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Earlly (ca 1971-74) Fisher Quad Receivers--share what you love/know about 'em!

Discussion in 'Fisher' started by illinoisteve, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    Quadraphonic was new then, and it was way before people talked about "surround sound." These receivers where not cheap and weighed a ton. Some of the model numbers were: 701 & 801 (1971ish); 304, 404 & 504 (around 1974), and 514 (?). AKer tcdriver has posted this pic of a 404 in past archived AK threads:

    http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k206/xtcdriver/Fisher 404/2-404.jpg

    If you google "fisher 404" not much info comes up--some expired for sale listings on ebay, etc., some links to downloadable service manuals. If there are articles or reviews or comprehensive specifications out there they don't rise to the top or even first several screens. We do have some old threads here that mention them, but the one's I've seen so far only include a few snippets of info per thread.

    So, what can happen if every AKer who owns, has owned, or knows something about these behemoths puts their heads together? Can we assemble a bit more knowledge? So if you have (or have had) one of these, jump in a tell about it (good and bad), and share what you know, and particularly any links to helpful information you might know of.

    In my case, I have a 404, like tcdriver 's. Got it a few years ago. Worked great after replacing fuses, then after a while gave me intermittent problems. Right now I can't recall what the last one was. Since I had cleaned all the controls and switches, I figured it had to be more serious. Just took it off the shelf this morning and hooked it up, and the only thing I can find wrong right now is the volume slider is dirty or dodgey. Might put it back in service! It would be good to know more about it than I can find, in any case.
     

     

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  2. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    I recleaned the volume slider, and the 404 seems to be working just fine.... I'm gonna keep it on for several hours to see if some other issue(s) develop.

    This one has the SQ 4-channel decoder, for getting quadraphonic from playing SQ-coded records (do I have any of these...maybe?). Supposedly pressing the SQ button when playing stereo records (or perhaps other stereo sources) is supposed to create some kind of simulated quadraphonic. There are 1/4" jack sockets on the left front for plugging input and output cables from a separate rcdr type quad decoder, anybody ever seen/heard one of those?

    As a stereo listener, I like the joystick-like speaker fader control. Push it to the top, and the output goes to the front speakers; push it down: back speakers. But it goes every which way, meaning theoretically you can adjust for speaker pairs with different efficiencies and to move around the "sweet spot" for listening in the room -- helpful in far from ideal shaped listening spaces.
     
  3. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    The 404 is also part of the "Studio-Standard" line of Fisher solid state equipment. From what I have read, some of the early solid state Fisher equipment was a tad crappy. They wanted this line, which included other items besides quad receivers as well, to garner a better reputation, though "studio" is somewhat of an overstatement I suspect. Also, they were moving manufacturing around in those days. The label on the back of mine, says "Fisher Radio, NY," but below the label it says made in Hong Kong.

    While it appears nowhere on the front, the label on the back starts: " Fisher 404 Wide-Surround..." so the language was anticipating the later more generically used "surround sound" term.
     
  4. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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  5. larryderouin

    larryderouin Turn it UP, POP? PLLUUEEEZZZZZEE Subscriber

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    Steve; FISHER was usingthe "WIDE-Surround" slogan in the early mid 60's on the WS-1 and WS-2 speakers. These were 4" x 6" speakers used outboard of a console to expand the stereo effect.

    Also STUDIO STANDARD was used as early as the Early 60's to promote the SA-1000 Amp. So it's not strictly a Solid State Slogan, which by then was more of a marketing gimick, but had some serious billing back in the early 60's.
     
  6. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    Larry, that's fascinating about "Wide-Surround" actually relating to rather early ideas about enhancing stereo. From what I have read, Fisher's 1960's tube equipment was and still earns some high respect, so "Studio Standard" does make sense as a label then. Still, gleaning from past AK threads, there seem to be some folks who appreciate some of the 1970s and later Fisher solid state stuff, one of them said a particular unit had a 'warm tube-like sound." Do you think some of their early solid state, looking back from now, is better than some of the early reviews and reactions to it suggest, part of which may have been driven by responses to changes in design (including the solid stateness), dislike of the company manufacturing offshore, or suspicion that anything made in Hong Kong or Japan at that time might be rubbish? And if you know any of these quad units, how do they fit in your assessment? Have you used some of them?

    Larry, and anybody else who participates in this thread, don't be shy about correcting anything I may have said. I just barely know what I'm talking about, and want to know more about this subject.
     

     

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  7. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    Here's a basic chronology of Fisher's 4-channel receivers:

    1971

    701 $699.95 160 RMS watts

    Touted by Fisher as the world's first 4-channel receiver, Avery Fisher personally donated one to the Smithsonian along with a set of 4 WS-80 speakers. They are currently in storage.

    1972

    601 $599.95 144 RMS watts
    801 $749.95 176 RMS watts (mid-season replacement for the 701)

    1973

    304 $369.95 80 RMS watts
    404 $499.95 112 RMS watts
    504 $559.95 160 RMS watts

    The '04 series appears to have been a mid-season introduction for 1973 as they did not make it into that year's handbook but were available by Dec. 72. It only lists the 801 and the TX-420 stereo to 4-channel converter, ($299.95/36 RMS watts).

    There was also a 4-channel 495 which I believe was from 1973 but all the ads I have seen for it were from later at significantly reduced prices. The whole 195/295/395/495 series is a bit of a mystery. As far as I can tell Fisher never promoted it themselves and it may have been a low-cost line sold only through high-volume retailers. The MSRP and wattage are unknown.

    1974

    The '04 series carried over with the addition of the 304-B which was identical to the 304 but substituted a joystick controller for the volume/fader sliders.

    304-B $399.95 80 RMS watts

    '74 also saw the introduction of the '40' series of entry-level 4-channel receivers:

    4020 $299.95 48 RMS watts
    4060 $???.?? 68 RMS watts

    1975

    The 4020 & 4060 carried over into early '75 and were replaced by the 4025 and 4085 around mid-season. Both of those models were priced at $350 - RMS watts unknown but probably similar to the models they replaced.

    314 $? 80 RMS watts
    414 $? 112 RMS watts
    514 $? 160 RMS watts

    The above '14' series was also available without the CD-4 feature as the 304-X, 404-X & 504-X - prices unknown, wattage identical to their '14' twins.

    Sears also had their own line of Fisher receivers in '75, (I think,) of which the 9764 was a 4-channel model.

    1976

    Oddly there doesn't seem to be a '24' series, (perhaps out of respect for the original 1947 24 series,) and they jumped straight to the '34 models:

    234 $?
    334 $?
    634 $799.95

    There was also a 4-channel 474 model that appears to be an entry-level model. It was sale priced below the 234's sale price. It may have been part of a budget '74' series but my information on 1976 is very sketchy. That was the last year before Sanyo took over and the 'RS' line of receivers took over. I don't know if there were 4-channel receivers from the Sanyo era.
     
  8. tcdriver

    tcdriver AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    TheRed1, that is great information. Just to add a little to it, the 304-X, 404-X and 504-X models were capable of accepting a plug-in CD-4 module.

    front view Fisher 404:
    [​IMG]

    back view Fisher 404:
    [​IMG]

    a peek inside the Fisher 404:
    [​IMG]
     
  9. larryderouin

    larryderouin Turn it UP, POP? PLLUUEEEZZZZZEE Subscriber

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    TIME to take the covers off the RCA cables. DAMN! Those jacks are close together.
     
  10. mhardy6647

    mhardy6647 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  11. tcdriver

    tcdriver AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The Fisher 701, the very first quadraphonic receiver, was reviewed in the July 1971 issue of Stereo Review. There is also a front cover fold out advertisement extolling the virtues of the Fisher 601 and the complimentary CP-100 quadraphonic 8-track cartridge player. Also included is a picture of the Fisher 701. The retail prices were Fisher 601 $599.95, Fisher 701 $699.95 and the CP-100 only $169.95.

    I did a little more digging and found a review for the Fisher 801 in the November 1972 issue of High Fidelity Magazine. The 701 and 801 both have the ability to access the Autoscan features using a wired remote control. The big difference between the 701 and 801 is that the 801 has the capability for an ultrasonic wireless remote control (WT-50). This single button control duplicates the continuous-scan function of the front panel Autoscan button but can also be used for single-station advance by pressing the button only momentarily.

    It is interesting to note that the front fold out cover of the same November 1972 issue of High Fidelity Magazine has an advertisement for the Fisher 504, 404 and 304, the next generation of Fisher quadraphonic receivers, which included SQ quadraphonic decoders.
     

     

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  12. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    That makes sense for a mid-season introduction as they were often timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season. Bear in mind that the audio industry model year mirrored the auto industry, kicking off in September, four months prior to the calendar year.
     
  13. TheRed1

    TheRed1 Console Conservationist

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    Fisher's use of the Studio Standard mark in the 70s began with the '04' series. Though they had used it sporadically on some of their high-end components in the 60s, it wasn't until June 1972 that they filed for a trademark, (granted in Oct. 74). It was stated explicitly: "The STUDIO STANDARD SERIES is Fisher's newest line of quadraphonic components." - in newspaper ads for the 304 dating from Oct. 1972. At that time Studio Standard was only used in conjunction with the '04' series and not on the entry-level '40' 4-channel series or any of their stereo receivers.

    Beginning with the '75 model year, however, the Studio Standard mark began to appear on other, non-quad models such as the 122/222 stereo receivers. Once meant to signify a premium line of Fisher components, it was rapidly watered-down until it became ubiquitous on Fisher-branded products. Perhaps its initial association with the quadraphonic fad doomed it to its eventual meaningless status.

    On a side note: I find it interesting that your 404 was produced in Hong Kong. I was aware that some of the 304's production had been moved there and it makes sense that that would be the case for the rest of the '04' line as well. I wonder if - like the 304 - some were also produced at the Fisher plant in Milroy, Pa. The '04' line seems to have been the line of Fisher products that marks their shift of production to cheaper facilities off-shore. I stumbled onto this story a few years ago - here's a link if you've not already happened across it:

    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?p=6210120
     
  14. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    TheRed1,

    Wow! Amazing and meaty detail about the early Fisher quads! Thanks for posting.
     
  15. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    tcdriver,

    Thanks for jumping into this! From the old AK threads I can find, you seem to be one of the resident experts, but largely because when you first got one of these you started posting questions and looking up all the info you could get your hands on. Thanks also for posting the good pics of the 404. I wouldn't be able to get as good ones of mine, which has one pilot light out.

    Since you have one of these for some years now, and since you have taken such an interest in them, it would be great if you could take some time to talk about how the 404 sounds, with comparisons to other units if possible.
     
  16. rshep

    rshep Working my way to 1000 posts Subscriber

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    I always thought the x04 receivers were built by Emerson but designed by Fisher in the US. I did a lay-away on a 304 back in late 1973 at the tender age of 14 from Sunnyvale Electronics. Put 10% down on the $300 selling price, ended up never buying but got the $$ back on a later speaker purchase.

    I believe the 2/4 channel selector bridged the quad amp into stereo so the performance as a 2 channel was pretty decent. Looking back the whole quad thing was pretty funny, very seventies. I wouldn't mind picking up a x04 receiver now just for the nostalgia value.
     

     

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  17. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    Keep in mind that the 404 is set up to take 4-channel output from audio sources. The cassette deck I'm testing with mine right now only has 2-channel output, so the REAR L/R RCA sockets are effectively place holders, leaving plenty of room for the 2 channels to plug in. In fact, it didn't even occur to me the plugs were cramped. (Did anybody make a cassette deck with 4 channel output? I realize there were some reel-to-reels, but not mine.)

    Anyone looking at the pictures, also keep in mind the scale as well. These are BIG units, not the puny 16.5" that a lot of audio units are. The 404 is over 20", not counting the case.

    Just measured: the centers of the inputs are a shade over 1/2" inch apart...3/4 WOULD be preferable.
     
  18. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    So "Studio Standard" still consistently means something through 1974. So that would seem to still apply to the 404, released in '73, or perhaps Dec. '72.

    I believe tcdriver said that his 404 was also made in Hong Kong, possibly in a thread where a 315 owner said their unit was made in Japan.... (tcdriver, do I have that right?)

    With my slow connection, I'm having trouble downloading all of that image heavy thread you linked, but I will eventually.
     
  19. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

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    There is a quadraphonic enthusiast internet forum with probably something like 60,000+ postings, so it may be premature to say that quad is dead fad of the '70s. ;) :
    http://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/forum.php
    It's almost surprising, given that level of interest in it, that AK doesn't have a quad section.

    That said, I think you're right that many people finding one of these Fisher quads today are going to be interested in its value as a stereo receiver. That's how I've been testing my 404 the last two days, listening to FM, CDs (the fad of the '90s some are starting to say), and this morning cassette tapes (the fad of the '80s?). Going to hook up my turntable a little later. But I've listened to all of it through either headphones or a pair of little (6x8 inch) Kenwood CRS-185s, and it's sounding great. Later, today I might try 4 speakers for the 4channel stereo, and the quad effect if I can find that I have a quad record.
     
  20. tcdriver

    tcdriver AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I like the sound of the Fisher 404 receiver. I set it up with four speakers and played various music sources through it, with good results, using the built-in SQ decoder. With the four speakers set up well, there is an immersive effect that I find very pleasing.

    The 404, being an earlier SQ receiver, has a rather rudimentary SQ decoder with no logic enhancements. This is both good and bad. Good, because there is no logic pumping, which I find distracting and bad, because there is very little separation between the front to back and back side to side channels.

    For a truly discrete multi-channel experience, one can connect a modern multi-channel SACD or DVD-Audio player to the Fisher 404. Highly recommended. One can also hook up a modern matrix decoder using the tape monitor loop.
    The two quadraphonic tape formats of the quadraphonic era were Q8 eight-track and Q4 reel-to-reel.

    There were some prototype cassette units made but no commercial consumer cassette decks. Philips would not allow it. Later, there were pro cassette studio decks, Tascam comes to mind, made for musicians wanting a relatively inexpensive four track studio machine.

    Yes, you got it right, my 404 was made in Hong Kong.

    No need for a quadraphonic record. Any two-channel stereo record, tape, CD, etc. can be run through the SQ decoder to synthesize pseudo-quadraphonic sound. Sometimes the results can be quite good, often as not, as good or better than purpose made quadraphonic records.
     

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