Radio Shack in the early days had tons of equipment manufactured by Japanese OEM companies such as Foster/Fostex and NEC, Hitachi, and C.E.C.. Hence, why you may see similarities with other pieces of gear from various different, like Hitachi, Marantz, Sanyo, Toshiba, Taya etc... In fact, our Taya DP-550 was an exact copy as the Realistic LAB-400.
Getting back to the Realistic LAB-500 the question is: who made this turntable? I don't really know, I initially assumed it was C.E.C. but it shared similarities with a fellow Mitsubishi turntable, and I'm not too sure whether Mitsubishi made their tables as well, despite having some really nice ones.
Regardless, this turntable is superb. It's a direct drive, fully automatic, quartz lock, 2-speed turntable with a repeat function. The platter, while is smaller in height than most, it's heavier, thicker and wider than most.
It's also a great looking turntable, while it's not real wood veneer, the vinyl wood wrap does give it that classic wood look, as that seems to be quite popular with the crowd these days. It has that "vintage" look, I guess.
Another "neat" item about this turntable is the integrated headshell, R9000E LWS, which is really a Shure M95 but in an integrated headshell. Not only this is a great cartridge, but styli are widely available and since it's integrated, no need for adjustment making it a breeze to set up.
Overall, it's in great condition. Some flaws are: in the front corner some of the vinyl has worn off, one hinge as a portion missing but it doesn't affect the performance of the hinge and, of course the usual dustcover could use a polish.
And, if you recognized the record being played on the turntable, please don't laugh!
This is a hard one to let this one go, since it took me a long time to acquire one, but over the past year and a half, I never really used it, just sat and collected dust. But, I've taken the time to clean and lubricate tons of parts inside and I can tell you it's well built! So, it's time to move on and find it a great and loving home.