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Sound of vintage vs modern speakers (is it "agitated" vs "natural"?)

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by kololok, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. kololok

    kololok New Member

    Hi all! I would like to know your opinion/experience/comments/whatever on the following issue concerning the sound of vintage vs modern speakers...

    When I was talking to a guy in the high-end Hi-Fi shop, he told me that the vintage speakers from the 70's have an "...agitaded, nervous sound, they are exagerating the sound (especially high-frequencies) and don't sound natural --- whereas modern speakers sound softer and more natural...".

    I have JBL LX44 speakers, titanium tweeters...and, well...they do sound somehow too sharp sometimes....

    Looking away from the fact that he might have been trying to talk me into buying a new pair of speakers (which may happen eventually, just don't know which ones yet), what do you think of this statement, is it really the case in your opinion?

    Just curious :)


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  2. Flippo63

    Flippo63 Active Member

    I don't listen to salesmen just the speakers. He is just trying to make a sale.
    teal'c, vince_pgh, Dazaa and 11 others like this.
  3. kololok

    kololok New Member

    I didn't listen to any speakers there - buying them is not imminent - that was just a theorethical discussion with the guy...and this statement just caught my interest... :)
  4. Drugolf

    Drugolf AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Salesmen love using generalizations to their favor..
    Only thing worth listening to when looking for speakers are the speakers.
    Dazaa, Roadrash, Harvestor and 3 others like this.
  5. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

    Philadelphia PA
    If a speaker has metal dome tweeters, especially Aluminum and/or Titanium, it will usually sound harsh to me.

    IME/O the better speakers of today sound better than their vintage counterparts. Of course the new ones cost more. That's because the vintage ones are used and quite often need to be worked on to function properly.
    stish and slimecity like this.
  6. RamblinE

    RamblinE (╯°□°)╯彡┻━┻

    You just can’t generalize.
    stish, KrisM, Roadrash and 2 others like this.


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  7. BilboBaggins

    BilboBaggins AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Ottawa, Canada
    I don’t think you can generalize like that. Of course the salesman wants to make a sale, and he won’t do that if you buy vintage. There are many great speakers that sound natural, even vintage. I prefer the British sound for natural sounding speakers. Wharfedale, Kef, Mission, etc. and some people prefer unnatural. To each their own.
  8. KeninDC

    KeninDC Speedfreak Jive Subscriber

    The salesman is correct. Vintage speakers, especially those from the 70s, sound coked-out, paranoid, and jumpy due to the outsized influence of cocaine on anything and everything associated with the seventies music industry.

    Exhibit A:

    kbuzz, stish, KrisM and 14 others like this.
  9. kololok

    kololok New Member

    Sure I don't trust the guy...he would be happy if I buy 1 000 + EUR speakers, for sure :) I may be buying spekers in the (near) future for my Yamaha CA-610, so this intrigued me a bit. Also I heard something like "...Yamaha and JBL LX44....well, no surprise it sounds sharp..." from some other vintage audio shop keeper... :) So, voila, just two opinions...
  10. bshorey

    bshorey Super Member

    Gilroy, CA, USA
    You can't trust any saleman. Of course he's not going to blather on about the merits of something that's going to get in the way of him making a sale.

    When I was selling stereos, we'd be given a new schtick almost daily, based on what we were short of, what we were in excess of, and what incentives any given manufacturer might be providing on any given day. If you came into the store on a Monday, then Kenwood might have some edge over Pioneer, hmm, we've been seeing a few of those Pioneers come back for service, blah blah blah. On Tuesday, it might be the exact opposite.

    Sales has very little to do with the merits of the actual product, and everything to do with maximizing profits.

    The home office would send 'shoppers' in every once in a while to ensure we were toeing the company line. The manufacturers might have been doing that as well.

    Yes, I know there are honest sales people in any business, but they are not in the majority. If you don't know the guy, or haven't developed a trusting relationship with him/her, then take everything they say with a grain of salt.

  11. Balifly

    Balifly Listening Subscriber

    Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    Are you and the salesman talking about vintage East Coast or West Coast sound type of speakers ? :idea:


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  12. Powertech

    Powertech Well-Known Member

    South Wales, U.K.
    I think the answer is yes or no, and yes or no. It depends on what you are comparing. I think that spouting generalised statements puts you on dodgy ground. There were a lot of relatively poor sounding speakers around at the start of the 'hi-fi revolution' and the occasional good one. Gradually a lot more information and experience was gathered particularly by the likes of KEF electronics, Quad and the BBC labs (the inventors of the classic LS3/5A) in serious audio analysis. The work by Thiel and Small also played a large part in understanding the driver/cabinet relationship. Then add in advances in loudspeaker materials technology and production techniques/quality control and you have the potential for improvements over time. You then have to put price pointing into the equation (more and more in recent years I believe) where engineers have been limited by sales and marketing.
    Spiceman50 likes this.
  13. the_nines

    the_nines AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Just trust your ears and listen to the speakers and don't listen to anybody else; sales guys, friends, wife, whatever...

    When I bought mine, I spent a couple of days listening, at least an hour per day. I was left alone to just sit and listen. Nobody in the room but me and this I really appreciated.

    If the store is confident in the product they're selling, the product will sell itself. No need for a salesman to tell you what you like, or compare eras of speaker manufacture. Lots of good stuff produced back then as well as now.
  14. Bodyblue

    Bodyblue AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Let me get this out of the way; I dont think the salesperson is correct at all. He is using the usual audiophile multi-adjective bullshit line that many websites and audio shops use. OK got that out of the way.

    You do realize that without profits, you would not have had a job right? I was in retail sales and management for all of my 30 year career and I can tell you that any company that does not sell items that make money are no longer in business.

    Umm yeah...and? You work for them by choice and that means doing things their way. Dont like doing things their way, dont work there.

    Really? Care to prove that?

    Salespeople are a reflection of the company they work for. Find a big reputable company and you fine smart, well trained and honest salespeople, period. Find a dishonest company and you find a dishonest salesperson.
  15. GChief

    GChief Not well known, super member or other silliness Subscriber

    Eastern NC
    What, you mean all people in retail are not evil ;)
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
    stish, Roadrash and Bodyblue like this.
  16. Will S.

    Will S. Super Member

    If you were to compare the modern high end speakers to the popular mass market dorm shakers of the 70s, that comparison wouldn't be too far off the mark. Comparing the modern high end to the high end of the day in those terms would be questionable.
    stish and GChief like this.


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  17. kololok

    kololok New Member

    Uhmmmm, West Coast.....of Europe :) My JBL were made in Denmark (AFAIK), bought in Belgium..... :)
    4-2-7 likes this.
  18. Balifly

    Balifly Listening Subscriber

    Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    Ah, I gather that you are not familiar with the terms - East Coast Sound, and West Coast Sound.

    Say no more. :rolleyes:
    GChief likes this.
  19. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

    NW Pennsylvania snow belt
    Sales is sales, and if you don't make your numbers, you won't survive, and all the company cares about are the numbers--it is what it is.

    Yeah, there's a few good ones out there--you just got to get to know them and talk about stuff (in reality) away from their store or at least their boss.
    stish, biscuithead and GChief like this.
  20. Ken Boyd

    Ken Boyd AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I also don't think throwing every sales person into one bus is a fair statement. So just because the sales person who you talked to made that claim doesn't meant that all salesmen should be included as dishonest. First how long has the salesmen worked at the establishment? There are many sales people who work off the idea that their is a new fish in the sea every day, so they don't care about being honest, but just make a sale. They may be stereo salesmen today and car salesmen tomorrow. But a good audio sales person cares about the happiness of his customer because unlike a car salesmen they want you back for many more transaction, speakers today, DAC next year, preamp, turntables. In order for you to get repeat sales, it requires you to be honest to gain the customers trust. A good reputation for a salesperson is paramount for a life long career.

    As for the statement that todays speakers are less harsh than those of the past. I say ask the salesmen what facts he bases that on. A speaker usually has specs that show it's ability to reproduce frequencies equally along the frequency range. It will usually have a frequency range and then a +/- and then a db number along with the frequency range. So say 20-30khz +/-3 db will let you know just how well a speaker reproduces the entire frequency range. The closer the +/- number you have near 0 should be a means to measure speakers to ensure that no one part of the frequency range is from being over or under exaggerated. If the speaker has a very large number say 6db or higher, I would think twice. And if they like to start at a really higher lower number say like 60 hz on the bottom don't expect much bass. It is a guide that you can use but then nothing beats listening to the product. In the past I think manufactures were less likely to lie about their specs than today. Today they will put any number down and no one seems to call them out.
    stish, UncleBingo, 4-2-7 and 2 others like this.

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