View Full Version : Modernizing a console stereo?


Vinylmasters
09-24-2013, 12:33 PM
I'm posting this under turntables, mainly because this will be the biggest challenge, as you'll see below....

Now, this might be a pretty radical idea (and perhaps one that might not work so well, but...), and I'm sure some others might have tried this too, but I'm really thinking of taking an old console stereo, gutting that sucker and rebuilding it from the ground up with better stereo components. But the kicker - and what I can't be sure of - is I want to make the cabinet a subwoofer as well since most seem to have had big old woofers in them anyway. BUT - I'm not sure if the lower frequencies this would give are going to cause a problem with the turntable with feedback and skipping. Has anyone else ever attempted such a 'Frankenstein's Monster' before?

I can isolate the speaker chambers with insulation and wood, but will it be enough? Are there tables that would work better in this type of environment than others? Is there a way to almost 'soundproof' the table section?

Or - am I just losing it? lol!

mfrench
09-24-2013, 01:00 PM
I did a "franken-console" renovation. It was a smaller mono console, in fact, with a wind up Tt in it for 78rpm records. The Tt had an early magnetic pickup in it that sent signal to an onboard amp.
I wanted to convert it to a three speed TT, and more modern electronics than it had (console was from early 30's; to be updated with electronics from early to mid-50's).
I first tested for acoustic feedback, and found it to be extremely easy to make it feedback.
My testing consisted of placing two different TT's on the top of the console; one TT was suspended and the other was not.
The suspended deck would not feedback, and the non-suspended deck would readily feedback.
So, I designed a system of suspending a birch plywood plinth within the console, that was suspended on "Superballs"; those high bouncing solid rubber balls of our childhood.

The end result was a console and TT that could be turned up as loud as the amplifier could allow without any feedback.
In my estimation, it would be of high value to develop your build with a TT that is suspended in some way.

Superball suspension on lowest level plinth mounting shelf:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v729/MokePics2/Presto%2015G2%201953%20Idler%20Turntable/IMG_0618JPG.jpg

The plinth is shown in this image in the highest portion of the internal cavity within the plinth. If you look closely, you can see the rubber balls between the shelf and the base of the plinth
They are slightly shining between the layers of the plinth and shelf:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v729/MokePics2/Presto%2015G2%201953%20Idler%20Turntable/IMG_0621JPG.jpg

Suspended deck on lid of console during the testing phase:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v729/MokePics2/Presto%2015G2%201953%20Idler%20Turntable/phonograph%20cabinet/IMG_0575JPG.jpg

Finished plinth and console:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v729/MokePics2/Presto%2015G2%201953%20Idler%20Turntable/IMG_0633.jpg

Multiplex
09-24-2013, 01:23 PM
Unfortunately, most of those old consoles wouldn't make a very good "sub." Most of the speaker cabinets had vented/open backs, and were not "tuned" in any way. The cabinets were usually plywood with an perforated MDF back, which would work okay with full range speakers and the 10-12 watt amps that those consoles started with. If you start pushing low frequencies (sub 80hz) with any kind of power, the cabinet would probably resonate rattle and buzz. And yes, I would expect that feedback through the TT will be a problem. Perhaps you could remove the original speaker baffles, and built your own box out of MDF/particle board to set inside. If you do that, try to shock mount/isolate the sub cabs in some way, and damp the area around the turntable with modeling clay, or screw and glue a heavy layer of MDF underneath. It probably still wouldn't do very well at high volumes, but would probably do okay at lower levels. If the TT is suspended that might help, and you could even damp it with modeling clay, as well.

Vinylmasters
09-24-2013, 02:53 PM
I did a "franken-console" renovation. It was a smaller mono console, in fact, with a wind up Tt in it for 78rpm records. The Tt had an early magnetic pickup in it that sent signal to an onboard amp.
I wanted to convert it to a three speed TT, and more modern electronics than it had (console was from early 30's; to be updated with electronics from early to mid-50's).
I first tested for acoustic feedback, and found it to be extremely easy to make it feedback.
My testing consisted of placing two different TT's on the top of the console; one TT was suspended and the other was not.
The suspended deck would not feedback, and the non-suspended deck would readily feedback.
So, I designed a system of suspending a birch plywood plinth within the console, that was suspended on "Superballs"; those high bouncing solid rubber balls of our childhood.

The end result was a console and TT that could be turned up as loud as the amplifier could allow without any feedback.
In my estimation, it would be of high value to develop your build with a TT that is suspended in some way.

That's pretty slick! I had a feeling feedback would be a big problem. The console I am looking at has a table in it already (it's an old 60's era Magnavox that doesn't have a prayer of working again, but the cabinet is usable), as well as the AM/FM receiver. Both are accessed from the top via sliding doors (table on the left, receiver on the right). I'm hoping that top will eliminate some of the feedback anyway, but the superball idea sure can't hurt either!

Vinylmasters
09-24-2013, 03:00 PM
Unfortunately, most of those old consoles wouldn't make a very good "sub." Most of the speaker cabinets had vented/open backs, and were not "tuned" in any way. The cabinets were usually plywood with an perforated MDF back, which would work okay with full range speakers and the 10-12 watt amps that those consoles started with. If you start pushing low frequencies (sub 80hz) with any kind of power, the cabinet would probably resonate rattle and buzz. And yes, I would expect that feedback through the TT will be a problem. Perhaps you could remove the original speaker baffles, and built your own box out of MDF/particle board to set inside. If you do that, try to shock mount/isolate the sub cabs in some way, and damp the area around the turntable with modeling clay, or screw and glue a heavy layer of MDF underneath. It probably still wouldn't do very well at high volumes, but would probably do okay at lower levels. If the TT is suspended that might help, and you could even damp it with modeling clay, as well.

Yes, I realize this. I would create tuned boxes to fit inside it however and let the sound fire out of the bottom (it would be on hard floor) and stiffen the entire cabinet in various ways to keep it from blowing apart. Satellites would run off of that. I have a Sherwood RV-6010 amp I want to use (it's not the best amp in the world, but it's a beast! lol!) and probably - if I can make it work anyway - a nice Denon DP-51f table I picked up if it will fit 'as is' anyway). I wish I could figure out a way to get a CD player to work with the face facing upward (as the receiver would be installed), but....

KentTeffeteller
09-24-2013, 04:30 PM
Find another Micromatic changer in better order and enjoy the console as is. A sub in the same cabinet as a turntable is a sure recipe to feedback.

Wigwam Jones
09-24-2013, 04:35 PM
I am currently retromodding an old Pilot console in precisely this way. It has sealed speaker cabinets as part of the console. Should be fine once I'm done with it. Current plans include T-amps, DIY pre-amp front end, onboard PC for streaming music as well as digital playback and recording, and touch screen interface. I've got a more modern TT to take the place of the old record changer. Currently undergoing stripping and refinishing, then the hard work begins.

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=536047

Vinylmasters
09-25-2013, 09:38 AM
I am currently retromodding an old Pilot console in precisely this way. It has sealed speaker cabinets as part of the console. Should be fine once I'm done with it. Current plans include T-amps, DIY pre-amp front end, onboard PC for streaming music as well as digital playback and recording, and touch screen interface. I've got a more modern TT to take the place of the old record changer. Currently undergoing stripping and refinishing, then the hard work begins.

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=536047

Ha! Love it! I'll be following your thread closely no doubt! :yes:

Years ago when I was a kid, my folks had a pretty neat GE 'console'. It was actually an 'uprigfht' - looked like a grandfather clock - and actually had a clock for the top too. The turntable was on a fold-up tray, the (small!) receiver behind another door, and the bottom had room for either the speakers or records (which would have been ideal for a sub truthfully!). It wasn't the best sounding setup, but it sure was a unique one for sure! I always wanted to find another one to rebuild, but...

gadget73
09-25-2013, 09:54 AM
"clock radios" are sort of an old thing. Lots were made in the 1930s, though those were just AM radios with an electric clock movement in the top. They are kinda cool though if you have the space for one.

Wigwam Jones
09-25-2013, 10:19 AM
Ha! Love it! I'll be following your thread closely no doubt! :yes:

Years ago when I was a kid, my folks had a pretty neat GE 'console'. It was actually an 'uprigfht' - looked like a grandfather clock - and actually had a clock for the top too. The turntable was on a fold-up tray, the (small!) receiver behind another door, and the bottom had room for either the speakers or records (which would have been ideal for a sub truthfully!). It wasn't the best sounding setup, but it sure was a unique one for sure! I always wanted to find another one to rebuild, but...

Thanks, I hope it turns out well. I have not been able to work on it the last two weekends, due to work requirements. Hope to get back to it this weekend, need to get the wood refinish work done before the weather changes and I have to cart it into the basement for the winter.

I'm not the first person to do something like this, of course. Many have had the notion to retromod a console, and I just think it's a great idea.

So many consoles go by the wayside because the tube amps they once held have been removed and no one wants the carcass; or in some cases, the coolest consoles held solid-state amps and no one wants those amps, so retromodding an old console carcass is not only a great way to keep them in service in some form, but the just look the business. I think they can sound good too, or at least I hope mine will. Hope yours does too!