Loudspeaker evolution [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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BC Dave
03-28-2007, 11:08 AM
I know loudspeaker design has evolved significantly since the early 1980s, but I am curious to know how much it has advanced since about 1990, when companies were putting more science into their designs. In other words, would a 1990-era tower from Paradigm, Mirage or Boston Acoustics be considered old school and inferior to what those companies are producing today or would the older models hold their own nicely? I am speaking in general terms, not trying to compare model by model or even in 1990 dollars versus 2007 dollars. Thanks in advance

03-28-2007, 11:14 AM
technology evolved, but this doesn't mean that old speakers are bad, some of them are, yes, but alot of vintage stuff still outperforms modern stuff, and this is not only for speakers, vintage amps and tt's are still very good.

brands put more science in their designs, but this does not mean that it will sound better, they made speakers different, maybe more precise, and different materials, which last longer, and provide better sound even with standard equipment.

Keep them spinning,

03-29-2007, 06:30 AM
I think that in general, the newer tech speakers are going to be a bit better in terms of accuracy, imaging, soudnstage, etc. How much better? Probably not "that" much. I think the lower end speakers in the sub $1k range have really made big improvments. Athena speakers come to mind as an example.

My father has a pair of Heil ESS speakers from the late seventies that sound amazing. He's had the woofers repaired and they are still one the best speakers I have ever heard. Big, bold, deep and pretty darn accurate. Kick drums feel like someone hitting your chest with a hammer. I've always wanted them but the wife says they are big and ugly. :rolleyes5:


Resident Loser
03-29-2007, 07:30 AM
...to keep market trends in perspective...

Wayback when, acoustic suspension designs were considered the best of non-planars...unfortunately they required lots of power...The manufacturers complied...separate amps and even receivers could just pump it out, 150-200Wpc were common...now...well now since everyone has had the concept of multi-channel HT force-fed to them, you need 5, 6, 7-channels of amplification...and the laws of physics being what they are, you simply can't cram 7 channels of amplification of the same caliber as those amps/recs of yesteryear along with the required switching/processing on a single chassis...soo, you "dumb-down" the the specs...Take note, most of today's amp sections are rated for 8 Ohm loads, other speaker impedances are not spec'd...and don't go by the IHF/EIA/Dynamic ratings, if you can understand the FTC requirements, you'll see what I mean...and certainly the power supply isn't up to the task to provide 7 rock solid, high amperage channels...sooo, what happens? You take up the slack created by the "need" for multichannels by making more "efficient" loudspeakers.

The public gets conditioned by marketing; subs and sats appeared way before HT and they had higher WAF. Based on that trend, now you get expensive and small 2-way ported loudspeaker designs that are efficient but now have a limited low-end capability...for any kind of decent low-end extension you need a powered sub...essentially the industry knows the new stuff can't really cut it, so they resort to a more palatable version of bi-amping, formerly the domain of the real audio nut-job with electronic crossovers and additional amplifiers, but now it's all OK because the public has been told what they want and need...so now you need a sub because the response spec of the smaller enclosures s*cks with a capital s*ck and the amps can't kick...and your HT produces seven channels of effects and the music industry can't stand back and let that Ka-ching potential go by, so they reprocess the old existing, bought and paid for catalog into MC software which means a $ACD player...and the whells of the bus go 'round and 'round, etc...

And I'm not trying to say that this is all that's available, but quite simply for the mass-market audience, it's the predominant model.

So I don't know if "evolutuion" is the operative word...

jimHJJ(...more like a good business plan?...)

03-29-2007, 08:58 AM
I don't know if "better" is the right word. Driver technology, crossover design and even damping material have improved by quite a bit.
I believe completely today's entry level stuff (bottom end Paradigm, PSB, B&W) can compete with yesterday's mid-fi stuff, and some mid-fi stuff easily challenges high end speakers.

There were some star speakers years ago that probably still hold up quite well. There's some incredibly overpriced speakers today too. It used to be that more sophisticated technology and design methods were available only to the higher end speakers...the trickle down effect, and the huge expansion in business from the home theater boom have really improved the entry level speaker quality. Way back I bought a pair of Wharfedale Emeralds that were well over $1500. Today, I can walk into BestBuy and demo $700 Polks or buy speakers online that easily outperform those at far less cost. My old, first edition PSB Alphas were around $300, today brands like Rocket and Axiom even Athena offer speakers in that price range that are much better sounding IMO. Just going by speakers I use to own. Factor in the inflation and the value of the dollar and it's something else.

A the very top of the ladder, I don't think $100,000 + speakers have enjoyed the same leaps and bounds in performance improvements as they were usually the first to take advantage of newer technologies or superior building methods,, though I admit it's not every day (or year) I can listen to them.

BC Dave
03-29-2007, 10:52 AM
I used to own a pair of Mirage M760 towers circa 1989, with twin eight-inch woofers and a very expensive Vifa soft-dome tweeter. My wife complained that they were too big so I replaced them with a pair of 1997 Paradigm mini-monitors (supported by a powered sub). The Paradigms seemed more revealing at first but in short order I found them really fatiguing (bright and in your face.) Long story short: 10 years later I have purchased the V5 Paradigm Mini-Monitors and they are so superior to my V1 Mini-Monitors I can't believe it. Smooth and beautifully integrated from top to bottom. Anything but in your face. That's evolution, over five versions of the same speaker. But I'd love to have those Mirage towers back to make a direct comparison! The Mirages obviously had a lot more bass but with my VMPS Original sub supplying the underpinning, bass is not an issue.