Saturday, November 8, 2008

In Memoriam: the Automatic Radio OMX-9843 8-Track Receiver

To paraphrase an old joke about motorcyclists sans helmet: what do you call an 8-track receiver? The answer, of course, is: an organ donor.

I recently found a Technics SA 303 receiver in excellent shape except for a broken bass control pot. What to do? I did not have an appropriate vintage pot to repair the unit and I doubted that I could find a new one that would suffice. Luckily, I stumbled onto an early '70s vintage 8-track receiver from a brand I assume is long gone, Automatic Radio, from Melrose, Massachusetts. Today, there is pretty much no one who is interested in such a device. But, the moral of today's blog is: do not judge a receiver by its cover.

The OMX-9843 was an entry level combo receiver marketed by an American-based company, but made in Japan. The $159.95 price sticker was still on the bottom. From its appearance this was not a mainstream, hifi retailer unit. It was probably sold at a local furniture store or a regional chain like Gibson's here in Texas. The case was the typical vinyl over Philippine mahogany (why did they do that??), and inside was essentially two units: an 8 track player on the left and a very minimalist am/fm receiver on the right with lots of small bolts and nuts holding it all together. The 8-track player scavenged power from the receiver via an internal plug in a manner that suggests that something else might fit on the left. I wonder if someday I might stumble on a cassette version of this beastie? The Matsushita amplifier outputs produced a hefty 6 watts a side, low even by the standards of the early '70s.

The point of all this? Back when manufacturers cared even the most entry level of electronic products were well made. For example:

The pots in the photo above were made by Alps. The tiny driver card has 4 small can transistors by Matsushita, the same as the two on the tone control card. Sorry, the cute Matsushita outputs were donated to Austin stereo before this picture was taken. The switches are still crisp and the hardware is very high grade and about half is non-magnetic. This is all high quality stuff, and will see service in other gear from the era.

Who woulda thunk that parts from an Automatic Radio would extend the life span of a Sansui or Technics receiver?


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know I have a Automatic Radio OMX-9843 that was given to me, appx 1968 as a b day present from my parents. the 8 trac no longer works but the AM-FM works quite well. had to replace a final amp a few years back for the left channel.

Anonymous said...

I would have saved the 8 track, i bet it was a nice unit, and just because very few people are interested in them, they will probably be all gone in a few years, what a shame!

Well, i actually prefer 70s low end stuff to "serious" audio gear!