ZVOX Blog

When Great Loudspeakers Finally Became Affordable: The Advent, Dynaco, EPI Stories

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Friday, June 5, 2015
I first started exploring high fidelity in 1966 when my older brother almost bought a KLH Model Eleven stereo system (he got a Sony instead, swayed by the power of their brand). From there I got an Ampex stereo with a open-reel tape deck as its only source. This in turn led me to a hobby of live recording and eventually into the audio business, where my first job was as a salesman at "The Sound of Music" in Minneapolis (it later became Best Buy).
At Sound of Music, like most hi fi stores of the time, music was a serious thing. We spent hours and hours every week comparing different speakers using different music.
These listening tests were a revelation to me, because they showed that expensive did not mean great. I argued with the other salesmen -- who I think were more motivated by sales commissions than I was -- that the Advent Loudspeaker, which sold for $104 per speaker -- sounded better than more expensive speakers from AR, Altec Lansing and McIntosh. I thought the same about the Dynaco A25 -- a bookshelf-sized speaker that sold for about 75 bucks each as I recall. Another product in this category that we didn't sell, but which friends of mine owned, was the EPI 100, another pretty darned great bookshelf speaker.
Using any one of these speakers it was possible to assemble a component stereo system for under $600 that sounded absolutely fabulous. You could probably do it for under $500. (Remember, at this time a new Volkwagen cost $1700, so think of it as "one fourth the price of a small German automobile.) Real people -- not rich guys -- could afford these systems. And we sold a lot of them. I believe it was this time period -- the late 1960s to the early 1970s -- was the "golden era" of high fidelity...because quality was finally affordable.
Sure, there are other speakers that played a role in this, but I was never a "West Coast Sound" guy.  East Coast all the way. We were very lucky that guys like Henry Kloss (KLH and Advent). Ed Laurent, M. Stauning (Dynaco) and Win Burhoe (EPI) did what they did when they did it. I'm very proud to have worked with two of those men. Henry, who I worked with at Advent and Cambridge SoundWorks, had more influence on my business career and product design philosophy than anyone else. And Win designed the very first ZVOX home theater system,..35 years after he designed the EPI 100.
Cheers to the guys that lead the way in designed great sounding audio products that real people could afford. You changed the world.
And a tip to the seven younger people who will eventually read this...a speaker system the size of a large candy bar, no matter how well designed, will never, ever be a high fidelity product. Grow up and buy something with a woofer in it!!!!!!!!!!!

2 comments :

Lyman Phillips said...

All those names ring a bell for me. My dad had, what we called later in college, a "doctor's system" - KLH Model 11 speakers, Dual turntable, Kenwood receiver and Sony reel-to-reel tape player. A decade later, I ended up taking that receiver to college with me where it served me for years until it met an untimely end during a party.

Listening to those speakers taught me that real sound didn't need huge boxes or lots of drivers.

Winslow lives just the next town over, although I don't have the guts to drop in and say hi.

Love my 555, and my parents love their 580.

Lyman Phillips said...

All those names ring a bell for me. My dad had, what we called later in college, a "doctor's system" - KLH Model 11 speakers, Dual turntable, Kenwood receiver and Sony reel-to-reel tape player. A decade later, I ended up taking that receiver to college with me where it served me for years until it met an untimely end during a party.

Listening to those speakers taught me that real sound didn't need huge boxes or lots of drivers.

Winslow lives just the next town over, although I don't have the guts to drop in and say hi.

Love my 555, and my parents love their 580.

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