tysontom

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  1. The low-margin hypothetical AR-5 with the AR-3a woofer, AR-2ax 3.5-inch midrange and the 3/4-inch tweeter would have ruined AR's reputation, and the company would never have attempted such a speaker. It would have tanked the sales of the AR-3a and it would be ridiculed as a "sooped-up" AR-2ax. Yeah, hypothetically, the "parts-bin" thinking is appealing and looks like a no-brainer, but on closer look, it would have harmed AR's viability. As they say, "a great hypothesis slain by an ugly fact."
  2. I think this is accurate; "AR got beaten at marketing, not engineering," and in one way or another, this concept has been emphatically repeated by Steve F and others regarding AR's feeble attempt at marketing its products. I do think this conflates the marketing practices of the 1980s and 1990s—such as at Boston Acoustics and others—with practices of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. There were transformational changes in the way companies did business in these intervening years, and AR's marketing practices in the first two decades were totally different and would not be viable in the 1980s, yet AR commanded such dominance in the high-fidelity speaker market during those early years, it is hard to criticize the company. It was also the reason that Teledyne, the prestigious aerospace-engineering company, was so interested in acquiring Acoustic Research in the late 1960s. However, by the time Teledyne fully took the reins around 1972, AR's traditional, Ed Villchur-mandated, laissez-faire method of marketing was passé and obsolete; no longer could the company depend on pace-setting technology, customer service and engineering superiority to steer itself into market domination. For years the classic AR, Inc. had thumbed its nose at hi-fi dealers—basically treating them all the same regardless of volume of business—relied on superior engineering and product quality to outsell its competitors—which it clearly did from 1954 until after 1967. Abe Hoffman, symbolic of this earlier time, used to say, "customers beat a path to our door, and the products sell themselves," which was 100% correct for the first decade of business at AR. Teledyne AR was in a pickle to try to win back dealers by offering bigger discounts, more sales aids, spiffs, holdbacks and other traditional industry sales gimmicks for dealers to promote products. Peter Dyke, a bright Director of Marketing at Teledyne AR in the mid-1970s, worked tirelessly to reinstate many disgruntled former AR dealers, and he did a remarkably good job of rebuilding the dealership network. Allied Radio and Lafayette were no longer the main selling tools for the industry; dedicated, franchised-audio dealers were the way by the time Teledyne took charge, so this was a difficult task. Musical tastes were changing, too, and high-fidelity buyers were now younger and listened less to classical and jazz, but more to popular and rock music, thus the "smooth, low-distortion AR sound" was not as important as in the fifties and sixties. —Tom Tyson
  3. >Disregarding price the only way an AR5 makes sense is as an AR3a mimic for chamber music lovers or perhaps acoustic jazz. I have both. Once you have the 3 or 3a the 5 is an oddball that can't satisfy in a lot of situations. IMO AR didn't see the Advent coming and never mounted a credible response for whatever reason. Aadams, Good message. The AR-5 came nearly two years prior to the introduction of The Advent Loudspeaker, so we can hardly blame AR because they "didn't see the Advent coming and never mounted a credible response for whatever reason." I see your thinking—and it's certainly rational, particularly in view of all of the obtuse "back-and-forth" conversation from Steve and me—but there was absolutely no idea in anyone's mind—not the least Henry Kloss' mind—that a successful 2-way speaker would be on the horizon that would dig into everyone's product market and start to eat AR's lunch in the AR-3a and AR-5 market-segment. The sheer success of The Advent Loudspeaker was happenstance, not a contrived design to put a hurting on the old AR stalwarts. The Advent came out of necessity to generate much-needed money. After KLH was sold to Singer in 1964, things (for a number of reasons) began to go downhill for Henry Kloss, and he left KLH and started Advent in 1967 with the idea of developing Dolby tape recorders, inexpensive Dolby noise processors and his earlier Videobeam televisions, but he soon ran out of money and needed to find a way to fund these ambitious projects. He certainly knew how to design speakers, so why not another new speaker? What was needed was a cash cow. Kloss basically stumbled into the huge success of the Advent. Actually, he did have great vision, and his experience at AR and KLH taught him what was needed: AR-1 bass with great treble response in an inexpensive speaker for the high-fidelity masses. The KLH Six before it had been highly successful because it had the good treble response of his first full-range speaker, the miserably unsuccessful KLH Four. The Four did it all well, but it was too expensive at $231.00 in 1957. The Six sold like crazy because it had smooth and wide-response treble and was an excellent speaker for the price point, but it lacked the low-end power of the big AR or the KLH Four, not far behind. In 1969, Kloss' thinking was to have a KLH Six speaker with the KLH Four bass for less money than either: enter The Advent Loudspeaker. I really don't think anyone saw it coming until it was too late. >Teledyne, a conglomerate, took over at the dawn of the Advent era, by default trusted AR management who proceeded to do nothing but ride it out. They were myopic and perhaps a little too familiar with Henry Kloss to accurately assess the threat. The hypothetical cost and price of what could have been don't matter because AR never really responded for almost the entire life of the OLA. Its not like they actually made something and just priced it wrong. I think you are right about AR's myopic "Old Guard" management team. When Teledyne purchased AR in 1967, Teledyne's CEO, Henry Stapleton, had agreed to Ed Villchur's demand to allow top AR management stay in place (thus policy) for five years. Teledyne had some of their people at AR doing things during this time, but AR's old management team, Abe Hoffman, Roy Allison and Gerald Landau, ran the company pretty much the way it had always been done in the previous years, but the design genius of Edgar Villchur was now gone. Roy and Chuck McShane were hard at work on new products, such as the AR-3a and a year later, the AR-5. An improved AR-2ax came in 1970. The AR-6, the AR-LST and so forth. Sales continued to rise, but market-share began to steadily drop from the 1966 32.3%, and this was in the direct cross hairs of Teledyne management. In 1972, Teledyne took over AR from top to bottom with their people. Roy wasn't offered a new plan with the company, and he soon departed. Plans were made to move the company to Norwood for 1973, and a lot of R&D money was invested in an entirely new product line in 1975 and yet another new line in 1978, and so on. Interestingly, the first thing that was done in Norwood to try to combat the success of the Advent was the AR-8. It was too late, of course. All that said, I still think the (earliest) AR-5 was one of AR's best speakers. Yes, it lacks that last ⅓-octave of deep bass, but it makes up for it with smoothness and lack of "heaviness," sometimes a criticism of the AR-3a with some of the earlier ferrite-woofer versions. The AR-5 was just too expensive to compete with the Advent, and it was close enough in cost to the AR-3a that customers frequently sprung for the $150 additional bucks to move up to a pair of the "best" loudspeakers money could buy at the time. —Tom Tyson
  4. >This is really diverging into two topics: a 12” AR-5 circa 1968-9 and a 12” AR-14 circa 1976. [Steve F] Well, it is about two different AR speakers trying to solve the same problem: how to compete with the Advent Loudspeaker and other low-cost 2-ways. The AR-8 was the first attempt in 1974; the AR14 was the second try in 1976. Each was relatively unsuccessful, even though the 14 outsold the AR-8 by a factor of 5 or 10. The 14 was a good seller, but it just wasn't as strong as AR hoped it would be against the competition, and it wasn't around for long. Later, AR used the AR-6-like low resonance in their 8-inch two-way speakers, and used the 10-inch in upscale 3-ways just below the 12-inch models. Back in the late 1960s and into the early 70s, the three-way AR 10-inch jobs were just too expensive to be competitive with the bare-bones, cheaply built Advent, even though the Advent could easily outshine them. It's simply that punchy bass that gets everyone's attention. But long before the Advent came along there were the 3-way AR-2a and AR-2ax; what do you do about that? Now perhaps by 1968 Roy Allison should have looked at business differently with the AR-5, but he was bent on offering "AR-3a performance" at a lower price point and he wanted the power-response thing more than a third-octave deeper bass. He vastly underestimated the effect of that last 1/3-octave of bass. The AR-5 was superior to the Advent in every respect except the deep bass; unfortunately, that last 1/3 octave of bass is what everyone hears in the showroom, not the wide dispersion and flat power response or smooth treble. The Advent was brighter, too, which works well in a showroom during an A-B comparison. No contest. A blow-out. Advent was a poorer loudspeaker, but one that impressed more on first blush, and a speaker that sold perhaps twenty-times more product than the AR-5. This we all know: and what's done can't be undone. It wasn't a great decision to make the AR-5, but Roy Allison was more of a purist than a pragmatic speaker man. AR's 10-inch 3-way was a well-established and accepted configuration that sold well (except for the AR-5 which lost sales to the AR-3a). Adding the big 12-inch woofer to compete with the AR-3 and AR-3a? Hmmm, that doesn't make too much sense. You can't force the AR 12-inch woofer into the AR-2ax cabinet, so you would have to add the expense of the AR-3a's heavier, beefier cabinet construction, more hardware, more braces, more crossover components, more expensive driver and so forth. Besides, all of the AR-2 stuff is 8 ohms, and the 12-inch is 4 ohms, so you would have to redesign the voice coil to make it compatible. Now we have two 12-inch woofers with the big magnet. Why have an AR-2ax with the AR-3a woofer and the middling AR-2ax midrange? A 12-inch AR-2ax is just going to cut into the AR-3a sales, and the AR-2ax had sold over two-hundred thousand loudspeakers heretofore and continued to sell well right up to the end. That theory just doesn't fly well with me. There are definitely different viewpoints, and it's easy to look back with hindsight, so we'll never know for sure. Again, AR's back was against the wall, and what should have happened was to develop a low-cost, Advent-like low-resonance 10-inch woofer that could be used in the AR14 and the new 3-way AR12, great low bass but not quite a match for the AR-3a's bass power and low distortion. Keep the AR14 priced low (it ranged around $160 for much of its life), and it could have been a contender; yet as it happened, the Advent was dying about this time as well. Andy Petite (Kotsatos) went in and redesigned the original "The Advent Loudspeaker" with a new, better tweeter and a new woofer with less bass, and the system suffered greatly. Sales plummeted from the earliest days of the Henry Kloss design. It was better in some ways (tweeter), but cheaper and less potent in other ways. AR's marketing people did see this, and I suspect that they decided not to go after that market with all-new designs. Instead, they took the AR14 and tweaked it to the maximum—better, but still not quite like it should have been. >The 12” AR-5 of 1969 is a done deal, closed case. As the attached pics show conclusively, AR obviously felt perfectly comfortable in taking the 1968 12” woofer well north of 1000Hz (1200 for the 2 ½” cone, 1400Hz for the 3 ½” cone) and offering them as commercially-available systems. Take either one of these systems, add the ¾” dome tweeter and that should have been the AR-5. Remember, we’re talking a 1968-9 introduction, so AR would have been looking at their parts bin from 1967-68 to make a 12” AR-5. [Steve F] Wrong, sir. AR wasn't happy or comfortable with this AR-1x combination, but they had no choice because of the end of the 755A, its high cost and so forth, which you mentioned in your post. It was workable with the AR-3 #3700 woofer, but not the ferrite AR-3a woofer which, by the time of the AR-5, was beginning to enter the pipeline. The 3.5 or 2.5-inch drivers just would not perform down below 1kHz, but the AR-3 Alnico woofer could be pushed to 1 kHz fairly smoothly on axis. The new ferrite woofer (see my response graph of a 200003-0 woofer in my AR-1W cabinet is falling apart—on axis—above 500-600 Hz, let alone 1 kHz. So, there's no easy answer to this conundrum. AR lost a lot of sales to the Advent, for sure, but not much could have been done at the time without a brand-new competitor. —Tom Tyson
  5. I tend to agree with Steve on his assertion that AR missed the mark by not making a "12-inch 2-way ADD" speaker to compete with the Advent. Done properly, it might have been marketed at a comparable price to the Advent without taking from the AR-3a. The AR-5 and AR-2ax would have suffered, however, insofar as they were 3-way speakers. The vinyl-clad, 2-way, 10-inch AR-8, "The first accurate speaker for rock music," as it was billed, arrived in 1974 after AR had moved to Norwood, and it was designed to compete in the Advent segment. It was offered only in walnut-grained vinyl finish and was priced at $119.00. It was a stop-gap design to fill in until AR could bring out a newer ADD 2-way design—the AR-14—to compete with Advent. Ironically it was too little, too late, as the Advent's popularity, too, had begun to fade a bit by 1974. The AR-8 had relatively good reviews in High Fidelity and some other magazines, but it was lacking in 1) strong deep bass and 2) adequate output in the lower midrange and treble. It also lacked the relatively smooth and natural output of the Advent, though that is the subject of much debate. The AR-8 came around the time Acoustic Research was moving operations from Cambridge to Norwood, and it also marked the transition from the "Old Guard" (traditional AR folks) to the "New Turks" (the Teledyne people who were forming the Advanced Development Division products). Relatively few AR-8s were sold, and it was in any case discontinued around end of 1975 yet offered concurrently with other "classic" AR speakers (3a, 5, 2ax, 6, 4xa, 7, etc.) as the new ADD products, AR-10Pi, AR-11 and AR-MST/1 were being rolled out in March of that year. By 1976, none of the classic speakers was being offered as standard products—only on close-out specials—but by this time AR's ADD had the AR-10Pi, AR-11, AR-12, AR-16 and AR-14 and AR-MST. The 2-way AR-14 arrived in 1976, a month after the AR-12, and it was a bit more sophisticated than the AR-8 (and more so than Steve's crossover characterization: the 14 had a 12dB/octave LCR crossover with a 2.3 mH choke, 1.0 Ohm resistor and 16 MFD components across the woofer [the resistor for woofer damping in the larger cabinet] and a 5 Ohm resistor, 20 MFD capacitor, 0.2 mH and 0.46 mH choke on the Decrease position, with 0.2 mH out in the Normal position). This crossover was nearly identical to that of the AR-16, the ADD 8-inch 2-way. The 14 had the "AR" version of the 1-inch Peerless tweeter (Peerless had QC issues). It did use the larger AR-11-sized cabinet and significant tweaking to lower the resonance slightly, but it still lacked the bass power of the Advent's 43 Hz system resonance. The AR-14 came in around 52 Hz. Better, though still higher than the Advent system. Side-by-side, as mentioned previously by others, the AR-14 was a better-sounding speaker than the Advent, but it still lacked the bass punch of it, and the 14 was more expensive at $160.00 in 1976. So, the AR-14 sold well during this short period, as Teledyne AR began to move on to new designs in the 1977 and 1978 period, and the AR-14 was dropped after perhaps two years of production. There was an intense period of study and reflection at AR prior to the introduction of the AR-14, and many tests and comparisons were made between it and The Advent Loudspeaker. The feeling among AR engineers was that the woofer was a problem in the AR-14 when compared with the Advent, but otherwise, the 14 was vastly superior to the Advent. Dozens of combinations were tried before finalizing the AR-14, using the AR-2ax 10-inch woofer (with the ferrite magnet). What (IMO) was needed was not the AR-12-inch woofer in a good two-way speaker, but a new, lower-cost, 10- or 12-inch woofer, close in performance to that of the AR-11 or the Advent. It would have used a low-resonance cone and 1.5-inch voice coil and cone assembly mounted in the AR-14 cabinet, bringing system resonance to around 45 or 46 Hz, and this woofer (probably similar in construction to the original Advent woofer's parameters) would be comparable to the Advent system in bass output, but slightly less potent than the AR-11 (2-inch voice coil 1210003-0 woofer) in terms of sheer bass output and low distortion—similar to comparing the Advent's deep bass to the AR-11. Both the Advent and the AR-11 sound nearly the same until the power goes up, then it becomes clear that the AR-11's woofer is capable of greater bass output with lower distortion, but this is not noticeable on normal program material at moderate levels. This new AR-14 woofer (which would have adapted to the AR-12 as well) would also have the capability to run up to 1200-1400 Hz crossover without difficulty. Unfortunately, AR's big 12-inch woofer's moving system and high-loss cone begin to make a mechanical drop-off in on-axis (not just off-axis) response somewhere in the 800-1000 Hz range, and this woofer simply isn't compatible with the higher crossover needed to work well in the 2-way world. The big 12-inch woofer needs to be crossed over around 500-600 Hz to maintain linear output, and this also proved problematic with retrofit for the AR-3 once the original woofer was discontinued. The 3700 woofer, with its stiffer cone, was relatively smooth up to around 1 kHz, but nothing above that. So, a new woofer should have been designed for the AR-14 and AR-12, not just the re-application of the big 12-inch woofer. —Tom Tyson
  6. Dear Glitch, I'm glad to hear (though this is a few months later) that you are happy with your L1590s! I think the 1590s were superb, especially in a large room, but the speakers have to be positioned properly for best results. When I had them at first, I had them in a large, relatively damped, living room, and they sounded superb. I still have my L1290s, and although they are excellent speakers, I never liked them quite as much as the 1590s. I suspect that the 1590's lower midrange crossover and extended deep-bass output accounted for that difference. Have you compared the two systems yet? I'd be curious to know your impressions. By the way, it's really hard to believe that there have been nearly 60,000 views of this one topic concerning the this one superb loudspeaker system. When I began the topic, I made a mistake: I said they were "a/d/s/ L-1590," but I meant "ADS L-1590." The new logo had not been adopted until the "M" series arrived a few years later! I wasn't thinking, but then it was too late to change the topic. --Tom Tyson
  7. Yes, it's true, "nitpicking" is one of my vices, but the devil is in the details. To add further to this, note these invoices and the picture of the AR-3a, SN 38314 (could be 39314) and also the invoice dates of two of my AR invoices from 1969 and 1970. SN 38314 would have been produced in 1970. I have (again) no absolute proof that this AR-3a was assembled at AR with an Alnico woofer, but the cabinet looks like AR QC work to correct an air leak, and the mortite "bead" has not been disturbed. Yet this might have been at the very end of use for the Alnico woofer in the AR-3a. I like your suggestion for a book title. —Tom
  8. Yes, Roy, my information is tedious and boring, and I am responsible for quoting dates and "drawing this out." But at least I offered some substantive historical evidence that the 3700 woofer was manufactured and available after 1969; you flatly stated that the AR-LST never had cloth-surround woofers, etc., yet you haven't offered anything objective in your statements other than "I'm standing by my opinion for the time being," which I assume is based on your experience disassembling some AR speakers and looking inside. —Tom
  9. "The LST never had cloth surround woofers. It was introduced a few years after the cloth surround woofer was discontinued." Subsequently, you said, "I'm still willing to bet the alnico woofer was not manufactured after 1969." The AR-LST came in 1971 and began production in January 1972. The AR-3 was made in low numbers until 1973, so there was some overlap. It is unlikely that the LST was made with the old woofer unless someone specifically requested it, but it was of course possible. On May 13, 1970—after AR-3 serial numbers C70229—AR ran out of the original 2-inch phenolic-dome midrange driver, #4500 (1kHz crossover), and thereafter a modified midrange driver from the AR-3a, the #200010-AR-3 or 200019-3, was used in place of the original 2-inch phenolic driver. The crossover frequencies remained at 1 kHz and 7.5 kHz., and since the 200003-0 ferrite woofer begins a mechanical roll-off above about 800 Hz (it is crossed over in the 3a a 575 for this reason), it was not desirable to take the newer woofer to the 1 kHz crossover. It is therefore likely that the 3700 woofer was in production or was available at least for some time after this point. The ferrite woofer was eventually used in the last AR-3s, I believe. This is a tedious and nitpicking argument—boring to most people here—so it is probably best to let it go. —Tom
  10. Roy, I think the problem here is that AR produced well over 200,000 AR-3s, AR-3as and AR-LSTs in total over time. Unless you have looked inside several thousand AR speakers each year over the past decades, there are likely many variations that you have not seen. I'm not challenging your expertise in working on AR speakers, but your empirical evidence is not historically definitive. Thus my problem with your statement, "...The LST never had cloth surround woofers. It was introduced a few years after the cloth surround woofer was discontinued...." You don't actually know this to be true, and the Alnico woofer was still actually around when the LST was introduced. I do agree with you that AR did not design the AR-LST to be used with this woofer, but we don't know the complete history of the LSTs that went out the door. AR actually produced—or stocked—the 3700 woofer in Cambridge well into the early 1970s from my notes from many conversations with AR's Customer Service Department, but these woofers were being used primarily to complete production and to provide for service-replacement parts for the AR-3. As you know, once the 2-inch midrange was gone (first to go), AR did redesign the AR-3 to accept a version of the 200003-0 ferrite woofer and a special version of the AR-3a 1½-inch midrange. Once AR made the move to Norwood, the AR-3 was essentially unavailable. --Tom Tyson
  11. In the early 1970s, Consumer Reports tested the Dynaco A-25 along with several others of the period, such as the ADC 303AX, the AR-2ax, Scott S15 and the KLH Six, and the A-25 and 303AX models were considered "Best Buys" because of their low price. All of these speakers were "check-rated" and all considered "Acceptable—High Accuracy," and were at the top of all of the tested speakers. However, the ADC 303AX, AR-2ax and KLH Six all surpassed the Dynaco A-25 in bass extension, even though the differences were small. This test also mentioned the earlier 1966 test of the AR-4x and the small ADC 404, both considered equal to any of the top-rated speakers except for extreme bass; all you would be giving up in quality for what could be a significant savings at the time. This was back in the period when CU tested loudspeaker in their anechoic chamber and in free-field tests, and they relied on these objective tests in conjunction with subjective listening tests (but they had not yet adopted the integrated-output tests to be used later in their rating methodology). Gordon Holt at Stereophile was a quasi-scientific tester, but he did not perform exhaustive objective tests. His comments in that article on the A-25 were strictly off the top of his head—his subjective rating. The A-25 was surely a great little speaker, and it sold like hot cakes because of its low $79.95 price. For its price, it was comparable to any speaker in that price range during that period. —Tom Tyson
  12. Not necessarily. The difference was approximately a 2dB rise in bass response in the region above resonance that was a problem for the AR-3a, which necessitated the coil change, recognized in free-field tests by Roy Allison and Chuck McShane some point after the introduction of the ferrite woofer. The first AR-3as with the 200003-0 woofer had the 3700 coil, and this problem was actually recognized in the Consumer Reports' comments on the "thickness" of the AR-3a in their test. Since the AR-LST has autotransformer adjustments for the level of bass and treble in reference to the constant output of the midrange, the differences are not nearly as noticeable (if at all) in the LST as in the AR-3a.
  13. I think these are the European version of the AR-38s, a 1980s update to the somewhat miserable AR-8. This would be the 10-inch woofer and the updated 1-1/4-inch AR-6/AR-7/AR-MST tweeter (back-wired version with Ferrofluid). The bass response would be slightly better than the AR-8, as this version had a lower resonance due to the larger cabinet. --Tom Tyson
  14. Let me add that the word used in the original message was "LIST" for "listing," not "LST," so Roy misunderstood what the writer was trying to say. I think he was referring to the AR-3a in the eBay listing having cloth woofers rather than ferrite woofers. The point I am making is that there were indeed variations along the way in AR's production of speakers. --Tom Tyson
  15. That statement is partially true, as the AR-LST was designed to use the newer ferrite woofer; however, the ferrite-magnet woofer did not completely replace the Alnico-magnet version in the AR-3a until well into 1970, and the old Alnico woofer was still available for some time after that to be used as a service-replacement part for the AR-3. The 3 was available until late-1973, early 1974. Eventually, AR began shipping (the last of the) AR-3s with the ferrite-magnet woofer and the modified 3a midrange, but this was towards the end of production. In addition, the AR-LST was introduced in October, 1971 with full production commencing around January 1972, so the "overlap" in time from the end-of-production of the Alnico woofer to the introduction of the AR-LST was "a few months, not a few years." To put it another way, "things are rarely what they seem in the AR World." As unlikely as it may seem, there is no way to know for sure if the AR-LST was not produced with the Alnico woofer. There were special customer requests for it as well. The LST was also not specifically designed to use the Alnico #3700 woofer, but the response characteristics of both the old and new woofer was nearly identical, and in fact the old woofer would be interchangeable in the LST with virtually inaudible differences in sound quality. I even tried it with my pair of LSTs, and I could never detect any differences but changed it back for better protection. Driving my LSTs -- especially after a couple of scotch and sodas -- I could get caught up in the moment, causing the "Power Guard" red lights to shine on my old MC-2500 McIntosh, so it was prudent to use the ferrite woofers. Therefore, the greatest downside of having the old woofer in the AR-LST would be the risk of thermal damage to the old woofer. --Tom Tyson