Altec 755a

"Last week we were playing around in the middle of the vast Silbatone collection of Western Electric equipment. Mr. Mukai and Mr. Yuzo Doi flew in from Japan to visit. These guys are the top WE experts in Japan, both work with vintage dealer/manufacturer/repair shop Western Sound, Inc. and Doi-san is resident WE expert at Stereo Sound Tube Kingdom magazine. All the well-known rare and exotic WECo treasures surrounded us, along with many items that qualify as super-rare or even unique. Prototype Fletcher coaxes with 555s and Jensen 18s, 595As, a couple pairs of 757As, 753s, 750s, L-8 and L-9, every Western horn...plenty to interest any WE maniac."

"The first day we heard the mega-rare 12A/13A system. And what did we work on the second day?...WE 755As. Western Sound Inc has handled a few thousand 755As. Everybody in the room used 755As for at least 25 years. We all have a lot of experience with bigger and more elaborate WE speakers than the 755A but none of us ever got tired of 755As because they are like an element of nature. Nobody tires of the sky." -- Joe Roberts at Junkyard Jukebox.

In the world of full range drivers, there is no speaker more revered than the Western Electric / Altec 755a. Without doubt; for the full range, wide-band driver enthusiast, these are the very definition of iconic and are THE holy grail. Everyone has heard of them, but being the elusive White Whale, very few have actually heard the 755a, especially in their room and with their own signal and amplification. With prices and demand climbing, finally owning one of the earliest and most desirable of the 755a drivers is such a long-realized pleasure for me, and really is a landmark moment in my audio journey so far. And cutting to the chase, because this one is probably going to get a little long-winded, this is absolutely one of the very “best” sounding 8 inch drivers I have owned so far. Sometimes the legends are indeed Legendary.

But, Dear Reader, I regret to report that I only have one single driver, which means that all of my listening and my impressions below are based on a one-driver presentation. Not stereo. Which is a severe limitation, and has given me pause in creating this review.

On the other hand, this is a speaker made for the mono world. In 1951, when the 755a shown below was new, mono was all that there was. Back then everyone had just one speaker. Stereo was a decade in the future. But as a stereo native, the drop in scale from two speakers to one is a challenging situation and would take some adjustment. I’m comfortable enough with a mono signal, and in some cases prefer it. I love 78s, they are all mono, and actually are some of the most emotionally engaging program material I have ever encountered. But signal aside, mono these days is normally played on two speakers, our ears and brains expect to hear two speakers, so the drop in the scale of the sound between one speaker and two is significant and troublesome from a review standpoint. Especially concerning something with the reach and magnitude of the White Whale.

Nevertheless, like some kind of audio monk I took up the challenge and went on a 6-week mono fast, eschewing stereo and embarking on a total immersion in the single driver mono sound. Having only a single 755a to evaluate, I needed to level the playing field as much as possible to get any valuable impressions. So I spent some time experimenting with placement, cabinets, and sources; really just running in the Altec for the first few weeks, seeing what it did, and letting it loosen up after decades of rest. And letting my ears adjust to the huge differences in a single speaker presentation. But after all of that, I put this driver up against everything I had on hand, going back and forth and spending some quality time with a big mix of drivers as single speaker mono sources. It was an enlightening experience, and I found that once my ears, perception and (perhaps most importantly) expectation had adjusted to such a directional sound source, there are some advantages to a single mono source. Regardless of loss of space and soundstage, and the artificiality that is the stereo effect (which I do love), the tone and actual content seems to come across a little stronger and more directly through a single mono source than it does in stereo.

One thing that is apparent from my experiment is that not all drivers are created equal when it comes to playing a mono signal on their own. In this regard, the 755a dominated the field, with its only close competitors in my stable being Coral and Zenith. Some that I expected to sound amazing on their own fell short; sounding not just small, but somehow empty. I have to wonder if a single speaker presentation is really one of the hardest tests there is for a wide band driver. After all of my back and forth it seems like a gauntlet that few make it through unscathed. Now that I’m a mono fan club inductee, this will be something that I spend some time with on new speakers coming through the door.

Getting back to the Altec 755a, my own pilgrimage began long ago. I lived in South Korea teaching English for a number of years in the late 1990s, and back then a pretty serious hifi market existed on one of the upper floors at the TechnoMart tower near Chamshill. I went there more than a few times to gawk at the audio gear, it was the first place I ever saw a hifi tube amplifier, and it was also here that I first heard a 755a system. I didn't have any idea what that meant when I heard it, but I wrote it down in the little notebook that I carried around in the pre-digital world, and looking back it was a rare treat and the gentleman at the shop was such a delightful character who turned me on to Bossa Nova. A few years later I encountered these drivers again at the original JE Labs website, an incredible resource that helped to guide me near the very beginning of my journey into the audio dark side of tubes, micro amplification and single driver goodness. Researching and digging through the web, the vibe of the 755a driver in 1990’s America seems to be that it was a nearly forgotten gem which offered amazing fidelity and could be had cheap, making it a sort of stick-it-to-the-man, behind-the-scenes underground hifi solution. The rich folks were buying Apogee and Wilson, but those who were savvy and in the know had better sound with these old antique drivers that were traded at radio swap meets. But of course even back then the 755a, and it’s lesser cousins the c and e, had long been re-discovered in Asia and were getting expensive here in the US. These once commonplace and pedestrian industrial drivers were already becoming scarce and coveted.

It’s quickly clear in researching the 755a that these were not rare drivers. Far from it. The 755a were everywhere in modern life in the 1950’s and 60’s. This driver was optimized for the human voice, and was made to be very listenable and clear in that sensitive range. They were found throughout America anywhere public address was needed; in train stations, bus stations, airports, stadiums, racetracks, school classrooms, navy ships, government buildings….you get the idea. Importantly, they were also realized and understood by audio enthusiasts of their era, appearing as the midrange unit in the first AR-1 loudspeaker (perhaps the ultimate audiophile Goodwill find!) as well as with the huge build-it-yourself audio community of 1950’s America. Then they disappeared. Until rediscovered by Japanese audiophiles and the American DIY audio community in the 80’s-90’s as forgotten gems that you might find in a dumpster at a school renovation or forgotten and dormant in an old train station wall box. And in fact, my driver spent it's life in a small wall mounted box that looks exactly like something from my elementary or middle school classrooms of the 70’s and early 80’s.

So, all of that said, how does the 755a driver actually sound? Very, very good! I long ago gave myself over to the worship of the midrange and this is a midrange to die for. If it’s on the recording, and your amplification chain is up to the challenge, you will hear it. This driver is NOT going to be the weak link. There is something happening with the 755a that isn’t going to be quantified by specs or graphs. It's a nuance, a special sort of space around vocals and instruments that is somewhat unique, not entirely out of the realm of others, but a little different. It's a meaty sounding speaker with an emphasis on the lower midrange that is very pleasing to hear. It presents big, bold and badass (and present!) on pretty much all of the material that it’s well suited to; voice of any kind, simple guy/girl guitar, jazz, blues, indie rock, acoustic anything really. It rewards a well-recorded performance and you will hear all of the crap on a bad recording, for better or worse. Its mono performance is good enough to sound like a reasonable stereo approximation if the speaker and listener are positioned correctly. And that turns out to be the highest praise really.

Overall I think this is an especially pleasing speaker for vocals and instruments that reside right in that range. As mentioned above, I think the 755a was made specifically to have a very clear and articulate vocal presentation; easily discernable. As such, male and female vocal performances are superbly nuanced and real, and instruments have a tonality that is very precise and believable. And if its in the recording, all of the details and ambience are thrown out in a way that opens it’s space up to the listener to fall into. Even in open baffles, my driver seems to have a rich upper and mid bass presence that is very nice and solid and that has a somewhat bizarre ability to penetrate floors and walls and be heard and felt throughout the house in a way that not many speakers I have owned do. And it's a bit of a mystery. Low bass drops off a cliff somewhere higher than many will want, but it does a great job right up until the end. Off-axis response is notably superb; this driver still has wonderful tone and sounds great from close up to far away and out of the line of sight. “Presence” is a word that keeps coming to mind with the Altec 755a.

The 755a is a somewhat efficient speaker and has a bit of an unusual 3 ohm impedance. Although I was able to get good and full, room filling sound out of it with just 3 watts from a VT-52 amplifier, 12 or 15 watts of push pull 2A3 seems to be nearly ideal and the speaker opens up a little while soaking it in. I’ve also run the 755a with 30 watts of EL34 power to very good effect, but I suspect that is coming close to or exceeding the rated power handling of the driver. Once I get a stereo pair running I will have more impressions about amplifier power and what works best.

Eventually trying a few other drivers side by side with the 755a in the Telefunkens, I found that the Altec does sound better by itself than any of the others. The closest competition were my long loved Zenith 49CZ852 and two of my Coral drivers; the little holey baskets and a newcomer in my room, the 8A-70. On its own the Altec clearly sounded better than the Visaton B200, Saba greencone, Jensen C-855, Rullit Aero Alnico, Norelco AD3877M and the Lii F18. However, the Altec by itself was no match for any of them in stereo. But overall this is certainly one of the very best speakers I’ve heard, and within the limitations of a single mono speaker the 755a outperformed everything I had on hand to put up against it.

Side note: Inspired by the fun I was having with mono I picked up a single ElectroVoice Georgian from a gentleman on the local Craigslist. Wow, that speaker blows everything else out of the water on mono, with a very spacious and “stereo” image that completely fills my room and eclipses anything the single 755a seems to be able do on its own. And of course there are three drivers in the Georgian. But it still makes me wonder about a big rear loaded horn with the 755a...

Although the 755a does sound excellent, I can already see in my short time with it that it is finicky, as has been well reported. So far, the five mono amps I’ve used with it were all agreeable. But as mentioned above, I do feel that a bit of push-pull power is the way to go with these, regardless of their ability to work with low power single ended amplification. 10 watts or more seems to engage them better. So far, George Wright’s Signature push pull 2A3 mono with my 1930’s single plate 2A3 is close to perfection.

Cabinets on the other hand have been more of a mixed bag. I very much like the sound in my Telefunken baffles, which is not a surprise; they bring out the best in everything. Because the Altec 618 utility cabinet is such an important part of the story, I had a pair built (planning ahead for that second driver), and spent a few days scratching my head listening to them. I don't like box speakers much anymore and this one just did not work for me. I can see that this is a discovery process, and perhaps I have missed something. Time will tell. In the meantime, I found a beat up old maple butcher-block table at the local Habitat for Humanity, and with a few hours of work and $40 later I have a large and very heavy corner baffle that sounds pretty damn good actually. Eventually I will get back to the 618 and experiment with internal bracing or damping to try to tune the driver a bit, but for now I am enjoying the big wave of sound from the table top.

Having owned the 755a for 9 months at the time of writing, I thought that maybe I’ve had enough time to get used to what I’m hearing and considered selling it. I’ve listened to it in rotation with 8 or 10 of it’s contemporaries on all sorts of music, and have had a good time with it. And although it is better, it is small differences in some cases. But putting it on again after six weeks or so of absence, it really is so very good sounding. This is a driver that has fascinated me for years and that I have finally held in my own hands and heard with my own ears. Was it worth the wait? That's an easy Yes! This one just sounds real and present, and I look forward to one day having a match for it to play stereo. But I can tell that this is only the beginning of a learning and discovery process. I feel like I am only scratching the surface of what this driver can sound like. In 20 years of seeking I’ve heard so many fine quality drivers, and many of them have sounded amazing and close to the equal of the 755a. But having the bar raiser itself in my room makes me wonder why I would ever let it go. Maybe this could be the long-term solution that so many other wide searching adudiphools have settled on.

It's a journey folks, and the Western Electric/Altec 755a is certainly a scenic view worth stopping for. I’ve been driving a very long time to get to this one, and a small, petty little part in me would have liked to be able to smear this driver a little bit in my review. Quite frankly it costs too much money now, and has to be one of the most expensive speaker drivers ever. A long way from the bargain-basement roots that it’s legend grew out of. But, collector value considerations aside, I have to report that if you have the opportunity, I would very highly recommend hearing these old drivers in a well implemented system with quality electronics and a pleasing signal. Like gazing out at the Grand Canyon, this driver does have the ability to show a scene so amazing and fundamental that it is breathtaking. And emotionally invigorating. People replace their million dollar horn systems with these drivers. I don't think Tang Band or Lii Audio are ever going to be that item, no matter their performance or the passage of time. The 755a are icons, and are now above the fray. If you can find a pair within your means, get them. If you can only find a single, buy it and hope for a match down the road while you slow down and be humbled by it’s mono presentation. Even at the asinine prices these drivers bring in 2023, I really don't think these are going down in value. One day I hope my grandson will be able to buy a nice car with the proceeds of mine. Assuming he isn’t blasting Black Sabbath through them and having a ball. I’d prefer that! Enjoy folks, my very highest recommendation. If there is a holy grail in our strange little corner of the audio world, this is it.

My 755a driver dates to June 1951, a very early speaker built just about right at the time when Western Electric turned over production of the 755a to the newly formed ALTEC. Altec assembled the drivers with the leftover Western Electric parts for a while, and this is one of those drivers; hence the two WE markings on the diaphragm, but an Altec label. Eventually when the old WE parts ran out, Altec began making their own replacements and the drivers changed, with different frames and new cones. All of this lineage is very important to the Western Electric / Altec collector, and much value is placed on the date of the build, with earlier being best. The texture of the frame, the quality control stamps on the gasket, the number of welds, and the labels are the markers that collectors look for. Original cones are a must, not an option, as the secret ingredients in the original cone material are purported to have a very large impact on the sound of the driver, with the older drier cones being highly valued. Joe Roberts, quoted in the intro, has a good breakdown of the 755a lineage at his site Junkyard Jukebox. This is a great resource for the 755a with cabinet designs and detailed insights about these drivers from someone who has heard and handled so many over the years.

This is the wall cabinet and transformer that my driver spent its life inside of. Doesn't it look like the PA in your old grade school classroom? At least it was well protected to make it this far. At any rate, if you are hunting these drivers in the wild, this is the kind of situation you are looking for. It sure doesn't look like much, but in this case it held a treasure!

Here is the 755a set up in my Telefunken baffle as a corner mono speaker. It sounds very good like this, better overall than any of the other 8 or 10 full range drivers that I experimented with as a single speaker mono source. But I think its important to note that, as with most things in audio, this isn’t some sort of step in front of it and its an “Oh my God! It’s so much better than the other speaker!” moment. Of course, you can immediately hear that it sounds good. But the part that counts is subtle. I read someone’s opinion about how if the 755a were set up in a room at an audio show, 80% or more of the crowd would just not get it. And I can see that is probably true, as it is with wide band single driver in general. But sit down in front of it, let it wash over you, and after a few minutes you can hear how easy it is to just fall into it. A lot of speakers (most really) never get to a “fall into it” moment, and especially not as one lone driver in mono. With most drivers, it always remains a sort of artificial (for me, somehow plastic-y) sound. The 755a feels very honest. It’s hard for me to quantify more than that. Perhaps one day, measurements or tests of some sort will be able to identify what exactly the key is, but for now I don't think they hold the answer. It's the ear that counts, in real space. For the hifi enthusiasts interested in this kind of sound, the 755a does seem to be king of the hill.

Center placed open baffle mono works, but not as well as a corner placement.

Side by side with the Jensen C-855. Closer than one might think, the Jensen puts on quite a show and is snappy in a similar way to the Altec. The Altec has more depth and a more realistic tonality, but the Jensen is 95% there.

Here is the driver in an Altec 618 cabinet clone. This is a standard application for this driver, but I found it inferior to the open baffle sound of the Telefunken cabinet or the simple maple butcher block.

I think Coral was paying a lot of attention to Altec in their designs. Out of all of the drivers that I put up against the 755a, the little Holey Basket has qualities that are most similar. If I put them on back to back for you in the Telefunkens I think you would agree that their performance, although different, is pleasing enough to be nearly a wash from an enjoyability perspective. The Coral are still under $100 a pair. These days, the Altec as pictured are $5000 + a pair. At that comparison there is no contest.

Rullit Aero 8 Alnico vs. Altec 755a. The Rullit has a looser, more open sound profile. In mono it doesn't work quite as well as the Altec. Back to back with Rullit, the Altec is slightly more sensitive (as in louder) and is dialed in to a lower frequency than the Rullit, which seems to be clicking into a slightly higher frequency profile. The Rullit is brighter (thinner?) than the Altec, but the Altec is still bright enough while being more fully fleshed out, if that makes sense. With its whizzer cone, the Rullit has more sparkle than the Altec, and its low bass performance is in another league entirely. Both of these are impressive sounding drivers for sure! The cream of the crop.

This baffle is made from a 1.5 inch thick maple butcher block table, with the driver rear mounted and using one of the table’s legs as the back brace, which allows for a lot of adjustability in the angle of engagement. Corner placement as seen a few photos below seems to help project a larger, richer soundstage, much like with the huge ElectroVoice Georgian horn in the opposite corner. Although I do prefer the 755a in the Telefunken cabinet, the corner baffle is more convenient for the 15 or 20% of the time that I now spend on mono playback. It’s not perfect, but I do like this setup far more than anything I could achieve with the Altec 618 cabinet.

Yes, its crude, and perhaps thicker than ideal for a rear mounted 8 inch driver, but this baffle sounds quite good nonetheless. At some point in the future I will commission a pair of the Silbatone cabinets to see what they can do. However, I really think JE Labs got this solution nailed down back in the old days. Open Baffle baby!

Toby has heard some of the very best speakers and amplification known to man. I sometimes wonder what he thinks of it all. Perhaps he has an opinion about the 755a’s performance? As per normal, just like when kids visit, or when our beautiful old piano is being played, he wants to be right there in the middle of it all. My shadow.

The corner placement of the big baffle seems to project the sound a bit and enlarge the size. From a suitable distance, in this case 8-10 feet or so, the overall effect is close enough to a stereo picture to not set off the “its not stereo” alarms in your brain. This is a VERY pleasant speaker to sit in front of and have a conversation. Single speaker mono seems clearer and more straightforward in its presentation, which works very well depending on your needs. For background / conversation ambience this may be a better solution than two speaker stereo.

Mono preview: The Wharfedale SFB. I found one locally, but it needs a new woofer, which I’ve tracked down but have not installed yet. Another White Whale!

Here is the mono setup in my room; the mighty ElectroVoice Georgian in the left corner and the legendary Altec 755a on the right. What a wonderful experience to sit in front of these magnificent reproducers and rejoice in the emotional transportation that good music provides. Life is short, and in these precious moments I fully realize that I am getting the rare wine and caviar, and I am thankful. Wherever you are on your own journey, happy listening to you.

Update December 2023: The Altec 755a in STEREO!!

I wrote quite a bit above about the wonderful Altec 755a driver in mono, so I will make the stereo update a bit more concise. Finally having two drivers to demo was exciting, but the results were somewhat unexpected after the mono performance. In short, while the 755a dominated in mono, its stereo presentation was excellent but certainly not transcendent. This is a finicky driver, as noted above, and its capable of sounding incredible. But going back and forth between the 755a and others makes it clear that in my room there are a lot of choices which get close to or better than this sound.

Rather than rehash so much of the above, I thought it would be more interesting and perhaps more valuable to simply share my listening notes made while enjoying my stereo pair of very early Altec 755a, mounted in both the Telefunken open backed cabinets as well as in Altec 618 cabinet clones. These are my unfiltered thoughts, gathered intermittently from June to December of 2023. My pattern is to just jot down observations as they strike me and I feel a need to record what I’ve heard/thought/felt. Here they are then, first to last.

Golden, huge reverberations, very alive and present.

Finnicky. When it sounds good it sounds REALLY good, but when it doesn’t it sounds pretty ordinary. And when its bad its pretty damn bad.

78s have a rich vibrancy and all of the immediacy that I love from these idler driven 78s comes shining right through.

I don’t really love it with the Mcintosh 225, which surprises me for some reason. Somehow this isn’t a match made in heaven. 8 ohm tap or 4 ohm though? Hmmm Yes on 4 Perhaps more relaxed sounding? An improvement anyway.

Fio Maravilha: the bass is dominant and very upfront and present with the 755a. It is a bassy little speaker within its range, almost exaggeratedly so, which makes its steep drop off a cliff a bit of a quandary.

Its a bit of a darker sounding speaker.

This is a midrange driver. Its one good goddamn midrange, but it is constricted to a “wide band” rather than being a “full range”. I don't need the tweeter to enjoy this, but I’m old enough that I know my high frequency hearing is not what it used to be, and even I can still feel some sparkle is missing. And the bass that is there is actually quite nice, but it drops like a stone at some point fairly high in the band. I mean it just isn’t there, like its been filtered out. The low bass that is present is quite punchy and clean, but it drops off a cliff. Gone.

Example: Nick Cave Red Right Hand. The bass is barely there rolling along, but nowhere near as prominent as it should be. This track doesn't really work without the ominous, thundering bass.

One the other hand, Dead Combo Rubrero is deep and vibrating. Not sure what makes one work and not the other.

Rain Song starts out amazing and then collapses into a “turn it down” feeling. Part of that is the track and the exaggerated intensity, but heavy stuff like Zeppelin is more suited to a different driver than the 755a.

This speaker doesn’t forgive anything. It alerts the listener to anything wrong. Like a guard dog barking at noises outside and disturbing your movie.

For voice there is no better speaker that I have heard. This voice is pure gold, its supreme. For NPR or any kind of talk radio, I can’t imagine a better speaker than this one.

Deeper and denser sound than the Zenith 49cz852. The Zenith sound a little thin back to back with the Altecs. But they are slightly more efficient. Not much but a bit and enough to make a difference on a micro amp like the SE 5687, which has some audible trouble moving the 755a in the bass. The Zeniths have a closer up sound than the Altec. The Altec seems to step 5 rows back.

I think I like the Zenith’s presentation better though. Its more Tefefunken and the Altec is Mullard.

Not as exciting sounding as some other choices, but it is very honest.

I’d bet the 755a is also a killer guitar speaker. I haven’t tried it yet but will get around to it one day. I’m a poor player but I do like to make some sounds and this one could be a lot of fun and offer a voice that will be very expressive.

Best so far has been a 45 Yamamoto A08S with RCA globes and the Cardon Mesh 80.

Stereo is a big picture, very smooth and just comfortable.

It could be better if it were more open sounding, a little looser and more open, this one is dense. Its fast but sometimes feels slow if that makes sense. The Jensen 855 has the openness, but lacks the density and grounding that the Altec has. A morph of the two would be perfect!

Putting the Zeniths back in, they sound a little shouty and less meaty. Thinner isn't quite the word I want but less dense and more out in the room and airy. Again its Telefunken vs. Mullard. Zenith is a good bit more efficient.

It’s become apparent that my two drivers aren’t precisely matched for output; seems to be a common occurrence with the 755a. Someone told me that Ken Shindo needed more than a hundred 755a drivers to match up just a handful pairs for a limited run speaker build years ago. Although mine measure close in DCM, one is a slight bit louder and brighter sounding than the other. When I first paired them I didn’t notice this but as time has progressed I hear the difference. Fortunately its very slight and I can fix it with speaker placement. As one side of my room opens into a larger space, I’m able to balance them a bit with the room.

Good match with the OTL-1.

Percussion has an extremely realistic quality that transcends sound, its a feel of rightness. It’s put into the room in a real way. Remarkable. Not exaggerated, it’s just “right”.

To sum up my feelings overall, I would say that while there aren’t any drivers I know of that are overtly “better” than the 755a at the midrange magic and voice that Jazz and other acoustic music thrive on, there are plenty of drivers that are in the same neighborhood. And if you drove down that street you might easily pick one of the others. Do you prefer a Ranch style home or Tudor? Or a McMansion that fills the whole lot? There are choices, and the 755a is only one of the better choices. I had hoped that I would recognize some kind of magical midrange quality that makes the 755a stand far apart from the pack. But in the end I found it to be minor differences that many may not even notice or appreciate. And strangely, I found them easier to “fall into” while listening in single speaker mono, which is still surprising to me and seems backward.

And this brings me to the elephant in the room; the price. I simply can’t escape the reality that this driver costs far too much for what it is. Yes, the 755a is a legendary driver and it is a superb sounding speaker. But some of that legend is certainly a holdover from the old days when it was off the radar and forgotten, and it came with the low price that obscurity once afforded. It must have been a lot of fun in the early 90’s to find a pair of these at a swap meet and come home with an amazing sounding driver for small money. But of course those days ended long ago, and this is no longer an underground bargain, but is instead a speaker so sought after that people spend serious time and energy counterfeiting it, manufacturers like Line Magnetic try to reinvent it, and the bonafide article demands a premium price today that is simply silly in reality.

Is the 755a’s performance worth seeking out today? In a single speaker mono setup I do feel that the 755a outperformed the competition, and for the human voice overall I know of no better speaker. If I listened to talk radio, or music focused primarily on voice, the 755a is going to be very hard to beat. In stereo it is still extremely pleasing, but then so are many other vintage drivers that are still a bargain in 2023. After months of real world back and forth, I can say that although I have very much enjoyed my time with the Altec 755a, they are not the desert island solution I had hoped for. They do voice and presence so well, but fall down in the lowest bass and are ruthlessly faithful to the signal, for good or bad. And while certainly a fantastic choice if available to you, there are many other choices that get to the same place (or better) for my level of attention and commitment.

I’ve talked a good bit about the elephant in the room so far and I don't want that to dominate my feedback. Price considerations aside, the Altec/Western Electric 755a are a true classic, and do sound very sweet in the midrange where so much of the actual music lives. They are grand, and detailed, and richly layered, and they can bring the voice right out into the room next to your ear. If you come across a single or a pair they are a must-stop scenic view that will definitely inform your perspective in valuable ways. I don't regret owning these antique classics. They are extremely pleasing to sit in front of, and in between the Rullit Aero 8 and the Isophon coaxials, I continue to enjoy their performance. Proceed with caution, and enjoy!