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About tysontom

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  1. Hi, New With New To Me AR-2ax Pair

    I agree 100% with the idea of shimming all woofers—just as Roy has said—but I didn't always do it that way. You can usually get away without shimming because of the generally wide voice-coil clearances in AR acoustic-suspension woofers, but it is far better to be sure that the voice coil aligns carefully in the gap (not the vertical alignment, as that will occur naturally if the spider hasn't collapsed), and this always requires the use of shims to have assurance against any voice-coil rubbing later on or misalignment, resulting in greater distortion. If the voice coil is skewed to one side of the top plate and pole piece, the voice coil will not be getting a perfectly uniform magnetic field (though this is extremely minor). Shims will usually always prevent the voice coil from being misaligned in the gap. Shims will also hold the cone in place during the re-foam process, too. Properly shimmed, the voice coil will always tend to stay just as it was glued. Always use the original dust cap, too, as Roy stated, to preserve the original performance, cone weight and so forth. Cut it back almost around its periphery and pull it back; then glue it back in place once finished. One issue with these new foam surrounds: many have a ⅝-inch, half-round diameter shape, whereas the original AR-2ax woofer had a ½-inch diameter shape. Therefore, the new surrounds (some of them) are not original in that respect. It shouldn't have any material effect on performance. The AR-3a 12-inch woofer, however, requires the ⅝-inch diameter surround for top performance; the AR-2ax does not have nearly as much linear excursion as the AR-3a woofer and only needed a ½-inch surround. —Tom Tyson
  2. Hi, New With New To Me AR-2ax Pair

    Bob F.: AR-2ax 1970 Version: The badges—simply called "logos" on all AR models—were changed in 1970 to a single brass "logo" with "AR-2ax" during the changeover to the new ¾-inch, 8-ohm dome tweeter and the new-style, foam-surround, stamped-steel-frame, yoke-magnet woofer! Wow.... During the first few months, this new woofer was built with the 11-inch diameter, 6-screw, stamped frame to fit into the old-style, recessed, thick (1⅛-inch thick) front baffle (Sara's woofers are in this category, and her speakers date to around January, 1971). At some point in 1971, AR switched to the true 10-inch, 4-screw, stamped-frame woofer (otherwise identical to the 6-screw stamped version), the standard ¾-inch-thick front baffle and the "tweeter terminal strip." By 1973 or 1974, AR had transitioned to the new, 4-screw, stamped-frame, ferrite magnet for this same woofer (new part number 200004-3). The damping was slightly different on this new woofer, but it was otherwise almost identical to the yoke-magnet version. Ferrites were all in 4-screw versions except for special service-part replacement units (part number 207002-0), which had an 11-inch masonite adapter plate attached to the 4-screw frame. AR-2ax 1964-1970 Version: A 1968 version, such as what you have, would have the original-style, 10-inch, 6-screw Alnico-magnet, cast-aluminum woofer (with an 11-inch frame, which probably caused confusion among many that AR had an 11-inch AR-3 woofer!), the 3½-inch midrange but the AR-3-type 1⅜-inch phenolic-dome tweeter. This speaker would have the "AR-Inc" logo and the "a" brass stick pin. Hope this doesn't confuse the matter! —Tom Tyson
  3. Rather than criticize and attack the old AR management team in hindsight, "...Astonishing that otherwise intelligent people like Villchur, Allison and Landeau (Gerry Landau) could be so incompetent when it came to sales and marketing," I was really trying to get CSP reader's experiences of dealers disparaging AR (and by the way, there were other companies, such as Dynaco, treated this same way, too) in comparison to more profitable in-store products. We've been down this AR-bashing road many times in the past, and I was not trying to reopen that part of the discussion. Again, this is what I was asking: "Give examples of experiences you've had in dealer showrooms where AR speakers were intentionally maligned, "bad-mouthed" or "doctored" in order for a dealer to steer an unsuspecting customer to another product." It is a bit insulting to accuse these (now gone) AR management people of "incompetence" when, in fact, the company did remarkably well for the first twenty years of operation. AR outlasted most of its competitors as well. It is easy to look back fifty years and criticize the way a company ran its organization; anybody can do that, and what worked then is not directly comparable to the way business worked twenty or thirty years later. Actually, in the beginning, AR had a strong network of dealers—especially in large cities—but over time the company, now commercially successful, was unwilling to accede to the typical demands of most hi-fi dealers of the day, for example: 1. product discounts as high as 40-50% or more with additional large-volume discounts; 2. kick-backs (spiffs) to sales reps for "pushing" their products; 3. rebates (in some cases) from the manufacturers for exceeding "quotas" in sales; 4. extended-payment terms with manufacturers (many dealers had on-going cash-flow problems); 5. ability to "transship" products to other (often unauthorized) dealers; 6. the usual co-op advertising (which AR actually always did to some degree):. 7. expectation not to be told what they should stock in inventory or what or how to demo, and the list goes on. So who could blame the dealers! They run a business, and they're in it to make a profit, pay employee salaries and keep the lights on and so forth; therefore, they expected the manufacturers to give them favorable terms to be able to sell products and be profitable. The better the terms, the more likely a dealer will be happy and push that manufacturer's products, but in long run the manufacturer has shoulder the brunt of those terms, and many manufacturers could not survive the true cost of doing business. Among those, by the way, were Advent, KLH, Fisher and EPI. "Remember, AR wouldn’t have needed those AR Sound Rooms [or rental programs] so people could hear “how they really sounded” if their basic marketing policies were decent enough so dealers supported them and demo'ed their speakers properly. Think about that for a moment." What a croc! A hi-fi dealership is not an altruistic endeavor to enlighten the would-be customer. It is a business, and the dealers would "push" a product that sold well with the right amount of incentive, and incidentally, KLH, EPI, Advent and many others gave the dealers this incentive to keep favor with them. Some dealers were even taught methods of competitive "trade disparagement" rather than simply talk about the virtues of one's own product or how best to demonstrate it. You might ask how I know this. I owned a hi-fi dealership during the mid-1970s, and we carried such products as Bose, AR, Allison, Epicure, Advent and KLH. I know how the system works. But a quick look at AR's Music Rooms: The AR Music Room in Grand Central in New York alone brought in over 100,000 visitors each year, but the company policy was to demonstrate AR products and answer questions, but never to initiate sales of any kind. To do so was strictly against company policies. It was simply a listening room for the public at AR's expense. Of course, by doing this, AR knew that people could listen and evaluate in a "sales-free" environment and make decisions without the usual sales rep's pressure to sell products. This type of commerce-free environment simply did not exist in a dealer's showroom; the dealer was there to make money first (and foremost) and to please the customer second. So, therefore, I kind of wish I hadn't mentioned this topic and will refrain from it in the future. —Tom Tyson
  4. AR tried the "Speaker Rental Plan" for a short period of time in the early 1960s. As part of the customer-centric culture at AR, it was well received by potential customers but not with dealers. In the words of Thomas Huxley, it was "a beautiful hypothesis slain by an ugly fact." Major pain in the tail for dealers even though they received additional compensation for their effort. For $2 a week, a customer could rent a pair of AR-3s! If they didn't like the speakers, they could be returned to the dealer. Of course, the speakers became "used" right then and there, and likely the unusually heavy AR-3 speakers would get a few scratches along the way. Some big-city dealers in New York, Boston and Chicago tried this plan, but it was soon dropped because of dealer complaints. Most did indeed stay "sold," but it was not a popular thing with dealers. --Tom Tyson
  5. Martin, this is precisely what I meant! I've had several experiences through the years, and I think others have experienced the same thing. It was the old "trade-disparagement" and "bait-and-switch," tricks that dealers would do, and Acoustic Research got it the worst of about any speaker company, probably due to AR's very casual attitude about dealers. While in the Air Force out in El Paso, Texas—after I was humiliated by the little AR-2 experience—some friends of mine and I started visiting the various hi-fi showrooms around the area. I had heard that a large JBL Sound dealership had a single AR-3 setup in their main listening room to compare with their Ranger Paragon, JBL's top-of-the-line speaker and easily one of the most beautiful pieces of audio cabinetry ever designed. Sure enough, there was a single AR-3 well out from the wall, on the floor hooked up to the speaker selector switch! The salesman said that you could quickly tell how much "superior" the JBL speaker was than the little AR speaker! I looked at the back of the single AR-3, and both level controls were turned almost all the way down, and the speaker sounded pathetically dull and bass-heavy (sitting on the floor). So... the 20% efficient Paragon vs. the single 0.5% efficient AR-3 on the floor out from the wall, being switched back and forth! What an insult. The salesman said they only had that one AR speaker, but they wanted to show customers the superiority of JBL speakers! After a spirited argument, we were asked to leave the dealership, not the first time for that, either! —Tom Tyson
  6. For many years—perhaps from the very beginning—AR had a difficult time selling their products in typical audio salon showrooms. In fact, from 1954 until around 1974, AR made no attempt to cultivate good dealer relationships. Nevertheless, and despite the lack of dealer success, AR outsold nearly every other speaker manufacturer worldwide for many years without a strong, formal dealer network. How was this possible? AR products traditionally had the highest ratings and best reviews, but a prospective speaker buyer would never know it to visit the typical, small hi-fi showroom where one usually encountered a negative vibe in a showroom when an AR speaker was being demonstrated. Many times, dealers would "doctor" the speaker, reverse the polarity, turn-down the level controls or place the speaker inappropriately or disadvantageously for good A-B demos with competing products. Some dealers felt that customers would enter a store, make a decision to buy an AR product and simply go out and order it from the Allied Radio or Lafayette catalogs. Was it due to.... 1. Low dealer profit margins? 2. Lack of dealer salesman "spiffs" paid by AR? 3. Lack of dealer promotionals? 4. Lack of dealer co-op advertising? 5. AR's lack of "hand-holding" and blasé attitude towards dealers? 6. AR's traditional laissez-faire method of doing business? 7. Other reasons? Give examples of experiences you've had in dealer showrooms where AR speakers were intentionally maligned, "bad-mouthed" or "doctored" in order for a dealer to steer an unsuspecting customer to another product. —Tom Tyson
  7. Hi, New With New To Me AR-2ax Pair

    I did share those pictures with the sales manager at AR, and he had a very good laugh. Yes, ha, ha, I can imagine that making an advertisement of a college student schlepping around brand-new AR speakers in the back of an old Cadillac probably would not have gone over well with few dealers that AR did have at the time! Along those lines, one day I got a phone call from AR saying that the local dealer where I lived was extremely angry at AR for allowing me to sell their equipment. I had delivered a pair of AR-3as and a pair of AR-4xs to a friend and his wife, and a few days later the local McIntosh dealer—also a small AR dealer—was out at this friends house doing some installation work and saw the AR shipping cartons with my name and address on the labels and reported it to AR. I had instructed my friends to always hold on to the cartons, but I assumed that they would put them away up in the attic or something. No such luck. The dealer was unhappy and complained bitterly; however, since the dealer didn't do much AR volume, nothing ever came of it and I continued to sell Acoustic Research! I was very careful after that to be sure that boxes weren't left around. —Tom
  8. Hi, New With New To Me AR-2ax Pair

    Sara and Jessi, You both have obviously had lots of experience with high-fidelity systems over time! Ironically, or coincidentally, I've owned much of the equipment you mention in your messages, such as the Crown DC300A, which thumped badly on turn-on (and I also had with it the IC 150A, OC 150 and FM-1 at one point), Dynaco ST-70, Mark IIIs, PAM-1s, PAS-3xs (my old favorite preamp) and even a Dynaco 400 (a crappy power amp to which I added a fan to the heat sink for cooling, but it still self-destructed at the hands of my AR-LSTs). I also had a Marantz 250 amp, but it also failed driving my AR-LSTs, the notorious amp-killer. Then at one point I went off the deep end with a big Krell amp and then a Threshold amp and preamp with B&W 801 Matrix II speakers and then KEF 107s, and I even had a pair of Apogee Duettas for a short period of time. Those hot-running amps were like portable space heaters. As good as those speakers were, "listener fatigue" set in after a few months of listening. I've also had several McIntosh amps, and each one was superb and bulletproof when driving difficult speaker loads. I've owned ADS L1290s and L1590s, Allison: Ones and AR9s; stacked Advents (TAL version). Still own the 1290s, AR9s and LSTs as well as many of the smaller ARs. But here is my story: While in college—long before all of the high-end stuff—I sold AR speakers directly to friends, school mates, associates and family, mainly at my cost, through an arrangement I made with the company, basically in order buy at cost what I wanted from Acoustic Research! Insofar as AR was always a laissez-faire business, the company, with about a 33% speaker market share around this time, had a loose policy on who could or could not sell their products! A few dealers here and there, but most sales were by mail order at that time (mid-to-late 1960s). Hi-fi dealers, by the way, simply detested selling AR products with the company's low dealer margins, lack of salesmen spiffs, lack of kickbacks, promos and other perks and an overall poor dealer relationship. It is in no way difficult to see how KLH and Advent became so successful with dealers during this time. Nevertheless, once AR got to know me after a couple of New York High Fidelity Music Shows, their sales manager decided to sell me anything that AR made as long as I paid in advance for the merchandise, had it shipped only to my house and didn't advertise in our local newspaper! I got the full 33⅓% discount on large orders; 27% discount on onesie-twosie orders. Over a couple of years I sold around $150,000 in AR speakers, turntables and electronics to friends, acquaintances and other folks. Usually, I sold the speakers at near cost to everyone, barely making any profit. In college I was on the GI bill, living at home over the garage at my parents, so I wasn't hurting for cash at the time. Over time I bought AR-4xs, AR-2axs, several AR-3s, AR-3as, AR-5s, AR-6s, AR-7s and AR-LSTs. Then in later years--and still to this day—some of the older friends began giving these speakers back to me as they downsized, etc.! I just got a pair of AR-2axs from a couple about a week ago! Fresh shipment of AR-LSTs and AR-LST/2s, AR-3as, AR Amps loaded in the back of mother's 1968 Sedan deVille (mother was great!). Some AR speakers fresh from the factory shipped to me. So, during this whole time after college, as I experimented with fringe, high-end tweak hi-fi equipment, I kept all of my original AR speakers, boxed up in closets. This including my first AR speaker, a single AR-3 that I bought much earlier on layaway while in the Air Force in El Paso, Texas. This is the segue into my story about Acoustic Research. I've actually recounted this several times on these pages, but I love to tell it! When I got to Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas, my mother—bless her heart—shipped my entire hi-fi system out to me by REA from the east coast! My first hi-fi system consisted of an Altec Lansing coax bass-reflex speaker, Garrard RC98 turntable and an Eico 20-watt mono integrated tube amp, and I was quite proud of it. God knows how much it must have cost to ship it across country! I guess Mom felt sorry for me out there all alone in the great Southwest. Little did she know that I rode my Triumph TR-6 motorcycle across the border into Juarez every weekend to see my girlfriend. In any event, I had this Altec mono rig set up in my dorm room close to the B-52 flight line, and one afternoon a good friend wandered over to my room to listen to it. He'd heard me brag about it, but through my demonstration he sat emotionless and then at the end casually suggested that we "A-B" my big (4+ ft3) Altec to his tiny little Acoustic Research AR-2. Who was I to say no? This bake-off seemed like easy pickings for me, as size matters. Besides, his little AR-2 was a pathetic-looking, beat-up, dirty speaker in a utility-pine cabinet with finger prints all over it. It looked old. He was driving it with a single Dyna Mark II 50-watt power amp and a surprisingly high-end, stereo Viking Model 86, 3-head tape recorder. All of these model numbers stuck in my head! Since he worked in the "PMEL" (Precision Measuring Equipment Laboratory) for the Air Force, he had access to test equipment, and he suggested that he could go over and record the full audio frequency band from an HP 200CD audio oscillator that he regularly used in the lab, and he'd bring the tape back and we could fashion an "A-B" switch to compare the two speakers. I was a bit anxious about all of this, but I was all in. Good thing we didn't bet money. Everything was fine until the Viking's tape began to descend into the 50 Hz range, 40 Hz and below. At about 50 Hz (c.p.s. in those days) nothing but harmonic overtones and raspy distortion came from my Altec. I had never heard it before. It really sounded like crap. The little AR-2 pumped out bass like "Kipling's thunder," as a reviewer once said. You could feel the bass throughout the room, and occasionally I could sense the bass in my pant legs! What the hell was this? I was humiliated, and the next day I asked another friend the question: "what is better than an AR-2?" "An AR-3," he said. I immediately went to Audio Consultants in El Paso, scrapped the Altec cabinet and traded the coax driver in on a mahogany AR-3 on "layaway." I actually had to go to work on Saturdays at the store in order to pay for the speaker (just one), and this hurt my trips over to Juarez! I kept this AR-3 for a couple of years until I could add a second one to it for stereo. So there you go. Once you've experienced an AR for the first time, it will probably stay with you forever. —Tom Tyson
  9. The Venerable Bose 901 Discontinued After 50 Years

    I contacted Bose and the "end" date was indeed September, 2016! So, 48 years... almost 50! Anyway, that was a good run with several-hundred thousand units built before it was over! The 901 was a true icon in the industry! --Tom Tyson
  10. The Venerable Bose 901 Discontinued After 50 Years

    Let me add that the discontinuation of the 901 may have occurred over a year ago. It looks like it may have happened back in September, 2016!
  11. I just learned that the Bose 901 is no longer being made available from Bose Corporation. This would be the end of a glorious 50-year run for this fine old speaker, and it's probably safe to say that if founder Amar Bose were still alive, no one would dare discontinue this model regardless of low the sales volume! This is sad news, but nothing is forever, at least after the founder of the company has died. I also think the AWMS (Acoustic Wave Music System) is also discontinued. --Tom Tyson
  12. Hi, New With New To Me AR-2ax Pair

    I should try to clarify the comment about (the AR-2ax) "they will sound better than the AR-5.' I didn't mean to imply that the AR-2ax would sound better than the 5, only that it seems to "image" better than the AR-5 and the AR-3a because of the latter speakers' wide-dispersion midrange dome drivers. The term "image" is very nebulous, but we all know what is implied. On the other hand, the dispersion is so good on the (AR-5 and AR-3a) dome midrange drivers that both the AR-3a and the AR-5 can sound a bit diffuse if one listens too close to the speakers themselves. One must get back in the reverberant field a few feet from the 5 and 3a to appreciate this attribute. The AR-2ax's 3.5-inch cone midrange driver has poorer off-axis dispersion than the AR-5, and by its very nature is more "directional." Good "imaging," actually not necessarily a good thing itself, requires a fairly directional driver to prevent reflections and interaction from other drivers. Thus, the AR-2ax, by default, images a bit better than the AR-5, but is less "spacious" in its sound. In terms of accuracy or in terms of "spaciousness," or "3-dimensional" sound, the AR-5 and AR-3a have a definite advantage over the AR-2ax. Also, the AR-5 has a lower midrange/woofer crossover so that the woofer is cut off sooner, also a slight advantage over the AR-2ax. From the two reverberant-chamber integrated-power ("acoustic power") curves above, you can see the slight advantage in the lower midrange for the AR-5 and AR-3a over the AR-2ax, but the differences are small. There is a bit more smoothness and extension in the AR-5 and AR-3a in the lower midrange region. Also, this particular test was done with phono cartridges, one was the M91E for the 2ax and a V-15 Type II for the 5/3a, and some differences would exist there as well, though very slight. AR found that the phono cartridges themselves were not quite as linear as the speakers! Nevertheless, the AR-2ax has nearly all of the other attributes of the AR-5: same bass response and same wide-dispersion treble response. The balance of output from the AR-2ax is very natural, too, and even though the tweeter's output is down a bit in relation to the other drivers, the overall balance is excellent. In my opinion, the AR-2ax is much smoother and more natural-sounding than the large Advent "The Advent Loudspeaker," but it gives up about a third of an octave in deep bass to the Advent. The same applies to the Small Advent of that original generation. The Small Advent is nearly equal to the large version in bass, but both speakers suffer a bit in terms of midrange and treble accuracy. Overall, therefore, the AR-2ax is still an exceptional loudspeaker, and one rarely gets tired of its natural and accurate sonic character! --Tom Tyson
  13. I'm embarrassed to say that I "smoked" an AR Amplifier with a pair of AR-3as playing (loudly) Switched-On Bach by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos. This great old recording went on to sell a million copies, by the way! The AR Amplifier's bias got out of wack and before the fuses could blow, the output transistors and associated components went up in smoke (literally). Returned it to AR (this amp had one other failure under warranty), and AR scrapped it and sent me a brand-new AR Amp, all at no charge. Needless to say, the AR-3a (and even more so, the AR-3) can cause trauma to amplifiers not designed for low-impedance, reactive loads. The AR Amp was designed for low impedance, of course, but it had a serious bias issue that took AR some time to correct. Regardless of that issue, that amp worked extremely well with any AR speaker, of course! --Tom Tyson
  14. AR's reason for being

    This message is sort of a curious oversimplification, but it is entertaining! It combines the basic truth that businesses are in business to do business; i.e., make a profit. Yes, "sell more stuff!" Grow the business, make profitable products, etc. This is true for all legitimate, for-profit, commercial businesses, and this point is well-taken. Leadership in business, however, is much more than just "selling more stuff." Contributions—which probably started off as either an altruistic endeavor or a brainstorm to make something better—have to be made to keep the company brand at the front of the line, and some companies were more successful than others at doing this sort of thing. In the basic little field of high-fidelity loudspeakers and turntables, Acoustic Research for many years consistently stayed at the head of the field by introducing better-engineered products, customer service, durability and reliability. But I would differ with Steve in how some businesses—including Acoustic Research but specifically excluding KLH, EPI, Advent, BA and many others—were actually started. I would say that AR was very different from these other companies in the way it began, but this is should be saved for another topic In the beginning, AR's Ed Villchur made a living after WWII as a writer and teacher, but over a period of time he thought deeply about a problem in bass reproduction. He examined and carefully quantified this problem and engineered a solution for which he obtained a patent. He specifically did not to want to go into business with his patent and start selling "stuff" and make a living? No! That is exactly what he didn't want to do, and he said it many times! He wanted to sell his patent to the big hi-fi audio companies (Altec Lansing and Bozak) or to University Sound and be done with it. He offered to sell his patent for $10k but was willing to take $5K for it. Just like that, but he had no intention of going into business to get some money for his invention and patent. Ultimately, Acoustic Research began because no one in the hi-fi business industry would buy his patent due to the well-known "not-invented-here" syndrome. Villchur's patent was greeted with such things as... "if such a thing existed, our engineers would have already thought of that," or "what you describe is impossible" and so forth. Partly because of this rejection, Villchur was convinced by Henry Kloss to go into business to build the new speaker themselves, mainly because Kloss had a small loft in Cambridge where he was already building and selling the Baruch-Lang corner loudspeakers. In the summer of 1954, AR was begun in that loft. Therefore, if any company pioneer was truly "altruistic" in the beginning, it was probably AR's Edgar Villchur. He disliked day-to-day business, was uncomfortable with it but he adapted and became an excellent manager and leader mostly by bringing in people to the company who were honest, trustworthy and capable. The rest is history. This story is similar to the beginning of Hewlett-Packard in the late 1930s. Bill Hewlett invented a better audio oscillator while an engineering student at Stanford University, and Walt Disney found out about it and wanted to buy it for the production of their new movie, Fantasia. From that HP was born. Bill Hewlett and David Packard continued to introduce better-engineered products over time and grew the company enormously over the next decades. Once AR was up and running, it slowly became slowly profitable and continued to grow in the years ahead through the introduction of innovative new products. —Tom Tyson