Technology in speakers....


So... I am curious as to your opinions of the impact of technology and progress with regards to the design and manufacture of speakers. For example, how would a highly regarded and top rated [originally] $15,000 speaker of 10 years ago compare to a modern speaker? Would it compare to a well designed $10,000 speaker today or would it take $20,000+ to compare??? Or has there not been that much change and the value basis is about the same?

I know, it’s a broad conversational topic with no parameters. Just curious as to people’s thoughts on this. Considering that a pre-owned older speaker could be 40% of its original retail price - would you consider money better spent on a preowned speaker which might offer a superior value vs retail price or on a newer speaker that would have to be half the retail price of the comparable speaker’s original price? Assuming of course that one doesn’t mind pre-owned with some scratches etc. 

In short, if you had say $7k to spend would you pick a 10 yrs $15-18k speaker or a newer $7-10k speaker? Finally, would the answer change if you are planning to keep and use this speaker for a very long time?

Thanks for any thoughts with this.
Ag insider logo xs@2xdenjer1
depends on the manufacturer...but for fun consider the discontinued Vandersteen 5a vs the current Quattro CT......to some degree it will depend on your listening priorities and room. The 5a will play lower. The Quattro will work in more rooms and have better more pistonic tweeter and midrange with measurable lower distortion. Parts and support available for both from factory and worldwide dealer network. Thriving primary and seconday markets. Replacement packing material, manuals, etc also available.. This particular brand invests in technology and frugal cost efficiency, others may do same to greater or lesser degree.

these are perhaps some of the questions to consider as you evaluate other brands. So for example, Magneplaner would look quite similar. 

have fun, enjoy the music and whatever route you take.

Jim


Wow thats a tough one ill get back to you asap.
Thanks ebm. 

Jim, 
Great reply. So.... 5A was roughly 22k. Quatro CT around $14k+. Your measured reply poses a strong argument for the Quatro (assuming playing lower is not the top priority).
So..... Between your 2 examples - assuming similar out of pocket - which would you pick? 
Thanks,
J

I've had the $4,000 Thiel 3.6's since the early 1990's and haven't found anything that would want me to replace them. I am blessed that I can afford to easily spend much more than $15,000 on speakers if I so choose, as the Magico S5 MkII almost tempted me to do.
@OP, 
Another Vandy nut here.
Quatro's, would be my choice- unless I had a huge room.
I own the Treo's with a pair of 2wq subs- so I have about 85% of a Quatro.
Bob
Tough question with many variables. If concerning only maximum attainable SQ, I don't think speakers have advanced much at all in the past couple decades. Consider that most exotic driver types have been around for 20+ years now. Still, some of the most well-regarded speakers in the new market use fabric tweeters and paper-cone woofers. I've heard speaker models 30+ years old that retailed for $3K that can give some current $15K speakers a real run for the money. 

Of course, there have been advancements in design and measurement tools, but I think that's largely benefited ease of speaker design rather than speaker performance. It's not unlike the world of musical instruments, in which some of the best sounding violins and guitars were being produced well before the advent of computers. To my ears, the greatest improvements have been taking place in the budget speaker realm, where advancements in manufacturing tech and efficiencies has allowed production of respectable speakers at very economical prices.

Also consider the factory-direct pricing model that's gaining traction. I've recently realized that at least one of these manufacturers is essentially offering 100% greater value by cutting out the middle man. Their $3K model easily competes with most $6K speakers sold through a traditional dealer network. 

If one has $8K to drop on a pair of speakers, rather than take a gamble on a used pair that retailed for $20K, that person might be better off getting similar value by going the factory-direct route. Most of these manufacturers are offering low-risk (one-way shipping cost) 30/45/60 day in-home trials and very competitive warranties. 

Lastly, consider that just because a speaker was at one time expensive, doesnt mean it was ever any good. There are plenty of overpriced/underperforming speakers on the market. 
All really good points helomech.
Thank you.

"If you had say $7k to spend would you pick a 10 yrs $15-18k speaker or a newer $7-10k speaker?"

At the risk of stating the obvious, I'd pick the speaker most likely to have the characteristics I was looking for.  In other words, I suggest making the comparison based on performance rather than based on some combination of age and price.   Assuming auditioning isn't feasible I'd try to make my guess as well-educated as possible, which might involve buying and reading a book or two. 

Duke

My old Linn DMS Isobariks loudspeakers from the mid 80's can be equalled and bested by loudspeakers for $500 or less that are new. today. IMHO. 
 @gawdbless as a two time Sarah owner, my GOD those Isobariks can ROCK !!!!!!! Glad to trade ya for anything that retails for $500

have fun !!!!! enjoy the music
OP.......great question....I picked sort of the midlife retail price for the 5a of $16K as a comparison w current Quattro CT...

in 2010 I went with a used pair of 5a in a very large room over the non-CT Quattro....Today knowing what I do about the carbon drivers ( I have TREO CT and 7 mk2 ), I would choose the CT.

Having said that 5a at under $10 K well cared for in an exotic wood are stunning....

Like Duke says, focus on what you are looking to do w system, sound going for, room, etc..try to audition IF possible. Have fun
Music is LIFE

Jim
@tomic601 -

My DMS are in the UK......
 @gawdbless Never the less, tempting!!!!! Wishing you all the best over there...

i get two free checked bags.....
@tomic601 -

I live stateside now.......
If you pack them right, you should be able to take them as a carry on,lol
Linn DMS, fully multi amplified, were a very nice musical experience. Definitely worth a trade / buy for $500.
A pretty good 10 year old ~$15k speaker is the Revel Ultima2 Studio. 

I'd say these days there are some 10k speakers that are competitive with it, but overall it's still pretty good for its price.
Thanks all. 

I'm picking up, in summary, that a 10k speaker today could likely best a significantly more expensive 10 year old design. However, a great speaker is a great speaker. It's still very much all about finding the qualities that each individual values and what works best for each system. Of course, the room is always another major variable.

Also, lower priced speakers have seen perhaps the most improvement in terms of SQ for dollar spent. Does this sound about right? 
Well the thiel 3.7, Vivid B1 and Revel Salon 2s are all about 10 years old now. All have in house drivers with great driver tech (diaphragms, motors, engineering concepts etc) and well designed cabinets with solid engineering. So for me tech has not changed much. 

I do not believe “tech” makes good sound. I used to but it all come down to implementation. Wilsons use silk and paper these days and sound pretty good to me. 

Anyway i I would take a used $7000 speaker vs a new $10,000 speaker. Most speakers are good for 20 years. 

What brands are you looking at? On top of the three above I feel used wilson Sophia’s, focal 1038be II, and Olympica IIIs are all around $7k used and are good buys. All sound pretty different so it helps to know what kind of sound you like. 


Thanks for your feedback james63.

My post was more genuine interest in people's opinions. I've always been of the opinion that great products, well designed always stand the test of time. 

I actually really liked the Sonus Olympica 3's, to my surprise, but always had my eyes, ears and heart set on the Vivid B1's.

Tonight, I actually pulled the trigger on a pair and can't wait to receive them! This is a very big deal for me. They will be a massive upgrade. Was very glad to see your comment - that gave me the final push I perhaps needed! 

Best, 
J.