Early to mid-90s gear

Discussion in 'Yamaha' started by Roboturner91, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I must confess, that the Yamaha stuff made in this era really scratches a particular itch for me. I think specifically probably talking about 1992 to 1995 or so, give or take a bit.

    My first receiver was an RX-360 that my dad gave me when I was 13. Even though it was hardly top of the line, I always felt like it was designed to give the distinct impression of being very high end. Something about the simplicity of the button layout, the way the faceplate looked like it was milled out of a solid chunk of alumnium, the grayish lettering, not stark white so it wouldn't stand out as much. The way the volume knob rotates slowly when you use the remote. Almost haughtily, if that makes any sense. There's a German, industrial/military vibe there, IMO, as far as design philosophy.

    [​IMG]

    I have recently fallen in love with an RX-V850 that I bought for $40 on a whim, this was a $1000 receiver when new and it's easy to see why. This thing is a beast - the usual 17 inches wide, but about 19 inches deep and 35ish pounds. The guy that sold it to me said he tested it when new and it topped out at 114 wpc in two-channel mode and I can believe it.

    In comparison to my modest collection of CA's and CR's I'd say the sound is very similar, maybe a little darker/smoother, at the expense of a tiny bit of detail but still very much the familiar Yamaha sound. Construction-wise, it's every bit the equal of those 1970s and 80s silver pieces - maybe even a little better in some ways.

    [​IMG]

    I know there's a certain perception about those black boxes of the late 80s and 90s as being shoddily constructed junk, but that definitely does not apply in this case. 1992 was 25 years ago, and both these pieces have never been serviced other than a light bulb change and they both still sound amazing. The only quirk between the two of them is the tone defeat button on the big boy gives you a little static fart when you push it, that's it. These things were built to last.

    I'm hoping to get my hands on other examples, the RX-770 is a two-channel receiver that specs at 85x2 and has preamp outputs. I think that one may be my endgame, if I can find a good one I'll grab it and then start saving for one of those monster MX series amps.

    Unfortunately it doesn't seem like the equivalent integrated amps were offered in the U.S. at that time. The model numbers seem to be the same, but are prefixed "AX-" instead of "RX-"
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
  2. OMGCat!

    OMGCat! AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have a collection of Yamaha a little earlier than your gear but I agree that it's very well built and sounds very, very nice. The later gear such as yours is a good bet in that it doesn't suffer the bond glue issues like the earlier gear so you can plug and play rather than needing to do any work beforehand.
    I feel the black plastic crap description of anything made after the silver face era really just shows that the person saying it isn't open minded about anything outside of their scope of interest. I don't take it to heart and am actually kind of happy. If they are the kind of person who will spend thousands of dollars on the perfect 70's receiver they'd likely raise the price of the stuff I like as well. Good thing they aren't interested in it.

    For your tone defeat switch, with the receiver switched off, try pushing the button a whole bunch of times. There is probably oxidation on the contacts and it's causing a momentary loss of contact when it's pushed. Lots of times just actuating them a bunch gets them cleaned. If not that then maybe open it up and give it a spritz of deoxit or similar.

    I think they did import the big AX integrated tough I'm not sure of the exact models. I know I've seen a few examples of the AX-900 and AX-1050 for sale over the years.
     
  3. sssmokin99

    sssmokin99 Well-Known Member

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    The RX series Yamaha is black, but it isn't plastic and it isn't crap. My favorite receivers are still the Marantz 2275/2325, but in 1993 I purchased an RX-770 on the advice of a trusted dealer and I am using it to this day. The construction is very robust, just like the Marantz, and with the exception of the source selector, it has been trouble free. I even bought a second RX-770 used (and cheap). I think the main reason I subjectively prefer the Marantz is just that the more complete tone controls help with my high frequency hearing loss, because the Yammy sure isn't down on power, and the FM tuner is excellent. Remote control is nice, also!
     
  4. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Scored an RX-770 for cheap. It's the big boy of the stereo-only receivers from this era as I understand. 85 wpc. It's not the 40-pound monstrosity that the 850/870 is, but it's only 2-channel not 5. In terms of weight, it's 22+ pounds as compared to the 26 pounds of my CA-810, so that's encouraging. I would imagine a good chunk of the difference is the the heat sinks being made of aluminum instead of cast steel or whatever.

    (As an aside, It always seemed to me an odd design choice on the 810 to have the wooden case screw in directly to holes in the heat sinks, but it obviously never caused any fires or anything)

    Cool features: the pure direct mode, even though I doubt I'll make much use of it, and the variable loudness which is controllable by the remote (and thus has a motorized potentiometer!!!!!!!) First time I've ever seen that. That's a brilliant, and for myself, much needed feature since I do most of my listening late at night with wife and kids asleep I tend to make judicious use of that loudness. Now I won't even have to leave my chair to do it. Also the display actually shows what source you're in, unlike a lot of other receivers from this era. Little things like that are a big deal for me.
     
  5. Electone

    Electone Well-Known Member

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    Love my RX-V870.
     
  6. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yeah, I get exactly what you mean. Its a shame they had deleted the variable turnover controls and hi/low filters by this point. Although I guess they were on some of the higher-end preamps.
     
  7. mstrane21

    mstrane21 Well-Known Member

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    I like this era too. It was built when I was in high school, and I would have lusted after it had I known stuff like this even existed. At that time I was quite content with my Sony boombox and didn't know any different. I have a mint RX-V1050, which I picked up for $45 a few years ago. It is an absolute chunk at about 42 pounds. I also have a 2-channel RX-595, which I haven't used in a while, but need to.

    Edit: I had never looked up the specs on the RX-595. I knew it was 80 WPC, but 0.019% THD and a 240 (!) damping factor. Those distortion and especially the damping specs are pretty sporty and much better than I would have expected.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  8. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    [​IMG]

    Got this one in today, the RX-770. It's not the visually imposing monster that the 850 is, but it sounds wonderful. This thing has some serious guts. I listened to some Prodigy for a few minutes and it was was almost overpowering with volume at the 10 o'clock position. What a machine.

    Didn't come with the remote though, I'll have to hunt me down one of those.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
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  9. OMGCat!

    OMGCat! AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Did you try the remotes for your other receivers on it? Seems like they only had a few different remotes and many will work on other models.
     
  10. Bratwurst7s

    Bratwurst7s In The Frying Pan Subscriber

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    Hi roboturner91! Nice choice for a thread. And I have to agree with you. My experience is with the AX integrated line but will basicly run parallel with the RX gear.

    Nice receiver that you found. If you haven't looked already Hifi Engine has the service manual...
    https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/yamaha/rx-770.shtml

    Starting with the AX and RX Yamaha started to really return to a more robust design after hitting a low l point in the mid '80s. And by '91 with the AX-x50, x70 & x90 generations they really hit their stride. They are anything but BPC. In fact pretty much the only plastic on the outside is the 2 little pieces on the sides of the faceplate. Pfft. And inside, the main plastic piece is serious and performs a useful function.

    Pop the top and you will see that the entire guts of the receiver are mounted on a massive thick ribbed glass-reinforced plastic frame. It securely supports everything while giving vibration dampening, including the dual extruded heat sinks. These are some seriously well built amps. If your receiver is like the AX-1090, AX-890 and AX-750 that I have you will find that the PCB's are very nicely (and thoroughly) marked on both sides. This makes working on them a lot easier as it's easier to find the correct solder connections for the components.

    The one weak link is the motorized input selector. Their contacts get oxidized and there are channel drop-outs. And that is not as much of a problem imo as people make it to be. Deoxit worked fine on my AX-1090 without having to dismount the switch. And personally I prefer that one rotary switch to deal with rather than 6-7 single switches.

    Yamaha had to make a design decision when adding remote capability. With their pre-amps they used individual push buttons that are nothing but a momentary pulse switch and the actual input switching is done with transistors and control chips. It is complex. Believe me that is a nightmare to troubleshoot. So your (and mine) amps have the motorized rotary switch. There are switches with gold plated contacts available to replace the original's.

    So you might have noticed that I'm a fan of Yamaha's '90s gear. ;)

    As for the remote, pretty much any Yamaha remote should work.

    Cheers,
    James
     
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  11. Bratwurst7s

    Bratwurst7s In The Frying Pan Subscriber

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    Another thought. I've always wondered why the AX series gets very little discussion here. It never occurred to me that it might be because they weren't available in the USA, or only a limited amount of models. That would explain a lot.

    Cheers,
    James
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  12. Johnno_Oz

    Johnno_Oz AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, I've a big RX-V2090 (and a spare one in the garage) which is another 40lb heavy beast and slowly gaining appreciation. I run it with 4 Ohm speakers and it doesn't seem to get that warm. The pre HDMI RX's are great value.

    The only complaint I have is finding the CD/Phono/Tuner buttons on the front at night with my fading eyesight! Servo controlled volume is cool.

    The sound is similar to the old CR-420 I have.

    There's an RX thread in the General Audio section, Superdog is also a big fan.

    http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/yamaha-rx-series-receivers.270481/
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
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  13. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Alas, it seems that the remote that came with the RX-770 is one of the very few with the buttons to work the variable loudness control. Do I absolutely NEED that function from the remote control, probably not, but I'd like to see that motor turn, just for kicks. I'm a sucker for stuff like that.

    yeah, it seems like at a certain point they stopped making AX's for the US market. I've only seen AX-570s and AX-770s on the German version of the auction site.
     
  14. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Apparently there was also an RX-950 made, very rare and the (even) bigger brother to the RX-550 and 750 as well as the later RX-570 and 770.

    http://www.hifi-review.com/153689-yamaha-rx-950.html

    The 950, though, apparently had the same innards as the MX-630 power amp and did 120 wpc, 8 ohms @.015% THD. It was also rated for 4-ohm operation, 180 wpc @ .03% THD. Also variable turnover frequencies, three preamp outputs and some sort of Class A circuitry. The lab tests in the article above puts clipping power at 158 wpc in 8 ohm operation and 245 wpc in 4 ohms. Holy moly.

    Apparently this thing is like the stuff of whispered legend, I can only find the one review, one AK thread and a couple of PDF manuals that even confirm its existence. I guess it was the Yamaha engineers' attempt to build the biggest, baddest, no-compromises receiver they could.

    And the more I look at the Euro models.....damn. James that AX-1090 is one sexy beast. If I ever find myself in Germany I'm coming back with a whole stack of these....vollverstarkers :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  15. Bratwurst7s

    Bratwurst7s In The Frying Pan Subscriber

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    The German site HiFi-Wiki shows an RX-1100 built from 1986-88. 145wpc RMS. The photos look pretty cool. There's even one showing in a listing on ebay US.

    http://www.hifi-wiki.de/index.php/Yamaha_RX-1100

    Cheers,
    James

    edit: The above must be incorrect. HiFi-Wiki shows 145wpc but everywhere else one reads 125wpc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  16. 432HzBob

    432HzBob Active Member

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    Gifted my RX-750 to my nephew for college. It still pulls party duty 3 years later. Well built.
    I'm keeping my Luxman R-115. To me, it's got more "oomph" and less sibilant character than the Yamaha had
     
  17. rottalpha

    rottalpha Yamaholic Subscriber

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    The only Yamaha receiver I have is an RX-1100U. A model a bit earlier than yours. Black aluminum face, 125w/ch, and it has the loudness control. I love it!
     
  18. ilusndweller

    ilusndweller Super Member

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    Im a big fan of late 80s/early 90s Yammie receivers. Currently listening to an RX-530 (87-89, 50 wpc, 2nd from bottom of 4). Also have an RX-350 and 950. Both sound real nice and the 950 has power. Passed up a minty 360 a few months ago for $10 bc I figured it was broken as the power button doesn't "click/lock in the depressed position" so I didnt bother plugging it in. Turns out my 530 doesnt either (the 350 and 950 do) but I didnt get my 530 until after I saw the 360. So they had this style button on models from 87-89, then went to a "locks in depressed position" with the x50 series, then back to a "non-lock in depressed position" with the x60 series. Anyways I love this look more than pretty much than any look I have seen (excluding some esoteric high $$$ gear perhaps). I especially like the "angles" built into the x30 series. Im real curious about the pre x30 series of 87-89. IE the 1100 mentioned in the above post.
     
  19. Raynald

    Raynald AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I sold a LOT of that gear in the mid 80's to early 90's. That would have covered the 00, 30 and 50 series IIRC. We carried the entry to mid level plus HT gear as once you moved to the higher end Yamaha customers would gravitate to more specialized makers. I would say HK gear of the same era sounded a bit better but the Yamaha offered more features at given price points and was tremendously reliable. It was what I sold to most friends and family, some is still in service with the original owners! We later added Denon to mix which was seen as a higher end line and had some better pieces than Yamaha but often the cheaper Yamaha was as good or better and once again, more reliable. Finally we picked up NAD. Amazing sound for the money, better than Yamaha but few features and let's not talk about reliability compared to Yamaha (or anyone else).
     
  20. Roboturner91

    Roboturner91 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    As a sort-of student of design, or at least, a noticer and appreciater of the design and aesthetics of things, I fully admit my admiration for this line was originally based mostly in how it looks, construction quality, etc., as well as a bit of nostalgia.

    Having said that, it's still all about the sound, and also there, I really don't think it takes a backseat to the stuff Yamaha made in the 1970s - at least, the stuff I have access to. It's a slightly different kind of sound, but still retains the trademark Yamaha midrange and controlled bass while being overall a little darker and smoother - altmost like a Yamaha/NAD hybrid of sorts.

    I'm finding all three of these receivers really easy to listen to no matter what I put on, and I've been listening all night at pretty much anything I can throw at them - Dave Brubeck, Yes, Queen, Otis Redding, Metallica, Beastie Boys, Derek Trucks (an incredible blues/jazz flute album titled Soul Serenade, go buy it now), Cream, Floyd, Dire Straits, Tower of Power, Trombone Shorty (album called Backatown which is also incredible, beautiful and foot-stomping), Parliament, Thelonious Monk, Joe Satriani, Mastodon, Tina Turner, Prodigy, Massive Attack, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on, I even put on a Taylor Swift album that my 2-year-old loves and it all just sounds great.
     
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