Vintage

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 12, 2020
hfnvintageIt was a deck designed to keep vinyl replay relevant in a market attracted to the convenience of CD. Did it succeed and, more importantly, how does it sound today?

One challenge faced by those designing hi-fi in the high-tech 1980s was how to re-package the LP in a way that would ensure it remained of interest to consumers in a future that was clearly going digital. Released in late 1979, the Technics SL-10 turntable [HFN Apr '19], with its parallel tracking, optical position sensing and slick packaging was one of the first components to address this issue seriously.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngLaunched in the late '70s as part of a new wave of shoebox-sized systems from Japan, this elegant deck packed plenty of groundbreaking tech. How does it perform today?

It wasn't until the 1970s that the LP reached its heyday. By then, most albums were stereo and the equipment needed to play them was widely available. In 1975, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells hit the high watermark for vinyl sales, confirming the format's dominance. At the time, most people still only had 'record players' – all-in-one turntables, amplifiers and speakers – but this was the peak of the decade's hi-fi boom, and people were scrambling to get their hands on proper, grown-up, stereo systems.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 07, 2021
hfnvintageMore miniature magic from a brand proud to beat its own path came in 1982 in the form of probably the smallest hi-fi turntable ever made. How does it sound today?

When Technics released its SL-10 turntable in1979 [HFN Apr '19], it was evident that a record player did not have to be large, overly expensive or complicated in use to give top quality results. So compelling was this concept that soon all of the big players in the Japanese hi-fi industry were racing to produce something similar. Well, almost all. Sony, the great master of miniaturisation, was not a company to imitate others.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 16, 2022
hfnvintageWhen it came to Lilliputian LP players Sony was late to the party, but is this early '80s deck with two motors and a tangential arm now an overlooked gem? We find out...

The 'small and square' turntables that appeared in the early 1980s were arguably the last important development in vinyl playback before CD arrived. Begun by Technics in 1979 with its SL-10 [HFN Apr '19], Japan's hi-fi industry rushed to produce something similar, with varying degrees of success.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Dec 22, 2014
The TA-1120 stereo amplifier was a step-ahead design which combined power, quality, reliability and compactness in a way that had not been seen before, but which in a few years would become ubiquitous across the ranges of Japan’s major hi-fi brands. In 1968 the original TA-1120 was replaced by the TA-1120A, as tested here, the addition of a headphone socket and the removal of a ‘safety’ indicator light being the only obvious external clues as to which model is which. Revisions were also made to the preamplifier circuit. The main selector lever gives a choice of phono 1 (MM) or tuner, along with a central position that selects a rotary control giving four further options, eg, mic, tape head, second MM turntable and line-level auxiliary input, which can be used to connect a CD player.
Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngIt was an amp that gave fresh meaning to the term 'cooking on gas', but how does one of Sony's last classic super-integrateds shape up today? Time to find out...

The '70s was a time of great social change. At the beginning of the decade, black and white TVs, bicycles and outside toilets were the reality of life for many British people. But by the end of the '70s, most folks had colour TVs, family cars and swanky modern bathrooms – along with fitted kitchens, wall-to-wall carpeting and stereo systems in their homes. Although the music centre was the height of fashion, separates hi-fi was growing fast and many were willing to pay for serious equipment.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
Direct drive was viewed with suspicion here by many in the 1970s. Elsewhere, high-end direct-drive units from the Land of the Rising Sun were snapped up. The TTS-8000 is now widely regarded as the second best turntable Sony ever made (first place goes to the company’s PS-X9, aimed at studios). But the runner-up reviewed here did a sterling job in straddling both the domestic and professional markets.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Dec 22, 2014
When the BC III was launched in 1973, Spendor’s ads described it as ‘An extension and refinement of theBC I and BC II’, while Thomas Heinitz, doyen of hi-fi consultants in those days, could not resist using the headline‘Hey, big Spendor’. The BC III was rooted in Spencer Hughes’ work at the BBC: he was part of the legendary BBC research team, working under both D E L Shorter and H D Harwood. It had an 8in driver with 40mm voice-coil, working in its own sealed chamber as a midrange unit while the 12in bass unit was reflex-loaded by a carefully designed port. The crossover point was 700Hz.
Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnvintage.pngDesigned by James Sugden in collaboration with Richard Allan, is the second iteration of this milestone Class A transistorised amp the one to buy? It's time to check it out...

The late '60s provide an interesting choice of equipment for the vintage hi-fi enthusiast. The rapid development of high-quality transistor amplifiers during the period resulted in some intriguing models and the Sugden A21 is a fine example. Why? Because it was the first successful domestic hi-fi amp on the UK market to offer a fully transistorised implementation of Class A.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 17, 2021
hfnvintageBass-heavy behemoth or technical tour de force? We hear a range-topping speaker first launched in 1975 that promised 'true waveform fidelity'. How will it shape up?

Although the Japanese dominated much of the hi-fi scene during the 1970s, there was one important area where their reach was more limited. That was the loudspeaker market. Yes, the companies' catalogues may have been full of glittering arrays of tempting models, but dealers outside of Japan seldom had that many in stock for interested buyers either to see or hear.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 28, 2019
hfnvintageParallel tracking, optical position sensing and all in a slick package no larger than an LP sleeve. It dazzled in its day, but how does this '70s direct-drive deck sound now?

There is an argument which says that to recover maximum information from any recording the playback system should be as similar as possible to the arrangement with which it was made. For example, a tape deck identical to the one used in the studio should replay the original master tapes with the highest achievable accuracy.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 10, 2020
hfnvintageA mid '80s deck designed to boost vinyl replay at a time when the convenience of CD was making all the news. Did it succeed, and how does it compare today?

The products we usually seek to feature in our Vintage Review pages are those that were among the first to introduce a new format, function, level of performance or design theme. However, this month our subject is the Technics SL-J33 turntable of 1986, one of the last in a series that had a footprint the size of an LP sleeve, which began with the SL-10 [HFN Apr '19].

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 19, 2022
hfnvintageThe first CD player from the Japanese brand to boast real 'kerb appeal', this mid-'80s machine also inherited key technology from previous models. How does it sound today?

Any early Compact Disc player from Matsushita (Panasonic/Technics) holds a particular fascination. The company was excluded from the top table when the CD format was created, in spite of (or perhaps due to) its pre-eminent position as the world's largest producer of electronic consumer goods.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWhen launched, this turntable was just one of over a dozen Technics decks offered. Is it now the pick of the radial-tracking pack? Time to take it to the test bench...

Think of direct-drive turntables and the chances are that one brand will spring to mind: Technics. What's more, its SL-1200 turntable will be the model most people think of first. This famous deck casts a long shadow over the others in the company's range and yet there were many to choose from. In fact, when the SL-Q303 seen here was launched in the UK in 1982 it was part of a 13-model lineup – a series that went from the professional-spec SP-10 MkII right down to moulded plastic belt-drive budget models such as the SL-B202.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 14, 2022
hfnvintageBelieving portables to be as good as their full-sized rivals, many music lovers sought out the smallest – and this CD player was a compact king. How does it sound today?

Think about portable CD players and the chances are that the Sony Discman [HFN Jul '19] will come to mind. The company's ability to produce enchanting and compelling miniature versions of existing products has been pretty much unequalled, and 'the world's smallest' is a phrase that can often be seen in Sony's vintage catalogues. In comparison, the company's larger models were frequently bland and derivative.

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