View Full Version : Modular Component Systems??? Who really made these

07-11-2007, 06:38 PM
I picked up a Modular Component Systems 3223 Stereo Receiver the other day.

Can't really find out too much about it. From the looks of other MCS rigs, I get the feeling that these were really made by Kenwood.

Can anyone shed any light on the matter?

07-11-2007, 06:44 PM
I've read everything from Panasonic/Technics to NEC to Hitachi, and believe at least some of that to be true. As I understand, a lot of it was good stuff. I've got the BIG guy...MCS 3215. Conservatively rated at 125WPC, $900.00 retail in '81 and built like a tank. It sounds great, but I've sat it aside for a time so that I can enjoy my Pioneer-SX1010.

07-11-2007, 07:02 PM
Welcome to AK metalmando :wave:

You could be very correct. I think they were sold at JCpenny's. But rat shack carried audio gear made by someone else. So I don't think who actually sold it matters.

07-11-2007, 07:09 PM
Yes, it was sold by JCP, and perhaps overlooked because of that in some cases. These days a lot of folks like the MCS 3125 for instance, but no one was going to pay JC PENNEY $900.00 for a stereo receiver. Wow...I made $3.35 an hour in 1982, so I wasn't going to do that either!

07-11-2007, 07:53 PM
Sonny has info that Itoh Electronics built these for J C Penny.

07-11-2007, 08:00 PM
Some were Technics some may have been Kenwood I saw one that looked like a Sanyo some were an outfit called Itoh Electronics. I think like most other JC Penny, Sears, Montgomery Ward house brand products were low bidder at the time. A friend of mine still has a MCS by Technics receiver I can't remember the model #, I found him the matching TT & cassette deck years ago, sounds pretty nice.

07-12-2007, 05:43 AM
I have an MCS 3700 tuner, which is a twin to an NEC tuner.

07-12-2007, 08:58 AM
I picked up a MCS 3223 for free the other day is why I'm currious. All I could deduce was that penny's sold them.

I get a kick out of the 2n3055 finals it uses. You can get those anywhere. Even radio shack.

I think I may use it to build my ouw pre and power amp in it. Keep the tuner though, it actually works pretty well.

I like to fraknestien things. And this appears to be a good candidate. I have a good 45volt center tap power transformer in the closet so I'll have to go off of that.

07-12-2007, 11:21 AM
I'm pretty sure Itoh was a middleman of sorts in the grand scheme of things. JC Penney probably gave them specs to work with and they shopped the idea around until they found a builder. That said the 3125 which is supposedly the product of this Itoh is among the better designed pieces of equipment I've seen and certainly the best MCS receiver. Other stuff could have been from anyone. I've got an MCS Series A 6801 CD Player circa 1984 which is a Technics (says Technics right on the boards you can see through the vent holes) right down to the odd pitch control they used to put on them. I've got the 3050 tuner (the one with AM stereo) which says NEC on the internal circuit boards.

07-12-2007, 12:13 PM
Pretty sure it was the same for JCP as Radio Shack, at least in the 70's, they drew up basic concepts and put them out to bid.

You'll find that some of the better RS headphones are even embossed with the KOSS logo.

07-12-2007, 01:39 PM
I have the 3275. I don't really use it but it sure is purty when turned on and all the lights lit up...

07-12-2007, 07:31 PM
There are many Japanese electronics manufacturing companies besides the name brand makers. These companies would bid, and manufacture the gear according to spec. Lots of parts off the shelf, and sure they could oddly resemble one or more brand name models.

07-25-2007, 09:27 PM
Just got a JC Penny's MCS 2000 receiver Says JC Penny in upper right hand corner. Lovely champagne color. Nice looking but not real built. Plays just fine. $19.

Thing is it's titled differently. Now it says Modular Component Systems with an s in upper left hand corner. Just below the vcolume knob middle center, it says Panasonic over MCS Series.

All my other MCS gear says Modular Component System without the s and no mfg info until you get inside. Broc :)

08-02-2007, 02:43 AM
I demand a shootout with a Concept 11.0.

Saw my first MCS 3125 3 weeks ago. At a garage sale...but away from the sale items... :grumpy:

The owner refused to sell it to me--for now. (she just inherited it...sentimental value...sincerly...but check back in a couple months ok?) but it was there hooked up to some garbage, White Van Special or worse speakers. :puke:

Sleeper to the max... tutti-frutti vacuum flourescent blinky lights in a helix pattern on the front! 153 LEDs (a record?). Needs its YouTube site, static pics don't convey the effect.

Appears impossible to think its on bully's marvelous lists--a Direct Coupled, 50 lb TOTL generating an honest >125wpc .01-.03%. full-bandwith THD.

:king: MCS 3125 shrine (Nudie pic!) at Sonny's MCS page (

In retrospective seems preposterous...but it's 1981 baaabbyy.. that was tres chic...

Check those 'Mark Levinson' extruded aluminum side flares...don't need no stinkin' fans...:smoke:

Fred Longworth
08-02-2007, 02:58 AM
A large number of MCS units were made by Panasonic, and relabeled.

When I was a manager in the Panasonic Service Division, we had constant problems with these machines. The JC Penney salesperson would say, "This is really a Panasonic," in order to make the sale.

But when these Panasonic/MCS units were brought into Panasonic Service for repair, we were under explicit instructions NOT to fix them, because Panasonic had a side-deal with JC Penney to steer service to the JC Penney repair department.


08-02-2007, 03:16 PM
I picked up a 80 WPC MCS receiver a couple of weeks ago, probably the last of the aluminum units before they started to go plastic. It has a nice hardwood case and all. However, it is a little lightweight and feels less impressive than any of the mainstream brands, even the Realistic of the day. I'm sure they were priced under the competition. They reflect that fact, IMO.

Its a good unit and all, just a bit overkill in it visual presentation considering what is actually inside. In that regard, it feels a bit cheesy, whereas a Yamaha feels like pure class. Just one opinion.

It will make a GREAT freebie for one of the neighbor kids.


08-02-2007, 05:22 PM
I have an MCS Turntable... I love it. It is really heavy, and I have never hae had any problems with it. I like that its a fully automatic table too. Mine looks very basic. The public works in town has an MCS reciver... I wonder...

08-02-2007, 09:47 PM
MCS is for show and go. My 3245 is got the deco look of post WW-II with a decent amp. It's not world class in anything other than switches, meters and knobs. But, it sucks in the faint over the hill (literally) FM station I like with it's no nonsense low grade tuner. All the better gear gets hung up on adjacent channels, sun spots, truckers going by, etc. The MCS just doesn't hear that stuff, so it's a keeper for the shop ! :music:

08-03-2007, 12:03 AM
The 3125 is a crowning achievement in the MCS line IMHO, it has the guts to back its fancy looks. Most who have tried one have will probably agree that it is an excellent sounding receiver. Performance excellent and as good or better than mostly everything in its power class. I've got the scans of it's test report somewhere on one of my hard drives, if anyone is interested in seeing them send me a PM and I'll email them out. The better models stand out, the lower end stuff blends in, it was not unique to MCS though some other brands are quite similar. Fisher comes to mind. While their 90wpc RS-1058 is middle of the road for its power class in terms of performance, the 125wpc RS-1060 is quite possibly the best of that power class (IMHO the 3125 is probably the closest to it in terms of overall performance at that level).

08-03-2007, 12:31 AM
Well, it looks like at least for the 3275 the manufacturer was NEC...or the same contract manufacturer was used by both (MCS 3275 on left, NEC AUR 8075 on right):

08-14-2007, 01:33 PM
Nice pic!

08-14-2007, 05:47 PM
Good info. I also have a 3275 as my workbench receiver.

01-22-2008, 12:59 PM
My main turntabe is an MCS. Nothing fancy but it works great.
Direct drive, strobe, pitch control, auto.

I'll eventually replace it with a nice Marantz woodbase unit, but only for asthetics.

01-22-2008, 05:12 PM
I just got a mint, with manuals 3233, I love the thing, well constructed, decent size power supply and sounds pretty good as long as you don't push it to the point of clipping. Then it gets really nasty very fast.

I've had it hooked up to Bose 201s for the last couple of days, I was going to sell it orginally but I think I'm hanging on to it now.

01-22-2008, 06:15 PM

I had a MCS turntable which was actually a Technics SL-Q2 with slightly different styling. Some MCS gear was also manufactured by Foster Electronics of Japan (Fostex) and some of it made by NEC Japan!

01-25-2008, 01:56 PM
Well, it looks like at least for the 3275 the manufacturer was NEC...or the same contract manufacturer was used by both (MCS 3275 on left, NEC AUR 8075 on right):

This would tend to make me believe the 3253 was sourced from the same manufacturer -- whomever -- due to similarity in controls, layout, and components. :yes:

02-17-2012, 02:37 PM
OK, I know I am way late to the party here- not sure if anyone who knows anything about these units is still connected to this site, but I will give it a shot.

My son picked up an MCS 3215 Stereo Receiver from my uncle. It was in his garage- said it didn't work. I have yet to test it, as they were cleaning out the garage due to a water leak caused by clogged gutters. My son said this was "under water" but I know that to be a bit of hyperbole, as there was no standing water in the garage. Maybe it got wet, I don't know, going to give it a few days to dry out just in case, before I test it.

I opened it up. Sadly, this doesn't look to be any spectacular unit. I don't see any output ratings anywhere, but it consumes 195W. There is a large heat sink with an amp attached marked "STK459 Stereo Amplifier". From what I gather, that is 2x15W. Oooo. Aaaaa. Impressive. /sarcasm

Obviously NOT one of the models of legend I read about above.

OK, so is not likely worth much, except maybe as a trot line anchor, if that. I cant help myself, I have to FIX stuff. I find the analog tuner does not want to turn. Its not frozen, but likely the shafts were seized up enough to damage the gearing, so its movement is very intermittent, and difficult. Its a tiny little tuner- IMO- but I have to ask... is it replaceable?

That said, I must be crazy to even want to fix this unless somebody knows something I don't know about this unit. I mean, I was thinking of pulling the Technics SU-V78 out of the garage ($3.00 garage sale item- had a blown fuse) and replacing it with this.

02-17-2012, 03:00 PM
Looks pretty low end to me too.

02-17-2012, 03:14 PM
Looks pretty low end to me too.

Yes, it has to be. I mean, just look at it... weak!

Was not really worth my time to post it up here, now that I think of it, or your time to read this. I was just confused when one of the early posters in this thread said he had this same model # and it was 125Wpc, really nice, etc... I don't doubt him, but obviously something changed between when they built his and mine.

02-17-2012, 08:40 PM
The 3125 is the good one, the 3215 is probably about as far down the line from it as you can get. JC Penney sourced this stuff from a few companies, NEC, Sanyo, Technics, I'm going to guess that low end one is a Sanyo build, looks similar to one of the other Sanyo built MCS units I have in terms of layout. While Sanyo could and did build good stuff it seems their MCS branded stuff topped off around 30wpc or so, so mostly lower end fare.

02-18-2012, 03:47 AM
It looks like MCS BOTL model, guessing early 80's due to LED's replacing the signal strength meter. Maybe 15 - 25 watts per channel. It is a nice unit to practice doing repair on it. That way if you do break something, it's no big loss.

08-26-2014, 01:10 AM
The MCS 3223 looks like a Technics receiver. When I first saw one for sale on eBay, I immediately thought to myself that was a Technics product. Looks like the 76-77 era generation of receivers with a similar radio dial.

I have bought and resold several MCS turntables, that were all made by Technics. The latest one is a MCS 6601 that I just bought yesterday on eBay. They have all played real nice. I always swap out the factory RCA cables and put on modern surround sound type RCA cables in their place and they sound just as good as the Technics tables I do the same swap with.

The MCS table's controls are usually different and the bases feel lighter weight and were not made from the same exact material as their Technics' counterpart model. Many parts were identical to the Technics tables.

Would they play as long as a Technics table? I don't see why not as they share the same basic innards and most important electronics. I also get top dollar for the MCS tables when I sell them, as much as I get for my Technics tables.

I haven't bought a MCS or Radio Shack receiver yet. What I have read in this blog sounds correct to me. A friend of mine used to repair stereo equipment (that is now vintage). He explained that Radio Shack did use more than one manufacturer for their receivers (as mentioned above). I had never heard about the middle man that sourced the units for Penny's and RS, so that was news to me and sounds very plausible.

I will say that I am hooked on Technics receivers. I have bought three in the past 4months and still have 2 of them-- SA-400 and SA-505. Both are excellent receivers made in the 1978-80 period. I really like their sound. No "warm and fuzzy" tube amp sound here. Far better than the "Mac wanna own ones" IMHO! Sound is very realistic, well defined, musical and the receivers have a nice strong output at all volume settings. I have them teamed up with some vintage Polk monitor 5A and 7A speakers and Technics tables made in the same period. I am constantly buying and selling Technics turntables, so the model varies at any time. I also have Sansui receiver/amps from the same period and now enjoy listening to the SA-505 more than my Sansui G-5700 receiver!

Technics receivers are often under-rated by electronics dummies and Marantz snobs who have never heard one and have read only about the period criticism of their cheaper cabinets. I never heard a cabinet that made a difference in a receiver's sound though, have you? LOL