As a proud owner of a pair of Altec 604ís Iím consistently on the look out for another speaker or two to add to my stockpile. I keep my eyes open but have been slow in finding a great buy.
I was visiting my son at college at Boise State a couple of months ago. When we were driving back to his house, I drove by a garage sale that had a huge set of speakers on the front lawn. After dropping him off I immediately return and took a good look at them. They were a pair of Altec Model 19ís (which I was not that familiar with). I do remember listening to a pair in high school (some time ago) and was really impressed with the way they sounded and looked.
Now this pair had some issues. The cabinets were worn, the woofers were blown and there was cat hair and dust all over the place. He said that they had not worked in a while Ė except the horn which he had hooked up directly with some speaker wire.
The guy was moving out of town and said that he wanted $150 for the pair. I immediately went back to my sonís place and looked up the specís on the model 19. I found that re doing the surrounds were not that expensive and immediately went back to the garage sale with $150 in my pocket. My heart was pounding and I was praying that no one else had bought them in the 10 minutes that I was gone.
I asked if I could pull out the woofers and he said yes as I wanted to make sure that they were original Altec woofers. When I opened the box up I found that they were not Altec but instead were JBLís LE 15Hís that someone add put in. I said something about them being not original Altec woofers and he immediate said, ďWell the lowest I would go is $100Ē. It didnít take me long to load them back into my sonís pickup.
It took a couple of weeks for me to get them back to by home in Vancouver, WA. My wife was with me and my thoughts of leaving her there so I could get these two speakers back home were quickly overruled.
Once I got them home, I immediately cleaned them up, took them apart and started the restoration process. I did find that the horns were standard 806-8Gís and the crossovers needed some work. Some of the wires were actually touching one another on one and on the other there was a loose connection or two. I also immediately ordered some new surrounds for the JBLís and did my first surrounds job that actually turned out good. I did some sanding, puttying and re stained of the walnut cabinets. I put everything back together and turned them on hoping that they would sound great.
OMG Ė they rocked! These speakers are so loud and clear, I was amazed at just how good they sounded. My 604ís are great, but these were even louder and just as clear. The bass and lower midrange is amazing and the uppers are also very good. They truly sound their best with good recordings as they bring all of the sounds of the recording good and/or bad.
Iíve got some additional work to do based on reviewing all of the data on this site and others. Iím going to put new caps in, remove the l-pads, redo the internal wiring and change out the actual speaker connections on the bottom (moving them to the back).
I checked out the JBL LE 15H specs. They are pretty close to the 416B (which Iíve been looking out for a pair). The current woofers sound just great to me and I have a hard time believing that the 416ís will have any better base than these. However, in the long run I would like them to be original Model 19ís. I initially told my wife that I would buy them and then resell them. However, I quickly changed my mind and they are now part of the family.
A couple of quick questions Ė any input on the LE 15ís? I did see that they were used in the later versions of the JBL Paragons and Iíve been extremely impressed with them. Also, anything other recommendations to bring these up to spec?
Iíve learned quite a bit from reviewing the expertise during the past month that the group has provided in this forum. Youíre a great resource and I appreciate all that you've provide to us rookies.