Retro and budget home hi fi

Hi folks, I recently purchased the above AIWA system, in need of a bit of tlc. Sorry for Internet pic but everything isn’t together yet. I will post more pics as I get chance. The tape deck, in itself an incredible piece, is at the hi fi shop having a full set of drive belts fitted. I have wanted this particular set up for ages and have been on the look out for one. This popped up in Bristol, I’m in Leeds, with vendor willing to post but I felt it was prudent to collect myself. So, 10 hours and over 500 miles later, it was home 

There were two versions, the H suffix to the unit model numbers denoted the inclusion of rack handles. From the advert pictures, none were showing but when I got there to collect, the vendor said there were some wall mounting brackets but they weren’t sure how they fit? In a little box were three out of four sets of the handles and it was a genuine ‘H’ set up. I was well pleased, but where was the missing set of handles? Vendor said if they found them, they would post on to me, guess what? They found them last week and sent them to me! How good was that?

Now to the good stuff;

the main units are,

  2. AIWA SDL 22 SINGLE CASSETTE PLAYER/RECORDER WITH DOLBY B ( predates any other Dolby type, B being the first version)
  6. AIWA SCE 11 BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS (die cast metal bodies)
Back in the day (in this case 1979) AIWA made some really good stuff and this is no exception. Very heavy for a "mini" size system. Actually total 21 kilograms! No lightweight then despite its size  Dimension of each main unit are only 210mm wide (excluding rack handles) and 71mm high, speakers only 120mm wide and 187mm high but weigh 5.8 kilograms the pair!

The not quite as good stuff;

  1. Cassette deck required a service and the total of four belts changing, best left in the capable hands of a specialist.
  2. One of the 4" woofers has blown its foam surround. Repairable but I've temporarily installed a pair of JVC units of comparable spec.
  3. The Shure stylus (not high end) was kaput, the MM cartridge was fine, bought a replacement stylus and also a Goldring E3 MM cartridge (again not high end) and stylus for the spare headshell. There is actually a socket on the turntable deck to store it! Also the original 45rpm adapter for this unit. (it has a specific slot cut out for storage under the tone arm rest).
I love stuff like this, TBH, couldn't have afforded to buy almost forty years ago, although I can now enjoy it fully. Hopefully, the cassette deck will be back before Christmas to join the rest of the set up. 

Finally, Mrs B didn’t know what to buy me for a Christmas box so has paid for all this stuff instead  




well done barrie on tracking this down, i hope it gives you many hours (and yrs ) of pleasure , mrs B is a diamond

Good stuff Barrie.

Still have my Thorens TD160/SME improved/ Audio-Technica moving coil, Mission 770’s, Nakamichi tape & amp.

Maybe need to look at the record deck rubber belt. It’s been there since 1977/8.

Thanks Geoff as I said previously, love this sort of stuff, the other thing is, I dug out an old Sony mini system I’ve had in the loft forever. It’s the same width as the AIWA stuff, although twice the height with no RCA outputs so bought a line level adapter, used the speaker outs from the Sony into this and then the RCA outputs to the preamp. I now have tuner/tape/phono/CD/minidisc and Spotify from the phone into one of the auxiliary inputs with recording onto minidisc or tape!  The AIWA stuff is all solid alloy fronts but the Sony is plastic, still alloy silver coloured though bought a pair of Mourdant Short M10’s to use so now have selectable stereo sound from front or back of the lounge (or both)  Don’t tell Dawn how good she is though, she might get ideas above her station 



Now that sounds like a system!  I tentatively took the casing off the cassette deck, having ordered a set of belts from Germany. I quickly put it all back together and sent it off for repair. The belts ( well, the one I could actually get to ) had turned into a bitumen like, sticky mess



Slightly better picture of main units 



1 Like


Thanks Geoff as I said previously, love this sort of stuff, the other thing is, I dug out an old Sony mini system I’ve had in the loft forever. It’s the same width as the AIWA stuff, although twice the height with no RCA outputs so bought a line level adapter, used the speaker outs from the Sony into this and then the RCA outputs to the preamp. I now have tuner/tape/phono/CD/minidisc and Spotify from the phone into one of the auxiliary inputs with recording onto minidisc or tape!  




 i still struggle to use my phone 



" i still struggle to use my phone "

and here’s me thinking I was the only technophobe!  TBH, that’s why I love the analog stuff, a switch here, a knob there, physical connections etc 


The oldest units I’ve got and still use are a Garrard 401 turntable/SME 3009 SeriesII improved arm/Shure V15 II cartridge in a SME plinth unit, a Leak Delta 75 receiver/amp., and a pair of Leak 600 floor standing speakers, all bought new December 1972!  The stuff in between and additional is a bit more modern.  Never got seriously into tape, always seemed to have problems with it.  And this modern all digital stuff, streaming etc., can’t get enthusiastic about that at all!

Enjoy yours Barrie, it looks to be an excellent buy!

 What happened to the eight cassette machine ? Come to think of it where is the beta max player ?

Ironically, my surname is Leak  we used to have a couple of point one amps at home as a kid, can’t remember the set up though. Don’t think I’m related 


Some great stuff that just didn’t make it. I mentioned minidisc, another one that fell out of fashion. 



Nice one Barrie, I bought a later version some years ago, everything combined in one unit, except the record deck, which is separate. It has a R/W cassette deck and a playback deck, so I could load both units and record one to another (blank tape)

Only problem is, neither cassette deck seems to work now, though I haven’t tried it lately - my brand of music offends 'er indoors, so I’ll think I’ll move it into this room - my late mothers granny flat - which is now my work room. Something has to go, to make some space.

Still have an old Goodmans 20W per channel solid state amp, with a Garrard high-end record deck and Wharfedale speakers, which also needs to go. - My son in his younger days had a fish tank, quite big and heavy, and despite me telling him if he ever needed to move it, to ask for some assistance, he thought he could manage alone. Crash - bang! The tank was in pieces on the floor, and also tore the grille cloth on one of the Wharfedales, fortunately not badly, but in effect ruined the appearance overall. The fish? Gasping for breath, lay floundering on the carpet - went Into a spare empty bottle, but no good place to keep them, so they died. That full set went into storage eventually, as the cabinets I made (mackled together - I ain’t no cabinet maker) were relocated when we moved into this house, banished forever! One is now in my bedroom, and the other in this room. Music was part of my life, and for many years I’ve been without it, other than my wife playing the piano, rehearsing for another concert (She’s back-up for a male voice choir) and none of it is music to my ears. Radio ain’t what it used to be either.

My son a while back introduced me to FIP - A French music station which is online (google it) - and while they tend to cover a wide band of music, they often play good old R&R, - they also play swing, old and modern jazz, and more listenable music than most stations here do. You’ll even get Stephan Grappely with the old French swing group, which I find refreshing, though some would say “antiquated”!
“Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be!”

Nice one Gerry

I used to have a 7:1 system, all powered by a massive pioneer AV Reciever, 150w per channel, a couple of reasonably large Sony speakers with a pair of Sony bookshelf speakers joined and wired together for the front centre. A big pair of Eltax floor standers at the back and a pair of Eltax bi-pole side firing ones along each side wall. All finished off with a 10" down firing active sub! That system rocked!! Mrs B sort of made me get rid as you couldn’t move for speakers and wires  The solution was to get a soundbar with Bluetooth and detachable rechargeable speakers so you can have 4:1 surround sort of. It’s quite good actually (Phillips Fidelio B5) 

partly why I now have this AIWA separates system, doesn’t take up much room in a storage unit I have as part of a “TV wall” I built when we sorted the lounge out. I’ve managed to conceal the rear (set B) speaker wires and the fronts (set A) along with the FM ribbon aerial are concealed behind this false wall. It’s got past inspection anyway 

As said love all the older stuff and thanks for posting Gerry.



Ah happy memories!  Good old analogue!  I made good pocket money from my amps and speaker designs.

The best ever car cassette player I had was made by Aiwa.  Unfortunately my old Ford could be opened by any key at all, and the Aiwa system was nicked when the car vanished from near work.  Fortunately I got the car back because it had zero petrol, a very pessimistic gauge and a good locking filler cap.

My hifi includes a Garrard 301 (modified for no motor vibration), 12" SME and V15 III on a non-resonant platform floating on a wall mount, and all home-designed and made electronics.  Various speakers used over the ages (from sublime transmission line horns to frankly ridiculous ultra-cheap 1/4" ply boxes when poverty stricken), currently my refurbished old 1966 Goodmans Maxims are hidden away in the bookshelves.  Some 1950’s valve Quad stuff is tucked away in storage accumulating value - it took up too much space and electricity and while the enormous old ‘radiator’ speakers sound fantastic they are not allowed in the living room.

The excellent surround system however, while also concealed, is cheap and digital, Logitec 906, currently at a bargain price because it will soon be discontinued (was down to 150 a couple of weeks ago).  It has the great merit of being able to extract surround sound even from ordinary stereo TV, and this is genuine surround you can walk through, unlike the con of a sound-bar.



Ah! I guess you’re talking about the Quad Electrostatic speakers.  They, together with the Quad 404(?) pre-amp and amp were my “dream” system in the late 1960’s which I never got because A) It was too expensive for me at the time.  B) Our living room was far too small for those speakers!  What memories!

The transistor Quad power amps were not quite as reliable as the valve ones, and had a different sound.  We used the 50 series driving most of the speakers at work and were forever replacing power transistors and dropper resistors in them, eventually I found a better power transistor as an upgrade mod and all the problems vanished.


Just found an old Quad ad. I’d kept, it was the 33/303 combination I was looking at back then, and that was a transistor outfit too.

My speakers look like these,

The amps are Quad 2 (mono with KT66 valves) and the mono pre-amps and tuners are contemporary.

I think the 33/303 was the best early Quad setup, transistor or valve. 

The follow-on versions (4- 5-) pushed the technology a bit too far.  The power transistors used to suffer from ‘second breakdown’ even though it should never have come close to the limits in the specification.  Except they forgot about what happens with an inductive load (eg a big efficient speaker with a really strong driver (ie motor) on the end of a lead).