Rare Find: Altec Lansing 604-8G Coaxial Speakers

It’s not every day you come across speakers built around monstrous 15-inch coaxial drivers but New Jersey-based vintage audio specialist Skyfi Audio recently landed a pair of pristine Altec Lansing 604-18 speakers.

Dating back to the early 1970s, the 604-8G is a refined, later generation of the Duplex series of coaxial speakers introduced in 1943 around the time Altec merged with the Lansing Manufacturing Company owned and operated by James B. Lansing. Interestingly, the speakers were born out of a dealer request for a compact loudspeaker. As you can see from the pictures, the 604 is anything but compact — at least by today’s standards!

The audio gurus at Skyfi describe the historic specimens as “the best modern execution of a vintage speaker we've seen to date” — “modern execution” because each speaker is housed in a custom furniture-grade cabinet, making the set truly one-of-a-kind.

Best of all, Skyfi says the 604s deliver stunning sound characterized by a warm, engaging top end and noticeable midbass slam — “especially when paired with a low-power vintage tube amplifier from Luxman, McIntosh, or Marantz.”

But the praise doesn’t stop there. On the 604 product page, Skyfi writes: “They are just as good the Tannoy Red speakers we had last year, but with better bass control and more attack. The only criticism we could come up with is that they don't play well at a very low volume — something like 0.5 on the volume knob, which is probably why vintage preamps often came with a loudness control. As soon as you get to 2 (just past whisper level), they come to life and all the detail rushes in.”

Back in the day, the drivers used in the 604-8G were considered top of the line and they look every bit as good here as they did in 1973. “The surrounds are shiny and pliable, the cones are intact, and the fabric diffuser surrounds are perfect,” Skyfi explains. “We've never seen a "mintier" vintage driver set — they even surpass the [Altec Lansing] 604-E drivers we currently have in stock.”

Each cabinet is finished in quarter-inch-thick walnut veneer with a matte clear coat and has three ports and a “high-frequency attenuation” crossover dial on its front panel. As Skyfi puts it: “The attention to detail truly stands out — from the fasteners holding the back cover and drivers, to the flush-mounted speaker plate and crossover.”

At $13,999, the price is not for the faint of heart but Skyfi justifies it this way: “The cost to recreate these cabinets would certainly exceed more than two-thirds of the total asking price.”

For more information, visit skyfiaudio.com.