news - February 2020
ATX Record Players: Retro Consoles Rule!
A young Austin entrepreneur retrofits vintage German record consoles with modern audio for a unique combination of form and function.
By George McClure
Several years ago, Shea Hennings, a young Air Force veteran originally from Wisconsin, found a vintage German stereo console on Craigslist. He bought it and restored the cabinet and added some modern electronics.
“I became curious if anyone else would be interested in such an item,” Shea says, “so I posted it on Etsy and it sold very quickly. I was surprised! I did 40 more to make sure the market was there, and it was. During this process I improved my business skills along the way, including: negotiations, Instagram marketing, sales, web design, and lead generation, plus I discovered a bizarre plethora of information on the history of record consoles.”
Shea was in business school and frequently networking at the entrepreneur hub Capital Factory in Austin. “I was able to get some traction by narrowing my focus to a very small and unique niche product,” he says. “I realized it was the perfect time to run with the idea because the economy is hot for luxury items, because mid-century is a trending style, and because records have become the number-one selling form of music again.”
nostalgia and performance
“My product has all the nostalgia of a mid-century record console,” continues Shea, “but with high-end modern audio and optional Bluetooth that sounds much better, is reliable, and eliminates the safety concerns that come with running 60-year-old tube electronics. Most importantly, these consoles allow listeners to connect to their music in a totally one-of-a-kind way by creating an intimate music experience.”
Shea has always used tube amplifiers in his units, as they’re the perfect match for the warmth of analog sound. He used to hide the amp in the cabinet, but now often puts them on top, as their warm glow is a visually appealing part of the whole experience. He also worked with an overseas electronics company to develop a tube amp made specifically for his consoles.
'69 Classic tube amp
“Our mission became to capture the iconic sound of 1969 and harness its power in a minimalist, beautiful package,” Shea says. “The ‘CLASSIC '69’ is pre-tuned giving you a warm tube sound of crisp clear highs, smooth organic mids, and thick firm lows. It Makes your record collection come alive with a new soul. Even better, we’ve ended confusing, complex electronic wiring and jargon. Everything is just plug and play.”
Shea generally uses American-made U-turn turntables or the European Pro-Ject brand, as well as speakers from Polk and other well-known manufacturers, depending on the project.
Shea enjoyed a big break when he did a console for Jesse James of West Coast Choppers fame. Jesse wanted some higher end electronics in his console, and after this project Shea started a new division of his company: Tonenhaus. At Tonenhaus, they make retro-inspired cabinets customized specifically for components from the high-end brand McIntosh. To ensure the highest performance, four electron microscope vibration isolators beneath the turntable provide both vertical and horizontal isolation from unwanted vibrations. This makes for the ultimate mid-century modern music machine.
For more on ATX Record Players, visit ATXRecordPlayers.com.
For more on Tonenhaus, visit Tonenhaus.com .