Infinity Monitor 2A.
Great bass response from a densely stuffed tuned cabinet and very nice treble extension thanks to the walsh super-tweeter, a la Ohm Acoustics.
Reasonable size and decent furniture-style look complements a great package. They're going around $400 a pair, but shipping can be expensive and parts are not easily available.
These speakers are very sensitive. I'm driving them with a small 3 WPC amplifier in a small living room. No issue with dynamics or bass response!
A great sonic jewel!
It all depends on size requirement of the speakers that can fit your room and the amps you have to drive them.
Vintage high efficiency speakers from the late 50s and early 60s are extremely desirable.
12" ~ 15" Tannoy, Jensen, Lorenz, Altec, Western Electric, Coxials
Vintage JBL, Altec, Jensen, Klipsch horns
Rogers and KEF LS3/5A speakers
If you like midrange and imaging, and can forego high volumes and driving bass then it's hard to beat Spica Angelus. You can find them used for under $500 and I would wager that for chamber music they would be impossible to beat.
They are quite tricky to mate with a subwoofer (I tried) but they have very controlled bass so they can be used in very small rooms (if the aesthetics is not a problem).
A great bargain.
IME, Altec Seville 847a. Excellent nearfield and midfield, decent bass to about 40hz with tones, on music it's represented as lean. Highly dynamic, they really get into overdriven guitars such as those found on CCRevisited's live album. Rock and Classical both shine, as does everything in between. Incredible detail. Available from $200 to $800.
SANSUI SP-200 and SANSUI SP-2000 - BOTH are amazing alternatives to Advents and ARs. Maybe not the best but certainly excellent performers- huge sound, reliable and good bargains
Be very careful on selecting vintage ribbon speakers when they get old. Especially if they came from high humidity environment.
Depends on what you're looking for.
Here's a few examples in the under $500 category - If you want rockin' and thumpin' then vintage JBL's. If you want low level horn-y detail and dynamics, Klipsch Heresy's. If you want "Audiophile" quality sound - detailed, accurate, smooth, and non-fatiguing with decent bass extension then Dahlquist DQ-20i's (or DQ-20's).
Spica's - have a real magical midrange, but a pretty weak low end. Excellent for a small room, and bass improves if placed close to the corners. But in this vein - a used pair of Green Mountain Europa's should be considered, even though they're not "vintage".
moderate to smaller size american classics include/ar 2, epi 100, the large advent, klipsh heresy, jbl 4312, 4412 alison 4, dynaco 25 several early snell and boston acoustic designs.....they all still sound great
I agree with Muralman1, the Apogees are spectacular buys now that there are digital amps that can easily drive them with little heat. Replacement ribbons are also available should you ever need it. I can't wait to go home and listen to my pair of rebuilt Scintillas (from about 1986) tonight. They are as good as anything that I have ever heard.
With out going older than the 70's models:
Snell Type A's
Each of these could more than hold their own today IMO.
I bought a pair of KEF Reference 104/2s that I run in biwired mode. Everything below 80 Hz is handed off to a Velodyne HGS-15. The transition from KEF to Velodyne is seamless. I've heard lots of high-end speakers, and I'm happy with this combination. It projects a large sound stage with excellent imaging, openness, and transparency. Total cost was a bit under $2 K.
I agree 100% with S23chang..
I have a reworked pair of Tannoys 15" HPD that I will NEVER part with.
I continue to build my system around them...
dahlquist dq-10's, spica tc-50, allison one, two, three and four
I have a pair of 1977 Tannoy 15s (HPD 385A with Alnico magnets) I hear they work best in open baffles or infinite baffles. Mine are in the Arden reflex enclosures. I am not very happy with the sound, even after replacing the HF in line caps with copper foil in oil and replacing all internal wiring. The highs, in particular, are crude sounding. Do you have a new crossover design or any tips you could pass on to improve sound?? I am on the point of replacing them with PHY open baffle or even Fertin open baffle. I have also considered the Bastanis Prometheus Airforce.
I should have also listed Beveridge speakers...fantastic speakers that I am sure would hold their own today.
Apogee Scintilla - when driven by the right amp on the 1 ohm tap, there really isn't much out there that gets as much right with as little wrong as these.
Took the words right out of my mouth, Dschultz, and boy, do I and Baranyi
have the right amps. Can I have an amen! Bob?
I'd have to include Wharfedale W60D; I found a pair on Cr*list, $125.00, they just needed new caps. For a small to medium room. I carefully drilled two holes in the bottom fronts and spiked them, towed them in so the inner speaker is just missing that side's ear (on my head). At least 10 feet away, actually a very decent soundstage, I'd never really heard a well-reproduced organ until these.