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Did the best speakers of the 1940s sound better than your speakers?

Wharfedale Diamond 11 Series

Rajiv

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Hi,

Thought this might be of interest from Steve's article on CNET:

Did the best speakers of the 1940s sound better than your speakers? - CNET

Also

http://jeffsplace.me/wordpress/?p=8008&cpage=1

When I write about audio performance I normally use a reductionist methodology, by breaking performance down into basic audiophilia interests in recording artifacts like imaging, soundstaging, soundspace, resolution, and transparency, as well as those fundamental attributes of music such as timbre, tone color, tempo, melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, and loudness, for example, in order to paint you a picture of what a given components performance is like.

However, my experiences with Yazaki-sans Real Sound refers to aspects of audio performance that transcends both the recording artifacts & musical fundamentals I described above, while holistically combining them into an overall gestalt that delivers a home music experience that is natural, beautiful, visceral, and powerfully emotive, and which, I hope, will be the direction of the next frontier of home audio.

A friend after reading the article said the following.

What's very revealing is the title that Jeff Day has selected for his new venture - "Adventures in Real Sound..."
What the heck was he listening to all these years? And, these reviewers take so much credit for rediscovering sound, sound that was available for so many years!


Reinventing the wheel?

Regards
Rajiv
 

Fantastic

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Reinventing the wheel?

Not quite but close !
I think to say that audio technology today isn't far better than the 40's is a very sweeping statement. However the old good stuff used to be good and so we haven't traveled too far down the road in all these years !

There are some aspects of some technology like say horn speakers which have a characteristic of their own. Good horns do sound very good and when they are made quite solid like in the old days , it's even better ! All explained by engineering. We need to remember that if all different types of systems, TL, Horns, ESL's, various types of boxes and loading achieve 100% perfection, there might not be much to choose from.
However each has its strong points and weak points and so will always sound different. Like say ESL vs horns. You can never equate their their sound no matter how good they are. It's an engineering and laws of physics limitation.
But the drivers made today should be much better. All the finer aspects have been refined at great expense and attention to detail.
Not ALL modern speakers are great. Some are exceptional and I'm sure they can stand ahead of vintage stuff.

ALL vintage stuff is propped up tremendously to build up their resale value. PLENTY of hype is used and eventually people pay silly amounts of money for it. This isn't just an 'audio' thing. It's how to make money off all old defunct or just plain old things.
People even pay silly sums of money for the underwear of rock stars !!
That's called clever business.

I'd never spend money on vintage stuff because I can get affordable modern designs that sound superb. I feel vintage is for collectors ...with deep pockets....and those who don't know what to do with their money. :)
 

square_wave

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I always felt these comparisons should be seen in the light of ones hi fidelity heritage. It is like the vinyl vs digital debate.
 

viren bakhshi

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It's not really a comparison of just equipment - vintage stuff with current stuff.

It's a little more philosophical - whether we are any closer to reproducing music well. If the equipment gives you a musically wholesome experience, then it's doing its job well, whether it be vintage or modern. The sad part is, and its ironical too, that the vintage stuff still satisfies in that respect, whereas the current stuff often makes you leave the room!

Viren
 

viren bakhshi

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And there's another aspect to it too. Why do we continue to refer to reproductions of earlier designs as vintage? They are made here and now, as modern as anything else. The dynamic speaker driver still uses a cone, and coil, and magnet. The amplifier still uses amplifying devices, of your choice.

We just want to recognize the fact (yes, it is a fact!) that implementing the earlier designs, here and now, are more musical to the ears still.

Viren
 

heliumflight

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Long Live Vintage!

helium
--
Asus Xonar STX + Bottlehead Foreplay III + Lyrita Audio SET 6C33C + Vintage Acoustic Research AR2ax = Nirvana
 

omishra

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In those days, China was not producing any stuff. Now all belongs to them. Its just production of quantity. One can feel when you hold the old stuff in hand side by side of Chinese Junk. There are exceptions but they are coming with price.
 

square_wave

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The focus and integrity that went into some of the best examples of vintage implementations were exemplary. Such designs are timeless classics. You can still build such classics using the same principles but use improved components taking it even higher in the value chain. We should also not forget that there were really bad designs in the olden days. Broad generalizations are not really right.

The problem with many of the newer speaker designs is the extreme importance given to sharp and finely etched images and such millennial audiophilia inspired market needs at the cost of musicality, body and capability to play dynamic variations well. Such loudspeakers have flooded the market. With the Chinese entering the market plus advanced manufacturing process, these speakers are easy and cheap to produce. They cater to a certain large demographic in the market and the problem is that, they are everywhere !! They are so visible that people start thinking that they represent the loudspeakers today. They are the equivalent of music made in the loudness war era..

If people know where to look, fantastic loudspeakers are available these days. I agree that many use the same principles that were part of the best examples of vintage but with improved components and manufacturing process. There are of course newer technology too which sounds fabulous. The downside to all this is that the good stuff is a bit pricy unless you build it yourself or indulge a direct to customer brand..
 
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Dr.Bass

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Its like making movies. If the goal is just to join the 200 crore bandwagon (which is the most sought after thing these days), the formula is well known. But a really good movie needs a lot of quality time and genious minds to come together.

In the world of high end audio great minds are extremely rare and designers who are prepared to go that extra mile to look into the unknown territory are also equally rare. What do you expect in such a scenario ? Just one more big speaker!
 

Srinath_seshadri

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In 2015, we are only talking about the speakers that "survived" form the 40's. These tend to be the best of that era. They may have been repaired the right way more than once, and with good reason, they were very very very good and they were made to be repaired/serviced. Like my EV's or old altec's. They can be taken apart, and put back together with ease and you can replace all the wearing parts (coils, cones, spiders, surrounds etc)
Having said that, I have EV's I pulled from identical cabinets one has a greenish cone and the other is black. Who knows what and when who repaired it and how. But the ybot sound great.

Cool.
Srinath.
 

Rajiv

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Hi,

In the world of high end audio great minds are extremely rare and designers who are prepared to go that extra mile to look into the unknown territory are also equally rare. What do you expect in such a scenario ? Just one more big speaker!

It is also rare to see one of todays leading speaker designers and a manufacturer of speakers that cost several thousand $$$$ state that the best sound he has heard is from a system that was designed and built in the 1930's and 40's.

Laurence Dickie

Best system ever heard in you life?
After we had launched the G1 Giya in Seoul I was taken to visit a Mr Cheung who has one of the most impressive collections of Western Electric equipment in the world. He played me a cinema system with dual 18s on W-horns and twin 594 compression drivers on a multicell horn, all field coils and all driven by the original racks and a dCS front end. I have to admit I was blown away. The music was full of character but just came out and enveloped you. Truly amazing.

Mono and Stereo High-End Audio Magazine: Exclusive interview with Vivid Audio



Regards
Rajiv
 

elt93

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Simply put there were gems back then; there was garbage back then... There are gems today and there is garbage today too. Generally yesterday's gems have survived (survival of the fittest?) and can hold their own against today's gems. Now the interesting part is the price to performance ratio. The gems used to cost top dollar back then. Today's good stuff demands top dollar too. The best part about the old stuff is it can be had really cheap. though sadly the price of Vintage equipment has gone through the roof and may not be as viable now. Depends on what you can find. So again it's all about the price to performance ratio.
Just my 2 paise :)
 
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