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Steve F

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  1. You better be ready to defend the statement about “Allison” himself saying that the 3a needed 5dB more tweeter output for flat response. There are many fanatical AR defenders here who are going to jump on any criticism of the 3a as sacrilege and imply that its performance was essentially perfect in its day and if functioning at factory-designed level today, would still be among the very best speakers available anywhere in the world. In fact, AR’s own system curves of the 3a’s own drivers shows that on-axis, the 3a tweeter is down at least 5 dB from the woofer. Off-axis, the reduction in level compared to the woofer is even more, of course. Full credit to AR for publishing such honest and accurate curves, both the technical specs curves of the individual drivers overlaid into a system curve and the Berkovitz-Allison curves done for the AES paper on listening rooms. Both show the tweeter down 5dB. Even the Technical Paper on the 3a , which has a “full system” response (not individual drivers), says that the amplifier’s treble control needs to be advanced to 2:00 for flat response. AR's own curves show exactly why the 3a sounded the way it did— powerful bass with very low THD, widely-dispersed mid and HF, reticent overall tonal character. A total lack of harshness. Advance the treble control to 2:00—about a 3-4 dB increase for most amps—and the 3a sounded incredible. Play it too loud with that tonal adjustment and you blew the tweeter. Today’s hard paper ¾” tweeters? Likely down another 3-5dB from factory level, at best. That’s my WAG. I’d have them rebuilt by Chris, not go the HiVi route. Something about that original ¾” tweeter that’s just so nice. Steve F.
  2. This is a fascinating set of curves by Julian Hirsch at Electronic World magazine. Electronic World published parallel test reports by Hirsch to the ones published in Stereo review, but the EW reviews revealed more of JH’s technical results, including a speaker’s frequency response curve, which Stereo Review never published (as a matter of policy). Presumably SR felt that a frequency response curve was too subject to misinterpretation by SR’s emotionally-charged hobbyist readership, while their sister publication of EW had a more mature ‘technical” readership, so the publication of detailed technical specs/graphs was deemed ‘safe.” This is a deep dive, so stay with me here or else I might as well be writing a private letter to Tom Tyson. When the AR-5 was introduced, it generated a bit of controversy because Julian’s review in Stereo Review made note of a deep dip in the 5’s frequency response at around 2000 Hz. He said it gave the speaker an unacceptably distant sound and only with the mid-range control advanced all the way up did Julian say the speaker sounded good. (He actually used the word “superb,” but only with the mid control advanced “to the reviewer’s liking.”) Roy Allison, the 5’s designer, took vociferous objection to Julian’s findings. He insisted to Julian that the 3a and 5 used essentially identical MF and HF drivers and their x-o topology was nearly identical, so it would actually be impossible for the 5 to have this trait and the 3a not to. He further insisted that in all of AR’s tests, measurements and listening, the only difference between the 5 and 3a occurred below about 45hz or so. Their response and sound was identical from the mid-bass on up. There was no mid dip on either speaker. Julian didn’t buy it, saying that he measured the 5’s dip in two completely different set-ups and the 3a did not have the dip. Julian never actually gave a reason for the 5’s apparent problem, but he insisted it was real and different from the 3a. Julian and Roy’s disagreement was aired in public, in succeeding issues of Stereo Review in Julian’s Technical Talk column. To Julian’s credit, he gave Roy ample space to have his say, and in all candor, Julian liked AR so much he probably wanted to hear a legitimate explanation that would take AR “off the hook.” Nonetheless, like any good scientist, Julian stuck by his findings, since he measured them according to his own legitimate methods. The AR-5 was caught from a marketing standpoint between the prestigious, highly-reviewed top-of-the-line 3a and the amazing 90%-that-anyone-would-ever-want value of the 2ax, at half the 3a’s price. So the AR-5 was already struggling from a sales standpoint. This review—a tenuous, conditional recommendation, with a serious wart—didn’t help the AR-5 at all. Now, to the matter at hand. This is a frequency response of the four main AR speakers in early 1970s—the 4x, 2ax, 5 and 3a—superimposed on each other and normalized to 1000Hz. These curves were made by Julian for EW magazine and published, although it’s not clear if these are the actual curves made for the test reports or whether these are additional curves made at some later date, just for interest’s sake. Here’s the really interesting thing: The 5’s and 3a’s curves are within about 1dB of each other all the way from around 90hz on up! Within 1 dB! The AR-5 has no dramatic, egregious 2000Hz “dip” in the midrange. None. And these curves were made by Julian. Explain that, Julian: The 5 and 3a are essentially identical above the mid-bass, exactly like AR says they are. Julian? Julian? Here’s another interesting thing: the 2ax upper mid response is a few dB lower than the 5/3a’s, which is exactly how they sounded relative to each other. I A-B’d the 3a and 2ax in my home many times and the amount of increased inner-mid detail on the 3a vs. the 2ax was apparent, just like these curves show. Also interesting is the 2ax’s apparently stronger extreme (above 10k) on-axis treble response: This is because the 2ax was really a 2-way speaker with a super-tweeter add-on, where the 3 1/2-inch driver (remember that was the tweeter in the AR-4 and ‘early’ 2x) goes full out, as high as it can go, and the 2ax’s ¾-in tweeter is brought in as HF reinforcement. In the 2ax, the 3 ½-in driver is essentially flat and level with the woofer all the way out to about 13-14kHz, so it is combining with the ¾-in tweeter for a pretty healthy on-axis treble output. In the 3a and 5, they are true 3-ways, where their mids are rolled off as the tweeter is brought in. The 2ax has both drivers pumping out HF above 5kHz, whereas the 3a/5 have only the relatively weak ¾-in dome doing all the HF work above 5khz. (“Weak” as in limited ultimate output level, not “weak” from a quality/performance/dispersion standpoint.) These curves show all of that quite clearly. And prove, once again, AR’s honesty, QC (the way the 3a and 5 mimic each other is pretty remarkable) and high performance. Steve F.
  3. This is an in-room curve of the 3a from the Berkovitz-Allison AES paper on Soundfields in domestic rooms. It’s a fascinating curve, because it demonstrates AR’s honesty and technical proficiency, attributes that put AR well ahead of other speaker companies of that time. First of all, it’s doubtful if any other company would let anything other than some phony-baloney hand-drawn ruler-flat response curve even see the light of day. Sure, this was an AES paper (not an ad in Stereo Review), but it was out there in the public domain. Nonetheless, AR had such high principles of broadening the general understanding of speaker behavior/performance and had such (justifiably) high confidence in the correctness of their design ideals and approach that they willingly let an imperfect-looking FR curve of their best speaker—warts and all—out of the secret confines of their marketing department. Let’s look at the curve a bit more closely. It’s the FR of an AR-3a in a home living room, with the Mid-Hi controls all the way up. The speakers were on stands, somewhat away from the room’s walls. This was not an uncommon usage scenario, although certainly not an optimum one. Using the speakers on stands, away from the walls, is a classic “4π” placement. This placement provides the least amount of bass reinforcement. The 3a (like all AR speakers at that time) was designed for 2π bookshelf placement (as in Tom’s bookshelf). You can see the woofer’s response falling off from the midrange level below 500Hz as the solid angle that the speaker “sees” transitions from 2π to 4π. (The 25” front baffle of the 3a serves as the 2π baffle for frequencies above around 5-600Hz. A 565Hz wavelength is 2 feet long, and 25 inches is…..it’s the math, the math…..). BTW, any box-type bookshelf speaker on a stand away from the walls will show the same mid-to-bass falloff as the 3a, when placed similarly. If you raise the under 200Hz woofer level up to the mid’s level (as the woofer level would be in a 2π setting), you can see that the speaker’s response from just under 40 Hz to a bit over 2,000 Hz is remarkably flat and accurate. This is the bass-midrange region, where virtually all the music lies. Above than, you see the falloff—but very smooth—in the upper-end response, partly due to AR’s willingness to sacrifice flat on axis upper treble for wide dispersion (in the days before ferrofluid-cooled tweeters) and party because RA’s somewhat misguided (IMO) view that the loudspeaker should intentionally introduce the particular coloration of the performance venue (in this case, the HF rolloff of major orchestral halls) into the domestic playback chain. In my opinion, the speaker should simply reproduce the electrical signal fed into it as accurately as possible. Nothing more, nothing less. It should be up to the recording engineer/record producer to impart any sense of the performance space into the recording, if desired. Not the loudspeaker. In any event, with the woofer level raised to the mid’s level as it would be in a 2π space, the 3a’s real-world, in-room performance is quite excellent. If you were to tweak the treble just a hair, it goes from quite excellent to unconditionally superb. This was quite a loudspeaker. Steve F.
  4. Let's inject a little logic and math into this discussion. Take 13560 (the speed of sound in inches/sec at sea level) and divide that by the piston diameter of the driver. That will give you the frequency at which the driver starts to become objectionably directional (when the diameter exceeds the frequency being played). 13560/11 (the piston diameter of a 12-inch woofer, minus the 1/2" surround on each side) = 1233Hz. A 12-in woofer is "good" to 1200. 1200! So an AR-3 crossing over at 1000Hz is just fine, no sweat. That is why the Large Advent with a 10/12-in woofer crossing over at 1000 always sounded fine, from a directivity standpoint. (I'm not talking tonal balance or anything like that, I'm talking directivity.) Will the dispersion improve if the driver is crossed over lower than its upper limit? Of course, but things are not as bad as they seem. 13560/4.25 (the piston diameter of a 5 1/4-in driver = 3190 Hz. A 1-in tweeter is good to 13,560, obviously, while a 3/4-in dome is good past 18kHz. Here's an interesting one--a 10-in driver (9-in piston) is directional at 1506Hz (13560/9 = 1506). So the AR-2, 2a, and 'old' 2ax were all "wrong" because they took a 10-in woofer up to 2000Hz, way past the point where it becomes directional. So does everyone here on the Forum criticize these speakers for being objectionably beamy in the midrange? Do we hear constant complaining from everyone about, "I just can't stand the way my 2a's beam that midrange. It's horrible! These are horrible speakers!" Nope. Not a peep. Ponder that. Steve F.
  5. Steve F

    AR4x restoration (was a tale of misery)

    No wonder these have been referred to as giant killers and one member here gave them the label of "unfair speakers." Yes, that was what my Dad and I called them. He'd bought a pair in 1969 and a high school friend of mine bought Large Advents shortly after. Twice the size and twice the price of the 4x's. He'd come over to our house and hear the 4x's with familiar records and he'd say, "They sound so good--as good as my Advents. It's not fair!" A few years ago at a Boston Audio Society meeting, we had a small speaker "shootout," old and new speakers, any price but limited to 'small bookshelf' size. Mostly 5 1/4, 6 1/2 and 8-inch 2-ways. The 4x finished 4th out of 16! It was in the hunt all the way. The eventual winner was the Atlantic Technology AT-2, a 5 1/4-inch 2-way with their quite revolutionary H-PAS bass loading system. I think the last list price for them was $1200/pr. The AT-2 goes down to a legit 45Hz from a 16"-tall box and a 5-in woofer. It's overall voicing signature and tonal balance is remarkably similar to the 4x's, however and it's quite a nice speaker. That the 4x is still competitive with today's best says everything you need to know about its basic quality. I remember one of our members here (Speaker Dave--former head engineer at Snell) re-doing the 4x's crossover (without AR's original cost constraints) using the stock 4x drivers and attaining essentially a dead flat response from about 60-13kHz. "Not fair" indeed. Steve F.
  6. To avoid Thread Creep, I would agree with Aadams’ basic premise, that all things being equal, it’s generally advantageous to have a heavy, low-resonance woofer restricted to operating as low as possible, below 200-300Hz, max. “All things being equal.” We’ll let that rather vague qualification stand alone, in all its unspecified glory. (BTW, later 3a's--from around the foam/ceramic days, as opposed to cloth/Alnico days--had a crossover of 525Hz, not 575Hz. I think there was a woofer choke change then too.) As to the letter from Allison, I have seen this letter many times and it always struck me as strangely off-target. The 3a’s—or any AR speaker’s—goal was to reproduce the electrical input signal as accurately as possible. The goal of the 3a was not to replicate the spectral balance of any arbitrary symphonic hall or night club. Imparting a sense of the performance venue—if it is to be done at all—is the job of the recording engineer, not the loudspeaker. AR did not and should not have had any requirement for its speakers to impose the tonal characteristics of any particular performance space upon the playback process in a domestic living room. That entire concept is fallacious on its face. The response of the 3a may well have been uniform in a living room from 250 to 2500Hz, but its response in the succeeding octaves fell off precipitously. I reject “C” on its face as being flat-out untrue. AR’s own curves—like yours above—clearly show the mid level as being 2-3 dB below the woofer and the tweeter level being some 5 dB below the mid. So, the tweeter is about 7 dB below the woofer. Yes, yes, I know that these are “individual driver curves,” not an integrated system curve, but AR had the honesty to put the individual driver curves onto this graph in a real-life level relationship to the other drivers. This is a very accurate graph of how the 3a sounds. Why the heck do people think it’s a little “reticent” or “thick”? Because it sounds exactly as AR very honestly and accurately represents it to sound on this graph. They also say—quite honestly—on the 3a Technical Sheet that the amplifier’s treble control must be advanced to 2:00 o’clock for flat response. That’s about 5dB, exactly what I said the 3a needs for a treble boost and exactly how much more on-axis output the 10π/11’s tweeter has vs. the 3a’s. The 3a was a bit dull and its woofer level was a bit too high in relation to the other drivers. However, it had a whole bunch or other attributes that were really great, so if you could tolerate a down-sloping response tilt, it was a great speaker: unsurpassed bass from a 25” enclosure, super-wide dispersion, very low overall distortion and very smooth (albeit down-sloping) response. Far more good than bad. Far more. I’ll take it over almost anything in its size/price class and it has those classic looks too. But it’s not perfect. Steve F.
  7. What if some contrarian wise-*ss was to offer the opinion that it was all the tweeter? The AR-11 used the exact same midrange and woofer at the later 3a's, yet the 11 was never accused of sounding "thick and heavy." Indeed, the 11 is considered by most to be an exceptionally neutral, well-balanced speaker. That contrarian wise-*ss would say that perceived "heaviness" is primarily a function of spectral balance--the overall balance of lows-to-mids-to-highs, the general shape and slope of the FR curve. The 3a's slope is downward; the 11's is far more flat. Funny thing--when the treble control on your system is advanced to around 2:00 (say about 5dB more) when playing a 3a, its so-called "heaviness" miraculously disappears. Coincidentally, the 11 has about 5 dB more treble output from its tweeter than the 3a had from its. More treble output and the lower-midrange heaviness goes away. Spectral balance. (BTW, that's what the LST had over the 3a, too--and the LST used identical drivers and x-o topology as the 3a. It's a matter of spectral balance. The LST had none of the lower-mid heaviness that the 3a was accused of.) Steve F.
  8. Steve F

    The Venerable Bose 901 Discontinued After 50 Years

    I worked at Bose for a few years back in the early ‘90’s. Even then, in the beginning of the Home Theater era, Bose could see the writing on the wall for the 901. Stereo 2-channel was on the way out. The 901—complicated enough for the average Joe with its need to integrate the EQ through the tape rec loop in the system—was now a near-impossibility to use with home theater. Bose marketing/sales brass wanted to discontinue the 901 then, but Amar forbade it. There were two things that were bandied about re the 901: First, there was going to be a totally self-powered version (with the EQ’d amps in the pedestal stands, removing the need for the little outboard EQ box). This could be run directly off any line-level equipment and side-step the receiver completely. There were prototypes, but obviously, it never made it into production. The second option for the 901 was this: Amar was amenable to discontinuing the actual 901 Direct Reflecting 9-driver speaker that we all know, but he wanted any replacement (whether it was a standalone speaker, a powered speaker, a complete system, whatever) to be a) daring, envelope-pushing and TOTL, and b ) called the “901.” In other words, any new top-of-the-line Bose product had to be called the “901” if the original 901 speaker was discontinued. Alas, nothing worthy came along and so the original 901 speaker soldiered on, way past its relevance in the marketplace. In the last few years, retailers had stopped carrying it and it was available only from Bose directly, IIRC. Anyway, that’s some inside info on the 901 that you may find interesting. Steve F.
  9. Also, the HD7 from the HD ("High Definition") family that preceded the CRs. This was a 7" 2-way AS speaker with a hard poly 3/4" Tonegen tweeter. Clean-sounding, but thin and a bit bright. Fairly inexpensive, IIRC--I think US retail was around $100 ea. The small sealed HD5 and HD7 were getting killed at retail at the time because ported competitors like the PSB Alpha had a much "richer" tonal balance down to their rolloff point of 60Hz-ish or so. The sealed BAs started their rolloffs at about 70-80. Sure, sealed meant 12 dB/oct vs. 24 dB for the ported guys, but it was the 50-70Hz region that gave a small speaker its 'guts'. The fact that the BAs had greater output at 35 didn't matter at all, because they were all down so far by that point as to be irrelevant. That was the impetus behind the ported CR series, and they were a huge success--not only because of their superior 50-70Hz bass output vs. the HD5 and 7, but also because the CRs were far more sophisticated in cabinet appearance than the cheap 6-sided particleboard/generic cloth grille competition. The CRs had molded resign-reinforced plastic front and rear panels, with integrated wall-hanging hooks, recessed terminal wells, flared ports, etc. They looked like they were three times the price of the PSB Alphas and Energy models, but were actually cost-competitive. The CRs easily matched the Canadians' sound and trounced them at retail. I remember one CES (1995) the owner of Energy coming into our booth with his head of engineering , picking up the CR6 and yelling at his Eng guy in front of all of us, saying, "THIS is how you build a bookshelf speaker!" Steve F.
  10. First of all, if you’re going to insult me and say that my opinion is equal to a container of s***, then at least spell it correctly: crock, not croc. There, that’s better. Now I feel properly admonished. I agree completely with this, however. Completely, totally, 100%. You could also replace the term “hi-fi dealership’ and replace it with ‘loudspeaker manufacturer’ and it would be equally true. What a croc! A hi-fi dealership loudspeaker manufacturer is not an altruistic endeavor to enlighten the would-be customer. It is a business, …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. There is an important concept here that needs to be fleshed out—the vague implication in this passage that since KLH, EPI and Advent gave dealers incentives to “keep favor with them” that it somehow meant that KLH, EPI and Advent didn’t make worthy, credible products. That’s untrue—their products were quite worthy and credible. I’m not talking about personal taste, per se, but there is no question that they endeavored to design and build good speakers. Here’s the point: A company can and should be good at both engineering/design and sales/marketing. If the industry norm behavior at that time was offering spiffs and kickback and high commissions, then so be it. AR should have followed suit. Or suffer at retail. AR chose to suffer at retail. Did they do a lot of business anyway for a nice stretch of time? Sure! But they could have and should have done even more business, for a longer period of time. That’s my point. Now to the Sound Rooms. See above: A hi-fi dealership loudspeaker manufacturer is not an altruistic endeavor to enlighten the would-be customer. It is a business. Why do you think AR had these rooms, with their nice low-key, no-pressure, no sales atmosphere? To “enlighten the customer?” No. To impress the customer. To get the customer to think to themselves (and spread the word to others) that “AR was such a nice company, they have these really cool sound rooms, I heard these great speakers there, the people were so nice, they patiently and calmly answered so many questions, I felt really comfortable, etc, etc.” To what end? Altruism? No, so the customer would seek out and buy AR speakers—regardless of whether or not the customer got a good demo at a store. The AR Sound Room was a device to increase AR’s sales—not to enlighten would-be customers. Because, as Tom said, “A loudspeaker manufacturer is not an altruistic endeavor.” As far as not criticizing any individuals who have passed away, that’s an unusual way of looking at things, in my view. Are we not to evaluate and criticize a deceased past president who plunged us into recession or a coach who made the wrong call in a 1955 game or a general who blundered in a famous Civil War battle? Does the fact that the individual is no longer alive render them immune to criticism? Not in my book. My criticism of AR’s marketing stands, as my opinion, even though those AR individuals have passed away. And my criticism of AR’s marketing in no way diminishes my virtually boundless admiration for their product excellence and superb customer service. Steve F.
  11. I'll reiterate what I said in my post above. This applies to the rental program and is borne out by everyone's retail experiences stated above: "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." Good sales and marketing programs are just as necessary to overall business success as having a great product. They may have been "customer-centric," but the dealer was their 'customer' also. Astonishing that otherwise intelligent people like Villchur, Allison and Landeau could be so incompetent when it came to sales and marketing. With just a little effort, AR could have maintained its market dominance for several more years and could have provided Advent and EPI with some real retail showroom competition in the 1970's. Instead, AR surrendered the retail showroom front without a fight, and retreated to the safety of mail-order discount and military PX. AR couldn't duke it out with Advent on the Tweeter Etc showroom floor, partly because their (AR's) dealer policies were so ill-suited. Steve F.
  12. Correction (cut and paste error) "The dealer would send AR copies of ad invoices from Stereo Review—‘proof of advertising’—and AR would credit them the money in their co-op account" That should be "the local newspaper" or "the dealer's holiday catalog." The dealer needed to provide proof to the manufacturer that they had advertised the product, then the manufacturer would reimburse the dealer out of their co-op fund. Steve F.
  13. This is a topic I’ve written about on these pages at great length, several times in the past, so we’re essentially “re-taking previously conquered territory” here in this post. Still, an interesting subject. This magazine ad is not a consumer ad from Stereo Review or another enthusiast magazine. Rather, this is a trade ad from one of the industry trade magazines that retailers received, such as High Fidelity Trade News. It is an AR ad aimed at the hi-fi retailer, telling them to carry AR speakers. The interesting point of the ad is that AR is practically pleading with the dealer to give them a try, saying, in effect, “We’ve learned our lessons! Now we have co-op advertising and promotions. Really. Carry our brand. We promise you’ll make money selling AR, finally, not like before.” (Co-op advertising was a promotional allowance that the dealer accrued as a percentage of the business they did with that brand, that the manufacturer would pay them upon proof that they advertised the brand. Let’s say dealer A bought $10,000 worth of AR speakers and AR offered a 5% co-op allowance. That’s $500 that would accrue into that dealer’s ad fund for AR. After, say, 2 or 3 months, the dealer might have a few thousand dollars in their AR fund. The dealer would send AR copies of ad invoices from Stereo Review—‘proof of advertising’—and AR would credit them the money in their co-op account.) Every manufacturer did this. Except AR. They were so arrogant and aloof (thinking “we build a better mousetrap and people will beat a path to the dealer’s door”) that they didn’t offer the usual ad allowances, spiffs, promos, etc. that are a normal part of good business. Every 18-year old college marketing freshman learns the 4 ‘P’s’ of marketing: Product Price Promotion Place AR did well on Product, but they obviously never went to college for the other three. As a result, they pretty much got their clock cleaned at retail by Advent, EPI and many others. Villchur, Allison, Landeau, et al. were not exactly marketing gurus. Their written ads were good—particularly Villchur’s—but their dealer policies were naïve and ineffective. Remember, AR wouldn’t have needed those AR Sound Rooms 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. BTW, this trade ad was a flop. The dealers never supported the Classic line. By time the superb ADDs came out with far better dealer policies, the independent dealers (like Tweeter, Hi Fi Buys, United, etc.) were already very mistrustful of AR from years past and the terrific ADDs and Verticals never enjoyed the smashing retail success that they deserved. “Once bitten, twice shy.” AR is a textbook example of two things: 1. How to invent an industry-leading product that was vastly superior for a decade and still pack-leading in years 11-20, and 2. How to fail miserably at marketing those superior products Steve F.
  14. Steve F

    AR's reason for being

    As the owner of a company said on more than one occasion, "We're not here to save the world from bad sound!" Any idea for a commercial product in virtually any field is brought into reality for the purpose of making a profit. The company's founder can--and should--treat people well along the way: their employees, their customers, etc. No reason not to. In fact, inexcusable not to. Villchur was undoubtedly better than 95% in this regard--AR employees were treated very well, he instituted unique service policies such as providing free replacement packaging to customers if needed and paying freight both ways for warranty returns, full testing and re-certification of repaired units, etc. But this is all off-topic to my original post. My original post--if you re-read it--was that many audiophiles think that the owners of these various companies have as their primary concern the absolute, hobbyist-level obsession about the final sound quality as the audiophile customers themselves. I'm simply saying no. That is a concern, but not their primary concern. Don't over-think and over-defend this. I've been there and seen it. Steve F.
  15. Steve F

    AR's reason for being

    Although they may not realize it, the last two posters actually agree with everything I said. First, a clarification: selling 'sh*t' doesn't mean selling bad stuff or hypocritically looking the other way when you crank out mediocre gear. 'Sh*t' is just slang for 'stuff,' as in "We want to sell lots of stuff." The "stuff" is good, high-quality. The reason it's good is primarily because market forces and competition push you to make it good. That's the primary reason. The secondary reason--and it is there, no question--is that the designers/owners of the company have a passion for that kind of thing. As for the 'this tweeter vs. that,' 'air core vs. iron core,' '47Hz vs, 52Hz' comparison, those were simply to demonstrate that I was in the middle of the most detailed decisions made on speakers, from the vantage point of a manufacturer, over a span of several decades with some of the most well-known companies in the business. Obviously, the air core vs. iron core choke doesn't affect the bass response, but there was no representation that it did. It was simply an example of the minute level I was involved in. I was primarily in marketing and product development/Eng management (never in Sales for a speaker company, other than in-field Sales training for our dealers and company salespeople). I supervised, managed and made every manner of engineering/design/voicing decision there was to be made, after I conceived, planned and defined all the products, right down to the wall-mounting hardware. At one company, I spec'd the T-S parameters for the subwoofer drivers from our vender, and specified the internal cabinet volume and amp characteristics. Our design engineer said to me when the samples came in, "Well, ok, I guess I'll do the last 5%, but these are about the best system-matched elements I've ever seen for a family of powered subwoofers. You made my job real easy." Then I wrote every owner's manual, every ad that appeared in Stereo Review and every training manual. For well over 20 years. My first-hand, front-row view of the US speaker industry is an interesting one. I don't mean to imply that the founders of our favorite companies didn't care about performance or that they don't care about their customers. That's not what I said. But they also didn't do what they did for the altruistic reasons that so many audiophiles/hobbyists ascribe to them. That makes me smile. That's what I was saying. Steve F.