I've always liked the vintage Sony receivers. I'm not sure I can state exactly why, but they just have a different look about them while still retaining that classic vintage appeal. The layout of the controls is completely different than other stereos of the time and this Sony STR-6800 SD has a subtle look as opposed to the more polished and flashy look of other late 1970's and early 1980's receivers. I guess I would describe it as muted technical sophistication. Whatever that means.
Nonetheless, the early Sony receivers are great machines. Their design, build quality and performance all live up to, and usually exceed, expectations. While Sony doesn't attract the same level of interest that Pioneer or Sansui do it does have a fairly rabid following of collectors. Offered from 1977 through 1982 the STR-6800 retailed for around $600.00. It puts out 80 watts per channel and was only one step down from Sony's top of the line STR-7800 SD stereo. Reviews at the time, and user experience since then, seem to concur that the power rating is low and that Sony really under-spec'd the receiver on paper. Many who've owned this receiver explain that they were pleasantly surprised at its superior performance.
You'll notice in the photo below that the STR-6800 has a knob labelled Acoustic Comp which stands for Acoustic Compensator. Stereo Magazine explains this function as:
"In 'low' position, the effect is similar to that of a loudness contour, but only the low end is boosted(a maximum of 8 1/2 dB @ 20hz with low volume settings, 8dB @ 50hz, 6db @ 100hz, and 3db @ 200hz). In the 'loudness' position, the effect is similar but a bit stronger(9 1/2 dB below 50hz, 8 1/4 dB @ 100hz, and 5 3/4 dB @ 200hz). In addition, there is a gentle high-end boost(1 1/4 dB @ 5khz, 3 1/2 dB @ 10khz, and 5 1/2 dB @ 20khz. In the 'presence' mode, a gentle 3dB boost is imparted to a broad band centered on 1khz. The contour is quite wide, with response @ 200hz and 5khz being accentuated by 1 3/4 dB".
This unit also incorporates two tape monitors controlled via a toggle switch as well as tape to tape copying. It also has an external adapter function that confuses many users. You can basically use it to add amp/pre-amp separation if you want some auxiliary audio customization. As you can see it even has hookups for three sets of speakers! It has two phono inputs and an aux input. It's known for it's superior FM tuner as well. These older Sony receivers tend to have issues with dirty potentiometer and speaker relays. So, if you're unit has scratchy volume control or a channel cuts in and out then it could very well just need a good cleaning.
As I mentioned above, the Sony receivers don't garner the respect that the more commonly known brands do but that is changing slowly. As more collectors delve into the world of vintage Sony receivers they will come to be seen as easily equal to their peers. They also have that air of uniqueness to them as well, since everyone is familiar with Sony's contemporary electronics but not at all familiar with their vintage lines. So, for performance, value and conversation appeal the old Sony's are hard to beat. The Sony STR-6800 SD is a great buy. Even in mint condition it can be had for around $300 and good working units for $150-$200.
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