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Thread: Sony TA-F770ES

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    Hi,

    I have just purchased a sony ta-f770es amplifier on ebay to replace a harmon kardon hk6550 that decided to give up the ghost the other week.

    I couldn't find much information on this amp but from some reading around here the old sony ES amplifiers seem to be good value for money. It has a good spec so it should be a good amp.

    CJR i know you have had some previous experience of the sony ES equipment and i would like to know if you reckon the sony will be as good as the 6550? hopefully it will be better.

    Cheers,
    Greg


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    mishking wrote:
    Hi,

    I have just purchased a sony ta-f770es amplifier on ebay to replace a harmon kardon hk6550 that decided to give up the ghost the other week.

    I couldn't find much information on this amp but from some reading around here the old sony ES amplifiers seem to be good value for money. It has a good spec so it should be a good amp.

    CJR i know you have had some previous experience of the sony ES equipment and i would like to know if you reckon the sony will be as good as the 6550? hopefully it will be better.

    Cheers,
    Greg
    They are superb amplifiers given the prices they go for - Even the ES multichannel gear sounds better than most "hifi"

    Just dont partner it with boring sounding speakers & it will sing

    I think you will be pleasantly surprised

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    I think I am right in saying the TA-F770ES was one of the earlier ES models. It had a healthy output (140 wpc) and remote but had push button operation of other functions and I don't know if they will prove reliable. It will be very well built and offer decent connectivity. Not the prettiest they ever produced but assuming it works on receipt it should be a decent workhorse. If you do blow it up you may not be able to get electronic spares to fix it so be aware it is to all intents and purposes "disposable". Let it breath and give it 'easy' speakers to drive.
    Let me get this straight. You take a perfectly good CD and put it in a DVD player??!!

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    Greg.

    Funnily enough I was watching a TAF-30ES going on Ebay for £300 postage last night !!, not sure what it ended at (which will be good news to a chap who contacted me via PM about selling his !!). As a direct comparison with the HK6550 I will try to describe the differences to the Sony ES models I have owned – I’ll discount the lovely little TAF-3000ES 35 Watter my first amp.

    I replaced the TAF-30ES (70W) with the HK6550 (70W* this is HK HCC Watts though so 100-120W in the real world), the 6550 is/was a much more powerful driver of speakers. But with easy load speakers such as the Diapasons, the 30ES was not disgraced but could run hard drive speakers like the Dyns like the HK could. Lovely sounding thing with Castles/Diapasons though. A great amp, I have owned 2 of these, selling them onto friends for systems.

    I then changed back to a Sony ES from my HK6550, I ended up bidding on Ebay for a TAF-630ESD, a stereo amplifier from the same vintage as your 770ES I believe, this thing has 3 Digital inputs and an onboard DAC section which sounds stunning as a digital source, currently running my PC toslink into it. Also have a SACD/DVD/CDP & MD hooked up to it digitally. But back to power comparision to the HK, this 630 ESD is rated at 90W and to me sounds as powerful as the 6550 driving the Dyns. Has a sledge hammer impact, slightly less bass than the HK, but I simply set bass controls slightly higher than default setting voila. So I have finally found an amplifier that competes with the famous high ampere current HKs. I can’t give it much higher praise than that. I also owned 2 HK6550s in my time, such was the VFM and performance of the thing. I would easily buy another 630ESD tomorrow if mine packs in though.

    If you land any Sony ES amp for circa £100-150 I think you have got an unmitigated bargain on your hands. The 630 is my first Sony ES with a healthy dose of current up its sleeve.

    I sometime look at the lovely Primare on the rack (which I think is a great amplifier sonically) and admire how these old Japanese amps can tangle with the Primare, quite astonishing really..... in other words enjoy your 770-ES, I seen that one too on Ebay !!

    http://hifi-leipzig.de/shop/index.ph...dcf71f5010797f

    great colelctions of old ES amps !!!
    Linn LP12~Denon DVD-2900~Marantz PS17~Dynaudio Contour 1.3 MkII|Sony BDP-S760~Sony MDS-JB930QS~Sony SDP-EP90ES~Sony TA-N55ES~Wharfedale 306|Sony CDP-X3000ES~Sony ST-S3000ES~Sony TA-VA777ES~Diapason Emera

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    Built like tanks these sony ES amps. I've had a 30es for a month now and really like it (it's being sold on soon though to feed the box swapping addiction!). Lovely rich sound, and pride of ownership too, having something so meaty and shiny in the rack.

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    James Evans wrote:
    Built like tanks these sony ES amps. I've had a 30es for a month now and really like it (it's being sold on soon though to feed the box swapping addiction!). Lovely rich sound, and pride of ownership too, having something so meaty and shiny in the rack.
    http://www.iva-w.org/Sony/amp_FA30ES.htm


    Fantastic link James, any more to any ES amps. I'll add the Vintage Knob one here too.


    http://www.thevintageknob.org/SONY/s...nyES-main.html


    Linn LP12~Denon DVD-2900~Marantz PS17~Dynaudio Contour 1.3 MkII|Sony BDP-S760~Sony MDS-JB930QS~Sony SDP-EP90ES~Sony TA-N55ES~Wharfedale 306|Sony CDP-X3000ES~Sony ST-S3000ES~Sony TA-VA777ES~Diapason Emera

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    Thanks for the information guys. Much appreciated.

    Il post a review on here when the amp turns up.

    atb,
    Greg

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    The amp turned up safe and sound today guys and the bloody thing weighed a ton!!! felt like it was more than 20kg's lol.

    Its built like a tank and i think for an old amp it looks really nice actually.

    Now i have come from a harmon kardon hk6550 to the sony TA-F770ES so i thought that it wouldn't really be an upgrade more like a sideways step.

    Right i havn't really had chance to familiarize myself with the amplifier yet and i have only listened to it for about 45mins at best but already i can tell that this amplifier is very good and it is a big upgrade in sound over the hk6550.

    Once i have it set up to my liking then i will post pack we some more detailed thoughts and some photos of the amp.

    Cheers,
    Greg

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    cjr wrote:
    James Evans wrote:
    Built like tanks these sony ES amps. I've had a 30es for a month now and really like it (it's being sold on soon though to feed the box swapping addiction!). Lovely rich sound, and pride of ownership too, having something so meaty and shiny in the rack.
    http://www.iva-w.org/Sony/amp_FA30ES.htm


    Fantastic link James, any more to any ES amps. I'll add the Vintage Knob one here too.


    http://www.thevintageknob.org/SONY/s...nyES-main.html

    The following is a machine translation of a Japanese website & although not directly related its still an interesting ES read.....

    SONY SOUND AND ITS PHILOSOPHY

    Having been ‘elaborating the Sony sound' since analog audio amplifier age, Mr. Takashi Kanai and others who managed development and sound arrangement of the high-end AV amplifier TA-DA9000ES, are telling the story of ‘making the Sony sound' and its philosophy.

    The 70s and the first half of the 80s were the ‘audio boom' decades. Sony took pride in the quality of its ESPRIT products designed by the special high-class audio division. Audio products of those days marketed under the ESPRIT brand actually combined the ‘technical uniqueness' with ‘highest quality' being in character with Sony (NB: the ES logo attached to todays products is said to be unrelated to ESPRIT).

    However, by the end of the audio boom which purely demanded ‘sound quality' parallel-developed ‘general audio' (audio products that everyone can enjoy) was meant to support Sony’s business. Nowadays, Sony is mostly regarded as an ‘audio manufacturer and a brand of ‘general audio' such as Walkman and stereo mini systems.

    This is not the story limited to Sony only. It is also the path which Japan’s major home electronics manufacturers followed. Users adhering to audio quality became a minority group, a so-called ‘pure audio layer' that set their eyes on overseas audio equipment rather than that made in Japan. Now that market demand for high-definition sound quality had reduced, major Japanese companies were no longer supposed to aim at high audio quality and make thorough investigations to achieve it.

    So, did Sony give up the ‘high quality audio technology'?

    These were the doubts I felt when collecting Sony materials of last years. The top models were accompanied by an utterance like ‘having an AV vendor background, we gained a difficult-to-get experience and know-how' for everything. Since it is the age of ‘audio & video' now, the fact that Sony can offer both A&V quality that can fully convince an end user, certainly is Sony’s strong point.

    So, how is it employed in products? Has it essentially strengthened the competitive ability of the AV equipment vendor?

    To answer this question I decided to report on Japanese manufacturers that develop and sell comparatively expensive AV amps costing 500,000 yen or more, and started with Sony.


    SOUND QUALITY AND THOSE 'MAKING IT'


    It is Mr. Takashi Kanai, the senior electrical engineer of the AV Entertainment Section, division 1 of home audio components, and Mr. Shigeo Matsumura of the Sony EMCS TECHAV Designing Division, Section 1, that I’m interviewing this time.

    Both Kanai and Matsumura were engaged in the development of the multichannel integrated amplifier TA-DA9000ES that went on sale in October, 2003. Mr. Kanai held responsible for generalization and sound quality aspect of the entire project, while Mr. Matsumura took charge of design.

    “For any amplifier and audio product in general, circuitry and casing need to be designed. However, good sound is never achieved right at the stage of prototype production. There is no exception. Upon completion of trial manufacture, final sound quality is fine-tuned" (Mr. Kanai)

    Mr. Kanai was fascinated with audio amplifier designing which was his hobby since student days. He joined Sony in 1978 (golden age of audio boom) as an audio domain expert. It’s appealing that he has been keen on designing Sony amplifiers for so many years.


    Takashi Kanai, the senior electrical engineer engaged in the TA-DA9000 project generalization and sound quality aspect.


    It was not until Mr. Kanai completed design of an amplifier other than ESPRIT that he was entrusted the development project of the high-end model TA-F777ES. However, this also became the source of a trouble.



    In his first managerial work, Mr. Kanai exhausted all his knowledge obtained since his school days to design this amplifier to the best of his abilities. The experimental model was completed and underwent operation testing by a senior appraisal engineer. His verdict was: “Not bad as a base for a good product".

    However, “that was more than enough for me of those days. However, having emptied my knowledge out into it, I had no idea which way to go to in order to further improve it. All those worries caused a psychosomatic disorder in the end" (Mr.Kanai)

    “Even if you use the idea, technology and parts that are regarded as wonderful after all, steady tuning by means of trial and error method is indispensable in order to achieve good sound quality" (Kanai)

    For example, location of signal wiring, method of its fixation to a chassis, fixations strength, clamping torque, chassis reinforcement method, number of screws, etc. - all influence the sound.

    However, when modifying a very small element it is very difficult to hear a change in sound and judge whether it changed for the better or worse.

    Furthermore, there exists the innumerable number of elements that affect the sound. Finding a sound that perfectly suits designer’s needs from ‘countless combinations' of ‘countless revision points' is an extraordinary work.

    As for the TA-F777ES, Mr. Kanai was firmly instilled an ability to feel which change should be done to meet further senior expert’s advice, if any. “Once you make necessary modifications, the sound becomes good very rapidly. It was surprising" - Mr. Kanai is proud to have gained vast know-how experience that eventually let the TA-F777ES come into the market in 1983.


    THE BLOOD OF PURE AUDIO IN THE AV WORLD

    After his involvement in several amplifier projects, Mr. Kanai takes charge of Sony’s high end CDP-R player series after the CDP-R1 release in 1987. The optical system was made into a stationary type, and unique CD player CDP-R10 with a moving rotary CD system was announced. As audio boom went away, and the industry contracted making it difficult to develop a ‘pure audio product' and thoroughly perform the sound tuning. All this made Sony elated by success.


    CD player CDP-X5000 employing newly designed fixed pick-up mechanism (stationary optical system)


    However, the audio boom was followed by the AV times that added image to the sound. Then, Mr. Kanai was given another opportunity to design amplifiers. In order to meet the expanding AV market demand, in 1997 he leaves the CD player development section to elaborate AV amplifiers. One can say that the main purpose was to pour blood of once-cultivated ‘pure audio' into the AV world.

    His first AV project was TA-E9000ES (high-end AV preamplifier) as well as TA-N9000ES (five-channel power amplifier) both released in 1998. The AV preamp handled the sound in a digital domain, which was the reason to add a separate TA-P9000ES preamplifier that could treat the analog sound exclusively (although its main development engineer was a different person, Mr. Kanai was the one responsible for sound tuning).
    Ever since the first 9000ES amplifier series, Sony did not offer any replacement for five years, which is an exceptional case in the fast-moving AV industry. There were two pilot projects that were to replace the 9000es series which, however, ended up as prototypes only.

    “They didn’t result in sale because they didn’t sound any better than the first 9000ES components. There is an internal decision-making process in the company that judges the suitability of a product. Since the replacement was planned as a ‘high-end Sony machine' it was supposed to sound correspondingly. Therefore, the project was stopped by a superior official that makes sale decisions (he didn’t find each model’s sound quality sufficiently convincing). That’s why these two models have never been released to the world" (Mr.Kanai)

    In the meantime, Mr. Kanai piles up sound-tuning knowledge while designing AV receivers and dyeing each and every new product in ‘Sony color' (which might just as well be called ‘Kanai color'). In particular, he fine-tuned the sound of the middle-class AV amplifier STR-VZ555ES, which was the immediate successor to a VA555ES. The usual VA prefix was replaced with VZ because “it was the last analog amplifier in the ES line" (Mr. Kanai). After the VZ555ES, he reverts to the project of a high-end AV amplifier.

    STR-VZ555ES



    IN THE BEGINNING, THE SOUND OF A DIGITAL AMPLIFIER WAS BAD
    An AV amplifier mostly deals with digital signals. Let alone CD, DVD, digital broadcasting are digital, too, as are next generation audio standards SACD and DVD-Audio, of course (an upgrade that would ensure first-time compatibility with DVD-Audio is due to be released for DA9000ES).

    Moreover, as the number of channels of the sound source increases, so it does in an AV amplifier. Most of todays AV amplifiers are 7-channel single units with build-in power amps. Considering huge power consumption as well as amounts of evolved heat, an attempt to digitalize amplification technology was quite a natural move.

    However, even nowadays the very concept of digital amplification can hardly be referred to pure audio sound. Since there are just a few strong digital products of rather hobby nature exceeding 1 million Yen that do sound good, sound quality is normally associated with analog amplifiers in most cases. Why?

    Mr. Kanai's answer is clear: "Until the know-how for improving the digital amplification technology is gained the sound of digital amplifier can not be good."

    “For analog amplifiers that have been designed for over 20 years, you can understand beforehand in which direction you should go in order to improve it. However, common principles of analog amplification don’t work for a digital amplifier. In the case of an analog amplifier you can apply the accumulated know-how at the stages of initial designing and subsequent tuning. When it’s digital, you have no idea what how the first model is going to sound like. There is no tuning experience either" (Mr. Kanai)

    Telling you the truth concerning DA9000ES, an AV critic who participated in first audition of its prototype, compared its sound to ‘cassette tape recorder'. Balance was bad, and there was no feeling of good quality whatsoever. It got just 13 points in the memo of those days.

    Over 1000 improvements were made ever since, mostly tuned up by trial and error method. According to Mr. Kanai, by means of such simple tuning as change in screw positioning and torque, fixation method of heavy parts, etc. the sound can be influenced a lot. As per aforementioned critic, “at some point, its sound suddenly started to steadily improve"

    “I’ve already been in a similar situation in the TA-F777ES times. Whatever you do, it just doesn’t work. Results of any changes are unpredictable. You have no idea whether it can eventually become a mass production item. Everyday auditions far into night with repeated trials and errors lead to psychosomatic disorder again, but I took medicine and continued. There was a sale deadline set for the end of the year, so it was sort of ‘fight to the very last minute".



    Satisfied Mr. Kanai embraces the result of great efforts.

    Example of those ‘tiny tunings' can be fixation method of an amplifier module (so-called circuit-on-chassis configuration), bare MOS-FETs in the amplifier output stages (*), position of digital signal cabling or clamping method, etc.

    (*) The surface mount technique has been used. Bare MOSFETs are encapsulated in soft protective resin. Since there’s no stress from the elastic capsule during thermal distortion, there is almost no sound quality change.


    SONY BLOOD IS INHERITED

    Prior to this interview, I was allowed to try the new amplifier at home along with the iLink-equipped SACD player SCD-XA9000ES. My system comprises the AV series of the Italian speaker manufacturer Sonus Faber driven by Sony’s TA-N9000ES except for the fronts which are connected to a vacuum tube amplifier “Unison Research' S8.

    Although my system is entry-level, how could an AV amplifier be better than a dedicated two-channel amplifier? I had this sort of rather impolite thoughts just before I pushed the power button.

    When I did, I heard an astonishingly fresh sound. I was puzzled and started pulling various CDs and SACDs in and out to check it again and again.

    Although it may turn into an audio critic’s article, I have to mention that its sound completely differs from a common analog amplifier. I had an impression of a very good S/N ratio (especially at quiet passages), good transient characteristics as well as outstanding smoothness.

    Mids and highs sounded transparent and bright, with the impression of a good S/N. The lows are very tight, fast, focused and very imposing.

    Although the TA-N9000ES (also engineered by Mr. Kanai) shows similar tendency, it couldn’t match the resolution and balance of the DA9000ES. There was an impression that acoustic image is almost palpable and visible. Indeed, the sound emitted by the very same speakers has changed to an truly unbelievable extent.

    “The sound is that good because a digital amplifier, in theory, is a very advantageous system. The signal is all way digital and converted to analog by an LC filter immediately before the speakers. However, the problem is that initially the sound was bad in the digital stage in front of it. It was a hardship that we had to undergo and we did everything in our power and beyond to overcome it. The know-how that improves sound in digital amplifiers has been acquired" - Mr. Kanai proudly sticks out his chest.

    Mr. Kanai continued tuning from June of last year to October 25 also instructing Mr. Matsumura who was doing design development work in Chiba. There was a tremendous number of emails sent that contained concrete indications like ‘it’s worth correcting like this' and ‘sound will change like this if you do that' etc.

    It seemed that Mr. Kanai was going to somehow initiate Mr. Matsumura into the know-how of making the Sony sound.

    Mr. Matsumura: “My father was an audio-related engineer. My admiration for Sony made me yearn to develop Sony audio equipment for since my junior high school days. When I actually joined Sony, I met many people having the know-how in audio technology. I have been given almost an absolute freedom of choice in design. Methods of improving sound are learned from a senior and this may be the corporate culture of Sony".



    Mr. Shigeo Matsumura of Sony EMCS TECHAV Design section

    The ‘DA9000ES know-how' obtained by Kanai have been adopted by Matsumura. Besides DA9000ES, Sony also releases lower models such as DA5000ES and DA3000ES overseas.

    “Although the know-how acquired in recent development of the DA9000ES was reflected in other products, I didn’t fine-tune the sound of amplifiers other than DA9000ES, the latter being my primary concern. Therefore, their sound qualities may be completely different. Since the Japanese market returns harshest opinion vis-a-vis the difference in sound quality, cheaper models are not sold in Japan yet" (Mr. Kanai).

    I think SONY has always had a good stance in regard to the quality of an AV product. Once ‘a certain amount of quality which satisfies an exigent user is achieved, further efforts will be directed towards the improvement of specs, functionality, design, or user interface. I think such reasoning is the merit of Sony.

    Of course, there are other manufactures similar to SONY producing a wide range of products from portable audio to high-end AV amps. However, while SONY still brings up engineers merely improving sound quality, many other comprehensive home electronics manufacturers truncate audio section.

    Now that the era of ‘digital home' is coming, the quality point may fade away as well as the ‘pure audio' concept did some time ago in the AV market, meaning that the market of single-unit AV amplifiers may be narrowing, too.

    However, the image & sound know-how will probably never become unnecessary. It can be considered a strong point of a vendor that produces consumer products. Sony keeps the assets alive for a future use.

  10. #10
    Super Wammer cjr's Avatar
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    Brilliant read Istari.
    Linn LP12~Denon DVD-2900~Marantz PS17~Dynaudio Contour 1.3 MkII|Sony BDP-S760~Sony MDS-JB930QS~Sony SDP-EP90ES~Sony TA-N55ES~Wharfedale 306|Sony CDP-X3000ES~Sony ST-S3000ES~Sony TA-VA777ES~Diapason Emera

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