Yamaha CR-820

Yamaha CR-820 Front

This is a classic upper mid-range receiver from the late 1970’s. It is the Yamaha CR-820 and was on the market from around 1977 to 1979. It produced 55 watts per channel into 8 ohms and had low distortion ratings. In fact, while most manufacturers measured distortion at the rated output of the unit, Yamaha measured the distortion over a wide range of power output. They called this the Noise Distortion Clearance Range (NDCR). They trademarked the phrase ‘Real Life Rated’ because they measured noise and distortion at -20dB from the inputs all the way through to the speaker output as opposed to just measuring the amp section. They believed this would give a better indication of performance in a true listening environment.

Yamaha CR-820 Left

The Yamaha CR-820 retailed for around $460.00 and had the classic Yamaha styling of the time with monochrome face plate, clean knobs and over sized rectangular switches. The receivers from this series all have a clean, almost sterile, machined look to them. They also came with a special plug for the headphone jack output that said ‘Reserved For Yamaha Orthodynamic Headphones’. Sounds impressive!

Yamaha CR-820 Right

As you can see it has controls for:

  • Bass
  • Presence
  • Treble
  • Loudness
  • Volume / Balance

The over sized switched control the selection of inputs and outputs. There are also a number of push button switches running along the bottom of the unit.

Yamaha CR-820 Lit

The CR-820 does look nice when it’s illuminated. The back lighting is a light amber accented with a few red LED indicators. The low profile case is wood with a vinyl veneer. It’s decent sized receiver as well measuring 17.6W x 5.7H x 15.5D in inches and weighing almost 27 pounds.

Yamaha CR-820 Inside

The Yamaha CR-xx20 receivers, including the CR-820, were very well built. Yamaha’s CR-xx40 line, with the exception of the CR-2040 used STK parts instead of discrete transistors. The STK parts are problematic and not easily found. So, if you do like the Yamaha line then it might be best to stick with the xx20 line as they are more readily repaired.

Yamaha CR-820 Back

Yamaha receivers are probably under valued. They don’t have quite the same name value as Marantz, or even Pioneer, though they may be on par quality wise. The Yamaha CR-820 is a great mix of performance and looks, it can be easily repaired, and as more people discover how good they are, their price will most likely continue to climb.

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23 thoughts on “Yamaha CR-820

  1. As a matter of fact, the Yamaha CR-820 cabinet does NOT have vinyl veneer.
    Both of the CR-820 units I own have actual walnut veneer.

  2. I purchased a Yamaha CR 820 on EBay a few weeks ago. I paid 135$ plus 20$ shipping. For 155$ I am smitten by how great this baby sounds powering my Bose 301s (please don’t cringe). To my vintage 67 year old ears I’m in heaven. I’m back into vinyl lps after a 40 year lapse. The look, the sound, the nostalgia is exactly what I was looking for.

    1. Right on! I’m 45 and shopping the same receiver for my ‘72 Technics 1600 turntable and series iv 301s. Currently running a TEAC ag-75 and it sounds pretty damn good, but from my research the cr-820 is a perfect match for 301s.

  3. I love my 820!! Taped and mudded a garage ceiling for it. Lol. Main light burned out? Parts? Any idea how hard fix is?

  4. I bought my CR-820 new back in 1977 still sounds awesome with the Cannon TLS-1030’s I purchased with it from The Federated Group. The speakers woofers need re-foam edged but there still good as new too! I will never sell my Yamaha!

  5. Bought the CR820 new in the early 70s along with a Kenwood 2055 table & a pair of large walnut Advents speakers. They all still play well together since I purchased them. Love to play old vinyl thru this system.

    1. I’m am picking up a CR 820 on Tuesday and it would be powering the Advent new large speakers that came out in 76. Tomorrow I’m picking up a technic’s 1400 turntable to complete. I really look forward to assembling it all and sitting back and listening to my albums I haven’t played in years.

  6. I have a Yamaha CR820 played thru JBL LT50’s . I’ve had a Pioneer SX650 and a few Marantz. I actually prefer the Yamaha sound to both. I find both the Pioneer and Marantz sound great initially, but after a hours or so, they become fatiguing. However, I don’t get that with my Yamaha. Personal preference of course.

  7. Mark
    Purchased my 820 in 1976 run a Dual 606 direct drive turntable, great performance. Use Yamaha speakers & a 520 cassette player ?

  8. I have a Yamaha cr-820 receiver. Love it. I have double stacked large advents. A mcs 3570 cassette deck and a mcs 6500 turn table. Love the sound.

    1. hi – i just got an 820. i love it. but i have a question to any 820 owners. my 820’s tuner dial works – but in reverse. when i turn the dial right, the tuner indicator moves left. and vice versa. i have not seen that before on other vintage receivers. is this unique to the 820 or to the 20 series yamahas? mine seems to tune fine- just in the opposite direction as i would expect. . am just curious about others. thank you

      1. Your tuning string is likely looped around the the tuning knob shaft in the wrong direction. That is,…if it is on there counter clockwise..flip it over to run clockwise. Easy.

  9. Cool, .I’m using the 820 with Large advent and wharfdale 60 as B speakers. Hearing parts of music never heard before in familiar tracks. Love the way it locks on static free to marginal reception from distant FM.

  10. Hello,
    I recently got a CR 820 reciever + Beogram 3000 Thorens.
    What speakers would you recommend to have this marriage last long .. ? under 700 Usd preferably..thanks

    1. I’ve seen a few suggestions for the CR-820. Polk 7b or Polk Model 10’s, KLH model 17’s, or of course the Yamaha NS series like 670/690 or 500/1000. Those were made roughly around the same time so should match up well. Just check the foam surrounds on any older speakers before buying. Many times they are deteriorated. Foams can be replaced but it will add an extra expense. Then again you can usually negotiate a very good price after you pull off the speaker grills and a bunch of foam pieces fall onto the ground. lol.

    2. Hey Ben. I know this ship has already sailed but I’m big believer in the ADS line up. The L 710 is not cumbersome and delivers a crisp but well rounded sound. They hold value and are usually in demand but I believe they are in your range. Take Care.

  11. I play mine through a set of AR-4X speakers, it takes me right back to 1978. I love the CR-820. My CR-600 also sounds great through the same speakers.

  12. Late Comment, but….. Ran my Cr 820 with a pair of Speakerlab 30’s. Warmth and imaging superb! Other speakers may play louder, but none I’ve heard can recreate a sound stage as well. Ah, analog….. Human voices sound human, string and wind instruments and their placement during a recording are above reproach, IMO. Couldn’t ask for better!!

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