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20 year old flagship speaker vs today's best $2500 or under?

rdenney

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You just outlined the reason I'm so loathe to buy a Revel speaker. They simply don't support their legacy designs. The contrast with a company like McIntosh is glaring.
I’d be curious if McIntosh supports their legacy products as much as you suggest, but then McIntosh ain’t quite the company it was under Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow.

Example that isn’t McIntosh: Naim Audio also boasts that they can service and repair virtually everything they’ve ever made. I have a CD-5 that has failed. Can I get service information—even just a schematic? No. I can send it to their authorized service center, who has already told me they can’t service most things on a CD-5. This is for mostly discreet electronics. So, the promise isn’t always actionable.

(That can get me started on a right-to-repair rant :)

Rick “wondering if speakers are a lot harder to support in perpetuity than electronics” Denney
 

MattHooper

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I agree. Speakers do unfortunately deteriorate rapidly after 10-15 years or so and you are often stuck with beautiful cabinets, almost a full set of functional drivers and no spare parts. Ask me how I know that- or better still, have in look in my storeroom. :facepalm:

I know that's an old post, but for whatever reason this level of speaker deterioration is something I haven't experienced. For instance I have a whole bunch of Hales Transcendence speakers from the late 90s, Spendor s3/5 same era, and even my favorite old Thiel 02s from the early 80's. And all seems to work just fine.

I've seen many posts by audiophiles who have had the same speakers for decades, and reports of the kind above seem pretty rare, as far as I can tell.

(BTW, I bought spare drivers for my Hales speakers, and also for my Thiel 2.7 speakers. Haven't found a use for them yet, thankfully).
**(The only time I've seen this issue is with my father's old KEF 105.2 speakers, which my brother still keeps. The drivers went off on those, but apparently that speaker is notorious for the driver issues happening at some point).
 

GXAlan

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You just outlined the reason I'm so loathe to buy a Revel speaker. They simply don't support their legacy designs. The contrast with a company like McIntosh is glaring.

This was a big problem when the manufacturing left Northridge, CA and moved to Mexico, Indonesia, and China. Then, my understanding is that once Samsung took over, it's been another step down in support "overall." Samsung is a company that unceremoniously exited out of the mirrorless digital camera market and offered no statement or support to its customers. You basically stopped getting updates or information and about 2 years later, it just disappeared off their website as all of the warranties had run out.


Has been the best source of JBL (and presumably Revel) spare parts. I needed a part that was not shown on their website or available anywhere else online with a google search. I reached out to them and they magically sent me an invoice and delivered the parts a few days later. I do know that the CMMD drivers from Infinity and first generation Revel Performa line is unobtainium.

JBL in the Los Angeles era and Northridge era used to sell reconing, refoaming kits, and when speaker drivers were discontinued, they not only provided a recommended alternative, but also any changes the crossover that could be done to more closely match the performance of the original speaker with the new driver. I think like GE Home Appliances, pre-Whirlpool Maytag washers, the old school JBL service/support and concept of repairability has become today's consume and discard society.

I’d be curious if McIntosh supports their legacy products as much as you suggest, but then McIntosh ain’t quite the company it was under Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow.

Not sure where the cut off is and I doubt the speakers get the same type of support their electronics do. That said, I have some MX113, MC2105, MI-3 gear and recently spoke w/McIntosh support. They replied with a very lengthy personal email and basically said that they stopped servicing some of this older gear at the factory but they had specific recommendations on where I should go for support based upon my location (which was still 5 hours away). There were closer service centers and close to a dozen different options, but the one they recommended had 3 dedicated techs who exclusively worked on McIntosh gear, including the vintage stuff. They also spoke a bit about the McIntosh "clinics" where they used to travel around the US and help customers (since vintage Mc gear is expensive and challenging to ship) and explained that it was the project of one person who passed away in 2007 and probably would not be feasible to restart again, even after the pandemic is over.

At the very least, they made a concerted effort to go the extra mile, which in turn, really makes me confident about the brand. It's too bad nothing from McIntosh has been measured here at ASR.
 

dlaloum

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I’d be curious if McIntosh supports their legacy products as much as you suggest, but then McIntosh ain’t quite the company it was under Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow.

Example that isn’t McIntosh: Naim Audio also boasts that they can service and repair virtually everything they’ve ever made. I have a CD-5 that has failed. Can I get service information—even just a schematic? No. I can send it to their authorized service center, who has already told me they can’t service most things on a CD-5. This is for mostly discreet electronics. So, the promise isn’t always actionable.

(That can get me started on a right-to-repair rant :)

Rick “wondering if speakers are a lot harder to support in perpetuity than electronics” Denney
Quad has a great history of supporting their vintage gear... and of having dedicated businesses around the world (eg: Dada) providing additional support as well
 

rdenney

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…They (McIntosh) also spoke a bit about the McIntosh "clinics" where they used to travel around the US and help customers (since vintage Mc gear is expensive and challenging to ship) and explained that it was the project of one person who passed away in 2007 and probably would not be feasible to restart again, even after the pandemic is over.
Dave O’Brien did indeed pass away in 2007, but the amplifier clinics came to an end in 1992. They were started by Gordon Gow in 1962.

McIntosh was one of the great audio companies for decades, building quality equipment with a luxury finish and charging high but not ridiculous prices. They eschewed snake oilery in all its forms. Gow even built a comparison test demonstrator of speaker wire to show that conventional wire worked as well as the emerging boutique wire.

But time passes.

Yes, they do try, but I expect most electronics companies in that price range who build quality stuff (one example might be Krell) are similarly service-oriented. That doesn’t mean they can repair old speakers. But it does seem to be the case that Harman under Samsung isn’t what it used to be.

Rick “things change” Denney
 

dlaloum

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Dave O’Brien did indeed pass away in 2007, but the amplifier clinics came to an end in 1992. They were started by Gordon Gow in 1962.

McIntosh was one of the great audio companies for decades, building quality equipment with a luxury finish and charging high but not ridiculous prices. They eschewed snake oilery in all its forms. Gow even built a comparison test demonstrator of speaker wire to show that conventional wire worked as well as the emerging boutique wire.

But time passes.

Yes, they do try, but I expect most electronics companies in that price range who build quality stuff (one example might be Krell) are similarly service-oriented. That doesn’t mean they can repair old speakers. But it does seem to be the case that Harman under Samsung isn’t what it used to be.

Rick “things change” Denney
Harman under Harman wasn't the old Harman either!
 

dualazmak

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Interesting thread, even though I noticed the thread quite belated.

Let me slightly join here from Japan as one of the ASR audio enthusiasts mainly using Japanese rather old (almost vintage) speaker drivers and cabinet, as well as Japanese HiFi amplifiers. (I confess that I use Okto DAC8PRO 8-Ch multichannel DAC from Czech Republic; this is only one audio gear from abroad in my setup.)

Firstly, about speakers, since the title of this thread is specifying to "speakers".

I still use SP drivers and cabinet of Yamaha NS-1000 (not NS-1000M). As for the availabilities of SP parts and services, we need to have separate perspectives for SP drivers, LC network parts (inductors, capacitors, resistors, attenuators, etc.) and cabinets.

Yamaha NS-1000M and NS-1000 were produced in Japan and supplied all over the world during 1974 throughout 1997, such a long 23 years, essentially with no change/modification at all. Yamaha has been keeping all the parts including the SP drivers (units) and providing maintenance services until around 2013 even after they stopped production of all the Beryllium midrange and tweeter drivers in 1997. Very fortunately, at least in Japan (and several in abroad), we still have many repair service small factories for NS-1000, NS-1000M, NS-1000X, and NS-2000.

Almost the same for my L&R active sub-woofers Yamaha YST-SW1000 (49 kg each) covering 15 Hz - 55 Hz in my setup.

I purchased my NS-1000 pair in 1976, and I still use the original SP drivers and the rigid heavy (39 kg) wonderful cabinet.

Please refer to my post here for the difference between NS-1000 and NS-1000M, also refer to my post here for specifications for NS-1000 and YST-SW1000.

Yamaha NS-1000;
https://audio-heritage.jp/YAMAHA/speaker/ns-1000.html
Yamaha sub-woofer YST-SW1000;
https://audio-heritage.jp/YAMAHA/speaker/yst-sw1000.html

Many of you may well know that NS-1000's (and NS-1000M's) midrange 8.8 cm Be-dome squawker (JA-0801, covering 500 Hz - 6 kHz) is still one of the best midrange drivers and the 3.0 cm Be-dome tweeter (JA-0513, covering 6 kHz - 25 kHz) is also still very nice (not the best, I know, it starts to decline around 14 kHz, so I added Fostex T925A super tweeters). In my multichannel multi-amplifier project, I eliminated all the LC-network and attenuators, and the SP drivers are now directly driven by dedicated amplifiers.

You would please find my latest system setup as of May 30 2022 here (post #540) on my project thread.

As for the 30 cm cone woofer JA-3058 (covering 50 Hz - 500 Hz) and L&R large heavy active sub-woofers Yamaha YST-SW1000 (49 kg each,covering 15 Hz - 55 Hz), recently I measured intensively their transient characteristics and found they are still surprisingly excellent even almost 46 years after the production.
- Measurement of transient characteristics of Yamaha 30 cm woofer JA-3058 in sealed cabinet and Yamaha active sub-woofer YST-SW1000: #495, #497, #503, #507 on my project thread.

After establishing 0.1 msec precision time alignments between all of the SP drivers, I found the total performances and sound characteristics of NS-1000 drivers + T925A super tweeters + YST-SW1000 are still really excellent in multichannel multi-amplifier setup.
- Perfect (0.1 msec precision) time alignment of all the SP drivers greatly contributes to amazing disappearance of SPs, tightness and cleanliness of the sound, and superior 3D sound stage: #520

Usually my guests coming to our audio listening sessions are HiFi audio enthu people and/or really professional (or semi-professional) musicians in classical and early classical music who are very much familiar with modern/contemporary HiFi audio setup, and they always express their frank impressions that my setup (including room acoustics) would be similar or much better than other extraordinary expensive setups to which we can listen at many high-end audio shops and studios in Tokyo Akihabara Electric Town.

For Fostex T925A super-tweeters which I purchased in April 1996, I experienced very nice maintenance overhaul service by Fostex Company last year 2021 December, as I shared here and here. It is really wonderful and amazing that T925A was launched in 1994 and it is still on Fostex product lineup (longer than 28 years!) with full Fostex craftsmanship repair and maintenance services.

Next, let me briefly touch on my amplifiers for their durability and availabilities of services.

I actually had long and intensive amplifier exploration journey in my multichannel multi-amplifier project, and you may find the summary of such amplifier exploration here on my project thread. As I wrote there, again, the durability and service availability were two of my main concerns for amplifier selections.
I wrote there;
- You would please note that, in addition to my intensive evaluations shared in my preceding three posts, these amplifiers are Japan domestic products still with good warranty and service capabilities within Japan, even under the very difficult pandemic status which may not subside for another year or much longer.
- Of course, as I wrote and shared in detail, we (my wife and I) are really satisfied and much impressed by the wonderful total sound presentation given by these three amps plus the sub-woofers in my multichannel multi-amplifier setup.


I use Accuphase E-460 as one of the four amplifiers in my current setup, and you may know Accuphase amplifiers are rather expensive.

I wrote here;
Accuphase provides repair and maintenance services for any of their past and present products sold in the past 50 years. Just one phone call to Accuphase, and they collect the amps (by the specially contracted transfer company having huge Accuphase boxes) at your home and they send it back to you afterwards; usually within one week quick and perfect service (in Japan) in reasonable cost after the warranty period. Of course the service is completely free within the warranty period.

I did it three times on my E-460; Accuphase's own decision to replace one capacitor (after the warranty period but of course free; a kind of gentle/generous preventive recall?), one repair for my mistake (short-circuit at SP terminals while operation) and one full overhaul maintenance.

They have several large storage rooms keeping huge amount of amp parts, including rather old capacitors, resistors, inductors and so on, used in their old products. In case if they cannot find the same parts, sometimes they even handmade it (by themselves or by contract-out) for perfect repair and maintenance, still in reasonable cost for us.

Their comparably high price list includes the cost covering such repair/maintenance policy, operation, human resources and services, I believe.


And I also wrote here;
Accuphase is intentionally restricting their export sales less than 30 % of their total business revenue in order to keep existing as an pure Japanese independent sustainable company;
http://www.accuphase.com/company_profile/a2_management_policies_2.pdf

At least within Japan, I also can still access to almost the same level of maintenance services for my Yamaha amplifiers (A-S3000, A-S300) and Sony's TA-A1ES.
 
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GXAlan

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Interesting thread, even though I noticed the thread quite belated.

Let me slightly join here from Japan as one of the ASR audio enthusiasts mainly using Japanese rather old (almost vintage) speaker drivers and cabinet, as well as Japanese HiFi amplifiers. (let me confess that I use Okto DAC8PRO 8-Ch multichannel DAC from Czech Republic; this is only one audio gear from abroad in my setup.)

Japan is a unique audio purchasing environment. Whereas 99% of US based used gear retailer sell products largely as they were received, some of the big name used gear retailers like HiFiDo will fully restore and repair equipment. They’ll refoam woofers, change leaking capacitors, etc. there are four tiers. 2 year warranty (fully restored), 1 year warranty (most of what they do, can include replaced transistors, redone speaker grill fabric, 6 month warranty (usually lower priced goods under $500 US), and no warranty items.

To my knowledge, there is no US retailer that consistently restores vintage gear that way from multiple brands. There are a few who restore and enhance McIntosh gear before selling.

Owning both McIntosh and Accuphase, I will say that both sound great and different. I would be the first to send the gear to Amir if someone will pay for a pallet and shipping. It’s a miracle that more McIntosh gear doesn’t break between the “silly” weight and glass front panels.

Old gear can be “better” than near gear, but it’s not so straightforward.

Most old gear has depreciated. Yes, a handful will appreciate in value, but you are already getting a discount. So this increases the value.

There are gear that are made in “bubble era” economies such as in Japan or the immediate post World War II US and European economic growth. On top of that, the Baby Boomer generation loved audio *gear* in a way that is somewhat unique because there was no competition from fancy television, fancy portable gear, etc.

Using some examples,
Kenwood L-08m from 1982.

Beautiful amp, 250W in 4 ohms
Frequency response :DC...600Khz (+0 / -3dB)
S/N ratio :116dB (IHF-A)
Damping factor :15000 at 55Hz

Although damping factor has diminishing returns, much like our DAC charts, it is real engineering that is needed to get that level of performance.

When it comes to speakers, there is a lot of new technology in terms of better speaker drivers that have low distortion without requiring exotic materials and better tools for dispersion analysis and control. The problem, now, is that many new speakers are very expensive

The JBL XPL90 from the 1990s has a preference score of 3.8/6.3 with sub and is about $600 used. The JBL 4309 has a preference score of 3.7/5.6 with sub.

So if you liked the JBL looks or tuning, you can see that the old stuff can compete favorably.

The Studio 530 is 5.4/7.3 which is even better and cheaper though.

That said, the dip at 3-4kHz can be beneficial on the XPL90 in real stereo listening even though it won’t be as good on the mono preference score

 

mhardy6647

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I have a pair of 25 year old speakers that still sound great
Most of 'em here are considerably older than that (40 to 60 years old). There'a an Altec 603B 'fullrange' that is probably at least 70 years old.
This Stephens 106AX coax is probably on the order of 70 as well... and it's a pretty amazing piece of hardware. :)
I have it in a Karlson "kabinet" :rolleyes:



1659107228292.png

source: http://hifilit.com/Stephens/Stephens.htm
Note that the 5106AX featured in the ad scan above is a special morph with 500 ohm voice coils for the OTL amp shown at the top of the ad! :)
 

sq225917

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I have a set of 88 vintage ns1000m, the guy I bought them off had a complete boxed set of 6 replacement drivers for them, purchased in the uk in 97.

I've since replaced the tweeters with RAAL 140-15d and rebuilt the tweeter xo to accommodate. I fully expect they'll outlast me.
 

Joe Smith

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I am currently using my old Polk Monitor 5jr+ speakers for nearfield listening in my office setup at home. Purchased in 1987 when we bought our first house. They still sound great and have needed zero...zip...nada service over the years. I'm a big fan of rubber surrounds. I can re-foam and have but it's kinda laborious... 35 years now and counting...

Boy, just sounding so good, powered by a little old 1979 Yamaha CR-240 receiver with only 20 watts...
 
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mhardy6647

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I am currently using my old Polk Monitor 5jr+ speakers for nearfield listening in my office setup at home. Purchased in 1987 when we bought our first house. They still sound great and have needed zero...zip...nada service over the years. I'm a big fan of rubber surrounds. I can re-foam and have but it's kinda laborious... 35 years now and counting...

Boy, just sounding so good, powered by a little old 1979 Yamaha CR-240 receiver with only 20 watts...
Good combination. Polk and Yamaha of that era were synergistic. Don't tell anyone at ASR that I said that. :eek:
I think there's still a CR-240 here*, now that you mention it. ;)



____________________
* actually, it's at our daughter & son-in-law's house, but it's not far away.
 

dualazmak

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I have a set of 88 vintage ns1000m, the guy I bought them off had a complete boxed set of 6 replacement drivers for them, purchased in the uk in 97.

I've since replaced the tweeters with RAAL 140-15d and rebuilt the tweeter xo to accommodate. I fully expect they'll outlast me.

You wrote; "I have a set of 88 vintage ns1000m", really??, just amazing! Now I found another driver parts source/storage for JA-3058A, JA-0801 and JA-0513 even in UK(?) !

If possible, would you please briefly describe your setup with NS-1000M?

Or are you just keeping 88 vintage NS-1000M in your storage for near future listing at second/used audio market?:D

I know Igor Kirkwood is still using NS-1000X in his multichannel multi-amplifier setup in his wonderful acoustic listening room; see his post here on my thread.
We had very nice conversations on my project thread:
- Invaluable discussion with Igor Kirkwood who is using Yamaha NS-1000X in his multichannel rig: #179-#189
 
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dualazmak

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You wrote; "I have a set of 88 vintage ns1000m", really??, just amazing! Now I found another driver parts source/storage for JA-3058A, JA-0801 and JA-0513 even in UK(?) !

Hello @sq225917,

Well, highly possibly I have misunderstanding on "88". You mean 1988, right? I thought you have 88 pairs of vintage NS-1000M:facepalm::D...
 
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Morpheus

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I would pick KEF Reference 201/2 over anything I know of in current production at $2500. However, I think you'll be really lucky to find a good condition pair, with our without stands, for $2k.

I kicked myself in the butt for letting a pristine shop-sold 999 E pair for lingering to long on buying them or not...
Unlike amps, wich go through the heating and cooling stress, and especially cd players that break all the time and lasers die on you, speakers, when chosen carefully are a safe bet, if you don't go for pre-historic items.
Do your homework and find the ones notorious to break down, there is more than enough info around in the net. Even those, if you are willing to, may be rather easy and cheap to repair ( think old gen KEF REF. speakers, whose internal woofers always need refoaming, wich is readily available, and anyone can do) and you can score some gems on the very cheap that still sound great.
An excellent speaker is an excellent speaker, and there have been a couple through the years, not just after FEA, fluid dynamics and preference scores took over.
If you are not handy or willing to do minor repair, then apart from the background checking, there are some things I would generally avoid..
First, hardwood enclosures, wich although rare on loudspeakers, sooner or later warp or crack up. Then, ferrofuid tweeters: down the line, they all end up sounding bad and stuck in gooey stuff that is a pain to clean. Also, if you don't ever want to service those speakers, even if 30 or 40 years down the line and for cheap, anything with foam surrounds... If you go for it, prefer speakers usually left with grilles on.. UV is a killer, , but even without, they can rot ( like those Kef inner woofers show..). However many sound wonderfull, and later and repair items are more durable too.
Rubber surrounds are less likely to pose problems, but they can too, so check them : if they look dried up, or "sweaty" or glue is oozing, they'll eventually fail..Again, some models are notorious for that, its easy to spot them.
Also, preferably choose something that is known to have parts or repair services around, from manufacturers that have a track record, particularily if they are exclusivelly, or almost, speaker builders. Many of the better known and respected models still have plenty of stuff around
Finally, avoid things like ruberised finish that ends in a mess eventually, and speakers likely to have been abused ( if its a party speaker, it will have partied ;) )
Pro or pro-inclined brands are usually a safer bet too, as they focus on reparability and parts availability.
All in all, if you want to get unbeatable value for money or get a sound quality that you would not be able to afford otherwise, speakers are definetelly the first thing to ponder buying used. They are the least likely to pose problems or go broke , and the item that by far are responsible for most of the quality of the reproduction and reward your investment.
 
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Vacceo

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From the shortlist of speakers, I'd go for the Kef R3. I would because I'm currently using a set of Kef IQ speakers around 15 years old (a bit more, perhaps), so what I'd get is what I have but more polished.

I know it's out of the price range, but I wonder how the Perlisten R bookshelves would compete in that list.
 

Chromatischism

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Current example speakers up to the $2.5k price point.

Arendal 1723 Monitor S or 1723 Monitor for $2 to $2.4k
Focal Aria 906 for about $2k
JBL HDI 1600 for about $1.9k
Revel Concerta2 F36 for about $1.75k
Legacy Studio HDs for about $2k
Ascend Sierra Tower or Sierra-2EX $2.5k or $1.5k
KEF R3
KEF LS50 Meta (most likely way too small)
Other Revel book shelf
Other Focal Chora lines.
Others?
Buchardt S400 MKII. Better sounding than those KEFs, Focals, and Ascends, don't know about Legacy, and more linear than the JBLs. The Arendals or the Revel F36 would be good competition.
 
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