History of Products

History of Products - 1975 - 1987

The History of Natural Sound Speakers (Since 1968)

Herein we will introduce representative products that have shaped the history of Yamaha HiFi audio, such as the JA-0506 full-fledged single aluminum horn tweeter released in 1973, the HP-1 headphones and the masterpiece TC-800GL cassette deck designed by renowned industrial designer Mario Bellini in 1976, and the GT-2000 large heavyweight player, taking its GT moniker from the first letters of the words "Gigantic & Tremendous."


Enthralled the DIY speaker crowd with exhilarating sound and a beautifully shining, precision machined aluminum horn.



The JA-0506 was Yamaha's first full-fledged single tweeter developed with the assumption to work in tandem with the original NS speaker featuring a Styrofoam diaphragm. The horn and equalizer sections were each precision machined from rounded ingots of solid aluminum, ensuring wide directional characteristics and flat frequency response, and with a powerful magnetic circuit featuring a large 40mm diameter magnet it achieved high efficiency of more than 115dB/Wm. Its lightweight, high rigidity hard duralumin diaphragm produced bright, superior sound quality that earned praise as soon as it was released.

With a terminal section directly connected by a banana plug, an adjustable length power plug attachment and a wooden base, it was extremely easy to use as a single unit, seeing duty in both tuning up existing luxury speakers and with high-end amateurs building their own systems in combination with companion NS speakers or third-party woofer units. Even further winning the hearts of audio enthusiasts, the catalog of the time touted its highly textured appearance by saying, "The same ultra-precision machining used to produce musical instruments and engines has been fully turned up."

In addition to the JA-0506 (pictured in photo) making use of a machined aluminum horn, this series also included the JA-0506B, a low-end model with an altered resin-molded horn and omitting the exterior finish and the actual measurement data (priced at 8,000 yen/unit in comparison to the JA-0506's 15,000 yen/unit) that was installed in some NS systems including later NS-30 units and the NS-570.



A turntable made from strictly selected parts carefully tailored for a dignified, luxurious appearance.



Yamaha shot to popularity in the HiFi component world on the success of its "White Wood" (Castor) series of products like the CA-1000 integrated amp (1973) and NS-690 speaker (also 1973), but when it came to turntables its lineup was limited to entry level and intermediate class models having older designs, without a model that could match up with the CA-1000. So when the second-generation "White Wood" series integrated amplifiers such as the CA-2000 and CA-1000III appeared in 1976, three newly designed turntables were introduced alongside of them to be used as a set.

The YP-1000 was the top model of those three. With a direct-drive system, its 20-pole, 60-slot brushless DC servo represented the highest peak specifications of the time. Combined with this were a 31cm diameter turntable precision machined from a single aluminum plate and featuring an embedded thin rubber ring in place of a turntable sheet to highlight the beauty of the background, and highly sophisticated European styling. It also featured first-class equipment considered standard issue among connoisseurs like the Stax UA-7, a tonearm with industry-leading high sensitivity, and the classic luxury MM Shure V-15 Type III cartridge.



An ultimate-class experimental tuner four years in the making.



Up until at least the early 1980's when rental records became common in Japan, an FM tuner that let listeners enjoy stereo sound for free and a tape deck for recording it were important audio sources along with the turntable. In the North America-oriented overseas market, although there was not a culture of recording off the radio, from major cities densely packed with broadcasters to the remotest of locations there was a demand for high performance reception within a wide range of radio broadcast conditions.

However, while the high frequency technology required for tuners was delicate enough that it could not be compared to the low frequency technology of amplifiers and other equipment, it's also true that there was a great disparity between manufacturers. The CT-7000 aimed to put Yamaha, without a history as a communications equipment manufacturer, squarely at the apex of the world of tuners, an outstanding FM tuner that was the product of four years of development. With newly developed measuring instruments to help realize characteristics beyond the limits of measurement, it should be said that the high level of its sound quality anticipated the technology on the way in the near future.

Of particular focus was its practical reception performance under difficult circumstances. It had both low distortion and high effective selectivity, able to distinguish a signal without interference from adjacent stations. It had both the high sensitivity required for reception of weak radio waves in weak electric field areas and compatibility with the allowable inputs on strong electric field regions.

The CT-7000 handled these conflicting requirements at an unprecedented level. Even though it was overkill in the Japanese market where at the time there were only one or two FM stations, in the North American market where high-end tuners had become established as a genre of audio hobby, the advent of this unit rapidly elevated Yamaha's presence.

In particular, its power handling characteristics meant that its audio characteristics did not deteriorate even up to an antenna input level of 146dB, extreme for a tuner, and the advanced sound quality and selectivity produced by its double IF circuit and its overall beautiful design were enough to surprise audiophiles.

The technology introduced in this machine also eventually resulted in improved reception performance in low-cost HiFi receivers, leading to the confidence in Yamaha AV receivers seen in today's markets. As evidenced by the fact that it was the only Yamaha HiFi unit with a "7000" model number, the CT-7000 was a special presence in the Yamaha lineup and not just another component product.



Full drive orthodynamic headphones created through the fusion of the developers' spirit of inquiry and high manufacturing technology.



These headphones were called sensational right from their release thanks to two distinct features. One was the introduction of the "orthodynamic" full drive dynamic sounding body. This features a voice coil printed directly on the diaphragm, sandwiched in front and behind between thin perforated magnets through which sound passes, meaning that because the drive source directly becomes the sound source, divided vibration and transmission loss will in principle not occur.

This line of thought had been around for a long time, but although there were commercial products making use of the concept prior to the HP-1, none had been successful. The reason was simple. Basically, such products were difficult to manufacture, and not much benefit was found to offset the difficulty.

Looking at the HP-1 sounding body again, its diaphragm was composed of 12μ thick polyester, exactly the same as the thickness of a C90 cassette tape. That is, it could be described as an ultra-thin film. On this surface, the voice coil was densely photo-etched in a 250μ interval spiral. The voice coil was further divided into five concentric rings, the winding directions alternating for each section and the magnet likewise divided into five corresponding sections with alternating N and S poles. This meant that through a combination of the curiosity of developers and advanced manufacturing technology, this method could be successfully realized for the first time.

The other feature lies in the simple and practical form commissioned from renowned Italian industrial designer Mario Bellini. Even more than simply the beauty of its appearance, the contact of the ear pads with the ear, twin headbands sharing in supporting the entire headset on the head, and its light, airy fit thanks to a universal joint connection that allowed the ear pad section and headband to move freely must have strongly impressed the meaning of the concept of industrial design upon the audiophiles of the time.

The mid-1970's were a period of exploration seeking the next generation technology to replace the traditional round dynamic speaker. With attention in the high-end scene focused on full drive (planar) speakers, several leading makers introduced condenser (electrostatic) headphones into the market in quick succession. Considering the magnet plate as being replaced by electrodes, in operating principle the HP-1 orthodynamic headphone was very close to condenser models, an ideal method for combining the characteristics of the condenser and the ease of use of the dynamic model, no doubt serving as a demonstration of its own principles. From the catalog of the time, you can see the development team's enthusiasm to try to create something from zero that had never previously been seen anywhere in the world.



Tools taken to the extremes of their essence through the "Bellini Angle."
A masterpiece cassette deck by a world-class designer.



Like the HP-1 headphones, the TC-800GL stereo cassette deck was the product of a creative concept from world-class industrial designer Mario Bellini. Bellini was already known as a big name through his design work on Olivetti typewriters and other projects, and this pioneering collaboration with one of the leading designers in the 1980s drew a great deal of attention.

This unit's greatest feature was its solution to the problem of choosing a stationary or portable cassette deck, a solution that came in the form of a versatile design that seamlessly fused both advantages. Its distinctive form came to be referred to as the "Bellini Angle," a design incorporating exhaustive calculations of every angle so that whether looking down from above or placed at eye level the operating unit's text and readouts, the level meter and the running tape could all be easily viewed. The flap on the rear was retractable for easy portability.

Along with AC it could run on UM2 batteries (nine) or a car battery, giving it three options for power. Enhancements such as mic input and line input mixing function, two-stage peak indicator, limiter for preventing excessive input levels, pitch control and more made it ideal for practical use in live recording and musical instrument practice. Thanks to its large flywheel and high precision capstan axis, it achieved a ‘wow and flutter’ rating of 0.057% or less outstanding for a portable machine and representative of a musical instrument manufacturer, but the inertia of the large flywheel was both a blessing and a curse as it proved unsuitable for recording or playback while walking. For that reason the unit was not equipped with a shoulder strap as to be expected for a portable machine, instead offering an optional attaché-type carrying case.

With a basic one motor, two head cassette deck construction, to be honest it didn't do much to alleviate the impression that it was relatively expensive. But at the same time, the out-of-reach pricing gave it the air of an exclusive item and it came to be idolized and coveted even outside the cassette fanatic scene. At the beginning of the original catalog the following sentence was written: "It possesses a charm that is somehow almost heart-wringing..." which fit the TC-800GL perfectly.

It should be noted that a lower-cost version of the TC-800GL omitting features such as Dolby NR and the 3-power drive was released simultaneously. This model was available with either a black or ivory body color.



The first player equipped with a symmetrical linear arm.
The "dream player" that offered a glimpse of the future.



While a conventional pivot arm moves the onboard cartridge in an arc, a linear tracking arm (tangential arm) moves the cartridge in parallel, like the cutter head used in cutting the master for analog records, resulting in a constant contact angle between the sound groove and cartridge. This is generally considered to produce higher fidelity sound reproduction.

Even in the early 1960s there were already some examples of practical usage, and set against the background of general progress in electronic technology it came back into the spotlight in the mid-1970s. But however it may have been in principle when viewed from a hobby standpoint, the reality was that no linear tracking arm was comparable in sound quality to a superior quality pivot arm.

To break through that status quo, the PX-1 released in 1978 was Yamaha's first linear tracking player with the sound quality potential to match the limits of the tangential arm. The PX-1 was an outstanding player packed with a wealth of features including a 5.6kg carved ultra-duralumin turntable, an aluminum diecast single-piece cabinet and a power supply unit contained in a separate housing. Its total body mass reached 27kg with the power supply making up another 5kg.

However, most of the development resources applied to this unit went into the "symmetrical linear arm" symmetric lightweight high-sensitivity electronically controlled linear tracking arm. The technology was all intended to overcome the weaknesses of conventional linear tracking, to prevent any unbalanced stress on the sound groove under any conditions, and to eliminate vibration and noise associated with the movement of the arm. To achieve these ends, the most advanced control technology and mechanical design were utilized.

Furthermore, the tonearm unit was designed for shell replacement, with a shell-integrated pipe for a universal shell with the best characteristics possible, and an attachment pipe for a general shell. It took into account the enjoyment of the high-level hobbyist. The symmetrical linear arm PX series lineup expanded in 1979 with the PX-2 and again in 1981 with the PX-3, combining with its own sophisticated arm motion to form a unique presence.



A 3-way crossover network that expanded the parameters as far as the imagination could take them.



As part of a series with Yamaha's first HiFi separate amps, the EC-1 3-way crossover network (channel divider) appeared in 1976 after the B-1 Power Amp and the C-1 Control Amp,. At the time, a multi-amp system like the EC-1 using active crossover and multiple power amps was the holy grail of HiFi audio, the ultimate goal of every audio enthusiast.

Having a fully-fledged channel divider in its product lineup was a brand status symbol, and even if demand was low it remained an indispensable marquee item for any maker producing luxury power amplifiers. The crossover network's setup was to decisively influence the tone, and more than with amplifiers or players the manufacturer's ethos was strongly reflected in its functionality and operability. Specifically, they were divided into two main types, one that pursued the sound quality benefits of multi-amps without frequently changing the initial settings, and another that pursued the multi-amp's unique musical expression through active fine-tuning of the settings.

In that sense the EC-1 was clearly the latter. Whereas the former had tended to narrow down the setting functions or purify the signal path, the EC-1 opened up as many parameters as possible, trying to approach an area that was out of reach without active crossover.

Features like a crossover selector that could combine each of five stages of fixed frequencies in the low-mid and mid-high ranges at up to ±0.5 octaves of continuous variation and a Q control that could control disturbances in the peripheral characteristics of the crossover points with a filter Q value (shoulder characteristics) that could be continuously variable in the range of 0.5 to 1 gave users a high degree of freedom to explore their musical sensibilities and audio knowledge as they saw fit.

All with a brilliant exterior design. In contrast to typical active crossover models of the time, which placed the operating unit in a wide panel surface, the EC-1 offered precision and accurate operability reminiscent of a single-lens reflex camera's dials in a sleek panel surface comparable to that of the C-2 control amplifier.



Part of the amplifier circuit was moved to the headshell.
Targeted a degree of purification of the signal circuit with a surprising idea.



Out of a range of audio signals, the output of the MC cartridge is by far one of the weakest and most delicate. It's likely for something as simple as changing a few centimeters of shell lead to alter the sound enough to make you wonder whether it's a different cartridge. When that happens it's natural to start worrying about one thing after another. "Is it the terminal contacts? The lead line inside the tonearm pipe? The cable from the player to the amp?" The lead line in the tonearm normally cannot be replaced, so there is always the suspicion that the original sound of the arm and cartridge is being disrupted in the signal path.

Released in 1979, the HA-2 designed for use as an independent equalizer amp with dedicated MC cartridge line level output presented a surprising solution to the uncertainty present in such analog playback.

As can be seen in the photo, the headshell is located on the side of the body, but in fact a small circuit board called the "amplifier pellet" was attached to the back side of the headshell with the amp's first stage amplifying sections contained within.

The mechanism of this "pure current signal transmission method" configuration could make it possible to transmit the weak MC cartridge output to the bias current step-up amp without negatively impacting the signal path. The specific circuit configuration of the HA-2 was never published, and most of its main circuit was housed in a module encased in epoxy resin.

Thus the HA-2 could not be used without the shell and it was constrained by the specifications (output voltage) of the appropriate cartridges. For a hobby item these constraints could be seen as fatal. However, in terms of actual results the HA-2 became a long-seller for over three years, and in 1982 the HA-3 was released, reducing the unit's price by about half and coming with one headshell (with pre-installed amplifier pellet) and two separate spare pellets that could be attached to the user's preferred shell. The HA-3 continued to be sold until around 1986, leaving a record of seven years of sales performance by the two models.



A lavish but simple masterpiece full range unit that employed a beryllium cap.



Since the introduction of the JA_6002/JA-5002 that were installed in the first natural sound speakers, the NS-30/NS-20, Yamaha has always sold main speaker units separately, targeting high-level amateurs putting together their own speaker systems. In particular, the long hoped-for high-end units featuring the beryllium diaphragm developed for the NS-1000 series and FX-1 attracted worldwide attention, with a full lineup including professional items such as a large sectoral horn driven by two drivers in parallel introduced around 1980.

A particularly bright star in the lineup was the JA-2070, a 20cm full range unit featuring a beryllium center cap. This unit, not actually used in commercial speaker systems, was developed for the DIY enthusiast set. With an aluminum-nickel magnet and specially treated white paper cone diaphragm housed in a 50ℓ bass reflex cabinet, it featured wide-range characteristics capable of full flat playback from around 60Hz to over 20kHz. The JA-2070 model aimed to surpass the JBL LE-8Y, a renowned full-range masterpiece, with modern technology. At 65,000 yen per unit its price greatly exceeded that of the LE-8T. Extravagant while still insisting on simplicity, it remains a hidden gem among Yamaha's speaker units.



In the birth year of the CD, a large heavyweight player that returned to the origins of analog with fully manual operation.



In 1982, the year that saw the debut of the CD, Yamaha's turntable lineup, up to then always following a high technology course, saw a new model that suddenly took analog back to its origin. This was the GT-2000 large heavyweight player, taking the GT part of its name from the first two letters of the words "Gigantic & Tremendous."

While its predecessor PX series had features like a state-of-the-art symmetrical linear arm and feather touch full auto mechanism, the new GT-2000 was a simple manual player with a conventional S-shaped long arm, not even having pitch control. With a density and accuracy on a par with solid wood thanks to a hot forging method, the turntable measured 374mm in diameter and weighed 5.8kg including a 300g rubber sheet. With a unique shape featuring a high outer edge it achieved a massive inertia of 1200kg/㎠. A powerful direct-drive motor boasting startup torque of 2kg/cm made possible a positive and negative two-way servo that could instantaneously apply torque in the opposite direction during both acceleration and deceleration, and when used with the external power supply sold separately it was possible to operate the electronic brake by using the main body power switch as in broadcasting equipment.

Because of the turntable's non-standard size it might be hard to understand its scale in the photograph, but the cabinet measured 545mm wide.

The rounded protrusions in the right front of the turntable were finger rests, positioned to prevent the palm from touching the edge of the large rotating turntable while lowering the needle.

The GT-2000 also made owners swoon with a range of attractive accessories that let them enjoy customizing their units with their own hands. These included the previously mentioned YOP-1 external power supply, the YAB-1 32kg anchor block that held the cabinet from the left and right, the YDS-1 disc stabilizer utilizing a brass platter and electric absorption pump, and the YSA-1/YSA-2 straight tonearm. Also on the accessories list was an 18kg gunmetal turntable that when installed to replace the standard turntable tripled its rotational inertia. The 120,000 yen price tag for this turntable was surprising enough, but a bigger deal was that the GT-2000's motor and bearings were tough enough to handle a turntable three times heavier.

At 138,000 yen (accessories separate) this unit's price could be called reasonable, helping it become a big hit as an analog player in the CD era. While expanding the series, production continued until 1989, and in 1991 it was reissued in a limited edition for 198,000 yen. The GT-2000 had a birch veneer black paint finish, while the GT-2000L model featured a walnut veneer finish and was equipped with an auto-lifter.



A high class speaker stand that luxuriously employed African Paddock, a rare wood used in marimbas.



The SPS-2000, a luxury speaker stand using rare African Paddock wood, was released in a limited edition in 1986 targeting users of the flagship speaker models of that era, the NS-2000/NS-1000X/NS-1000. African Paddock wood used in marimba keys not only sounds good but is strong and heavy, as well as suitably dry and stable, ideal characteristics for a speaker stand that would last as a lifelong audio system companion. This luxury item was possible due to the fact that Yamaha was a musical instrument maker that also handled marimbas. A year later in 1987, the SPS-10000, also made from African Paddock wood, was released as a speaker stand for the NSX-10000 Yamaha 100th anniversary product.



The culmination of the K-1 cassette deck series, maximizing the broadband dynamic range prominent in CD recordings.



Launched in 1978, the K-1 series became Yamaha's most popular cassette deck series, and in 1987 the K-1X and K-1XW became the final models. The exterior of the K-1X was black, while the K-1XW was silver (with wood sides). With a high price tag of 20,000 yen, the K-1XW was positioned as a tuned model featuring a twin transformer with separate audio circuits and mechanisms, audio power condensers, a carefully selected coupling condenser and aluminum legs.

Although its appearance had been redesigned, the ceiling panel that formed part of the identity of the previous K-1 models was maintained, the adjustable knobs for recording volume were also maintained which were the level trimmer placed in the panel and the master fader placed on the panel. The level trimmer was for rough adjustment and the master fader was for fine-tuning and fade-in/fade-out. From this model, the master fader had a dB display vertical slider that provided high operability and give it the feel of a mixing console.

Along with a one-way dual capstan mechanism, the critical factor in sound quality was a combination three head with 0.7μ (play) / 2μ (recording) gap width made of pure sendust produced with Yamaha's traditional high vacuum centrifugal casting process, achieving outstanding high frequency response and dynamic range.

Incidentally, with regard to cassette deck noise reduction, some readers may recall that the late 1970s marketplace was flooded with new methods aiming to become successors to Dolby B. These were eventually divided into two types, the "Dolby B+C" group and the "Dolby B+dbx (type II)" group, of which Yamaha opted for the latter. dbx technology was also proven in the field of music production and it was a natural match for Yamaha's high standards for noise reduction, but as early as the first half of the 1980's it was clear that the former was set to become the de facto standard. Thus in the end Dolby C was added to the K-1X, meaning that combined with Dolby B and dbx it could support all three methods.

When using dbx the S/N ratio could reach 95dB, optimal for CD and live recording if you were not concerned about compatibility. For a few years after the appearance of the CD in 1982, cassette decks were a major success as a tool for recording CDs. Efforts continued to improve their characteristics in order to better support the high sound quality of CDs, and many cassette decks were released in the second half of the 1980's that took sound to extremes. However, with the appearance of DAT in 1987 makers began to reduce their cassette deck lineups, replacing their luxury machines priced over 100,000 yen with DAT units. For Yamaha as well, the K-1X/K-1XW was its last cassette deck unit to cost more than 100,000 yen.