so tight & inaccessible to bring out the juiciest of cuss words & "Who designed this Crap?". Just look at a wire almost & it comes loose, so tightly bound you can't do much else with it & to move it can get many 'loosies' over doing a rebuild. To be prepared for this, else have to trace 6 feet of lines on a Schematic & avoid insanity. Of course we are mannered with repairs, to get cross at it but not get angry. How many amps get smashed up by amateurs thinking this work was easy? If an amp gets too much, put it away for another day, if to continue we can do & get it working again not to go sleep on a problem amp as you'll think of The Amp. Hifi Dreams. Later amps use PCB track for most so the wiring is minimal which is user friendly, but to see the track can be so fine it's not really the quality of wired connections.

An Unusual PA Styled Receiver: The Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 Jumbo.

A large sized receiver from 1971 with the Reverb & Rhythm Composer stage. This been up for sale a while & gathering dust since, oh dear. To slightly reluctantly drag it out after playing 2 other Trio-Kenwood just to play it again. Takes a few minutes to wake it up & then to think 'What The Hell are we Selling this for?" Only fairly average grade if tidy enough for a Bachelor Pad or Man Cave & the whole thing works. Not sold is because it's not much known. Ferocious PA Sound when cranked up louder & just a little Soundcard EQ to balance it to Our Sound, ie -3dB on 125Hz as the Tone Stage isn't great, plus adding high Treble +1dB on 8kHz & +2db on 16kHz. More 'Exciting' than the other amps, just 33w but it's a very decent power amp following on from the 1969-70 designs, this a 1971 amp that must have got good use in Small PA settings as it has a Guitar Input also. Playing Music is often about "Excitement" & the KR-6170 as it sits as we type certainly has it. Just needs the EQ tweaks if that means Custom Redesign inside. It did sound good on the Tannoys if the Bass Tone control isn't as good as Trio usually did. But it's a PA amp & the thicker sound to suit a Dry Sounding Room. Hifi is often a Thin Sound with no real Bass or Richness, high Damping Factor kills that. The unique KR-6170 sound needs to be heard. It has a typical DF of 50, so it's Rich Sound is in the design which is more a PA design than a Hifi Amp like the KA-6000 etc. Just moved from Rock & Pop to Reggae of the same era, ie 1977-90-ish. The sound 'Uptown Top Ranking' has compared to the other amps is much fuller sounding. On TV when you see a Reggae Sound System playing with that tough bass, even on a standard Hifi playing TV sound, it sounds rich & not what you'll be used to, just like hearing a fancy Wurlitzer jukebox on the 1956 era Rock & Roll films, the Bass is the thing. Retro Bass has it's place, but the KR-6170 hasn't got this. It's a little too rich on Reggae, if -3dB on 250Hz balances the treble. (Actually Loudness was on, the Tone setting switch is very small...) Still sounds fierce on even crisply cut stereo reggae, Bunny Wailer 'Dreamland' a track we first got on the UK LP mid 1980s & played on the Hacker GAR 550 with it's Retro Bass. To want the Bassy sound but without the Fake Ringing Bass, Retro Bass is a funny one, we clearly knew & liked the sound in the 1980s if want Hifi & Real Bass with the Retro Bass tinge, which is why the TR-707A appeals. The design shows how the KR-6170 does this appealing sound, it's all in the PA Amp design. KR-6170 will have got Old-Fashioned by the Late 1970s for the 'quaint' Rhythm composer, which is the same sort of thing in Electric Organs as a backing 'Vamp'. To see old Films & TV we remember the KR-6170 sound sometimes. Playing 1960s Ska now, it really suits this amp, as does other 1960s music. Now to know it better & realise how Great the amp is. But are we being fed a created sound, rather than a real Hifi sound? Wonder what it'll sound like Tomorrow. Next day to play it on the same Soundcard EQ on Headphones reveals the Amp Compresses the Sound to make 33w sound like 100w as taming the Peaks not to damage Speakers played Loud on a Stage-Gig setting. It does sound impressive cranked up Loud, to hear it's not so punchy played lower volume means it's use isn't as broad as other amps. Fascinating amp for it's PA qualities, a sound you may prefer for the Compression that tames the Dynamic Peaks subtly. Update May 2022. On getting the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X early one part done, to compare Trios. To assume we had the Tiny Tone Selector to 'Loudness' matching the above opinion. Sounds very different now & need to keep it again. The Game of Amp comparing has always been tricky, to retry many combinations as Blogged before a few times. To keep it a while for more Upgrades, no other amp sounds like this one.

Blaupunkt "Blue Spot" Radiogram on 'The Repair Shop'.
Used to see these ones often in the late 1980s, one guy we knew who fitted shops out had several of these & kept buying more. One on the 'Repair Shop' S9 E16 shows these Early 1960s items that were still working around 1988, if their one is now very tired. Interesting that it was kept by the Owner, memories of last using it to play James Brown 'Man's World' long ago in 1978 & likely put in a garage until their house cleared out. Jamaicans in UK bought these often, see on C4's "Desmonds" a similar one plus on the 1979 film 'Quadrophenia'. They were kept nicely polished with a cloth Doily on top, still proudly owned by the original owners, used to see these in their houses still in the 1980s. This was a step up from the Dansette type record player. The idea of a Cocktail Cabinet on the left half is Kitsch for sure. Wouldn't the glass shelf & contents Rattle when played? You think it has Bass, not so. Didn't hear these played much as the sound wasn't all that, better ones to play like the Stereo Coffee Table version of the Pye Black Box. Here the cabinet isn't too bad, the Cloth cover on the speakers typically torn & the speaker cones with holes. To get new speakers or recone? Never seen inside one, valves for the age & two speakers as a Mono unit of no real Hifi quality. The tattered cloth looks really bad if not hard to replace, how will he do it? Jay gets some retro looking cloth, probably easier to find than us trying mid 1990s. Stripping the top varnish off keeps the colour which isn't typical, to re-gloss it should work out fine, again not the usual result. Jay in a way sounding unaware of the actual sound, says the speakers matter, but the lousy way the other guy patched the water damaged elliptical cone are way off a proper replacement or recone. It'll never sound even like it did even? Once done, much not shown & to see the TV repair grade guy didn't understand what the small speaker was, an early Treble tweeter one like the EAR record player has. Looked smart, they played it, was it real sound or post-production, a rough distorted midrange sound if too punchy says a later added music track. Owner very pleased, they'll use a few times then probably not play again. Would we take on Radiogram repairs? No chance, to restore innards & outer is a job that'd way outprice the dream. Rebuild a seized Turntable? Rebuild a noisy crackly cheap Radiogram innards? Too many issues & far too much work to do right. If you want one, or want to restore Gran's one, go buy another one in nice visual grade that still basically works. An amount of items 'The Repair Shop' work on would be better finding a better grade one rather than restoring poor grade ones.


May 2022 Blog

We'll Just Plug It In And Try It.
People have been doing this with Electrical gear for decades, regardless of how Old the item is. Seeing 'The Repair Shop' S9 with that green clock ship oddity, the guy said he was glad he didn't just plug it in on seeing bare Mains Cables as the Rubber Covering on the 1940s unit had perished. To consider he'd not just plug old stuff in, you'd hope. The Radiogram repair guy they used before the current one, just plugged something in & fused all the barn's lights. We'd not plug anything in without having a good look & only trust with a Circuit Breaker unit, the type you plug in the socket & plug the item into, not just relying on the House Fuse or Circuit Breaker, the nearness of the plug in one to save upsetting other mains items. Look on ebay, they say they plugged it in & it lights up, or it started smoking & blew the fuse, if rarely hear of Circuit Breakers. Often 'Untested' is a lie, how can you price it as Not Working when if it did even work to a degree it's worth more? Of course the seller plugs it in, as does a customer wanting a rebuild. They've taken the risk plugging it in, which is better for us as to risk a total unknown is difficult. To not know the Status on an electrical item is a pure gamble & the idea of "Plug It In And See What Burns" is an old TV Repair guy way that at least gives a result, but be aware they'll be on Isolated Mains to not risk danger, if just plugging it in with no protection & touching metal casework is dangerous.

We'll Try It On Speakers Next.
Assuming the amp of 20-50+ years age hasn't gone bang, electrocuted you, started burning or getting hot, to hear if it plays music is next. To reach this stage of Hifi is usually called "In Working Order", regardless of what noises, crackes & hum it makes next, it is basically Working, if "Useable" is the detail rarely told. For us to be glad it basically Works saves a lot of time, to buy a 1966 amp expecting it to play is unlikely, if our 1966 Pioneer SX-1000TA early one remarkably is useable, often a much less useful sound is heard. The thing here is people just plug Speakers in. We don't do this as why trash a speaker, the outputs may have 30v DC on the outputs from damage or aging. The capacitor coupled earlier amps you'd assume would block the DC as designed, but the capacitors can fail. Not many will bother read the DC offset, over 100mV to 30v+ is not ideal. Relays click off, or won't turn on, if over 1v DC offset, non Relay amps could fry the speakers, again to read with a multimeter. "It Works But Is Noisy" is a good way to fairly sell a Vintage Amp in aged condition. Often amps don't work on both channels as faulty in some way. To not mention it when selling & charge £300-£600 as we've found is insulting the buyer. One 1969 Pioneer amp worked but with obvious noises & crackles not mentioned if not expecting perfection. One 1973 JVC amp had no Audio on Speakers if was fine on Headphones. They'd never tried it on speakers & to repair it was an advanced one. Who would think no Speaker output sound if it was fine on Headphones?

Explaining "This Website Is Not Secure" Scary Browser Messages.
The old "Legacy Server" uses http: not the https: secure mode. To see this is just about the standard now means we need to contact our Server to see what to. You'd think they'd message us saying the Secure Server is much the same price, paying monthly, but we're left not knowing & see the Browser Message on most browsers now. It must scare off 80% of users. The reality is select45rpm is a Manual site, the Hifi pages typed on 'Dreamweaver' & the Record Listing pages we create on Excel & other coding programs. No Database or Shop Trolley. Only the email & order forms require input. No real need for 'Secure' beyond the growing trend first seen pre 2020. Why the Hell don't the Servers tell you? They're not doing their job are they, leaving a few stranded not knowing what to do. All we have to do is Email back saying we want this Hosting Package & it'll take a few Hours to move Servers. The useful Stats page showing Page Use isn't available now is the only minus, if we have much used it to tailor the site. Package is monthly & including free https: for 3 years, then it's £30 yearly which is fine. Looking at old bookmarks, a lot of the hifi info ones still showing http: or the version not showing any http: as ours used to with a killer "Not Secure" on Chrome & Padlock strike thru on Firefox. In earlier days we used to look at Source Code on one records site, 'View Source' they still have showing even today. They add Cookies which we don't bother with. They use the CSS type coding like <span...> that is a lot of work to do. We did one page with CSS that took ages to do, the List Of Amplifiers page, this gets a lot of hits, if not so much more than the non CSS Receivers page. Doing the page link shows our 'Base Href' & other needs updating http: to https:, just noticed that, as typical we weren't told this would need doing. "No need for you to do anything", well we'll see. The 'W3 Mark Up Validator' used to rewrite pages as CSS if the results were often a mess, not tried it in years & it still shows 2013 copyright date. What Next. The Server transfer is quick, then to see what the site looks like. No top Menu most obviously. The http: to https: needs updating, this can be many thousands of links to update, Dreamweaver search & replace deals with that. To check it all works & every html page is correct. Address box now shows "https://select45rpm.com/", padlock on Chrome & Firefox both add 'verfied' if you click on it, now looks far more professional. If the http: isn't updated you get silly messages about insecure images as the links are http: still despite being hosted on https:. To see most would give up, or buy an e-commerce site in desperation as one we see has, losing all their chatty pages. Doing a website, even without a shopping cart & cookies still isn't at all easy, unless you buy a package. The top Javascript menu is old now, still works on a computer if a Mobile we've not checked in a while.

"The Repair Shop" Has Never Had...
They cover most items, but never any Hifi like we do, they've had old Radios & Radiograms, but not the complex Amps & Receivers like we do. Probably as they're aren't many left able to Repair let alone Upgrade Hifi. The age of those who dealt with Hifi Repairs back in the 1970s & 1980s are now 50 & 40 years older, they were always middle aged guys so well past retirement. Sobering thought indeed. Another subject is Enamel Signs. You'd think the Ceramics or Paintings women might try these. You see these on TV Auction shows making good prices. The money is in the Pictoral ones, the Text based ones are still wanted, if Graphics always add visual interest & higher prices. We've been into Enamel Signs since getting a "Street Cries" one originally from Islington, London in 1992. Not much at a Boot Sale back then & recently sold it as not matching the other ones. Some of the Best signs are now into Four Figures & for the interest over the last 20 years, these will be tucked away in collections for decades still. Possible sometimes to buy a Rare Sign in Low Grade, but what do you do with it? Some damage is acceptable, the Best Ones are Late Victorian to Pre War which means 80-130 years old now. To find a "You Can Telephone From Here" sign as a hole filler in a shed tells we first got that about 1988 & it took ages to sell for £20 back then. Still in decent condition, ones used to fill outside holes are often rusted away on one edge or with Nail Holes as it was of no value. To glue them to MDF flattens out bendy creased rough ones & allows a solid base for filler on holes & then painting. It's fine to do on cheap ones if you'd have a job getting them off again, best left. Buyers do like to see the backs for the typical way they look as the buyer is often not experienced on Originals for the Repros around since the "Street Jewellery" book days of the late 1970s. The MDF takes a wall bracket so to fit to the wall looks tidy once restored. How good is the painter? How good are the paints? The last one we fully did was in 2008, by 2009 the paints had dried out & the DIY shop no longer stocked the Enamel paints, if the Train Set 'Humbrol' paints in those tiny tins are still buyable. Glass Enamel on metal will 'ping' off if you try to straighten it & loss is going to happen on sticking to MDF properly. Once settled they stay good if the losses amid this can be scary. But it's a low grade one you'll fill & paint so it can be dealt with.

June 2022 Blog

"We'll Get It Restored And Give To The Grand Kids!"
You hear this on 'The Repair Shop' often by well meaning Restoration Owners. Well how pleased the Kids will be... Not. For a Start you don't start looking at Things Of The Past with Fondness until you are Older, could be your 30s, could be your 70s. Ones younger unless it was Familiar to them from seeing it are unlikely to have any interest beyond Selling it. As we put on the Prewar Annuals page, those lovely books stayed hidden away so later Generations never saw them so the books will only interest a Whimsical Few who like the Artwork or Cartoon aspect as we did. There is No Declaration saying you must keep things you aren't interested in, although the show does have Offspring liking things, one boy supposedly wanting his Mum's ragged Rabbit is highly unlikely, it's her item & means little to him is a reality the Sentimentality forgets. "We Don't Like That Tatty Old Thing" if not to upset by ever saying that. Some things you Only Want The Memory of, to actually be given them years later unaware they were Kept is a tricky one. That's why even a smart set of Medals from WWI with Great Grand-Dad's name on are sold on, they are nice to own if you knew the person, but sadly holding onto what should matter isn't considered if there is no connection. Having a Piece of History with a clear family link isn't for everyone. Some 'Repair Shop' things they get Sentimental about, like a Vacuum Cleaner or Car Jack can be very surreal that Women want them restored, but they are after a link to a Happy Past & of their choice. Trying to force your items onto uninterested family is best not done, leave them with you & let others choose on clearing out after you've gone. On the other hand, to hear Family sold or binned that item you liked as a Kid, they never told you so you missed the chance to buy it can leave you a bit lost. Go look online, odds are you'll find another one of it & have "It" nearly back.

How Organised are You?
In Hifi utmost care is needed to keep Amp bits as you take things apart in boxes & bags to keep it all together. Until you can't find said container of bits & an amp just sold needs these screws to complete it. Can find bags of Luxman LX33 top lid screws from over six years ago. You can see how Steve the Clock guy does it on 'The Repair Shop', he uses Flowerpot saucers mainly. We use the small Poly bags & spare drawers from the parts stacked drawer units, adding the Amp Name on bag or box. Good until you forget you had them boxed & looked in that box twice already. "The Missing Screw" will always catch you out, if we have a big stash of parts over the years so can always be fine. To find old bags with amps marked long since gone gets you wondering why you didn't find the bag if to know the screws stash got used. Oddest one we had was the 1971 4ch Akai AS-8100S, it lacked two case screws which had no long case side screw and recessed washer part. Amp still here, if the box it arrived in recently got used for the Sony STR-6055 as much the same size. Box here for 2 years & a little rare bit of joy in finding the missing screws still in the packing. The odds of that happening very limited if it happens. The thing with boxes of spare small parts is remembering you have them & they are usually boxed up together by the time you got them which helps find but can frustrate as you haven't got 4 of the same thing. One amp needed a push button with a smaller square inside as the part needing replacing was larger size, but luckily some parts were used on other amps so had a few of those. Another on a Pioneer amp we have stood out a mile as one the seller replaced without saying, so to be fussy & buy a whole set of them.

Errors On Service Manuals & Circuit Diagrams.
The Data is supposed to be Reliable, wihout it, you can be at a Loss as no idea what the Circuit really should be. Sadly Errors of quite Major Importance are in the Schemarics aka Circuit Diagrams. Realised by wondering what's going on, a Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 error on the HT Voltage, as in where does it come from. It makes no sense & if this was Faulty you'd be left with a Dead Amp. Pin 35 is missing connection to a Regulator, if (*1) says voltage comes from there. The Diagram doesn't show it's connected to any voltage source. To look at the Service Manual & look at the Board Layout Track side tells. There should be another 'Join Dot' between R82 & R83 but they missed it, it's joined by a track on the board. Seen others missing circuit lines leaving sections baffling, wrong Transistor numbers including NPN-PNP mixup & even wrong resistor-capacitor values by a missing zero, imagine the chaos there. A simple error can be a big problem as you Trust the Circuit is right. Not always.

Sony Portable Radio on 'The Repair Shop' & Akai AA-7000 Compare.
This S10 E2 Episode with the Sony Radio & an Egg Chair with built in speakers. The Egg Chair connects to your Hifi with a DIN connector, if what's inside to be found. The Foam typically turned to Dust & a big job to redo. The Radio is a broken mess, if with a crazy story, so they want it working. Not sure what he'll do to the case, but the Insides show Loose wires which later fix to the Antenna Rod inside. If the manual doesn't show how it's wired, your only chance is by having another one to reference to. The 1966 Akai AA-7000 receiver we had two of, the early non-grille edge one & the mid run one with the grilles. Later ones cheekily called it the AA-7000S if there were no Germaniums in it, a similar 'con' to the AA-5000 (S) as on our reviews page. The sellers cheated on the grille one as Transistors rusted so the legs were broken plus some fool unsoldered the Multivoltage wires from the Transformer so it wasn't even useable. No way to ever know which wires went where & to trust to use it, but of course we had another so could copy which colour went where. A third AA-7000 we got from a Customer to rebuild some time later. Probably not many more out there. Our AA-7000 that we still have here never worked on FM as someone had misadjusted the settings on the Front End, putting it way off. No way to ever get it right unless you have FM quality test gear, but we copied the heights of the ferrite screws & our one then worked on FM which is insane. No AM working, if FM more useful. The Sony radio didn't need much to get going, a Sony was never a cheaper item & it lasted well electronically. The owner delighted, but to think to see another high grade one 'like it was new' would appeal, the case that rough & broken will lose appeal quickly, you'd not use it. The Egg Chair they changed to a 6.3mm socket & used a Phone for Music, probably by Bluetooth to the Amp they plugged in? Inside it had flat speakers, not conical ones. Not sure if it had an amp in the chair base, if they only plugged in one item. Search more would answer, modern versions do have an amp built in. She did a great job on the cloth, one of the hardest things to restore like the Dolls & Bears.

July 2022 Blog

1971 Trio-Kenwood KR-6170 Jumbo Receiver: A Deeper Look.
This amp starts a fresh look at the Hifi we have here. The Focussed Sound in this isn't in all amps. Got this a few years ago & we rebuilt it if not really tried it out recently. Finding we had it on 'Loudness' gave it a sound we don't like, but to hear the Trio-Kenwood TK-140X early one we're working on, to compare to another Trio. To play the YouTube music videos needing Treble Tone saw it was set wrongly, the Selector is small & really only by using it to set three notches from anticlockwise. The Design of this matches impedance very differently to give what is a light compression effect. Known this from certain Sansui amps that put Phono thru Aux, if the KR-6170 is a far more sophisticated design. It gives a far better Focus to Midrange that not even our Luxman LX33 valves can do. The Hifi Ad Dreamwording of "Hearing More Than You've Ever Heard In Detail" really is in here, making 1960s Vinyl sound more Cohesive than ever before, bringing that Focus. The amp itself we've wanted one for ages if never seen one. One in Ausralia for about $1500 unsold & now $1200, nobody will pay that much for an untouched 1971 amp. We got this for £200, it looks better in daylight than the harsh camera pics, if the fascia wear & side edge missing isn't bad looking. The Reverb Spring & 'Rhythm Composer' beatbox is a bit away from Hifi, our early opinion as on the 'Other Amps' page, if it can be turned off to not affect sound. Based on the 33w Trio-Kenwood KR-5150 that we last had in 2013, the 5150 didn't impress. The 6170 with our Upgrades & more since shows these are rather tamed in design, if can be very different upgraded. The KR-6170 is an amp like the 4ch Amps & Receivers, a huge amount to service, the 6170 was very rough, yet as typical 'Working Order' they said yet actually far from it. Played this a few times now on Headphones & finding 1960s Music sounding More Focussed is the Unique thing here. Whether it'll be liked later after comparing to more amps is the thing. We've been playing the 1966 Sansui TR-707A mostly the last two years on Speakers, it too has Unique Design. The KR-6170 has Bass power & richness, if not quite the Deepest Bass. Big Monster Receiver Size? Actually within 1cm of the 1978 Yamaha CR-2020 so it's not so huge. Not many amps have 2x Aux & this can run 4 Sets of speakers, not all at once, if how the buttons work. Manual says you can use 4 Sets of 8 ohm Speakers, the Power Limiter 'Full' is 150w Dynamic Power (into 4 ohms), 33w RMS. On 4 sets they work in Series needing button combinations. To use Speakers in different rooms the idea. Comparing With Other Amps. Played the 1979 Luxman LX33 valves for a few hours as a Reference sound, by Headphones. Then the same tracks with the KR-6170. The Midrange is better defined so better focussed & 'Smooth' if not lacking Dynamics. The LX33 is so similar, it's our Sound Design after all, but it lacks that ultimate Solid Midrange, probably too subtle a difference for most, but it's Our Game to keep pushing for a better sound. The Focus in the design takes a very slightly raggedy edge to offer it Smoothly. In this case, 'Smooth' is an evenly balanced sound without the Softness & lack of Punch the term can mean. The KR-6170 has what looks strange design, but it's perfectly matched for Impedance to give a pleasing sound. To compare more amps on headphones, the 1966 Sansui TR-707A has to be next. This amp an Unique design in different ways. Has the same Smooth Sound, to have heard it elsewhere to hear it again, if this the first TR707A-KR6170 compare. Dynamics seemed bigger on the TR707A, but played it a little louder so KR-6170 up half a notch. A UK 1971 Private Press EP by 'Inshallah' a white pop cabaret group probably uses the Rhythm Composer, if they were fitted in Organs also.

Is It Worth Upgrading An Amp Further To Try Sell It?

Thinking on the Yamaha CR-200 & the Marantz 1072 still for Sale as of typing, both sold now. Yamaha is only about 15w but it's based on a 1969 era design from an earlier Receiver that had a Turntable fitted on some. One model is the Yamaha MS3. We have the manual for the Yamaha AA-70 which has no Turntable if the case is big enough. Comparing AA-70 to CR-200 both are Capacitor Coupled & are quite similar, the AA-70 is about 30w RMS per channel, the ratings doubled to 60w if the Power Supply is 63v, the 15w RMS CR-200 is 45v. This means the centre voltage is 31.5v or 22.5v. The CR-200 is very modest in spec, to maybe get 20w RMS for good upgrades. But is it worth trying? To listen to it again to see what it sounds like 3 years later. It puts out 15v clean Sine at 15w, a 20w-25w amp can be 18v clean Sine. Before Listening, the idea isn't so good, to give Good Upgrades makes it still a 15w Rated amp so it has a Price Ceiling as the CR-200 is around to buy as Raw. To try the Marantz before packing up, reveals it plays a nice clean sound of good tonal balance on Headphones with less rowdy music. Louder music is a bit less tidy as it reveals limits, if based on speakers it'd see, it will be better than the usual amp it'd replace. Yamaha next, a lightweight more tinny cased visual effort than others in the range as the lowest model, if still looks smart as the fascia is still the same quality as are the controls. Again as already Recapped with Upgrades, really not that different on Headphones with 15w compared to the approx 36w of the Marantz. Both with nice quiet background. The Yamaha better on louder music than the Marantz which shows the modest design being based on a 1969 design. To hear the sound is lively with a decent bass if it can be heard flattened off for the 15w design but not poor sounding or muffly. The Yamaha is a real sleeper, we can play it & not wish it was another amp as it's focus is pretty decent, the Marantz not quite as precise. 1969 designs beat later ones for Musicality as we've found a lot. Playing Stereo Rock it's a bit too much on Treble so roll the tone to -4 on Treble & up the Bass to +2. The Yamaha is an unexpected listen, it shouldn't play "Start" with such 'weighty' confidence at just under 4 on the volume, but it does. To hear the limits but overall this is not what Yamaha usually sound like. Wide Stereo too. The Headphone circuit is different to other Yamaha so explains the louder sound, sounds like a 40w amp. On Speakers it sounded decent too if more like a 15w amp. Re-reading our review shows we saw how good it was in 2019 & to have it unsold as Recapped Upgraded & Serviced shows how unaware people are of certain amps that don't fit their needs, a CR-2020 sells fast, the CR-200 unsold in 3 years tells & ebay shows £100-£150 would buy a raw one. Worth Upgrading the Yamaha? To sell it more Upgraded knowing what needs doing to 'up it's game' is advanced work & design work. The buyer of it won't have speakers like our Tannoys & the change only really shows knowing what further upgrades bring. As in it has 80% of Upgrades doing fine already, to do more pleases our listening, if outclasses a 15w amp pricewise. But knowing how good it sounds, to try a 15w after how good the 20w Sansui 400 & Sansui 350A sounded, it's more for our interest. Which was what this Hifi Site was & still is about. In the end, the CR-200 put back for sale as it was before.

1975 Yamaha CR-200 & 1978 Marantz 1072 Comparing Build & Circuits.
Both these amps show a similar build type, as in all on One Board, the single PCB style that was common by 1979. An excuse to cost cut further as Budget & Midprice amps were rather sad in how they were built by then. 1974 for the 'Comet' effect in cutting prices way low & 1979 further that lasted into the early 1980s. Inputs are via Shielded Cables to a Selector as the CR-2020 has. Phono is an IC pair of TA7122 used a lot in Hifi, the Marantz 2385 biggie uses the TA7136 in it's preamp, so not a budget IC if grading turds is allowed. The Marantz has the updated selector that's like the Yamaha, if a ribbon to set it right by the inputs with PCB mounted Phono sockets but this means very thin PCB track instead of a proper piece of cable. Easier to construct if not the same quality, it's the standard build since then. The Yamaha puts the stages in a way that looks like modern amps, power supply on the left, pre-tone at the front & power amp in the middle with the tuner on the right. TO220 'proper' transistor outputs, the Marantz has similar as a larger TOP-3 that is much used in the 1980s onwards. Yamaha & Marantz power transistors soldered to the PCB, no wires. The design is much simplified from the 1965-1972 era, some amps & receivers are very packed with multiple boards & lots of wire. The Yamaha track side shows bigger track than recent amps, thicker again for voltage ones, all much a template for the 1980s onwards on the Marantz too. Both before the Horrors of Plug-In connectors & those poor long ribbon cables that aren't shielded on Audio. The one board on the Yamaha has two bars soldered on underneath that holds the PCB solid plus the Outputs are fixed to the small heatsink with a bar across that's part of the base to hold it solid. One later Yamaha was only supported by the Solder on the Outputs, built-in obsolescence is a cynical way of building, even by 1978. Circuits are where they differ, the Yamaha has a 1969 based preamp & power amp with output capacitors. The Marantz is a Differential one with a strange NFB-Filter on the Input giving a bit of a Retro Bass, a little more tamed too. The Yamaha shows it's 1969 age with a much better design & a surprising lack of resistors in the Signal Path after the input, the 1984 Sansui AU-G90X still has 3 resistors if it's a 15w amp with the Yamaha. Yamaha Tuner. The tuner assembly on the Yamaha is dated '1975' with heavy steel case sides & fascia areas like the 1973 models, the amp features in the 1977 & 1978 HFYB if was updated for the next range by 1980. The tuner has ICs with 2 Ceramic Filters, the CR-2020 has 3 as well as 3 ICs. No Tuner features beyond FM or AM. You'd expect it to be an average tuner, but again it's a sweet sounding crisp tuner ahead of many tuners that are muddy sounding. Sensitivity not so high the only limit, better Antenna would help, not even a Mono switch. When this amp has a clean Tuner sound, how are some like the Marantz 2385 one so lousy? Why Buy A More Powerful Amp? Beyond the obvious extra power, the reality on 95dB speakers unless you want it very loud, this has a sound that is way ahead of more complex designs. There are other low power amps that hide Quality like this does, very few though, there are also plenty of cheap low power amps that are lousy, especially UK & EU ones.

Clever Repairs on 'The Repair Shop'.
S10 E6 has some complicated ones. Monkey toy with a chewed face is solved by backing the hole & inserting a cloth layer & sewing it in. Great idea & it works well. They never look too perfect & still keep originality, instead of redoing the whole face which would lose the original character. A Suffragette's book with a mouse chewed corner he uses similar layering to fix the inside book section. Book techniques we made up as we went along to repair books to make them readable & to see them do similar is cool, for the Annuals page books years ago. The interesting one is the Cloth Cover to the book. She can't match the faded colour so wonderfully realises to print the scanned colour onto a modified cloth covered paper. Colour spot on & a great technique. Again reminds us of the 1930s large 'Rowntrees' enamel sign we have. Long size with 'Chocolates & Pastilles' on. There was a Royal insignia on 3 corners, one was good but the others damaged & impossible to repaint such fine detail. So about 2002 we scanned the good corner & after repairs printed 3 more out on self adhesive photo paper. After cutting to the circle as the border had made a 'perfect' repair that still holds today. Still have the original ebay sales photo & the seller cheated by hiding 2 bad corners by setting up the photo with the sign upright conveniently hiding the worst corners. Only £100 seemed cheap if damage more than expected. 'Rowntrees' familiar from 1970s Sweets & 'Kit Kat' used to have the name embossed on the bar fingers before the brand was later sold to others a few times. Nice sign with the fancy font & Google images shows the 'C & P' version as not so common. Restoration techniques seeing used by others is good, they probably make it up as the situation needs. Working on Vintage Hifi often needs these sort of ideas adapted.

The Problems of RF Noise.
Earth Loops create RF Noise if there is Distance between Hifi & Computers, even if the same Mains Plug Socket is used, usually via Extension Socket Leads. A Constant Crackly Noise that can include Computer Mouse noise. We've mentioned this a lot & long ago, the Solution is a 'Ground Loop Isolator' preferably a small Box version rather than the cheap Round one with Wires attached. This works as you'd want using the Computer 'Audio Out' to the Amp's Aux input, hardly any loss of signal. The Problem Starts when you want to Record from the Amp via Phono, you get that Annoying Noise again as you've reintroduced another Earth Loop. One set of Cables picked up No Noise, but after a pin broke, to go buy the same again, but this time & every Cable since, the noise is there. The problem of needing a 10m Cable is what picks up the RF, but in a Studio be sure cables are much longer. The 'Rec Out' stage of Amplifiers should really have a Buffer to stop impedance mismatching altering the Tonal Balance, but few do. To try an Isolator on the Output signal doesn't work as the Impedance is way mismatched, so to try to record the sound plays a heavily reduced volume with treble much down. Try to be clever & wire it up 'the other way round' using a cable & a connector doesn't work either, the level is barely audible. The amp itself without the 'Rec Out' connected is extra quiet so it's not an amp problem beyond it being not tamed down to avoid the noises. No point removing the 'Aux In' as it avoids the Earth Loop & don't try amateurish dangerous ideas like taking the Earth wire out of plugs etc, some Valve Amps have 'Earth Lift'. Computer Issue Therefore. But what to do? Made a cover for the Soundcard that was grounded, made no difference. The Power Supply in the Computer will just have one Ground connection. Ideas seen online are a 'DI Box' which is 'Direct Inject' box used for very long Studio cables, it alters the Impedance as does the Ground Loop Isolator. But as Google tells... "converts the unbalanced, high impedance signal output of an instrument to a balanced low impedance mic-level signal" which is the sort of level we got above. Not much use to us. You could configure the Computer Line in to a Mic one perhaps, but what it does for Noise & Sound Balance? The recording we did with it connected 'the other way' is of no use even made louder, brings up Hum & Bassy Distortion. We want Line Level. Reading 'DI Unit' on Wikipedia shows they've been around since the 1960s & use the Transformers the 'Ground Loop Isolator' does. Go Try The Mic Input With 'Other Way'. No good, noise & no real signal. Look on ebay, 'Hum Destroyer' one calls it, they have Guitar inputs & RCA outputs or XLR Balanced ones. Some have a 'Phantom' power unit adding to removing Earth Loops. Surely the answer for Us is more in Computer terms. Using the Motherboard Soundcard no better, actually noisier & even unplugging the Monitor from Mains makes no difference. A DI unit won't solve the problem & creates output level differences, for a Guitar input is unamplified like a Record Player Cartridge, Rec Out outputs are Line Level. Maybe a 240v Mains Isolator like TV Repair Shops use? That is just a 1:1 winding transformer, Earth isn't part of it. The only known solution is as with days of Cassette & CD-R, to use 1m cables to avoid noise. The 'Earth Lift' idea isn't so good as it relies on the Connecting Cables to take Earth from their other end. Removing Earth from the Audio Cables doesn't work either. One not Solved yet...

1971 Sony STR-6200F & Sony STR-6065 Receivers. How Alike Are They?
Two Quality Sony Receivers, one an Update of the STR-6120 & the other is still 'Under The Radar' as no-one's had a look at it properly yet. The 6200F came before the 6065. 6200F rated 70w if only 60w as 20Hz-20kHz. 6065 rated 80w if only 50w as 20Hz-20kHz. 6200F is the bigger STR-6120 size & the 6065 is crammed into the STR-6055 case. STR-6200F isn't so easy to find & especially in decent visual grade. STR-6065 is a EU model only, as no room to fit the extra fuses some STR-6055 have. The 6200F still has the 1968 Tuner design & the 6065 has a slightly better spec version of the STR-6055 tuner. This has the Newly Introduced Ceramic Filters & it's a very decent Tuner. The next Sony range STR-7055 has a cheaper tuner, so the 6055 & 6065 have the Best Sony tuner as does the separate Tuner ST-5150. We're looking at the 6065 circuits to Upgrade ours soon, so to look at the 6200F to see how they compare. Preamp-Tone. Interestingly the 6120 & 6200F preamp are much the same, the boards look the same & only really minor differences. The 6065 preamp has no Low Filter & is simplified with Pots for Tone not the Stepped switches that make no difference in sound quality. Power Amps. The 6120 power amp based on the TA-1120A. The 6200F & 6065 have a new design with a Differential & no Output Capacitors. Likely the TA-3200F power amp came first & these are later versions, if of the first 3200F. The 6200F has the 'Speaker EQ' Bass Boost switch as the STR-6120 does. Again, both 6200F & 6065 Power Amps are much the same. The 3200F Power Amp has a more advanced input stage & 100w if not unlike the 6200F & 6065. The Differing Power Ratings on 6200F & 6065 make little sense, both have the 'Speaker Protection Circuit'. There are Two Types of Protection in the 6200F, one for Output Transistors & the other for the Speaker. The 6065 apparently only has the Output Transistor one, if both have the 'SCR' if the 6065 circuit description doesn't mention the Speaker protection if has it on the Circuit. Whether any of this actually saves the amp or speakers is another thing, we got the 6065 with a burned out Power amp with the Protection Stages well burnt, to the point of too far gone if a spare parts amp board saved it. 6065 rated 80w yet the 2SD88A output transistors are only rated 80w. The 50w rated TA-1120(A) has doubled outputs on it's 1965 50w outputs, this claiming 80w from 80w transistors may fry your amp board. A Sleeper Amp. The Sony STR-6065 is a real Sleeper amp, working original one in USA (117v model) for only $300 in June 2022 plus a nice early wood case shows it's not currently rated more than the STR-6055 is, if it sold the next day. The STR-6065 is an updated resized version of the STR-6200F. Both are very similar beyond the updated Tuner.

Silly Season "The Repair Shop" A Badly Smashed Up Radio.
"My Dad Bought Me This Radio" says the guy on S10 E7. Camera points to a badly smashed up late 1950s style Valve Tabletop Radio. Couldn't he have bought him a better one? Why even keep it, front & lower case all very broken. In reality this is a parts Radio & you can probably buy a working & complete one online for not much. But them offering to Repair it is Ridiculous. It's been dropped heavily & way beyond any sensible repair. The old guy would be happy with another of the same model Radio, "the one Dad had" and "one in nice grade like Dad's" can soon blur into the same item. What he does with this will be interesting. In terms of Hifi repairs a tatty non working one can become a tatty working one you'd not use as it's too tatty & resell value isn't there. He certainly is fond of it, to hear he recently had it sent to him & The Courier smashed it up, his Mum had kept it for years safely but it wasn't packed properly is obvious. But to not just go find another & want the wreck repaired? See if they show the maker & model to look online for one. A Philips one with a Magic Eye tuning display valve. Some of these are nice lookers, his on Google is like a "Philips FM 108" that sold for €200 so may be a rarer one, non UK model in different colours, if like with Vintage Hifi, you can usually find one. The box it arrived is not big enough & why damaged, if it holds all the bits so a Repair can be attempted is the premise. Broken Tuner Glass to scan & do artwork to 'repair' & then get it printed out, if you can find anyone who can do that, we got the 1963 Trio WX-400U glass back broken so got it remade, story on the review. The case to assume they'll glue back all the bits & to fix the electronics. Hardly a small repair job, in reality would anyone even touch it & be able to offer it back tidy & working? Verdict. Don't believe this one is for real. His clumsy way of fibreglass joining dozens of pieces of Bakelite is highly unlikely to give such a good finish, even the Ceramics repairs are never perfect. Gaffer tape isn't the right sort of tape to use either. The Tuner Glass again we couldn't find anyone to do a small bit of glass, only Perspex & they weren't skilled. Why he was soldering resistors on the intro doesn't fit in either. The Sound was Post-Production added, too clean if you've heard these old radios they have a charm if a much different sound. The show is for Entertainment, too much sugary sentimentality, the Guy was delighted, but a Rare "Phony" repair here, they sourced another radio & made one good unit.