The Technics SA-110 is a low budget receiver that debuted in 1983 for $160. Its rated output is 20 watts per channel with total harmonic distortion of 0.5%. It has a small profile at around 17 inches wide, 10 inches deep and only 4 inches high which makes it easy to place on a smaller desk or shelf.
The SA-100 isn’t great looking and has a somewhat sterile look, but it was more than likely designed to perform its basic functions well rather than look flashy. Some have called it ‘sleek’ but I’m not sure about that.
The front panel of the Technics SA-110 is fairly minimalist due to the lack of features. There are separate bass, treble and balance sliders on the left of the panel. The FM muting/Mode button works a little strangely. Muting only works on FM and when in the Stereo mode muting is on all the time. When in the OFF position the output is in Mono only. So, you can’t turn off muting in Stereo – which means a may be difficult to tune in weaker stations in stereo. Turn off the muting and you’re stuck in Mono.
On the right side of the panel there is a volume slider, Tape monitor/Aux button, selector buttons for Tuner or Phono, and a Band selector button. There are also indicator LED’s for FM Stereo and Tuning. The SA-110 has an output jack for headphones as well.
The slider controls are contoured to fit your finger but most users feel that the sliders make it difficult to finely adjust some settings – especially the volume.
The dial scale lights up nicely when powered on but the dial indicator does not light up and can be hard to see in a dark room. This makes it difficult to tell where on the tuning dial you’re at. You can see that Technics used a gyro-touch tuning wheel similar to the early Marantz design. The wheel is weighted and spins smoothly.
There is a black version of the SA-110 that appears to have only been sold in Europe.
There is also an ‘L’ version – the SA-110L that has a long wave band.
- Tuning range: FM, MW, (SA-110L has LW)
- Power output: 20 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)
- Frequency response: 5Hz to 70kHz
- Total harmonic distortion: 0.5%
- Damping factor: 30
- Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)
- Signal to noise ratio: 73dB (MM), 95dB (line)
- Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω
- Dimensions: 16 15/16 x 3 13/16 x 9 9/16″ (430 x 97 x 243mm)
- Weight: 9.9 lbs (4.5kg)
While some manufacturers were already utilizing digital tuners, the SA-110 uses an analog tuner. The control sliders are good quality – made by ALPS and are easy to clean given their design. There is also a fuse on the main board in the dial lamp circuit which can fail and cause loss of power to the unit.
The amplifier circuitry gives the Technics SA-110 a rated output of 20 watts per channel AMS, both channels driven into 8 ohms, from 40 to 20,000 Hz, with no more than 0.5% THD. It also uses fuseless electronic protection circuitry to eliminate pop noise and prevent amplifier damage caused by short circuits at speaker terminals.
You may have noticed that there is no Loudness control on the front panel of the SA-110. It does, however, have a built-in loudness compensation for low-volume listening. The control tends to be bass oriented and doesn’t do much for the higher frequencies.
There is one amp module in the SA-110 and it’s an STK 4121 II. While the SA-110 is capable of running speakers in the 4 ohm to 16 ohm range many users avoid pushing the stereo too hard when using 4 ohm loads in order to avoid damaging the STK module.
Pity they didn’t use a bit of future imagination and provide an aux input or two.
The sound is quite full for such a basic receiver. Powerful bass. Crisp highs. The tone control is useless.
The cheesy slider type controls make it hard to fine tune the volume and the lack of a light on the tuner indicator makes it hard to change the station in an unlit room.
The rear panel on the Technics SA-110 is sparse. It has one unswitched outlet and the usual antenna connections. Interestingly, it also an RCA AM loop antenna jack. The antenna was sold with the unit but is usually long gone by now and the clip to hold the antenna to the unit is commonly missing as well. The SA-110 can only utilize one pair of speakers and the cables are connected via twist lock connectors. There are only connections for a turntable and a tape deck or auxiliary device.
Notice also that there is no separate AUX or CD input on the back panel. You can use the Tape/Aux input but if you want to connect a cassette player and a CD player at the same time you will have to use a device switching box.
The Technics SA-110 receiver does its job which is to provide good quality sound for a small area at a cheap price point. That was the case when it was new and is still the case today. It does the minimum fairly well and nothing more. If you need a low priced, low powered stereo that is compact and works reasonably well then the SA-110 is a good choice. However, there are a few Technics receivers in the same or later lineups that have more features and perform at a higher level that wouldn’t cost much more. Receivers such as the SA-120, SA-310, SA-410, and SA-560 all have better specs. One of them may be a better choice.