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Unknown '70's era? Says AR>2 and mk-llla

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When I graduated from high school at 17 years old in 1967 my first ‘real’job was in NYC.

Having worked at various small jobs since I was 13 years old such as check-out counter clerk at a large local food super-market, a junior baker at a local Italian bakery, and a number of other small jobs but, working in Manhattan was a big-deal and new experience for me. It also gave me the daily lunch hour time to further explore all of the electronics stores all along “Radio-Row” aka Cortlandt Street, NYC that my father had brought me to when I was much younger at 10 years old. We went there often so he could buy tubes to fix our TV and our small tube radios.

At 17-18 years old, working as an ‘open-order’ clerk for a well known Wall Street stock trading company every chance I had to take off for lunch I’d hurriedly make my trip from the East of lower Manhattan to the West-Side which was about a 15 minute walk while eating a hot knish and two frankfurters on the way there.

There, on the far west side of Cortlandt Street, were many four and five almost abandoned apartment buildings, probably built in mid to late 1800’s. Apparently the city condemned these old building considering them unsafe to live in but, the lower floors could be used as storage warehouses and also small shops which were occupied by countless electronic stores and parts suppliers.

After a brisk walk of 15 minutes I was in electronic heaven as almost any electronic item was available in these stores. 

Repeatedly, I would frequent a couple of stores that offered ‘blank’ pre-made wood speaker cabinets of varying sizes. In those early days, I knew  I wanted 12 inch woofers, especially if I were to build my first system. Part of the plan included a purchase of either an “Eico” kit, a “Heath-Kit’, or a “Dyna-Kit” for amplification, and an entry level Garrard turntable, and a Shure M3D stereo cartridge.

Early on I decided I wanted ‘separates’ in terms of pre-amp and separate amplifer because I had read in countless books and magazines that this rendered the best sound quality, something to this present day that I beleive in and fully practise.

Anyway, these stores offered pre-made press-board cabinets that one could install one’s own choice of speakers, cross-overs, grills etc. Sizes ranged from a facility for 8 inch to 15 inch woofers of your choice. Some cabinets were offered with-out cut-outs, others offered pre-cut baffles of various sizes. I choose the 12 inch woofer pre-cut size which also included a cut-out for a 7 inch exponential driver horn. One weekend I borrowed my oldest sister’s ’64 Impala and drove to lower Manhattan and I loaded up the car with two empty but heavy press-board cabinets with the best wood-grain veneer I could see on the store’s shelves. During the week, I purchased two Jenssen 12 inch woofers and two 7 inch horns which I was able to carry home on mass-transit. Luckily the horn included a capacitor in its box as the cross-over.  

    Before I bought those two press-board cabinets I had built a few others from scratch speaker cabinets of plywood and also one cabinet of solid pine in late 1966 using 'found' speakers of all types and sizes I had found in the streets out of discarded TVs and discarded radios. Of course sound quality was less than I wanted nor did I completely know what I was doing.

So, to finally answer DavidR’s question. Back then in the mid to late sixties and probably into the 1970s’ and probably in the 1950’s also there were numbers of private wood-working shops around that jumped onto the new rage of the ‘Golden-Era” in high-fidelity. And, just like choosing separates of electronic components, one could build their own design speakers as I did back then using the 'generic' general purpose cabinets. 

Funny thing is: I still have these speakers with the 12 inch 'Jensen' woofers and 7 inch no-name horns but, I haven’t heard them since I hooked then up for another one of my sisters back in the mid 1970s but, took them out of commission a couple of years later because she had stopped using them.



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Love your vivid recollections, Frank. NYC in the '60s was hi-fi paradise. 

As for the mystery speakers, they are either homemade as Frank suggests or more likely, could have been bought inexpensively as ready-made at one of the many small, less-exclusive, hi-fi/electronics shops that were all over the place back then.  The Calrad-branded crossover is the tipoff: Calrad distributed inexpensive, usually Japanese, parts and finished products including small speaker systems, small hi-fi amplifiers, microphones, PA system components, etc.  Calrad products were widely sold by small electronics shops including Gem electronics in the NY Metro area, a favorite haunt of mine as a kid.  

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I am almost certain these are generic Japanese speakers...some say Corally made them. My last mystery to solve are the marker lettering means and whether they reflect what is inside. Since the interior speakers have no stamps or labels, most likely old mk's and ar's were replaced with calrad generic. 

Cabinets are classic, heavier than heck though. Someone here in LA can mod them with some high end speaker. Craigslist here they come!

2019-02-07 14.14.45.jpg

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On 2/26/2019 at 1:09 AM, Martin said:

They're not Corals & they have absolutely nothing in common with any ARs or M&Ks. 

Correct, these are not AR's.

These are the same 'DIY' cabinets that I have exact duplicates of that I bought in '67.

They're completely 'glued' together with-out a single screw in their construction except for their back-panel and like wise the X-over and speakers were no doubt purchased as separately available at the same time. It appears as though 'Calrad' is still in business, do a search and see.

And I will admit, oddly, they are overly heavy, even when empty.


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