View Full Version : vintage vs. new gpa 902-8a's

09-13-2006, 11:07 PM
hello to all. i'm new to altec, having just bought my first set, and new as well to this site, though i have been reading for a while.

might anyone hazard an opinion on buying vintage 902-8a's and perhaps bringing them up to snuff with new diaphrams, or getting a new set made by great plains audio? that is, any sound advantage one over the other?

advice will be appreciated, as will derisive rookie comments. just hoping utter silence won't be the order of the day. many thanks from a rookie. :bouncy: best regards. rob (bobbing with anticipation...)

09-14-2006, 06:00 AM
I have found the 902's from Bill at Great Plains to sound very nice. I have heard 802's in the past and find while they don't seem(to me at least) to reach as high at the upper HF frequencies as the 902's, they sound more mellow(alnico vs ferrite?).

Bill's 399 1.4" driver is great(similiar to Altec 288-8K). I wish I had a smith horn for that driver!!!!;)


09-14-2006, 11:16 PM
thanks for the input, ron. best regards. rob

09-15-2006, 08:11 AM
You can't go wrong with 902's from Bill.

I use him, because with a new unit I don't have to worry like when you buy off of e-bay with less than honest individuals.

Yes, there are some good sellers, but there is no list of the good guys out there to pick from.

I also like to buy from forum members as that has worked well for me in the past.


Gary L
09-15-2006, 10:45 AM
I think there is no question in my mind what I will do when faced with this purchase.
Given the outrageous prices I am seeing on most Altec stuff these days it is no longer worth while to buy used and have it refurbed when GPA is offering great quality drivers at reasonable prices.
I am sure Ron knows how they sound and has offered some great insight.

I really doubt if you bought vintage 902s + S&H, then send them out for new diaphrams and recharge + S& H X 2, that you could even come close to saving any cash. I also doubt there is that much sound quality difference once you have new diaphrams installed to make it worth the mention.

Alot of this is simple dollars and sense decisions when it comes to drivers.
A 416-8B that is 30 years old probably needs to go to GPA. After Bill works his magic you will have an essentially new Vintage driver. If GPA made them new I would never look for another basket again because I doubt Bill would allow it out of his shop if it did not meet his high standards.

It is not all about what it says on the back of the driver, it is all about what comes out the front and I have yet to hear a refurbed GPA driver that did not sound and look great. I would expect all his new gear to be of the highest quality we could ask for.


Gary L
09-15-2006, 11:07 AM
I need to add this to my previous post to clarify why I said what I said.

I just watched a pair of Vintage 802-8Gs sell at auction for $445.
Before I would use them in any project I would send them for recharging at the very least and possibly new diaphrams if the old ones were not excellent originals.
By the time you are done you will have close to $700 just for the HF drivers.

I bought a pair of 416-8Bs, both work but are not great so I will send them in for new cones and recharging. Cost $300 for the pair with shipping. Now send them in and spend about $250 for rebuild plus 2 X S&H and I will have well over $600 in these.

Sure, lots of us find sweet deals on vintage gear that makes it possible to stay all vintage at reasonable prices. I don't usually get that lucky here in the hills and have to depend upon the services of GPA and then pray that my shipments don't get lost or destroyed in the process.
You can always take a chance that what you find locally is working properly and does not need any servicing and you can make some great scores. Very few items I have bought at auctions are as they were described or are sure to be working properly.


Tom Loizeaux
09-15-2006, 08:47 PM
When I was needing some new diaphragms for some Altec 802s, I remember Bill at Great Plains explaining that his new diaphragms were made from heat treated aluminum and that they had nearly the same highs as the older aluminums but handled more power and stayed cleaner longer. He said they were made from the original Altec stamping equipment, etc.
I've listened to these and feel Bill was right; I find them every bit as good as the older Altec made aluminums.


09-16-2006, 07:35 AM
Bill took the time to explain the difference to me.

He also said many don't like the Pascalite saying they are brittle sounding, I found them very nice sounding and seem to have a better top HF response to my ears.

According to the prices mentioned above for 802's, you could have a pair of 902's from Bill that would sound as good or better for similiar pricing.


Gary L
09-16-2006, 09:10 AM
Thats the point I am making Ron.
When prices for some vintage stuff get so out of whack and there are alternatives then we have to decide where the cut and run point is.

For many here it is all about nostalgia and maintaining Vintage which I understand fully.
For many others it is all about the music and how much it costs to get it sounding great.

I have complete faith that Bill would not sell it if it did not sound great.

Once they get planted into my cabinets only I will know the date code on the label or if it says Altec or GPA but to the ears of those who hear them I would be willing to bet very few, if any, could tell.

Another thing for consideration here is that GPA drivers may well be the Vintage gear of tomorrow and possibly very highly regarded 30 years from now!
Not too many Brand specific collectors have these alternatives at their disposal.
:thmbsup: to GPA!


09-17-2006, 03:32 AM
When buying pro stuf for home use the qualitys you most desire may not be important to the pro customer and what he really needs may damage some quallity you find really desireable. Also If you find pro equipment that has always been used at home it may be good for a 1000 years. I've got a pair of altec 800hz horns and drivers I got reasonable and I,m sure the guy thinks he ripped me off. One wouldnt play when I got home and the other quit soon after, the leads to the diaphrams had fatigued. I was able to repair them so they will probably last me for ever and they sound great or at least as good as 800 altec horns sound but you couldn't take them on tour. Some changes the mfg makes is to handle more power and sometimes you lose sonic qualitys when they do that. I think the original 375's would only handle about 25 watts. You probably don't want to be in your neighbors house when your feeding a 375 25 watts.