Steve F

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  1. Interesting post, if unprovable. The hypothetical 12-inch 2ax was no more “parts bin engineering” than the AR-5, which was simply a 10-inch version of the 3a in a 2ax cabinet. Granted, the 5 had a sort of “unique” 10-inch woofer (for a very short time only), but the rest was classic parts-bin think. The phrase “low margin” here makes no sense. The 12-inch 2ax , as I’ve calculated many times for everyone here, would have returned the same percentage margin to AR as the 2ax or 5. In terms of dealer margin, it would have been as good or as bad as any other AR speaker of the day, given AR’s sales and distribution policies in the late 1960’s. In any event, the use of the phrase “low margin” strikes me as a gratuitous pejorative, since it is bereft of any factual basis. As far as “tanked the sales of the 3a,” please see my explanation of the folly of withholding a potentially strong selling product for fear of hurting the sales of an existing one. I really don’t want to re-post that again. Everyone should know the words to that hymn by now. Ignoring a business truism doesn’t make that truism go away. It just means that you’re ignoring it. Besides, the 3a would still have significant acoustic and cosmetic advantages over a 12-inch 2ax—as much as, if not more than, the 3a had over the actual AR-5. It would be “ridiculed as a ‘sooped-up’ 2ax?” No. That’s pure emotionally-based conjecture, completely without any provable factual basis. It wouldn’t be ridiculed any more than the actual AR-5 was ridiculed as a “watered-down 3a.” “Harmed AR’s viability”? “Ruined AR’s reputation”? Harmed their actual viability as a company? As in their ability to survive and thrive and exist? Really? Destroyed their actual reputation? A 12-inch 2ax would do all that? Hardly. What it would have done is outsell the real AR-5 by a landslide. The 3a’s sales would be essentially unaffected, since the 3a’s appeal of TOTL was so strong to its buyers. You’d have had the 2ax holding down the mid-price point as it did with a really terrific speaker for $128. You’d still have the 3a with its great reputation and terrific reviews as the top of the line, your standard-bearer, the ‘ooh-and-ahhh’ piece when people came over your house. But instead of a sales dog, a marketplace loser between the 2ax and 3a, now you’d have a terrific speaker in its own right. A legit step-up from the 2ax (from the 10-in bass to the 3a-level bass) and still with a legit step-up reason to go to the 3a (that great, smooth dome mid, the 1” picture-frame molding look, the undeniable caché and appeal of owning AR’s best). We can’t re-write history and rationalize that the actual 10-inch AR-5 was the right speaker for AR to have done. It simply wasn’t. It was a huge mistake and a total sales failure. The 12-inch 2ax at $168 list in 1968-9 would have been a huge success, another all-star to add to the winning roster of a winning team. Steve F.
  2. I'm talking sales and marketplace performance, which to me, as a businessperson in the speaker industry, is what counts. The actual 5 and LST-2 (I owned LST-2's!) were indeed great-sounding speakers, even though they were commercial failures. The owner of a company I worked for (he shall go unnamed) came up with a truly memorable line, one that has stayed with me for all this time: "We're not here to save the world from bad sound." Indeed we weren't. If we could sell more by making a better-sounding and better-performing product, then so be it. A competitive edge in engineering, great review bragging rights, Editor's Choice awards, etc. was a means to an end, not an end unto itself. As rabid hobbyists (I'm guilty of this myself), we tend to ascribe pure motives to the designers and owners of hi-fi companies. The truth is, we wanted dealers and end customers to love our products, not for some religious reason of sonic enlightenment, but so they would buy them. Oftentimes, the sometimes conflicting requirements of"beautifully engineered," "love the product" and "great selling" nicely coincided and we felt quite pleased with ourselves. Other times, we looked the other way, cashed the checks and fed our families. The AM-5 is a credible product, even if it's not your cup of tea and even if Bose knows there's a huge hole at 160Hz, where the sub and sats fail to meet up. Marketplace competition usually pushes hobbyist equipment to ever-higher levels of performance, which is good. But sometimes, a knowingly cynical inferior product that has higher sales potential will carry the day. You can only understand this for certain when you're on this side of the fence and you want your payroll checks to clear so no one misses their rent. Steve F.
  3. The LST-2 could've and should've been a 12-inch speaker also, and I have posted a very detailed cost analysis and proposed driver/design layout for that as well in past posts. It could have easily hit $400 ea. (like the actual LST-2), would have sold like crazy and been a huge success. We all would've bought them. But I'm in enough hot water over this "12-inch 2ax" thing, so I'm going to leave that one alone for the time being. But trust me....... Steve
  4. This really is a circular argument. I know of what I speak, based on my decades' of experience in development/engineering/vendor relations/manufacturing/marketing in the American speaker market. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, of course, but some opinions are more informed and credible than others. Spirited discussion about this great hobby is fun and entertaining. I enjoy this. Believe what you want. The 10" AR-5 was a factual flop. You can defend it and justify it all day long vs. a proposed "12-inch 2ax" if you like. The "12-inch 2ax" cost numbers work, whether you look at upcharging from a 2ax or doing the analysis of the 10-inch 5 w dome m/dome t and its complicated x-o vs the "12-inch" 5 w larger 3a-sized cab, cone m/dome t and simpler '2ax-ish' x-o. It comes to around $170 either way, nowhere near $200. New grille and stuffing differential are nothing. Less than nothing. Not even a blip on the radar to consider. I know those kind of details because I've lived and planned and managed and scheduled through them in the American speaker market, but you are free to believe anything you like. The real AR-5 was a sales/marketplace flop, flop, flop. Historical fact. Take from that what you wish. The 12-inch 2ax would've outsold it by 10 times the distance to the Moon and back. But we'll never know, unfortunately. Steve F. P.S.--In 1975, I asked AR IF they were coming out with a 10-inch version of the 10π. I wasn't recommending it or "pitching" it. I thought then, as I do now, that it would have been a dumb move, a complete flop. You know, like the AR-5.
  5. People continue to conflate these two issues: a 1969 3-way and a 1976 Advent-killer 2-way. Remember, when the AR-5 was conceived (1967) and introduced (1968-9), there was no Advent. Let’s stick with that topic first. The 5 was a miscalculation. People didn’t want AR-3a-like midrange smoothness, they wanted AR-3a-like bass. That’s why the 5 flopped. The 2ax was a very nice mid-priced speaker. The step-up should have been to more bass. Cost-wise, it would have been easy. Use the same 3a woofer and 3 ½-in mid with ¾-in tweeter, with 2ax crossover topology. I’ve been through this now 4 times, but apparently 5 times is necessary, so here we go again: The 12-in woofer was $20 more retail vs. the 10-in on AR’s own parts price list. $20 retail is $10 wholesale. To go from the 2ax cabinet to the slightly larger 3a cabinet—with its more extensive internal bracing and beefier woofer mounting (machine screws, etc.) would be a $10 upcharge from the cabinet vendor—TOPS! I know cabinet pricing first hand. I spent decades at Bose, BA and Atlantic Tech. I dealt with many of the same cabinet vendors who supplied AR. Don’t tell me about cabinet pricing—I know all about it, first hand. And remember, this cab would not have the 3a-type 1-in picture-frame molding. $20 wholesale cost more = $40 retail more. The 2ax’s $128 retail becomes the new AR-5’s $168 retail. (4 ohm and 8 ohm drivers are a non-issue. The 2ax’s 3 ½-in mid was a CTS driver. It’s as easy as telling CTS, “Hey, we want a batch of those 3 ½-inchers as 4-ohm units, ok?” There would be no upcharge and no delay. Again, I’ve spec’d this kind of thing and dealt with speaker vendors a million times. This is how it works. They want your continued business. CTS would’ve fallen over themselves to keep AR happy in the late 1960’s. Don’t try to tell me. Please.) Another thing that people not involved in product development do is that they evaluate things based on the time of introduction. That is wrong, just wrong. It’s an amateur’s mistake. A brand-new product takes 2 years, easy. A re-hashed product based on existing parts still takes 12 to 18 months. So the actual AR-5 was conceived on the “napkin at lunch,” so to speak in 1967, right when the 3a was being intro’d. You can see it now: It’s late 1967. Roy and Ed are eating lunch together. The 3a has just come out. Roy says to Ed, “Hey Ed, we ought to do a 10” version of the 3a.” He sketches it out. Ed nods his head. (Was Ed even still there? If not him, someone nodded their head to Roy’s napkin sketch.) The instructive, relevant thing to remember is that when this conversation took place in late 1967—and that’s when it happened, no later than that!—there was no ferrite 12" woofer. There was only the cloth/alnico 12" woofer, and that was fine and dandy for use with the 3 ½-inch driver. As far as worrying about what effect the “12-in 2ax” would have had on the 3a, again, I’ll repeat myself, because I’ve lived this, done this, been head Marketing and Product Development Guy at American speaker companies for many, many years. People who’ve never been head of marketing and product development—especially if they’ve never worked in the U.S. speaker industry—simply don’t have the credibility or experience to say otherwise. So here it is again. If I need to repeat this 40 more times, I will post it 40 more times: Never, ever worry about the possible cannibalistic effect a strong new product will have on an existing product. Never. You competition is already gunning for you with everything they have. That great model that sits at the top of your line, the one that has received all those great reviews, Best Buy awards, Editor’s Choice, Product of the Year? You know, that one? The one that you got for your brother-in-law for half price and he was so happy you thought he was going to kiss you? (Yuck.) That one? Its days are numbered. It has a fatal disease called The Competition. It’s already dead, you just don’t know it yet. You think it’s a reliable annuity, returning a guaranteed profit, unending, year after year. Wrong. It’s like a collapsing stock from a company about to go belly-up. If you have a potential great new product that may take sales away from some existing product, do not hesitate or delay in bringing it out—because your competition is about to come out with theirs and it’s better to “lose” sales to yourself than someone else. Keep the dollars in your own house. Once you lose the sales to an outside entity, it’s 10 times harder to get them back and reclaim your market share. Keep people—both dealers and end customers—buying your product. Once they sample someone else’s charms, they may not only like their products better, they may also like the other company’s terms and repair policies and salespeople and exchange policies and freight polices and a lot of other things better too. Then, you’re lost and you’re sitting there like yesterday’s newspaper, wondering what the heck just happened. The 1968-69 step-up from the 2ax should have been a 12” version of the 2ax, not a 10” version of the 3a. Steve F.
  6. This is really diverging into two topics: a 12” AR-5 circa 1968-9 and a 12” AR-14 circa 1976. 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. Again, as I calculated before, the retail upcharge from a 2ax for a 12” woofer and the 3a-type cab with the beefier woofer mounting and extra internal bracing (but sans the 3a fancy-schmancy picture frame molding) would be about $40. So the 2ax’s $128 becomes the 12-inch 5’s $168. Done. Great. I’ll take two pair. Fabulous speaker, four times the sales of the 10-inch AR-5, guaranteed. The 1976 beefy-woofer AR-14 to combat the Advent was a different animal altogether. Maybe by then, sure, AR could have done a low-res 10” to reach down to -3dB at 38-40Hz, enough lower than the mid-40’s 2ax to really hang in there with the Advent. Totally agreed—from 50 Hz on up, the AR-14 absolutely mopped the floor with the Advent. I remember in a retail A-B I did in 1976 in a Harvard Square store (Cambridge MA), the 14 made the Advent sound like a honky, over-midrangy mess. Except for the region below 45-50Hz. There, the Advent kicked the 14’s tail. Take care of that, and you’ve got a huge win. Problem was the actual AR-14 was $140 ea, way above the Advent’s $102/116. Steve F.
  7. Ok I think you were saying for that kind of money people expected extended bass. Yes, exactly. I don't recall seeing the 14's x-o schematic, but historically, AR's 2-way x-o's were pretty simple: a cap on the tweeter, maybe a choke on the woofer, a resistor if it had a level control. Not too much else. The 14 was probably like that. A 12-inch "14-P" would probably be very similar in layout, but the actual component values may have differed a small bit from the 10-inch 14. Nothing earth shattering. I'm not going to repeat my prior dissertation, but the AR 12-inch woofer going up to 1300 or 1400Hz in the real world would have been just fine and dandy. A 12-inch 2-way ADD with the 1-inch dome crossing over at 1300-ish would have been one heckuva speaker. Especially for $180 ea. compared to that sales dog of the AR-12 at $225 ea. Steve F.
  8. No, I meant expensive. Once an AR speaker passed the mid-price region (2ax) and entered into the higher price points, people expected 12-inch bass performance. They were not happy or satisfied with 10-inch bass in the upper price points. 2ax and 4x/6 bass was fine as long as the asking price was no more than $100-120 ea. If it was more expensive than that, then AR 10-inch models simply did not sell well at all. The 10-inch (12 and 14) ADD models did in fact use the 12-inch (11 and 10π) cabinets. The AR-11's 12-in woofer w the 14's 1-inch tweeter is exactly what I already addressed above. It would have been great. Please re-read that. Steve F.
  9. The 1x was a direct extension/replacement for the AR-1 with the Altec driver, especially a way to fix them under warranty. I've seen internal AR documentation to that effect. The other 1x variants shown here with the 2 1/2 and 3 1/2-inch drivers in offset positions with tweeter holes blocked off are obviously "targets of opportunity" as I've pointed out before: A way to keep the factory busy when a scheduled 3 or 3a run was interrupted or canceled for one of several possible real-world reasons. Re The dealers still disparaging an AR-5 'P'--sure. But we can only look at one variable at a time in any experiment. In this one, the variable is the existing 10-inch AR-5. Replace it with a stronger 12" AR-5 and what would happen? That's the only variable we can control or evaluate. Would it have been a stronger product and out-sold the "real" AR-5? I say yes, by far. As for a "better" AR-1x---yes, it would have been possible, but not in the 1968-70 timeframe we're looking at here. In 1976, there was the 10-inch 2-way AR-14, which used a 1" dome tweeter that crossed over at 1300 Hz. You could have done that w/ a 12" woofer, since 1300Hz is lower than 1400 (the 3 1/2-inch x-o point) and therefore even better for the 12-inch woofer. The AR-14 already used the 11's cabinet, so there would be no cabinet up-charge, only the 10-to-12-inch woofer up-charge. Like I've said, the difference there is $10 wholesale ($20 retail), so add $20 to the AR-14 ($140) and the 12-inch 2-way with the 1" dome tweeter would have been $160 ea. Go to town--price it at $175 or 180 ea. Nice speaker and incomparably more salable than the ridiculous $225 ea. 10-inch 3-way AR-12 (another sales and marketing flop). A 12-inch AR-14 "P" in that beautiful ADD cabinet, with that gutsy AR 12-inch bass and the smooth mid-highs of that 1" dome (early on, it was a Peerless; later on, it was AR-built. Both were excellent sounding units)? I'd take that in a heartbeat and I bet a few hundred thousand other people would have too. AR consistently misjudged the appeal of their 12-inch bass and created overly-expensive 10-inch units that just didn't sell worth a d*mn. Past the 2ax price point, no one wanted an AR 10-inch woofer. The LST-2 should also have been a 12-inch unit, but with 2 mids and three tweeters. I've also done that cost analysis and the 12-inch LST-2 "P" would have easily hit $400 like the 10-inch version did. Expensive AR 10-inchers: 5, 12, LST-2 = flop, flop, flop. People wanted that 12-inch bass in an expensive AR speaker. Steve F.
  10. The AR-1x was actually the replacement for the AR-1, once the Altec 755 8-inch drivers became unavailable. Look in the 1969 full-line catalog, the catalog that has the 3a, 3 and 1x--the 1x doesn't have a "plate covering the AR-3's tweeter hole." There was a one-off AR-1x that used the 3 1/2-inch driver (2ax mid/4 tweeter) with the fiberglass and metal mesh screen, but the 'normal" 1x used the 4x's 2 1/2-inch driver. The 1x was dull and ponderous and would have been absolutely slaughtered by the Large Advent at retail. As for the 12" AR-5 not surviving its first party night, it would have been no better or worse than the 3a or 2ax in that regard. As for factory profit margin, the $168 price that I calculated is what the 12" AR-5 would have needed to sell at for it to have a normal margin. The AR-1x was ridiculously over-priced and follows no coherent cost-to-retail structure. They kept the price essentially the same as the original AR-1, yet the 2 1/2-inch driver cost a fraction of what that expensive Altec driver cost. Disregard the 1x, from all standpoints. Again, look at the new 2ax: the 12" woofer was $20 more retail than the 2ax's 10-inch woofer, so that's $10 more wholesale. The slightly larger, beefier cabinet with 3a-type internal bracing and 12" woofer machine screw mounting would be $10 wholesale more (tops!) than the 2ax cabinet. No fancy 3a-style picture-frame molding on this one, ok? So, $10 (woofer) + $10 (cabinet) wholesale = $20 wholesale over the 2ax, which is + $40 retail over the 2ax. $128 (2ax) + $40= $168 for the 12" AR-5. Full margin to AR. Just as rugged or delicate as the 2ax or 3a. But $168 - 20% at retail = $134 ea. at retail and that's one heckuva nice speaker for a smidge more than the Advent or 2ax. I rest my case. Steve F.
  11. The above is not quite accurate and it needs a little more explanation. First of all, in the early 1970s, when the Classic ARs and the Advents went head-to-head, Advent was “fair-traded,” which meant that Advent dealers sold their products at ‘list price’ and Advent, for their part, didn’t artificially inflate the list price. Dealers made full mark-up on Advent and therefore enjoyed selling them. The Large Advent in Utility walnut vinyl was $102, a great deal. Even in real walnut veneer, it was $116, still a great deal. AR was widely discounted, usually 20% or sometimes even more. But their list prices were higher than Advent, so it took the 20% discount to get them to be competitive with Advent for the retail customer to get a decent deal. The problem was, of course, that the 20% discount came right out of the dealer’s hide, so naturally, retail dealers weren’t so enthused about selling AR speakers. This led to the common practice of “disparagement,” where dealers would turn down AR Mid-Hi level controls, drill very small holes in the back of the cabinet to ruin the acoustic seal, etc., all in an effort to ensure that AR sounded lousy in a retail showroom comparison to Advent. Dealers just didn’t want to sell AR for such a small profit when they could make a fortune selling Advent. These were the actual list and selling prices of AR in those days: Model List -20% actual selling price 2ax 128 102.40 5 175 140 3a 250 200 12” AR-5 168 134.40 (proposed model) ARs were competitive when discounted by 20%, but then the dealer made no real money, so they didn’t want to sell them. Most of the original Large Advents sold were the utility vinyl model at $102 ea., and these were the biggest-selling speakers in retail showroom comparisons in the early 1970’s. Remember also, that the Advents had that slightly forward midrange that sounded good in a retail A-B, while AR had a laid-back “neutral” sound with somewhat reticent highs that didn’t come across so well in the dead acoustics of a retail showroom. Steve F.
  12. I knew you were talking about whether you'd need a new midrange, and I was showing everyone that no, you didn't need a new midrange because the 12-inch woofer would meet up with the 3 1/2-inch cone from the 2ax just fine. No sweat. A tick rougher off axis than the new 2ax's 10-inch woofer was at 1400 Hz, but far better than the 2, 2a, and old 2ax's 10-inch woofer were off axis at their 2000Hz crossover point. This is the real world, and it would have been fine. As I said above, a slightly rougher off-axis midrange was a more than equitable tradeoff for getting that AR 12-inch bass for $168. Name? AR followed a time/sequential naming process at that time in their corporate history. If "5" was the next number up for a brand-new model (and I'd consider this a brand-new model), then I'd have named it the "AR-5." In the end, the name makes no difference at all. None. It's all about the product. Steve F.
  13. Let me cut to the chase here: I’ve been directly involved at the very highest levels of marketing and product development in the consumer electronics (mostly speakers) and musical instrument industries. They are highly competitive industries with a lot of players and everyone’s looking to have the strongest product lineup they can possibly have, where every model in the line is a winner and shines vs. its competition from other companies. I’ve been at this for 40 years, and in the speaker/electronics biz, I’ve worked for and with some of the “really big names” in the biz and have been directly responsible for more than just a few of the biggest-selling, most highly-reviewed, most successful products in the last several decades. There’s a huge truism that I’ve learned the hard way and observed a million times and it’s this: Never, ever worry about the possible cannibalistic effect a strong new product will have on an existing product. Never. You competition is already gunning for you with everything they have. That great model that sits at the top of your line, the one that has received all those great reviews, Best Buy awards, Editor’s Choice, Product of the Year? You know, that one? The one that you got for your brother-in-law for half price and he was so happy you thought he was going to kiss you? (Yuck.) That one? Its days are numbered. It has a fatal disease called The Competition. It’s already dead, you just don’t know it yet. You think it’s a reliable annuity, returning a guaranteed profit, unending, year after year. Wrong. It’s a collapsing stock from a company about to go belly-up. If you have a potential great new product that may take sales away from some existing product, do not hesitate or delay in bringing it out—because your competition is about to come out with theirs and it’s better to “lose” sales to yourself than someone else. Keep the dollars in your own house. Once you lose the sales to an outside entity, it’s 10 times harder to get them back and reclaim your market share. Keep people—both dealers and end customers—buying your product. Once they sample someone else’s charms, they may not only like their products better, they may also like the other company’s terms and repair policies and salespeople and exchange policies and freight polices and a lot of other things better too. Then, you’re lost and you’re sitting there like yesterday’s newspaper, wondering what the heck just happened. I know of what I speak. I’ve been on both sides of this equation. If the 12-inch “2ax” would’ve taken sales away from the 3a (although I agree w Aadams that it wouldn’t have really), AR should have intro’d it anyway. It would have been a great-selling product. Advent, EPI and others were gunning for them and AR’s 32% 1966 market share went to single-digit% by the mid-70’s and AR was sold and sold again shortly thereafter. Here’s AR: Load gun. Point at foot. Fire. Steve F.
  14. But assuming the 5 was doomed from the start no matter what it was called, would the 2ax midrange go low enough to work with the 3a woofer? Or would they have needed a different one? I am so tired of this topic: “The AR-12-inch woofer is too slow/ill-suited to use above XYZ frequency.” People, both on this Forum and elsewhere, seem to have come to the conclusion that the AR 12-inch woofer is imbued with some special, unique characteristics that make it totally unsuitable for use above an arbitrarily-imagined frequency, usually around 700Hz or so. If you take the AR 12-inch woofer any higher than that, some horrible audio fate will befall you, the heavens will open up and strike you dead, and you’ll be banished to audio purgatory forever. This is so much BS, both from an objective scientific standpoint and from an historical standpoint. First, do the math: To determine the frequency at which a driver becomes directional, you take 13560 (the speed of sound in inches per second) and divide that by the diameter of the radiating piston. The “radiating piston” is measured from about mid-surround to mid-surround. In the case of the AR-12-inch woofer, this is about 9.5 inches. 13560 divided by 9.5 = 1427. So just from the “numbers,” the AR 12-inch woofer is ‘good’ to 1427Hz. So, yes, it would match up just fine with the 2ax’s 3 ½-inch cone mid with a 1400hz crossover. Now, the history: The implication of the 12-inch woofer’s unsuitability into higher frequencies is, of course, that it’s so “slow” and “sluggish” that taking it too high will ruin the system’s midrange character by imparting a “thick, heavy” character to the midrange. That’s the main criticism leveled at the 3a: Thick and heavy through the lower midrange. No such criticism was ever leveled at the AR-3. Only the 3a. So since the 3a was “thick and heavy,” that must mean that AR took the 3a’s woofer too high, right? Uh......errrr.....no.....the 3a crossed over at 575Hz (early versions)/525Hz (late versions), while the 3 went “too high,” all the way to 1000Hz. Yet the 3 was never criticized for the lower-mid heaviness that the 3a was. And, no, it wasn’t a matter of cloth/foam, alnico/ceramic woofer differences. Late 3’s and early 3a’s had the same woofer, but the 3 was not heavy in the lower mid and the 3a was! And let’s put an end to the “the world will come crashing down” aspect to a 1400Hz x-over on a 12-inch woofer. We’re not taking about 2500 or 3000Hz, which would be noticeably beamy. We’re talking 1400 Hz, well inside of the mathematical ‘safe zone.’ Does anyone really think that the 2ax’s 10-incher sounds fine going to 1400, but the 12-incher going to 1400 would sound so completely different and horrible that you couldn’t stand it? Please. Be serious. And remember: the AR-2, 2a, and 'early' 2ax had their 10-inch woofers go all the way to 2000Hz, well beyond their 'safe zone' of 1600 or so. And they sounded fine anyway. The AR-12-inch woofer, like all AR drivers, was a well-designed driver with a correctly-done voice coil/polepiece/magnetic structure and the correspondingly excellent and appropriate ‘soft parts’ (cone, surround, spider). Their inherent frequency response, transient response and distortion characteristics were excellent. The 12-inch woofer was fine to 1000Hz in the 3. It would have been fine to 1400 in a 12-inch “2ax.” A tad rough at the upper end of its passband? Yes, no question. A little, but not a show-stopper. And the benefit of getting that dramatic, gutsy -3dB @ 35Hz 12-inch bass at $168 far outweighs a little mid roughness. Let’s stop this nonsense of the AR 12-inch woofer being somehow magically and uniquely unable to respond past 700Hz. Yes, it would be optimal to x-o lower than 1400Hz, but it wouldn’t be the Crime of the Century to have it go past 1000Hz. A 12-inch 2ax called the “AR-5” priced at $168—nicely between the $128 2ax and the $250 3a—would’ve outsold the actual 10-inch $175 AR-5 by a country mile. Steve F.
  15. The 5 at $175 was a total sales/marketing flop. AR misjudged one simple but undeniable fact: Above the mid-price area, their customers wanted AR 12-inch bass, not AR "1 1/2-inch dome midrange" sound. The bass. They wanted that 12-inch bass. The 5's failure speaks for itself. As far as the 3a's power requirements, you misjudge and mis-characterize the 3a's power-handling ability and benefit from Phase 400-type power with the 3a's power requirements. The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of 3a's sold lived and played quite happily on 40-75 wpc Marantz's, Fishers, Pioneers, AR amps, Dyna SCA-80s, etc. Did the 3a sound really great with 200 clean watts behind it? Yup. Did it absolutely need it? Nope. For Joe GE Engineer in his suburban living room playing Herb Albert or Mozart's 40th or Take Five, 50 Marantz watts did a fine and dandy job, thank you. A 12-inch 2ax wouldn't have needed any more power than the vast majority of 3a's lived quite nicely on. But a 12-inch 2ax would've been a legitimate step-up in performance over the 10-inch, and the 3a would've still had legitimate advancements over the 12-inch 2ax. The difference would be instead of only 2 of 3 top AR models selling well, now AR would've had 3 out of 3 top models selling well. When I bought my 2ax's new as a high-schooler in 1972, had there been a 12-inch 2ax, I'd have saved another two weeks and gotten those. A 10" AR-5 at $150 and no $128 2ax would've been a disaster for AR. What are you going to do--jump from the $81 AR-6 to the $150 AR-5? What do you have to combat the $102 Advent Utility? Advent was fair-traded at the time, so the $102 was always $102. AR dealers could discount, so the $128 2ax got very close to the $102 Advent, and you had real walnut and "3-way" to go against the Advent. The 2ax had a reasonable chance against the Advent. A $150 AR-5, discounted down to $130? That's nuts. No. The thing for AR to have done was a 12-inch 2ax called the "AR-5," and not to have done the AR-5 the way it was. The 5's sales history proves it. Steve F.