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All countries
548,935,393
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Updated on June 27, 2022 1:19 am
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Updated on June 27, 2022 1:19 am
All countries
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Deaths
Updated on June 27, 2022 1:19 am

History of Soviet Hi-Fi

The USSR produced a huge number of the most diverse audio equipment. Some models of speakers and amplifiers turned out to be so successful that connoisseurs of vintage equipment are still hunting for them. What is so special about Soviet audio technology, how did it appear, develop, and which models deserve special attention?

In the USSR, audio equipment was clearly divided into classes, they differed in parameters and quality. The highest class is zero, this technique had the widest frequency range, assembled to the conscience, but it also cost a lot. The lowest – the third class, is inexpensive consumer equipment. It is very easy to determine the class – this is the first digit in the name. For example, Corvette-248 is the second class, and Corvette-038 is zero.

Of course, not every high-end model is a piece of engineering art. Some turned out to be successful, reliable and unpretentious, others often broke down and required constant maintenance. But when designing some models, the stars settled down in a particularly favorable way, and they even won awards at foreign exhibitions.

It should be noted that many devices were copies or creative processing of foreign models (speakers Elektronika 75AC 065 – Fisher STE 1200, headphones Elektronika TDS-5 – Yamaha YH-1, reel-to-reel tape recorder Elektronika TA1-003 – Revox A700). But there were also enough original developments – it is especially worth noting the devices authored by Anatoly Likhnitsky, Roland Kerno, Igor Levitsky.

A big plus of Soviet audio equipment was its maintainability. Schematic diagrams have always been attached to the passport of the device, according to which it is easy to repair the device even today.

Twenties to Sixties

The first thing that the USSR began to produce was radios. The rapid development of radio all over the world begins in the twenties, but until the thirties the USSR did not have its own tube radio receiver, because there were no radio tubes of its own. Only in 1936, the Leningrad Institute of Broadcast Reception and Acoustics, together with the American company RCA, developed the SVD-1 radio receiver, but still on imported lamps. But the very next year, Soviet lamps were used in the SVD-9 model.

The production of lamps opened the way to amplifiers and players, but the Great Patriotic War prevented the development of household audio equipment that had begun. During the war years, all radio factories produced products for the front, and the sale of radio components was banned.

HP2-I17
CTIL-001
700-765
HPE0-S59
API-580
S1000-007
1Z0-900
156-560
SD0-401
SD0-302

In the fifties, the country was engaged in the restoration of industry, and from the end of the decade, the rapid development of audio equipment began – at new capacities and according to modern standards at that time. This was also influenced by the capture of trophy factories with the technologies of the Third Reich – radio was actively used there in propaganda, and the first tape recorders appeared back in the thirties.

However, the technology of the fifties and sixties does not have outstanding characteristics. It’s made with tubes, and despite having a warm tube sound, it has a limited frequency range and only plays in mono. Nevertheless, even then curious models and the first experiments with stereo sound appeared.

The first reel-to-reel tape recorder that could play stereo. True, there were almost no stereo recordings in those days, even abroad the first stereo record was released only in 1958. Therefore, the tape recorder was positioned as the then Hi-Fi, ahead of its time.

It used special low-noise 6Zh32P lamps, a high-resistance stereo head, and a high-quality low-noise tape drive mechanism. It cost accordingly – 400 rubles, which is twice as expensive as the Yauza-5 monophonic model. Included were broadband speakers. There was also an import option, with foreign parts from Grundig with Telefunken lamps.

The family of radiograms Rigonda, produced by the Riga radio factory, was so large and popular that the very word “Rigonda” became synonymous with radiola. In the mid-sixties, the plant produced Rigonda-stereo, one of the first stereoradiols in the USSR.

The device was assembled on 10 lamps, weighed 21 kg, and came with two two-way speakers. In addition to the radio, it has a vinyl player with a piezo head and a stereo needle, it can operate at four speeds – 16, 33, 45, 78. There is also a tone block where you can adjust the low and high frequencies to your liking.

In the seventies, stereo sound gains popularity, and Soviet engineers switch from tubes to transistors. There are many vinyl players, reel to reel tape recorders and amplifiers, the first cassette tape recorders are released. The first samples of Soviet audio equipment appear that fit into the international definition of Hi-Fi, and the population is actively interested in technological innovations.

1971 – Symphony 003

Radiola of the highest class, released in 1971. She knew how to play stereo and was a bedside table with two three-way speakers. On board – a radio with various frequency ranges, a vinyl player with a hitchhiker and a piezoceramic head, a lamp amplifier with a power of 4 watts per channel.

When playing from records, the frequency range was from 40 Hz to 15 kHz. Some separately note the quality of the speakers that were exhibited with the radiogram.

1973 – Mayak 001

Top class reel-to-reel stereo recorder with three motors, two speeds – 9 and 19, and with direct drive of reel-to-reel players – one motor for each reel. Direct drive increased reliability, as opposed to drive through belts, which stretched over time and required replacement.

At speed, the 19-frequency range was from 31 Hz to 20 kHz! Arrow indicators inform about the sound level during recording and playback, there is also a hitchhiking. And most importantly, the tape recorder had a remote control! The kit included a remote control that could turn on playback and rewind the film while sitting on the couch. In a word, a real Soviet Hi-Fi of that era.

1975 – Brig 001

One of the first transistor amplifiers of the USSR turned out to be legendary. This is the first Soviet amplifier that complies with the DIN 45500 class, i.e. foreign definition of Hi-Fi equipment. Its creator Anatoly Likhnitsky wanted to create an ideal amplifier, and for that time the device really was such. Power – 50 W per channel, non-linear distortion less than 0.1%, frequency response width – from 5 Hz to 50 kHz, it is possible to connect two pairs of speakers at once. On board – a built-in soft start system (there are no clicks when turned on and off), discrete low and high knobs, a nice design – even today the amplifier looks vintage and stylish.

The device went into mass production largely thanks to N. Sviridov, who oversaw shipbuilding and the Okeanpribor plant. Sviridov was an avid music lover and audiophile. He had the opportunity to check out foreign audio equipment and dreamed of catching up and overtaking it, so he actively helped Likhnitsky. He demonstrated the amplifier ready for serial production to the Deputy Chairman of the Military Industrial Commission Leonid Gorshkov, who was known as the main audiophile in the Central Committee. Gorshkov was delighted. Approval from above made it possible to use scarce radio elements in the Brigs, which were used only in the defense industry. But the price turned out to be rather big – 625 rubles. Despite the high cost, it was possible to get an amplifier only with a big pull, and even with a mark-up of at least 25 rubles. The brig received a gold medal at the Leipzig Fair and was exported abroad.

1979 – Electronics TA1-003

Reel-to-reel tape recorder of the highest class, the ideological follower of Mayak-001. He had a control system on the buttons, two speeds (9 and 19), came with a remote control. It was distinguished by a luminous level indicator, had 4 heads – erasing, recording, reproducing forward and reproducing backward, direct drive of the coils, three motors. It reproduced almost the entire audible spectrum – from 31 Hz to 22 kHz.

Automatic tape tension control and photoelectric auto-stop ensured that the valuable recording tape would not break during playback and rewinding. The modular design made it easy to maintain and repair the instrument. The Elektronika 003 tape recorder launched a whole galaxy of high-quality Soviet reels, among which Elektronika 004, Olympus 004 and 005 stand out.

Eighties

In the eighties, the audio equipment of the USSR flourished with dozens of outstanding models. Decent speaker systems, reel-to-reel and cassette recorders, audiophile players and even CD players appeared. A lot of experimental models with interesting technologies have been released.

Radiotehnika S-90 (35АС-212) (1980)

Where without the legendary S-90? These bulky speakers still terrify some neighbors with their booming bass to this day. They were designed by engineer Roland Kerno, who worked at the Radiotehnika plant in Riga. Back in the sixties, he was one of the first to propose the use of multi-band speakers with band separation using a passive frequency filter, which is still the standard today. In the seventies, players and tape recorders appeared worthy of foreign exhibitions, and they needed no less worthy speakers. Kerno included foreign requirements for Hi-Fi equipment in the terms of reference for these speakers. This is how the first Soviet Hi-Fi acoustics appeared – three-way, with midrange and treble controls, with a frequency range from 31.5 Hz to 20 kHz and with a power of 90 watts.

By today’s standards, the S-90s produced a rather crooked frequency response (many complain about booming lows and unnatural sound), but for that time it was a revelation. These speakers cost a lot – 160 rubles, but this did not prevent them from becoming the most popular in the USSR, every Soviet music lover knew about them. There were many modifications and improvements to the S-90 from enthusiasts, and official modifications were released – S90D, S90B. Subsequently, many more interesting-sounding Soviet speakers were released (Electronics 75AS-065, Corvette 35AS-208, 35AS DS-17), but it was the S-90s that became the most popular due to the combination of good sound, high power, reliability and relative affordability.

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