MCS 3233

 

MCS 3233

 

This solid state MCS 3233 from Modular Component Systems was manufactured in during the late 1970's and into the very early 1980's. MCS was a house brand for JC Penney. MCS didn't actually manufacture their equipment and there has been quite a bit of discussion online as to who made their receivers. The general consensus is that Technics (Mastushita) and NEC made most of them though other manufacturers may have built them as well. They do look a little like the early Technics receivers so they seem the most likely manufacturer. However, some units have a Made in Taiwan badge which would preclude either NEC or Technics as the manufacturer.

 

MCS 3233 Meter

 

MCS usually used the last two digits of the model number to signify the output power so this receiver churns out 33 watts per channel. Notice the Matrix button in the speaker selection area. The matrix feature was an early attempt at surround sound. I've seen it explained as such:

"The theory is that in creating a left and a right channel where some information is the same, you in essence create two other channels, a left difference and a right difference made up of only the sound that is unique to each channel. Matrix pulls these two other channels out of the mix and typically sends them to a second pair of speakers in the rear."

So, you would have two pair of speakers hooked up to the receiver and each would have its own "custom" channel. This would give you a surround sound type listening experience. A very unique feature long before Dolby surround showed up on the scene.

 

MCS 3233 Knobs

 

The fluted knobs and 40 position detent volume knob are also very nice features of this unit. It has a nicely brushed face and a flywheel weighted slide-rule tuner as well.  The 3233 has mid range tone control, tone defeat, flywheel tuning, FM muting, Tape Monitor/Dubbing, as well as Low and Scratch Filters. The two meters are for signal strength and tuning.

 

MCS 3233 Lamps

 

One nice technical feature is that the MCS 3233 utilizes two motorola 2n3055 output transistors which are very easy to source nowadays. So, if one blows it's a fairly easy fix. While many people scoff at MCS equipment, it is actually very well built and used good quality components. JC Penney had very tight quality control over their manufacturers and their specs were higher end.

 

MCS 3233 Inside

 

The vinyl cover gave the MCS a nice look but it was a weak point of the receiver. It was fairly cheap quality and tends to lift over the years. You'll also find that the speakers connector on the back of the unit tend to get broken.

 

MCS 3233 Back

 

As more and more collectors realize the quality of the MCS receiver line demand should go up. In fact, higher demand is already starting to show up in sale prices. Five years ago you could by an MCS receiver for practically nothing. Now, especially with the higher end models, prices are rising fast. The MCS 3233 was one of their low to mid range units so there is less demand, but a nice 3233 will sell for around $100 to $150.

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MCS 3125

 

mcs-3125-front

 

Many collectors overlook this receiver and mistake it for a cheap, low quality unit. That's not the case. This MCS 3125 is considered a "Monster" receiver and is actually well built and a great performer. MCS was the house brand for JC Penney back in the 70's and the 3125 was their top of the line receiver at the time.  It pumps out 125 watts per channel but the user manual warns that it is capable of 200 watts per channel. Whoever worked for JC Penney's electronics acquisition department at the time certainly had discerning taste which resulted in a very good product being offered. The 3125 retailed for around $899.

 

mcs-3125-left

 

There is some debate over who actually manufactured the MCS 3125 for JC Penney. Most seem to agree that it was NEC while others mention Technics. I think that different models in the MCS line were probably made by different manufacturers but that the 3125 was made by NEC in Japan. Check out the NEC AG-100E equalizer below and compare that with the EQ on the 3125. Very similar.

 

NEC AG-100E

 

JC Penney had previously released the MCS 3275 which didn't really meet expectations. It was underpowered at 75 WPC and its tuner section was less than steller. So, JC Penney got the ball rolling on a TOTL receiver and the result was the 3125 which was released sometime around 1979-1981. This was near the end of the big receiver power wars and the 3125 actually incorporated some of the latest technology at the time.

 

mcs-3125-right

 

The 3125 is not for everybody. It's unique styling and design are appealing to some but not others. The large five band EQ section with red LED's definitely sets it apart from other receivers and it also has both analog and digital tuning displays. It actually has some of the aesthetic qualities of boomboxes of the same era. The faceplate and knobs are all aluminum and 153 LED's are utilized in the unit.

 

mcs-3125-lit

 

The MCS 3125 utilizes a huge power transformer and actually has independent power supplies for each channel. As you can see there are also two large filter capacitors per channel as well. It features a direct coupled amp design with large heat sinks to dissipate the heat.

 

MCS 3125 Inside

 

The tuner section was improved using a 4 gang FM and 3 gang AM tuner.

 

MCS 3125

 

The MCS 3125 was discontinued in 1984 and not that many were actually built. Quality and WPC were falling down the list of customer priorities at the time and cheaper built units were dominating the marketplace. So, the 3125 is pretty hard to find nowadays. Given their performance and quality they should sell for top dollar but the fact that they were sold through JC Penney keeps many people from taking them seriously. They are definitely sleeper receivers and can be found for very reasonable prices. For now at least. You can find working units in very good condition for anywhere from $200 to $350 dollars which, given their specs, is a very good price.

Vintage MCS Series Modular Component Systems Receiver Model 3275 RARE
Vintage MCS Series Modular Component Systems Receiver Model 3275 RARE $249.99
Time Remaining: 22d 8h 55m
Buy It Now for only: $249.99
Vintage Modular Components Systems MCS Series 3214 FM AM Stereo Receiver
Vintage Modular Components Systems MCS Series 3214 FM AM Stereo Receiver $199.99
Time Remaining: 3d 2h 56m
Buy It Now for only: $199.99
Vtg MCS 3248 4 Channel Stereo Receiver Woodgrain Silver Tested WORKS Awesome
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Time Remaining: 10d 20h 54m
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