Updated: Nov 7, 2019
The concept of Boombox started in the early 70s. It is essentially a portable (relatively speaking) sound system with integrated cassette player, radio and speakers. Most of the early models were monophonic, only a handful of high end models such as the Sony CF-550 had stereo cassette and AM/FM. Sony, one of the biggest innovator at that time really sets the standard with the CF-550.
The flagship CF-580 was introduced in 1976 as a successor to the CF-550. It kept many of characteristics of the CF-550 such as aesthetics, durability and quality. Measuring 16" x 12" x 6", it is slightly bigger than its predecessor and has smoother contours. The cabinet of the CF-580 is made of very high quality plastic. The top part has a mix of brushed and polished aluminum and die-cast knobs. You can feel the quality when you flip a switch or turn a knob. Its fit and finish is exceptional.
This thing weights a whopping 18 lbs with battery, in comparison, other systems with similar size weights about 5 to 7 lbs less!
At $400 US dollar, the CF-580 was a very expensive model consider the average household monthly income in the US in 1976 was just about $1,057.50. But you get what you pay for because not only it is aesthetically pleasing, it has the high quality sound to match. Sony advertised this as the complete stereo cassette system you can take it with you. How did Sony achieve this? The CF-580 has a 4-speaker matrix system with two 4" x 6" oval speakers on the front panel and a 3" x 5" oval speaker on each of the side panels. They called it the "Super Wide Sound" in marketing terms.
The CF-580 can be powered by eight D-Cell batteries, that alone probably weights 2 lbs, which doesn't seem portable at all in today's standard. It has Line In, Line Out, Phono In, Mic-In, Headphone Out and two built-in condenser microphone for recording. It has two not one rabbit ear antennas to provide excellent reception. Other features include the ability to play normal (Type I), Chromium Dioxide CrO2 (Type II) and Ferric Oxide Fe2O3 (Type III) cassettes, no Type IV metal cassette support yet. It has separate treble and bass adjustments as well as sliding balance control should you need to make finer adjustments to its excellent sound. The CF-580 was also one of the few machines had the play auto shut off feature back then, which sets it apart from the lower end models.
The CF-580 along with the CF-550 and CF-570 are what I considered the pinnacle of boombox. Although the phenomenon of boomboxes really exploded in the 80s with every manufacturers released bigger and more feature packed boomboxes, in my opinion the best models were actually made in the mid 70s. When comparing to some of the Sony CFS models such as the CFS-V8, although still a well made boombox, the cost cutting is very apparent. Lower density plastics were used and brush aluminum panels and knobs were replaced by metal like plastic. The overall quality and user experience pales in comparison to the flagships made in the 70s. The highly sought after CF-580 is a classic that should be on every boombox collector's list.
• Year: 1976 ~ 1979
• Power requirement:
• 100-110, 115-127, 200-220 or 230-250V AC, 50/60 Hz (E model)
• 110, 127, 220 or 240V AC, 50-60 Hz (AEP model)
• 240V AC, 50 Hz (UK model)
• 120V AC, 60 Hz (US, Canadian model)
• 12V DC, eight batteries size "D" (IEC Designation R20)
• 12V car battery with Sony Car Battery Cord DCC-9
• Power Consumption:
• 11W AC (E, UK model)
• 12W AC (US, Canadian model)
• 13W AC (AEP model)
• Power Output:
• 5.8W (2.9W x 2) max. (E, AEP, Canadian model)
• 4.6W (2.3W x 2) max. (US model)
• Two 8 x 12cm (3 x 5 inches)
• Two 10 x 15cm (4 x 6 inches)
• Battery Life:
• Approx. 10 hours (E, UK, AEP model)
• Approx. 14 hours (US, Canadian model)
* Continuous recording from the Build-in Microphones with Sony Long-life Batteries size "D".
• Approx. 390(w) x 303(h) x 143(d) mm
• Approx. 15 3/8(w) x 12(h) x 5 5/8(d) inches
* including projecting parts and controls not including handle.
• Weight: Approx. 7.9 kg, 17 lb 7 oz including batteries.
• Frequency range: FM 87.5 - 108 Mhz AM 530 -- 1605 kHz
• Antennas: FM: Two telescopic antennas AM: Built-in ferrite-rod antenna
• Recording system: 4-track 2-channel stereo or monaural
• Fast winding time: Approx. 90 sec. with Sony Cassette C-60
• Frequency response:
• 40-10,000 Hz (E, AEP, US, Canadian model)
• 50-10,000 Hz (UK model)
* (with standard cassette, with the TAPE SELECT switch set to NORMAL)
• 40-13,000 Hz (E, AEP, US, Canadian model)
• 50-12,000 Hz (UK model)
* (with chromium dioxide cassette with the TAPE SELECT switch set to CrO2
* or with Sony Ferri-Chrome cassette with the TAPE SELECT switch set to Fe-Cr)
• S/N ratio: 45 dB
• Total Harmonic Distortion: 2.5%
• Wow and Flutter:
• 0.19% (WRMS) (E, AEP, US, Canadian model)
• 0.25% (WRMS) (UK model)
• MIC: 2 (minijack) sensitivity 0.2mV (-72 dB) for low impedance microphone
• LINE IN: 2 (phono jack) sensitivity 0.14V (-15 dB) input impedance 100 kilohms
• PHONO: 2 (phono jack) sensitivity 1.5 mV (-54 dB) input impedance 47 kilohms
• LINE OUT: 2 (phono jack) rated output 0.44V (-5 dB) at load impedance 100 kilohms, load impedance 10 kilohms for highter
• EXT SP: 2 (minijack) for 4-ohm or 8-ohm impedance speakers.
• HEADPHONES: 1 (stereo binaural jack) for 8-ohm impedance headphones.
• Other Jacks:
• Remote control jack: 1
• Record/Playback connector: 1 (E, UK, AEP model)