Radford STA 25 power amplifier, and its stablemates, mainly the STA 15, and STA 100, (otherwise known as STA15, STA25,STA 60 and STA100 - also the SCA 30 and the SC 24/SPA 50
All repaired equipment guaranteed 12 months,
(obviously excludes repairs carried out free of charge!).
Favourite power amplifiers include the Radford STA15, (STA 15), STA25, (STA 25) and the rest of the STA range. Also the SPA 50 and other SPA power amplifiers. Pre-amplifiers include the SC22 and SC24. The favourite integrated amplifier is the SCA30. Tuners include the FMT1, FMT2, FMT 3.
How do you go about having a piece of Radford equipment repaired here at London Sound?
And what is our interest and connection with the company - by Mike Solomons.
Don't want to wade thru the lot? Email Mike Solomons with your queries at:-
Emails usually replied in one hour during shop hours
The picture above is me in the workshop at the back of our shop, with the computer that you'll be emailing to in the background, (well, actually the old computer - we've updated twice!).
I was in my early 20s when I first came across Radford tuners, amplifiers and loudspeakers - at that time, they were greatly prized as very high quality units - and very, very expensive. Now many of the early Radford units are regarded as timeless classics, and still compare very favourably with today's equipment. Arthur Radford, a brilliant man, ran a company way ahead of its time!
And what are the favourites?
Let's look firstly at the valve equipment, which is mainly from the 1950's and 1960's:-
The number one favourite - the Radford STA 25 power amplifier and its stablemates, mainly the STA 15, STA60 and STA 100, (otherwise known as STA15, STA25, STA60 and STA100 - the space is optional!)
Why? Built to be "no compromise" units, the sound quality is magnificent! They are substantial units, built more for sound quality and reliability than appearance, but have a sort of "rugged classic beauty"!
And, they are very very stable in operation, and when new, were often used in recording studios.
How good is the sound? Because of cost, these units were originally bought mainly by studios, the very wealthy, and professional musicians. That really says it all!
On another level, in the early 1980's, when London Sound was a retailer of top hi-fi equipment, whenever I had to sell a second hand Radford amplifier, they always sold quickly on demonstration in the shop, as the sound was so very good - equal to or better than the finest new units! And, even today, I believe that still holds true!
Then there are the pre-amps. The SC.22 and SC.22P are the main valve pre-amps found today, and are truly excellent - except for one fault. The record deck input frequency response is slightly wrongly set. Because most users of these magnificent units like what they hear, and as the error is small, I do not re-set it.
I am often asked the value of these - and my answer is far more than the price they fetch, so keep and use them.
The valve tuners were brilliant - but with trivial production problems. However, in every case, as I have now learned about their weaknesses, I can restore to a very high standard, as the original designs were very good. No, not very good - truly excellent. The problems were only practical production related. (see below for the FMT 2 - it matches the valve units but is actually a fully transistor design)
Then there were the transistor units:-
There were many such units, but the main ones were the integrated SCA 30, and the SC 24/SPA 50 combination. All others were derived from them.
Both amplifiers are excellent, though do require servicing more often than many modern units for best sound quality. However, if you do not mind a little distortion, then they will soldier on without attention for decades!
Just compare that with most modern units!
Weaknesses? The SCA 30, (or SCA30), was way ahead of its time, but suffered heat problems. I developed a modification to resolve this in the mid 1970s, when I was Radford's London Service Agent. This modification is inexpensive, and incorporated now in all repairs. With this problem resolved, we have an integrated amplifier hard to even approach, never mind match or beat, made then or now, (or anytime between)! It also has one of the best protection circuits that I have ever come across - you can run it at full volume, then draw sparks with a screwdriver across the loudspeaker terminals, (I was younger when I first discovered this!). Don't do it too often, it may fail - but I always do this during final testing to be sure of no problems - and have never blown an SCA 30 this way!
The SC.24/SPA.50 are really developed from the SCA 30, and are even better. Again, there were a few production problems, but none are unresolvable.
And the transistor tuners? The FMT2 and FMT2.mpx, (again sometimes known as the FMT 2 or FMT 2 mpx or any other variation!), had some problems when new, but when set up properly were in many ways the best until maybe some of the super tuners of the late 80s - and in other senses are still unbeaten.
There were real problems with the FMT3 and FMT4, concerning interference, but these can be resolved.
There were quite a few more modern transistor amplifiers and tuners after the above, which all just naturally followed on.
And the loudspeakers:-
I have very little experience with the loudspeakers.
I've rarely been asked to repair a Radford loudspeaker - they are so reliable!
If you have problems with a Radford loudspeaker, please ask, and I'll let you know my thoughts.
Now on to our history with the company.
Fast backwards to the early days of London Sound, when it briefly merged in an informal way with Sound Distinctive. Through my partner, Ron Morris, I came to see a lot of Radford equipment, from the various valve units, up to the transistor tuners and amplifiers.
The early valve tuners sometimes suffered production problems, as I said above - as the factory, being near Bristol, was relatively near to the Bristol VHF radio transmitters - so the tuners would work very easily in that area. Bristol is also far enough from continental Europe to suffer negligible "foreign" radio interference for the factory not to be alerted to such problems. Unfortunately, in north west London, where London Sound was based, reception tended to be "variable", so I set about finding the weaknesses in these units, and improving them, with considerable success. The benefits of this work are felt whenever I now service these really very good units.
My greatest involvement came in the 70s, when appointed as London Service Agent for Radford amplifiers and tuners, and as a result probably saw more of the units around at the time than any other engineer still in the business, beaten only by the factory staff!
And now read below our general notes on repairs:-
If another repairer has told you this, he may be right - but. That BUT is a very big but! For example, if the output transistors of an old amplifier have failed, it is not unusual to find that transistors of that type number are not available, but that others are currently in stock! It can happen that we are unable to find spares, but then we either modify the equipment to use other parts - or make them! So far, I have never failed on any Radford unit!
High standard of workmanship, (we couldn't give a 12 month guarantee otherwise)!
With rare exceptions, all repairs carried out by Mike Solomons, who has over 35 years professional experience, (it was a teenage hobby before then!). (Or, as I have often said, "put another way - nice people like you bring me interesting equipment to work on - then actually pay me for it! What better way to earn a living! For you, the benefit that, happy in my work, I do my best for you.")
We give Free Estimates and stick to them.
We operate from a high street shop with, (during our opening hours), an open door, (not a private home or industrial estate with a locked door to block out complaints).
This is not a selling operation, (so either we repair, or make no money - no false advice to buy new!).
All repair work guaranteed 12 months. Clearly, in writing.
We specialise in older equipment, (Why? Usually good equipment is quite old when it first breaks!) How old is 'older equipment'? Most units repaired here are between ten and fifty years old!
We hold a wide range of spares and service manuals.
When spares are not available, we have the required knowledge and data to substitute and repair. Our facilities include basic woodwork and metalwork, for re-construction, and modification where required, as well as, as you would expect, full electronic research and development facilities.
We are here to stay - Mike Solomons personally owns the freehold of the shop - without a mortgage - so you won't come here one day to find we've gone because of a rent review, (He says, "I now give them, but fairly, not suffer from them!").
Email, telephone, write or call into the shop, for a free estimate. Note, our estimates are completely free, you only pay us if your equipment is repaired in accordance with the estimate. And with Radford equipment, I can usually give a reliable estimate without seeing the unit!
Free means free!
If such repairs cannot be carried out, then we charge exactly nothing, even if we have carried out a partial repair then found major further difficulties! The only cost to you is transport.
ALL REPAIR WORK is guaranteed for twelve months. "All" means "all", not just some. Whether old or new, whatever the equipment age, the guarantee on repairs is the same. We've even guaranteed the repairs on some mid 1930's vintage radio and radiogram units for twelve months - without difficulties! How? If the work is done properly, it isn't a problem!
The only exception is for repairs carried out free of charge.
Not quite the same as buying new, as you don't have all the shiny new instruction books to read, packaging to dispose of etc! Neither do you have to research, purchase, or learn how the new item works - and find out what to do if it doesn't quite have the same facilities as your old unit!
Where you get a guarantee on repairs, (some repairers give no written guarantee at all), the "Industry Standard" is usually either one or three months.
It gets worse than that, as most repairers' guarantees are usually very tightly restricted just to the basic repair carried out - so, for example, if a volume control is replaced, but weeks later the amplifier fails again - as long as the volume control itself still is OK, you automatically have to pay again in full for repairs!
So - how much will it cost?
OUR ESTIMATING PROCEDURE:-
1) On the 'phone, we can often give a rough guide. It is also possible by email and by ordinary mail - it just takes longer, as we may ask questions, and have to wait for replies. "Longer" isn't all that long - apart from holidays, we normally reply within 24 hours.
2) Usually, when you bring the equipment here, on a brief assessment of the fault while you wait, we will give a free estimate. We will also give you a further much higher figure, to be a 'fixed ceiling', not to be exceeded without your written consent. This procedure is called a Qualified Estimate, and is much safer for you.
3) If you agree the estimate, the goods will be accepted for repair. You will be given a written copy of the estimate, with the upper ceiling figure clearly in writing, so you know you are safe. Normally, you will soon receive an invoice on completion of repairs, which will not exceed the 'fixed ceiling'.
4) However, if repairs cannot be completed within the original agreed estimate, a further written estimate or report will be sent. In this case, for your protection, unless a revised estimate is agreed by you in writing, with an advance payment made to prove acceptance, you may collect the unrepaired equipment, with no charge at all to pay.
5) BY MAIL. We can also carry out repairs by mail. Even then, the estimates are free, but the cost of carriage both ways is your responsibility.
So why is London Sound Different?
From the start, I have tried my best to carry out repairs to a high standard. Why? It is far better to do the work properly, than to try to evade responsibility for cutting corners and getting it wrong. Everyone would agree with that, but not everyone has the skills, integrity and self confidence!
I have to admit that, many years ago, in the early stages of my business, I lacked the required confidence, and only gave the usual 3 month guarantee. However, on the rare occasions when things went wrong within less than a year, I never felt able to charge. And yet as I became more experienced, breakdowns after the first few days became rare - and I found myself having discussions with regular customers about repairs carried out five, six seven or more years previously - with the equipment still OK!
A typical example of such a discussion occurred in 1980, as London Sound moved into its shop in Eastcote. I remember it well, as a man with me at the time, (the B.T. engineer fitting in a 'phone with our "old" number, which had provided some problems), had been deriding the idea of customers remaining loyal over a period of years.
Then there was a 'phone call.
On the 'phone, a man said, "You repaired my Rogers Cadet III about 8 years ago. Don't worry, it's still OK, but I have a problem with another piece of hi-fi - - -" Not only had the Rogers remained in good working order for 8 years, but so had my reputation! Amazingly, another owner of a Rogers Cadet III telephoned me with an almost exact copy of the first message, in 1990, when we moved to the present shop!
So firstly, why do breakdowns sometimes occur within days? Sometimes what we jokingly call a "faulty customer" - a failure to use the equipment correctly! But sometimes it is genuine - and then, whether after days, months, or even a year, if I am wrong, I always prefer to put things right, rather than argue. As, I would hope, but rarely find, should anyone else.
So what triggered the decision to give a written twelve month repair guarantee? It was those discussions with past customers, with tales of equipment which I repaired lasting for such long periods after the work was done! I simply decided to claim credit for what I was doing anyway!
For all contact details, please look at Basic Information but remember to use my direct number if you wish to 'phone me regarding Radford equipment, 020 8868 9222 - no need to use the premium rate line shown elsewhere on this website.