Spending a few days in Santa Barbara 

Over the Holidays I had the good fortune to spend a few in Santa Barbara.  I was there to visit some family and go to the Santa Barbara zoo.  

One afternoon my hosts had some business to attend to and I found myself with some free time.  The weather was nice and a since Santa Barbara is such a great walking town, I headed out to see the sights on State Street.

State Street is the main down town area and it ends right at the Pacific ocean.  Santa Barbara is like an upscale version of Santa Cruz, it's definitely has that beach town vibe, only with better shopping.

Scattered amongst the chain stores along State Street are hand full of locally owner shops with everything form hand painted Italian pottery to cigars.


As I wandered along I was pleasantly surprised to find a local music shop, "Just Play Music".  What caught my eye was the black faced Marantz 240 amplifier in the stores window.  It seems that they not only sell vinyl records and CD's but they also repair and sell vintage audio equipment.

Inside it is your typical funky music shop, with lots of posters and tee short to buy along with the different types of music.  Their vinyl selection was fairy big and it cover all types of music choices.  Their prices were good, most LP's were 9-10 dollars for used LP's and up to $40 for unopened examples.  There was also a bargain bin with LP's for just a $1.91.

The selection of vintage audio equiment was varied with a few turtables and receivers, they also offer repair service for vintage equipment.  The Marantz 240 was prices at $249.00, not a bad price at all.

If you have a chance to stop over in Santa Barbara, take a little time to visit Just Play Music.  I think it's important to support these local shops so they don't all disappear.  Really how can you go wrong picking up some new vinyl and when was the last time you bought a funky tee shirt to match?



Long and short term goals for 2013

It's five days into the beginning of the New Year and it's time to set some goals for 2013. Is this a New Years Resolution? Possibly.

I think it's important to keep learning new skills and improve the skills I already have.

For 2013 I have two lists, short term projects and long term goals.

In the short term category:

  1. Rebuild the Heathkit IT-3121 Transistor Curve Tracer and become proficient at using it.

  2. Improve the lighting over my bench by installing some LED light panels


My long term goal is to learn everything I can about FM tuners. The starting point will be to first learn everything I can about FM. This will include learning about FM carrier, FM modulation, FM de-emphasis and FM stereo MPX decoding.

I want to take everything I learn and apply it towards being able to align an FM tuner correctly. Not just follow the manual for any particular model, but really understand what's going on while I'm making the adjustments.

My motivation comes from working on a FM tuner this past fall. While I was able to repair and refurbish the tuner and I was able to follow the manuals alignment instructions, I knew that I really didn't have a good understanding of what I was doing.

Of course along with a new skill comes some new equipment. I already have a Sound Technology ST1000A FM alignment generator and I recently added a HP8640B signal generator to my bench. I'm sure that there will be other equipment added as the learning process moves along.

I have also added a new section to this site, it's called “Tuners”. Here I will be posting the progress of my long term goal for everyone to see.

2013 should be an exciting year, so much to learn and understand.



A Toasty Marantz 250 is Delivered to the Shop

This week a Marantz Model 250 amplifier was dropped off at the shop. The story behind this amplifier is that it was stored away in someone's attic for the past 6-8 years along with a Marantz 3600 pre-amplifier and a Marantz 112 tuner.

The owner decided to sell off these units and the 3 pieces were sold as a set. In the excitement of such a great find the 3 pieces were reassembled into a system and the power button was pushed.

Immediately following the button push there was smoke from the amplifier.

The decision was made to have the 250 looked at first and find out what the condition of it really is. As you can tell form the pictures, it's pretty toasty inside. I would guess that after all of those years in the attic the heat, cold and humidity has taken its toll on this amplifier.

 The transformer is very rusty, there's a lot of corrosion everywhere and there are signs of previous work that has been done. I expect to find many bad solder joints and all sorts of other problems with this 250.

Of all of the amplifiers the were made by Marantz, the 250 seems to have quite a mystique about it with enthusiasts. The desirability of the 250 might only be surpassed by the model 500. Part of the mystique of the 250 is with it's reputation for power and possibly its unreliability due to its design.

There are rumors that the 250 is an inherently unstable design and perhaps this is true. There are many Factory Service Bulletins which outline modifications a for the 250. There are also no less than 3 versions of the 250 /250M which seems like a high numbers for the 6 years of production for these models.

The closest cousin to the model 250 in the Marantz line up is the 1200 / 1200B. On first glance these models share the same basic design and share many of the same boards and parts. The primary difference is the rated output, the 250 is rated at 125 WPC and the 1200 is rated at 100 WPC.

The difference in output many have been achieved by lowering the operating voltage on the 1200, or was the operating voltage raised on the 250 to increase its output? I don't know.

Since the course of this model 250 project is still undetermined, I plan on using the extra time I have with the 250 to document the difference between this early model 250 with a model 1200 for the same period.

I think that it will be interesting to see exactly what the differences and similarities are between the two models.

See all of the Marantz Model 250 pictures here.    

Marantz Service Manuals and Service Bulletins for the 250 here.


Something New Today

I have learned a lot of things since I started this site and the one thing that stands out the most is that there aren't many places for audio enthusiasts to get their equipment worked on. I have talked with so many people who simply can't find anyone in their local area to work on their equipment.

For myself working on my Marantz equipment has always been a hobby. Today I have two people dropping of their equipment to be repaired and refurbished.

While I have no intention of allowing this to turn into a full time commitment, I am open to the idea of working on certain Marantz equipment for people in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

I prefer to work with the models that I have the most experience with. These are mainly the early amplifiers, pre-amplifiers and integrated amplifiers. I really haven't work on many receivers.

If you have a model that is in need of service, you can contact me by email.




An All Audio Saturday Morning

I have three different integrated amplifiers for sale right now.  I have an early gold tone Marantz 1030, a standard 1030 and a Marantz 1060. I've had them advertised in a variety of difference places for the past ten days.  The response to the has been very positive with lots of interest for each model.

This morning I have several enthusiasts coming to my store to look at and audition the different models.

Today should be exciting and maybe these amplifiers will find new homes.