Toshiba SA-520

toshiba-sa-520-front

Here’s an interesting receiver from Tokyo Shibaura, otherwise know as Toshiba. This Toshiba SA-520 is a mid range model and, as you can see, has a little bit of a different design than many of the other receivers of the same era. This unit was made around 1977-1978 and almost looks like two thin units set atop one another.  The big square push buttons and slider knobs give it a distinct look as well. I can’t really say it’s appealing to the eye.

Toshiba SA-520

The tuner dial and face look a little like Pioneer while the bottom, well, I’m not sure.  The SA-520 is listed as 40 watts per channel and, believe it or not, weighs in at roughly 35 pounds! That’s a pretty hefty weight for a mid range receiver. But, these Toshibas were actually built really well and the SA-520 has a large transformer and big power supply caps which add to the weight. It also has a neat volume knob dial as well. One weakness of these models was that the vinyl veneer tends to peel over time.

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The Toshiba receiver line was initially seen as second rate to the Pioneer, Marantz and Sansui lines but many people changed their minds once they saw inside these receivers. Since Toshiba didn’t really advertise much and purchase “reviews” in the large audio magazines of the day their sales volume was no where near that of Pioneer or Sony. Of course, that makes these receivers harder to find today.

toshiba-sa-520-back

As I mentioned these are high quality stereo’s and they are not as easily found as some of the equivalent Pioneer or Sony models such as the Pioneer SX-650. Still, Toshiba didn’t have that name brand recognition that the other large manufacturers had and they still don’t. So, when you can find a Toshiba SA-520 or other Toshiba model you can usually get them at a decent price. In fact, I just saw one in good working condition with just a couple lamps out and some wood case wear sell for $50. I would guess a really nice one could bring $100. That’s a great deal for a quality vintage receiver. And, if you really want to go all out try the Toshiba SA-7100.

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4 thoughts on “Toshiba SA-520

  1. I found one of these in the back near the corner on the bottom shelf of a thrift store. The front face was perfect minus minor peeling on the bottom left section. Later found out that’s typical of Toshibas. I plugged it in to test and used my body as a radio antenna. Stations came through clearly. I bought it. Came home and cleaned it. Then really put it to the test. The sonic capability is amazing. Especially compared to my Sansui QRX-9001 and G-7700 and the Sony STR-7065A on the same rack. The Toshiba delivers a thick full sound, deep bass, lovely mids, and crisp highs- even at low volume. Haven’t cranked it past 1/3 of the volume because it would be fricking LOUD! No joke.
    Internally is a great design and layout. No wonder it’s so heavy.
    I don’t know much about this unit, which brings me here. I love this website!!

  2. Update: I’m still a happy Toshiba SA-520 owner especially having compared it to many other vintage receivers that I’ve collected and tested. Call me weird but this Toshiba sounds better. Plus it’s been free of any issues, doesn’t get HOT (not even with 4ohm Triad or Infinity speakers), and it has 2 phono jacks and 2 tape jacks plus an AUX jack.

  3. I got one since a few years and also a Toshiba SA-20Y. That one is from the late 60’s. The SA-520 is really good sounding and works very reliable without any interruption since I acquired it. One of interesting points with this receiver is the Volume controller. It’s not a pot, it works like a multi switch. Every level has a switch, that’s why there will be no crackling.. hopefully 🙂 I love this fat one 🙂

  4. I have a Toshiba SA-750, the quality of the sound is remarkable. I’ve owned everything from Sansui G22000’s, Pioneer SX1980’s, to more modern solid state Magnum Dynalab MD208’s, Sony TA-A1es (to name a few), and countless tube amplifers – new and old.

    I have to say, in my quest of audio nirvana, this little Toshiba has become a little show stopper. I currently also have a Campaign faced Marantz 2245 to compare it too – despite the Marantz having magical mids, the Toshiba has a much more expended top-end; it also has greater depth in sound and the bass is very deep and extended. In contrast, the Marantz (dispite having plenty of bottom end) sounds hollow. The Toshiba digs deep, I mean really deep – and clear! There should be no comparison between the two, but (sadly) the Marantz is only left on display.

    If you find a Toshiba receiver (from the 70’s) kicking around in good shape, I highly recommend trying it.

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