Yamaha CR-820

Yamaha CR-820 Front


This is a classic upper mid-range receiver from the late 1970's. It is the Yamaha CR-820 and was on the market from around 1977 to 1979. It produced 55 watts per channel into 8 ohms and had low distortion ratings. In fact, while most manufacturers measured distortion at the rated output of the unit, Yamaha measured the distortion over a wide range of power output. They called this the Noise Distortion Clearance Range (NDCR). They trademarked the phrase 'Real Life Rated' because they measured noise and distortion at -20dB from the inputs all the way through to the speaker output as opposed to just measuring the amp section. They believed this would give a better indication of performance in a true listening environment.


Yamaha CR-820 Left


The Yamaha CR-820 retailed for around $460.00 and had the classic Yamaha styling of the time with monochrome face plate, clean knobs and over sized rectangular switches. The receivers from this series all have a clean, almost sterile, machined look to them. They also came with a special plug for the headphone jack output that said 'Reserved For Yamaha Orthodynamic Headphones'. Sounds impressive!


Yamaha CR-820 Right


As you can see it has controls for:

  • Bass
  • Presence
  • Treble
  • Loudness
  • Volume / Balance


The over sized switched control the selection of inputs and outputs. There are also a number of push button switches running along the bottom of the unit.


Yamaha CR-820 Lit


The CR-820 does look nice when it's illuminated. The back lighting is a light amber accented with a few red LED indicators. The low profile case is wood with a vinyl veneer. It's decent sized receiver as well measuring 17.6W x 5.7H x 15.5D in inches and weighing almost 27 pounds.


Yamaha CR-820 Inside


The Yamaha CR-xx20 receivers, including the CR-820, were very well built. Yamaha's CR-xx40 line, with the exception of the CR-2040 used STK parts instead of discrete transistors. The STK parts are problematic and not easily found. So, if you do like the Yamaha line then it might be best to stick with the xx20 line as they are more readily repaired.


Yamaha CR-820 Back


Yamaha receivers are probably under valued. They don't have quite the same name value as Marantz, or even Pioneer, though they may be on par quality wise. The Yamaha CR-820 is a great mix of performance and looks, it can be easily repaired, and as more people discover how good they are, their price will most likely continue to climb. A really nice unit will sell for $250 to $300 while a working, average condition unit will sell for around $150 or more.


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Yamaha CR-2020

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 Faceplate


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 Meter


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 Knobs


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 Inputs


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 Antenna


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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