I'm not sure if I've entitled a blog post "thrift haul" before, it is quite possible. Big or small, purchases of second hand things are thrift hauls, but the term also denotes a major score. I had a major score on Friday, August 30, 2013 in two cool sets of loudspeakers from one seller. A thrift haul.
I have a major weakness and definitely a hoarding problem as it relates to one thing - loudspeakers. Part of the problem is that once you acquire them, they are hard to get rid of. The good ones are pretty bulky and in general, most people (consumers) believe that loudspeakers don't need to be large any more - that somehow science has made the bulk unnecessary. This, of course, is not at all true.
I made a random, unplanned stop on Lakeshore Boulevard in Mentor to a garage sale. I was in my Town and Country, so I was prepared for what I found. First, there were two beat up looking old smallish speakers stacked on top of one another with $1 marked on them. They were said to be untested. They had stamped "Made in Denmark" on the backs of them and my memory went to work and identified them as Dynaco A-25's. Sold. But they were $1 each not for both! I told the seller that he drove a hard bargain and I was unemployed, and he almost gave me a dollar back. I told the two guys that testing these speakers would make my day. It certainly would have been the highlight if not for the rest of the haul.
As we were loading these in the Chrysler the guy mentioned that they had another set of speakers but they needed to retrieve them from the basement. I could come back (and I left my phone number). But after chatting a while (and getting some nice moon flower seedlings from their garden), one of the two guys got a dolly and (carefully) dragged out the first of a pair of Infinity Quantum 3 speakers. I remembered that Infinity used to make "great" speakers (before they made just "good" speakers, and my 2000 Chrysler has factory Infinity's and they are pretty good). I offered to help getting the other speaker but he insisted on getting them up himself. They mentioned that Empirical Sound in Cleveland had re-(coned or foamed??) the speakers in 1997 and that they mostly sat in the basement since then, unused. They were a little dusty but otherwise the cabinets were beautiful.
He asked $40 for the pair and I hesitated (do I need another project? do I want more big heavy speakers?). I even told them that these speakers probably would not become part of my system as I had Martin Logan's, etc., blah, blah. It sounds stupid to me now. So I bought them for $40.
Now I had a more difficult loading situation in the van, but it went fine. But these things are major ball-busters. They are supposed to weigh 110 pounds each, but I think dust and moisture from a hot day adds 10 pounds. Maybe 20. It felt like 150! So I used my "forearm forklifts" for the first time carrying these things down into the studio. I set them down in front of my Bozak Symphonies (which dwarf the Infinity's) not knowing how I was going to power these for testing.
I decide to look them up on-line before testing. They are Infinity Quantum 3's. The first entry I see calls them the third best loudspeaker in the world. A bit of hyperbole, but it got me thinking I would use the Martin Logan's hookups for testing (each has a Peavey 120/120 strapped to be a 240, and a big ass hunk of wire). I waddled the Quantums over by the Martin Logan's (SL3's) and these too dwarfed the big Infinity's. After connecting them and firing up the amps and turning off all the other speakers (I have a lot running in the large room, normally) I started the random source of Bob Marley Legend from HD Tracks (24 bit, 192 kHz). They sounded very good. Clean, and everything seemed to be working fine.
Putting on Jethro Tull Aqualung 24 bit 96 kHz (unwittingly a multi-channel version), I got my "ah-ha" moment. They sound amazing. Totally freaking awesome. The bass is exceptionally tight and pronounced. Not as powerful as the Bozak's but better defined (yet a little muddier). The mids and high all blend up from the bass beautifully and are completely transparent. It put up such a good sound stage that I had to stick my ear up to the Ohm Walsh 4 center channel to see if it was playing. Very impressive, and I am not easily impressed. I haven't tested extensively, and they sounded just average on a couple just average sources, but I went back to Aqualung (and Locomotive Breath) and again was wowed.
I am shocked that I now have a major new loudspeaker to get into my studio mix (that included the Martin Logan's and Bozak's along with an Ohm Walsh 4 for a center channel and a whole other set of cool ones for another surround in the same room). These are keepers.
So these two nice gentlemen (and I use the term loosely) made a major contribution to my loudspeaker hoarding disease, and I thank them. The A-25's will go into the hoarding pile along with the many EPI's, JBL's and so many other interesting speakers I don't need or use. Something else from my setup of speakers I do use will have to move out to make room for the Infinity's. They work perfectly (for now, using them could rattle them apart, you know) and I love the sound. It will be fun to continue to put them through their paces and pit them against the Martin Logan's and the others. Amplification will be a concern, but I have some surplus in that department (the 120/120 don't need to be strapped, for instance). It will be audiophile fun testing all this quintessential thrift haul.