ADS L810 Vintage Speakers: German Industrial Design from the Golden Era of Hi-Fi

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Transparent clarity, deep bass, and “Invisible Sound” from German audio company ADS.

Background:

One of the lesser known hi-fi brands of the ’70s, ADS (Analog and Digital Systems) was founded by a German engineer named Godehard Guenther, who came to the United States in the ’60s to work for NASA. An avid music lover, Guenther began importing Braun hi-fi equipment after realizing that many of the high quality audio products he loved were unavailable in the United States. As his hi-fi business grew, Guenther would eventually leave NASA, become the sole U.S. distributor for Braun hi-fi, and later outright purchase the hi-fi division of Braun from Gillette.

During the ’70s-’90s, ADS and Braun used legendary German Industrial Designers like Dieter Rams, Peter Hartwein and even Frog Design’s Hartmut Esslinger, who designed the first Macintosh computer. Their Professional Monitor series (L2030, L1530, L1230) speakers were used in many recording studios, and they also revolutionized hi-end car audio with their ADS 300IS speakers. Their home audio speakers, like the L810 featured in this article, were regarded as incredibly musical and some of the best speakers made during this era with transparent clarity and deep bass.

“There are a lot of great speakers out there at this price point, many of them make you sit up and notice them, the ADS don’t do that – they let you enjoy the music. A truly great speaker.”

An excerpt from the ADS brochure: “The ADS L810 speaker is a studio-quality, four-driver, three-way system. It features exceptionally wide dispersion, smooth full-range frequency and power response. Because of its superb transient characteristics, the L810 reproduces the most subtle musical detail with an open, natural quality, which we call ‘Invisible Sound’ – reproduction so transparent and precisely imaged that the speakers seem to disappear. High accuracy is achieved through the use of highly precise drivers, integrated for a reference quality speaker system of astounding performance.”

Note: Online reviews have noted that the L810 is a bit bottom end heavy and should be used up off the floor and out from the corners in order to prevent any low-end boominess.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: Bass – 2 x 8″ cones, Midrange – 1 x 2″ soft dome, Tweeter: 1 x 3/4 soft dome
  • Weight: 46.3 lbs. each
  • Nominal Impedance: 6Ω
  • Frequency Response: 35Hz to 23kHz
  • Recommended Amplifier: 20 to 200W
  • Crossover Frequency: 550, 4000Hz

Price:

The ADS L810 was originally sold for $650/pair in the mid ’70s. These days a pair will cost somewhere between $500 to $1,000 depending on condition. While somewhat cheap for vintage gear, ADS speakers are considered quite rare and they don’t seem to come up for sale often. If you’re able to snag a pair, you’ll likely be surprised by the sound quality compared to similarly priced speakers from more well-known hi-fi brands. Check out this beautiful pair of restored L810’s on Aural Hi-Fi.

Sound Testimonials:

“These speakers have really good tight, deep bass and clear midrange and extended treble. Heck, I still have the receiver I had when I bought them ( Sansui G-7500 – fully rebuilt by now )… and they make very good sound together…”

“My Holy Grail speaker. Works for my musical tastes. The sound stage is ultra dynamic and spreads well beyond the speakers with proper placement. The metal grills and stands provide a timeless elegance. The double woofers are separately enclosed and offer accurate bass without flabbiness. I don’t listen to bass driven music so these speakers are the ticket for me. If you want sparkling highs, balanced mids and tight, realistic bass, grab a set. You won’t regret it.”

“The midrange was sublime. Very liquid. The speakers have a warm, yet detailed character. No trace of harshness or stridency, and they project excellent imaging and a sense of depth. Voices and instruments are natural. I can hear the wood in the piano and brass had just the right bite to it, projecting every nuance but never sounding harsh. These sounded great, period, even more so considering they are about 40 years old. The dual 8″ woofers did justice to all the bass in the music and there’s no need for a sub. I was impressed. I initially planned on listening to just a few tracks but I kept adding to the queue.”

“Like the others said, they are great speakers. The amp you are using with the 810s will determine how bright they sound. I have had them on McIntosh, where they were very bright but threw a HUGE soundstage, and i have had them on a Bryston 3B ST, the Bryston sounded best, with a more laid back sound and not as bright as the McIntosh. You don’t need a lot of watts, but you need a clean high current amp for the 810s to really sound their best. Receivers sounded the worst on the 810s.”

“There are a lot of great speakers out there at this price point, many of them make you sit up and notice them, the ADS don’t do that – they let you enjoy the music. A truly great speaker.”

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