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Technics SA-404

FM/AM Stereo Receiver (1980)

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Technics SA-404


Tuning range: FM, MW

Power output: 50 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)

Frequency response: 7Hz to 45kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.04%

Damping factor: 34

Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)

Signal to noise ratio: 80dB (MM), 95dB (line)

Output: 150mV (line)

Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω

Dimensions: 480 x 160 x 293mm

Weight: 8.4kg


service manual   English - caop

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re: SA-404

Just found this puppy at my local e-waste dump, where in its present condition it certainly belongs...
Owned by a HEAVY smoker who used it in his wood shop, the thing is full of fine wood dust on every edge & in every crevice of the thing. Where the dust hit the nicotine, it looks like tobacco chaw spittle!
Despite this, the unit works. Sort of...
Despite the raves from a previous poster, I would second the general opinion that the wood cabinet is indeed the cheapest s*** I've ever seen on an oriental receiver. There is an irreplaceable/unrepairable curved top section that peeled up from the back edge & broke off. The veneer is literally paper-thin, so thin I actually had to double-check that it wasn't actually paper!!! I've never seen veneer so cheap that wasn't iron-on vinyl crap from Mac-Tac!! As a result, the unit looks like ship when viewed from on top, and it isn't worth anybody's trouble to fix it...
This unit suffers from another very common Dreknics/Sonicpanic problem: El-Cheapo switches.
This is the reason my unit barely works. All the toggle switches are incredibly intermittent, a problem I've had in the past with other Technics crap. I expect this from Luxman, or maybe Fry-An-Ear.
The idea that Technics is "better" than the other Jap-Crap is pure myth.
The output stage of this thing isn't even designed by Dreknics, I guess they are so stupid they needed Sanken's help: They stuck a couple of STK-5050's in this thing!
Other than that, I will grant that my first impression is of a SOMEWHAT superior-sounding unit. I'm more impressed with the quoted S/N ratio figures than I am for the half-decent THD specs. I've only tried the FM tuner, which sounds a tad better than it ought to. Despite that, sensitivity for stereo quieting is pretty lousy. As a country-dweller, the thing sucks. This thing either needs an FM preamp/booster or is otherwise only fit for a city-dweller.
I look forward to doing a more detailed listen once I get the crummy tape selector toggles rebuilt or replaced. But as someone who owns & is intimately familiar with REAL "High-End" (Hind-End...) audio gear, I ain't expecting to replace no tube amp with this el-cheapo piece of Japanese audio "Porca Miseria"!!! If this thing sounds better than a McIntosh tube amp, that's because McIntosh tube amps don't sound all that great: they just had good specs & ran cooler than their competition did back in the day. And of course they had potted transformers & fancy chrome nametags, and cost alot of money.
Also, most people who own vintage tube amps don't know NOTHING about maintaining them, let alone fix them! Add half-dead tubes (or worse, new Russian & Chinese KYFE!), dried-up filter caps, leaking coupling caps & out-of-spec el-cheapo carbon resistors and yer average vintage Mac amp is a sad ghost of its' nasty, bright & bonky/boomy sounding self!
I own a bottom-of-the-range Prima Luna (Prologue One) tube amp that smokes any & all Mac tube amps I've ever heard (and I've heard them all, except the MI350/MC3500!).
So yeah, you don't judge things by their inflated price tags or tawdry, overblown cosmetics. Sound equipment is meant to be listened to, not looked at!
That said, Dreknics got it right and put a mighty big-ass Tuning knob on this thing just to make it look more impressive! So remember friends: Keep diving!

demort71's picture

re: SA-404

I own a SA-505, which is the same as the SA-404 in terms of specs and features, except for the rated output which is 126 watts total for the 505 and 100 for the SA-404. I also have a SA-202 (60 Watts total). My experience with this entire short-lived generation of Technics receivers, based off the previous generation of the SA-100 to SA-500 models is very positive. THD is the same throughout the line in this generation-an excellent .04% at 8 ohms, as it was I believe for the SA-X00 previous generation too.

You will see some slams in various reviews about the quality of cabinets that Technics used in this period. But I haven't "heard" a cabinet I liked! The cabinets are on par with what was being used in that time frame-veneer over plywood. The only difference was that the bases were particle board instead of metal like most other receivers. Folks, you can't hear cabinets--they make no difference in the performance or quality of sound that a receiver or amp makes! Pioneer actually ran an ad back in 1980 slamming Technics cabinets!!! I say Pioneer was afraid of the competition, because they weren't slamming their sound now-were they? They were picking on cosmetics, so what was that all about?

I have owned Pioneer receivers made in this same period including a SX-780 and SX-3700 (90 watts). They were OK and had clean enough sound, but they don't hold a candle to even the lowly SA-202, which is 30W less than their 90W. Further, you had to go past the halfway point on volume to get the same sound that you get at say a quarter on the Technics models' volume dial.

Here is what these two generations of Technics receivers offer (SA-100 through the SA-500 and SA-101 through the SA-505). These receivers output a realistic sound with depth. The music dances its way to your ears. It doesn't just lie there and wait for you to recognize that it is music. The output is not overdone, but you don't have to crank it up like a lot of other brands from back in the day (the only one that compares in this area that I have owned are Sansui products made in this period).

This receiver is well balanced and offers a superior sound in my book. It will surprise and please people who have been loyal to other brands in the past. Case-in-point...I bought my SA-505 from some audiophiles who owned 2 Mac tube amps. They claimed to be impressed with the lowly Technics. That is saying a lot right there. I don't think they were just saying it, as I had already bought it from them via eBay and frankly it was the second cheapest price I have ever paid for a receiver or amp! The cheapest was one I bought from a garage sale. Even with shipping I only have $60 into it!

When I was visiting Seattle 2 weeks ago, I was shopping at a record store. I noticed a Technics SA-505 sitting forlorn on a window ledge. I asked if it played and could I buy it. The reply was a quick no. They had used it to let customers preview used vinyl with headphones until the turntable had died. Guess it wasn't a Technics turntable! LOL

Don't worry about people's reviews who are hung up on other brands. They are biased and trying to stroke their own egos and justify their previous purchase decisions to pay hundreds for an inferior product. These Technics receivers are excellent pieces just like their turntables were from the same period. You never heard much about them because the amp/receiver competition was so intense in the late 70s. Further, Technics was happy with its huge share of the turntable market, so when they sold a receiver, it was just gravy for them. They made a lot of private label receivers for Penny's MCS electronics line and I believe for Radio Shack too.

The SA-X0X line also had power output meters on their receivers. I believe starting with the SA-303 they had two meters, while the 101 and 202 only had one meter for the radio signal strength. The bigger receivers also had a power output meter for the amp, showing you how many watts it was delivering.

These are great receivers and sell for bargain prices compared other more popular brands!

re: SA-404

Thanks for that post. I have a SA-505 - and need to clean it. Any suggestions? I get static and click and pops as I change the volume. My plan is to open the case (as indicated in the service manual) - and just spray caned air around.

SA 404 Manual Service

Thanks for the Manual service

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