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