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Altec 417 series speaker questions

12/8/2000 7:10 PM
Jim S.
Altec 417 series speaker questions
A friend of mine is offering to sell me a pair of Altec Lansing 12" speakers. They look identical (they used to reside inside a Twin Reverb), but have slightly different model numbers -- one is a 417-8C and the other is a 417-8H. By looking at a an old A-L catalog page, I know the 417-8C has an alnico V magnet and is rated for 75 watts continuous. Does anyone know anything about the 417-8H and how it might differ from the 417-8C? What other letter suffixes, if any, were used on these models and what do they stand for?  
Also, does anyone have any opinions for how well these sound for guitar use? I know Carlos Santana's speaker of choice for his 1x12 Boogie cab has always been an Altec 417-8?. My impression is that these speakers are very efficient and clean, with a bright, bold high-end and strong bass, similar to a JBL. Would this be an accurate assessment? Finally, can the aluminum dust cap be easily replaced with a non-metallic one without reconing, and is this recommended?
12/8/2000 9:23 PM

Power handling increased as the letter went up. No idea what the actual power handling is on the H, however, the H is one giant voice coil, one giant alnico magnet speaker.  
I agree with your sonic assessment. The H is very compelling, touch sensitive, capable of thousands of nuances, but always seems to sting/fatique. Its also heavy, inconvenient to lug around.  
I am not sure you can remove/replace just the dust cap. Might not be pretty. I think you could have the whole speaker reconed by someone like Ted Weber with cone with a paper or cloth dust cap. What if a lot of the H's efficiency and brightness is simply a function of its large motor, not the dust cap composition?
12/9/2000 3:39 AM
Eric H

"I am not sure you can remove/replace just the dust cap."
You can (well, a speaker rebuilder can :) )  
"What if a lot of the H's efficiency and brightness is simply a function of its large motor,"
Good point. I have a 418-b (15") that has the big aluminum cap, and a harsh high-end. At the recommendation of Doc (IIRC) I tacked a piece of thin felt (okay, it's a piece of plaid flannel-shirt) over the cap, and it sounds MUCH better. It's still there.  
12/9/2000 11:59 AM

Did you learn that from Red Green, eh?  
12/9/2000 3:51 PM
Eric H

"Did you learn that from Red Green"
Great show --haven't seen it in a while on PBS, here in San Diego.  
Fortunately, you can't see the flannel through the grille-cloth --so I don't have to explain it to the "hand-wringers".  
12/8/2000 11:35 PM
I used to own one 417-8H, and a four 417-8H Series 2. The things are bright and were never as popular as the equivalent JBLs. The rating is 100W continuous. They use flat/edgewound wire. I can't say how they compare to an EVM 12L. It's an interesting question. IIRC, they were excellant for a Rhodes with an Ampeg V4. I found it to be an an over-bright combination for guitar.  
I think the C is the one Santana uses and I remember something about Duane Allman's 1960 cabinets using the C's instead of Celestions.  
There's a big ugly magnet under the cover. It should come off easily. The Series II's had a heavy coating of plastic-paint instead of a cover.  
I unloaded them in favor of lighter weight speakers with early breakup. I suppose I should have hung onto one.
12/9/2000 11:07 PM
Jim S.

It sounds like Altec did something with the voice coil when they went from C to H that increased the power handling capacity from 75 to 100 watts.  
Thank you, everyone, for your replies.
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