I am not a rich man so I have to make choices that I have to live with. I had B&W N804 for 7 hears. Just upgraded to 803S. Before that they were Bang & Olufsen M100-2 for maybe around 10 years.
- 890 posts total
- 890 posts total
I own or have owned 18 pairs of fairly decent speakers , from Spendor, Spica, Snell, Klipsch, JBL, B&W, and a few oddballs, but the two pair that I will never part with are Ohm Walsh 3's and 4's-- both have had their surrounds professionally replaced, and when my electronics exceed them, I will simply upgrade to Series 3 cans. I greatly enjoy the others for their merits, but the Ohms are very easy to live with and look at. Modern classics, indeed.
My H.H. Scott two-way cat coffins I have owned for 35 years. I have owned many other speakers but I keep coming back to these. Because they sounded so good? No, not at all!! I come back because the highly retro cherry veneer cabinets are so cool looking, because I keep telling myself I can eventually make them sound as good as they look, and because I'm cheap. None of the newer speakers I have owned have exuded the coolness of these - cool sort of like how "Kramer" on Seinfeld was "cool", or something... I will very likely buy new speakers and replace these in my main listening room, but I will hang onto them "for life".
The long saga:
My brother bought these speakers at the Navy PX in Vallejo, CA in 1966 and he gave them to me in about 1973. Back then they had the stock paper drivers bolted on the BACK of the face board and had an oblong port that chuffed like Chris Farley giving a raspberry. The grill cloth was the sparkley burlap stuff glued to the face board that was so popular for speakers in the fifties and sixties. The cabinet was crafted so the face board was recessed with slightly beveled wood trim and the whole thing sort of looked like a well crafted wood and fabric horn. The noises that came out sounded like they were coming from a tunnel. I used these speakers for a while and then put them in the attic and replaced them with some Bose speakers. Over time other speakers came and went.
1980 - Modification 1. I decided to pull the H.H. Scotts out of storage and upgrade the guts of the cool looking boxes. I replaced the drivers and crossover with components from Speakerlab in Seattle (new tweeter and 8" mid/woofer), and blocked the ports converting them to acoustic suspension speakers. I didn't want to disturb the retro look of the grill cloth so I bolted the drivers on the back of the face board like the stock configuration - sounded like a slightly more dynamic speaker in a tunnel.
1991 - Modification 2. I got my first CD player (Yamaha CDC-715), and thought the H.H. Scott/Speakerlabs needed a tune up for the digital age, so I removed the grill cloth, pulled the drivers out of the cabinet and mounted them on the front of the face board. Now we are talking - they looked a bit more industrial but sounded at least as good as I had intended with the first upgrade. Acoustic musician friends liked the sound, asked who built the speakers!!!
1992 - Modification 3. with little kids and cats in the picture, quickly puncture both dust caps, one woofer cone and collapse both tweeter domes on newly exposed drivers. Speakerlab now 2,500 miles away. Replace all drivers with Radio Shack products. New drivers sound like crap, no time to listen anyway.
2004 - Modification 4. Getting back into audio, buy new integrated amplifier and tuner, no money left for new speakers. Back in Seattle - so pick up new Vifa/Morell drivers, Caps and Kimber wiring at Speakerlab. I brace inside of boxes, line with sound deadening material and seal cabinets. Built natural fabric detachable grill clothes (think AR or Advent style) - about $250 total investment in all parts plus time. At first I can't understand why they sound diffrerent like crap (I didn't fully understand break in concept for speaker drivers and electronics). As drivers loosen up and I correctly dial in positions in the room, I can't believe how good the H.H. Scott/Speakerlab/Vifa/Morell speakers sound.
Now, any new piece of equipment, wire or tweak in the audio chain is immediately noticed. The speakers are fast, nuanced, detailed and warm, and bass is honest and fairly natural to 45Hz. Are they the "best speakers" ever? No. Do they sound as good as current state of the art for sealed speakers? No. They don't image as well and the bass isn't as clean as similarly sized ATC's for example. But I am enjoying listening to music in ways I haven't before, and these multiple retreads compare favorably to currently available speakers that cost many times more than my investment in parts. These old speakers have a history that means something to me, and they look very groovy baby...