James B Lansing JBL L100 Century vintage audio speakers, $7.

Let's face it - expensive, 'high-end' audio equipment has been around for a long time, and you should certainly take some time to learn about the newer stuff. However, you must also know that lots of the older audio gear - the turntables, the 'tube' style receivers and amplifiers, and the big speakers (like these L-100s) are still prized by the hardcore audiophiles all over the world!

As you should know by now, there's a hardcore group of enthusiasts out there who live and breathe vintage audio. By vintage, I'm talking about the stuff from the 1950's through the late 1970's, like record turntables, and the amplifiers and receivers that were full of vacuum tubes. According to the vintage audiophiles, this classic audio equipment offers a sound that contemporary equipment just can't match.

Back in the 1920's and 1930's, a guy names James B. Lansing, who has long been known as one of the most famous of the early audio pioneers, was hard at work developing audio systems for the new age of sound movies. Lansing is responsible for some of the most innovative and ground-breaking work to come out of the early days of audio speakers, and his name will always be associated with fine vintage audio. Lansing died in 1949, at the age of 47, whereupon control of James B. Lansing Sound, Inc., passed to a guy named William Thomas, who was treasurer of Marquardt Aircraft, which owned 40% of the Lansing company's stock.

Thomas is the one who, back during the high fidelity movement in consumer audio of the middle 1950's, brought the JBL company to the level of prominence it enjoys today by continuing Lansing's vision of producing some of the most innovative and best sounding speaker designs in the industry.

Now, take a good look at this raggedy pair of speakers. Is there any wonder why nobody had bothered to buy these wrecks before we got to them? Check out that huge smash on the corner of the one speaker. And they don't even have their speaker grilles (which were notorious for falling apart after a few years.) Yeesh! These things can't be worth more than a few dollars, if that... can they?

The truth about these speakers is that they sold for $400 apiece back in their heyday of the early 1970's, when they were the hottest consumer audio speaker you could get your hands on. There's an interesting pattern - or maybe it's a rule - I'd like to mention, which you'll see repeated over and over whwnever enthusiasts of older stuff are involved:

In so many cases, the vintage stuff that enthusiasts are after today - whether we're talking about audio equipment, photography, bicycling, tools, electronics, or whatever - is the stuff that was expensive, state-of-the-art and top-of-the-line back when they were lusting after it but couldn't afford it.

What never occurred to all those people who passed by these speakers at the yard sale is the fact that the money is in the speakers themselves, not the cabinets. The cabinets for these old speakers aren't at all that important. A speaker cabinet can be built from a sheet of plywood and a few chunks of attic insulation, but that's not where the magic is. The speakers make the difference, and they're what the eBay buyers are after. I'm sure glad that all those other yard sale buyers passed on these beauties because of their beat up cabinets. Once I removed the speakers from the dumpy boxes, I was greeted by the beautiful JBL 'Signature' speakers you see in the pics.

Audiophiles out there on eBay routinely pay upwards of $400 per pair for a nice set of these L100 speakers in the cabinets, and will pay over $100 for a pair (and notice that there are three pairs in each set of speaker boxes) of these speakers out of the cabinets! And remember that a small pair of speakers is much easier and quicker to wrap up and deliver to the local shipper than a big set of speaker boxes! Personally, I'd rather rip up a couple of speaker cabinets and sell the speakers separately, than go through the hassle of selling the pair intact.

These parted out speaker cabinets sold on eBay for a total of $301 (tweeters $14, midrange $152, drivers $99 and crossovers $36.)

Photo of James B Lansing JBL L100 Century speakers