Bringing back the dead?

After reading the recent Stereophile's annual recommended components issue gave an idea for this thread. What are some of the best designed and produced audio products that is no longer in production? Apparently, I can't get this answer from reading new press. I am asking this question because I have only been in this hobby for about 10 years off and on. 10 years is not very long and I feel that I cannot not really appreciate this hobby without really understanding the past. Perhaps going forward, I can compare what's new to what I have been exposed to this past 10 years, but it would be nice to know what other products that was available before I started my audiophile journey. Is the best really yet to come or we have achieved the apex of hifi and we're all heading back down? Thanks for reading this thread and I look forward to reading your comments.
I forgot to ask what products would any of you want the manufacturer to reproduce? Please mention any insight you have to why the product was discountinued to begin with if you have info on this.
Well "3", how about a little bit of a twist to your basic idea here ??? How about if we list what we think were "ground breaking" or "trend setting" products ? You know, designs that were ahead of their time and may still compete with newer stuff even though it's not in current production. we can pick a product or two, spout of a brief blurb about it, why we think it was important and when it was made, etc... This will give you and many others a quick "what's what" and how things have progressed. Plus it will give us a little insight as to what various members like and think highly of. Sound like a plan ??? Sean
Sean, that's a great idea because it will allow this thread to focus in on the "innovative" products that are considered to be "future proof".
Here's one for starters. How about the original Quad 57 electrostatics. I know they did not have much bass, but not everyone wants this to the exclusion of everything else. They rolled of the highs and had a listener's hot spot. Boy what a mid range! Put them on stands about 12-18 inches high and angle them back.As long as you get the angle right and listen in the near field and preferably no not use the original Quad11 power amps they can sound wonderful. Use a Radford MA15 of ST25. Even an ML2. They were not the first electrostatic but commercially they made such an impact they have to be in the hall of fame. With companies offering refurbishment and one in Germany making them as new speakers as well as resurecting the Braun L1 there is obviously a future for these speakers.
Nice post, "3", takes us down memory lane! Following on from Peter (definitely, the Quads) I would add Apogee Scintillas: difficult to drive, but offering magic when well set up -- also a newish design concept at the time... and the little BBC LS3/5As monitors on stands (stands were a relatively new idea at the time, too). I'm sure someone can propose horn-loaded speakers as well...

TTs: the AR 101 (#?), the Linn LP12/Ittok (that's still in production)and the Goldmund Reference, could also fit the bill. Linn set the "start from your source" trend and, indeed, the TT was (still is) a good performer...
Old media: anyone remember the Nakamichi Dragon cassette player (then the "ultimate" in cassette reproduction), the old Revox R-to-R (can't remember the model #), and the open reel Nagras of the '60s?? Regarding the latter, sound reproduction was phenomenal (master tape level).
Tuner: the 1st Marantz stereo (made in the US). This had good reception AND great sound, by far superior to what radio had to offer at the time.
Amplification: MacIntosh 75 (I used to dream about that one), AR SP6 pre, the first classA Krells (by commercial standards of the time, they had super power reserves). M Levinson pre-amps: I remember the ML-6 (made before ML sold his name to Madrigal).
These come to mind now...
I started out my hi-end "hobby" 4 years ago with a $150 Dynaco ST-70 that was a stock unit.I had the filter caps replaced as they were no good.I hard wired a heavier gauge power cord,bought NOS RCA 7199 input tubes,Svetlana EL-34's and enjoyed the Hell out of it for 3 1/2 years.My Dynaco was always considered a temporary amp until I could afford my dream amp,a Pass Labs Aleph-3 ($2500) I now have my Pass and enjoy it as well.It is more detailed,more transparent and very clean sounding.For some reason though,I miss the Dynaco and find myself thinking about it when Im listening to music.I think I enjoyed it more than the Pass.The Dynaco seemed to inject soul into the music where the Pass doesnt.Maybe Im nuts but thats my opinion.
How about the origional GAS (Great American Sound) Ampzilla and Thalia preamp. Certainly some of the best the early 1970's had to offer.
I had an Ampzilla. It had great slam but was unreliable. It was the first real amp I owned. The pre-amp, though, is dated and I don't ever wish to have it back in my syatem. But it was much more reliable and it is still operating today in a friend's second system.
Let's not forget the original Acoustat X. Spawned the birth of the full range eletrostat with balls.
Great posts audiogoners. I know I can't learn about these goodies from reading the current stereophile or other current press.

What other products do you think can withstand through technology advances?
In the early 1980's I bought an Oracle Delphi turntable and a SME tone arm. While I have changed cartriges a few times I still use this setup to this day and feel it is functions as well as anything available today at it's price/performance point.
I miss my old Eico HF-81 integrated amp (the only EL-84 Hi-fi amp that I ever cared for) . I have almost bid on this amp many times on Ebay, but end up cringing and reconsidering when I add the cost of having it completely rebuilt to specs (I no longer have any friends in the area that do this type of work). It was/is quite ugly as well.
I have and still use what i and many others consider to be the first "straight wire with gain" preamp ever made. It was built and designed by David Spiegel under the company name of Audio General, Inc. The original model was called the 511 and later became the 511A with several options available. The original product was designed in the mid 1970's and was literally light years ahead of the competition.

The 511 was the only preamp to make it into International Audio Review's Class 1A category for many years. It was the only product that AGI ever went to market with and was produced until appr 1986 or 1987 or so.

In terms of construction, it used mil-spec circuit boards, mil-spec potentiometers (Allen-Bradley) and mil-spec switch assemblies. Capacitors were hand selected using an impedance bridge and consisted of polystyrene, metal film and tantalum in all critical areas. For circuit stability, the preamp was always on BUT did have a power switch. This switch simply turned on the convenience outlets located in the back of the preamp. As such, the power switch was rated at 20 amps and used coined silver contacts so that it could handle any of the amps that were in current production. The chassis was relatively small but came with optional rack faceplate widths with a total of 6 available. You could get either width ( standard or rack ) in black, brushed aluminum or Gold. If you opted for the real Oak or Walnut cabinet, you could only use the standard width faces.

In terms of operation, it had very basic controls, hence the "straight wire with gain" comparison. The only adjustments available were volume and balance controls. Mode selection consisted of two seperated rows of spring loaded pushbuttons. The unit did have full tape monitoring facilities for two tape decks along with a special option. Since the unit did not have any tone controls from the factory, David saw fit to include a switchable "processor loop". This meant that you could install ANY type of processor ( equalizer, subsonic filter, and even novelties like Quadraphonic and reverb from the 70's) into the system. They could then be switched in and out at random and not tie up a tape loop. This comes in handy even today as you can use the preamp in a 2 channel based system and then simply insert a surround sound processor into the loop.

Electrically, it was extremely fast with wide bandwidth for its' day. It can still run with most of the gear today without breaking a sweat. With rise times of .01 uS for the phono and .25 uS for the line section, a slew rate of 250 v/uS and a frequency response that was linear out to beyond 300 Khz, THD and IMD measurements below .005%, etc... you knew that it had quite a bit of planning behind its' design. The output impedance of the preamp was 47 ohms, making it possible to drive ANY load or length of interconnect cable. All of the active components were installed using 24 karat gold plated beryllium copper contacts for ease of troubleshooting, replacement or individual component testing purposes. The phono stage was extremely good and fully adaptable to just about any input impedance or capacitance that you might want to achieve through factory available plug in parts. From the time that a signal went into the phono section till the time it came out of the preamp was less than .0035 uS. This resulted in no time delay. Square waves could be easily reproduced at 20 Hz or 20 Khz with preamp output levels in excess of 5 volts with no phase shifts noticeable.

Keep in mind that this was originally put together in 1974. There were literally NO amps that could come remotely close to the performance that this preamp provided. While David did design two power amplifiers (100 wpc & 200 wpc @ 8 ohms and slewed at over 1000 V / uS ), he never put them onto the market for some reason.

Even with the quality of parts used and the extreme amount of forethought that went into the design of the 511, it had a base price of $499. Keep in mind that there were several preamps retailing for appr $1000 or more in that era. Most of those were loaded with bells and whistles but couldn't get out of their own way sonically.

In stock form, the 511 sounds extremely clean, fast and detailed. Many fans of "musical" components find it to sound "lean" although it is not harsh by any means. Much of this can be corrected by simply replacing some of the original factory wiring with current offerings. I've also upgraded all of the RCA's and replaced the power supply caps and a few within the audio circuitry since the unit is now well over 15 years old. I have several of these units. Some with the factory optional Burr Brown circuitry ( who had heard of Burr Brown back then ??? ), various phono options and faceplates & cabinetry. My Brother uses one in his quad-amped system and my Father will be replacing his Counterpoint tube preamp with one of these once i'm done upgrading it. After comparing the AGI to my Fathers' Counterpoint in his system, my Mother called the Counterpoint "a piece of junk".

As such, many of you have probably never heard of this unit. It was not widely distributed and not pushed real hard by many of the "audio salons" that did sell it. Due to its' very reasonable price, there just wasn't a big profit margin involved. On top of that, there would be little need for "upgrading" into another preamp once the customer bought something like this. Even if it was sonically and mechanically excellent, it became kind of a "tainted item" in the eyes of many audio retailers. I know several "industry" people (manufacturers, reviewers and shop owners) that have these units. Even though they may not be using them, they simply won't sell them for some reason.

While David still services his units, he left audio to go into designing safety / security / monitoring systems for Nuclear power plants. He currently has contracts in several states and plays with audio as a sideline. Some of you might remember him as the "creative force" behind blind listening tests as he built the first ABX boxes that were ever available on the market.

Hope you folks found this "rambling" interesting and learned a little about this "blast from the past". Given that "super fast / ultra widebandwidth / low noise" circuitry has been around for over a quarter of a century in designs like this, how far have we REALLY come ??? Sean
Albeit, I have never owned either of these speakers, the Beveridge 2SW2s and Hill Plasmatronics have fascinated me. The 2SW2s for their imaging and timbral accuracy and the Plasmatronics for its unparalleled reproduction of high frequency information. I heard these loudspeakers when I was approximately 18 time flies! -Sam
There is also the original Advent speaker and the original EPI-100. These speakers got me into the high end and they still sound great today.
Old 70s Pioneer receiver and rogers speakers... I sold to my sister for dirt cheap and have regretted ever since. Minus a few details & bass response, it will do most audio tasks very nicely.. I know this isn't considered by some to be high end, but I would put it against some of the gear that is advertised as today's high end. This gear also was good enough to give me the virus that I have today for Audiophile gear.
One also should not forget some of the DIY (Dynaco, Heath) tubes, which can sound really nice if wired properly.
Funny, I ran into three pairs of the EPI 100's (with blown woofer surrounds) in various thrift shops this past weekend. A few months ago the same thing happened with the original Advent speaker. Almost everyone that I grew up with that was into music and gear owned one or the other at some point in time (before they went to AMT's:-).
the stainless steel, the wood sides, the fact that I had to have a custom rack made because its 4" wider than most components and... it can put some of your super-mega $20,000 systems to shame.Its wired to a new Pioneer Elite
dv-f07(gotta keep the wood sides)and a pair of Mirage om5c
towers. it looks great and sounds soothing to My soul.
Hey for being only 19 (and on a budget)this is the
best real world setup.Its easy to use,efficient,clean and can bring down the roof of the parties I throw. From Beethoven to Snoop Doggy-Dogg (both of which i love). My Sx-1050 @150 watts a ch. rocks...and to think I almost spent
$700.00 on an Nad something or other.