New speaker technology vs. Old speaker tech???


The following is an issue that many members may have encountered: that is, buying an old speaker (vintage 10-12 years old) vs buying a newer and more current technology created by better driver material and using for example a ribbon tweeter, vs traditional silk or aluminum tweeter.

A friend recently purchased a monitor made by Monitor Audio, GX-50 Gold series. which uses a ribbon tweeter. His other choice was a VonSchweikert VR-1, a two way small monitor hailed by many reviewer for its tight bass almost down to 40-45HZ.

I liked the Monitor Audio GX-50, but did not want to influence his final decision. However, the more I listened to them, they sounded somewhat bright and edgy on several "redbook" CD's. He liked VonSchweikert VR-1, they seemed to him more balanced and the bass had real punch. However, he opted for the MA's because he felt the newer technology overall would be more competitive in producing good and detailed sound

Like my friend, I have often get caught up by the technology of new speakers,and ignore what sounds better and satisfying regardless of the music The VR-1 are very good speakers, and usually don't last long on Audiogon when they come around for sale. However, sometimes a mystique emerges around a speaker because of its unexpected performance that elevates it beyond its spec.

Would like to get some input on this "dilemma", especially the reputation of Von Schweikert VR-1 for being "more than sum of its parts"

sunnyjim
1) technology continuously improves. For example there are much stronger magnets available these days for use in speakers than ever before.

2) Good use of technology requires a good engineer. Technology alone does nothing.

3) People like different things so no one product will ever suit all best.
Agree with Mapman. The Monitor was also about twice the price of the VS. All that matters is the one you like best. Some members prefer mid 80's CD players.
Agree with statements above. Audio and Video is technology and gets better daily. Because audio 'quality' isn't something tangible for some people, it's an area where the unscrupulous can dive in and make their outrageous claims.
Audibility are somewhat fuzzy - they change from person to person, day to day, and for various reasons. Hearing isn't just about ears - our brain and what we see makes a huge difference to what we hear (or think we hear).
I vote for new speaker technology.
I may be going in a different direction here but I wouldn't say the "technology" of speakers is improving. I mean the majority of speakers today use a box, pistonic drivers, wires and a crossover, basically the same as most speakers for the last 60+ years. Now, the refinement of the materials and the implementation of these parts "should" be improving but it's not really the technology that's changing in the majority of speakers.

In fact, speakers have lagged far behind amplification (chip amps, etc...) and front ends, streaming and hard drive systems and such as far as real technology changers. Ribbons and Stat's have been around 50+ years themselves and are certainly more refined and efficient than their early predecessors but even their technology remains pretty static (no pun intended).
New technology is most often introduced to aid in marketing (even by the raw-driver factories). The technology typically does not make the sound noticeably better, perhaps just 'different'.

For large speaker manufacturers such as B&W, new technology is used to create a new model lineup. Any franchised retailer must order the 'usual amount' each quarter or lose that franchise to a competitor.

Also, that 'new lineup' feeds the review machine. Reviews and 'product of the year' pronouncements rarely create immediate demand, based on my experience and that of very many other designers I've known for more than 25 years.

However, a retailer will show reviews to a prospective buyer, likely not an experienced audiophile and whose friends, like most of ours, are definitely not.

One important yet unspoken issue for any customer is that his friends do not make fun of his purchase.

I think the following is important to understand:
When that new model lineup is announced in October, in magazines and on websites, those press releases were submitted in early August, thus photographed in early July or before.

This means the warehouse was stocked in July, ready to ship. Which means part of that big batch of 10,000, sufficient for one year of worldwide sales, was shipped to the USA warehouse from China during June.

So that entire batch was made in March, April and May.

Which means the new parts, the new technology, was established in January. So it was 'proven to' and approved by marketing before Christmas.

Therefore, it was invented a year before its introduction to the public. Which means the pressure is on the R&D team for 'making improvements' every year.

This results in 'improvements' that make only small differences. Also, that new lineup in a store is already being redesigned.

I vote for using one's ears, including listening to live music, and for looking at how often a firm announces yet another breakthrough.


You're question isn't really about technology, than it is about what you prefer to listen to. An aluminum ribbon tweeter in a new MA can have the same issues that a 10 year old Magnepan, or even my 25 year old Clements RT-7's have. They can be a bit harsh.
I'm with polarin. And oftentimes technology is used not to improve how a speaker sounds but to make it smaller or more profitable.
IMHO good engineering, materials and execution trump new technology, particularly in speakers,
"06-06-15: Analogluvr
I'm with polarin. And oftentimes technology is used not to improve how a speaker sounds but to make it smaller or more profitable."

I'm not sure I fully understand your post. Can you give an example of what you mean?
I would't go as far as to say that speaker design is at it's zenith but there are only so many ways to skin a cat. Progress will always be made but we're in the realm of baby steps, with the biggest advances in magnet and crossover design, due mainly to better parts from advances in metallurgy and computer modeling.

Designs continue to come out based on older tech that befuddle folk. NOS wire is rediscovered, NOS tubes still rule the day, old discards that are refurbished still have that magic. It's all in the ear of the builder.

All the best,
Nonoise
I appreciate and thank those who have responded so far. For the record. the Monitor Audio GX-50 Gold claims a frequency response of 55-60KhZ; whereas, Von Schweikert VR-1 an almost 12"X12"X12") box indicated a frequency response of 45Hz to 25,000 Hz; highly respectable for a speaker that came into the market in 2003

To ZD542, my friend made the choice of buying the Monitor Audio GX-50; I thought the VR-1's sound provided a better balance of frequencies. However, my friend wanted to carry out a brand new pair of speakers,not traded-in speakers with possibly two previous owners. and no boxes.

The VR-1 had that listenability, or euphonic presence that gave even the Stones "Wild Horses" a new shade of excitement. However, maybe my hearing has elapsed into the mellow yellow phase.

So far so good; these threads to me are a way of getting away from a really fucked up world for a while. I think we would all agree that whatever music you listen whether it be Gregorian Chant 16th century English lute or Mario Lanza, is a DMZ zone.
these threads to me are a way of getting away from a really fucked up world for a while...
Amen.
I think this depends on the loudness at which you listen, type of music and room. I got a pair of VR1s for my brother - he was totally happy and I was very impressed. The VR1 just sounds much better than it has a right to sound at its size and price regardless of age. I borrowed a pair of AR3a's (state of the art in the early 70's - I think) while waiting for my new speakers and they sounded better than I expected in the mid range at moderate volume, but fell down in the highs and lows or at higher volumes and in micro dynamics and imaging. Where my current brand new Von Schweikert VR55's and previous VR 5 Anniversaries excel is everywhere but particularly at the frequencies extremes and at very low and very loud volumes. That said, in a small room I could still be happy with a pair of VR1's because they are very natural and uncolored sounding and what they do, they do very well - conveying the excitement and beauty of music. My bottom line question is: Can I enjoy music through this speaker, or does it do things such as being harsh in the highs, thin, or mechanical sounding that make me cringe?
I will stay up tonight thinking about this.
engineers can still design speakers with old technology and older parts, now at least they have a choice...
Go listen to some all new Ryan R630's and let us know what new Technology these days gets you!!....

Hifisoundguy: Oh lord, the name Ryan and the speakers so handsome and gorgeous, I wish to know more about the sound, and also most importantly pricing :)
Wim1983...The RYAN R630's sound more like your listening to *LIVE MUSIC* than listening to speakers!!..And the price is only $$$5,000 !! One of the reviewers said these speakers performed like they were missing a few zeros off the price tag!!

https://www.facebook.com/Ryan.Speakers.LLC
But I heard some brightness issue on the tweeter with Ryan R610? Also it looks a bit bigger than a normal bookshelf speakers? Recently I also eyeing on Spatial Audio Hologram M3, it is cheaper and available in Malaysia too, it resonates down to 32hz...pretty amazing, but I have to audition first if possible...
I heard the speakers in their room at the show. They were not bright, some of these amateur reviewers....jeez.

I have no affiliation at all, dont own their products nor do I know them personally other than their courtesies extended while in their room: they are superb speakers, the pricing is well below what one expect.
Looks like Hifisoundguy is off the Bose bandwagon and on to something different. I guess progress is indeed being made......

Shakey
He's on Facebook. I'd like to see someone top that.
I have loudspeakers from the 1920s up some with the most modern transducers available. Some of the older has amazing sound qualities and with a few upgrades can do great service today. While we have greatly advanced materials and computer design we also tossed out some of the musical connection that bonds one to the art of music. Some of the older designs had far more resources used in development something you will not see anymore. Alot of what is available today in speaker systems are under sized over priced under built and requiring massive power thus leading to thermal compression do to VC heating. This causes listening fatigue. Why so many only listen to such systems for a short time.
....buying an old speaker (vintage 10-12 years old)
had a good chuckle reading your definition of "vintage"! What then do you call the Klipsch LaScala, Klipsch corner horns, KEF 105, B&W Matrix series speakers, Tannoy HPD, Tannoy Gold???
Royj, good to see you posting once again! :-)
where have you been all this time???
Also realize there are more potential truly innovative features with new speaker technology than just the resulting sound that might be the biggest reason of all for some to jump.

For example, take a look at Dynaudio Xeo speakers that take on most of the burden associated with producing good sound from a digital source, not just the traditional transducer part.
Johnk,

I am so MUCH in agreement with you here. There are a number of very old drivers that can be used in modern systems that are, in some respects, unmatched by anything new. Some of these are limited in application because of practical concerns (size) but not in terms of sound quality (e.g., Western Electric 555 driver and 15a horn combination for midrange). I own a "modern" system where I have replaced the midrange driver/horn with a Western Electric 713b driver and 120125 horn. The driver was probably made around 1939.

I have heard a terrific system built around a 13" Jensen fieldcoil driver used as a bass/midrange driver with a simple highpasss network feeding a dome tweeter for very high frequencies. This is also a terrific sounding system based primarily on ancient drivers.

When stereo became popular, for practical reasons, the entire focus on speaker design was to develop smaller systems. Efficiency was also sacrificed in the process because, near the same time, higher powered transistor amplification became practical and cheap. In many respects, sound quality has not really recovered since then.
had a good chuckle reading your definition of "vintage"! What then do you call the Klipsch LaScala, Klipsch corner horns, KEF 105, B&W Matrix series speakers, Tannoy HPD, Tannoy Gold???

My thought as well.

My take on the vintage vs. modern speaker question is to somehow prefer vintage designs that are modernized in certain areas - like cross-over and driver/horn refinements. Basically rather traditional designs from a time where no-excuse, functional aspects seemed to weigh more than marketing-driven technological "advancements."
There are not that many "modern" horn drivers that even come close to comparing with some very old designs, apart from some attempts at exactly replicating those old horn drivers (the Japanese G.I.P. drivers, for example). Those modern, non-replica horn drivers that are really good are also terribly expensive, such as ALE drivers (a set of drivers cost more than a house). What else do folks put up as examples of modern compression/horn drivers that can compete with the best old stuff: Avantgarde?
I just found out that there is a site, Human speakers Web site, that repair old speakers like EPI and Genesis, what do you guys think? Good? There is some new speakers based on EPI is being created, Human 81. Price darn tempting...I'm not sure the Human technology works? Look at the bottom of the product list, inHUMAN speakers, haha a nice joke!
ALL speaker drivers should use "ALNICO MAGNETS"!! I see that RYAN speakers makes their own speaker drivers....I wonder if they use ALNICO MAGNETS ?
Hifisoundguy: I thought I heard some Wharfedale WX0 vintage model, those are of alnico material? So they are the best of vintage? Wharfedale Airdale?
Hi Bombaywalla,

It is good to be back. Working on many new things that have just come out. Hope you are well.

I thought a few folks might have posted their thoughts on my statements above, about how and why large audio manufacturers 'schedule' their new technology introductions. But at least these will be there for others who search out threads bearing this sort of title.

I wish to add that far too many audiophiles are distracted by technology or even totally fascinated by it. It completely occupies their minds, which contents them.

These same people always describe how much better their music 'sounds' by its increase in "clarity, impact, detail, soundstage, imaging, depth, dynamics, ..."

They never remark about how their favorite music changed for them, changed in what it meant to them, what it did to them, for them, where it took them, ...

Either they are insensitive to the subtleties of music (and not natural dancers) -OR- their systems/physical setups do not reveal HOW BEAUTIFULLY the world's best artists are playing just for them.

Ever have any thoughts along these lines?

Best,
Roy
.
Royj- Yes, I share your sentiments. This audio hobby provides strong attraction for several rather extreme personality types. Uh, I guess this is a good time to admit that I am one of them. Getting past the hardware and technology is very difficult for some of those types. Thirty years ago, we split the audiophiles into two very general categories: 'Music Lovers' and 'Sound Buffs.' Luckily, I am much more of a music lover. My sound buff buddies have spent a fortune chasing the next 'change' in sound and many have gone full circle after paying a small fortune. They still do not love the music. But this hobby provides exactly what they seek.
I wish to add that far too many audiophiles are distracted by technology or even totally fascinated by it. It completely occupies their minds, which contents them.

These same people always describe how much better their music 'sounds' by its increase in "clarity, impact, detail, soundstage, imaging, depth, dynamics, ..."

They never remark about how their favorite music changed for them, changed in what it meant to them, what it did to them, for them, where it took them, ...

Either they are insensitive to the subtleties of music (and not natural dancers) -OR- their systems/physical setups do not reveal HOW BEAUTIFULLY the world's best artists are playing just for them.

Ever have any thoughts along these lines?

Best,
Roy
Hi Royj, likewise good to see you back here & we eagerly await any new speaker releases that you might have.

yes, I have thoughts about this all the time. That's why I have been such an advocate of time-coherent speakers (& I think i might have convinced a few others that it's the only way to proceed for playback). And, that's why I've been off the hi-end gear merry go-round for a while now. For me, and I'm sure for many others as well, music has to be an emotional experience where the performers are "in the room" giving you a personal 1-1 live performance. I always liked that saying printed on Higher Octave Music CDs that goes like this "We believe there is a place that lives within us all. It is a place of vision and clarity where the rhythm of life moves in harmony with a higher consciousness. The purpose of our music is to take you there."
All speakers should use the appropriate magnets (if they use magnets at all), whether Alnico or other material. The woofer and the midrange of my speakers DO use Alnico. The woofer, which is modern could have been made with alternative magnetic material; the very vintage midrange compression driver could not have been made with the current, exotic alloys. I like the sound of my system, although I don't know to what extent the use of Alnico, vis-a-vis the use of other magnetic material, has improved the sound.

It might well be the case that certain current designs would not work well with Alnico. Alnico magnets are relatively weak and may not work well with designs that require a smaller magnet and very high flux density concentrated in a small area. Alnico also demagnetizes more easily, particularly if heated, which would be bad news in designs where high current could cause heating.

There is also the approach of using no permanent magnet in a dynamic driver. I have heard some VERY good fieldcoil drivers. The problem here is that the requirement for a power supply dramatically increases the complexity of a system. Good power supplies are quite hard to find.
Larryi: Nice explanations there, I believe whatever materials are used, the most important is the way designer implementing proper technology with appropriate materials, combine with rigorous scientific measurements, to yield an extraordinary sound system. Do we have it today? What are those?
06-11-15: Larryi
There are not that many "modern" horn drivers that even come close to comparing with some very old designs, apart from some attempts at exactly replicating those old horn drivers (the Japanese G.I.P. drivers, for example). Those modern, non-replica horn drivers that are really good are also terribly expensive, such as ALE drivers (a set of drivers cost more than a house). What else do folks put up as examples of modern compression/horn drivers that can compete with the best old stuff: Avantgarde?

Some of the older, sought after driver designs are, as you point out, quite (i.e. insanely) expensive, so for most who don't intend to rip their back pockets to shreds cheaper alternatives are called for. Here the modern designs (or simply new, rehashed dittos) seem the better option compared to their older siblings, if nothing else simply by virtue of being new and at least comparable in quality. It's a shame AlNiCo magnets are not more prevalent in newer designs, but price is likely a factor.

Those über-design units of the past are certainly something to strive for, which can be seen with drivers like the B&C DCM50 (inspired I believe, though a "convetional" design, by the RCA 1428 field coil unit) - at an affordable price. Some find it's one of the best midrange compression drivers around. Mr. Weiss of OMA and his Cogent field coil units would be copied/inspired designs as well, but should one be able to buy them I gather they'd be.. expensive.

Modern cross-overs are, if not necessarily by design then largely much better due to the advancement in materials used.
Yes, I agree that given the limited and fixed supply of ancient horn compression drivers they are not a realistic option for most people. It is also unfortunate that the good replicas and good modern alternatives are also quite pricey, with a few exceptions. I wish more companies would join the likes of Avantgarde in incorporating such old ideas into very modern designs. The likes of Cogent, G.I.P. and Goto cannot realistically advance horn popularity because of their super high prices.

I am at least encouraged by the growing use of wide range dynamic drivers in modern form (e.g. Voxative), although prices need to come down for these designs too (Tangband is one of the cheap players in this arena). It would be particularly nice if the best of these designs would trickle downward into the more affordable territory.

That is not to say that I don't enjoy hearing certain ultra modern designs. Modern speakers can easily beat the very old designs in most respects, but not all, and in many areas that really count, I like the old compression drivers (they deliver incredible low-level dynamics, plenty of detail and "texture" without sounding bleached and brittle). Still, I could easily see myself living with the likes of Raidho speakers.

I am pretty much ignorant of new vs. old crossover components. I have not experimented with old stuff. However, I have heard systems where someone went through a lot of trouble and expense to find and employ some very old Western Electric capacitors and inductors in their crossovers and the speakers sound very good. I might be inclined, in the future, to upgrade my crossover, but, I would be more likely to try modern Duelund caps and inductors rather than the really old stuff.
Well said, Rtilden, thanks! With no insult intended, those are the sort of folk who would not immediately understand Bombaywalla's quote, which bears repeating:

"We believe there is a place that lives within us all. It is a place of vision and clarity where the rhythm of life moves in harmony with a higher consciousness. The purpose of our music is to take you there."

Do you think there is any way to educate those people? From all my efforts, it seems unlikely. But then again, I am not a natural teacher, so if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears!

Best,
Roy
Green Mountain Audio
Do you think there is any way to educate those people? From all my efforts, it seems unlikely. But then again, I am not a natural teacher, so if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears!

Best,
Roy
Green Mountain Audio
well, it IS hard, I admit as well. Many don't want to listen. There are several members here (i.e. on Audiogon; not in this thread as yet) who have been in total disbelief & I have had (unfortunately) a very negative & mud-slinging exchange with - all started by them, mind you & not by me. Many think that time-coherence is one of many parameters to taken into consideration during the speaker design phase rather than thinking of it as a design paradigm. Agree that time-coherence is not a panacea - it has its own set of issues to solve - but the end result, when engineered correctly, is a heck of a lot better sounding than 99.9% of what else is available in the market.
Some Audiogon members are beginning to believe this once they've experienced time-coherence for themselves but the process is very slow. I'm finding that the person needs to experience time-coherence for him/herself & be convinced that it did something positive for them. Then the willingness to change is much more forthcoming & they are much more willing to listen to its benefits. The audio big marketing machine has done a lot of damage & continues to..... ;-)
Time coherence has been a goal since the days of Western Electric and the older designs like the Shearer horn were designed with it in mind. Many vintage compression drivers available some at very low prices like EV DH1A also lots of radials or multi cells horns about. And modern versions of most of the better designs exist some like GPA Altecs are very fairly priced. With horn based systems mostly the will to pursue is missing not the cost or availability limiting any such pursuit.
Does anyone know the price of good condition RCA 1428B drivers?
Hey, Mr. Phusis, and the other guy you quoted replying to the thread; I did NOT have a "good chuckle" about the term vintage"  that I WAS ASKED TO DEFINE"  I say ask; I did not even want to declare one knowing how prissy and hen like some members CAN BE  Maybe, you should have considered before blathering forward, my age.  Do you remember Bozak, Rectilinear, KLH, Dynaco, Utah, (even) Pioneer, Marantz  Bose, Gale,  and a few other old crows of sound I can't recall..