Technics SA-400

Technics SA-400 Receiver

The Technics SA-400 was offered from 1978 to 1979 with a list price of $360.00.  It put out 45 watts per channel and  weighed in at 19 pounds. It was near the lower end of the Technics lineup but doesn’t lack in performance. It has a low-key style, with a cool brushed aluminum front and knobs that match. The controls are well-organized and easy to use.

The two big knobs on the right side of the dial scale are for tuning and volume. The volume knob has 40 detents (clicks) as you turn it. The Balance, Bass and Treble controls do not have detents.

The speaker select buttons a relatively small and, strangely, they are bigger on the cheaper SA-100.

Technics SA-400 Meter

Some of the SA-400’s say Technics by Panasonic on the front panel while other just say Technics. I believe they add the ‘by Panasonic’ label on the unit s that were made in the US. All the rest just said Technics.

The SA-400 has an analog tuning dial and two Vu meters, one for tuning and the other for signal strength. It just has the basics in terms of controls with a bass and treble control but no mid range, low and high filters, a loudness switch, and a muting switch. The filters are limited in their effectiveness due to a modest slope of 6dB/octave. The SA-400 does not have a mono/stereo switch.

Technics SA-400 Knobs

Technics advertised the SA-400 as:

Knowing what you want in a receiver is one thing. Being able to afford it is Technics!

The cabinet on the SA-400 is a vinyl covered particle board. The bottom panel what they called masonite or really just a type of particle board. Not high quality.

Technics SA-400 Cabinet

Here are some of the notable features of the Technics SA-400:

  • 3-stage direct-coupled phono equalizer with S/N ratio of 90 dB (IHF A, re 10mV).
  • 3-gang FM variable tuning capacitor.
  • MOS FET FM front end.
  • 5-stage IF section with two “flat group delay” ceramic filters.
  • High-linearity FM quadrature detector.
  • Phase locked loop IC in FM MPX.
  • Low distortion bass and treble controls.
  • High and low filters.
  • Two tape monitors with two-way dubbing.
  • Zero-center and linear signal-strength tuning meters.
  • Circuit protection relay switch and pop-noise muting.
  • Main and remote speaker switches.
  • Simulated wood cabinet.

The Technics SA-400 looks really nice when all the bulbs work and it’s lit up. It has an overall clean, warm look to it. However, many have noted that the dial illumination is usually not bright enough. When in a brightly lit room it is sometimes difficult to tell if the receiver is on or not.

Technics SA-400 Lamps

As mentioned above the SA-400 produces 45 watts per channel, minimum RMS, both channels driven, at 8 ohms from 20-20,000 Hz, with no more than 0.04% total harmonic distortion. That’s a pretty good THD number for a lower end receiver.

The amp section is a pure-complementary OCL power amplifier with current mirror loaded differential amplifier employing single packaged matched transistors. It has twin 10,000-uF filter capacitors in power supply.

I think the SA-400 uses Sanyo STK output packs (STK0040?) which can be problematic as they get older. When they fail they can cause the fuse to blow.

Technics SA-400 Inside


  • Tuning range: FM, MW
  • Power output: 45 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)
  • Frequency response: 10Hz to 40kHz
  • Total harmonic distortion: 0.04%
  • Damping factor: 32
  • Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (MM), 180mV (DIN), 150mV (line)
  • Signal to noise ratio: 78dB (MM), 95dB (line)
  • Channel separation: 55dB (line)
  • Output: 150mV (line), 30mV (DIN)
  • Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω
  • Dimensions: 430 x 145 x 260mm
  • Weight: 8.2kg

Here’s what some owners of the SA-400 have said about it:

Relatively neutral sound, nice knobs, good looks. Easy to work on, too.

It is a wonderful performer, and looks ever so nice.

Technics SA-400 Back Panel

It has inputs for a Phono, 2 Tape players, and an AUX. It has connections for two sets of speakers. Note that there is no external AM ferrite rod antenna on the SA-400. It is located inside the receiver. Not sure if this was for cabinet space considerations or just a cheaper manufacturing technique.

The Technics SA-400 is a nice little receiver if you’re willing to overlook a few minor issues. They are fairly common so parts are easy to find, and they are easy to work on, should you need a repair. Pricing is also reasonable and if you just need a reliable receiver that has a nice vintage look and has basic features, then the SA-400 is a good choice.

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13 thoughts on “Technics SA-400

    1. I have a technics sa 303, well really I have 4 of them, my first one I bought brand new in 1979, I also have a sa 101, 2. sa 202’s , 2 sa 404’s, 1 sa 505, and 1 sa 616, and 1 sa 400.
      I am a huge Technics fan from this era.

  1. I have recently been bitten by the vintage stereo bug. I now own 2 SA-400s and a SA-202. The 400s are matched with some honeycomb speakers and the 202 is hooked up to a pair of SB-C250 speakers all work well.

  2. I just purchased an SA-400 in excellent condition and could not be happier with it. I am searching for the perfect speakers to go with it and have many recommendations for JBL 530s. My concern is whether or not this receiver has enough power to drive them. Every review says the speakers are great, but require a lot of power. Thoughts?


    1. Well, SA-400 is rated at 45W at 8 ohms load so you can decide for yourself if that’s enough for you. Mine powers up a pair of DIY 120W 4-way floorstanders and the sound is great with the tone controls on indents, loudness off. It has plenty of power too, I don’t remember turning the volume knob further than the indented middle, it’s way too loud for my neighbors liking, almost for me too in my apartment workshop/room. One thing though, it doesn’t like low ohm speakers, at least not those few pairs that I’ve tried (2-4 ohms) so keep ’em at 8 and you’re golden.

      1. I’m with you on the output of this beautiful unit – if you live in an apartment, you’re never going to get past 25 – 30% unless you want an eviction notice. I’ve paired mine with EPI 120s and this combo swings. I’m not a fan of the click volume settings, as the setting I want is invariably somewhere between clicks. A final note on the “ugly” wood cabinet. It may have a cheap underbelly, but the wood case looks fab! Vastly superior to all the black plastic that has swarmed the market.

  3. This year I made a repair or toss call on mine. I’m the second owner and bought it back in the mid 80’s from a friend. . I had it rebuilt for sentimental reasons and am running it in my basement office with JBL L82 Classics, AT LP 120X USB, Denon DCD 900, I Pod Classic, a rebuilt Sony KA1 ESA deck. It sounds just fantastic and the money spent was well worth it. It shares duty with a restored Sansui 5000x and I honestly think I like it better. The STK packs are an achilles heel however so one must be careful to not do anything to cause upset. (like hooking up a pair of vintage speakers that were not restored correctly, thus the JBL’s. )

  4. Just restored one of these after snagging broken for $25 at an estate sale. Indeed, it had blown STK-0040’s. There is one vendor on eBay that still seems to have decent STK-0050’s, which worked fine in my unit. Also recapped. Very psyched that everything worked out. The unit sounds lovely and looks beautiful.

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