Recommendations for Vintage Speakers


I’m currently looking to put together a vintage system and am wondering what a good pair of full range, floor standing speakers would be. They would be powered by a Pioneer SX-1250. I listen to a very wide range of music, a lot of live Grateful Dead, Classic Rock, Metal, But also enjoy Jazz and even a little Big Band music once in a while. Thanks for your help!
bigjohn9095
I don't know what they would be, but I do know where they would be:
https://seattle.craigslist.org/search/zip?query=speakers
Look for a pair of New Large Advents, particularly the ones with the "bull-nose" cabinets. They’re a versatile speaker and sound good with any genre. I recently compared them back-to-back with some new Vandersteen 2Ce Sig IIs ($3K/pair) and returned the 2Ces.

It’s not uncommon for the woofers to need re-foamed but it’s easy to do and re-foam kits are available from many vendors. My pair is all-original except for the foam surrounds and they still sound better than 3/4 of new <$3K speakers I’ve auditioned/owned. I have five pairs of newer speakers in my home at the moment, all of which retail for over $2K and there are only 2 pairs I prefer to the Advents.

Even when I sit them on the floor, they somehow project a soundstage of believable height, and they’re not finnicky when it comes to placement. I usually spend hours dialing-in the placement of speakers but with the Advents, I plop them on the floor, equidistant from the wall, with just a smidge of toe-in and they sound great - no need to bust out the lasers and measuring tape.




Klipsch Fortes (or IIs)
KEF 104/2s
Paired with an SX-1250? HPM 100's :)
Snell Model A, but early 80s Kefs (104/2, 105, 107) would be up there.  
<<The Dahlquist DQ-10 would be on my list!>>
I second that.  I spent many, many years mesmerized by my DQ-10s' imaging capabilities and tonal accuracy.  They were never regarded as speakers with an authoritative bottom end, but the bass was absolutely satisfying and realistically presented (10" woofers if I remember correctly) - IMO far preferable to high-end monitors that, by design, sacrifice the lower octave in favor of mid-range realism.
One of my favorite speakers is the KEF 104/2. They were made between 1984 and 1996. They are very non-fatiguing, exhibiting a rich full midrange and smooth highs with enough bass to satisfy most people. They produce a large 3 dimensional soundstage with superb imaging. They do need some power to get the most out of them.
DCM Time Windows 1A. Better sounding than any of the above (except the Snell AIII - which I also have). I am now on my third pair of TW’s. First pair bought in 1977, second pair in ’78, last pair bought 2 years ago. Cost $219 + shipping in like-new condition from Ebay. Serial nos. 52779, 52780 (late production). Truly a world-beating speaker with near-perfect pulse and time response! NOT a box speaker. Prism-shaped floor-standers! And amplifier-friendly!
I looked up the Time Windows. Apparently opinions on the DCM Time Windows are mixed. Steve owned Bose 501s at the time and still wasn't impressed.
https://youtu.be/PCQUgsoTBUc
EPI / EPICURE / Genesis, or ADS speakers I find very pleasing as far as vintage goes.
@helomech: Bob Carver liked the TW's! I will trust his opinion any day over Guttenberg's - who worked at that snooty audio store in NYC (Sound By Singer).
What is meant by 'vintage'? Are Snell Bs old enough to be vintage? IMO they were the best speaker Snell made. They go down to 22Hz and are easily driven with 60 watts, although I found 200 watts to be a bit better :)

One a budget the older KLH speakers are very nice if you get one of the bigger models.


But one problem you will run into with vintage speakers from the 50s,60s,70s and 80s is breakups, which contribute to harshness. The KLH speakers I mentioned have a problem with this in their tweeters- you push them, they get harsh. But if you're unconcerned with keeping them original, there are newer tweeters like ribbons that have far better performance. Of course you may be spending more to fix that problem than you spent for the speakers themselves...

BTW the kind of music you like has nothing to do with whether the speaker will be appropriate or not. The requirements a speaker needs to be good at rock are exactly the same as what it needs to be good at classical or folk.
The Bozak LS-400 and CS-501A are true floor standers that sound very good with all types of music, even though Rudy Bozak was a classical fan.  Tannoy is another excellent vintage speaker to search for.  Actually their present day Prestige series of speakers have a vintage look, so you could have a new speaker having the proper appearance for your system.  It's not a floor stander, but the AR-LST is also an excellent vintage speaker, however they are not found used very often.  Have fun in your search!

Budget?  How vintage is vintage?

Some original B&W 801's?

If you keep an eye on the outlet store link on ohmspeakers.com vintage OHM models refurbed with new components regularly come up for sake there for about the same as original cost. Or if you contact OHM there may be others available not posted. Or if you pick up a vintage pair of OHMs elsewhere on the cheap, they provide upgrades and service still for most every model ever made.
ADS or Celestion Ditton 33/66 speakers for lower cost options -great for rock and metal.  
Allison Model One
Celestion SL700 - although they are stand mounts and not quite full-range
FWIW, I owned an SX-1250 back in the day (Bought, brand new @Best Products in Houston, TX in 1977.).  I acquired the receiver as the first piece of a system I was building, so auditioning a lot of speakers-from-that-era was next on the agenda.  Aside from a brief flirtation with Bose 901 series IIIs, the three finalists from a summer’s worth of haunting Houston stereo shops (of which there were many at that time) were the JBL L-100, the JBL L-65, and the Pioneer HPM 100.  At that time, there was usually an SX-1250 or 1050 in stock and set up at these venues so that was a plus.....I wound up with the L-65s and are still listening to them daily.  Such great sound and so “of those times”, stylistically!  (I”m running them with a PrimaLuna Prologue Classic now.). One bit of info might be useful...I really had my heart set on the big Infinity.Quantum Series speaker’s.  I had salesperson after salesperson steer me away from them because, as they would tell me time and again, my “monster receiver”didn’t have the steam for anything bigger than the Quantum 4 and even that pairing was marginal.  I thought that it was as simple as “The world's Most powerful receiver is gonna be the perfect match for those badass QLS-1s.”  What can I say...I was 18 with too much pocket change!  Glad I got talked out of that one...
I'd look for vintage Polk in the SRS-SDA series. They were remarkable in my vintage system. Sorry I let them go.
I have a friend of mine who I call "Vintage Joe".  He has had all of the above mentioned speakers.  Depending on your price range and room size the best speakers I heard from his system was the IMF 50s and up.  Large box style floor standers.  I also agree with KEF 104/2s and 105s and Dahlquist DQ-20i's.
@lg1

Yep the Quantum would have been a bad match.

I know in the receiver world 160 wpc was "monster" power.  Not so much in high end, especially for demanding speakers.  And then there's the question of the quality of the amp.


Which leads me to this: I'm going to hedge a bit on my previous Dahlquist DQ-10 recommendation for the OP.  They do need high quality, high power amps.  Maybe the oft-recommended Advents would work better with his Pioneer.  I'll never forget the "disappearing act" I enjoyed with my DQ-10s, but I don't think the SX-1250 would match up very well.  Those speakers were very revealing, and I had a really nice front end.

Ohm Walsh 2 & 4
Aerial 10t
NHT 3.3
Pinnacle ac850
Spendor BC1
Pro-ac Response 2.5
Infinity Overture 1
And yes the DQ 10's I'm a huge fan of them...their imaging is remarkable....
DCM TimeWindow 3 or JBL L100.
DQ 10’s....what I use. They sound amazing....scored a mint set for $375. Refoamed but 100% original otherwise.  You'll need a high current amp for adequate bass response though.
ads L1290 or L1090 ... mid 80s vintage; I have a pair of the bookshelf speakers in this line in my bedroom and they sound grrrrreat!
Klipschorns. Or KEF Concertos.
@atmasphere +1

I got a pair of ’KLH MODEL SEVENTEEN’S that need reconing in great cosmetic, structural and mechanical shape that have been in my ’stereo closet’ for years. Even though they only had the 10" woofer they really hit that ’sweet spot’ in sound for such a low 'vintage' price. And you could put them anywhere, from the bookshelf to the floor. I’m glad I kept them!
I love that line, “...who has had all of the above mentioned speakers”.  What an amazing coincidence that this young thread would mention each and every model that “vintage joe” owned, huh?!
Klipsch KLF-30s or KLF-20s
Seldom see them but KLH 17 was a great little speaker . Still is if you recapwhich is simple .
Big John,
Where is home?  I've got a couple of vintage pairs really cheap if I don't have to ship.  KLH 17's and EV Wolverines.
Pittsburgh...
Find a pair of refurbished vintage JBL L100. You'll never look back.
Another vote for ADS. I’ve owned a bunch, and I still have two pairs of L1290s. They are very good speakers. Also, the surrounds are rubber, so no need for replacement.

I would also cast a strong vote for vintage ARs. The AR9 and 90 are truly remarkable speakers.
So , I graduated in June 1978 from FSU. Went to work in Jacksonville, Fl. My first paychecks at age 22 were a upgrade from my Infinity Pos 2’s to Kef 104AB’s. I paid then $1100 then plus sale tax as a 22 year-old. I had them restored 2 years ago to 100% thinking my 35 yr old son might want them? Restoration included new cabinet veneers, new cross-overs, new foam grills, they are 100% NEW!!! Anyway he doesn’t get it. So I’ll build a new retro system or possibly soon put up for sale and take a loss based on a “perfect restoration. They are beautiful and perfect! They are still wrapped in plastic since I first heard them again in Tampa at The Speaker Exchange who restored them. Glenn the  owner is amazing for many decades now!
Bogey2292-AKA Dave
Depends upon your ROOM more than anything else (except your wallet, of course!).  Try a small set of newer Magneplanars and see what you think about the clarity of listening to the actual recorded music instead of the "horny" sound of horns or the booming of speakers like Advents, JBL's, etc., which were great in the day but have been out-engineered easily by today's designers (no disrespect to Henry Kloss, clearly an audio icon).  Whatever you do, LISTEN TO IT IN YOUR ROOM first.

Cheers!
What do you all think about the Altec 604?
Depends upon your ROOM more than anything else (except your wallet, of course!). Try a small set of newer Magneplanars and see what you think about the clarity of listening to the actual recorded music instead of the "horny" sound of horns or the booming of speakers like Advents, JBL's, etc., which were great in the day but have been out-engineered easily by today's designers (no disrespect to Henry Kloss, clearly an audio icon). Whatever you do, LISTEN TO IT IN YOUR ROOM first.
Weird, I don't have any bass boom with my Advents and they're significantly more detailed than the 1.7is I owned. Magnepans are not very detailed/clear speakers in the grand scheme of things - why there exists the phrase, "Maggie mist."

I miss some of the older speakers with all of their flaws and colorations.. ..many just sounded musical.. These speakers all got to me thru a song or two that I heard thru them which  gave me goose bumps at the time.

I used to sell high end audio gear in the late 70's very early 80's

before moving on.

Altec Model 19 Jackson Browne The load out-Stay

Kef 104-AB .. Elton John  Love song

DCM Time window  Fleetwood Mac Gold Dust Woman.

Acoustat Model 3's  Christopher Cross  Sailing

Dahlquist DQ 10'S   Doors  Riders on the Storm.

Snell Type A.. Rolling Stones  Slave .

Rogers Studio 1   Supertramp  Even in the Quietest Moments

ADS 2030   The Police    Shadows in the rain.

Infinity Rs 4.5   The Police Don't stand so Close to Me.

Quad ES -63   Joni  Mitchell   Court and Spark

Acoustat Model 4..  10cc I'm not in love

Dahlquist DQM 9     Steely Dan .. Hey Nineteen

B&W 801.... Bruce Cockburn Wondering where the lions are

Kef 
105    Loggins and Messina Angry Eyes long version.

ADS  910    Led Zepplin In the Evening

Acoustat 2+2    James Taylor Something in the way she moves

thanks for the memories




There are some very good vintage speakers  and several of them have been suggested but the suggested JBL Century L100 is not one of them.Probably the worst sounding speaker I have owned.No crossover on the woofer so you get a heap of cone break up interfering with the rest and the tweeters sound terrible.Some people describe it as sizzle but it more like the sound of an arc welder.


I have owned most of the speakers suggested and some of them are very good but I think on balance Gale 401 are the best of the lot.Most of all they do not sound like boxes,are very refined yet also very dynamic and are great on a wide range of music. and sound very clean and composed even at high volume.Not so good on classical music for some reason but very good on everything else.
Toshiba SS 30 speakers circa 1960s also deserve a mention.Fabulous sounding things.
Gale 401's were very musical , I remember hearing those at a winter CES show .. They had the chrome tops and bottoms, laying sideways on some chrome stands .. sorry i did not get the chance to spend any length of time with them, but If i remember correctly they had some hefty low end. Can't remember what they were powering them with.
If you ever come upon a pair of FMI (Fulton Musical Industries) Model J’s, buy ’em! Or even the Model 80 (a 2-way box speaker, which served as the midrange of the J), with added subwoofers. Very transparent, natural-sounding loudspeakers.
The Gales do sound big but the low end is very tight and textured and most especially rhythmical rather than hefty.Hefty for their size  I suppose because they have a two 8 inch woofers in a compact box.I have always wondered if part of the reason for them sounding so good is that they have a very high ratio of driver area to box surface area which should mean relatively less box colouration -which is exactly how they sound.Very very few modern speakers can match that.Perhaps some of the Magicos and the Dynaudio Confidence C1.
What is your budget? I have had about 30 different pairs of vintage speakers over the last 3 years and also recapped most of them to get the best out of them. 

I would be happy to help
Here are a few of my favourites not in order. 

I will say that if what you choose has not been recapped it should be done to get the full potential from them

Celestion ditton line
Ditton 33 if you can find them. 
Ditton 44
Ditton 66
With Ditton's you Must recap them if original. It makes a huge difference.

AR9 are Awsome now quite pricey
AR 3a same thing. 
AR 4x are decent for the money
IMF TLS 50 and 80 are awsome.
EPI 100's ok for the money

JBL early L line
100's are cool but screechy and tiresome. Crossover upgrades can fix this. Great punchy bottom end on all the L line. 19, 26, 36, 46, 50 
Apparently L112 are very very good. 

Yamaha NS 690 and 1000 are quite good. I have 690's

KLH model 6 not the 17 are the ones you want IMHO. Had both

Snell Type E. Close to $6000.00 Audio Note ANE., seriously.

Tannoy Gold's in various cabinets 

Boston A400
Infinity Kappa 8 and 9. Had 8's. You need to mod the crossover on the 8's so they don't kill your amp. 

Paradigm 9se and 90p monitors. Both good speakers. Most of the monitor line are considered quite good. 

All suggestions should be under 
$1000.00 eccept the Tannoy's

As I mentioned earlier.. I recapped most of them and put them in front of quality gear so I beleive I heard them at or close to their best. 

Good luck