Audio is too complicated & expensive! So, who's for a retro speaker?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by LanceJ, Mar 20, 2003.

  1. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Sorry, this got a little rambly!

    I was inspired by my :b recent question about that Cambridge SoundWorks 2-way "Model Six". And the fact that back in 1995 Advent released an anniversary edition of their massive-selling "New Advent" (the numbered anniversary editions had 1" parabolic dome tweeters though). When I sold HT equipment, these things sold FAST, even at $550 per pair.

    Now, the original Model Six's had a 10" woofer in a much larger enclosure. Supposedly according to the brochures, "small" sells these days, even back in 1995. But the sales rate of those big Anniversary Advent's tells me otherwise (and our last pair were sold to a couple in their late twenties--honest! And not just to some old fogies as some might think).

    My question then:

    Would anybody here buy a speaker like the ones I have described?

    Possible updates to the Advent/Model Six design, just enough to "freshen them up" but not take away their quietly classy looks AND their sound (warmish & detailed but with large reserves of tight, accurate bass):

    Veneers: cherry, black ash, golden oak, or my personal favorite, blond maple. To keep prices low, they could do what Advent used to do--sell a version without real wood veneer & that hardwood "bullnose" front piece.

    Low frequency driver (the woofer--I'm feeling educational today [​IMG]): same fiber cone (quality paper is still a great cone material--light, stiff, & has good damping characteristics) but with a butyl rubber surround for longevity. And personally, I would hope they would keep the exposed woofer leads--that was an Advent tradition.

    High frequency driver (tweeter): no metal domes, PLEASE! I have yet to hear a warm sounding one. Either the current CSW cone tweeter (cone tweets can sound good if you build them right, they are cheap to build & can be crossed over at lower frequencies than domes--important for a two-way design using a 10" woofer) or Advent's previous parabolic dome tweeter, since it's tooling is already waaaaay paid for! And they already sounded good anyway.

    Enclosure design: don't mess with it! Properly designed acoustic suspension designs like these classics employ can generate lower frequency bass than a comparably-sized bass reflex. Bass reflex speakers may get louder with the same amount of input power, but they all have a specific frequency where the port radiation & the woofer's radiation cancel each other out. The result? Below a certain point, no bass at all is produced. Acoustic suspension (sealed) designs however have no such problem. Their bass production simply drops off at a slooooow rate. So a 10" bass reflex might go to an audible 40Hz, but quickly below that......nothing. A 10" acoustic suspension design will go to 40Hz, then at a slightly lower level--35Hz, then at a slightly lower level--30Hz, then...........see?

    Also, sealed types are theoretically more accurate, since they don't have distortion-causing port/woofer interactions or port noises (the reason you see so many flared openings now & those dimples on the ports of B&W's better speakers--these help deal with that problem).

    The only drawback to sealed designs is they aren't as efficient as a bass reflex design. This is no big deal--clean power these days is cheap. And this is all relative: trust me, when you put 125 watts into those New Advents you won't complain about them not being loud enough! And sealed types do have a different sonic personality than ported designs, so some just naturally don't enjoy these as much as a ported JBL or Cerwin-Vega. This was the basis for the arguments involving the "West Coast" sound & the "East Coast" sound.

    I am seriously considering sending a message to Advent and Cambridge regarding this. Retro sells pretty good these days but I think for a good reason: some things are just getting too needlessly complicated & stressful to deal with. Look how well that new Thunderbird and Mini-Cooper are selling. And these designs have real style--instead of just that blah & "efficient" junk so many other cars have. Look at McIntosh components--they still look good after 30 years. Same with Harmon/Kardon's stuff--beautiful.

    But with some classy speakers like these, one could: 1) Make them part of their room design because they look NICE. And the Wife Approval Factor would be high. 2) Avoid buying a separate sub. Their bass output is low enough (frequency-wise) that for many a subwoofer wouldn't be necessary. No more messing with x-overs, phase switches or big ugly cubes hunkered down in the corner. 3) Save money. A big factor for many (me for one!). These designs are simple to build, with many parts already researched long ago. They aren't "hi-tech" or flashy, but I suspect I'm not the only person that is getting a little bit burned out on shiny glitz that costs a lot but just plain doesn't sound good. In other words, these speakers seem like an honest design that gets the job done with a minimum of fuss.

    And so I rest my Retro-But-Still-Sounds-Good case. [​IMG]

    LJ
     
  2. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    Man those poor speakers in the pictures, I can feel their bones creaking if power was applied to them.

    There are several companies that are still making speakers based on generation old designs, now I don't think any of them sell for $550 but still they are competitive price wise with most of today's speakers.

    Harbeth - BBC inspired design
    Spendor - BBC inspired
    Audio Note UK - Snell inspired

    All three make some great box speakers, although recently Spendor has released some more 'modern' designs in the 'SP' series.

    Personally I am a big fan of Harbeth and Audio Note, but probably even more so Audio NOte because their models are efficieint and can be used with low powered tubes. Harbeths and Spendors are pretty inefficient and need more power to wake them up.
     
  3. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Moderator

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  4. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Nods at Wayne.. And you are not going to find any tower
    or monitor that will do a rock solid 20-25Hz unless it
    costs 8 grand or more... that's just the facts (that is,
    buying a commercial speaker, DIY is another story..)
     
  5. RobWil

    RobWil Supporting Actor

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    This brings up a question I've been wanting to ask.
    Even though you have large speakers that have a frequency response down to, say 30Hz (my Klipsch KG5.2's mains go down to 34Hz and my Polk Audio LS50 rears down to 30Hz supposedly)....and say your sub doesn't rate much lower or the same i.e. 28-30Hz or so...aren't you still going to get more punch and better sound specifically because the sub is made for these lower frequencies hence can reproduce them better, and, considering the load taken off the main speakers enabling them to 'concentrate' more on the mids and highs??
     
  6. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Y'all are assuming everyone wants couch-shaking bass. And, not every movie has 25hz bass. Trust me: my Boston CR9's reach to "only" 42hz (using the +/-3dB standard scale) But, they don't stop right there. In my apartment-sized living room (20' X 14') they can reproduce enough bass while playing "Attack of the Clones" that it comes up through the couch cushions and shakes our rear-ends. Really. It's not loud, but we certainly feel it which is the whole point right? And I've gotten two phone calls from my manager about this too. :b So I have no need whatsoever for a sub and CAN'T use one because of the above reason. Sorry but this present obsession with overbearing/thundering bass and LOUD, loudspeakers is counterproductive IMO. And many women hate it (their hearing is more sensitive than men's)--while selling HT I've witnessed many an argument between a guy and his wife over the need for a sub. If you don't understand my irritation with loudness, go over to Steve Hoffman's music forum and read all the posts about "compression" and "dynamics" on many modern CDs.

    Hey, I'm an old fart--so sue me! [​IMG]

    Anyway........

    I'm trying to design (hehe) a speaker system that is affordable, looks good and that is easy to deal with decor-wise.

    The surround speakers would share the same design theme as the front mains, just smaller. And no dipole/bipole designs: too expensive and tricky to place for many newer homes without a nice square room (the ones that always seem to be pictured so optimistically in the set-up manuals!).

    The center would also would be veneered--I really don't like big black boxes plunked right on top of my TV. And anyway, black TVs are starting to disappear from stores; silver seems to be the "in" color.

    Though I ought to put this next part over in the receiver forum, it would also be nice to have a receiver sharing the same goals as the speakers. Starting point: a stretched version (really stretched!) of that Tivoli "Table Radio" or Advent's old slim-line receivers from the 1970s. Very simple & to the point. It would only have Dolby Digital, DTS and Pro Logic II. No six channel variants. It's enough of a hassle to arrange five speakers, much less a sixth one in the middle of a rear wall (or seven [​IMG] ). And one or two good DSP sound fields. Most these days are just gimmicky reverb effects anyway.

    Other features: A tuning dial like on the table model would be a dinstiguishing & classy feature. 2) Bass & treble knobs and most of all, a LOUDNESS button. I'm tired of thin sounding music at low volumes with these new receivers nowadays! 3) No expensive onscreen display. Programming my Technics SA-DA8 through its front-panel buttons is no big deal--who messes with these settings daily anyway?

    Power: Two versions. An entry model with 25 watts RMS per channel and a high power one with 75 watts RMS per channel. "RMS" indicates a continuous, clean rating--NOT the typical 1%THD figure used so much these days. Does that twenty-five watt figure sound funny? It won't when you hear it. And I have. Most casual listening is done around 1-5 watts anyway, and extremely loud rockin' out volumes start at around 30 watts (I grew up with receivers with power meters).

    And yes it would have a remote--I'm not that old-fashioned!

    Lastly: I like the looks of those wooden enclosures receivers used to come in, so my dream receiver would feature this but with modern finishes (real or vinyl). Especially a black ash model for less classic-minded folks.

    Dream mode "OFF" [​IMG]

    LJ
     
  7. Jack Keck

    Jack Keck Second Unit

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    Lance,

    Have you ever visited www.audiokarma.org? They seem to sepcialize in vintage equipment. You might find it interesting.
     
  8. Chuck Bogie

    Chuck Bogie Second Unit

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    Heh - I've got a pair of Marantz receivers - a 2230 and a 4240 (wood cabinet) - And I'm probably going to build a pair of large sealed speaks in the future... The 2230 drives a pair of Infinity Studio Monitor 120s very nicely...
     
  9. RobWil

    RobWil Supporting Actor

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    ""Y'all are assuming everyone wants couch-shaking bass.""

    Well in my case I was referring to music playing at any level. All I know is that even with my Klipsch's and Polk's having a frequency range down to 34Hz and 30Hz, my music still sounds better with the sub, even when sharing the bass between the speakers and sub.
     
  10. jeff morris

    jeff morris Agent

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    It always brings a tear to my eye whenever I see pictures of Advent speakers, even if they aren't the originals.
    Having owned triple Advents with a Crown DC300a, originals from 1973, never broken or repaired, I can attest to the prodigious amounts of bass and volume from these speakers. I wish I had this setup today, I'm sure they would rival my 20-39PC+ in the bass dept, but NOTHING today could play music this loud, without going to professional equipment.
    AOTC and LOTR, I imagine would be quite an experience.

    jeff[​IMG]
     
  11. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Jack: thanks for the link. Wow, they have a picture of a JBL Paragon on their front page--they've got good taste!

    JBL's famous "Paragon"

    LJ
     
  12. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    The Advents are pretty good ($300-500 a pair seems reasonable). If you put more modern drivers in it and redesigned the crossover it would probably sound better, but then it wouldn't be a retro speaker anymore... The only significant defect I remember in the original was that the midrange seemed a bit "raspy" sometimes and got sort of unclear at high levels. But, maybe I was hallucinating or the speakers were damaged. (My friend's got a pair that his grandparents gave him and he repaired.)

    The bass is pretty good but not like a real subwoofer. (There aren't many speakers today either, with really clean and dynamic bass... and most of the extension specs are exaggerated anyway.) I think the 10" there is fair enough for most music with no sub though.

    Jeff, I do know from experience that the Advents have big bass and can go loud. But you're kidding yourself about nothing today going that loud. [​IMG]

    Fun idea Lance!
     
  13. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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  14. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    It's not like I hate subs or think they can't be fun to own. I mostly dreamed up these scenarios to make things simpler for watching the movie or listening to music. You put the two front speakers where furniture/viewing position dictates; select "no" on your receiver's subwoofer set-up screen and your done. I (obviously) like audio equipment but constantly fussing with it is not fun for me.

    On a side note, I'm afraid the special effects people are taking priority over many movie's script writers the last decade. "Event Horizon" or "Supernova" for example; cool to watch, but boring as heck to listen to (story-wise) so I have no desire to even rent them.

    I just think the equipment for HT is starting to get in the way of what it was orignally built for.

    And yep, there's something about hearing "old stuff" playing modern sounds that is really neat--and I don't know why!

    LJ
     
  15. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    "I just think the equipment for HT is starting to get in the way of what it was orignally built for."

    Bingo. But we don't have to let it get in the way like that. [​IMG]
     
  16. Mike Fenech

    Mike Fenech Agent

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    I'm with Scott in Austin...Spendor's are great speakers for pure music. I'll never sell my BC-1's [​IMG]
     
  17. Andy Goldstein

    Andy Goldstein Stunt Coordinator

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    lancej: is is considered retro if you have owned the advents since '77? thats what i'm using in my ht setup. i built a set of doubles for the front l&r, and am in the process of building the remaining boxes for the rest of the 6.1 system. sounds wonderful! and very hard to tell whether the sub is on or not. hardly even need it!

    and if anybody else ever gets a chance to hear a set of double advents, you might be suprised at how good an old set of really high-quality speakers can sound.

    andy g.
     

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