Small Advent

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Classic Loudspeaker Review # 5...The Smaller Advent Loudspeaker

Jul 30, 2013 (Updated Aug 26, 2013)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Flatness:
  • Imaging:
  • Overall Sound:

Pros:Compact! Wide range! Dynamic! A Classic beauty! Price!

Cons:Like most of us it tends to age after 20 years.

The Bottom Line: Few speakers Past or Present can touch the performance of Henry Kloss's greatest achievement.

In The Beginning There Was…The Smaller Advent Loudspeaker

The “Smaller Advent Loudspeaker” was designed by Henry Kloss to rival and duplicate its big brother…“The Advent Loudspeaker” or “Larger Advent Loudspeaker” as it later came to be known as and was available from 1972-1977 in select hi-fi stereo stores.  Whereas the larger speaker was designed for bigger than average listening rooms…the smaller one was ideal for modest to very small listening areas.  Andy Kotsatos {who later founded Boston Acoustics} was apprentice to Kloss during development of the compact model and designed the simple but well thought out two-way crossover for the now historically famous compact system.

The speaker’s dimensions were 11 ½”W x 20”H x 9 ¼”D and weighed in at twenty seven pounds.  Each enclosure was well constructed of thick non-resonant particle board with excellent internal bracing and was finished with walnut-grained vinyl.  Two knurled nut speaker terminals were placed on the rear of each box along with a large tag that was stapled to the rear telling you that the loudspeaker was designed by Henry Kloss along with a perforated warranty card that could easily detach.  The supplied Owner’s Manual was extremely well-written and a copy can be seen and downloaded from “The Classic Speaker Pages” link I have provided on my “Profile Page”.  

The front grill was unusual in the sense that Kloss & Kotsatos used two layers of cloth…one black underneath one white for a neutral/off white effect.  That was the idea behind the Smaller Advent’s design…to sound absolutely neutral on all kinds of music…Rock, Classical, Jazz etc.  It achieved far better than that with its unusually extended response for its size and price.   

The loudspeaker was a two-way acoustic suspension sealed system packed densely with fiberglass insulation featuring a very unique 9” long throw woofer that has never been duplicated since and a small phenolic ring wide dispersion tweeter with protective high frequency dispersing basket. These speakers are rated for amplifiers between fifteen to one hundred continuous watts per channel.

Although no frequency response specs or efficiency rating were offered by Advent…it is pretty well documented that the -3 db points {limits} are 32 Hz and 17 Khz.  Measurements also indicated that efficiency is roughly 87 db @ 1 watt 1 meter.  This is typical of acoustic suspension designs for that time. Because of the exemplary deep bass efficiency...they seem to sound louder at lower volume settings than typical acoustic suspension models with similar efficiency ratings.  The speaker’s impedance is intentionally put at 4 0hms to offset the somewhat lower efficiency of the “Acoustic Suspension” design by drawing more power from your amp and more than one pair/set in parallel shouldn’t be used on most stereo amplifiers.  Selecting the quality of power over the quantity of it was greatly encouraged by the manufacturer.  

 Original price per pair was $139.90.  Given my inflationary factor of four…that would put them at about $560 per pair today had they still remained in production with some minor more modern updated aesthetics.  The speakers were “Fair Traded”.  Since “Fair Trade” laws have long since been repealed…we now have “Controlled /Set Pricing” by the manufacturer in their place.  In other words…we’ll drop you like a hot potato should you undersell your competitor.

Advent offered a very liberal five year limited warranty that was so typical of the  main “New England” acoustic suspension companies of the 70’s…AR, KLH, EPI and Allison.  These were the “Made In U.S.A.” glory days for sure!

I purchased two pairs of these great classics from Tech Hi-Fi between 1974 and 1976.  John Rutan was the young “Most Helpful” and knowledgeable salesman that performed the dirty deed.  He was able to save me money by including twenty feet of high quality OFC 16 gauge speaker wire in the final sale price.  Remember…this was a bit before Kimber Kable’s time.  Thanks, sir!  We both fondly reminisce about it now as John is currently CEO and President of the highest end store on the face of the earth…Audio Connection Of Verona, New Jersey…  

I butchered the first pair back then as I just had to tinker and make improvements to the imaging by cutting holes in the cabinets and adding super reflecting tweeters.  I obviously goofed badly as I just couldn’t do it any better than Henry or Andy…or even as well for that matter!

I showed more respect for my second pair and left the speaker designing to the two experts.  I used six different very inexpensive amplifiers of low power ratings with the “Smaller Advents” and then compared my findings with the more powerful sixty watt per channel AR Amplifier I also owned.  Kloss insisted that you try a well made low powered unit before opting for a more expensive higher powered one.  I personally was from a rather large family and we owned many amplifiers…a good number of which I supplied through my USAF military discounts.  You have to keep in mind that higher powered amps/receivers were considerably more expensive to us back then.  Wasting your hard earned cash was not an option for anyone in my family’s circles.  Henry was always bent on saving you money anyhow.

My sister’s $136 Sylvania stereo receiver rated at twenty watts per channel and my $126 Sherwood S-7100A receiver at twenty-two watts per channel into 4 ohms were the best performers of the bunch although my Pioneer SX-434 at twenty five watts per channel into 4 ohms {$156} also performed admirably with the Smaller Advents.  A Lafayette LA-930a integrated amplifier {$75} rated at fourteen watts per channel into 4 ohms also did a nice job of driving them although not quite as well as the aforementioned models.

  The Lafayette fared much better with the Bose 301’s and Dynaco A-25’s.  Still…even the last place amp in the bunch…a later Pioneer SX-450 receiver {$150} rated at twenty watts per channel into 4 ohms did okay with Henry’s wonders but didn’t quite seem to have quite the warmth and impact of its predecessor.   By comparison to the other amps…it did seem to sweeten the highs. 

Finally…we ran my older brother’s modest early 70’s Pioneer SA-500 at twelve watts per channel {$110} integrated amp with them and again…although good…not even close to the Sherwood.  My brother used this amplifier to drive his Dynaco A-10 speakers.  The sound was awesome when doing so!

The more powerful AR integrated amp {$165-Military Model} clocked in the best performance as expected since Edgar Villchur designed this amp to drive his mighty world famous 4 ohm rated AR 3a acoustic suspension loudspeaker.  The AR Amplifier showed less strain and compression at the crossover point of the “Smaller Advent“…about 1 KHz than the lower powered more modest amps. 

We constantly A-B’d the Smaller Advents and $120 per pair Dynaco A-25’s against each other in my very humble bedroom…and then our larger downstairs open living room.  Both my older brother and my uncle preferred the A-25’s while I wound up with the Smaller Advents as my standard of perfection.   Make no mistake though…it was a tough call.  Although the two systems competed very well against each other…there were definite sonic differences.

The A-25’s seemed to have a slight edge in mid bass power and overall smoothness while the Smaller Advents appeared to have more extension at both ends of the frequency spectrum.  The Dynas just couldn’t quite reach down into pipe organ pedal territory like Kloss’s Smaller Advents.  Transient response or tone bursts were a tad quicker with the A-25’s but the “Smaller Advents” held their own quite well here.  

The A-25’s imaged a tad better but this was not a forte’ for either pair back then.  I now think both models would benefit greatly from a more modern approach to room matching by being placed on twelve inch high tilted stands about a foot from the rear wall and more toward the room’s corners while being slightly toed inward.  Back then…I simply placed the speakers about five feet apart with their backs to the rear wall on end tables.  This approach was encouraged by many bookshelf speaker makers in the 60’s and 70’s.  

It must be noted that both the Dynaco A-25 & Smaller Advent loudspeakers had great long-term listen ability without inducing fatigue.  Accuracy of musical timbre was a forte’ for both with kind of a split decision amongst family members as to which had the edge.  I found out the hard way that it was both my Audio-Technica and Shure phono cartridges causing some of my caveats…hash and lack of midrange punch on the Smaller Advents.  When using my Stanton 680 EE & 681 EEE carts…the situation greatly improved along with smoothness & flatness of frequency response.  The sound became more three dimensional also with excellent depth and height.

The one difference that did it for me was that the Smaller Advent could actually reproduce the 30 Hz fundamental present on my prized Columbia SQ/Stereo recording MQ30443 of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra”…2001 A Space Odyssey opening as performed by Leonard Bernstein & The New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  My sister failed to see the humor one morning as the Smaller Advent’s reproduction of the opening low pipe organ pedal note caused medicine bottles to literally dance off their respective shelves as she brushed her teeth.  Our bathroom was directly opposite of my bedroom’s “Stereo” wall.  My Dad thought we were experiencing a tremor.  We were…sort of!   I always think of my dear departed sister every time I look at or play that very same vinyl recording now.

The speakers sounded great on all genres of music from Genesis’s “Selling England By The Pound” to Toto’s “I’ll Supply The Love” to Arlo Guthrie’s “Gypsy Davy” to Tchaikovsky’s “1812” performed by Ormandy’s Philadelphia Orchestra {the cannon shots were really cool and impact full!} on RCA Red Seal to “Shenandoah” the Broadway musical.  Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Buffy Saint-Marie, Sandy Duncan, Aretha Franklin, Annie Haslam, Maddy Prior, Cher, Olivia Newton-John and Linda Ronstadt…the great female voices of the 70’s all sounded emotional and natural.

Should you need to replace the “Phenolic Ring Tweeter” or “Fried Egg Tweeter” as some enthusiasts refer to it as…PartsExpress.Com offers a new updated CTS design Part #  270-252 for about sixteen bucks each.  This is an exact replica of  the original Smaller Advent’s but with improved clarity and dispersion.  I’ve personally used a pair quite successfully in another project and can attest to this.  However…I would caution you against woofer replacement.  When the foam surrounds of the magnificent woofer deteriorated after twenty years…a local shop owner swore he had a great replacement woofer for these speakers.  As I knew nothing of how to replace/restore the foam surrounds at that time…I took him up on his challenge.  For a hundred bucks he would replace both woofers with his own manufactured ones.  If I didn’t hear equal to better performance…he would simply put back the original 9” Advent woofs and entirely refund my money.

Well, my friend…guess what?  It wasn’t even close to the level of Henry’s woofer and the massive clear polypropylene heavy duty replacements were returned pronto!  The bass had an upward bump at about 100 Hz and rolled off drastically below 60 Hz.  I never forgot that experience!  I believe my “Smaller Advents” were sold to next to nothing at a garage sale in 2000 with the flaky original surrounds.  Too bad ‘cause had I waited a few more years, I would’ve discovered that I was quite good at replacing the foams…as per a pair of Andy Kotsatos designed Boston Acoustics A-70’s that I had picked up on an Internet yard sale.

Just keep in mind that you cannot duplicate these very uniquely designed 9” woofers with anything currently available.  You must replace the rotting surrounds because the motor strength, thick ribbed paper design of the cone and extreme piston-like controlled linear motion of this particular woof has yet to be equaled by anything else out there…and I DO mean ANYTHING!  Even the super duty rough surfaced rock-like oversized dust caps are amazing on this model.  So many well-intentioned owners wound up singing the blues because they tried a replacement woofer that actually jeopardized the lower octave of bass that Henry Kloss carefully obtained through proper design parameters.

A good woofer repair kit sells for about $20 and will contain a 30 Hz test tone CD that aids in aligning the new rubber treated foam surrounds to the cones as they seat themselves during the drying/setting process.  Minor tears in the woofer cones can be easily repaired with the supplied adhesive and/or woofer spray.  Be a stickler when purchasing your do-it-yourself kit and with an ounce of patience…absolutely anyone can accomplish the task…even a kid.  The walnut vinyl wrap also tends to peel over time and Parts Express offers an assortment of nicely finished strong adhesive new repair wrap.  As far as rejuvenating a faded one…well…there are others on this site that have much more smarts on the subject than I do and I’m sure they’d be honored and most anxious to help you.

In Conclusion:

Following the success of the “Smaller Advent Loudspeaker” in the mid 70‘s…Henry Kloss sold The Advent Corporation of Cambridge, Massachusetts to Jensen and thus went into semi-retirement only to resurface in the early 90’s again to construct his final creations with his last speaker co….Cambridge Soundworks before passing away.  He is now officially in the Audio Hall Of Fame.  The young Andy Kotsatos stayed on ‘til 1979 when he formed Boston Acoustics.

Although “Acoustic Suspension” has been pretty much abandoned as a plausible modern speaker design…it is still sought after by many audio enthusiasts who know of its capabilities & attributes…e.g. low frequency extension and ultra low distortion with good efficiency when compared to ported or vented types.  While many present-day aficionados will opt for more artistically pleasing aesthetics that are perceivably attractive to the eye as well as hard on the wallet…there remain a few of us who appreciate the value and sonic rewards a good classic low cost sealed “box” can provide…regardless of one’s musical tastes.  

The “Smaller Advent Loudspeaker” was one model that did it better than perhaps any other of its size or price.  It would still holdup quite well today when pitted against most while absolutely shaming other comers!  The Smaller Advent Loudspeaker is living proof that...there truly is a beauty in simplicity.  Happy listening, my friend!…PJS-II

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 140/Pr

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