All Pre 1970 Vintage speakers suck! Prove me wrong

Have tried many vintage speakers.

My conclusion: All pre-1970 vintage speakers suck. Well-made but crappy  sound.

Used with both vintage amps and modern.

I do like many vintage amps such as Radio Craftsmen RC-500, Marantz tube, Scott tube, Heath W5, Lafayette and Pilot tube.

But back to pre-1970 speakers:

No bass, harsh, or honky mids and no highs. Not musical or listenable to me.

Tried many including Acoustic Research AR-3a, 2Ax, etc. The entire AR product line. Also Klipsch Horn, Large EVs. Altec VOTT. Pioneer CS-88 and 99.

Nothing pre 1970 is even close to the better modern speakers.

I challenge you: Prove me wrong.


I forgot about the Quads which I have also owned: Same story Maury= no bass or highs. Midrange like AM radio. Make sure to sit in one spot and not move your head while listening. Oh and they don't handle much power either.

Have not owned the KLH Nines but they look like trouble. Complex, large, heavy, Magnepannish styling. Wife would hate them.

You're wrong about Altec A7's and Khorns, as well as some Electro Voice and I'm sure many others that I am missing. Prove it? That's impossible because it is a subjective evaluation, but I'm sure that you'll lose in a straw poll.

Interesting first post.

A black & white generalization about a quarter century of speakers.

Considering the relatives ages of many of the members, I am pretty sure they enjoyed speakers pre 1970.

This " lion " guy is pretty pompous, ignorant, and possibly hard of hearing. Maybe he is kenjit in disguise. 

Kenjit...yes, that's a definite possibility! Certainly a stupid and presumptuous thread.

@roxy54 Wrote:

You’re wrong about Altec A7’s and Khorns, as well as some Electro Voice

I agree!

I like the JBL Olympus with S8R loudspeaker system and Electro Voice Patrician 800. 😎


All speakers after 70s suck too, just in a different way. Don't prove me wrong, it's self-evident, just go and have a listen.


This is from Altec A7 made in 60s.


This one really sucks as your perception of vintage speaker.


There are great sounding speakers from the 1930’s that still deliver great sound, albeit not in living room friendly packaging.  Shearer-Lansing systems sound good, as are Western Electric theater systems.  If you include modern systems built from vintage parts, some fantastic systems can be had that sound better, to me, than any modern system.  I’ve heard fantastic systems built around Western Electric compression drivers and horns, Western Electric field coil woofers, Goodmam woofers, Jensen woofers, Jensen/ERPI field coil widerange drivers, IPC compression drivers,and a lot of other such parts.  
I like horn-based system for their unmatched dynamics, particularly at low volume levels, but, I don’t like the coloration of the more commonly heard systems like the EV, Altecs, and Klipsch systems mentioned above.  
I recently heard a YL system from Japan, probably built in the 1960’s or 1970’s, that I would take over almost any conventional modern system.


 In the early 1960s, AR conducted a series of over 75 live vs. recorded demonstrations throughout the United States in which the sound of a live string quartet was alternated with echo-free recorded music played through a pair of AR-3s. In this “ultimate” subjective test of audio quality, the listeners were largely unable to detect the switch from live to recorded, a strong testament to Acoustic Research's audio quality

Sounds like proof to me

Well it would appear that you like boom boxes. Prove you wrong? You are wrong as the opinion you have expressed is precisely that - an opinion.

The Spendor BC1 - ok introduced in 1971 - is still a fine speaker.

On the specifics of the topic, it is of course a ridiculous generation to say that all pre 1970 speakers are rubbish. In the case of the ESL 57, very many would argue that the ESL 63 and its successors do not improve on the original design.

What made me an audiophile was a pair of my first speakers which were the old Kenwood speakers when they were made in Japan and not china like today. They aren't audiophile speakers but they were really really good and I thought all speakers sounded like that but I was wrong. When I got rid of them due to age, I couldn't find any that sounded even close to those. Later on I started listening to recommendations from others because all speakers I ran across were just bad. Finally audiophile speakers suited me just fine but I still remember those speakers today. Oh, they were pre 1970. You might be better off wondering what happened to music once 1980 rolled around with a few exceptions of course.

I think the original Large Advent came out in 1971 & was & still is a good speaker. Stack them, remove the grill cloths , provide plenty of good power & you have a fairly ugly but nice sounding speaker w/ as good bass as probably any speaker made since up to at least $5K & maybe $10K. Mid range also pretty  good but not much high frequency extension & mediocre imaging.

My affair with audio began in 1968.  The early ear opening experiences with amazing speakers were with Rectilinear 3s, IMF TLS-80s, and Quad ESLs. Of the pre-1970 Boston area bunch, KLH 6s were best to my ears, but I never heard 9s.  It is true a lot improved as the 70s progressed.

I have an International Projector Corp. 1940's horn and folded cab I rescued from an abandoned adult theater. Yes it's mono, yes its massive, and yes it now resides in my garage. But man does it rock. 

I'd argue that i get just as much enjoyment out my free(ish) find, than I do all my other kit. 

I just picked up a pair of Pioneer CS99A’s at an estate sale. They sound fantastic with my Outlaw RR2160MKll and Outlaw M8 Subwoofer for 2.1 sound, They are fracking heavy suckers, weigh 49lbs each, I picked up some Herbie’s tenderfeet to get them off the floor. When I kick in my Dahli’s for 4.1 sound, it sounds even better (when I crank it up). To each his own I guess. I don’t have to prove anything, sounds great to me and my wife.


IPC made terrific speakers.  The drivers, in particular are still highly prized.  You are quite lucky having it.  I know of a few mono systems built around vintage drivers.  One of my favorite speakers is a mono system that Deja Vu Audio built not long ago that has a big bass cabinet (I believe it is a sealed box) with an 18" woofer and a very old and funky looking Raycon midrange horn and compression driver.  The sound is really quite hard to beat.  

With vintage parts, the trick is to find pieces that still match 70 years after manufacture.  That means that stereo systems are MUCH harder to make than mono systems because the left-right matching has to be quite exact. 

Deja Vu Audio (a Northern Virginia retailer who also builds custom speakers) has a small collection of Western Electric 713b drivers because they buy them hoping to get them paired up--they have about six or seven now and none match.  Pricing reflects this--you can find single 713b's for as little as $5,000 but matching pairs from a reliable source are well over $20,000 these days.

If one's priority is at the frequency extremes--very deep impactful bass, and extended and well dispersed high frequencies--it is true that modern speakers deliver these qualities at quite modest price levels and in compact packaging.  Vintage designs, even with 18" woofers don't go super deep, but they deliver great tone, and nimble sounding bass.  This is why I don't necessarily disagree with the OP even though I much prefer speakers utilizing some very vintage drivers.  



"I have an International Projector Corp. 1940's horn and folded cab I rescued from an abandoned adult theater."

They were probably selected for the theater due to ther female voice accuracy and dynamic range.  Extended, passonate female performances probably had many in the audience reaching for the Kleenex box..

Your declaration is hardly worth a reply, but I can't resist: 15" Tannoy Golds (with a modern crossover) can be electrifying to listen to.

I have a pair of KLH Nines still working (sort of!). Along with two pairs of Quad 57's.

I have a pair of Radio Shack Mach 3, which was the totl for Tandy at that time. I do not recall a model Mach 5. Damped the horns, rebuilt the crossovers, upgraded the woofers, and they are ok, actually...with the right amplifier. The AR3A speakers, which I owned until a few years ago, had a good amount of bass, both prodigious and extended....again, with the right amplifier. My ADA PF 2501, brought them to life. Why do some people have to say silly and ridiculous things. Our opinions and experiences are real. My Ampzilla was the amp that drove them back then. Same bass story. My Fisher 500C could not sufficiently drive them. My best, MrD.

Good grief!  People are actually touting Radio Shack speakers?  Please escort them out of the building - through the back door - with extreme prejudice.  

The odd thing about the original post is that many of the most highly prized recordings in terms of sound quality are from the 1950s and 60s. Have always found it amazing that they were able to do such good work back then with such crappy equipment, especially the speakers used in the studio to monitor and mix the sound.  😉


My comment was intended to be a not-so-serious post on a not-so-serious subject.  Sometimes I miss the mark.  I'll try to do better next time.


I stand corrected on the model#.  Thanks for noticing.  As a vintage/modern speaker "mod'r" I am not surprised that you've obtained good results with your internal upgrades.  I found that many vintage drivers can be quite "musical" when components in the single path are removed/upgraded that degrade sound quality.

Quad - "The closest approach to the original sound" - from the advertising brochure!

While not my favorite, the JBL Hartsfield is still a pretty good vintage speaker.

Have owned JBL, 4311 and agree, thy are fabulous with punch and authority. EV Centurion Corner Horms - just sound like music. Playing a set of '63 Tannoy, Belvedere now and they are sublime; truly my wheelhouse. 15" Reds are amazing in that volume cabinet. C'mon on the ESL 57s are spooky good. All of these played with vintage Mac... not sure what you're looking for. 

There are a bunch of people in the audiophile forums on Facebook that get real upset when you nay-say something about Radio Shack garbage or Pioneer/Kenwood/Sansui speakers with 8 cheap drivers splashed willy-nilly across the front (and/or rear) baffle.  "Vintage" they call them.  I call them junk.

As for older speakers, the Dynaco A-25 had the most natural midrange going, but lacked highs and lows.  I replaced them with Advents and the lovely mids were gone, but some highs were back along with a muddy bass.  I remember being at Harvey Sound in White Plains, hearing what a thought was a real, live cello playing in another room.  Looking in I found it was a pair of Rectilinear 3s.  Very impressive at the time.

I don't know how old you are.  1970's was my "high school" era, I lived thru when you are speaking.  Writing,

I will agree with you as All but a few were of today "Audiophile" standards.  ESL speakers as commented above I still highly regarded now.  Speaker design and materials have advanced tremendously.

Now we have internet.  Audiophile dedicated magazines.  Reviews.  Youtube.  We had brick and mortar audio stores.  Many as a side offering to their main business.  TV repair and stereo shop.  Best Buy!  A small corner of Audio.  What they had was what we were exposed to.

For a long time, The Voice of the Theatre speaker was the voice of the theatre.  When you went to see a movie, that was what you were probably listening to.

@waytoomuchstuff thankfully it was installed behind the screen and.. ahem.. out of range. 😂

@larryi thank you, I plan on looking them up. Great suggestion. 


"All speakers after 70s suck too, just in a different way. Don't prove me wrong, it's self-evident, just go and have a listen."

So, all speakers sucked before 1970 and all speakers suck after 1970?

This leads to two truths.

1. The only good speakers were made in 1970.

2. Your speakers suck.

Prove you're right - you're the one throwing out that statement. Nobody else has anything to prove. 

@crustycoot  +1

I loved the Rectilinear 3s when they came out.  Couldn't even think about buying them.  I've spent hours listening to them...obviously all with analog gear.  They simply kicked my ass.

I had to "settle" for Radio Shack gear.  And I was very happy when I bought their top-of-the-line stuff and I was 15 years old!  Everyone around me, family, friends, casual music fans thought I was nuts.

Excellent! I still get the same response today...until they shut up and sit down and listen.  Then it's a whole different ball game. The most frequent question I'm asked is where did you get this recording because "I've never heard this before" on a very familiar track.  I just smile...........



I heard the Beveridge system in 1974, I believe, when they were quite new.  This was a very nice sounding system, but bass was a bit loose, boomy, and not well integrated with the rest of the spectrum.  It may not quite be pre-1970, but, it is a good vintage speaker nonetheless.