MCS 3125




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.


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.

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12 thoughts on “MCS 3125

  1. I own one of these units; it was one of the last of the quality units from JCP, though some of the MCS units were only average or worse. This is not the case with this unit; the quality of build is equal or better than Pioneer or Sansui and I like more than either my SX 1250 or SX 1980! I just spent #200 to have it bought up to snuff. The Pioneer tuners have better reception on FM stereo, however, this unit is still better than average. If you can find one in good working order at a decent price buy it; it will surprise you.

  2. I picked up an MCS 3125 today at a local Goodwill store. I was not familiar with this unit at all, but I thought it looked well built (unlike the garbage I usually see there), but when I lifted it (heavy), I knew it was a keeper:) so for $50 I took a chance:) after I got it home and connected up, the sound blew me away! Seriously nice sound comparable to my Sansui QRX-9001in stereo mode, and close to my Pioneer SX-1250. Couldn’t believe it but it’s true. I’m so that glad I picked it up.

  3. I just picked up my MCS 3125 from Audio Specialties in NE Portland and looked up this model in it , Came up Panasonic built this model it sold for $800. in 1980 , It needed to have the following work He cleaned all the controls,switches, relay contacts, they all were dirty and some had minor corrosion. He also adjusted the bias and DC offset, aligned the tuner and replaced all solder joints in the power supply circuit, (The reason it quit) these 3125’s still kick ass, I put it back to work driving 2 Linn DMS Isobaric speakers,, Well worth $150

  4. I just cleaned up my MCS 3275. It had the typical potentiometer scratch of an older unused receiver. Everything is in working order and sounds amazing. I picked this up about 10 years ago on eBay for 75.00. It had a bent EQ knob (fixed now). I have it connected to my Audio Technica 120 USB turntable with some infinity bookshelf speakers (I have limited space)… Just amazing!!

  5. I have the top 3: 3125, 3275, 3253 – all outstanding, coolest looking, and great sounding amps. The fact that all 3 are in perfect working order is a testament of the build quality of these units. I also like the designs with EQ options on all three amps. All three are heavy with the 3125 weighing about 70 lbs! Nice big heavy amps with power!

  6. I have my grandfather-in-law’s 3125 that I’m looking to sell. It powers up but there’s no audio coming out of the left side. A cursory inspection says that it might cost $150-$200 to repair but we don’t know the extent of that issue (or if there are any other problems).

    Interested? Contact me at loren dot kling at gmail dot com.

  7. My Dad bought the 3125 MCS sometime in the early 80’s. I remember loving all the lights as a kid. In 05 my Dad decided to replace his out dated set up with a Kenwood set up. After placing 6 or so different stackable units in the cabinet & hooking up new surround speakers he said the new stuff was okay but still loved the sound his old receiver put out. I recently took over my Dad’s estate & in doing so came across this awesome (very heavy) piece of my childhood. I was shocked he had kept it for so many years but excited because it still worked! It’s been sitting for so long & I’m worried that it may be full of dust & thoughts of it catching fire or something is an event I’d like to avoid. What should I do to make sure it will be around for the next generation? Any tips would be appreciated. Thanx for letting me share my story.

  8. Sold my Volkswagen thing so I need a new toy. I’d love to have an MCS 3125. Anyone have one to offer?

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