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Thread: Just acquired some Altec 604C speakers! What amplifier do I power them with now?

  1. #1
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    Just acquired some Altec 604C speakers! What amplifier do I power them with now?

    Someone gave me these speakers and I will assume didn't know what they were. I didn't either until about 9 months later I pulled them out of the back room and started checking them out. They have N-1600A crossovers (well actually one does the other has some electronic crossover-looking mess strapped to a piece of wood?!?) that have a pic of the speakers right on it. I have not opened the cabinets (which the guy who gave them to me said that some guy's grandfather built them years ago and only listened to classical music at low volume. They honestly don't look like they were not factory built but when I looked underneath them there were words scribbled in majic marker regarding the wiring diagrams and such. The grilles are lattice work also! This old man must have been a professional carpenter or something to fabricate these grilles/speakers. They have a huge slot port below the speaker so I decided it would be easier to try to I.D. them from there. I took a small Streamlight LED flashlight and stuck it up inside the slot port then put my phone on camcorder mode and hit record while I slowly panned it back and forth and moved the flashlight around. This was much easier than removing the 30-40 screws holding the rear panel of the cabinet on! Low and behold metallic green-colored Altec 604C's in absolutely mint condition! Now my real dilemma here is number one... where do I get another N-1600A crossover from for a decently low price and two... what amp should I use to push these babies? I've heard that they were designed with tubes amp in mind and I was told NOT to use solid state amps EVER on them or I could easily damage them because they are not "push-pull" type amplifiers like certain tube amps which were designed for these speakers. I just came across a console called The Fisher Philharmonic and it is in mint shape also... plus it has a tube amp and tuner section! It's only 30-40 watts but that thing sound great with the speakers that are in it and they have no enclosure behind the 10" woofer... 4x6 midrange... or 2" tweeter. (These are all rough estimates of the size of it's speakers.) It has an external hookup to allow a separate set of speakers to be used but I don't know if I should hook them up or not because will the factory speakers still be playing also?? Plus the 604C's are 16 Ohm speakers right? This amp only has hookups for 8 Ohm speakers I think so how will that affect the output in wattage? Will it cut it in half? I believe these 604C speakers are rated around 75 watts (not sure if it's RMS or peak but I don't think it's peak... not for a 15" woofer) so I want to know what amp Altec designed them to be used with from the factory... I mean did Altec make an Altec amp to power these with and how did it sound? What other larger high-quality tube amps should I consider using and why? McIntosh(tube) I've been told are good but I've never heard one on them or anything else to really know what it sounds like. These things are supposed to be super-duper efficient... something like 108-110 db I think so I don't think I will need 75 watts but I just might want to have that power on tap when necessary. Well this is my first post and man was it a long one... sorry guys. I'm just soooo excited to come across these speakers that I don't know what to do. I feel like a little kid at Christmas that just opened a present that I had always dreamed of but never really knew what it looked like. Help me out guys... I know you older speaker-savvy ones out there just might even have an extra N-1600A crossover just lying around in your garage or something. Also what speaker wire(s) should I use on them? A few months ago I ran across an ex-employee of Monster Power and she sold me a 12 or 15ft. set of M2.2s and another 12 or 15ft. set of Z Series cables plus an extra Z Series cable for the center channel speaker. Would these cables make that much of a difference? I would hope so. Please send me some knowledge and help me get these 604C's sounding the best they can. P.S. A buddy of mine just came across a set of Karlsson cabinets and said they would work perfect and are extremely efficient at only 1 watt. Any ideas? Thanks for your patience with such a long post... like I said... I'm totally freakin' out over here! LOL!! WOOHOO!!!

  2. #2
    JBL 4645
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    I simply couldn’t read this, post without paragraphs.

    Here is link that has some basic information on specifications.
    http://www.technicalaudio.com/pdf/Du...04/DUPLEX.html

    Then again if you require more information use that tool called Google and the title of Altec model number and few extra keywords added to search its that easy, or why not try diyAudio http://diyaudioprojects.com/Forum/vi...php?f=11&t=225

    http://www.technicalaudio.com/pdf/Du...ex_Speaker.pdf

    Might also want to put an RTA on it and microphone ay 1metre and use steady pink noise to see how flat the response is might need a few EQ cuts here and there. I wouldn’t know I have never owned this model and 1944 wow I’d be surprised if both are in good Nick!

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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    Bob Walker is a go to guy on Altec stuff, he will likely be able to answer most if not all of your questions, I'm sure he will pop in when he has a minute.
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBL 4645 View Post
    I simply couldnít read this, post without paragraphs.
    I have on a couple of occasions when importing text from a program like word to the site had all the indentions and paragraph separations disappear. It pays to preview a post before submitting.
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

  5. #5
    JBL 4645
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1audiohack View Post
    I have on a couple of occasions when importing text from a program like word to the site had all the indentions and paragraph separations disappear. It pays to preview a post before submitting.
    I just read the top middle and bottom and grasped he wanted information. Well looks like Bob is making a post to give him the logical answers to the mysteries of the 604. WoW 1944 that’s an old vintage rare loudspeaker.

    Probably got way, too excited he lost all mobility body functions and had seizer when typing the post. poor feller.

    So its one of these loudspeakers that has permanent magnetic field as I read earlier models needed battery power of some kinder to create the magnetic field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1audiohack View Post
    Bob Walker is a go to guy on Altec stuff, he will likely be able to answer most if not all of your questions, I'm sure he will pop in when he has a minute.
    Gee Barry.....I feel like some sort of expert.

    Anyway, I don't know too much detailed technical mumbo jumbo and do most of my setups by ear but I have had 604s for 40+ years in a variety of setups and I've had success with pretty well all of them. I'm not familiar with the 604Cs in particular but I love 604s and believe that you have a pair of gems that will sound good with a minimum of effort and can sound stunning with the right setup and components.

    Build a pair of Jeff Markwart modified N-1500 crossovers. You won't be sorry regardless of the cabinets or electronics. Don't skimp on the parts; especially the coils. The parts will cost more than finding one to match the other but you can sell the good one to subsidize the parts and the improvement is noticeable even with lower end receivers. The schematics are readily available and if I can put them together anyone can. I can put together a package of drawings, photos and a parts list from when I built mine. Pictures makes it simpler for techno dummies like me. I had some excellent help and I'll be glad to pass that along.

    You can use any amplifier that you'd like within reason but the critical factor is quality and using common sense with wiring, volume and when powering the system up and down. People run 604s with 8 wpc tube amps and I've never had anything smaller than 30 wpc but I've run them loud with 200+ wpc ss amps and have never blown one. To me it's a no brainer to realize when a threshold is reached and if it's below anyone's desire or expectations it's time to examine the system and start upgrading.

    Until I got into McIntosh amps I was running a pair of 604-8Gs in 620A cabinets with a Fisher 500C tube receiver and I thought that it was the most wonderful sound that I had ever heard. Before that they were run with an old Marantz 2285B ss receiver that I still think sounds great. I currently have a pair of 604Es in my TV surround system being run with a 120wpc ss amp and it gets a wide range of movie effects.

    It's good to match impedence and I'll likely get challenged but running 8 ohm speakers from a 16 ohm tap or vice versa isn't going to be critical in a home environment.

    Finally, cabinets and ports will affect the sound the greatest and IMHO need the most attention.

    You can call or email me and I'll be glad to discuss what I know form my limited knowledge and broad experience.

    Bob Walker
    (702) 241-6599
    walkerent@cox.net

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    [QUOTE=JBL 4645;314865]Well looks like Bob is making a post to give him the logical answers to the mysteries of the 604. QUOTE]

    It's tough to run away and hide when you've been spotted lurking in the bushes.

    "logical answers to the mysteries of the 604" - wow.....have I really attained some sort of expert status here? I've met Barry and he's been to my house and seen my stuff, which has improved since then, but in retrospect to my posts I feel more like a dummy than anything else. However, I do enjoy lending a helping hand just like I've received from several of you guys.

  8. #8
    JBL 4645
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    [QUOTE=rgwalker;314872]
    Quote Originally Posted by JBL 4645 View Post
    Well looks like Bob is making a post to give him the logical answers to the mysteries of the 604. QUOTE]

    It's tough to run away and hide when you've been spotted lurking in the bushes.

    "logical answers to the mysteries of the 604" - wow.....have I really attained some sort of expert status here? I've met Barry and he's been to my house and seen my stuff, which has improved since then, but in retrospect to my posts I feel more like a dummy than anything else. However, I do enjoy lending a helping hand just like I've received from several of you guys.
    Youíre a peeping tom!

    These loudspeakers are getting on for 100 years old you what mean! I guess with care I donít see any reason why it shouldnít last that long. Iíve only carelessly in the past blew two HF tweeters up on my control 5 and leaned my lesson the hard way. I donít see that happening again with crossover system with protection.

    I wonder if these 604 are still really in tip top working conduction. Iím sure tiger can get it sussed sooner than he thinks.

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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rgwalker View Post
    Gee Barry.....I feel like some sort of expert.

    Anyway, I don't know too much detailed technical mumbo jumbo and do most of my setups by ear but I have had 604s for 40+ years in a variety of setups and I've had success with pretty well all of them.
    There is a lot to be said about that. What I heard at your place sounded better than I ever managed to get my 604-8Gs to sound. Like it or not your my Altec go to guy!

    Let's get together again, sounds like we've both learned a thing or two since.
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1audiohack View Post
    There is a lot to be said about that. What I heard at your place sounded better than I ever managed to get my 604-8Gs to sound. Like it or not your my Altec go to guy!

    Let's get together again, sounds like we've both learned a thing or two since.
    Sounds good. I haven't been working for awhile and I get to manage the clock.

    Don't forget that you heard my 3 way system with Altec 416-8Bs in the 620A cabinets and not with the 604-8Gs.

    I've only made a few changes to the stereo system since you saw it and the latest and most surprising is a switch from a McIntosh 40 wpc tube amp to a McIntosh 100 wpc ss amp last week. The reasoning was financial but the results totally exceeded my expectations and I may never go back to tubes. I love this amp and I love to crank it up. So far I haven't seemed to come close to breaking up the amp or the speakers and I have no desire to test those limits.

    My biggest fear with this system is that it really isn't that good on it's own and that it requires the particular f**ked up things about this room to make it work.

    I don't know where my surround system was at when you were here or if we even looked at it. It's set up for music but it sounds great with TV and especially movies. I have a copy of the Altec 3 way crammed into a 7 cu ft Altec cabinet that sits laterally on legs. The fronts are 604Es in Barzilay cabinets with Jeff Markwart crossovers and the rears are stock Altec Valencia 846As. I use a Sony ES 7.1 channel receiver. That may change some day but for now I'm happy and my only wish is that I could get rid of the couch and just have a single chair in the center.

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