Thread Number: 74262  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
the ultimate RCA Victrola HiFi console
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Post# 980439   1/29/2018 at 15:01 (259 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        

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The 1956 Mark I RCA console, complete with Magnecord M30 tape recorder in RCA decor, RCA record player, console version of the famous commercial RCA SP-20 Parallel Push Pull 4 x 6V6gt amp, and 4 speakers in the huge separate speaker cabinet. This mono monster retailed for $1600 that year, about the price of a Chevy sedan! not to be outdone they later came out with a stereo version that used 2 of these amps! The ad speaks to the kind of clientele who could afford to own one, the luxe product of a bygone era indeed. That's over $12,000 in todays moolah!

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Post# 980492 , Reply# 1   1/29/2018 at 19:32 (259 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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Very nice, and what a great advertisement...although I think she's a little overdressed for sitting on the floor.

Post# 980540 , Reply# 2   1/30/2018 at 03:02 (259 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Super nice!!!!Would have liked to see shops of the "6V6 PP parallelamp!" Magnavox did this in their CG hi-fi consoles.Today--some mad guitarist would love to use that amp and speaker as a G-Fiddle Amp!Would like to know what speakers were in that HUGE cabinet!Since its that size the PP parallel 6V6 amp would be all it needed!Magnecord recorders-seen the 3 motor version in radio stations-have one packed in field cases.Still works!Somehow the TT looks like VM.Would think this could be upgraded to stereo-add another cab and amp-put a stereo cartridge and cable in the TT and stereo heads and R/P amp in the recorder.Oh yes,setereo multiplex adaptor in the tuner.

Post# 980541 , Reply# 3   1/30/2018 at 03:04 (259 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Another thing---RCA had "high end" HI-Fi of 1956!!!

Post# 980547 , Reply# 4   1/30/2018 at 06:08 (258 days old) by TheSpiritOf76 (wichita kansas, Historic Midtowne.)        
I love these console ads!...LOL...

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I too often sit on the floor in a ball gown to listen to my console system! HA!

Post# 980549 , Reply# 5   1/30/2018 at 06:16 (258 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Oh yes-also in those old hi-fi ads when you see record albums and covers strewn about on the floor with the floor laying or seated listener.No wonder why record cleaners came about later!

Post# 980551 , Reply# 6   1/30/2018 at 06:34 (258 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

Reel-to-reel tape: As a kid, I used reel-to-reel tape all the time. It's all there was! Had a small portable to carry around and a bigger, suitcase-sized Sears (in my house, what other brand could it be?) unit that handled large reels.  Received a portable laptop cassette recorder (yes, Sears) for Christmas in '71 or thereabouts.  My life changed.


Jesus, an RCA stereo priced at the cost of a car.  Appliances and electronics are so (relatively) inexpensive today that we forget what a huge investment such things were back in the 1950s-early '60s; they required parting with a substantial lump of your annual income.

Post# 980555 , Reply# 7   1/30/2018 at 06:54 (258 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I have a Zenith

A cousin bought new in 1962 that was around 400.00, which was still a lot of money then, it sounds as good as I remember as a kid.

Post# 980581 , Reply# 8   1/30/2018 at 11:13 (258 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
Here's a pic of the amp Rex...

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in it's console guise, and pic 5 is of the commercial version, which was also sold also by top HiFi shops as a component amplifier, frequently with the renowned RCA LC-1 speaker and RCAs VoM-made record player.

The speaker cabinet contained one 15" woofer, one 5" mid-range, and two 3" tweeters, the latter mounted on an angled panel that aimed each one R or L.

It even came with it's own RCA-made microphone for live recording on the Magnecord-built R2R. The amp also used a choke for filtering DC supply, a feature that had been mostly eliminated by this time by bean counters due to cost. This thing was build to a standard, not to a price.

I've been offered one of these monsters by the long time owner, mostly working and complete, and somewhat cosmetically challenged. It needs all speakers re-coned, and will be a major commitment in both time and space.It will probably eventually get donated to a local mid- 20th Century technology museum when we're done playing with it and getting it fully back up to snuff. Exceptional creations like this should be preserved, as we will certainly never see their like again.

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Post# 980586 , Reply# 9   1/30/2018 at 12:04 (258 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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My Dad bought my Mom an RCA HiFi in 1956 that was the same Cherry finish as the one in the original post, only it was in the Early American style then in vogue. The cabinet had doors to conceal the workings of the HiFi, the turntable was in a drawer that pulled out. There was a provision for an additional speaker cabinet like in the OP (we didn’t have the extra speaker cabinet), with two buttons over the top of the tuner that could be engaged to provide either HiFi or Stereo sound. I have never heard any sound system that had a richer and warmer sound to the music that came out of the speakers. The first album that Mom bought was the original broadway sound track for “My Fair Lady” . Of course, I and my siblings weren’t supposed to touch the new HiFi, but we did whenever we thought we could get away with it. I can still see myself sitting in front ot this wonderful RCA listening tto the KSRO broadcast on stormy days, hoping to hear that bus number 5 wouldn’t be running due to rising flood waters, thereby getting me out of school for the day.

And like Eugene, I too received a portable tape recorder one Christmas, 1962 to be exact. It was my very favorite Christmas gift I’d ever received up to that time. I took it everywhere!.

Thanks for the great memories!


Post# 980674 , Reply# 10   1/31/2018 at 02:22 (258 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Firedome:Interfesting pictures of the components of that system.Note the console amp on a utilitarian chassis-the component one on a nicer chassis.For equipment pricing-check out the "High end" systems of today-yes-you can pay 2 mil for a pair of Living Presence Palladium" speaker system-it comes with the amps-all tubed except the subwoofers.1200W SS amp for that!and--$28,000 reworked Tascam RR tape machines and $400 tapes to play on them!!!!Tasam and Otari RR machines were mainstays in radio stations during later years-worked on them-they ost the station $6k new from a broadcast supplier.

Post# 980699 , Reply# 11   1/31/2018 at 08:30 (257 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
The preamps, multiplex decoders, amps and tuners were often

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Every bit on a par with HI-FI of that era and still stand on their own today.

The turntables were not that bad, mechanically. V-M gets an undeserved bad rep.

The tonearms and cartridges, however....


Post# 980739 , Reply# 12   1/31/2018 at 13:04 (257 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
yes the record player

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arm/cartridge combo might be a bit hard on good LPs, one might use it for LPs that have some wear already and put a modern TT on top as an auxilary. One unique feature of the Mk 1 is that the original cartridge in the Mark I was an ESL (now Ortofon) moving coil and because of its very low outpu the preamp/tuner unit had an extra stage to boost it, making it difficult to use a moving magnet cartridge now, necessary since the ESL stylus has been NLA for a long time. One can bypass that stage to use a modern cartridge and some have done this.

Post# 980753 , Reply# 13   1/31/2018 at 14:10 (257 days old) by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        
For the cost of that RCA unit...

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Back then, couldn't one buy symphony season tickets, opera tickets, and Frank Sinatra concert tickets for less than that amount of money? Rock had not come along yet and for rock, most people had separate components and speakers.

Post# 980839 , Reply# 14   2/1/2018 at 09:20 (256 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Pickering/Stanton, V-M/Gerrard, Collaro/BSR

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I've always felt that it was best to spend the most money on the turntable/cartridge/stylus and to save on other components.

That said, one must be especially careful when dealing with equipment from this era. The 'Pickering is not bad, not bad at all...for a V-M or Gerrard but for the better turntables, one must really use Stanton' must have left their marketing people rolling in the aisles. The difference between the two was purely marketing - they were absolutely identical, just marketed under different names to different target groups.

Ditto the whole Macintosh/Marantz* argument or any of the other discussions which went on for decades.

A high-end V-M or Knight or Collaro or one of the real Zenith 2G turntables will not damage a record. That Ortofon cartridge, if it still works and one can get a stylus for it, sounded really really good back in the day. Bet it still does. As to really valuable vinyl, Roger is right. 


*Marantz back then had zero, zilch, nada, nichts, nothing to do with the Marantz which someone under 60 knows and so there's no need to write a long comment on how comparing the two is like discussing a gen-u-whine GM Thumper and a WWI piece of excrement labeled Frigidaire. Marantz was, once, one of the elite group of outstanding component builders.

Post# 980870 , Reply# 15   2/1/2018 at 15:56 (256 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
the wealthy true "audiophools" of that time

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were using GArrard Transcription model 301, Fairchild 412, or Thorens TD-124 turntables with separately provided Gray or ESL arms to mate with their Marantz Model 1, 2 and 5s or Mc30 amps and preamps, and their Klipschorn, Altec VOT or ElectroVoice Patrician speakers. Rarely would one see a VoM, Collaro &c record changer matched with the type of "hi-end" (before it was called as such) equipment owned by the Physician/Attorney HiFi bug crowd, although they were perfectly fine for their intended, albeit somewhat less perfectionist, purpose, though not always compatible with the best type of MC and MM cartridges that began replacing ceramics beginning with the advent of the GE VR variable reluctance and Pickering magnetics, and the Mk I/ESL was designed to be a SOTA superior performer to even those.

Yet that Mk I ESL/Ortofon MC cartridge was totally obsolete by 1958/9 and the stylus itself NLA by '61 or '62, as the market shifted completely to stereo. There may have been more than a few significantly peeved Mk I owners a mere 2-3 years after they had bought their gold-plated monophonic dinosaurs, given the steep price of entry and the fact that RCA had made zero provision to upgrade one to stereo. The unfortunate Mk I owner did always have the option to spring for a new '59 stereo version with TWO Mk I amps for a measly 2 grand, though.
That's equivalent to nearly $20,000 these days.

Post# 980872 , Reply# 16   2/1/2018 at 16:08 (256 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
BTW Saul Marantz sold his company

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to Sony/Superscope by the late 60s, who themselves made decently OK SS stuff for a few years, up to the mid-70s or so, but quickly went the route of all products produced by corporate-think and became total bean counter schlock. We had the honor of owning Marantz vacuum tube models 1,2,5,7 and 8b well back before they became so absurdly collectible and dear, along with most of the equivalent McIntosh gear, while writing and editing for a now defunct audio magazine, so there's litte danger of confusing it with any pretenders to the throne.

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