Old meets new: the best retro-styled speakers with modern features

Image credit: Marshall

With the vinyl revival still going strong, and more audio companies reviving products that they archived long ago, there's a growing trend for vintage-looking audio tech. 

This is most apparent when you look at the raft of vintage-style speakers coming on to the market, as both audiophiles and companies look to the past for inspiration for their latest gadgets – but these retro units also boast the state-of-the-art technology – like inbuilt voice assistants, multi-room playback, and high-spec drivers – that we’ve all come to expect from modern speakers.

So, if you love the retro look but want a speaker that can also do your music (and perhaps even your smart home) justice, read on for our roundup of the best vintage speakers with modern features. 

JBL L100 Classic Loudspeaker

Image credit: JBL

Image credit: JBL

Originally released in 1970, the L100 quickly became the best-selling speaker in JBL's history. You may even remember it from the iconic ‘Blown Away’ Maxell cassette tape advert that aired in the 1980s:

Now, the L100 has been reimagined for the modern age, with a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter, 5-inch mid-range driver, and a 12-inch cast-frame cone woofer in a bass-reflex enclosure – in other words, this speaker should be able to truly fill any room with sound. 

The new L100 Classic does retain some of its 70s cool however, with that bright orange foam grille and walnut veneer – proving that a vintage exterior can hide some very modern audio tech. 

You can only buy the L100 Classic from authorized dealers – in the UK, check out Audio Affair or Music Direct if you're in the US. If you're in Australia, you'll have to hit up JBL's official distributer, Convoy International.

Marshall Stanmore Voice II

The Marshall Stanmore II. Credit: TechRadar

The Marshall Stanmore II. Credit: TechRadar

Marshall is best known for its guitar amps, but the company has been branching out into the world of personal audio for a few years now, and most recently into the world of smart speakers.

The Stanmore Voice II is a great example of retro design blended with modern smart features; this voice-activated speaker comes with Amazon Alexa integration, and a rock-inspired design with sophisticated rose-gold accents. 

It also packs a weighty audio punch, thanks thanks to two 15-watt class D amplifiers powering its tweeters and a 50-watt class D amplifier giving power to its mighty subwoofer. 

It’s not cheap though, at $399 / £349 (around AU$430 based on current conversion rates), and some users may find the treble frequencies a little harsh.

Klispch The Three with Google Assistant

Image credit: Klipsch

Image credit: Klipsch

Klipsch’s The Three with Google Assistant has an achingly cool mid-century style design, with a luxurious-looking walnut veneer cabinet and a gray fabric grille that echoes the design of the Google Home Max.

But beneath that mid-century exterior this smart speaker contains some state-of-the-art tech, including Google Assistant integration. 

The inclusion of Google Assistant means The Three can essentially act as the hub of your smart home, controlling your smart thermostat, locks, lights, and more – unlike the Marshall Woburn, which has no 'smart' features. 

Of course, this means you also have access to other Google Assistant features, which means you can ask The Three to add items to your shopping list, play podcasts or music, stream video to your TV using Chromecast, and read you the news. 

Aside from voice-assistant smarts, The Three is packing some serious audio tech, with a 5.25-inch long-throw woofer, two 5.25-inch dual opposed passive radiators, and 92kHz/24-bit decoding, which means you should be able to play Hi-Res Audio tracks without any loss of quality. 

Pure Evoke C-F6

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

This all-in-one music system boasts a cool wooden finish with white lacquer accents and tactile buttons and dials – the overall design of the Pure Evoke C-F6 has a definite retro feel, save for a colorful display screen. 

The C-F6 supports a whole host of audio sources, including Spotify Connect, Bluetooth streaming, DAB, DAB+, and FM radio. You’ve also got an auxiliary input, and even a CD slot in case you have any old discs knocking about.

With 3-inch stereo speakers and a 20W output, it can crank up to party levels comfortably, delivering a warm, rich, soundstage that should make your music sound great.

B&O Beoplay P6 portable speaker

Image credit: B&O

Image credit: B&O

It may look pretty modern, but the Beoplay P6 portable speaker has far older roots than you might imagine; B&O has apparently trawled its archives and created something that has a hint of the aluminum design of the Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 6000 amp, which was created by designer Jacob Jenson in the mid-1970s. 

Aside from the design, the P6 is a thoroughly modern speaker, with a OneTouch Button to enable the integration of smart features, a 6W Class D woofer and two 30W Class D full tone drivers for a total of 215W peak power. 

It's well suited to life on the move, being waterproof and dust-proof and having a battery life of 16 hours.

Ruark R5 Hi-Fi Music System

Image credit: Ruark

Image credit: Ruark

British audio company Ruark's latest product, the R5 High Fidelity Music System, blends cool mid-century design with state-of-the-art audio tech. 

At $1,300 / £999 / AU$1,800 it's by no means cheap, but audiophiles may be able to justify that price based on the amount of audio tech that's built into the music system, with a combination of neodymium magnets, stereo amplifiers, the long-throw subwoofer, and the specially tuned cabinet promising a big sonic pay-off. 

The Ruark R5 will be available to buy in the next few months. 

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.