Saturday, 2 April 2016

Realistic RD-8100 Turntable

This Realistic turntable was strictly for the Canadian market and you will not find it on any catalogs off Radio Shack Catalogs. Essentially, this is the Hitachi PS-48 turntable, it is virtually identical mechanically and they only differ in cosmetics and tonearm. Personally, I prefer the look of the Hitachi overall. But, this is a fantastic turntable.

Built by CEC for Radio Shack, this is a lovely direct drive table that probably features "Hitachi Uni-torque motor." It's your typical semi-automatic, 2-speed turntable. Built quality is one of the nicest you can get. Though, it is not real wood veneer but, vinyl wrapped, it is certainly quite thick. The knobs, if I am not mistaken, are aluminum.

It also has the neat "lead-in" assist when you bring the tonearm to the platter. When you bring the needle to the platter there is a mechanism that engages and pulls it towards the inner groove of the record. It's nice and it's pretty neat!

This originally came with the original headshell and the re-badged Shure M91E the R1000E. The original stylus was broken so, we had to get a new aftermarket needle. Shures are definitely one of my favorite cartridges of all time.

Sadly, there is no web links for this deck. But, you can always look up the Hitachi PS-48.

Thorens TD-318 MKI Turntable

This particular generation of Thorens are one of my favorites. The newly designed suspension and the removal of the sub-chassis makes it a winner, in my humblest opinion. For one, you can adjust the suspension is easier to adjust and second of all the tonearm and platter share the same platform like the AR The Turntable, the HK T60C and various others. This means it's far easier to swap tonearms, if desired.

These two features and the fact the plinth is better built than the older Thorens makes this table better than the TD-160/165/145/146/147, again, in my opinion. However, there are some added bonuses for the TD-160 but, I don't think majority of people will care e.g. bigger bearing. The ability of having an automatic lift at the end of the record is also a bonus. Oh, and way better hinges than some of the older Thorens.

Now the styling isn't for everything but, I like this cleaner and sleeker look. It's not entirely retro (all wood) and not entirely modern. Though, it looks more modern than retro. This one is black but, I think it came in 2 more colours or so. However, sometimes these tables are overlooked because they're not the TD-160.

Alright, let's get back to the specifications. The TD-318 MKI uses the TP-21 tonearm, which is is an updates TP-11 and it's variants. This one has both anti-skate weights. The headshell is removable but, not as easy for plug and play over the older headshells. The plinth is MDF which is less resonate than the older "box" plinth. The electronic shut off is nice (which also engages the auto-lift) and has a separate power supply unit (aka wall-wart).

Like the TD-280 and TD-165 series, the sub-platter is a resin, which some like and some don't. I think it's perfectly fine. Resin doesn't resonate as much as the aluminum version and it is lighter.

The previous owner has gotten some modification. Out was the old soldered in RCA cables and in was the RCA jack at the rear of the table. This actually has two ground points. The original, which comes from the tonearm, to the spindle well and out and the new one that is directly off the tonearm. This means you can either use the original ground cable with higher end RCA cables or all three.

There is nothing bad I could say about this table in terms of performance. I've equipped this table with a Shure M91 aka Realistic R1000 and put a new aftermarket stylus. A new belt from Germany, a good servicing and quick polishing of the dustcover and it's ready to go!

Additional Link!

Sanyo TP-1020 Turntable

That's right, I got myself a Sanyo! It's actually not a bad unit when you start stripping it down. I know, the overall black motif isn't awe-inspiring but, it is quite the performer. It's definitely better built than some other turntable I've come across. The motor, especially, is quite good.

So, what can I say about this Sanyo? Well, it's definitely a CEC built table. Apparently, it as a twin called the Grundig PS-1020, tonearm looks different but, probably performs the same. It's your typical Japanese made direct drive turntable, 2-speed, pitch control and automatic return/reject (semi-automatic). It was a quite easy to work, everything was laid out nicely and everything was within reach to get too. Definitely better built than some of the Japanese turntables of the late 70s and into the 80s.

I think one of the more common features with the Sanyo is the mirror at the base of the platter. It's an inspection mirror for the needle and I like it!

I found the tonearm to be on the heavy side, so I put a nice ADC QLM on it. It's a very underrated turntable and the only down fall is really the name it's associated with and the black motif.

Overall, it's a well made, reliable turntable from Japan, what's not to like about it? I know I like it and more than I thought I would. Granted, I've always have a soft spot for lesser known direct drive tables from Japan, despite, there were only a handful of companies that made turntables.

This is a great starter table.

Additional Link!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Marantz 6300 Turntable

One of the holy grail of Marantz turntable, the venerable 6300! It was sure a beauty to behold and wonderful to work on. Super easy to service as there's not a whole lot of moving parts.

The build quality was superb, it reminded me of the Yamaha YP-450, or at least I think it was the YP-450. The whole plinth was a solid or at least layered MDF they only cut out what was needed to fit the component. So, 90% of the plinth was solid. The exterior was a nice thick veneer and the motor was awesome. I've always loved large motors as they always generated more torque and had less variance to weight.

The tone arm was decent, I've seen this tone arm on several CEC labeled turntables and it's well made. The platter is of a good weight, similar weight to the platter on the Technics SL-1500mki.

It had a very interesting feature where you can either set it as a pure manual table or have it auto-lift, no return, at the end of the record and shuts the turntable off. The rest is of your typical turntable being it's a 2 speed with pitch control.

In short, it is a well made table, with a very good motor, decent arm and good specifications all wrapped up in a beautiful wood veneer. Not to mention, out is complete with original headshell, 45rpm adapter and those infamous feet!

This one was serviced with new RCA cables and comes with a Shure M95ED cartridge with original and NOS N95ED stylus. It sounds fantastic, I love Shure cartridges. They are always so clean and neutral.

Now, time for me to be a bit honest. It is a great table but, the name offers more than what the 6300 really is, a nice middle level turntable. I would put it as equal to the Technics SL-1500mki. And, that's all I am going to say...


Hitachi HT-45 Turntable

I know this turntable isn't of the norm that most people want as it doesn't give that vintage vibe. However, the Hitachi HT-45 is still a very capable turntable of the early 80s. Despite having a straight tone arm, it does mean it's a low mass tone arm and generally favours high compliant cartridges like Shures and Audio Technica.

Since it was made during the early 80s, it is relatively slim line. However, it still has all the goodies of a capable turntable. It is a 2-speed, direct drive turntable with automatic return and pitch control. The overall build quality is pretty much standard of the 80s. And it's quite reliable.

There isn't a lot of information out there, however, there's been a few rendition of this turntable, like the earlier or later HT-40S and the Baycrest models.

The tone arm shaft is aluminium, and it's relatively easy to service so it's of decent quality. As well, the hinges are quite nice. It also features Hitachi's unitorque motor.

It is quite a nice entry level turntable for some one that is looking for a lesser known table.

Sansui 551 Receiver

Here is a cute little gem! I think I've have owned and heard the 221, 331, 441, 771 and I don't think I've ever written anything about them. Well, definitely not the 771 but, maybe I did on the 331 and 441.

But, the 551is really no different than the other lower powered siblings of this series. They have the same aesthetics and pretty much the same sound, and of course always needing new fuse lamps!

What can I say about this little unit? Well, for one it was in excellent condition and we were the first to break the sticker and open the unit up to service, clean and test the unit. Finding fuse lamps in Winnipeg can be tricky and finding the correct value was tough, we actually had to put a lower voltage fuse lamp in. Does it make a difference? Not really, it might be as bright but, it will run cooler!

It's a pretty nice receiver, I think it looks great. The silver face with the faux wood-metal case and the cool green lights makes it a definite looker. I won't bore you with the specs but, it a low wattage receiver pumping out 16wpc. But, it does have all the goodies one would want, phono, tape, FM/AM, 2 speaker outputs and auxiliary.

I guess everyone is wanting to know how it sounds. Well, it sounds like a receiver from the mid 1970s. It has decent low end response, the mids are nice and for the lack of better word the treble is a bit soft, rolls off more than I would like but, some may not care. The overall sound signature is towards the warmer side of the spectrum. I thought it paired quite well with the Mission 70mkii that we had. It's not as "warm" as per the older Sansui receivers and amplifiers from the early 1970s but, it's pleasant sounding, that's for sure. It made a great entry level receiver for some one looking for that retro sound.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Technics SL-1500mk1 Turntable

I've always enjoyed working on Technics turntables, especially the non-mkii, they are are more simplistic and easier to work on than the mkii which require a bit more work. The SL-1500mki was very easy to work since it's a pure manual turntable. While, it was the least expensive of the SL-1300/1400/1500, all it gave up was the return automation. It still had all the workmanship of the other two models.

The SL-1500mki is a well made machine. Excellent motor, nice metal plinth, heavy platter, very nice tonearm and bearings and simple to use. For some it had all the features one wanted. It has a selector switch for 33 and 45, pitch control and a cue arm. Of course, in case anyone didn't know already, it is direct drive unit.

It's been serviced, motor was re-lubricated, cue arm was re-dampened (very common issue), dust cover was lightly polished, new headshell with a NOS Piezo/spectrum YM-308ii stylus that I found in my box of miscellaneous styli.

How does it sound? Really nice. There's not a lot of information about the Piezo/Spectrum/Acutex cartridges, though they seemed to be quite common. It's a very well balanced cartridge. Definitely worth a new stylus if you have one.

I've always liked Technics, considering I've owned a SL-1300mki, a couple SL-1400mkii, a SL-1700mkii, a couple of SL-1600mkii and a plethora of the minor Technics like the SL-D2/Q2/D202/etc. The SL-1100-1800 either the mki or mkii are beautiful tables and are well made.

Technical Specification: