SABA Professional 1300
Even younger generations know Braun and Grundig. Shavers, hairdryers, coffee machines, electric toothbrushes, steam irons - what have you. Those who make music know Telefunken microphones, older guys recall Telefunken’s portable radios. Loewe is today known for its stylish flat TVs. These are all legendary German/ Austrian manufacturers of electronics. So is SABA. But who remembers SABA? The company that once was one of the biggest radio- and tv manufacturers in Europe?
According to radiomuseum.org, it all started from a clock factory in Triberg, founded by Joseph Benedict in 1835. His son and grandsons continued the business (letter scales, smaller metal manufactures, razors, bells and bicycle bells). In the 1920, inspired by a music demo (broadcasted program from the Eiffel tower), the company begins the production of parts (transformers, capacitors, inductors and resistors, etc.) to answer to the demand by radio hobbyists.
Already by 1935 SABA - Schwarzwälder Apparate-Bau-Anstalt - was a big name in radios etc., just behind Telefunken. SABA’s products were exported to dozens of countries. 1938 witnessed the millionth SABA apparatus. In 1939 SABA starts preparing the German army with radios, FM receivers and transmitters for tanks, field telephones, detectors, etc. In 1940 the war production accounted for 90% of the total.
After the war the company was allowed to make tablet bottles and other small things, and to some extent telephones. By 1948 the production was again free of restrictions, and SABA slowly back in business of making radio sets. In the 1950s, Grundig was the number one, North Mende the second, Loewe Opta the third, and SABA on the fourth place.
In the 1960s, SABA is one of the major TV providers in Europe while also building stereo receivers, car tape-radios and speakers. The sales of SABA TV sets increased until 1973, but due to certain interventions and arrangement SABA becomes part of the GTE group in the USA. In 1980, Japanese companies entering into the German market with cheap devices, GTE gives up its consumer electronics section and sells it along with SABA to the French group Thomson-Brandt. SABA continues only as a marketing company and as a brand.
SABA Professional 1300
Already in the 1930s, SABA made dynamic speakers after the patents of Rice-Kellog. The production continued till the very end in 1979. Professional 1300 is very likely one of the last speaker of models by SABA. We could not trace the manufacturer of the drivers, which would have been an interesting piece of information. It’s possible that SABA made them in house but they could have used a subcontractor too such as the ITT.
SABA Professional 1300 is a 60 L, 3-way design (310 mm woofer, 130 mm mid-ranger and 2 x tweeter) made in Germany in the 1970s. The sealed cabinet looks a bit like Yamaha NS1000. The frequency range is said to be 20-26000 Hz! The crossover frequencies are 485Hz and 3,4Khz. The nominal impedance is 4 Ohms. Dimensions are 375 x 600 x 305 mm.
The front panel features tone controls for mid and high frequencies. In addition, the speaker has a rotary switch for regulating the relative energy of the two overlapping and crossing (90 degrees) tweeters. The control is called Treble-Localisator and its aim probably is to increase/decrease the sound’s spaciousness, make it more or less diffused.
The listening session was partly star-crossed. The amplifiers were equally aged Japanese NEC transistor amps, not used for years. It so happened that quite soon there was audible distortion in one channel, and I immediately moved to mono listening. Anyway, from what I heard I’d say that the sound of the Professional 1300 is not uninteresting. The tone is not unbalanced. Both the bass and the mids are not incorrect, although they sound slightly old-fashioned; but not in the soft way some British speakers from the 1980s do. There’s obvious potential there.
The treble remains a question mark though. Somehow what was coming out of the two tweeters (the controls at the zero position) had a cheap flavor in it but this and the overall character of the treble really should be subject to further confirmation.
SABA Professinal 1300 may not quite be at the level of Yamaha NS1000, and it won't have the reputation, but it shouldn’t be ignored either. Forty years back it cost 600-700 German marks, which makes it a rather expensive speaker. Even today collectors appear to be willing to pay not an unimportant sum of money for a healthy pair. So there must be something to this rare speaker by a classic German company.