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SRF-80W

(1980)

SRF-80W, picture by Nick Jarman

The SRF-80W may seem somewhat out of place in this section, but it is an important model and worthy of attention. The package came in two parts, a pocket-sized AM/FM stereo receiver and a large stereo loudspeaker/amplifier unit into which the receiver fitted. Like the TPS-L2 of the previous year, the SRF-80W radio unit functioned only with headphones; it had no internal loudspeaker. It was the next stereo headphone product launched after the TPS-L2 and the only new model of this type released in 1980. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The idea of a pocket radio of course was nothing new. However, combining a quality stereo radio with lightweight headphones was a real step ahead. The SRF-80W radio was unusually small for what it could do, offering full coverage of the MW and FM bands and including such refinements as slow-motion tuning, an FM stereo decoder (complete with “mono” switch and LED indicator) and a dual concentric volume control that could be used to alter the “balance” of the sound. 3 “AAA” batteries fitted in the rear provided the power, whilst the FM antenna was formed by the headphone lead. This model was the perfect complement to a miniature stereo tape player like the TPS-L2, until manufacturers managed to combine both functions into one unit. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

SRF-80W and loudspeaker unit, picture by Nick Jarman
SRF-80W and loudspeaker unit

The loudspeaker unit made the SRF-80W far more useful than an ordinary pocket radio. The unit contained, along with two respectable loudspeakers, a powerful amplifier, tone controls, an FM rod antenna and a timer function. When the two units were assembled together, the radio drew its power from the four “C” sized cells housed in the loudspeaker unit, or from an external mains adaptor. This was a good idea as “AAA” cells have always been expensive for the amount of power they can provide, explaining perhaps why so few Walkman models use them. When securely docked, the rod antenna was also connected, making the one in the headphone lead unnecessary. All connections were made automatically using connection points at the bottom of the radio and a special shielded contact assembly in the loudspeaker unit. To release the radio, all one had to do was to press the “eject” key on the top of the cabinet. An orange key on the top left of the loudspeaker unit functioned as a timer, playing the radio for one hour after it was pressed. For continuous use, the slide switch on the radio could be used instead. Ejecting the radio from the loudspeaker unit automatically cancelled the timer. Two tone switches were fitted, one to enhance the bass and one for the treble. They could be used in combination, giving four characteristics of tone. No volume control was fitted to the loudspeaker unit, the one in the radio was used. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The TPS-L2 owner would have appreciated the final refinement: It was possible to connect the headphone output of this machine directly into the amplifier of the loudspeaker unit, meaning that one could also listen to cassettes at a good volume. In this mode, the volume control of the cassette player was used to regulate to sound, and the tone controls and timer of the SRF-80W loudspeakers still functioned. The radio unit could be left in place as the connection of an external source automatically disconnected it. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Despite being a headphone stereo, the name “Walkman” was never applied to the SRF-80W. This policy changed when a new, simpler FM-only pocket radio, the SRF-40, was introduced a year later. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.