Several months ago I reviewed the original Large Advent Loudspeaker, a large two-way acoustic suspension loudspeaker designed by Audio Hall of Famer Henry Kloss. Released in 1969, the original Large Advent was one of the most respected loudspeakers of the 1970s. They were known for their incredibly deep bass response, relatively extended high frequency response, and cost-effectiveness. A pair of Large Advents in real walnut cost under $300. The faux-walnut "Utility" version cost just over $200 for the pair.
Recommend this product?
In 1973, Advent released a newer version of the Large Advent Loudspeaker. Called simply the New Large Advent Loudspeaker, it was similar to the original, but with slightly different drivers and a different crossover. The masonite frame of the original woofer was replaced with a metal frame, and the famous "fried egg" tweeters were replaced with similar flush mounted tweeters. I believe the newer tweeters were designed to handle more power.
The literature accompanying the New Large Advent Loudspeaker (or New Advent Loudspeaker as it is often called), explains that the newer version was designed to have a more extended high end in response to improvements in recording quality happening in the early 1970s. The basic design (a large two-way with a simple crossover) was maintained.
Cosmetically, the New Large Advent is similar to the original but with some noticeable differences. The beveled front on the newer version is more rounded, rather than stepped. And the grille is actually darker on the newer version, kind of a burlap color, rather than off-white. If you look at the driver cut-outs through the grilles, the older cutout is round, the newer rectangular.
I liked the older Large Advent Loudspeaker and thought it to be a very good vintage loudspeaker. The bass response went much deeper than on my vintage reference Dynaco A-25s, and the midrange was smooth enough, but the overall presentation didn't put me fully in touch with the emotion of the music. Maybe the high end was too rolled off, or maybe the bass was a bit too overwhelming. It's an awesome speaker for $200/pair or so, but I think I'd prefer a pair of Dynaco A-25s with a subwoofer if I was putting together a vintage system.
The New Large Advent Loudspeaker is something completely different. It is one of the most musically satisfying loudspeakers I have had in my system regardless of price. And that includes speakers currently priced at over $1000 per pair.
Some basics: these are some large and heavy "bookshelf" speakers. They are about 26" high, 14" wide, and 12" deep, and they weigh about 40 lbs each. They are two-way systems and feature a 10" woofer mounted in a 12" basket and a medium-sized tweeter. The speaker wire terminals are NOT set up to accept banana plugs (Dynaco was ahead of its time here with the A-25), but they do have high quality metal terminals that screw in and out easily with thumb and index finger. They also have a three position toggle switch to adjust relative tweeter level.
Overall, I have found the sound of the New Large Advents to be really satisfying. In fact, to cut to the chase, they have become one of my current vintage reference loudspeakers. The bass is authoritative and deep but not as overwhelming as on the original Large Advent. The midrange is smooth and non-fatiguing, and the highs are extended and surprisingly detailed for older speakers. I actually find myself using the "reduce" setting on the three-position tweeter switch to yield the balance that's most satisfying to me.
Imaging is an area where the New Large Advents have really surprised me. The soundstage is large and convincing, with much of the music presented behind the plane of the speakers. Individual instruments or chorus members are easy to distinguish, but the "whole" is satisfying as well. The overall presentation, in spite of the extended high end, is warm, liquid, and inviting. I really like these speakers, whether I'm listening to background music or really paying attention.
A friend and I recently did a comparison between my recently restored New Large Advents and his Paradigm Reference Studio/20s, a well-reviewed (almost) contemporary small loudspeaker.
The imaging of the Paradigms was a bit more precise, but only if you sat in a very small sweet spot. The New Large Advents presented a wider and almost as deep soundstage, and they did so even as you moved around the room. High end extension was comparable between the two, as was midrange sweetness, but the bass of the Advents was much more authoritative. In addition, the Advents' overall presentation was warmer and perhaps a tad more liquid. Overall, I actually preferred the sound of the New Large Advents.
Compared to my usual vintage reference Dynaco A-25s,
the sound of the New Large Advents was often quite similar, but on some music the New Large Advents sounded more authoritative, with deeper bass and more unlimited dynamic range. I also sometimes thought the Advents were a bit more liquid sounding, while the Dynacos were a bit dryer and to the point. On smaller scale music like Alex DeGrassi's Slow Circle (solo guitar) or Miles Davis's Kind of Blue (jazz) the sound of the two was comparable. And on some small scale recordings of female jazz vocals, the Dynacos' remarkable neutrality made them my first choice. But on larger scale works, like Saint Saenz's Third Symphony or Jethro Tull's Stand Up (played loud) I preferred the Advents.
A few of my usual reference recordings:
On Gordon Lightfoot's Summer Side of Life, the New Large Advents sounded really nice. As with the original Large Advents, Lightfoot's voice was full and manly, and the bass gave the music a good foundation. With the New Large Advents, guitars had more sparkle and attack than they had with original Large Advents or Dynaco A-25s, making the music sound a bit more real. As I mentioned In my review of the original Large Advents, some audiophile speakers have pinpoint imaging but make male vocals sound a bit too "wimpy." The New Large Advents are a bit less "chesty" on male vocals than the originals, but they do not rob male vocals of their power.
On bluegrass music (Alison Krauss with Union Station, King Wilke, Dixie Chicks, James King) the New Large Advents sounded better than the original Large Advents because the more extended high end made acoustic instruments sound more alive and real. My reference Cambridge Soundworks Towers
might have the edge in delicacy, but the New Large Advents came quite close. The Klipsch Heresys
still have the edge over all other speakers I've listened to recently as far as putting acoustic instruments "in the room" with you, but the New Large Advents struck a nice balance between in the room realism and a relaxing, musical presentation.
On Bach organ recordings, the New Large Advents were really good. The pedal tones came through nicely (though I had the Advents on stands and liked to beef things up even more with my subwoofer) and the ambiance of the recording venue was presented really well.
On rock music, the dynamic range and extended bass of the New Large Advents made for a satisfying experience. The Band's Stagefright sounded great, as did several Grateful Dead records and CDs I threw at them. I've read (though I haven't tested it) that Advent woofers can suffer damage if you "like totally rock out, dude" on these speakers at high volume for an extended period of time, but I'll leave it for others to comment about that. Perhaps the retro enthusiast who wants to blast rock at high volumes for extended period should consider JBLs; I'm not sure.
On Miles Davis's jazz classic, Kind of Blue, the sound of the New Large Advents was relaxed and smooth, a lot like what I've enjoyed with Dynaco A-25s but with a bit more bass foundation and treble extension. Miles's horn was very clear and had more bite than it had with the original Large Advents. Klipsch Heresys still are the winner in terms of putting the instruments "in the room" with this excellent jazz recording, but their lack of bass means a subwoofer is a necessity.
On classical music from my local radio station, the New Large Advents sounded great; I generally found myself listening to the music rather than the speakers. The overall presentation was warm and involving with good microdynamics. The announcer's voice was just a touch chesty but much less so than with original Large Advents.
Here's a new one: On Bill Frisell's Gone, Just Like a Train, a friendly and sometimes funny recording of electric jazz, guitar, bass and drums, the sound was warm, spacious, and convincing, with the extended treble portraying the drums and cymbals excellently. The deep and slightly warm bass provided just the right amount of foundation to the music.
On Govi's New Age acoustic guitar CD, Seventh Heaven, the New Large Advents sounded a lot like my reference Dynaco A-25s. The original Large Advents had robbed the guitar or a bit of its delicacy, and my ADS 400s exaggerated the attack of the guitar strings a bit too much. Like the Dynacos, the New Large Advents presented this recording in a nice, balanced way, with the guitar sounding like a guitar.
You get the picture. I think New Large Advents are excellent speakers, even by today's standards. Their frequency response is quite extended, and their overall presentation is warm and musically involving. Their dynamic range is good, and they sound good whether you listen at low or relatively high volume levels.
If I had to find a flaw with the New Large Advents, it would be that the mid-bass or lower midrange occasionally sounds a bit thick and lacking in detail compared to some speakers. For the most part, this would be compared to speakers costing more than $1000 per pair. Compared to other $200 speakers (what a near-mint pair should cost on Ebay) it's not an issue. When my friend and I compared them to his Paradigms, we listened mostly to bombastic classical music like Holst's The Planets and Saint Sainz's Third symphony. With large scale music like this, the Advents were great. When we switched to my ADS L400s, the story was the same as with the Paradigms: We missed the Advents' warmth and authority, but on some smaller scale choral music, the smaller speakers' excellent tweeters, coupled with their relative lack of lower midrange energy, allowed us to separate individual voices within a chorus a bit better. Interestingly, on some music, I found the New Large Advents to be slightly bright, leading me to turn down the treble control on my preamplifier a couple of notches. Most of my audio friends say they don't hear the brightness, so maybe I'm nuts, or maybe I have a preference for a bit of a mellow overall balance.
In spite of these minor criticisms, if I had only one set of speakers, I wouldn't mind having it be New Large Advents.
A couple of other things worth mentioning: 1) The woofers of New Large Advents (and the originals) were made with foam surrounds that deteriorate over time. Many of the Large Advents available on Ebay (original Large Advents or New Large Advents) will need a woofer "refoam job" which can cost close to $100 for the pair. Take this into consideration if you're considering a Craigslist or Ebay purchase. 2) If you buy a pair of these on Craigslist or Ebay, the cabinets are going to be tired from 35 years of abuse. It's worth it to find someone who knows how to restore the cabinets; the wood is really beautiful underneath the dust and scratches. A simple treatment with Howard's Orange Oil will hide some scratches and bring out the grain in the wood. But if your wife is picky, it might be worth it to find someone in your area who is good at restoring wood.
Both original and New Large Advents came in two versions: the real wood veneer version with rounded or beveled front corners, and the vinyl-wood version with squared front corners. It's easier to restore real wood than vinyl, but either can be done.
To conclude, New Large Advents are excellent speakers that can be had for under $200 for a pair. They were among the best loudspeakers of the 1970s, and they still sound good by today's standards. Along with Dynaco A-25s, they have become one of my vintage references.
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Amount Paid (US$): 200