Dahlquist speakers

Do you guys think Dahlquist 10's + 12's stand up to todays speakers up to $1000?
I have no knowledge of the 12's, but with respect to the 10's, based on having auditioned them around 1983, I would say "potentially." However, keep in mind that they are around 35 years old, and both the drivers (especially the surrounds) and some of the crossover elements may need repair or replacement. The crossover network is very complex, containing numerous capacitors and other parts, which very conceivably are no longer at their best.

In short, you may be purchasing a restoration project, or something that no longer sounds as it once did.

-- Al
I have not heard the DQ-12's, only the DQ-20i's and the mirror-imaged DQ-10's, both of which I owned. And I wish I still had them! I have not heard any speaker at $1000 per pair (new) or even $1500 per pair (new) that I would prefer. I of course have not listened to all speakers available new between $1000 and $1500 per pair. Has anyone?!

However, Almarg's comment about "purchasing a restoration project" are an important consideration for anyone considering Dahlquist speakers. The good news is, there are companies (e.g., Regnar) that can take care of most needed Dahlquist restorations.

One other thing I would mention is that in my experience, the DQ-20i's and especially the mirror-imaged DQ-10's sounded better at moderate to louder levels and required significant quality amplification to sound their best (to my ears, anyway). They both sounded great with my Levinson 27.5 that I had at the time.
That's one of those questions you'll have to answer for yourself.

Dahlquist has a devoted following, but it is hardly universal. They really "sang" for some but left others cold. I was in the category that found them "interesting" but wasn't taken with them.

They are a very inefficient speaker so aren't the best choice for those who like their music on the high-volume end of things.

If you're OK on that front, the best thing to do is listen to them and see what you think. You'll probably either be very impressed and think they are spot-on or you'll scratch your head.

I never found their tonality particularly accurate in reproducing acoustic instruments, though they certainly had a pleasant balance. I also thought the 3-D imaging so many found wonderful to be on the overblown, rather artificial side.

Only you can figure out which camp you're in. If you really like 'em, they are a heck of a contender in the price range you mention (assuming they are in good repair). If you aren't immediately drawn to them you'll probably find a number of other speakers in that price range you'll prefer.
Most of the opinions you'll get will be from those having listened to the Dahlquists almost 30 years ago, and playing with the equipment and cabling of that decade(obviously). Very doubtful that they can actually compare what they heard then with what's being heard now. The ideal would be to find a pair that has been mirror imaged, had the x-over upgraded and piezo(YUCH) tweeter replaced with a ribbon to audition(I used to mod them when I owned my shop in Winter Park, Fl). You might try finding some contacts, local to you, here: (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Dahlquist/message/338?l=1) Done right, the DQ-10 actually sounds a lot like music, and that's what it's all about. YES- They require some power to achieve realistic SPLs, and an actively bi-amped sub helps too.
Up to a $1,000, sure...the DQ 10's are very nice if you feed them enough power, and place them on good stands. (I did own a pair).

DQ 12's?....I don't recall them?

Along the same line, how about a/d/s 810 or 880? Were they in the same league as the Dahlquists? I've heard the soft dome mid is SWEET.
Just to be clear, I wouldn't spend $1000 on the used speakers but wondered if they compare to the sound quality of $1K new ones.
I know it's my ears that count but I'd still like your opinions.
I agree with SomeC59, the DQ10's excel at vocals.

A friend has had a pair since the 70's and recently had them re-conditioned, so I'm very familiar with their sound. They lack dynamic punch, something about all those drivers. Also require a bunch of amp power, have a large footprint and low WAF.
So if you're a rocker go cautious, but if vocals are your thing they sound great.
There are many old speakers that can more than hold their own with todays offerings. Snell, Mirage, a/d/s, and of course many others had some really nice speaker systems.

a/d/s....1530's, 2030's, 1290's
Snell....Type A, b, and c's
Mirage....M1, M3, M5

Here is a pair of the 1290's on Audiogon:

08-06-09: Griffinconst
Along the same line, how about a/d/s 810 or 880? Were they in the same league as the Dahlquists? I've heard the soft dome mid is SWEET.
Just to be clear, I wouldn't spend $1000 on the used speakers but wondered if they compare to the sound quality of $1K new ones.
I'm very familiar with all the speakers you mentioned except the L810. I owned both L880s and L1090s.

ADS's quality rested in high quality driver design and meticulous quality control over their fabrication. Their quality driver enabled them to create speakers with wide frequency range and linearity out of--at most--3 drivers. When it came around to designing loudspeaker systems, their designs had the advantage of incorporating high quality drivers with broad operating ranges into similarly high quality, inert, sealed cabinets.

By contrast, the DQ-10 was the opposite--taking low-cost drivers and stringing together enough of them to achieve reasonable linearity over a broad range. That's why they ended up with a 5-way that still screamed for a sub (which came along later). Each driver on average only had to operate over a 1-1/2 octave range. Dahlquist's significant contribution to speaker design was mounting all but the woofer on open baffles and aligning all the voice coils in a single plain for phase coherence among the drivers. The open baffles were sized as large as necessary to avoid rear wave cancellations and as small as possible to avoid diffraction distortion. This made for a very linear speaker for the time with phase and time coherence, something virtually unknown at the time, though ADS speakers also had uncanny soundstages and imaging.

The DQ-20 is fundamentally a better speaker, as it retained the open baffle phase coherent design but went down to a 3-way, meaning it achieved linearity with better drivers that had 3-octave operating ranges on average. It was the first design by Carl Marschisotto, who went on to found Alon and then Nola, and you can see the family resemblance in the DQ-20.

The downside (and upside) of the ADS is the sealed woofer(s). This makes the bass cleaner, tighter, and with a gentler roll-off than a vented enclosure. It also means the roll-off starts at a higher frequency and big, high current expensive amplifiers pay off with better bass extension.

The downsides of the DQ-10 are low sensitivity owing to the open baffles and the 5-way network, the woofer whose foam crumbles every 10-20 years, and the $1.50 piezo-electric super-tweeter which isn't the last word in smoothness or linearity. Fortunately, it just adds some top-octave air.

You must remember that at the release of the DQ-10, the Bose 901 was still considered a high end speaker, as was the JBL-100, the Altec Voice-of-the-Theater, and some pretty honky-sounding JBL floor-standers. Other new companies that sought to make a true high fidelity speaker included Infinity, ESS, Ohm, Advent, and EPI.

Overall, at $1k for today's speakers, I'd probably choose a PSB Image T55 or T65, Ohm Walsh MicroTall, or Energy. These would have more sensitivity, more bass extension, and easier dynamic range with less demand on the amplification. OTOH, an ADS L1290, 1590, M12 or M15 would still be a fabulous speaker if you bi-wire or biamp them with a powerful high current amp. E.g., Telarc used Threshold Stasis class A amps to power their L1590s.
No. Because they're 25 years old and the parts and build quality were pretty low budget.

However, I would buy a new pair of DQ-12's in a heartbeat, if they were available.
Hey Mike, I'm from Seattle too, well, Tacoma.
Can you elaborate on your reply? I've only heard of the 12's and no one here seems to know anything about them.
08-08-09: Griffinconst
Hey Mike, I'm from Seattle too, well, Tacoma.
Can you elaborate on your reply? I've only heard of the 12's and no one here seems to know anything about them.
I was beginning to think the DQ-12 was a typo, but they do exist out there in addition to the DQ-20. They are configured more like a DQ-20 in that they're a narrower 3-way with a more sculpted open baffle for the mid & tweet, like the DQ-20. I don't know anything else about them, but if you google, you'll find discussions about them on Audiokarma.org and other places.

Not that I know you're in the neighborhood, I strongly recommend you make a field trip to Hawthorne Stereo in Seattle. As you can see, they have a great selection of used gear, and always seem to attract great used speakers. They often have a pair or two of DQ-10s and 20s around, through right now they're out. Notice, however, that they currently have several models of ADS under discussion--780 II, 810, 910, L-1590, and the M-12, which is probably the most speaker for the buck in that list, and would obliterate the DQ-10.

Seattle_Mike: What you say about the DQ-10's build quality vs. modern is very true. The build quality of the ADS L- and M- series, however, match or exceed 80-90% of what's built today, and the previous models do as well, except for those cheesy '70s-era spring-loaded terminals. Even McIntosh amps had those back then, however.
They were a fabulous speaker. A three way in a vertical tower with an open baffle on top. VERY good sounding. The 'cabinet' work was pretty unremarkable - these are not good looking speakers.

And the parts were, as I said, not really expensive. This was a speaker built to a price point. And they're what, 25 years old now? It's not that great speakers from 25 years ago aren't competitive. It's that something build cheap, 25 years later....it's not going to sound as good as it did, nor will it be very reliable.

Time to move on. There are lots of speaker to spend a grand on these days. MG12's (ok, just over a grand). Monitor Audio RS6. Get a good bookshelf speaker and a subwoofer. There's lot of bargains out there.
Johnnyb53, yeah, I was a big ADS fan back in the day. Very high quality product and if you can find a pair in good shape they hold up very well today.

We always used to say we wanted a DQ-10 with ADS drivers!

I think a pair of Monitor Audio RS1's with an Energy sub (bargains on ebay) would be a great setup for under a grand. Don't forget the Skylanstands.com speaker stands. And Blue Jeans cable belden speaker wire.
Seattle mike

Parts quality....You think the MG12's use expensive parts?...I got a good laugh on that (-:
Looks like I can get MA RS6 on here used for $600-800. Do you guys think this is a good deal rather than buying expensive older used speakers? If not, what brands and models of older ones do you like?
Thanks for your opinions. KG.
08-10-09: Griffinconst
Looks like I can get MA RS6 on here used for $600-800. Do you guys think
this is a good deal rather than buying expensive older used speakers?
I'm with Seattle_Mike on this: Although there are
many audio "classics' out there, generally new or recent model speakers
are better than "classics" of 20-30 years old unless you stumble
onto a giveaway deal like the ADS L-810's I picked up for $100/pr. Today's
speakers use better, more linear drivers with wider frequency and dynamic
operating ranges. Speaker makers understand more about bracing, materials,
and vibration control than they did 30 years ago.

I've been an audio enthusiast for 40 years and have heard (and owned) many
speakers over the years. On average today's speakers are faster, more
articulate, have higher resolution, more dynamic range, and more extended,
cleaner bass in smaller enclosures than most designs 20 or more years old.

I currently own both 1995 and 2008 Mirage floorstanding speakers. The older
ones (M5si) are very good IF you use very expensive cables and 170-300
watts per channel. They are also an imposing 51" tall and unwieldy 85 lbs
each. The new OMD-15 weighs 36 pounds, presents a much easier load to
the amp, is at least 5dB more sensitive, and can still handle up to 250 watts
input, at which point it's playing much louder than the old one. It is also
faster, cleaner, more detailed, more articulate, but with no added edge or
harshness. It is simply better in every way.
How about this for a bonehead move. Once saw a used pair of DQ10's at Audio Concepts in Houston (out of business just this month, btw, cryin shame) that had a) a factory upgrade capacitor change to the crossover, b) a Panasonic ribbon replacing the top two high frequency drivers, 3) the metal gridwork behind the grill cloth neatly removed from around the drivers, for a price of $250.00 and didn't buy them. Boy, someone had put some TLC into those babies. Wish I had today.
08-10-09: Griffinconst
"Hey sogood - let's hear it about the MG12's".

No Knock on the Maggies, they sound great when set up properly, and so do the DQ-10's. I was just pointing out, that like the DQ-10....expensive parts not in use.

I'm using a XLR Y connector to drive 2 DQ-10(s) to create the center channel under a 12 screen. There was just too much space between the L and R and a conventional speaker just didn't work, I also like that they are not deep speakers. The DQ-10's work great with vocals but didn't cut it else where. Pretty happy with the results but maybe I'll get 2 more and have 4 on the floor across the front.