Anyone know about Motorola's 3-channel stereo system?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jdmack, May 29, 2008.

  1. jdmack

    jdmack Active Member

    Location:
    Silver Spring, MD
    I picked up a 10-inch record at a flea market called "Motorola Presents 3-Channel Stereophonic High Fidelity." I believe that it's from about 1959-60. The blurb on the back talks about the "Golden Audio Separator" which splits the stereo signal into three channels - two for highs and mids and one for lows.
    Was this system merely an active crossover? Is the record that I bought any different from the standard stereo records of that time? The blurb on the back wants me to believe that it is.

    J. D.
  2. Perisphere

    Perisphere Well-Known Member

    I haven't seen this record. Your description sounds like something where a form of crossover would be used to separate the low end from the left and right channels, sum it to mono, then feed this signal to a separate amp and centrally mounted woofer, much the same as is seen in the HTIBs of today, with the subwoofer/satellites mentality. (I saw a Philco console stereo about 30 years ago that had left and right channels of midranges and tweeters, but only a single 12" woofer in one of the cabinets, the left side IIRC. It dated to the very early 1960s; all tube.)

    I have a 12" US Decca LP (with the famous rainbow label) demoing and touting the Motorola 'third phantom channel' stereo from about the same era. It's just a normal stereo LP. Based on the blurb on the record, I sense that this form of stereo sported three identical full-range speaker units, to also give a clearer, more focussed sonic image on sounds panned to the centre of a stereo mix.

    You could accomplish much the same effect with a stereo tube amplifier by connecting a central speaker to the positive terminals of the left and right channel amps (but not to ground as is done with the left and right speakers).
  3. Here's what Motorola had to say about their 3-channel stereo system. I copied this info from an ebay listing for a 3-channel demo record.

    ''Motorola 3-Channel Stereo High Fidelity represents the degree of perfection in sound reproduction that record enthusiasts have been seeking since the birth of the phonograph. This vivid quality of sound realism is accomplished by one needle, tracking in a single record groove, that picks up two separate and independent recordings. These two recordings are then fed into an ingenious Motorola Golden Audio Seperator -- the secret of 3-channel stereo. From this Golden Audio Seperator come three -- not two -- separate systems of recorded information: two for mid-range and high frequencies, one for low. These three systems of sound are fed into three separate amplifiers which are electronically matched to three separate Golden Voice multiple-speaker systems. The resulting stereophonic effect, that of actually filling the room with 'wall-to-wall sound,' must be heard to be believed.''

    HG
  4. darkmatter

    darkmatter Gort Astronomer Staff

    Could this negate the need for a crossover for a sat sub system ;) :D
  5. edb15

    edb15 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    new york
    Sounds like an early version of a sub-sat system. Weathers had one of these around then.
  6. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    Location:
    Eastern USA
    It's describing a crossover for a satellite/subwoofer system. But who gives a hoot about the hi-fi stuff when the demo record features Jonathan Winters on the funny?
  7. Lord Hawthorne

    Lord Hawthorne Currently Untitled

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I think this entailed wiring a third speaker between the (-) post of one speaker and the (+) post of the other, an early step to surround sound.
  8. Shakey

    Shakey New Member

    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    How old is the record?
    My father's old Fisher had a center channel output back in the 60s
    I think some RCAs, Living Stereo recordings were three channel.
  9. Taurus

    Taurus Active Member

    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    If it helps any, Motorola used to build console stereos with left & right channels......and a subwoofer. Well, not a true sub of course, but rather a single driver (usually around 8" to 10") with its own amplifier reproducing only the lower end of the sound spectrum. I finally saw one of these consoles at a consignment shop a few years ago going for $400. And IIRC Motorola wasn't the only one to use this system in their consoles.
  10. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    So it summed the bass to mono. Another way of degradation being marketed as new and improved, and suckering people into it.
  11. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    Location:
    Eastern USA
    Not necessarily. It's generally accepted that bass loses most of its directionality below a certain point, and certainly on a 1960 stereo LP there was little if any real bass in stereo. If you bought a Motorola sub/sat system back then you likely got more raw amplifier horsepower, a better sounding system overall and more for your money than a conventional stereo of the time which cost the same amount.
  12. Orlan K

    Orlan K New Member

    Location:
    Overland Park, KS
    Motorola made the consoles this way because for a given build cost they felt they could give the best overall performance, and in that sense it was commendable forward thinking engineering. But you have to realize that people who bought consoles, back then, were by definition not serious about sound reproduction. "The hi-fi nuts" (us, or our forebears) bought "components", and Middle America left them alone as "too much bother".

    You see the three channel PA/PS chassis on eBay from time to time. About all they are good for is to pull them down for guitar amp parts, really.

    But let's not forget that the American consumer electronics industry by and large was not an attempt to fleece the consumer but to give him or her the most product for the least money. Motorola, Zenith, RCA and the rest gave good value for money and paid real workers real wages, and the passing of the US electronic industry is a sad thing.
  13. Taurus

    Taurus Active Member

    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    ^ on an off-topic note, I would LOVE to see more people buying old consoles, repairing them if needed and using them to listen to Coldplay and Floyd. Because those Zenith, RCA etc consoles sound a HECK of a lot better than 99% of all those MP3 player docking gizmos.

    And you can set your jack & coke on them when needed. :D

    anyway..............
  14. Orlan K

    Orlan K New Member

    Location:
    Overland Park, KS
    The space requirements and difficulty of moving them are why they are either landfilled or stripped of parts and those put on eBay. It's all about eBay. No one wants to deal locally anymore.

    Plus, the consoles need refinishing usually. The veneer glues are failing and the lacquer bubbles up. The 30s and 40s mono 78 units hold up better than 50s and 60s units.
  15. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "drop needles" or "pull triggers".

    Location:
    Western NC
    Thanks for the comment that actually made me smile. I worked for Zenith in the late 1970's, and the audio products were actually pretty respectable for "consumer" systems. Mag cartridges when most were ceramic, 15 watts a side when most were 2, speakers that actually went down to 40 Hz. A truly noble effort, but not enough to take on the Japanese with their Electrophonics and Soundesigns. The factory itself was terribly inefficient and wasteful, that didn't help at all.

    3-channel systems in those days were a solution to the "hole in the middle" effect of early stereo systems, because the speakers were so directional, you often ended up with one, and because early stereo consoles didn't have pan pots. The "Living Stereo" pressings were recorded with a 3-channel console to fill the "hole", and I think it was the Klipsch Cornwall that was made specifically as a center-channel speaker to be used with the Klipschorns.
  16. Orlan K

    Orlan K New Member

    Location:
    Overland Park, KS
    Zenith is a proud name and they made some good stuff. My father says his TransOceanic saved his life in Korea.

    The three channel Klipsch approach was an interesting one and one that can be sonically very rewarding, but it was NOT the same as the Mercury Living Presence _real_ third channel. Three channel would have been a better standard than two channel but there was no feasible way to do it in those days, except open reel.

    The Cornwall was good for "corner or wall". I think it was the Heresy that was originally for the third derived (phantom) channel, and to some extent the Belle Klipsch as well.

    I love Klipsch classic systems (K-horn, La Scala, BK, Cornwall, Heresy) and my own system is really a "Grandson of Klipsch" so to speak. That said, if PWK didn't design it it isn't really a Klipsch to me.
  17. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "drop needles" or "pull triggers".

    Location:
    Western NC
    Yep, you're exactly right, it was the Belle Klipsch, thanks for the memory jog.