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Altec Lansing Valencia Loudspeakers: getting off on the right foot, part 1

When I purchased a pair of Altec-Lansing Valencia speakers from a guy in New Jersey, I was concerned when I had not heard from him in several days. It was bitter winter, and I was looking forward to something to brighten my day. I had hired a specific shipper to pick up the pallet - yes, pallet - they are 255 lbs. together - but no word from the shipper either.  Then, they told me they could not find the pick-up location. Well, I suppose it wasn't the first time someone had lost $2K to an unknown location in New Jersey. I was happily surprised when I received an email from the seller. They had been in the midst of a several-feet fall of snow. He explained to tell the shipper he was in a warehouse across from the police station. I don't know why, but I felt better.

Within a day, the shipper had the pallet and the valencias were on their way to the Pacific Northwest to start a new life. When they did arrive, I was disappointed with the shabby cardborad treatment them - no packaging, just cardboard and straps. How could such a classic be so disrrepected. Oh well. Soon, they were connected in the reference room. The moment of truth turned to painful reckoning when the left speaker sat speechless. All this trouble for a broken speaker. An email retorted that 'they worked when they left here...' . I explained to my boss:
"It doesn't work."
"A screw's probably loose."
O. K. I was put out by such a dismissive troubleshooting effort.
"They were played hard I'll bet and one rattled loose. Open it up and check."
W.H.A.T.? I had never opened a speaker before. I may be the speaker mover, the listening room listener, and the product crooner/evaluator for Shunyata Research, but no one ever told me I had to forensically examine audio components and possibly even repair them.

With trembling hands and quaking heart, I unscrewed the horn from the front of the large wooden housing and - just as he had said - a screw was loose.- literally. I always just hate it when he's right. I then boldly reattached all the wires and re-tightened both speakers. Boom. Their new home included a revisit of the Greatest Hits of Earth,Wind&Fire. The horns performed  the job in the party department.

It's too bad that the shipping or New Jersey lifestyle of this pair had ruined the particle-board rectangular supports of the Valencias. The speakers sat level, however they appeared to have had a lot of chewing done to them. Now that I had opened them and 'fixed' them, it was obvious to me that I could now do anything. So, I next made a visit to my favorite woodworker in our industrial park and prevailed upon him to cut me pieces of a nice teak plywood to duplicate the old supports. We would improve the design by installing squares of maple ply at each corner of the supports which would allow us to use different types of audiophile feet and provide a bit more stability, with the hope that these supports would stand the test of time.

 Part 2 coming up soon...

Roy's Excellent Room