Goodwill: Heathkit AR-1500 Receiver from '72(ish)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Clucking, May 23, 2020.

  1. Clucking

    Clucking Elixir of Life Thread Starter

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Well, picked this one up for just a couple bucks yesterday at Goodwill. It looks brand new. Plugged it in after a quick inspection, the FM meters light up but not the tuner section, so I'll have to fix that. Plugged some cheapo speakers in, plugged the iphone into the back, cranked up Morning Dew and it plays like a charm, sounds great (for cheapo speakers and an iphone).
    It looks like a granny-radio, but I think it's absolutely gorgeous and so evocative of a time gone by. Oh and it weighs about 50lbs, and puts out about 60 watts per channel maybe? it can function as a preamp or power amp. Reading reviews it seems to be very highly regarded. Kit went for about $300, and fully assembled it was $650. 1972 dollars, that would be around $4,000 today. Yikes!!! The wood case, which mine did not have, was originally an extra $35.
    I have no idea how to tell whether this one was bought as a kit or fully assembled. My plan is to take it to a local tech who works on vintage audio, have him check (replace?) the capacitors and anything that looks off internally (oh, the FM doesn't work, but i don't listen to FM, I'll probably have him fix it as well anyway). I'm also mulling over the idea of having my woodworker neighbor build a case out of some flamed mahogany i've had sitting in the garage for a few years - I think it would look nice in a wood case.
    Here are some pics for you.

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    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  2. Clucking

    Clucking Elixir of Life Thread Starter

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Found this German ad for the kit, it says (I think) 90 watts into 8 ohms. Maybe someone can translate Musikleistung vs. Sinusleistung (sounds painful)
    [​IMG]
     
  3. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    Sinusleistung - Sine Wave Power
    Musikleistung - Music Power

    Sine Wave Power may be comparable to RMS ratings, and Music Power may be comparable to Peak Power ratings (this is purely a guess).
     
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  4. Front Row

    Front Row The neighbor you wish you had.

    Location:
    Chicago IL
    I had a Heathkit from the early 1960's. The tuner was prior to FM lock, so that didn't work so well. The amplifier gave off a lot of heat. Were these amp's Class A?
     
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  5. Onrd

    Onrd I am not a number

    I built its successor. the 1500A - an amazing receiver. It won best honors in Consumers reports.
     
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  6. Clucking

    Clucking Elixir of Life Thread Starter

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I've read several places that this one had an excellent FM tuner. No idea if this is Class A.
    Here's a thread on Audiokarma: Heathkit AR 1500????
    in which different people describe the tuner as "excellent", "good", and "awesome"
     
  7. cat9

    cat9 Forum Resident

    ZERO risk for a couple of $ .... have some fun with it!
     
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  8. Clucking

    Clucking Elixir of Life Thread Starter

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Onrd - how long did you have it for? Did you get the optional wood case?

    OH, and what are those unlabeled inputs-holes on the bottom right, with the little black knob?

    [​IMG]image8 by cwlucking, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  9. Front Row

    Front Row The neighbor you wish you had.

    Location:
    Chicago IL
    [​IMG] This what I had a few decades ago.
     
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  10. rcsrich

    rcsrich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    Nice find! I love how the back is just one massive stinkin' heat sink...yeah baby!
     
  11. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    Looks like "peak power" (Musikleistung) vs RMS (Sinusleistung).
     
  12. Front Row

    Front Row The neighbor you wish you had.

    Location:
    Chicago IL
    It did get incredibly hot. It burned the top a a wooden stereo cabinet because we thought there would be plenty of ventilation since the cabinet was open on the front and back. My relatives gave me the Heatkit and bought a Pioneer later on that did not get so hot.
     
  13. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Those are hefty filter caps, most likely high quality! It's always best to have a tech check them out for electrical leakage, but NOT replace them by default. (if they test good) You could just power it up, and listen for 120 Hz hum. Replacements may be a different physical size (usually are) which necessitates "rigging" in the chassis, (sometimes with zip ties) which destroys the vintage quality of the device. Replacements of the same physical size would be fine, such as Fender guitar amps which always need filter cap replacements.. quality caps are available of the same physical dimension as the original.

    The smaller electrolytics may be bad. A well engineered circuit will still function with leaky caps, even if the receiver appears to be working properly. A sign of leaky caps is running unusually hot when idling. The ceramic disc and poly caps do not go bad, very rarely!
     
  14. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    Here I go again with my guesses; headphone jacks and a headphone volume control?
     
  15. Onrd

    Onrd I am not a number

    My 1500A didn't have those holes. I would guess they are headphone jacks as they are the right size. I had the wooden cabinet. The receiver lasted for 30 years before parts started to go. One of the best pieces of gear I've ever owned. It took me 2 days to build.
     
  16. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    I googled around and found some ads for the AR-1500 saying it had outputs for two sets of headphones, so that is probably right. If the knob is a volume control for one of them, two headphone listeners with different hearing could comfortably listen at the same time without adjusting the main volume control.
     
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  17. Clucking

    Clucking Elixir of Life Thread Starter

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks! The idea of two people sitting there with headphones on listening to the same piece of equipment paints an awkward picture in my mind.
    Speaking of awkward, I LOVE your avatar!
     
  18. rl1856

    rl1856 Forum Resident

    Location:
    SC
    My father built one in 1974 and used it to drive a pr of AR3a to great effect. I inherited the receiver in 1981 when he upgraded. I used it through HS then College and for a few years after. In College it provided plenty of power for Fraternity parties, though it did get hot- I had a fan blowing on it to prevent overheating. It finally developed some problems in 1991 and had to be replaced. I would say I subjected it to hard use which probably did not ensure longevity. My father took it back, and I believe it sits on a shelf in his closet. My recollection is it could provide plenty of good clean power. Sound was clear, but a bit sterile, without a wide/deep soundstage. FM section was outstanding. The 1500 was very well reviewed when introduced, and several reviewers felt it to be among the best receivers available at the time. I would say it is not well known but it should be.
     
  19. ScottRiqui

    ScottRiqui Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Nice find - I wish I could be as successful on my trips to Goodwill. But around here, the "electronics" section is usually just broken small kitchen appliances and clock radios from the 90s. Part of it is because the local population was pretty low in the 50s-70s, so there's not a lot of stuff that's been sitting in attics or closets for 60+ years.
     
  20. Clucking

    Clucking Elixir of Life Thread Starter

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Mostly the same where I am - I have really only found like 3 or 4 good pieces in the last say 5 years of hitting up the Goodwills once every week or two. This one I almost missed, I was walking away from the electronics rack and saw it peaking out from under a large monitor that someone had laid across the top of it. Probably to keep someone else from seeing it.
    My other scores include a Sony STR-222 (cool little solid-state receiver from the early 70s), a Toshiba preamp (not great, but it was needed for my garage system), a nice Denon tape deck (no idea why, for the pretty lights mostly) and a couple of AR bookshelf speakers. I know that the time I have spent doesn't in any way balance out the money saved on cheap vintage stereo components, but it's the excitement of the hunt and the occasional score, you know? I also look for LPs and cast-iron pans. And lamps.
     
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