Are these German, 1984, almost 40 year old active speakers a good choice as a studio monitor?
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voja

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So I came across a rather rare deal. A brand which doesn't show up often for sale on the used market, especially in this price range.
I am talking about Backes&Muller, also known as just B&M. I came across the Delta model, which at its time cost 3600 DM (Deutsche Mark), it is up for sale for 480 euros. I also want to mention that it's tri-amp active crossover, and that it has this interesting thing that B&M did for this series, there seems to be a little microphone (on or in) in the bass driver.. since I don't speak German I didn't quite catch it's whole purpose. Here is some info and specifications which I found:
BM Delta_1984_11_Fono Forum_01.jpg

Manufacturer: Backes & Müller
Model: Delta
Made in Germany
Color: walnut, ash, black ash, mahogany, dark oak
Dimensions: 280 x 520 x 290 mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 15 kg
Original price approx .: 3,800 DM (1400-1900 euro-RRP pair)

connections
Number of inputs: 1 cinch, 1 DIN (5-pin)
list the inputs here (with sensitivity / impedance)
Number of exits:
list the outputs here (with level / impedance)

Technical specifications

Type: 3-way compact speaker, active
Chassis:
Low tone: 245 mm
Midtone: 120 mm
Tweeter: 25 mm metal dome
Power output stages: (continuous / dynamic):
enumerate power amplifiers with performance data here
Frequency response:
Transition ranges: 300/3000 Hz

Special equipment

Automatic switch on
AFB (Acoustical Feedback) microphone on bass cone
An acoustical engineer who is well respected in the audiophile community has told the that these are absolutely no good in terms of value in 2020, his main point is because they are missing a waveguide and that the 40 year old Backes&Muller will be outperformed by modern speakers due to the amount of research that has happened since.
In particular he suggested to get JBL's 305 because they are in that range (I can actually grab a pair for 300 euros). His main defense and point was that the JBL 305 has 25 more years of research put in it and for that sole purpose would outperform B&M speakers. In his words 305 would perform better in terms of imaging / spatial accuracy and timbre.

I myself, although not an old person, have found myself to trust older gear more due to the fact that older gear lasted and lasts longer than new gear. Nowadays I find the plastic drivers and these cheapish drivers on most budget speakers.. and I am simply put off by this and can't help but be biased and have an opinion that it sucks. Since I am open-minded I also see where I, and my opinion could be wrong. Maybe these plastic and cheaper material speakers are lighter and produce better sound than rigid and sturdy looking drivers and speakers from the period before the 2000's.

I want to hear your opinion, and be honest and absolutely don't be afraid to go into great detail, this is something which I like. I will take all the comments and opinions respectfully, at the end of the day I am trying to hear everybody's advice and opinion out, not argue.

Here are some pictures of them (ignore the stands in the first two), 3rd and 4th pictures are from a smaller model, but still the same series.
90066686_5e31824b8c4339-6835652720200126_102252.jpg

90066686_5e31824b8e4d27-1002607420200126_102323.jpg

bmdelta.jpg

bmdelta2.jpg

If I am not mistaken, the surround on the mid-driver seems to be a foam one, I just need somebody to confirm this to me.

This is a (almost) 40 year old piece of gear, so many things could be wrong and not in the best condition. Since I'm not that experienced I cannot know this straight away, I'm not a professional. But from what I heard to get these repaired and updated officially from Backes&Muller it would cost around 1000/1300 euros.. not only beyond my budget but just a shocking price.

Let me know what you think
 
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Kazz123

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I would agree with the acoustical engineer on this one. For 1000+ euro, it's possible to get some modern Genelecs, Focal Alpha-s, or ADAM A7x, maybe even some lower end Neumanns. In terms of technology that went into them, any of these will vastly outperform 40 year old speakers of that price. Using higher quality amplification circuits, lighter transducers, etc is uncomparably cheaper these days, so something that costs 1k today would have been 10k in the 80s, if not 50k.

Of course they might have value as a collector piece, but purely in terms of sound, no chance this will stand its ground.
 
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voja

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I would agree with the acoustical engineer on this one. For 1000+ euro, it's possible to get some modern Genelecs, Focal Alpha-s, or ADAM A7x, maybe even some lower end Neumanns. In terms of technology that went into them, any of these will vastly outperform 40 year old speakers of that price. Using higher quality amplification circuits, lighter transducers, etc is uncomparably cheaper these days, so something that costs 1k today would have been 10k in the 80s, if not 50k.

Of course they might have value as a collector piece, but purely in terms of sound, no chance this will stand its ground.
Genelec, Focals, Adams, and Neumanns are serious products, those are absolutely professional and high end range. The price you are talking about (1k euros) is absolutely beyond my budget. My budget is around 300 euros, and I can stretch it to 400.
You are absolutely correct about the cost of the materials being cheaper nowadays. However I don't think you are getting better value, even though the components are cheaper to make, many brands don't price them accordingly, of course they need to profit but I don't think that a (pair) of 300 euro speakers from modern age would outperform or have higher quality components than the one from let's say around the 90's period. If you do disagree, which is completely fine, please explain to me where I am wrong, since I am genuinely trying to understand everybody's perspective respectively.
My point is that we have so many materials available today and they are much cheaper too, however we still see major bad quality materials used in budget speakers, usually crappy plastic and components which don't last very long.

I think that back then companies competed who can put out a better, higher quality product, and now it seems like that brands compete who can make a product for the least amount of money but sell it for the most. I may be wrong, if so let me know why.

A little bit off-topic but I will mention it so you get the best idea of my perspective, this let's everybody know how i am seeing it, and therefore makes it easier to understand why I am seeing it this way. Let's take the simplest objects: pens. Cheap pens back then were using pretty high quality materials, even plastic was sturdier, metal was also common. And now we just see these plastic pens which cost.. idk 5,10 bucks and to me it doesn't sound like you are getting what you pay for (compared to the past). But it's hard for me to strictly think like this since we have so much more technology, and like you said things are cheaper to make... but still everything lasts shorter and we don't see those premium materials in lower budget priced products but rather in higher priced products. To me it appears that the quality of materials and basically many things was better in that time. Even some basic groceries such as cinammon came in metal boxes.. and I cannot help myself but be biased and convinced that the products were actually worth their price, further on, most products from that period still hold their value. But when you buy a modern product it decreases in its value not even a couple of months later. Seems like companies are trying to cut as many corners as possible but of course I may, very well be incorrect. If I am, I want to understand why.

I just can't get my head around to think that a smaller monitor such as the JBL 305 could outperform a 3-way speaker like the Delta, which has a bigger bass driver which gets down to pretty low frequencies. The components of the Delta would probably, if not certainly need to be replaced and refreshed. I looked at a picture of what's inside of the JBL 305, and I couldn't help but laugh. It looks pretty cheap and basic, but I might be fooled by the looks.

I just have this strong opinion that when you bought a product in that time, you knew you were getting what you pay for. And now I feel as though we are getting scammed by buying all this overpriced chinese crap. Don't get me wrong, chinese products can be good, if not amazing as we have found out in the Ch-Fi segment, but I am talking about general quality of our products today.

At the end of the day I am just trying to catch another opinion, another look on the Backes&Muller Delta, with examples and facts which support that opinion.
 
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Genelec, Focals, Adams, and Neumanns are serious products, those are absolutely professional and high end range. The price you are talking about (1k euros) is absolutely beyond my budget. My budget is around 300 euros, and I can stretch it to 400.
You are absolutely correct about the cost of the materials being cheaper nowadays. However I don't think you are getting better value, even though the components are cheaper to make, many brands don't price them accordingly, of course they need to profit but I don't think that a (pair) of 300 euro speakers from modern age would outperform or have higher quality components than the one from let's say around the 90's period. If you do disagree, which is completely fine, please explain to me where I am wrong, since I am genuinely trying to understand everybody's perspective respectively.
My point is that we have so many materials available today and they are much cheaper too, however we still see major bad quality materials used in budget speakers, usually crappy plastic and components which don't last very long.
Ah sorry, misunderstood what you meant. I somehow thought these are offered to you today for ~1k. In case of 300, of course that might be a different comparison. Although, even for such a price it might be possible to find a good pair of used or even new current-day monitors like the LSR 306P.

At the end of the day, of course I can't tell you that they will sound better, as I've never heard the vintage B&Ms. I was making a case for some of those speakers purely from a practical perspective - how easy it is to find replacement components in case something breaks, or re-sell them if you decide not to keep them for whatever reason.

I think that back then companies competed who can put out a better, higher quality product, and now it seems like that brands compete who can make a product for the least amount of money but sell it for the most. I may be wrong, if so let me know why.

Seems like companies are trying to cut as many corners as possible but of course I may, very well be incorrect. If I am, I want to understand why.
That's definitely true for a lot of companies. However, not for all, and I think in the pro market there's a lot of focus on actual quality to this day. The same built-to-last approach is being taken by a lot of well-respected manufacturers, they can't afford not to because audio engineers know their crap most of the time. If there is a class A amplifier circuit with 20$ worth of components sold for 400$ like you frequently see in consumer products, any AE worth two cents will be able to tell by taking a looking under the hood.

Another thing about this, pro products are always result-focused. If the gear doesn't sound good, the mix shows it. If it doesn't last after 100+ studio sessions, stuff doesn't get bought again. Pragmatic and to the point, no way for outlandish aesthetics to compensate like they do with audiophile speakers.

I just can't get my head around to think that a smaller monitor such as the JBL 305 could outperform a 3-way speaker like the Delta, which has a bigger bass driver which gets down to pretty low frequencies. The components of the Delta would probably, if not certainly need to be replaced and refreshed. I looked at a picture of what's inside of the JBL 305, and I couldn't help but laugh. It looks pretty cheap and basic, but I might be fooled by the looks.
For one, the number of woofers and tweeters doesn't always guarantee better sound or better quality - Avantone Mixcubes are way more expensive than the LSR for example. Plus, the driver quality degrades with time. So, of course, ideally a bigger 3-way speaker will sound better, but a 40 year old one might not.

In the LSR case, it's an average class D amp, but the pairing with the low-impedance speakers is done extremely well - there's no need to find "gear synergy" when their RND team (one of the best in the industry) spent years on that. Plus, that magic waveguide is not a gimmick - its crossover and directionality is great. I have had those for three years, and compared to the Focal Alphas I have now, they stand their ground. Not even talking about the Yamahas, KRKs, M-Audios or Behringers in the same price range, the LSR is most balanced and honestly unbelievable sound for the price.

In terms of "cheap plastic", I don't know what you really mean. The front panels of almost any monitor is plastic. The Genelecs are entirely plastic. Of course, the back/body is frequently wood or high-density MDF, and again, the MKII LSR have been switched from plastic sides to MDF.

At the end of the day I am just trying to catch another opinion, another look on the Backes&Muller Delta, with examples and facts which support that opinion.
In all honesty, best to compare with your own ears. If you can find a place that demos, go and hear. Hours of written reviews will not be as valuable as 10 minutes of listening.
 
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In case of 300, of course that might be a different comparison
I have an opportunity to get them at 480 euros, which is a very steep price, but some said that it's a fantastic deal. It's a gamble for sure, but getting a piece of gear like this one is a once in a lifetime offer, it's quite rare you see Backes&Muller being offered. I haven't seen Delta model being sold anywhere, it's smaller brother "Beta", which cost 100 euros less than Delta, is now selling for 800 euros. One might say that they are holding their value, however I doubt anybody will buy those for 800.
For one, the number of woofers and tweeters doesn't always guarantee better sound or better quality
This is definitely true. And as you said it's more than likely that the drivers have degraded, I mean there are a lot of parts in speakers, magnets, coils, just a lot of stuff, and having that much stuff in one probably means that at least some of it has shown the signs of time- if not failure, it's probably not as accurate as it was when new.

I have come across many good deals, some of them include:
Focal CMS 50 (pair)- 500 euros
Dynaudio DBM 50 (pair, almost brand new)- 300 euros
ADAM ANF10 (pair)- 350 euros, these are passive

I am very close to pulling the trigger on Dynaudios because they are an absolute steal, however it's hard to pass the CMS 50 which are often compared to true professional monitors such as Neumann KH120A, Adam A7, and other big names in this price range. Focals CMS 50 is overall more expensive than the Dynaudio's, however I am not sure whether it's better than Dynaudio, and 300 is a pretty neat deal. I believe the CMS 50 is above the 1k price range, so it's a good deal.
All this being said the DBM 50 was also compared to big names such as the Neumann KH120A, some poeple said they are better than Dyanadio BM5A, some Genelec's, just some very good options. And mind you 300 euros can barely get me a JBL 305, so it's a good deal. So far it seems like they even compete with some Focal's models, the CMS65 or something like that, and people say they are very similar. That would mean that I would be paying 200 euros more for the CMS 50 just to get some improvements, so I think it's a good deal.
Hours of written reviews will not be as valuable as 10 minutes of listening
This is completely true. I will check out the Deltas, and also they have a bigger bass driver and can go pretty low. If I am not mistaken people are saying they go as low as 30HZ which is pretty nice, but they are also big speakers and would be needed to be used as a mid/far field unlike any of the monitors I mentioned above.

All of the above mentioned models are actual popular studio monitors. The Backes&Muller is also a monitor but isn't as well knowsn and you can't find much info about them online. I can listen to the Delta's but not to teh Dynaudio's, however I have my trust in Dynaudio and wouldn't find the need to listen to them in person.
 
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