17+ Best Vintage Speakers: A Full Buyer’s Guide For 2022

Best Vintage Speakers

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Vintage speakers are all the rage these days – classic designs from the golden age of stereo, especially the 70s and 80s, are incredibly popular – and often incredibly expensive as well.

But to me, a much more interesting option is the modern-day vintage speaker. These new classics are often among the best speakers made today, with fully up-to-date materials, components and engineering, and state-of-the-art technology, but with design – and a sound signature – that pays tribute to and is inspired by the best vintage models from the past.

So let’s look more closely at the best of the best of these contemporary vintage classics, in this in-depth buyer’s guide to some of the very best retro speaker systems made today.

This is a pretty long article, so if you’d like to cut right to the chase here are some of my top picks:

What’s So Great About Vintage Speakers?

This is a great question, and we may well wonder why so many people – even younger buyers who are new to the wonderful world of audio – are searching for the best vintage speaker systems from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I mean, surely things have gotten much better since then, haven’t they? New technology, computer design, the benefit of decades of experience, and all of that?

Well, yes, things have gotten much better in so many ways, and yet there was something in the air ever since the late 50s, when stereo recordings became the standard – a time when certain companies – like McIntosh, Klipsch, Fisher, Marantz, Altec Lansing, Advent, and others – were making magical gear. 

Vintage speakers in particular were amazing in their energy and power, their accuracy and their musical beauty, and the big brands – Altec, JBL, Dalquist, Klipsch, Wharfedale, KEF, Cerwin Vega, and Polk, among so many others – each had their own signature sound which they were mightily proud of – and rightly so.

It can definitely be argued that a lot of what followed in the next 3-4 decades has been, if more advanced and technologically interesting, a bit boring and unengaging in other ways – lacking in that certain magic.

But not all of it, and here we get back to the idea that surely things must have gotten better – there are so many companies right now that are making incredible speakers which are inspired by or even directly descended from, the true classics of the golden age of stereo, but that take advantage of computer design, improved materials, and engineering, all sorts of new technologies and years and years of experience, evolution and perfection.

The New Classics

To me it makes so much more sense to buy one of these fantastic brand-new vintage speaker systems than to spend premium dollars on speakers that, while undoubtedly brilliant, are decades old, with all of the at least potential issues that come with their age – even if they are “as-new.”

So that’s just what we’ll look at in this article – the very best vintage speaker systems made today, Speakers of all types – wired and wireless, passive and amplified, portable, bookshelf and ridiculously monolithic floor-standers – almost all from the same iconic companies that made the original classics, and all benefiting from the very latest technology, design, and manufacturing techniques.

So if you’re ready to check out some fantastic modern classics, from what I honestly believe will come to be known as a new golden age of audio gear, let’s dive right in!

The Best Vintage Speakers in 2022 – An In-Depth Buyer’s Guide

Best Super-Cheap Vintage Speaker

Tewell Vintage Speaker Bass Enhanced Technology Wired and Wireless

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Tabletop/Desktop Single Speaker System
  • Connectivity: Wired and Bluetooth Wireless
TEWELL Vintage Speakers, Bass Enhanced Technology, Retro Speakers Plug-in Speakers for PC, Laptop,...
  • POWERFUL STEREO SOUND: Powered by two professionally-tuned full-frequency drivers, Retrorock delivers stereo sound with exceptional clarity...
  • DEEP BASS: With the state-of-the-art Bass Reflex System, Retrorock provides a whole new experience of listening music, watching movies and...
  • WIRELESSLY CONNECTION: Provides lossless wireless sound at a range of up to 33 feet while maintaining strong connection
  • WIRED CONNECTIVITY: Plug into the 3.5mm input for an analogue listening experience with the included Nylon Braided Audio Cable
  • GREAT GIFTS: Retrorock is a perfect gift for anyone and everyone, thanks to the Wooden-PU Leather enclosure, retro toggle switch and knob

There are a lot of basic, very inexpensive tabletop Bluetooth speakers out there, and many have a nice, funky retro vibe, but the Tewell is special. Not only is the style just right, it has a remarkably high level of fit and finishes for the price, and everything feels top quality. 

Most importantly, though, the Tewell vintage Bluetooth speaker sounds great – much warmer and richer than you might expect, with solid and decently extended bass that is not too strongly boosted and nice presence and detail in the upper ranges.

For the money, you can’t miss, and the Tewell-powered tabletop speaker makes an especially great idea for Christmas, birthdays, back to school, or any other occasion – especially if you want them to think you spent a lot more than you actually did!

Best Budget Vintage Stereo Speakers

Klipsch Synergy Black Label B-200 Bookshelf Speakers

  • Speaker Type: Passive Unpowered Stereo Pair
  • Connectivity: Wired
Sale
Klipsch Synergy Black Label B-200 Bookshelf Speaker Pair with Proprietary Horn Technology, a 5.25”...
  • Use as front speakers or surround speakers
  • Accurate, non-fatiguing sound provides hours of listening pleasure
  • Dynamic .75" tweeter, 5.25" high-output woofer
  • Dimensions: 12.5" H x 7" W x 8" D
  • Contemporary finish to integrate with any decor with ease

When we talk about vintage speakers, few brand names have as much importance or come up as frequently or as obviously as Klipsch. Indeed, ever since they introduced the original Klipschorn – almost 80 years ago – Klipsch has been the fantasy speaker for more audiophiles than you can count.

And that iconic Klipsch proprietary horn design really sets this Synergy Black Label B-200 bookshelf speaker apart from anything else in this range – not just because it is so cool looking and so reminiscent of earlier times, but mainly because the Klipsch horns still offer the most detailed, highest efficiency and lowest distortion sound imaginable.

Of course, even with the excellence of that horn, when many people hear Klipsch they think bass, and the new – and not, I admit, particularly vintage-looking – injection molded graphite woofers definitely deliver, with remarkable extension, speed, and weight, and real slam.

A beautiful speaker that looks in many ways like the Klipsch products from decades ago, this fully updated Klipsch Synergy Black Label B-200 is just over a hundred bucks a pair, and for that price – vintage style or not – pretty much nothing comes close!

Best Budget Wireless Portable Vintage Speaker

Marshall Emberton Bluetooth Portable Speaker

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Portable Speaker
  • Connectivity: Wired and Bluetooth Wireless
Marshall Emberton Bluetooth Portable Speaker - Cream
  • SUPERIOR SIGNATURE SOUND: Rich, clear and loud, like the artist intended. Emberton utilizes True Stereophonic, a unique form of...
  • 20+ HOURS OF PORTABLE PLAYTIME: Its compact size and rugged durability make it perfect to take with you. Emberton can be quickly charged,...
  • ROADWORTHY DESIGN RATED IPX7: Emberton is tough and resilient. With its silicone exterior and solid metal grill, it boasts an extremely...
  • MULTI-DIRECTIONAL CONTROL KNOB: Simple and easy to use. Control it with the multi-directional control knob. You can play, pause, skip tracks...
  • PORTABILITY: Emberton weighs just 1.5 lbs and can fit in the palm of your hand, making it the perfect compact speaker to take with you. Its...

I am including Marshall Emberton on my list of best vintage speakers because of its classic retro styling, which is both dramatic and somehow tastefully understated and has a level of craftsmanship and finishes that can rival some of the most expensive speakers on the list.

But I love Marshall Emberton because of its sound – so dark and rich, with amazing deep bass for its size, and that kind of palpable presence that made Marshall guitar amps so famous. Still, somehow this amazing little guy sounds just as good with classical and jazz as it does with rock and roll, and has more accuracy and detail than I ever remember hearing from even the best vintage Marshall stacks.

The proprietary True Stereophonic sound projects a stereo image much bigger and more accurate than you would ever expect from a speaker like this, and the clever control knob, the IXP7 waterproof rating, the latest gen Bluetooth 5, and the overall design and functionality all hit.

I love cheap speakers that are high quality on all fronts, and that have sound quality that can be compared in so many ways to true audiophile gear, and Marshall Emberton is definitely all that – in fact, every time I listen to one I have to remind myself that it costs well under two hundred dollars – really, an absolute steal!

Best Vintage Tabletop Radio – A True Modern Classic!

Tivoli Audio model One Am/ fm Table Radio, Classic/ Walnut

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Tabletop/Desktop Radio
  • Connectivity: Wired Auxiliary Input
Sale
Tivoli Audio model One Am/ fm Table Radio, Classic/ Walnut, 2.4 Lb
  • High-performance table radio with simple design and superior sound reproduction
  • Attractive, furniture-grade, handmade wood cabinet doubles as acoustically inert housing
  • 3-inch long-throw driver ensures accurate tonal balance and bass response
  • State-of-the-art discrete component FM tuner improves reception and increases clarity
  • Measures 8.375 x 4.5 x 5.25 inches (W x H x D); 1-year warranty

The Tivoli Audio Model One is – despite its low price – often called the best-sounding tabletop radio you can get, and it is no wonder, given that it was designed by audiophile legendary Henry Koss. First introduced over 20 years ago, this beauty is not just a classic vintage design, it actually is vintage.

But don’t worry, you’ll get a brand new one – they are still made today with the same attention to detail, the same premium materials, and electronic components, and the same craftsmanship the first Model One enjoyed back in 2000. 

The Tivoli Model One is also a vintage classic in terms of functionality, with no Bluetooth wireless, no smart features or voice assistants, just a superb radio, amp, and speaker. I am thrilled to announce, though, that it does have an auxiliary audio input on the back panel, letting you play pretty much any other device – from a smartphone to an 8-track – through the Model One – not just one of the finest tabletop radios in the world, but a fine powered speaker as well!

And so yes, it qualifies as a “vintage speaker,” and is in fact one of the best vintage speakers of its type I’ve ever heard, and a truly premium – and truly special – product in every way.

Best Affordable Vintage Stereo Speakers

Wharfedale Diamond 220 5 Inch Two Way Bookshelf Speakers

Wharfedale Diamond 225 6 ½ Inch Two Way Bookshelf Speakers

  • Speaker Type: Passive Unpowered Stereo Pair
  • Connectivity: Wired
Wharfedale - Diamond 225 (Black)
  • Award-Winning Performance, Wide-Open Sound
  • One-Inch Soft-Dome Tweeter and 6.5” Kevlar Woofer
  • Layered Cabinet Construction and High-Quality Finish
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz - 24kHz -- 12.4” H x 6.9” W x 9.8” D (11.7 lbs.)

We can say with certainty and real import that there is a definite JBL sound, or a definite Cerwin sound, or Klipsch or Yamaha or Dalquist or Bose or so forth, and in the first golden age of stereo gear, it must have been not just possible, but often pretty easy, to identify what brand of speaker you were hearing without even seeing them.

And the same is true of Wharfedale speakers but, at least from my own experience listening to both their old and new speakers, in a very different way. They may not have the raw punch of a Cerwin Vega or older JBL, the freakish – but somehow relaxed – clarity of a Klipsch, or the almost unnaturally room-filling imaging of a Bose, but they still have a signature Wharfedale sound, which is – quite mysteriously – both incredibly neutral and incredibly beautiful.

How these two qualities of sound can exist in a single speaker is apparently a well-guarded company secret, because many other companies have tried to copy that nearly ideal sound and failed. But Wharfedale knows just how to do it, and has been for almost a century, and their amazing Diamond 220 and Diamond 225 stereo bookshelf speakers are possibly the finest sounding budget audiophile speakers you can get, and almost certainly the most accurate.

So, are these new Wharfedale Diamond speakers vintage-looking? Yes, absolutely, with a look so reminiscent of the fine hand-made speakers of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and a level of finish that, if anything, may surpass them. Are they vintage sounding? Well, no, not really. They just sound beautiful – and they just sound like the music. Yeah, I still don’t know how they do it, but I absolutely love them!

Best Vintage Desktop Speaker System

Klipsch ProMedia Heritage 2.1 Desktop Computer Speakers with Subwoofer

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Desktop Stereo Speakers with Subwoofer
  • Connectivity: Wired Auxiliary Input
Klipsch ProMedia Heritage 2.1 Multimedia Mid Century Modern Desktop Computer Speaker Monitors with...
  • LEGENDARY SOUND EXPERIENCE FROM KLIPSCH - This 2.1 multimedia desktop computer speaker monitors will fill the room with incredible sound for...
  • EXCLUSIVE KLIPSCH TRACTRIX HORN TECHNOLOGY: Features 1” soft dome tweeters on Tractrix horns, a proprietary technology that has been the...
  • BIGGER, BADDER BASS: The 8" subwoofer with an 100-watt amplifier means the deepest, most musical bass possible
  • PERFORMANCE FLEXIBILITY - With its plug and play setup and convenient 3.5 mm input, the ProMedia Heritage desktop computer speaker monitors...
  • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS - Compatible with your favorite devices, from your TV and computer to your music player and gaming consoles

There are a lot of what people refer to these days as midfield monitors – that is, speakers optimized for a close listening position – and a whole lot more excellent speaker systems optimized for desktop placements, but none of them have the sheer vintage charm of the Klipsch ProMedia Heritage 2.1 speaker system.

And that’s what we’re here for – vintage charm – so the Klipsch, with their lovely 50s-60s style wooden cabinet, old-fashioned logo and lovely speaker cloth, are already clear winners and an easy recommendation. 

They are also extraordinary sounding desktop speakers, with a powerful deep bass subwoofer that would be at home in a big theater system and stereo speakers that have that trademark Klipsch accuracy, openness and sweet, fatigue-free detail. Really, no speaker I’ve ever heard seems to be able to present so much music with so much bright and bracing clarity with absolutely no harshness or edge whatsoever.

But with Klipsch speakers that’s the normal course, and these ProMedia Heritage speakers, with 160 watts of total power, are an awesome example – powerful enough for a big room and yet with the kind of intimacy and nuance that suits even a small office perfectly, and with sound that even the most discriminating audiophile would be thrilled with.

And, oh yeah, they are absolutely beautiful vintage speakers – or as Klipsch says “Mid-Century Magnificent!”

If you love the Klipsch Heritage style – and who wouldn’t? – make sure to check out the Klipsch Heritage Groove Portable Bluetooth Speaker, which is also beautifully retro and may be the best in its class overall.

Best Vintage Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

Klipsch Heritage Wireless The One II Tabletop Stereo Walnut

Marshall Stanmore II Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Tabletop/Desktop Single Speaker System
  • Connectivity: Wired and Bluetooth Wireless
Sale
Klipsch Heritage Wireless The One II Tabletop Stereo Walnut
  • True Entertainment: The legendary, detailed and dynamic sound you’ve come to expect from Klipsch
  • True Craftsmanship: Featuring real wood finishes and durable metal accents, this timeless Klipsch design offers heirloom-quality and a...
  • True Simplicity: Perfectly proportioned, the 1 II delivers concert quality sound to any room in your home
  • True You
  • Included Components: Speaker, Manual
Sale
Marshall Stanmore II Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Black - NEW
  • Larger than life sound it's perfect for any room big or small Built with advanced components It produces clean and precise Audio even at the...
  • Wirelessly connect with Bluetooth 5 0 Bluetooth 5 0 aptX technology provides lossless wireless sound at a range of up to 30 feet while...
  • Customize your sound Use the Marshall Bluetooth app or the analogue controls on your speaker's top panel to perfect your sound according to...
  • Wired connectivity there are more ways to connect than just Bluetooth 5 0 Plug into the RCA or 3 5mm input for an analogue listening...
  • Multi-host functionality This speaker features multi-host functionality so you can easily connect and switch between two Bluetooth devices

Ok, for this next recommendation I’m cheating a bit – there are just so many amazing tabletop Bluetooth wireless speakers on the market these days, in either sleek modern designs or a more retro style, but two of them stand out so clearly in this affordable premium range – and, happily, are so beautifully vintage in appearance – that I had to include them both!

The Klipsch Heritage The One series 2 wireless stereo speaker is as clear, detailed and accurate as any  of its type on the market today, with truly room-filling volume, energy and stereo projection and amazing bass for its size. The One isn’t just all the speaker most people need or want – in a small and affordable package – but a speaker anybody would fall in love with. It is also superbly made and perfectly designed – as much in simple functionality as its striking vintage look.

And the Marshall Stanmore II – well, it’s a Marshall! As legendary as Klipsch is, to certain people Marshall is probably even more so. And it turns out that the celebrated Marshall sound, which is so beautifully captured in the Stanmore, is fantastic for all kinds of music – well, all kinds of rock music, for sure.

The Klipsch may have a slight advantage in classical and jazz, and may be the more accurate speaker, but for fun and powerful reproduction of all kinds of popular music genres – rock, obviously, but also electronica, rap and hip-hop, country and western, the Marshall Stanmore has no rivals at this price point.

But either way you go you are getting a finely crafted and well made product that will offer many years of listening pleasure, and an essentially perfect high tech wireless home speaker in lovely vintage garb. And if you’re one of those extravagantly generous gift-givers, I can’t possibly imagine a more exciting or impactful Chrimstmas, birthday or wedding present than either the Marshall Stanmore II or the Klipsch Heritage wireless speakers.

Best Vintage Powered Monitor Speakers

Klipsch The Sixes Powered Monitor Walnut Veneer (Pair)

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Stereo Speakers
  • Connectivity: Wired Auxiliary and Phono, Bluetooth Wireless, USB & Optical Digital
Klipsch The Sixes Powered Monitor – Walnut Veneer (Pair)
  • 1” titanium-loaded tweeters with tractrix horns
  • 6.5” woofers with a ported enclosure
  • 1 x pair of RCA phono level inputs with switch for phono/line input versatility (phono Pre-Amp with ground screw terminal)
  • Bluetooth wireless technology

Powered stereo loudspeakers are incredibly popular these days, and with people playing so much music from their phones and PCs, as well as the latest and greatest digital streamers and music centers, a fine Bluetooth wireless speaker makes perfect sense.

So it’s not surprising that we here at Speakergy get asked for recommendations of powered stereo speakers more than almost any other product. And the one I myself recommend most often, and most enthusiastically, is the nicely retro-looking Klipsch The Sixes.

The Klipsch The Sixes are a premium pair of speakers that are still quite affordable, and have the most open, clear and detailed sound I’ve encountered in this ultra-competitive price level, with sweet musicality and not a touch of edge or harshness – their amazing titanium horn-loaded tweeters are, in fact, known for their incredibly low distortion. And the bass, for a relatively small speaker, is nothing short of amazing.

The Sixes are also among the most versatile and genuinely usable of all powered stereo speakers, with an amazing range of connectivity options including Bluetooth wireless, USB and optical digital inputs and both normal line-level and phono-level analog inputs, not to mention a subwoofer output, which is best directed to the optimal – and downright awesome – Klipsch R-120SW sub.

But even if you are all about EDM, or a pipe organ connoisseur, the Klipsch The Sixes powered stereo monitors have more than enough bass all by themselves, and are incredibly satisfying with all kinds of music. They are also as beautifully made and beautiful looking (at least in that classic Klipsch vintage kind of way) as they are beautiful sounding.

Fully up to date and at the same time as retro as it gets, The Klipsch The Sixes are the perfect choice for this list of best vintage speakers, and a near-perfect set of mid-priced speakers.

Best Vintage Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Portable Speaker
  • Connectivity: Wired and Bluetooth Wireless
Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 Powerful Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Grey Mist
  • 8 HOURS OF PLAY: A full working day of music, calls or podcasts on a single charge, at typical listening volume. Easy USB-C charging,...
  • STAY FULLY CHARGED WITH QI-WIRELESS CHARGING: Power compatible phones and devices by laying them on top of Beolit 20, thanks to built-in...
  • MUSIC TO TRAVEL WITH: Robust, light and with a soft and strong leather carrying strap, Beolit 20 is built to fit into your travel plans.
  • SET UP IN MOMENTS: Get straight to the point. Minimal setup and stable streaming, so you can start uninterrupted listening right away.
  • PAIR FOR EXTRA DIMENSIONS: Designed with seamless stereo pairing in mind, connect to another Beolit 20 or Beolit 17 for an even more...

There seem to be two main schools of design in the best vintage speakers made today – golden age audio gear vintage, which finds its ideal form in gear from Klipsch, Wharfedale, JBL, Cerwin Vega and others, and Mid-Century Modern / Bauhaus style, which is always and with wondrous consistently perfectly realized in Bang and Olufsen products.

And there is no question that the Bang and Olufsen Beolit 20 is a true masterwork of Mid-Century design, with its simplicity and utility, its lovely lines and balance, and its superb material quality and craftsmanship.

But no matter how important all of this is, especially in a buyer’s guide for the best retro speakers, what really sets the Beolit 20 apart is its sound – warm, detailed, transparent and incredibly accurate and neutral, this is the ideal portable wireless speaker for even the most demanding audiophile, and makes any and all music sound gorgeous, with truly unmatched realism, presence and expressivity.

The B&O Beolit is also perfectly up to date in technology, and is a masterpiece of design and technological implementation as well, with superbly crafted and delightful touch controls on top, ultra-discrete connectivity ports on the bottom, integrated wireless charging for your phone, great battery life, flawless Bluetooth wireless and the finest quality internal audio components available.

This is a very competitive price level and a very popular type of product, and so there are many different choices – the Marshall Woburn II, for example, is a superb wireless active speaker, and maybe a better choice for rock and rollers. But to me the Woburn, or indeed any other wireless speaker, doesn’t come close to the Bang and Olufsen Beolit 20, which is the most beautiful, magical and musically disarming speaker of its type.

Of course, if you are unconcerned by budget, and want even more magic and musicality in an equally beautiful (if substantially more expensive) vintage package, by all means check out the Beolit 17, which is often referred to as the finest portable wireless speaker in the world.

Most Powerful Vintage Floor Standing Stereo Speakers

Cerwin Vega SL-12 3 Way 12 Inch Floor Standing Speakers

  • Speaker Type: Passive Unpowered Stereo Pair
  • Connectivity: Wired
Cerwin-Vega SL-12 12" 3-Way Floor Tower Speaker
  • 3-way system design
  • Large motor 12" woofer for punchy bass
  • 5 1/4" midrange for vocal clarity
  • 1" soft dome tweeter for crisp highs
  • Bass Reflex cabinet for extended lows.Peak Sensitivity: 91 dB

I have discussed the world of vintage audio with a lot of older hi-fi enthusiasts, and when they are asked what the important brands are they respond with Klipsch, McIntosh, Kenwood, Marantz, Dual, Acoustic Research, JBL, on and on. But when they are asked what they would want from their own formative years, more than a couple have told me that they would love to have a pair of big, powerful Cerwin Vegas.

And to be sure, the big floor-standing Vegas from the 70s and 80s, with woofers so powerful they could muss your hair, were legendary, and the dream of a lot of music lovers, but the company is still making amazing – and amazingly powerful – speaker systems – in fact, in many ways a lot better than their iconic models from the past.

And the stunning new Cerwin Vega SL-12 12 inch 3 way floor standing speakers are the perfect example. Sure, you could wuss out and get the more sensible CERWIN VEGA SL-5M, with their polite (well, not too polite, actually) 5 ¼ inch woofer, but this is Cerwin, so just go for it! The SL-12 has absolutely amazing bass – deeply extended, fast and detailed and with amazing power – and yet it never overwhelms the excellent, high resolution midrange or superb soft dome tweeter, which are also fast, incredibly detailed and very, very musical, without a hint of harshness or edge.

A basic wired stereo speaker for rock and rollers both young and old, the Cerwin Vega SL-12 will also reproduce a full symphony orchestra with staggering impact, and can place a single singer with guitar in the middle of your room with perfect scale and eerie realism. As desirable as any true vintage Cerwin of the past, the SL-12 is a better speaker than any of them, and the best vintage speaker you can buy at this level.

Please note that the above link is for a single speaker, and you will need to put two in your cart for a stereo pair – unless, of course, you are super-vintage, and only listen to antique monaural 78s!

Best Vintage Stereo Speakers Overall

BIC Acoustech PL-980 3-Way Floorstanding Tower Speakers

  • Speaker Type: Passive Unpowered Stereo Pair
  • Connectivity: Wired
BIC Acoustech PL-980L-PL-980R 3-Way Floor Speakers - ONE Pair
  • Design: 3-way, six driver tower speaker.
  • Frequency Response: 22Hz-23kHz
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Drivers: Two high power 8″ active woofers, two 8″ passive woofers, one enclosed 5″ midrange, and one 6 1/2″ mid/high frequency...
  • Gold-Plated Terminals: YES

In some ways these premium Bic Acoustech towers are the most interesting speakers on this list of best vintage speakers – especially when looked at from the perspective of the 1980s.

See, back then BIC made a lot of audio gear, but it was not, uhm, well, especially well respected, or especially good. Their products were decent, and almost always reasonably good values, but not by any stretch high-end, and honestly the company had a bit of a reputation for cheapness.

Now we flash forward 40 years and find that Bic is suddenly making one of the finest floorstanding stereo speakers you can get, and to some people the very best at this price – a truly superb product that, in its iconic tower form, with lots and lots of vertically aligned speaker drivers and low diffraction cabinets, reflect the very best of 80s speaker design.

The Bic Acoustech PL-980 tower speakers are frankly awesome in every way – their immense low frequency driver array – with two 8 inch woofers and two 8 inch passive radiators per side – moves incredible amounts of air, and the bass is deep, fast and well controlled.

Equally impressive are the horn-loaded tweeter, with its superb detail, liquid sound and very low distortion, and the brilliant 5 inch midrange, which has uncanny presence and realism and presents the all-important mids in perfect balance and cohesion with the rest of the musical picture. Yeah, in fact “cohesion” is such an apt word for these amazing loudspeakers, in how they always reproduce music in such a complete and organic way – whether it is a full symphony orchestra or an enormous movie soundtrack, a single musician playing a guitar and singing, or anything in between.

Nobody buying gear in the 80s would have expected this, but I am awarding my recommendation for best vintage speakers overall to these superb Bic Acoustech PL-980 floor-standing loudspeakers, which are powerful yet intimate, detailed yet sweet and smooth, and simply stunning with any and every type of music. 

Bic is certainly on their way to completely redeeming themselves and rehabilitating their reputation among audiophiles, and these PL-980s are superbly made and superb sounding speakers.

Best Premium Vintage Stereo Speakers

KLH Kendall Floorstanding Speakers

  • Speaker Type: Passive Unpowered Stereo Pair
  • Connectivity: Wired
Sale
KLH Kendall Floorstanding Speakers - Pair (Walnut)
  • The KLH Kendall 3-Way Floorstanding Speaker effortlessly reproduces music and movies soundtracks with astonishing natural detail and balance...
  • Stylish and slim artisan-crafted real wood veneer cabinets in Walnut with low profile magnetic grilles create a visually flawless and...
  • Woven Kevlar drivers and anodized aluminum dome tweeters yield a dynamic balanced and detailed sound experience
  • Solid MDF plinth with chrome-plated floor spikes or rubber feet provide added stability and proper decoupling to the floor
  • KLH's distinctive industry leading 10 year warranty offers long-term peace of mind

Tower speakers became a real phenomenon in the 70s and 80s, and for many people the tall multi-driver tower, especially with a row of big woofers, is more iconic and more vintage than any other type of speaker.

But tower speakers – at least the good ones – didn’t just sound impressive, but got a couple of things just right, and introduced or popularized certain concepts – like vertical alignment of speakers, the air-moving potential of multiple low frequency drivers and the ability to present both immense symphonic soundstages and individual musicians with proper scale and energy.

And the KLH Kendall does all of this perfectly. It’s optimized speaker alignment, along with the newest technology in driver and cabinet design, offer stunningly open and accurate stereo imaging, and the two big woven kevlar woofers in each speaker provide almost overwhelmingly deep, fast and detailed bass that is always perfectly balanced with the rest of the musical picture – but that can, I should say, be equalized to eardrum-threatening levels without any loss of quality.

A beautifully bright and sweet sounding speaker, with amazing dynamic energy and powerful expressivity, which sounds fantastic with any and all kinds of music, and is also among the best available as the front focal point of a truly extraordinary home theater system, the KLH Kendall are vintage beauties that are truly up to date, and among the best speakers made today.

For a more compact and – for some at least – liveable speaker system, with the same superb KLH sound and an even more iconic form, you might also want to look at the beloved KLH Model Three Bookshelf Speakers – another true classic and also easily one of the finest (somewhat) affordable pure audiophile speakers you can get.

The True Audiophile Choice

Wharfedale Linton Stereo Loudspeakers with Stands Black Oak

  • Speaker Type: Passive Unpowered Stereo Pair
  • Connectivity: Wired
Wharfedale - Linton with Stands - Black Oak (Pair)
  • Listing is for a pair of speakers with stands.

I am happy to admit that the Wharfedale Linton floor-standing loudspeakers are the finest sounding speaker system on this list of best vintage speakers, and in fact one of the finest sounding speakers I’ve ever heard. (Ok, there are the Klipschorns, just below, but to be fair those are nearly twenty grand…)

But I’m not the first to make such a bold claim about these superb KLH loudspeakers – when they were first introduced, back in 1965, the original Lintons were hailed as extraordinary, and immediately set benchmarks in terms of accuracy and musicality – not to mention sheer desirability – that other, perhaps more successful or well known speakers could never really compete with.

The newest incarnation of this legendary speaker is by far the most beautiful of them all, and has material quality, fit and finish far beyond what you would expect even at this quite pricey premium level. And this newest Linton also has markedly better sound than their standard-setting predecessors, with truly stunning transparency, openness and resolution of inner detail, perfectly scaled and accurate stereo imaging and soundstage, deep, powerful and ideally balanced bass and a warmth and lovely musicality from bottom to top.

Really incredible sounding speakers which are as accurate as anything in their range, and much more engaging and exciting, the Wharfedale Linton are by far my favorite speakers on this list of best vintage speakers (the Klipschorns, at ten times the price, notwithstanding), and equally perfect for both the most demanding of audiophiles and the most joyous of music lovers.

It’s definitely worth mentioning that Wharfedale offers another magical vintage speaker in an ideal modern form – the Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary, which are quite possibly the finest, most accurate and most musical bookshelf speakers on the market today under a thousand dollars (well, just barely under), and almost certainly the most musical.

Best Premium Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9

  • Speaker Type: Powered Active Single Speaker System
  • Connectivity: Wired and Wireless: Bluetooth, Chromecast, Airplay, Wi-Fi
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9 4th Gen Wireless Multiroom Speaker, Black with Walnut Legs
  • Powerful room-filling sound for any living space thanks to its seven effective drivers
  • Active room compensation ensures high quality sound that suits your speaker placement
  • Floor-standing (or wall mounted with an optional mount accessory) beoplay A9 can perfectly complement an ever evolving home style
  • Lots of ways to connect including airplay 2 Chromecast and Bluetooth – as well as improved Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Iconic design paired with rich expressive sound for a speaker that’s as good to look at as it is to listen to

Bang and Olufsen has always had the reputation of making the most beautiful and stylishly advanced audio gear in the world, with design, material quality and craftsmanship all literally as good as they can possibly be, and with functionality that is beyond pretty much any other products.

But B&O also makes the most extraordinary sounding audio products as well. They may not be purely accurate or neutral, and can get a bit of a rap from the most discerning audiophiles, but I have spent extensive time with many different Bang and Olufsen systems and speakers, and to me they are consistently the most musical and moving products I’ve ever heard.

And the Beoplay A9 may be the best of them all, with a phenomenal presence, a subtle expressivity and a tonal beauty that makes music sound more alive, more real and more touching than anything else in this admittedly nearly stratospheric price range. Real musical power easily co-exists with intimacy, and absolutely any kind of music sounds just perfect – warm, clear, effortless and absolutely there with you in the room.

The Beoplay A9 is also a true masterpiece of Bauhaus design, as beautifully finished as the finest hand-crafted furniture and made for a lifetime of use – and a lifetime of indescribable pleasure. Even if you are one of those “discerning audiophiles,” if you love music with all of your heart, you will fall deeply, deeply in love with the Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 – this is as good as it gets. 

The Great Grand-Dad, The True Legend, The Classic of Classics

Klipsch Heritage Klipschorn Speaker

  • Speaker Type: Passive Unpowered Stereo Pair
  • Connectivity: Wired
Klipsch Heritage Klipschorn Speaker Pairs (Cherry)
  • Fully Horn-Loaded Three-Way Loudspeaker Pair
  • All-New Neodymium Tweeter
  • All-New Enclosed Low Frequency Horn Design
  • Sold in pairs with Book-Matched Wood Veneer

I have had the unforgettable experience of listening to a pair of Klipschorns on several different occasions – different pairs in different rooms with different systems – and every single one of those listening experiences I count as among the most impactful, important and awesome of my life.

I’m not sure – as much as I love to write about audio – if I can even explain why, but there is something totally different about a Klipschorn. Despite how big they are, they kind of totally disappear, and there is just music there in the room. The presence, the existence of music and musicians in time and space, is simply unbelievable – or finally wholly believable.

Even listening to records or digital files I had listened to umpteen times before, with the Klipschorns I heard things I never knew were there – musical notes and sounds, spatial and temporal relationships and interactions between musicians, dynamic nuances and expressivity and so much more. I, and everybody else, always talk about how “detailed” a speaker is, but when you listen to Klipschorns you really begin to understand just how many types and levels of musical detail there actually are.

Bass is absolutely thundering when it needs to be, but always perfectly balanced, and as fast and controlled as I’ve ever heard, and the highs and mids are the most open, clear and detailed I’ve ever experienced. So much of this has to do with the three-way folded horn design – all three drivers are horn-loaded! – which allows an unprecedentedly low level of distortion from the deepest bass to the highest highs. So many things come from this lack of all types of distortion – detail and micro-detail, all levels of dynamics, perfect imaging and phase coherence, perfectly accurate – and disarmingly beautiful – tonality.

I am going to be totally clear here – the three best speaker systems I have ever heard in my life are the original Magnepan Tympani I loudspeaker, the original Wilson Audio WAMM and the Klipschorn – which is also “original” in a way, since it has been in continuous production for almost 80 years (although I have heard the most recent model, as well as the older ones, and it is actually better – don’t know how that’s possible, but it is…).

Now the Magneplanars and the Wilsons have been out of production for decades, and can be staggeringly expensive if you can find a mint pair. The Maggies are probably my favorite speakers ever, and the Wilsons are truly among the very best, most accurate speakers ever made.

But these Klipschorns are by far the most exciting speaker I’ve ever heard, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been so touched, so genuinely moved, by any other audio gear or any other listening experience as I was by any of the various generations of Klipschorns I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to.

They too are, at least for most of us, staggeringly expensive, but they will truly change your life.