The Technics SA-800 is one of Technics by Panasonics’ higher end models. It has the classic Technics look with dark insets around the knobs and warm glow of the tuning dial. The red and green program and power level LED’s give it a colorful visual effect.
The SA-800 produces 125 watts per channel into 8 ohms with no more than 0.04% total harmonic distortion. An interesting aspect of this receiver is its Automatic Load Impedance Detector circuitry. When the power is turned on a low level signal is sent to the speakers to determine their impedance. Then a relay selects the correct power supply voltage depending upon whether the speakers are 4 or 8 ohm. So, the SA-800 can produce
The Peak Power indicator is a string of 24 LED’s, 12 for each channel, with the outer red LED’s indicating an output level that is approaching clipping. Technics used LED’s in the meter because they can react faster than an analog meter.
The SA-800 has a great tuning section with a MOS FET FM front end and a Phase Locked Loop circuit for stable FM performance with wide separation. It also has multiple tone controls and filters on the front panel.
One drawback of the SA-800 is that many times the potentiometers on unserviced units will need cleaned and they are difficult to get to. Other than that the build quality is excellent. There is also an SA-800A version that has a dark gray faceplate but is essentially the same receiver.
The higher end Technics are good receivers. They are built well and perform just as well as a Marantz or Pioneer. They tend to be priced a little lower than those other brands so many times you can pick one up for a good price. A fully serviced SA-800 will sell for $600 to $800.
The Technics SA-500 is a great mid-range receiver. Not only does it perform well but it has the looks to go with it. If you’re just getting into vintage audio this is a really good receiver to start off with. They made quite a few of them so prices are reasonable. It was manufactured from late 1978 to around 1980 and puts out about 55 watts per channel. The suggested retail price at the time was $430.00.
A precursor of things to come, the SA-500’s Power Level meter is LED which you can turn on or off via the Power Display button. The signal and tuning strength meters are analog.
The balanced layout of the knobs and switches along with the white dial face make the Technics SA-500 a clean and sophisticated looking unit. The knobs are done nicely with a brushed aluminum top and sides with a polished accent line along the outer top edge. Technics also produced an SA-500A which has a black face.
If you find a used SA-500, some or all of the lamps will most likely be out. It’s worth it to replace them with new lamps because the SA-500 looks fantastic when lit up in a dark room. It uses 6.3 V 250 mA bulbs and they’re easy to replace. The equivalent LED bulb is a BA9S.
Another nice feature of the Technics SA-500 is the sliding top. The wood top panel has two small brackets that hold it in place. Once the two screws are removed the top slides off allowing access to the inside.
As I mentioned above the Technics SA-500 is a great receiver for the beginning audio enthusiast. It’s actually a great receiver for anybody. Search the net and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that dislikes this receiver and it’s brethren the SA-200, SA-300, SA-400, SA-700 and of course the monster SA-1000. The SA-500 fall in the middle and perfectly combines performance with aesthetics. A nice unit can be found for under $200.