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Would These 3 Vintage "Best" Speakers Still Be Contenders Today?

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In a lengthy interview, long time New York City Audio Salon owner Andy Singer whose audio business goes back over 40 years said that the vintage Snell type A speaker of the 1980s vintage is one of the greatest speakers of all time. Sound by Singer was known for its vast product selection (they carried an enormous number of brands throughout the years), friendly mail order business and expert system matching. Their specialty was selling not just individual components, but complete systems. They carried equipment within reach of the common mans finances, all the way up to single ended tube power amps with retail prices around what a house in a better part of town might cost. Anyone familiar enough with this speaker to confirm or refute his opinion?

 

Ohm A and Ohm F Walsh driver speakers. Many people thought these were the best speakers for over a decade, starting in the 1970's. Lincon Walsh passed away before the model F was released to the market. He thought a omnidirectional full range driver, crossoverlless design with perfect phase response would be the ultimate speaker. Anyone familiar enough with the sound of these to confirm or refute, and is there many speakers that would equal or outperform them today?

 

 Yamaha NS1000 and 1000m speakers. The first speakers to use berrylium midrange and tweeters in its design. Because of the health hazards and potential fatality of breathing in berrylium dust, berrylium is a material not legal to use in manufacture in a lot of places. Shure Brothers had to move their manufacturing facility that made their V15 V cartridge to Mexico before calling it quits on the V which had a berrylium cantilever, their best selling & top "standard" model. I remember some people saying the NS1000 was the best speaker they ever heard back in the 1980s. I only heard it once and it sounded pretty boring to me, but then as a teenager back then, I probably was more impressed with splashier sounding products at that stage of my evaluation. Does this speaker deserve legendary status, even today? If you are familiar enough with it to provide a valid opinion please chime in.

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Walsh Ohm-

They were amazing for their day, especially in not sounding like a "box". Didn't have the greatest bass.  I don't think they'd be considered better than many speakers today. 

 

BTW, the technology is still being made: https://ohmspeaker.com/ and supposedly has improved. If you live in the US you can try them out. 


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1 hour ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

In a lengthy interview, long time New York City Audio Salon owner Andy Singer whose audio business goes back over 40 years said that the vintage Snell type A speaker of the 1980s vintage is one of the greatest speakers of all time.

 

That assertion is usually attributed to Peter Qvortrup - now of Audio Note. I have read that of his repute, and he has said it to me in personal e-mail conversations. He says "best 3-way speaker ever". Actually with the super-tweeter it's 4-way. I don't use the super-tweeter.

 

1 hour ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Anyone familiar enough with this speaker to confirm or refute his opinion?

 

My hand is very definitely raised. When I was a young man in the 1980s, commuting into The City (of London) I used to read Hi-Fi magazines to pass the journey - barely dreaming of owning a pair of these. In 2002 I had to sell everything I owned including all my personal, babied, mint vinyl records. From what money I could salvage, I bought a few CDs so that at least I could listen to Jackson Browne on the computer. Used to use Firewire then - and still loathe USB. As soon as I could, I bought a pair of Snell Type A III in beautiful condition from a guy called Frank on Audiogon. I stored them carefully under tarp, waiting to build a system at the front end of them. I think maybe Frank knew the woofer foam surrounds were on their way. No Matter. I got them done by an old school guy in Romford. I'd write a more detailed account but my main PC isn't handy. More later perhaps. I had to get the mids done too a few years later - by another competent technician. That involved the rancid task of removing the cloth on the upper chambers. You can't get the cloths back on without significant trouble and, anyway, they wouldn't be the same. Peter Q says the Snell Type A are better without the cloth (SQ-wise) and thought my Type A III looked "agricultural" without the grilles. I agree! I'd post pics but not possible right now - but see e.g. here. My system is pretty balanced now (see signature), and I maintain as I have always done, that I will keep my Snell Type A III for life. I love these speakers. They don't produce sound - they produce wind. I am a thrill seeker who gets so much out of somatic music - especially up tempo and swing and rockabilly. The Snell Type A III can do anything. They have always kept up with my front end. They are just the business. Did I say I love them. One could carp, and say that foam (not cone or driver!) replacement affects the factory tuning associated so famously with these speakers - but I can't say I've noticed. They are brutally forward with digits you could also say [open baffle?] - but now that my system is tamed from such long investment of time, money, imagination and engineering dedication, I can't imagine needing or wanting anything else. Peter Q owns 4 pairs or something like that. I have told him mine are the most cherished and conscientiously-maintained in the world. Aside from foam replacement, I keep them structurally sound myself. I do wonder about cap investigation. No rush. Did I say I love my Snell Type A III. A bit of a stream of consciousness I know. I'd write a better account with my usual amenities. Thanks for asking.

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 If there is one vintage speaker I would have liked to have heard it is the original Ohm F or maybe the ESS Transar. The main Walsh Driver technician working for Ohm then was a man from South America. It took great skill making and damping properly the Walsh Driver. He was the only one who knew how to do it well. They were damped with some material on the inside of the inverted ice cream cone shaped driver, which was made of various materials; not paper. Story has it that the older Latin man wanted to retire. The Ohm F went up in price from $1400 a pair to way over $3,000 a pair in a very short number of years, before being discontinued. Years later Ohm came out with the Walsh 2, but it was only a distant cousin. Instead of a full range upside down ice cream cone shaped driver with no crossover needed, it was only a driver that extended somewhat above the midrange and needed a tweeter (and a crossover) to cover the rest of the spectrum. I have a pair in my house. They are not disappointing; quite the contrary, but I am told that they would be compared to the original Ohm F which had a true crossoverless full range Walsh Driver which dispersed sound evenly in a 360 degree arc, like real instruments do. The original F was extremely picky about amplification and placement, and I would guess that very few who heard them, heard them at their fullest potential.

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Qvortrup holding forth recently - on his overarching audio approach beginning with Peter Snell, "compromises", and the Type A speaker. Moves on to his usual prejudices including digits etc. Very fitting viewing for this Forum. Peter Q is a dreadful name-dropper - and a pita salesman. But one can hardly deny that he's a thought-provoking entertainer ...

 

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4 hours ago, firedog said:

Walsh Ohm-

They were amazing for their day, especially in not sounding like a "box". Didn't have the greatest bass.  I don't think they'd be considered better than many speakers today. 

 

BTW, the technology is still being made: https://ohmspeaker.com/ and supposedly has improved. If you live in the US you can try them out. 

These are but a shell of what the F was. Pretty much all of their other products are cheap parts attempting to do what the F's did. They are an interesting idea, but the heavier cone materials of the cheaper variants are not that transparent.


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Re: Andy Singer. I don't live in NYC and have never been to his store or any of the high end stores there, but he used to take out numerous display ads in the back pages of  defunct "Audio" Magazine, advertising full systems and he always sounded friendly and helpful on the phone, but I did not personally know him. Enough people must have liked him enough to make his successful business a success  for so many years before the high end had a downturn. I understand he moved. The only reason I even mentioned him was because of his quote about the Snells, from someone who has probably had just about everything come through his doors. What surprised me was that version of the Snell he was talking about, was a long ago  memory as far as its production run was concerned, when he praised it. With all the more current "newer is supposedly better" stuff he was carrying, it still stood out to him as memorable and exceptional.

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Re:Ohm Walsh speakers. I have the Walsh 2, not the originals with the true full range Walsh driver. It is definitely a warm sounding speaker. Warmth usually is at odds with transparency. It does have the best and most believable depth of any speaker I own, as it is what I would call a semi- omnidirectional due to the absorbent material inside the back of the cylinder cage. People who own both the Walsh 2 and a nice pair of Magneplaners, say the spaciousness is close between the two, with the Walsh 2 having a much wider sweet spot. The highs do not have the kind of purity that tickles you on every note, like some other stuff I have, nor quite the delicacy, but the high end is smooth, non-offensive and impressive enough. The bass is a model of tightness and control, and the midrange is nice enough  and never harsh. A speaker I hook up for a while every so often.

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 I bought the Walsh speakers used from a local guy who was raising money to help his elderly father. Being used speakers, I paid around half of their original list price which was around $900 when they first came out, and then the price went up significantly as time went on. They must have been in production for more than a decade, as a store in Washington which sold new equip.only had them playing on display around 1990. I have noticed that the price on the used market for these seem to have climbed a bit also lately. The guy also threw in some 4 inch high wood stands he made for them which increased image height and prevented the output from the  bass port on the bottom from going directly into the carpet. One thing I failed to mention in my first description is that in addition to the Walsh speakers being known for their great boxless imaging, they also sound very seamless and effortless, even though this follow up model to the famous Ohm F Walsh speaker does have a crossover.

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1 hour ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

 I bought the Walsh speakers used from a local guy who was raising money to help his elderly father. Being used speakers, I paid around half of their original list price which was around $900 when they first came out, and then the price went up significantly as time went on. They must have been in production for more than a decade, as a store in Washington which sold new equip.only had them playing on display around 1990. I have noticed that the price on the used market for these seem to have climbed a bit also lately. The guy also threw in some 4 inch high wood stands he made for them which increased image height and prevented the output from the  bass port on the bottom from going directly into the carpet. One thing I failed to mention in my first description is that in addition to the Walsh speakers being known for their great boxless imaging, they also sound very seamless and effortless, even though this follow up model to the famous Ohm F Walsh speaker does have a crossover.

Quite pricy given your claim that $100-$200 could get you flat to 30Hz back in the day :~)


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What I said (to refresh your memory) or you can go back to the beginning of this thread and see for yourself, is that as a teenager back in the 1970s, one had a choice of spending $100 and getting a decent bookshelf speaker without much bass extension or saving an extra $100 and getting a much more exciting speaker with deep bass and a bigger sound. So "$200" was the the magic number back then: NOT $100.

 

 Your choices back then around $100 were usually something like EPI 100's on sale, or various Jensen models, KLH, etc. If you could go to an extra $100( or around it) or somewhere in between those 2 amounts, SOME SPEAKERS could get you 30hz. response. NOT ALL SSPEAKERS, BUT SOME. There were models from Synergistics, KLH, TSI , etc. The Ohm Walsh 2,  which Didn't even come out anywhere near the 1970's, it was still the Ohm models A and F back then; the Ohm Walsh 2, when it did come out, already nearing 1990 was not just any speaker and one would not buy the Walsh 2 for bass extension. You bought it for giving you at least a taste of the unique room filling, disappearing  imaging act of the original famous Ohm F Walsh Driver, but with better efficiency, reliability, and a sense of seamlesness etc. NO, NOT EVERY SPEAKER YOU SAW in the later 1970s had 30 Hz. bass response for $200 a pair retail, but some did and not that uncommonly. Even though there could be an occasional weird exception to the rule today; when someone thinks " speakers that will get me 30 hz. bass response without the potential synergy problems with subwoofing, people are picturing in their minds thousands of dollars because that's usually the case, although I'm sure there could be some exceptions for a bit less. But generally nowadays we are talking thousands of dollars.

 

 I do think that because of improved midrange and tweeters and the fact that the midrange performance is the most important thing about a speaker, quite a few of today's speakers on the whole, are actually pretty good for the money in that way. For the equivalent of $200 back then, lets say $700 retail price today, there are many speakers that have really nice midrange and highs; just Don't expect 30hz. bass response to come with it at that price.

 

 

 

  

 

.

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10 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

What I said (to refresh your memory) or you can go back to the beginning of this thread and see for yourself, is that as a teenager back in the 1970s, one had a choice of spending $100 and getting a decent bookshelf speaker without much bass extension or saving an extra $100 and getting a much more exciting speaker with deep bass and a bigger sound. So "$200" was the the magic number back then: NOT $100.

 

 Your choices back then around $100 were usually something like EPI 100's on sale, or various Jensen models, KLH, etc. If you could go to an extra $100( or around it) or somewhere in between those 2 amounts, SOME SPEAKERS could get you 30hz. response. NOT ALL SSPEAKERS, BUT SOME. There were models from Synergistics, KLH, TSI , etc. The Ohm Walsh 2,  which Didn't even come out anywhere near the 1970's, it was still the Ohm models A and F back then; the Ohm Walsh 2, when it did come out, already nearing 1990 was not just any speaker and one would not buy the Walsh 2 for bass extension. You bought it for giving you at least a taste of the unique room filling, disappearing  imaging act of the original famous Ohm F Walsh Driver, but with better efficiency, reliability, and a sense of seamlesness etc. NO, NOT EVERY SPEAKER YOU SAW in the later 1970s had 30 Hz. bass response for $200 a pair retail, but some did and not that uncommonly. Even though there could be an occasional weird exception to the rule today; when someone thinks " speakers that will get me 30 hz. bass response without the potential synergy problems with subwoofing, people are picturing in their minds thousands of dollars because that's usually the case, although I'm sure there could be some exceptions for a bit less. But generally nowadays we are talking thousands of dollars.

 

 I do think that because of improved midrange and tweeters and the fact that the midrange performance is the most important thing about a speaker, quite a few of today's speakers on the whole, are actually pretty good for the money in that way. For the equivalent of $200 back then, lets say $700 retail price today, there are many speakers that have really nice midrange and highs; just Don't expect 30hz. bass response to come with it at that price.

 

 

 

  

 

.

Um, ok. 


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I wouldn't turn down a pair of Linn Kan's or KEF bookshelf speakers from the 80's. I do sometimes wonder if JBL was intentionally clever in designing with a coloration

that complemented acoustic guitar.


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As the original poster of this thread "Um , ok, is what I thought too. All anyone has to do, is go back to the beginning of this thread and take a look at what I  said. Its a bit hard to misquote someone "believably" when its all there in black and white for those who have memory issues. Not looking to argue, like in the Monty Python skit, where a guy knocks on an office door.

 

 "Come in, may I help you?"

 

"Yes, II'm here for an argument."

 

"That'll be 50 pounds for a half hour, or 80 pounds for the full hour."

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I once heard Line Kansas described as the ultimate speaker for rim shots. I think the Line Can I is the preferred version of its many versions. The KEF Reference 101 has similar drivers to the famous LS35A. The going rate on used  LS35A's used, is usually over $1,000. The Reference 101, about $450 often. 

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42 minutes ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Line Kans.Not Kansas. "Wonderful" spell check got me again.

Linn, not Line, I think.9_9


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It's the original Linn Kan that was/is legendary. I had a pair of black Kan II at one time, but the original tan Kan were the Holy Grail. iirc the guys at the Sound Organisation in York would take Kans if they couldn't have Isobariks. The Kans insisted on a good front end / LP12 turntable. Horrible otherwise. The remark about acoustic guitar is funny/great - I remember the demo music the Linn dealers used to play on repeat - my name is Luka and I live on the second floor ...

 

 

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Linn came out with versions of those up to series V or so didn't they? Were they all inferior and going downhill compared to the first series? Why, and why would they have come out with all those different incarnations over the years if there weren't improvements;  like evolution in reverse? That doesn't't sound like Linn, who is a very subjective listening before coming out with anything company, but maybe you are correct. The Infinity Infinitesimal series I was supposed to be the one to get after many subsequent incarnations like the Kan, but Linn, it would be very surprising. What happened? Its like Wilt Chamberlain once scored 100 points in an NBA game; what happened there too?

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Oh probably some combination of:

- not all changes are for the better;

- some models of this and that are just classics;

- manufacturers can't always preserve pros when contriving the pros and cons of a new incarnation - I posted a video already in this thread of Peter Q talking about "everything in audio is a compromise".

- as well as the truth strewn in them, legends are self-sustaining viscous spirals.

There's a tonnage of reading material on the 'net about Linn Kan I, and for that matter the BBC/Rogers LS3/5A.

 

I don't believe there is a better Snell Type A than the Type A III - and my particular pair is the world's best anyway.

I also declare myself free from all manner of subjective bias.

 

Last night I, my wife and two lodgers enjoyed a near-perfect rendition of "The Wall" [Pink Floyd of course] thru my Snell Type A III. I have never heard them sing like this. We read a Wiki Plot Summary etc on "The Wall" before we started and at the turn of every [cf. vinyl] Side (3 breaks). The conversation was amazing - approaching a peak musical experience. Psychological and spiritual significance of those bricks, the building of The Wall - to completion actually, the isolation and darkness within, the inevitable verdict on self (presumes survival) - and the freedom following "exposure before your peers". I am/was a career psychologist, but everyone had something to say, and we are all spiritual equals, No? Used to think "The Wall" was just about rebellious school kids. What has this to do with vintage speakers? Well - I know. Maybe you do too 😉

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