Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias

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S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #40 on: 20 Oct 2017, 06:11 pm »
I keep reading the "anti-stuffing" clause, but if you don't understand how you can change the Q by using series resistors, the you are in the dark about whether stuffing is a full blown no-no or not. Scott, if you do the experiment now then Danny can work with the results if you end up favoring it.   Will do this evening

Also, that retro wave clothe is pretty coool.  Thanks, I think it will dress up nicely

nickd

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #41 on: 22 Oct 2017, 04:34 pm »
S Clark,
My hope for you and this project is that Danny embraces the strengths of the original design and just works his magic on the crossover. In my estimation, the most difficult challenge on the Valencia.

I used Sonicaps in my 14’s because I was trying to keep cost reasonable and they sound really great overall. When Danny sent me the Jupiter’s for my Super V’s, I was blown away at the improvement. I hope when values are established you decide to go that direction. The Altec 900 series of drivers with fresh GPA “farms” reach into the “legendary” category of good sound.

You won’t regret investment of time and $ on this project. Speakers with $500. 1”  un-obtainum tweeters will sound broken and lifeless in comparison to the old school compression drivers with a proper crossover.

Sounds like you have the deep bass issue covered with your subs. On thing to remember with Altec’s, they are a window to the source. Just because they are a great value, doesn’t mean you can run them with a second class amp or source. They will let you know if you have issues up stream with 40+dB dynamics.

Upper registers of piano in my rig are simply breathtaking. Same with the lower mid’s and upper bass.

I think Danny is in for a challenge and perhaps a change of perspective with regards to the accomplishments of his predecessors in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s.

Might also influence some fresh creative designs from GR in the future.  :thumb:

Edited for typo.
« Last Edit: 23 Oct 2017, 01:33 am by nickd »

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #42 on: 26 Oct 2017, 11:03 pm »
The Valencias are loaded and head to GR-Research tomorrow after early morning coffee. I'm excited to see what can be done with these old guy!  I'll report our findings on Saturday.   :thumb:

JakeJ

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #43 on: 27 Oct 2017, 12:50 am »
I gotta tell ya, I think it is so cool you can just drive them over to Danny's.  Have fun tomorrow, gents.

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #44 on: 27 Oct 2017, 01:23 am »
I gotta tell ya, I think it is so cool you can just drive them over to Danny's.  Have fun tomorrow, gents.
Well, he's not exactly just around the corner, but 3+ hours isn't a long drive for Texas.  And I have very high hopes that this will be a very worthwhile trip. 

Folsom

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #45 on: 27 Oct 2017, 01:24 am »
I am sure it will be.

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #46 on: 27 Oct 2017, 11:34 pm »
Back from Danny Richie's place.  After about 2 hours in the lab, things worked out better than Danny or I could have hoped for.  Between a new crossover, a cabinet change, and foam tweeks this 50 year old Altec Valencia plays stunningly flat signal across it's range( a very long way from where it started!). That's the really, really good news.  The not so good is that it's range leaves out most high frequency info.
I know I'm teasing a bit, but until I actually build out both crossovers, mount them, and do some listening, I'll not gush any further. 
Graphs and listening impressions to come.  Give Danny a computer, a mike, a handful of parts, and a bullfrog... and he'll give you a diva  soprano.

Folsom

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #47 on: 27 Oct 2017, 11:38 pm »
Keep it all rolling!

lokie

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #48 on: 28 Oct 2017, 12:31 am »
Quote
but until I actually build out both crossovers, mount them, and do some listening,

So, the way I understand this is: he measures and designs and you buy the parts and assemble?

What did you listen to? 

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #49 on: 28 Oct 2017, 01:14 am »
I guess this needs some back story.  I've known Danny a long time, and have worked with him on a bunch of student speaker projects.  I've even been around a few times as he was building his own crossovers.   He has looked at dozens of crossovers that I've designed with my students and gave guidance that has always been helpful. During those years, I've learned to trust his way around a circuit and a cabinet.  Measurements and graphs are powerful tools that can build help you build an accurate speaker.  In the lab, a crossover is built from parts that are alligator clipped together in various combination, solving one problem at a time until you are satisfied that you have the best option available for a reasonable parts cost and time expended.  With this horn, foam is cut and placed, measurements taken, and repeated with slight adjustments.   Usually, a piece is played, but serious play time is reserved for home and extended listening.  We spent a good part of the day working on this. Spent some time doing friends stuff.  Bought some components (many of which I already had).  Then it was time to start the trek home. 

I'm actually not too bad with crossovers myself.  With measurements, I might be able to find my way to a product that is 60-75% as good as what Danny can build.  But what would take me days, Danny can do in a couple of hours, and the last 25% of improvements are things I'd never have found- including some bits of what we did with the Valencias. 

What I know at this time is that we have a speaker that is far more accurate than what we started with.  That's why I said that I'm excited about what I have seen (and heard).  Accurate is usually better...But this process isn't finished.  I don't intend to put forth more until I have built out the crossovers with good wire, cut and glue some foam, and listen.  They will spend time in at least two locations with two different systems. Some foam may be added, a resistor changed- but not likely.  Then I'll post graphs and listening impressions. 

srlaudio

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #50 on: 28 Oct 2017, 03:08 am »
One of the best things you can do for classic compression drivers is replace the diaphragm with a Radian Audio model.  Radian has been around since the 80's and one of their first products was replacement diaphragms for JBL and Altec compression drivers.  They stuck with aluminum for the material (a great idea when compared with titanium which in my view is a bad choice) and were able to lower the distortion by a factor of 10 by using a mylar ring in the surround as opposed to serration ridges that both Altec and JBL used.  I have been a Radial dealer for 25 years and their products stand the test of time.....

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #51 on: 28 Oct 2017, 03:13 am »
Hmmm, wish I had read about these before ordering a pair from Great Plains Audio.

nickd

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #52 on: 28 Oct 2017, 04:57 pm »
Can’t wait to see what Danny came up with. :hyper:

Now curious about the radian frams. Have to read up in those. Have to say though, I have original frams in my drivers (tested by GPA), no desire to change. I’m not usually a fan of aluminum for mids and tweeters but Altec seems to be an exception. My Lyngdorf adds a little correction (DSP) up top for a flat response.

I don’t hear any nasty upper “oil can” resonance peaks in the 902 drivers like the early Seas and Focal domes had. Can’t wait to see Danny’s measurements.

Hope it makes to the GR website as a kit. Easy build or restoration of these American classics with original and new drivers available and simple boxes to build or refinish. Old school fun indeed.


nickd

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #53 on: 28 Oct 2017, 05:36 pm »
Read up on the Radian frams,

Lots of mesurements and opinions on the web. Seems the radians are tough as nails and the pros like that aspect. They seem to sound better than the Altec heavy duty “symbiotic “ pro frams but fall short of the regular hi-fi OEM/GPA frams in Altec horns using Altec motors in a home environment.

Apparently you can clip the amps to the PA and not intrupt the show with a blown driver if using the Radians.

Most seem to prefer the GPA frams for Altec home hi-fi use. With JBL and other brands the Radians seem to have more acceptance.

Now back to the thread.... waiting for S Clark to solder some parts and listen to the Heath Kit boxed Valencia’s.

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #54 on: 28 Oct 2017, 06:33 pm »
Can’t wait to see what Danny came up with. :hyper:

 Can’t wait to see Danny’s measurements.

Ok,ok.  Notice the scale.  Each mark is only 1/2 db.  Look at how that woofer smoothed out. That's about as good as it gets, period, much less for a 50 year old driver... and it certainly didn't look that way to begin with.  But, if you're looking for high overtones, look elsewhere. You can't fix what's not there.  But the main issue that I originally heard was a large peak at about 1700-1800Hz. It's been tamed to just a couple of db rise. 



Folsom

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #55 on: 28 Oct 2017, 06:43 pm »
You should always wants a decent FR, but it's not everything - clearly - or these wouldn't sound good at all.

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #56 on: 28 Oct 2017, 06:52 pm »
You should always wants a decent FR, but it's not everything - clearly - or these wouldn't sound good at all.
Yep, but what they had going for them was a very nice vocal range and a wide sound stage.  Like I mentioned, the trick is to keep what works, and fix as many problems as you can. As it was, I couldn't have kept these speakers.  That horn was unlistenable at moderate volume at that crucial 1700 Hz range. Jazz trumpet would drive you out of the room.
A flat response is a good place to start.  I've got the crossovers soldered, but unmounted.  I've got to cut out the grill of one speaker to gain access to the horn, cut and glue foam, mount the XO, and wire it in.  Probably tomorrow before listening really takes place. 

S Clark

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #57 on: 1 Nov 2017, 08:54 pm »
The old Altec Valencias have been playing for most of the morning with a wide variety of material.
James Taylor- Hourglass;  great for evaluating vocals
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers "Moanin' "- this cd has some bright trumpet by Lee Morgan that has a tendency to BLATT
Linda Ronstadt w/Nelson Riddle "What's New"-  Linda's vocals are crystal clear, and when she let's go, can provide a challenge
Frederick Fennel Holst Suite#1 Telarc-  Wide dynamic range, excellent low level detail.
Manhattan Jazz Quintet, "Funny Valentine"- wide dynamics, precise placement, highly detailed.
Mozart String Quartets, Barylli Quartet on Westminster- mono, clear, warm and intimate

First- I wish my listening room sounded as good as putting speakers at the mouth of my garage and listening in the driveway. Even with a $6 Chinese amp, and a battery operated portable cd player, and bell wire for hook up.  Wow, if my room could sound as good as my driveway!! :( :(

After moving them inside, much of the amazing soundstage width disappeared. 
Most, but not all, of the vocal clarity was retained, but they are no longer better than my LS9s, and before they were.  I'll repeat that , they were better than my LS9's on vocals. Outside listening is amazing!  Inside, they are now nearly as good as the LS9, better than the X-Statiks. 

The crossover and foam cured 95% of the BLATT from Lee Morgan's trumpet, and any distortion from moments when Linda Ronstadt goes full volume.  Bass is much cleaner, from Art Blakey's drums to low bassoon.  Piano is very clean, resonant, and full ranged.  They still sound "big", especially on Holst with full orchestra.  The Barylli quartet had a warmth and resonance that the X-Statiks missed.  But there is a failing with these old guys.  The X-Statik's place instruments precisely, and the Altec's don't.  Let's face it, they are 15"woofers playing into the 1200Hz range, with big horns.  They don't put a the piccolo in 6 rows back and left of the conductor.  The X-Statiks can do that.  But the way the old Altecs played that mono string quartet is beguiling and engaging, not the X-Statiks strengths. 
So, we took an interesting pair of old speakers with some strong points, kept the good, fixed the unlistenable portions, and just overall made them better. 
I'm not going to replace the LS9's with them, yet, but I could and still have a very high quality system. 
Tomorrow, I'll put the covers together and take some photos. 

Folsom

Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #58 on: 1 Nov 2017, 11:19 pm »
Did Danny get the parameters of the 15" ? The TS stuff? I'm curious. I'm sure he has a woofer tester.

Maybe the answer is to build a deck for listening and BBQ? You do live in TX...

JakeJ

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Re: Restoring a pair of Altec Valencias
« Reply #59 on: 2 Nov 2017, 12:42 am »
Or you might realize you now have the best garage system in your neighborhood...maybe all of Abilene!  Rock your neighbors!  :drums: :guitar: :rock: