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How would you achieve that AR sound modern components?

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Supposing you really enjoy that acoustic suspension sound "invented" by AR and supposing you no longer wished to "struggle" keeping those 40 to 50 year old speakers running and properly tuned. How would you achieve that "AR sound" with devices in today's audio market?

There is a current thread about the resurgence of KLH started by Frank, but I did not see any AS offerings in that new line. (It's possible that AS speakers will be included, but as I said, I did NOT see any.)  

Thanks, Frank, for that thread as it is interesting to see an American company ... trying!

Anyhow, I have been giving this subject some thought and given that I would be willing to spend some $'s, but NOT mortgage my house, I think stacking something like these:

https://www.nhthifi.com/products/10654-superzero-2-1-our-amazing-mini-monitor?category_id=1964842-bookshelf-speakers#specs

On a pair of these:

https://www.svsound.com/collections/1000-series/products/sb-1000

Just might yield acceptable results.  The SVS 12 inch, front firing sub is a sealed box and the NHT unit is also sealed. The specs on the NHT rate it down to 85Hz, but my suspicion is that around 120 is more realistic. At the same time the SVS is rated up to 260Hz, but again looking at the actual graph, 200 is more realistic.  My point is there should be adequate "room" to merge these units using the variable xover on the sub.

Two questions:

1. What do you think of this stack?

2. How would you achieve that AR sound with modern components?

 

Regards,

Jerry

 

PS: Just happened to think that for Frank and his LST's, you could get 4 of the NHT units and wire them two units for each channel in parallel.

 

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The two bookshelf models in the new KLH line are acoustic suspension. I haven't heard any of the new speakers mentioned so far (I actually haven't heard any new speakers at all for several years now), but I'd probably start by checking the KLH "Albany" out first if only because I'd prefer wood cabinets to black or white.

Whatever new speakers you start with, you'll probably have to reproduce the classic AR on-axis response with a good EQ, but there would still be the dispersion to deal with at least if the sound you're after is that of a classic AR with dome tweets and mids.

Possibly, a 7.1 or 9.1 surround system with a lot of manual adjustments could be tweaked to produce a simulation of the reverberant field, at least horizontally. Otherwise, you'd be looking at ganging a bunch of the smaller units together into some sort of 3D array similar to what Micro Acoustics did with the tweeters on their FRM models.

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4 hours ago, genek said:

The two bookshelf models in the new KLH line are acoustic suspension.

Had to check out the website. That Albany does look nice but with a 5.25" "woofer" it is basically a satellite. Think I would prefer the NHT Super Zeroes Jerry linked. I have 2 pair of the earlier iterations of the Super Zero and they are quite nice. Or maybe one of their other satellites https://www.nhthifi.com/products?categories=satellite-speakers Thank you KK.

Hey! They've brought back the KLH Model Nine! And for a mere $25,000.00! Let's see... they retailed for $1,140 back in the day. When was that? 1960-ish? Adjusting for inflation that would be about $9,600 today.

Nope. Too expensive.

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10 hours ago, onplane said:

My point is there should be adequate "room" to merge these units using the variable xover on the sub.

Replicating the musicality of an AR12 inch system with subs and sats is a pretty high bar.

Integrating the Sats to the Subs is not as easy as it seems.  If you raise the crossover point of the sub to a frequency that is well above the 3db down point of the sat you will double the output of some mid and high bass frequencies and create an octave to octave imbalance.   In your example of a 200hz crossover it would mean the sats and the sub would be covering frequencies between 85hz to 200hz.  Using the subs in question, the only way to trim out the imbalance is to use an equalizer, which seems simple enough except whenever you change the sub volume controls or crossover point it forces an equalizer change and still doesn't shutdown the sats below 200hz.  To avoid this complexity you could simply lower the crossover point to just above the 3db down point of the satellite but the problem with this simple approach is these small speakers sound like crap in the mid bass area and below which is why 200hz is a great idea. 

To replicate the AR power response you will need a left/right satellite array. The wiring will get complicated unless you connect through a speaker selector switch, or a second amplifier to which you will also connect the equalizer. Adding an equalizer and an amp will give you at least 2 more volume controls per side giving you even more ways to create an imbalance but it will also allow you to silence the sats below the crossover point and have cleaner sound.

If you are going to use only one satellite per side an alternative would be to use a larger satellite that actually sounds good in the mid bass area so you can lower the crossover point to 60 or so and maybe keep the whole system simple.  

I could be wrong and may have left something out, it is 2am, but I think I summarized the problem pretty well.

Adams

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Hi Jerry;

I have a couple of NHT Super Zero 2.1 speakers - they are great little speakers.  I originally purchased them with the intent to do something like you described, using AR91 speakers for the bottom end with an external Parts Express 2 way passive crossover.  One of my 91s was in need of a midrange driver; which I was able to pickup and install before the project got going.

Simply Speakers has replacement AR 12" drivers (and dome mids and dome tweeters); AR 9, 90, 91/92(AR58S?) crossover drawings are on this site - just have build them.

For less than $1500- in materials, with some wood working and soldering skills, it is possible to build brand new replicas of a pair of AR91 or AR58S speakers; a pair of AR9 speakers for less than $1000- additional in materials.  Labor in the USA (if you paid someone to do the work); would be much more than the materials.

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I have been hoping someone would do all of the heavy lifting to find a solution of reasonable cost and complexity using subs and satellites, so I could ride their coat tails.  

The simplest way I know to do this is to use a sub with a high pass filter but, few subs have this feature and they are of the more expensive variety.  Two of these subs will cost in the 4 to 5k range which to me is over the mark considering ……….well, several things.

The next simplest solution is to begin with a good AV receiver using its crossover features to create cutoff filters-------a low pass filter for the subs and high pass filter for the satellites. 

At this point you either decide to use speakers A and B on the AV unit to power two satellite pairs or  use the pre-outs to an equalizer to an external amp that will drive two satellite arrays. 

You still must work out the octave to octave balance at the transition between subs and satellites, but this is practically doable at not too great a cost. 

Aadams

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17 hours ago, JKent said:

Had to check out the website. That Albany does look nice but with a 5.25" "woofer" it is basically a satellite.

Yes, and unfortunately, KLH's new subwoofers are ported. A mixed-brand stack like the one Jerry describes is the only option if someone wants a acoustic suspension system with a large woofer.

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Something like this is the least expensive way to go between the woofers and the satellites:

https://www.parts-express.com/subwoofer-crossover-8-ohm-150-hz-200w--260-220

some of the component values may need adjusting for your specific drivers, and you may need an L pad on the woofer or satellite side.  Note that it can be split in two.

 

EDIT (add): to calculate crossover values see: https://www.diyaudioandvideo.com/Calculator/SpeakerCrossover/ 

and another: http://www.apicsllc.com/apics/Misc/filter2.html

Edited by nfmisso
added link to crossover calculator

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Could one use a MiniDSP programmed to match the frequency curve of the AR speaker?  It seems the dynamic response would be different (i.e. impossible to match), but the general voicing character might be close enough to be believable.

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4 minutes ago, Glitch said:

Could one use a MiniDSP programmed to match the frequency curve of the AR speaker?  It seems the dynamic response would be different (i.e. impossible to match), but the general voicing character might be close enough to be believable.

Yes; a person with the skills would find it relatively easy.

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16 hours ago, genek said:

 A mixed-brand stack like the one Jerry describes is the only option if someone wants a acoustic suspension system with a large woofer.

Agree. 

To help focus this discussion I am including a photo.  I know for sure this works and should work using any linear mini two way.  The difficult part is integration of the bass units.  If someone can arrive at a tidy, cost effective, musical, wide-dymanic range, repeatable implementation of a subwoofer with a satellite stack it will be a great step forward IMO.

Arraysnip.JPG.78d4ba9dc3672a4770a3ba026e3f5cce.JPG

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Years ago I had what I believe were excellent results pairing a big VMPS subwoofer (12" woofer, 15" passive radiator) with a pair of Allison: Four speakers. I used a Hafler DH220 amp for the satellites and a bridged Dynaco ST-120 for the sub. But the key ingredient was an Audio Control Richter Scale electronic crossover. The Richter Scale encorporated not just a crossover but also a 6-band equalizer (for 22.5 - 125 Hz) and an audio analyzer with tone generator and dedicated microphone. It also provided the bridging for the power amp and some other niceties like EPL.

Those Richter Scales are exorbitantly priced (IMHO) on ebay these days. Shoulda kept mine but I was "downsizing."

I've since "upsized" a bit. I installed a plate amp in the VMPS sub and use it in a surround system where the front main speakers are Cizek KA-1s and the various surrounds are all nice little acoustic suspension jobs from Cambridge SoundWorks, Cizek, NHT, RatShack and rbh (oddly, no ARs in the mix). Balancing this conglomoration is a DSX Audyssey system (Onkyo TX-NR1008 receiver) that has a mic and audio analyzer, and does it all automatically. It sounds very good to me.

ANYWAY... The point is I think the sound of a 12" AR speaker system could be achieved with inexpensive satellites such as AR-4x or  maybe even something smaller such as the NHT Super Zero or C1 or _______ (fill in the blank). Since Jerry specified "something in today's market" let's go with the NHTs. Then add a big sub that goes REALLY deep along with a good crossover, EQ, and audio analyzer. Some will argue that 2 subs are needed. I think that depends on the crossover point but, as they say, "it couldn't hurt."

-Kent

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On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 7:37 PM, genek said:

Possibly, a 7.1 or 9.1 surround system with a lot of manual adjustments could be tweaked to produce a simulation of the reverberant field, at least horizontally. Otherwise, you'd be looking at ganging a bunch of the smaller units together into some sort of 3D array similar to what Micro Acoustics did with the tweeters on their FRM models.

I agree again.  At first I thought you meant tuning a surround set up but, instead using all channels as either stereo L or R or Sub would  drive an array, crossover the subs, high cut the satellites, permit some equalization and appear to be an all in one box solution.  If you want more headroom then connect a 2 ohm capable amp from the LR pre-outs.    The subs mentioned by the OP plus a good quality 7.1 or 9.1 would be about the price of an AR3a pair in 1972 dollars.  The satellites can be purchased new or used and aren't that costly.  Thank you genek, this looks like it hits all the criteria I laid out for a solution i.e. tidy, cost effective, musical, wide-dymanic range, repeatable implementation of a subwoofer with a satellite stack.  

Adams

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8 hours ago, Aadams said:

At first I thought you meant tuning a surround set up 

I was. My 5.1 preamp is an old model, but it allows me to manually adjust the delay in the rear surround speakers. If modern surround systems allows the same delay adjustment for all the side and rear firing satellites, then theoretically it might be possible to feed in two-channel stereo and create a simulation of the reverberant field of a wide  dispersion stereo pair and control the size of the "virtual room." 7.1 or 9.1 might not do the job, but maybe the new 10.2, 12.2 or 22.2 schemes.

 

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42 minutes ago, genek said:

I was.

I guess I read correctly the first time.  I could not handle that much complexity but my confusion led me to discover that some 9.2 amps will support 3 LR stereo pairs simultaneously.  It turns out a few 5.1 receivers will do everything required and drive two pair down to 4 ohms but to drive 3 or 4 stereo pairs in an array you will need another power amp, which for me is OK.

Aadams

 

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11 hours ago, Aadams said:

I agree again.  At first I thought you meant tuning a surround set up but, instead using all channels as either stereo L or R or Sub would  drive an array, crossover the subs, high cut the satellites, permit some equalization and appear to be an all in one box solution.  If you want more headroom then connect a 2 ohm capable amp from the LR pre-outs.    The subs mentioned by the OP plus a good quality 7.1 or 9.1 would be about the price of an AR3a pair in 1972 dollars.  The satellites can be purchased new or used and aren't that costly.  Thank you genek, this looks like it hits all the criteria I laid out for a solution i.e. tidy, cost effective, musical, wide-dymanic range, repeatable implementation of a subwoofer with a satellite stack.  

Adams

Here is what I am doing with a 7.1 system.  While neither tidy nor cheap, it is an example of what can be done on the other end of the spectrum to yield a lot of bang for the buck if employing all used equipment.

- AR9's as fronts ($1200...but probably more nowadays)

- AR915 (Euro version of AR91) as center ($150)

- AR90's as surrounds ($800)

- Boston A70's as rears mounted up near the ceiling to add some height to the sound field ($100)

- 7 channel processor/amp that is stable down to 2 ohms and will pump 200 wpc into the big 4 ohm AR's ($1700)

- Lexicon Logic7 that extracts ambience from stereo recordings; keeps the primary soundfield up front; and also spreads the bass around to all 7 speakers.   That's a key concept...spreads the bass around to all 7 speakers...which effectively results in having a subwoofer in each corner along with whatever bass response the AR915 and Boston A70's can produce.

While not cheap at about $4000, I consider the system cost effective given the very high performance and the fact that it eliminates problems associated with integrating subs into a system.  (And there will be no discussion about my wife banishing me and my big AR's to the basement.)

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On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 4:41 PM, onplane said:

Two questions:

1. What do you think of this stack?

2. How would you achieve that AR sound with modern components?

 

Onplane

This is your thread and we have not heard from you.  Now that a few of us have tossed out ideas, what are your thoughts at this point?

Adams

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7 hours ago, Aadams said:

Onplane

This is your thread and we have not heard from you.  Now that a few of us have tossed out ideas, what are your thoughts at this point?

Adams

Well, Adams, it certainly gets confusing, especially when you bring in AVR units.  I don't have a lot of experience with these.  I do own a Marantz 5.1 AVR with Koss mains, KLH rears and an AR sub. For movies, it is great!

For music... not so hot.  I much prefer my AR's powered by a rather standard two channel amp.  (Actually my unit has two full range amps in a single box allowing bi-amping with just the three terminals AR provided.)

Anyhow, when my AR's finally succumb, I know I would never be happy with a single sub for music. I simply must have a sub for each channel.  Further, I want sealed units, because I enjoy the bass delivered by the AS system. I can hear the difference over ported systems and I simply prefer the AS sound.

So with the "heavy lifting" being done by the subs, and having found in SVS sealed units capable of being driven by speaker level inputs, my next problem is to find AS units to handle the mids and highs.  (I believe Rel is correct that integrating subs into music systems works better when the subs "see" exactly the same signal as the mains with any and all phase shifts introduced in the power amps. Next the SVS unit can easily go to 200Hz, which is another plus.)

So to reiterate, the remaining problem would be to achieve the dispersion of the domed mid and that is NOT easy. My "gut feel" is that the NHT unit with the 4 inch "mid/woofer" would do this better than units with larger drivers.  My fear is that larger drivers would just become far too directional at and near the xover with the tweeters. Thus giving up dispersion to gain... what?

So I am back to where I started. Clearly, the SVS/NHT stack is not perfect, but it still might be the closet you can get with modern components. My only real fear is with the NHT SuperZero and will it really get down to the range of 200 to 150Hz smoothly. Possibly members who have them can comment.

 

Regards,

Jerry

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Buy Boston Acoustics t-1030 3-way, refoam and recap them, EQ them to sound like ARs.

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14 hours ago, Pete B said:

Buy Boston Acoustics t-1030 3-way, refoam and recap them, EQ them to sound like ARs.

Evidence from an expert supporting my own experience that from around 200 to 12000hz any reasonably linear full range speaker can be equalized to have the character of another speaker.  They are never identical but can sometimes be very close.  I congratulate myself.

Aadams

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10 minutes ago, Aadams said:

Evidence from an expert supporting my own experience that within the 50 to 12000hz frequency range just about any reasonably linear speaker can be equalized to have the character  another speaker.  They are never identical but can sometimes be very close.  I congratulate myself.

Aadams

That was reported in the AES ages (decades) ago, IIRC it was from research at JBL.

AR people believe that acoustic suspension bass is different/unique so that is why I chose a BA speaker,

one that I happen to like.

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26 minutes ago, Pete B said:

That was reported in the AES ages (decades) ago, IIRC it was from research at JBL.

The news still hasn't spread much beyond engineering circles IMO.  I have seen this opinion asserted in this forum in way-back threads but can't recall it being tied to AES research.  Still, good to hear.  Anyway, the OP wants to use new product rather than old, what approach do you suggest?

Note:  I changed to 200-12000 above because 6" ported mini speakers begin to differentiate below 200hz in my experience.

Adams

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People do not want to believe the research, there is no point in trying to convince them.

I'd keep the lower limit just do not expect a small speaker to perform like a big one -

common sense.  The two speakers need to have similar large signal capability.

I probably don't know the current market well enough,   perhaps the Infinity Primus 363

and if they MUST have sealed plug the ports and EQ to get the bass back.  Add a sealed

sub crossed very low if you need more bass.

I don't see any issue using speakers that are 20-30 years old rather than 50 and just having

some work done one them even if you have to pay for it.

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How about the humble pair of AR 8B speakers that sound like a pair of reference speakers costing 15x as much.  Perhaps the reviewer has a point here in terms of considering duplicating AR sound with modern equipment.

 

Quoted from http://www.hifi-classic.net/review/acoustic-research-ar8b-349.html

“Although it is hardly reasonable, we could not resist making an A/B comparison between the AR8B system and our reference speakers, which cost about fifteen times as much. Strange as it might seem, the similarities between their tonal characteristics far outweighed the differences. This is not to suggest that they are in any way equivalent speakers but only that a flat, reasonably well-dispersed output from 100 to 10,000 Hz is a key to good high-fidelity reproduction, and these two very different systems share that property. Once you have met that basic requirement, it is the refinements-such as extended response at both ends of the frequency spectrum, higher power-handling ability, and different dispersion patterns-that distinguish most speakers from each other and are responsible for much of the price differences between them.

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