Rotel RX-1603

Dec 16th, 2014 Posted in Rotel, Rotel RX-1603 | No Comments »


Rotel RX-1603 Receiver


This one is a monster! It's the Rotel RX-1603 and is the biggest receiver they ever made. It earns its way into the Monster Receiver hall of fame by churning out 180 watts per channel into 8 ohms. It was made in Japan and would set you back a hefty $1100 when it hit the market in 1976. You would probably have to have someone help you get it to your car because it weighs in at a plump 73 pounds!


Rotel RX-1603 Left


It has a beautiful white/amber glow that emanates from the dial face, FM tuning meter and signal strength meter. I wouldn't necessarily call the receiver aesthetically pleasing because it has somewhat of a robotic look to it and the alternating knobs and switches give it a mechanical Morse Code look.


Rotel RX-1603 Center


The Rotel RX-1603 didn't just perform at high levels it was also built with exacting standards. It featured top of the line Sanken 2SC1586 output transistors that were hand picked and hand tested. It has 22,000 x 80v power capacitors that are as big as beer cans as well as a specially designed toroidal transformers made just for the RX-1603


Rotel RX-1603 Right


Another interesting feature of the RX-1603 is that it can be separated into two units, much like the Sansui G-33000, so that it will fit in more confined spaces. At 60cm wide, 18 cm high and 55 cm deep it won't fit in most cabinets or shelf spaces. But, with the special RK-100 separation kit you can break down the unit into two pieces and stack them. It saves about 27 cm in depth. Of course, nowadays that kit is very hard to come by.


Rotel RX-1603 Inputs


Because the unit can be split into two pieces the designers located most of the inputs and outputs at an angle on top back of the receiver itself. The speaker outputs are located on the back of the amp section. There are outputs for three sets of speakers.


Rotel RX-1603 Back


While the Rotel name may not be as well know as Pioneer or Sansui it has held its own with regards to price. Both the Pioneer SX-1250 and the Rotel RX-1603 run about $1100.00 when  fully restored. Of course, unrestored units in good working condition sell for less at around $600 to $900. So, if you want to veer a little bit away from the mainstream and want monster receiver power then the Rotel RX-1603 just might be the receiver for you.


Audiocubics remote volume control will work with Rotel RX 1603 Aluminum remote
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Vintage Rotel RX 1603 Receiver
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Kenwood KR-9050

Sep 23rd, 2014 Posted in Kenwood, KR-9050 | 2 Comments »


Kenwood KR-9050


Many audio enthusiasts consider a monster receiver to be one that puts out 100 watts per channel or more. Well, this Kenwood KR-9050 puts out just that - 200 watts per channel. So, I guess it would be considered a monster receiver. It certainly has the size at almost 2 feet wide, over 18 inches deep and over 52 pounds! Still, the KR-9050 probably takes a back seat to the KR-9600 that collectors are the most fervent over. I'm not sure why because the 9600 has some design issues that can be difficult to overcome and only puts out 160 watts per channel. Perhaps it's that the KR-9600 so firmly established itself as the top of the line receiver for Kenwood it overshadowed the KR-9050 when it came out. The KR-9060 is really just a KR-9600 with a bronze faceplate.




The Kenwood KR-9050 is the largest and most expensive receiver ever built by Kenwood.  It is also the most powerful at 200 watts per channel with only 0.02% total harmonic distortion. And, of course, Kenwood produced some of the best tuners ever. With its Quartz Lock, adjustable IF bandwidth and two-level Stereo Sensitivity there really isn't much more you could ask for in a tuner.




The KR-9050 is stuffed full with features and has analog meters spanning practically the entire length of the front of the receiver.  It also has a 1/4 inch MIC input with its own level control so you could even play your guitar through this receiver though I don't know if I'd recommended it. The only drawbacks to this receiver are that the switches are made of plastic and the knobs are plastic as well with metal caps and are not crisp in their operation.




Wow, look at that massive toroidal transformer! It's actually larger than the transformer in the Pioneer SX-1250. Also, notice the large heatsinks that take up about a third of the inside of the unit.  As many audio techs know the KR-9600 has issues with both the power switch as well as the TA-200W power packs and Darlington transistors it uses which are prone to failure and replacements are virtually unobtainable. In contrast, the KR-9050 doesn't use the TA-200W or Darlington parts and is built with more easily replaceable parts. That is important if you plan on doing a restoration. A Kr-9600 that needs a resto is a totally different animal than a KR-9050 that needs the same.


Kenwood KR-9050 Inside


Kenwood receivers are a site to behold when fully lit up and the KR-9050 is no exception. It is definitely one of the nicest looking receivers in the dark.




Being a true monster receiver the Kenwood KR-9050 is not cheap. It's not very easy to find either and is probably more rare than the KR-9600. I've seen one sell for $1500 but I've seen a few listed at over $2000. That's a pretty big chunk of cash for a receiver but if you're a Kenwood fan and want a holy grail receiver from them then this might just be the one.


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Here's a video showing the massive Kenwood KR-9050 in action:


Harman Kardon Festival D-1100

Sep 23rd, 2014 Posted in Festival D-1100, Harman Kardon | 1 Comment »



We're going to step back a little farther in time for this receiver. This Harman Kardon Festival D-1100 was made long before the days of monster receivers with brushed aluminum faceplates and features ad nauseum. This was made back in the days of simplicity and function. In fact, this D-1100 was the successor to the D-1000 which has its own place in audio history. The D-1000 was designed by Bernard Kardon who, along with Sidney Harman, formed Harman Kardon when they both left the David Bogen company in the early 1950's. The D-1000 debuted in 1954 and was essentially the very first compact integrated receiver. It incorporated a tuner, amplifier and component control all in a compact chassis. This design led to other manufacturers following the same design path. Integrated receivers had been born and they were set to dominate the audio landscape for years to come.




After the D-1000 came the D-1100 which is seen here. It was offered around 1956 and retailed for about $200.00.It also has the trademark copper plated chassis with a copper and black color scheme for panels and enclosures.

As you can see the D-1100 has AM and FM bands as well as an analog tuning meter at the right side of the tuning dial. It has bass, treble, and loudness controls and puts out 30 watts. It is pre stereo so has only mono output. Of course, Harman Kardon produced the first stereo receiver just a couple years later with the TA230.

The input selector has a couple interesting settings in EUR and RIAA. RIAA equalization on LP's was standardized in 1954 so many owners of the D-1100 would have records that were not RIAA eq'd so they would need the ability to change settings.





The Harman Kardon Festival D-1100 has two big transformers and the following 16 tubes:

  • 6U8
  • 12AT7   x 2
  • 6BE6
  • 6BA6   x 2
  • 6AU6   x 2
  • 6AL5
  • 12AU7   x 3
  • 5881   x 2
  • 6X4
  • 5U4GA


As is typical of the older tube receivers it has point to point wiring and obviously no circuit boards.


Harman Kardon Festival D-1100


Harman Kardon played a significant role in audio history and the D-1100 fits in to that history very well. It is very popular amongst collectors because it is an early representative of the integrated receiver as well as a tube driven unit. Many collectors prefer tubes over solid state. All the early Harman Kardon units are in high demand which translates into fairly high prices. Still, the D-1100 can be found for under $300 in good working condition. Of course, most of them will need some work given their age if they haven't been restored at some point.

The more iconic D-1000 sells for around $650-$700.


Harman Kardon Festival D 1100 MONO TUBE THE LEGEND REBORN 1956 NYC USA
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Two Harman Kardon Product Spec Sheets D 1000 A 300 C 100 Theme Melody Festival
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Harmon Kardon D 1000 Festival amplifier owner service manual schematic reprint
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