Friday, July 1, 2016

Renewing the sound

I guess it had to happen at some point.
The last time I changed the major component in my stereo was January 2nd 2001 according to my notes when I changed from big power guzzling super hot Tube power amplifier and control unit to a slimmer more powerful solid state model that did it all apart from impersonate Manhattan by night in the dark with its rich red glow!
That unit, a Rotel RA971 MkII,  had performed very well but was starting to develop numerous issues with three switches to select sources such as cd and the tone control in/out causing the sound to go quiet on one side or cut out completely.
That not only affected my ability to enjoy the music having to try to bring it back but also effected recordings too often when you least expected it.
Looking around it appeared I'd need to spend around £400 pre-brexit to get something of similar quality and then I'd to watch out as some have no record outputs for analogue or even digital recorders.
I looked at used but being aware of how equipment can age was put off by high prices for equipment that had been left unused for ages maybe even in lofts or garages getting hot or damp too.
There was one item I saw that interested me in all that.
 It was the circa 1986 Rotel RA820B which physically looked to be in great shape but had had something done to it that appealed hugely.
It had been fully restored by the seller, replacing anything tired, cleaned up and had the big electrolytic capacitors in the bit that handles the mains and signal bits changed to all new very high quality ones too, better than those it was fitted with originally.
Picture of part of the Power Supply showing new Black Electrolytics fitted.
(Photo credit Gareth Williams of Porthmadoc, Wales)
That meant what would of been essential to replace given they lose value after a couple of decades effecting performance if not leaking gunge all over everything,  would be already done ready for a few more decades of work. It also had been tested over a month extensively.
Given the modest price for it with the restoration and even free shipping, I decided to get it as although it isn't quite as powerful, it is more than powerful enough for my speakers.
It was installed completely by me with just crossing one cable between two pairs of sockets (my hand to eye co-ordination is something else!) and needing to trace a couple to be sure what they were. While I was at it, I removed a few no longer used from the back of the shelf it sits on just tidy things up.
When it comes to getting sound from records I decided to keep my separate Rotel RQ 970 pre-amplifier designed for just that rather than relying on this units built in one which while good wouldn't be quite as good.
It is working out really well in the system sounding very smooth with vocals but enough bass when it really is there to sound realistic.

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