Vintage Stereo Reborn With All The Bells And Whistles

We always like seeing projects that salvage a classic piece of technology, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s a vintage kiosk- or console-style stereo, repurposed with every useful feature imaginable, but still made to look original. Until you open the lid, that is.

[Julian] has been hard at work on rebuilding this 1957 RCA stereo, and since he’s no stranger to these types of rebuilds, the results are pretty impressive. Underneath the hood is a 22″ touchscreen running Windows 7 and a Lepai amplifier. The controls for the stereo were placed towards the back, along with USB ports and an RJ45 connector for the computer.

The speakers in the stereo also needed to be replaced. For this, [Julian] used a set of Dayton speakers that worked well enough for this application. After mounting the speakers and all the other hardware in the unit, [Julian] noted that while it isn’t an audiophile’s dream stereo, it was nice to have all of these parts integrated together into something that looks nice. We’d have to agree!

There are a lot of rejuvenated antique stereos around too, like this Bluetooth-enabled tube amp radio, or this Soviet-era handheld, or even this slightly more modern stereo. There’s just something classy about having a vintage-looking thing spruced up with modern technology!

36 thoughts on “Vintage Stereo Reborn With All The Bells And Whistles

      1. I don’t understand. what’s wrong with linux and audio or music playback? ever heard of mpd? what does windows have that even comes close to the wealth of interfaces that the client/server mpd system gives?

        also, linux supports usb audio better than windows does! its a fact. uac2 is built in to linux. on win7, at least, it does not exist at all! mac-os has uac2, fwiw. and you need uac2 to drive high-res audio (over 96k).

        20 years ago I would agree with you to some degree. but even 10 yrs ago, linux blew windows away for audio playback use, no question.

        I guess I totally fail to see the ‘difficulty’ in using linux for audio playback these days. its been a long time since things did NOT ‘Just Plain Work(tm)’ for linux audio.

        1. I would be extremely interested in any references to running Asio sound cards (such as the Focusrite Saphire 6) under Linux, or more specifically, the internal DAC of the Beagleboard-XM / parallella. It seems that every embedded Linux platform I’ve experienced has been rather mute. (Aside from some pre-made rPi repo’s), or extremely troublesome. Have often wondered if I had to go down the i2s custom driver route!?

          1. i2s is probably the way forwards, a lot of dacs/codec chips are already catered for but the code is often buried in random repos start by looking at wolfson or cirrus chips. As for asio on linux, not going to happen, it’s a windows thing but you know that already.

        2. Exactly, MPD and any one of the python touchscreen UI setups and it becomes a stereo instead of a PC in a stereo cabinet.

          I personally would have glued down the top and just put a sonos inside.

    1. Why the hell does it matter? You use what you’re familiar with, especially if you’re rolling a custom GUI. In the end it makes no difference, the audio sounds the same.

      I highly doubt there’s anything OS-specific about Linux wallpaper, so you can load up the turtle too. As a bonus it will piss off fanbois on both sides. :D

      What’s a shame is that there aren’t readily available LCDs with 1:1 aspect ratio. Would have fit nicely into this. And display LP/CD covers with no borders. Still, I like it.

      1. Asking about a design consideration is a perfectly valid question. I have no intention of getting into a Windows verses a proper operating system in this forum. :)

    2. Wow, that’s the best comment of my life!

      This device champions no OS in particular and there is no reason not to use one of the many flavors of linux that might suit your music collections.

      Windows was already installed and has level of comfort for my visitors, but moreover I have not yet found an equal to the itunes remote app which allows me to control the flow and volume of music from my phone during parties, or even to hand control over to guests.

      I use linux for servers and run edubuntu on my kids’ machine laptop. Working these details out for linux is certainly worth investigating, but becomes it’s own project entirely as there are a handful of possibly great jukeboxes and it takes a while to load 500Gb of data and then see how each distro or application handles that. On the side we use youtube and other sites as well so it cant be a jukebox only flavor or it is, again, not fulfilling its social potential.

      I would love to know if these capabilities exist in a distro already if anyone has suggestions!

      1. +1 to that. There’s too many Windows haters/extremists around here. I use what works, and what runs the software I need, so that means Windows 7 on the desktop (and to a lesser extent OS X). The iTunes remote is a fantastic tool for the job too :)

      2. Windows haters know that they can accomplish the same thing and it will be even better because it will be more secure, faster, reliable, customisable, scalable, oh and free to use in most cases! They generally have very good intentions are are hoping that if people educate themselves with alternatives, then one day, they can rid the world of what is really a rather poor limited operating system that doesn’t teach anyone anything about how computers really work as its only aim is to sell boxes.

  1. have to say, I’m not a fan of touchscreens, overall. slapping one into a wood frame still does nothing for me.

    buttons, folks. have we forgotton what a real UI is all about? sigh.

    pressing on glass has no satisfaction to it. I can’t wait until the touchscreen fad wears off (and it will, eventually).

      1. nope, the opposite. tactile real physical objects. what worked back then still works. we lost something when we went all ‘clicky on glass’. to me, its a sign of laziness; that you can’t decide what your ui should be, so you soft code it and figure it out later ;) real men (grunt grunt) design with real push buttons and knobs and use displays as displays rather than finger print holders. displays are fine if used well. but the whole surfacing being a display? nah. no good. homey don’t play dat.

        1. That’s my favorite thing about Samsung phones. They don’t suck up part of the screen with the button bar. The Home button is a BUTTON and the back and menu spots don’t move around at the whim of the OS and apps.

          1. Same deal on my LG. Home is a real button – the only real button on the phone face – while its two neighbors are fixed location but capacitive. Can’t figure why it’s done that way. Seems like a point of failure.

    1. [bl] will go on to eventually usher in an era of more satisfying tactile controls, by being the first to install a hi-fi into a heated RealDoll, with capacitive sensors placed under the silicone skin in strategic areas.

      (Nothing personal intended, just found some humor in your statement. There is some truth in it as well. But projects of this nature are always a WIP, and a touchscreen has the advantage of allowing one to rearrange the UI without physical alterations.)

  2. also, -1 point for using a system with a fan. come on, there are many fanless systems out there to choose from. why pick one with a fan?

    even a rasp pi would have done this as well. low power, fanless and can do everything you want done, without a MS tax on it.

  3. –The one gripe that hasn’t been expressed is something something leave it original. I live in Hipster City, so turntables have a bit of cachet: that being said, there’s still enough of them around so that it’s “how the heck does re-purposing it hurt anything.” I’m too much of a troglodyte to really grok the linux vs windows thing in regards to audio, and He sure has gotten farther than I have with my mp3 add on retrofit.

  4. I wonder what he did with the original electronics? They are very collectible and wanted by anyone restoring the old valve gear. Would be a real shame if they were thrown out, they would have fetched a few dollars on ebay.

  5. This should have been a retro fantasy build. make the screen and controls look very much 1950’s but with modern capability. Almost as if it was super high tech from the past.

    1. Yeah, the wallpaper for the screen could have/be a photo of the turntable before it was removed….
      And when music gets queued up, the wallpaper changes to one with a record on the turntable.

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