Gorgeous Realistic STA-2000 Receiver Repair & Service

Wow, take a look at this beautiful old girl. This Realistic STA-2000 is definitely one of the prettiest receivers I’ve had the pleasure of working on. Check it out.

The Realistic STA-2000 sold here in Australia through the Tandy Electronics chain, in the late ’70s. As a kid, I used to visit the Tandy store near my home and marvel at all the wonderful electronics for sale. One of my favourite toys was a beloved Science Fair 200-in-1 electronics kit Mum and Dad gave me for Christmas, from Tandy Electronics.

I was especially interested in Tandy’s hi-fi section (you’d never have guessed, right..?). I had a small pair of Realistic speakers and lusted after the legendary Mach One speakers proudly on display at my local store, probably not far away from this old girl.

The STA-2000 has a distinctly Pioneer vibe, but there’s more to it than that. Tandy never made their own stuff, so one of the major Japanese manufacturers made this and other models for them.

Well, thanks to Norman, an American reader who worked for Tandy Corporation in Dallas, I can now reveal that this model was made by Foster, in Japan. Foster is a famous Japanese OEM who made lots of speakers, radios and it turns out, receivers for Tandy and others. You can read Norman’s contribution in the comments below.

Specifications, thanks to HiFi Engine:

Tuning range: FM, MW
Power output: 75 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)
Frequency response: 15Hz to 25kHz
Total harmonic distortion: 0.25%
Signal to noise ratio: 70dB (MM), 75dB (line)
Dimensions: 19.25 x 16.5 x 6.25 inches
Finish: silver front, walnut veneer side panels
Year: 1977
Price: USD $499.95 (1978) = USD $2118 in 2018!

Service & Repair

This STA-2000 arrived with a broken left channel, stiff tuning and looking a little dull. I replaced a noisy transistor differential pair using high-spec parts, similar in performance, but with a much higher voltage rating. These won’t fail again and I’m happy to report the unit is now singing again and back with her happy owner.

Let’s take a look and check out some of the extra little things I do when working on vintage hi-fi gear.

Let’s go!
Nice spacious layout in older gear like this makes it a pleasure to work on.
Realistic Quality, love it!
Two amplifier modules, top left, generous transformer top right. Middle left is the phono pre, next to it some power and protection stuff, next to it the filter capacitors. Bottom left is the RF front end, and next to it, the tuner board. There are some power and preamp elements hidden underneath.
It’s fiddly to remove the module and separate the board and heatsink, but well-designed overall.
Out with that noisy differential pair.
This pair of transistors was the problem. They tested well, but one or both were noisy. Testing semiconductors doesn’t always reveal the faults. That’s where experience and diagnostics on a running unit come into play.
With the new transistor pair in place, it’s time to adjust DC offset and do a few other service-related tasks…
…like lubricating the many moving parts in the tuning mechanism, switches and controls. This work makes all the difference. Prior to lubrication the tuning, for example, was stiff and noisy, now it’s buttery-smooth and spins for ages when you twirl the knob.
Cleaning and waxing these walnut side panels really enhances their appearance. Few other repairers take the time to do this, but in my mind, it makes all the difference.
I start with a special wood cleaning solution, designed to remove crud and nourish the timber.
Better already. Next step involves applying beeswax furniture polish or oil, depending on the finish. In this case, I applied beeswax…
After rubbing the wax in and buffing off, the wood’s rich lustre has returned.
I think you’ll agree, this looks spectacular. They used really nice veneer on this unit.

Results

Final work on this unit involves cleaning the fascia and knobs and putting those gorgeous side panels back on. That’s the job done.

What a stunning piece, my customer is very lucky to own her.

Beautiful dial illumination. Don’t anyone try and tell me modern gear looks better than this.

Wow, the metering on the STA-2000 is just gorgeous.
They really don’t make radios like they used to. There’s something tactile about weighted tuning and illuminated dials that creates a feeling of magic with older gear.

If you see one of these for sale, please just buy it, or at least tell me about it so I can!

Get in touch if you’d like me to service or repair your vintage receiver.

8 thoughts on “Gorgeous Realistic STA-2000 Receiver Repair & Service”

  1. Wow, definitely a ‘Pioneer’ look to that one and check out the triple gang tuner, they don’t make them like that any more…nice one

    1. Hi Mal, thanks for commenting and I hope all is well. I agree 100%, this unit represents everything I think we all love about vintage gear like this. There’s just something great about it and the fact that it can be easily serviced and repaired, all these years later.

  2. Mike,
    Foster Electric now Foster/Fostex manufactured those for Tandy. I worked with Tandy for years. Quality was first rate. Each of my two sons use the STA-2000. They have functioned now for over 40 years without even one issue. Thinking of my personal extensive audio collection, that is not something I cannot say about too many pieces I have owned over the years.
    The original STA-2000 are the ones to have. Later production was moved to Taiwan and Singapore using third party manufacturing. Quality then suffered somewhat. Those built in Japan directly by Foster are stellar!
    Norman

    1. Hi Norman, thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting. I knew Foster OEM’ed speakers, speaker drivers and even radios for Tandy, but I wasn’t aware they made these receivers as well. Having said that, I guess it’s not a big stretch from radios to receivers. Is it verified somewhere that Foster made these units? Fascinating stuff and thank you very much for the insight!

  3. Mike,
    I really dont know how we’ll known it is. I knew from working with Tandy coroporate in Dallas. I believe that Foster also built the Stereotech 1200 line for McIntosh around the same time. That should give you an indication of their quality control.

    So many used to think that Pioneer built these because of the silver face look.

    For what it’s worth, Sansui actually built the Realistic STA-90, and Telefinken did one too but I can’t remember which.

    Norman

    1. Fascinating stuff Norman, thanks for the additional information. I’ll update the article now to include what you’ve mentioned here. The Pioneer link is often suggested due the silver faceplate and much more than that. The knobs and switches are very similar and the wooden side panels, meters and other styling cues in the faceplate are remarkably Pioneer-like. Who knows, perhaps Foster made parts like these for Pioneer, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I’ve just updated the article to reflect your input, thanks again Norman!

      1. Hi Mike:

        Great site! I have a couple of good stories related to the 2000. First I was a Radio Shack employee and manager by the time I was 19. In 1978 as a salesman Radio Shack had a contest. Sell the most sound of gold systems and win a trip to Mexico! The system had the wonderful STA-2000 like Mike brought back to life. A pair of Mach One’s and the Lab 200 turntable (BIC made) all for only $799! I missed winning the contest by one! I got a plaque! lol! FYI there’s a great site on the web called Radio Shack Catalogs. Many years if not all RS Catalogs for your viewing. Google it.

        My second story is amazing but true. When I later managed the Radio Shack on 14th/F St in DC two blocks from the white House I had a guy that loved reggae. He had a BGW 750 (375X2) and wanted to hear it connected to the Mach One’s. So I hooked it up and cranked it with some Yellowman. It was great. Tons of clean power and great driver control. I showed him on the meters “don’t go past here” and he said OK. A month later after having a party he told me his story. “We had a party and you know Mon, somebody turn it up too high”. He explained how with the grills on the woofers caught on fire, then the grills and in the overfilled room the best option was to open the windows and throw them out the second story window! I took a picture then, like 81? I wish I had it. The cabinets kinda held up mostly but no longer usable. Lots of fire damage on the driver and baffles. He actually bought another pair and had no problems after. I think they were all pretty wasted-lol.

        Earl Thomas

        1. Hi Earl
          Thanks so much, I really appreciate you taking the time to share these amazing stories. Great memories there about the Lab-200 (BIC) turntable and sound of gold systems. Your second story is an absolute classic. Someone always crosses that line and turns it up. Wish you still had that photo, if you ever find it, I’ll post it here!
          Mike

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