I remember them well from my time at Tech Hifi circa 1978-1980. There were many EPIs there among the others. Eventually I got to demo and sell to customers. The EPIS Advents and OHMs were the lines I liked, not so much JBL, Infinity and others. THe EPIs were very clean and balanced for the day top to bottom as were the others I liked. Build quality was just OK though, especially compared to what's out there today.
I recall them compared to the OHM Ls that I still have. I think all those old speakers would sound very good indeed still these days if in good working order and run of any of the fine amplification options available today compared to back then. But I think there are newer models today at reasonable price points that are much better overall especially in terms of build quality and durability.
I had EPI 150s around 1973-76 or so. Like Rebbi, I wish I still had them to see how they stack up because they were pretty darn good as I recall. Whatever I "upgraded" to was probably a downgrade.
Of the speaker lines I recall liking from back then, I would categorize the EPIs as having very good performance characterized by the most polite top end and perhaps generally being most easy on the ears overall. And I mean that in only a good way. The others I liked at comparable price points tended to have a bigger and somewhat more aggressive sound.
I use a pair of EPI 202s
in a secondary system. They are powered by a Sansui Au999 integrated for a vintage vibe. I also have a pair of EPI 350s
used in a garage system. Both sound very good, but in a vintage way. Not particularly transparent and smoothed over treble. As an experiment I once substituted the 350s for my pair of Spendor 9/1s in the system with Roksan amplification. The EPIs were place in corners approximately 18 feet apart. The stereo presentation was diffused, not as tonally even, but the bass was great and on some recordings vocals were more in the room than the Spendors.
One thing that's nice about EPIs is that Human and Tribute Audio but provide extensive parts and service for them.
I had the Dynaco A25s, tthen swapped them for the EPI 100s, and finally settled on the JBL 100s back in university dorm days.
I would rank the EPIs definitely a far distant way back of the JBLs and generally a "pick 'em" against the Dynacos , depending on which receiver you had driving them at the time.
Both of the latter were cheaply made and mass-marketed as part of the "new separates" wave geared toward the 70's college crowd that provided an alternative to the Brit flat BBC midrange sound for college dorm rock anthems of the 70s. For their time, they provided a cheap segway into music for students.
By today's speaker performance standards ....IMO they are not even close to the superior performance of today's quality designed and quality built stand-mounts. (Drivers, crossovers, caps and overall design)
IMO today EPIs represent mid-fi at best -- a nostalgia best suited today for a modest "B" or "C" system .... They are not hi-fi strata speakers.
The first store that I owned was a Team Electronics. We were an EPI dealer and if my memory serves me well, they were horrid. Just awful. Our house brand speaker (Award) which were pretty much junk, sounded better.
We might have sold a different series maybe than some of the other stores, but the EPI's we sold were terrible.
I had a pair of Epicure Model 400's, square footprint omni-style towers with a 6" woofer and 1" tweeter on each of the four vertical faces. Rich timbre and warm tonal balance, okay clarity, but poor image specificity.
I had "rescued" them from a Baton Rouge dealership called Savard Sound, who was using the fairly low-efficiency Epicures to show off the high efficiency of their house brand speakers. They'd switch back and forth without adjusting the volume, to make their much louder Savard speakers sound more impressive. Then they'd crank the 20-watt receiver driving the Epicures into hard clipping so you could hear how lousy the Epicures sounded when you tried to play them loud. When they did that, I cringed and told them to stop that.
Well despite their salesman tricks I could hear that the Epicures were much better than anything else in the store. They were used (trade-ins probably). Anyway I came back the next day and offered the salesman three hundred-dollar bills for the Epicures, and he took 'em. I had rescued a deserving pair of speakers from a slaughterhouse.
Unfortunately they were stolen from me when my college apartment was burglarized a year or so later. So every time I see a pair for sale somewhere, I look to see if it has the same particular yellowish-in-one-spot wood grain coloration on one speaker and chip on the other that my pair did. If I ever run into that pair again, I'm buying them.
I have a pair of EPI A40s, which is from their second wave product line in the early '80s. I got'em in 1995 for $10 from a coworker. I had to replace the woofers' foam surround which added another $20.
For that money they're a clean, tight little bookshelf speaker. Easy to mate with a subwoofer because of the sealed cab's gentle bass rolloff.
Taken on their own merits, and placed on modern welded steel stands with sand-filled pillars, they could throw spooky-real imaging in a 3D soundstage. Nobody heard them that way back in 1981 on a bookshelf, but when I filled those stands with sand, the merits of these EPIs really "popped."
I did compare them side by side with some newer more sophisticated speakers, such as a pair of Wharfedale 7.3 small floorstanders. It showed that for $10 or $30, these were a steal, but at the same time--as good as those inverted dome tweeters were for their time--the treble didn't have the smoothness and refinement of tweeters from 20 years later, let alone what you can get now.
Parts Express's <$60/pr. Dayton B652-AIR features a folded ribbon AMT tweeter. Adjusted for inflation, they would be $23/pair in 1981 and offer a level of treble refinement practically unthinkable back then.
The EPIs from the late 70's were part of the 'New England sound' style of speakers when such distinctions were relevant. EPI's founder and head designer was Winslow Burhoe, who was part of the design team at Acoustic Research. Burhoe makes a modern EPI equivalent today available from Direct Acoustics
My first 'real' system was a pair of EPIs 100s, a Pioneer 636 receiver, and Dual 1257 turntable.
The EPIs 100 were your typical 2'X1'X1' vinyl clad, large bookshelf speakers and were comparable in price to the Boston Acoustics and Advent offerings of the time. A pair back in 1979 cost roughly $150/ pair, if you caught a sale. I remember paying about $175 for my Pioneer receiver and about the same for my Dual turntable with cartridge. So, I had the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 equation going on for what was a mid-fi system ... better than a compact, better than store brand electronics, but not in the big leagues either.
The EPIs overall sound was warm and polite. When compared with a $400 pair of speakers from Polk or Infinity today, I would think that you would find the EPIs sounding rather closed in and wooly. The midrange was spot on, treble was rolled off, and the bass sounded tuneful enough, but it did not go very low. I held on to the speakers for about 10 years before giving them away. I upgraded to KEF Q55's and never looked back.
Compared to horns and JBL titanium tweeters, the EPI might have been polite by comparison, but compared side-by-side with ARs and Advents (which I was able to do in a single store), the EPI "spring air" tweeter was noticeably faster and more extended. My A40s don't sound particularly closed in compared to modern speakers, just a bit rougher.
I had Epicure 20's and loved them. I think they would do very well today.I saw a website a few years ago with someone restoring them. I remember a wonderful balance. I had friend with Dahlquist floorstanders that envied my sound. That was 1980 or so...
Excellent speakers then and now. A few years ago, I bought a pair of EPI 100s, refurbished them with woofers from humanspeakers.com, and still enjoy listening to them from time to time driven by an Onkyo A-10 integrated. Neutral with good timbre and transparency. Excellent with small ensemble and acoustic jazz, not so much with rock. Don't overdrive them though, the woofers are very sensitive to too much juice.
I still have my original 1976 EPI 100’s which sound remarkable paired with a Sansui 3300 receiver in a second system.
I personally know of some still using a stacked pair of EPI 202’s in a vintage Mac system, a pair of EPI 350’s in a vintage Sansui system and a pair of 500’s in a vintage Phase Linear system and they all sound really good. They are smooth with tight extended bass.
Properly maintained I can’t see any reason to avoid them, and would imagine they are superior to many of today’s “modern” speakers that sport Chinese made drivers.
I like vintage speakers. AR, EPI, ADVENTs, ALTECS, JBL, etc.. judging from the prices these command, so do a lot of others.
I still have a pair of model 3's the last run for Epicure and I still find their design practical, narrow front baffle wide in back with rounded corners and ported in the base! real wood veneer in the late 80's. Imagine what they could have done with a budget.
My first speakers in 1979 were a pair of EPI 180's. I really enjoyed them. To my ears,they seemed to do everything pretty well.
It all depends on which EPI you are asking about, EPI before Harmon International, or whoever bought it, or after. I have some EPI 100Ws with original drivers that sound fantastic and were considered top bookshelf speakers in Consumer Reports for several years in the '70s. I also have a pair of model 5s that are nice but not as nice as the 100Ws.
It's like any other brand, they go through periods when engineers who know sound run the companies and the product is great sound. Then the bean-counters take over, and the company face-plants. Some companies survive, and even thrive again, others, like EPI, don't.