Restoring a Vintage Stereo Console

Restoring a vintage stereo console is a project I’ve wanted to work on for a very long time.  I know, these things are dinosaurs from an era long gone, but I have always had a certain affinity for them.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago I found this piece of furniture and decided it would make a great candidate for restoration – ahem – upgrade…

Some History

Back in the 60’s a console was one of the nicer options to bring hi-fi sound home.  “Separate” components would make the scene a few years later, but this was the way to go in those early days of stereo sound.  This console consists of two stereo speakers on either side.  The center has a lift-up lid that when opened, displayed the magic:

On the left is an automatic record player with a selector for different speeds and on the right, a tuner/amplifier.  Oh and don’t forget a compartment to store records.

This is the audio only version of the console genre:  there were also larger consoles that would not only have the above components but would also house a television.  The TV would be in the center and usually had sliding doors to hide the screen.  My aunt had a Magnavox console with the television set in the center and it was awesome!

The Project

This particular console is a “Silvertone” made for Sears from sometime in the mid to late 60’s.  As expected for a piece of furniture of this era, it is very, very heavy.

I plugged the power cord in the outlet and sure enough, the receiver’s lights came on.  Unfortunately nothing but static and hissing came from the speakers.  I switched the record player on and as expected nothing happened.  I wasn’t expecting much, after all don’t forget this is almost 50-year-old components.

Today, I decided to open the console and disassemble the components.  From the back, this is what the console looks like…

And as expected, there are three separate compartments.  To the extreme left and extreme right you can see the back covers for the speaker enclosures.  In the center, the cover for the amp, tuner and turntable mechanism.

This stuff is ancient!  I found brittle connectors and cables as well.  Also, to the right of the power supply/amplifier I found two shriveled up belts (possibly from the turntable mechanism).

And next, this is what I found in the speaker compartments.  As it turned out, the big woofer is a paper cone affair with a very small magnet and a horn tweeter at the very top.  You can see that in the second photo below.  This must have been state-of-the art when this console was sold but by today’s standards this is not so great (more about this later).

Taking it Apart

Since none of these bits work and the cost to repair would likely be high, the sensible thing to do is to gut the console.  My plan is to replace the old components with a modern integrated amplifier with bluetooth and upgraded speakers.  This way, I can stream music from my iPhone or iPad and in the future I can get a modern turntable for playing my old vinyl collection.

Taking the components apart took patience.  I started by removing the power supply/amplifier by disconnecting wires from the tuner.  There were several that had to be cut but eventually the unit came out.

Next, the record player.  This is what it looked like from below:

It took some doing, but eventually I figured out to remove the safety pin from one stud (above right) – then the whole thing just rotated up.  The record player’s mount consisted of three springs and foam, which by the way had almost completely deteriorated to dust.

The last piece of hardware to go was the tuner.  This took patience but eventually it came out.  At the end of the day, the piece of furniture is now empty!  There is quite a bit of room left to design a new top to house new components.

The top picture is looking at the console from above.  Once I figure out my new components, this will be cut where needed and a new top made to fit.  The last two pictures show what the lower cavity looks like.  You might notice the holes on the “floor” – those were there to help vent the old components.

Finally, the speakers.  This part was very dusty and smelled bad.  The sound baffling insulation was covered in 50 years’ worth of dust.  Once I had that nasty stuff out, I started by removing the paper cone woofer, shown below…

Once the woofer came out, I found this:

LOL!  A center mounted mid-range driver!  At the very top, this is what the horn tweeter looked like:

Eventually, the horn tweeter came out and I was left with only the dark gray mounting plate attached to the inside of the console.  Screws held the mounting plate in place along with the dowels that you can see above.  You can also see the mesh on the other side of the port in the picture above.  That mesh was covered in dust too.

What Next?

Well, this is where the fun begins!

At first, I thought I could re-purpose my vintage NAD 1700 pre-amp by mounting it vertically inside the console after making a new top.  But, the pre-amp is way too wide and has no bluetooth built in.

After several Google searches I have found a few alternatives.  They are all more modern integrated amplifiers with a very small footprint.  I’ve found some with old-fashioned tubes (which would look cool as heck) and the others made from solid state components.  The majority of these modern integrated amps do have bluetooth and some even have a built in DAC and digital input from a computer.  Very nice options indeed.

I’m also researching the speakers.  I’ve found a couple of “kits” I can adapt to fit inside the speaker compartments, which are large enough for a nice option.  Then again, I also have a pair of very nice PSB bookshelf speakers.  However they will need a small subwoofer and real estate is tight.

So, stay tuned.  I’ll have more articles as the project takes shape!  And if you have any suggestions please let me know.  This will be a fun project!

And while on the subject of music…  May the road go on forever for the Midnight Rider…  RIP Greg Allman…  Ramble on…


Care to see how the console looks like today?  For a followup article, see the Restored Vintage Stereo Console page.

15 thoughts on “Restoring a Vintage Stereo Console

  1. robert


    I just saw your posting. I have the EXACT same Hi Fi (Silvertone) I think its a 1967. Was looking to have it restored or turned into a bar… what are your thoughts. Would be interested in selling it for the right price also.

  2. C Chaney

    Did you complete this restore of your vintage stereo? Happened across your webpage on it and wondered. I have the exact same model. Not sure how to get you a pick. I don’t see a place to attach anything. Wondering if you sold it for how much? I haven’t touched mine. Was going to restore until I found out that it was better to leave it alone. I was going to gut it and put my Kenwood receiver, Pioneer turntable and JBL speakers in it.
    Would love to see completed pics?

    1. bowtie6 Post author

      You obviously didn’t read the entire post; you probably only looked at the pictures. If you go back to the post, at the bottom of the article, there is an “Update” paragraph. I have there a link to the other page entitled Restored Vintage Stereo Console where I explain what all changes were made as well as including pictures. You can click on the link and it will take you there…

      I have not sold the console; why do you ask? Are you interested in it?

      Interesting comment – “until I found out that it was better to leave it alone” – these consoles are not exactly audiophile quality, so I don’t understand why one would want to keep the antiquated components. The speakers are cheap paper cones and the electronics are not exactly state of the art.

      I considered using something of good vintage quality but to be honest, there is not that much room to work with. That is why I used the Yamaha wireless receiver – it works so much better and I can do pretty much anything with it. It currently streams music from the web as well as my MacMini media server. I can control this from my iPhone or from the server.

      Check the updated post out and if you have any questions, let me know…

  3. Rick

    Any updates on this? I just inherited a Barzilay cabinet from 1972 and I’m well on my way to converting to 2018 standards. 27″ monitor attached to bottom side of lid, Android PC with 500GB storage with smartphone remote, loaded with hi-res digital content, Yamaha A-S301 integrated amp, Fluance RT81 turntable and all new speakers.

    1. bowtie6 Post author

      Thanks for your entry!

      I have no recent updates on this. However, I have all the pieces in order to make the console functional again. Please, check back and I promise to have an update soon.

      Just too many projects going on.

  4. Michael Gemmell

    My late sister and her husband owned one just like this. I’m writing about her for her grandson, and your photos will be very helpful in telling her grandson about her love of music.

  5. tysonhugie

    This is awesome! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Glad to see a cool old unit like this getting restored and preserved. Looked like it was in pretty nice shape to begin with.

    1. bowtie6 Post author

      Yes, the actual piece of furniture was nice. It might take a little while to get all the pieces set up but I think it will turn out nice. I’ll have updates soon…

  6. Michael Yount

    Reminds of the (then) world class Nordmende console with stacked tower speakers that my dad bought in Germany circa 1963. Wonder what became of it….

      1. Ricky

        I have 2 of these late 60s Sears Silverstone cabinets I bought from a couple in Knoxville a few years ago I also plan on putting in new electronics.

        1. bowtie6 Post author

          Awesome! You would not be interested in selling one? I am actually looking for another one to restore.

          Speaking of Knoxville, I was there just a few weeks ago and found a very nice mid-century modern store named The Mid Mod Collective. They had some very nice pieces there.

          Please, keep me posted with your progress. It would be nice to see how you restore yours.

          1. robert


            I just saw your posting. I have the EXACT same Hi Fi (Silvertone) I think its a 1967. Was looking to have it restored or turned into a bar… what are your thoughts. Would be interested in selling it for the right price also.


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