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Thread: Altec Lansing 846b Valencia Questions

  1. #31
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    I finally had a chance to listen to a pair of Valencia 846b driven by a Sansui 8080 receiver and came away very disappointed. This combo sounded harsh, strained. and distorted, like a much smaller speaker with the volume cranked up. . There was none of the live in the room presence, the sense of ease and midrange magic that I was hoping for. From what people here say it appears tube amplification is a must for the Valencias to sound good. Then there is the well trodden road of cap replacements, crossover changes, damping and horn driver replacements after which it seems that many just move on to other speakers. I would hate to make the commitment of time and money and end up disappointed in the end.

  2. #32
    Senior Member grumpy's Avatar
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    Worth making sure the 50+ year old drivers are still functioning properly.
    It would not be surprising if the HF drivers (diaphragms in particular) were not.
    Connections to, and inside the individual drivers can also become... less than optimal.

    The system has potential for some improvement, but should also -not- sound like doo doo if working properly.
    Whether a tube amp will magically/drastically improve the sound? One person's "I think I can hear a difference" is another person's "Night/day improvement" ... Meh.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadguy View Post
    I finally had a chance to listen to a pair of Valencia 846b driven by a Sansui 8080 receiver and came away very disappointed. This combo sounded harsh, strained. and distorted, like a much smaller speaker with the volume cranked up.
    Harsh doesn't surprise me, but distorted sounds like a speaker or even an amp issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
    Worth making sure the 50+ year old drivers are still functioning properly.
    +1

    Around 1980 I was studying audio engineering (studio recording). We had a couple of pairs of A7s with 511s on top in the studio for playback and we had 2 pairs of soffit mounted Altec 9846 monitors in the control room. The 9846s use the 511 horn with I don't know which driver and a lower efficiency 15" woofer for better low end extension.

    No one at the studio was a fan of either Altec, but they were what we had. About the same time the Model 19 was available in high-fi shops... it was hands down better sounding than either of the Altec systems we had at the studio.

    Zoom forward to today and there are lots of Altecs running sub-optimally out there and lots of people who have discovered the joy of horn loaded speakers and their effortless dynamics. I have to say the same is true of the larger vintage Klipsch speakers. I have had K-horns and La Scalas. There is much to love about all of these speakers, but they must be brought back to spec and then you have to realize you will be listening to a system that has gross frequency response irregularities compared to a modern system.

    Will a tube amp fix the issues? Almost never.
    Will a fully restored tube amp sound good on a fully restored vintage horn system? Quite possibly. Some of the vintage tube amps like a MAC240 or a Dynaco have a soft and fat bottom end that gives the illusion of more bass which can be pleasing with the high sensitivity systems with their inherently rolled off bottom ends.


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  4. #34
    Senior Member srm51555's Avatar
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    I also struggled with the midrange bump with all of the early crossover design Altecs until I built this:
    https://audiokarma.org/forums/index....11-416.155640/

    Really worth the money. I have built for both the 846a (16 ohms) and 846b (8 ohms). The z-19 crossover could also work but I have no experience with it.

    Thanks,
    Scott

  5. #35
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    Thankyou for all the encouraging advise, I don't want to give up on my quest for vintage Altecs. I hadn't been to a high end audio store in almost 20 years and recently out of curiosity, I went to listen to some new Bowers & Wilkins 802s with a Simaudio Moon CD player, preamp and monoblocks. Yes, they sounded very neutral, precise and transparent but also very sterile. Then I came across Art Dudley's review of the Klipschorn AK6 where he mentions that modern speakers lack the natural dynamics, impact and body of his Flamencos and Valencias and that's what brought me here. I'll continue in my search for for Altecs that are in better condition or affordable enough to bring up to snuff.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadguy View Post
    Then I came across Art Dudley's review of the Klipschorn AK6 where he mentions that modern speakers lack the natural dynamics, impact and body of his Flamencos and Valencias and that's what brought me here.
    I already miss Art Dudley's reviews and columns describing his trips into vintage audio. I was impressed that Stereophile would let him spend so much time talking about products that could never advertise in the magazine... truly a service and a hoot. RIP Art.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadguy View Post
    I'll continue in my search for for Altecs that are in better condition or affordable enough to bring up to snuff.
    I think you are on the right track. I have had more experience with JBL, Klipsch, and even EV than I have had with Altec, but I think if handled correctly and following a similar path to Scott's you may find what you are looking for. GPA is a wonderful resource. There are still beater Altecs out there to be found at bargain prices and with a bit of care and creativity you will be able to assemble an affordable and wonderful system. Or, who knows, you may stumble into a real bargain. But I would expect new HF diaphragms and a new network will be required to reach your goal.


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  7. #37
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    Altec Valencia Upgrades

    So, Chas and I concluded the initiative that I had outlined above.

    To Paraphrase our communications ( hopefully accurately ) ;

    He didn't like the Celestion drivers that I sent ( CDX1-1747 ) but did like the little Peerless drivers ( peerless dfm-2535r00-08 ) once a significant HF contour circuit was put in place ( 6.8uF cap strapped across the variable LPad ) .

    The GPA 902-8a is still the king of the mountain ( though oddly enough , it hardly needs any HF contouring to satisfy Chas's listening requirements for HF or UHF sparkle ).

    - Worth pointing out once again is that Chas's main speakers are JBL 4345's that are retrofitted with TAD 2002 drivers ( + of course the 4345 has a dedicated UHF tweeter in the form of the 2405 ).

    With all that JBL/TAD backgrounding, it really puts the GPA 902 into rarefied company ( & by some measure , also pulls along the little Peerless into worthy contention ).

    I'm pretty sure that our dearly departed Great Altec Sceptic ( aka; Zilch ) would be quite bemused by these turn of events.


  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl K View Post
    So, Chas and I concluded...

    The GPA 902-8a is still the king of the mountain ( though oddly enough , it hardly needs any HF contouring to satisfy Chas's listening requirements for HF or UHF sparkle ).


    I'm pretty sure that our dearly departed Great Altec Sceptic ( aka; Zilch ) would be quite bemused by these turn of events.
    Gosh darn Zilch!

    Thanks for posting the update. I just read through this thread again, and while the GPA 902s are not inexpensive, considering they are handmade in low volumes here in the USA, I think they are still a bargain. Of course almost 20 years ago now; when Bill was first starting out, I asked for his help with a blown Altec small format driver and he shipped me a free diaphragm at no cost including shipping. A hell of a guy. I am thrilled they are still making improvements and are still with us!


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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl K View Post
    So, Chas and I concluded the initiative that I had outlined above.

    To Paraphrase our communications ( hopefully accurately ) ;

    He didn't like the Celestion drivers that I sent ( CDX1-1747 ) but did like the little Peerless drivers ( peerless dfm-2535r00-08 ) once a significant HF contour circuit was put in place ( 6.8uF cap strapped across the variable LPad ) .

    The GPA 902-8a is still the king of the mountain ( though oddly enough , it hardly needs any HF contouring to satisfy Chas's listening requirements for HF or UHF sparkle ).

    - Worth pointing out once again is that Chas's main speakers are JBL 4345's that are retrofitted with TAD 2002 drivers ( + of course the 4345 has a dedicated UHF tweeter in the form of the 2405 ).

    With all that JBL/TAD backgrounding, it really puts the GPA 902 into rarefied company ( & by some measure , also pulls along the little Peerless into worthy contention ).

    I'm pretty sure that our dearly departed Great Altec Sceptic ( aka; Zilch ) would be quite bemused by these turn of events.

    Yes, the Peerless was/is remarkable. At the price, it’s a great value.

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