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.

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29 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. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. I own a 3235 MCS stereo receiver not working. Who can repair it for me?
    The breaker in the back pops off as soon as you push the power button on.
    I am not electronic knowledge person.
    Help Me
    Mr. Larry Di Renzo

  7. Hi Larry, If you have a knowledgeable friend that can work on the unit, maybe my explanation below can help.
    I had the same issue with mine where the fuse would blow as soon as I turned it on! It could be caused be anything, but in my case, I had a bad rectifier. Your unit may possibly have the same problem…
    I will explain how I fixed mine and maybe you will find the same issue with yours…
    After checking the obvious FIRST – (“shorted line cord, shorted power supply transformer, open or shorted filter caps”), if they are good, then you need to go deeper. Check the output transistors next.
    Blown power output transistors will cause the fuse to blow immediately when the unit is powered up too… However, there would need to be a good reason since they don’t easily blow out.
    Check the Bridge rectifier, it may be leaking AC voltage straight out to the power transistors causing them to blow.
    The job of the bridge rectifier is to convert about 97 volts AC from the power supply transformer, through the filter caps, to about (plus 45) and (minus 45) volts DC and pass that DC power directly to the left and right channel output transistors, respectively. A bad rectifier will leak AC at high power settings / high volume, passing the full 97 AC volts to both channels.
    If the first NPN transistor (right channel) in line with the bridge rectifier is SHORTED, and the first PNP transistor (left channel) in line with the bridge rectifier is OPEN, then the rectifier is most likely faulty.
    If you find those transistors in the state I described, It’s probably the rectifier and you will need to replace it as well as both the blown power transistors.
    That may very possibly fix your unit.
    The rectifier may either be made up of one integrated unit, making it easy to replace, or could be made up of 4 separate diodes and 4 capacitors. If its not one unit, then all of the rectifier sub-components (4 diodes and 4 capacitors) must be replaced. Only after the rectifier is fixed should you replace the transistors.
    Check that out. It just may be the problem…
    Good luck,

  8. I love my MCS 3233! However, I’m having a harder time finding replacement bulbs as the years go by for the tuning face lights. Any suggestions?

  9. Try Steve Gold in Rochester NY as long as you have a good cross reference number: 585-546-8464 he also has a room full of NTE, ECG parts many being discontinued.

  10. By the by anyone know where to get drive belts for a sharp 3388a cassette rec/player I want to hook up to my MCS 3235?

  11. I love mine too, it belonged to my late father. I used to use it when I was a small child and thought it was the loudest stereo on the planet, I am now 40 and I use it daily I prefer it over my onkyo and Yamaha receivers. Looking for matching tape units and possible equalizer. Please email me if anyone knows where I can find either. Thanks ( also I repair receivers, and anything with a circuit board. Located in Virginia

  12. Looking for dial lamps for my JC Penny 3233 audio amp anyone know where I can get them need 4 lamps with wire leads already attached.

  13. Carlos olivares.tengo un modular componet systems 3233 en muy buenas condiciones. lo pongo a la venta por si hay alguna persona que se interese. se aceptan tengan miedo ofrecer. vivo en mexicali b.c. mexico

  14. I keep blowing fuses in my 3233 MCS ever since I added speakers to it,i just purchased this receiver it has been refurbished inside and out,its a beauty, maybe I have a bad wire some place.

  15. I have a 3233 in the closet that I bought at an estate sale a couple years ago for $20. I’m waiting for a new space to put it in. Right now I’m sporting a 3210 from 1973 that I “borrowed” from my parents in the mid-90s. My parents received it as a wedding gift so I’ve had this unit my whole life. I have 2 sets of 80s Realistic speakers that I absolutely love. In my early 20s I “borrowed” it because I needed a stereo and my parents were using something else. I used it on and off when I tried other surround sound systems and they each broke after a couple of years. I gave up and found a guy in Gilbert who cleaned out 4 decades of dust and replaced a lamp bulb. It’s the house stereo now and gos great with my mid century home transition.

  16. I purchased a used Hitachi SR-804, all seems to work fine, (lights up ,tunes in,meters all work) until I turn my speakers on. The left channel falls off. Scratchy sounding, watt/db meter also shows less output. Turn speakers off and the meter returns to “normal”?
    Speakers ok. Tried others. Switched channels – same. Any ideas?
    I’m going to try the headphone jack as soon as I can find some that size! LOL

  17. I just bought a 3235 – cosmetically it is almost flawless, the lights need replacing for certain. I will be firing it up this week to check it out.

  18. Hi guys, I’m looking for the spec manual on the MCS 3235 receiver. Any help would be great. Thank you, Dave.

  19. I bought a MCS 3233 at JCP in late 1977, which was my main receiver for about a decade, before becoming a bedroom receiver, where it is still in use. There definitely is a service manual, as I ordered one through JCP Parts in 1980, and received a fairly comprehensive 24 page service manual for Product Service No. 683-3233-00, that included a 1 page supplement, which implied there may be a separate service manual for Product Service No. 683-3233-10.

  20. My wife picked up an MCS 3233 at Goodwill for $10 a couple years ago. I had no expectations since it wasn’t a big brand with lots of power. One replaced capacitor later and it’s been my fixture for my garage setup ever since. Nice tone and great reception. The price on this model has jumped up over the past couple years so get one while you can.

  21. Still using mine since the late 70’s. My cassette deck failed, but a turntable I got with it still gives me the sound only vinyl can reproduce. I have a pair of Bose 301 speakers with it as the original MCS speakers I bought with it had the flexible rims of their cones dry out and crumble. My Dokorder 10″ reel to reel tape deck bought around 1980 is still a great addition although it needs a brake repair on the takeup side.

  22. Love my MCS 3233!
    Bought it as my first “adult” receiver in 79. Used it hard for first 10 years and it has had an easier life as a 2nd location stereo for the last 34 years. Paired it originally with the Pioneer PL 200 turntable that still gets some use and a Realistic dual cassette deck rec/play that still works also.
    It has had a couple different companion CD players over the years but they were just short term girls on the side!

  23. I can’t find any plugs small enough to fit in the speaker jacks of my MCS3233 . I think the small button that opens the inlet port was meant to retain a small stranded wire instead of a plug but was hoping there was a cleaner looking setup.

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