Symbol Audio Modern Record Console

What happens when a group of music-loving, fine-furniture designers put their heads together?  They create the Modern Record Console.  With the Console, Symbol Audio pays homage to the classic designs of Herman Miller and Knoll from the ’50s and ’60s.  A true masterpiece, the Console combines a tube amplifier, built-in subwoofer and a turntable.

This isn’t your dad’s Magnavox, folks.  And for the hardcore audiophiles in the crowd who are ready to send us nastygrams explaining that they can buy a better rack full of separate components for half this price, this is not for you either.

Harkening back to the day of all-in-one consoles, Symbol’s version is a prize for the music lover living in a design-conscious environment who does not want a rack full of gear and is willing to pay for bespoke quality.  We visited the Symbol factory, and must admit that this thing sounds pretty damn good.  And while we were there, fashion icon and music aficionado John Varvatos was in the Symbol studio giving the Console the thumbs up.

With EL84 tubes, big transformers and Omega single-driver speakers, the Console has some serious audiophile cred under the hood, which, as you can see from the photo, can be neatly tucked away.  Sales of the Console have been brisk so far, so if this tickles your fancy, you might want to pick one up sooner rather than later.

The Modern Record Console


Symbol Audio Tabletop HiFi

Symbol’s new Tabletop HiFi offers a refreshingly attractive alternative to the more traditional form factors of audio equipment.  In essence, the HiFi is a powered music playback system, but the console’s unique nuances make it so much more than that.

The HiFi, which measures 28.75 inches long by 9.5 inches high by 8.5 inches deep, offers an absolutely clean and modern-looking appearance free from visible knobs, controls or indicators.  All the owner sees from a listening position are two 4-inch, full-range drivers set widely apart on the HiFi’s face.  A built-in Class-D amplifier provides 8 watts to the front drivers and 15 watts to the 5.25-inch subwoofer.  Symbol hides the down-firing woofer beneath the cabinet, which has dual rear ports.  With so much hardware crammed into a small space, the HiFi tips the scales at a substantial 30 pounds.

On the rear of the unit, the HiFi offers a master volume knob as well as a separate control for the subwoofer, allowing the owner to tailor the sound to his or her preference.  The rear-facing controls require the user to lean behind the unit to visually locate them, until the placement of the controls becomes familiar, but the volume knob is easy enough to reach over the top of the unit.  The HiFi offers only one input, a 1/8-inch minijack.  If a user intends to switch between multiple sources, a cable splitting adapter or other manual intervention is needed.

When ordering a HiFi, soon-to-be owners have the opportunity to customize the appearance of the face and cabinet.  Options for the front include a walnut or oak finish, or a clean white or gray; cabinet finish options include walnut wood grain or a minimalist black, white or orange.  For families with young children, it’s probably a good idea to go with the protective, poke-proof metal grille option for the drivers.  The grilles match whatever finish you chose for the rest of the unit.  The many custom options allow the HiFi to be either a striking visual element for a room, or a chameleon blending into the background.  Either way, those houseguests who do notice it will find both its aesthetics and its sonics appealing.

Symbol Audio’s HiFi is available for $1,800, regardless of finish choices.  Given the unit’s single-box, single-input design, it’s clear that the Symbol Audio solution is a purist one that’s not trying to complete directly with full-blown component stereo systems.  It’s designed to fill a room with sound from a single source, and do that job very well.  Those audio enthusiasts seeking multiple input options, pinpoint stereo imaging and a broader soundstage may be served better by more traditional stereo equipment.  But for those who prioritize the appearance of a beautiful, stylish and unobtrusive audio system, and who also want good sound to complement it, the HiFi is an elegant solution.

Symbol Audio Tabletop HiFi

MSRP: $1,800