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Vintage speakers that hold up

Roy_L

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I visited today some trendy-hipster like cafe, which played music through some big, rectangular vintage speakers I did not recognize. The setting was far from ideal, but the sound was quite pleasant- almost cliché vintage (somewhat attenuated treble, considerable bass which doesn't really go very low), but at the same time quite clean and undistorted. I did own several vintage speakers over the years (Spendor BC1, several Polk Audio "Monitors", JBL L65, Klipsch Heresy), but I sold the last of them about 10 years ago, so it's been too long ago to have any lasting impressions.
Since I'm considering to have another try with such oldies for the fun of it (not for the main system), do you know of any vintage speakers (70's-80's originals, not modern re-issues) which hold up reasonably well to modern standards?
 

Timcognito

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Thiel, B&W, Vandersteen, KEF
 

sergeauckland

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Someone after my own heart!

I would look at KEF's Reference series, especially the 103.2, 104.2, 105.2 & 107. Then B&W DM series, and especially the John Bowers Active One and B&W 801s, Any Meridian actives, especially the M10/M100, M2s and M3s. Any of the Tannoy Dual Concentrics also have quite a following.

Lots to choose from.

S.
 

nygafre

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I visited today some trendy-hipster like cafe, which played music through some big, rectangular vintage speakers I did not recognize. The setting was far from ideal, but the sound was quite pleasant- almost cliché vintage (somewhat attenuated treble, considerable bass which doesn't really go very low), but at the same time quite clean and undistorted. I did own several vintage speakers over the years (Spendor BC1, several Polk Audio "Monitors", JBL L65, Klipsch Heresy), but I sold the last of them about 10 years ago, so it's been too long ago to have any lasting impressions.
Since I'm considering to have another try with such oldies for the fun of it (not for the main system), do you know of any vintage speakers (70's-80's originals, not modern re-issues) which hold up reasonably well to modern standards?
My dads Bowers & Wilkins DM4’s (produced in the 70’s) still sound quite impressive to my ears. I measured them in the living room too, and they were quite flat and nicely extended in the highs (at least not rolled off). On the caveat side they were a bit weak in the mid-bass, and also lack lower bass.. some of this was probably due to the big room and listening distance. We’ve paired them with an SVS SB-1000 which helps down low. And they don’t play particularly loud, but that is neither their usecase.
 

DSJR

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Someone after my own heart!

I would look at KEF's Reference series, especially the 103.2, 104.2, 105.2 & 107. Then B&W DM series, and especially the John Bowers Active One and B&W 801s, Any Meridian actives, especially the M10/M100, M2s and M3s. Any of the Tannoy Dual Concentrics also have quite a following.

Lots to choose from.

S.
This UK based and I'm arguably missing so much out as Serge indicates above

I'd go with KEF's original Concerto, R104 in 'ab' form, R105 originals (before they fecked with the bass driver mounting which killed it and siblings on percussive music with kick drums I remember), B&W 801 or M801 *not the badly balanced N versions and if set high, the original and M spec 805s, Quad 57's if still working (63's too but they come unstuck now sadly), Spendor BC1's again if still working and the superb first gen SP1 before the surrounds were changed in the /2 versions which harden and need brake fluid to temporarily restore them, IMF RSPM IV's, JBL L200 and L65s I still hold a soft spot for (weren't the L150A's supposed to be special then also?). Bowers Active One I loved but you'd be hard pressed to find any sadly. Meridian tinkered with almost every batch of speakers and electronics so I can't make a blanket recommendation as they did vary a bit at least until the M20 model.

Cheaper, the Rogers LS7 which replaced the Chartwell PM310 sold incredibly well and all but replaced the 'Studio 1 boomy box' by the mid 80's. I'd love to add the original ATC 20 but they need POWER to wake them up and they hold value incredibly well these days.

Guilty pleasure at the time and now cheap - Bose 301-IV For some reason I could listen to these at modest levels all day and never feel the need to switch them off, unlike more 'audiophile' alternatives we had for a few hundred the pair...

Before I shuffle away from this thread, I also want to hear again the metal lozenge clad active B&O Beolab 4000's which had more body and mid bass than the 6000 slim columns and which could be very enjoyable to listen through.
 

David James

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Early Mirage. The big ones (M1) where designed by Kevin Voecks. Not sure about the bookshelves and conventional floorstander but I had one of the stand mounts and they were extremely capable and sell cheap. The third and fourth up the line might have non dissintegrating surrounds. Cheapest two would need new surrounds.

 

audio_tony

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I have an old pair pf Paradigm Monitor 7's - I think they must be the first in the 'Monitor' series.

They still sound pretty good to me.

Random image from internet - these are not mine.

My actual speakers (Paradigm on the right), posing next to a Kef IQ7 (left).

p1000145.jpg
 
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Waxx

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Old JBL monitors (the infamous blue ones) are still great, but very sought after and so very expensive. They are very neutral in sound, and measure quit decent, even for today's ASR standards.

But most won't, they can sound very good still. Some I rate

Goodman Mezzo SL is one of my all time favorites, it sound a bit vintage (rolled off top, but slow roll off). A Dynaco A25 is very similar (but aperiodic ported, so less bass). These were made in masses (especially the Dynaco A25) and should be easy to find. Most have a a broken crossover, that is very easy to fix (mostly, just replace the elco in it).

The original Tannoy SRM-B (with the Tannoy 2558R driver and the Mastering Labs crossover) are great, but impossible to find in good conditions (who have them keeps them). They were used as studio monitor in a lot of studio's in Europe in the past (and some still use them that way), but altough they sound very revealing, they are not neutral when measured.

B&W DM70's are also great, probally the best that B&W ever made (at least in my opinion) and are findable with some patience. Make sure the tweeter is still working right (it's a very rare electrostat). It does not measure that neutral, but nobody cares as it sounds neutral (even to some very critical ears down here). They roll off early, but again very slowly and with no resonances (because of the electrostat tweeter i think) in the hearing bandwith.

edit: And i forgot Warfdale and Kef, many older models from the 1970's and 1980's are still very good to today's standards and last (sometimes with a crossover fix) still. My father has Warfdale Linton 3XP's since 1975, and except replacing elco's, no repair were needed since then. And they sound way better than most modern speakers. The original (Dual) amp he had is gone longtime, and he is already 3 amps further in his life (now it's a Denon integrated).
 
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Shadrach

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I haven't listened to many. Of those I have the Tannoy Westminster driven by a NAD M2 sounded wonderfull to me after a small amount of treble correction.What I liked most was they sounded good at low volumes. What I liked least was the look.

I've heard KEF 105s sound good driven by a pair of home built power amplfiers. My impression was they were meant for big rooms where one could sit a few metres away and listen.

Both were fed flac files from a computer with DSP capability.

It's a shame I got to hear them so late in my audio interest.
 

Talisman

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I have an old pair pf Paradigm Monitor 7's - I think they must be the first in the 'Monitor' series.

They still sound pretty good to me.

Random image from internet - these are not mine.
kqw7y2kogvh61.jpg
My god those crushed domes are eating me from the inside out.
Couldn't you have found photos of that speaker without those horrible dents?
 

Mart68

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I haven't listened to many. Of those I have the Tannoy Westminster driven by a NAD M2 sounded wonderfull to me after a small amount of treble correction.What I liked most was they sounded good at low volumes. What I liked least was the look.

I've heard KEF 105s sound good driven by a pair of home built power amplfiers. My impression was they were meant for big rooms where one could sit a few metres away and listen.

Both were fed flac files from a computer with DSP capability.

It's a shame I got to hear them so late in my audio interest.
Yes the 105 are really superb. I know someone who has a pair coming up for sale soon and I'm very tempted. Easily a match for most modern speakers, better than most I suspect. They really do everything well. Just need a room big enough as you say.
 

Timcognito

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Robin L

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The Infinity Primus series of Floorstanding speakers. A great bargain when they came out. Their primary virtue is a smooth and uncolored midrange, the 360s and its offspring went fairly deep (40 hz) into the bass. Can still be found used for reasonable (under $300 a pair) prices for the larger 360 series. I own the 250s, using with a subwoofer. I think production stopped over ten years ago.
 

Timcognito

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EERecordist

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Today we have better speaker measuring equipment, Gras and Klippel. We have better transducer materials and ferrofluid. We have better speaker directionality modeling and DSP crossovers. Today's auto PEQ is a great tool. Near field is a new approach compared to vintage.

Some vintage manufacturers did good directional modeling for their time and published measurements. I would look at select professional recording speaker makers of the time who published curves. Others may have landed on good by accident.

Personally I spent a lot of time on JBL and the 4350-derived Westlake with measured 1/3 octave room EQ.
 
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Anton D

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My goodness, such a great topic!

(Disclaimer: they are all, of course, flawed, and are of their time. No claim of superiority over the current crop of favored Spinorama darlings.)

A/D/S L2030: That line was very 'smooth.' No treble over emphasis, well behaved, but inefficient. The bass on these babies is kinda friendly, not boomy, not crazy for impact, though. Think of these as the comfy shoes you wear when you are relaxing. They pop up for sale only very rarely, but are worth a listen - they are a little hedonistic.

Acoustic Research AR 9 and AR 90: These still sound quite accurate and pretty. I think they are best used in 'stacked' formation, especially the AR 90s. The AR (s are tall and need a touch over a 9 foot ceiling to fit in a room. The bass was reat from their side firing woofers and the felt around the forward facing drivers made for an easy listen. They can also rock like mo fo's!

The classic Klipsch Heresy and La Scala models still sound lively but are best listened to in far field, in my opinion. On some cuts, they can raise that 'sounds live' gooseflesh. On everyone's bucket list should be la Scalas playing back Elvis singing "Fever." Holy cow.

Acoustat 2+2 speakers are almost bullet proof electrostatics. Also tall, two pair or three pair, using one pair full range and the others only for bass makes for a treat.

Getting more idiosyncratic: Altec vintage drivers are great toys. The coaxial line up is surprisingly great at imaging.

Lastly, some of those old Lowther 8 inch "full range" can be stunning with vocals. (Keep in mind the disclaimer, not claiming these are a match for playing Top Gun on your video system.)

Trying to keep this as speakers over 40 years old.
 
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Roy_L

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Glad to have started such a fun conversation!

I remember that about 20 years ago, as a poor student, I got to visit some audiophile's attic listening room.
He had a pair of old Altec-Lansing horn loaded speakers, unreasonably large for the room or the listening distance. However, when he pressed "play", it's as if the two monstrosities had just vanished and a singer appeared in front of me. I don't know how I would have judged it today, but back then my jaw dropped.
 
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