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AR Demonstration Room in Grand Central Station Photo

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Here is a photo of the AR Demonstration Room in Grand Central Station in New York around 1970. It was there for years with various AR speakers and electronics and the turntable.

It was only for demonstrations, not for sales. It was permanent for a few years in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Does anyone remember this?

(This was a frame from a youtube video at 2:33 by Trainluvr called 1969 plan photos about NYC.)

ARmusicRm.png

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Many of us are aware of the Grand Central Demonstration Room (and the one in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA), but I've never seen that particular pic. Thanks for the info, great first post, and welcome to CSP. All aboard!!!!

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Thank you for the fast comment. Somehow I have never seen a reference to it anywhere (although I have asked online). I do remember seeing it mentioned in the AR History pages I have read. But I do not recall reading any first-hand remembrance of it from anyone.

The room had the 3a, 2ax, 4x, 5, and 6 models, along with the AR Amplifier, Tuner, and Xa Turntable. I believer the Receiver was there also (the Model R,  as it was formally known).

Ironically, my first system ended up being the AR Receiver, the AR Xa Turntable (with a trusty Shure V15 type 2 cartridge), and a pair of Dynaco A25 speakers.

I had that system for many years and loved it.

(I also had those green Superex Pro-B V headphones.)

 

 

 

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So, did an AR rep operate the room? Was it open to anyone and everyone?Just curious, I suppose, as to how the room was controlled?  I how to wonder how often the turntable required a new stylus?  Plus, it sounds like a prime feeding ground for thieves too.  

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29 minutes ago, Stimpy said:

 I how to wonder how often the turntable required a new stylus?

Every time a kid touched it. LOL

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I certainly remember reading about it and seeing pictures of it way back when. I never got to visit it.  I remember that AR ads were extremely interesting. I remember one featuring either and 3 or a 3a being used at a medical school to amplify the human heartbeat. 

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I remember the AR Demonstration Room but was too young (14 to 16) to afford anything in there. It is noteworthy and laudable that AR opened the Demo Room to create a quiet haven in Grand Central Station and not to sell stuff (although it did generate an awareness of their products.) 

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I spent a lot of my final year of high school in the NYC AR music room.  The guy who ran it on weekdays was always very accommodating and was always happy (or at least, willing) to play the LPs I brought and to answer questions.  These visits had the desired effect & resulted in the eventual purchase of an AR receiver & XA turntable. 

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9 hours ago, Martin said:

I spent a lot of my final year of high school in the NYC AR music room.  The guy who ran it on weekdays was always very accommodating and was always happy (or at least, willing) to play the LPs I brought and to answer questions.  These visits had the desired effect & resulted in the eventual purchase of an AR receiver & XA turntable. 

But no speakers? 

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On 3/31/2018 at 10:13 AM, Stimpy said:

So, did an AR rep operate the room? Was it open to anyone and everyone?Just curious, I suppose, as to how the room was controlled?  I how to wonder how often the turntable required a new stylus?  Plus, it sounds like a prime feeding ground for thieves too.  

We've talked about the AR Music Rooms several times in the past.  AR had two "permanent" music rooms, one in New York City on the west balcony of Grand Central Terminal and the other room was located on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  A third room was temporarily located at the World's Fair one year.  The New York location was, by far, the most-visited of the rooms with over 100,000 visitors each year.  No sales were ever allowed at any of the music rooms, but any and all questions about high-fidelity sound equipment were answered objectively, and the equipment was demonstrated for any visitor.  The main AR employee in the New York Music Room was Walter Berry, but prior to that many AR executives began their careers working in these music rooms.  Gerald Landau, marketing director, and Victor Campos, customer services, started their careers in those rooms. 

On the roof of the building was a pair of AR-3s, originally driven by two Dynaco Mark III amplfiers, to provide music throughout the huge railroad station!  At times, the amplifiers were driven to near-clipping levels, but there were never any damaged AR-3s to my knowledge.

AR-3s_Roof_AR-Music-Room_1963.thumb.jpg.f96c186fa39c8ff313f5f0c9484161bc.jpg

 

The AR Music Room was a fabled venue for high-fidelity music.  The New York room was opened in July, 1959 and was closed in 1974 about a year after AR moved its plant to Norwood.

--Tom Tyson

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Thanks so much for the reply Tom.  That's invaluable information.  Plus, it just further strengthens the knowledge of how much time and effort Acoustic Research put into music, and the promotion of good sound.  Fifteen years running that sound room.  Mind boggling.

That picture is incredible too!  Two AR-3's feeding a space that large is mind blowing.  Now, I want to try tube amps on my AR's.  And were AR's and tube amps often paired together?  Recommended by AR too?

 

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"no sales ever allowed"  Can't even imagine that approach these days, and it's a shame.

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On 5/13/2018 at 6:26 PM, Stimpy said:

Thanks so much for the reply Tom.  That's invaluable information.  Plus, it just further strengthens the knowledge of how much time and effort Acoustic Research put into music, and the promotion of good sound.  Fifteen years running that sound room.  Mind boggling.

That picture is incredible too!  Two AR-3's feeding a space that large is mind blowing.  Now, I want to try tube amps on my AR's.  And were AR's and tube amps often paired together?  Recommended by AR too?

 

AR speakers and Dynaco electronics were frequently paired, and David Hafler of Dynaco (founder) was good friends with AR founder Ed Villchur.  AR usually recommended Dynaco amps for use with their speakers up until the late 1960s, at which time the AR Amplifier was introduced.  AR used Dynaco Mark IIIs and Stereo 70s, as well as PAS-3x preamps, to drive most of the equipment in the AR Music Rooms.  During the Live vs. Recorded concerts with the Fine Arts Quartet and so forth, Dynaco Mark III amps were used as well.  The Mark III could hit undistorted peaks of 120+ watts, so it provided ample power for most uses.  On the other hand, there were many McIntosh MC 60s and MC 275s, as well as Marantz 9Bs and 8s used to drive AR speakers, too.  The AR-3 sounded great with the Marantz 9B amplifier at high-output levels!

--Tom Tyson

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I really enjoyed reading your history lesson here!

A pair of 3's filling GCT with music is a testament to their capabilities and performance!

Unfortunately I was too young to remember it. I was in 10th grade in 1974. We did go to the city often on metro north, just wasn't aware of it.

Glenn

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On 6/7/2018 at 8:29 PM, frankmarsi said:

I was there in 1974 also and the sound did not by any means fill that huge place up with sound.

In fact the sound level emanating from that far corner was a faint output which sounded like a small high fidelity system playing in the far corner of a huge room. The AR speakers were mounted on top of a temporary looking room which was and housed AR’s demo room.

If standing in the center of the huge hall, one had to get very close to that corner that AR was using in order to hear any sort of high quality sound coming out of two speakers into that huge hall where they were lost if in any attempt to fill the hall.

If anything it was a teaser and beckoned a person who may have been interested in hi-fi (me) to walk closer as I did and I was met with a somewhat faint audible ‘hi-fi’ sound. That huge hall had to be thousands and thousands of cubic feet in size. There was no way two or even multiples of AR-3’s would ever fill that space.

Unfortunately that day, I was in a rush and could not give the time to actually walk up the stairs to that second level in order to enter into the AR room. I had to stay on that first level and hurriedly search for the “IRT, Lexington Ave. Local” to get back downtown to the area in which I was working.

I had vowed to myself to return but as fate would have it every other time I was there, I was in the typical NYC rush-hour sprint mode.

Sadly, my last encounter in 1974 with AR’s room was my last.  When I passed through Grand Central Terminal again I did walk up those beautiful marble stairs to an empty corner and all that was left were mop cleaning marks on the floor. Right there and then, I felt that I had missed a part of history that concerned the speakers I was so enamored with.

Later that same day in 1974, I went home and listened to my AR-3a’s with my Dynaco tube PAS-3x pre-amp (self-built) which was coupled to my Dynaco ST-120, (their first transistor amplifier- also self built), only to realize I needed a bigger amplifier and larger room in the future.

But, being in my 20’s and with many other priorities in line, my already good sounding system had to do until a later date. Later that same year I purchased my first Phase Linear PL-400 amplifier and never looked back. 

Now, I finally have a bigger room however, my six AR-3a speakers are relegated to non-use as my dream speakers of that same time period in 1974 and since 1972, the AR-LST’s have taken over my world of listening pleasures. And I utilize 700 watts RMS per-channel @ 4 ohms instead of the measly 60 watts per-channel I had back then 44 years ago for my AR-3a’s that were clearly in need of a more powerful amplifier.

Thinking about it, even the four AR-LST’s that I enjoy today would not be nearly enough to fill that huge and beautiful station-hall. You’d need at least 30 Altec A-7’s with a battery of high power amplifiers.

Another thought I frequently had walking through Grand Central Terminal the hundreds of times that I did wasn’t so much about how Grand it actually was but, how stupid the city planners were in 1963 to demolish “Penn-Staton” which was even more grandiose than Grand-Central.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Station in NYC many decades before. By the mid 1960's when I walked westward after hitting the musical instrument stores on the westside only to see the still obvious dust in the air of its demolition. It was an idiotic and tragic decision by the city to level it and then to actually see the few remnants left of it in person as I did has never left my thoughts.

FM

 

 

       

                                                               PennStation_WikimediaCommons_1911.jpg

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In the mid 1960's I spent many hours inside the AR listening room in Grand Central Station.  Walter Berry gave me his business card.

I have always kept it.  Here it is--Enjoy.

AR_listening _room.jpg

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As a kid I travelled by myself every summer from San Francisco to New York City en route to summers in New Hampshire and Vermont.  My first trip was in 1954 (I was then eight years old) and my last trip like this was 1963.  Usually I flew but sometimes I took the train across the country; either way, I would stay from a few days to a week in NYC and travel by the New York Central from Grand Central up to Albany, NY.  My dad was very much into music and he and I built an HH Scott LK-48 to drive his KLH 6 speakers so I was "primed" to go looking for the AR Music Room as soon as it opened.  It became a regular stopping place for me as I'd wait for my train up the Hudson.  Fun memories ... thanks for the info and photos.

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On 6/7/2018 at 8:40 PM, frankmarsi said:

 

       penn station.jpeg

                                                               PennStation_WikimediaCommons_1911.jpg

"I was there in 1974 also and the sound did not by any means fill that huge place up with sound.

In fact the sound level emanating from that far corner was a faint output which sounded like a small high fidelity system playing in the far corner of a huge room. The AR speakers were mounted on top of a temporary looking room which was and housed AR’s demo room.

If standing in the center of the huge hall, one had to get very close to that corner that AR was using in order to hear any sort of high quality sound coming out of two speakers into that huge hall where they were lost if in any attempt to fill the hall.

If anything it was a teaser and beckoned a person who may have been interested in hi-fi (me) to walk closer as I did and I was met with a somewhat faint audible ‘hi-fi’ sound. That huge hall had to be thousands and thousands of cubic feet in size. There was no way two or even multiples of AR-3’s would ever fill that space."

--FM

________________________________

Frank,

First of all, I am almost certain that the AR-3s were not still mounted on the ceiling of the AR Music Room at the end of the room's existence, which was in fact 1974.  They were actually placed up there near the beginning of the room's existence in 1959-1960, and they were later removed, so what you heard was almost certainly not the AR-3s playing Christmas Music, the only time of the year that they were used.  Consider, too, that the AR-3a was the main attraction in the Music Room by the fall of 1967, and the AR Amplifier was added to the room in 1968, so it would not have made sense to continue with the AR-3/Dyna Mark III combination fifteen years later anyway.  Why would AR even consider keeping the AR-3 on the roof of the building at that time? 

Most likely what you heard in Grand Central Terminal was music from some other location.

The AR-3s were mounted horizontally. splayed outwardly, on AR Stands on top of the building on the West Balcony of the terminal and connected to two Dynaco Mark III amplifiers.  The sound output was fairly high, causing the Mark IIIs to nearly clip (>140 watts peak/channel) at times, and the AR-3s could definitely be heard throughout the station (I've heard it during those early years), but it was very diffuse and could only be heard clearly when there was not a rush of passengers and people milling throughout the huge main concourse.

AR_(09)_Music-Room_Listening-to-AR-2a-AR-3-AR-1.thumb.jpg.6a4b45cd55241b4fbdafa4beaf62a678.jpg

Listening to the AR-2a, AR-3 and AR-1 during the early years in the AR Music Room.

--Tom Tyson

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Hi Tom Tyson, I stated the AR speakers were sitting on top of the square box-room, AKA AR demo-room on opposite corners of the box or room. I don't recall them being on stands, although since that was in 1974 so, I do not recall correctly if they were or not.

The times I passed by, the speaker's audible level was barely distinguishable from the din. The sound as I recall in no way would've or could've filled that cavernous terminal.

My regret was not actually walking into the demo-room because I was usually in a rush as per life's pace in NYC. Sadly, one day when I did have time, the room was gone.  However, going out of the west-side doors of the terminal led one directly to West 45th street and there were a couple of Hi-Fi stores in which one could peruse. Walking further west led to the musical instrument store district.

Sadly, Manhattan to me as a born there and working there over three quarters of my life has drastically changed. Most, if not all, particular 'districts' such as the flower district which was about 5 square blocks has been reduced to about 2 streets only. The hardware and commercial kitchen district has been reduced to maybe only two blocks if that. Forget Canal Street which held out for decades as another hardware and electrical-parts district which has been reduced to car-stereos and the sale of expired rolls of masking tape. Manufacturing has all but disappeared from that boro and typically all of the countless 'mom & pop' stores of almost every genre are gone. There was a time when every corner you turned would've led to another sort of 'district' with a whole other character and ambience but sadly,no more.

Having been born there and like I said worked the entirety of my adult life there, it has lost all of its attraction for me. It's very sad because NYC was almost in a way of speaking an amusement park of life and in of itself an education by merely walking thru the streets and neighborhoods. One used to be able to find almost any object, any item, any machine, any sort of clothing that was ever made available to the consumer. And although progress is inevitable, I'm saddened and put-off by the changes that have occurred to such an historical place.

Now, for veterans of that hell hole like myself have retired and relocated as far away as ideally possible. It has become any amusement park attraction of a different nature for tourists and millennials and others who only have a Hollywood's film visual perception of it. And the folks who partook in building it are mostly all dead by now. My father had worked from 1927 to 1929 as a 'timber-man' in construction for the further extension of subway lines to uptown "Harlem" on 125th Street and Lenox Ave. station till the 'Depression' hit and was forced to find menial work.

It's just not what it use to be any longer, and to a born and breed native as myself, I find it uncomfortable and undesirable  Luckily, many of the 100+ year old buildings still exist so, if so inclined, a person who enjoys history can still see a number of notable sites. The days of me being a teenager in 1963 to 1968 and going there to see the music-district stores because I was becoming an instrument player, or to stroll comfortably through many of the interesting areas are all but gone.

Mostly, the whole place has become so homogenized and gentrified that it has lost all of its original character. In  my mind, the death-knell began in the early to mid 1980's. By the early 1990's it was obvious 'Ole NYC'  had changed and not for the better.

There was a movie called: "Escape from New York ", made in 1980 which I fear may become a reality in the distant future.

But hey , that's just one man's opinion after living there for 64 years.  I'm sure for an out-of-towner it may still hold a certain allure if for nothing else, the buildings are and will be overwhelming impressive for an out of towner. For me,  once I watched that second terrorist plane hit the second tower from the 1800 foot distance from which I was standing, it was sort of the last nail in the coffin. When I felt the ground shake from the south tower collapsing, I felt it was the end of the world.

In many ways I still miss the old NYC from my heyday of the 1970's and '80s but, I refuse even to visit.

FM

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Wow!  I was never aware of those. Though they do have that early '60s brass colored feet/leg sort of look, they seem barely suited for the task.

Then again, there's a new trend of placing bookshelf speakers on floors by some folks here so, that photo may do some good as inspiration.

 

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A couple more catalog pages for the stands plus an ad for the later speaker base. And how about that rental plan?

AR speaker stand 2.jpg

misc. AR products.jpg

AR speaker base.jpg

AR rental.jpg

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