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Stereo Speaker Systems

JBL L166 (vertical setup)
JBL L166 (vertical setup)

JBL L166

('76-'78)  being serviced

In absolutely pristine cosmetic and working condition (pristine condition includes all four sides for either vertical or horizontal setup), this pair of JBL L-166 was originally introduced in 1976. Since then, the L-166 has been universally described as one of JBL's best monitor systems.

Wherever the so-called "West Coast sound" was supposed to be hiding back in the mid-70's, its refuge was not in the JBL L-166 Horizon loudspeaker. The omnidirectional (360 degree), an-echoic frequency response of these speakers ( ± 51/4 dB between 40 Hz and 10 kHz), made with the balance controls at their "zero" settings, is commendably flat, and advancing the tweeter level control to its maximum (" + 3") appears to make the high end even flatter. (Some may find that this gives too bright a sound, but we liked this balance best.) 

The Horizon, to be sure, has its own ways of coloring the reproduced sound, but these are relatively slight and not representative (to our ears at least) of any school of thought in speaker design. So much for geographical myths.  

The L-166 is rated at a nominal 8 ohms.  Measured performance data taken at the CBS Technology Center in 1976 showed that the L-166 is above average in efficiency, producing an average output (250 to 6,000 Hz) of 89 dB sound pressure level at 1 meter on axis from an electrical input of 0 dBW (1 watt). This fact should not, however, tempt anyone into skimping on amplifier power, for this is a speaker that produces its most lifelike sound when driven fairly hard.  On certain pulses, the peak output sound pressure was driven to 116 dB -at the limit of 27 dBW (500 watts), peak, (using their test amplifier) without undue strain. This was (is) an excellent dynamic range!

In one of their 1976 reviews, High Fidelity magazine said "Transient response is very good...we find the total sound to be big, clear, and pleasing and just a little on the warm side".

Those in search of a moderate-sized monitor-type loudspeaker that can be mounted on a bookshelf (a strong one, however) would do well to consider the JBL L-166. They were not cheap (listed at about $375 each in 1976) but then, neither was the design and construction. Not only is the sound fine, but the cosmetics are striking (as to be expected from JBL). The unusual and striking grills are from a molded and perforated sheet of what was called APP, a new material at the time for which JBL claimed was even better at acoustic transparency than that of the widely copied sculptured-foam treatment on the Century model. (The balance controls are readily accessible behind the grills.)  Their black finish contrasts nicely with the natural wood grain of the enclosures

Specs:

3 way, 3 driver system

Power Handling: 75W

Crossover Frequency: 1000, 6000Hz

Impedance: 8Ω

Sensitivity: 76dB

Bass: 1 x 122A

Midrange: 1 x LE5-8

Tweeter: 1 x 066


About JBL...

James B. Lansing founded JBL one year after leaving Altec Lansing as their Vice President of Engineering in 1945. The company was first called Lansing Sound, Inc., from 1 October 1946, and later changed its name to James B. Lansing Sound.

James Lansing was noted as an innovative engineer, but a poor businessman. For the next three years Lansing struggled to pay invoices and ship product. As a result of deteriorating business conditions and personal issues, he committed suicide on September 4, 1949. The company then passed into the hands of Bill Thomas, JBL’s then vice-president.

Lansing had taken out a $10,000 life insurance policy, naming the company as the beneficiary, a decision that allowed Thomas to continue the company after Lansing’s death. Soon after, Thomas purchased Mrs. Lansing’s one-third interest in the company and became the sole owner of the company. Thomas is credited with revitalizing the company and spearheading a period of strong growth for the two decades following the founding of JBL.

In 1955 the brand name JBL was introduced to resolve ongoing disputes with Altec Lansing Corporation. The company name “James B. Lansing Sound, Incorporated” was retained, but the logo name was changed to JBL with its distinctive exclamation point logo. In 1969, Bill Thomas sold JBL to the Jervis Corp (later renamed Harman International) headed by Dr Sidney Harman.

JBL is best known for the now legendary L100 Century loudspeaker that was first introduced in 1970 and followed up by the highly respected L-166 in the mid 70's.  JBL went on to sell over one million L-100s.  It’s an important part of the history of hi-fi, but only a small part of JBL.


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Electro Voice EV-7A
Electro Voice EV-7A

Electro Voice EV-7A 

(1965)  $150

The tube era, mid 60's, Electro Voice EV-7A speakers are a two-way system with 8" woofers (Alnico V magnet structures) and 3.5" cone tweeters.  At the time, Electro Voice was in the middle of producing some of their very best speaker systems.  They considered the EV-7A to be "a carefully designed reproducer offering outstanding performance in an enclosure of surprisingly modest dimensions".   

Also, in the mid 60's, since the majority of amp power was primarily tube gear, these EV-7A provide that expected warmth from tube gear but they sound just great with just about any high quality, lower powered, solid state amps as well.

The woofers were a proprietary design from EV that featured treated cloth surrounds, Alnico V magnets, precision wound voice coils and a linear suspension that allowed for long yet carefully controlled excursions.

The real walnut veneer cabinets are not perfect.  They have some well-earned battle scars that we have carefully sanded and refinished back to a satisfactory appearance.  The very unique bamboo cane weave grills also have some discoloration but, to some (like us) that only adds to the vintage look and feel of these beautiful speakers.

The treble controls on the rear are functioning perfectly and the original factory paperwork is mostly intact on the backs as well.


About Electro-Voice...

In 1927, Al Kahn and Lou Burroughs established the company Radio Engineers in the basement of the Century Tire and Rubber Company in South Bend, Indiana. At this site they first began producing microphones to use in their PA systems, and later to sell to people who couldn’t but them any other way.  Incorporated on July 1, 1930, Electro-Voice was involved heavily in installation and rental of public address systems for churches and other public buildings. Politicians especially had become aware of the power of the microphone to increase their reach, and demanded ever more powerful PA systems.  Microphones were originally manufactured only for EV’s own use, but within a few years the balance had shifted and manufacturing microphones for sale to others had become the more important part of the business.  Thus, the EV branded microphones were used by most of the professional recording studios at one time.  They moved into loudspeaker production as a natural progression of the audio market.
Ultimately, Electro-Voice speakers were THE super efficient speakers of the 60's and early 70's and many well known companies like Klipsch used them in their larger models.  

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NHT 1.1
NHT 1.1

NHT 1.1

('93-'95)  $125

This pair of NHT 1.1 were originally part of a surround system.  They are the satellites from that system but as standalone speakers, they are perfect for a small room. 

The well built, oak veneer, angular enclosures were a hallmark design of the earlier NHT bookshelf speakers. They were created specifically to target the left/right sound when placed straight ahead.   

The 1.1 model was the predecessor to the NHT Super One, and can be traced back to the original NHT Model 1. The tweeter is the same as the SuperOne.


System Type: 2-way, acoustic suspension design · 

Driver Complement: 6.5” long-throw woofer, 1” fluid-cooled soft dome tweeter, video shielded drivers · 

Crossover: 2.2KHz, 6dB/octave high-pass and 12dB/octave low-pass 

Response: 57Hz - 25KHz, +/- 3dB · 

Sensitivity: 86db (2.83V at 1M) · 

Impedance: 8 ohms nominal, 6 ohms minimum · 

Recommended Amplifier Power: 25W/ch minimum, 150W/ch maximum · 

Inputs: 5-way binding posts · 

Weight: 10 lbs. each

NHT VT-1
NHT VT-1

NHT VT-1

('91-'95)  $150

The three-way VT-1 is a slim tower system designed to take up as little space as possible and to blend in unobtrusively with its surroundings.

The narrow piano black gloss cabinets have walnut veneer panels on each side. 

Each tower contains two 4.5" drivers working in tandem and a 1" soft dome tweeter in a separate, internal acoustic suspension upper chamber. 

There are large bass ports on the rear.  Speaker connections are banana jack connectors.

The VT-1 was designed and built by the original crew at NHT before the company was sold (and then sold again).  There were later versions that were updated to conform with audio/video use with a switch for video but, basically, these originals are beautiful and sound just great.



About NHT...
Still operating in Benecia CA, Now Hear This (NHT) was founded to produce high quality, low-cost loudspeakers a breed apart from the mass-market variety often found at the lower price points. Co-founder Ken Kantor has a long history in the hi-fi business as a designer at Acoustic Research, NAD, and as a design consultant to some large Japanese manufacturers. NHT's current lineup ranges from the $180/pair Model Zero to the $1200 Model 100.

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Visonik Euro 5
Visonik Euro 5

Visonik Euro 5

('78-'81)  $245 

If you like ADS, you will recognize that sound with the Euro 5.  They are cousins of the famous American brand ADS (a/d/s) with the same German components that were assembled in the USA.  The Euro 5 was released in America in the late 70's by Visonik of America...before ADS became known.

Similar in punch and sonics to the ADS L420, these very excellent Euro 5 two-way speakers are also quite rare and in near mint condition.  However, the Euro 5 is a little more distinctly on the lean, neatly groomed side, with extended highs and tightly controlled bass.

The Euro lineage goes hand-in-hand with the famous Visonik David speakers that enabled M&K (Miller and Kreisel) to produce the original "Volkswoofer" system.

The Euro 5 can be traced back to their German roots because they feature *Braun drivers and components and have the same crystal clear sonics of other famous German/American like ADS, HECO, etc. However, while they have similarities, the Euro 5 are NOT re-badged ADS knock-offs...they are similar yet have different crossovers and feature gorgeous solid timberwood cabinets with wood framed grill cloth. 

The main 7.5" woofers are identical to those used in the earlier ADS L-810 speakers which also came from Braun and the much loved 1" dome tweeters deliver pure sweet highs.  

Nominal rated power is about 45 watts with a recommended 60+ watts driven and impedance is 4 ohms.

The hand rubbed, real walnut enclosures have radius edges and are, of course, as heavy as you would expect from most high quality speakers systems.

These Visonik Euro 5, like Braun, have Dortmund for frame/magnet assemblies, and DKM for cones, etc. (ADS did the same later on as did Acron, Canton, Heco, MB Quart and more.)


NOTE:

Braun AG FFmm company (Germany) dates back to the very beginning of 1967 when they began to produce high quality drivers and components that were chosen by many professional recording studios in Europe as the preferred in-house monitors. Braun actually sourced a lot of their design materials from the earlier German company HECO that was around since 1949. Canton and Visonik appeared on the scene in 1972 / 1973. ADS (Analog & Digital Systems didn't make a splash until the 80's, they were the last (and most successful in terms of marketing) company to hit it big in the USA. Regardless, even if they all came out of HECO/Braun...they all sound pretty damn good.


Visonik Ambassador 60
Visonik Ambassador 60

Visonik Ambassador 60 monitors 

(Germany, '87-'92) $180 

Made by Heco Hennel & Co. KG, the West German company that inspired Miller & Kreisel to include some of the smaller David speakers in the design of their famous "David & Goliath" speaker system.  These outstanding Visonik Ambassador 60 speakers were part of the well respected lineup bearing the Visonik label and they are surprisingly heavy considering their small size.  

Besides their obvious fantastic smooth sonic quality, the second biggest reason to consider these Visoniks is because they are beautiful...they are made of teak veneer with radius edges and perfect grills.  

They are rated at 4 ohms for a maximum of 80 watts with a frequency range of 38-25000 Hz. 

The enclosures contain 4" German-made woofers with rubber surrounds (designed for quality rather than quantity) and peerless tweeters, all made with crystal clear depth and sound in mind.  

Similar in sonic quality to ADS, Canton and Braun, they exemplify the superior build quality from Germany in the late 80's and early 90's and are best described as excellent studio quality miniature monitors (10" H x 6.5" W x 6.5" D)

If you like ADS, Braun and Canton speakers, you will love these!


Note: As mentioned before, Heco Visonik David speakers are a definite rarity in America and the vintage brand is NOT related to another Visonik company using the same name that makes car speakers.


About Visonik...

Visonik was prevalent in Germany (and Europe) up to and including the cold war era and beyond. However, while their Visonik David legacy lives on, the company no longer exists but has instead morphed into a new company called "Audium".
Here is a link to there interesting lineup of audio gear:

http://en.audium.com/


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