If you can find replacement parts, most will, indeed, live forever!
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I can name three
1. At $3500 new, the Apogee Scintilla. I keep my ears open for a successor to these twenty year old speakers, but to no avail
2. At $1.50/ft Ant-Cables. They have been opening up people's systems in my region to the loss of some super brands.
3. At $2800 the S-H2O Signature. Not widely known yet, people who have heard them on my system have agreed, they set a new standard in amplification.
Giant Killers IMHO must be reasonably affordable, have had an serious impact on the market and/or been outrageously good for the bux. So here are a few...
Speakers: Spendor BC1, Quad 57, Quad 63, LS3/5A, Vandersteen 2, Infinity IRS, Tannoy Concentrics, Wilson WATT
Turntables: Linn Sondek, Goldmund Studio, EMT, Garrard 301, Rega Planer
Phono Cart: Koetsu rosewood, Grado Sig, Grado FT+1, Shure V15, EMT, Decca
Tonearm: Goldmund T3, Morch DP/UP, Rega 300, SME 3/4/5, Sumiko "the arm"
Preamps: Audio Reserch SP6 series, Dyna PAS, Dennesen JC-80, Marantz 7, CAT, Hovland HP-100, Audible Illusions 3
Amps: Marantz 8/9, Mac tubes, Dyna ST-70, Audio Reserch D-79b, Adcom 555
Wires: Monster, Audioquest, Kimber (they made the market for better or worse...)
CD players: Errr...
Speakers: Vandersteen 2 Series, Spica TC-50, Magnepan 1.6
Digital: Rotel 855, NorthStar DAC and Transport, Benchmark DAC
Analog: AR ES-1, Rega Planar 3, Sumiko Blue Point
Amplifiers: B&K ST-140, Quicksilver Monoblocks, Forte 4
Preamplifiers: Audible Illusions Modulus, B&K Sonata MC-101, MFA Magus
I think that these components have become more popular as time has gone on. That, in my opinion, is the true mark of a legend.
3ox, with utmost respect, I haven't heard any 50 year old component (including the quads) that can hold a candle to today's designs. Amazing sound for what they were when built - yes. Besting technologically advanced components of today - no. I believe they are an excellent choice for nostalgia listening, but suffer in terms of absolute quality of sound reproduction that is possible today.
Well, respect right back, but there is nothing nostalgic about my assesment of the Quads. They still make the majority of speakers today sound deficient in the midband. Not to say that it isn't possible to better them, just that so few do! Most of the technological improvements today seem to me to be applied to making speakers cheaper, more profitable, smaller or more visually appealing.
If you want a shock, compare the test results from Stereophile and from the Soundstage! site (NRC measurements) to the measurements of the best of the speakers available in the late '70's/early eighties (found in publications like HI-FI news from England and Audio magazine in the US). Especially in the area of Harmonic Distortion above 100 Hz, there has been only modest improvement in these measurements in the last 25 years.
The AVERAGE speaker is better today than the average speaker from the 80's due to the influence of available computer simulations etc., but the best of the stuff form those days holds up remarkably well. Frankly, I would think that with all the alleged advantages of technology even average moderately priced speakers today should just massacre even the best speakers from the 70's/80's. But using either "objective" measurements or just one's two ears, this does not seem to have happened in my view.
As to the LFT 8's, I had a pair and thought they were quite good. Certainly the bass extends deeper that the Quads and the treble is more extended (for better or worse sometimes). And the taller soundstage, while probably not correct technically, is very appealing. But, at least going by my memory, the very good mids of the LFT 8's are bested by the legendary Quads. Of course, the LFT's are currently available new and are quite reasonably priced in the world of what's available these days. I can certainly understand prefering the ET's overall for their balance of attributes. But for midband performance the Quads not only hold a candle, they light the way.
I just stumbled accross this post and find it interesting. There is a lot of good advice above. Some of the best sounding systems I have heard have been simple ones. You can assemble a "STELLAR" system here on Audiogon for not a lot of Coin that will stand the test of time.
Find a pair of speakers that will meet your room needs and listening tastes and build the rest of your system around them. Amp, Source, and Cables and you are done. It is really not that hard unless you are always wanting to try new gear like me. Really surprised I am still married.. HAHA!
Oh you want timeless classics? That thread has been done before several times on this forum, check the archives if they still exist.
But so far as a giant killer goes I also concur with the JVC 1050 cdp. The laser mechanism on mine went several months back so I ended up trying a Sony DVD 9000 in the interim. The Sony was smoother with better bass and greater resolution. So I should like it better right? I wish. The Sony just sounded, what's the word I'm looking for? Audiophile, yeah that's it and in addition it doesn't play CD-r, just another strike.
So I decided to find another JVC and did and am waiting for delivery. Man I'll tell you for 200.00 used I do not believe there is anything better for a transport. At least I haven't heard it. Sorry for the long post but I truly believe there is something intrinsically right about this unit, dynamic and a product that involves me in listening to music and not the system. This is regardless of the system I've heard it in. It offers something indefinable, something I've never heard in any Sony product regardless of price. This design is about 15 years old btw which makes it ancient in the digital world but it is special.
Vandersteen 2 series has not been slain by any speaker in its price range that I've heard. Of course this is an issue of preference but the Steens still fare well against their competition. The Maggies too are great but offer a different set of priorities, but not necessarily better, sorry Douglas. Ah, yes, the midrange of Quad speakers at 50 years old still embarass the vast majority of speakers out there, like 99% ;^)
In the true hi-end cost no object sweepstakes I've stated before and will again that I haven't heard any amp best the Berning ZH-270 in a given application. It does everything right. After owning this amp for over 3 years and comparing it against many other amps in different systems I believe this to be true. To really understand how great it is is to hear it in an optimally set-up system, this amp will go down as the next step beyond the Futterman design in tube amplification for all it offers. Ah, the best sign to me is still being as excited as the day I first heard it.
MY ACOUSTAT SPECTRA 33 is a giant against other giants like the magnepan 3.6 and martin logan cs series, it will those including quads...much larger and wider panels for planars and electrostats. My OHM walsh 2xo will kill any small to medium planars, electrostats and definitely conventional dynamic speakers such as JBL,POLK, INFINITY, NHT, ENERGY, ATHENAS AND THE LIKE. Eminent technology LFT 8a another giant killer which I own also, nothing it's price range can even get close to it. Any of my magnepans MGLR-1, .05 AND INCLUDING MY SRSLABS KLAYMAN SIGNATURE will blow away in imaging any dynamic speakers at major speaker stores costing hundreds more. The srslabs used to retail for $1200 went down to $400 til it was discontinued. With a sub, the klayman signatures are hard to beat in home theater set up at the price range, no $500-800 speaker go near it even $1000 dynamic speakers. The imaging is up there and lifelike similar to OHM'S radiation pattern.
this is what makes audio audio opinions. everthing that is mentioned to someone has brought them enjoyable sound. i believe the giant killer is now the ability to do room correction with the likes of a tact 2.2x or dsp ability in lyngdorf audio and in tact/boz gear. the room has the biggest influence on the sound regardless of all the mentioned equipment. if you have not heard a room corrected to hear what the system sounds like you are in for a real eye opener. this is my choice for giant killer as it can now awaken even the gear from the past to new levels of performance since we can now take the room problems that affect the sound and virtually eliminate them.
When I started this thread I had no listening experience and while I hope to someday hear many of the suggested items I am glad to report that the Odyssey gear that came so highly recomended would have to be on my list of Giant Killers so far. I was very pleased with this first step toward Hi Fi.
Not only do these products sound great they are very well made with great care and attention to detail. The carefully selected components have a look and feel of the highest quality. With the 20 year warantee to boot, I will use my Odyssey gear to measure other modestly priced equipment.
Next to try is the Audio refinement CD and Intergrated combo. I will keep looking for a used bargain on these. Thanks to the audio club being started in Cleveland, I will finally be able to hear what others have put together.
Thanks for all the input, It has been great.
The legend in its own lifetime, LS3/5a.
B&W advertised their 6 series speakers having "Voice coils of God" its actually the LS3/5a's which posesses it. They have also been compared to the planars but not having the larger than life size presentation, which the planers have been criticised for. Chartwells 15 Ohm version are the most sought after LS3/5a's even today.
The NAD 3020 integrated amp had a retail price of $175 when new. It's phono stage was quite good at the time and offered amazing details and dynamics for a small 20WPC amplifier. It sounded too good for its pricetag.
The Airtech MG-1 Air Bearing Linear Tracking Tonearm. This Linear tracker costs a mere $699 and performs comparably well with tonearms costing 3X as much.
Denon DL103 Moving Coil cartridge. This forty year old design is still around for one simple reason. It's good--very good. I've found only subtle differences when compared side by side with cartridges costing $1500. For my opinion, the differences are not enough to justify the difference in pricetag.