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

My New Music Center

Quick and dirty assessment


Problems with tuner unit

Once I'd got the music center I'd bought on eBay back to the Netherlands, I turned it on to see whether it worked properly. The FM radio still worked fine as did the AFC, but the AM tuning (for LW/MW/SW) appeared to be jammed. Perhaps the tuning cord had somehow got tangled up around one of the pulleys, I thought. 

Tape unit fails continuous-play feature
The tape unit worked pretty well. At the end of a track, the tape unit would automatically click to the next track and then rewind. However, once rewound, it failed to move on to the next track as it should. 

Cabinet in good condition
Although the brass Schaub-Lorenz badge on the front left of the cabinet was missing, the cabinet itself was in excellent condition, bar a few small scratches (wear and tear). Hardly surprising given that the machine was 40 years old! 

Record function faulty
The 'record' function didn't work, which also meant that no new recordings could be made and that unwanted recordings could not be erased from the tape. I was advised to discontinue running the tape unit until it could be looked at, as the tape had a tendency to shred. (See 'Synergy').



Quality

Four main units
The Schaub-Lorenz Music Center comprises four main units:

- Tape unit
- Control unit
- Tuner unit
- Power-supply unit

Rule of thumb for gauging hi-fi quality
A rule of thumb for gauging the quality of audio and hi-fi equipment is the number of transistors, diodes and relays it has. The Schaub-Lorenz Music Center 5001 has:

    26 transistors (27 in the 5005 model)
 
  13 diodes
 
  1 Zener diode
 
  8 different types of relays
 
  2 main/bridge rectifiers (in power-supply unit)
 
  2 photoconductive cells (light-dependent resistors, or LDRs)
 
  4 types of magnet (tape unit)

Other quality features
In addition, it has 11 push buttons, a 4-band radio including FM with an automatic frequency control (AFC), a 126-track reel-to-reel tape recorder with an alphanumeric track-selection dial, two loudspeakers, and a top-quality amplifier.

Further details, including an appraisal of the Music Center's amplifier, can be found in The 5001's amplifier.



126-track jukebox

Unique, reel-to-reel jukebox
One of the unique features of this Schaub-Lorenz Music Center 5001 is its tape unit. It has been described as a 'reel-to-reel jukebox'. The tape unit has a dial that can be turned clockwise or anticlockwise from dial sector A to dial sector O. (Sector 'I' was never used). The tape unit has a 10-cm (4 inch) wide magnetic tape that allows you to record either directly from the radio or from a record player.

126 recordable tracks: 46.2 hours recording
Each of the dial's 14 letters (tape 'sectors') is divided into 9 further recording tracks, giving a grand total of 126 tracks (14 x 9), each of 22 minutes in length. This offers a total of 46.2 hours of recording, unequalled by any other consumer tape recorder of its generation. In fact, if you'd wanted, you could have recorded 882 x 3-minute singles [7 x 3=21 mins x 126=882] on the tape!

Target audience and uses
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, some machines were used to play non-stop music at private parties. You didn't have to bother about changing records every 3 minutes (singles) or 30 minutes (LPs), and some hotels and pubs bought machines for playing endless piped music in foyers and other public spaces. 



Continuous-play feature


Continuous play

Another unique feature of the tape unit is that its tape (drum) automatically rewinds after reaching the end of a 22-minute track, or earlier, if it comes to the end of a recording. Having played track A1, for example, the tape unit automatically switches to the next track (A2), rewinds the tape, and then plays that track. At least that's the theory... (see Common faults).

See also a brief discussion about the 22-minute recording feature in Autoreversesuggested by Jim Weir.


Tape contents

Historic, very English radio comedy
I was interested to find out what 1960s/70s music and radio programmes had been recorded on the tape. Sector A contained much jazz and some classical music. Most of Sector D had been used to record Round the Horne, a popular BBC Sunday afternoon radio show (genre: camp comedy) featuring Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Horne. The radio show attracted 15 million listeners each week during its heyday (1965-69). In addition, there were several recordings of the popular Goons Show, featuring Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan.

Popular music shows
I also found a live recording of the 498th edition of the Saturday Club which I discovered was recorded live on 20 April 1968, based on a reference to the "upcoming 500th edition in two weeks time". (This helped date when the music center was originally purchased). The Saturday Club was a teenage pop-music show on BBC Radio between 1958-1969, and attracted audiences in their millions, and many of the big bands at that time, including 'The Beatles', were invited to play their music live on air.

Classic 60s/70s pop songs
The tape also contained many classic pop songs from the 1960s and early 1970s, including Homeward Bound (Simon & Garfunkel, 1966), House of the Rising Sun (Animals, 1964), Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues, 1972), Can't Get No Satisfaction (The Stones, 1965), Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot, 1974) and Good Vibrations (Beach Boys, 1966).

Empty tape sectors
A number of the tape sectors contained no recordings whatsoever, and would be useful for making new recordings in the future. Because of the 'playback embargo', I was only going to find out what else had been recorded after the machine was repaired.


Preserve for posterity

In search of a radio doctor
This electronic time capsule really needed to be repaired. If I failed to do this, I could never discover what else was on the tape for fear of inadvertently shredding it, nor could I fully use all the machine's functionalities. It cried out to be preserved for posterity.
To do this, I would need to find out whether there was anyone who could repair such a machine, someone who had the necessary skills to repair the complex mechanical and electrical operations of this 40-year-old 'time capsule'. This was going to be a tall order. Or so I thought.

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