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Gorgeous Realistic STA-2000 Receiver Repair & Service

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

The Realistic STA-2000 sold here in Australia in the late ’70s, through the Tandy Electronics chain. As a kid, I used to hang visit the local Tandy store and marvel at all the wonderful array of electronics for sale. One of my favourite things was my Science Fair 200-in-1 electronics kit, a Christmas present from my parents, purchased from Tandy Electronics.

I was especially interested in Tandy’s hi-fi section, who’d have guessed. 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.

Realistic STA-2000

STA-2000 Roots & Manufacturer Mystery

The STA-2000 has a distinctly Pioneer vibe in terms of aesthetics, but there’s a bit more to it. I was under the impression that Tandy didn’t make their own stuff and that a major Japanese manufacturer OEM’ed this and other models for them. Thanks to Norman and Ed, American readers who worked for Tandy Corporation, we have more information on this, though perhaps still no definitive answers.

Norman told me that the STA-2000 was manufactured by Foster, a Japanese OEM who made speakers, radios and various other electronics for many companies back in the day. This ties in with my thinking at the time. More recently, however, Ed commented that Norman’s information was incorrect and that Tandy did in fact made this and many other models, in their own factory.

It’s difficult to know for certain who actually manufactured these and other electronics for Tandy Corp. Perhaps the only way to know exactly would be to speak to someone who worked in or managed some aspect of the factory back in the day. I’m sure more information will come to light and if you have anything additional to contribute to this story, please do so in the comments, below.

UPDATE! Ed has provided some excellent additional information about which models were made where, and by whom. Ed also provided a link from the Tandy catalogue page about the STA-2000. It clearly states that the STA-2000 was made in Tandy’s own factory, though there’s still some uncertainly around this as some STA-2000s were made in Japan and some in Korea.

Tandy was certainly big enough by this point that they could have either purchased an OEM and called it Tandy, or built their own factory from scratch. Anyway, you can read Ed, Norman and many other people’s contributions in the comments!

Realistic STA-2000 Specifications, courtesy 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.

Realistic STA-2000
Let’s go!
Realistic STA-2000
Nice spacious layout in older gear like this makes it a pleasure to work on.
img 1983
Realistic Quality, love it!
Realistic STA-2000
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.
img 1987
It’s fiddly to remove the module and separate the board and heatsink, but well-designed overall.
img 1986
Out with that noisy differential pair.
img 2015
This pair of transistors was the problem. They tested well, but one or both were noisy. Testing semiconductors doesn’t always reveal their faults. That’s where experience and diagnostics on a the actual unit come into play.
Realistic STA-2000
With the new transistor pair in place, it’s time to adjust DC offset and do a few other service-related tasks…
img 1990
…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.
img 1993
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.
img 1995
I start with a special wood cleaning solution, designed to remove crud and nourish the timber.
img 1997
Better already. Next step involves applying beeswax furniture polish or oil, depending on the finish. In this case, I applied beeswax…
img 1998
After rubbing the wax in and buffing off, the wood’s rich lustre has returned.
img 1999
I think you’ll agree, this looks spectacular. They used really nice veneer on this unit.

Results

This Realistic STA-2000 came up just beautifully after a few hours TLC.

img 2001
Final work on this Realistic STA-2000 involves cleaning the fascia and knobs and putting those gorgeous side panels back on. That’s the job done.

img 2002

img 2003
What a stunning piece, my customer is very lucky to own this Realistic STA-2000.

img 2004

img 2008
Beautiful dial illumination. Don’t anyone try and tell me modern gear looks better than this.

img 2009

img 2010
Wow, the metering on the STA-2000 is just gorgeous.
img 2011
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.

img 2012

img 2014
If you see a Realistic STA-2000 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 Realistic receiver.

Liquid Mike

As a kid, I cherished my Tandy 200-in-1 electronics project lab, Dick Smith electronics kits, my Dad's hi-fi and my own first proper system. Later, I created Liquid Audio to help keep classic hi-fi gear alive and well. Our mission: to deliver TLC for classic Japanese, American and European hi-fi stereo equipment.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Mal

    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. Mike

      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. Norman

    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. Mike

      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. Norman

    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. Mike

      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. Earl Thomas

        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. Mike

          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

  4. DD

    My very first receiver bought with my hard earned money from my very first job.

  5. Gary

    I have a decent example of an STA 2000 – not original owner but have had in my possession for 22+ yrs, just recently the preamp has been on the fritz and the two RCA jacks that held the tape inputs have broken and loosened from the back plate. Wish I knew someone closer to home who could restore her. Anybody know anyone in the states here who could do? Thanks in advance.

    1. Liquid Mike

      Sorry I can’t help with this one Gary but maybe one of my readers can!

  6. Ed Hanlon

    Foster made the STA-90. Sansui made nothing for Radio Shack.

    1. Liquid Mike

      Thanks for the additional info Ed, this is an evolving story where few seem to have all the information, so we are piecing it together as we go. I look forward to hearing from others who have information about Tandy and their manufacturing. In the meantime, I’ll update the article to reflect your comments.

  7. Ed Hanlon

    False info. Tandy Electronics built all of the receivers from this era over 75 wpc. This includes the STA-2000/2000D, 2100/2100D, 2300, 2280, 2290 and their best sounding unit the STA-2200. It says on the back of the 2290 Tandy built it (FCC ID: AGC). I too worked for Tandy, and spoke with Bernie Apel about this in the 90s. In the 1980 catalog, Foster Electric built the STA-95 and STA-800. The rest of the lineup was made by Tandy. That’s why you see on the single page receiver brochures “made by us in our own factory”. Tandy was a higher quality manufacturer than Foster. Richard Schram then from Pacific Stereo had Tandy manufacture both the Quadraflex and high end Concept receiver lineups, stating he thought they did a better job than Foster. Oh, and no STA-2000s were made in Singapore, as Tandy didn’t have manufacturing there. Any receiver from Singapore was made by Foster Electric.

    1. Liquid Mike

      Wow, what a fantastic resource Ed, thanks so much for sharing it! I’ll link to it in the main text if that’s ok?

        1. Liquid Mike

          Thanks Ed, I’ve updated the article to reflect your recent comments.

        2. James phillips

          Hello! Im reading this thread as my STA-2000 says “Custom made in Korea for Radio Shack” a division of Tandy Electronics? And mine is definitely not a “D” version–the plot thickens:)–I’m enjoying the deep dive historically! Thanks to everyone contributing.

            1. James phillips

              Yes, but my STA 2000 says made in Korea NOT made in Japan(as your spreadsheet suggests) so that is the contradiction Im pointing out? I read your spreadsheet and all your comments before I made my post

              1. Ed Hanlon

                Ahhhhh, okay. I have only seen 2000s made in Japan, but my contact in Japan who was the buyer insisted they were made in Korea until I showed him a photo of mine. All of the pics I have seen on eBay say Japan, but if you say yours was made in Korea, I’ll update the spreadsheet. Thank you for the new info.

              2. James phillips

                I’ll post a pic once I figure out how to do you don’t have to take my word for it;)

  8. Norman

    Mike,
    When a company private labels a component (Foster Electric) that company becomes in essence an extension of the company they private label for (Tandy), which is why Tandy could advertise that they were built in their own factory. I also private labeled gear to Tandy and they made the same claim for our products as they did for Fosters.
    I am telling you with OneHundred percent certainty that Foster Electric manufactured this for Tandy. I know, because I was there at both companies.
    Ed, respectfully you are wrong. I worked with Tandy for years.
    Sincerely,
    Norman

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Norman, thanks for the additional info and this makes sense. I’m not arguing with you or Ed, I’m very interested in what you, Ed and anyone else has to say on this topic and find the whole thing fascinating. There is so much discussion over who made various things for Tandy, the comments have only increased the intrigue in some ways!

    2. Ed Hanlon

      Norman, do you deny deny the existence of Tandy Electronics in Japan and Korea? Do you deny they manufactured Realistic receivers?

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