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Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

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  • Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

    I recently acquired an old Zenith console radio. You can find a picture of a similar radio here. The original electronics and speakers are beyond help, but the cabinets itself is in great shape. I'm planning to put some modern electronics inside and was wondering what I should do with respect to speakers...

    I've got quite a bit of woodworking experience, passable soldering skills, and I've built a couple of sub-woofer enclosures for my car so I think I'm ready to tackle an entry-level speaker project. Seems like that might lead to better results that just trying to bolt some pre-built speakers into the chassis. Then again, maybe not?

    Can anyone point me in the right direction? I'm looking to build something that's going to sound decent (better than a boom box or cheap "bookshelf" stereo system) and not break the bank. Ideally, I'd like to spend no more than about $200 on parts. I mostly listen to jazz and older rock, with a bit of classical thrown in now and then. The inside dimensions of the area the speaker system will occupy are approximately 26"w x 27"h x 14"d. There's an opening at the front of the cabinet that is approximately 16"w x 20"h. The back and bottom of the cabinet are completely open. Because of the overall size of the cabinet (28"w x42"h x 15"d), it will end up being placed within an inch or two of a wall.

    Thanks for the help!
    -- Scott

  • #2
    Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

    Wasn't that mono with a single cutout for a 10"?
    "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
    “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
    "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

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    • #3
      Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

      I suggest you think about what you want to achieve....a sound similar to the original, or the best sound you can get with updated drivers.

      All those old radios that I have seen did have open cabinets. I would think there should be some reasonably priced drivers that would work. Just find a tweeter &/or mid to complement it.

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      • #4
        Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

        Originally posted by Sydney View Post
        Wasn't that mono with a single cutout for a 10"?
        Yes the original was monophonic with a 10" or 12" driver centered in the middle of a 16"x20" mounting board.

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        • #5
          Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

          I just stumbled on an old Philco that I would love to fix up as well. I dont mean to thread jack, but what are the options for some full range 10" woofers to replace the originals with?

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          • #6
            Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

            SSTORKEL:
            I'd be inclined to utilize that hole: Sub in the Zenith - Either with the same size driver open back
            ( perhaps a driver used in a dipole ) or a hidden/separate box inside that used the cutout.
            And browse images for antique extension speakers and fashion L & R satellites that resemble them with a good co-ax driver inside.
            I haven't done one but I like the idea of preserving the woodwork and original look without additional visible mods. ( a sleeper )
            "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
            “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
            "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

              Originally posted by marvin View Post
              I suggest you think about what you want to achieve....a sound similar to the original, or the best sound you can get with updated drivers.
              I want the best possible (stereo) sound using updated drivers. Granted, I'm not expecting to get great stereo imaging since everything has to fit into a cabinet that's only 2-feet wide... I've thought about having a separate satellite enclosure that sits to the left or right of the main cabinet, but I'd really like the project to be self-contained.

              Placement options for the drivers are pretty limited inside the cabinet, and less than ideal, so I'll probably want something that sounds reasonably good off-access. The existing driver is mounted to a piece of plywood that's positioned in front of the cabinet opening (the opening is covered with an Art Deco grill cloth which is in good shape). Very easy to replace the mounting board with a custom-made enclosure or replacement mounting board.

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              • #8
                Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

                What are you planning to use for your source?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

                  Originally posted by sstorkel View Post
                  I want the best possible (stereo) sound using updated drivers. Granted, I'm not expecting to get great stereo imaging since everything has to fit into a cabinet that's only 2-feet wide... I've thought about having a separate satellite enclosure that sits to the left or right of the main cabinet, but I'd really like the project to be self-contained.

                  Placement options for the drivers are pretty limited inside the cabinet, and less than ideal, so I'll probably want something that sounds reasonably good off-access. The existing driver is mounted to a piece of plywood that's positioned in front of the cabinet opening (the opening is covered with an Art Deco grill cloth which is in good shape). Very easy to replace the mounting board with a custom-made enclosure or replacement mounting board.
                  A Subwoofer mounted in the existing location with L & R speakers mounted recessed into the sides firing toward the back wall at 45% would provide the best simulated stereo effect if you want to keep everything in the one cabinet.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

                    Originally posted by Johnnycat View Post
                    What are you planning to use for your source?
                    Haven't made a firm decision yet...

                    The leading contender is my SqueezeBox Duet. It sounds decent through my home theater system and plays just about anything I can imagine: CDs ripped in FLAC format, Internet radio, most streaming music services. Easy to combine the Duet and an inexpensive receiver in the top of the cabinet and control everything with the WiFi Duet remote.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

                      Originally posted by MagicO309d View Post
                      A Subwoofer mounted in the existing location with L & R speakers mounted recessed into the sides firing toward the back wall at 45% would provide the best simulated stereo effect if you want to keep everything in the one cabinet.
                      I like this idea. Imaging will suffer a little but you could get a full surround sound effect in the right room. Maybe use full range drivers in back and a Pro-audio 10" woofer that can extend up to cross at somewhere ~200hz to 350hz. Do you have a budget?

                      THAT CONSOLE IS BEAUTIFUL! What does the current driver look like? Some of the old Alnico drivers really stood the test of time and still sound great. Where will this be located, how big a room, floor covering, ceiling height?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?



                        A friend of mine asked me to meet with him this Sunday about this very thing. He doesn't understand why I can't just build a pair of small bookshelves and put them in the cavities where the speakers were. I guess we could and he'd probably never know... but I would. Once I have more info next week I'll probably have a similar thread myself.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

                          Originally posted by 901Fixer View Post
                          I like this idea. Imaging will suffer a little but you could get a full surround sound effect in the right room. Maybe use full range drivers in back and a Pro-audio 10" woofer that can extend up to cross at somewhere ~200hz to 350hz. Do you have a budget?
                          Ideally, I'd like to spend $200 or less for the drivers, enclosures, and crossover.

                          THAT CONSOLE IS BEAUTIFUL! What does the current driver look like? Some of the old Alnico drivers really stood the test of time and still sound great. Where will this be located, how big a room, floor covering, ceiling height?
                          The current driver looks like it's been sitting in a garage/attic/barn for the last 20+ years. Given the age (60-70 years?) I wasn't terribly interested in reusing it, so I haven't really looked at it...

                          The console will be located in an L-shaped room that serves as the living/dining area for the house. One leg of the L is 20' x 13', the other leg is 24' x 9'. The 24' wall has quite a few floor-to-ceiling windows and a door to the back yard. I'll probably end up putting the cabinet in the 20'x13' section of the L, so it isn't aimed directly at the windows. The roof there is peaked, so ceiling height ranges from 9' down to a bit less than 8'. Wood floors with several large area rugs.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

                            Most Philco and Zenith's of that era used 12" electromagnet speakers (my grand father had a Philco I tried to salvage and my neighbor across the street from my parent's house had a Zenith 1946 Model 23 "Fishbowl" 20 bander...both used Quam electromagnetic speakers of very high impedence (45Ohm+). With age, the electromagnet would seize up (rust) and burn-up the coil and the power transformer. All the old push-button contacts pitted and went bad too. I too would suggest using the main cabinet as a sub, making the upper portion open for the modern "goodies" inside (hinged with holder hinges or piston lifts maybe), and "duplicate" the shape/style in a .37-.6 cu. ft. bookshelf type 2-way speaker. A decent 10" sub with the 240 watt sale plate amp should work nicely in the volume you have available. I think you could build some very nice 16L+ mini-monitors with some 5 1/2"- 6 1/2" woofers that would integrate sonically with a sub-woofer. The late Art-Deco early Streamlined styling is being appreachiated again (I always liked it alot), so if possible, save the old cabinet!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Speakers for Console Radio Re-build?

                              Ihave already done 2 of these, one was trial, the other we went with bookshelf speakers inside the cavity. To reproduce the output of the original, and even slightly better, it will not take much, as the user shouldnt expect much without all of the same challenges we face building "normal" speakers.

                              The first trial one, we attempted to use the same "structure" and the entire unit vibrated and hummed...it would have needed a furniture grade resto and rebuild to be able to withstand modern drivers. Note that both units I did were stereo, thus off axis response wasnt one of my main concerns since there were 2 "speakers" one at each end.

                              We used repurposed multimedia chipamps, which came with volume controls and ipod connectivity. Your idea of the squeezebox is far more advanced than what we used.

                              As mentioned in another thread, I have 2 more units available for free. One is a 1942 silvertone, and the other is a 1970's stereo unit with fully functioning electronics. If you are near NH and want one, PM me for pics.

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