Old vs. New

I see a lot of threads on various audiophile forums that basically go like this: I sold my 5-6-10 year old speakers, amp etc. and bought new this or that and it kills the old stuff and sounds so much better.

I have listened to a lot of classic hi-end speakers, amps and preamps and also listen to a lot of FOTM stuff and to my ears a lot of the "old junk" sounds better, sometimes a lot better. Don't get me wrong a lot of the new gear on the market sounds very good.

So let me ask a question, why do so may people automatically assume that older gear sounds inferior to new stuff? Audio tech did not really changed that much in 10 y. We still have the same two ears now as we did 10 y ago? If something was good 10 years go why is it no good now?
Garrard,Micro-Seiki, Lenco, and other turntables are still highly regarded, some think they might still be amongst the best and were built in the 70's and 80's.
Quality does not age nearly as much as the latest thing on the shelf.
I do not want categorically dismiss quality vintage equipment but a significant part is bias based on long-term adaptation to old equipment.

THe mystique of old stuff is strong.
Some folks just like it better. Others hear what the new stuff offers and want that more.
To each his own.
The one way i would describe old stuff is it has a warmer, romantic sounnd. Not very clear, nor pristine, but it has the belly of the beast in it, and sounds wonderful to some.
Then modern gear is clearer, have great response, true to the musical imput. but it may (and in fact probably does not) not have that warm glow.
So some folks like the new, some the old.

The best comparison IMO is the change in Audio Research from the warmish sound os the Sp-10 to the clear sound osf the later models. Some folks say the last good ARC product was the Sp-10. Other are glad they changed to being clearer.
Plenty of equipment makers have been making strides in clarity and performance, and the old soft warm sound is gone.
If you like the old sound, you have plenty of company, and plenty of stuff to buy that still is like that used.
I am in the 'modern sound' camp. And thought when i auditioned some MAC stuff it was right off just old fashioned sounding, and no way do i want it. So I bought Bryston.
"A warmer, romantic sounnd. Not very clear, nor pristine" - this is a very broad generalization. Take something like ProAc Response 2 for example. They are 22 years old now, and still sound good. As any mid-hight price monitor in the market today I would say. There are a lot of examples like this. I feel that this warm, romantic sound idea is a big misconception. I would hardly call TDL Studio 4 warm and romantic sounding ;o)
I think it depends on the component. For my money, speakers have not "improved" in the last 20 years or so. I'll hold my KEF 107/2s, or Quad ESL 63s against anything I've heard under $10k since their introductions. However some components have improved... especially if you go back 30+ years. Turntables for example, IMO there are more very good tables available now than during the seventies - the heyday of vinyl! Although I'm not a nut for high end interconnects, I have to admit those too have improved a lot. In general, I think the improvements since the mid eighties have been much smaller than those made in the twenty years before that. One area that has "improved" (if you can call it that), is in the VERY high end of the market... there I hear things I never heard before, but unfortunately $20k+ speakers & comparably pricy electronics are way off my radar, so irrelevant for me.I still love listening to the latest products, but I don't find too many major components pulling at me enough to change, as long as the "old stuff" is still performing as it should.

IMO opinion speakers in particular are much better today than days of old. Remember those super wide, shallow depth kabuke speakers in 70s &80s? There were ofcourse good models from AR and others but 95% of them deserve their place in garages all across the world.....they were not that great. Amps, tuners, tables are to some degree a different story but I am a modern audio guy for sure.
I agree with Elizabeth that, in some cases, yesterday’s components truly had “a warmer, romantic sound” which some prefer.

Example: In 1982 I purchased a Conrad Johnson PV2 preamplifier for $485 - and that included a phono stage! I sold it off some years ago but have very fond memories of this piece. About a month ago, in wanting that CJ tube sweetness again, I bought a Premier 16 preamplifier on Audiogon which retiled for $8,000. In some ways I actually like the PV2 more than the Premier 16!

And consider tuners – tube models from the 70’s seem to be the most highly acclaimed!
I think there have been large gains in cabinet technology and driver tech has come along too. The 90s wasnt all that long ago but there is no doubt the speakers from 70s into 80s have been bested.
"The 90s wasnt all that long ago but there is no doubt the speakers from 70s into 80s have been bested." In some ways, no doubt, but the Quad ESL 57 from a couple of decades before that is competitive with many modern speakers...in some ways. Likewise the Klipschorn is competitive with modern speakers, particularly if you have a DH SET amp.....in some ways. That one was authored in the mid 1940s. The Ionovac tweeter, Electro Voice Patrician, JBL Paragon, they all are competitive....in some ways. Very few speakers have it all, and none have it all at a real world price. So in the end most of us are going to compromise, if decades old speakers speak to what we are looking for, so much the better. But they are not for everyone.
The older components tend to also have better raw materials...cooper, silver, metal, glass, wood and rubber.

Kinda like the older houses with real hardwood flooring and thicker mil cooper pipes.
Well I originally noted todays speakers are better than 95% of older models. Those examples in particular are prime examples.
Studer, Nagra, Ampex and some other open reel decks sound better than all those either vintage or modern turntables let alone digital players regardless of price. But, yes, electronics and speakers are better now, much better. Not to mention cables.
It just shows how gullible we all are. Only sometimes new is better.
Shadorne wrote: It just shows how gullible we all are. Only sometimes new is better.

I agree but, to be clear, only sometimes old is better.

I'm going to try that as my new pick-up line....
Pro Sound:
I can say that when you enter the movie theater the sound now is much better than 25 years ago. Powerful live sound equipment for the concerts is much more superior to the 10 and 20 years ago.
The recording equipment? Well, it's much more simplier to maintain but not any better than 25 years ago. Since the recording quality might suffer vs. before, I would less-likely believe to superiority of new remasters.
Home Audio:
As to electronics/speakers you can go to Best Buy, Sears, Target, Walmart to get some PRC made set up from source to speakers or you can go to specialized dealers, make a careful choice and get a quality products for substantially higher price. Before that there weren't too much of PRC products that were available in the major stores. The quality of the cheap vintage stuff was much better and most of mid-fi stuff from the past much more superior to the one nowdays.
Old is the new new. Or is it new is the old new? New is the new old? Anyway, I once read a story about how back in the mid-60s the engineers at Motown records swapped out all their tube Neumann microphones for the brand new transistor models. They knew they sounded different, but they loved the fact that the transistor mics sounded the same from one hour to the next, something that was a real problem for the tube mics. Flash forward to the beginning of the 21st century and tube microphones are back in vogue and selling better than ever. Sometimes it's not a question of new being better, but just being different.

An interesting proposal is to take the classic old designs and update them with newer (and demonstrably better) parts. There would have to be some adjustments, but I suspect that these designs would compare most favorably to modern products.
Barry Gordy ran a tight ship $$-wise!! The Funk Bros. were payed scale rate and many times told to do it in one take.

I don't know but I'd put my old Lafayette KT-550 tube power amp up against anything out there today and it would probably beat most of all the new power amps today. You can't find transformers like the ones it this amp anymore. Others are the Quick Silver MX/MS-190 tube amps, and a few of the AR amps maybe D-76A, etc., once you upgrade a few of the parts. I also recently hear a very highly regarded pair of boutique speakers they are made to be musical and I thought I was hearing a slightly improved version of ProAcs, ARs and ADS speakers. If you consider Miller Sound an expert on speakers then you would find Bill's speakers compete exceptionally with today's speakers once Bill performs a little magic on them. Just find an old pair of large Advents and have Bill work on them, then see what happens!

Anyway my long winded ramblings means that sure many older components are not as good as the new components today but there are some exceptions that are just as good as the newer components today or even better.
Might you mean Berry Gordy?
"An interesting proposal is to take the classic old designs and update them with newer (and demonstrably better) parts."

With tube amps, most of the time, this is exactly what is done these days. Old classic designs are made with new TOL parts, funny thing is that times the new TOL parts sound inferior to old TOL parts. There were however a few very well made new amps inspired by classic amps. Take VAC PA90 for example, it's great sounding amp based on a classic old amp.
nothing plays old music quite like old components.
I already have added else, other than a correction, please see above. Or is there other else that you would like added?

"Barry also had issue paying, even that on occasion." It's still Berry though.
"Nothing plays old music quite like old components." ...owned by balding, overweight, old men, no doubt.
A lot depends on whether the component was good to begin with.
Isn't the Rega Saturn supposed to sound warm and analogue-like? Heck, isn't the entire Rega line supposed to have that character? Yes, obviously the 'tables are analogue. But I'm talking about their CD players, amps and speakers. These are all 21st century products. Let's not forget all the OTL amps out there that have sprouted up. Not all the equpiment today is of the "clear" and "pristine" camp.
I feel the real gains in modern equipment is in the entry to midfi arena....plethora of very good components for less than 500 a component...but a well designed higher end amp from yester years is still that...a good amp...a generalization but overall many more quality speakers to choose from...
I love all my old stuff still great.
Great old stuff, with proper maintenance and/or upgrades, can often be amazingly great values!
I have been building Speakers since 1979. In the early 80's I was with SpeakerCraft/Marcof electronics. Speaker components have certainly improved, the real improvement is consistency. Drivers used to be plus or minus up to 20% in spec, today, they are more like 5%. With that, I maintain that overall speakers are better because of computer aided design programs. Its still takes the knowledge and experience to know how to use a certain driver to its potential, but Today, it is not hit and miss. We used programs then, but with the variance in drivers along with
having to figure alot of math by hand, we had a much more difficult time producing the best, but there is no doubt some old speakers still compete today, where the design was right and every driver was hand measured. Today, anyone knowledgable can produce a satifying speaker with an off the shelf components and a good program and todays best.... Todays designers have better parts, better consistency and very accurate modeling before ever putting a driver in a cabinet.
As far as electronics, way back when, from my experience tubed preamps were far better, today, I listen to Solid state. I believe this product has come along way. The edge is gone and even though I clearly understand why someone wants tubes, for me the smoothness, detail and impact of My Coda CL-2 is wonderful. Amplifiers in my opinion while many are still better today, I know of many amplifiers of the late 70's through the 80's and into the 90's that are all wonderful. I use a Highly Modified Sumo Nine, (not fair comparison with the stock Nine, this is very different, but none the less, its from 1983 and competes at a very high level with very expensive gear produced today...
There is my 2 cents, good listening to new or old, Tim
I think a big problem today with many high priced gear is that measurements and computer simulation takes precedences over listening tests and tuning gear by ear. I have heard many new highly regarded speakers with mega $ amps and while technically very good, they just sound dead, boring and unmusical. Yes, some new speakers sound sublime and I would love to get them, but unfortunately the prices are simply ridiculous. What I see is that stuff from mid 90's is dropping in price on the used market and you can get a fantastic bargain on very good sounding speakers, amps etc. What I don't get is why would someone buy 40K new speakers and get rid of wonderful old speakers just because they are not new highly PRed flavor of the month. Also I just can't get my head wrapped around why would new tube amp for 30K be vastly superior to 90's 7K state of the art tube amp. Nothing changed in tube amp design in 10 years in my opinion. Correct me if I am wrong.
Agree with Faust3d about some new gear being very analytical, Measurements are the place to start, should never be the place you end. Listening prevails.
Older gear (within 15 years or so), if not abused, can save you a pile of money...I use a new preamp with a well regarded circa 1997 or so power amp and it sounds amazing and cost a LOT less than a new amp with similar specs and build quality. Plus, the amp can be upgraded easily if need be. Also, talk to a musician about "older" stuff...a 1955 Fender guitar amp with its original speaker? Oh yeah...
I have an RM-9 MK1, Audible Illusions M3. ProAc response 3s, a VPI jr with an SME 309 arm and Rega cart. that sounds wonderful, and can disappear with aplomb. I often dream of newer or different pieces of equipment; however when I fire this system up and enjoy the music - my want evaporates.
One of these days, I'll rebuild my father's MC30s and C8s to connect with an original AR TT and some Shahanian Elfs...
"If you consider Miller Sound an expert on speakers then you would find Bill's speakers compete exceptionally with today's speakers once Bill performs a little magic on them. Just find an old pair of large Advents and have Bill work on them, then see what happens!"

Bill Legall is some kind of magician for real. Talk about vintage gear I visited him many years back and he had no less than 5 vintage systems in various rooms in his home, a kind of audio boutique if you will. All were musically delightful.
I am a big fan of vintage gear. Lot's of it (but not all) does sound warm, lush and less detailed than new gear. I believe that this is mainly due to three factors, listed in order of least to most importance:
1- Newer phono cartridges are designed to sound more detailed and neutral then cartridges from the thrilling days of yesteryear.
2- Speakers are made of faster responding materials. Frankly, there is not a lot of new information on speaker design since the early 1960s, but materials technology has changed substantially.
3- Most of the improvement in new systems with regard to detail and neutrality comes from electrolytics - better capacitors. IMHO the cheapest caps available today are much better then the best stuff that was available even 20 years ago, not to mention the cans they used in the early '60s. Also diode and resistor technology has improved a great deal.