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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 **** 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 **** 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.