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REVIEW: Sony ST-7TV Tuner

Model: ST-7TV
Category: Tuner
Suggested Retail Price: unknown
Description: MTS Stereo TV Tuner
Manufacturer URL: Sony

Review by Luminator on October 13, 2011 at 09:45:50
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for the ST-7TV

An MTS stereo TV tuner?! That's right. With television gone digital, isn't the Sony ST-7TV obsolete? Yes. But that's not the point. So let's go back 25 years, to 1986:

The Way It Is
Mad, Bad, And Dangerous To Know

You like those pictures, huh? If you've been following my reviews, you've seen some photos from the mid 80s to early 90s. I've got a few more coming, so keep following me :-)

In 1986, a 13" stereo TV was $399, a princely sum in those days. And if you wanted a more useful 19" stereo TV, weren't those $550 and up? So instead of buying a new TV, I ordered the Sony ST-7TV MTS Stereo TV tuner. I don't remember how much it cost, but I know it was less than $279. You could add this to any TV, and add wireless remote capability, excellent for changing channels from across the room. But its main function was to bring you MTS stereo TV. Whether you used over-the-air antennae, or subscribed to (analog) cable TV, you now could decode those MTS stereo broadcasts.

A little LED would indicate if the ST-7TV were receiving stereo broadcasts. When I initially got the ST-7TV, just a few channels broadcast in stereo. One was San Francisco's KOFY. The big three then followed suit. It was a thrill, to get sportscasts and Miami Vice in stereo. But a whole new world opened up, when VH1 and MTV broadcast in stereo. And that, my friends, is when many of us became audiophiles.

I noticed that, versus FM stereo, MTV's broadcasts were noise-free. It was one thing to route stereo TV sound to some dinky Radio Shack speakers. But it was quite another, to route the analog stereo output to your home stereo. It was fascinating, to have the Eurythmics' "Missionary Man" pounding in your room. It was fascinating, to see all those characters in the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)," and then realize what an excellent job Rick Rubin did in producing the song. It was fascinating to see how rap and metal came together in the video for Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." It was fascinating, to laugh at Cameo's moustache, and then realize what a tight, hard, punchy, funky recording "Word Up!" was. This type of sound would blend dance, rap, R&B, and hip-hop, to form New Jack Swing. It was fascinating to see Janet Jackson's "When I Think Of You," and then go to high school, and lead a parade down the hall of lockers. It was fascinating to see Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, go back to school, pick out a guy (assuming you are a girl), and sing, "The next time I fall in love, it will be with you!" [yes, a girl did that to me]

Because of the Sony ST-7TV, I knew that TV sound was quite good. Audiophiles were waging their puerile "war" between vinyl and CD. But I tuned that out, and got lost in stereo TV.

It's funny that, here in 2011, audiophiles are now lumping vinyl and CD together as "hard copies [physical media]," and waging another "war," this time with computer audio as the other combatant.

By the early 90s, all TVs had built-in MTS stereo decoders. Plus, their prices dropped dramatically. So products like the Sony ST-7TV were not needed.

In the 00s, I subscribed to Dish Network. I now have AT&T U-verse. My parents have Comcast digital cable. My relatives in Hawaii typically have Oceanic Time Warner cable. Because of digital TV, we all need those satellite receivers. And if you hook up your "best" line-level interconnects to these receiver boxes, you may discover that TV is your highest-fidelity source. Because of the Sony ST-7TV, I knew that 25 years ago.

-Lummy The Loch Monster

Product Weakness: Obsolete; ran hot; no balanced XLR analog outputs; only available in black
Product Strengths: Enabled any TV to have both remote control and MTS stereo; two antenna inputs; big, legible display; relatively low output voltage

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Adcom GFA-535; Sony STR-AV780
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Sony TAE-1000ESD
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Sony CDP-520ESII; various VCRs, tape decks, video game systems
Speakers: Sony APM; AR Powered Partners; Paradigm 5se
Cables/Interconnects: Monster Cable IL-400 and Video 2
Music Used (Genre/Selections): cable TV
Time Period/Length of Audition: 6 years
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Sony ST-7TV Tuner - Luminator 09:45:50 10/13/11 (1)


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