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Dolby Surround Receivers: The Next Generation

By

Sony STR-AV1020 and Pioneer VSX-4400

Stereo had run its course and was on the wane, fading away fast. 1958-1988 was a good run—30 straight years of growth for essentially the exact same industry, with the exact same retail delivery model. 1959 or 1971 or 1984, it made no difference. The customer walked into a retail electronics store (whether an independent neighborhood shop, a regional chain like Pacific Stereo or Tweeter Etc., or a “hybrid” store like Lafayette Radio that carried a mix of house brands and national goods), it was all very similar: A large open central area with system displays, featured equipment piled up high with a “Special!” price tag on top of the stack, a glass countertop display area with the cash register and the small items like phono cartridges, record cleaners, maybe headphones, etc. in the glass display case.

Off this open central area would be two or three “soundrooms.” How many would depend on the kind and size of store it was, but usually at least two—a low-to-mid-priced room, and a “high-end” room. These rooms were where the customer could do A-B comparisons of similarly-priced speakers and see the associated electronics and source units.

Sony-1020.jpg 

Sony STR-AV1020 Dolby Prologic Receiver

The whole process was pretty much the same for the manufacturer, the retailer and the customer for 30 straight years. The equipment changed, but the process stayed the same. Amazing, when you think about it.

However, stereo music listening was fading away as a major consumer leisure time activity and buying newer, fancier stereo equipment was becoming less and less important to the electronics-buying public. Video was the rage. Movie rentals, time-shifting recording of TV shows, camcorders—video was king all through the ‘80s.

Then the major electronics companies realized that VCRs—with their rapidly-spinning helical-scan video record-play heads—had an effective “tape speed” of several-hundred IPS (inches per second). This was necessary to be able to record the ultra-high frequencies of video signals. But it all of a sudden dawned on some clever product person that if they moved the audio heads from their fixed position inside the VCR’s chassis to the spinning position next to the video heads, then the audio heads—because of the ultra-fast tape speed—could now record 20-20kHz audio signals with ease. Voilà! The Hi-Fi VCR was born and videotapes with full-range audio made their first appearance. Then Dolby began to encode some rudimentary surround information on commercial VHS movies and when the audio companies responded with their first simplified Dolby decoding circuitry in their receivers, Home Theater became a reality.

As the 1980s drew to a close, the Home Theater revolution was on. Finally, the long-awaited marriage of audio and video was taking place.

The first generation of Dolby surround receivers were embarrassingly awful.

Those early Home Theater receivers ushered in a new age of consumer usage and buying habits, and Home Theater involved the entire family in a way that male-only “audiophiliosis” never had. Add to that technological development the explosion in the housing market all through the 1990’s and the stage was set for Home Theater to make its mark on the consumer electronics landscape.

The very first Home Theater receivers utilized matrixed Dolby decoding circuitry that derived two channels of rear surround information via phase-differential synthesis from the two front stereo channels. This soon evolved into the Dolby Pro Logic (DPL) system, a “five-channel” (actually it was still two, with the center derived from the front left/right, but don’t tell anyone, ok?) encode-decode home theater format which utilized five speakers—a center-channel speaker placed on the TV, the left and right main front speakers, and two mono surround speakers (band-limited to 7kHz on the high end).

Dolby Pro Logic became the breakthrough format, the one that really put Home Theater on the map. Early DPL receivers around 1990 from Sony and Pioneer (such as their STR-AV1020 and VSX-4400, respectively) sold in droves and droves. Those two units deserve their spot on this list because of the pivotal role they played in popularizing the new Home Theater movement.

They were embarrassingly awful units in every possible respect:

  • Cheesy, featherweight, plasticky construction.
  • Busy, unattractive faceplates with far too many ill-fitting and lousy-feeling buttons and switches (long gone were the days of those wonderful-feeling weighted tuning dials of the Pioneer SX-950 and the great-feeling controls of Yamaha’s Natural Sound units).
  • Tuners with FM specs and performance totally inferior from a sensitivity, selectivity, and capture ratio perspective than even the most pedestrian mid-1960s tuners.
  • Unbelievably (I really mean “unbelievably”) low distortion specs—the main channels on the VSX-4400 were rated at .008% THD+N. It makes you wonder how much feedback they employed to yield this number.

And those amplifiers! Cheap, harsh, brittle-sounding amps (the Pioneer’s surround channels were just inexpensive ”chip” amps), with no real hi-fidelity pretensions whatsoever.  As you cranked the receiver up with the surround channels on, you could see the front panel display dim as the power supply ran out of juice. Wattage and distortion ratings pulled pretty much out of thin air. “100 watts” over a completely unspecified bandwidth (they said “100 watts, 8 ohm”—what does that mean?), with no indication as to how many channels were driven simultaneously, at a level of distortion not tied into the frequency range—or worse, at 1kHz only—and they sounded just like they were rated: Terrible.

This was equipment not worthy of their company’s distinguished name. But they sold in huge numbers, as did similarly-awful equipment from Kenwood, JVC and many others.

However, one good thing did happen—Home Theater was here to stay, and even a Pioneer VSX-4400 powering a Bose AM-7 speaker system sounded far better than the little 2 x 3” speakers built into that Panasonic 32” CRT TV.

Yet as embarrassingly bad as these early home theater receivers were from a looks, feel and actual audiophile performance standpoint, the mainstream electronics manufacturers got their respective acts together in astonishingly short order, and phenomenally capable, full-featured, high-build-quality units quickly became the order of the day.

Discrete Surround Sound: The Digital Era Takeover

Onkyo (and their higher-end offshoot, Integra), Marantz, Harman Kardon, Yamaha and many others were soon offering home theater receivers with a features/performance-to-price ratio the likes of which had never been seen in the consumer electronics industry.

The Marantz SR7400 from 2003 was typical of these units: For a retail price of only $739, the customer got a full-featured 6.1-channel receiver, with Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS, and pretty much every other then-available surround decoding format.

 marantz_7400.jpg 

Marantz SR 7400 Dolby Digital/DTS AV Receiver

The amplifier section—although not adhering to 1974 FTC ratings standards—was rated at 105 watts RMS per channel. It was a fully discrete design (not a chip amp) that could handle reasonably low impedance speakers and it didn’t have the brittle, harsh sound character of the Sony SR-AV1020 or the Pioneer VSX-4400. Onkyo actually advertised their receivers’ low-impedance drive capability with the amusingly naïve acronym WRAT, which stood for Wide Range Audio Technology. (Obviously, no one in Onkyo’s home office in Japan recognized that “WRAT” might not be the best-sounding name they could use in an English-speaking country!)

The FM tuner sections in these receivers were admittedly pretty mediocre, but that simply reflects the market reality that in the last 10-15 years, “serious” listening to FM broadcasts has all but disappeared. There is no longer any need for manufacturers to spend the money on 1980s-era FM performance.

These modern-day popularly-priced home theater receivers are a high water mark in the history and evolution of our business and the heft, features and performance packed into these units for the price is nothing short of amazing. They should be fully recognized and appreciated for the noteworthy achievements that they are.

From that point on, things got really interesting, as the Age of the Super Home Theater Receiver was now upon us.

Denon 5800 THX AV Receiver

MSRP: $3800 in 2001

This was a truly fine unit, the first of many super Home Theater receivers to come, from Denon, Pioneer Elite, Sony ES, Marantz, Onkyo and Integra and many others. All of these units boasted an incredibly comprehensive feature set compatible with every then-current format, amazing build quality and excellent decoding performance.

The Denon 5800 (and the others) had outstanding audio performance as well—but, interestingly, they were not even close to spec’ing and adhering to 1974 FTC amplifier performance standards. The problem here was that 1974 FTC power rating standards applied to 2-channel “open” amplifiers only (not part of a system), and those standards were never amended/updated to multi-channel amps, Home Theater receivers or ”closed” systems like powered subwoofers, computer speakers or powered monitors.

Denon-5800.jpg

The smart thing for the FTC or some other administrative body to have done would have been to call for the manufacturers of multi-channel amplifiers to rate their equipment with at least two channels driven simultaneously from 20–20kHz or perhaps with two channels and a 3rd  “associated” channel (like the center) to all be driven to rated power, 20–20kHz. A rationale could have been made that receivers’ internal amplifier channels only had to be rated down to 40 or 50Hz, since the external powered subwoofer would cover below that frequency point and the receiver’s amplifiers would never actually be tasked with reproducing bass below 40 or 50Hz—maybe even nothing below 80Hz.

But….no such standards were forthcoming, so even manufacturers of these “super receivers” took to inventing ratings and distortion claims, just like in the 1963 Fisher unit or in those horrendous 1989 Sony and Pioneer units.

The FTC amplifier ratings were designed for stereo amplifiers, NOT multi-channel AV receivers.

At no point does the Denon 5800 ever rate its amplifier section from 20–20kHz with all 7 channels driven simultaneously. Its advertised specification of “170 watts x 7” is not met to 1974 FTC standards and no explanation or apologies are given. This is not to fault the Denon—it’s because the FTC does NOT demand all channels be driven simultaneously over the full bandwidth for the power rating for more than two channels.  Remember their mandate was for two-channel stereo receivers, not multi-channel AV receivers.

This is the proof that today’s 170 watts x 7 is often not like 170 watts x 2 in 1976. However, this is not to denigrate the Denon 5800-series of receivers, which are fabulous receivers and can outperform their stereo-era predecessors in terms of low noise and low distortion amplifier behavior. But unfortunately, many modern multi-channel receivers cannot outperform their stereo-era predecessors in amplifier performance. That many modern receivers have amplifiers that are inferior to their mid-‘70’s counterparts is a biting comment on how our industry’s required amplifier measurement standards and performance expectations have slipped.

IM (intermodulation) distortion? As stated earlier in the Pioneer SX-1010 section, there is nary a mention of it by Denon. Some people will give you a long, well-reasoned, strongly-defended list of reasons why IM measurements are not really needed any longer and there may well be other measurements that are more revealing and relevant in modern amplifiers. Nonetheless, there is no indication that Denon’s marketing/product management people have any awareness or understanding of it. The engineering is top-notch, because the Denon 5800 is undoubtedly a good performer with respect to IM distortion, since rest of unit is so well-designed and well-behaved. But IM—audibly more important than THD—is not even acknowledged to exist by its marketing and product management people. (See distortion sidebar.)

Here are Sound & Vision’s findings from their June 2001 review of the Denon 5800:

Output at clipping (1 kHz into 8 ohms)

one channel driven 187 watts................................ (22.5 dBW)

five channels driven 138 watts............................... (21.5 dBW)

Distortion at 1 watt (THD+N, 1 kHz, 8 ohms)................. 0.037%

Note: Five channels driven. (It’s a seven-channel unit.)

THD+ N @ 1kHz, but no IM. Where are the full bandwidth power and distortion measurements?

This is not to detract from the overall excellence, superb build quality and amazing overall capability and flexibility of this unit and others of its ilk. In operational respects, it’s even better—by a wide margin—than its predecessors from the stereo era, because the 5800 has to do so much more and anticipate so many more user options, all the while keeping its operation intuitive and straightforward.

If the 5800 had simply been rated at say, 150 watts RMS per channel, any two channels driven simultaneously, from 20–20kHz at not more than .1% THD (which it undoubtedly could do, quite easily), then there wouldn’t be any question or quibble.

But Denon (and all its similar cousins in the marketplace) gets two demerits for claiming “170 watts per channel x 7,” and then not being able to deliver. Shame on them, shame on the FTC for dropping the ball, and most of all, shame on the print magazines and shame on this generation of aficionados for either not knowing the difference, or worse, not caring.  Audioholics.com appears to be a lone wolf measuring full power bandwidth and distortion these days.

See:  Audioholics Amplifier Measurement Standard

Editorial Note about FTC Amplifier Testing

The FTC also issued guidance concerning the testing requirements for measuring the power rating of multi-channel amplifiers, noting that at a minimum the left front and right front channels of multi-channel amplifiers are associated under the rule. It would therefore be a violation of the rule to make power output claims for multi-channel amplifiers utilized in home entertainment products unless those representations are substantiated by measurements made with, at a minimum, the left front and right front channels driven to full rated power.  Members of the FTC did try to mandate some sort of All Channels Driven Specification but it never materialized. It is unclear if the FTC actually enforces this ruling which is why it's always a value add when 3rd party review organizations like Audioholics verifies amplifier manufacturer power claims.
See:  FTC Amplifier Standard for Multi-Channel Amplifiers for more information.

When Parasound or McIntosh rate their 3-and 5-channel Home Theater power amplifiers correctly with all channels driven 20-20kHz, it’s voluntary, not because the FTC is telling them to do so. They know their customers are knowledgeable and expect the proper ratings, so they do it right.

Many well-respected people will say that the All Channels Driven issue is not relevant in Home Theater, because there is never a situation when the program material taxes all 5 or 7  channels to deliver maximum power simultaneously.

See:  The All Channels Driven Amplifier Test

That is indisputably true. But it is this author’s opinion that citing power with 2-channels driven simultaneously over the full 20-20kHz bandwidth at a stated level of both THD and IM distortion should be the minimum requirement for any true high fidelity amplifier. That’s my position. Others are free to disagree.

Honorable Mention

Yamaha DSP-A3090 Integrated Amplifier

MSRP: $2,000 in 1999

Like the 10 Most Influential Speakers article, this is an unapologetically American-centric article. For most of the 20th century, stereo receivers were almost completely an American market phenomenon.  The rest of the hi-fi world seemed to like separates or at least integrated amplifiers better than all-in-one receivers.

Integrated amps are an interesting category of product. With two of the three main sections (the pre-amp and power amp) sharing a common chassis and power supply, integrated amps strike a nice economical and space-saving balance between the no-compromise performance of three totally separate units and an all-combined-in-one AM/FM receiver.

In my youth, FM radio was hardly a consideration to us; what we wanted to do was play records. So my friends and I all put together our systems based around integrated amplifiers: Kenwoods, Dynacos, Pioneers, Sansuis, etc. Some of us added the matching tuners at some point later on, but many of us never did. 

DSP-A3090.JPG

Yamaha DSP-A3090 Dolby Digital Integrated Amplifier

A manufacturer has a bit more marketing flexibility and pricing/cost leeway in an integrated amp than in a receiver. Receivers were more closely tied into “magic” price points ($299, $399, $599, etc.), whereas integrateds could be priced at more or less whatever their power rating and feature set seemed to justify.

So it is with our can’t-ignore-it Yamaha DSP-A3090 integrated home theater amplifier. Yamaha decided to use the integrated amplifier physical format to build an incredibly comprehensive, forward-thinking, user-friendly home theater centerpiece that combined every cutting edge decoding format available at the time along with some extremely thoughtful and innovative touches of their own.

The DSP-A3090 featured bona fide Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding (the first unit to have DD decoding built in), as well as Dolby Pro Logic. Its five channels of amplification were rated at 80 watts RMS/Channel, all 20-20kHz at <0.015% THD. Very impressive.   It’s power supply was as large as some of today’s 7 or 9 channel AV receivers.  It could do a full 80wpc x 5 with all channels driven.

It offered two additional front channels, called “effects” channels, at 25 watts per channel. This was clearly way ahead of its time, way before ‘height’ or Atmos or anything else that has come along in the last 15 years or so.  Yamaha lead the way with DSP and eventually proposing front/back height channels before anyone else.  Their 11.1 CH speaker layout proposal of their RX-Z11 back in 2007 before discrete 3D immersive surround formats were even thought of.

See: 3D Immersive Surround Formats and Loudspeaker Layouts

There was a built-in parametric equalizer, which allowed a knowledgeable user to make fine, subtle tonal adjustments to correct for room acoustics issues or program shortcomings.

And there was an entire roster of additional DSP digitally-derived acoustic environments like Pavillion and Jazz Club and Pop/Rock. Unlike many of the DSPs on other brands’ units that had been tried before or would come later, Yamaha’s sounded good. Really good. I remember being over at my older cousin’s house listening to a Buddy Rich big band jazz concert through his DSP-A3090 and DBX Soundfield main speakers and Velodyne sub. (I think all his other speakers were small ARs, but I forget.) He’d applied some digital effects to the playback (I think it was “Concert Hall”) and man, did it sound good! Switching off the effects flattened out the sound and made things sound boringly two-dimensional.

I have rarely been so impressed with a piece of electronics as I was with the Yamaha DSP-A3090. Gobs of super-clean power. Real digital decoding. Extra front effects channels that added realism, not gimmickry. Intelligently-done EQ. Acoustic space settings that actually sounded good and added to the listening experience.

Beautiful appearance, superb feel and heft, combined with silky controls.

$2,000? A bargain. A steal, even.

If it’d had a tuner built in, it would be the best receiver of all time. But receiver or not, I have to mention this guy.

Conclusion

Onkyo 818 AV ReceiverSo there you have it—a highlighted view of some the most memorable and important receivers of the last half-century or so. As America lived through the Kennedy administration, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, the Bicentennial, the dawning of the digital age, the end of the Cold War, Y2K, and the rise of the Internet and Social Media, one thing remained constant: our love of music and movies. These are the receivers that brought that to us.

What do the next 50 years hold? Will we even recognize the form factor of the home entertainment system in 2065? After all, both 1963’s Fisher 500-T and 2015’s Denon AVR-X7200W are still undeniably receivers—the same basic size and shape, with control knobs and speaker terminals and AC cords.

Will Bluetooth and other wireless/streaming technologies to come render the hard-wired receiver irrelevant? Will “soundbar”-type units that cater to the ever-increasing craving for convenience and the desire to minimize domestic living space clutter replace the receiver (and its associated separate box or in-wall/in-ceiling speakers) altogether?

It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure. If I’m so lucky as to be here in 2065, I’ll write another article. Stay tuned.

Reminder: Please be sure to check our our THD and IMD Distortion Sidebar on the next page if you haven't already.

Please also participate in the related discussion on our forum about this article and let us know your most memorable receiver experience.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

onthebus posts on May 12, 2022 23:04
davidacookie, post: 1547155, member: 98370
This article is fantastic.

I won’t joint the discussion about which receiver should be included or not as I only experienced some of those mentioned in Hi Fi shops and by the time, I could afford to buy any of them they had been superseded by later models.

The article and the forum discussion has jumped me right back to 1974.

In 1974 I was fifteen and still in school.

We had an old Philips Radiogram; I think we called it. A bit like a piece of furniture with a radio, record player and speakers built in, nice sound when listening to 45s or 78s but it wasn’t hifi.

So in 1974 my dad went and bought a Toshiba SA300 receiver, a Sony cassette recorder\player and a UK brand turntable, don’t remember the name.

OK, I know the Toshiba can’t compare to some of the models mentioned above but the sound from it was incredibly clear even at almost full volume.

It only put out 14 watts\ ch and had 0.8% THD according to the user manual.

Just to set the scene…I lived in Dublin, Ireland.

We didn’t have basements in most houses so we couldn’t put the system there and most Irish houses had fairly small rooms so putting a 50 watt \ ch system wasn’t practical and they were relatively expensive back then.

We couldn’t turn it up any further than two thirds volume as the neighbours would complain once or twice, third time they would phone the police.

Though many years later one of the neighbour’s sons told me they used to love listening to our music coming through the walls.

For about eight years all the crowd I hung around with would gather in our house and music played all day and night, sometimes into the next morning.

I moved out in 1984 and Dad gave the Toshiba SA300 to a relative.

The volume knob had started to give trouble, scratchy noise when you changed volume, and we couldn't get replacement pots. I think they were wire wound pots and were difficult to source.

My Dad replaced it with an early Sony home theatre system and always regretted it.

The Sony was fine for music but he always complained the Sony was bad for hearing dialogue on a TV programme and we could never seem to get it right.

He was sorry he gave away the Toshiba and later replaced the Sony home theatre system with a Pioneer 2.1 receiver. He had no problems hearing dialogue on the Pioneer.

In hindsight I think Toshiba were trying to create a Pioneer “clone” although at a much reduced power output and a lower price.

A few guys on YouTube have put up videos of Toshiba SA300 receivers and they seem quite impressed with them. See links below

54724
Toshiba SA-300 L Japan 1973 - YouTube

Toshiba SA-300 Mid 1970's Stereo AM/FM Receiver Demonstration - YouTube
Thanks again for the article, I now have a Denon system and really like it..but I would love the old Toshiba
Just picked up a pretty mint SA 300 today for free from an elderly neighbour, it’s
davidacookie, post: 1547155, member: 98370
This article is fantastic.

I won’t joint the discussion about which receiver should be included or not as I only experienced some of those mentioned in Hi Fi shops and by the time, I could afford to buy any of them they had been superseded by later models.

The article and the forum discussion has jumped me right back to 1974.

In 1974 I was fifteen and still in school.

We had an old Philips Radiogram; I think we called it. A bit like a piece of furniture with a radio, record player and speakers built in, nice sound when listening to 45s or 78s but it wasn’t hifi.

So in 1974 my dad went and bought a Toshiba SA300 receiver, a Sony cassette recorder\player and a UK brand turntable, don’t remember the name.

OK, I know the Toshiba can’t compare to some of the models mentioned above but the sound from it was incredibly clear even at almost full volume.

It only put out 14 watts\ ch and had 0.8% THD according to the user manual.

Just to set the scene…I lived in Dublin, Ireland.

We didn’t have basements in most houses so we couldn’t put the system there and most Irish houses had fairly small rooms so putting a 50 watt \ ch system wasn’t practical and they were relatively expensive back then.

We couldn’t turn it up any further than two thirds volume as the neighbours would complain once or twice, third time they would phone the police.

Though many years later one of the neighbour’s sons told me they used to love listening to our music coming through the walls.

For about eight years all the crowd I hung around with would gather in our house and music played all day and night, sometimes into the next morning.

I moved out in 1984 and Dad gave the Toshiba SA300 to a relative.

The volume knob had started to give trouble, scratchy noise when you changed volume, and we couldn't get replacement pots. I think they were wire wound pots and were difficult to source.

My Dad replaced it with an early Sony home theatre system and always regretted it.

The Sony was fine for music but he always complained the Sony was bad for hearing dialogue on a TV programme and we could never seem to get it right.

He was sorry he gave away the Toshiba and later replaced the Sony home theatre system with a Pioneer 2.1 receiver. He had no problems hearing dialogue on the Pioneer.

In hindsight I think Toshiba were trying to create a Pioneer “clone” although at a much reduced power output and a lower price.

A few guys on YouTube have put up videos of Toshiba SA300 receivers and they seem quite impressed with them. See links below

54724
Toshiba SA-300 L Japan 1973 - YouTube

Toshiba SA-300 Mid 1970's Stereo AM/FM Receiver Demonstration - YouTube
Thanks again for the article, I now have a Denon system and really like it..but I would love the old Toshiba
just picked up a pretty mint SA300 today from an elderly neighbour, it’s a black faced one though. Sounds sweet. Was yours silver or black?
davidacookie posts on March 20, 2022 18:17
This article is fantastic.

I won’t joint the discussion about which receiver should be included or not as I only experienced some of those mentioned in Hi Fi shops and by the time, I could afford to buy any of them they had been superseded by later models.

The article and the forum discussion has jumped me right back to 1974.

In 1974 I was fifteen and still in school.

We had an old Philips Radiogram; I think we called it. A bit like a piece of furniture with a radio, record player and speakers built in, nice sound when listening to 45s or 78s but it wasn’t hifi.

So in 1974 my dad went and bought a Toshiba SA300 receiver, a Sony cassette recorder\player and a UK brand turntable, don’t remember the name.

OK, I know the Toshiba can’t compare to some of the models mentioned above but the sound from it was incredibly clear even at almost full volume.

It only put out 14 watts\ ch and had 0.8% THD according to the user manual.

Just to set the scene…I lived in Dublin, Ireland.

We didn’t have basements in most houses so we couldn’t put the system there and most Irish houses had fairly small rooms so putting a 50 watt \ ch system wasn’t practical and they were relatively expensive back then.

We couldn’t turn it up any further than two thirds volume as the neighbours would complain once or twice, third time they would phone the police.

Though many years later one of the neighbour’s sons told me they used to love listening to our music coming through the walls.

For about eight years all the crowd I hung around with would gather in our house and music played all day and night, sometimes into the next morning.

I moved out in 1984 and Dad gave the Toshiba SA300 to a relative.

The volume knob had started to give trouble, scratchy noise when you changed volume, and we couldn't get replacement pots. I think they were wire wound pots and were difficult to source.

My Dad replaced it with an early Sony home theatre system and always regretted it.

The Sony was fine for music but he always complained the Sony was bad for hearing dialogue on a TV programme and we could never seem to get it right.

He was sorry he gave away the Toshiba and later replaced the Sony home theatre system with a Pioneer 2.1 receiver. He had no problems hearing dialogue on the Pioneer.

In hindsight I think Toshiba were trying to create a Pioneer “clone” although at a much reduced power output and a lower price.

A few guys on YouTube have put up videos of Toshiba SA300 receivers and they seem quite impressed with them. See links below

54724
Toshiba SA-300 L Japan 1973 - YouTube

Toshiba SA-300 Mid 1970's Stereo AM/FM Receiver Demonstration - YouTube
Thanks again for the article, I now have a Denon system and really like it..but I would love the old Toshiba
tonyE posts on August 24, 2019 18:22
MrBoat, post: 1335169, member: 80705
….

I bought a 100 watt Fisher rack system in the 80's and never looked back from there. Attached to that, was some of the most enjoyable listening ever, a whole lot of experience gained with things like EQ effects, and other ways to further enhance sound. Come 2019, that experience has proven invaluable, with finding the truth and fiction with marketers today, with somewhere north of 90% of available information being complete, and utter BS.
….

Gulp… from ‘83 to ’88 I sort of stopped listening to music, even though I had a very fine top of the line Sony Super Beta HiFi and a matching Laserdisk… I dumped the audio receiver and used an all Sony ES system driving ADS car amplifiers with a BIG 12VDC power supply into my ADS L810s. I guess the sound of CDs sucked. I used my Kenwood integrated as phono preamp for my then Dual/Grado turntable.

Sometime in ‘88 I got a used Linn LP12, Conrad Johnson PV9, Audio Research D70 MkII and a pair of Acoustic Energy AE1s. I do own some classic receivers, but I don’t drive them in a serious audio system.

Once you go to separates, it's very hard to go back to an all in one. Even though my receivers are gorgeous. Heck, my High End audio stuff looks boring, specially my all black, no switch, class A FET mono amps. I bought a Radio Shack APM-200 power analog meter thingie… in very good shape. My kids think it's a hoot that the cheapest thing in the stereo, cheaper than my cheapest interconnect, is the one thing we end up looking at most.

I did own an equalizer once… it just made things worse.
MrBoat posts on August 24, 2019 16:42
tonyE, post: 1335034, member: 89479
And let's not even discuss those solid state receiver monstrosities from the early 80s. Yuck.

In spite those being mid-fi at best, they managed to match or exceed the recording quality of most popular music of that era and before. What 75% of the planet was listening to. Those Japanese engineers knew what they were doing. The least of which was bring affordable, and better sound quality to the masses. I grew up with my parents systems with names like RCA, Zenith, etc., which was so horrid that the speakers came essentially blown before the first signal ever passed through them. House brand electronics from Sears, M. Ward, Kmart etc., were what was affordable before the Japanese figured out the next step up from that, which was up and coming audiophiles blessings, truth be told.

I bought a 100 watt Fisher rack system in the 80's and never looked back from there. Attached to that, was some of the most enjoyable listening ever, a whole lot of experience gained with things like EQ effects, and other ways to further enhance sound. Come 2019, that experience has proven invaluable, with finding the truth and fiction with marketers today, with somewhere north of 90% of available information being complete, and utter BS.

ETA: With many of those systems being quite functional nearly 40 years later, it tends to discount the notion of them being low quality.
tonyE posts on August 23, 2019 23:58
Marantz 2325, 4215 Sansui G7500, Kenwood separates, etc.. etc.. that, and lots more in the closet. Those were indeed the days. Yet, as beautiful as those receivers were, stuff like Nelson Pass and Audio Research were still ahead.

And let's not even discuss those solid state receiver monstrosities from the early 80s. Yuck.

BTW- I'm really surprised you didn't bring up the Sony VFET TA-5650 and 5450! Those were (are still) likely some of the best sounding amplifiers of all time. Just make sure to replace the kamikaze diodes.
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