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View Full Version : Lansing Iconics... on the job!



Steve Schell
02-20-2010, 08:10 PM
This morning I attended an auction in southern California. I had been told that the fellow providing the sound system would be running vintage Lansing Iconics, as he has done for the past several years. This sounded too good to be true, so I had to check it out.

Well jeez Louise! Not only was he running Iconics, but one of them was an incredibly rare early version such as I had never seen before. The serial number on the 801 high frequency driver is #214, so the system was likely built in 1938. I have an early one in my collection, but not THIS early. The biggest difference between this example and later utility Iconics was the enclosure, which predates the familiar 612 design that later housed thousands of Altec 604s. As can be seen in the picture, the front baffle has a round hole for the woofer as well as a rectangular reflex port. There are other differences: the field supply with two small electrolytic capacitors instead of a single larger two section cap; various details on the H-808 horn; 801 (not 801b) driver with radial slit phasing plug, and an early Shearer style dividing network.

In the earliest images of the Iconic which appeared in ads and catalogs, the woofer cone was exposed and the port was smaller than this system:

http://www.lansingheritage.org/images/lmco/advertizements/1937-electronics.jpg

So, by #214 the protective screen had been added for the cone and the cabinet had been retuned. This box appears to be an evolutionary step between the first examples and the later, familiar 612.

The other Iconic was a circa 1942 or 1943 Altec Lansing model, with the black and white decals on the various components. Both of the speakers sounded the same to me, and provided excellent sound reinforcement in the large, fairly reverberant space. I recorded some video/audio AVI files on my camera, but have been unable to upload them here. Anyway, intelligibility of the auctioneer's voice was really good all over the room, with natural timbre and a noticeable lack of bass boom, tizzy top end or other nasties. The sound was of comfortable volume up close, and seemed nearly as loud in the back of the room. The owner operated the system, which also included an Altec Lansing A-324-A push pull 6L6 amplifier (c. late 1940s), with skill and restraint.

The owner of these Iconics mentioned that his system is available for hire for special occasions in southern California. Maybe one of these days he can provide sound for one of our Lansing Heritage raves. It was certainly a pleasure to hear these fine systems doing the job they were built to do after their roughly 68 and 73 year break in periods.

Earl K
02-20-2010, 08:22 PM
That's great stuff there ! Steve .

Thanks for sharing :)

scott fitlin
02-20-2010, 08:24 PM
Very cool, indeed. :applaud:

Steve Schell
02-20-2010, 11:14 PM
Thanks, guys. I'm still thinking about how well those Iconics performed in that big, acoustically live space. One could hear every word spoken by the auctioneer clearly, with correct timbre, from any location in that large room. They didn't sound flashy, or "hi fi", just completely unstressed and natural. Not many modern speakers would equal or surpass them IMO.

spkrman57
02-21-2010, 09:19 AM
They should be in a museum!

Ron sends...

Mr. Widget
02-21-2010, 05:27 PM
I can't believe they are used for everyday applications!


They should be in a museum!

Ron sends...:yes:

Very Cool!


Widget

mikebake
02-21-2010, 07:20 PM
Nice, Steve. How cool!

Horn Savant
02-21-2010, 08:55 PM
Offer the auctioneer a trade - a set of Mackies - and some comp

Steve Schell
02-21-2010, 09:17 PM
The owner of the Iconics is fully aware of their value, and he's not interested in selling. He's having too much fun using them as intended. He expressed a deep appreciation of Jim Lansing and his work, so we had a lot in common and plenty to talk about.

louped garouv
02-22-2010, 08:14 AM
The owner of the Iconics is fully aware of their value, and he's not interested in selling. He's having too much fun using them as intended. He expressed a deep appreciation of Jim Lansing and his work, so we had a lot in common and plenty to talk about.


excellent!!!!!!


too cool Steve, thanks again for sharing!

SMKSoundPro
02-22-2010, 05:42 PM
Very cool. I am misty-eyed! Why else are we here but to appreciate what came before us, and now know what the "golden age" really sounded like.

I really appreciate all of your posts Steve! You seem so "tapped" into the really cool vintage stuff and its history.

Scotty.

Steve Schell
02-22-2010, 09:04 PM
Thanks for the nice comments, everyone. Studying audio history and examining (and grooving to) the artifacts continues to bring great joy. One fun aspect is that, just when you think you've seen it all, something mind blowing like this early Iconic will come along. There is at least a lifetime of goodies out there still waiting to be discovered I'm sure.