Saturday, September 5, 2009

Receiver - Realistic STA-2250

I bought this, not because of the strong Realistic legacy of producing high-quality audio gear, or because I can't wait to brag to my friends about my new Radio Shack receiver, but because it looked cool. An impulse buy, if you will. I'm a bit disappointed in the FM section of this. It is nearly 30 years old, so perhaps it just needs a tune-up.

Looks nice though, and will look even better after a shine-up. Real walnut veneer side panels - perhaps one of the last years for wood on receivers until Onkyo used it in the mid-80s in its Integra line.

How does it sound? Okay. Didn't blow me away, but I also didn't put much time into critical listening in my garage. On par with a lower-end Pioneer, I'd say. Not too much punch, but 50 watts of fairly clean power should be fine for a small space and a pair of bookshelf speakers.

Not impressed by the speaker terminals though - flat head screw-tight - they're SO 1969! Unless you're McIntosh and can simply get away with user-hostile terminals like that because you're. . .McIntosh (geesh!), you've got to get with the program. C'mon, folks. I suppose they had to make cuts somewhere to afford the wood.

Have any experiences with the Realistic STA-2250? I'd like to hear your story.


  1. This one came from the Golden Age of audio (ahhhh, the days of under-promise and over-deliver!!) when there were horsepower wars - my rated 50 watt will blow the doors off your rated 50 watt in the showroom for the following reason:

    Looking at the sticker on the back, total power consumption for this one is 480 watts max. My resident geek tells me that to calculate wattage on a 2 channel rig, divide the number on the sticker by the number of active speaker terminals, 4 being the usual unless it's a quad. There will be some variance depending on the brand, higher end brands such as Sansui will be more accurate dividing by 3.5.

    In the case of this little Neanderthal, that makes for a roughly calculated 120 watts per channel. And given what they did to my lovely little 75 watt rated Speakerlab 9s - clipping began at half volume - and how they ran a set of vintage KLH model 17s (a great Neanderthal Rock 'n' Roll speaker in it's own right) with a Polk passive sub on the B channel (recommended!) at 110+ dB without distorting a lick, that seems pretty accurate to me.

    My assessment of this rig is there is GOBS of clean power, and a significant array of controls to tune the sound (filters, dedicated midrange control etc.) for vagaries of room acoustics, speaker and wire choice, style of music etc. Excellent and big bang for a small amount of buck.

    Apparently it uses MOSFET technology (too lazy to Google it, look it up and get back to me...) which makes it considerably lighter (about 30 pounds as it sits...) than others of that power output and, more importantly, it will run considerably cooler than other beasty amps of that size.

    I would say the ideal use would be for long periods of high volume, and would recommend running a set of warm speakers with it such as Sansui sp1500s.

    Feel like a total genius running a sexy but smaller set of mains (Epicure 5) with a sub on the B channel, it really makes a difference for those of us who need to sneak our system by someone who actually cares about how much the stereo takes over their living room.

    Was also not impressed with the radio, sounded kind of thin and flat, but didn't bother to get it tuned as the same corporation owns 28 radio stations in my town and they all suck anyway...besides, there's plenty of inputs to run a docking station (get one that pulls the signal from the docking port, not the headphone jack) and a laptop to play Pandora with.

    Cool site, man. It's not just about the music, it's all the cool stories behind the music!


  2. I pulled our STA-2250 out of storage last weekend as I was looking for a receiver to power a pair of patio speakers during parties. This particular amp has been in our family since new (circa 1980), and from memory, was mated to a set of Optimus T-110's, an SCT-29 logic controlled 3 head tape deck and later, a CD-1000 CD player from 1984. It spent a good deal of time playing back my brother's extensive LP and CD collection through the 80's and 90's, not to mention my dad's Tchaikovsky CD collection, especially the 1812 Overture and those incredible cannons!

    30 years on and the wood looks to be well worn, the silver fascia is slightly tarnished, especially around the tuning buttons, but when I fired her up, she sung like a brand new unit! NO pot or switch crackling (probably due to my being an electronics tech from a young age and always filling those pots with contact cleaner), and the quality was just as I remember. Even the FM tuner which I recall as being quite remarkable, worked flawlessly.

    Do they still build them this well these days?

  3. Just rescued one of these from the Salvation Army thrift store a few weeks ago. I haven't messed with it yet. These are "Lighter" because of MOSFET technology? Good God! The thing 'bout gave me a hernia getting it to the the car...and in the house! I'm planning on using it as a replacement for a dead unit in a rad looking Danish Modern style console. It sounded fine in the shop...hope it sounds even better in the all wood console! See it on my blog tomorrow morning!

    Mr. Modtomic

  4. My husband and I have been doing some research, and have been thinking about putting patio speakers in our backyard. All five of my daughters are dancers, and they love to go outside at night and dance together. Being a dancer myself, I love seeing my daughters dancing together and having such a great time doing the same thing that I love doing. My husband and I thought that it might be a sweet surprise if our girls actually had music to dance to. Are there any places, both online and in store in the Salt Lake City are that sell, high quality patio speakers that have good sound, but are at the same time affordable?

  5. A little late I fear, but I recommend these Dayton IO520B. They are very affordable at $85.40 a pair. They won't rock the neighborhood, but they should sound great in the background/accompaniment role.

  6. Man, the STA-2250 was my childhood. My grandfather gave it to me when I was just a kid and I've been using it every day up until yesterday when it finally gave out. You will be missed! ..seriously though, I cried, that thing was my baby.

    1. Justin I got one for sale. Excellent condition.

  7. I just bought one at the thrift store. It looks like it just came out of the box. I don't think it was used at all.
    Sounds great looks great but, Left channel much louder than right have to turn balance knob 3/4 to right to balance. Why would this be.

  8. I bought one of e-bay recently. I wanted a silver face receiver with FM presets. Upon startup heard buzzing inside then finally stopped and played. I got most of my money back then cleaned power switch with Deoxit and Magic! I still need to fix memory presets but it sounds great and looks beautiful~

  9. Well, I picked one of these up, kind of on a lark, because it was on the way on a long-distance run to get a pair of Wharfedale towers. The woman said that it was the STA-2200, but it was the 2250. I didn't have time to look it up, but after driving there, I figured, "What the heck."

    To say that I'm pleased would be an understatement. I have been running this thing through the Wharfedales (Modus 8), a pair of Advent Maestros (yeah, Jensen-era, but they sound great), NEAR 20s, Paradigm 5SEs, Polk 7Bs, Polk 4s, Advent Mini-Towers, JBL LX44s . . . makes all of them sing as well as they're able.

    I remember reading the Radio Shack catalog, and remember that the audio magazines often praised the value represented by their gear. Right now, I've got in my stack a Yamaha T-550/A-550 combo, a Marantz MR220, a Pioneer SX-1000TW, a JVC JR-S61H. It sounds as good as any of them.

    Unknown should clean the potentiometers with DeOxit. There are a lot of YouTube videos to help you.

    As Bleedshawksblue notes, at the time, it was a cachet for manufacturers to UNDERSTATE the actual RMS wattage of their receivers, and there were feds watching, too. The actual output of this unit into 8 ohms is probably about 65 wpc. You can read a contemporary review of the unit here:

  10. I've got one of these, and I think it's great. It will drive power into 2 ohms.Those 50 wpc into 8 ohms are very conservatively rated. I measure more like 63.5 wpc. The tuner's kind of a pain in the ass, but then, I don't use the tuner much. I think it gives very detailed, wide-spectrum sound. It's built like a brick sh*t house. I think it was probably actually manufactured by Foster. A keeper.



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