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. A really nice unit will sell for $250 to $300 while a working, average condition unit will sell for around $150 or more.

Available on Ebay

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9 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.

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