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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.