Realistic Minimus 77 speakers
I found a pair of Minimus 77 bookshelf speakers unopened in the original boxes. Replaced the crossover capacitors just for kicks, and they're better than new.
Not many people think quality when they hear the brand name Realistic. It was RadioShack's house brand of electronics, and much like RadioShack, it faded into obscurity by the late 1990s and was eventually discontinued in 2000.
Despite this, there were a few Realistic products that stood the test of time, the Realistic Minimus 7 and 77 line of bookshelf speakers are a good example. In fact, they have somewhat of a cult following—people on eBay sell all kinds of modification kits, and not for cheap. You'll find more people talking about the 7s rather than these 77s, but they're almost the same. The 77s are a little bit larger, having a 4.75" woofer whereas the 7s only have a 3". The 77s also have foam surrounds which were more prone to rotting away—the 7s were made of rubber, which lasted a lot longer. More people threw away their rotted out 77s which makes them a little more rare these days. Both models have solid metal cabinets, making them incredibly durable.
People like these speakers because they sound pretty darn good for what they are. And these days, it's easy to find people almost giving them away (because who would want old Realistic speakers, right?). They make excellent speakers for a computer desk or even as sattelite speakers in a surround system. If you are patient and lucky, you can probably find a pair for under $20.
These specific Minimus 77 speakers are extra special, because I found a pair of them brand new in the box. After getting them home, I was happy to find that the foam surrounds were in perfect shape, having never been used. How long were they stored away for? The instruction manual that came with them says copyright 1989, so they're at most 26 years old.
I've gotten into the habit of replacing the old electrolytic capacitors in the crossovers of all of my vintage speakers, because it's so dang cheap and easy. The crossover in a speaker is an electrical component that splits the audio signal between the tweeter, midrange speaker (if there is one), and the woofer. This is to ensure that the tweeter only receives the high frequencies and the woofer only receives the low frequencies, resulting in nice clean audio. As capacitors age, their specs drift which causes the performance of crossovers to diminish. By replacing the capacitor, you're bringing the speakers back to their factory specifications.
I am not sure if these warranted replacement since they were unused, but I figured it wouldn't hurt. The crossovers in these speakers use only a single 4.7uF capacitor each, so I ordered two replacement film capacitors to ensure they'll last pretty much forever.
Since these came brand new in the box, I thought it would be worthwhile to show off the boxes and original owners manual.
At $97.50 each in 1989, that makes these speakers equivalent to $333/pair in 2015, correcting for inflation. Not too shabby. I think I'll keep them in the living room to use with our TV.