Vintage Altec Lansing Speakers: History, Features, Collecting, Models, Pop Culture, Buying Guide

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Discover the rich history and unique features of vintage Altec Lansing speakers. Learn how to collect and identify authentic , explore their influence on popular culture, and find them through online marketplaces, local classifieds, or specialty vintage audio retailers.

History of Altec Lansing Speakers

Altec Lansing, a renowned name in the audio industry, has a fascinating history that spans over eight decades. From its humble beginnings to becoming a pioneer in speaker technology, Altec Lansing has left an indelible mark on the world of sound. In this section, we will explore the founding of Altec Lansing, the early innovations that revolutionized speaker technology, and some of the popular models that have stood the test of time.

Founding of Altec Lansing

The story of Altec Lansing began in 1927 when the company was founded by George Carrington Jr. and James B. Lansing. Carrington, a successful businessman, recognized the potential of Lansing’s expertise in speaker design and engineering. Together, they established the Altec Lansing Corporation in Los Angeles, California.

The partnership between Carrington and Lansing proved to be a winning combination. Carrington’s business acumen and Lansing’s technical brilliance propelled the company forward. They focused on developing speakers that delivered exceptional sound quality and reliability, setting the stage for Altec Lansing’s future success.

Early Innovations in Speaker Technology

During its early years, Altec Lansing introduced several groundbreaking innovations that revolutionized speaker technology. One of the most significant advancements was the development of the coaxial loudspeaker. This revolutionary design, which placed the tweeter concentrically within the woofer, resulted in improved sound dispersion and reduced distortion.

Another notable innovation was the introduction of the multicellular horn. This unique design featured a series of interconnected cells that enhanced the efficiency and overall performance of the speaker. The multicellular horn became a hallmark of Altec Lansing’s speaker systems, setting them apart from their competitors.

Popular Models from the Past

Over the years, Altec Lansing has produced a wide range of speaker models that have garnered a loyal following. Let’s take a look at some of the popular models from the past that have become iconic in the world of audio.

  1. Altec Lansing Model 19: Introduced in the late 1960s, the Model 19 quickly gained a reputation for its exceptional sound quality and powerful performance. It featured a large cabinet design with multiple drivers, delivering a rich and immersive audio experience.
  2. Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater: Originally designed for movie theaters, the Voice of the Theater series became highly sought after by audio enthusiasts. These speakers were known for their ability to reproduce accurate and dynamic sound, making them a favorite among music and movie lovers alike.
  3. Altec Lansing A7: The A7 was a popular choice among professionals and audiophiles during the 1950s and 1960s. It boasted a unique design with a large multicellular horn, producing clear and detailed sound reproduction.

These vintage models continue to be highly regarded for their exceptional audio performance and timeless design. Collectors and enthusiasts often seek out these models to experience the nostalgia and superior sound quality they offer.

In the next section, we will delve into the features that make vintage Altec Lansing speakers stand out from the crowd, including their high-quality sound output, durability, and unique design elements. Stay tuned for an exploration of the captivating world of vintage Altec Lansing speakers.


Features of Vintage Altec Lansing Speakers

High-Quality Sound Output

When it comes to vintage Altec Lansing speakers, one of the standout features that has made them highly sought after is their high-quality sound output. These speakers were known for their exceptional audio performance, delivering rich, clear, and powerful sound that could fill a room with ease.

Altec Lansing was dedicated to producing speakers that could reproduce sound with utmost accuracy and precision. They utilized innovative technologies and engineering techniques to achieve this goal. The result was a speaker that not only sounded great, but also had a wide frequency range, allowing for the reproduction of both low and high frequencies with clarity.

One of the key factors contributing to the high-quality sound output of vintage Altec Lansing speakers was their use of high-quality components. From the drivers to the crossovers, every part of the speaker was carefully chosen and crafted to ensure optimal performance. This attention to detail resulted in speakers that could reproduce music with incredible detail, capturing every nuance and subtlety.

Furthermore, Altec Lansing speakers were known for their ability to handle high power levels without distortion. This made them ideal for music enthusiasts who wanted to crank up the volume and experience their favorite songs with full impact. Whether it was rock, jazz, classical, or any other genre, vintage Altec Lansing speakers could handle it all and deliver a truly immersive listening experience.

Durability and Longevity

In addition to their exceptional sound output, vintage Altec Lansing speakers were also renowned for their durability and longevity. These speakers were built to last, with robust construction and high-quality materials that could withstand the test of time.

Altec Lansing understood the importance of building speakers that could withstand the rigors of daily use. They used sturdy cabinets made from thick, high-density fiberboard (HDF) or solid wood, which provided excellent structural integrity and minimized resonance. This ensured that the speakers would not only sound great but also remain stable and vibration-free.

Furthermore, Altec Lansing speakers were designed with longevity in mind. The internal components were carefully selected to be reliable and long-lasting. From the voice coils to the capacitors, every part was chosen for its quality and durability. This meant that vintage Altec Lansing speakers could continue to perform at their best even after years of use.

To add to their longevity, Altec Lansing speakers were often equipped with removable grilles, allowing users to easily clean or replace them as needed. This not only kept the speakers looking their best but also ensured that the drivers remained protected from dust and other particles that could affect their performance.

Unique Design Elements

Aside from their exceptional sound quality and durability, vintage Altec Lansing speakers were also known for their unique design elements. These design features not only contributed to the speakers’ aesthetic appeal but also played a role in their overall performance.

One notable design element found in many vintage Altec Lansing speakers was the use of horn-loaded drivers. Instead of relying solely on traditional cone drivers, Altec Lansing incorporated horn-loaded drivers that improved efficiency and allowed for higher sound pressure levels. This resulted in speakers that could produce louder and more dynamic sound compared to their competitors.

Another unique design element was the use of acoustic suspension or bass-reflex enclosures. These designs helped to enhance the low-frequency response of the speakers, providing a deeper and more impactful bass. The cabinets were carefully tuned to achieve optimal bass performance, ensuring that listeners could enjoy a full-bodied sound across the entire frequency spectrum.

Additionally, Altec Lansing speakers often featured elegant and timeless designs that blended well with any decor. From the sleek lines to the choice of finishes, these speakers were designed to be visually appealing as well as sonically impressive. They were not just functional audio equipment but also pieces of art that could enhance the overall ambiance of a room.


Collecting Vintage Altec Lansing Speakers

Identifying Authenticity and Originality

When it comes to collecting vintage Altec Lansing speakers, one of the most important aspects is being able to identify their authenticity and originality. With the popularity of vintage speakers on the rise, it has become increasingly important to distinguish between genuine Altec Lansing speakers and replicas or counterfeit versions. Here are some key factors to consider when identifying the authenticity and originality of these speakers:

  1. Serial Numbers and Labels: One of the first things to look for is the presence of a serial number or label on the speaker. Altec Lansing speakers typically have a serial number stamped on the back or bottom of the cabinet. This number can provide valuable information about the age and production details of the speaker. Additionally, check for any labels or logos that are characteristic of Altec Lansing.
  2. Design and Construction: Authentic vintage Altec Lansing speakers are known for their unique design and high-quality construction. Pay attention to the materials used, the finish, and the overall craftsmanship of the speaker. Look for any distinctive features or design elements that are specific to Altec Lansing speakers of that era.
  3. Documentation and History: Collectors should always try to gather as much documentation and history about the speaker as possible. This can include invoices, receipts, manuals, and any other paperwork that may have been originally included with the speaker. Genuine vintage Altec Lansing speakers often come with these types of documentation, which can help verify their authenticity.

Rarity and Value of Vintage Models

Vintage Altec Lansing speakers are highly sought after by collectors due to their rarity and historical significance. The value of these speakers can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, including their condition, age, model, and desirability. Here are some key points to consider regarding the rarity and value of vintage Altec Lansing speakers:

  1. Model and Desirability: Certain models of Altec Lansing speakers are more sought after than others. For example, the Altec Lansing Model 19 and the Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater are considered iconic and highly desirable among collectors. The rarity and desirability of a particular model can significantly impact its value in the collector’s market.
  2. Condition: The condition of the vintage speaker is a crucial factor in determining its value. Speakers in excellent, original condition with minimal wear and tear will generally command higher prices compared to speakers that have been heavily used or modified. It is important to inspect the speaker thoroughly for any damage or alterations that may affect its value.
  3. Scarcity: The scarcity of a vintage Altec Lansing speaker can also contribute to its value. Speakers that were produced in limited quantities or have become rare over time due to natural attrition are likely to be more valuable. Researching the production numbers and availability of specific models can give collectors an idea of their rarity.

Maintenance and Restoration Tips

Proper maintenance and restoration are essential for preserving the quality and longevity of vintage Altec Lansing speakers. Whether you are a collector or an enthusiast, here are some tips to consider when it comes to maintaining and restoring these speakers:

  1. Cleaning: Regular cleaning is crucial to remove dust and dirt that can accumulate on the speaker’s surface and affect its performance. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently wipe the speaker cabinet and grille. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that can damage the finish.
  2. Speaker Components: Over time, the speaker components such as the driver cones and surrounds may deteriorate or become damaged. It is important to inspect these components periodically and replace them if necessary. Consult with a professional speaker technician or refer to the speaker’s manual for specific instructions on component replacement.
  3. Cabinet Restoration: If the speaker cabinet shows signs of wear or damage, such as scratches or dents, restoration may be necessary to maintain its aesthetic appeal. Depending on the severity of the damage, this can range from simple touch-ups to complete refinishing. Seek advice from experienced restoration specialists or consult online resources for guidance on cabinet restoration techniques.
  4. Electrical Connections: Check the speaker’s electrical connections periodically to ensure they are secure and free from corrosion. Loose or corroded connections can affect the speaker’s performance and sound quality. If necessary, clean the connections with a contact cleaner and re-tighten them properly.

(Note: The information provided in this section is for reference purposes only. Please refer to professional advice or consult relevant resources for specific details on collecting, maintaining, and restoring vintage Altec Lansing speakers.)


Notable Altec Lansing Speaker Models

When it comes to vintage Altec Lansing speakers, there are several models that stand out for their exceptional sound quality and design. In this section, we will explore three of the most notable Altec Lansing speaker models: the Altec Lansing Model 19, the Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater, and the Altec Lansing A7.

Altec Lansing Model 19

The Altec Lansing Model 19 is widely regarded as one of the best speakers ever produced by the company. Introduced in the late 1970s, this floor-standing speaker quickly gained a reputation for its exceptional sound reproduction and powerful performance. The Model 19 featured a three-way design, with a 12-inch woofer, a 5-inch midrange driver, and a 1.5-inch horn-loaded tweeter.

What made the Model 19 truly special was its ability to accurately reproduce the entire audio spectrum, from deep bass to sparkling highs. The speaker’s crossover network was meticulously engineered to ensure seamless integration between the different drivers, resulting in a cohesive and natural soundstage. Whether you were listening to music or watching movies, the Altec Lansing Model 19 delivered a captivating audio experience.

Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater

The Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater series revolutionized the world of cinema sound. Originally developed in the 1940s, these speakers were specifically designed to meet the demanding requirements of movie theaters. The Voice of the Theater speakers were known for their ability to deliver high sound pressure levels without distortion, making them ideal for large venues.

One of the most iconic models in the Voice of the Theater series was the A7. This speaker featured a massive 15-inch woofer, a 2-inch compression driver, and a large exponential horn. The A7 was capable of reproducing the dynamic range of movie soundtracks with incredible accuracy and impact. Its ability to fill a room with immersive sound made it a favorite among movie theater owners and audio enthusiasts alike.

Altec Lansing A7

The Altec Lansing A7 is often referred to as the “Voice of the Theater in a Box” due to its similarity to the larger Voice of the Theater speakers. This compact version of the iconic A7 was designed for home use and became immensely popular among audiophiles. The A7 featured a 12-inch woofer, a 1.5-inch compression driver, and a smaller version of the exponential horn found in its larger counterparts.

Despite its smaller size, the A7 retained the characteristic Altec Lansing sound signature. It delivered punchy bass, clear midrange, and detailed highs, making it a versatile speaker for both music and home theater applications. The A7 became a sought-after collector’s item, and vintage models are highly valued by audio enthusiasts who appreciate its unique blend of performance and nostalgia.


Altec Lansing in Popular Culture

Altec Lansing has left an indelible mark on popular culture, particularly in the realms of music recording studios, movies, television, and the influence it has had on modern speakers. Let’s take a closer look at how Altec Lansing has made its presence felt in these areas.

Altec Lansing in Music Recording Studios

When it comes to music recording studios, Altec Lansing has been a trusted name for decades. Renowned for their high-quality sound output and durability, Altec Lansing speakers have become an integral part of the recording process. Artists and engineers alike rely on these speakers to accurately reproduce the sound they create.

In the early days of music recording, Altec Lansing played a pivotal role in shaping the industry. Their innovative speaker technology revolutionized the way music was recorded and reproduced, allowing for a more immersive and authentic listening experience. The clarity and precision of Altec Lansing speakers made it easier for artists and producers to hear every nuance and detail, resulting in better recordings.

Even today, Altec Lansing continues to be a preferred choice in music recording studios around the world. Their vintage models, such as the Altec Lansing Model 19 and the Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater, are highly sought after for their exceptional sound quality and unique design elements. These speakers have become iconic symbols of the music recording industry.

Altec Lansing in Movies and Television

Altec Lansing’s influence extends beyond the realm of music into the world of movies and television. The immersive sound experience provided by Altec Lansing speakers has been a staple in movie theaters and home entertainment systems for decades. The powerful audio output and superior clarity of these speakers enhance the cinematic experience, making viewers feel as if they are part of the action.

In movies, Altec Lansing speakers are often used to create dynamic and realistic sound effects. From explosive action sequences to subtle background noises, these speakers ensure that every sound is reproduced faithfully, immersing the audience in the movie’s world. Furthermore, Altec Lansing’s durability and longevity ensure that these speakers can withstand the rigors of a movie theater environment, providing consistent performance over time.

In television, Altec Lansing speakers are commonly used in studios and production facilities to ensure accurate sound reproduction during the editing and mixing process. The detailed sound output of these speakers allows sound engineers to make precise adjustments and create a balanced audio mix that captivates viewers.

Altec Lansing’s Influence on Modern Speakers

The impact of Altec Lansing on the world of speakers is undeniable. Their innovations in speaker technology have paved the way for modern advancements and have set new standards in audio reproduction. Many of the features we now take for granted in speakers, such as high-quality sound output and durability, can be traced back to Altec Lansing’s early innovations.

Altec Lansing’s commitment to delivering exceptional sound quality has inspired countless manufacturers to prioritize audio performance in their speaker designs. The unique design elements found in vintage Altec Lansing speakers, such as their iconic horn-loaded tweeters and solid wood cabinets, have become influential in the industry.

Furthermore, the rarity and value of vintage Altec Lansing speakers have skyrocketed in recent years, with collectors and enthusiasts eagerly seeking out these iconic models. Their authenticity and originality are crucial factors in determining their worth, leading to a thriving market for vintage Altec Lansing speakers.


How to Find and Purchase Vintage Altec Lansing Speakers

Online Marketplaces and Auctions

Finding and purchasing vintage Altec Lansing speakers has become easier than ever thanks to the rise of online marketplaces and auctions. Websites like eBay, Craigslist, and Reverb offer a wide range of options for buyers interested in these classic speakers. One of the advantages of using online platforms is the ability to browse through a large selection of speakers from various sellers all in one place. This allows you to compare prices, conditions, and authenticity before making a decision.

When searching for vintage Altec Lansing speakers online, it is important to be cautious and do your research. Look for sellers with a good reputation and positive feedback from previous buyers. Read through the product descriptions and examine the provided photos to ensure the authenticity and condition of the speakers. If possible, try to communicate with the seller directly to ask any specific questions you may have.

Local Classifieds and Garage Sales

Another way to find vintage Altec Lansing speakers is by checking local classified ads and attending garage sales. Many people still prefer to sell their items locally, and you may stumble upon hidden gems in your own community. Keep an eye out for classified ads in newspapers, community bulletin boards, and online platforms specific to your area.

Garage sales can also be a treasure trove for vintage speakers. People often sell items they no longer need or inherited from family members. It’s a great opportunity to find vintage Altec Lansing speakers at a reasonable price. When visiting garage sales, be sure to arrive early as the best items tend to go quickly. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price with the seller, as they may be willing to lower it to make a sale.

Specialty Vintage Audio Retailers

For those seeking a more specialized and curated experience, specialty vintage audio retailers are the ideal destination. These stores focus specifically on vintage audio equipment, including Altec Lansing speakers. The advantage of shopping at these retailers is the expertise and knowledge of the staff, who can guide you through the selection process and provide valuable insights.

These retailers often have a wide range of vintage Altec Lansing speakers available, including rare and hard-to-find models. They have a deep understanding of the value and condition of these speakers, ensuring that you are investing in an authentic and high-quality product. In addition, some specialty vintage audio retailers offer restoration services, allowing you to bring old and worn-out speakers back to their original glory.

When visiting specialty vintage audio retailers, take the time to discuss your preferences and requirements with the staff. They can provide recommendations based on your budget, desired sound quality, and aesthetic preferences. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek their expertise to make an informed purchase.

In conclusion, finding and purchasing vintage Altec Lansing speakers can be an exciting journey. Whether you choose to explore online marketplaces and auctions, check local classifieds and garage sales, or visit specialty vintage audio retailers, there is a wealth of options available for enthusiasts and collectors. Remember to do your due diligence, verify authenticity, and consider the condition of the speakers before making a purchase. Happy hunting for your perfect vintage Altec Lansing speakers!

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How to Find and Purchase Vintage Altec Lansing Speakers

Online Marketplaces and Auctions

Local Classifieds and Garage Sales

Specialty Vintage Audio Retailers

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