Is it all worth it?


So this week I re-foamed a pair of Boston Acoustics a40 series ii speakers I bought 30 years ago for not very much at all by audiophile standards. Put them in my 12x12 sunroom running of my main system which has very good source and amplification and these things are blowing me away. You could find a pair online or at your local thrift shop for around $50. Why bother spending the big bucks?   Really makes one think.
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This hobby has a degree of burnout . See it often where people get fed up spending huge amounts of money and still not getting the sound they envision . Reevaluating is constant . And going back to basics and inexpensive equipment can help put it in perspective . I have a pair of JBL active speakers that retail for $500 and if you told me that is what i had to listen to the rest of my life i would be ok with it .It's all about the music for me .
makes sense to me.  People go for hyper detail when they audition components, but it becomes tiresome when you get it home.  After a while, you just want something more comfortable to listen to. 
Mapman, I suspect that you are experiencing nostalgia. Everyone does from time to time. 
+1 Chayro ! The High End audio direction towards  "hyper" detail and "ultra" resolution does seem to pull one's attention from music and instead an intense focus or obsession with the sound. There is the potential for eventual frustration and even disillusionment. I understand however each of us have our own objective/goals regarding audio systems. 
Charles, 
I too did a refoam on a pair of a40's about ten years ago. Before the refoam, I had the speakers for about 30 years.  So, how do a pair of 40 year old speakers sound? Not great.  Driver technology has come a long way in the past 40 years, producing sound that is 'more lively', with the bass extension firmer.  Also to be remembered is that your own hearing ability changes, so what you heard 40 years ago, you cannot hear today.  So much for 'speaker memory'.  If you are not changing your audio system every ten years or so, you are not growing your audio experience. My first speaker, 60 years ago was a Tannoy, my current lust is for a pair of Tannoy F8's.  Soon, very soon.

Spot on, mapman. Reminds me of one of my favorite marketing taglines of all time. From Infinity, circa 1980's, when Arnie Nudell was at the helm:

“We get you back to what it's all about. Music”.

‘nuff said.

Enter your text ...
All that maters is if you like what you hear :-)

It's not nostalgia.   I 
aways thought these pretty good for the size and cost but no special attachment. 

But they are very involving speakers and very easy on the ear as long as you don't push them too hard.    It would make me question spending up to $1000 or so for a new pair of small monitors.  Good quality new small monitors these days are very small. 

It it just reinforces to me that very good sound for a music lover need not cost a fortune these days.  Some might actually prefer the sound of these to other popular modern contenders.   You just never know. 




They knew how to make speakers a long time ago, so it's no surprise that you like those monitors.  I remember the old 15" Altec coaxial studio monitors were great, as were the old JBL Paragons and others.  One of the reasons I like my Trenner & Friedl speakers is because they remind me of the older speakers I grew up with.  Nostalgic?  Who knows.  They sound good and I leave it at that.  
The sunroom they are in is12x12 has Windows on three sides and a tile floor and cathedral ceiling and is very lively. I've found that less in there (smaller speakers) works best.    The Bostons also seem to have good dispersion and fill the room with sound nicely.   Room size and acoustics largely dictate how much speaker is needed to fill it.   Plus I am running about 8K of amplification into them so they are well fed.    That's probably mostly why they sound similar but better than I remember in regards to detail soundstage and imaging. 
Mapman,

i agree with you. I don't have very expensive gear, maybe 8-10k retail in my system. But I enjoy a pair of Silverline Minuets in my bedroom, or Ohm Walsh 2 just fine.

Glad you are enjoying your speakers!

Regards,

gary

Mapman, I can relate to your impressions...  Due to age, 'changing fortunes', and the price of 'high end' components becoming stratospheric and subtle to the point of near mania, I walked away from it for a time.  I'd look at impressive and/or elegant displays of other's collections with the regard that I hold for other societal 'bling'....exotic cars, exotic  'trophy wives', esoteric golf clubs made of unobtainium (I don't play, BTB), and other 'high maintenance' objects of desire.  And Yes, It Is All About The Music.  What we listen to, what makes your neurons fire, the memories and thoughts and emotions that stir.  Loud, soft, fast, slow, the drive of the kick drum, the nuance of a piano well stirred....

How we 'get there' or have done so isn't as important as the arrival. 

I have a polyglot of equipment that does what it do well enough for Me. *S*  Others may sniff, but I don't need nor desire an attachment to mere devices, other than my DIY project.  I look at it the way some relate to their garden....something to grow and make bloom for my personal satisfaction.  They're not perfect.  They may never be 'perfect', but I've found more involvement in the pursuit of 'growing' them then I've ever had previously in the 'audio hobby' realm....

Which, truthfully, does go to show ya' that we all have our of levels of 'mania'. *L*  I've been doing the improbable for so long with so little that now I'm trying to do the impossible with nothing.  And that has it's own reward.  Flawed as they are, I can stop you in your tracks.
When I can get a jaw to drop, stop talking, and make someone Really Listen...
I'll know I've accomplished my goal, vague as it may seem..

To each, his or her own...  Be happy.  Enjoy where you are.  It's all very transitory anyway, so get into the transit of it all. ;)
+1 avsjerry - well said!  

Congrats Mapman on rediscovering a jewel!  It happens and I believe in it.

I'm wondering how many others have found using good quality speakers from the past in good working order with their current system yields results on par if not necessarily equivalent with newer speakers but for so much less.

I suspect many here have systems that are are miles ahead of what they may have had years ago and that is something many older speakers can benefit from.

I also have my original OHM Ls I bought in 1978 that I refurbed myself and still have running.  Those too sound far and beyond what they ever did in the past.   If I really put more attention into the fine tuning, I'd say these speakers that tareted the clasic Advent sound but in a smaller package sold for $400 a pair in 1978 and is OHMs all time best seller could compete with modern designs like Harbeth of comparable dimensions that must cost thousands of dollars.   You can get those fully and professionally refurbed via OHM still.   I am still using original high end drivers and crossover in mine but did a major upgrade to the bass driver using a high quality Morell 8" woofer that cost as much as the whole speaker originally.

Again, I'm a lightweight here. Several years ago I was just trading to trade, and more passionate about the process of trading/buying than music.

Once, I offered to sell some equipment to my buddy, Wayne. He asked 'What are you trying accomplish by switching? What are you hoping to gain? 

I didn't have the best answer, and we both laughed a little. 

Mapman, I know your love for Ohms- they are special speakers. 

Best-

gary









Years ago when first getting interested in hifi, I heard certain ssytems from time to time that let me know for sure there were things in the music to hear that I was not hearing because my players were not that good.  

Then for several years after some improvements  I was satisfied, but not pre-occupied with having "it-all".   So I got by for many years that way.

Then about 2008 or so, I realized my old Maggies could no longer cut it for me in the different room I needed them in, and decided to fix it an not stop until completely satisfied I am doing things "right" and not feeling shorted in any way.

So after many gradual upgrades and thousands of dollars later, that is where I have been for most of the last few years.   Don't regret any of it.  Now I just wonder how much must I really invest down the road to stay satisfied.  Like most things, the answer is still it depends but I become better educated about what does and does not work all the time along the journey.

When we turned the century, I had a party and ended up shredding the foam surrounds on an aging pair of Magnat Ribbon  5's.

So I refoamed the mid and bass drivers. Like you I thought they sounded pretty good.

Then I had the crossovers re-capped - if you think the foam made them sound good, give the recap a try -sweeeeeeeet

The sound was pretty amazing once the mundorf caps  burn in😊
I'm enjoying the fruits of the last year and a half of my steady system upgrades, so I'd say "yes", it's been worth it.

This reminds me of the Boston Acoustics A150's I had.  Those foam woofer surrounds didn't seem to last long, had to replace them twice, third time they needed it, I gave them away on Craigslist.

I think I'm probably "done" with my equipment upgrades and am also "done" with conditioning the listening room (10 bass traps installed, my wife calls it my "padded cell").  Time to concentrate more on the music!
Few Boston acoustics A40s have ever been fed such an “high end’ meal.
I believe they were designed to get the midrange right and probably not overly bright for that room.. 

Sounds like it musta been a fun party, Willie.
Mensch yes not being overtly bright at all yet surprisingly resolving makes them a great match for that room.  

My main system feeds that room and speakers in several others via in wall wiring and a speaker switch so yes the little Bostons benefit from the same source system as my much bigger and pricier Ohm F5 series 3 speakers, smaller  ohms, Dynaudios and others.  
Yup :-))))

Can't believe that was 16 years ago :-(

Time flies when you're listening to music ;-)
There is always a new piece of equipment to allure and open one’s wallet; however, how often have you had people mourn their purchase and soon sell or trade what they have? There is a diminishing return in this hobby; needless to say, the manufacturers are not in this hobby just out of love (perhaps some more than others), but they are out for a profit. Consequently and logically speaking, if they cannot make you dissatisfied with what you have or woo new buyers into the market and this so-called “brotherhood of audiophiles” . . . they will soon go out of business.

Part of the charm of the hobby is the discovery and the improvements available, plus sharing those discoveries along with good music to others; however, there came a point when I became disenchanted with the hobby, which was when everyone was listening to the equipment -- rather than the music . . . that, and every time I got a new audiophile magazine, what was on the “A List” -- now was a piece of junk. I thought, if it was good last month, how could it have gone down to such a low level in one month. Unless one is a millionaire, you can’t keep up with it. It becomes more like, “keeping up with the Jones” . . . and turning a hobby into a stressful competition on who is right, and fighting over which piece is better as a matter of status and bragging rights.

I have been in the hobby going on some 66 years, and I still enjoy tweaking or finding a helpful hint to improve my sound -- everyone likes to improve; however, I have also learned to be content with what I have and stop looking to what I don’t; otherwise, it is a constant case of “the other man’s grass is always greener”, and I simply can’t be thankful for what I do have. Besides, sooner or later you are not going to be king of the hill and are going to be dethroned. I say, let them have it . . . in the meantime, I’m still enjoying the hobby, very much enjoy seeing reviews on YouTube at all the shows I cannot attend, and laugh at those silly people, who keep spending their money on this month’s marvel but are never satisfied.

So, is it worth it? I'd say a resounding, YES! I wouldn't have stayed with it, if it wasn't. Some say that it is “all about the music” . . . very noble words. Well, the music should be a big part of it . . . but it is the whole intrigue, the progress, and the constantly moving forward without static that inspires new discoveries, recording techniques, and that little extra that makes the recording closer to reality, but it is also not losing the grip of reality in the process.   :-)

Older speakers can sound very good but I think that today’s speakers outperform them (sound better). Of course paying more or having more drivers or more exotic materials or design doesn’t guarantee better sound. It’s all in getting it right for your system and your ears.

Also, people do get burned out on the constant stream of New! and Better! gear that shows up month after month and the diminishing returns as you spend more for each upgrade. You have to know when to quit chasing better sound and just enjoy what you already have.

So, yes it's worth it, but you can get carried away by the hype and end up an audio burn out.

Mid-Fi is about the best you can say regarding Boston speakers.  Look at the construction and specs of the A40, truly awful. This is not a high quality speaker, and it cannot produce upper end sound relative to others. Yeah, you save a lot of money, but you do not somehow leapfrog the performance of better speakers. You only get what you can achieve with any speaker, a relative improvement limited by the speaker. Put a better speaker in the rig and the differences would become apparent. 

Further, you might prefer a better speaker and affordable electronics to the pricey stuff and A40. Only listening would tell. i.e. If you spent $10K on electronics and use the A40, you may prefer a receiver with a lower price Magenpan and come out far ahead in terms of cost. So, no the A40 doesn't make me think much of it.  :) 
Both Boston and Polk Audio made excellent mobile audio speakers back in the late-80's and early 90's. Cannot say much for their home speakers though. Mid-Fi is a fun listen w/o being in the critical side of things.

Happy Listening!
I still think the A40s might be well suited for the sunroom Mapman has them placed in. For that matter so might the Pioneer SP22s.

Yes I am listening to them now.    Very well suited for the sunroom. 

One can can call them whatever.    My point is they cost practically nothing these days and compete with new stuff citing many times more somewhat surprisingly.  

Yes se they are nothing special to look at and build quality is common.  All the more reason I started this thread.  It does not seem to even matter in this case.    
Mapman, well, let's have your list. When you say, "...compete with new stuff citing many times more somewhat surprisingly," let's hear the names and models of speakers these nearly free speakers compete well against. To what have you compared them directly to draw that conclusion? 

I own a pair of somewhat newer Boston Acoustics bookshelf speakers with the same construction and 6" bass and 3/4" tweeter. I got them for $10 at a garage sale, and I use them in my� garage system. 

I compared them directly (blind comparison, even) when I wrote the Audio by Van Alstine ABX Comparator article and pitted them against the Insignia 6" coaxial two-way speakers which were initially $50/pr. So, I had both of these in my main rig for that purpose.  I also have a pair of older Paradigm Micro speakers, which has more refined sound quality than these others. What speakers you have in mind that are "many times more" that the A40 beats? 

I can think of a situation in which some tiny bookshelf speakers with 3" bass drivers might sound "worse" to some ears than the A40, simply because the A40 would go deeper in the bass. 



ive only heard them in my sunroom.  Not a/b compared with any others other than triangle Titus I had in there prior.   But I'd expect they could compete with various smaller  monitors I've heard from companies like PSB and  B&W in local shops recently that we're going for between 500 and 1000 dollars.   Maybe against smaller Goldenears I have heard which were the best of the bunch.   Probably other similar small monitors that use very small bass drivers in a very small enclosure.   Would they win?   Maybe not.   But I find them completely satisfying in my sunroom.   I did not expect them to stay in there long when I first hooked them up.  I may put the Triangles into a separate new system now using a tube amp and not feel sorted.   The triangles are surely better speakers though.   The Bostons seem to have better dispersion.  That and their soft top end work well there.   The point is they sound exceptional for next to nothing and not many choices new for anywhere near that.  
Are the Boston A40 equivalent to a modern audiophile caliber loudspeaker?  I think not, but I speculate that they are capable of providing a satisfying listening experience when properly situated.  High end sound is not always a necessary element of listening to good music.
Good points-

I’m happiest enjoying live and recorded music without analyzing the gear.
Exactly. They are enjoyable and cost practically nothing by audiogon standards.   If it sounds good and is enjoyable why bother analyzing it further.   A corollary would be it need not be considered audiophile to sound great though not perfect. 
...and 'Perfect' is a highly debatable concept and construct....*S*

We've all seen what happens when we go poking at that third rail. ;)

Ultimately, we like what we listen to.  If we don't (for whatever reason/rationale), we change it.  It's the foundation of the pursuit, and still is given the amount and variety of items available towards that pursuit.

.....and heaven is in your mind.  Still. *G*
Enjoy your speakers, Maps...*S*  Simple pleasures...and cost effective. ;)

Think of it as a form of recycling.
That old things can still perform well brings up some interesting questions.

Like if Johnny Unitas, who was physically imperfect and limited by modern standards, came around today in his prime, would teams still want him?
+1 onhwy61!

We all know that a lot goes into enjoying sound.  I noticed that when I go to a local record shop who has hung 4 old Akai speakers on chains being driven by some old receiver and who knows what turntable, I just love hearing the music that it produces.  Maybe it's more about the part of the experience of finding great music, being out of the house, being in a different element, being in a great mood.  
Mapman, it would be very difficult for a 6'1" 190 lb quarterback to get a serious shot at starting in today's NFL.
Mapman, it would be very difficult for a 6’1" 190 lb quarterback to get a serious shot at starting in today’s NFL.
Well, let’s not forget about Russell Wilson, who led his team to a 43 to 8 victory in the Superbowl a couple of years ago, while being 5’11" and 206 pounds. And who came within one stupid play call by his coaches of repeating that victory a year later.

Regarding vintage speakers, I’ll just say that there is a reason why vintage drivers made by Tannoy, Western Electric (dating back to the 1930s!!) and others sell for small (and in some cases not so small) fortunes these days. And it is not because they are purchased to sit on a shelf as collectibles.

And my experience with a couple of pairs of large 1960s Tannoys I have owned in recent decades convinced me that in the case of those speakers, at least, their performance was limited by the design of the cabinets, and the design and/or parts quality and condition of the crossover networks, not the drivers. Despite the ballyhooed advances in driver technology that have allegedly occurred in the 50 or so years since those drivers were produced.

FWIW. Regards,
-- Al

mapman,

It makes me happy that you are enjoying your "free" speakers.

I've had a somewhat similar experience. I was in a resale shop a year or so ago and the owner was playing FM radio through a pair of Infinity Qa speakers that he had priced at $79. It sounded GREAT! I didn't buy them that day but keep thinking about them. Went back a few weeks later and they were long gone, but it started me on the hunt for a pair of classic Infinitys. I ended up buying a pair of Infinity Qbs for $117 and they got me back into quality sound after taking about 7 years off from the hobby. They do a lot of things right and it makes me smile knowing they cost a fraction of my last 5-10 pair of speakers.

Since then I found a pair of nicely rehab'd Infinity RS 1.5's for $250 and they are even better with incredible bottom end for a large bookshelf speaker and , of course, that wonderfully smooth and extended EMIT tweeter.

I've stopped looking at expensive speakers, but I do keep my eyes open for vintage Infinity speaker up the line from my RS 1.5s.

Enjoy the music brother, in your sunroom and everywhere else.

I read an article awhile back stating at some point technology will be so powerful and change so rapidly that a human will be forced to enhance it’s body in order to take full advantage and compete.Meaning become part machine, or a cyborg.

Wonder if music will advance to a point that an imperfect wooden instrument will be replaced with a machine? Or a human voice will be deemed imperfect in it’s natural form?

As much as I love the useful advancements in medicine and technology making our lives easier, I hope we don’t think our way into extinction.

I’m off to microwave some dinner...

gary

Yeah, I'm in the process of selling all my "high-end" equipment.
After 35+ years in the hobby and endless cycles of buy...buy...buy...then dump it all, I've finally come to understand how my mind works in this regard. The more money you spend the higher the level of expectation. Beyond a certain financial point, one arrives at a system where it isn't the music drawing the focus of attention during a listening session, it's the equipment. At that point the battle is lost and it's time to start over. 
When I sit in the little TV room listening to my secondary rig, it's all about the music. I wish I could just be satisfied at that level but my OCD won't allow it.
My salvation came in the form of variety. When a person is endlessly pursuing "the One," it's a good clue that they won't find it. Very likely there is an insatiable drive to hear something different, no matter how good the rig. Buying and dumping won't address the need. The need is to enjoy the variety and gear as much as the music, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's a fabulous way to enjoy the hobby. 

The solution is simple; divvy up the budget to get the best components or speakers to express variety, and watch how satisfaction blossoms. Bored? Simply change some cables, a component or speakers. If one has the space and the means but is not willing to spend the money on this, then there is no justification for complaint, especially when at all price levels this diversification can happen, even with inexpensive speakers such as the A40. 

For instance, something as simple as having a pair of more affordable panel speakers on hand to swap out with the main speakers can keep much of the OCD-like dissatisfaction away.  Or, if on a severely restricted budget, find several garage sale or thrift store speakers and rotate them. The variety of experience is lovely, and it doesn't need to be costly. 
"Very likely there is an insatiable drive to hear something different, no matter how good the rig."

I agree. Variety is the spice of life, right?

I think explains most of what drives able bodied audiophiles to change over time.  Its a basic force of nature that drives people and explains a lot.

Can anyone honestly say they have ever been able to maintain a constant high state of audiophile bliss day in and day out for an extended period of time with just one system? Sometimes you just want something a little different. then you are ready to go back to what’s really the best to you.

I keep my reference system and various others around as much as I can in order to best deal with that.

A much better approach than continuous change and upgrade if one can accommodate it.