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Vintage speakers

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 23:17
by lonewolf
I have collected many old speakers from junk shops etc over the years and in many cases have found I like the sound of them better than many new models, do others agree?

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 11:56
by jusbe

Just this past weekend, I auditioned some B&W700S2 speakers being fed TIDAL Hifi by either a NAD M32 Masters integrated amp or a Naim Uniti Nova. I actually went to hear the M32. I used my playlists on TIDAL. The systems were pleasant enough, with the Naim sounding slightly more interesting/less insipid than the M32. After a short while I noticed the dealer's attention being constantly drawn to what was happening outside the shop, through the large windows.

To wit - they were both completely outclassed by my B&W DM2A speakers, fed digital from a Lite Audio DAC83 (1704UK chips) from a simple Tripath amp with a 30V/130W power supply across DNM cables. My system had oodles more colour, drama, searing insight, timbral fidelity, dynamic contrast, 3D soundstage ability, bass extension. It wasn't even close. The DM2As destroyed whatever bass ability the 700S2 speakers pretended to have, which seemed feeble and woolly by comparison.

The sense of the recorded space is very clear with the Tripath/DM2A combo, as is the sense of impact. Air around performers, subtle clues like the motion of piano pedals, breathing, the feel of the music as it pressurises the room. The home system conveys very long decays of notes and you can clearly hear when the track has finally ended, following notes almost to infinity, as it cuts to complete silence/no-signal. This was all present with the vintage combo and almost completely absent with the modern ones. Moreover, each recording sounds different - as it must. Different recordings, mastering, locations, workflows, are conveyed by the Tripath/DM2A combo. The modern systems sounded much more vague and homogenous, and preternaturally clean. Almost sterile.

I still need a network solution (for our children mostly) but I certainly don't need those modern speakers. I'd be tempted to try a home demo of the M32 or Uniti Nova, but I suspect their DAC solutions are a substantial part of the mix I heard. There are many modern speakers that sound wonderful. But there are many more vintage ones that sound amazing and can be had for a song, if you persist.

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 15:51
by jdjohn

When I got started speaker shopping a couple of years ago, I tried brand-new Klipsch, B&W, and Wharfedale, but to my ears, on my system at the time, none of them warranted the price even compared to my old, lowly Cervin Vega rockers. Granted, the new ones I tried were not super-expensive - they were in the $400 price range.

But when I heard some vintage Polk Audio and Infinity speakers, the CVs got ousted quickly. Even still, not all vintage speakers (even within the same brand) sound good. You still have to pay attention to build quality of cabinets, polyfill, internally bracing, and of course drivers. There are usually reviews/opinions out there for older speakers (professional and amateur), so research pays off before blinding buying old speakers.

There are a lot of speakers out there on the used market that originally cost $500-$1,000 which can now be had for a third of that cost. When you consider those were the prices 30 or so years ago, that was a lot of money! Learning how to re-foam woofers and replace crossover capacitors can pay huge dividends sonically in these old beauties. AND sufficient power is needed for them to sound their best.

But, perhaps it's not fair to compare $500 speakers from the '80s to $500 speakers today. Of course the same can be said for other audio components as well.

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 17:10
by tlscapital
There where few "vivid" technical and reactionary argumentations on here on the matter. It came relatively down at one point to conclude that it should also depend on what you music and support you're listening. And accordingly through what components your signal is "travelling" through before reaching the speakers.

I am vintage with my speakers, but I respect those who go for the new stuffs only. Even though I had to recap mines as they were getting "uneven". Discovering that one had been partially recap with old caps. Now they sound better than ever before IMO. I strongly recommend to do so for every vintage speakers.

While doing the recap, we even re-inventend the capacitors original scheme of the interconnection after testing all combinations for 4 hours. Them speakers since blow the sound like never before. Sharing both of the better world; old & new. As is the rest of my phono set-up. Vintage = Fixing !

Some don't like that and argue (not necessarily true) that modern is better in design, scientifically improved and enhanced with better components, just relying on the original built as the "how it should be as it is out of the factory". Where the vintage implies creativity, fixing and tweaking. To a risk I acknowledge.

So indeed, beside their sound differences, their ability to "drive" such or such kind of "signal" and their inner built "new design", the new stuff will be just "plug & play". Then there's the "taste" factor for over elegantly "fashioned" speakers that some want.

Me still go for the old big wooden box thingies... I collect and play original 45 rpm's records that look like records as I love my turntable to look like one and so are my speakers; looking like speakers. Nothing looking like a fancy foxy queer dressed in latex and screaming to my ears... Sorry, I let my self go there LOL

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 22:34
by jusbe
You're right. I should really get the caps replaced in mine.

There are lots of great new designs out there. Good design is good design. But the same is true for vintage items!

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 12 Dec 2017 23:33
by spoony1
Some vintage speaker are just amazing.

Hard to believe all the great audio equipment that has come and went my way. I do prefer vintage over new in most everything including speakers. Heck I scourer EBay, Goodwill, as well as other sites, that will help me find vintage gear. Loving the USA NOS Converse purple high tops I just got on EBay.


Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 13 Dec 2017 18:52
by ubaldojhp
I recently bought a pair of Rosselson speakers. No more than 10 w but very sensible, about 95 db. Connected to my Kenwood KA 3500 (40 w) and the volume pot at 2. The sound is incredible, country, pop and jazz sound very very good. I would like to find another pair similar with more watts (20-30), maybe Philips Miniwatt or another Rosselson. I can´t imagine how would sound in a tube amp :D

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 12:16
by Pillo69
Some Philips (miniwatt) Full-range drivers sound great in a valve amplifier.
The 9710 model has more information in periodical Philips magazines (year 1966 and 69) but other similar models are equally good.
A power of 6-10w is no problem for amplifiers of about 20w (5881 PP), they may need a little help at both ends of frequencies incorporating a woofer and a tweeter.

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 18:01
by ubaldojhp
Totally agree Mr. Pillo69. Now I can say that I know how this Roselson sound in a tube amp. My next step is to find a pair of miniwat. Each time I listen to my Vieta I think of a friend :D

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 21:33
by gofar99
Hi, When it comes to speakers I think large. These have wonderful sound and 96 db/w sensitivity.

Good listening
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Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 18:54
by JoeE SP9
When it comes to speakers the only thing that matters to me is how they sound. IME newer speakers sound better than all but the very best vintage ones. IMO it's a luddite attitude to think there has been no progress in the science of designing and manufacturing loudspeakers since whenever "your" favorite 30-40 year old speaker was made.

This also applies to audio electronics in general. The best there ever was is being made today. If you don't want to or can't afford to pay the price it makes no difference. The facts are still the facts.

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 01 Apr 2018 15:05
by tlscapital
JoeE SP9 wrote:When it comes to speakers the only thing that matters to me is how they sound. IME newer speakers sound better than all but the very best vintage ones. IMO it's a luddite attitude to think there has been no progress in the science of designing and manufacturing loudspeakers since whenever "your" favorite 30-40 year old speaker was made.

This also applies to audio electronics in general. The best there ever was is being made today. If you don't want to or can't afford to pay the price it makes no difference. The facts are still the facts.
This has been already discussed in other topics before. So I agree and disagree with you on the approach implying different when new equals progress. I agree that it is how they sound to you that matters. But accordingly depending on the medium you are listening too as well. We all can understand that 78 rpm's do sound best on big bass loaded "munchy" speakers. Not on clear and fast responding speakers.

I also agree that speaking about speakers you have the progress in some parts, more specifically the electronics. And that can indeed do a lot of improvement IME. But as for the design and build of speakers to claim "progress" is like comparing pairs and apples. New different designs and characteristics in sound rendition came onto the market through the decades but not only in honor of music at all times IMHO.

So I don't agree that change in design and sometimes in techniques of bass response means on it's own a progress. Some are still searching for the old so called "round and warm" sound for their old records. I understand them, I once was there also. I am not anymore as I now have a rather "neutral and clear" sound. Mind you I am in the compromise since my vintage 45's still do not require a "sharp and cold" sound.

I've heard such high-end audio (CD) set-up in the "sharp and cold" zone and it sounded impressive but the gain in detail, depth and clarity (without distortion) in sound dismantled the tune to my ears and so the musicality of it all got lost in transcription. This is where to my ears the gain in those characteristics are welcome to one point and on some of my set-up components as in my amp, pre-amp and speakers.

Those electronic parts truly have benefited from the technological progress and allowed gain in sound precision and clarity. But then also required to have more precision and definition into the record mastering and pressing. So this is where I am voluntary limited and enjoy the combination of my old and new phono gear parts to honor and dishonor my vintage 45's. Some as is others tweaked to my ears, needs and use.

To make my task easy without spending dosh I shouldn't on speakers, I ended up with those vintage Leak 'Sandwiches' that I DIY recap tweaked for a real upgrade and finer definition of the drivers. They are the incarnation where the progress in the capacitors allowed a better performance out of the older drivers. I could find better "modern" speakers likely but not for the same money and hardly (as in rarely) to suit my records and ears.

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 03 Apr 2018 20:47
by VinyldechezPierre
lonewolf wrote:...I like the sound of them better than many new models, do others agree?
I don't quite agree. The problem is that many people are comparing apples and oranges. One just cannot compare a pair of vintage $200 speakers to brand new $200 speakers. They are just not in the same league. $200 vintage speakers should probably be compared to $750-1000 new speakers. Maybe even more depending on the deal you got.

For example, my top pair: Jean Marie Reynaud Opéra bought for $200. Similar sound quality from the same brand new today: over $5800.

Next pair down the line: Revox BX350 (introduced here recently) bought for $150. Even though each side is missing one of the four bass speakers, they sound absolutely beautiful. I would really like to see what anyone can offer me new that can compare... at the same price.

Now, that doesn't mean I don't like brand new speakers. Plug and play is great if you can't handle any tools for some basic repairs (although only two of my four pairs have needed/are needing repairs) but I just don't see any reason to spend a huge amount of money when you can get the same quality sound for a whole lot less money.

Then again I'm the kind of person who's never bought a new car. Let someone else pay the high price and get it on the cheap a few years later is the way I look at it. :D

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 03 Apr 2018 21:32
by tcolegrove
+1 for vintage.

I've been in an out of the audio industry since the early 70's. I still audition new speakers with an open mind (ears?) but find I'm more inclined to enjoy the sound of (some) vintage speakers. I've been focusing mainly on turntables for the past few years so the steady parade of speakers coming into the shop for repair or restoration - and the subsequent A/B testing has slowed to a trickle. After all the JBLs, Marantz, Pioneer, Sansui (and I'm not talking the 'Kabuki' versions!) Polk Audio, Klipsch, Jensen, Thiele and on and on - the two sets that remain are the Dynaco A-25's and the Carver Amazing Loudspeakers (Silver Edition). No doubt they'll always remain.

Re: Vintage speakers

Posted: 03 Apr 2018 21:33
by cats squirrel
and what about mixing old 'speakers (or their drive units) with modern offerings. I am doing just that. I am marrying late 80's Elac mid range units (two per side) with 90's EPOS bass drivers and modern Fountek real ribbon tweeters. All boxes are sealed, except the ribbon tweeter ones, which are open at their sides to cool the drivers (which have neo magnets).

They are replacing my present Usher floor standers, which are nice and very smooth, but the bass is woolly (as are all vented enclosures in my experience) and treble a little suppressed. The little Elacs (bought in a complete loudspeaker - JPW Sonatas) out perform the Ushers in everything but bass extension. As they are fed by 100 watt (into 4 Ohms, Elac are 6 Ohms) amplifiers, one per box, there is no lack of control or volume.

Marrying old and new works with record players as well, 60 year old turntables with modern arms and cartridges works for me! :D