Yamaha CR-2020

Feb 13th, 2015 Posted in CR-2020, Yamaha | No Comments »

Yamaha CR-2020

 

If you're familiar with monster receivers then you know that the Yamaha CR-3020 is a Monster! Well, this receiver is just shy of a monster. Maybe Beast would be appropriate? It's the Yamaha CR-2020 and is, of course, the smaller sibling of the CR-3020. Yes, the CR-3020 put out a massive 160 watts per channel but this CR-2020 shells out a very respectable 100 watts per channel. Besides, the CR-3020 didn't even sell all that well.

 

Yamaha CR-2020

 

The CR-2020 is a fantastic mix of everything you want in a big, powerful receiver. Lots of power, tons of features, sharp, clean styling and a cool look when the room lights are dimmed. And, for that macho effect it weighs in at about 43 pounds and is over 21 inches wide and 16 inches deep. It was introduced in late 1977 and was priced very well since, at that time, the Japanese were able to build stereos cheaper than other US or European manufacturers.

 

Yamaha CR-2020 Left

 

Yamaha receivers are known to be low distortion and their circuitry was designed to affect the signal as little as possible throughout the amplification path. The CR-2020 lives up to this ideal by having a maximum of 0.05% total harmonic distortion. In fact, Yamaha's sales literature at the time coined the term Noise-Distortion Clearance Range (NDCR). Instead of measuring noise and distortion under lab conditions they setup the receiver in a typical listening situation and then measured the noise and distortion. They also called it Real Life Rated!

 

Yamaha CR-2020 Right

 

Some interesting features are:

  • Continuous loudness compensation (variable loudness control)
  • Two turntable inputs (one being mc)
  • Independent audition and recording
  • Connections for three sets of speakers
  • Linear differential gain IF stage
  • 4-gang tuning capacitor with dual-gate MOS-FETs
  • Multi-function FM/AM/Signal/Multipath/Power meters
  • MPX section included into NFB loop
  • High-Blend switch (FM)
  • Automatic or Manual OTS tuning system
  • DOLBY adapter switch
  • 2 Headphone jacks for Yamaha Orthodynamic and/or normal headphones

 

Yamaha CR-2020 Inside

 

Check out the massive transformer at the bottom right. Those who aren't Yamaha fans usually point to the bright sound of their receivers and overall lack of warmth. That may or may not be the case but Yamaha tried to make the output signal as true to the input signal as possible. I too find the Yamaha's a little dry sounding but I have to wonder if my ear just prefers a little more distortion which is usually what gives a receiver that 'warm' sound.

 

Yamaha CR-2020 Back Left

 

Two phono inputs and 3 pair of speakers connections. You can't beat that. It even has a built in pre-amp section for moving coil cartridges. The Yamaha CR-2020 does have a weakness though. The power switch tends to fail and replacements are not that easy to find. So, if you're contemplating buying one make sure the switch works and handle it gently when turning the power on and off.

 

Yamaha CR-2020 Back Right

 

Yamaha receivers have a fairly large following so demand is pretty high. The monster CR-3020 is, many times, out of most peoples price range at around $1500 so the CR-2020 fits the bill more often. A non-working but cosmetically clean CR-2020 will run about $300. A fully restored unit can fetch over $800 with most average condition receivers selling for around $400 to $500.

 

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Sansui 2000X

Feb 13th, 2015 Posted in 2000X, Sansui | No Comments »

 

Sansui 2000X

 

This is the very highly thought of Sansui 2000X. When working properly there aren't many receivers that sound as good as this one does within it's price range. It was produced from around 1971 up until about 1975 and puts out about 35 watts per channel. Quite a few of these receivers were made so they aren't exactly rare but the demand is high so they still command decent money on the auction market. A common refrain for this receiver is: Sounds bigger than it is!

 

Sansui 2000X Left

 

The features on the 2000X are fairly basic but are all you really need in a good receiver.  Here are it's basic features:

  • signal meter
  • tape in/output
  • two phono inputs
  • aux input
  • loudness on/off
  • reverse
  • mono
  • muting on/off
  • MPX noise canceller on/off
  • low and high filters on/off
  • selector switch
  • separate bass and treble tone controls

 

Sansui 2000X Mid

 

One of the most commonly asked questions about the 2000x is what is the difference between it and the 2000A and 2000? Well, not a whole lot actually. The Sansui 2000 came first and the 2000A and 2000X were slightly improved versions of that model. But, the 2000 really didn't have any issues that required improvement. It's a good solid receiver and rated at 30 watts per channel. The 2000A puts out 32 WPC and the 2000X 39 WPC. Not too big a difference.

 

Sansui 2000X Right

 

The 2000 has a different front panel layout with the push buttons in a different spot than the 2000A and 2000X. The 2000A and 2000X both have a MPX Noise Canceler button which the 2000 does not. There are also some minor circuit board modifications.

Design wise the 2000A and 2000x have full blackout across the face with a black tuning knob. Here is the 2000...

 

Sansui 2000 Receiver

 

All of the 2000 models used somewhat lower quality capacitors which, if original, would probably be best replaced by now. Also, they are known for having some transistors that have gotten noisy with age. Specifically the 2sc458 transistors.

There are a number of modifications and upgrades that can be done on the 2000X. If you're technically oriented you may want to check out Conrad Hoffman's site where he details how and why to do the mods. Also, a good discussion on replacing the transistors is HERE (though it covers the 2000 the idea is the same).

 

Sansui 2000X Back

 

The Sansui 2000X is a well regarded receiver. If you have it recapped and some of the upgrades noted above done then it will be a fantastic performer for you. Expect to pay from $150 to over $300 depending upon functionality and cosmetics. If you're going to upgrade it then look for a cheaper one that has great cosmetics since you'll be paying more to have it serviced anyway.

 

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Sony STR-GX9ES

Feb 12th, 2015 Posted in Sony, STR-GX9ES | 1 Comment »

 

Sony STR-GX9ES

 

I know a lot of vintage audio purists don't like any of the black face receivers and really only see the silver face stereos as true vintage. But, as the years crawl by, or speed by if you're older, the early generation black face receivers are becoming, like it or not, vintage. Some of them were even built well and had high performance specs.  I particularly like the early models that spanned that transitional period from silver face to black face. Mainly because the black metal and wood side panels look almost luxurious in a way. This Sony STR-GX9ES fits that bill to a tee.

 

Sony STR-GX9ES Left

 

It was made in 1988 and retailed for around $1000. As you may already know Sony's early ES line is their top of the line audio equipment. I believe ES stands for Elevated Standards, which in the early days of the line was definitely the case. Not so much later on.  The STR-GX9ES has a big brother - the STR-GX10ES. There are also a couple models lower on the totem pole, the STR-GX7ES and STR-GX5ES. You'll notice the Spontaneous Twin Drive at the top right of the receiver face. Some view it as a feature while others claim it was a cost cutting measure that Sony tried to turn into a 'feature'. Sony's words to describe it are: A proprietary Sony amplifier power supply technology which employs separate voltage rails for different amplifier stages. This methods provides greater headroom and helps prevent clipping.

If you're more technically inclined, I also believe the following is from Sony's manual:

The Spontaneous Twin Drive circuit allows the receiver to operate automatically as a class A amplifier when the level is low and as a class B amplifier when the level is high without disturbing the sound signal. This minimizes total harmonic distortion at every sound stage. Condensers having large capacity are used independently for the voltage amplification drive stage of class A and power output stage of class B. Thus, a stable output and high quality sound are obtained, resulting in exclusion of power interference. The class A stage realizes a stable operation free from interference of the power stage even when a instantaneous or strong output is received.

 

Sony STR-GX9ES Right

 

The Sony STR-GX9ES puts out a thumping 130 watts per channel. The styling is typical of the mid to late 1980's with wood panels, a mix of both knobs and push buttons and analog readouts. The function push buttons are reminiscent of the Nakamichi cassette decks.

I don't own one of these units but I've heard that the chassis is actually made out of plated copper. Looking at the picture below that actually may be the case. It also came with a remote which is very difficult to find these days.

 

Sony STR-GX9ES Inside

 

Interestingly the analog signal input is not processed through any digital circuitry so the sound maintains it's warmer analog flavor. It is a two-channel receiver and one of Sony's last. It has inputs for CD, Tape, Phono, DAT, Auxiliary, Video1, Video2, Video3/cdv. CDV is Laser disc I believe. So, despite being produced in the late 1980's it still has a phono input and it's phono pre-amp section is actually very good. It even has a toggle switch to select either moving coil or moving magnet cartridges.

 

Sony STR-GX9ES Back

 

Overall the Sony STR-GX9ES is a great receiver. If you're not beholden to silver face only stereos and prefer the later black face and wood look then this receiver would do the job. They sell for about $200 to $300 depending upon condition and whether a remote is included. If you want to go BIG then consider the STR-GX10ES which runs anywhere from $300 to over $500.

 

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