TECHNICS RS-M245X: Expensive looks

Technics is a trade name of Matsushita Electric Co., one of the world’s leading electronics giants. The other trade marks of Matsushita is Panasonic, and they also own JVC  etc. You can also see National or National Panasonic mark on some old equipment from 70s. That means that Matsushita is very long in business and has a great experience in this field.

During 70s Technics struggled together with other Japanese companies to conquer the rest of the HiFi world – Europe and United States and choose, like others, to make some gorgeous machines for the good price at the time. Just remember RS1500 tape device, SL10 and 1200 turntables, RSM95/85 decks and many other devices. Unfortunately, things changed almost over night and Technics pointed that design should be the thing to work on, with much cheaper materials to use on transport and housing. And they succeeded. Their new RS-M series (250, 253, 280 etc.) was very popular.

The one I am presenting is from 1983. It was the 3rd deck from the top in their catalogue. Technics RS-M245X sports so many options, although it has only two heads to play and record with. It uses large, nice display with really nice two colored bar graphs and digital counter (only 3 digits, though, so it is a bit imprecise) and a real time option during rec/play. It is interesting that controls above the “Stop” button are almost membrane type, moving very little but are durable and stood the test of time.

It also has dBX – at that time it was high end in noise reduction systems, giving S/N ratio of almost 90 dB in practice and much higher dynamics, making old, simple and unreliable compact cassette format a real buddy for the new that just arrived – his Majesty, the Compact Disc.

Almost all Technics decks from these years are not very deep and RS-M245X is not an excuse. Several multiconductor wires are presented, and the transport is the one of the kind. It uses large flywheel which is belt driven from the motor. This motor is engaged during playback and recording and is also responsible for right reel to take up the tape.

There is also another motor, but this works only during fast forward & rewind and also serves as a servo motor to engage heads etc. Practically, this means that Technics RS-M245X is just one motor device since it doesn’t use two motors in most critical part – recording and reproduction.

When You put the tape in RS-M245X and start it, it makes specific noise like just a few other’s manufacturers decks do. This is because it has an ensemble of gears which are responsible to change mode operation. It really looked high tech at the time, and this system proved to be reliable during years. But this system is driven by a motor I mentioned before, and it is not done directly, but via the other, small belt. When belt becomes old, the deck doesn’t start to fast forward or play, for example. Change of belt is a bit complicated since it requires second motor to be removed together with some other parts to get to the old belt.

Of all Technics transports, this one (also used on RS-M250, and some other Technics decks) is the most complicated, beside units on RS-AZ6 and AZ7. I really couldn’t get a clue why they did it instead of using just one more motor, like they did on beautiful auto reverse RS-B78.

The Sound

Technics RS-M245X sounds like many other Technics deck do: it has a polite sound, vivid and full of life – for the price. It finds very good way to mimic some more expensive decks – RS-M245X list price was around 330 USD, which was not too much. This means that RS-M245X hides it’s flaws very well: the bass is strong and full of energy, and the whole presentation has a dosage of harmony with upper frequencies clear. This is an easy to listen deck.

On the other side, it emphasizes bass under 100 Hz which is not well defined and doesn’t go under 50 Hz, probably because of some issues with dBX circuit implementation. I also discovered some compression during human voice reproduction of RS-M245X recordings. Upper extremes don’t have so much details nor transparency as I would like to hear and the whole picture looks covered with a tiny layer of smoke, so it is just a little bit blurred – comparing it to machines that had twice as high list price.

But, again, for the price, the sound is absolutely OK and this was a nice looking and good sounding deck.

Conclusion

The Technics brand decks – and many other Technics HiFi equipment are special in one way: they often look gorgeous, with elegant silver/black faceplates, nice buttons, large colorful displays and many useful options. And You may think that their 300 or 500 USD list price deck may challenge big boys. But the truth is it can’t do it in any way. It is nice and looks more than it should be paid for. But the sound is in 100% correlation with the price – no more, no less. You get exactly what you pay for. And that’s all.

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