Remember when those huge vintage console stereos were a major trend in the 1950s & 60s?

Vintage huge stereo phonograph consoles from the 50s 60s and 70s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


Up until the 1950s, record players and big console radios were common living room fixtures all across America.

For much of that time, phonograph speakers were small and sounded quite tinny. The entire experience changed when these vintage console stereos came on the market — cabinets that combined a record player, an amplifier and speakers (and often there was a built-in radio, too). They weren’t just technology — they were furniture, too.

Popular until the 1970s, when stereo components became the norm, these vintage stereo cabinets and decorative consoles helped bring marvelous music into millions of homes. Take a look!

The music is too loud - Vintage console stereo from 1964
The music is too loud – Vintage console stereo cabinet in an article from 1964

Console stereos: A new experience in 360 high-fidelity, exclusive with Columbia (1957)

By exploring the whole universe of human hearing, both subconscious and conscious, Columbia now makes it possible for you and your family to experience the excitement of “Listening in Depth.”

A new experience in 360 high-fidelity, exclusive with Columbia (1957)

Magnavox Continental AM-FM radio-phono stereo console (1957)

Magnavox Continental AM-FM radio-phono (1957)

Small stereo cabinets from the 1950s

Ravinia High Fidelity Fonograf– “Magic Mind” Diskchanger. Three speakers–18-watts–50 to 15,000 cycles. Mahogany $239.95. Limed Oak or Cherry slightly higher. With AM-FM radio $339.95.

Overture High Fidelity Fonograf. Three speakers–8-watts– 50 to 15,000 cycles. Mahogany $189.95. Limed Oak or Cherry slightly higher. With AM- FM radio $289.95.

ALSO SEE: V is for Victrola record players: The history of the famous gramophones that entertained millions

Stereo cabinets from 1957 - Record players technology

Prelude High Fidelity Fonograf–“Magic Mind” Diskchanger. Three speakers– powerful amplifier –50 to 15,000 cycles. Mahogany $169.95. Limed Oak or Cherry slightly higher. With AM radio $189.95.

Musicale High Fidelity Fonograf. Three speakers– powerful amplifier –50 to 15,000 cycles. Mahogany $149.95. Limed Oak or Cherry slightly higher. (Matching base or brass legs available.)

Small stereo cabinets from the 1950s

Console stereos: Packard Bell “Space-Age Stereo” cabinet(1960)

Here’s Stereo Hi-Fi “beyond the expected”! Packard Bell Stereo is engineered for total sound … custom-styled for Western homes.

You’ll agree it’s the most perfectly balanced stereophonic musical reproduction you’ve ever heard … in the best-looking selection of all-hardwood cabinets you’ve ever seen!

Now, wherever you sit, music surrounds you … you hear individual instruments as well as the entire orchestra with a rich resonance and clarity never before possible! The 4-speed phonograph with stereo cartridge and diamond needle plays all records … all sizes, all speeds.

Both regular monaural records and stereo records sound better. In addition, for listening variety, there’s a powerful AM-FM radio with AFC “no drift” tuning. Model RPC-8, with 3 sound sources, is available in four styles and finishes. Enjoy a demonstration of Space-Age Stereo at your Packard Bell dealer’s now.

Old Packard Bell stereo cabinet (1960)

Motorola Stereo Hi-Fi, in a stereo cabinet of the Drexel Declaration collection (1961)

This Motorola Stereo Hi-Fi matches perfectly all the fine-furniture pieces in Drexel’s Declaration grouping … and the charming simplicity of its Shaker-inspired design blends with any contemporary motif.

The exclusive Motorola Vibrasonic system bring you sound reverberation such as you hear in a “live” concert-hall performance. Three separate amplifiers and three separate speaker systems (instead of the usual two) assure unmatched tonal purity.

Motorola Stereo in Drexel Declaration cabinet (1961)

Motorola Stereo Hi-Fi and FM, in a console stereo cabinet of the Drexel Touraine collection (1962)

Gracious styling blends with the latest electronic advances — Stereo FM — to make Motorola’s Stereo Hi-Fi for 1962 the most exciting to see and hear.

Drexel Touraine is a delightful presentation of French Provincial design. The cabinet has all ex-posed solids and veneers of genuine walnut.

Tonal purity–whether from a stereo record or a Stereo FM broadcast–is achieved by Motorola’s use of three separate amplifiers and three separate speaker systems (instead of the usual two).

New Vibrasonic lets you dial the exact amount of reflected sound energy needed to compensate for the acoustical variations of your room.

New Motorola Stereo FM (optional) installs easily; may be added to the set now or later when Stereo FM broadcasting begins in your area.

SEE MORE MOTOROLA: 20 stunning space-age retro futuristic home concepts from the 60s

Motorola Stereo Hi-Fi and FM, in a cabinet of the Drexel Touraine collection (1962)

Vintage General Electric 10-speaker stereo cabinet (1962)

This 10-speaker stereo can send high-fidelity music through your household wiring to any other room where you plug in this receiver speaker.

Vintage General Electric 10-speaker stereo cabinet (1962)

Vintage Motorola console stereo hi-fi and radio coffee table (1963)

If you have an eye and ear for things that are more than run-of-the-mill, the stereo hi-fi Motorola has to offer should definitely impress you, whatever your thoughts on sound, size, or price…

Smart-looking console models come in a variety of styles and finishes for as low as $129.95. Many models give you the extra enjoyment of FM/AM and FM stereo radio. If fine furniture is just as important to you as stereo hi-fi sound, you’ll particularly appreciate Motorola’s exclusive Drexel models.

ALSO SEE: How to choose a turntable: Old-school tips for the best record players

These unique pieces combine authentic Drexel craftsmanship with features like the Vibrasonic System that adds reflected sound energy to recorded music for alive vibrant sound, Dynamic Sound Focus, and Motorola’s famous three-channel sound output system.

Stereo hi-fi and FM /AM radio in a coffee table that’s as practical as it is good looking with a specially sealed fabric covering that’s mildew, stain and scuff resistant. Only $169.95. in choice of white or brown textured tweed.

Vintage Motorola stereo hi-fi and radio coffee table (1963)

Console stereos: Magnavox Astro-Sonic stereo in a French Provincial-style cabinet (1964)

Magnavox Astro-Sonic stereo cabinet (1964)

5478 records later, you’ll be glad you bought a Philco (1964)

Have you ever figured that if you played just three records a day, you would total up 5,478 “plays” in five years. That’s why it just doesn’t pay to put good money into a second-rate, flimsily-constructed stereo phonograph.

Every Philco stereo, whether it be a compact portable or a Mastercraft console, is built to give you superb listening pleasure year after year, record after record. In fact, we encourage music lovers to load up a stack of records and enjoy background music all day.

One of Philco’s valuable features is a Background Sound Control that permits full-fidelity sound at low listening levels. Your records, too, will be glad you picked a Philco. You can actually drag the Scratch-Guard Floating Diamond Needle across a record without harm to the grooves. And the featherweight Philco tone arm practically eliminates wear.

If you have any idea of “going stereo,” we hope you’ll see a Philco dealer. The extra-lasting value of Philco products doesn’t make them more expensive; it just makes them more economical in the long run!

5478 records later, you'll be glad you bought a Philco (1964)

RCA Victor solid-state stereo cabinet (1965)

RCA Victor Stereo…for realism that rivals the concert hall

Critics heralded the opening of the Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center as a delight for the ear as well as the eye. The Pavilion’s architectural magnificence is apparent. Acoustically, it is brilliant.

Enjoy that same happy blend of form and function. At home. In your living room. With the sumptuous sight and sounds of an RCA Victor Solid State stereo. Your pleasure might be the Svalbard, shown. Its regal Danish manner belies its modest price tag. Just $349.95.

The Svalbard uses an all-transistor (no tube) stereo amplifier-56 watts of peak power for full-bodied, full-fidelity sound from both channels. The Studiomatic changer is gentle. Its Feather Action Tone Arm exerts only the lightest kind of pressure for optimum tracking. Solid State FM and AM radio, too — –with built-in FM Stereo.

“Signal Sentry” light tells you when FM Stereo broadcast is tuned in. You’ll hear it all, from radio or recording, as it was meant to be heard, through a six-speaker system that in-cludes two giant 15″ oval speakers.

RCA Victor Stereo (1965)

Zenith home console stereo wood cabinet (1965)

Only Zenith gives you the perfect stereo blend — a 320 watt totally solid-state amplifier and tuning system powering eight matched and balanced speakers (including two giant 15″ woofers and two exponential horns) sealed in a full-width sound chamber — to create the most natural sound in home console stereo.

See the wide selection of Zenith quality stereo instruments — in the elegance of authentic fine furniture styling and exquisite hand-crafted cabinetry — at your Zenith dealer’s now.

DON’T MISS: Remember these real vintage reel-to-reel tape recorders?

Zenith home console stereo wood cabinet (1965)

Sylvania Spanish Provincial console stereo cabinet (1966)

Listen to our Spanish Provincial console. The music says superb stereo. The craftsmanship speaks for itself.

Thu music is unsurpassed by any comparable console stereo system available today. To the ear, Sylvania Classic Stereo is in a class by itself.

The 100-watt EIA all-transistor amplifier (160 watts peak power) handles music cleanly, without adding any unwanted characteristics. A new air-suspension speaker system eliminates all audible distortion. From records or FM stereo, music is crisp and alive at every level.

The furniture is styled in 17th Century Spanish Provincial. Carved in magnificent Pecan woods and veneers. Carefully handcrafted to express the period mood in the bench-made furniture tradition.

Top opens silently from the center and the furniture line is never broken to the eye. You’ll hear superb stereo inside elegant contemporary, provincial and traditional furniture at your Sylvania dealer’s.

Sylvania Spanish Provincial console stereo (1966)

Sylvania cabinet stereo (1969)

It sounds a lot better than it looks. What makes it sound so good is what you can’t see. The stuff we put inside.

Like our new FM tuner that pulls in weak stations more clearly, switches from monaural to stereo when tuning stations, and has the most efficient slide and pushbutton controls.

And our new amplifier that puts out a full 200 watts of EIA rated power so you don’t lose any high or low sound levels.

And our air-supension speakers with wide-angle sound that let you sit almost anywhere in the room and still get the full stereo effect.

And the Garrard SL 95 automatic turntable with Pickering cartridge for the smoothest sound reproduction you can get.

We put all these good things in because a great stereo should sound a lot better than it looks. And we think our new stereos look pretty good.

ALSO SEE: Remember those mail-order record clubs that offered vinyl albums & tapes for a penny?

Sylvania cabinet stereo (1969)

Zenith Natural Sound Stereo Cabinet (1969)

You are looking at two giant high-compliance woofers, four hard cone tweeters, a pair of exponential horns, a professional record changer with a scratchproof tone arm, a 320 watt solid-state amplifier, a solid-state AM, FM, Stereo FM radio, and an instant touch control panel.

You are looking at a Zenith. The world’s most advanced stereo components, blended and balanced by an exclusive, ultra-sensitive “Instant Touch” studio control panel.

If you appreciate fine music and beautiful furniture, don’t settle for less than Zenith Natural Sound Stereo.

Zenith Natural Sound Stereo (1969)

Old-fashioned Magnavox console stereos (1974)

Magnavox stereo. When it’s not playing beautiful music, it’s still saying beautiful things about you.

Old-fashioned Magnavox cabinet console stereos from 1974

A LATER GENERATION: Vintage 80s home stereo systems, personal stereos, TV sets and more

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

4 Responses

  1. You knew someone was living large in the 60s and 70s if they had a console hi-fi system in their living room — although by the 70s, the REALLY cool people had component-based systems with boosters and equalizers. These days, some collectors will pay big bucks for old console systems in good condition… so if you inherit one of these or stumble across one at an estate sale, research potential buyers.

  2. I have an old console stereo I bought recently the radio works fine but the Record Player was working when I bought my stereo about 2 or 3 months ago but now the record player doesn’t even turn on but it did when I bought it , but I know I dose need a replacement cartridge and needle for the record player . As well as the wiring for the Tone are of the Record Player. If anyone can assist me please message me privately thank you…

  3. By the way I forgot to mention it is a Magnavox console stereo and I believe it’s from the 50s or 60s as you can tell the record player is made of metal…

  4. The most common problem with these old console systems is that the turntable has seized up. This is largely due to the lubrication drying up and solidifying. Applying WD-40 and slowly working all the moving parts will free them up. After that, re-lubricating these parts with a bit of machine oil and “phonolube” will restore the functions. There are a number of videos on You Tube that will walk you through the process. Another issue is dirt and dust in the controls, making them crackle or distort. Contact cleaner and canned air sprayed into the controls and working them back and forth will often solve the issue. Lastly, some of the electronic components, such as capacitors may need replacing. There are a number of technicians across the country who can still service these units. Facebook has a number of group pages of collectors and hobbyists ready to offer tips and advice on vintage hi-fi and stereo equipment. Some are specific to RCA, Zenith, Magnavox and others. I am a member of several of these groups as I own a 1962 Magnavox tube-style console as well as other vintage hi-fi equipment.

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.