Thursday, April 14, 2011

High End Audio - You Into It?

Photo courtesy of

I'm getting excited about the high end audio show I'm going to in early June. It started me thinking about my views on classic audio vs modern high end audio gear. It would be easy for me to scoff modern audio, especially  brands and components that I can't afford, but when it really comes down to it, I LOVE good sound, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I'm not so sure a 34-year-old Marantz 2325 would sound better than a brand new Marantz SR7005.  Which would I rather have on display in my den? The 2325, of course. But if we're talking about sound's pretty much a draw in my book.

The issue of vintage vs new high end speakers forces an even more embarrassing admission from this vintage enthusiast. Many old speakers have wonderful sound, but speaker design has advanced over the decades, and there's no denying that modern technology can produce some very fine loudspeakers.

Taking a look back, I'm not sure there will ever be a greater value than the $149.00/pair Advent Loudspeaker of the early 1970s. Dollar-for-dollar, this may still be the finest loudspeaker ever made. Today's budget loudspeakers are mass-produced and constructed mostly of plastic. They are built to a price point that satisfies consumer needs for .mp3 player extension speakers or for inexpensive home theater setups.

On the opposite end of the price spectrum, high end loudspeakers cater to audio enthusiasts and audiophiles with with deeper pockets and a greater appreciation for component and speaker design and sonic performance.

Which bucket do you place yourself in? I'd like to hear a contemporary high end audio lover with experience in vintage audio chime in and say a little about the differences he or she hears between these two realms.

I'd also like to hear from you die-hard vintage audio lovers who resist all gear manufactured after 1980.

And here's an unsoloicited plug for a high end audio place I stumbled upon. High-End Palace.


  1. I agree - speakers are the one area where big improvements have been made. It's getting harder, though, to find a good pair of stereo speakers with the proliferation of surround sound systems, subwoofer/satellte systems, etc. There are some great two-way speakers from the 80's and 90's that took advantage of computer design and are well-made. I have a pair of Paradigms from the early 90's that I love, and my girlfriend has a pair of slightly newer Missions that are also excellent. I hear PSBs from that era are good as well.

  2. True - the late 80s, early 90s had some great speakers too. B&W DM640 come to mind. Also, the KEF 105.2 was supposedly the first computer-designed speaker. Those were from 1977 or so. Thanks Kurt.

  3. The best of the vintage speakers kan still hang with newer hifi speakers, fx JBL Ti250 they still outperform many expensive modern speakers.

    Right now I have a pair of the old Dynaco A-35 speakers - by no means are they high-end but they give a lot of bang for the buck and comparing them to the mid-fi segment they still hold their own - only the highs are a bit too subdued.



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