THE SCHAUB LORENZ MUSIC CENTER


  Devised, researched
 and written
  by
  Peter King Smith BSc

                                                         The mid-1960s, German-built multi-track tape recorder with FM/AM/SW radio

Background

Launched at Hannover Messe 1965

Launch
In 1965, five years after the development project began, and using the slogan "New Technology for a New Market", Standard Elektrik Lorenz's 'consumer electronics' division, Schaub-Lorenz Vertreibs GmbH, based in Pforzheim, rolled out their new multitrack tape recorder with wide tape, at the Hannover Messe in Germany, by introducing two variations of the music center:

 • The 5001 model (tape recorder | FM/AM radio)
 • The 5005 radiogram model (tape recorder | FM/AM radio | 
    record player

A third version, the 6000 model, aka the 'stereo chassis', contained a stereo tape recorder but no (radio) receiver, stereo amplifier or cabinet. General Electric in the United States purchased a large batch of these chassis from Schaub-Lorenz around 1965 and introduced a stereophonic version of the music center on the American market. Some 6000 music centers found their way back into the European marketplace.   

Target markets
The two service manuals for repairing the mechanical and electrical operations of the music center were printed in three languages: German, English and French, suggesting that, in addition to the US and British market, Schaub-Lorenz also regarded France [1] as a suitable consumer market in which to roll out their new German tape-recording technology.

It has recently come to light that Schaub-Lorenz had intended to produce the music center in Ireland, and to that end sent Kurt Senglaub out there twice, but these plans never got off the ground [2].

From trade-fair sensation to catastrophe
According to Ralf Birkenkampf in 2008, a German hi-fi collector and former owner of a 5001 music center, the Schaub-Lorenz Music Centers were the "sensation of the Hannover Messe in 1965". However, according to Mike Solomons of London Sound, who repaired many of these music centers in the early 1970s, these machines were plagued by manufacturing defects and were a 'selling disaster', causing Schaub-Lorenz to terminate production prematurely. For further details, see Part 3 of the 'Electronic Time Capsule' story. 

Birkenkampf claims that "only 2,000 units were sold" as a result [3], while Bernd Engel wrote that there were "fewer than 1000 music centers made" [4]. No company records can be traced which support these numbers. The actual number produced probably lies around 1500 units, making them a comparatively rare tape recorder today.


Footnotes
1. Nothing is known about the fortunes of the music center in France.
2. Siegfried Apitz, June 2008.
3. E-mail to author April 2008.
4. Das music-center 5001 von Schaub-Lorenz (pub. 1998), in GFGF's Themenheft No. 1, 2004.


GFGF: Gesellschaft der Freunde der Geschichte des Funkwesens e.V.