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My Highboy Story


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I recently put my Rectilinear III's up for sale during my early Spring speaker clearance sale.  But thanks to a fellow Rectilinear enthusiast, I've decided to keep them for now.  I shared this story with him, and thought it would be worth posting here.

Some background on these.  I don't remember why, but I developed an interest in these speakers even though I had never heard of them before.  I checked Craig's List from time to time and eventually found a pair in NH near Jaffrey in July 2012.  I drove up there after work.  They were being sold by an elderly man who looked like he was getting ready to move.  At that point I didn't know anything about these speakers, or much about speakers in general.  But I did recognize that they were not completely original.  One of the woofers had a funny tweeter thing inside it.  The other speaker's woofer had a deteriorated foam surround.  I figured one of these was the correct woofer, the other not.  The funny thing (especially in retrospect) is that they did sound pretty good as they were.  He looked like he really needed the money so I didn't even bother bargaining with him.

Well, it turned out that neither woofer was original.  Rectilinear used woofers with cloth surrounds.  One of the drivers was a University tri-axial speaker, such as was used in the tube days in an infinite baffle enclosure.  The other was a late 50's Wharfedale woofer with an incredibly heavy magnet.  And it turned out whoever did this work cut the wires in the crossovers and rearranged things so that nothing was working except the woofers.  What a mess!

I found some photos off the internet that matched up with the version of the crossover in my speakers (there were some different variations).  Using these photos as my reference I recapped and re-wired.  One of the super tweeters had a small hole in it, I found a replacement for it, then eventually was able to buy a pair of woofers that matched the versions used in this highboy.  I used them for a while in my basement, then moved them upstairs to my son's bedroom, but they never got the full listening treatment, as I had during the interval found a lovely pair of Snell II's and really loved them.

During my 2017 spring cleaning sale I moved the highboys into another room and had them standing side by side next to each other, and during some critical listening tests discovered that the sound was not really equal from each speaker.  After playing around with them for a while, it finally dawned on me that one of the speakers was not putting out bass equivalent to the other; in fact the woofer seemed to be putting out more of a mid-range sound.  So I took them off the market and went back inside the speakers, researched crossovers again, drew out the wiring patterns and compared.  What I discovered was a real surprise to me; when I reassembled the speakers, I crossed the mid and woofer leads going to one of the terminal strips on the baffle board.  I put these back to rights, and presto, the speaker was back in the game.  This discovery resolved a mystery for me - the pot for the mid had been operating in reverse.  Back then I figured I must have wired the pot in reverse, I never suspected I was using the mid as a woofer, or whatever it was that was going on inside.

And  there you have it, a rather long story, it took a while to get them sorted, and for me to recognize my error.  So now at last they are getting put to real use and to the test.  I am impressed at how smooth they sound. The bass could be a little tighter, but it may be the listening space and how they are set up in the room.

So there you have it, a rather long winded story.  I hope you find it interesting. 

NB: The odd looking dark pattern that looks like a stain is much darker in the photo than to the human eye.  The grill cloth is definitely 70's!





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  • 2 weeks later...

That's an amusing story and a great-looking pair of speakers. I like the old Rectilinears, too, but I've never had a pair of the big boys like the III's. That's a lot of screws to remove the baffle board, but pretty easy to get at all the innards once you've done that. I know it's typical for these smaller drivers to be held in place with only silicone adhesive, but are those T-nuts and machine screws used for fastening the woofers? Thanks for posting.

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Yupp, 16 screws are used to attach the baffle board.  Here's a closeup photo of one of the woofer screws, you can see the t-nut attachment. 

The previous woofer pic show the screw heads from the back side of the woofer.  I don't recall now if I needed to buy new screws or not, it's been a while but I believe I had to do some hole fixin' to go back to the original woofers.



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  • 3 years later...

From other stuff on Rectilinear IIIs in AK I'm assuming these are Jensen woofers. My set has the CTS which sit in front recessed and use 8 #10 philips head screws into wood. My tweeters and midrange have already been changed. I'm in process of evaluating woofers and crossovers now. They are now 3 way speakers. I've had mine since 1973.

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  • 6 months later...

               Very interesting story from the OP. Goes to show us how easy it is to make a mistake and live with it thinking all is fine until up close examination.

These were great sounding speakers for the price. I bought mine in the very early seventies. Found one in a stereo shop marked down. It had white grill cloth and the salesguy offered me a good price for another but with a black grill cloth. Took ‘em. Bought another pair for a quad setup and enjoyed lots of music.

Still have them somewhere in my basement. The veneer is a bit warped from a water leak but otherwise they are untouched since new. 

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