New use for vintage gear: recycle that vintage console stereo for a flatscreen stand

Discussion in 'Displays' started by LanceJ, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I'm only 42 but am already running into people that have never heard of vacuum tubes, never heard a turntable playing an LP.....and have never seen or listened to a console stereo system. So thought maybe this post may be of use to such folks.

    ---> To make this easier to visualize doing a google image search using the phrase "console stereo" with the quotes resulted in lots of hits.

    Was visiting a local thrift shop a few months ago and near the front door there was a new item for sale, a Motorola console stereo system. Yep, the same Motorola that makes the Razr phones. This Motorola is 99% identical to the one I saw (the owner said he got it for free via Craigslist - nice!).

    It was in excellent condition, the cabinet and the electronics inside including the reel-to-reel(!) tape deck. This particular console was the typical @5ft wide size, though it was pretty short. Despite it being from the late 60s, the styling was quite classic, having a heavy Danish influence i.e. very clean angular lines w/dark brown speaker grill cloth. The 4 short wood supporting legs were angled outwards, contributing some flair to the overall conservative styling.

    Anyhoo.....as I looked at it trying figure out if it was worth the $75 they were asking, it popped into my head that it would make an excellent stand for a flatscreen monitor!

    The top "trapdoor" lid that allowed access to the receiver, tape deck and turntable was heavily built so I think it could support the weight of even one of the larger plasmas out there. And the height of the console itself seemed like it would raise most flatscreens to a easy-on-the-eyes level.

    But if you are looking to put together a system for more casual use, these could play another role besides just holding up the visual portion of an HT system..........

    The question of sound: this particular console included, for each channel, a 10" woofer and a 3" cone tweeter. I know because I could see them through the back's cover piece which was full of ventilation holes. Yes, the woofers were in a open-baffle enclosure, very typical of the console genre. And if you've ever heard one of these systems, you know the bass is not exactly accurate but boy can they thump!! [​IMG] Twelve and even 15" woofers were also common, along with horn tweeters and mids.

    I grew up listening to 2 of these systems at friends and relatives homes and even as a teen knew they weren't audiophile grade but again, most were enjoyable to listen to and quite a few were actually near separates quality, though excpet for the larger consoles obviously there isn't a lot of stereo separation & sharp imaging going on.

    Woofers/tweeters/etc were built with materials that age very slowly and most still work, but the electronics in a console will very probably need some work and may not work period (the tag on the Motorola said it "worked well" & even offered a demo, but it didn't state what part worked well).

    Anyway, if you're into carpentry you could probably get newer components to fit (keep in mind the gears' ventilation issues!) but another more viable option would be to bypass the electronics and drive the internal speakers with your own modern system mounted elsewhere.

    I like seeing indicator lights on my system, the more the better [​IMG] but don't much like seeing them right alongside the monitor at night while trying to watch a movie - the suspension of disbelief thing tends to get pretty shaky, especially when watching westerns! So a small rack located somewhere else with speaker cables leading into the console would be a good idea in that case.

    Just thought someone might be able to benefit from all those consoles sitting unused in peoples' basements and garages, too well-made to just throw away but not quite sure what else to use them for.
     
  2. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I think that is a cool idea for a Plasma stand. Why spend all the major bucks when you can get a great stand and conversation piece at the same time for a lot less money. I have an old Radiola that is in a beautiful cabinet. When people see the crank on the side they can't help but ask to hear it. I too grew up with those old console sets from RCA, Motorola, Zenith and Quasar. At the time the kicked ass playing back LPs. I still wish I had my Pioneer RT 707 Reel to Reel.

    Parker
     
  3. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    The LCD flat panel in my bedroom is sitting on top of a gutted 21" Zenith console tv cabinet circa 1956. My bed is very high so the vertical orientation of the tv cabinet raises the lcd to a perfect height. The cabinet has doors in the front and my dvd player sits on a shelf inside the cabinet.

    If you look at this brochure it's the one on the right end of the middle row of sets:

    http://www.tvhistory.tv/1956-Zenith-USA-Brochure.JPG
     
  4. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Whew I'm not alone! [​IMG]

    A Radiola? Nice! And with a crank? Would that be a AM radio with a wind-up 78rpm phonograph inside?

    Steve: that's pretty. I have a good feeling it has no problem holding up a modern monitor's weight. :wink:
     
  5. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    Console stereos were looked down upon by "real" audiophiles back in that era (1960's or so). One of the first comments was "not enough distance between the left and right speakers".

    They also overstated the audio power in those days. I still remember a comment in a Consumer Reports magazine about "a 300 watt console stereo that was tested to have two watts per channel".

    I have the remains of a portable (small suitcase size) AM radio with wind-up 78 RPM phonograph. It has the Sears brand name. The phonograph used an electronic pickup and the radio's amplifier stage instead of a horn. Unfortunately the electronic chassis is missing.
     
  6. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Sounds like a good desert island music system, and for a substitute battery using a sour-tasting tropical fruit + two differing metal strips stuck in it. [​IMG]

    BTW: it was not uncommon for these consoles to have three channel amps in them, one channel for the right speaker system, one for the left system and the third for a large woofer. Yep, a type of early sat + sub system. I saw one of these, a Motorola, at a consignment shop here about 5 years ago. It was in mint condition and they wanted $450 for it.

    Check this out: somebody made a video (it's sold now) for a 1960s Magnavox tube-equipped console, which he turns on and demonstrates. And we have to wait for the tubes to warm up - cool! - which he also shows us, their red glow clearly evident. He also hooks up a CD player to it - digital meets classic analog......
     
  7. Jeff_CusBlues

    Jeff_CusBlues Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the linking to the video. I love looking at those old systems. I am 46, and my family had an RCA unit for years. It had an AM/FM tuner and turntable. The sound wasn't bad and was our "go to" stereo when I was a kid. My friend's family had a nicer sounding unit, but I can't remember what brand. My friend's mom and dad always called there unit "the Hi-Fi".
     

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