Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: Sansui TU-777 tuner

I'll admit that I'm not a tuner kind of guy.  The source material coming from the radio stations is usually grossly compressed and lacking any real fidelity.  The classical stations usually offer the best sound, but that kind of music isn't normally my cup of tea.  Having said that, why exactly did I buy a tuner?  Well I do any number of hobbies that often require my undivided attention.  Getting up to change the record or CD can break my concentration.  Having a radio for the background takes care of this problem and also exposes me to some different music other than my MP3 collection.

So why did I pick this tuner in particular?  It all started when I bought a Sansui integrated to fix up.  I was searching on Ebay for its radio mate when I saw this particualar model: the TU-777.  I was taken by the round tuning dial which reminded me of something from the era of classic 1930s radios.

The Sansui TU-777 is a solid-state tuner that saw its introduction to the market way back in 1968.  There are no preset buttons here!  But the dial action and signal strength meter both still work, giving a pleasant green glow to boot.  Sound quality is surprising good, much more warm and natural than I expected for something with silicon bits and aged capacitors.  It also pulls in stations reasonably well, though obviously not with the same strength as more exotic pieces.  But really, what do you want for $75?

So highly recommended - just on looks alone - if you need a simple tuner.

Monday, December 3, 2012

New project: Heathkit W-2 tube amplifier rebuild

Things are never quiet here at the 6th Street Bridge.  Having just finished up the 1625 amplifier, I decided yet another project was worth pursuing.  This time it's yet another rebuild of a vintage piece of gear - the Heathkit W-2.  This was a fairly popular "20W" mono amplifier made in the early to mid-1950s.  It uses the classic Williamson circuit with 6SN7 driver tubes, 5881 output tubes, and Peerless output iron - running in Ultralinear.  Another special thing to note is the separate chassis for power supply and the signal which is a great way to reduce hum.

The W-2  I received was in pretty good condition.  Popping the hood and the resistors and capacitors look to be in mint condition.  But sadly, the amplifier didn't work.  Not a single hum, burp, or anything out of the test speaker.  A quick diagnoses with the multimeter and it appears that the original builder had neglected to ground the two chassis together via the umbilical cord!  A short length of wire, two solder joints, and music was coming out the speakers.  It makes me wonder if I was the first to ever hear this particular amplifier.  Very weird to say the least.

Anyway, the sound - with almost 60 year old passive parts - was rather lifeless: undynamic with some treble roll-off..  Here's hoping that some coupling and power supply capacitor upgrades will bring this old amp up a couple of notches.  Of course I also need to score another unit so I can listen to stereo.