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Thread: First Large Altec Speakers Aquired, Now the Work Begins! Advice Welcome.

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    Junior Member IowaClass65's Avatar
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    First Large Altec Speakers Aquired, Now the Work Begins! Advice Welcome.

    Greetings all, I just acquired my first large Altec speakers and I can definitely sense a lot of potential but there is some work to be done. After many years in this hobby I have learned to "measure twice, cut once" so bear with me as I ask some very basic questions before diving in. These speakers seem to have Valencia type drivers and crossovers (Altec N801-8a) in a very high quality large custom cabinet. The PO was moving and we had to demo these with one of those desk top radios with remote speakers. All drivers seemed to work fine and the attenuators on the crossovers were very stiff but seemed to adjust the high frequency adequately. Upon getting the home and hooked up to my McIntosh 2205 it became apparent that one speaker was in fine voice, but the other had slightly distorted sound coming from the HF driver. I spun the dial on the crossover a couple times to loosen it up and maybe clean the pot, but it seemed to disintegrate as I turned it. It would seem some crossover work will be required, no biggie since I was thinking of recapping or replacing the XOs anyway. Is the N801-8a worth rebuilding or is there a recommended upgrade out there? (I seem to recall Zilch's Z-19 upgrade being well regarded). Anticipating the need to identify the drivers, I removed the six screws on the front of the horn but it would not pull out. It was very loose, but was definitely being held from inside the cabinet. I guess I will have to remove the back if possible. The back panel and screws seem to be finished over and not accessible. As I said, these cabinets were done by a professional carpenter and I anticipate some work to gain access. Pics will follow, I just ran out of time this weekend. I guess my L100t3's will rule the roost for several more weeks/months! Any tips would be welcome, I have no experience replacing capacitors or other components. Is the rebuilding of the XOs a job best left for experienced techs? TIA!

    For now, here is the cell phone picture from the PO's house.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Doc Mark's Avatar
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    Hi IC65,

    You might want to pull the woofers, so you can see if the HF driver is mounted inside the cabinet, too. I'm guessing that it is, but pulling the woofers will allow you to get your head and some light in the enclosure, and see. Check with Great Plains Audio, "GPA" on eBay, as they are producing replacement parts, and drivers, for Altec systems, and have a fine reputation. Good luck, and have fun!! God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
    The only thing that can never be taken away from you, is your honor. Cherish it, in yourself, and in others.

  3. #3
    Senior Member macaroonie's Avatar
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    Good score , loads of potential there.

    Here's a pic of the innards , google images is your pal for this

    http://s86.photobucket.com/user/dgwo...8A_04.jpg.html

    That image comes from this discussion in upgrading the x/o here

    http://s86.photobucket.com/user/dgwo...8A_04.jpg.html.

    If that's the model 19 driver set then there is extensive info on that subject within this website , use google to search Audioheritage as ti's more powerful as a search tool

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    Nice grab , I saw those were in Angola NY , $450 or did you do better ?

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    Junior Member IowaClass65's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. I finally got into the speaker and was happy to find all Altec drivers and they were all in "as new" condition. The components are:
    Woofer- 416-8B
    HF Driver- 802-8G
    Horn- 811B
    XO- N801-8A
    Basically the drivers of a Model 19 and likely several other Altec speakers from the mid to late 70's. As long as I can determine that there is no problem with the 802-8g I am going to keep these drivers. This means that any upgrades will be within the crossover. What are my options for the XO? I did some looking and know the N801-8a crosses at 800 and the Model 19 at 1200. Is it desirable or even possible to tweak the N801? The cutout in the cabinet makes me want to reuse the N801

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    Junior Member IowaClass65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dezmond View Post
    Nice grab , I saw those were in Angola NY , $450 or did you do better ?
    The seller was a good guy, but pretty firm on his price. We agreed on $400 and him helping me load them into my car. Given the drivers that reside in the cabinet, I am very happy we were able to make a deal.

  7. #7
    Junior Member IowaClass65's Avatar
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    Well the problem is definitely the HF driver. The buzzy sound followed the driver. When I moved the driver I noticed a distinct rattle. It sounds like a piece of plastic rattling around inside. The noise is coming from the front of the driver, down that tunnel in the magnet, where I can see a slotted orange cap. I did not dare to dissemble the HF driver without specific instructions. Could something have come loose? Could it be that simple? I did verify that the back of the driver (where model# is) was tight

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    Might be best to send the broken driver to GPA, and let them have a look.
    Oppo BDP-95 DCX-2496 RMX-850 Parasound A21 First Watt J2 Dayton RSS390HF-4 MTM Quads of SEAS W18E001 511Bs TAD TD-2002

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    Senior Member macaroonie's Avatar
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    HF

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    It sounds like it is probably the tangerine phase plug. They come unglued and can be reglued with superglue. I followed the directions in the following link when I had to repair mine. http://www.hostboard.com/forums/f700...tangerine.html

    I wouldn't try to pass a signal through the driver again until it is fixed. If you don't want to tackle it, I agree that GPA should be able to do it pretty easily.

  11. #11
    Junior Member IowaClass65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by farleybob View Post
    It sounds like it is probably the tangerine phase plug. They come unglued and can be reglued with superglue. I followed the directions in the following link when I had to repair mine. http://www.hostboard.com/forums/f700...tangerine.html

    I wouldn't try to pass a signal through the driver again until it is fixed. If you don't want to tackle it, I agree that GPA should be able to do it pretty easily.
    Thanks for the awesome link Bob!

  12. #12
    Junior Member IowaClass65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macaroonie View Post
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    Great diagram Macaroonie, this will be very helpful!

  13. #13
    Junior Member IowaClass65's Avatar
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    I got the Tangerine plug re-glued, the pots in the crossover treated with DeOxit/Faderlube and the woofers rotated 180 degrees. I placed them on end tables at ear level (12' feet apart and 12' from my seat) and WOW! The imaging was impressive, the high end clarity and detail was fabulous, and with a little tweaking on the pre-amp the bass response was fine. Classical, jazz and even Gordon Lightfoot were a pleasure to listen to. My JBL L100t3s were strong speakers, but the Altecs seem to be in a different league. Thanks for everyone's help on this. I guess the next step will be the upgrading (capacitors only) or replacement (to a Z19 1200hz) of the N801-8a crossover.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Doc Mark's Avatar
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    Howdy, IowaClass65,

    Well done, Sir, and congratulations on enjoying that big Altec sound!!! It most certainly does have it's own appeal, and having experienced it in the past, and to a certain extent, with the L300's, I like it, too!! Have fun, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
    The only thing that can never be taken away from you, is your honor. Cherish it, in yourself, and in others.

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