Vintage Stereo Receivers ~ Tuners ~ Amps

Glossary of receiver terminology
Onkyo TX-8500

Onkyo TX-8500 (1978)  110 WPC  $440


This Onkyo TX-8500 is pristine, rare and an original one-owner receiver, this is one of the true massive vintage monsters.  They are rarely seen up for sale these days, especially in this fine condition.

The TX-8500 was Onkyo's contribution to the monster receiver wars of the late 70's.  It was Onkyo's top of the line receiver at the time and put out a very conservative 110 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 150 watts per channel into 4 ohms. 

The Onkyo TX-8500 quartz-locked tuning system is controlled by a sentry circuit which reacts to your touch on the tuning knob, unlocking quartz-locked when you touch it for tuning; locking it when you release the knob.

This line of Onkyo receivers (including the TX-2500, TX-4500, TX-6500) were, up until recently, considered under appreciated units...but not any more.

The build quality, performance and features of this bad boy are all second to none. 

Onkyo was a little late to the scene with this monster receiver so the TX-8500 didn't receive the fanfare that the Pioneer and Marantz receivers received at the time but the TX-8500 is easily comparable.
The TX-8500 does not have the typical "Aux" input but instead has three tape inputs so you won't be short of inputs.  Simply choose one of the tape inputs as your designated Aux input.   

Additional inputs for two turntables, three pairs of speakers and three tape/aux connections give the receiver the capability as a strong anchor for just about any stereo system you can imagine.

The amplifier section is one of the best around and the tuning section is no slouch either. 

This huge receiver is about 2 feet across and weighs 55 pounds.  

The large silver face is enhanced by a wide narrow window made of thick beveled real glass held in place by four "industrial" hex bolts.  This became Onkyo's trademark design in the future TX series. 

There is some very minimal wear on a little bit of the lettering on the silver face.  This is primarily due to the slim typeface that was chosen to be silkscreened.  

Other than that, everything else is just fine...the huge walnut case is also near perfect.


About Onkyo...
The word Onkyo translates as "sound harmony".  Starting out in 1946, Osaka Denki ONKYO K.K. is established and begins manufacturing phonograph pickups. The CP-1000 turntable was the first product to bear the ONKYO brand.  They also manufactured integrated stereo systems throughout the years but they majored in turntables, early amps, preamps, stereo receivers and also the cassette tape format beginning in 1981 with the TA-W800, the world's first high-speed dubbing, double-cassette tape deck with a wide variety of tape-editing functions.
They hit their high mark in the late 70's with the TX-xxxx series of stereo receivers, tuners and amps.  Onkyo kept pace with, and in some ways exceeded, the strong competition from Pioneer, Sansui, Marantz, Optonica, etc.  The stereo wars of the 70's yielded so many great products and Onkyo is right there with the best of them.
Today, Onkyo is still a global brand and their Integra series is well respected.

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Philips 7861

Philips AH-7861 ('77-'81) 45 WPC  (rare and pristine)  SOLD


Visually stunning, the powerful Philips 7861 is definitely one of the most beautiful and most rare of the late 70's vintage, black-face stereo receivers.  This one is absolutely near perfect in cosmetic detail and sonic output. 

Rated at a very conservative 45 watts per channel, it was second only to the even more rare TOTL Philips AH-7871.  While these 7861/7871 receivers can still be found from time to time, they are steadily rising in price and collectors are snapping them up.

Under the hood of the Philips 7861, it has the same build as the TOTL 7871 except for slightly fewer watts but...the components, boards and build quality are proven better than most of the competition during that era.  

The boards are well laid out, easier to service when and if needed.

The 7861 does not use relays in the speaker protection circuit so no worries there either.   

The speaker terminals are unique, very strong, spring-loaded push-buttons that result in very tight and secure wiring connections. 

Best described sonically as more powerful than it seems and yields no listening fatigue.  It has a very neutral amp section as well.
The tuner section is quite sensitive and the amplifier section has very low (almost non-existent) noise. Also, the preamp and phono sections are excellent.
Like we said, the design is stunning: Satin black anodized aluminum faceplate with white silkscreen lettering, machined, high-grade black aluminum knobs and switches (with a thin silver rim on the outside edge of the knobs and switches) combined with the black wood case make for a sleek, unique piece of vintage history. 


About Philips (North America)...

The Philips Laboratory Series trace their beginnings back to Magnavox and the model 1500 receiver that was very well designed and respected. The Magnavox engineers took on a task to make a no-holds barred system that would compete with the best and upgrade and expand the 1500 to capture a place in the hi-fi market that the Japanese were taking over. Also, they hoped it would save the company. However, before bringing the line out, Philips stepped in and bought Magnavox.  Philips had a foothold in North America and were doing quite well with their turntables, speakers and tape equipment but could not penetrate the market with its European styled receivers. They rebadged the Magnavox designs and introduced them in 1977.  The "Philips Laboratories" line of receivers, preamps and power amps were produced in the Magnavox facility in Tennessee. 
As mentioned above (AH-7861) the receivers came in two versions, either silver or black faceplates.  The first rate internals of the series are the same while the faceplates and placement of indicators/meters are different. 
It may be noted here that Philips went on a buying spree during this era, they also purchased Marantz and tried to carry on with Marantz' hard earned reputation but...well...you know what happened.


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Sansui G-5700

Sansui G-5700 ('79-'80) 75W x 2   $310


Pure DC Power! 

That was the tag line for Sansui's G-Series receivers from the late 70's and they lived up to the advertising hype.  

Lurking inside this beauty is a huge, well-regulated power transformer designed to keep source impedance extremely low.

This mid/high range Sansui G-5700 is rated at a conservative 75 watts per channel...it's a really handsome unit and one great performer.!  

These units were referenced as "hybrid" receivers because of the analog and digital tuning sections.  It has the traditional analog rule scale FM dial (hand dialed pointer for the selected station) and is synced with the LED panel that would reflect the same station number as well.

The analog dial on this beauty is wide and extremely clearly calibrated in FM-linear sections to make tuning smoother and easier than ever.  One of the most common issues on the hybrid G-Series was the intermittent operation of the LED FM frequency readout.  Because this particular unit does have that issue, it is very reasonably priced even though this issue does not affect the tuner or operation in any manner.  The digital peak-power LED meters on these receivers are on a separate board and rarely have problems. 

With Sansui's patented "Digitally Quartz-locked" tuning system on the G-5700, stations simply cannot go adrift.

The phono section of the G-5700 is designed for excellent input sensitivity and impedance numbers as well.

Overall, the luxurious faceplate design and the real rosewood veneer case make this a desirable beauty.
Over the years, many have claimed that the Sansui G-series receivers are some of the best receivers ever made in terms of both build quality and performance. The audio industry was evolving at the time and technology was advancing to a point where audio equipment could do a far better job of amplifying sound in a manner that kept it as close to the original recorded sound as possible. Sansui's DC circuitry did just that.

The G-5700 was produced from 1979 to 1980 and really is a great representative of the vintage audio years. 


About SANSUI
There's not much we can add when it comes to one of the most famous brands in HiFi history.  The name alone is enough for most collectors to stop and look.

Founded in Tokyo in 1947, Sansui initially manufactured electronic parts.  By the 1960s, they had developed a reputation for making serious audio components. They were sold in foreign markets through that and the next decade.

Sansui's amplifiers, tuners, receivers, speakers and turntables from the 1960s and 1970s continue to remain in high demand by audio enthusiasts.


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Kenwood KR-6600
Kenwood KR-6600 ('76-'77) 60 WPC  $265


In 1976, it was second from the TOTL in power...the KR-6600 is a jewel of vintage history.
Capable of handling 2 turntables, 3 pairs of speakers and, by removing the jumpers, it makes a fantastic preamp.
The 6600 has a double protection system which offers complete output stage protection as well as loudspeaker isolation; Acoustic controls provide +6dB at 50 Hz and 800 Hz. 

As with all our gear, all the switches and pots have also been cleaned.  

All thirteen lamps are working and the main dial glass lamps have been upgraded with LEDs.

Bias and DC offset have been set.  

With its many lights of different colors, it is very cool to just simply look at as well as listen to its excellent sound stage.  

The KR-6600 is one of those receivers that has nothing but glowing reviews from those who have been lucky enough to own one. 


Specs:

Tuning range: FM, MW, Power output: 60 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo), Frequency response: 20Hz to 50kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.3%...Damping factor: 45...Input sensitivity: 1.5mV (mic), 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)

Signal to noise ratio: 65dB (mic)...70dB (MM), 90dB (line)...Output: 150mV (line), 30mV (DIN)

Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω...Dimensions: 20.3" x 6" x 14.3"...Weight: 36 lbs


Kenwood KR-5150

Kenwood KR-5150 ('71-'75)  50 WPC  $100


This Kenwood classic came out around 1971 and lasted until 1975 and was rated at 50 watts per channel...sure seems like more.
This one has the optional walnut case which you don't actually see too often with this receiver. The styling was definitely the design transition from the late 60's into the mid 70's.
No slouch, it has inputs for two turntables, three pairs of speakers, two aux channles plus two tape inputs.
In fine cosmetic condition, all the lamps are working.  
The exception is the FM does not function.
The case and faceplate have no damage.

About Kenwood (Trio)...

Established in 1946 as the Kasuga Radio Co. Ltd. in Komagane City, Japan, in 1960 the company was renamed Trio Corporation. In 1963 the first overseas office was founded in Los Angeles.

In the early 1960s, Trio's products were rebranded by the Lafayette Radio Co with a focus on CB radio.

An importer of Japanese-made electronics Radio Shack (Realistic, Tandy Corp) was A&A Trading Co., and a bilingual Japanese-speaking manager from there established a company that would be the exclusive importer of Trio products.

The name Kenwood was invented by Kasuga as being the combination of "Ken", a name common to Japan and North America that had been tested and proven acceptable to American consumers in the name of Kenmore appliance (Sears) \, and "Wood", referring to the durable substance as well as suggesting a relation to Hollywood.  The brand recognition of Kenwood eventually surpassed that of Trio's, and in 1986 Trio bought Kenwood and renamed itself Kenwood.  Eventually, Kenwood merged with JVC in 2008 as JVC/Kenwood.


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Sanyo JCX-2300K

Sanyo JCX-2300KR ('78-'81)  31 WPC  $165 (pristine)

It's now pretty well known that, back in the day, Sanyo (like Hitachi) supplied many of their competitors with Sanyo designed high quality internal components.  Today, Sanyo vintage receivers (especially the JCX and "Plus" series) are no longer "under the radar".  
This flawless JCX-2300K is very well built with a huge power supply and large heatsinks.  The rated power of 31 watts per channel seems like a misprint because this 2300K rocks!    The gorgeous silverface design is complemented by its real wood timber case with horizontal vents. The knobs and switches are all made of solid aluminium with angled designs, grub screws, and chrome push buttons.   


About Sanyo...

Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. was a Japanese major electronics company and formerly a member of the Fortune Global 500.  They were one of the few electronics companies (like Hitachi) that made most of their own high fidelity components in-house using their own parts.  They also supplied some of the other big names like Pioneer, Sansui, etc. with Sanyo built parts and components. Their late 70's JCX series and the much improved "Plus Series" of components are very well known and in high demand by audiophiles.  At one point in their history, they had over 230 subsidiaries and affiliates.  Sanyo was eventually bought by Panasonic in 2009. 

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Yamaha CR-640

Yamaha CR-640 (1980) 45 WPC  $245 (pristine)

Besides the fact that this CR-640 is pristine and simply beautiful, its elegant and well-designed, dark Brazilian hardwood veneer  "wrap-around" case is stunning!  The cosmetics, including the brushed aluminum faceplate and knobs are like new.
Something unique to Yamaha is when speaking of the OTS (Optimum Tuning System), which is an easy-to-use feature that automatically locks in the exact center of the tuned channel - for the lowest possible distortion.

Stereo Review magazine once said (and still applies today) "the muting and OST systems operated flawlessly and the harmonic distortion of the CR-640 was so low that without the most advanced test instruments it would have been impossible to measure it."

Among Yamaha's most significant features is the continuously variable loudness control. By using this control, the frequency balance and volume are adjusted simultaneously to compensate for the ear's insensitivity to high and low frequency sound at low volume settings. Thus, you can retain a natural-sounding balance regardless of listening level.
In summing up their reaction to the CR-640, Stereo review said, "Suffice it to say that Yamaha make it possible for a moderate-price receiver to provide performance that would have been unimaginable only a short time ago (referring to the late 70's)." 
We have to agree that the CR-640 is certainly one stellar example of Yamaha's fine line of vintage receivers.


About Yamaha...(1972 and later)

From the CA-1000 that whipped up a whirlwind and brought Yamaha recognition in the audio world, to the AX-2000A that, after groping around with digital technology, managed a comeback to pure analog.  The very successful "Natural Sound" marketing in the 70's brought Yamaha into direct competition with Pioneer, Marantz and almost all the other great companies of the era.


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Realistic STA-78

Realistic STA-78 (1978) 22 WPC  $135

The Realistic STA-78 was and (still is) regarded as one of the best looking Realistic receivers of the late 70's.  Priced at $269.95 in the 1978 Radio Shack catalog, it was also a great sounding receiver for the money. 
This particular unit is in good cosmetic condition considering it's 40-years-old.  The black aluminum faceplate features white silkscreen lettering.  The dark walnut veneer case blends beautifully with the black face.

Although it "only" has 22 watts per channel, it produces clean, warm, rich sound with, seemingly, plenty of power to spare.
These STA-78 receivers are relatively easy when it comes to changing the lamps.  Some folks seem to prefer blue LEDs but this one is all original with white incandescent bulbs.

Realistic STA-95

Realistic STA-95 (1979) 45 WPC  $200


One of our favorite Realistic receivers...If they gave out awards in the 70's for "Most Handsome Receiver" the Realistic STA-95 would definitely place in the top 10.  With its smooth and light bronze tinted aluminum face-plate, white silkscreen lettering, slanted FM glass, upgraded blue LED lamps and real hardwood walnut veneer case, it's a stunner!

Selling at Radio Shack in 1979 for a "low" price of $400, it was considered a major bargain because it has all the features of receivers costing much more...dual-gate MOSFETs plus PLL ranked the tuning section as one of the best ever to come out of Japan.  And, with one of the better amplifier sections from Realistic, the STA-95 is conservatively rated at 45 watts per channel but, as usual, with its excellent build quality, it sounds and feels like so much more.  

If you are someone who is really into tape, the full taping facilities of the STA-95 let you record on THREE decks at once and copy from one to the other two.

Lots of other goodies including:  

Main/remote speaker switching, loudness, mono switch, stereo reverse (for always proper channel placement), LED mode indicators and large counter-weighted "fluid-feel" tuning knob.

For an added touch of beauty, (as mentioned above) we added cool blue LEDs for the main glass lighting.  Easily changeable, the lamps can be set back to white if so desired.

Of course, as with most all our vintage equipment, the Realistic STA-95 is in absolute pristine condition...

Realistic/Optimus MPA-250 stereo amp (Radio Shack)

Realistic/Optimus MPA-250 stereo amp (Radio Shack, 1997)  $200


Not to be confused with the "PA" amps from Radio Shack, the MPA-250 dedicated stereo amplifier pumps out a minimum 125 watts per channel (8 ohms) with less than .09% THD with an incredible rated frequency range of 10-50,000 Hz.
It features two huge back-lit (blue lamps) vue meters, four nylon banana plug speaker posts for A/B (two pairs), rotary volume knobs for L/R, clipping/range LEDs, factory rack handles and auto-start fan cooling.
More features include mono/stereo switch, 1/4" headphone jack and twin 1/4" phono inputs.
It's a heavy beast at nearly 40 lbs...

About Realistic, Optimus (Radio Shack, Tandy Corp)...
Realistic branded vintage stereo gear is all over the place.  Some of it is right up there in quality with the best of Pioneer, Sansui, etc.  Also, some of it is just...ok.   Their best era was during the 70's when they successfully competed head-to-head with all the big names in high fidelity.  They sourced practically all their products from Japan and sometimes had the exact same components inside their gear as the competition but at a much lower price.  


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MCS 3385

MCS 3835 ('77-'81)  35 WPC  $125


This handsome integrated amplifier was built in Japan by NEC for the Modular Component System (MCS) lineup that was sold by JC Penney back in the day.  

While not the most powerful out there, nevertheless, it's still very well built and looks great with its black satin faceplate and white silkscreen lettering.  

These integrated amps were sold with huge rack handles and were usually part of a complete rack system that would have matching separates (tuner, tape deck, turntable and speakers).  This unit does not have the rack handles (in our opinion they looked cheesy anyway).

In 2018, most everyone is now aware of the MCS brand and the respect they have earned over the years. 

MCS 3249

MCS (NEC) 3249 (1979) 45W x 2  

included with MCS stereo system bundle 


We've had a few MCS (Modular Component Series) units over the years because typically, most of the MCS units were of excellent quality and build.   

Reviews tend to confirm that most of the MCS products were custom built for JC Penney by either NEC or Technics.  Back in the day, "hipsters" wouldn't consider buying their stereo gear from Penney's because, well...it just wasn't cool.  Years later, of course, once word got around that most of the MCS stuff was very good indeed, the prices began to climb.

In literally mint condition, this late 70's MCS 3249 stereo receiver is another solid, good looking, rock steady vintage piece.  
The very accurate digital synthesized tuning section has digital power meters and tuning lock.  The LED frequency numbers are spot on and have no issues.  

We also replaced the interior foam "springs" on the tuning push buttons since this was about the only issue this series ever had.  

Rated at a conservative 45 watts per channel, it's got lots of headroom beyond that rating.  Unlike most receivers of the era that had just bass and treble controls, this one adds the midrange as well.  

Flawless aluminum faceplate, smooth and accurate controls and the pristine walnut case make this an excellent value and one very good performer.  To be quite honest, this is a rock solid and reliable receiver.  End of story... 


About MCS (Modular Component Systems)...
MCS was the house brand for JC Penney back in the 70's and was often passed over by audiophiles simply because it was sold by Penney's.  However, in our opinion, whoever worked for JC Penney's electronics acquisition department at the time certainly had discerning taste which resulted in some very good products being offered. There is some debate over who actually manufactured the MCS series for JC Penney. Most seem to agree that it was either NEC while others mention Technics. 
Probably the different models in the MCS line were made by different Japanese manufacturers like Technics or NEC, all of whom designed great products for Penney's.  By the late 70's, it was near the end of the receiver power wars and despite the fact that most of the mid to high range MCS units had actually incorporated some of the latest technology at the time, digital was looming on the horizon and was about to change the face of HiFi.


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