Acoustic Sounds
By: Michael Fremer

June 18th, 2024


Industry News

Have Stereo Consoles Returned? Wrensilva Thinks So

in the late 50's/early '60s every Mad Man home had one

Handmade in San Diego California, Wrensilva's eye-catching custom cabinetry houses a modernized version of a 50's/60's era console stereo. Revered among the attaché case carrying corporate climbers of the late '50s and early '60s, the form factor lost its hipness as the JFK era gave way to assassination, war and chaos, bringing with it a more austere, raw component esthetic.

Wrensilva is one of a few companies riding the vinyl revival wave, returning to the living and family rooms of high-esthetic apartment and home dwellers a full-featured, high performance turntable-based audio system housed in eye-catching luxuriously appointed, hand-made wooden cabinetry. It's a lifestyle statement as is playing vinyl records among this market segment.

Aimed more at the musically engaged, but not sonically obsessed segment of the vinyl buying market, the Wrensilva puts the speakers in the room where the cabinet must go as opposed to where the speakers might acoustically sound best—and there's nothing wrong with that hierarchy, especially if one partner is dead set against turning a beautiful space into an audiophile listening room. Sometimes, the best esthetic and acoustical placement serrendipitously match!

Today, June 18th, Wrensilva launches a "next gen" console collection so why not give them some digital ink? Quoting from the press release: "Each console exudes exquisite craftsmanship with locally sourced hand-selected woods and finishes—including Blonde Mahogany, Tobacco Walnut, and classic Natural Walnut—sumptuous leather-lined record pockets, and brushed metal legs. The introduction of new duo-weave speaker fabrics further enhances the visual appeal, effortlessly blending into any interior space. In addition, the new consoles can be styled sans fabric covers for a bold display of the custom speakers featuring a beautiful horizontal wood grain pattern taken from a single source of wood."

The audio systems in the two models (The Standard and M1) feature a turntable, Sonos/Bluetooth compatibility and a pair of Aux inputs. At each end of the approximately five foot long (or almost six foot long M1) cabinet is a two-way bass reflex speaker system featuring a 7.5 inch Egyptian Papyrus cone woofer and a 1 inch textile dome tweeter (or in the M1 a 9.5 inch cone woofer). Between is a separate preamp and a powerful 300 watt Class D ICE module based amplifier.

Both models have record storage space (130 and 150). The turntable details are minimal, but it's clearly not a "drop in" Pro-Ject. There's a "custom two-tone aluminum tonearm" with a "sleek" counterweight, a "thick 15/16 inch acrylic platter" (on The Standard; the M1's platter is 1 3/8 inch tall) and "floating, split plinth belt drive turntable" as well as an Ortofon 2M Blue in the Standard model and a 2M Black in the M1, but that's it for turntable details—probably sufficient for this market segment.

Looks similar to a Thomas Schick arm

The Wrensilva people have managed to round up endorsements from some big names including: Don Was, Joe Harley, Giles Martin, Chris Blackwell, Jim James and a few others. Clearly the person behind this company has a thick Rolodex and knows how to call in favors. The Don Was association gets console buyers a curated Blue Note collection. Here's another interesting page.

The more deluxe M1 cost starts at $18,880 depending upon finishes and other options. Delivery adds $650 to the total. The "Standard" (its name) starts at $14,880. These two models are but part of the Wrensilva story. There's also a showroom on Melrose Avenue just as Churchill, a '60's era console company with ties to Harman-Kardon (or as we used to call it, Hard-on Karman) had one in midtown Manhattan.

Make of this what you will, I certainly like it better than the New York City fashion hipster posing with a soldering iron he barely knows how to use selling butt-uglyAltec-Lansing movie theater speakers and ghost designer tube amplifiers to a very different crowd.

Now that I've alienated everyone involved and not involved, I'll stop. If you live in L.A. make an appointment and have a listen. We'll happily publish your sonic findings.


  • 2024-06-18 02:16:55 PM

    Georges wrote:

    The turntable is beautiful, and the tonearm could be better with a detachable headshell (like a Schick actually!).

  • 2024-06-18 02:22:53 PM

    miguelito wrote:

    When I was a kid I LOVED the voluptuous sound of my dad's Grundig console. I would just lay on the floor and bask in the soundwaves coming out of this german contraption. I still remember the wonderful smell of the unit.

    However, this unit did not achieve the musical connection that speakers like single-ended tube amps and Altec-style speakers can - there's a god reason that people who know to listen still go for these. I find your jab rather uninformed.

    • 2024-06-18 04:47:17 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      My jab was 100% informed especially regarding the individual involved. Single ended tube amplifiers by definition are modulated by the loudspeaker's impedance curve. It may be a "fun listen" and if you like that highly colored sound by all means go for it. I would never tell anyone what to like or what to buy, but to write "people who know how to listen still goes for these," well that's a level of arrogance and effeteness to which I will never sink. Nor should you! In audio it's "whatever floats your boat" not "whatever I say rules".

      • 2024-06-20 02:15:29 PM

        miguelito wrote:

        So let me ask you this… 1- Prior to the Altec judgement above, is that your writing or Wrensilva’s? 2- Have you actually listened to any of these units? 3- If ‘2’ is a yes, what is your assessment of the sound?

        • 2024-06-21 03:03:28 AM

          Michael Fremer wrote:

          Other than the quoted material it’s my writing. I’ve not heard these consoles. I was supposed to at a NYC event but I had to cancel…

  • 2024-06-18 02:53:50 PM

    Zaphod wrote:

    First off, the last paragraph of your review was brilliant!

    I came across Wrensilva several years ago while I was doing researching for high quality album storage options. Beautifully woodwork but I was not in the market for a console but I have always liked them regardless, so it was nice to see a company still making them, and especially at making them well.

    Side question, are modern McIntosh components still designed to be mounting in consoles or cabinets?

    • 2024-06-18 04:49:43 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      If you mean the company's "Panloc" system, I don't think so....

  • 2024-06-18 06:22:24 PM

    Brian wrote:

    I've been waiting to see some coverage of these consoles. I love the idea. Some of my favorite musical memories (not audiophile) are listening to my parents' console as a kid in the early 70s. In a way it's more memorable than much of the listening I've done over 25 years since I bought my McInosh gear. My dad sold it to neighbors sometime in the mid 80s and I've often thought of trying to track it down and bring it back home. I doubt I'll ever own one of these new ones, certainly not at these prices (I still hope to retire someday). Maybe I can find an old console at a garage sale, but the way things are these days a working vintage model might bring $5k -$10k for all I know...

  • 2024-06-18 07:28:50 PM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    I have warm memories of our old console stereo...the boomy sound, the mid-century styling, the heavy weight of the arm as it scraped vinyl form our records. My favorite memory is of a friend and myself playing indoor tennis in the finished basement, destroying the unit to the point where my parents were forced to buy a real stereo.

  • 2024-06-18 10:30:57 PM

    Todd wrote:

    It’s way too much money. But a beautiful piece of furniture.

  • 2024-06-18 11:56:18 PM

    JuzDisGuy wrote:

    Wildly overpriced, but I’m sure there’s a market, if not for the WAF factor alone.

  • 2024-06-19 03:43:31 AM

    Joe Harley wrote:

    The turntable is made by VPI

  • 2024-06-19 10:17:22 AM

    Tom wrote:

    I’d gladly buy this IF it would make me 12 again.