Aug 16th, 2014 Posted in SA-520, Toshiba | No Comments »
Here's an interesting receiver from Tokyo Shibaura, otherwise know as Toshiba. This Toshiba SA-520 is a mid range model and, as you can see, has a little bit of a different design than many of the other receivers of the same era. This unit was made around 1977-1978 and almost looks like two thin units set atop one another. The big square push buttons and slider knobs give it a distinct look as well. I can't really say it's appealing to the eye.
The tuner dial and face look a little like Pioneer while the bottom, well, I'm not sure. The SA-520 is listed as 40 watts per channel and, believe it or not, weighs in at roughly 35 pounds! That's a pretty hefty weight for a mid range receiver. But, these Toshibas were actually built really well and the SA-520 has a large transformer and big power supply caps which add to the weight. It also has a neat volume knob dial as well. One weakness of these models was that the vinyl veneer tends to peel over time.
The Toshiba receiver line was initially seen as second rate to the Pioneer, Marantz and Sansui lines but many people changed their minds once they saw inside these receivers. Since Toshiba didn't really advertise much and purchase "reviews" in the large audio magazines of the day their sales volume was no where near that of Pioneer or Sony. Of course, that makes these receivers harder to find today.
As I mentioned these are high quality stereo's and they are not as easily found as some of the equivalent Pioneer or Sony models such as the Pioneer SX-650. Still, Toshiba didn't have that name brand recognition that the other large manufacturers had and they still don't. So, when you can find a Toshiba SA-520 or other Toshiba model you can usually get them at a decent price. In fact, I just saw one in good working condition with just a couple lamps out and some wood case wear sell for $50. I would guess a really nice one could bring $100. That's a great deal for a quality vintage receiver. And, if you really want to go all out try the Toshiba SA-7100.
Aug 15th, 2014 Posted in Pioneer, SX-750 | No Comments »
Here's another of the classic Pioneer receivers. The Pioneer SX-750 was an upper mid range receiver with a perfect complement of features and performance for someone wanting good performance while, at the same time, not breaking the bank. The SX-750 did just that while putting out 50 watts per channel at 0.1% total harmonic distortion. Manufactured during the heyday of silver faced receiver's this particular model was introduced in 1976 and made through 1977. It had a retail price tag of around $400.
One interesting feature of the SX-750, and Pioneer SX-650 for that matter, is that the input/output terminals and circuits for the pre amp and tuner section are laid out on one large circuit board. According to Pioneer this allowed the use of unshielded input cables and also resulted in better overall tonal quality. Interestingly the performance of the SX-750 is not that far off from the flagship Pioneer SX-1250 with the exception of power output. So, not a bad value for $400 at the time.
The FM section utilizes a dual gate MOS type FET and a 4 gang variable capacitor for tuning. As you can also see the SX-750 has the standard styling of the time with silver faceplate, wood case and amber lighting.
Here are a few of its other features:
- Two tape in/outputs
- Duplicate switch
- Phono input
- Aux/mic inputs
- Tone and high filter switches
- FM muting
- Tuning and signal meters
- Two separate bass and treble controls
- Dimensions - 19 x 6 x 14.5
- Weight - 31.25 lbs
The back of the SX-750 is interesting as it has a protruding base on which the input and output connectors as well as the speaker outputs are located. The Pioneer SX-450, 550, and 650 also have this feature. It does make the units a little cumbersome to move.
The Pioneer SX-750 is a popular receiver given it is fairly reasonably priced and has the iconic name and look of a 1970's silver faced receiver. For a really nice restored SX-750 you can expect to pay over $300 an up. For a serviced version in good condition around $200. Of course just a working unit in decent shape will be much less and can be had for $100 to $150.
Here's a video of a restored SX-750 you might find interesting. There's actually a series of videos detailing this restoration as well.
Aug 7th, 2014 Posted in Realistic, STA-52B | No Comments »
This Realistic STA-52B was a budget offering from Radio Shack around 1979-80. It retailed for roughly $200 and had limited features. Still, it has very appealing aesthetics. The black dial face coupled with gold lettering adds an air of sophistication to this receiver. And, it sounds pretty good too!
It features both AM and FM bands and has separate bass and treble controls. It only puts out 18 watts per channel so it was designed for smaller listening areas. It has a magnetic phono input and an AUX input as well (for you iPod users). Notice that it even has a cool dual LED feature in the tuning needle. You don't see that very often. While it was designed as a lower end unit for those on a budget it has features that other receivers at a similar price point did not have including outputs for two sets of speakers instead of just one.
There is an earlier version which is the STA-52 that puts outs only 12 watts per channel but does have the ever desirable Q-Vox feature which uses a synthesizing technique to create a virtual quadraphonic sound. Yes, that was sarcasm.
The STA-52B does not have that feature but does have a speaker A Rev setting which will reverse the A and B speakers in case you want to hear the guitar solo in a song on your right instead of your left. I'm not exactly sure why that's useful but it probably sounded cool to a kid looking through the Radio Shack catalog back in 1980.
As you can see it also has both DIN and standard inputs for Tape which is nice. The styling really is nice and the genuine walnut veneer case adds to the look.
OK, so it's not a monster receiver - more like a Minion receiver. But, every receiver has its place, and this one is a fine example of the lower end of the spectrum. In fact, if you want a nice, clean, easy to use receiver for your turntable or reel-to-reel and don't need to fill a large room with sound then this little guy can be had for around $60. Not much to spend in order to dabble in to the world of vintage audio.