, An Aztec enthusiasts notes

Read more on Aztec in our home audio section

Bryanb2014-05-31 16:11

If you are reading this, then you are obviously either a fellow enthusiast, or curios about this brand of loudspeakers made in Denver from the late 60's through mid 70's. The article listed here under "General Information" by one of the former owners is quite interesting and informative from a historical standpoint. There are many posts regarding Aztec on the various audio forums out there, many of them containing erroneous information. Here is a little of what I know of these speakers, having been an enthusiast of the brand for some years, and a current owner of a pair of Renoir III's, and a pair of Gauguin III's. I should mention that it is unfortunate that this site has no information on any of the pre-1973 models which were, in my humble opinion the best of the lot. All of the cabinetry built by Aztec is top notch. As good as anything Altec, JBL, or AR ever built, and much better than Klipsch and most others. The weight, design, engineering, and quality of materials used was all first rate. As for the drivers, Aztec attempted to offer an "audiophile" grade speaker, at a more affordable price point than their Altec and JBL competitors. In my opinion they did a fine job on this front. Both the cone driver loaded models (like my Renoir's), and the later horn loaded models (like my Guaguin's) are very musical, and when matched to the right amplifier and listening environment will hold their own with any other loudspeaker manufactured at that time. They are very "amp specific", i.e they perform best when properly matched. I cannot speak to the later (post 1973) models listed on this site as I have no experience with them and they were sold in much smaller numbers as the company went into decline. But, as to the pre-1973 models I can say that they perform exceptionally well with tube amplifiers in the 20-60 watt range, and also with early higher end solid state gear like Marantz, Sansui, Kenwood, etc. I suspect that most of the less than sterling reviews I have seen posted result from a mismatch on the amplifier front. Some have admitted testing them with later model high powered amplifiers, chip amps, etc. and I can guarantee they will not perform well under those conditions. They weren't engineered to. The good news is that due to the lack of brand name recognition, they can be had rather cheap, and are generally in good to excellent condition when you find them due to not having changed hands much over their lifetimes as would be the case with most popular speakers like Altec, JBL, AR, etc. So its a win/win for anyone who wants a fine pair of vintage loudspeakers in great shape, at a bargain price.( I got my Renoir's years ago in excellent condition for $50, and my Gauguins, which are in a rare limited edition and in absolutely MINT condition for $350 so that is the range you can expect to pay). If you pick up a pair, match them to a 20-60 watt tube amp (I run both pairs of mine on my Silk Audio Integrated amp and the results are very impressive) and you will likely never part with them. For comparison, my Renoirs sound every bit as good as my AR 3's on the same amp and you will pay upwards of $1000 for a nice pair of AR 3's. No contest. ENJOY!

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