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The Ultimate Vintage Technics System

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  1. cash68
    (unsure of what forum to post this in, but I wanted to post it just because I'm sure some of you will dig this).


    I've spent the last few years collecting, planning, and building what I would refer to as the ultimate vintage Technics system, using almost exclusively technics components from the mid to late 70s. It all started innocently enough, I had a pioneer home theater in a box system, and I really missed the big sound that only larger systems can provide. I started occasionally browsing ebay and craigslist for vintage receivers, and decided I'd like to get one. I was also originally planning on building a set of speakers to be powered by some 70s tank, when I stumbled upon an ad on craigslist selling a 'vintage stereo', with a rather small fuzzy picture of a few aluminum looking components with some rather large dark speakers, 4 of them. After talking to the guy and making sure the stuff wasn't junk, I went to pick it all up for a cool $150.

    This was the beginning. For that $150, I received the biggest, baddest quadraphonic receiver technics ever made, the SA-8500X. At 22.5" wide and 6.25" tall, it was massive, and it weighed almost 70lbs. It also came with an equally wide but shorter quadraphonic 8 track player, the RS-858US. On top of that, it came with an amazing cool looking oscilliscope display, a Technics/Panasonic SH-3433. It's a visualizer of sorts, able to display both waveforms and 4 channels of sound at the same time from a top down perspective. However, the real score in my opinion were the 4 large dark speakers. I wasn't originally really interested in them, as I was bent on building my own, but upon putting them in the car, when the guy walked away, I popped off the grills just to see what they looked like:


    Wow. Pretty amazing looking drivers, and dome midranges? They had L-pads to adjust the tweeter and the mid, and their backsides sported 6 high quality terminals with a knob to adjust something. Huh.

    Upon getting home, I discovered these were Panasonic SB-550s, some of the highest quality speakers Panasonic sold at the time, and that goofy knob and terminals on the back meant you could bi-amp or tri-amp them, if you wanted. Wow. I set everything up on my dining room table (much to the annoyance of my wife), and hooked everything up for a quick listen.

    Holy. Crap. I heard things in songs I had never heard before, that I'd listened to a billion times. It was absolutely amazing. And this was just the beginning. One top of the fact that all the equipment was in A+++++ condition, I received the original manuals for EVERYTHING, along with the original receipts, schematics, and other misc accessories.

    Over the next 10 months, I spent a lot of time scouring ebay, craigslist, and designing a desk/cabinet to hold all this equipment. This is the culmination of my efforts, thus far:


    I built the desk myself over the summer in my school's woodshop, using 7 layer plywood with a baltic birch veneer. The details are anodized aluminum tubing, stainless cap screws, and I used my spraygun to put on about 4 coats of satin polycrylic. I gave my TV away, and replaced it with a 24" iMac, which has been great so far. I can watch tv, record shows, play games, watch DVDs, listen to CDs, mp3s, whatever, all feeding via optical audio to a technics SHA-500 dolby digital/DTS decoder. It feeds the 4 main surrounds into the SA-8500X quadraphonic receiver, which powers the amazing SB-550s. I wound up buying two almost identical amps, an SU-7300, and an SU-7700. The main difference is wattage, one pushes a bit harder than the other. I have the SU-7700 driving 4 bass shakers installed on the bottom of my couch and loveseat, which really makes low frequencies amazing. The SU-7300 powers a 10" subwoofer that I built for about $50 total, using a dayton DVC shielded sub. I also picked up an extremely extremely rare 'quadraphonic stereo amplifier', a Technics SU-3404. How is it quad and stereo? Well it only amplifies 2 channels, but you can hook up another 2 channel amp to this thing, and it will control that amp also. It's very bizarre. I'm currently only using one channel of that, to drive a center channel I also built myself, for around $60.

    WOODEN grills. How bizarre.
    VU meters are sexy. This is the SA-8500x monster.
    Aura Pro Bass shakers installed, the couch is suspended on 1" rubber blocks to allow it to really move.
    Here's the center channel I designed and built myself, for about $60. The rounded back parts of the cabinet are all thermoformed.
    Here are a few process shots of the subwoofer... I made a budget of $50, and came in at $48.92, total. One of the unique things about this sub is that the entire cabinet is rubberized with black, spray on plasti-dip to fight any resonance.
    and finally, another shot of the desk with all the components:

    The desk cost me about $300 in materials, but was well worth it. I designed it around my system, which had to be done, there currently are not any A/V cabinets that will house 22" wide components. My total investment has been about $750, excluding the iMac, but I simply cannot describe how amazing this system is. It can rattle my walls, if I want it to, but the clarity and sound quality is what really sets it apart. My plans for the future include building a set of drawers for the desk, along with a bigger, super badass subwoofer, and possibly another SA-8500X to bi-amp my SB-550s. We'll see, but right now this is just totally ridiculous in it's current state. I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoy it daily. [​IMG]
  2. kydsid
    Looks awesome

    You should get some vintage sofas to match the whole decor, Im thinking green with orange and yellow daisy pattern. Love the school house clock on the wall.
  3. Kees
    GOOD STUFF! (to quote one of our well known members).
    I still fondly remember my old Yamaha CA810 integrated and my brother's Kenwood receiver and Wharfdale speakers.
  4. Homeless
    That centre channel is awesome...good work...
  5. virometal Contributor

    Originally Posted by cash68 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    My total investment has been about $750,

    That is incredibly impressive DIY work. The OP deserves a thousand comments for it.

    Thanks for posting and well done!
  6. stewtheking
    Awesome. Vintage gear FTW.
  7. Jaw007
  8. yuckymucky
    That looks awesome! Is that a 8 track player also??
  9. cash68
    Yeah I mentioned it up near the top. It's a Technics RS-858US. It plays AND RECORDS quad 8 tracks. Currently, it's not working. It only plays 2.5 channels out of 4, I've tried adjusting the head, but no go. Something is bunk with it, but it's in fantastic cosmetic shape, and once I graduate I'll definitely get it repaired. I'm dying to play all my 8 tracks. [​IMG]
  10. scompton Contributor
    Awesome find.

    Just how many 8 tracks do you have[​IMG]

    My roommate in college had 8 tracks. The worst way to listen to music ever invented. In the middle of a song, the music would fade, CACHUNK, music would fade back in.

    It's probably not worth fixing.
  11. cash68
    Quite a few. My first car was a 68 Charger back in 1997, and I installed an 8 track player in it, and started collecting them. And yeah, it's worth fixing. Working RS-858s go for about $250-300 on ebay.
  12. J.D.N
    How do you find the bass shakers? Im interested in experimenting with them, but never had the chance to demo any.

    Sweet set up.
  13. mrarroyo Contributor

    Originally Posted by Kees /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    GOOD STUFF! (to quote one of our well known members) ...

    Could not have said it better my self! Both issues [​IMG]
  14. cash68

    Originally Posted by J.D.N /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    How do you find the bass shakers? Im interested in experimenting with them, but never had the chance to demo any.

    Sweet set up.

    I bought mine, as I did the DVC shielded subwoofer for my $50 subwoofer project, tweeter, and mid-basses for my center channel, wiring for everything, Y-RCA cables, at partsexpress.com [​IMG]

    Here's a link:

    Parts Express:Aura Pro Bass Shaker

    When I bought them, which was around xmas time 2 years ago, they were $29.99 each, and since I bought 4 they were $26-27 each. [​IMG]
  15. Uncle Erik Contributor
    You rock. Not only do you have an awesome rig, you're preserving some historic gear. A lot of people would trash a setup like that, but you're keeping it alive and in original condition. We need more people like you.
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