The H.H. Scott 399 Stereomaster receiver was introduced in 1960 and had about a two year run. It retailed for $399.95 and produced 18 watts per channel. $400 for a stereo in 1960 was a decent chunk of change but H.H. Scott didn’t disappoint. They basically took the 299B integrated amplifier and coupled it with the 330D AM/FM mono tuner to create the 399 receiver. The 399 is a tube receiver with a total of 23 tubes.
Despite the Stereomaster name it’s not really a stereo per se. In fact, it was built just before true stereo hit the market. Instead the 399 relies on simulcast where a signal is broadcast on both AM and FM signals simultaneously. The 399 owner would tune the left knob to the correct FM frequency and the AM knob to its respective frequency. The result would be the same signal broadcast on both FM and AM or essentially stereo.
The 399 Stereomaster has a good phono section that is the same one used in Scott’s 299 amplifier. But, it is a little confusing. It has 3 different inputs on the back panel. Mag, Mag low and a Mag high input. Today’s high output moving coil or moving magnet cartridges will work fine on the LOW input. That’s because on the low input any cartridge 2mV or higher will work. Most say that 4.5mV is optimal. If you have a low output moving coil cartridge then you might need an external step-up device.
H.H. Scott eventually made a multiplexer to decode a stereo broadcast. The model 335 Wideband Multiplex Adapter was what most 399 Stereomaster owners chose. Though, I believe a number of other multiplex adapters made by the likes of Eico, Pilot, Fisher and Heath will all work with the Scott 399. You can see the 335 Multiplex Adaptor below.
The Scott 335 adaptor is fairly rare and can be expensive. Without the 335 the Stereomaster is essentially FM mono which really isn’t that bad so a 335 isn’t really necessary.
A Stereomaster 399 in a nice wood case is a beautiful looking receiver – particularly at night with the round dials and two “Magic-eye” signal-strength indicator tubes glowing.
The Stereomaster 399 measures 17.5″ x 6″ x 13.75″ / 445 x 152 x 349 mm and weighs around 37 pounds. One thing to look out for with the 399 is that the RCA jacks on the back of the unit tend to get loose. Usually not a big problem but something to be aware of when connecting cables.
The Scott 399 Stereomaster is a tube receiver with a total of 23 tubes in its design.
11 tubes in the amplifier section:
- 4 12AX7 – preamps
- 2 6U8/6GH8 (floating paraphase inverter w/AC balance pots)
- 4 7189 outputs
- 1 5AR4/GZ34 rectifier
6 tubes in the FM tuner section (311 design):
- 1 6BS8/6BQ7
- 1 6U8
- 3 6AU6
- 1 6BR5/EM80 FM tuning eye
5 tubes in the AM tuning section:
- 1 6BA6
- 1 6BE6
- 2 6HS6
- 1 12AU7
- 1 6BR5/EM80 AM tuning eye
The amount of work incorporated into the 399 Stereomaster is amazing. The extensive hand wiring and soldering is impressive. Check out the large power supply transformer. It has separate rectifiers and windings for the AM/FM tuner and amplifier sections.
From H.H. Scott’s 1959 advertisement for the 399 Stereomaster referring to the advent of stereo recording:
“There are now two systems of high fidelity, monophonic (monaural) and stereophonic. Monophonic is a system that starts from one microphone and is fed through a single high fidelity set. Stereophonic is a double system. Two separate microphones are placed at different sides of the orchestra and two different systems are used to keep the two signals or channels separated. Two separate speakers are used, placed on different sides of you room. Stereo is much like 3-D photography, two slightly different sound reach your ears giving you a new dimension in sound.“
The H.H. Scott 399 may be the best sounding receiver that they ever built. It is definitely one of the best looking. Finding one isn’t very easy these days and they sell for a pretty penny in good working condition.