At every show I attend I hope to be delighted by some wonderful sonic surprise. This year I was happy to have discovered Branko Atanackovic, proprietor of Branko Sound, of Carlsbad, California.
Branko reconditions the horn and paper cone drivers of the Altec 19, a vintage, two-way horn speaker available for between $4,000 and $6,000 per pair on eBay. Branko repaints the horn driver, builds a new huge and solid birch plywood box for the woofer, and screws the horn driver onto the top of the box. He seems to use the original high frequency and midrange attenuators of the Altec 19.
The Altec 19 is not considered among vintage horn aficionados to be a particularly high-end vintage horn. The fact that I and so many others were so intrigued by Branko’s speakers says a lot about just how much sound quality is available from vintage horn speakers for not all that much money compared to contemporary horn-based loudspeaker offerings.
The unfinished wood boxes look a little on the made-in-my-garage side, but I am sure Branko can finish the wood boxes according to customer request.
Like all horns, the speakers were incredibly dynamic with wonderful “jump factor.” Vintage paper cone woofers seem to offer a speed which eludes some modern woofer designs.
KeithR, who is much more sensitive to driver discontinuity than I am, commented that he could hear the woofer separate from the horn driver. I tend to be uniquely insensitive to driver discontinuity, and I did not hear this.
I am particularly sensitive to whether vocals are reproduced in a very transparent and present-in-the-room sounding way. I have found across the genre of horn speakers that there is always at least some slight diminution in transparency and in-the-room presence when I listen to vocals on horn speakers. At $9,999 per pair this Branko almost equaled the vastly more expensive Cessaro Zeta and the more expensive PBN M2!5 in its ability to reproduce vocals without a significant diminution in transparency and in-the-room presence.
These speakers are just plain fun! Like all horn speakers they are amazing at reproducing the sounds of brass instruments.
If my primary musical interest were jazz, or jazz and classical, I seriously would consider these speakers over other horn speakers costing multiples of the price of the Brankos.
Likes: RogerD and sujay