Realistic Nova 8's - Vintage Gear

Discussion in 'Loudspeakers' started by heroesunplugged, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. heroesunplugged Enthusiast

    heroesunplugged
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    Just wanted to voice my opionion on some old Radio Shack Realistic Nova 8b speakers I picked up at an estate sale a couple of weeks ago.

    The previous owner had these speakers from '77 until he passed on this year (original sales receipt for an STA-90 RS stereo receiver and the Nova's in the owners manual). All the drivers still work. And the surrounds on the woofers are still in tact and don't show signs of breaking down either.

    I have been blown away by how good these speakers sound. If you tweak the eq a little you can get some great sound from these speakers. They are very natural, smooth, and articulate. Very fine sounding equipment from RS!

    So, due to the fact that I was impressed by the sound quality of these speakers I went to RS's support page to see if I could find any additional information about these speakers. They had the speakers listed on their site and had the specs listed as 20 Hz - 20 Khz. They don't list the SPL or wattage of these speakers, but I had to find out if 20 to 20 could possibly an exageration or if these speakers could go to 20 Hz.

    I emailed my bro and he emailed be back with a list of links for test CD's, a link for Wal-mart's test tone list, and recomended that I check out the cannon shots in Tschaikowsky's 1812 Overature. I could not believe my ears - 20 Hz from a 1977 pair of Realistic speakers.

    I'll admit that I couldn't crank it when playing the 20 Hz test but I don't know if it is a limitation of the amp that I'm using or a limitation of the speakers. The speakers are very capable to 28 Hz which is fenonminal considering most full range speakers lose it below 45.

    Just wanted to say that I am really beginning to appreciate and am impressed with vintage gear. Almost 30 years old and it still works great!
  2. rschleicher Audioholic

    rschleicher
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    I'm not familiar with those speakers, but I'm curious - what is their configuration - in particular, woofer size, and whether they are ported, or sealed acoustic suspension?

    Without knowing, I'd be skeptical of there being much output at 20 Hz., but if they have decent sized woofers, then getting usable output at 28 or 30 Hz. wouldn't be too surprising.

    I used to have an old pair of the so-called "Large Advents", which were a two-way sealed acoustic suspension design from the early to mid-70's. Tweeter was a ring-radiator type, and they had a 12" woofer. They were known for flat response, and well controlled bass to below 30 Hz. In their ad copy they recommended a particular pressing of Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (spelling might be off), otherwise known as the theme song for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Apparently there was an opening pipe organ pedal note at 32 Hz. that provided a good test for low bass response. This pipe organ note supposedly wassn't even present on many recordings of this piece. (It's actually pretty hard to find music with much content below 40 Hz.)

    I don't think that speakers have really advanced ALL that much - well-designed old speakers can still sound great. Plus, they're not on the same kind of cost-reduction curve as electronics, so you don't necessarily get much more for your money than you used to. What ended up killing my old Advents was that the foam woofer surrounds crumbled. In a way, I regret not restoring them. The guy who picked them up at my garage sale was going to do just that. At the time (1996!) a company named Speakerlab sold replacement surround kits specifically for old Advents, as well as their direct predecessor AR speakers (related in the sense that they were all designed by Henry Kloss, later of Cambridge Technologies).

    You also mentioned something about Wal-Mart test tones? What did you mean by that? Is it a test-tone disk that Wal-Mart sells?
  3. heroesunplugged Enthusiast

    heroesunplugged
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    I have seen quite a few of the old Advents (several models) with the orange tweeters with mesh metal grill over them on Ebay. They seem to go for around $250 a pair; sometimes more. They seem to be very popular.

    The Nova's are in Walnut veneer cabinets. Radio Shack specs the woofer out at 12" but I believe it's more like 10". They have an old cone type tweeter top and centered and in between the woofer and the tweeter are a couple of "midranges" which don't look any different than the tweeter. The tweeter and the midranges are set up in a triangular pattern. I guess that they are just set at a different crossover point than the tweeter.

    The woofer is actually recessed into the front baffle. It's almost as if they time aligned the speakers, but I don't know if they were that technical about that sort of thing back then.

    On the back of the cabinet they provide an RCA type speaker connection and two old screw type connections much like the early 70's type reciever. They are slotted for a flat head screw driver. Also on the back are a couple of switches to adjust the mids and highs. The mids cover 1-7 Khz and the tweeter adjustment is for 7K up. The settings are High, Normal, and Low.

    The person who owned these bought them for $77 each. The cabinets are easily worth $40-50. The front grill is similar to pegboard without the wholes or smooth finish and are finished with cloth and a wooden tapestry over that. They are a lot like some of the old Pioneers and Sansui speaker cabinets.

    By the way, the link you requested is http://www.walmart.com/catalog/prod...type=4&dept=4104&path=0:4104:4110:5036:164637

    They have a sweep of 200 to 2 Hz. They are MP3 @ 64bit recordings that you can streem. They also have some techno and rap that will definetly go down to 20 Hz and probably lower.

    Some bonus links are:
    http://www.linkwitzlab.com/burst-cd.htm - has a tone burst CD for $20 that includes shipping. Does 20 - 20.
    http://www.amusicdirect.com/products/detail.asp?sku=CSTP002 - here's a test cd for $10.
    http://www.amusicdirect.com/products/detail.asp?sku=CSTP004
    http://www.stryke.com/basszone/testcd.html - this one is ~$12 and goes down to 10Hz

    By the way, these are sealed, acoustic suspension. I use to think that porting everything was the answer to deeper bass but I then found that well-defined, articulate, acurate bass is more likely to be found in an sealed enclosure. This is one of those occasions where the proof is in the pudding of sweet, smooth, mmm-mmm good - sound.

    Every once in a while I get a good deal on something and this was definitely one of those times. The other half of the time I get something I'm really disappointed with, or it's not as good as I had imagined it to be.

    Most of the vintage equipment I own has deepened my understanding of what good audio can be. Combining old and new technology together has put excitement back into my love for music and sound. By the way anybody have a house I can borrow? I need a place to setup myhome theater!

    Chris
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2005
  4. mercuryrev Audiophyte

    mercuryrev
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    Hi - I just joined this forum pretty much because of this discussion. yesterday I wandered into a local garage sale and found a pair of Realistic Nova 8Bs. I recently blew a tweeter on one of my Advents (Prodigy Tower II speakers - purchased mid 90s and went through 4 years of college and many subsequent moves - they are simply beaten down). I fell in love with the look of the Nova 8B speakers immediately and since i needed a quick fix, I came back home to do some research and came across this discussion. Your post encouraged me so I bought them - $20 for the pair.

    I have to say that they have surpassed my expectiations. great sound! I love music but am not very knowledgeable on equipment, so I was hoping you or someone else could answer some questions. I have them running out of my Pioneer SX-205 receiver, which outputs 190 watts with an impedance of 8 ohms.

    The Nova 8B manual lists and impedance of 8 ohms but does not list the wattage it can handle. My question is, in very basic terms - how loud can I crank these without blowing them? I've been keeping the receiver volume at about 2-3 - my normal everyday volume - but if I am having a party or simply feel like upping the volume to a loud (but not totally unreasonable) volume, can the speakers handle it? What is my ceiling? I had originally planned to just use these for the short term - maybe 6 months - but I like the sound so much I may not bother to buy new speakers for a long time. But I would like the freedom of cranking the stereo if called for by the mood or situation.

    I am sure these come off as amaeturish questions, but that's what I am. Thanks for any feedback!
  5. vintageman Audiophyte

    vintageman
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    Realistic Nova 8b's

    These are the single best pair of vintage speakers that you can get! All the original drivers are very good and any short coming is in the crossover design. If you still have all the original drivers I have a new crossover design that will bring the nova 8b's to a level that very few, even current speakers can out perform. The standard crossover operates the mids and high drivers all the way to 20Khz and causes a lot of lobing between the drivers. The first order also increase destortion and decreases the power handling. The new crossover design will correct these issues. The speaker as RS designed it rolls off at 50Hz not the 20Hz in the specs. The new crossover is designed for the units to be on the floor and will give very smooth low frequency down to right at 30Hz. It also will tighten the windows to about +/- 3db from 30Hz to 20Khz. I will be glad to share more information if anyone is interested.
  6. rubymac Audiophyte

    rubymac
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    Radio Shack Nova 8s (Cat. 40-4020) speakers

    I have a pair of the Radio Shack Nova 8s (Cat. 40-4020) speakers that my father had in his estate. I'm wondering if they are the same as mentioned in these posts. They are about 26" tall and in walnut veneer cabinets. Very attractive and in excellent condition. I cannot find them referenced on the Radio Shack support website. Thinking of selling them, but not sure of their value as I'm seeing a wide range of prices for the various Nova 8s. Any suggestions on their value and an effective medium to sell them.
  7. markw Audioholic Overlord

    markw
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    If you want to know everything you ever wanted about any Radio Shack product from it's catalog entry, Click here

    As for that 20 - 20k frequency response spec, unless it quoted with a plus/minus a decibel range and/or a distortion level, it's basically puffery.

    That's not to say it's not a good speaker, though.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Knucklehead90 Audioholic

    Knucklehead90
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    What a great site! I've bought many a thing from RS in past years including speakers. I found the Optimus 950 speakers I had for a few years - bought them ~1990. Crappy sounding things! My niece has them now and they need surrounds for the woofers - probably will need them for the mid and 'tweeter' as well. The tweeter is a 3 1/2" cone design and is the problem - the mid and bass actually did quite well. I think I paid $99 each as they were on closeout at that time. I needed some garage speakers.
  9. Wylie Audiophyte

    Wylie
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    I would like to build this crossover. Would you send me the schematic?
  10. robozagato Audiophyte

    robozagato
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    Hi, If those Nova 8's are completely original and are sounding good not needing ANY repairs then I am interested in buying them. Give me a call at 814-746-4211. Thanks, Robert
  11. sparky77 Full Audioholic

    sparky77
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    I had a pair of Nova 7b's that a friend found in the garbage during cleanup week. They had the same type of cabinet that others have described, with 10 inch woofers that had a ring of ashphalt like material around the dust cap, and two aproximately 2.5 inch paper cone tweeters. They had very nice flat sounding response down to 30hz, and were quite efficient. They lasted me about 10 years till the voice coils in the woofers finally burnt. I'm still using the cabinets with new woofers, mids and tweeters. Running them hard with a 35wpc amp for that long eventually did them in due to the very thin wire in the voice coil (yes, I cut them apart to see) even though the dust cap is vented and the voice coil is on a copper former, so I wouldn't get too carried away with the wattage on the Nova 8b either.
  12. robozagato Audiophyte

    robozagato
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    Rubymac, I am new to this form and was wondering if your Nova 8's are still for sale? Robert
  13. berginbreeze Audiophyte

    berginbreeze
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    I have a pair for sale that work great, the exteriors need some cleaning up. In so Cal.

    John
  14. berginbreeze Audiophyte

    berginbreeze
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    No takers on the Nova-8s?
  15. rubymac Audiophyte

    rubymac
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    Robert, I am very embarrassed to tell you that I haven't been back on this forum since my original post. I doubt if you are still interested in these speakers, but if you are, please reply. I'll check back shortly.
    I am located in Cambridge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
    Rubymac
  16. TLS Guy Audioholic Overlord

    TLS Guy
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    It really amazes me that people find very crude speakers like that acceptable. Those were a joke in throe day and well to the bottom end of the heap.

    I just used to cringe going into RS to buy components etc and listen to those junk end speakers.

    If you want to see how crude they are look at this video.

    [​IMG]

    The mids are not properly isolated from the woofer enclosure. There is a nasty rubber boot over them, that is far from a tight seal, and non rigid.

    The tweeter has a paper cone.

    The crossover is very elemental, with half section to the woofer, and no formal band pass filter to the mids, so they are not cut off and a first order cap to the tweeter.

    I can't begin to understand how anybody can begin to consider a speaker like that anywhere close to acceptable.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2014
  17. Adam Audioholic Jedi

    Adam
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    Growing up, my brothers and I had a few different pairs of Radio Shack speakers. I used them throughout childhood, college, and two years after college. Do I like my NHTs better? Heck yes. Did I like the RS speakers when I used them? Heck yes. It depends on your desires, experience, and expectations.
    Adam,
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  18. markw Audioholic Overlord

    markw
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    Show a little class, willya?

    Not everyrybody was born with a silver spoon in their mouths and their heads up their, well..., you know.

    One would hope that a doctor would have developed the social skills needed to be able to criticize a product without putting the people who like it down.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2014
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  19. rubymac Audiophyte

    rubymac
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    Speaking of crude...

    I'm surprised you were around in "throe [sic] day." Your comments are very immature and insulting and unnecessary.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  20. bikdav Full Audioholic

    bikdav
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    Radio Shack Archive?

    MarkW, this Radio Shack archive site is awesome. This is cool. Thank you. I bookmarked it, because I still have some old Radio Shack products around the house still in use. I sent a "copy" of the webpage to a friend of mine also.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2014

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