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How do the latest speakers compare with those from the Seventies?

admin_exported

New member
Aug 10, 2019
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0
I am planning to replace a pair of KEF Cantor speakers that I bought in 1973. They have worked superbly with the two amps, two CD players and two tuners I have had in my system since the Seventies. You can see that I don't change my gear often and believe in getting value for money!

I rarely hear music on other home systems and the few modern budget speakers that I have heard don't sound half as good as my Cantors. I will be visiting my local hi-fi dealer to listen to some new speakers up to about £500 a pair. But what can I expect from kit of this quality? Will it be better or worse that what I already have? My music collection is mainly jazz but with some classical and a few poppy things.

I appreciate that my ears will be the final judges but has anyone else out there carried out a similar upgade and is state-of-the-art really better than state-of-the-Ark?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
£500 should get brand new speakers which will be an improvement on te Kef's

however, £500 will get you some older used speakers off ebay that may be much better than brand new speakers for your £500 budget
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,232
4
19,195
Hmmm. Very slim 2-way speakers with T27 and B200 (8") bass/mid drivers that are not even listed in the KEF museum (under 1970s).

Whatever you do hang on to them anyway. (Maybe get the crossover components checked as 37 year old capacitors could need replacing by now.)

There is a nice looking pair up on ebay now for £149 'buy it now' and an 'anatomy' page here. (More for our interest as you already know your own speakers.)

Unless the Cantors are giving you any cause for concern then why change?

I am not sure £500 will get you anything (new) that will have the same character. You certainly won't find any good infinite baffle designs with 8" bass/mid drivers for that money.

Maybe spend some of the money on another pair (or two) of excellent condition Cantors in case anything happens to yours.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
232
18
18,795
I agree with Chebby.

Modern speakers are different - in fact, I feel modern hi-fi in general has quite a different modus operandi to kit from the 70s and early 80s. The older KEF, B&W and Celestion speakers represent a real golden period in British loudspeaker design when infinite baffle/sealed enclosure designs ruled the roost and larger boxes and bigger drivers - even for stand mount speakers - were de rigeur.

Personally I think many older speakers are more involving than modern ones. Most modern speakers irritate me with the way in which they seem to shout about their deficiencies. Particularly at the -£1k price points many speakers now are about being impressive rather than providing long-term musicality,and I think that is what you will miss, particularly with your listening material, particularly in the mid-range. I've not heard a single ported cabinet design that doesn't have some annoying un-eveness - often taking the shape of bloated or artificially impressive bass.

What you will get from modern speakers is more detail, but I think you might find the loss of that classic British speaker sound hard to live with.

For what its worth I put my money where my mouth is. I'm currently using a pair of 1980s KEF C30s and I've got a pair of late 70s Celestions on the way to me (the Celestions will take pride of place in my main system and the KEFs will live in my study). I've heard and owned many modern speakers, including Quad 11Ls and B&W 685s, and I wouldn't go back to them for anything in the world.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I think Chebby and Matthewpiano have confirmed my concerns. I don't really want to get rid of the the Cantors or relegate them to a study, but it's a matter of new lounge furniture and a general room upgrade (ie de-clutter). The Cantors have nearly always been bookshelf mounted but more recently they have had to be floorstanders, yes, directly plonked on the floor. Shock, horror and words of disbelief all round the forums, no doubt. I had considered putting the Cantors on stands but they are the wrong shape : too tall, too wide and much too slim for any modern stand. As a result, I mostly listen to music through headphones although it would be good to improve the speaker sound when I get the lounge to myself. Has anyone any ideas how I could get the speakers off the floor without resorting to bookshelves or even the convenient wall mount hole in the back of the cabinet.

By the way: The capacitors were replaced about 20 years ago so they could be coming up for another check soon
 

whiskywheels

Well-known member
Nov 1, 2009
39
0
18,540
I'm sticking with my late seventies KEF corelli's, and in my study a pair of old Mordaunt Short MS20's. All sounds good to me, but I haven't compared with any modern speakers.

Should I get the capcitors checked ( whatever they are ) ?
 

biggus_1961

New member
Nov 24, 2007
53
0
0
yes i agree with others on here about modern speakers shouting out what is wrong with them, i think alot of them lean closer to home theatre sound than they did in 1970's and eighties,

I'm using KEF C75 floorstanders and are excellent for jazz and vocals both male and female voices even with up to date singers such as Robbie Wiliams singing 'feel'

Try Patricia Barber or John Lee Hooker and the midrange and high range are superb.

Even ac/dc sound good with them though they dont go as deep as some speakers.
ive had these speakers since 1991 and they were end of model run out at that time

incidentley i didnt see this model number in the museum either.

I quite like the sound of B&W speakers these days but always come back to these older KEF's

Happy listening
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
matthewpiano:I agree with Chebby.

Modern speakers are different - in fact, I feel modern hi-fi in general has quite a different modus operandi to kit from the 70s and early 80s. The older KEF, B&W and Celestion speakers represent a real golden period in British loudspeaker design when infinite baffle/sealed enclosure designs ruled the roost and larger boxes and bigger drivers - even for stand mount speakers - were de rigeur.

Personally I think many older speakers are more involving than modern ones. Most modern speakers irritate me with the way in which they seem to shout about their deficiencies. Particularly at the -£1k price points many speakers now are about being impressive rather than providing long-term musicality,and I think that is what you will miss, particularly with your listening material, particularly in the mid-range. I've not heard a single ported cabinet design that doesn't have some annoying un-eveness - often taking the shape of bloated or artificially impressive bass.

What you will get from modern speakers is more detail, but I think you might find the loss of that classic British speaker sound hard to live with.

For what its worth I put my money where my mouth is. I'm currently using a pair of 1980s KEF C30s and I've got a pair of late 70s Celestions on the way to me (the Celestions will take pride of place in my main system and the KEFs will live in my study). I've heard and owned many modern speakers, including Quad 11Ls and B&W 685s, and I wouldn't go back to them for anything in the world.

Cracking post, well written young man.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Ive got a pair of these 4206's, i swear the might look ugly, but they are an amazing speaker, bottom,mid and top end, amazing...

http://www.jblpro.com/pub/recording/4200.pdf
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
0
18,890
I agree with matthewpiano.

70's speakers had an altogether different presentation to modern speakers, so much so that I have come across people who have auditioned modern speakers and decided to keep their old ones! Many manufacturers strive for accuracy, but that's not necessrily what people want. Most people would rather sacrifice a bit of accuracy for something easy on the ears, listenable. I think that's why modern Spendors and ProAcs tend to be quite popular.

Some of my favourite speakers over the years have heralded from the 70's. KEF's Reference 104/2 is a classic, and always will be, it's just a shame that the original bass drivers aren't available any more. Linn Saras were far from accurate, but just sounded like music. Jim Rogers 149's were amazing little speakers, based on the BBC LS3/5a design, but taking it a little further and placing it in an aluminium cylindrical cabinet. I loved these so much I've bought a pair recently because they're just so enjoyable, and also because they're a sealed cabinet and don't suffer from many of the problems todays speakers do, as matthew mentions. I think that's part of the problem. Modern speakers, in the pursuit for bass depth and efficiency, have sold out to porting, bringing along the problems that ports do. We're no longer used to even, clean bass and midrange anymore. People are used to distortion and colouration. So much so that when people do hear a good speaker, they don't like them!

Part of the problem is that 70's speakers had a warmer tonal balance with a heavier bass, partly due to larger cabinets and bass drivers. In the 90's the fad was to make slimmer cabinets, which needed smaller bass drivers. These speakers were 'lightweight' in comparison to the bigger boxes of the 70's - it's all about shifting air.

Fair play to ATC for bringing back sealed cabinets to the budget sector with the entry level SCM range, and Spendor with the SA1 and S3/5r. M&K have always used sealed cabinets, but that's for other reasons over and above removing colouration. The speaker industry could do a lot worse than bring back the sealed cabinet.

I'm not saying ports are wrong, they can be great when implemented properly. But I find this is more towards the higher end of the market.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,627
76
19,770
I still occasionally exercise my old Wharfedale E20s. They have a very likeable sound - at 96db - they're good for parties too. As previous posters have mentioned they are not as accurate or as detailed as my MAs. But they are so nice....fun.

Maybe that's the point now, music has probably taken itself too serious.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
suppose it all boils down to one's budget .... obviously, there will always be brand new that are much better ..... but at a price

I will have to pay considerably much more to better my B&W speakers .... my next pair of speakers will also be very old (IMF TLS80) ....

I am expecting to pay between £600-£800 for a good pair ... then an additional £100-£150 to have them checked /serviced from Wembley loudspeakers
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Dim_span is quite right. In my case it definitely boils down to budget, with a bit of Mrs Jazzfan's pressure for a minimalist (tidy and junk-free) lounge with her preference for floorstanders over speakers on what she calls "fussy" shelves or stands.

But I have been greatly heartened by some of the replies and advice written above. Biggus, another jazz enthusiast, describes how he is using KEF C75 floorstanders. I also notice that his system might be similar to what I am putting together.

Can I widen the debate to find out what speaker might be best for my limited system? I recently replaced a venerable old Phillips 850 CD player (circa 1988) with a NAD 545. My existing NAD 3130 amp is showing signs of age with intermittent crackling or total cut-outs on one or both channels and I plan to replace it with a NAD 326BEE. I also have a fairly recent Denon tuner and occasionally use a very ancient Garrard record deck.

Staff at a local hi-fi shop have advised me to choose speakers that cost about the same as the amp, so we are talking about £300-350. But What-Hi reviewers do not seem to be much in favour of floorstanders at this price, as is shown in their review of the Diamond 10.3s.

So perhaps I ought to be thinking about British retro floorstander speakers to maintain the sound I am accustomed to. But how will they sound with the new NAD amp and CD player?

Also, can anyone recommend a firm that repairs or maintains old amps and speakers, just in case I decide to keep the old kit going? I've lost track of the East London firm that fixed my Cantors 20 years ago.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Jazzfan .... have a close look at the old B&W DM2 speakers .... there are currently 2 pairs on ebay UK ...

I have recently seen a pair in good condition sell for £25 .... I paid £50 for mine ... have also seen a pair sell for £650

if the speakers are advertised on ebay correctly, expect to pay in the region of £200
 

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
333
17
18,895
FrankHarveyHiFi:
I agree with matthewpiano.

70's speakers had an altogether different presentation to modern speakers, so much so that I have come across people who have auditioned modern speakers and decided to keep their old ones! Many manufacturers strive for accuracy, but that's not necessrily what people want. Most people would rather sacrifice a bit of accuracy for something easy on the ears, listenable. I think that's why modern Spendors and ProAcs tend to be quite popular.

Some of my favourite speakers over the years have heralded from the 70's. KEF's Reference 104/2 is a classic, and always will be, it's just a shame that the original bass drivers aren't available any more. Linn Saras were far from accurate, but just sounded like music. Jim Rogers 149's were amazing little speakers, based on the BBC LS3/5a design, but taking it a little further and placing it in an aluminium cylindrical cabinet. I loved these so much I've bought a pair recently because they're just so enjoyable, and also because they're a sealed cabinet and don't suffer from many of the problems todays speakers do, as matthew mentions. I think that's part of the problem. Modern speakers, in the pursuit for bass depth and efficiency, have sold out to porting, bringing along the problems that ports do. We're no longer used to even, clean bass and midrange anymore. People are used to distortion and colouration. So much so that when people do hear a good speaker, they don't like them!

Part of the problem is that 70's speakers had a warmer tonal balance with a heavier bass, partly due to larger cabinets and bass drivers. In the 90's the fad was to make slimmer cabinets, which needed smaller bass drivers. These speakers were 'lightweight' in comparison to the bigger boxes of the 70's - it's all about shifting air.

Fair play to ATC for bringing back sealed cabinets to the budget sector with the entry level SCM range, and Spendor with the SA1 and S3/5r. M&K have always used sealed cabinets, but that's for other reasons over and above removing colouration. The speaker industry could do a lot worse than bring back the sealed cabinet.

I'm not saying ports are wrong, they can be great when implemented properly. But I find this is more towards the higher end of the market.

Couldn't agree more. My fathers old sealed cabinet Arcam speakers sounded superb. They had what I can only describe as a bounce to the bass and an involving solidity that I personally have not really heard in modern speakers. I've been on the search for this sound for years. When I find it I will move to 2 channel hifi me thinks!

I've never listened to the Spendor, ProArc or ATC's though. Do they have a similar sound to the old sealed cabinet designs?
It is a shame that the ATC's are so ugly!
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,232
4
19,195
Can you stretch the budget a bit?

There are some ex-demo Rega RS3 floorstanders (in Cherry finish) here for £475 (instead of the usual £690).

I am sure they will work well with any good £300 - £350 amp such as the NAD C326BEE.

I have heard the Rega RS3's (and owned their predecessor R3 models) with a number of amps including a 25 watt Arcam Solo-Mini and a Nait XS and it was excellent with all of them.

They are compact floorstanders with a good level of 'wife approval' (here in this house at least). Their cabinets are UK made (by Timberworx in Sheffield) and the bass/mid drivers made in-house by Rega themselves. Only the tweeter is made ex-UK by Vifa but to a Rega design.

The chaps at Signals are excellent to deal with (I bought my current speakers from them.)
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
0
18,890
JohnNewman:Couldn't agree more. My fathers old sealed cabinet Arcam speakers sounded superb. They had what I can only describe as a bounce to the bass and an involving solidity that I personally have not really heard in modern speakers. I've been on the search for this sound for years. When I find it I will move to 2 channel hifi me thinks! I've never listened to the Spendor, ProArc or ATC's though. Do they have a similar sound to the old sealed cabinet designs? It is a shame that the ATC's are so ugly!


Although the ATC19's look like a big, serious old style standmount, they are more neutral than 70's speakers. Some will prefer this, but they don't have that warmth that 70's speakers had, but they do have that smooth bass that doesn't sound boxy.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Wow! Thanks for all your feedback and ideas folks. There is certainly plenty to consider here. Instead of rushing into replacing the KEFs (which I will most certainly being hanging on to) I will settle back and do some careful browsing of Ebay and websites offering golden oldie speakers for sale. I also liked the look of the shop near Ipswich, as recommended by Chebby and will be giving them a call in the next few days.

Thanks again and keep those comments coming.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Chebby

Just been drooling over pictures of RS3s and Mrs JF has given the seal of approval, on looks alone. But might they be a little too good for the NAD amp I am planning to buy? And there is always the danger that if the speakers are brill, I would have to upgrade everything AGAIN just to bring out the best in them. This is quite a shocking thought for someone like me who has only just decided to upgrade speakers after 37 years! But retirement is not too far off (unless Oh My Gord and Darling decide otherwise) and I could have all the time in the world to sit and enjoy my jazz.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Have to of agree with you . When I first came across modern speakers , it left me scratching my head ; followed by a silent expression - huh ? I found that a sub plays an important role with today's speakers . That being said , I prefer the looks of new over yesterdays speakers .


( Switched over to firefox . Problem solved .)
 

Mr Morph

New member
Aug 16, 2010
1
0
0
This thread has provided fascinating reading! I have an old pair of Marantz speakers from the mid 80's and although they were never highly rated they've always proved listenable and informative. In fact, they may well be covering up the 'hard edge' in my system? Either way, lived happily with them for 25 years, and agree with everything that's been said on this thread. Come back to the point I usually make, which is, if it aint broke don't fix it!
 

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