So, yeah, about that console project. What exactly does that mean—build a console.

Essentially, I want a piece of furniture that plays music. It should be beautiful, functional, and sound great. Oh, and affordable.

Knowing that its primary purpose will be to play music, a logical place to start would be to look at how I listen to music now.

I have a lot of vinyl—too much to count. It’ll have to play records. I also have a lot of CDs, though I’ve ripped all of those into FLAC files at this point so I won’t need it to play discs. But I will need it to play FLACs. Cassettes sound like garbage and make a mess. I’ll stay away from those even though I have boxes of them in the basement. I’ll want bluetooth and AUX-in for future compatibility.

That leaves me with three options, really:

  1. Buy something that meets my needs.
  2. Buy something and modify it.
  3. Build it from scratch.

Originally, this was going to go in my living room. However, our house has a very specific aesthetic that almost any iteration of this project would break. Since it will find its new home in my study, we have a lot more flexibility.

Let’s take these one by one and start with buy something that meets my needs.

Wrensilva is one of the few companies making modern consoles. They check nearly every box (I’d have to find a new solution for FLACs) and since they use Sonos speakers to drive the audio, you pretty much know how it will sound. They also start at about $6,000.

Now, if I had a spare $6,000 I might seriously consider one of these. But I don’t. Instead, they’ll be a source of inspiration.

Another company that will make you a console is Symbol Audio. Their model includes a hand-built tube amplifier, wireless streaming, an integrated turntable, and a 300W subwoofer. It’s truly a thing of beauty. Sadly, I don’t have a spare $20,000 lying around.

Luno is also purveyor of modern record consoles—and the most retro looking of the lot. Great specs, but once again, outside my price range at just shy of $10,000.

They also offer an empty shell that I could use to house my own build. Interesting. As I cost out materials, it’s good to keep in mind. I particularly like the legs on this model.

And that’s about it. Most everything else is a cabinet to put your gear in, turntable on top. Not what I’m looking for.

Next, we could consider buying something and modifying it.

If you do a google image search for “record console” you’ll see a whole lot of vintage furniture from the heyday of audio-centric entertainment. Sadly, many of them are from defunct auction listings or look like this:

Oh hell no. I would never put that in my house.

There are definitely some exceptions—some cool inspiration:

While this is way too big for my space, the design is spot on. The size of those speaker holes!
Love how they solved the design challenge of the speaker fabric—let’s just put it everywhere. Look at those legs!
This one is totally mini, but that drop down turntable with diamondback veneer is gorgeous. The fabric on the speakers is perfect.

Sure, I could find something like one of these at a flea market or on craigslist but then I have to figure out how to get it home, rip out the insides, I’ll probably have to refinish the wood, and then figure out how to fit everything I want to put into it into it.

I’ll end up having to try and match wood, finishes, and end up with something that looks cool but is a definite compromise.

Also, I don’t have a lot of mid-century anything in my house. Not that I don’t like it, we just have more of a cottage aesthetic going on.

That leaves us with the final option: build something from scratch.

And this is exactly what I’m going to do.

Where to start? I know that I’m going to want stereo sound, so I’ll want to speakers at the ends like most of these. I’d like to have center top section that opens and closes for access to the buttons, dials, and turntable.

It’ll be about 4 feet wide and there’s probably a standardish height I can find. Most everything I find I like is walnut. And that’s some expensive wood—so I’ll have to figure out how to get that look without breaking the bank.

Everything else will probably be defined by the components I choose to use.

And that’ll be the next post.