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Question What can I expect from a pair of 20 year-old speakers?

Kleung

Novice Member
hi I recently bought a pair of Spendor A2 to pair with a Compact Goldnote AP-7 amp (which I intend to upgrade in the very near future).

So far I have been very happy with the speakers. Though admittedly, I feel there is a lack of definition and power when playing more demanding music such as classical pieces. However I believe this is due to the amp rather than the speakers.

Anyway, back to the point. I recently discovered that my in laws have a pair of B&W 804 series 1 (some called it the Matrix 804?) sitting in the loft. It has been left unused for almost 6-7 years and there’s some rust at the ‘plug-in’ points. I did some research and found that it was their top model at the time (around 20 years ago) and most of the reviews were pretty good. I can likely have the speakers for free and thus I would like to ask the following:-

1) sound quality wise what should I expect from the B&Ws? Will they sound better than my Spendors?

2) if a pair of speakers have been left unused for so many years, should I expect any problems? What can I do to make them perform at their best?

Thank you!!

Kev
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
No reason why they should not be ok but check the rubber/foam around the woofers for cracking, I would start at low volume to see if all drivers are free and working and leave then running for a few hours at low level before giving them a good work out. If you find any issues you can isolate bass and treble by removing the jumper bars on the rear. Finally, these were very good and expensive speakers in their day but most reviews suggest they like quite a bit of power to get the best from them so you current amp will play ok but not get the best from them.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
I have a pair of mid 90's Mission speakers which, aside from a bit of cosmetic cabinet damage to the corners, still look like new and perform perfectly. If you are lucky enough to find these in the same condition then my guess would be you can expect a lot from them sound quality wise. As suggested, an amp upgrade might be a good idea and I wouldn't assume buying something very nice would be wasted on them just because they are old. I wish I was lucky enough to have a loft find like his!
 

Kleung

Novice Member
Thanks! but do you reckon they will beat the Spendors in sound quality?
I have a pair of mid 90's Mission speakers which, aside from a bit of cosmetic cabinet damage to the corners, still look like new and perform perfectly. If you are lucky enough to find these in the same condition then my guess would be you can expect a lot from them sound quality wise. As suggested, an amp upgrade might be a good idea and I wouldn't assume buying something very nice would be wasted on them just because they are old. I wish I was lucky enough to have a loft find like his!
 

Kleung

Novice Member
Thanks for the suggestion. Hoping to upgrade my amp very soon!!
No reason why they should not be ok but check the rubber/foam around the woofers for cracking, I would start at low volume to see if all drivers are free and working and leave then running for a few hours at low level before giving them a good work out. If you find any issues you can isolate bass and treble by removing the jumper bars on the rear. Finally, these were very good and expensive speakers in their day but most reviews suggest they like quite a bit of power to get the best from them so you current amp will play ok but not get the best from them.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
Thanks! but do you reckon they will beat the Spendors in sound quality?

Only one way to find out! A quick google suggests the Spendors retail at around £1600ish is that right? These B&W's would have been well out of my price range when they were current speakers so I don't think I ever even listened to a pair at the time but my gut feeling, assuming they are working correctly, is that they could well sound considerably better.
 

Kleung

Novice Member
Only one way to find out! A quick google suggests the Spendors retail at around £1600ish is that right? These B&W's would have been well out of my price range when they were current speakers so I don't think I ever even listened to a pair at the time but my gut feeling, assuming they are working correctly, is that they could well sound considerably better.
Yup the Spendors are around that price. And I think the b&ws were around £2000 when they came out like two decades ago. Hard to believe that 2 decades of technology can’t overcome the price difference lol. Anyway you’re right, the only way to find out is to give it a go! But first I need to find myself a better amp hah
 

Tricky-Ricky

Prominent Member
I have a pair of Ruark Talisman 2 speakers i have been using for the last three years and really cant fault them, only reason i changed them was mainly a decor thing (wife didn't like them much) replaced with a pair of German Magnets and luckily the Magnets where very close in sound type and quality to the Ruarks, but there is no reason a good pair of older speakers shouldn't sound every bit as good as a modern pair of similar spec.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
You need to take inflation into account of course. I did read a review where a chap said he had bought his new in 97 for 2400 but I don't know if that was pounds or dollars or whether or not he had paid full price. According to a UK inflation calculator that would be just under 4500 in todays money and it seems current 804 models sell at over 6500. If we were talking av receivers it would be a different story but I would have thought most relatively high end, fault free speakers of 20 years ago would still easily outshine the cheaper speakers of today.
 

Sam Vimes

Established Member
Whether you think the B&Ws are better is entirely down to you. I don't recall hearing any B&W speaker that I'd be entirely happy with, they're generally a bit bright for my liking. The snag is that I've not been overly fond of the few Spendors I've heard. However, if I got the chance at a free pair of B&W 804s, I'd certainly give them a try before deciding what I preferred. Give them a go, decide with your own ears. It's not as if you've got anything to lose.
 

Garrett

Moderator
I have a pair of mid 90's Mission speakers which, aside from a bit of cosmetic cabinet damage to the corners, still look like new and perform perfectly. If you are lucky enough to find these in the same condition then my guess would be you can expect a lot from them sound quality wise. As suggested, an amp upgrade might be a good idea and I wouldn't assume buying something very nice would be wasted on them just because they are old. I wish I was lucky enough to have a loft find like his!
I have a pair of Mission 763 I think are 30+ years old they were my main speakers for many years before getting some Castle Harlech speakers.
I now have them in the computer room and use them for the sound from the computer and they sound perfect and just checked the rubber and its like new.
So I can't see anything wrong with having old speakers.
 

Kleung

Novice Member
Thanks for the replies, can’t wait to try them out soon. Very curious about its quality. On a side note, I notice the jumper bars and the cable inserts have a bit of rust on them. What would be a good way to get rid of the rust? Thanks !
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the replies, can’t wait to try them out soon. Very curious about its quality. On a side note, I notice the jumper bars and the cable inserts have a bit of rust on them. What would be a good way to get rid of the rust? Thanks !

You could replace the jumper bars with small lengths of speaker cable, and on the terminals themselves you could try some metal polish. Although where it really matters is the inside surface of the hole in the terminals where you’re putting your banana plugs, which might be difficult to clean, but then again plugging and unplugging them a few times may get rid of any tarnishing.

If the terminals are in really bad condition and you don’t mind a bit of DIY, you could probably replace the terminal plate entirely. You can buy them cheaply on Amazon.

The main worry would be whether the damp that caused this rust has affected the drivers.
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
Once you have cleaned the terminals treat them with Deoxit D5
 

dannnielll

Prominent Member
Get rid of the rust with a bit of steel wool. Even Brillo pads and then wash off the residual. There is no possibility that they have been more than tarnished . Any oil or grease will keep them fine afterwards..
 

Kleung

Novice Member
So I finally brought the matrix 804 home and plugged them in, and wow I have to say they sound so much better than the Spendors! The difference is really quite astonishing! Immediately I put the Spendors to the side. But I do find some cracks in the rubber cone, are they going to affect the sound much? And are they easy to fix?

FFF56B86-7AE7-4498-BE6C-D6CD9CECBA80.jpeg
 

JohnnyNapalm

Established Member
For you to have them sounding their best getting the foam replaced by someone who knows what they are doing would be worthwhile. Do you have a speaker specialist local to you who you could talk to?
 

moggi1964

Established Member
I have a pair of Genesis 2+ speakers from the 1970's. I needed to replace the foam surrounds and did so with a human speakers set of woofers and radiators. I swapped out the crossover components, keeping the same measurements on inductor and capacitors but with new ones. I still need to get the cabinets into a pristine condition but sound wise they are fabulous. Total amount spent including cost of speakers is £300.
Image is not mine but from the guy who shared his upgrade and I copied it.

crossover.jpg
 

stevewestern

Established Member
Interesting thread - I too have some old speakers (kef 104.2's) that need work to the cabinets as well as some of the drive units. Wilmslow Audio have been very helpful so far advising me about repairing or replacing the woofers and capacitors and I'm tempted to have a go at making the cabinets look less ugly to me wife.
However, I'm fascinated to hear how they'll sound compared to something new - is the cost of repair, which may be as much as half the price of some new speakers justified?
I really like the idea of something old (rather like me) but guess I'll never know unless I try...
 

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