Magnavox Imperial Stereo

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 12, 2014 12:01 am

I may have linked to the Craigslist ad for this instrument in the past, but I wanted to again to include it in this thread.

http://rockford.craigslist.org/ele/4390999694.html

This instrument appears to be a 1961 Imperial with Danish Moderne cabinet, sliding glass lids, and remote control.  The ad does not state, nor do pictures show, whether the remote is wired or wireless.  If it is truly a 1961 instrument, it is safe to assume that wireless remote would be a possibility.  

I see something interesting about the chassis on this instrument.  Notice that the chassis stands on its edge in this example.  Mine lays flat.  Mine has the 81-02-00 chassis, this one has the 81-01-00 chassis.  The difference, as far as I can tell, are the three small controls about 3/4 of the way up on the chassis, about the center, that read "balance", "Bass amp", and "Treble amp."  Mine does not have that "balance" contol on the chassis.  The balance control on mine is in the traditional Magnavox location for balance controls, the hollow shaft of the treble control on the front of the tuner.  My research on the exact function of these controls on the chassis is unclear.  My UNDERSTANDING is that the bass and treble controls increase the volume of the individual amps, while the "loudness' control on the tuner adjusts the total volume.  If this is correct, it seems that one could give the output more or less bass or treble by varying the volume of the individual amps.  Again, the jury is out on this.  I may be all wet, but it won't be the first time.  You all are learning this stuff as I am.  If anybody can shed any light on this point, please jump on in.  This being the case, is it safe to say that the tuner in this instrument is slightly different, and perhaps a different chassis number than the one in my Imperial?  

This instrument has front firing 15" speakers, while mine are side-firing.  The reasoning for this appears to be strictly due to cabinet design.  

I learned just today that Concert Grand cabinets in the French Provincial style was produced with a cherry finish.  I was aware of light walnut, dark walnut, mahogany and white.  Whether or not the Danish Moderne cabinets were available in cherry, or whether cherry was available in the Imperial series is as of yet unclear.  

It is possible that the Collaro turntables in the Imperial and Concert Grand series was referred to as a "Collaro Conquest."  This table has been seen as a stand-alone unit as well, whether factory or aftermarket is not certain.  I have read at least three instances where this reference was made, and it sounds good to me, so, until proven otherwise, it shall stand, as far as I am concerned.

I have also read compaints about Magnavox Imperial owners concerning poor bass response.  One of the complaints was about a "restored" chassis that had been recapped, resistors changed, etc.  One might expect this condition on an instrument with original components still in place.  It is of more concern to me on an instrument that has been serviced.  On the 9302 chassis in my "Symphony" I increased by twice the capacity of the filter cap following the choke and increased the capacity by three times the cathode bypass cap value.  This improved bass response remarkably in that chassis.  I will follow that practice on this one, and we'll see what happens.  What little I have run mine has not revealed poor bass response.

WC


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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 12, 2014 12:40 am

Serial numbers really mean nothing in Magnavox instruments.  The reason being is that no reliable documentation exists that I have found to tell what years certain serial numbers were used.  There is really no reliable manner in determining an instrument's model year, for the 1959 thru 1963 instruments, other than for the 1961 models, for which there is documentation (see above).  Production figures for the various series of instruments are similarly hard to come by.  

I am also becoming convinced that many of the instruments that are being referred to as 1961 models are actually 1960 AND 1961 models.  We normally determine the 1961 instruments by their stereo-compatible tuners.  I strongly believe, based on the instruments I have seen, and using simple logic, two things.  One, that Magnavox, Zenith and GE, at least, perhaps others, were certain of the FM stereo system that would be approved and started equipping their instruments with stereo compatible tuners, perhaps as early as late 1959.  RCA was not in the game until 1963, and some component manufacturers provided full-stereo tuners in 1960.  Secondly, many of the 1961 models we see may actually be 1960 models, particularly in the Imperial and Concert Grand series.  I'm not sure it matters one way or the other, since conclusive information does not appear to exist.

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 12, 2014 9:25 pm

Some clarification on my last post.

Magnavox apparently went to some length to purposely meld model years. New instruments were introduced for the Christmas season each year. This is not the first manufacturing company to follow this practice.

Apparently, serial numbers were not used to designate model years. They were used to document production runs, and used for warranty work and for other technical business purposes. Model numbers were used for more than one year, witness the Concert Grand 1ST800 and 1ST801 model designations, used from 1959 to at least 1961. The model numbers themselves held more significance than serial numbers. Factory location, amp chassis codes, tuner codes, cabinet style codes, cabinet finish codes and perhaps multiplex equipment codes were typically included in a model number. The only symbols in model numbers that I can state for certain are the first symbol, typically a "1" or "2", which is factory location, and a letter suffix, such as "R", "M", "S" and the like, which indicates cabinet finish. The significance of the numbers and letters in the model number otherwise are subjects of guesstimation at this point. Hopefully, we will shed some light on this in due course.

There were at least two Magnavox factories that produced home entertainment audio instruments. Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Springfield, Missouri. There may have been others.

The above information reinforces my belief that Magnavox equipped at least its upper level instruments with FM Stereo-compatible tuners beginning with the 1959 models. It is my belief that every stereo Concert Grand built from 1959 onward had such a tuner. It is also my considered opinion that the Imperial series instruments also were equipped with stereo-compatible tuners with models introduced in 1959. The 1961 "Symphony" series had this tuner for sure since I own one. You may recall the 1959 Imperial in the link supplied by Mezlaw earlier in this thread. I made the comment that it was equipped with a "FM MPX" position on the function switch, and could it actually be a later model. It was in all likelihood a true '59 model, considering the information just discussed. There are cabinet variations from year to year. Date codes on the turntable and the audio amp and tuner sometimes provides a hint at year of manufacture. Date codes on speakers also provide clues. If I had access to a complete set of Sams manuals, I could look up the various tuners used in Magnavox stereos and compare which ones had stereo compatibility. The dates on the Sams manuals could then be used for model year designation.

I summation, it now becomes apparent that attempts to date my Magnavox collection is both futile and counter-indicated in factory practice. So, instead of having a 1961 Imperial Model 1ST 233L, I simply have an Imperial series instrument, model 1ST233L, with date codes of 1961. I am not collecting 1961 Magnavoxes, merely collecting Magnavox tube stereos of various series, Concerto, Symphony, Imperial and Concert Grand, if I had the entire set. Should anyone inquire as to their age, I would merely say the early 1960's. Something to that effect.

WC

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Post by 75X11 on Mon May 12, 2014 10:14 pm

I wonder if the reasoning behind the blending of characteristics that would date the sets might have been their sales through furniture stores that would find it difficult to sell "last years model" when their other furnishings had no such limitations in their style or usefulness? That would have been a difficult "sell" to a store that had a more sedate turnover of product than an a TV and appliance store.
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Post by Guest on Mon May 12, 2014 10:22 pm

I saw this at AudioKarma;
I've been trying to determine the model year in question by comparing the brochure with contemporary advertisements. I'm guessing 1959. If you all have any further information, esp. chassis #s and brochures/catalogs from other years - it might be the beginnings of a data base. Here's what I've got so far:

Stereo Master Model 1-ST212F/Ad from Aug. 59

I guess all the models are difficult to accurately date.

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 12, 2014 10:42 pm

75, that is a great point.  Magnavox did not want its instruments to appear dated.  Magnavox dealt in the high-end price point.  Packard did the same thing with its cars.

MEZ, the ad may have been dated August '59, but Magnavox, in none of its ads, EVER introduced their instruments with a specific model year.  The ad just mentioned the stereo, its model designation and its model nomenclature, but did not advertise it as a 1959 model.  On the amp and turntable are where dates are typically found.  Many times, there is considerable difference in dates between the chassis and turntable.  The chassis were built in the good old US of A, while the turntables came from across the Pond.  I have one that the chassis is dated Februray, 1961, but the turntable is dated December, 1961.  The turntable could well not be original, as one possible explanation.  You are very possibly correct in your assignment of the year 1959 for your instrument.  I really don't think it matters from a Magnavox documentation standpoint, but rather from a "now you know" standpoint.  A historical prospective, if you will.  Magnavox was still building the old Regency series of mono instruments, dating to 1946, in 1959.  IIRC, your Stereo Master had a mono tuner in it as well.  Have you used it enough yet to form an opinion of what kind of performer it is?

Thank you both for your input.

WC

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Post by Guest on Mon May 12, 2014 11:28 pm

Here is plenty of Magnavox photos;

Magnavox images

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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed May 14, 2014 11:54 am

Thanks, MR MEZ.  That will be a good resource for research on various models and cabinet styles.  

I just learned another tidbit of trivial information.  The turntables in Imperial and Concert Grand models are not always the same.  For one thing, the 45 adapter in the Imperial is in the traditional spot on a rear corner of the TT.  In the Concert Grand, it can be its own little holder fastened to the rear of the cabinet.  The control knobs can be different, as well, possibly depending upon vintage?  The tuners are not the same, either.  The CG's have motorized tuning and remote control.  They also utilize 12AX7 pre-amp tubes, versus the 6EU7's in the Imperial.  I had a friend email me pics of his CG to verify this information.  

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 19, 2014 12:49 pm

I have the tuner chassis, a 6401, turned up on my bench. There is not a single paper cap under this chassis. Only a couple of ceramic discs. This thing has the largest couplets I have ever seen. Six or eight of them. And a little PCB chassis for the IF. Lots of room under this chassis to work. I am going to restuff the electrolytic capacitor, a double 30 uf @450 volt.

WC

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Post by 75X11 on Mon May 19, 2014 7:46 pm

Looks like you picked a good brand for some elbow room among the innards Very Happy .
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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 19, 2014 8:34 pm

That is a strong suite of Magnavox. Plenty of room to work under the hood. The extensive use of couplets eliminates the usual rat's nest under the chassis. I was amazed that there were only three bad tubes in the tuner, considering that this stereo has been well-used. The 6E5 eye tube, a 6EU7, and the 6EA8. I don't have the e-caps I need, so I guess I will have to make my yearly cap order early.

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Tue May 20, 2014 4:06 pm

I have the amp chassis on the bench, finally. Like I expected, there are 14 paper caps, 5 electrolytic caps to change. I am going to increase the capacitance in the cap following the choke and also the bypass cap. Most of the resistors have drifted high, so all the resistors get changed. I am going to wait to order replacements until I get my Sams manual and make sure what I measured is what I need. Ultimately, this thing will get all new JJ's in the amp chassis as well. I have one 220K resistor that reads 494K and a 33k resistor that reads 49.8K ohms. The filter caps are definitely leaky, so out they go. I am going to restuff the can in this chassis as well. This thing is all original, with no signs that anybody has been fooling around inside it. That is always good news. This stereo has been a well-used member of a family, rather than serving as a lamp stand.

WC

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Post by 75X11 on Tue May 20, 2014 6:10 pm

I guess it ought to feel right at home after it's updates, then.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed May 21, 2014 12:17 am

I am certainly hoping so, thank you, 75. I am looking forward to putting it back into service.

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 26, 2014 1:18 am

Here is an Imperial for sale in the Dallas/Ft Worth Texas area. Notice that a tuning meter has replaced the eye tube. The seller claims that this is a 1961 instrument. He is a tad over-optimistic on his pricing. He also states that this Imperial was "top of the line" in 1961. Of course, the Concert Grand was top of the line. He says it has been restored. Wonder did he have all the resistors changed in the amp chassis? If not, it has been merely repaired, not fully electronically restored. Nice unit, however.

http://dallas.craigslist.org/ftw/ele/4487123261.html

WC

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Post by 75X11 on Mon May 26, 2014 8:04 am

Nice to see they are out there. There can't be much turnover in that model range.
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Post by Guest on Mon May 26, 2014 8:33 am

Very nice unit, but I think $750 is a bit optimistic!

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 26, 2014 10:01 am

It might sell in the $250-$400 range. His pricing is even above the normal asking price for a Concert Grand. This one is nice, no doubt. I'm wondering if the turntable is correct. Methinks it should have a Collaro Conquest changer. The knobs on that one are different from mine.

WC

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Post by Doug Burskey on Mon May 26, 2014 12:32 pm

I read somewhere that Drexel made the cabinets for Magnavox and Motorola. Don't know if that's true or not.

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 26, 2014 12:53 pm

AFAIK, Magnavox built its own cabinets in Ft. Wayne right up until the bitter end. Drexel made some cabinets for Motorola and others. I am not aware of Drexel building cabinets for Magnavox.

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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon May 26, 2014 7:46 pm

I have everything done to the amp chassis with the exception of the filter caps.  I am going to use Nichicon 100uf @450 volt caps and connect two in series in order to yield a 50uf @ 900 volt cap.  I will do this for both caps on either side of the choke.  The third one will just be a 10uf @ 450 volt e-cap.  I am going to use a 100uf @60 volts for the cathode by-pass cap.  I changed all the coupling capacitors and all the resistors.  I found a date code on the chassis, 246073.  The twenty-fourth week of 1960.  So this instrument would most properly be called a 1960 model, not that it matters.  That could be why my knobs are different from the one for sale that I posted above.

WC

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Post by neali on Fri May 30, 2014 12:55 am

Wildcat445 wrote:AFAIK, Magnavox built its own cabinets in Ft. Wayne right up until the bitter end.  Drexel made some cabinets for Motorola and others.  I am not aware of Drexel building cabinets for Magnavox.

WC

WC, my friend,
I must make a correction here. Drexel did build beautiful cabinets for Magnavox in the forties and early fifties. Absolutley no compromise quality. The cabinet was made from 100 % mahogany, cherry, maple, walnut with all three quarter inch construction. No poplar. No gumwoods. No toning lacquers to try and even shading. No need.

Here is a link to a picture of forum member Y2K Bruce's breathtaking 1949 Windsor. First post.

http://www.antiqueradios.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=231754

Here is a 1947 Regency with a Drexel cabinet.

Magnavox Imperial Stereo - Page 2 File

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Post by Wildcat445 on Fri May 30, 2014 9:43 pm

Thank you, I learned something. I did say "unaware', which, apparently, was true. Thanks for setting the record straight.

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Sat May 31, 2014 4:15 pm

Thanks to Doug and Neali for the information on the relationship between Drexel and Magnavox.

Thank you all who contributed to this discussion. I learned a lot and hope you all enjoyed it. I feel that we have covered the high points and have provided enough information to be of help to someone looking to buy one sometime. Thank you again for your interest and input. I sincerely appreciate it.

WC

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Post by TubeDaddy on Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:56 pm

This is an interesting thread, and I have enjoyed the Magnavox history here.  There is an Imperial in my area like the one in the guy's restoration video, and I am wondering if it would be worth $250 unrestored?

http://images.craigslist.org/00808_lrXVuJ99fC0_50x50c.jpg
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