A new (small) project/toy

posted: 30 December, 2008

My first visit to Estonia today (a cheap €10 return day ferry) was also my first visit to any former Soviet state; we decided to forego any sort of touristy things in favor of just walking around and hitting some charity shops on the periphery of the center. Proper photos of the city and its sights can come later; I'm just excited about the stereo amplifier I found and painfully dragged back with me.

I need an amp quite desperately and I found this hard to pass up at 150 EEK (€9.59). Having grown up in the States, anything Soviet carries an air of exoticism to it. It has inputs for a turntable and a tape/AUX, and it lit up when I plugged it in, so I splurged on it. Best of all, it's tube-powered!

Now I know nothing about Soviet-era hi-fi equipment, so this could be a totally worthless piece of shit that sounds terrible. Or it could sound amazing. Or it could be more trouble than it's worth.

I can pick out some obvious North/Eastern cities on here: Zagreb, Helsinki, Moscow, Tallinn, Stockholm, Moscow, Krakow, Kiev, Budapest ...

Not sure what these do - some sort of radio fine-tuning?
I just need to convert these - I've seen em before and can always rip the jacks out and put normal plugs in if I have to ...

The tuner enticed me; it's hard to resist all those different bands and Cyrllic-rendered cities, calling out to me. Is it some sort of shortwave radio? Is this how all radios were in the Soviet era? Of course, I imagine a state-controlled hi-fi manufacturing industry, where radios are only hardcoded to pick up official party broadcasts ....

To actually get this thing running, I'm gonna have to try to hunt down some adapters tomorrow. Both the phono and AUX input are DIN connectors. DINs were the bane of my existence during the Lied Music tour, as all the old portable tele:funken machines we used were DIN-only. We ended up getting adapters on eBay but they were a pain because of their bi-directional nature - DINS have 5 pins, a control and a pair of stereo lines, one pair audio IN and one audio OUT ... a cool idea but despite my labeling I was constantly mixing them up and adding confusion to some already tempremental hardware ...

The DINs I'm not worried about - I think they'll be somewhat more common here than in Britain, and I can always go back to eBay. The speaker connectors (pictured) I'm a little more worried about. I have a cheap German stereo that has the same connectors but I just ripped them out and attached my speaker wires directly - if I have to do that I will, but I'd like to keep this thing intact.

There's a lot of other things that have to click for this to actually work - does the phono input have a preamp? Are all the tubes good? If not, can I replace them? Do I have to re-bias a hi-fi when re-tubing like I do with a guitar amp? If everything does work, will this thing even sound good?

I always thought a tube stereo was a dream I'd never achieve - it still might be, but my fingers are crossed for digging around audio/electronics shops tomorrow ...

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