View Full Version : Philips High Fidelity Labs AH-7851

03-04-2007, 09:17 PM
I'm picking up one of these tomorrow, I just can't help myself! I need an audio intervention! Anywho, I was wondering what the general consensus around here was on these units. I really couldn't find out much at all about them on the web, other than it's 30 WPC, and was made between 77' & 81' and sold for $239.99 MSRP when new. Also, the models with a "1" at the end were black faced, instead of silver. As in a 785 was silver, and a 7851 was black, and there were several models in the series, with the top dog rated at 60 WPC. What little other info I could find said that this series was very well made, although never popular here in the states, and fly under the radar of most collectors. Any thoughts, opinions, or tragic tales from any members who are familiar with this series, I would love to hear about it! So far, all I know is that I thought it was beautiful in the black face, and that's about all I know so far! I'm also not gonna say its mine yet, until its in the car and I'm driving away!

03-04-2007, 09:25 PM
Sorry, forgot to mention I "Borrowed" the pics from an eBay ad.... Credit goes to the eBayer who posted them there!

03-04-2007, 09:39 PM
Hope it goes well.
How're ya gonna use it? Bedroom system or maybe for the PC?

03-04-2007, 09:43 PM
Don't know yet, waiting to see if it is any good first. Very little info on the web, so it's a crap shoot. I found some info on the vintage knob on what appears to be the next line up of the series after this one, and they were supposed to be Philips TOTL no holds barred stuff... So I'm crossing my fingers that it is a quality unit!

03-04-2007, 09:45 PM
I wonder how it would look with blue lamps in it? Hmmm....

03-05-2007, 07:29 AM
They were nice receivers; really the last Magnavox hi-fi receivers, in fact.
Most or not all of that line was actually assembled in the US (TN or KY or thereabouts).

03-05-2007, 08:54 AM
Used to sell Philips stuff. Still have an amp and preamp by them and a DCC. Always had very nice well built stuff.

03-05-2007, 09:31 AM
I saw that one and had to restrain myself from sending an email. I'm glad it's going to a good home!

03-05-2007, 10:29 AM
Well, it's not here yet! Waiting for his return call, he's at work, still have my fingers crossed! He accepted my offer, so I will assume he will be a gentleman and honor it!

03-05-2007, 11:37 PM
My brother had one of those...

My uncle sold them at a music shop in Canton, OH, and got him a good deal. It got sold somewhere between school and a series dead-end jobs. He wishes he had never sold it. Very industrial unit. Very heavy. Not Japanese-like, rather something different. I would take one in a minute.

My uncle had some absolute monster Phillips receiver. It had to be 100 wpc or more, it was a beast. It looked different than that series, perhaps a European model. ???.

Wonder if he still has it?


03-06-2007, 12:36 AM

That is a beautiful receiver. A real knockout in the looks department. You and Philips are bringing sexy back.

regarding Philips gear, from what little i've garnered, I've come away with a few impressions. sometimes it's exactly what you say- great gear that flys under the radar. Other times, I've read claims from some folk that some periods of Philips suffer from the bean-counters getting involved and having the innards suffer because of penny pinching. Lastly, I've read about periods of lesser quality work, resulting in some bad solder joints and the like (kinda like NAD, and to a lesser extent a brief run of some of Bob Carver's stuff with the bad solder joints).

Now, the unit here looks to be built very, very well, and I bet sounds great. And from any older Philips stuff I've come across, the quality seems to be great, solid, and quality, such as gold-plated RCA ends, machined knobs, heavy weight, ect.

So, I'd wager the unit is going to be killer in both sound and build quality. and man, is it beautiful! Really gorgeous! Reminds me of the Optonica (Sharp) gear I love the looks of so much, but even nicer.

I hope it does make it to your home, and if it does indeed, well then, a hearty congrats to you!

03-06-2007, 02:16 AM
Looks like a Quadraflex! They made some supercool looking units back in the 80s with black fascia and blue or green lights...

I've got an old Philips receiver that I use for my HT setup. I even used it as my main audio source for a short while. It sounds pretty damn good. My unit, I think, is a newer unit that yours - perhaps from the very late 80s. It is grey, and has digital tuning.

03-06-2007, 03:45 AM
Jocko said that one was sold in Canton, OH, where the Football Hall of Fame is.

Interestingly, I am in Akron, OH, just north of Canton, and I too have a 7851.

I found mine at the Goodwill. Clearly they were at least somewhat prevalent around these here parts. Ohio's a far cry from Belgium, so who knows why lol.

As for as these units go, I think they are undervalued. They are super-handsome units, with a very timeless design that never gets dated. They sound very good as well. I like mine a lot.

03-06-2007, 07:42 AM
I have the 785, the silver faced version, and you'll probably find it a little underwhelming at first compared to the more popular imports. Will not seem to have outstanding bass, impact, screaming highes, in your face mids, infact nothing outstanding about it. If you have access to an excellent hi-end system and sub it in, you'll then find that it is closer to the high end system and discover an excellent hi-end system has none of those attributes either. Just seems to let the music through in an easy, unstrained, unrestrained, natural way with very good detail but not dry or surgical.

The amp, preamp and tuner all seem well balanced in design.

Only real problem, is those danged speaker terminals; they will kill your fingers as they are HARD to push in but you will know that the cable is definately secure unlike so many other terminals.

The unit is part of the Philips Laboratory Series and trace the beginnings back to Magnvox and the model 1500 receiver that was very well designed and respected. The company engineers took on a task to make a no holds barred system that would compete with the best and upgrade and expand the 1500 to capture a place in the hi-fi market the imports were taking over and the other US makers were exiting. Also, they hoped it would save the company. However, before bringing the line out, Phiips bought out the company. Philips had a presence in North America and ws doing quite well with their turntables, speakers and tape equipment but could not penetrate the market with its European styled receivers. They rebadged the Magnavox designs and introduced them in '77. The line of receivers, the amp, preamp and power amp were produced in the Magnavox facility in Tennessee. There were also a couple of integrated amps and either 1 or 2 lower end tuners but these seem to have been possibly rebadged from their other lines as I have seen them in both Lab Series and non-Lab series garb. 1 of the integrated amps was produced in the US but the other and the tuner(s) were from overseas.

The receivers came in 2 colors as you mentioned and in 2 garbs, the x9x and the x8x series. The guts of the sereis are the same while the faceplates and placement of indicators/meters on some are somewhat differently placed. On the TOTL the 787 there are phono level controls on the back that are not present on the 797 but between all of the models, unit to unit this sems to be the major difference.

The quality of the components and construction is 1st rate and that is were it counts. They seemed to have cut costs in the top cover and this is visually their really weak point as it makes the perceived quality of the units lower than the actual.

They also used the same boards in different models, only stuffing them somewhat differently depending on model. The 7x7 and 7x6 use 1 set of boards and the 7x5 and 7x4 use the same set.

As for sound, the 785 IMHO, is a far better sounding unit overall than my H-K 630 but the H-K has preamp outputs and when using the H-K power amp it is 1 of the best smaller amps out there. I also like the Philips tuner better than the 630 tuner. Not that it is more sensitive but, the presentation seems less strained in the delivery.

In '80 Philips acquired the Marantz name and decided ratehr than to continue trying to establish the Philips nameplate with the cost of marketing to do so, ended the Lab Series and used the Marantz lineup. It was a shame since they could have redesigned the facia and tuning wheel and come out with a US manufactured Marantz lineup again rather than continuing to use imports that steadily showed less quality.

I've used the 785 on all of my regular speaker systems and found it to do well with all in my listening room. With my reference Koss ESP9b headphones, I found the unit to not have the high end edge of the Sherwood 7650 and the bass had better detail. Mids had minimal sibilance and there was no false chestiness on male voices.

The unit is more described by what it does not do than by what it does do and when I've found units like this, I've found they are very good long term keepers.

If you pick it up, I have a Philips catalog and can give you specs.

Good luck.

03-06-2007, 08:46 AM
Brian, THANKS! There isn't much out there on the web about these units!The specs would be great! I know it's 30 WPC, but that's about it. I got it home last night, I was waiting outside the guys house when he got home (Yep, I'm known around these parts as the "Audio Stalker"!) and whisked it back home. He had checked eBay and found one ending last night, but it only had 2 bids @ $10.49 right up till the end. I was afraid he was gonna check the sale and back out! The eBay unit ended up going for just under $70, and I had talked the guy down to $40 from $100. Anyways, it is playing some Mozart from the local classical station, and it sounds very good! That's a good sign, since I have them hooked up to a pair of Mach III's, which are not known for being a good choice for classical music! Controls all need a good cleaning, and 4 out of the 5 lamps are blown, but they are very easy to get at to change. Cosmetics are excellent, a 9 out of 10. My only complaints about build quality so far is the damn speaker terminals. Not only are they a pain in the ass, but you can't get anything bigger than 18 or maybe 16 gauge wire in them. Also, they used plastic instead of glass for the display. The input section is limited, and the jacks seem to be mid fi quality at best. Now the good stuff, the design and layout seems to be well thought out, and all the components look to be quality stuff. The chassis looks like it's copper, but not quite. It may be anodized, but looks to me more like it is actual copper plating. The bass and treble pots are ALPS, which is nice. It will be a breeze to do any service it may need, everything is right there, easy to get at. Philips used T-15 fasteners throughout the entire unit, which I like. Overall, I'm pretty sure I did good for $40, it sounds great, and I love the way it looks! I gave it a good external clean up, the inside was clean, since there isn't much in the way of case vents to let any dust/dirt into the unit. Took a bunch of pics for you guys!

03-06-2007, 08:58 AM
Do a search here as there are a few of us with Philips units. I got my first of the series a few years ago and other than the 673 tuner, no on seemed to know or care about the series. Still not on most persons radar and that helps keep the prices down but they have been getting closer to where I think the value lies, especially in the past 6 - 9 months as the prices seem to be steadily increasing. If the movement continues, the $40 that is now more than reasonable will show you made a really good buy.

03-06-2007, 09:13 AM
MMMM, naked goodness....

03-06-2007, 09:25 AM
Dang! If you start showing nudies then everyone will realize what we have and want 1. We have stayed away from showing them. Things like 1st class components, glass PC boards, neat and well thought out layouts, large transformers, etc. start getting the adrenilan flowing with this group.

03-06-2007, 09:28 AM
Love the black, has the look of the 70's stuff, but in yummy black!

03-06-2007, 09:30 AM
Don't worry, once they see those frickin' speaker terminals, no one will want one!

03-06-2007, 09:45 AM
I think this is a keeper!

jami w.
03-06-2007, 02:27 PM
yea baby!!!! blue would look good in them !!!! ive got some light red lights goin into my 850!!to match the adcom!!! wat a pair btw the tuner my buddy had wasnt wat ur lookin for it was the ickk digi marantz tuner that he has sry buddy im still tryin to work on that for u

03-06-2007, 02:45 PM
Thanks Jim!