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August 4th, 2011:

The Mystery Hi-Fi AM Tuner and Amp

Jeffs1974StereoSystem.jpgHere’s a challenge for some of my older readers, particularly those who were in the hi-fi hobby in the 1960s. While looking for the photo of Carol’s banner mentioned in my entry for July 31st, I ran across a blurry photo of my basement office in 1975, including the portion shown at left. The unit on the top of the pile is definitely a Heathkit FM-4 monaural FM tuner. I had it for quite a few years after 1975, and may still have the manual somewhere. I don’t clearly remember the identity of the other two. The middle item is an interesting one: an AM-only hi-fi tuner. I dumped both the AM tuner and the stereo amp on the bottom shortly after I married Carol and bought a Realistic STA-64 AM/FM stereo amp unit for Christmas 1976. Bogglingly (but why dump it if it works well?) the Realistic is still our main stereo here.

AM hi-fi tuners are something of an oddity, and unless I misrecall, the unit shown above had very good sound for the bass-deprived, static-enhanced AM pop radio signals we all listened to in the 1960s. I think it’s an AJ-21, the AM partner to the Heath AJ-31 FM tuner. The color scheme is about right, including the red Heathkit logo on the lower-left edge of the front panel. The knobs look wrong, but it’s as close as I’ve come in scanning Heathkit photos on Google Images.

As for the stereo amp, I have utterly no clue. I’m almost certain it wasn’t a Heathkit. Any ideas?

The system worked very well as a sort of college-kid junker “stereo” (both tuners were purely mono) from 1971 or so to 1976. I am not an audiophile and don’t have an especially good ear, so equipment like that may have been precisely what I needed at the time, as it was all hamfest-cheap. I don’t need a tube stereo amp anymore (I built my own back in 2005) but it would be interesting to see what the two Heath tuners would do with it.