I hardly think that speaker technology is advancing such that ten year old speakers are necessarily inferior to newer models. There are MANY older designs that are terrific sounding and it is really more a matter of personal taste than technical advancement that will determine what is best.
The only concern with age is the matter of some speakers deteriorating with time. The use of rapidly deteriorating foam type surrounds on woofer and midrange cones is no longer common, so chances are that something ten years old will have lots of life left.
My current speakers are a little over ten years old and I have no concern over their age. The woofers use old fashion pleated paper surrounds--a construction that is known to endure for many decades. I recently bought a "new" midrange driver to replace that which came with my speakers. My best guess on its date of manufacture is somewhere around 1939. This is the best sounding midrange I've heard of any type; so much for technological advances.
I think you answered the question yourself, Larryi. It can be a very very good idea if the surrounds are in good shape. Unless I miss my guess, that's the only part of a speaker that can "wear out". Crossovers can be upgraded w higher quality capacitors and resistors, ditto w binding posts and wiring. But if not abused, the drivers should never wear out. Of course, I'm talking dynamic drivers, not panels or plasma tweeters (not sure about ribbons). If a pair of speakers sounds good w your amp, really should not matter what they cost.
My current speakers were first purchased in 1993, I am the second owner. They perform exceptionally well with my more modern components. The only issue I've had was a blown tweeter due to operator error, long story. I was able to source the part from the manufacturers.
If I was going to purchase older equipment, I would look into component replacement parts availability.
You can pick up used Thiel 5i's, 3.6's and 7.2's for ridiculously low prices now and those speakers can outperform any number of new speakers. I'm sure others know of similar makes and models. There are some real classics out there that are well worth a purchase. Only problem is that some, like the Thiels, need a high quality front end to perform optimally.
After reading your post i checked out thiel reveiws , it seems they are a great speaker and am seriously looking in using them
Do you believe they require huge amps?
I second vhiner. I have an 18 year old pair of thiel cs 3.6. I have used 4 different font end with them. Nad pre w/ Acurus a 250 amp, proceed pre and amp 2, classe ssp300 with ca 2200 and finally a classe cp800 with ct 300. IMO the classe is a better sonic match for the thiel which can be bright. With the upgrade of front end It has been hard to justify a speaker upgrade. They just sound very good not perfect but they do so much so well.
It's like anything else. Some products, whether speakers, amps, or cars, are
classics distinguished by a synergistic combination of forward thinking, sound
engineering, meticulous manufacturing, and high performance.
One sweet spot is the $400-600. For a new speaker that's a decent pair of
stand-mounted monitors with good midrange, but limited sensitivity, bass
extension, and dynamic range. For the same money you can pick up any number
of lightly used room-filling floorstanders such as the Aperion 633T or Mirage
M5si with transparent midrange, smooth treble, and bass that reaches down to
the low 30s or high 20s. That'll also save you the cost of augmenting the
monitors with subwoofers, which is an inevitable add-on for some.
Also, some used speakers hold up better than others depending on parts and
cabinet quality. Speaker cones with foam surrounds will need the surrounds
replaced about every 20 years. Those with butyl surrounds (e.g., ADS) neverl will.
Some older speakers were heavy and well-braced, others were not and have
more cabinet resonances. Examples: The Aperions I mentioned use 1" thick HDF
for the cabinet and they weigh 77 lbs each. My Mirage M5si's also have thick
walls, are well braced, and weigh 85 lbs. each. ADS speakers are sealed and well-
put together and also have very inert cabinets along with the butyl surround
I just picked up a pair of Infinity Kappa 9 for 500 bucks. They are in beautiful shape except that the woofers need new surrounds. I could do it myself for about 50.00 or I can have it done for 300.00 Either way, I have a very capable speaker still highly regarded that in today's dollars would probably cost in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 thousand and sound like it. So is it worth it? You bet it is. And yes, these need big power.
I have been using the same pair of dynamic-driver, tower speakers ever since I bought them new in 1990. There have been at least 3 considerations I've needed to deal with over the years.
1) All the drivers have rubber surrounds, but it's still been necessary to treat them with a decent rubber preservative every few years or so, but that's very easy to do and not expensive.
2) I had the crossovers professionally refurbished in 2007. Crossovers do age, perhaps especially those with cheaper parts... I wouldn't expect you'd have to do that very often - once at some point during your ownership may well be enough. I removed the crossovers myself and shipped them to the service company, so I didn't have to deal with shipping the whole speakers. Cost: a bit less than $300 altogether.
3) Check to see if the used speakers you want use ferrofluid in the tweeters (or mids). After a few years or so (even if they've been in storage), the ferrofluid can dry out. In practice, discovering it can creep up on you and you may suddenly become aware of an otherwise unexplained channel imbalance in the highs and some loss in HF dynamics and power handling. Parts Express carries it and it's not too expensive. The only difficulty at first is learning how to remove and dismantle your tweeters so you can add some more fluid. But, then again, you would still really need to know how to do this, even if you were buying brand new speakers that use ferrofluid...just part of their maintenance. But, acquiring this skill can be a useful advantage for used speaker buyers since, often as not, they may be buying from individuals who possibly never fully understood this one real reason why they may have grown disenchanted with their performance. Anyone can take advantage of this: sellers, buyers and owners alike, but I suspect it may more commonly work for buyers and could possibly help you land a good bargain. But, in effect, I don't think there is functionally any difference between a tweeter (that's in otherwise good shape) with newly added ferrofluid and a brand new tweeter - they are essentially one and the same thing - top off their fluid and you instantly regain showroom performance from them...performance that you can easily hear.
Larryi said: "I hardly think that speaker technology is advancing such that ten year old speakers are necessarily inferior to newer models. There are MANY older designs that are terrific sounding and it is really more a matter of personal taste than technical advancement that will determine what is best". I completely agree. The old saying that there are plenty of both good and bad examples of speakers at every price point is very likely just as true today, I'm sure, as it was in 1939, so synergy together with personal preference is still the name of the game. But, many say that some of the best sounding mid and bass drivers ever produced were created from simple paper cones. If properly maintained, you can expect a good pair of speakers to last about 50 years.
Hi, I have the JBL L7 speakers that I modded, they are from 1992, and sound wonderfull!, 5 degrees angled to the inside, 3 foot from rear and side walls, huge, focused soundstage that is revealing and very musical, cheers.
mine are almost 20 years old. i purchased them $1100 and so far replaced one woofer $450, but it was my fault for cueing needle onto record, but forgetting to mute preamp :-). this plus the age of speaker played the bad part.
i'm still a happy camper because for the modern speakers of the same class i'd had to be within 5 figures minimum.
makes sense eveneven if you have to service them. just make sure that parts are available. buy ones with existing service.
vintages such as ohm, aerial, klipsch, jbl, tannoy, alon, vandersteen, snell are not any worse than modern ones at the fraction of price.
you may also optionally want to replace damping material if the one is being used with fresh one and properly tighten up bolts for each speaker driver onto the cabinette. clean the terminals with deoxidising solution and perhaps reapply fresh solder onto the crossover parts and driver connections as these are directly exposed to vibration and within the time become dry cracked and cold.
The L-R speakers that anchor my HT are Mirage M5si's, bought 17 years ago. I have no intention or reason to replace them. Ivan_nosnibor's post has some good advice I need to follow: redo the crossovers and top off the ferrofluid in the tweeters.
Crossovers: A few years ago I was using a 5-channel Adcom to biamp the Mirages and to power the center channel. I kept blowing a fuse, and an ohmmeter indicated that something was wonky with the individual halves of the crossover, while the full crossover presented a reasonably stable load. I went back to bi-wiring, but the blown fuses do point to a crossover problem.
Tweeters: When I run my pre/pro's automated speaker setup, the white noise indicates some differences among the four tweeters (they're bipolar) in the M5si's. While that may also point to the crossover problem, it may also be the ferrofluid (assuming my tweeters use it). So anyway, I am overdue to take those in for some maintenance, after which I will REALLY have no reason to replace them.
Earlier this year I pulled a pair of Sound Dynamics 300ti's from around the mid 1990s that had been stored (boxed) since 2001, part of that in a garage that got down as low as 36F in winter, and they sounded quite good, pretty much as I remembered them. Surprised me.
Bought my Spendor S100's 23(!) yrs ago and they still sound fantastic!
As you can see, there are many great used speaker options.
As to the amplifier requirements of the Thiel 3.6's and above, I think
Mcloughlin's description of his upgrade path says it all. You can get by with
250 very high quality watts, but more just gets you better results with the
Thiels. Classe is a good match (I used several) but I would also
recommend a tube preamp.
If you're budget is meager, I can recommend an excellent 400-watt
amplifier that can be had for under a grand; the Musical Concepts Hafler
500. It actually beat my old CA-2200. I know somone who has an extra one
should you ever decide to go that direction. It has one of the best midrange
blooms I've ever heard and the Thiels LOVE midrange friendly amps.
Finding the right amp for any speaker you decide to buy will be critical to
getting a satisfying sound.
My B@W Matrix 800 still going strong and sounding great.