Vintage Audio
this section covers some restoration work that I did on my vintage HI-FI gear
Article #1 | 07:42 PM Sunday 01/10/2023

Sansui SC-1110: Introduction

Although I have never heard one, I always wanted a Sansui cassette deck. It was only this year that a friend gave me a SC-1110 unit in quasi-poor condition. A big thank you, by the way! In addition, the optical condition is good. I managed to test the thing for a couple of hours and the sound convinced me to invest my time in a complete restoration.

After the first 10 minutes of audition, I popped up the schematic diagram to see what makes it sound so nice. I found that it has only three transistors and a single Dolby IC in the signal path, per audio channel. The schematic is so straightforward and simple that it's almost surreal. It looks like a toy cassette player implementation. However, the audio reproduction quality is almost on par with the better cassette decks.

The mechanical block looks promising and easy to operate. At first sight, the cinematic transmission appears to be a bit complicated. Unfortunately, the magnetic record and reproduce head is not original. This is a bit sad as it was replaced with a Pioneer head of unknown provenience. I will investigate; maybe I can find a source of replacement heads.

The deck has a few additional controls, which makes it a perfect candidate for a rugged playback-only machine. In the long run, that's exactly my intention. A simple playback deck is far better than the more complex AKAI GX-95 machine that I currently use for this purpose.

Internally, this unit was previously repaired butchered. It is functional, though, deemed as good to be sold on the local flea market. My friend bought it a couple of years ago as tested and functional. Well, that is up until it starts chewing tapes. The previous technician replaced some capacitors with Chinese products. Some of the small-signal transistors have been replaced already. VU meter bulbs have been replaced with LEDs.

In all cases, I will do a complete strip down, cleanup, and rebuild; worthy of a Sansui unit.


The following articles are not to be treated as do-it-yourself tutorials on how to fix, restore, rebuild, or improve the unit in cause. This was not my initial intention. But you can consider this whole content as a general guideline, should you decide to launch into such an adventure.

The entire documentation is just a reflection of my work and I cannot be held responsible if you damage your unit, or even harm yourself in the process.

Article #2 | 09:10 PM Sunday 01/10/2023

Sansui SC-1110: Technical Data

This cassette deck has the following technical characteristics.

Track System4 track 2 channel stereo system
Tape Speed4.8 cm/sec
Wow and Flutter<0.08% WRMS
Frequency Response30 Hz - 13,000 Hz (±3dB) - Fe2O3 tape
30 Hz - 16,000 Hz (±3dB) - CrO2 tape
Signal to Noise RatioBetter than 54 dB (no Dolby, weighted) - CrO2 tape
Better than 64 dB (Dolby, above 5 kHz) - CrO2 tape
Heads1 x Permalloy record/playback head
1 x Ferrite erase head
Motors1 x DC motor
SemiconductorsTransistors: 19 / Diodes: 15 / Zener Diodes: 1 / Integrated Circuits: 2
Power Voltage220 V, 240 V at 50 Hz
Power Consumption13 W
Dimensions / Weight160 mm (H), 430 mm (W), 307 mm (D) / 6.8 kg

Article #3 | 10:24 PM Sunday 01/10/2023

Sansui SC-1110: Parts List

I have assembled a parts list for this machine. My restoration touches all of the original transistors and all electrolytic capacitors.

The schematic value corresponds to what normally can be found in the electrical schematic diagrams. The recommended value is what I used as a replacement. The BP inscription signifies a bipolar capacitor. Where I found appropriate, I have chosen a film capacitor replacement instead of an electrolytic. My reasons are reliability in time. Less electrolytic capacitors, less time-ticking bombs.

Descriptions and Parts Listings

There is a spark canceling ceramic disc capacitor installed directly on the mains power switch. In time, this capacitor could develop faults caused by electrical stress.

Mains Power Switch / Chassis
IdentifierSchematicRecommendedMouser Number
C60110 nF / 150 V CERAMIC10 nF / 2 kV CERAMIC75-564R20GASS10

The Power Supply board is coded G-1218 and is located in the upper-left side of the unit, near the power transformer.

Power Supply Circuit Board (G-1218)
IdentifierSchematicRecommendedMouser Number
C601100 uF / 16 V100 uF / 25 V647-UBT1E101MPD8
C602220 uF / 16 V220 uF / 25 V647-UBT1E221MPD8
C6031000 uF / 25 V3300 uF / 35 V647-UHW1V332MHD
C6041000 uF / 25 V4700 uF / 25 V647-UHW1E472MHD

The lead-in and shut-off circuit board is coded G-1230 and is located vertically in the upper-left side of the unit, near the power transformer. It connects to the power supply and the main board through connectors.

Note that the red lines below don't need to be specifically ordered. I did so because I brought some improvements to the original schematic diagram.

Lead-in and Shut-off Circuit Board (G-1230)
IdentifierSchematicRecommendedMouser Number
C60210 uF / 16 V10 uF / 50 V647-UPW1H100MDD
C604330 nF / 50 V330 nF / 50 V FILM80-R82EC3330DQ70K
C605100 uF / 6.3 V100 uF / 25 V647-UBT1E101MPD8
C606N/A470 uF / 16 V647-UFG1C471MPM1TD

The main circuit board is coded G-1217 and contains the vast majority of playback and record circuitry, including the Dolby B signal processing section. In addition, this circuit board implements the VU meter and the headphone amplifiers.

Main Circuit Board (G-1217)
IdentifierSchematicRecommendedMouser Number
C0147 uF / 16 V47 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H470MPD1TD
C0247 uF / 16 V47 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H470MPD1TD
C0510 uF / 25 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C0610 uF / 25 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C1347 uF / 6.3 V47 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H470MPD1TD
C1447 uF / 6.3 V47 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H470MPD1TD
C1510 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C1610 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C1710 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C1810 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C21100 uF / 16 V100 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H101MPD8
C22100 uF / 16 V100 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H101MPD8
C231 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C241 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C233.3 uF / 50 V3.3 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4330Z330J
C243.3 uF / 50 V3.3 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4330Z330J
C2910 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C3010 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C3510 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C3610 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C3910 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C4010 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C43330 nF / 50 V330 nF / 50 V FILM80-R82EC3330DQ70K
C44330 nF / 50 V330 nF / 50 V FILM80-R82EC3330DQ70K
C4547 uF / 16 V47 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H470MPD1TD
C4647 uF / 16 V47 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H470MPD1TD
C4710 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C4810 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C491 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C501 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C5110 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C5210 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C5510 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C5610 uF / 16 V10 uF / 35 V BP647-UES1V100MEM
C611 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C621 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C631 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C641 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C651 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C661 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C671 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C681 uF / 50 V1 uF / 50 V FILM80-R82CC4100AA60J
C7147 uF / 16 V47 uF / 16 V BP647-UES1C470MPM
C7247 uF / 16 V47 uF / 16 V BP647-UES1C470MPM
C75470 uF / 16 V1000 uF / 25 V647-UHW1V102MHD
C76470 uF / 16 V1000 uF / 25 V647-UHW1V102MHD
C601100 uF / 16 V100 uF / 50 V647-UBT1H101MPD8

The construction is straightforward and there are only a handful of parts to be replaced. If the unit is clean, there is no need to disconnect any wire from the main circuit board. In my case, I decided to do a complete disassembly and perform a thorough cleanup along the restoration.

Finally, a piece of advice for those of you that might venture into such a restoration. Do not hurry, take your time and do the job once and for good.

Article #4 | 09:42 AM Tuesday 03/10/2023

Sansui SC-1110: Restoration

Cassette decks from the 1970s are pretty much built for life. They don't have the specifications of a 1980s or 1990s machine, but they sound interesting. The cinematic transmission is mostly based on belts, idler tires, and felt clutches. If well maintained, they can go on forever. The DC motors are simple and still available in new condition. The electronics is generally speaking typical for that era, all transistor-based. Sometimes there are also ICs present, especially for Dolby processing sections.

General Considerations

Working on this unit exposes you to electrical hazards. There are lethal voltages inside.
Severe accidents and possibly death by electrocution might occur. I am qualified and skilled with electronics and I have been doing audio gear repairs for over 20 years. If you lack experience, please take these articles as just a knowledge base. Do not attempt to repair something that you cannot handle as there is a high chance of doing further damage while also possibly suffering accidents.

Good tools are a must for a quality restoration. I use eutectic soldering alloy and a temperature-controlled soldering station equipped with various tip shapes. I a standard and a precision desoldering pumps and desoldering wick in various widths. To clean the flux, I use isopropyl alcohol and high purity acetone.

Empirically, I found that working with a temperature of exactly 300 °C is safe for these vintage printed circuit boards. I have never lifted any pads and I never wait more than a couple of seconds with the hot tip on any pad. While working on the chassis, I use between 360 and 440 °C. Flux fumes are extremely toxic and should be avoided at all costs.

Every replacement part is brand new, from a reputable manufacturer, ordered from the U.S.A., Japan, or Germany. In addition, I only use parts that are suitable in specific circuit sections, after inspecting and comprehending the original schematic diagrams. Last but not least, I have years of experience backing up my choices and actions.

G-1218 Power Supply Circuit Board Restoration

This board is located in the upper-left part of the steel chassis. It's fairly easy to remove as there are only a few wires attached. There is one connector that interfaces to the motor control circuit board. It would've been nice to have connectors for all wires. The PCB is fixed with three screws. First, I removed the motor control board and next I desoldered all wires. The board was then free to be taken to the workbench.

The electrical schematic diagram shows a simple implementation of a classic series regulator circuit based on a Zener diode and a power transistor. There is an additional row of rectifier diodes and a ripple filtering capacitor that provides clean DC power for the motor control board.

Initial condition of this board. Somebody was here before; questionable quality Chinese capacitors signify at least a careless technician.

And what do you know, four lifted pads in a row.

First, everything had to go off the circuit board. I cleaned the PCB thoroughly. I also got rid of the corrosive glue.

On both sides. Unfortunately there is another lifted pad next to one part of a fuse holder. And an ugly longitudinal scratch. Nothing that I cannot repair, though.

Let's take a closer look at the damage.

I'm wondering why somebody would want to remove this part. In addition, why make that ugly scratch?

Next, I cleaned all mechanical parts, installed new Kapton tape under the connector, replaced all rectifier and Zener diodes, and added new Nichicon capacitors. For better thermal dissipation, I decided to reposition the series regulator transistor somewhere on the steel chassis.

The new Zener diode received glass standoffs.

While there was nothing electrically wrong with the old fuses, I decided to replace them as their terminals were very corroded.

Finally, this is the solder side, with all the repairs carried.

Fixed all issues in this area.

As well as this area.

The power supply is now restored. Let's advance.

G-1230 Lead-in and Shut-off Circuit Board Restoration

This is an interesting implementation of an electro-mechanical auto-stop feature, mainly based on a rotating magnetic switch. This circuit also implements the tape lead-in functionality by means of a simple timing constant obtained from charging of a capacitor through a resistor. While the lead-in function is quasi-questionable, the auto-stop functionality implementation is elegant in its simplicity.

This circuit board interfaces the power supply circuit board and the main circuit board through connectors; the same type used in the Sansui AU-20000. In addition, there are a few connection wires directly soldered on pads, located on the PCB outer edges.

This is the initial situation. Thankfully, this circuit board escaped butchering as its position is a bit awkward for non-skilled technicians.

A view from another angle.

I removed all components and cleaned the PCB.

The solder side is in a pretty good condition. No lifted pads and no scratches.

Making progress. I installed new Kapton tape under the connectors and new bridges. Then, I cleaned the original resistors and soldered them in their respective positions.

A view from a different angle better shows the Kapton tape. Very good for preventing the solder to climb on the connector terminals while soldering.

All components are soldered. I added a 470 uF / 16 V capacitor in the previously vacant C606 location. Examining the printed circuit board reveals that C606 is connected between terminals 5 (switched power supply rail) and 6 (ground). These are responsible for providing DC power to the motor. Since terminal 5 connects to terminal 7, a side effect is that once the PS701 relay coil is energized through TR606, upon auto-stop mechanism sequence, the small charge stored in C606 will keep the relay coil energized for a few milliseconds more. This effect is negligible compared to the additional ripple filtering benefit added to the DC motor.

C602 is not critical at all. It is part of the timing constant for the tape lead-in circuit. I specified a Nichicon PW series capacitor in the parts list but I ended up using a KZ series capacitor instead. It's an overkill 10 uF / 100 V rated part. But I just had it in my spare parts box without any other immediate use. I decided to use it in this project.

A detailed view shows that the reverse-biased suppressor diode for the relay coil received glass standoffs. Even though this diode does not get warm at all, I kept a consistent look throughout the various PCBs.

Resistor R614 is used for the tape counter illumination. That small bulb requires a voltage that is not readily present in this unit. Such an implementation is highly inefficient in terms of heat dissipation. I have plans to replace the incandescent bulbs with LEDs (yes, that's a first on Vintage Audio), but for now, I will keep the original 100 Ω resistor and tape counter bulb.

Here is a picture of the solder side after my restoration.

That's it for this PCB.

G-1217 Main Circuit Board Restoration

A classic '70-'80 Japanese cassette tape deck implementation: all circuitry on the same PCB, electrically symmetric but the layout is not. There is a forest of wires connected to this circuit board. Some wires have connectors while others are soldered directly. In addition, another wire loom connects various circuit sections locally in a complicated network. Thankfully, the PCB is clearly marked and each wire is color coded. It took me a while to free this circuit board.

The electrical schematic diagram shows the various construction blocks in a clear fashion. The first stage represents a very simple magnetic head preamplifier that doubles as a microphone preamplifier. It is followed by a single transistor preamplifier stage that couples directly to a textbook (exactly the schematic from the datasheet) implementation of a Dolby B processor based on the NE545B integrated circuit. The remaining blocks represent the record, VU meters, and headphone amplifiers. The bias oscillator, built around a specific component (XO601) and record indicator are depicted in the lower section of the schematic diagram.

This is the whole PCB. Although not visible in the picture, it is dusty. The former technician replaced a couple of transistors with new components. Otherwise, the board is in perfect condition. It is a bit warped but I've seen a lot of warped Sansui boards.

Let's start with the right channel magnetic head preamplifier section. I removed all parts and cleaned the PCB.

I installed new Kapton tape under the tape head connector.

First, I soldered all of the resistors, followed by the various film capacitors. Second, I installed the new electrolytic capacitors. Finally, I added the small-signal transistors, all hand-picked and with the same amplification factor. As always, I used glass standoffs where appropriate. As per my parts list, I used bipolar coupling electrolytic capacitors in the signal path.

Now, my attention shifts to the right channel preamplifier and Dolby B processor.

I removed all components and then I cleaned the circuit board.

On both sides.

Next, I soldered all components back along with the new capacitors.

Following up next is the last section of the right channel signal processing circuitry. This part of the PCB implements the record amplifier, the VU meter driver, and the headphone amplifier.

Again, stripping down all the parts first. The same mixture of isopropyl alcohol and acetone makes miracles on the dust caught within the old flux.

Tracks side looks great. Again, we can see Sansui engineers knew how to design PCBs, almost 50 years ago. Ground tracks from local ripple filtering capacitors emerge radially. In some places they even used guard tracks. Although the effect of each of these engineering bits and pieces is questionable or even measurable, together they contribute to the quality of the audio reproduction.

Both old resistors, coils, and film capacitors and the all new hand-picked hFE matched transistors and capacitors are in position.

Here is a picture with the PCB, halfway rebuilt.

And a view of the restored circuit board section, from another angle.

Let's move to the left channel circuitry. First, the magnetic head preamplifier.

Article #5 | 05:05 PM Monday 23/10/2023

Sansui SC-1110: New Magnetic Heads

I searched high and low for a Sansui 4536020 magnetic head but to no avail. However, I found a small stash of better Sansui heads, designated 4536060. I made an offer and bought them all. Three weeks later, I got the five heads in the mail. They are all new old stock (NOS).

According to my investigations, these heads fit the Sansui SC-1330 cassette tape deck. This means they are suitable for metal tape formulation. I tried to find technical data for these heads but there was none. I will check the SC-1330 schematic diagram because I might need to modify the head preamplifier circuit section a bit.

For now, I will stick with the Pioneer head as it is still good. Once it is completely worn out, I'll start using the improved Sansui heads.

your help matters

Please note that all the work presented herein this site is non-commercial. This is my hobby and I am doing this in my spare time. Through this page I freely share my knowledge with you. But if you like my work, please consider helping me buy a transistor or a capacitor for my projects.

Thank you!

Copyright © 1998- Alexandru Groza