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What's so great about really old speakers with 15" woofers and huge horns Studio Monitors
Old 17th August 2007
  #1
What's so great about really old speakers with 15" woofers and huge horns

I've seen some old JBL, Altec Lansing etc. huge old speakers selling for a lot on ebay recently. I'm always surprised by this because they seem so crude in their random cabinets (are these matched to the woofer in any way?) that seem like they were built by individuals who bought a horn and a woofer and a dividing network and haphazardly threw them together.

When I look at my Adam A7s they look like the very precise high tech speakers they are. So when I look at these old speakers, they look the opposite and don't seem like they the necessary care put into matching the components and putting them in a fitting housing. Could someone please explain why the high prices and what are their merits? Is it just a collector/nostalgia thing? Or do they still excell for a certain function?

[Don't worry I'm not one of those techy rice rocket driving oakley sunglasses Halo T1 gen Y etc. type kids. I love old stuff as much as the next guy.]
Old 17th August 2007
  #2
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peat's Avatar
theres a set of these at my studio

klipsch heresy's

maybe a 12" woofer but
and two horns

no one likes them
i dont mind them every once in a while though
the high end seems too exaggurated
Old 17th August 2007
  #3
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The Listener's Avatar
I would say some sort of wierd Erotica... DO you like it rough, imaginative and kinky? No? Than it is not for you. heh

Great dimension of sound, natural timbre, huge soundstage, impact, pioneering "no-design" approach... sex.

But exaggerated high prices are a trendish hype... And a lack of availability - market logic - demand vs. offer...
I am not selling my little JBL 4430's yet. Not the best speakers in the world, but quite sexy.
Old 17th August 2007
  #4
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Punters can throw up over them and you won't give a damn ...
Old 17th August 2007
  #5
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

There's nothing great about "really old speakers with 15" woofers and huge horns" per se. However, there have been some wonderfully useful speakers that happened to use that configuration.

These days I wouldn't want to work in a recording studio whose only monitors were a pair of Altec Big Reds...but from 1978-82 I did, and the tracks that came out of that studio didn't totally suck. (Or if they did it was more due to my having 30 years less experience than to my not having super-high resolution monitoring.)

I can't count how many gigs I did in control rooms with UREI 813s. I'm glad they're no longer ubiquitous, but I could work in those rooms again.

And my college roommate had Altec A7's (aka Voice Of The Theater) hooked up to our living room hi-fi, and that was just way too much fun!
Old 17th August 2007
  #6
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jchas's Avatar
 

How many A7's does it take to fill the Albert Hall?
Old 17th August 2007
  #7
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Sugarnutz's Avatar
Willie Mitchell mixed all of Al Green's 1970s era stuff with A7s/McIntosh tube amps in a very small control room. The snare drum would take your head off. I had one of the first six pairs of Hidley TM1s in our mastering room, 3-ways with 2-15" JBL 2215 woofers, JBL 2440 on a wooden Smith horn and a 2410 on a short throat horn, the levels attainable were criminal.
Old 17th August 2007
  #8
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 6dyslexicelephnt View Post
I've seen some old JBL, Altec Lansing etc. huge old speakers selling for a lot on ebay recently. I'm always surprised by this because they seem so crude in their random cabinets (are these matched to the woofer in any way?) that seem like they were built by individuals who bought a horn and a woofer and a dividing network and haphazardly threw them together.

When I look at my Adam A7s they look like the very precise high tech speakers they are. So when I look at these old speakers, they look the opposite and don't seem like they the necessary care put into matching the components and putting them in a fitting housing. Could someone please explain why the high prices and what are their merits? Is it just a collector/nostalgia thing? Or do they still excell for a certain function?

[Don't worry I'm not one of those techy rice rocket driving oakley sunglasses Halo T1 gen Y etc. type kids. I love old stuff as much as the next guy.]
effiecency --i remember a pair of A7 voice of the theaters being driven by mono block 60 watt dynaco tube amps and reaching ear numbing spl...
Old 17th August 2007
  #9
Lives for gear
those huge loudspeakers are great for mixing in gymnasiums, shopping mall concourses, and other large control room environments. the high end isn't so ear-splitting from 150' away...
Old 17th August 2007
  #10
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corworld's Avatar
 

I know in the case of a Deitz cabinet, the enclosure plans were designed by EV and many folks would (and still do) get some EV 15" drivers and build themselves a cab. These were used for PA and bass guitar but I imagine the same things might have been done for some studio monitors in the 60's and 70's. Doesn't mean they are high tech but they sounded good at the time. It was the wild west of speaker design.
Old 17th August 2007
  #11
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
effiecency --i remember a pair of A7 voice of the theaters being driven by mono block 60 watt dynaco tube amps and reaching ear numbing spl...
bingo. I think the more efficient a speaker is, the more it can tell you about the details.

Someday I will own A7s.
Old 17th August 2007
  #12
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Jack Pettit's Avatar
 

I remember a time when I loved A7's.
OK it was a long time ago.

Read up on the history of speakers, they had their place.
Old 17th August 2007
  #13
I used some folded horns for everyday listening for years. I finally gave them away to someone who seemed to understand their historical significance. (And they would have taken up a SUBSTANTIAL amount of my tiny beachside apartment. heh )

On the good side, they were very efficient. On the downside the were, of course, very big.

Speaker design and manufacturing has really improved over the last half century since those speakers were popular. (For one thing, back then, you usually only wanted one unless you were an early stereo tape adopter.)

Both computer aided design (to precisely tune ducted port enclosures) and new materials (to extend the usable lower and upper range of speakers) have made it possible to get much flatter, more extended frequency response out of smaller speakers. It's also cheaper to make good crossovers these days, when factoring inflation.

In the 60s, after the heyday of folded horns -- and particularly as larger, more powerful (and much cooler running) transistor amps came up, the acoustic suspension speaker took off. They were as inefficient as the horns were efficient, as a rule, but you could now get something vaguely approaching 40 Hz out of a (big) bookshelf speaker.

Ported enclosures had been around for a long, long time and enhanced design science brought the now-familar duct system into more use through the 60s -- but it was the affordability of computer design as well as the improvement in materials, I'm thinking, that gave us the more or less amazingly flat loudspeaker systems we have to choose from today.

I love folded horns because... well... they show commitment... heh But there's no reason you'd want to try mixing on them, by and large, I don't think. But, depending on the system, they might be pretty good for blasting the band into the couch on the final listen before sending a project out into the world.
Old 17th August 2007
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Why big old speakers?

The short answer is they sound good if they are in good shape and if they are used with the correct cables and amplification.

I have both, old school Klipsch Cornwall ( 15") driven by either 20watts monoblocs or my Focusrite Red 5 amp. I dont mix with them, I use them as a reference only: when my mix is over, I listen to feel how it would sound on Home speakers... For my mixing I use a kit of V6 + sub by krk.

The same question could be returned to some guys who pay up to $1000 for pairs of NS 10's .....
j.
Old 17th August 2007
  #15
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I recently visited the Jimmy Hendricks Experience displays at the Music Experience Project in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Seattle</st1:place></st1:City>. They have the console from Electric Lady Land Studios on display. Hanging right above it are the ugliest, gigantic monitors I ever seen. I think they are Altec Voice of the Theater components in plywood boxes. They must have been loud!<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>
DaveT<o:p></o:p>
Old 17th August 2007
  #16
I once recorded a band that used a studio with giant Westlake dual 15" monitors. The amps were real big too. It allowed the guitar player to get so loud tracking in the control room that he was able to get the same feedback from his guitar that he would get standing in front of the 1969 Marshall Major amp he was recording through. It was damm loud but sounded great. Other than that, these speakers are there to impress clients.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 17th August 2007
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

seems like another nastalgic boomer emotionally valued disaster. the things their grandkids will inherit...

glory days....welllllll they'll pass you buy glory days.....
Old 18th August 2007
  #18
Old 18th August 2007
  #19
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nukmusic's Avatar
 

somewhere along the timeline..women told men... "The Bigger, The Better"

and we took that as a new deciding factor for everything heh
Old 18th August 2007
  #20
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Harvey Gerst's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
One of my favorite hangouts.
Old 18th August 2007
  #21
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Harvey Gerst's Avatar
But the actual reason for big speakers in control rooms back then was frequency response and moderate freedom from distortion. Remember the old Ampex tape recorders were good from about 50Hz to 15KHz, about the same as typical vinyl specs and typical FM radio specs. 60 watt McIntosh's were the norm and you had pretty big control rooms to fill with sound. The bigger speaker systems could do 50 to 15K at realistic levels with not too much distortion.

I still miss the sound of an Ampex into a McIntosh into a big set of JBLs. For its time, the sound was amazing.
Old 18th August 2007
  #22
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stevep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener View Post
I am not selling my little JBL 4430's yet. Not the best speakers in the world, but quite sexy.
sexy if you like a black but staring at you

Im not selling mine either ! had um since new and still use them as mains with a 18" JBL sub, They are pretty flat and its easy for me to get mixes to translate well

also have the LSR6328 and the ns10s

between those three i can hear what i need to

westlakes, would be cool to; i almost installed them but i know the 4430s better so i went with what works for me. maybe some day i will get the westlakes but till then........



Old 18th August 2007
  #23
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Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

Slightly OT, but I have a Peavy KB 300. It's a keyboard amp with a big 15" woofer and 2 horns.

For playing keyboards live, that thing rocks. I needed it to hear myself over the f-ing guitars.
Old 18th August 2007
  #24
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The Listener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep View Post
sexy if you like a black but staring at you

Im not selling mine either ! had um since new and still use them as mains with a 18" JBL sub, They are pretty flat and its easy for me to get mixes to translate well


I meant sexy in a less direct and more soundwise and cool-item-wise way, but hey a nice black butt couldn't hurt... heh

And 18" sub you say... no space for that here, but wow, your system must produce some serious rumble...
Old 18th August 2007
  #25
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lemix's Avatar
Ahhh..the big old ones
When I started off in my first 8 track home studio around 1980, the only speakers I had were a pair of Altec 604-8Gs. Powered by a Quad amp.
Did hundreds of sessions on those...but can't honestly remember what they sounded like or what happened to them. Think I sold them.
The cabinets were some Altec model..IIRC "Valencia" or something.
The things had the size of a washing machine heh

Pure nostalgia..they were impressive looking and gave an impressive, confident look to my humble little digs.

Cool thread
Old 18th August 2007
  #26
Little Labs
 
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Oh you mean these GC Pro -- Guitar Center Professional Division
HA HA
Bigs have there place, like when tracking guitars in the control room and if tuned in a decent room by someone like Steve Brandon aka COCO, can be a good reference especially for the lo end. But for an outside party nothing beats a pair of JBL 4520s to get people to dance!
Old 18th August 2007
  #27
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Remember that "back in the day" control roms were not designed as "personal studios" for one or two people.

There were LOT'S of people in the control room!
I can well remember ten people from the band crammed into a small control room to hear playback! Everyone recorded at once in certian styles of music. C&W.... Tejano... Jingle dates, etc...

On the otherhand... I regularly mix at a C&W club (for HARD CASH!) and they have a thirty year old pair of A7s hanging on the walls. I think that the p.a. is actually wired into them, too. They compete with Peavey SP1s, so the Peaveys win out. The A7s are really quiet.
(Remember, this is for substantial CASH, so I dumb down and mix on the SP1s.)
I have a $58K Nexo rig, too. That's our real stuff... this is for fun money.

I have my eye on those A7s.... and there's a Moog parametric in the rack as well.

DB
Old 18th August 2007
  #28
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Hey Danny, good to see you around again.

A couple of years ago I got a call from a lady that wanted to get rid of a pair of JBL L200 (15" + horn/compression driver) and I just couldn't resist (for $100).
had JBL recharge the magnets and recone the woofers and I refinished the cabinets and put new grill cloths on them. Got them in a storage room at the studio and occassionally put a DC300 on them and blast old Roling Stone records through them for fun.
Someday I hope to add a garage/rec room onto my house and these will be the boom box!
Old 19th August 2007
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by littlelabs View Post
Oh you mean these GC Pro -- Guitar Center Professional Division
HA HA
Bigs have there place, like when tracking guitars in the control room and if tuned in a decent room by someone like Steve Brandon aka COCO, can be a good reference especially for the lo end. But for an outside party nothing beats a pair of JBL 4520s to get people to dance!
I had "Coco" try and tune a couple of rooms for me and he messed them up pretty good. He ended up reducing 12k to -10db, yes, that is a 10 db drop of the top end. His test rig only went up to 12k and he used 3 mics which I'm convinced caused some phase related miss readings. One of them was pointing at the floor. He complained about all the "screaming high end" and as a result none of the staff engineers could deal with them afterwards. He seemed more concerned on how his favorite CD's sounded than the accuracy of the monitors. No concern was given to the opinions of the engineers or their needs. He did not offer to return and correct the system unless he was paid twice.

The next day I heard all about it so I ended up hiring Carl Yancher to retune the monitors. He returned them to flat response, tweaked out the bumps and made those JBL 4435's sound real smooth. His rig went to 20k so the 1/6 octave White EQ's were actually fully adjusted rather than just ignored after 12k. Carl is a true professional in every way.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 20th August 2007
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukmusic View Post
somewhere along the timeline..women told men... "The Bigger, The Better"

and we took that as a new deciding factor for everything heh

...ah, the good ol' days!
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