Sharp VZ-V20R Review (Vintage): A portable device with built-in vinyl

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A portable device with built-in vinyl, which is played from both sides without flipping the record, with a decent cassette deck on board and a tuner, is already something special, and the red version is also a collector’s rarity. But let’s first deal with the model range of this radio tape recorder, in order to bring some clarity from the very beginning.

Only three options were produced:

1. Export version – Sharp VZ-2500 . The body color is silver, the woofers and tweeters are gray. Power supply is universal: 110 – 220 V. Tuner 88-108 MHz.

Sharp VZ-2500:

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2. Version for the domestic Japanese market – Sharp VZ-V20 . The body color is silver, the woofers are red. Power supply only 100 V. Tuner with extended range 76-108 MHz.

Sharp VZ-V20:

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3. Limited edition version for the Japanese domestic market – Sharp VZ-V20R . The body color is red, the woofers are red. Power supply only 100 V. Tuner with extended range 76-108 MHz.

Sharp VZ-V20R:

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There are no other models in this case. Reds are rare only because fewer have been produced.

All three visited me on the “operating table” and had the opportunity to compare them in sound, in configuration, in appearance.

There is an opinion that the equipment for the Japanese domestic market is made on better quality components – using the example of these three radio tape recorders, I can say that their filling is absolutely identical. They sound, after carrying out the same restoration procedures, also approximately the same, but in appearance, it seems to me, the 100 V versions for the domestic market of Japan clearly win. The export version looks like a gray mouse, however, with a normal tuner. A tuner with an extended range is inconvenient, since too wide a range and a lot of FM stations fit on a short scale – it can be difficult to catch something specific. However, this is better than the purely Japanese FM band.

My friends, collectors of vintage equipment, at some point aroused nostalgic feelings in me and, using their experience of buying at auctions, bought myself a silver VZ-V20.

Sharp VZ-V20:

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More precisely, they did everything for me, I just gave the money. Naturally, even devices with good cosmetics come from auctions in a rather deplorable technical condition (especially complex models), so I spent a couple of weeks restoring the radio. I replaced the mains transformer for 220 V. When I finished everything and put it in a prominent place in the kitchen, then there was almost no limit to my joy. Why almost? Because from the inside I was gnawing at a small worm that wanted exactly the same, only red :))). Even the terrible information that over the past two years (then there was 2015 in the yard) at all auctions in the world Sharp VZ-V20R appeared only 4 times, my “worm” for some reason did not convince. However, he told his friends about the Wishlist of his inner “pet”. I have good friends. One fine day, or rather at half past one in the night, I got a call and announced that a red Sharp appeared on Injapan, not outwardly broken, only completely faulty – take? Of course, take it! This is the best option for me – there are fewer competitors at the auction and the price is lower, and you can personally restore any one for yourself if the case is in excellent cosmetics. The auction was successful (at night), and the machine headed in my direction. A completely faulty Sharp VZ-V20R with delivery cost 43,000 dollars, which was twice as expensive as a practically worker in silver, but my dream began to come true. and the apparatus headed in my direction. A completely faulty Sharp VZ-V20R with delivery cost 43,000 dollars, which was twice as expensive as a practically worker in silver, but my dream began to come true. and the apparatus went in my direction. A completely faulty Sharp VZ-V20R with delivery cost 43,000 dollars, which was twice as expensive as a practically worker in silver, but my dream began to come true.

As a teenager, in the mid-80s, listening to Spring-205, I dreamed of a two-cassette Sharp, like many of my other peers, and the Sharp GF-777 was just the ultimate dream. We simply did not know that there are such radio tape recorders with a vinyl player :).

What is Sharp in this series? In fact, for 1982 the device is more than advanced.

Common parameters. Taken from the Sharp VZ-2500 service manual:

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1. The built-in turntable is microprocessor-controlled and can play both sides of a disc without opening the lid or flipping the record. This is achieved by placing two tangential tonearms inside the case and inside the door opposite each other, on both sides of the plate. Each tonearm has its own Audio-Technica ATN-95 head with an elliptical tip. This head, albeit a budget one, is quite decent in sound and is often used by lovers of analog sound in stationary audio systems. The turntable can play one side, an entire record, or loop a vinyl disc, depending on the program selected. It is also possible to navigate through tracks – you cannot select a track by pressing a button (like on CD), but you can move the head to the left or right by pressing the corresponding buttons, and selecting the start position of the desired track. True, through the glass of the track of the plate you can not see very well.

The turntable is designed to work with both mains and battery power, but not by weight – it must always stand on the surface.

Sharp VZ-V20R with New Audio-Technica ATN-95 Needle Kit:

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From the LP, you can record to the built-in tape recorder or to an external recording device from the available line-out with RCA connectors.

LP turntable parameters:

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2. The tape recorder is equipped with a high-quality tape drive mechanism (LPM), with a heavy metal flywheel and “Soft touch” control. The tape drive mechanism of this type is in no way inferior to the characteristics of CVLs installed in stationary cassette decks of the budget Hi-Fi audio segment. The tape recorder has a full hitchhiking, automatic search for the next piece of music by pause, can play and record on three types of tapes – Fe, Cr and Metal. Equipped with a Dolby B noise reduction system. The technical parameters are quite high – almost like an entry-level cassette deck.

Tape recorder characteristics:

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3. Tuner FM \ AM analog, without any bells and whistles. The sensitivity is good, the stereo mode is confident. But, as mentioned above, if the FM range is extended, then it is not very convenient to tune the stations, because they are very close to each other on the scale. Below are the tuner parameters from the service manual for the VZ-2500 model.

Tuner parameters:

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4. The built-in amplifier has a very decent output power for a radio tape recorder, a built-in microphone input, a music mixing mode with a voice, a split tone block, a balance, a loudness control, a line output and a headphone output. There is a linear input with RCA connectors – you can send a signal from any external sound source.

Amplifier parameters:

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5. The built-in speaker system is two-way and has the following parameters:

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However, all these characteristics and operational parameters can take place only in a fully restored and adjusted device according to the service manual. When I unpacked my red Sharp, I found that one turntable head was broken, the other was missing at all, the tape recorder showed no signs of life, the power amplifier microcircuit had burned out, the woofer suspensions were stiff, etc. etc. That is, only the red corps was alive :). By the way, it is worth noting that scratches and abrasions are much less terrible for a red case – the plastic itself is red.

In general, having thoroughly tinkered with the tape recorder, having invested about 20,000 dollars in it, it was possible to bring its technical condition back to normal. At the same time, the native 220 V power transformer was rewound, since I do not like the presence of all kinds of external adapters and adapters in home equipment. I will not describe in detail all the work carried out and the replacement of parts, but I will say one thing – it was worth it.

Within a couple of months I had two Sharps at once and I could choose which one to keep for myself. We thought for a long time and still left the red one:

Sharp VZ-V20 R, Sharp VZ-V20:

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What about the sound of the restored Sharp VZ-V20R? If we compare it with the Sharp GF-777, then I will say right away – of course, the VZ-V20 does not have such sound pressure and such powerful bass as the 777. But the sound is noble, balanced and does not irritate the ear up to a decent volume. True, before the elasticity of the woofer suspensions was restored, with the help of impregnation with a silicone-based composition, the sound was without bass and in places nasty at any volume. More than once I have come across statements on the Internet that all Sharp VZ series radio tape recorders sound “not very” – I think that the wave of restoration has not reached the speaker suspension.

Kitchen monster 🙂 Sharp VZ-V20R:

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Now, this collector’s miracle has been working as a kitchen radio for several years now, it brings culture shock to some guests, actively annoys and envies collectors who are naively asking to sell the device. And I really like that at any time you can even listen to vinyl in the kitchen, which I do quite often – it does not spoil records, you can also put on expensive editions.

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