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Sony TA-F700ES Mid 80's excellence Comparathon


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       Some may have seen this new (2nd hand) purchase I made in the "vintage audio" topic. Here I intend to look into the Sony TA-700ES in greater detail and also compare it to another couple of excellent integrated amps I have, the 40w quasimodo (Cafad has recently reviewed) and my 150w diy honey badger(info on diyaudio forums) I made a few years back. First some pics.

 

 

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Recent purchase from Germany (ebay) They seems to have lots of excellent old sony products over there. 

 

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Amp is in great condition for it's age. Just a few minor scratches that are hardly noticeable. I have not cleaned the amp. What you see is how it has arrived.

 

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Being an ES series sony has used excellent parts. Starting with gold inputs for phono and cd input.

 

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Here you have a new Australian plugtop installed to replace the German type. Das nice.

 

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Tops off. This is very clean inside with a very low amount of dust inside. This was obviously kept in a nice clean environment during its lifetime. The techier guys(and non techies) should appreciate the great Sony ES engineering inside this beast. Large Sony EI transformer, green Nichicon Muse capacitors, some Elna Silmics(or cerafine, not sure which) in there as well. Big ass power caps 2x 12000uf and 2x 4700uf Great supply brand. Sony has used some quality components here  these are showing no signs of stress, no bulging tops or anything. This particular transformer in this amp has 240v connections on it so it was swapped from Germanys 220v to our 240v tap (top left red and purple wires swapped).

 

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Good Quality large annodised cast heatsink (unlike a lot of amps of this time that use an L piece of aluminium with fins formed by scrapping them out of that L piece, like NAD)  

 

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Large power supply caps with bits of foam on top. What's the foam for you say. Well a perspex top sits on the foam mechanically fixing the caps to stop micro vibrations or microphonics if your a valve man(just part of that sony engineering here). If anyone has info on who made the "Great supply caps" that would be great?

 

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A couple of quality Elna caps here and many green Nichicon Muse caps in the mix.

 

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Pic from The Vintage Org. How it looked when new.

 

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Sony's first amp series to have its "Gibraltar Chassis" made from polyester, calcium and carbon to reduce chassis vibrations. (insane).

 

 

This thing comes in at 18.3Kg. 2 x 110w continuous Rms into 8 ohms (0.004% THD). 2 x 145w continuous rms into 4 ohms (0.008% THD)  20-20k both chanels driven. Impressive specs.

 

 

Simon 

 

 

 

 

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Once the visual inspection was over it was time to check the adjustments on this thing. DC offset was 1mv on one channel and 2mv on the other all good there. DC bias adjustment showed near enough to 15mv on each channel. A very good sign as the reccomended adjustment was 15mv. Upon playing with the adjustment pots I realised that I couldn't get them better than it already was. One thing to note to do in the future is to change the pots to a multi turn type to help adjusting these easier (especially on the offset adjustments).

 

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Time for some critical listening.

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Thanks for sharing Niss-Man.

 

I should whip the top of my similar vintage ES amp and see where they cheaped out in comparison the differences between this top shelf ES and my little brother version.

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Time for some jamming (with my toes). This is a diyers room as can be seen by the hodge podge of stuff lying around the place. Oh yes I finally purchased a Keces power supply shown by the retina burning blue led light (first mod will be to make this thing a non retina burning blue led). Notice the red bass trap on the right hand side seems to be a bit lower than the LHS due to the pet cat's climbing preference. Bet the cat had a nerve turd when riding that thing off the wall. 

 

        A note about this system. I am running computer audio. My music is stored on my NAS (network storage) in the study. From there it connects to a "odroid" (like a raspberry pi except more powerfull) via the blue cat 5 cable seen at the top right of the pic. The odroid is basically a mini pc which is running linux ( i hate linux). The odroid is like a traffic cop, my windows 8 tablet talks to it and it gets the data from the nas and outputs it to my DAC (silver thing on top of the retina burner). The odroid also outputs video and audio when running XBMC via hdmi to my pioneer home theater receiver so I can watch downloaded stuff when I want. The dac is a $100 ebay AK4396 that has been modded with a heap of good quality electronic thingameebobs, some rond in shape and some square in shape. From the dac it exits analogue goodness via the purple interconnects.

 

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From the purple things and into a diy rca splitter to give audio to two amps at a time. My on the fly test rig comprising of 1.5mm twin and earth house lighting circuit wiring/speaker cable into a switch box to change amps on the fly. 

Amps volume matched using pink noise and a Db meter. First comparing the sony to the quasimodo 40w (reviewed by Cafad not long ago).

 

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Ma ma ma my So ony.

 

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Qua qua qua Quas imodo.

 

 

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Yep. Kitty!

 

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Killing in the name of Fat bottomed girls....(interesting). I guess we could have had "fat bottomed girls killing in the name of kitty" as well?

 

[attachment= now I really want to attach a picture of a ....not fat bottomed, but more of a Brazillian round bottomed girl here just to show my appreciation for the song but unfortunatly the mods may make this long post disappear similar to the Salma Hayek thread...Mind wandering.....mmmmm those were the days.jpg]

 

Anyway back to the comparison...

 

Quasimodo :-

     The Quasimodo is an excellent amplifier designed to sound similar to a valve amplifier. and it is. This amp produce a smooth, warm, rounded sound with slightly softer highs and an enjoyable mid range. The bass is decent with this amp but there is ever so slightly less control than the sony. This one is quite forgiving of poor quality interconects and speaker cables I think because of the slight lesser edge to the high frequencies.

 

Sony Ta-F700ES :-

     Compared to the sony, the quasimodo sounds a bit muddle or smeared. This amp seems to be quicker with a bit more bass impact than the quasi. There is more treble and also more more mid range with this as well. Not one range is over powered by the others(even presentation). It has more slam to it (quicker) the transients on both the leading edge and trailing edge of notes seem to stop faster. With this amp playing I can disect the layers of the music more than ever before. It has better channel separation and soundstage compared to anything else I have owned and as such I can pin point where instruments are better than before. An example of this is when listening to music with some background singers in the mix which is set deep into the mix, I can hear more singers voices without trying as hard. The quasi seemed to be blended more(or you have to listen harder). Now I can hear the difference (more of) between a real piano playing and a synthesised piano playing.

         Now because of this brutal clarity and honesty of this amp, there can be some drawbacks. This is much more unforgiving on the interconnects and cables connected to the system and also on poorly recorded/mastered music.

 

 

.......man this is taking forever....

more to come...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now we'll add the diy "Honey badger" into the mix.

 

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As can be seen by the case, this has had a busy/hard life many experiments and changes over the years. Nothing a badger can't handle. This is a 150w class AB. More can be found at http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/solid-state/192431-diyab-amp-honey-badger.html

 

 

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Compared to the Sony, the soundstage is set further back. This has a sweet sound and you could listen to this for a long time without fatigue. The highs are between the Qusimodos softer and the sonys more dominant. The bass is slightly less than the Sony (just) and was very well controlled. This is quite similar to the quasi but less coloured than the quasi with slight more treble detail. Less edgier but more sweeter than the Sony. 

        A highly recommended amp for someone wanting to diy a powerful amp with finess and sweetness.

 

.............Thus end my comparisons of three great integrated amplifiers......

 

 

ooops forgot a last pic.

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These are my diy speakers (1st ones ever made with many years worth of changes and experimentation). They particularly like the slight extra bass of the Sony amp as the room nodes I have can suck a little bit out in that region.

 

 

Regards

 

Simon

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for sharing Niss-Man.

 

I should whip the top of my similar vintage ES amp and see where they cheaped out in comparison the differences between this top shelf ES and my little brother version.

I think you might be suprised with how similar it will be.

 

Simon

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I think the Sony Ta-F800es may have been the top in this series of sony integrateds. 700 being 2nd in line. It had dual transformers and 120w intto 8ohms and 180w into 4.

 

If you can find one I'd recommend buying it.

Edited by niss_man
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Really nice looking amp that Sony, Its a shame the ES series is a little unloved in Australia. My first Home Theatre receiver was an ES, apparently still going strong at a mates place.

 

What music program are you running on the MS Surface?

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Really nice looking amp that Sony, Its a shame the ES series is a little unloved in Australia. My first Home Theatre receiver was an ES, apparently still going strong at a mates place.

 

What music program are you running on the MS Surface?

When you say unloved do you mean under appreciated? I always thought that they were quite highly regarded.

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Really nice looking amp that Sony, Its a shame the ES series is a little unloved in Australia. My first Home Theatre receiver was an ES, apparently still going strong at a mates place.

What music program are you running on the MS Surface?

Running Cantata on the tablet.
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Hopefully Simon doesn't object to these being posted in here. Just knock them out if inappropriate :)

I popped the top on my TA-F444esii and took a couple of snaps:

2 x 12000uf great supplies for the PS. A similar bar over the top of them as with Simons to minimise vibration (?)

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Heat sink is a much less heavy duty design

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Transformer is a bando (?)

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Caps throughout look to be Nippon chemocon nxd. I'm not sure if that is original to the amp but I have seen similar vintage Sony with these ones. I didn't spot any Elna caps to my knowledge. Unfortunately it looks like these 4 x 1000uf are in the process of losing their lunch :(

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I kinda forgot to take a general layout pic after noticing the caps doh! Gold plated RCA on the phono input but normal on the rest. I couldn't spot a phono board tbh. Might be wedged up the front with the mm/mc selector.

Buggered if I know if its any good TBH. Not sure what impact the bad caps have on the sound either. Probably shouldn't use it eh?

Cheers

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Caps throughout look to be Nippon chemocon nxd. I'm not sure if that is original to the amp but I have seen similar vintage Sony with these ones. I didn't spot any Elna caps to my knowledge. Unfortunately it looks like these 4 x 1000uf are in the process of losing their lunch :(suhesyty.jpg5u4ahyza.jpg

I kinda forgot to take a general layout pic after noticing the caps doh! Gold plated RCA on the phono input but normal on the rest. I couldn't spot a phono board tbh. Might be wedged up the front with the mm/mc selector.

Buggered if I know if its any good TBH. Not sure what impact the bad caps have on the sound either. Probably shouldn't use it eh?

Cheers

That looks like glue to hold the larger caps in place during the manufacture and subsequent transportation stage, as opposed to the electrolyte leaking onto the board. I wouldn't be overly concerned. Is the same material evident at the base of all four of the larger blue caps? Edited by pete_mac
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Hi Pete,

 

It does seem to be to a lesser degree. Hopefully it is just sloppy glue but most glue images I have found look like translucent epoxies rather than this powdery looking stuff.

 

I can see the section of the circuit containing these caps on the schematic - In between the IC pre-amp stage and the power stage but my understanding of what that section of the board does is non-existent  :lol: Maybe some sort of regulation?

 

I probably should have started a seperate thread. Apologies Simon.

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Thats ok  for posting those Pieface. Actually it is relevant that you have the exact same model I sold in December last year:) http://www.stereo.net.au/forums/index.php?/topic/57662-fs-sony-ta-f444esii-excellent-condition/

 

Some more photos of that one in the link. It has a nice blue alps volume potentiometer as well. That model just misses those nice muse and elna capacitors. It does have a partition between the transformer and amplifier pcb's to help with interference I guess.

 

Regards

 

Simon

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  • 2 months later...

NIce set  of posts. I have the Sony 530ES that I bought back in the late 80's while living in Austria. Still have it. The source selector spindle got broken inside of the selector switch during moving back and forth overseas. But I have held onto this amplifier because of the build quality and the effortless sound it put out with some ELAC speakers I had at the time.

 

I would like to take it out of storage and have it serviced and checked over but don't know of anybody in Melbourne capable of such a job,

 

They sure were a nice looking series of kit though, I could never find the wooden side plates for the 530 to give it that really classy finish though.

 

Thanks for the posts, nice job.

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Niss_man,  do we know of each other form the "other place"? Your photos of the amp made me go out in the shed and dig out the 530 ES and plug it in. I will check it out tomorrow connect up some speakers and a cd player and give it a spin.

 

How much do you pay in freight for having an amp like the 530 sent from Deutschland if I may ask?

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Great post, I heard an 80watt Quasimoto at Edward's and agree it is a nice amp,  very "soft" at the top end compared to my AKSA. Like some speakers I have tried this smooth sound does benefit harsh recordings, but  good recordings really sparkle with the AKSA DIY amp.

 

Sony have made some great ES products, I am still trying numerous  Dacs etc to convince myself there is an improvement and the  expense is worth it over my old Sony XA7ES CDP

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