Vintage vs New


My children growing older and leaving home has allowed me to get back into our common interest. I find myself wanting a new pair of speakers and I’m torn between some vintage models that interested me in easier times, but were not obtainable due to budgetary limitations, and current models with their state of the art drivers.  Case in point: B&W 801 Matrix Anniversary vs. anything in the 702/703.
I would like to hear people’s thoughts.  
mjjw
Vintage will likely require some crossover parts replacement, but I'd say lots of current loudspeakers would benefit from same. One of greatest bang for buck upgrades is replacing common run of mill capacitors, resistors, inductors in crossovers.
There have been great strides in modern production film capacitors, resistors, inductors. Check out brands like Jupiter, Duelund, Jantzen, Audyn, Miflex, Mundorf. Could go on and on. You can 'tune' speakers to individual preference with judicious choice of components. My present Klipschorns most definitely don't sound like any stock Klipschorn. The necessity of replacing certain crossover parts, and perhaps speaker surrounds as mentioned above, are an advantage of purchasing vintage, IMO. You've already opened up speaker, perfect chance to upgrade, no warranty issues.

Not willing to open up and mod or replace, stick to modern.
The comment that 70s speakers were voiced for the music that was most popular at the time was spot-on. That music was rock (the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Grand Funk RR, etc). The speakers were built with full-range capability being the most important factor (no subs back then), while accuracy was mostly an afterthought. JBL was considered the best for rock, while brands like Advent, AR, and KLH went for a more balanced presentation. Mated with good electronics from that era that have been kept in good shape, those combos still provide a sound that has a lot of meat on its bones IMO. My little Pioneer SA-7100 is a delight, driving either a pair of large Advents or a pair of ADS L-810s from the 80s, and I don't feel the need for a subwoofer. A Musical Fidelity A-308 and B&W CDM 9NTs satisfy my cravings for a more refined sound when I'm in that kind of mood. In my book, it's all good and we should just enjoy the ride.
Actually, I meant to say Pioneer SA-9100, although I also have the 7100.
Interesting discussion. There may never be a consensus of what constitutes the best loudspeaker due to psychoacoustics, HRTF and confirmation biases. That said, here’s what we know has and has not changed over time:

What has:
  • materials (drivers, circuits, components, enclosures, damping)
  • design technology (CAD -- construction and measurements)
  • digital recording and playback (bits)
  • room acoustical design and implementation (studio and home)
What has not:
  • anatomical design of the ear (biology)
  • vibrational excitement of a medium (how sound is produced)
  • wavelengths of audible signals
  • unique emotional responses to sound from listeners
I’m sure the above list is not comprehensive, but it represents some of the obvious variables which affect why we might like, or not like, what we hear from a loudspeaker. On the bright side, it’s such a subjective topic that there will always be something to talk about. :-)