To Hans Wetzel,
I just stumbled across your site. Nice writing. Wondered about your opinion -- are you familiar with New England Audio Resource (NEAR) speakers? I like their bookshelf speakers (yeah their drivers are kind of in your face, but I like that), and have found some old 50Ms that I'm thinking of purchasing. I'm wondering if it makes sense to purchase speakers that are around 15 years old and how they'd stack up against more modern stuff? I used to use a lot of vintage quadraphonic receivers, and am currently running a Denon AVR-3808CI with a Sansui QSD-2 for my legacy quadraphonic vinyl. I use the same setup for video in 5.1, as well.
Matt, I don't think you're crazy for thinking about buying older equipment. In fact, I just purchased a pair of almost 15-year-old Mirage OM-5 loudspeakers because I'd always thought they were pretty cool. I'm not familiar with NEAR (I was learning my multiplication tables when they were new), though I think that the 50Ms would be a pretty neat fit for your vintage rig. But as to how they would fare when compared to more modern designs, I hate to tell you, but not well.
Driver and cabinet design has come a long, long way since the 50Ms were in their prime. Many manufacturers make tower speakers under $2000/pr. that would outperform the 50Ms in just about every way. I would also worry about speakers that old because of normal wear and tear. Driver surrounds may deteriorate, having a deleterious effect on the sound, meaning the vintage towers may have a pretty short lifespan. And if the speakers were abused, you will have a bear of a time trying to find replacement parts. Given your affinity for older gear, I imagine that you're leaning towards buying the 50Ms, and so long as they're in good shape, I think you should jump on them. Worst case, you move them on and take a small hit to the wallet, but with no regrets after having been able to try them out. That's my approach with these Mirages, so I'm practicing what I'm preaching! . . . Hans Wetzel