Steve F

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral

About Steve F

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

Contact Methods

  • ICQ

Recent Profile Visitors

10,263 profile views
  1. LST's...look what the cat dragged in....

    The stethoscope was still an essential part of engineering and production testing well into the early 2000's, during my tenure at both Boston Acoustics (1991-2003) and Atlantic Technology (2003-2013). BA went from sealed to ported in 1994, when the sealed HD bookshelf speakers (HD5, 7 and 8) and sealed T830, 930, 1030 floorstanding speakers became the ported Compact Reference (CR) booksheves (CR6,7,8,9) and the ported Video Reference (VR) floorstanders VR20, 30 and 40. BA's 'new gen' engineers liked vented designs, with their lower 3dB down points (at the expense of faster rolloff below that, which didn't really matter in the real world), and Andy Petite-Kotsatos relented, since the various Paradigms and PSB Alpha's were eating the HD's lunch in retail A-B comparisons. Interesting: Air leaks are even more important in vented design, because the only "leak" you want is the vent. Any other "unintentional" leak wrecks a vented speaker's bass. And yes, we called them 'birdies.' Steve F.
  2. Info on AR Classic Model 30....

    I remember this series quite well. I was with BA at the time and we noted the introduction of these speakers, wondering if they'd make an impact. In true AR fumbling marketing fashion, they flopped from a sales standpoint, being a high-end, specialized series aimed at 2-ch music listeners just as the early-mid 90's home theater craze was taking off. But considered from an engineering/product standpoint, they were quite good. A bit "dryer" and having that M-T-M focused imaging thing going on, the Classics were true audiophile-oriented speakers. I heard them at AR's CES display and I heard them on a BAS tour of AR in fall 1992. The 30's were impressive, very clean, solid bass reach, very "3-dimensional." I remember talking to a BA engineer who'd been at AR at the time, and he told me that they had trouble with the first ones from a shipping damage standpoint, since the cabinets were so unusually shaped, but they got that squared away pretty quickly. Definitely worth checking out, without question. There is lit in the Library from me. Steve F.
  3. I realize this is the AR speakers discussion forum, not a jazz discussion forum. But....I write very detailed, well-crafted (I know, that's just so nervy and egotistical of me to say) and tongue-in-cheek humorous articles on jazz on a fairly regular basis. If you'd like to be on that e-mail distribution list (I'll bcc you, to preserve your privacy), PM me through this forum with your e-mail address. My out-of-proportion interest and enthusiasm for jazz is at least equal to my out-of-proportion interest and enthusiasm for AR speakers. Steve F.
  4. I have listened to my full-sized (3a/2ax/LST-2/11/91/50t/9) AR speakers with everything from a Dyna SCA-80 integrated amp (36 wpc RMS into 4 ohms once the FTC got through with it) to various Kenwood integrateds, Mits and Adcom power amps and currently a Parasound 2250 Classic power amp that delivers 400 wpc RMS into my fully-restored 9’s in a smallish 13 x 17-ft room. In my experience, the Dyna was by far the “worst,” but not because of the modest power. I know amplifier differences aren’t “supposed” to exist (and in reality, all those so-called ‘differences’ can likely be attributed to very slight FR deviations that result from particular pre-amp/power-amp/speaker couplings—impedance and the like—s/n issues, distortion spectral content, perhaps—perhaps—“damping factor,” etc.), but even when the amps are not pushed into gross clipping, I can hear differences. It’s the amp’s quality and comfort with the speaker’s load that seems to matter the most, not the raw power. My Kenwood KA-7002 amplifier, although at 50wpc, less than 1dB more powerful than the Dyna,, sounded light years better with the 2ax and 3a. Light years better. My listening tastes are Miles, Freddie, Buddy, Jones/Lewis, Weather Report, Shorter, Brecker, Mr. T, Cobham, Metheny, Tyner, Hutcherson, Chick, Farrell, Horace, Henderson, etc. So it would seem that sb0357 could sit right down in my listening room any day and enjoy himself. 36 watts or 400. Steve F.
  5. AR-LST

    I have worked on the “inside” in marketing/product management/engineering management in the US speaker industry for decades. It’s frequently amusing to hear so-called outsiders’ reasons as to why they think a manufacturer does or doesn’t do something. No disrespect intended, it’s simply that those not involved in this crazy business simply aren’t privy to some of the real reasons. Black or wood veneer. Those were the common choices from many companies for years. Yup, Marketing sometimes decided that due to their extensive, highly-accurate market research, a black option was needed. (Translation: the Marketing Director’s mother-in-law said at dinner last Sunday afternoon that that “walnut finish didn’t match my furniture and I’d rather have a neutral color than a mismatched wood in my living room.”) So in typical Marketing Director fashion, he extrapolated that there must be ‘a lot of people who feel he same way.’ Here’s where Purchasing and Manufacturing enter the picture. Wood veneer cabinets are a royal pain to a manufacturer. Due to the natural variations of real wood, small flaws are readily visible, some cabs have more ‘cathedrals’ than others, the grain and color can easily be mismatched from lot to lot, or even unit to unit. You don’t want a “light” walnut LST with minimal ‘marbling’ and a “dark” walnut LST with heavy ‘marbling’ in the same pair. What are you supposed to do? Segregate them in the warehouse? For $600/pr. in 1971, they’d better be PERFECT. So to be safe, QC rejects a lot of wood-color veneer cabinets, trying to ensure that all the good ones are reasonably similar. Boy, does that raise the cost of the cabinets, because even if the vendor agrees to credit the manufacturer for the rejected cabs, there is still the time and expense involved in packing them up and sending them back, plus the potential down-time of not having cabs to manufacture, etc. Black to the rescue! Marketing sells Executive and Sales on the idea they we need a black option. Manufacturing and Purchasing LOVE the idea, because every single rejected natural-wood cabinet can now be painted black, and Voila! No more rejects. No more color variations, no more grain variations, no visible flaws, no time and expense wasted shipping them back, no more arguing with the cabinet vendor that 20 of the 60 cabs you sent back were damaged, so you’re not getting credit for those, etc. EVERY PROBLEM regarding questionable real wood cabinets magically goes away when you slather a coat of black paint on them. Thank G-d for black paint. Than G-d for mothers-in law. That’s the real, inside story. Steve F.
  6. Another fun Classic "What if...."

    No, it wouldn’t sound like a 3a with a Microstatic MS-1 on top, unless you think that’s what an LST sounds like. The Micro MS-1, for those readers unfamiliar with it, was a small 4-tweeter angled array that sat on top of an AR or KLH speaker and supposedly improved its HF response and dispersion. The MS-1 used four garden-variety cone tweeters—two 1 ¾, two 1 ½-inch, IIRC—that crossed over at either 3.5kHz or 7kHz, selectable with a 2-position switch. It sounded pretty good, and I used a set with my 2ax’s for a while, before giving them to my cousin (who gave them to his friend for his KLH-5’s). My proposed “AR-3a-t” would be a totally different animal. First, it would use AR’s own excellent drivers, the ¾-inch black hard dome 3a tweeter and 1 ½-inch 3a dome midrange. To my ears, the AR drivers sound quite a bit different than the CTS cone tweeters in the MS-1. Secondly, and more importantly, the “AR-3a-t” would cross over at 575 Hz and 5000 Hz, like the 3a and LST (maybe 525 Hz like the later 3a and later LST, although, truth be told, a 50Hz “difference” in x-o frequency is nothing more than a perfectly-acceptable QC variance in crossover components. Things just aren’t that precise. Don’t be fooled.) The point is, the 3a-t would have the same much wider radiation from 575Hz on up—like the LST—in stark contrast to the 3a/MS-1 combo, which would have a markedly different radiation pattern, especially in the hearing-sensitive midrange. The 3a/3a-t combo would not sound like a 3a/MS-1 combo. It would sound like an LST. Unless, as I said, you think an LST sounds like a 3a/MS-1 combo. Steve F.
  7. In the “Wouldn’t this have been cool, so please don’t bother me with arguments of why it might not have been cost-feasible” department, here’s one for you: Remember how AR used to offer upgrade kits, like the adapter plate w/ 3 ½” driver, to convert the AR-2 into a 2x (first gen) or the AR-2a into a 2ax (first gen)? Or the AR-3t and AR-3st, neat little walnut boxes that looked like dollhouse-sized AR speakers and contained either a 1 3/8” tweeter (3st) or both the 2” dome mid and 1 3/8” tweeter (3t)? These could upgrade the AR-1 and 1w performance to either exactly or close to AR-3 level performance. What if a decade or so later AR offered a Microstatic-shaped add-on containing two 1 ½” dome mids and two ¾” dome tweeters (one above the other) in an angled enclosure with each MF/HF pair firing off to the sides at the same angle as the LST’s side panel? The replacement price for the dome mid was $55.00 ea, the tweeter was $24.50 ea. That’s retail, so “wholesale” is half of that. Wholesale for the x-o? WAG, $20. Cabinet? WAG, $20. That’s a wholesale cost of the “AR-3a-t” of $120, so retail would be $240 ea. Add that to the $250 ea. list of a 3a and you’re at $490 ea. for very close to LST performance (the LST was $600 ea.). That would’ve worked from both a price and performance standpoint, and I bet a lot of 3a owners would’ve gone for it. The Classic era was just too much fun. Steve F.
  8. Two years to get the AR-3a blues ...

    Thanks very much. I Tweeted the link to my review to Don Cheadle and he appreciated it so much--that I 'got' the movie so completely--that he Tweeted me "Thanks" and then re-Tweeted my link to his 300k+ followers. Made me feel good that I was able to give him the knowledge that at least one person got every single last subtle detail of what he was doing. Right down to Hancock's glasses. Steve F.
  9. Two years to get the AR-3a blues ...

    I know this thread is now veering off into Miles Davisland, but regarding the movie "Miles Ahead," I wrote this article: Steve F.
  10. In rough chronological order of ownership, since 1969: 4x (my Dad's), 2ax (2nd gen), another set of 2nd gen 2ax, 7, LST-2, 91, 11, Connoisseur 50t, TSW110, TSW105, 3a, 9. Some of these were for secondary systems, some of them were 'rear' speakers, some of them were replacements of my primary speakers. The 9's are my main speakers now, have been for the last five years. I find them eminently satisfying, to the point that I don't covet anything else. My desire for AR speakers is completely quelled, not simply because the 9's are so good unto themselves, but also because I hear every AR speaker in the 9. I hear the wonder of the 1954 AR-1's bass, the tonal realism of the 3/3a, the surprise of the 4x/7 (yes as big and expensive as the 9's are, they surprise me, every time I play them), the effortlessness at high SPLs of the LST, all wrapped up in the 9's unique approach to solving the acoustic puzzle. My dad was as big a music and AR aficionado as I am--maybe even more so--but he passed away in 1998, about 12 years before I got the 9's. He knew about them, had heard them with me at BAS meetings, but never even for a moment thought he'd own them. He'd be so incredibly pleased with their sound, and even more pleased that I now owned them. That's the icing on the cake--whenever I play these amazing speakers, my Dad is right there with me. Who could want more than that? Steve F.
  11. T-1030 vs. VR 40

    When I arrived at BA (1992) the 1030 was the top of the current line and development of the VRs started in 1993. They were introduced in the fall of 1994. No one had any complaints with the actual sound and performance of the 1030, but it was a blocky, ugly speaker, with no visual style or grace whatsoever. The trend at the time was to go slightly smaller, be really sleek and stylish and maintain an absolutely unimpeachable acoustic performance. Gerry was the lead engineer on the 1030 and was responsible for its voicing. By the time we did the VR series, another engineer had joined the staff (Dave Fokos) and he did the VR and CR lines. Gerry turned his attention to the best-selling Subsat 6 and Sub Sat 7 sub/satellite systems, along with their companion center channel speakers, the CS6 and CS7. If I remember correctly, Gerry also did BA’s first THX-approved speakers, the 555 LCRs, 575 surround and 595 subwoofer. And all of BA’s truly excellent in-wall speakers Anyway, the VR40 ended up being a truly great speaker. I’ve been in this business for many decades and been associated with some truly great speakers, and the VR40 is near the very top of that list. Sleek, trim, great-looking, it was a dual 7” woofer 3-way system with a 5 ¼” mid and BA’s superb aluminum VR tweeter with AMD. The real walnut veneer cab was quite nice as well. That speaker was ruler flat on-axis from around 40-45Hz-20kHz, with good dispersion. It had a 1”-thick baffle and by-pass caps in the x-over. Bi-ampable. Carpet spikes. Quite sophisticated. Very musical and not harsh at all, in spite of the clichéd reputation that metal domes have. I liked them so much that I got a pair for my dad to replace some older ARs that he had. I am very surprised to hear that the pair you are looking at had their surrounds “re-foamed.” The VR woofers had butyl rubber surrounds, not foam. They would never need to be replaced, unless they were mechanically torn or suffered some other misfortune. They were not susceptible to ‘foam rot,’ since they were not foam. Same with the midrange. Comparing the T1030 directly to the VR40, I would characterize the 1030 as being slightly “gutsier” and the 40 as being slightly more “refined.” Both terrific speakers, just a slightly different approach. Steve F.
  12. Photo of the Day

    What I've said about the 910 in years past: The TSW ("Titanium Solid Wood" series, although AR insiders referred to them as the "This Sh*t Works" series) speakers were intro'd around 1987 and was a line that went from the 6" 2-way TSW110 all the way up to the double-12" TSW910. Other models were dropped in after the original family was introduced--a powered and passive TSW105, a double-8" TSW710 and then an upgraded series that featured a 15 numerical suffix, instead of the 10 (215, 315, 415, etc.) They were ok conventional speakers--not ground-breaking, but not offensive. The 810 was a double 10" model, sort of the "90" to the 910's "9," if you will. I do not remember if the 810 is bi-ampable, but I know the TSW lit is in the CSP Library. Here's what I just recently said about the 910: Posted 10 November 2013 - 10:23 PM I have written extensively about the 910 and their place/reason for being in AR's history. Do a search. The TSW series from 1987-ish was an ok line of product, but it broke no new ground, nor did it try to. A "play it safe" line of speakers. The 910 was a pure formulaic product: you could almost hear the Head of Marketing saying, "OK we need a big floorstander, with two 12's and a model number with a '9', so people remember the original AR-9.Oh, and let's bring back that Blanket thing, too. We got some good credit for that." That was the 910. In a June 1987 review, Julian Hirsch--the biggest AR booster there ever was--struggled vainly to find good things to say about it, closing his review with a damn-with-faint-praise line of "Few would tire of its easy smooth sound." Really, Julian? "Few would tire"? That's the best you could muster? "Few would tire"? For the 3, 3a, LST and 9, it was the "best I have ever measured or heard." For the 910, it's "Few would tire." Don't break the bank getting the 910's. July 12, 2016--My opinion of the 910 stands. Steve F.
  13. AR-8 crossover schematic diagram ?

    In their great 1971 full-line brochure (in my opinion as a decades-long marketing/product development/eng dir/mgr, that is about the best brochure I’ve ever seen, in terms of both subjective emotional appeal coupled with objective black-and-white ‘proof’—a perfect balance), AR said of the 4x—“ may not have as wide a frequency range as some of our other speakers, but in terms of uncolored, natural reproduction, it holds its own with any of them.” Clearly, AR regarded the 4x as having the same mission of musical accuracy as the 2ax, 3 and 3a. And it clearly succeeded: Julian Hirsch of Stereo Review said its frequency response was unmatched by almost any speaker at any price and added, “We know of no competitively-priced speaker that can compare with it.” Steve F.
  14. AR-8 crossover schematic diagram ?

    Aside from the mediocre sound, the ugly appearance and the ill-conceived marketing campaign that made it the most spectacular flop of the entire Classic series (the only true out-and-out failure from 1954-1974), the AR-8 is interesting for a few other reasons. First, the 10-inch woofer—at least at the beginning of this product’s life—was indeed a different woofer from the one in the 2ax/5. AR’s own lit on the AR-8 said something to the effect of, “....we’ve used a 10-inch woofer that is somewhat more efficient than our other designs.....” and the system’s resonance was spec’d at 52Hz, different and lower than the 2ax/5 system resonance of 56Hz. Both of those data points indicate that the 8 had a different low-frequency design than the 2ax/5. The other design interesting aspect was AR’s contention that the “Increase” position of the tweeter level switch provided “sharper, harder, more exaggerated high frequencies, appropriate for today’s rock music,” or words to that effect. In other words, AR was admitting outright that their other speakers were “dull” on the popular music of the day and with the 8, they were intentionally abandoning any pretense of musical accuracy—quite a departure for them. The AR-8 failed on every count. Its bass was not any stronger or deeper than the 2ax or 5 in practical, real-life terms, so AR soon saw the folly of manufacturing separate woofers for the different systems and went to a “universal” 10-incher instead. The 8’s “increase” tweeter position did not produce ‘sharper, harder’ high frequencies. The 8 sounded no brighter or different than the AR-6 or 7. (Actually the 7 was the brightest of them all, as I’ve pointed out before, and the High Fidelity Magazine curves show that quite clearly. High Fidelity tested the 6, 7 and 8 and ran curves on them in exactly the same manner, under the same conditions. The 6 and 8 are well nigh identical; the 7 shows an unmistakeable increase around 7-10kHz of about 2dB or so, and that’s exactly how it sounds.) At $119 ea., the AR-8 in an ugly vinyl wrap was $3 more than the Large Advent in real walnut and $17 more than the Advent in vinyl. If I ever teach a graduate marketing course at Harvard Business School and I want to give an example of a product from a major company that got every single blessed last thing wrong, I’ll tell the class about the AR-8. Steve F.
  15. Garage Sale Season

    There was a speaker in the early 1970's called the "Array 12." All full-range drivers. I think those are them. I don't remember much about the company who made them and a quick Google search didn't give me any info. But I distinctly remember a BAS meeting I went to in the fall of 1975 and there were both AR-3a's and Array 12's there, demo'ing whatever it was we were listening to that night. BTW, those are probably CTS 4 1/2-inch full-range drivers, popular back then. IIRC, the 901 Series I and II used those drivers. Certainly the Series I did. Steve F.