| audio, gear, realistic, vintage | 20 comments

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.

20 comments

I have 8 of these. I bought 4 brand new back around 1990 and they were fabulous
I havent used them for 20 years and recently dug them out and when i tried to use them they blew out immediately. So I bought 4 more on ebay this year and guess what. Same result. i really want these fixed and dont have a clue what to do. Would there be any chance that I could send them to you and have you repair them all including the capacitors. Not savvy when it comes to this stuff and dont want to be. Just want them fixed. Thanks!

I'm in the same boat. I found a nice pair of 77s at the local Goodwill for $3. They looked to be in great shape. I got home and connected them, only to have the woofer surrounds disintegrate right in front of my eyes! I think the woofers themselves are fine, but I'd just as soon replace them with something that has a rubber surround. I can't find a suitable replacement anywhere. There are a couple of drivers out there which seem to have the same frame and are a direct fit, but according to the reviews, they're more of a midrange and don't have the bass response.

NOTE - The Minimus-77 Speakers DO NOT have a 4" speaker... it's a 5" speaker...
I have a pair, and ordered a 4" replacement based on the information in this article/page, and the 4" replacement speaker is No where near a good fit.. I researched Old Radioshack catalogs and found one from '99, and took a good look at the tiny picture of the, and it says 5"... I have a photo of it I'd include in this post if I could...

From the research I've done, the woofers are an odd size (4 3/4", according to my ruler) and there aren't any direct drop-in replacements. I did discover a guy who will refoam them, if you're not up to it yourself. As of 8/15, he charges $35 a speaker, not including shipping. The website is here. Hope that helps!

http://www.nealspeakerrepair.com/

Mark, I am sorry you bought the wrong size surrounds based on the information in this article. I will make the correction.

I was able to find these surrounds as a suitable replacement for the Minimus 77s. Like Dave said, they are not 100% drop in but the comments on this page seem to suggest they are a good fit.

http://speakerworks.com/4_1_2_inch_speaker_repair_…

I recently bought a pair of these. They did, indeed, need new foam surrounds. I was able to buy them here: http://tinyurl.com/ndg9dmh I followed the directions, using Aleene's Original Tacky Glue. Two things to pay attention to: The surrounds attach to the BACK of the speaker cone (like the originals) and the roll goes inward (concave) unlike the originals.

They are up and running and sound fine.

Where did you purchase the film adapters? I'm new to working on speakers and just trying to get the right product. Already ordered the new foam!

Sorry. I meant film *capacitors*

Hi Daniel

I just get them from digikey. They are not specialized for audio purposes but it doesn't matter (shh don't tell the audiophiles)

First, Jeff, I really enjoy reading your stuff, it inspired me to "fiddle" with turntables and "collect" vintage stereo equipment. This has become my favorite hobby.

Second, on these realistic speakers, I believe the Bose sub for GM vehicles of the early 2000's have the oddball 4.74 size that could work, and when pushed with the correct amp sound great.

Thanks Chris, good to know!

Nice. I just got a pair of 7's for$35. Interested in doing the mod. Can you give a product number for the film cap that you used? Digikey has 19 different 4.7uF 475K 250v caps. Just want to be sure to get the right one (or maybe it doesn't matter?).
Thx

Hey Mark,

If you're reasonably handy with a soldering iron, I HIGHLY recommend what's known as the 'Zilch mod' for Minimus 7s, which you'll find over at the AudioKarma forums. I've done that mod to two sets of 7s, and while it is more parts and labor intensive, the results are dramatic. I have a/b'd stock 7s against Zilch modded 7s, and it's immediately clear which wins. The mod makes a 'good-for-the-money' speaker into a balanced, smooth, really-good-for-any-money speaker.

Dave

The kef b110 woofer fits perfectly and sounds great. Slight damping inside cabinet.

Jeff, you need to start testing capacitors with an ESR meter before blindly changing them out.

I have the older brother of the minimus 77's, the minimus 12. It has the polypropylene 5 inch square frame woofers printed on magnet 50- 6 Khz . I bought them at a yard sale remembering how much I loved my early 80's minimus 11's many years ago.

I listen to classic rock, blues, all types of jazz, Soul-Motown, Mozart- Hayden-Beethoven. The sound these speakers produce is so fantastic I'm addicted.

I use the minimus 12's in a 2.1 configuration, these minimus 12's are amazing and a very rare find. About the best near field imaging I've ever heard, accurate, clear and detailed very nice mid-low bass. In this near field environment I'd have to say these are truly audiophile quality sound.



Thanks for the post. Wanted a set of these back in the 80's and just bought a pair in good shape for $2 ($1 apiece) at a local fundraiser!

Hi everone.
I got pair of these off hard rubbish. (black)
like everyone here the foam was perished.
Rarther than repair them I replaced bass drivers
with some i got out of a huge back projection (sony) tv.

I can't fault them clear bright top end and good base
if placed on the floor. The things people throw away!

I have 4 Minimus 77's purchased new around 1999. Currently have them connected in stacked parallel 2 per channel left & right stereo connection to a vintage Cerwin-Vega SB-12 passive downward firing sub-woofer. Driven by a 125 watt Sony conventional stereo receiver. Pretty potent satellite system with multi-directional capability from the 77's. The foam surrounds still look great. Also have stacked large Advents (parallel) circa 1973....and believe it or not, original inverted foam surrounds that have no visible deterioration and sound great. Purchased 4 Dahlquist 10" (12" frame) replacement woofers for the inevitable but still have them sealed up and stashed. Love that vintage audio !