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Radio Shack

In February of 2015, Radio Shack filed for Chapter 11.

So I was delighted to see this Radio Shack store announcing a comeback in midtown Manhattan during a visit in the summer of 2016.

When I was a student in NYC in the 80s, a neighborhood Radio Shack store was just around the block if I needed a resistor or capacitor for a project on a Sunday afternoon. By 2008, I was in the suburbs and Radio Shack was in a strip mall just a mile and a half away. Now I have to drive 35 miles to the next town ;(

In the early 90s, many SE amp DIYers started their foray into efficient speakers inspired by this book by David B. Weems. The speaker projects used various raw drivers from the Radio Shack catalog.


Radio Shack no longer had 2A3 triode tubes on their shelves when Sound Practices started publishing in 1992,  but one could still buy this 5 1/4" full range driver listing for less than $10, IIRC. This speaker was efficient enough to be driven by an SE2A3 amp to satisfying levels.

I used this driver in a compact bass reflex box...

from David B. Weems book well as in a Tapered Quarter Wave Tube (TQWT)

Not quite in the same league of sophistication and refinement as the Altec 2-way, but lots of fun since they can boogie on a couple of triode watts ;)

Time Warp

During a recent "let's see where the wheel takes us" expedition, my wife and I spotted this in Pennsylvania. 


As I browsed around the store, a pair of 40-1310 super tweeters bearing their original sticker price immediately caught my eye. I told my wife about them and she insisted that I get this pair of NOS Chinese-made plastic version for $60 + tax, so I can time travel.

These drivers developed quite a following in the 90s because the original all-aluminum units embossed Realistic were allegedly OEM'd in Japan by Fostex. The graphs above and below should corroborate this speculation. Later versions with a plastic pod and horn were subcontracted in South Korea and then China.

Fostex FT17H

I didn't join that 90s bandwagon. Instead, I bought a pair of the equivalent Fostex FT17Hs sans pod from Madisound for $70. I used them as super tweeters for Altec 755Cs and 755Es until they were superseded by a pair of superior Altec 3000Hs.

 Brand new Fostex FT17Hs are now made in China and can be had for a little less than $100/pair. I still believe they are excellent value for the money. Perhaps the early Japanese all-aluminum 40-1310s can command a slight premium, but beware of unscrupulous eBay flippers asking ridiculous amounts for the plastic version.


Before inserting the 40-1310 into the Altec 2-way, I bypassed the built-in electrolytic cap/choke crossover components. For the past 20 years, I've been using smooth and natural sounding paper in oil caps in the signal path of my preamp, amp and crossover, nothing else.

Altec 2-way + 40-1310

Altec 2-way sans 40-1310

In this application, the 40-1310's positive terminal is protected by a 1uf PIO cap and then connected to the high-pass section of the crossover. The effect of the super tweeter is subtle...just a touch more air.

As I was about to sit back to reminisce the 90s with the 40-1310, an internet friend informed me that Radio Shack just filed for another bankruptcy claim ;(

This prompted me to visit my favorite branch...

...fingers crossed. ;(


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