Is new better than old?

I have been looking at upgrading my speakers. I have a budget of around $1,200. There is a plethora of speakers on A’gon and C’list in that range. I did a search of Full Speakers priced between $900 and $1,300 and got a list of over 100 really nice (or not) speakers.

My question is, are the newer speakers in this price range better than the older speakers in this range? Are the newer models with the latest and greatest technology, research and design likely to sound better that a speaker that is 6 or 8 to 12 years old, but when new was twice the price (or more)?

A good example is the 13 year old Vandersteen 3A’s vs two year old Paradigm Studio 60 v4’s. Both of these are around $1,000.

Another example is the Von Schweikert Gen: II at $1,099 vs new ERA D14 at $1,100 (seller says these are half price).

I may not be comparing apples to apples above, but I think you get my point. Is a speaker that cost $4,000 but is 10 – 12 years old better than a two year old speaker that maybe sold for $2,000 when new?

For speakers many old models are great. Many newer model are great.
Some REALLY old speakers are super classics worth a lot more than they are selling for. Some really old speakers are selling for WAY too much.. so it is hard to just give an answer.
I just bought NEW speakers for 5 grand. I COULD have bought some others... or used... but i bought what i bought.
Old speakers you need to be aware of issues: caps in the crossovers, and surrounds, mainly foam surrounds. The rubber ones last a LOT longer.
Plenty of folks use vintage speakers in a second system.

One of my alternative systems uses tower speakers made by Phase Technologies. They were introduced in the early to mid 90s. 94-96 as I recall. Sold for close to $3K per pair back then... 15 years ago.

Anyone know what $2600 to $2900 of 1996 money equals in todays market?

BTW... they play great! No troubles so far, all orig. Definiitely not the prettiest pair out there but sonically speaking? no artifacts at all. Very nice.

I paid $600 or $700 for them from a local member here in my area, 5 or 6 years ago.

Personally, I'd see if whichever ones got your eye now, can be refitted.... redone, etc... or if still supported by the manufacturer. if not, the risk then will be altering their sound by use of non OEM parts. In the X over, this cuold be a good thing.

I was quite lucky I believe and was able to hear these first. I wasn't thrilled by how they sounded given the gear they were attached to at the audition, but am quite glad I bought them.

BTW Phase Tech still supports them too! For $350 + ship, I can have all drivers and OEM x over rpplaced with new ones.

I'm not saying here go get PT speakers... just some thoughts you might want to think about.

Good luck.
I think your best bet, performance for $ is going to be with a used speaker (if it is in good shape). Von Schweikert and Vandersteen make GREAT speakers and are great examples of where to look. Good luck.
Thank you all for the responses. Here are a few things I found locally that I can listen to before I buy. What are your thoughts? I don't know the age of any of these.

Usher CP-6381 $1,399
Energy Veritas 2.4 $1,480
B&W CDM 7 NT $1,200

If I wanted to go cheaper, there is Paradigm Studio 80 for $650 or really stretch the budge, there is Von Schweikert vr-4 jr mk2 for $2,950.

Thanks again.
If you want a new loudspeaker in your price range that punches well above its weight, try the DCM TFE-200s, at $1K/pr. Here's a link:
I believe they are sold direct only, with a 30-day return option. I've heard them and was extremely impressed.
Ben, there's no rule of thumb but if you stretch the budge (sic) you'll be glad you did years later when you're still enjoying your speakers. Personally, I've found that when I
make compromises, price over performance, the upgrade bug hits faster and harder. Also, quality components have a much
higher resale value. So, think about the heritage of the line
you buy. Vintage products are sometimes expensive because they
have become collectibles among audiophiles due to their reputation for quality.
Bought a pair of 5 year old VMPS speakers for 40% of their list price from a Goner and they are the best sounding speaker I've heard in a stereo system. I probably could not have touched this level of sound in a new speaker anywhere close to the price. It's always a crapshoot buying sight or sound unseen. But generally, you can turn around and sell it without losing money overall most of the time if it didn't suit your tastes or system. That represented my second try at buying without hearing. The first time I didn't like what I thought I would--sold it and the new buyer did, no money lost and everyone's happy. By the way, I was so impressed with VMPS speakers that I asked the creator, Brian Cheney, if he needed a demonstrator, which I now am. On my opinion, just remember what happened first--I loved the sound of that speaker. After a year of ownership, I still love that speaker. Buying used allows you to sometimes get really lucky and achieve a sound level you wouldn't have been able to get otherwise because new just costs too much for the same sound. Do your reading on speakers you're interested in if you can't hear them in your own system. Good luck, Bob
New speakers are often better. The best, newest drivers are a LOT better than those from even ten years ago. Design software has come a long way too. The problem us audiophiles have is that for a lot of speaker manufacturers the design target has become home theater, not acoustic music. Nonetheless, speaker technology has progressed a lot in the past decade.

Of course, buying used rather than new allows you to get perhaps twice the speaker for your money, assuming you're willing to take the risk associated with used equipment. It is an interesting question... which is a better value for $3500, a 7-year-old speaker that retailed for $7000-8000 when it was new, or a new one currently retailing for $3500?
This is a darn good question. I have all new(er) power equipment along with old(er) Infinity Rennaisaince 90 speakers. Built in the early to mid 90's I believe. After listening to the soundtrack from the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie last night I was thinking how could I ever desire another pair of speakers. They are that good.
I would like to compare them to Eaggleson Andras just for the heck of it. But they would have to be really good to make me want to change. BTW the Infinitys cost me $1500 used about eight years ago.
Good luck, John
Tony, The problem with stretching the budget is no matter what the budget is, there is always a little bit better for just a little bit more. Even at $10,000 there is just a little bit better speaker for $10,500.

Irv, yep, that was my question too. I am sure there are some new speakers at $3,500 that will blow away a 10 yo speakers that cost $8,000 new, and there are some used speakers selling for $1,500 that will blow away new $3,500 speakers. You just have to find the right ones.

As Dork mention, buying used is a good way to try without losing too much if you have to resell. I bought some Monitor Audio Silver RS6's a couple of years and liked them until I got a great deal on a pair of Paradigm Studio 20's. The digm's didn't have the low end the MA's had but they were so much cleaner. IMO, there was no comparison. I sold the MA's for about what I paid for them.

Now I am looking for something to replace the Studio 20's.
Performance aside, if you want to keep speakers long-term, newer is probably the best option. There are many variables, and many different opinions based on personal experience, but my own experience as well as information from manufacturers and various forum discussions is that 20 years is a reasonable lifespan for a speaker before it starts needing some work. Rubber hardens, foam rots, adhesives lose their grip, enclosures rattle and leak, crossover components age and fail, etc. Nice thing about Vandersteen is that they can repair/restore any speaker they've ever made (my Linn Saras could not be repaired due to lack of parts, but I enjoyed them for 20 years).
Considering roughly 50% of the cost on 'new' speakers go to the distributor, store owner, etc...I personally prefer 'older' vintage classic designs and think many of them are actually 'better' than many of the newer design which I find rather tilted up in the midrange and designed to have thinner profiles to make them more WAF acceptable. Plus, considering I like (often) trying different designs (I've owned over 150 different high end speakers in the past) I don't lose a lot of money when I want to try something new. I couldn't afford to do that buying everything at full (new) price and selling at roughly 50% of new. I currently own the classic Martin Logan CLS, Klipsch Chorus (great with tubes), DefTech BP2000TL's (great for home theater) Infinity Modulus System (original, early 90s), KEF Reference 102/2 and Von Schweikert VR 4s. All of these do certain things as well as anything made today and yes, I do listen to the new offerings and go to the big audio shows for comparisons.

Of the several pair you mentioned, the Energy Veritas is an excellent design that you definitely should audition. Very fast and articulate with good, tight bass.
I can't imagine why anyone would want to buy new speakers given the bargains out there. One of the nice advantages of buying used is that when you decide you don't like them, you can sell them for what you paid. Yes, you do have potential problems with capacitors and foam surrounds, but if you buy "recent" rather than vintage, you won't have those problems.

Twosuggestions: 1) keep an eye out for large/heavy speakers that are near you (ebay search based on distance)....many times you can get a real good deal because you are local. 2) Be can take six months or more to find a good deal.
I can't imagine why anyone would want to buy new speakers given the bargains out there.
I don't think the OP was considering anything brand new; the example given was something 13 years old vs. something 2 years old. However, one nice thing about buying new is that it's an opportunity to support the manufacturer, importer/distributor, and dealer of a product you care about. Sales of new items are probably important to the health and longevity of this hobby.
Older speakers in good working order in general may represent better values but that really doesn't matter. Nor does it matter that in general speaker technology may have improved over the years, albeit for a premium The devil is in the details. You can do equally well either way. The key is to do your homework to determine the best fit for you at a particular price point. If you buy used and do not overpay, you can try something different without taking a big financial hit. Speakers should fit into your room and listening habits like where you listen from well. You should have an amp capable of driving them to the max. Often you will not know what they really sound like in your setup until you try them.
Older speakers in good working order in general may represent better values but that really doesn't matter. Nor does it matter that in general speaker technology may have improved over the years, albeit for a premium The devil is in the details. You can do equally well either way. The key is to do your homework to determine the best fit for you at a particular price point. If you buy used and do not overpay, you can try something different without taking a big financial hit. Speakers should fit into your room and listening habits like where you listen from well. You should have an amp capable of driving them to the max, not the minimum or even somewhere in between. Often you will not know what they really sound like in your setup until you try them.
Also dealer blowouts of models being updated, discontinued, etc.

I have version one of the these: (tempting me as backup pair)
An older Dynaudio would be better than a new PSB, Monitor Audio stuff. Anyway, here is a boutique brand which makes some of the most cost effective yet high performance speakers:
personally I'd go new or not too old, as per my comments above.


I HEARD THOSE SPAEAKERS AT A NEARBY DEALERSHIP SOME TIME BACK AND WAS SUMMARILY IMPRESSED. Great esthetic. Very good range. Powrd by a tube pre and tube amp… Cary I believe. Not to big an amp either. Very nice. Nice sound. I’d have opted for the bigger ushers but they are simply too big and I thought they would be too tuff a load for 100wpc tube amps. But they do look great IMHO.

I’ve had loads of BW, the top Monitor Audio series, VR4 JRs, Several Phase Tech units, a few Silverlines too. The room is as key IMO as is the power you’re going to feed them with. Think about those two items. A lot.

Buying used isn’t a terrible notion at all. The shipping issue is the big deal in that equation. If it’s a very good seller, and the packing is in great shape… not just the orig packing either.. you ought to come out oK. That is the rub on speakers. Shipping. There’s two of them instead of just one box. So twice the risk. Bigger ones cost more to ship.

Also think about just where are you headed in audio. Always gonna have SS power? Wanna do tubes? Big diffs right there at times. Not really sure just now? Maybe, maybe not? Shoot for units that have steady imp curves which don’t fall below 6 ohms.. have a 90 or higher Eff rating… and the world becomes your oyster. SS or Tubes will then work. Higher numbers in each range enables you still more choices in power amps… as well as the need for less of it too.

The Usher is as popular a speaker as any other I suppose… and after all, this is just one of maybe many more or at least some more most likely. So don’t fret too awful much on it and get what you like hearing the best… but do take your amp if possible to try any out… again, if possible. Bass gets more predominant in a smaller room, and less so when room size increases. Remember that when auditioning..

Have fun.
People telling you that speakers have come a long way in the last decade are full of it.

The average commercial speaker is still two or three cheap Danish danish drivers stuck in a dynamics-killing MDF box selling for 10-20x the cost of the drivers.

Of course there are many commercial speakers that can't be described that way. But count me among those with a lot of experience who believe that modern speakers have really made a wrong turn. Yes, if you value extremely flat frequency response *above all else* they do a respectable job, but that is not at all what makes for a convincing reproduction of live acoustic music.

This leads us to high-efficiency speakers. Which are, yes, represented among modern manufacturers - too many to list. Although many are hair-shirts and many more have some serious weaknesses, most who enjoy and are regularly exposed to live, unamplified acoustic music and experience a good HE speaker come to prefer it to any of the run-of-the-mill non-HE names. You just cannot get proper macrodynamics out of speakers in the ~90 dB/W range no matter the power you feed them, as thermal compression has its way. At least this was an unescapable conclusion for me in A/B-ing such speakers against HE brethren, be they back horns, front horns, or simple OB. The latter make drum thwacks sound like drum thwacks, the former sound like a muffled thwack in comparison. I can certainly enjoy music on these types of speakers - especially more compressed music not attempting to mimic unamplified instruments - they just don't create as real a reproduction.
I'm well-off on a rant now but here is where it is going: there are many vintage speakers available that are HE and sound better than anything currently made at comparable prices. I'm speaking of Altecs and a couple of the Klipsch models although I don't care overall for most Klipsch (shouty).

I would take Altec Model 19s which can be had for $1000-$2000 over any current production speaker I can think of up to... well, let's just say quite a bit more than that. To say that modern drivers are "better" than the drivers in this speaker is a lot of hooey if you value timbre, tone, nuance, and dynamics. There are good modern drivers but the drivers in speakers like the 19 are fabulous in absolute terms. They have alnico magnets which are superior to any form of neo (alnico magnets are extremely pricey today) and paper and other natural fibers (hemp) trumps all synthetic cone materials for natural timbre (as smart companies like Audio Note and Zu, and manufacturers using drivers from Fostex, Lowther, etc., know). It is simply nonsense to say that modern drivers outclass these types of drivers.

Downside to a speaker like the 19? Condition may not be great unless immaculately cared for and they are BIG. That's because they are from the area where sound quality, not aesthetics, was paramount, and a speaker must be large to be efficient and have large, low-distortion drivers.
For a largish room anyway.
Many modern transducers are better than vintage. Just that they did make some wonderful transducers back in the day which your now enjoying. Some are still considered to be very hi performing and are copied by some. Model 19s are wonderful. But modern compression drivers and woofers exist that are better. Still for what a model 19 costs one would have to spend much to build better sound. And for under 2k or far less Altecs are 1 of better deals in audio I feel, but there where others brands too Altec wasn't alone. EV JBL RCA bunch of others made wonderful transducers. The modern design thats profitable and except-able by the masses sadly is not a large frame woofer hi-eff loudspeaker with horn. But a slim tower or bookshelf with its many compromises in performance. But this does not mean progress hasn't been made in transducers if it wasn't I would be using my Altecs as my mains not as my 3rd system or just in the ever growing pile of kit...I enjoy them for what they are.
Fair nuf John.
Thanks for all the responses. I think I am going to look for a used speaker that is fairly new. If figure I will be getting some of the newer technology and will be able to get a little more speaker than I could if I went new.

That's a good plan!

Some companies provide upgrades to older models.

OHM Acoustics, for example, has been around over 30 years and provides modern driver upgrades for virtually every speaker they have ever made. Some of these are conventional box designs and some use the Walsh CLS driver technology.

They also offer new drivers in old refurbished cabinets straight from the factory on occasion if you ask, which is a great way to get the latest driver technology at a discount.

Or you can buy old OHMs on ebay for cheap and then have them upgraded afterwards if needed.

Just tossing some ideas out there regarding what is possible.
Some professional musicians will only use vintage speakers in their personal stereo systems.
08-03-10: Hifisoundguy
Some professional musicians will only use vintage speakers in their personal stereo systems.
Like whom?
I think it depends on your goals and intent.

I'm discovering that old is just fine and a bargain too. I picked up a pair of Boston Acoustics A-40s to use in my office. When I re-foamed the drivers, I noticed the drivers were dated 1984. The re-foaming was a success (first attempt for me) and afterwards I thought the speakers sounded quite good. Then I added a subwoofer. I had to use the speaker level inputs and crossover on the subwoofer since I'm also using an old NAD 3125 integrated. Wow! The sound quality is good enough that I'm beginning to think I could live with the A-40s/subwoofer for a while. Not in the office but in my house!

I know that conventional wisdom directs us to purchase speakers first and then seek the other components to match the speakers. But now I'm wondering....suppose I upgraded my amp and added a bass management/room correction device to the mix. How much better would the sound get? Would my newer $800 pair of speakers sound better than my $60 A-40s? Sure, but how much better?

FWIW, nearly all of my equipment was purchased during close-out sales. If you're patient you can find new gear at close to used gear prices.
Tvad, I've been enjoying my entry level stereo system SO much more now after putting these maestro ac outlets in my system that don't go on these forums that much anymore. Rocker Eric Clapton uses vintage speakers in his own home stereo system.
Rocker Eric Clapton uses vintage speakers in his own home stereo system.
Hifisoundguy (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)
What speakers are those?
Tough call in my opinion especially if you can not listen to or never heard the speaker you are interested in;research and ask questions on audiogon speaker forum may help.I bought dunlavy sc3;s and soundlab m2's from this site using this method.
When you do ask for feedback give as much info as you can like amplifier(s),room size,music tastes,and what you are striving for in your system will help the members answer your post,
I do think your question of money new vs age is one to consider but more important is the speaker you are considering and matching it to your driving source(amp or intregrated) is more important and thats where the members on this site will really help.
So all that said any speakers got you thinking yet?
Well, I found a pair of Vandersteen 2ce Signatures at a good price ($700). They aren't the II's, but they are like new and I am very happy.

I've only had them hooked up a couple of hours, but I am hearing things on some of my favorite tunes I've never heard before. They aren't as harsh as the Paradigms and a whole lot more low-end (of course).

I'm driving them with a NHT Power2 amp.
(Output 2 x 200W RMS @ 8ohms THD+N <0.05% - all channels driven simultaneously
Frequency Response +/-0.5dB 20-20kHz
Dynamic range 112dB A-weighted @ full power
Damping factor 2000 @ 8ohms 100Hz
Peak current 35A
IM distortion (CCIF) 0.0005%
TIM distortion 0.003% Soft Clipping)
I got a good deal on this amp but I bought it before the final closeout, so I paid a little more than I could have, but I think it's a great amp.

Arcam C30 pre and Marantz DV4500 cd/dvd player
In general, I don't think speakers from the past 20 years have been surpassed because of intervening technology, which might, arguably be the case with digital sources (not necessarily even there). Only issue is the wearing out of parts, which is a different issue. The Vandersteens you bought were excellent, especially at their price point, then, and remain so today. Great designers were perfectly capable of making speakers 20 years ago to compete with most anything today, and Richard was a great designer when he made your 2Ces - enjoy them.
ML request $1300-$1700 used

ML Prodigy $3k-$4500 used

ML cuuent vistas $2100-$2500 used

ML current vantages $4500k apox new

you be the judge. Frankly, how can you pass on the requests, or Prodigys for the cost of newer Logans? ML's cost vs Performance is WORSE every generation. Same with most others.

Paradigm 20 v2 upgraded real cherry wood $350 used, the V4's 1k new. The V2's were better to me in sound & build.

lists go on & on....