Grandpa’s stereo never sounded like this: Symbol Audio Modern Record Console

Symbol Console SystemA long time ago, in a sprawling subdivision, far, far away, your parents listened to music on a gigantic record console. Separate audio components were unheard of, let alone fancy component stands designed to minimize vibrations. The record console was such an integral part of the living room that it was also where they hid the booze. It was a fine piece of furniture that you were not allowed to touch. Ever. As technology evolved, so did the record console. Television sets (large CRT units…anyone remember what those are?) began appearing inside the console, which ironically helped to hasten their demise. The stereo didn’t want to share space anymore, so it moved into its own home. Ward Cleaver and Don Draper had one thing in common: they loved their record console even more than their wives. Sadly, American consumers moved from Herman Miller and Eames to Ikea and Martha Stewart.

If you long for a lounge chair and ottoman while downing Glenrothes as Sinatra or Cooke wipe away the stress of the modern rat race, Symbol Audio’s Modern Record Console just might be what your shrink ordered. Bespoke furniture and high-end audio are back. 

Symbol console tubesAudiophiles will most certainly bemoan the price tag (between $18,500 – $26,000 depending on features and finish) and scream that one can assemble a better sounding stereo for a lot less money, but what they fail to understand is that the Modern Record Console is not for them. The console is aimed at the buyer who loves music but doesn’t want to look at ugly racks, cables, power line conditioners or metal face plates. This is furniture which combines a custom-made tube amplifier, phono preamplifier, a turntable, digital audio streaming device, loudspeakers, and powered subwoofer. The console is 66 x 18 x 34 (WxHxD-in inches) and likely to become the the focal point of any room.

The loudspeakers are sourced from Omega Loudspeakers who build great coaxial single drivers (made from Alnico magnets and lightweight hemp) that Symbol console driverswork extremely well with low-powered tube amplifiers. They lean toward the warm side of neutrality, but don’t rob the music of detail or pace. Coherency and presence are the strengths of these cones.

15 watts per channel may not seem like a lot of power, but the custom tube amplifiers have some hefty iron behind them and are a perfect choice for the easy-to-drive 6.5-inch drivers that are backed up by an 8-inch powered subwoofer built into the base.

symbol sumikoYou couldn’t call this a record console without a turntable, and Symbol Audio picked a good one to dig the music out of your favorite LPs. The Pro-Ject RPM 5.1 table comes with a 9″ carbon-fiber tonearm and a factory-mounted Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 cartridge. Not that the type of person who buys one will likely care, but the tonearm cable on this turntable can be upgraded and you’re not stuck with the cartridge. The Sumiko is a high-output MC cartridge that retails for around $400 and sounds pretty damn good. A cartridge such as the Grado Sonata 1 or the Dynavector 10X5 would be a great alternative if the Sumiko doesn’t float your boat.

The modern record console also includes the ability to steam digital audio via its internal wireless router. Place your iPhone next to your glass of scotch and enjoy your entire music collection with the touch of a finger.

Don Draper never had it so good. 

Home Theater

Say goodbye to the box: The future of home theater has no use for receivers

One of the most intriguing new trends to come out of CES 2019 this year comes from a technology that has been around for years. WiSA, now in new LG TVs, has the potential to cut the wires and change the home theater landscape forever.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

Crosley’s RSD mini-turntable is a 3-inch player made just for Record Store Day

What's cooler than playing retro albums on a vinyl turntable? Playing retro tracks on a tiny, three-inch turntable. That's what Crosley Radio is hoping, as it brings back the obscure three-inch vinyl format for Record Store Day.
Home Theater

Cambridge Audio’s Alva TT makes zero compromises as a wireless turntable

Wireless turntables offer convenience at the cost of sound quality, something no audiophile should be OK with. Cambridge Audio's Alva TT is the first model that doesn't force such a compromise. It's a match made in hipster heaven.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Music

Tidal faces legal jeopardy over fake stream numbers accusation

In another challenging chapter for music subscription service Tidal, Norwegian authorities have begun a formal investigation into charges that the company faked millions of streams for artists such as Kanye West and Beyoncé.
Home Theater

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is the epic sound revolution you didn’t know you needed

After Sony’s utterly bizarre press conference, I almost missed what was perhaps the most impactful sonic experience at the show. Luckily, I went back to Sony’s booth on the last day of the show, only to have my mind blown.
Home Theater

Need to get rid of an unused Netflix profile? Just follow these simple steps

Need to delete an unwanted profile from your Netflix account? It's easy to do, no matter what kind of equipment you've got. Check out our handy how-to guide for step-by-step instructions.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Computing

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 
Home Theater

Not chill: Netflix is hiking prices across all its tiers

Netflix has to get the billions of dollars it's spending on new content from somewhere. The streaming giant announced price hikes across the board, raising its monthly rates between $1 and $2 per tier in the next few months.
Home Theater

Here’s why you’re not getting Netflix in HD or 4K, and how to fix it

Are you having trouble watching your favorite movies or TV shows on Netflix in HD or 4K? We explain why loading takes so long, why the picture quality fluctuates, and what you can do about it.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Polk Audio’s Command Bar joins Alexa’s multiroom music party

Polk's Command Bar is a home theater soundbar with Alexa built in. But with a new update, it can also be grouped with Amazon's Echo products and other third-party speakers for a multi-room experience.