Technics 10000

1 9 7 2 1972
1 9 8 3 1983

10000 : such high name numbers remained staples of Sansui and, later, Yamaha and Diatone. Even if pricey, their components can all be found easily.

Easily or not, the Technics 10000s can not be found : they represented then and still represent today what the 1970s audio engineering should have amounted to : stuff dreams are made of.
That is : had the 1980s not become what they became and had the Yen not suffered an important raise in value after the second oil shock - dreams indeed.

Of the series designed throughout the 1960s and 1970s, some were successful, some not, some came too late, some too early, others quickly wound up discounted outside Japan while others remain so well remembered their actual sonic qualities are now revised in proportion of their sole present popularity (or looks).

But making a serious "series" is difficult. It takes time and while time is passing, technology evolves ; it takes money and while money is spent, market and marketing goals evolve as well.
The designers are therefore asked to make landmarks that will be remembered forever while the marks themselves are... changing.

Several series, big or small, managed to eschew the problem (Sony pre-Esprit and Pioneer EXCLUSIVE), but Technics managed its 10000s at the same time too early and too late.
Therefore, strictly speaking, the 10000s are more an ensemble than a "set" with identical designs such as the Exclusives.
And it should be remembered that, in high-fidelity audio, Technics came the latest of all to transistorized amplification (1969) so that brand had more ground to cover in less time to finetune its high-end hi-fi adventure.


Chronologically, the original 10000s were launched in october 1972 with the SU-10000 preamp and the SE-10000 power-amp.
Neither sold in significant numbers as nobody in Japan was then seeing the marketability of "ultra" components costing 450,000¥ and 500,000¥ respectively.
But it made for a true statement from giant Matsushita which most others would take almost a decade to match.

The 600,000¥ SB-10000 horn speakers were finally ready in 1976, by which time the original separates were deemed old-fashioned and in need of modern replacements.

While post-development was under way, a 76cm/s upped version of the extremely popular RS-1500U series was launched in july 1977.
It wasn't named "10000" anymore but cost just as much : the RS-1800 could be had for... 950,000¥ !

Said replacements came in september 1977 with surprisingly more modest name numbers (SE-A1 and SU-A2) but far more impressive engineering. And even more sky-high tickets : 1,000,000¥ and 1,600,000¥ !

Needless to say, such prices prevented much from happening, especially when compared to the average prices of successful high-end components of the time : 60,000¥ for a Pioneer C-21, 200,000¥ for a Sony TA-E88B or even the 395,000¥ of an Accuphase C-240.


Added on the side when PCM got to be a pressing matter were the 800,000¥ SH-P1 PCM adaptor, a 4-way digital mixer plus a more modern (and small) standalone a/d - d/a converter.
Although shown here and there throughout late 1979 and late 1980, the former only saw a couple of pre-production samples and the latter two weren't even named or given tentative list-prices.

The turntable wasn't the prototyped but unproduced SP-02 (1978, 50kg platter and 900,000¥ !) but the classic SP-10MK2. its replacement (SP-10MK3) was launched much later, when the entire 10000 / A1 / A2 adventure had been relegated to the catalogs' back pages and the MK2 also came with a "cheap" 250,000¥ tag - almost democratic :)

And as money was getting scarce and the RS-9900US strangely planned from the start in '76/77 to be almost export-only, no specific cassette recorder was designed to fit the A1 / A2 (the extraordinary DD4 motor was finalized but not used commercially) so the RS-M95 was appended in 1979 to this set-that-never-was.

In 1980, the total cost of a complete 10000 ensemble amounted to 5,450,000¥.
Science-fiction indeed and even the 1987 crazy flat panel 2,500,000¥ extravaganza wasn't named 10000 but simply SB-AFP1000... some things you only make once.


Put differently, Technics' 10000s are what only a few, very few, did get between 1977 and december 1983 and what even less people do have nowadays.

If the SP-10MK2 can easily be found, even in its SL-1000MK2 version, the separates remain near-Invisibilia : only five samples for each were spotted during the past decade, among which one in Russia, admittedly bought by the Red Army, and several more in the gulf Emirates some twenty-five years ago.

The RS-1800's production run is completely unknown and so is that for the SB-10000 but should be in the less-than-fifty and less-than-hundred leagues respectively.

As far as I know, only one person on planet Earth has an entire system : SB-10000, SE-A1, SU-A2, RS-1800, RS-M95 and SL-1000MK2.
One only.

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