I bought a pair of vintage Altec 832A Corona loudspeakers that were for sale from LA Jazz Audio, shown above next to my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.
These vintage Altec Corona loudspeakers components compliment are the 803A bass drivers (1947-1958), 802D compression drivers (1957-1972), 811B HF horns, and N800E crossovers.
That components complement would place their production circa 1957-1958.
One of my local audio pals asked me how the 832A Corona’s differ from the more ubiquitous vintage Altec Valencia loudspeakers, which are another fine vintage Altec loudspeaker model, so I thought I’d share my response with you too.
The main difference is the Altec 832A Corona’s cabinets were designed so they can be easily placed in room corners like corner horns, although they’re not actually a true corner horn as the bass driver is not horn-loaded, whereas the Valencia’s are a more traditional ported box loudspeaker.
I’ve found that the 832A Corona’s can also sound pretty good as free-standing loudspeakers with their “sealed” cabinet backs, rather than having a semi-open back that makes the wall part of an extended horn.
The Corona’s benefitted from being placed closer to the front wall in my preliminary listening, which gave them a more natural overall balance.
The Altec 832A Corona’s drivers, horns, and crossovers, are similar to the component complement used in a pair of Valencia 846A’s, for example, which typically have 416-16Z bass drivers, 806A compression drivers, H-811B HF, and N-800F crossovers, and which are, very simplistically speaking, later versions of the Corona’s earlier versions.
Another difference between the Corona’s and Valencia’s is that the Corona’s (and Laguna’s) had cabinets that were custom made for Altec by Glenn of California, which was a craft furniture maker producing furniture in the California Modernist style that was popular in the 1940s-1950s, and the cabinets were one of the Corona’s selling points.
Customers could order Corona’s or Laguna’s and they were styled to complement the Glenn of California furniture they had in their home, and as such were intended to “disappear” into the corners as functional furniture so they weren’t too room dominating. They were considered to be high-performance “art speakers” for a well decorated Glenn of California furnished home.
When I saw this pair of vintage Altec Corona loudspeakers for sale at LA Jazz Audio, I was reminded of what Keith Aschenbrenner of Auditorium 23 told me a few years ago, that the 803A Altec driver was one of his all-time favorite low-frequency drivers, which of course added to the intrigue I had for this particular pair of Corona’s.
Back in the day, Altec recommended the 803A drivers over the 515B low-frequency drivers (like I have in my A5’s) for smaller venues and for home systems, as they had more presence.
The vintage Altec A5’s (below) and A7’s, are big loudspeakers that are intended for pro applications in studios, theaters, and auditoriums, and they used large horns that crossed over at 500Hz.
The Corona’s and Valencia’s use the smaller Altec 811B HF horns, and both cross over at 800Hz.
The idea behind their smaller horns was to keep the size of the loudspeaker enclosure smaller and less obtrusive for home use, than with the larger horns typically used in the A5’s and A7’s where size only mattered in the context of the volume of the space you’re trying to fill with sound.
The Corona’s are still fairly large speakers at W37 3/8″ X H39″ X D24 3/8″, and about 122 pounds each, but are much smaller than their more industrial cousins, the A5’s and A7’s.
The Corona’s sold for $762 a pair in 1957, which in 2018 dollars would be about $6700. A Chevrolet Corvette sold for $3176 in 1957 as a comparator.
One thing I am intrigued to find out about is why Leopold Stokowski chose to base his personal home loudspeakers on the Altec A7 (below) rather than one of the Altec designs intended for home use, like the Corona, Laguna, Valencia, or others.
As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you! 🙂