Sony TFM-7250W Super Sensitive AM/FM Radio

The Sony TFM-7250W is one of a long line of “Super Sensitive” radios Sony offered over the years. The TR-84 and 6R-33 Super Sensitive radios were earlier, AM only models which had great performance and are radios I also have in my collection. There were also several AM/FM/SW portables in the Super Sensitive series such as the TFM-8000 , CRF-5090 & CRF-5100.

Back to the TFM-7250W – this radio has had a special place in my heart since I first got one in the mid 1970’s. As a college kid it was too expensive for me to afford when it was released in 1973 but I remember seeing it in a display case at a local store and just wanting it. I lived in an area where both AM and FM reception were not great and the promise of Super Sensitivity fueled my desire to get my hands on one. A few years later, now gainfully employed at a stereo store that sold Sony portable products I finally bought one on what they used to call a “Salesman Accommodation” price which was less than normal dealer cost so it was a double win. That radio lived up to its reputation with great reception and sound – for its size it sometimes sounded amazing and I enjoyed it for several years until it somehow was lost in a move. Not until fairly recently did I decide to try the TFM-7250W out once again to see what I would feel about it in the context of 2021. Was it really as good as I remembered it or have we come such a long way that it no longer would be considered a great performer? I should also mention that this is part of a sort of personal analog renaissance wherein I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite old analog radios as well as some I never owned before to see if they are worthwhile contenders compared to today’s radios which, with only a few notable exceptions,  seem to put less emphasis on AM than radios of old. As part of this I recently evaluated a few Radio Shack radios of the era and in this article I used a TFM-7250W for comparison and I was reminded why I liked it so much.

I bought a second sample of the Sony recently because the one I’ve had for a while, although it was working well, had some damage and I wanted a better example. I found one unit inexpensively because it was really filthy although it was said to be working fine and for once the description was accurate…it did work very well and it was disgustingly filthy, as if it had been stored in a barn or damp basement. It was stained, sticky and smelly but I love this kind of cleanup job in which you disassemble the thing as much as possible so you can really clean every nook and cranny.

Disassembly was a little unusual although quite easy. After removing 5 screws from the back cover, the chassis and speaker just pulled away so the front panel could be separated from the rest of the radio. The battery box compartment slides right off the back panel exposing all surfaces for easy access and cleaning. The chassis and speaker are now completely exposed…just unsnap a black trim plate behind the tuning indicator and everything is easy to get at.

I spent a few hours cleaning this thing. I soaked the knobs in Windex and spent lots of time with Q-Tips in tight areas but the toughest was the speaker grill which required lots of patience with a toothbrush and a sharp pointed tool to dig the crud out of all those slots, even after lengthy soaking. The rest of the cleaning was routine except that I had to use Novus Plastic Polish #2 and #1 to dehaze the plastic dial glass and make it gleam…it came out great. This kind of cleaning or detailing makes all the difference in the final appearance of the radio and there are few shortcuts. Take your time and you will be glad you did.

Here are some Before Pictures:

The last step of re-assembly is re-installing those 5 screws on the back cover but for the life of me for I couldn’t get the holes to line up at all so I couldn’t get the screws back in. I pulled the thing apart and re-assembled it a few times but still no luck. The board was just sitting a bit too high and I couldn’t get those holes to line up. It seemed like such a silly problem but then it got worse when I discovered that the radio was now dead…it wouldn’t do anything at all. I inspected the PCB under a magnifying lamp and discovered the problem. One of the screws which was not lined up correctly had broken one of the solder paths on the board…such things don’t exactly boost one self-confidence. I used a short piece of wire to jumper it and the radio was working once again. But I still couldn’t figure out why that board would not sit in the right position until I looked at the pictures I had taken during disassembly and it finally dawned on me that the rectangular speaker magnet assembly was rotated 90 degrees from its correct position and it was hitting the board, keeping it from sitting in the right spot. Believe me this was a big DUH moment but at least I had taken enough pictures to finally figure it out. Still…I’m not proud of it but I figured it was better to ‘fess up because it’s a good example of a little thing that can really make you scratch your head…you’ve never “seen it all”.

Here are some After Pictures:

Performance: OK, so now that I’d broken then repaired the radio, I set it up alongside several reference radios and did some knob twirling and I’ve got to say that the Sony TFM-7250W is one fine portable radio. Although it is not as selective as the best of today’s portables on FM it is not too bad and compares favorably with portable FM’s of its era. But it really shines on AM where it ranks *** on the AM Mega Shootout list, along with earlier Super Sensitive models the TR-84 and 6R-33. It is not in the same league as the ***** AM radios but in its category, it is better than much of its competitors. The TFM-7250W brings in weaker AM stations very well and its AGC seems to have good timing characteristics for dealing with fluttery wavering signals. It’s red LED tuning indicator right on the dial pointer is very cool and is a worthwhile tuning aid. The sound quality, while not of boombox proportions, is nevertheless satisfying in this size class and considerably richer sounding than many same-sized radios in my collection. It will give very long battery life on 4 C cells and, as many radios of its time period did, it contains a built-in AC power supply which adds very little noise other than what it is on the line itself. I always use such radios on battery power for portability and best AM reception but for all day use the built in AC power supply is a big plus. The Sony TFM-7250W is one of my favorite mid-sized portable radios of its day and now that I have gotten to know it once again it is a radio I would never part with.

Jay Allen

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