Braun SK55, Snow White’s Coffin

Braun SK55, the arrival of mainstream modernism in consumer product design.

Recently, thanks to the kindness of Michael Hohl,  I acquired a wonderful Braun SK55 radiogram from the early 1960s. This is the direct descendent of the Braun SK4, Snow White’s Coffin, one of the completely original products designed by Dieter Rams that transformed Braun’s brand in the late 1950s. It’s remarkable that things like this were being made even before transistors  took over the market to allow the design freedom behind today’s compact robust electronic products.

Here it is (or one just like it)

It’s not as beautiful as its precursor, the original SK4 of 1957 (Thanks to Bharani Padmanabhan for the photo)

Here is Dieter Rams talking about his work with Braun including the SK4

I’ve given the radiogram to our electronics guru, Alan Barnes, who is coaxing it back to life and making me an adaptor to plug an iPod or other music player in one of the old DIN sockets on the back. A quick test indicates that the original valve amplifier and radio give good quality sound so I’m really looking forward to having it working and playing some of my old LPs from the 70s and 80s. Alan’s wizardry includes grafting the tiny tip of a modern pickup onto the body of the original one, the cartridge seems to work fine, we just need to get the turntable working. He is taking care to conserve the original electronics, interfering as little as possible.

Bharani Padmanabhan
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20 Responses to “Braun SK55, Snow White’s Coffin”

  1. 圓圈圈 Says:

    I WONDERED THE REASON WHY IT WAS CALLED “THE SNOW WHITE’S COFFIN.”

  2. chrisrust Says:

    Just search on Google Image and you’ll find that Snow White had a glass coffin. This was the first Hi-Fi to have a clear plastic lid.

  3. Toe Says:

    i just inherited a beautiful SK55 in perfect condition… been standing in the same place for the past 50 years and all features working fine.
    am wondering what modifications you were making exactly to attach an ipod? is it just a cable to connect the ipod dock (3.5mm jack) with the two clamps at the back?
    i guess for this, one could just cut off a jack connector cable, take some insulation material off and plug it in?
    please let me know as i would be very interested to do the same.
    thanks!

  4. chrisrust Says:

    Mine has a 5-pin DIN socket on the back and I have a DIN to Jack lead to plug it into the iPod dock. I don’t remember who wired the lead (myself or the guy who overhauled the SK55) or if it’s a standard lead. But easy enough to do some trial and error, you’ll probably find a DIN wiring diagram on the web.

  5. Toe Says:

    thanks for the info – i thought the DIN socket was an output to plug in an external speaker?

    did you have it re-wired internally to become a line in?

  6. Jim Simon Says:

    Hi Chris.
    I have a Braun radiogram and was just doing a search to remind myself of its model number, and I came up with your blog.
    I can now say that it is an SK55 as it is exactly like the one in the top picture – apart from the fact that it’s in a bit of a state with rust on the steel and the headshell’s hanging off.
    I wondered if you had any ideas about what I could do with it?
    Jim.

  7. chrisrust Says:

    Hi Jim, apart from “love it” I’m not sure I have any ideas. I had mine overhauled by a genius electronics fixer (used to be an electronics technician at our university and a technology teacher) but it’s so old and the wiring so fragile that I couldn’t get the turntable to keep going. It gives a nice sound with the iPod dock plugged into the DIN socket on the back (see earlier comments).

    As it’s mainly a design classic, forerunner of so many modern products, you might decide that looks are all and just refurbish the appearance (eg glue any broken bits together and don’t worry about getting it to work that’s how they restore old ships like the SS Great Britain – with fibreglass and stuff to hold together the remaining authentic bits)

    Or you could put it on eBay so an enthusiast has a chance to do something with it.

  8. SFMOMA Dieter Rams Exhibit | Arun Has A Blog Says:

    […] I was amazed to finally be able to see one of his most iconic products he designed at Braun, the SK55 record player nicknamed “Snow White’s Coffin”. […]

  9. Beau Solley Says:

    I just became the proud owner of a Braun MM3 Transistor Radio w/ turntable in a wooden body. Can anyone tell me something about it? Worth, etc. It was made in the late 50’s or early 60’s.
    Thanks!

  10. jon Says:

    Hi! Glad I found your site. I am working on an SK55 and was wondering if you (or anyone here in comment land) would happen to know if there is a tonearm up for sale anywhere. Evidently, the headshell breaking off is a common problem…

    In any case, good stuff here, and keep up the good work!

  11. billanncroxford@yahoo.co..uk Says:

    I had a sk55 in1960 brought it for100 pound wonderful.

  12. Lyn Sherburne Says:

    I have an SK55 I think. Needs work on the turntable & has a couple of water marks on the wood. I would be happy for an enthusiast to have it. I am in Fairford, Gloucestershire. Get in touch if interested :)

  13. Lyn Sherburne Says:

    Ooops, it maybe an SK4…

  14. marco liebeskind Says:

    hi liz
    very interested in your sk55/4
    does it work reasonably?
    Marco from London

  15. Paula Benson Says:

    Hi – sorry for hijacking your blog – but it has good SEO for searching for snow whites coffin! – I’m posting this 5th April 2015 and I am in search of a SK4 for a birthday present (for a man who has music running through his veins) in the next 2 weeks – if anyone knows where to find one please let me know! paula@form.uk.com

  16. chrisrust Says:

    No worries Paula, hope you find one. It might be one of those be careful what you wish for gifts because if it’s anything like mine all the working parts were crumbling. Must check on the restoration project.

  17. Lyn Sherburne Says:

    I am pretty sure the one I have is an SK4 – either the radio or the turntable needs attention – but in pretty good nick – can’t remember – has been in a corner covered in a blanket for a couple of years. If anyone in Fairford (GL7) area would like to come & look – if they really want it they can have it if it would give them pleasure :)

  18. chrisrust Says:

    Hi Lyn, would you email Paula Benson at the address she gave above, I think you’ll make her day!

  19. Paula Benson Says:

    Hi Lyn, my sister lives not too far away from you and could come and see and collect in the next week or so! My boyfriend would be overjoyed (its a present for his 50th). Could you email me possibly on paula@form.uk.com to arrange?

  20. Tony McGuigan Says:

    Does anyone know where I could find a replacement cartridge for the SK55 mines missing and so can’t test the turntable?. Any help much appreciated!

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