Showing posts with label Radio Shack. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Radio Shack. Show all posts

Monday, February 09, 2015

Farewell, Radio Shack

If I had a dollar for all the stuff I've bought at Radio Shack over the last four decades or so . . . I'd still be so far in the hole on the deal, it wouldn't be funny.

I loved Radio Shack, especially when Radio Shack was still the Radio Shack I knew when I was young. And now it's going to be gone, with the "surviving" locations being Sprint stores with a "Radio Shack section" in them.

Sure, I can get everything I got at the Shack online now, but it's not the same. And it's not as convenient -- no more making a quick trip down the road for that part or connector I need right now.

ON HBO'S Last Week Tonight, John Oliver takes aim at the snarksters laughing at the demise of a 94-year-old company. Good for him. Double good for him in producing the farewell commercial he -- and I -- would like to see run on TV.

Take that, you hipster, Millennial scum!

For old farts like me, Radio Shack was where you went to drool over cool stereo and communications gear. It's where you went to get a new needle for your phonograph. It's where you, as a kid, bought cool Science Fair electronics kits. It's where, like the corner drug store, you could test the vacuum tubes from your radio or TV.

It's where you bought batteries and Supertape. Remember audio tape?

Radio Shack is where I bought those boxes that let you put several inputs into a single "AUX" imput on your stereo. Several VCRs or DVDs on the "video in" input on your television set.

If you needed it, Radio Shack had it.

AND IF YOU wanted to spend some quality time pining for all the cool stuff that you didn't have but wished you did, you pulled out your Radio Shack catalog. That's all gone now, relegated to blessed memory like all those other lost things from the lost youth of middle-aged Americans.

If you want to snark about that, go ahead. I hope one of the soon-to-be-unemployed employees of the fallen electronics giant knocks you into next week.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Party like it's 1959

This is your audio-geek moment for Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Today, we'll party like it's 1959.

Above, the 12-inch, Electro-Voice full-range speaker of -- more or less -- that vintage. I got it via eBay, the best Internet friend of vintage-audio geeks like yours truly. The last part of the previous sentence, I suppose, also could be written sans hyphen and be just as accurate.

Anyway, this "Wolverine" driver from the venerable company is what folks bought when they embarked upon building themselves a "hi-fi" speaker. Basically, it's a woofer, mid-range and tweeter all in one.

Folks back then often got fancy and added a "crossover" and separate mid-ranges and tweeters just like what prevails today, but I'm lazy. Besides, a speaker enclosure with just a good  full-range "coaxial" or "triaxial" speaker was pretty common back then.

Combine something like that with a vacuum-tube amplifier, and that's what you call "vintage sound." I do love me some vintage sound -- probably because I'm a vintage audio geek. No hyphen.

BUT TO GET a vintage speaker for my vintage tuner and vintage amp, I needed an equally vintage cabinet. One, it must be noted, that wouldn't permanently disfigure our checking account. (You'd be surprised at how much a nice, half-century old hi-fi speaker can monetarily disfigure.)

Hello, eBay!

And hello to a Wharfedale W-60 speaker cabinet that's about the same age I am, sans guts. Or a woofer and tweeter, to be technical about it. Fifteen bucks . . . plus some rejuvenating oil, a black marker, a little wood stain and some elbow grease, which turned scuffs and worn-away veneer into gorgeous "character."

Of course, with old speaker enclosures like this, the only thing that's meant to come off is the back. That's bad when the screws that hold the speaker in are too short . . . and in the wrong places for the new-old Wolverine you bought to go in that box.

I had to do something that wasn't pretty . . . but it worked. And nobody will see it, so who cares?

Breakage of particle board and application of duct tape may have been involved.

Is what I am saying. Don't judge me.
AND VOILA! The finished product, voicer of "vintage sound" from my vintage hi-fi setup.

I think it's happy. See?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Midcentury mesmerized

This little Realistic vacuum-tube FM tuner, circa 1956 and manufactured for Radio Shack by Harman-Kardon, kicks serious audio booty.

Fifty-six years old. Monophonic -- in '56, there was no FM multiplex stereo yet. And it sounds like a little bit of heaven. It's just stunning when you get a strong signal into it, particularly on classical music.

The less overprocessed the station's audio is, the better . . . but 56 years ago, that really wasn't a problem, was it? The FM "loudness wars" still were decades away.

I plugged this little gem -- the first to bear the "Realistic" brand -- into my Soundcraft mixer in the Revolution 21 studio, and I'm running it through a Crown D-75A amplifier for now. It really is amazing; the sound just jumps from my Electro-Voice studio monitor speakers.

I'M KIND OF afraid to hook this mono mini (it really is very small) up to the stereo multiplexer -- it might never leave the studio if I do, as opposed to what I have planned for it.

Think I'm exaggerating? Here's a 44-minute MP3 of the thing tuned into the local classical and classic-rock stations. Dear God.

I ALSO got the matching Realistic five-tube, 10-watt amplifier (manufactured by Grommes), which is a real beauty. See?

I've yet to hook that up -- eventually, the Realistic tuner will be paired with it to make a complete 1950s hi-fi system.

If anyone would like to donate a vintage 1956 hi-fi floor speaker. . . .

For now, I'm "making do" with an early-1970s University Sound floor speaker. (Note ironic quote marks. Nothing about a vintage University floor speaker constitutes "making do.")

You'll note the tuner and amp say "Radio Shack Boston." In 1956, there was one Radio Shack, and it was in Boston.

This concludes Your Daily Geek for Tuesday, July 10, 2012. Live long and prosper.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Your Daily '80s: It's a modern miracle, I tells ya!

Behold the Tandy 4000, available only at Radio Shack!

It's a price breakthrough for a business-class personal computer! Just $2,599!

A powerful 386 processor!

Runs at a blazing 16 MHz!

Ready for next-generation operating systems, like OS/2!

Will wonders never cease in this George Jetson world of 1988!