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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6 thoughts on “MCS 3233

  1. I LOVE my MCS 3233. My parents bought it when I was a little kid in the 70’s. I’m now 46 and use it almost daily.

  2. Hi — Nice web page! Thanks for putting it up for us!
    I am going to fix one of these MCS 3233 receivers for a friend and wondered if you know how or where I can get a copy of the service manual.
    Any info would be very much appreciated!!!

  3. do you fix the modular system from jc pennys 3563 the won’t rewind or fast forward it does play fine

  4. MCS is an exceptional receiver with exceptional quality without the big dollar price tag you find on Pioneer, Marentz, Sansui Etc. If you are buying for the purpose of quality analog classic stereo, you will not be disappointed. If you are buying to flip for profit or some sort of bragging purposes, then buy the others mentioned above.I owned this exact receiver back in 78 and loved it I recenty purchased another onefor $90.00 and I couldn’t be happier. Remember bigger price and name brand doesn’t always mean you are always getting the best deal. I like the fact people scoff at these, better for those of us who appreciate great stereo receivers without the over inflated prices.

  5. Yes I have found memories of the MCS Modular Component System 3233 after all these years it’s nice to have this receiver back. There easy to access the vintage 1979-1980 electronics​ in side compared to today’s micro electronics. I plan on getting the matching MCS stereo cassette recorder and direct drive turntabe. Enjoy!

  6. Just acquired a perfect MCS 3233 at goodwill with a pair of perfect Pioneer CS-G206K speakers (some cosmetic scratches but all the foams and cones are perfect) and hooked it to a Technics SL-DD33 direct drive turntable with a Stanton Cartridge and spun up the Abraxas Vinyl. Super Sunday $60 deal on a cool old audio rig.

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