Getting Real: Realistic Nova 6B

Pair of Realistic Nova 6B

Pair of Realistic Nova 6B

These came in with the Pioneer SA-708/TX-608 integrated combo that I purchased last winter. I’ll talk about them another time.

These forlorn little Novas were an afterthought to the shiny Pioneer stereo, so lonely and ignored at the seller’s house that I overlooked them and would have happily left without them. But a twinge of pity and more than a pinch of curiosity made me fork over another $20 to put them in the car too.

They were water stained and scratched on the outside but not that beaten up. As with the Pioneer, they seemed to have lived a decent life, mostly ignored and dinged from multiple cross-country moves with different families.

Since they were the Radio Shack Realistic brand, I initially didn’t have high expectations, tainted as I was by the current state of Radio Shack’s chintziness. I should have given them more credit.

Radio Shack back in the day sold some good gear. They were the place the able hobbyist bought components and put together his own rigs – the thought being if you did it yourself, you could save on the assembly labor and pick nicer components. For their assembled speakers and stereos, Radio Shack advertised that its house brands maintained the same quality of the big names (KLH, Pioneer, etc) but at bargain prices. I had a Realistic receiver and liked it – looked great and hit all the right notes.

The Realistic speakers were definitely gunning for the big guys in the design department – the solid walnut-veneered cabinet and fluted front grille are note-by-note ripoffs of the Pioneer CS series of the same era, but here the grille is executed in plastic and not bent wood. For a smaller speaker (19 1/4″ x 9 /78″ x 11 1/2) they are quite heavy.

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So upon getting them back home I unscrewed the grilles and took a look inside. The speakers were immaculate – the faces and drivers untouched. These are 2-way systems with an 8″ woofer in a rubber inverted surround and with an full-range tweeter. Inside the cabinet I found a lot of fiberglass insulation and a simple crossover glued to the back of the plastic mounting plate – some resistors coming off of the 3-way tone switch, an inductor, and a capacitor.

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How did they sound? Not too bad. They played just fine through the entire range and I couldn’t find anything wrong with them. But they were blown away by my Polks and the KLH 6s edged them out easily  too. But after I gave them a cleaning and a run-over with some Howard’s finish restore and wax, they looked pretty good. And for some reason the solid construction and immaculate drivers stuck in my mind- wouldn’t it be fun to modify these speakers into something really special?

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I eventually put new Dayton capacitors into the crossovers. This made an immediate difference, tightening the bass and waking up the higher ranges. They became much nicer speakers. But still with the very impressive stable I have going right now they don’t get much use. Maybe some day I’ll have more time to either enjoy them as-is or butcher them into something wild.

Pair of Realistic Nova 6B
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~ by silverfacestereo on January 23, 2013.

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