Vintage vs New

My children growing older and leaving home has allowed me to get back into our common interest. I find myself wanting a new pair of speakers and I’m torn between some vintage models that interested me in easier times, but were not obtainable due to budgetary limitations, and current models with their state of the art drivers.  Case in point: B&W 801 Matrix Anniversary vs. anything in the 702/703.
I would like to hear people’s thoughts.  
Vintage for nostalgia and aesthetic style, modern for sound quality and everything else. There are no vintage speakers can hold a candle to Tekton Double Impacts, to name just one, and the same goes for everything else- especially wire. There simply was no good wire back then. No power cords, no interconnects, no speaker cables.

About the only thing vintage that can stand up to modern is turntables. 
@millercarbon: Stop shilling for Tekton! The B&W 801 Matrix Anniversary is a pedigreed speaker designed by a top-notch engineering team - not by a guy building speakers in his garage!
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"There simply was no good wire back then. No power cords, no interconnects, no speaker cables." NONSENSE!
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“ @millercarbon: Stop shilling for Tekton! “

+100 Its like being stalked.
I've had a lot of vintage speakers. When they were new or close to new.

I've owned B&W 802-6, Dunlavy Audio SCVI, Infinity RS series (ALL but Beta V), and VMPS. I still covet TWO VMPS speakers. WRRM, RM50s.

I own the RMx Elixirs, & RM30. RM40s RM2 & 626Rs and a few more will STILL blow your mind. 

Now that I've said my piece. I'd take the 801 MA over the 7 series any day.. BUT I'm not a big fan of either.

A youngster down the block is a BIG time fan of B&W. 800 3D pretty impressive. He won't tell me what he paid for them delivered, & set up, but he loves them.. VTL power amps.. He just got a 5k bill for those from Bea. Retube and checkup.. He sure told me about that.. He was smokin'.. LOL poor rich kid..

Now he want's new cables.. OK.. I said what about the room? I got that dear in the headlight stare.. KIDS!!

BTW he has had every B&W speaker ever made twice over. The whole family uses them..

Tektons sound like my toilet smells. Just MHO. 

I am not big into nostalgia. But, I only care about a narrow band of equipment which has improved dramatically over the past 30 years.  As a general rule HiFi gear has improved over the years as material sciences advance and individual components improve. Just a simple thing like switches have made vast improvements in durability. 

Speaker technology has not advanced except for a few odd ball items like the Hill Plasmatronics. You still have variations on the same themes. Still, as an example I think people prefer the new Cornwalls to the old ones. We now have diamond cones and domes. Sound Labs has continuously evolved it's speakers over the years the newer ones being significantly better. 

In regards to B+Ws I really can't say. Speakers you really have to listen to and I have heard B+Ws only in passing like at shows.  
Come on now

There are no vintage speakers can hold a candle to Tekton Double Impacts

Even you know that isn't true.

My amplifier is vintage and is more than good...

First it is the controls of embeddings working dimension of a system that matter most....Not boasting about branded name....

Second it is the ratio Sound quality versus price that count.... You can look for the best at the least price, and most of us did that without thinking that their choice of gear is the best there is or ever will be, and in this search, some vintage are IMPOSSIBLE to beat in this scale ratio Sound quality/price....

My Sansui AU 7700 for example has many flexible possibilities and functions with a minimal sound quality IMPOSSIBLE to buy anywhere now...It is not the best in the world of amplifier but ONLY one among many more than good amplifiers ; and an amplifier that can beat it today soundwise, and there exist many of them, will be a very much MORE costly one than it with NONE of his multi functionalities tough....

Read the description of his functions on the internet...

It is creativity that gives us Hi-FI experience, not a branded name linked to any piece of gear by itself over other piece of gear in the same quality class which is  not necessarily sometimes in the same price class, being it  vintage or not....

And many costly "tweaks" also could be replicated at peanuts costs.... It is the same thing here...

Creativity is the queen and any branded name piece of gear is only one of the working dwarves....Yes some old dwarves are better workers on some counts than some others younger one, so what?

For speakers, no speakers even mechanically controlled one against vibrations, can beat the acoustic of the room where they work....My now vintage speakers are not the best there is at all.... But in an optimal room they rival even in the ratio Sound Quality / price anything that exist.... I pay them 30 us bucks or 50 canadian bucks....There exist plenty of speakers better than my own here but most of the times in an uncontrolled environment especially on the acoustical dimension and sometimes  uncontrolled in the others dimensions.... Then what is important the name of the product, so good it is or the controls over his embedding process?

In general rule sound quality most of the times is linked to embeddings controls of the mechanical,electrical and acoustical working dimensions way more than to a chosen piece of costly gear by itself  for most of us...

And anyway the choice of speakers is too much specifically linked to specific use and needs to be generalized... Acoustic controls is the KEY if your speakers are MINIMALLY good one any way....

if you are going wide band, go new have you EVEN considered wide band?
Guess not
Depends what you mean by vintage. If ten years old is vintage then okay, there are some things from a decade ago that are still pretty good. Ten years to me is used, not vintage. Go back 30 years to the 1990's, now it gets a lot harder. Maybe a few things from the 1990's would still be considered good by today's standards. But the 90's is old, still not vintage.   

Vintage to me is the 1970's and earlier. Maybe stretch to the 80's, but that's about it. And no, there is no speaker from the 1970's that can hold a candle to DI. Nostalgia, and wishful thinking, notwithstanding.  

The situation with wire is even worse. Maybe someone so sure there was great wire back then can name me the 1970's era power cord they would put up against a circa 1990's Synergistic Research Master Coupler? This should be good...
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In the book Grateful Dead Gear by Blair Jackson, ‘Bear’ (Owsley Stanley), the Grateful Dead’s sound man for many years, described how he introduced the Grateful Dead to the ‘Voice of the Theatre’ loudspeakers and McIntosh MC240 amplifier he used in his home stereo in Berkeley. The impressive sound quality that Bear’s ‘Voice of the Theatre’ & McIntosh MC240 hi-fi system was capable of inspired The Dead to develop a practice system based on ‘Voice of the Theatre’ loudspeakers and McIntosh amplification, which also served as their early PA system.

Practical ,definitely not but should be able  hold their own against the double impacts.  We have come a long way creating full range sound from a smaller and smaller enclosures but unless you're using DSP vintage and current  crossover components still use resistors, capacitors and coils and drivers are still based on electricity through coils(yes there are other technologies AMT ribbon electrostatic...).  Teckton has  developed a low mass midrange array but compression horn drivers employ the same philosophy by using a 1 inch low mass driver.

I'm sure there are other examples of 70 era speakers still creating amazing sound.  
Quad ESL come to mind.  I haven't had a chance to hear them but there are people who swear they are the best speaker ever made.

Tektons sound like my toilet smells. Just MHO.


I’ve never heard ONE single Tekton. BUT you have a horrible "honest opinion". If you can’t pick a design from the many that are made by Tekton, YOU have some very discriminating and limited abilities to make things work.

Way to many have been sold and the orders keep mounting. Would I change things if I used them? LOL Oh mercy, I recon so..

I like domes and I LOVE a good ribbon or small planar. I don’t like BASS in monitors. I don’t care WHO makes it.. BUT that is the OLD way of doing things.. Mids/Highs and ANY bass don’t mix.

One there is way to much vibration.

Second no way to TIME align the two different types of signals in the SAME BOX. Then add a room with a top and bottom..

Surely you jest.

And Tektons smell? There are FEW speaker manufactures that don’t in my book. BUT then what do I know.. I’m happy, right after me everyone else is next.. I don’t think I’d buy new speakers unless it was parts and drivers to build new cabinets or something..

I’d buy them if I was a speaker buying mode. BUT I like planars and ribbons.

Strathearns.. The best I’ve ever heard.. I can hear Carlos right now... Still quit a few around too.. Just so coveted by REAL speaker enthusiast.. LOL so are Neo 8 Monsoons. They last forever if they are taken care of and have the updated screws/nuts added in the older ones..

Strathearns you can still get parts too..

Infinity IRS Betas were wonderful with a little work.. Serious speakers fella. 4 servo bass columns sure made a difference too.. NOTHING better..

I saw the reference to Mac 240s and VOTT. LOUD comes to mind.. I had a few combos with Jensen Imperial Subs too. 3 speakers were 3 pickup loads. OFF to the school dance we would go.. MC240 and a Mac30 Kit..
I bought them from the Local Masonic Lodge when they did an upgrade.. I was 17 or 18.
Whole inside auditorium had LOUD Boom Boom..

Do they even have school dances any more? I wonder..

Happy happy..

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Quad 57s, Garrard 301,401, Technics SP 10 MK II and III, Levinson ML2 and Cello Palette-there is a Palette currently on Ebay for $25,000!
It is said that the ESS 57s do bass and treble but they still lack the impact of cones. Quad 57s still used today as the standard for mids.
well….a properly upgraded (Mike Samra )and maintained MC240 with the right tubes ( Andy at VTS ) is probably as far as ya can get a transformer tube amp. The MC240 xformer one of the best ever. Roger Modjeski and a few others….

run a set of ESL63 off that…

pictures of that and lots of great gear in my vintage system photos….rather than blather on about things never heard, busy….listening…..
There are plenty of vintage speakers and electronics that still sound incredible.  The B&Ws are a very nice choice especially for the prices.  Upgrade a few parts and even better.

We recently compared 3 Class A solid state amps  a few current and one not so current the BEL amp.  5 out of 5 picked the old BEL amp.

If you are someone who thinks vintage cannot compare to todays components I would be more than happy to compare my Lafayette KT-550 tube power amp to whatever you have.  Those hand wound transformers cannot be duplicated today which provides the magic - think dynaco - simple design but good transformers.

BTW the old KEF 104.2 and up still sound dame good.  Find a pair of the Sony monitors  SS-ARs or something like that still outperform many monitors today.

Happy Listening.

Marantz 10b, 7, 8, 3

Quad 57's!!!

Early generation Magneplanars (yes, from the 70's)

Quad 63's (I Prefer the 57's.(

Shindo anything.  Shindo has been around a long time.

Old Nagra gear


Nakamichi Dragon

just a start.  could go on.

And yes, audiophile shops in the 70's and 80's had power cords and speaker cords... good ones.  

the shop that turned me onto audio when I was in college sure did.
Most vintage is outdated, capacitors in the day Suck, after 15 years of steady use caps dry out and loose their detail ,if they 
don’t leak , resistors cement ,or even carbon warm but veiled.
the only thing that could be a gem was vacuum tube transformers 
mostly from Japan like Tango or other brands ,, As Millercarbon 
said Nostalgia  with it $$ to rebuild it . Their were great designs in the past 
but rebuild with modern Quality parts is my advise. I have been there done that . I many times buy modern ,but I upgrade or mod to a much higher level in parts quality. I rebuild my own Loudspeaker Xovers for example, in the vast majority parts are average at best.What most Audiophiles don’t realize is that only 25% on average actually goes into the cost of the parts,the rest overhead and markup. That’s how Modwright is so successful.
KLH Nine full-range electrostats driven by a pair of Futterman H3AA OTL amps is still a world-beater combination! I have this in use!
Thank you! 
According to some, it's as if copper wasn't discovered untill the last decade.

8,396 posts07-05-2021 4:15pmwell….a properly upgraded (Mike Samra )and maintained MC240 with the right tubes ( Andy at VTS ) is probably as far as ya can get a transformer tube amp. The MC240 xformer one of the best ever.


I looked at your page. I could see the Samra’s PS upgrade in your 240..
He sure could get a 240 to sing.. You should hear the way he does up a C20 NOW.. He did up the phono stage like I’ve NEVER heard on a Mac..
I added Super Hexfreds and Vishay copper resistors.. after he did his magic..

I have to many irons in the fire and ZERO energy to get er done.. :-(

I have a C11 (Samra) I’ve never pulled out of the box. I have new glass for it to boot.. Fixed a Bass pot too.

REMOTES.. that is my problem.. a darn remote.. I use a Parasound Zpre3 in the tape loop on the Mac valve preamps... Very nice.. and adds a little DAC with sub out and remote sub volume control.. Nifty little preamp and a C20 to boot.. I LOVE IT.. You should hear what a C20 (S) does to ANY class d.. It’s like magic.. MX110z for that matter..

Have you tinkered with any of the class ds, Electro-stats and that MX110z. I bet it would blow your mind too..
Nothing like a planar designs and Ribbons.. I keep looking at Sound Labs and Apogee :-). Before I kick.. LOL
Ya the 110Z was hot Rod  by two guys Modeferi of Mac fame and a great tech w ears here in WA - Elite Audio Tech only works on Mac, logging road for driveway to shop..  
the Apogees are wonderful, but so are my ESL 63… nothing in that room is stock… well the NAIM is…
good on ya Heavy
aspiration should always exceed energy
Poking my head back in this forum once every 6 months and nothing has changed just like a 40 yr running soap opera.  Same characters, same script, same drama....

In many instances, vintage speakers took a completely different approach than modern design.  Designed for a higher, steady impedance, they could coax gorgeous sonics from tube amps.  Why do you think Art Dudley coveted the sound of both his 1966 Altec Valencia's and newer Flamenco's?  It depends on the amp you're pairing with and the type of music you appreciate most.  With 300b's or really any SET circuit the sound can be texturally gorgeous.  Certainly much more to my liking than the sound produced by some bright blue 4 ohm clunky box that looks like a DIY job made in someone's garage.
Today’s best is tomorrow’s vintage.  It sounds good today, take care of it and it’ll sound good tomorrow.  Today’s worst is also tomorrow’s vntage, so you can’t generalize very well.  Good is still good even if it’s not THE BEST! (He says as he jams out to some glass tubes and a 15 year old cool beast of an amp).
If the music you listen to is from the vintage easier times then buy some vintage speakers...the best you can find from the era.....they were voiced for the music of the day and they still hold their own with most music from today,,,,again if you go vintage do your research and get good ones from that era,,,,Tannoy and Klipsch are really expensive...and good but you can do some research and find others for less
Can only relate my experience. In the day, I had biamped Dahlquist DQ10’s with double subwoofers, driven by an Audio Research SP6B and either two GAS Ampzilla or else a C-J MV75A-1 driving the DQ10’s. Pretty good. But my modern electronics- Cary SLP05 ultimate upgrade and SSt Son of Ampzilla II just crushes my old electronics, even after they had been rebuilt and recapped. My ATC speakers have better resolution
Some while back I reclaimed my mid- 80's Proac Studio 2's from extended loan to my parents. Put them back in my current system whilst listing them on eBay. They sounded stunning. You can't replicate the build quality of the cabinets (for the modest outlay), by current standards. Marine ply rather than MDF, 2" inch thick baffle and real wood veneers of choice. The better the gear the better the Proacs use to sing. On the subject of cabling, I recall my Hi-fi shop had one specialist speaker cable for sale, as for mains leads as MC says there weren't any in the UK. I remember my dealer ringing me to tell me about Van den Hul's Revelation speaker cable when it first came out - specialist cable really was a rarity item back then. Hobson's choice so to speak.
I have not decided if my next speakers will be used or new. I will probably limit the age of used to 10-15 years. I want them to work for many more years. I think I will avoid speakers from the 90s or older.
When I was figuring out what to buy, I looked at used Klipsch. Afterall, some models have been around since the 40s. Lots of fans. A couple vendors popped up who specialize in new parts. By the time I would have updated Heresy or Cornwall, I could buy new speakers for several thousand.
Lots and lots of opinions there, Most probably not helpful.

Go and listen to speakers for yourself. Then you might get some idea of what you should consider buying. You then should know what sound qualities you prefer, and those that you detest.

Don't allow yourself to be swayed by people whom you've never met about speakers you've never even heard. That way you'll only need to look in the mirror if you've made a poor choice.
oldhvymec, you aught to know by now I don't pull punches. Horrible? In the universe of horrible things my opinion of Tekton loudspeakers is way down the list. I would rather think most people could care less. They just think I am politically inept and they would be right.
I think the real question here is whether or not speakers which were reference quality when they were new 20 to 30 years ago have similar sound quality to reference speakers of today. The cost difference between these two options can be a factor of 10 or more.

I own a pair of Thiel CS6 speakers, a Krell KRC-2 pre, and Krell KSA 300S amp. I went to AXPONA in 2017 and had a chance to listen to a lot of systems that cost in the high five figures to well over 6 figures, with one being over a million dollars. I came away with the observation that my system holds up very well to any system under $100k. I did hear some amazing speakers that were $70K+ (MBL 101 X-Treme, large YG, big Vandersteens, etc.) but most of the systems didn't sound as good as mine in general. They might have had one characteristic that stood out but overall they didn't strike me as something I had to own.

I came away from this experience believing that sound quality hasn't improved by leaps and bounds over the last 25 years unless you get into the price stratosphere. The corollary to this is that high end used speakers are a real bargain. Reviewers drooled over the top models from B&W, Revel, Wilson, and Thiel a couple decades ago. However, this industry depends on the perception that sound quality is always improving so that we stay on the upgrade treadmill. Certainly there has been some improvement but the cost of this improvement is very high.
True vintage speakers will kill any new model but you have to go way back to prior to 1965 and buy the impossibly large full range systems of that era and when you do you will not want to listen to anything else.
True vintage wine will kill anything new but you have to go way back to prior to 1965 and buy the impossibly expensive French wine of that era and when you do you will not want to drink anything else.

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In 2019, before lockdown, I was in a similar position. Having owned a pair of B&W 801 Matrix S2s (with upgraded XOs) for 28 years, I felt an itch I needed to scratch and went to my local dealer in Belfast to listen to KEF R11 which had just come out. The KEFs cost £4,000 and sounded "nice" but not as good as my 801Ms. The dealer agreed that in order to get anything significantly better I'd probably need to spend at least £20K. At that point the itch stopped.

However, that made me think. We are being told by marketing people that anything new is better than what came before. In my experience that certainly is not true. It doesn't matter whether we are talking about audio equipment, cars, motorcycles, or bicycles. The newer gear probably involves less effort but does not generate the same emotional involvement. I enjoy riding my 1982 10 speed Bianchi steel-framed bike just as much as I do riding my new custom 22 speed titanium bike. Yes, I'm faster on the Enigma but I enjoy riding the Bianchi just as much, it's a different experience. Same goes for cars: more gizmos don't get you there any faster, they just add showroom appeal (and cost more when they break).

Newer is not necessarily better - it is different, and we all should figure out if that difference is worth paying for. My 801s have a great sound stage, fantastic imaging, they are very accurate (they do let you know if a recording is cr@p), and their bass extension is good, although not as good as on my other system (Meridian amplification &CD with ProAc Studio 1s - bought in 1988!, and dual BK XXLS400 subs). I might buy another pair of XXLS400s to go with the 801s, that £1,000 is a lot cheaper than buying a new set of speakers for 20 times that amount.

So, mjjw I would say that ideally you should listen to both the 801 Anniversaries and the 703s and then make up your mind. If you can't, ask yourself whether you'd rather own an older legendary speaker (pride of ownership undoubtedly is a big plus) or a new run-of-the-mill model? Will the rest of your equipment be up to the revealing nature of the 801s? These are monitor speakers, designed to reveal a recording's good AND bad bits. By definition, they will also reveal any short-comings in your signal chain: bullish!t in, bullsh!t out...

I would say that these speakers will get you 90% out on the curve of diminishing returns, where 100% is a cost-is-no-object seven figure system. You just have to make sure that the rest of your system can do them justice.

Good luck on your journey! Keep us posted.