I may be wrong, but I do believe that the style of audio featured in this advertisement is never going to be collectable. Despite the futuristic aesthetics, the brute power, and the funky lights, hifi hunters have passed this era by! Instead, the next wave of classic audio gear that is starting to rise in price is the mid- to late-eighties upper end equipment. In other words, this early ’80s stuff has been completely disregarded. One seldom sees these receivers for sale — did they sell in small quantities or did they break down and get tossed in the garbage? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the latter as Technics (and many others) around this time put chips into their equipment that made them essentially unfixable if they failed.
Sold for: $375
When I turned up to buy this receiver, the guy that was selling it to me had, like, totally forgotten that I was coming. Why? Because he was blasted off his box on weed! Not that I care; I’ve bought a lot of audio equipment from druggies in the last year, and God knows that there isn’t too many vices that I ain’t tried! (Has anyone else noticed that amplifiers that have been owned for a long time by stoners exude a grassy, resinous smell when they warm up?).
This particular monster—these are big amps in terms of both size and weight—had been in the same family for almost forty years, and both the case and fascia looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in that time. All the pots were very scratchy and there was some DC leaking into the system.
Well, I pulled it apart, soaked all the knobs in bleach, gave the fascia the Blue Magic treatment, and sprayed all the pots and switches. Under the grime there was barely a scratch. Take a look — she’s a beauty. The real-wood veneer case got a treatment with some Howards Restor-A-Finish and all the damage and scratches disappeared. The internal cleaning didn’t resolve all the problems, so it was off to see Fred at the electronic repair shop. Several dry joints and a couple of faulty caps later she was working good as new.
As far as sound is concerned, these are very mellow, warm sounding with not a huge amount of detail. They are, therefore, perfectly suited to the technology of the time, namely vinyl and cassette. Put a classic set of speakers on these with at least a 10″ bass driver and you will be more than happy. And you will smile more than ever when you look at that blue-lighted tuning dial. Remember also that you can configure these as home theatre amps! Yes, that’s right, home theatre. That’s because you can split these machines into two separate amps and send different signals to front and back. Home theatre is, after all, merely a variation of quadraphonic!
Sold for: $285
The photos don’t do this receiver justice — it was in superb condition with that famous Sansui piano black finish in unmarked condition. Gear like this doesn’t turn up too often in my country—New Zealand—as we were largely importing the cheaper mainstream brands during the 1980s. Sure enough, when I went to pick it up, it was being sold by an immigrant Chinese family from Hong Kong. They just wanted to get rid of it out of the garage and were quite surprised that someone had payed almost $60 for it. Selling all the rest of the gear would net me a 1000% profit.
To the receiver: OK, for a start, let me address something that I come across often in audio forums, namely that much of the 1980s was characterised by BPC, or Black Plastic Crap, as it is called. I will be dealing with this in greater detail in a future post, but putting it simply, virtually every mainstream manufacturer in the 1980s produced some excellent gear. Take this Sansui, for instance — externally, it has a thick alloy faceplate and aluminium knobs; internally, there is a massive transformer, thick wiring, and Nichicon Black main caps, and it can drive 4-ohm speakers with ease. It many ways it is equal to the much mythologised ’70s Sansuis. Take a look at the specs below and if you are familiar with the late 1970s Sansuis, you will recognise that these are almost identical. Sansui, like Onkyo, settled on certain specs and these, it would seem, became company policy. Sansui favours an extrawide power bandwidth with a (comparatively) low 95 dB S/N ratio.
Apart from that, this is a big unit, in that it is almost as deep as it is wide. Its also heavy, and for me, heavy is generally the mark of quality in classic audio.
And the sound of this receiver? It is, well, Sansui — it is dark and full and easy to listen to for extended periods. Highly recommended.
PS: My only moan with these amps is that there is no provision for dimming the displays and in a darkened room they really are like a fucking Christmas tree.
Sold for: $200
A sweet little receiver putting out 40 watts per channel at 8 ohms, both channels driven, 0.007% THD, 20-20,000Hz. JVC’s Super A is defined as offering “the distortion-free sound of a class-A amp, and the efficiency of a class-B amp.”
Aesthetics are almost as important as operation when it comes to vintage hi fi. This one was in particularly nice condition so easy to move on.
Sound-wise, this machine is nothing special, but there’s not too much wrong with it either. Having said that, I’m not overly fond of slide controls on any amplifiers. The volume control is not well graduated, in that it gets loud very quickly and you find yourself making micro adjustments to get a comfortable listening level. The SEA equalizer can also be problematic and two of the sliders on this one needed to be fixed before sale. Very good tuner and it all looks brilliant at night. Finally, there’s no plastic here — it’s an all aluminium faceplate.
5 band SEA Graphic Equalizer
Power Level LEDs
Analogue AM/FM tuner with heavily weighted tuning knob.
Input connections for: AM, FM, Phono/Tape1 Aux/ Tape2
Speakers: A, B, A+B
Dimensions: 420w x 120h x 350d