Sold for: $325
I was so looking forward to trying out this pair when I bought them (along with a Grundig turntable & a pair of Wharfedales speakers). All of this gear had had very little use as it had been in storage for many years. Grundig gear is rare on this side of the world, so I was excited about getting my hands on some of that mythical German build quality and engineering!
Well, they both worked perfectly (after a little contact cleaner on the amp’s volume and balance pots) but, really, what a major disappointment.
These pieces are clunky, quite poorly made in comparison to most of the Japanese gear of the same era, and they are not overly pleasant to listen to. The amplifier weighs in at 10 kgs, has a massive transformer but is only 35 watts per channel into 8 ohms. It also has two large Siemens 15000 uF caps??? It should be twice as powerful as what it is! What were the Germans doing?
The tuner is perhaps a little more interesting than the amplifier as, although it is analogue, it is enabled so that the user can preset seven stations and access them via the row of small pushbuttons beneath the dial. I’ve only seen something like this before on Bang & Olufsen analogue tuners. Apart from this function, not even the tuner has much going for it — it even failed to detect several of the FM stations that my Pioneer TX-3000 pulled in with ease.
Overall impressions are that these look better in photos than they do in real life, and that they are both average pieces of hifi gear. But again I got lucky, with two bidders pushing the price up $100 more than I expected to get!
Sold for: $220
This turntable had been in storage for almost 20 years. It was sold by an English couple who had purchased it from Harrods in the early 1980s. When they immigrated to New Zealand in the 1990s, they never unpacked it. All of the Grundig gear I purchased from them still had the original English mains plugs, so the first task before any testing was to rewire to NZ 3-pin plugs. Donkey work, but some donkey has to do it.
While I generally prefer the aesthetics of the Japanese S-shaped tonearms, I grew to quite like the straightline, slim Euro styling on display here. Also, the stylus force meter is a useful adition to any record player as it saves mucking round balancing the tonearm. This TT is an exact clone of a Philips model. Did Philips own Grundig?
The needle was broken, however, but I managed to find a NOS Philips 400III in Portugal of all places, for US$3, which was delivered in less than a week. God, I love EBay! Apart from that, overall condition was near mint. There were a few scratches and marks on the dustcover but some plastic polish restored this in no time.
Needle installed and time to test the TT out through the Pioneer SA-9800. This is perhaps the quietest turntable I’ve ever tried — I turned the volume up to full (with nothing playing) and there was very little noise. Maybe there is something to said for these well-isolated plastic TTs. Turning it back down, I whacked on some Robert Cray. Again, I was presently surprised. For a standard needle (not elliptical), there was no real weak spots in the soundstage. Solid mids and tops with just a little missing at the bottom, but really, for a relatively lightweight table, you can’t go wrong!