View Full Version : Model 19 (amp) requirements

05-26-2008, 02:59 AM
Hi all
I recently purchased a pair of model 19 and had them restored by a cabinet maker. They now look like new, very nice indeed.
I had thought that I was going to have sell them due to cash flow problems but it seems I may have over invested in them and the advice is that a good deal of marketing and ebay work would need to be done to return my investment.

So the crux is that I shall sell my other speakers, a nice large pair of Monitor Audio Studio Monitors and keep the altecs as the MAs will be easier to move in a hurry.

So the question I want to ask (excuse the long intro) is about amps.
On the MAs, the cheap KT88 amp I have sounds good but it does not do so well on the Altecs.
While I can easily hear the promise in the Altecs they do not resolve detail or offer the seperation as well as the MAs do with this amp. So is it so that although the Altecs are very sensitive, a mediocre amp could produce a better result with the lesser speakers.

I hope this is not too confusing.

Are the Altecs so critical of amplifier quality that they will sound worse than a lesser speaker when poorly driven.

Thanks for reading


Gary L
05-28-2008, 06:42 AM
Altec 19s don't require anything special from a decent amp or receiver.

They will not make a poor amp sound good though.

I have run mine from some fairly basic but decent receivers such as Sansui G 8000s and Marantz 2270s and find them to do just fine.
Others love 19s with tube set ups.

I think any power source with around 100WPC should be just fine for most Hi Fi applications as long as the amp can make clean power. They are rated for 60 watts continuous and produce lots of SPL with a minimal of watts.

Decent speakers can bring out the worst in mediocre amps and as long as the 19s are functioning as they should I suspect this is your problem.

See if you can find a couple of other amps or receivers to hook them to and take a listen. If they continue to sound unacceptable then I'd suggest looking into the XOs and specifically the old caps in them. Next would be the diaphragms in the 802-8G HF drivers and finally the alnicos could be demagnetized if they had been over heated for long periods.

My experience is that 19s usually sound pretty fine even with under powered amps as long as you are not over running the power capabilities of it.


05-28-2008, 07:20 AM
A lot depends on what kind of music you like and how it's presented. You have speakers that are quite different on how they project the music. If you like big, open, live sound, I would stick with the 19's. Maybe an investment in some some new capacitors in the crossovers would tighten things up a bit as well? Just my two cents. Good luck wiht your decision!

05-28-2008, 10:15 PM
I've had my 19's for about 18 months now and here's what I found:

1. mine sounded kind of mushy and distorted until I replaced the xover caps and cleaned the controls. (pots)
one 802 diaphram was messed up so I sent both 802's to Great Plains Audio for new diaphrams and remag.
2. I found that the position of the xover controls (pots) was critical and that 1/4 inch of clockwise or counterclockwise movement made an audible difference.
2. different amps do make the 19's sound different. The worst amp on mine was a 200 watt per channel transistor amp in that there was little bass and everything sounded thin. (damping factor?)
Another brand 50 watt per channel transistor amp offered very lifelike midrange but the bass was a bit tighter than I personally like. My Mac 225 tube amp at 25 watts per channel was the best compromise and the 25 watts per channel is plenty unless your after disco bass with lots of boost or have a huge room and like high SPL's. My Scott 299A 15 watt per channel tube Intgrated amp came in second.
3. the 19's can show up flaws or inadaquacy downstream so garbage in garbage out applies. Nicely recorded LP's sound fantastic then it's a downhill slide to the lesser quality recordings and it's all very audible.

4. I'm not familiar with your other speakers but most likely the tweeter is more extended than the highs available from 802/811 combo in the 19's so maybe that's part of your missing detail?

I knew what I was missing because I've heard hundreds of my LP's on other speakers and the 19's are soft in the upper detail regions like brushes on cymbals or drums, bell overtones, etc.

My solution was to add tweeters crossed over at 6db per octave at around 27KHZ. I know that sounds crazy but it works fine for me and if I remove the tweeters I loose the detail I have to have.
You can milk more highs out of the 19's with treble boost but I found that I much prefer the sonics of the added tweeters and turning the so called HF control counterclockwise to the very beginning of the "normal range."
Problem is that you need very efficient tweeters to keep up with the 802's and they can be expensive.
Mine are on top of each cabinet, midway front to back and are wired directly to the amp as in a bi-wire, not bi-amp hookup with just a cap in series with them.

Lots of 19 and other Altec 2 way owners say they think there's enough highs but there isn't for me and I'm the one that has to like the system.
The 802 starts rolling off around 11KHZ and the overlap of the added tweeter seems to reinforce the sagging HF response and extent it. Not that I can hear over 14KHZ at normal listening levels but I seem to be very sensitive to a lack of information in the upper treble.

For me, milking more highs out of the 802/811 resulted in what I thought were very grainy and annoying upper mids and highs and the added tweeters sound so much smoother to me. But don't forget that I've changed the internal HF boost point of the 802 by having the HF control where I have them set.

Some consider the 19's magic or the Holy Grail of speakers but in fact they are just speakers with flaws like every other speaker old or new.
But I have to admit that so far they are the best sounding speakers (most lifelike) I've had yet, with the added tweeters.

Most of this "audio quest" really boils down to personal sonic taste and complete system synergy.
If I change out the preamp I can hear a difference, if I switch to another turntable I can hear the difference, if I change to another brand of tubes in the preamp I can hear the difference so assembling the pieces that float your boat is the key to your sonic enjoyment.

You didn't say what brand and model your "cheap" KT988 amp is so I can't comment on it.

Gary L
05-28-2008, 11:35 PM
Well said DaveV!

I have never found the 19s to be any where near the Holy Grail mark but I sure have found them to be one of the best for life like sound like being up front in the audiance at a live performance.

I also don't hear any lack in the high end or have a need to add a tweeter but these are my ears as you so eloquently point out.

Bass with a Sansui G 9000 pushing them is not a problem at all but I believe room accoustics has allot to do with that. I did find the 19s a bit bass shy behind Pioneer amps and a few others.

Garbage in-Garbage out is certainly the rule with most decent speakers and tayloring your system to your room and your ears is probably the most important part of this game.

19s are not for everyone but if they are functioning properly then they hold their own with many of the fine speakers we love to love.

The music that I like is the same vintage as the 19s and I think they do very nicely with Rock, Blues and Jazz and fairly well with the classical stuff but there are much better speakers if your pockets go deep enough.

One major plus with them is GPA can fix anything that might be out of spec and you'll sure find plenty of help here and at the Altec site.

Many have mentioned switching out the 802s for the BMS ND 4552 drivers that easily go above the 14K range. I've never heard them but many who have seem to be very happy and there are no mods required that I know of, just a simple switch of drivers.

My first pair of 19s that I bought new in '76 and had for 28 years did benefit greatly from a remag of the woofers at GPA. They had lost allot of their tight bass but the remag brought it right back. I don't suppose I ever heated them up MUCH back when I was 24.:D


05-31-2008, 04:47 AM
I power my model 19 speakers with a Sansui G9000 reciever as Gary does. The combo of this reciever with the Altecs works great. The thing is that the big sui 9000 has a fantastic amp section on par with the best in seperate componets. At 160 wpc it is more than enough power even though I rarely ever "crank" the volume......but when I do it's good to know that the live sounding bass-drum thump you feel in the chest is a cinch given the extra headroom the amp has.

I always loved the "bass-drum-thump" at live shows.....model 19's excel at that!:applaud: