Altec Lansing 301 loudspeaker Specifications

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Description: Three-way stand-mounted loudspeaker. Drive-units: acoustic suspension 10" carbon-fiber-cone woofer, 2" polyimide/titanium-dome midrange unit, and 1" polyimide/titanium-dome tweeter. Crossover frequencies: 550Hz, 3.5kHz. Rated frequency range: 30Hz–22kHz. Nominal impedance: 8 ohms. Rated power: 100W nominal; 200W maximum.
Dimensions: 27" H x 14.25" W x 12" D.
Price: $750/pair (1986); no longer available (2013).
Manufacturer: Altec Lansing Consumer Products Division of Sparkomatic, Milford, PA 18337 (1986); Altec Lansing Technologies, Inc. Tel: (800) 258-3288. Web:

Altec Lansing Technologies, Inc.
(800) 258-3288

Ross's picture

Funny story.  I own both the Altec 301s and Spica TC-50s.  Some years ago I went to Sound by Singer and got into an argument with then salesman Steve Guttenberg.  Mr. G insisted that the Spica had a greater midrange clarity than the 301s.  Now look at the picture of the 301s.  You'll see a dedicated titanium vapor deposited dome that covers the range between 550 and 3500 Hz.  (The Spica has an Audex paper cone woofer and a fabric tweeter.)  I live in a loft and I literally ran them side by side for many years.  No way in hell the Spicas could touch the Altecs in terms of inner detail as JGH affirms in his dead on accurate review.  No convincing Mr. G however.

The Altec 301s were among some of the greatest speakers ever manufactured.  I still use them and they continue to amaze.  Kudos to Stereophile for republishing Holt's review.

acuvox's picture

I was raised on the Cambridge sound, which of course included Boston's Symphony Hall.  The "West Coast Sound" also included a midrange suckout which extended to their 3 way models because they did not account for the inductance of the woofer and the phase perturbations in the crossover region.  Altec-Lansing and JBL compensated for this with a bass bump and a treble tizz that create the aggressive forward presentation described above.

Machines do not yet measure what we hear, and likewise ears can not discriminate things that machines measure easily.  Holt highlights one of these discrepancies: narrow band resonances.  Because horns have high-Q peaks and dips caused by the impedance mismatch at the mouth, they can measure more or less flat in 1/3 octave band tests while most often presenting unlistenable music reproduction as he states.

What escaped his ears was the resonances of metal domes.  In this he speaks to his audience, for I have detected a clear divide in the nurture of aural perception.  People who listen to music through loudspeakers from childhood prefer metal tweeters while those who are raised acoustically side with soft domes in the Villchur & Kloss and Bowers & Wilkins historical tradition.  

I have enjoyed metal drivers from only two designers: Jim Thiel, who scrupulously notches out the resonance including the ultra-sonic tweeter frequency; and Richard Modafferi for Joseph Audio, who uses the steepest slopes.  Note that they excel in math, measurement and listening.  Without math and measurement, you can't tell which direction to head; but without regular audition of live acoustic music, you can't tell if you have arrived.

DougM's picture

I find it interesting that JGH heard what I have always felt- That companies with a background in pro audio (PA, Musical instrument, and Studio monitors) produce speakers that have a dynamic liveliness, or expressiveness, as DS at Soundstage calls it in a recent review of a Tannoy design, unmatched by speakers from more traditional hi-fi companies. I also agree with JGH that such designs sound especially good with rock music.

I also find it interesting that the best designs of the past from such companies (Altec, JBL, Cerwin-Vega, Klipsch, ESS, and Tannoy) sound more like today's best than the East Coast designs from the past do.