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Altec 604 coaxial


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Blast from the Past:


It turns out that there were 11 versions of the 604, and the first was designed by JBL (the man) when he was with Altec, before he started his new company, JBL.  The 604E was the one I was familiar with c. 1974; it sounded much better than it should have 😁, and better than Altec A7s, and several other Altec, JBL, and Westlake monitors in other Bay Area studios. 


From Wikipedia, "Studio Monitor:
"The first high-quality loudspeaker developed expressly as a studio monitor was the Altec 604 Duplex in 1944. This innovative driver has historically been regarded as growing out of the work of James Bullough Lansing who had previously supplied the drivers for the Shearer Horn in 1936, a speaker that had rapidly become the industry standard in motion-picture sound. He’d also designed the smaller Iconic and this was widely employed at the time as a motion-picture studio monitor.

The 604 was a relatively compact coaxial design and within a few years it became the industry standard in the United States, a position it maintained in its various incarnations (the 604 went through eleven model-changes) over the next 25 years. It was common in US studios throughout the 1950s and 60s and remained in continuous production until 1998"


The first, or near the first, good big theater speakers, 8  feet (or more) tall, including the Shearer were designed by JBL (the man) in collaboration with others.   When 70mm film was resurrected, the first 70mm process was image.png.ead5da45698b6c31f656fc9a5ab00f22.png

Ampex was given the task of developing Todd-AO's sound system.  They had JBL (the company) design the speakers.  Some Todd-AO theaters used Altec, when both JBL (then a small company) and Ampex couldn't manufacture them fast enough, and or, some theaters already had big Altecs, and only needed to add a few more to accommodate Todd-AO.  The JBL design looked like this: c6000-crop_small.jpg                                      Jim Lansing Theatre Sound System of 1954
                                               (Also Manufactured as Westrex T550 and Ampex 6000C)
                                                                      © Harman International, Courtesy Mark Gander and John Eargle

4 - 15 inch woofers, and two of the highest clarity midrange drivers ever, all horn loaded, with an auxiliary port for the lowest bass, times 5 behind the screen channels (and a 6th surround channel pumped to surrounds around the theater.  Excellent response 40-10K, with "usable" (JBL's term) down to around 30 Hz.  I saw (and heard) 70mm versions of Oklahoma!, Around the World in 80 Days (1956 version), Porgy and Bess and Ben-Hur (1959 version) in theaters using these speakers; I've rarely heard better in any venue to this day.  The sound was far better balanced than in the 1977 Star Wars, also 70mm/6 channel in the same theater, with different ("improved") speakers.


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  • 4 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Mine has come to an end. :)


GPA 604-8H-III
GPA N604-8C Crossover
John Anderson Stonhenge 5 Cabinets in American Walnut
James Burgess 45 tube amp
Audio-GD HE-1 MKII
Schitt Loki Maxx
HiFi Rose RS150B DAC
Technics SP-10, ATP arm, Denon carts
Teac A-3340 S Reel to Reel
Klipsch subwoofersIMG_2234.thumb.jpg.caab79adb74166c721a5d4226ed02bf6.jpg

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