Speakers

DeeInKY

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Now that I've got a decent turntable, I'm looking for some better speakers. At present I'm just routing the turntable through my small shelf stereo. Back in the day I had a set of Cerwin Vega speakers, and then I went to JBLs for a more balanced sound. I figure I don't need to have mega bass sounds since I'm no longer looking to bust eardrums. :laugh:
 

Dave

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My next-to-top-of-the-line-RCA's from Radio Shack are the best I've owned &| have served me well for countless years... Wish that I'd saved my in-laws' speakers that they'd given me to use as a sometimes-needed-Remote Set, but I hadn't known I would have the upstairs/downstairs or any separate room-configuration to which I'd make any kind of use for 'em at the time, via hole in the floor for Cable TV/etc... Besides they were typical "used speaker" quality, in that they were battered up, likely one more severly than the other... And chances are, while each were sonically working in perfectly sound condition there'd be no telling if/when either would/could/might/probnably break down... 'Sides I needed the dough! -- Dave
 

Rudy

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Now that I've got a decent turntable, I'm looking for some better speakers. At present I'm just routing the turntable through my small shelf stereo. Back in the day I had a set of Cerwin Vega speakers, and then I went to JBLs for a more balanced sound. I figure I don't need to have mega bass sounds since I'm no longer looking to bust eardrums. :laugh:

So I guess my idea for Klipschorns is out of the question? Or my favorite, the MartinLogan Neolith? :D (I own a pair of MartinLogan Sequel IIs, so I'm biased. :wink: )

Back to reality. You would need something to drive the speakers with, like an amp or receiver (and make sure it has a phono input--some modern equipment does not have one). Running them from a shelf system will not give you their full potential--there is not enough power (which could damage the new speakers), but you could use it in a pinch until something better comes along.

Surprisingly, Pioneer has this line of affordable speakers that have been getting rave reviews. Pioneer hired an audiophile speaker designer, Andrew Jones, to create some new designs for them, and many audiophiles buy these for use in a second system (spare room, den, bedroom) or as computer speakers.

Here is a bookshelf type (priced per pair):

http://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-SP-BS22-LR-Designed-Bookshelf-Loudspeakers/dp/B008NCD2LG/

There is also a tower speaker (note that the price here is each, not a pair):

http://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-SP-FS52-LR-Designed-standing-Loudspeaker/dp/B008NCD2S4

If you get the bookshelf speakers, they have smaller woofers. Some of the comments state that there is "enough" bass but if not, you could grab a matching subwoofer and tuck it into a corner:

http://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-SW-8MK2-Designed-100-Watt-Subwoofer/dp/B008NCD2PC

Those are just one idea. I sometimes suggest vintage speakers, but some of them used foam surrounds on the woofers that deteriorates over time, and it helps to know which brands might be good, and which to avoid. Polk Audio (one example) used rubber surrounds, whereas the earlier Boston Acoustics speakers used the foam, and anything over a dozen years old is likely deteriorating. (I have rebuilt about seven pairs of Boston speakers.)

But the sound is a personal choice, and it might help to find a place to hear speakers to see what you like. These days, though, stores like Best Buy, etc., tend to push buyers to whichever model makes them the most profit, or is based on the misguided opinion of the person selling it. In the end it's your ears, and your money! And you pick (or bring along) the music you listen to, not whatever crap the stores might use. (And they are not above jacking up the bass and treble, and kicking in the loudness button, to "goose up" the speakers to try to make them sound attractive.)
 

DeeInKY

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Thread Starter
I'll have to check out those Pioneers (and a receiver). Ending up right where I was back in 1980s with the exception of a cassette deck. Of course I still have a working boom box that has one of those. :laugh:
 

Rudy

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For some wild reason, cassettes are surging a little in popularity. But I have a higher-end cassette deck sitting inches from me now that I have barely used since the mid 1980s. Pre-recorded tapes never sounded so good, and I really don't have a need to record cassettes anymore since I trade mostly via digital files now, and I simply create a playlist in a media player if I want a "mix."

While it doesn't have an input selector, for my computer system I am using a small tube amplifier that uses one 12AX7 preamp tube and two EL84 power output tubes. It doesn't put out many watts, but since I'm only inches from the speakers, I really don't need too much power. Everyone comments on how cool the tubes look. :D The sound, though, is really nice--no fatigue at all. I run them through a set of slightly modified Boston speakers.

2015-04-10 11.24.38-1.jpg

But my "space heater" lives in my main system (ignore the crappy looking Monster power conditioner, which I ditched a few days later :laugh: ):

2015-03-19 17.03.29-1.jpg

That might, however, be overkill for your needs. :D (Although I could still use another myself, down the road a bit...)

I wish I were more up on current integrated amps and receivers. To be honest, if I knew of someone who had a restored vintage Marantz receiver from the 70s or early 80s, that would be my choice today for personal use. There are a lot of vintage options and by all means, if someone hands one down to you, I wouldn't hesitate to try it out. Some of those brands were bulletproof back in the day. Yet due to some internal components (like capacitors) aging, and oxidation on the controls, buying used vintage electronics could be problematic unless they have already been serviced or restored.

It is hard to find a receiver today that does not have all sorts of digital processing in it (as most are now geared for home theater usage). And anything simpler often starts to dabble in more expensive price ranges. Amazon does list some stereo receivers, fortunately (and I searched specifically for "stereo receiver" to avoid the home theater features).

If I have to guess, your turntable must have its own onboard phono preamplifier, since you are plugging it into your shelf system (correct?). If so, you don't need to worry about a phono input on a receiver, as that same line level output should work on any of the receiver's inputs.

I don't care for Sony's electronics--I found their lower priced receivers in the past to sound quite bad. (I still own one, sadly enough--it's suitable for a background system, or a doorstop.) I do own a Sony ES receiver, though, that will give others a run for the money. (The ES was their "Esprit" or higher-end line, which were much better built- and sound-quality.) Yamaha apparently still makes some nice gear, and they have one receiver in the $150-ish range:

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022RS201/Yamaha-R-S201.html?tp=47041

Onkyo and Sherwood are still in the game also, but would have to dig a little to see how they compare ratings-wise.

Pioneer makes a nice integrated amp (like a receiver, but no AM/FM tuner), the A-20, in the Elite series. I have one of their home stereo receivers and it sounds quite nasty IMHO. (Very bright, even grating at times.) And I don't even know if they still make just a stereo receiver.

Feel free to post questions!
 

DeeInKY

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Thread Starter
The turntable does have a preamp. The guys at the used record store have some vintage refurb stuff. I may take a look and see if they have anything of interest. That Onkyo sounds interesting though.
Back when everything had tubes, my folks had this radio (about the size of an overnight case) that was old even then. We used to listen to baseball on it. I loved to watch those tubes glow.
 

Rudy

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If they have some refurbished vintage receivers, then that's a good deal. At least there's a store to stand behind it. I'd be wary of the Craigslist finds, as you'd expect.

If you really want serious glowing tubes, you'd need a pair of these to do it right. :D

upload_2018-3-31_22-49-35.png
 
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Rudy

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Random thought. Back in the seventies, it was popular to stack two pair of Advents. Those were the days!
 

Mike Blakesley

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We used to sell Akai electronics, and sold quite a few of their speakers. I still have a pair of 3-ways with a hand-made wood grilles. They look and sound just as good as they ever did.
 

DeeInKY

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I remember using stacked speakers. Around here the usual setup was one big honkin' pair with as much bass as you could stand and a smaller pair to even it out. Redneck quadrophonic. :laugh:
 

Rudy

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What's sad is that a lot of the Advent speakers ended up at the landfill--many of those 70s speakers had foam surrounds on the woofers, and those deteriorated. And I bet many did not know that was the reason why the speakers didn't sound right. Or they saw the rotted foam and just tossed them. There are not only companies out there that will replace the foam, there are DIY kits you can get to repair them, or (like I did) buy the surrounds in bulk so you can fix many pairs. That is one reason why I do not recommend older 70s and 80s speakers, as I don't know which brands used foam, and which used rubber. All foam dry rots; it's just a matter of when, not if. Advent, Cerwin Vega, Bose and Boston Acoustics I know use foam, as I've seen the repair kits out there. I'm lucky that mine from 1978 and 1982 used rubber surrounds. The good thing is, I used to buy used pairs of Boston speakers dirt cheap, fix the foam, and turn them around for a small profit.

I've considered something like these also, the B&W 801 series (which has been around for decades but has continually improved):

644115-bampw_801_matrix_series_3.jpg
 

DeeInKY

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I remember my CVs having foam surrounds. I spent a lot of time intently watching the bass vibrate. It was cheap entertainment. :wink:
Replacing those surrounds doesn't sound too difficult.
 

Rudy

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It isn't too difficult, but you really have to be careful to align the woofer cone perfectly so the voice coil doesn't rub. I had to redo one of the Boston 6½" woofers for that problem.

Instructions call to remove the dust cap and replace it with a new one, which lets you shim the voice coil from inside. But I found that to be more work, and was no guarantee the woofer cone was centered. Plus, the different dust cap changed the tone of the speaker for the worse (it was hardened paper, where the original was a woven cloth).

The foams themselves were under $1 for the 6½", and around $2.50 (?) for the 10". The sellers on FleaBay add extras like a bottle of glue, swabs, even shims and dust caps, and get $25 for the set. They claim it is a special glue, but it's white and smells like Elmer's. The first kit I bought had a big enough bottle of glue that it lasted me for several sets. Getting the old foam and the gasket off of the speaker was tedious also, but other than that and aligning the cone perfectly, that's the hardest part.

From what I understand, some use foam since it is lower in mass than rubber.
 

DeeInKY

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My CVs had the 12" woofers. Just checked to see what something similar would be priced at now and the site I checked looked like $249 each. (A guy commented that these were too loud. Well, wasn't that the point?) Also saw some illustrated instructions and videos on how to do the replacement. All say the glue is "special". Some looked like plain white glue and some looked like the mucilage (plant based glue) we used in school.
 

Rudy

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I ran out of the "special" glue and used Elmer's. Looked, felt, smelled and worked the same to me. No good fumes though. :D

I liked the Boston A150s I had. Wish I had also gotten the T1030, as it sounded similar but was in a tower configuration. I just don't have room for all of these.

One I almost jumped on was the Polk LSi 15. They are much more affordable now on the used market.
 

Rudy

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My CVs had the 12" woofers.

Maybe a D5 or D7? I know of someone selling a pair of D9s (15" woofer) for $350, which they've refreshed with new woofer foam and such. 101dB sensitivity. Even a flea-weight amp could make those play loud. :D
 

DeeInKY

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I want to say they were D7s. It's been a long time, so I'm not sure. Had some friends who used CV monitors so I think that's probably where I got the idea to go with those. Used to love to watch those woofers vibrating - easily amused I guess. :D
 

Rudy

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My buddy and I always wanted to get a pair of Klipschorns. They are a horn-loaded speaker that is designed to be placed in the corners of a room, using the walls as an extension of the horn. (Or in essence, the walls became part of the bass "horn" which faced into the room.) It was designed 69 years ago and is still in production by Klipsch on a made-to-order basis. That is when amplifiers were usually quite small, so these played quite loudly on very little power, even as little as one watt. We figured with a lot of power, we'd get the results we wanted. :laugh: I figured on one Klipschorn in each corner of the basement. Klipsch also designed the Belle Klipsch, to use as a center speaker; it was essentially a LaScala that was "finished" with grille cloth and furniture-grade wood. (Below is a restored LaScala that has been finished like the matching Klipschorns flanking it.)

Now my buddy owns B&Ws and I'm working on rebuilding some Martin-Logans. I think we outgrew the "all loud, all the time" phase. :D

GRKhorns44.jpg
 
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Rudy

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These oddballs are Ohm Walsh "F" speakers. It radiated sound in 360 degrees. That is a cone, a very long, skinny cone, inverted and facing downward. They have their fans. A very unusual speaker, to say the least.

Ohm F (2).jpg
 

rbisherw

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Depending on your budget, the new Andrew Jones Elac speakers are getting some very nice reviews on the low end of the price spectrum.

At around 2 to 3K, Vandersteen 2CE, SigII are fabulous speakers, IMHO. Owned mine for 3 years now and they still put a smile on my face.
 

Rudy

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Andrew Jones did indeed move to Elac (which is a long-established company, BTW) and is again getting good reviews for his work. It is nice to see someone out there designing some truly good-sounding speakers that most people can afford. I just read that myself a few days back, and while the Elac speakers are supposedly a little more expensive, they are not that much more than the Pioneers.

http://elac.us/debutproducts/

I have heard Vandersteens at a local audio dealer in the past--I was actually looking at some used Vandies myself a couple of years ago, along with a couple other systems on my "short list". Nice! :thumbsup: If I want to hear some, I can probably find someone in our local audiophile club who has a set I could listen to at length.

I heard that set of B&W 801s that impressed me as well--while the "clinical" (or maybe "overly precise") sound wasn't 100% appealing (I'm not a fan of the tonal balance of most B&Ws), the image they threw was amazing. And a lot of it had to do with the equipment being used to drive them. (I don't recall which monoblocks he used to drive them, but the preamp was an Electrocompaniet, which is a pricey bit of kit.) What really jumped out at me was this jazz recording we listened to--the bass player was actually sounding like he was about three feet in front of the speakers. I was clearly hearing "depth".
 

Mike Blakesley

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In our DJ setup we had four, Cerwin-Vega PD-18B speakers. A 3-way with an 18" woofer, 12" midrange(!) and a horn tweeter, all in a roadworthy cabinet with wheels and handles. Those things sounded badass. So clean and crisp. We used them for about 10 years, until we ended our DJ service in 1992. If we'd gone on much longer than that we'd have needed to add some huge subs and big amplifiers to handle the coming types of music.

Those four speakers, along with one of the amps used to drive them (a Pioneer unit) sat in our back room from 1992 until this past summer. We needed to provide some music for a car show that was being held in the street in front of the store. I fired up the amp and two of the speakers and played the "Road Trip Radio" station from XM through them. Sounded great, but the best part was the night before when I did a "test run" in the store and cranked them up to the good old DJ levels for a couple hours. I was transported back to those days. Sure was a lot of fun, although I don't miss the heavy lifting and ultra-late nights.

I need to get a look at those speakers to see if they have rubber or foam surrounds - but they still sounded fine, even after sitting unused for over 20 years. (I was more worried about the amp than the speakers, to be honest, but carried on as if no time had passed.)
 
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