Owning the speakers you dreamed of 20 years ago

Does speaker technology really change that much?  As I'm listening to my Klipsch Heresy's in a bedroom setup, I decided to look up to see what $3k or so could buy me today used and was shocked to see the speakers I used to drool over, when I was done looking at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition ;), were available for a quarter or less of the money.

Revel Ultima
Sonus Faber
JM Lab Mezzo 

And more, are all available to buy used.

Seriously these were speakers I would daydream about.  How do they sound today compared to a speaker that you would spend $3k on new or even a few years old?  How could these $10k speakers from a time I can still remember, really sound like a $3k speaker?  My Klipsch's remind me that speakers even older and cheaper are irreplaceable to me, so why wouldn't I spend $3k for one of my old heroes?

What am I missing here?

No speaker tech has not changed much imo. These old speakers are just as good as they were. Watch the foam surround and ferrofluid in the tweeters as it can dry up.
Honestly bass might have gotten worse in the quest for smaller “nicer” looking speakers. I feel like the current tweeter tech is the main difference. Tweeters seem much better to me at least in the old and new speakers I have heard.
Brands that use computer modeling have gotten flatter Frequency responses and advanced crossovers… but there are brands that are tuned by hear and are great too.

A handful of brands have pushed driver tech but I am not sure it has translated to better sound. Impulse response of the driver is always improved and appreciated but the latest wiz-bang material still gets competition from good old paper imo.
What am I missing here?

Planned obsolescence.  Take your droolworthy $3k Sonus Fabers and run… heck of a deal.
Interesting way of looking at it. Speaker purchases for me have always been big purchases, So I have probably owned only 5 pair in the last 50 years. Each represented a significant jump in cost and performance. Most were new, I guess when doing such an infrequent purchase I wanted the best performance available at the time.

I have noticed over this period was movement from big huge flabby inarticulate bass / drivers… to clear, clean, articulate bass (small long throw drivers) where individual bass lines became clearly defined. The treble has gone from primarily sizzling white distortion to (with good electronics) the highly detailed shimmering brass of real instruments. 

So the difference has been huge… but gradual so it doesn’t seem any few years made much of a difference.

Not to pick on Tekton, which seems to be the punching bag around here ;) but would you spend $3k on DI's from the or $3k for a pair of JM Lab Mezzo's? 

My Klipsch Heresy sound better than any other $500 speaker I've heard, and these are quite a bit older than 20 years.
I would take a pair of tuned up Heresy on Sound Anchor stands  w good wire, damping on the horns, air core coils and good caps over a pair of DI, any day, every day….
If you are itching to spend 3K on new speakers, I'd take a look at the Heresy IV.


Thought about the Heresy IV but the room I would put new speakers in is too big for them, they need to be off the floor more.  Thinking of upgrading these Heresy though with new cross overs but one thing at a time.
Evidently, you don't have much experience in comparison of vintage to current designs. 
Speakers have changed…

I think the quality of speakers at various price points ($500, $1000, $2000, $3000) are significantly better than they were 10 years ago. 
And listen to them because you may find what you like. 
There are definately some great deals out there. I recently bought a B&W 801 Matrix S3 in mint condition for less than 2K. It compares favorably with any 20K speaker or below I have listened to. Smiling every day!
Haha okay, sorry Douglas but was in the business for years, have owned plenty of speakers over the years and sorry but technology hasn’t changed a lot for speakers in relation to every other piece of audio equipment. 
I agree ghdprentice I’ve owned more speakers than I can remember always an upgrade. I liked Tannoy and when I retired I bought the Harbeth 30.1 in 2017 right before they upgraded those and put out the Anniversary Ed’s. Love Them!. I really don’t know what I would upgrade to now. And I’m shopping for a friend. It’s tough.
Old speakers the surrounds on the driver need inspection ,
and for sure the Xover needs to be upgraded. I have been upgrading crossovers for years and stock ones are on average in quality or below at best . And capacitors-dry out over time especially over15 years , and higher quality parts make the whole  speaker  much better sounding.
Upgraded my Belle Klipsch crossovers with ALK extreme slope, put them on Townsend Bars and I am in love. I will look into a tweeter upgrade next, based on some of the above comments. I was already on that path anyway.
edgyhassle, did the Townshend bars make a big difference when you put them under your speakers?
Almost 50 years ago my salivate and drools were Klipsch Cornwalls; fast forward to 2021 when I had the spousal ok for Cornwalls, but decided on Forte IV's due to room size constraints (and am getting the best sound ever from my vinyl rig).
My Monitor Audio Studio 50's were 20 years old last February !!!, now used with Townshend Super Tweeters and resting on Townshend Seismic Isolation Podiums. Ideal for my small listening room, really pleased with the sound.
 How could anyone say speakers haven't changed?? They are so much better now.
over the past year, despite having a couple enduring faves on hand for many years (the spendor sp1/2e as well as the harbeth shl5+) i went out and found nice condition pairs of the spendor bc1 as well as the original sp1, just to compare and contrast - these being seminal/original 2 cubic ft bbc heritage designs by spencer and derek hughes

it has been thoroughly enjoyable lightly rehabbing and enjoy these wonderful wonderful speakers again... yes they have their weaknesses (easily sidestepped, btw) but their enormous strengths in midrange tonal purity, natural unfatiguing presentation of bass and treble, and overall tactility have been just a pleasure to experience again, after so many years
secretguy, in which way are they better?

Computer measurements?  

I kind of like the days of getting a designer's "taste" coming thru in their speakers, the only thing that made sense to me on how speakers varied in sound.

Has driver technology gotten better?

Back to the Klipsch's, a few years ago I found some Cornwalls I with the vertical horn and rebuilt the crossovers and the horn gaskets and WOW did that speaker perform, liked them better than my Spatial M3 Triode Masters I have now BUT the wife factor of the cornwalls.........yikes. ;)

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My biggest concern about older speakers has been availability of replacement parts/drivers. I have seen multiple pairs of gen 1 Revel Salons with a blown rear tweeter for sale. Have also seen people hunting the used market for that same replacement tweeter as you can't get it from Harman anymore. 

You just got to dig a little and you can find the Replacement tweeter, I'd be much more worried about the Mid range and Woofers.


Good Listening

I think where speaker technology has really improved in the last 20 years is the performance available in lower cost examples. I’ve been stunned by the sound quality offered by some inexpensive speakers recently. Now, what about the more expensive speakers? My opinion is it’s far less as dramatic an improvement over expensive speakers of 20 years ago. I used to own JM Lab Mini Utopias and like you I would love to hear the Mezzo’s today.
Funny thread, I sold the speakers I dreamed of 20 years ago and technology has advanced so much the ones I have now are better than anything else I've heard even though costing less than the 20 years ago ones. Even less still in inflation adjusted dollars. How's anyone seriously think today's speakers aren't vastly improved in all that time? Good one. Chortle. Snort.
Contrary to most here, the speakers I dreamed of owning 20+ years ago now look like junk to me. Well, that’s a bit of exaggeration but the fact is they don’t appeal to me anymore. It’s more to the looks than sound quality.

I recall reading about the JM Labs Mezzo Utopia in the hifi magazines when they were launched. I could only dream of owning it as during that time it was way out of my budget. Looking at it now, they look out of date and ugly, and although I can afford them now they don’t appeal to me anymore. I usually don’t look at hifi that doesn’t look good to me. Sound quality is another matter.

The current Utopia range looks great though.

Also, it is worth considering that most old speakers would have gone through some deterioration. The drivers and internal parts etc. have life span. Depending on the design of the speakers, the rubber around the drivers may harden with time, and foam used as padding inside the speakers may deteriorate to tiny bits and pieces through time. The foam inside my B&W CDM 1SE decayed as tiny bits flew out from the front port when music was playing. I eventually got the replacement foam installed. The speaker was about 10 to 15 years old when the foam showed deterioration.

Does speaker technology really change that much?

Yes and No
I've owned some of the very best small size speakers the Seas Thors past 16 yrs,,
Now that I own a   NEW er developed WBer.
I never thought I'd actually own one or even love this design.
You see actually this design goes back to Berlin and Chicago, late 1920's. 
No xover /high sens design.

So yes this speaker design did evolve and develope.
Whereas the xover types you are refering to , are same old, same old, same old.
Same low sens.
Same big heavy boxes
Same xovers sapping energy from the source
same crappy midrange. 
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Material science has impacted speaker design and manufacture. 
If you like older speakers - awesome. 
If you like modding your speakers - awesome.

To me, the newer models are extremely good. Are there older speaker that my beat a newer one - absolutely.  I’ll stick with my current speakers that folks comment on both the looks and the sound. 

And for the record I still am a fan of Cerwin Vega.  
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When I was in my twenties I dreamed of owning a pair of Klipschorns.  When I was in my sixties I bought a pair of Klipschorns to use the bass bins as part of a DIY horn system I was putting together.  Needless to say I listened to them full range.  Some dreams are best left unfulfilled.  Modern horns and wide range drivers are an area where speakers have improved markedly.
I remember reading about those gigantic SoundLab A1’s 20+ years ago and thinking “if only” bought a used pair several years ago and after updating the plates, they really are all that and then some. Granted, I have augmented the low end with a pair of subwoofers.. still amazed at the sound.
My first speakers were  Boston Acoustics A 100’s I bought 40 years ago.  Great sounding for the price back in the day.  I had them re-foamed and my 22 year old son has them now.  They still sound great..
I’ll bite, If $3000 in todays money is being compared to 3k in 2000 dollars, if I consider inflation/ or simply looking how my wages have doubled doing the same job I see your point and considering Hi end speakers 20 years ago the best kef made cost $6k and now the model 5 are $20k so pound per dollar speaker prices have exploded. if you listened to the salons(top of your list) and then the salon 2’s I expect you would appreciate the difference.

i like that comparison and that might prove the point of other in that the salon 2’s should sound much better than the originals. Never had a chance to compare but if speaker tech does get better than that would be a way to tell. 
I guess the point I was trying to make is that compare electrical equipment and things advance in this day and age almost every year but speakers don’t have components that advance as quickly. 
I’ve read posts to where the Salon 2 sounds very close to the Salon 1. Even in some reviews. Wouldn’t know only heard the 2s. 
Speakers have changed, though not as much as some would have you think. High end of yesteryear certainly hold their own today. Punching bag speakers carry that status because in affect they are junk. Buy revered quality, upgrade the electronic controls and bingo you’ve audio and Quality furniture. 
Lusted after a pair of Ohm F in high school in 1976. Went through Kef, Vandersteen, Thiel, VMPS, Piega, Soundlab, Eminent etc over the years. Bought a 30 year old pair of Ohm 2X0 at a garage sale on a whim, sent the drivers to Ohm to check and balance(the tweeter fuses were blown), and was amazed at the soundstage, bass, and realism they produce.
We moved and happen to live 2 miles away from a guy that restores Ohm F’s. Bought a pair and they are, overall, the best speakers I’ve owned! Bass, dynamics, speed, a stage as big as your room will hold, and separation of instruments like no other(an Omni strength?). All for $2500!
I still have a pair of Eminent Technology 8b which is another all time great 20th century speaker… still in production. Can be had for $1200-$1500 used.(was always a steal)
A fully restored pair of 20th century speakers will cost you less and last as long as a new design. It is the most affordable way to get a full range, high resolution speaker in today’s market.Just be certain you can restore them before you buy!
(Anybody restore VMPS 40’s?…another great!)
I had KEF 107/2s that I used with Parasound JC-1s. Really liked the sound, but replaced them with KEF Reference 1s and a pair of Velodyne HGS-15s with SMS-1 bass manager. Have wanted to try 207/2s, but they continue to be pricy and they’re heavy. I have the matching 204/2C center speaker but it doesn’t seem to blend as well with the Reference 1s as it did with the 107/2s. In fact the sound improves without the center channel, but that’s with a Schiit Vidar amp. I’ll try the 204/2C with the JC-1 I previously used with it.
noir59, you speak of the Ohm Walsh Model F? I refurbished a pair; you may wish to read about it here on the thread I started in regard to resurrecting that speaker. I also wrote about it in my review of the Ohm F5, article found at Dagogo.com 

Interesting how varied experiences are between enthusiasts! I found the speaker to have the usual engaging mushroom cloud soundstage, but as I worked with it, the performance woefully lacked in resolution compared to contemporary speakers, or even the F5. I had to remove half the dense cabinet material for the speaker to wake up and sound better. Among the speakers I use it is the least resolving. Imo, that driver simply does not have the capacity to render definition as newer speakers. 

I also owned the ET LFT-8A/B, and wrote at Dagogo.com about the conversion from A to B. Very nice, excellent value speaker. 

I would concur that these are great values. I would not agree that they perform near speakers that are higher up on the ladder. The performance spectrum at the top end is quite a ways from these speakers' performance. Speakers such as the King Sound King III, Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition, and Aspen Acoustics Lagrange L1 are in a completely different league. I consider the L1 to be a new genre of speaker. See my reviews of all these at Dagogo.com    :) 
I wanted to own a pair of Apogee Diva's. Should have purchased them 20 years ago, certainly would have been a LOT CHEAPER...
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If you've got $3k to spend, get into some Theil loudspeakers.  True hi-end for their day.

262 posts
10-01-2021 8:08am
If you've got $3k to spend, get into some Theil loudspeakers. True hi-end for their day.

It's on my short list, I used to sell Thiel back in the day and loved dealing with them.  Used to have a full Thiel 5.1 setup with CS6, MCS1 and powerpoint surrounds.  LOVED those CS6's.

Have had 3 different pairs.....why did I sell my last pair???? Those of us with somewhat manageable obcessoonality know.  

I'm thinking of 1.6 or 2.4.    Stereophile consistently rated, and the same for my local stereo salon in Baltimore as totally satisfied listening!!!!!
Sweet F all has changed regarding Speakers in the last 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years ! Materials may have "improved" things which goes without saying. But unconventional thinking on how to best reproduce sound hasn't done anything special IMHO. Where are the Bose's, Magnepan's, Tannoy's, Quad's, Martin Logan's (and many others) in today's Audio Marketplace ?

Open Baffle isn't a new idea either (and I'm a fanboy) but there's more being done in that area of sound reproduction than anywhere else.WRT to Speakers. We still listen to boxes with an without holes/port tubes/slots/tx lines and so forth. 

My collection has Bose 901's, KEF 105/3's, a pair of tiny Ohm's, and my Open Baffle Debacles with stacked dual 15" Subwoofers/Woofers (depending on how I drive them).
No actually 20 yrs ago
I never in my 
nor dreamt 
I would ever dump my Millennium Tweeter for a  WBer.

sometimes dreams do come true,,even IF you nevber dreamed it  would happen

Does that make sense??
Millennium = mightmare
WBer fulfills my hopes, wishes dreams. There THAT makes sense
The WBer Audiophile