Klipsch. Most of the heritage line offers tremendous bang for the buck. Paired up with the right amp the combination can certainly be as compelling to far more expensive modern offerings.
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I have a pair of Mirage M5si's from 1996, about the same year as the PSB Stratus Gold's heyday. These Mirages still anchor the L-R speakers in my HT system. They like lots of power and good cables, but they are very natural sounding, very timbre-correct, fill a space well, and have fast yet deep bass (into the 20's).
These days a pair will go for $550 or less, and if you can put up with the size and power requirements, they're a tremendous all-around speaker that works well on anything from solo voice to orchestra or big band.
Energy 22 - it was too cheap for it's quality even in 1982 when it came out.
In general the ferro fluid can dry up on tweeters and both woofers and tweeters can be damaged from misuse so you buying really old bargains that are no longer supported does bring problems.
If you buy old used and abused ATC's then you are in luck as they continue to support all their products and a re-cone job can be done by anybody with an ounce of DIY skills.
Duntech, both the Sovereigen and Princess models. If you have the space and appropriate amp, I believe these two offer some of the best performance per $ available. And while I also hold the various DAL speakers in high regard, I believe the Duntechs are even better, due to better cabinet design and driver choices. Unfortunately I think John Dunlavy designed his DAL speakers down to a price point. This resulted in a few compromises, more so than with the Duntechs.
I am not alone in this opinion. For the past few years John Marks has recommended looking for used Duntechs in his Stereophile column.
I agree with many of the preceding suggestions, but I'll add to the list Pentagram P10's, from 1983-4 (the later version only, which has a 4-inch dome mid-range, not the early version which used a 2-inch dome mid-range).
Under-recognized and under-appreciated both then and now, they are outstanding well-built all-around performers. They are hard to find but are inexpensive when they appear.
See my comments in this thread, and comments by someone else in post 49 of this thread
I have a pair of Snell TypeC/i that I picked up for free with rotted woofer surrounds and a detached woofer magnet. I fixed those problems and they now sound incredible! They are in my main system while I rebuild my Infinity crossovers.
The best speakers I've ever had however, are Infinity RSIIbs. As good as any new speaker I've ever heard.
There are many old speakers that sound as good as very good modern ones.
They might be less neutral but that does not mean they are not as good-just that you have to take more care with amplifier and cable matching.
Gale 401a speakers are fantastic by any standards.They even look thoroughly modern.There is nothing old sounding about their sound either.NO modern sounding speaker betters them for bass quality.They are amplifier fussy but really work well with something like a 70 watt modern tube amp like a Ming Da EL34 AB.
you know whats tough? auditioning older speakers. there is no way to listen to any of this old gear anymore. i would love to listen to some of these older speakers but how? you are basically hoping that you like them when u purchasing. do most of you just take others advice? sorry for so many questions. kevin
07-13-09: Flyin2jzI guess I'm lucky where I live, close to this store. Scroll down to their used speakers. At their store they'll take any pair listed (e.g., the ADS M12 or L1290, Dynaco A35, KEF 103/4, Linn Kelidh, etc.), hook it up to an appropriate system, and give you a private audition.
One speaker that sticks out is the NS-1000M but the chances of finding a pair that function within specification are rare and slim. On almost every pair I've ever seen the tops of the formers or leads between the coil and solder joint to input leads are browned or burned from heat on the tweeters and mids. This browned portion does still allow current to flow to the speaker and function but causes electrical noise, an inherent property of resistance and thus varying degrees of audible distortion. They can be fixed but it is tedious and requires a steady hand and test equipment. They burn so easy there are virtually no replacements left available, so a good set is becoming worth more than they used to be. Burning is also a large concern with some AR speakers. It takes time but not much current to slow-cook the wires on these speakers; they just cannot dissipate heat fast enough.
Others that are in my mind are the JBL 250Ti LE and ESL-63, both excellent speakers as well by any regard.
Dayton Wright LSM-1's...similar design to the Spica 50's, but a different type of driver, I believe it was gas-filled or something, the CRS has kicked in (Can't remmeber sh*t)...still listen to them in a second system and they sound as good as ever.
these aren't the electrostat design that they were famous for, something less expensive for the masses.
I've owned ESL57's with new treble panels, Esl63's (not as good) Lowther Dx2's and now AR9's and AR3a's. The 57's and the AR9's are along with Avantgarde Trios the most amazing speakers I have ever heard. Anyone who has heard refurbished 57's and AR9's in the right rooms will also know that having 2 rooms working well with those speakers would have two perfect audio views of nirvana. By the way, one of the designers of the new LS35A's told me that the AR9's are one of the most impressive 4 speakers he's ever heard in 30 years in the business.
my 1st really great speakers were the ADS-L-810-2. beautiful walnut veneers, and imaging that nothing else i heard at the time could equal. they were dynamically limited however, and the tweeter fuse would blow if your amp was more than 50W-75W
or you "liked to party alot" (i.e.- Black Sabbath).later i lucked into a pair of ROSEWOOD L-1590-2's that really delivered clean bass and of course played alot louder (while still imaging beautifully). the M-12's and M-15's were even more technologically advanced and ADS never scrimped on the cosmetics or build quality as time went on. what was particularly remarkable was that the store i bought the 810's sold Macintosh speakers (their cost-no-object line), and even though they were louder and more money, they were not in the same league in resolving details or staging, especially for classical music. and to think i gave the 810's away for $300 WITH the stands and extra fuses...
It's a shame ADS couldn't have kept going. I bought a pair of L1090's in 1987. Soon they came out with their M series. I auditioned the M-12s powered by Meitner monoblocks and the Brahms Requiem brought tears to my eyes. I didn't move up to the M-12s (I'd just bought my 1090s after all), but several years later I picked up a pair of like new 810's for $100. The seller had gotten them from his parents, but he had just gotten a Bose Acoustimass system and couldn't WAIT to get rid of the ADS's. I used those as my rear channel speakers for awhile; they were a great timbral match for the L-1090s. I wish I could have hung onto them, but after awhile I have too many big speakers and not enough systems to hook them to. I sold the 810's for a tidy profit (but well below market) to someone who could appreciate them.
The L-1590's were Telarc's monitors of choice until B&W came out with the 801 Matrix.
Check out this store, which has a great list of classic speakers, including ADS 810's, L1590's, and M-12s. For my money the M-12s would be the way to go at $789. They had some M-15s previously.