This is the Fisher 800C tube receiver. It was introduced in late 1962 for the 1963 model year. The 800C and 500C are considered by some to be a couple of the best tube receivers ever made. The 800C and 500C are similar except that the 800C has AM as well as FM. The AM feature added an extra $60 to the list price so many people purchased the 500C instead. Nowadays the 800C is the harder of the two to find. It had a list price of $449.50 back in 1963.
Another version of the 800C, the Executive, was installed in consoles and was cosmetically the same but had a few minor internal differences. I believe that by 1964 those differences had disappeared and they were essentially the same receiver.
Nice wood cabinets were optionally available for all the Fisher models for an additional $24.95.
The 800-C has automatic switching between stereo and mono FM reception. If the broadcast is in mono, the 500-C adjusts itself to play the sound through a single channel, and if the broadcast is in stereo, it switches to stereo playback. The Stereo Beacon light lets you know which mode it’s in.
The 800-C allows you to control two sets of speakers at the same time. You can operate both sets together or choose to use either pair separately. This feature is especially useful for comparing different speaker systems. There is also a connection for a center channel.
There is also a headphone jack at the center of the front panel. The headphone circuitry is designed so that you can use them for direct monitoring during tape recording.
The 800C has a numbered signal strength indicator. The power switch is integrated into the volume control.
Fisher touted the 800C:
It accommodates advanced versions of the same six components: two power amplifiers, two preamplifier control channels, an FM tuner, and a multiplex section for FM-Stereo. And, it sounds even better, with higher FM sensitivity, 75 watts total amplifier power, more versatile controls, many other refinements.
The original Fisher 500 and 800 were innovative in that at the time most audio components were separates. The 500 and 800 integrated all the usual separates into one compact unit. The subsequent ‘B’ and ‘C’ models were advertised as such as well. Of course, at the same time the 800C was on the market Fisher introduced the 600 model which was solid state and cost a hefty $150 more than the 800C.
The 800C put out 35 watts per channel. It utilized the 7591 output tubes and 12ax7 tubes in the preamp.
It also featured:
- Backlit analog tuning dial
- Weighted flywheel tuning knob
- Bass, Treble and balance controls
- Signal strength meter
- 4 gang tuning section
- MPX filter
- Loudness switch
- High and low filter switches
- Inputs for Aux, Tape and Phono
- Front panel headphone jack
- A, B and A+B speaker settings
One common problem you’ll see with the 800-C these days is that the brass caps on the knobs fall off and get lost. Fortunately there are replacements available. On the 800-C all the original knob caps have an indicator line except for the tuning knob.
Another issue with the 800-C is that the integrated volume/power switch can fail and it is very difficult to find a replacement. Many owners use a power strip with an on/off switch to power the 800-C thereby bypassing any further use of the switch.
If you’re looking for parts or kits for your Fisher 800-C you can find many of them on eBay such as:
The 800C is an iconic vintage tube receiver. If you don’t need AM then it might be better to get the 500C (FM only) since they made quite a few more of those. Regardless, either of them are great, especially if you’re listening to jazz or classical music. Keep in mind that if you have to replace tubes, especially the power tubes, it can get pricey. But, I expect the older Fisher tube receivers will hold their value over time. More likely they will go up in value.