Tag Archives: alba

April 1st 1975

“Sold old amp to Roger’s Dad for £15”

Bye-bye then 18-month-old Alba amp which represented my first hi-fi purchase.

It means my new amp only ‘really’ cost me £25.

Yes, let’s continue to qualify this more recent purchase, Mr “70’s Hi-Fi geek”, shall we?!

Whilst I still search for a good online photo of the old Alba amp, here’s an archived review page from 1975 for one very much like it taken from Gramophone magazine.

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October 29th/30th/31st 1973

• “half-term – OFF TO LONDON TO GET HI-FI (I hope)”
• “Got a crappy amp – Dad has to take it back”
• “Got a new amp – Sounds BRILLIANT!”

October 29th’s entry was written in advance.

I remember some of this story. Dad & I drove to some non-descript warehouse on an industrial estate somewhere near the Wembley area of London. I have no doubt that this place was chosen from an ad placed in one of the many hi-fi mags I had been reading.

For all I know now, it may well as have been “Dodgy Dave’s Stereo Emporium”, the stock having fallen off the back of a lorry somewhere.

I bought – under Dad’s watchful eye but with my OWN money (hence the £35 withdrawal from savings) – The Alba HOUS208 Amplifier mentioned a few diary entries ago, the much-coveted Garrard SP25 Mk II Record Deck (with a similarly-prized Goldring G800 cartridge) and a pair of Wharfedale Denton speakers.

There is no reference to the Alba amp anywhere online (at least that I can find), but here’s a pic of the record deck

and here’s one of the shelf speakers…

I was so VERY excited this day, I can remember that.

However, when we got back home and I unpacked everything, my excitement turned to frustration as the discovery was made that the amp I’d bought was a duffer. I remember my Dad & I tried everything we could to try and make it work, but all to no avail.

The next day my Dad, bless him, used a free British Rail pass and traveled back up to – and across – London with this amp tucked awkwardly under his arm, found the warehouse and was able to quite easily swap the unit over. He then had to travel back on the tube to Waterloo, back down to Eastleigh… obviously hoping all the time that the replacement was not in the same faulty condition. A journey that took him the best part of a full day.

Frustration was then replaced by joy and relief when the new amp performed flawlessly under – what was doubtless – ‘rigourous testing’ using sundry ELP, Deep Purple and Hawkwind albums.

My first proper stereo!!!

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October 5th 1973

“Decided to buy Alba HOUS208”

Alba were another of those ‘affordable’ hi-fi brands that littered the marketplace back in the Seventies.

Search as I have, I can find no online reference to – or photos of – this particular amplifier, but I indeed remember it quite well.

It was not of standard design. Not for me the ‘boring’ traditional look of a silver amp with all the knobs and switches on the front.

Instead, it was built in a flat ‘piano’ style, with sliders for the volume/bass/treble/balance controls that moved from front to back. A few toggle switches for mono/stereo and the important (back then) “loudness” control, something which only served to boost the low and mid range whilst stifling the treble. The top was black alloy but the sides were made from real wood, I think it was walnut.

The only inputs it had were phono, tuner & tape, with outlets for two pairs of speakers – if you were rich enough!

Unlike much of the stuff that was at the cheaper end of the market it was not made in China, instead it was homegrown, a genuine “Made in England” product.

It was either 30 or 30 watts per channel I think, which would have been more than enough ‘oomph’ for my miniscule 7′ x 9′ bedroom.

Coming soon… the debacle over actually buying it.

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