View Full Version : new member model 19 questions

01-23-2010, 01:56 PM
I just joined this very informative board to try to get some help with a particular question regarding altec model 19 speakers.
After reading pretty thoroughly here, I was all set on the 19 until I saw pics of the crossover compared to pics of the valencia crossovers.
For a non-tech guy that was scary.

So for my questions:
Is the crossover in the model 19 a first order or second or what?
And does its apparent complexity compared to the valencia's simplicity make it a poor or less good choice for SE tube amps and/or the technically ignorant DIY-er?

I like the size and cabinet and apparent better build quality of the nineteen, but need the speaker that will work best with my 10 watt tube amp.
Should I stick with 19 or go valencia?

I know a lot of this has been addressed before, but I can't find the exact type or order of crossover in the 19.
Plus any subjective personal insights would be appreciated.

01-23-2010, 08:10 PM
I wouldn't worry about what looks like a complex xover in the Model 19 because it really isn't that complex nor should it amount to anything to speak of in the way of using a ten watt amp over Valencias.
The addition of a few resistors and a cap or two isn't rocket science nor some kind of unexplained black magic.
Most of the extra parts you see are to somewhat tame the 802G while extending the high frequency response. You might say that energy is being taken from the midrange and being used to give some lift to the higher frequencies.
My opinion is that the Altec engineers knew what they were doing with this one and the result pleases many leading to the end of the speaker search and that includes me.
I had Flamencos, the Valencia in a different cabinet, and I'll take the Model 19's any day. The bass is better, the mids are smoother and there's better HF extension.
Some people seem to like the untamed 806 midrange with limited high frequencies but I wasn't one of them.
You can go nuts and make all kinds of "upgrades" to the 19's but my approach, after an "upgrade" that didn't sound like one, has been to stay minimal and just replace the caps, internal wiring and the speaker cable connector blocks under the speakers.
I did also have the 802G diaphrams replaced and the magnets recharged by Great Plains to be sure what I was working with and listening to.
If you use the original pots on the xovers, just make sure they are very clean inside or they may degrade the sound as will tired caps.
You might try doing a search for Model 19, Model 19 xover or Model 19 crossover because there's been lots of Model 19 threads.
If you going to be using a 10 watt per channel amplifier I wouldn't expect to be using too much bass boost if you want lots of clean volume in a larger room.
The Valencias and 19's are efficient but if your into pipe organ recordings with 10db of bass boost I wouldn't expect much in the way of volume before the amps go under.
I'm using 25 watts per channel with about 4db of bass boost under 100HZ and there's no problem in my not so large listening room.

01-24-2010, 02:34 AM
Thanks for the reply DaveV.
I am planning on this being my last speaker,as well, and really only had reservations about the crossover in relation to my chosen amp.
But apparently it should be fine.
So I am going to take the plunge.
And I am going to try and not go nuts with mods, but instead just have fun with some big sound.
Thanks for the tips.
(bass boost--that sounds like fun!)

I'll report back with a post when I acquire a pair.

01-24-2010, 07:59 AM
I guess to simplify things you can say that the 19 xovers are 2nd order but that doesn't mean much in itself.
The efficiency of the drivers is really more of an issue than what's wasted in the xover.
The Western Electric/Altec 755 eight inch driver is the Holy Grail of full range drivers with the "crossoverless" group but it's not all that efficient nor will it ever sound like a Model 19 so it boils down to belief convictions and sonic taste.
I had Altec 755B's with a pair of Altec 3000H tweeters and there's no way I could live with them after hearing the Model 19's.
The interesting thing about older Altecs is that there is something there that's catchy and that's how I ended up with the Flamencos over the EV's I had been using.
The highs were almost non existant and the bass was more of a one note bass to me (846A without ports) yet there was something there that I liked.
I ended up adding tweeters and was happier with them but the ultimate upgrade for me was to move to the Model 19's and be done with it.
The other interesting thing I find with the 8 ohm 19's is that they respond well to tube or transistor amps and that makes me think that the impedance curve is smoother than that of the the Flamencos marked as being 8 to 16 ohms.
These are my impressions and opinions so take them as just that. One persons opinion but the 19's are the best speakers "overall" that I've owned or as someone else who frequents this group says, " the best turn key speaker."

01-24-2010, 05:07 PM
I have seen the 19 described as "turn-key" as well, and that is part of what interests me.
I am coming from the crossoverless single-driver experience and now am ready for the big sound of a 15in. driver.
I have had to decide all of this from afar via the internet,but after looking at the valencia, which many guys of similar tastes and experience seem to prefer or advocate, I,too,just think the 19 looks more like a speaker of long-term livability and just more complete.The "playing at the knees" size of the valencia and apparent lesser build quality bother me.Just the larger size of the woofer cabinet alone of the 19 seems to make a lot more sense.
But after being "crossoverless" for quite a while now,that one factor with the nineteen has given me pause.But I agree, the overall sensitivity and simplicity of the speaker should outweigh any possible negatives from the crossover.
I have a 34 ft. long listening room now(part of the reason that the SD no longer cuts it),so I can't wait to get a pair of these babies in here.
I like blues,jazz,female vocals,but I am first going to run through my entire collection of Zeppelin.
I think I will put on my sunglasses,leather jacket and strap myself into my chair.
Should be a blast!

01-24-2010, 06:39 PM
Looks like it's a two way conversation on the 19's.
The 19's will be different than a single driver for sure. Especially in a large room, not that they really need a huge room to sound good in.
That's another misconception because they do near field with imaging very well but of course at lower volume levels.
I don't know where the idea came from that crossovers and multiple drivers are all bad because some of the best sounding speakers have xovers and more than one driver.
On paper you can point to this and that BUT in real life does it really sound bad?
While specs have there place, we listen to music, not square waves and all distortion does not sound bad.
If your able to overlook missing lower bass and upper treble then a single driver works.
The 19's upper and lower range extension isn't superior to some other speakers, it's the way it sounds in what it does do.
Without some treble boost they may sound kind of dull on top but more so then a single driver?
The published info shows that they start to roll off around 11-12KHZ so a few db boost at 20KHZ isn't unreasonable with a gentle slope up to 20KHZ.
You mentioned build quality a couple of times but I can't say that my Flamenco construction was inferior to that of the 19's so that confuses me somewhat. Just two different Altecs.
I think the engineering thought behind the 19 is far better and that makes it a better speaker to listen too.The B version of the woofer plus the larger format 802G HF driver with the phase plug certainly don't hurt either.
Cabinet wise there's no real heroics.
The woofer has more volume but some would argue that it's too much space for the 416B to work into and that retuning the port will lower the bass response.
That may very well be true BUT doing so may make the 19's sound like they have less bass. I like the peaks the way they are in my room. LOL
Coming from a single driver to a horn based upper range will no doubt be different but I don't find the 19's to be SHOUTY at all but I'm used to horns.
I found the Flamencos to be shouty until I was able to cut back on the 806 drivers by adding a tweeters. Before that it was difficult to get enough treble without honking up the midrange more but that's just my opinion.

Tom Brennan
01-24-2010, 06:54 PM
Well said Dave.

01-24-2010, 08:11 PM
Yeah,it will be quite different for me to possibly have to worry about real bass peaks and valleys after 3 years of only using an 8inch driver.
And treble roll-off? I'm cool with that.
Obviously I do have some concern that vocal based music, i.,e. pretty girlie stuff, won't be quite as good as before.But who knows? I know it will be different,and if it isn't quite as good,not as coherent, that is ok because most other music is going to be a lot more fun.I think.

As for my comments on the valencia cabinets looking a little inferior to the 19s, that was just my impresssion from internet pics.Might not be the case.
But I know I like the height of the 19 better.And I know it makes a difference.

I can't wait to hear for myself once and for all whether all the Altec/ Big 2-way guys have been right all along or not.
We shall see.

01-24-2010, 09:05 PM
I'm an LP person that uses vintage McIntosh tube equipment with the 19's and I'm into what I call 1950's-1960's jazz, Brazilian type or Bossa Nova style stuff, male-female vocals with some rock and classics/opera thrown in.
My impression is that the 19's do it all well but for some reason the jazz sounds especially good on the 19's. Maybe the dynamics but good LP's of the Ahmad Jamal Trio rock on the 19's like they are live in the room.
I'm a Julie London fan too and her voice can be silk and satin sexy real on the 19's assuming the recordings are good to start with.
I've heard my 19's sound all kinds of different ways with different equipment, cartridges, cartridge loading, CD's, different interconnects, different speaker cables, different caps on the input of my power amp, etc so I'd have to say they are very responsive to what feeds them and that "system synergy" needs to be achieved.
Also, while transistor amps seem to work well with the 19's I do prefer tube bass on them but the mids from my Adcom 535MK11 are real nice so it's all a compromise of one sort or another in any system.
The 19's do seem to have the ability to let you hear things like that more so than some other speakers.
But I am talking about my experience using them with some treble boost to get a bit more airyness or openess from them.
I didn't mean to lead you to believe that the 19's had huge peaks or dips in the bass because they don't really sound that way.
All ported enclosures create peaks and it's a matter of where they are as to how they sound but I like what I hear.

01-24-2010, 09:30 PM
Well,I have to say, that post just cinched it for me.
I absolutely must get a pair--and quick!

I am also an lp guy almost exclusively,except for a little FM.
And I love Julie London, preferably in original mono.
Julie Christie, Sara Vaughn,etc.
I am trying to get into instrumental jazz more,but that has been hit or miss so far.
And of course I love to rock.

So I really appreciate your input.
I will drive for 3 days to get a good pair of 19s, if I have to.
Have a feeling my old speakers will be going up for sale soon.

I think maybe I have had misconceptions about using a big driver to cover so much of the midrange.Probably from my "audiophile days" and all the 6inch. midrange, 3way systems I read about.

Anyway,thanks ,really, for the input. It sounds like our tastes are so similar that I know I am making the right decision.

01-24-2010, 10:25 PM
I hemmed and hawed about 19's too but all I read about them made me wonder too.

I knew I liked the "basic" sound of the Flamencos and all I read lead me to believe that what I didn't like about them was fixed or was better in the 19's and that turned out to be true in my case.

My turning point was when I read that Tom Brennan liked them because I had been following his posts for years in the Audio Asylum and I knew we liked the same sound, more or less.

I drove 3 hours to and from in a $300 rental truck to get mine. Figured if I hated them I could probably recoup the $1000 selling price at least.

I never understood the single driver "coherent" business because I've always liked and had 3 way systems that I thought were "coherent" but sometimes what I'd call driver "blend" was in question or how well they integrated so that the sound was as seemless as possible from one range to another.
Single drivers or two ways that I heard didn't do it for me so I stuck with 3 ways.

The 19's are the first two way speakers I've heard and really liked and I don't detect any "seam" between the woofer and HF driver. To me it sounds like it's all coming from inside the entire box or like a huge single driver in the box that's doing it all unless I get real close and move my head up and down in front of the woofer and HF horn.

The only other 2 ways I heard and liked were DIY using rare and expensive Altec 8 inch drivers and added equally rare and expensive Jensen tweeters. But the bass lacked. Oh well.

Lets hope the 19's make you happy too.

01-25-2010, 10:00 AM
If you replace the caps in 19's like you probably should just because of the age of the originals, the choice is personal taste and depends on your flavor of coloration because IMHO all caps are colored be it from bright to dull sounding or from fast to slow sounding and it will also depend on how the rest of your equipment is voiced and what your LP setup is.

One of those cap of the month "audiophile caps" I tried in an amp some years ago made musical instruments sound like they were floating in mid air and while it was an interesting and very smooth presentation the sound was kind of laid back and really not all that revealing overall. Besides, I prefer to hear instruments closer to the level they are being played at.

I know that's a controversial opinion for the "high end" people but my experience is that all that isn't my cup of tea so I leave the audiophile and high end parts discussions to others.
But if you want to go that route see the below link.


When I changed the caps in my xovers I noticed that Altec used some lugs rivited to the aluminum plate as ground points or the common connections so that the plate was actually in the common circuit.
Not a great idea but most all vintage equipment uses the chassis for ground too so that's just what they did to save assembly time I guess and it was good enough.
There was a recent post on another site I think, from soneone that got 19's and claimed that they had poor highs until they jumped the commons together.
It makes sense that if those rivited spots aren't good and tight with no oxidation that there could be resistance so keep that in mind.
I have yet to jump those lugs on my xovers to see if I hear a change.

voice of theatr
01-25-2010, 12:08 PM
I have a related question--I bought Model 19's late in 2009 and love the sound. I was wondering if anyone out there knows what EQ setting on the crossover is considered to be flat. I usually leave the treble pot all the way "up" (clockwise) but have been experimenting with the midrange control. What setting do any Model 19 users out there prefer for the two pots on the crossover and is there a specific setting that is considered to be flat?
Thanks in advance!

Tom Brennan
01-25-2010, 12:36 PM
I have a related question--I bought Model 19's late in 2009 and love the sound. I was wondering if anyone out there knows what EQ setting on the crossover is considered to be flat. I usually leave the treble pot all the way "up" (clockwise) but have been experimenting with the midrange control. What setting do any Model 19 users out there prefer for the two pots on the crossover and is there a specific setting that is considered to be flat?
Thanks in advance!

This will help.


01-25-2010, 01:49 PM
The factory didn't provide a "flat" position so it could be that they felt the flatest response curve in a dead room is not flat in your listening room so user adjustable was the best way to go. Of course that's just my speculation. Does anyone really listen to flat?

Toms link to the PDF does help to see what's going on when you move the controls.

My understanding of the 19 xover is that the MF control regulates the overall volume of the HF driver and the HF control adjusts the point at which the higher frequencies are boosted by the compensating network.
I'm open to hear other opinions because it is somewhat confusing.

In my listening room and with my equipment I have both knobs set to where the white line pointer on each knob points to the T in Optimum but I do always use about 4db of treble boost at 20KHZ and it's a slow rise to 4db at 20KHZ.

Without the treble boost I don't find that turning the HF control fully clockwise brings up enough treble detail for me and when I use the treble boost I find that having the HF control fully clockwise sounds too thin and harsh to me.

From other posts I've seen it looks like most Model 19 users run them with the controls somewhere within the "optimum range."

All this assumes that the pots themselves have not turned in their mounting so that the pointer on the knobs do not reflect an incorrect position for the resistance they are set at.

01-25-2010, 05:52 PM
"The 19's are the first two way speakers I've heard and really liked and I don't detect any "seam" between the woofer and HF driver. To me it sounds like it's all coming from inside the entire box or like a huge single driver... "

That is music to my ears--"...sounds like... a huge single driver...".

That info on the crossover is interesting and I did see the posts about the lugs and oxidation.
To be honest,I am hoping that Mr. Brennan(?) is right and that the model 19 is very turnkey because I would rather just hook 'um up and listen,at least at first.I have a feeling it is going to be a big difference to get used to.
So I want to get my bearing before I dive into changing things.
I really think I want to keep them as stock as possible,but I am considering sending the entire crossover and internal wiring off to be replaced or reworked, if I feel it needs it.
My system is on the warm side,but with tight bass,at least for all tubes.
I guess I want the speakers to be as clear as possible,but not harsh,but also warmish--I can't seem to get enough warmth as long as it doesn't lurch into soft mush.

And I am with the guy about the control settings.I, too, want to find the flattest setting,at least at first.

I do already have an idea about getting the speakers off the floor by a couple of inches for decoupling but to improve stage and imaging and bass.
Have a feeling it might work well,but will have to see,might not need to bother.Part of my idea is to introduce an ever so slight rake angle backward so as to improve the illusion of stage and image height,which I do like.

BTW, I saw that a guy on a Klipsch forum has a beautiful pair of 14s for sale.
I hope to get the finish on mine to look like his.

voice of theatr
01-25-2010, 06:10 PM
Wow--thanks Tom! That PDF spells it out pretty clearly. Thanks for the link. According to the PDF, if you keep the treble and midrange controls set to the designated "optimum" settings, you are pretty close to flat (which I had a feeling was probably the case). The "optimum control setting" for the treble control on the 19's is at the portion of the pot's range that approaches the fully clockwise setting--and that's where I've been keeping the treble control on my 19's--fully clockwise. The "optimum control setting" for the midgrange control on the 19's is below the halfway point of the pot--and I've been experimenting with mine from that position and different positions approaching fully clockwise. I noticed with the midrange control rotated fully clockwise that the vocals in particular (midrange) on some of my rock recordings become too "in your face" and I suspected the designated optimum range was more of a flat setting. It's nice to see that the actual curve provided by Altec corroborates my observations.

As Dave V. says, not many people listen to flat--and I'm no exception. I have always set my EQ by ear as I'm sure pretty much everyone does--what other (bottom line) criteria is important other than how does it sound to your ears in your room? I do add some treble (16k and up in particular) and some bass (starting at 100hz down to about 30hz) for the Model 19's (with my Alesis Equalizer) and now that I'm looking at the PDF I can see those are the areas where the response dips on the Model 19's...

What I really like about the Model 19's is that with minumum EQ they sound just plain amazing. I also own a pair of 846A Valencias and a pair of Heathkit AS 101's which both sound great, but require that I add more high end equalization to them to get them to sound almost as good as the 19's....

01-25-2010, 06:32 PM
It sounds like your doing almost the same thing as I am in the way of EQ with the 19's and with the same results but I'm using my Mac C-22 preamp for the EQ.
I have the bass trim pots turned up not quite halfway to give some boost under 100HZ only and I'm using one detent click of HF boost that represents about 4db of boost at 20KHZ but the slope going up to 20KHZ is very gentle so the mids aren't dragged up too much as a result.

I have the bass controls set to flat because I find at one detent click or about 4db of boost is a bit too much for me and that the bass trim pots work out better.

There was a very long thread, maybe in another forum, about adding tweeters and the high frequency response of the 806 and 802G drivers.
If I remember correctly the graph of the 806 driver showed that it starts to drop off around 9KHZ so it would need more of a HF boost to sound like the 802G with the compensating network.
I do find the bass on the 19's to be way better than I got from the Flamencos for whatever reason.

Tom Brennan
01-25-2010, 09:50 PM
When I had my 19s I just left the things alone. I didn't rebuild the crossovers despite the urgings of many even though I went so far as to buy the caps. The things sounded so good I just left them alone and listened.

Now I did putz around with other speakers at the time as I had a large house and several hi-fis; I tinkered with JBLs and other, inferior Altecs, but the 19s were my main speakers and I was content to just let them be. Could they have been better with new caps? Maybe, quite possibly, but I didn't care, they were that good.

Now that I'm in a high rise all that stuff is gone and I find myself with another pair of "set 'em and forget 'em" speakers, Martin Logan Vistas. I don't think they're as good overall as the 19s but they do the job. Looks like my speaker tinkering days are done.

01-25-2010, 10:18 PM

01-25-2010, 11:35 PM
Thanks Zilch. I swear the brain farts get longer for every year I get older.
That thread was here after all. LOL

After all the experimenting I did in adding tweeters to the 19's I looked elsewhere for a lack of highs because people were saying the 19's weren't all that bad.

I reworked all the solder joints in my preamp, cleaned the tube sockets and tube pins and flooded the heck out of all the switches and pots with alcohol, contact cleaner then DeOxit.
Seems that something got corrected because I abandoned the tweeters and now the 4db of treble boost at 20KHZ is sufficient.


voice of theatr
01-27-2010, 07:31 AM
QUOTING ZILCH "I believe I'd be concentrating my efforts instead upon working to make the stock crossover produce its best possible performance result while also retaining the Model 19 voice...."

I totally agree--the stock crossover sounds great with the stock drivers/cabinet/port size--I'm definately not replacing mine. There are posts on this board about replacing the stock crossover caps on the 19's since they are about 30 years old now. There's also a recent post about connecting the four crossover ground lugs to each other with good copper wire the idea being that four good solder/wire connections will ground it better than just four riveted connections. Both of these "upgrades" seem like a good start at "working to make the stock crossover produce its best possible performance result while also retaining the Model 19 voice...." If/when I decide to tinker with my Model 19's, that is probably where I'll start....

01-27-2010, 12:04 PM
One other thing that should be explored if using stock(original xo) is that the grounding lugs should be bypassed by direct wiring the grounds with wire.After replacing the caps and resistors.Just solder wire from ground lug to ground lug bypassing the lugs they are only riveted to the alum.frame and can oxidize between them.You will get much better performance with this simple step.