Old Speakers vs New for 2 Channel Stereo - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 11-14-2008, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi, I just hooked up my old Technics SL-BD20 turntable to a Kenwood Amp (KA-32 B) and looking for some bookshelf speakers to go with it. The set-up is for my home office.

How will do new speakers (like Paradign, Polk, which I understand I can get for around $300-350) compare with the old speakers (like KLH, AR, which I can pick up for around $125)? Suggestions? Thanks..
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post #2 of 24 Old 11-14-2008, 02:02 PM
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20 to 30 years have allowed for substantial advances in adhesives, cone materials, computer modeling, construction techniques, etc. So, while at first blush, box speakers still are box speakers, you'll generally get a much more efficient speaker with a flatter response with newer designs rather than vintage ones. If you're only playing records, however . . . . The differences may be less apparent? Just make sure you enough power to drive your vintage find.
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post #3 of 24 Old 11-14-2008, 02:41 PM
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Also need towatch for dry rot especially if the drivers use foam surrounds.

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post #4 of 24 Old 11-16-2008, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.. I picked up some old EPI 100's.. they sound good but the foam is rotted.. not sure its worth repair.. maybe Ill sell and pick up the Polk RTIs. AMP is around 35 w per channel.. what do you think? thanks..
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post #5 of 24 Old 11-16-2008, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mb530 View Post

How will do new speakers (like Paradign, Polk, which I understand I can get for around $300-350) compare with the old speakers (like KLH, AR, which I can pick up for around $125)? Suggestions? Thanks..

Well, how old is "old"?

And you are comparing apples to broccoli (or vice versa, maybe). New Paradigms/Polks to old KLHs/ARs. HArd to make any generalizations. An old pair of what were really good speakers in their time, provided they are in good working order, may be preferable to a new pair of today's entry-level speakers. Good deals on 10-15 year old pairs of what were in their day really fine speakers are out there. I don't know if something as old as those EPIs (which were good speakers; I had a pair) is worth trying to salvage, though. There IS a guy on the web who specializes in repair and replacement parts for old EPI and speakers, though, so they still have a following.

http://www.humanspeakers.com/


Not to discount what amicusterrae said, but a flipside is the "they don't make things like they used to" cliche. IMO, many of today's speaker manufacturers' entry-level offerings are not so sporty, actually.

Are you just strapped for cash or somewhat nostalgic (or both)?

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post #6 of 24 Old 11-16-2008, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mb530 View Post

Thanks.. I picked up some old EPI 100's.. they sound good but the foam is rotted.. not sure its worth repair.. maybe Ill sell and pick up the Polk RTIs. AMP is around 35 w per channel.. what do you think? thanks..

Might want to consider some klipchies with that sort of power...
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post #7 of 24 Old 11-16-2008, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post


Are you just strapped for cash or somewhat nostalgic (or both)?

Ha! probably more nostalgic.. Here is how I got to this point... All the talk about "loudness wars" and compression, I dug out my old Technics turntable go give vinyl a try. Sure enough.. I find out my Onkyo theater receiver doesn't have a phono section. So, rather than buy a pre-amp, I picked up a Kenwood Amp for $50 (KA-32B), which I believe is 35 watts, and decided I'd have a 2nd set-up for vinyl in my office (I also have an old Yamaha CD player in can hook up as well. I had EPIs back in the day (along with a Pioneer receiver I wish I never lent to my brother-in-law) and when I saw them on Craigslist, picked them up as well..

So, now the question is am I better of investing in new speakers (or sort of new) vs. the EPI (or other older speakers) and putting some $$ into them. Since this is a 2nd set-up in my "listening room", I'm trying to do this reasonably on the cheap. Appreciate the advice!
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post #8 of 24 Old 11-16-2008, 10:17 PM
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if they sound good then age does not matter.

One shall stand... One Shall Fall... - Optimus Prime
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post #9 of 24 Old 11-16-2008, 11:08 PM
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I saw and heard some old KLHs some years ago. They sounded nice and even tempered. I don't remember them jumping out at me though. I remember it was the first time I saw a dome midrange driver. They may have been well built for their time, but technology gets cheaper as time goes on, and higher end designs and materials move down to the lower end as things improve. The KLH's drivers were reminiscent of Paradigm's seMKIII series when they had the soft dome tweeters. In the end you should pick what sounds the best. Don't be biased on thinking "They don't make it like they used to." This phrase is often a good thing especially when it comes to audio. I'm glad they don't make a lot of things like they used to because they are now way improved.

Your system can shine no matter what it's made of.......except if it's Bose.
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post #10 of 24 Old 11-17-2008, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm still curious how vintage speakers stack up to entry level Paradign, Polks, etc. Also, how much sound benefit is there from new foam, cap etc. thanks,.
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post #11 of 24 Old 11-17-2008, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mb530 View Post

I'm still curious how vintage speakers stack up to entry level Paradign, Polks, etc. Also, how much sound benefit is there from new foam, cap etc. thanks,.

Which vintage speakers? You can't generalize, here.

"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."
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post #12 of 24 Old 11-17-2008, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

Which vintage speakers? You can't generalize, here.


okay.. say the EPI 100's I have.. assume I have them refoamed which in total would cost about the same as entry level Polk, Paradign. I talked to a guy in an Audio shop today and he said "no comparison".. the new speakers are way better.

So.. before I sink more $$ in having them refoamed, would like opinion of others.. thanks..
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post #13 of 24 Old 11-17-2008, 07:57 PM
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You may even like the old sound better than the new speakers, even if the new ones are more accurate etc. Happiness is relative...
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post #14 of 24 Old 11-17-2008, 08:54 PM
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Imagine that the guy who sells speakers steered you toward new speakers. That's just crazy. OK maybe a little bit true but "way better" is an opinion and I happen to disagree.I do think in etter speaker brands the advances have trickled down to the entry level stuff. but there are still new speakers out there that do not compare to some of the good older gear. One example is B&W nautilus tweeters were at one time their top of the line product and now certain aspects of that design have made it into their entry level product. They are by no means the only company that does this. and while I am a fan of Klipsch products their entry level stuff is just a notch above crap, IMO. Also do a little research about wattage reqirements for speakers. Old does not mean they take more watts to drive. The Klipschorn is more than 60 years old with very little in the way of major changes and I belive the efficiency is 106 db for 1 watt. 35 watts can drive some relatively inefficient speakers to decent levels. I've got an old set of B&W that are only rated at 86db and 35 will do for them on most material. Now if you want to blast them then no you need more power and I have them running on a 200x2 amp but it's not necessary. You do need to watch out for certain problems on older speakers and that will vary according to what type of speaker they are but there are great old speakers out there. Foam rots as does paper. I have some old Klipsch that have rubber surrounds that will never rot before the paper just turns to dust. Also the caps could need replacing on some. If you really want worry free then go newer and you have less to worry about but don't discount older speakers because there are supposedly massive improvement to the tech. There really hasnt been a major difference in how they are made in a long time. Yes SOME new materials are an improvement some are not. I think capacitors made now are of vastly improved quality but entry level speakers will use the cheapest they can find. Design is done on computers now instead of so much trial and error like in days of old. They both have good qualities. Of course then a lot of old speakers are just ugly. I know my Klipsch are and huge. But they are in a HT and when I'm down there there areno lights on to see them with.
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post #15 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 03:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remodeler View Post

Imagine that the guy who sells speakers steered you toward new speakers. .

Yes, but the guy that sells vintage speakers (who tells me they are way better) wants to sell speakers too. (He doesn't know I have the EPI 100's.)

One thing I believe is due to the size of them, a small entry level new speaker is not going to generate the small bass...I assume if they sound good now and I replace the cracked rotten foam, they will sound even better?

Also, why change the cap? I talked to a guy at a speaker repair company and he told me they are binary... they either work or they don't!

thanks..
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post #16 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 05:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mb530 View Post

Yes, but the guy that sells vintage speakers (who tells me they are way better) wants to sell speakers too. (He doesn't know I have the EPI 100's.)

One thing I believe is due to the size of them, a small entry level new speaker is not going to generate the small bass...I assume if they sound good now and I replace the cracked rotten foam, they will sound even better?

Also, why change the cap? I talked to a guy at a speaker repair company and he told me they are binary... they either work or they don't!

thanks..

This argument over old vs new speakers has gone on here for years with both sides refusing to give an inch. Your lucky that this thread has been as civil as it has, so far. While its true that computer models and programs have made it easier to engineer speakers that sound pretty good much more easily that's pretty much all its done. Made it easier. There was a lot more trial and error back in the day, but good speakers designers did get it right, just at a higher cost and not as often. All that really has changed in this regard is that there are a lot more decent offerings at good prices. But good speaker design, itself, has not changed much. The technology is easy to understand and has been understood for decades.
Regarding materials, yes there has been an introduction of different materials for cones but there are a lot that don't really like the sound of some of these materials. Very subjective thing. Fact is that some of the most incredible sounding speakers in the world used and still use paper pulp products for their cones and that is not likely to change much. And as far as caps either working or not, ridiculous. Over time the internal electrolyte begins to evaporate and the capacitors ability to function correctly decreases. Other than refoaming, this is the first thing many would look to do with older speakers, replace the caps. There are many around here that love older, vintage speakers and swear by them. Altec's VOT speakers are one example. Dunlavy are another. IMO no better speaker has ever been manufactured, but that is my opinion. A lot easier to buy a new entry level speaker that sounds pretty good but some older and vintage speakers are still outstanding no better or worse than the newer stuff.
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post #17 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 05:37 AM
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What I notice about old vs new speakers is tightness and quickness. Same Make newer models. But some of the older models sound warmer and bigger if you will.

Control is another thing I notice comparing. It seems some older speakers are a little sloppy down low meaning lower end. Newer models seem to be able to control bass notes better.

So really it's a matter of taste, I have an array of vintage speakers I love for a lot of good reasons, then I have newer speakers that ate simply the best sound I have ever heard.

There is no clear winner, it's personal
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post #18 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 05:38 AM
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Call me biased, with over 20 vintage JBL speakers in the house. For a few hundred dollars you can round up a pair that sound better than current speakers costing thousands. Yes, they will need some TLC, but the materials in them and the quality of construction is phenomenal. The sound is something you won't believe till you hear it. Plus, they are just plain purty.
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post #19 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 05:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mantis10 View Post

What I notice about old vs new speakers is tightness and quickness. Same Make newer models. But some of the older models sound warmer and bigger if you will.

Control is another thing I notice comparing. It seems some older speakers are a little sloppy down low meaning lower end. Newer models seem to be able to control bass notes better...

With respect this is a generalization. I don't buy into the argument that all new speakers are quicker and tighter than older speakers. I also don't buy into the argument that all old speakers are sloppy. At this level there really needs to be a discussion on specific speaker models against specific speaker models. Sure, I agree that some older speakers are not as quick or tight as some newer models, but it also true that some newer speakers are not as tight or quick as some older models. This really can't be generalized but should be a model to model comparrison don't ya think?
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post #20 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 10:36 AM
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When I had a pair of EPI100s, 20+ years ago, I thought they were great speakers. I'd love to be able to listen to them today. I'm sure I sold them to a friend or gave them to a family member, but I can't for the life of me remember what happened to them, exactly

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post #21 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 12:11 PM
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I agree with the above comment about comparing specific models to each other. And while I love my Klipsch and my old B&Ws I heard some NHT the other day with Dire Straits on them and they sounded incredible. Would I spend $2000 for them? no I picked up my last set of Fortes for $200 and they will compete in that range so I'm happy. As far as caps either working or not, i'll respectfully say they don't understand them. A working cap is not always a well working cap they will slowly degrade over time or some will start leaking. Vintage speakers can and do benefit from the care taken to replace them. Whichever you end up with old or new enjoy them. I like both but money forces me to go vintage and work wiith them. Really my dream set of speakers are B&W 800D but then I don't have $20,000 for a toy.
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post #22 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

When I had a pair of EPI100s, 20+ years ago, I thought they were great speakers. I'd love to be able to listen to them today. I'm sure I sold them to a friend or gave them to a family member, but I can't for the life of me remember what happened to them, exactly

Me too.. I lent them to my brother in law (along with my Pioneer Receiver and never got them back.

I just had the foam replaced on the "new" EPI's. I'll give them a listen later tonight..
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post #23 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 05:31 PM
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And how about old and new amplifiers? Hmm???
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post #24 of 24 Old 11-18-2008, 07:28 PM
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Again you'd have to compare specific models and types to make any valid comparison. Tube amps will sound different than SS and so on. There is great sounding old gear out there and new junk. If it is still up to factory spec some of the old gear is incredible. But that is where you run into problems. An old integrated receiver make be fully functional but have several caps that are not up to snuff and sound poor. But replace the old parts and you might have a gem on your hands.
I realize your query was a bit tongue in cheek but I had to say it. By the same token amps are now cheaper per watt than ever and a good quality amp can be a great addition to your setup. I have an old Pioneer I'd love to get fixed and compare to my Yamaha. It's early 70's and ugly as sin but it has something about the sound... Probably just nostalgia on MY part. I want it to sound better.
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