Planting the Seed

Ideas for How to Pair Classic 98 with Vintage Gear


The below text is a transcription of the video.

Hey there, John Hunter with REL. We’re back here. We’ve just launched the Classic 98 to an amazing response. It’s a great piece, but we thought it’d be really fun to sort of show you what a contemporary system that is vintage could comprise. So we pulled together our Classic 98, our good friends down at Upscale, who are the North American distributor for Tannoy, has loaned us this autographed mini, which is a wonderful little piece. Now, Tannoy was formed back in 1927 and 20 years later, they patented this coincidental driver. And it is to this day in my experience, the best sounding of all the coincidental driver versions that are out there. There’s a ton of people who stick metal dome tweeters for no apparently good reason in the middle of a perfectly good mid-range driver and ruin it. These actually sound fantastic.

They are done by people who are long, seasoned professionals. There is a sound to paper that is very natural and organic, and these little tiny speakers, they’re really not very large, probably 12 inches tall, produce an enormous, sound stage. They don’t go particularly deep in the bass, but they make a huge spread of sound, which is actually kind of in keeping with a Classic 98, which as you can see, I’m not a particularly large person. It’s not a huge subwoofer, and yet it goes down exceedingly deep and it produces this huge room filling carpeted bass. So the two were sort of made to work together and we just thought we’d bring this together. In a moment, we’ll show you some video also of what is at this point approaching vintage status itself. It’s my old PrimaLuna Two amplifier from, I believe it was 2005.

It’s a wonderful little 45 watt per channel, pure tube amplifier. That just, again, sounds huge and effortless even though it’s not terribly expensive and complex. And so we thought it’d be kind of cool to share with you visions of what, there’s a ton of stuff, all kinds of cool vintage stuff. Everything from original Vandersteen, 1Ci, 2Ce from back in the early nineties. You know, any number of good Klipshs. There’s just tons of stuff you could be doing. But we thought it would be fun to pair these things together. These are sort of a guilty pleasure, I’ve only discovered in the last year or so myself. They’ve really only been out for about 12 or 15 years. When I first saw them, I just assumed, how did I miss this? This was probably done like 1963 originally, but it’s only been around 10 or 15 years.

I think it’s one of those hidden pleasures that a lot of people don’t even know about out there. We all hear about, you know, things like LS3/5A’s from the late seventies. Those are great. Not taking sideswipes to anybody, but this has an unusual spread. It’s a huge wide dispersion angle to the mids and tweets and you get this really big curtain of sound, which blends beautifully with the scale of this piece. They’re both much larger than they appear to be in their scale, and you put them together and it’s a peanut butter jelly sandwich. There’s no other way to put it. It’s fantastic. So this is our first attempt to give you guys some vision of what we were thinking of when we said, hey, there’s so much cool stuff out there that’s being produced from our friends at ProAc. Our friends at Harbeth’s, just on and on. There must be 15, 20 really highly regarded brands out there that build things in this genre. This is just the first.

It’s going to be relatively important to understand how expensive this is. These are not ultra-cheap products. This piece, the Classic 98, comes in at 1399 each. These little guys are 2095, I believe, at 2195. So $2,200 a pair. And the EBL 100, the new modern version of the PrimaLuna integrated that I own is somewhere up around 2795. None of these are super expensive, but they’re also not inexpensive. I just want to prep you for that. You do get what you pay for. The quality of woodworking on our cabinetry is absolutely exquisite. And the same goes here, right? We were just talking about how beautifully done these grills are. When I first got them, I was afraid to try and remove the grill. It fits so tightly and beautifully. And the joinery just on the grill is exquisite. A 90 degree with 45 degree cuts.

It’s absolutely perfect. It couldn’t ask for anything more. So the pride of ownership is part of it. These are things that you can tuck into a library, a little unused second bedroom and have a wonderful place to go and read a book, listen to some music, have a snack. It’s a fantastic thing. And part of that is the ownership of working with long-lived companies that have been around doing this for a long time, making exquisite products. And every once in a while, you will walk up and just look at them and go, gosh, real human beings made this so beautifully, you know, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, and a few years. Everything here feels really expensively wrought and isn’t. It is attainable.

April 21, 2024 - Posted in: Sound Insights