25 May 2011

receiver hopskotch - Onkyo TX-8500

So this past sunday I cleaned up the garage a little bit.
There was a bit of motivation to finally get Chief off jackstands,
 since the registration sticker was finally cleared by the DMV.

kinda clean garage

After tightening a bunch of nuts,
and installing some cotter pins,
I took it for a spin around the block,
and like clockwork it started to rain.
it wasn't really rain, more just like a thick mist,
but it was enough to get wet.
Yeah yeah yeah,
it's a car I know,
but after sitting protected for 3 months in the garage,..

This was probably for the best,
as I cleaned the clutter in the corners of the garage.
It was getting difficult to walk around, no feng shui here.
The green 40 wouldn't even fit on the other side.

So here's the segue into my receiver/stereo addiction...

kenwood kr-7600

Lately it's been fun working in the garage,
digging out the old bootleg tapes.
Tapes are weird cause they are like a clock.
A 90 minute tape has 2 45 minute sides,
so time flies by in 45 minute segments.

I've been using the 70's Kenwood KR-7600 that was briefly at the shop.
It's more than enough for a 2-car garage with 85 wpc,
in a weak moment last week,
I scored a really cool  1976+- receiver,
an Onkyo TX-8500, about 110 wpc,
and this little rain break was the perfect time to hook it up.

onkyo tx-8500 - 110 wpc

Holy smokes this thing cranks,
and it takes alot to push these speakers.
To refresh your memories,
I had found these old technics sb-a70 speakers with 15" woofers a while back...


...and I had thought the Kenwood did a good job pumping air,
but this Onkyo just plain thumps.
My neighbors will love it!

The older original owner seller had listed it for a couple weeks on CL,
but way too high.
He progressively lowered the price every couple days.
This gave me some time to study the reviews of the Onkyo,
and also think about my lowball price as there were no other offers,
and he delivered it!

Well I found out that this was Onkyo's all or nothing receiver from 1976.

In '74 or so,
they came out with the tx-2500 and tx-4500,
basically putting there company on the line with these 2 receivers.
The success of these models,
allowed them to produce the big tx-8500.

Back then Sansui, Pioneer, Technics and Marantz ( to name a few) were tough competition.
Each had certain characteristics that made loyal customers.
Onkyo had some tricks up there sleeves,
and while not even close to being the strongest WPC (watts per channel) of the time,
it was so overbuilt it needed 6 rubber feet.

six rubber feet under

This thing weighs almost 55 lbs,
and is even wider than the Sansui 9090 at the shop,
and that's a big one.

And this is why...

dual mono

Underneath the vinyl covered plywood case and double metal guards,
are 2 good sized laminated transformers,
those 2 black square things in the center rear part.
It's called a "dual mono" amplifier design,
so basically each channel, right and left, are separate,
with no shared components.

This design seemed great for a receiver that would be on half the day cranking 4 speakers,
so my original plan for the Onkyo was to use it at the shop,
and take the Sansui 9090 home since they have equal power output. (110 wpc)

onkyo receiver and tape deck

Well the shop system sounds so good it was hard to dismantle it.
Now that I know the Onkyo is a kickass receiver though,
I may take it to the shop.
It definitely has a more utilitarian styling compared to the Sansui.
We'll see.
It sure does sound good in the garage.

kenwood kr-7600 lit up

So now the kenwood is the new computer system,
and i'm listening to it right now.
It's strange,
an 85wpc system at low volume sounds nothing like the 45wpc system it replaced.
Even with the small speakers,
there's a fuller sound, like there's more detail, hard to explain.

modified kenwood kr-7600

The only drawback of the Kenwood is there is a huge grille over the top,
too easy to accidentally drop stuff in.
I better make a cover or something.

(If anyone is reading this looking at this receiver,
I switched the cheesy original knobs with the KA-7002 I used to have.
Way better quality and the volume is LARGE, not the same size as the others)

So go and save up a $100 or so,
scrounge your local craigslist electronics section,
and look for an early receiver.
Just make sure to listen to it first,
sometimes the ones that are clean and look perfect have issues,
the reason why they are clean and perfect!

Both the Onkyo and the Kenwood were like 100,000 mile cars,
a little rough around the edges but good runners with lotsa miles left.
Sometimes that's better.



  1. How much did you buy the onkyo for?

  2. Hi,
    this thing was relisted on craigslist for a couple weeks.
    The buyer started around $200,
    and it slowly dropped to $140.
    I had to check it out.
    and it was obvious why there were no bites.
    It had the typical layer of dust/pet hair,
    scratchy pots and oxidized RCA plugs.
    Also one of the tape buttons was broken,
    although the switch still works with a pencil.
    Most importantly the sound was balanced,
    and the glass wasn't cracked.
    I probably paid $120 for it,
    as the seller also delivered it the 20 miles,
    which saved me alot of hassle.
    Since then I cleaned it up with the Fry's brand cleaner and lubricant,
    and it's probably one of the best hassle free deals I've gotten.
    I'd think it is worth about $200 to $250,
    anything more and I'd rather get a sansui 9090.