By tracing signals stage-by-stage through your radio you can find the issues that cause it to not play or play poorly. When you know which parts of the radio are working properly you can concentrate on suspect stages and components.
For example, if you can hear music at the center tap on the volume control but not from the speaker you know that the Antenna, tuning circuits, IF section and detector are all working. You can then concentrate on the audio circuitry, speaker and earphone jack.
What You Need
Signal tracers are simply audio amplifiers and speakers with test leads that let you search for and hear signals in the various radio stages. They also have a diode used to detect and convert RF signals from the "front end" and IF sections of the set.
DOCUMENTATION While not absolutely necessary a schematic, or better yet factory or Sams service documentation will make tracing much easier.
What Do You Think?
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