I would go 604 or model 19.
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I have a multi use system based on the Alec Lansing speakers.
I the 511's in front.
2 65's for the center.
My 508's that used to be my fronts are now the side speakers.
And a pair of 115's for the rears.
I've always liked the sound of the Altec's manufactured in PA over the horns or most other speakers in general.
I would asume that although the 510's are made overseas and have been updated they most likely would sound simalar to the others in the series.
To me these speakers are great for all types of music but they do tend to sound better as the volume goes past the easy listening level.
They also like lots of power.
I had a pair of 510As recently and I thought they were pretty nice. Not the most revealing but well balanced and powerful sounding, with a large soundstage. I had a pair of 508s many years ago. I think they sounded very similar, with the larger 510 having deeper bass, of course. I agree that they need some good power to get going.
They don't sound anything like the old altec horn systems, of course.
If you like their big sound I don't know of much under $1500 used that would improve on them. Possibly Von Schweikert VR2s or Thiel 3.6s, for $1200-1700 used would be the next step up giving you the image size and power of the 510s with better resolution.
Thanks for your responses! Back in the early 80's my brother had trialed the Altec 14's and the 19's. The 14's won out. Then the 511's came into the picture. I heard them both in the same room. The 511's had a much fuller sound overall - not the pop you get from the horns but not shrill either. He sent the 14's down the road with another brother who also switched to the 511. Gave them to yet another brother who put them in the garage. So..long story short, I have the newer 510's and like them but was curious about the 604's until I read that the 604's do not sound that full and open at low volumes. Again, I haven't heard them myself. Sounds like you all are very satisfied with the 511/510 but I am curious as to what Jmbatkh did with his setup and why he may have gotten rid of the 510's. Did you find something better or go to horn loaded? By the way..on another thread on 'best speakers you ever heard' I have been convinced to join the gym vs sinking into the abyss of continual pursuit of better speakers. But I still like to hear others opinions on their experience with these altec towers.
I have a pair of the Altec 510-s speakers (new issue, original owner). I used them in my home theater system and they worked exceptional as large front mains. I used a pair of Altec 201's for the surrounds and a custom center channel using Altec 508 8" drivers and tweeters in a custom built matching cabinet. No sub-woofer at all in this system and it sounded very very good. However, all of the cabinets are large and i have since moved and cannot set them up in the proper room anymore. I sold everything except the 510-s. The Altec 510-s are pretty good speakers in a large room for music. The Titanium mid range and tweeter drivers provide exception detail and the carbon fiber woofers always provided the bass slam when asked too. They sounded best on music with punch. I tri-amped them once to see how they would sound and I was amazed at how much better they performed setup this way. Very dynamic and large sounding, however I could never use these speakers for long listening sessions as the on-board crossovers made way too much phase shift for me to tolerate. If you had an external digital crossover they would probably sound much better if you disconnected the on-board passive unit and wired directly from terminal to driver. Out of the box brand new, they are great for punchy music and HT but not for high end listening. Mine are not hooked up anymore and are for sale if you're interested in trying them out. I am selling them for 1/2 price new and they are in very good shape.
My 510s were bought for $80 on craigslist. They had a lot of cosmetic issues, but worked well. I bought them purely to play with, to see if they were like my old 508s. They couldn't compete with my VMPS RM30s, nor for $80 did I expect them to. When I got done checking them out I gave them to a coworker, who seems to like them. As I mentioned, you're going to need to spend more $ to improve on them, and you are facing the law of diminishing returns, big time.
Because of their excellent "listenability" I thought they were good enough to keep long term in an above average system, which is high praise for me. You've got a pretty good speaker; you might consider staying with them. They need a gutsy amp to get them going.
Thank you for your response Jmbatkh. I really appreciate your taking the time. I am happy with the 510's and know that reading through all of the information here that I could do better to be sure that all other components of my system are up to par. That will allow the speakers a chance to perform to their optimum. Diminishing returns is also a good point. At what point to end the pursuit? It could be a long road. I hear so many technical issues brought up here and in different threads that I don't know what to make of half of it. That is, I don't know if I could detect phase shift and other technical occurances unless this auditory situation was pointed out to me. For that reason and others I think I would have to be in a training session with a sound engineer to understand and hear all of these differences. Again, appreciate the response. You have been helpful!
I have 604 based speakers which are in enclosures built by Serious Stereo. I disagree that they do not sound full or open at low volumes. I suppose it would depend on the implementation of the speaker though. Mine are in a 11.5 cubic foot bottom vent enclosure. I normally listen around 70-80db and they sound very good to me at this level. They still sound good at lower volumes but I think you will find that most all speakers will need at least this much volume to sound their best.