Quads. How far back are you thinking?
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Some folks think that the Quad 57 and/or 63s are still the best speaker ever made. However, they do typically take a greater amount of care and feeding than do a typical dynamic speaker.
Again, some folks think a Klipsch K-horn with modern updates is the best of the best.
Recent variations of some other older designs are also very good. A couple of examples are the current version of the Magnapans and Vandersteens.
There are many that I like such as Gale 402, KEF 104ab, 105/2, Bozak Symphony, JBL 300B, 4350, Altac Lansing Model-19 and Stonehenge. They all sound different and have different amp requirements but I like them all. I particularly like the Bozak Symphony, JBL 4350, and the Gale 402 which I used to own.
Jbl Hartsfield (Older version) with Super tweeter and subwoofer. This speaker sounded very close to the Quad ESL 57 in the midrange (I had both at the same time) but could fill a theatre full of sound.
Most Apogee Full Range Ribbons (Full Range, Scintilla, Diva, Duetta,)
Many other great vintage pieces that the Japanese covet for good reason.
Here's a short list that fit my criteria, which is: pre-1980, well suited to a wide variety of music, works well in a domestic environment, and has a treble range that's smooth and well-dispersed enough to sound reasonably "modern", whatever that means. I also need to have spent some time with them personally . . .
AR-1 with ESS tweeter added (fairly common in these parts)
B&O Beovox 5700
All of the above have given me that impression of "Damn! Those things are HOW old???", and I could easily enjoy them as my only speakers . . . maybe with the exception of the Empires on aesthetic grounds. And a few that don't quite make the list:
Quads . . . I absolutely love them, they're wonderful. But play some rock or crank up some jazz, and they sound like somebody brought a Jaguar E-type to a drag race . . . disappointing.
Horn systems (radials, sectorals, multi-cells, slant-plates, etc.) in my opinion never sounded very smooth until constant-directivity horn designs came out in the 1980s. This throws out lots of otherwise great speakers, which can sound like somebody brought a big-block Chevelle to a road race . . .
Also, the chapter of loudspeaker history marked by the ubiquity of little paper-cone tweeters (a la JBL L100, McIntosh ML-anything) is one that I'm really happy is behind us.