In the world of vintage audio equipment, certain brands and models stand out as iconic pieces of audio history. Among these, Aurex, a sub-brand created by Toshiba, occupies a special place. Just as Lexus is to Toyota, Aurex was to Toshiba’s consumer electronics division, bringing premium products to the market.
The Aurex SB-A10, a compact but full-featured integrated amplifier from 1981, is a testament to the brand’s commitment to quality and innovation in the realm of miniature hi-fi systems
Aurex: A Leader in Portable Audio
When Aurex released its Micro System 15 in 1979, it heralded a new era of small hi-fi systems. This action was similar to National Panasonic’s Technics and Toyota’s Lexus range strategies in the automotive sector.
Despite their high price tag (the ’15’ system included a pre and power amplifier, tuner, and cassette player for over £1000), Aurex’s products were superior to those of other well-known companies like Technics and Aiwa. As a result, Aurex became well-known in the miniature hi-fi industry.
An Up-close Look at the Aurex SB-A10
An essential part of the ’10’ system, the Aurex SB-A10 was more than just a downsized version of its larger predecessors.
This integrated amplifier proved that small size didn’t mean sacrificing quality. Despite its compact dimensions, it offered impressive functionality and performance.
Key Features of the SB-A10:
Following are some essential and important features of the amazing and unique tool. Have a look at each one of them for better understanding.
The SB-A10 managed to integrate a complete amplifier into a space roughly the size of an Oxford English Dictionary concise edition. This feat was no small accomplishment, given the constraints of space and the need for high-density packaging.
2. High-Quality Components:
Inside the SB-A10, you won’t find any shortcuts or compromises in component quality. It featured a conventional Class AB amplifier powered by a toroidal mains transformer, showing a commitment to traditional electronic engineering.
3. Careful Circuit Design:
Toshiba’s engineers chose to use a completely complementary OCL output stage with a separate low-level gain block for treble and bass settings, whereas other manufacturers were employing hybrid chip modules for inexpensive hi-fi amplifiers. This decision distinguished the SB-A10 and enhanced performance.
4. Phono Stage Excellence:
Utilizing Toshiba ICs that were specifically created, the MM phono stage provides exceptional headroom by operating off a split supply of ±18V. The amplifier performed better when handling vinyl records because of this attention to detail.
5. Additional Features:
The SB-A10 had a headphone port, an appropriately designed tape loop, and electronic loudspeaker protection. Its adaptability was further demonstrated by the inclusion of a microphone mixing input on the front panel.
Why is it an ideal deal?
The SB-A10 is an incredible deal because it has components from higher-end amplifiers. Using a discrete, completely complementary OCL (Output Capacitor-Less) output stage was one of these features. Although not very uncommon, this design decision was unusual for an amplifier of its kind. A low-level gain block came after this output stage, giving the audio signal more control and producing clearer, more accurate sound reproduction.
The SB-A10’s tone control was not an afterthought; rather, it was expertly incorporated into the negative feedback loop of the amplifier. By doing away with the requirement for extra circuitry, this method preserved the integrity of the audio signal channel. The outcome was a sophisticated and adaptable tone control that improved the sound quality without adding coloration or distortion.
With regard to phono capabilities, the SB-A10 did not disappoint vinyl enthusiasts. Its MM (Moving Magnet) phono stage, which was built around specifically engineered Toshiba ICs, was separated from the main signal line. These chips maintained the integrity of the turntable signal by operating with enough of headroom thanks to the usage of a split supply set at ±18V.
Notably, the Aurex SB-A10 retained many of the key components used in larger amplifiers. In order to protect the speakers in the event of a problem, it included electronic loudspeaker protection with a relay. This well-considered addition reduced the possibility of harm, guaranteeing your beloved speakers would last longer.
The amplifier also included a well-designed tape loop, which was necessary for anyone who wished to record or play audio on cassette tapes.
Additionally, there was a handy ¼-inch headphone port for private music enjoyment.
One special and unusual feature of the SB-A10 was visible on the front panel: a microphone mixing input. This function could be intriguing to people who want to add live vocals or other audio sources to their listening experience, but it is not very useful for typical audiophiles.
The SB-A10 may have come from a less expensive line of Aurex micro components, but its build quality nonetheless conveyed longevity and quality. The single-piece fascia and top mirrored the opulent design of its more expensive ’15’ range rivals, with a shot-peened metal texture.
The attention to detail and luxury feel were emphasized by the machined aluminum used to manufacture each knob and switch.
Input connections on the SB-A10’s back panel were vertically aligned with the source components, which made setup easier. It was not adorned with gold-plated connectors, but it did have conventional input options, therefore it was compatible with most audio equipment. Although less ornate than the binding posts on larger amplifiers, the spring-clip speaker terminals provided usefulness within the limitations of their small form.
In summary, one excellent example of how a small, well-made integrated amplifier can compete with more expensive, larger models is the Aurex SB-A10. It is the perfect example of Aurex’s commitment to providing high-quality audio experiences in a small package. This vintage amplifier, despite coming from a bygone era, is nevertheless respected by collectors and audiophiles for its superb performance and clever design. The Aurex SB-A10 is a gem worth finding, regardless of your interest in vintage audio or your desire to own a piece of audio history.