Bob Schwartz

Tag: Sony

The STR-AV1010 Is Dead, Part 2

STR-AV1010 Connections
Why does the demise of an audio component deserve even one blog post, let alone two?

Because I came across the manual for the Sony STR-AV1010 receiver (circa 1989), which manual demonstrates that tech archaeology and history is as important as any other kind, maybe more. If you don’t believe that, just look at one of my favorite tech photos of all time.
Motorola Brick
Here is a man who is implicitly the most successful, stylish and cool guy holding up the most ridiculous object to his ear, as we pretend (then) it is not. And it sort of isn’t, because he was able to do something that was until then the stuff of sci-fi. And yet it sort of is ridiculous, because, well, look at the photo.

The soon to be buried receiver (actually, it won’t be buried, instead being put in a storage closet until future science can figure out how to cure it) was, as noted in the earlier post, a wonder more than twenty years ago. Look at some of the possible connections in the above chart:

Turntable
Tape deck
VCR
DAT (Digital Audio Tape, a Sony format officially terminated in 1995)

The point? Not one really. Maybe just that we are in the river, it flows, and we swim with it, against it, and sometimes just stand in it, if we can touch bottom and it doesn’t knock us over and we drown.

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The STR-AV1010 Is Dead

Sony STR-AV1010
Five miles out of London on the Western Avenue
Must have been a wonder when it was brand new
Talkin’ ’bout the splendour of the Hoover factory
I know that you’d agree if you had seen it too
It’s not a matter of life or death
What is, what is?
It doesn’t matter if I take another breath
Who cares? Who cares?
Elvis Costello, Hoover Factory

My audio receiver is dead. Well, not exactly dead. But without a right channel, it’s like a Reese’s Cup without the peanut butter. Chocolate is great, but only half the story.

Calling it a receiver is like calling a computer a calculator. The Sony STR-AV1010 is an “Audio/Video Control Center” with “Delayed Digital Surround”. It was the first quality audio component I bought, not inexpensive at the time. You can, if you wish, date it by the fact that it includes inputs for Phono (phonograph) and DAT (Digital Audio Tape).

Don’t let its age fool you. It has remained a powerful and capable piece of equipment. The most sophisticated devices have been added to its army, and it has controlled them like the pro it is.

That’s not to say I haven’t walked down the aisles of a store or browsed online for newer models and technology. There’s plenty out there that’s better suited to the state of the digital art. Sleeker styling and more advanced controls too. It’s not like I’m married to the equipment.

But just when I would get serious about trading up, I’d feel a tug of loyalty and nostalgia. It has sat in a place of tech honor in every house, and has been the master control for lots of great and wild times, along with some quiet and unforgettable ones. Most of all, it was working fine, pumping out awesome sound. Until today.

The sound is still awesome, at least on the left channel. On the right, not so much. Is that enough to displace it from the hub of home entertainment? Is the right half of the audio really that important?

It was a wonder when it was brand new. To me, it still is.