People buy the SONY TA-88 on Ebay as they think it's better quality but in the drum or bass it may be lacking compared with the REALISTIC mini-systems. The best of all for drum and bass beat is the STA-111 and Minimus-11 speaker system.
REALISTIC were always careful about key features like flat F.R., avoiding 'boomy' bass speakers for a 'best value' system. Now available on EBAY with interactive Radio Shack archive catalogs on-line, the sound at a REALISTIC price, avoids the usual sonic mismatches of random choice different brand speakers and amplifiers!
Metal cabinet speakers developed from a tiny, late 1940s Wharfedale steel cabinet speaker made by Gilbert Briggs under the British post war austerity, when other materials were not allowed for luxury uses.
Frequency Response:- often better on full size audio, separates often have a poor 50Hz-20KHz and SONY Mini Systems around 1974 year may offer only 90Hz - 14KHz. etc. Often the cassette deck, tuner or record player cartridge spoil the amplifier potential, sometimes speakers, the amplifier in Mini Systems is poorer quality. Original matching speakers for Mini Systems were made to make the most of a weak system amplifier, F.R. of all sets in the system rarely equally wide!
Audio Power Output:- Power Consumption in watts is often listed by Ebay Sellers as the Audio Power Output, they just read the watts consumption label at the back of the set -and that's not the Audio Power Output in watts! Audio Power Output affected by speaker impedance can ruin your amplifier! Mini Systems unlike portables don't need to be economic on batteries or be lightweight. Many old tube amp portables had special speakers and it may help to have the original speakers for Mini Systems or All-in-One combined music stereo systems.
S/N ratio:- S/N ratio of Mini Systems is often much poorer than full size audio. But the Mini-System may sound better! So compare the S/N ratio of various sets for sale on Ebay. Smaller is hotter in a limited box space, heating up spoils electronic sound, cooling important in Mini Systems, good old amplifiers have cooling fins outside of the small cases. Look for Dolby systems, quality inputs for phono magnetic cartridges and line RCA. Plastic cases are a poor substitute for plywood sides, hardboard panels help radio reception, metal cases can degrade radio sound quality.
FM sensitivity FM sensitivity is often poorer in Mini Systems but using telescopic antennae they can sound better in limited ways than full size audio! Stereo FM sensitivity compared with Mono FM sensitivity are rarely mentioned for mini systems but a rough Mono FM figure matters if using only an indoor antennae.
Below the original Minimus-7 screw speaker connector beside original Realistic Minimus-1 speaker system.
1970s Aurex & Hitachi mini systems
Aurex and Hitachi HA-J2 Mini Systems are nostalgic separate
set Mini Stereo units connected with RCA phono leads, trying to catch
the market in 1978, when CD was being introduced to dealers at 'trade
only' fairs. The format did not catch the market at that time, but led
to 1979 REALISTIC
Mini systems based on the now famous Minimus-7 metal cabinet speakers. Toroidal transformer suggested by a chrome disc on top of the finned power amplifier, wood effect and Metal Cabinet speakers. Aurex SY-530B and SY-530C pre and power amplifier set are thought fabulous by one owner on Google, swing pin f.s.d. power meters of 50/300 watts suggest 150 watts RMS, owners impressed by the volume output for size! The SC530B rated on the back, 500 watts consumption, suggests power output as nearer over 80 watts RMS per channel! 1980s brought AIWA midi-systems with 'Loudness' plus unreliablity. The late 1970s had suffered from short life cassette recorders! Later solenoid 'soft touch' keys tried to improve cassettes as limited in ease of use.
Speaker Impedance:- Speaker Impedance of Mini Systems is around 3 to perhaps 20 ohms, most external speakers are 4 - 8 ohms, some are 6 ohms. Mini System amplifiers are critically affected by the original speakers, not just impedance, sensitivity and sound quality favor the original 'own brand' speakers! Only a few Mini Systems sounded really good in the 1970s, SONY, Aurex and Hitachi were the leaders, so REALISTIC tried to compete with the Minimus-7 Stereo Mini Systems based on special speaker equalized receivers. You should know a bit about the speaker output before you connect other speakers, it's okay if it says 4 ohm and you connect 4 ohm. 1960s Solid State designs were real fragile so be careful.
Distortion:- Distortion makes the sound less clear and seem louder, rated in %, often hiding details.
Speaker Connections:- Speaker connections on Mini Systems are often poorer quality. Take care if your Mini System speakers are 12-ohm and don't connect
15-ohm or 8-ohm to these or you may never get your old sound back! Be very careful what speakers you connect, some are very easy to drive like the EMI 319, others pretty hard to drive like the Minimus-7 and the connections are often awkward, so check all these details.
Power and audio cables Power and audio cables on 1970s Mini Systems are often quality RCA lines but in later years computer industry ribbon cables were offered and these are likely to become intermittent. The computer ribbon cable Mini System often has a power fan and single huge power transformer that some buyers feel is inferior to separately powered sets. A transformer in each equipment case is more noisy, gets hot and while an advantage in connecting to full size sets, there may be a hum and heat problem that favors the use of full size stereo sets, like Tuner, Amplifier, Cassette Deck etc., rather than Mini components.
REALISTIC Minimus-7, 8-ohm, 50-20,000Hz, weigh 4/1/2 lb each, 20 watts RMS, 87db SPL 1w/1m
TEAC 511, far right, are not 'the same as REALISTIC Minimus-7', below left, they have a cone tweeter for narrower dispersion and polypropylene speech domes suggesting they may be louder. Minimus-7 are based on the rare TEAC L.S.7 speaker with its real flat frequency response actually advertised on the enclosure!
USA 2-band STA-7 STA-12 & STA-11
Superb Hi-Fi Stereo, Yet fits the Smallest Spaces
"EQ" Circuit for Deep Bass from Mini Speakers
1979 'REALISTIC STA 7, US$35 (14 watts RMS, 20-20,000Hz, but a poor 65dB S/N on AUX is not great for CD. Distortion is a 'limited type' figure of 0.03% at 1KHz and 10w, not one of the best measurements). A new concept in high fidelity sound. Three band receiver like conventional models yet very unconventional in size and price. Special first for Radio Shack equalization circuitry engineered for optimum results with ultracompact mini speaker systems, circuit uses both voltage and current negative feedback to tailor the low end response for an amazing 50Hz bass not previously achieved with mini sized speakers. Other features include Blackout dial and tuning meter, FET phase locked loop for superb FM stereo, (2.2 microvolts stereo means for an outdoor antennae only, worse yet in the STA-20 plastic receiver version!) push buttons for on/off., A/B speaker selection, stereo/mono. Bass, treble and center-position balance controls. With input for magnetic phono, aux, tape monitor. 75 and 300 ohm FM aerial terminals. EQ circuit switched out for flat response for full-sized speaker systems too! Cat No. 31-9032'.
By 1985 the STA-7 was known in the USA as the all metal cased STA-700, with a 'stealth' look.
STA-12, NEC 5 watt RMS per channel chip, 8 ohm, 40Hz-20KHz, +/-1dB, 72dB AUX S/N ratio but dubious distortion rating of 1%. A later version of the STA-19, with black top made of metal to STA-19's 'fake wood' top panel, STA-12 has front panel 1/4 ins. headphone jack to STA-19's smaller tape input and phones jacks. STA-12 has BTL mono bridged output to STA-19's eq. feature. Meant for Minimus metal cabinet speakers but low in power with special 'equalized' power circuits, they're made of thick plastic to the STA-7's metal cabinet. STA-12 looks come as a shock when heard on Mach Two speakers! The white on black REALISTIC brand speaks volumes about quality, but they weren't cheap new!
STA-12 and STA-19 also have spectacular transformer mechanical 'buzz' heard anywhere in the biggest room like a fridge! It's the loudest ever heard thanks in part to the plastic case and small physical size - sellers don't discuss that! Sound of STA-12/19 on REALISTIC Mach Two speakers is great but the intended STA-2280 receiver is awesome! Just show your friends both and their impression of REALISTIC will soar! STA-12 or STA-19 have bad FM stereo hiss with an indoor antennae, FM tuner sensitivity is a poor 7 micro volts so you need a roof antennae with this receiver! FM tuner quality is okay but real poor AM with 'heterodyning' whistles (wwweeeeeooooooyyyeeeee!)- it could be fun! Distant stations all over each other, it has no rotating AM ferrite bar like better sets, but if you rotate the set it could help. Many REALISTIC receivers have 'Hi-Fi A.M.' from combined central and sidebands, not the STA-12 or 19, they're interesting but look cheap. Into REALISTIC Mach Two speakers they'll just amaze your friends, their strange novel features were why people went to Radio Shack since 1960!
REALISTIC STA-111 digital display version of dial scale STA-11
Sleek, Stylish 3.25 inch -High Brushed "Champagne Silver" Case
Microprocessor Memory Holds Up to 12 Stations, 6FM and 6MW
Precise Frequency-Synthesized Tuning With Digital Readout
EQ Circuit for Deep Bass from Mini Speakers
1981 REALISTIC STA-111. (FR: 30Hz-20KHz, S/N ratio 100dB at AUX, 90dB phono, Distortion 0.3% THD, 30 watt RMS). "Outstanding receiver value! Slim, low-profile styling with the power, features and performance usually found in receivers twice its size. A built in CMOS LSI frequency synthesizer lets you lock in stations with pinpoint accuracy, and displays the exact frequency on a digital readout. The FM front end has a dual gate MOSFET to prevent strong signal overload. Tunes up and down the FM and MW bands automatically with the touch of a button and up to 12 stations can be stored in the microprocessor memory for instant recall. (FM sensitivity of 1.7uV means it can use an indoor antennae). Memory is protected for up to two days in the event of a power failure. A special equalization changeover switch provides enhanced bass response with Realistic mini-speakers. Features include a seven-segment LED signal strength meter full tape monitoring facilities, click bass, midrange and treble controls. Protective circuitry is built in." One of the best ever Shack receivers! Cat No. 31-2002. Intended only for where full size sets won't fit in!
The STA-11 and STA-111 are spectacular receivers for Minimus-11 style speakers! They're in the 'best ever Mini System' category, if you want thumping mean sounding drum/ bass lines! What could compete? Pioneer high price Mini-Systems hardly get close, why not try REALISTIC Metal Cabinet speakers?
REALISTIC STA-11, 30Hz-20KHz +/- 1.5dB, 0.02% THD, 89dB phono, 90db Aux, dial scale with PLL station lock, 1.7uF FM sensitivity, $319US new, more than STA-720. Special System Equalization for Mininius-11 speakers gives truly superb compact sound, legendary with Minimus-11 speakers!
REALISTIC STA-450, (15-25,000Hz +/- 1dB, S/N ratio 85dB AUX, 81db phono, FM tuner sensitivity 2.7 micro volts, needs an outdoor antennae for stereo) has no metal Minimus speaker equalisation but is fairly compact with a ply wrap, improving radio and a very attractive frequency response and S/N ratio. Smoothing can capacity of 4500 x 2 at 35 volts, this being attractive. Low powered like the STA-7 but with the super 'Auto-Magic Tuning for its dial scale'. Auto Magic Tuning is a great feature!
The Ferguson below was one of the first Mini-Systems to have LED power meters dancing! Such features could become annoying so take care of the features offered. Can the power meter be turned off as in a harman/kardon A 402?
Ferguson mini-systems were J.V.C. made with metal cabinet speakers
REALISTIC STA-111 and Minimus-11 would be in the 'stunning' category by compare but they may not remain 'just awesome!' The Fergusons are lasting well and drying solder is a big problem in many brands in the late 1970s, onwards. Restoration of quality is possible.
REALISTIC STA-720 20Hz-20KHz +/- 1dB. S/N ratio 81dB phono, 92dB Aux, it's good for CD players, PLL FM is good, Tuner FM S/N ratio 70dB, it's a good tuner, but on AM it's 20dB worse than the REALISTIC STA-2290 (known as a DXer's AM receiver). Suits Minimus-11 and Minimus-7 but BEST SYSTEM has MC-2001 speakers, better than Metal Cabinet, a ported 2-way 'bookshelf' speaker with only 60Hz-17KHz suggesting Minimus Frequency Response doesn't give the expected edge and bigger is better!
REALISTIC SA102, 1.2 watts RMS per channel, too often overrated by EBAY sellers and no match for full size audio! Intended for real sensitive, Minimus-4, 5 (below with its alter ego, the Optimus X-100) and MC-600, Coral give a better 98dB -102dB SPL. TM102 3-ganged back lit Scott-style tuning dial, needs an outdoor antennae with 300 ohm impedance matching transformer to make it a good mini system, useless for ordinary indoor 300 ohm antennae or inefficient speakers. Speaker outputs are odd RCA phono plugs. Finish is outstanding and properly set-up sound, real impressive with input switchable for magnetic cartridge!
REALISTIC Minimus-11 and Minimus-7 'Metal Cabinet' speakers.
*********REALISTIC Minimus 11 Hafler M5 style horn loaded cone tweeter********
Minimus 11 Cat No. 40-2036, SPL 91.5dB SPL 1w/1m, the oldest bigger version of the Minimus 7 is 4.5dB louder for 1 watt input, 1 meter away, that's a whole hog louder, later dome tweeter Minimus-77 version is 1dB quieter than the Minimus-7! Boasting its 50Hz-20KHz and 50 watts American or Peak, original 1981 year Minimus-11 are quite a rarity and more watt efficient than later dome tweeter versions, thanks to a REALISTIC Nova series, flange tweeter, hid behind the horn throat! Nova Flange tweeters are popular Marantz 5G phenolic ring tweeters, like other Shack speakers in the same catalog, real ambitious, Minimus-11 sound cool! A cone tweeter usually narrower dispersion than a dome tweeter, coupled to a horn makes Minimus 11 a wide dispersion 'horn loaded tweeter'! The dome tweeter version of the 5G phenolic ring is the 'ring radiator dome tweeter' Radio Shack skipped to go on to its front facing and Dipole Linaeum tweeters. Minimus-11 are better mini system speakers than Minimus-7. Minimus-12 have a polypropylene bass unit going down to 60Hz. Some folks prefer polypropylene to paper as a newer issue, but newer isn't always better, like the 1982 Mach One the 1984 Minimus-12 has a lighter bass than the original speaker.
Marantz 5G phenolic ring flange tweeter and similar 2/1/2 ins. tweeters are found in the Optimus T-100, 5, 23, 25, MC-600, 1201, 1401(orange ring) and 2001.
REALISTIC Minimus-12, horn loaded cone tweeter so sensitive for low power efficiency, Cat No. 40-2046, Freq Response 60Hz-20,000Hz year around 1984, another good year for REALISTIC. Matches receivers STA-730, STA-112, STA-204, STA-115 and the mighty SCR-3000 'casseiver'.
REALISTIC Minimus-50, above the Minimus-12 in the 1983 catalog, 6.5" woofer, 50Hz-20,000Hz, (better bass than Minimus-12, equals original Minimus-7 bass) 55 watts handling, American or Peak.
Auratone 5C, US$401, a pair, good, 25 bids from 6 bidders, Great Barrington MA, missing one foam grille.
Visonik David 50, Real cool small classic speakers, measure 7" tall x 4/1/2" wide by 4" deep, 3/4" dome tweeter and 3/1/2" woofer, metal construction, sound good for size.
Auratone 5C.V, Coronado California 92118, TV shielded version of popular cube studio monitor speaker looking real similar to REALISTIC Minimus-17 (5 ins.) and smaller Minimus 0.3 (3 ins.) but F.R. 50Hz-18KHz, +/- 5dB, 90dB, 6 ohm, 60 watt, 165x165x165MM, 5.2Kg. Studios use to escape x.o. network distortion.
Cambridge Soundworks boasted down to 40Hz in their Metal Cabinet speaker, the brand is another 'American concept' company like REALISTIC, Carver and Bose. Originally with one passive twin duct sub-woofer box per speaker pair, a bit like Visonik David.
The Visonik David, Cambridge Soundworks, REALISTIC Minimus-7 and a few Canton models share an unusually low bass response unlike satellites. So such speakers differ in mid-range detail when compared to BOSE and other more modern sub-woofer and satellite 5.1, 7.1 etc speaker systems for home theater. These 'Minimus-7-like' studio monitors despite appearances are not a very good satellites for Home Theater, they are only small, not expensive studio monitors from a very long time ago, before sub/sat and Home Theater were even invented! Sitting on floors in room corners they make a very portable speakers suitable for students and so forth, when highly powered by good quality stereo.
Teledyne AR-1MS, bass suspension foam rot often refoamed, rounded edge steel cabinet, smooth sound suited to vocals, claimed 91.25 SPL 1w/1m for 2.83 volt input with maximum 108dB SPL. Claimed low distortions of 0.5%, 85dB at 100Hz with 1% at 95dB, (ref. Nov. 1981 'High Fidelity' magazine). 4 ins. paper woofer, 0.75ins. soft dome tweeter with same geometry of the AR-9. Dim, H.7.5ins x W.5 x D 4.5. Serial number pairs, soft rounded edge metal cabinets, back plates removable via 6 long machine screws.
Canton Plus S (no picture) see Canton speakers
JBL Control One (no picture) see JBL speakers
FOSTEX 6301B (no picture).
SONY APM-090 (no picture).
Actron 200C, foam rot fault, West Germany, metal cabinet, 4 ohm, 50w, 45Hz-25KHz, fitted cable only.
REBUILT REALISTIC SUB-700 sub woofer.
ADS/ Braun L200 compact speaker advert
ADS/ Braun, foam edges harden with 20 years reducing bass output, they're meant to be replaced, but ADS originals were thin and new foamed bass risks an over bright tone color. 6/3/4 x 4/1/4 x 4/1/4 ins., 6lb each, 4 ohm. Minimus-7 surrounds don't foam rot but their gaskets are one use only, you cannot remove the drivers!
Ebay upgrade kits for REALISTIC Minimus-7...
REBUILT Minimus-7: have the driver baffle strengthened against vibration with two struts, front to back in the boxes, not having these aluminum bits originally fitted. The boxes are deadened against vibration with car underbody bitumen seal and GRP mat or mesh! A small quantity of yellow glass fiber is added around the woofer. The electrolytic capactior may be replaced with film multiples and the x-over damped from the metal cabinet so it gets no vibration. Front and back gaskets are renewed with sticky back felt and the speaker connections are made into the screwbolt, hot fixed, wired, or banana plug type. No spade speaker tags are kept, they're all soldered. Sound is then good as a stereo pair, E.M.I. 319 are better but bigger! X-over NOT hard glued to the metal enclosure as some Guides suggest!