03 January 2011

wall of sound II - low budget power - realistic sa-2001

Well I have to get off my self-imposed exile somehow and start typing again...

So to begin i'll write about one of the best motivational tools i've scored in a long time.

1978+ realistic sa-2001 amp and TM-1001 tuner 

If you recall I picked up a cheap replacement Quadraflex 450R after the Kenwood died.
It sounded ok after some cleaning but it wasn't really cared for,
and for a while I just figured my speakers were tired.
Over time it just got worse and worse sounding,
 and its not fun listening to loud music that sounds shitty,
and for me its not fun trying to clean electronic components,
its just not my thing even though I try.

So one morning I saw a CL ad for a "stereo system".
I love those kinds of ads as it means the seller is usually not trying to make a killing on the sale,
like flipping something found at a garage sale.

So Macey (my girl) and I went to go check it out,
and wow, he had hooked it up and it looked and sounded like a jewel.
A couple knobs missing but it was a really clean well cared for system.
The seller, Michael, was a really cool guy and hooked me up with this music site as well...

WolfgangsVault.com - Free streaming live music, Live concert recordings, Live music downloads, 
Classic rock concerts

Thanks Michael!

Anyway for some reason I had to get it to the shop and take it apart.
I don't know why.

realistic sa-2001 nudie

It looks to me like a simple, very simple setup, but man was it clean.
I love stuff thats 33 years old that was actually cared for!

There is something better about an "integrated amp" with a separate tuner,
versus the traditional "receivers".

realistic tm-1001 nudie

See with a receiver, all this stuff is combined in the same box.
Everything is cramped in there, so if a roach or mouse gets in,
there's alot more dismantling to correct the problem.

I believe this is a 4-gang tuner,
if you follow that string that attaches to the tuner dial,
it goes to a black wheel that rotates a bunch of washer looking things.
This is the heart of a tuner, what separates the FM and AM signals.

wood cover

This early stuff is so cool with the wood covers.
The pressed expanded metal reminded me of these fan screens we made...

fan screens

Yep, formed expanded metal + walnut veneer, gotta love it...


If you go scrounging around for an old sound system,
this is one of the things to look for...

rear shot

If you look in the middle on the top there,
there are 4 RCA plugs - (pre-out/main-in) and a switch (separate/normal).
This is really cool as you can add extra power amps to the system.

old ad

After some internet scrounging found this cool old ad.
This thing was rated at 60 watts per channel,
which is pretty good when compared to a newer system.
The trick to the old ratings is that it is 60 watts with 0.02% distortion,
so that means it actually gives way more power just not as clear.
(the amp and tuner together were almost $500 new!)

same as above shot...

There were some other really cool features that most name brands didn't have.
I guess since Realistic was Radio Shacks house brand,
(usually made at a name brands factory - just like store brand medicines and foods...)
they could throw more features.
If you look at the 2 little knobs in the middle right there,
there is one that says "perfect level".
It's actually a second volume control to fine tune the actual loudness.
It is a weird system, but I figured out why its there.
The actual volume "pot" isn't smooth turning,
it has bumps basically, so its tricky to make it stay at a certain level,
so the little volume knob allows the adjustment between each bump. Trippy.

The best feature are the 2 power meters.
Way better than LED lights that usually show clipping.
Realistic was known to have quick acting meters,
and they are fun to watch.

There's actually a button that calms them down as they do get crazy on higher volumes.
Here's me blowing them out...

For a mid-powered system, this thing really cranks.
I found out the right speaker wasn't blown out so it was the old quadraflex amp.

Ok remember those pre-out plugs I was talking about?
Those are used to hook up that black amp box underneath the black speaker.
I think it has 150W per channel!

wall of sound II

Michael said something about synergy in a sound system and this thing really proves it.
The speakers finally have a really crisp and bassy sound that was lacking for so long.

Most important is having good sounding music to work to,
which to me is like sunshine to a plant!
Seriously, the work is coming out so much better.

More fun for you guys later...


Oh yeah,
A friend of mine, Chip, told me of this website dealing in high-end audio stuff.
Glad to know I'm not crazy!
AudiogoN high-end Audio for sale, high end HiFi classifieds, audiophile auctions, audio forums


  1. I really mis my Realistic SA-2001. I had one when I was a teenager for years and had it up until I was thirty. I moved out of my old house and asked my dad to store it whilst I looked for a new place. when I went back to get it he had thrown it out! Stating that it didnt work anyway (needed minor repairs!)...he threw away part of my youth. I'd love to get one again, nothing has ever lived up to that old amp. The hours I spent watching the needles to old rock tunes were great.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      if you ever read this post on eternal internet I can send you that part of your dreams from Germany. I´ve got one here in good shape. If you are interested my email address is "wlehmannayst@arcor.de". I can send photos.


  2. This old realistic was moved to house duty very soon after this post.
    We used it for DVD/ Ipod duty and those meters were so cool,
    Almost distracting on a boring movie.
    The walnut veneer and aluminum face look so clean and simple too.
    Anyway I traded it in one of my weak moments not long ago.
    The 45 watts was plenty for a small living room system,
    but I thought we needed more!
    I'm hoping it went to a happy home.
    They're still out there!

  3. Oh yeah,
    sorry to hear your Dad cleaned house on you!
    Thanks for posting your memories!