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Value of AR-3a

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Looing to potentially sell a pair of AR-3a speakers that my father purchased and stored for the last 40ish years. What is the best way to vaule these speakers? Appreciate any information. Thank you.

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I just purchased a pair of fully restored 3a,s the works including refinishing the wood to like new and new grill cloth and labels for 800.00 plus 120.00 shipping. They are beautiful and sound the same,.

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I'm sorry to bring back this long dormant thread, but I have an oppurtunity to buy a restored pair of 3a's 10 minutes from my home for $700. Here's the sellers description:

 

 

'A pair of restored AR3a. The woofers were refoamed by Carl Richard of Carl's Custom Loudspeakers (http://www.classicloudspeakerservices.com). Carl is THE man on all things AR. Receipt and test graphs are included. Crossover components have all been replaced. The pots were replaced with proper and expensive Ohmite rheostats. Midrange domes and tweeters are original and working beautifully.

The cabinets have scuffs and a few nicks that are appropriate for their age but overall are not just presentable but rather beautiful. The grills are original and intact, as are the badges."

 

Ive seen pictures and they look great. According to the seller, he used electrolytic caps in the low section, a mix of polyprops(large Axon with a Wilma MKP bypass) in the mid, and a Erse poly in the tweeter. These were all recommended and supplied by Carl. 

It sounds like a pretty good deal to me, but hoping to get some opinions from the experts. 

 

 

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You can't go wrong on work and parts from Carl. As long as the seller put everything he got from Carl together right, $700 for a pair of 3a's you don't need to do anything to and don't have to have shipped to you is a good deal.

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Those would be hard to beat especially with those nice original grills. The Ohmites run $150 and up by themselves.

Roger

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Thank you Roger. I'm going to listen to them this morning, with intention of buying. 

I know this question has been asked a million or more times on this forum, but let me go for million and one. What difference should I expect between the sound of 3a's, vs. 3's? I own 3's now, but unfortunately one of them is having issues that I'm finding difficult to fix(long story that I don't want to get into here), and like them, when working. I assume the 3a's are similar? I'd be driving them with a McIntosh 4100 receiver. 

 

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Considering the stated condition, $700 is certainly below the going price on eBay.

Also, the 3a is going to be a lot easier to keep running, given the universe of available parts.

How did they sound to you? How did they look in person?

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What are you afraid of? I am lost here. Everything done to this fine pair is top notch. You will never lose a dime buying them at this excellent price. And you are concerned on how they sound compared to the 3? Call me confused but they would already be in my living room if it was me....:)

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I got hung up and didn't get a chance to get over there. Maybe tomorrow.  

 

I wonder, is there much audible difference between the early 3a's with the alnico, cloth woofer and the later versions? Is the earlier 3a closer to the sound of the 3?

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5 minutes ago, lakecat said:

What are you afraid of? I am lost here. Everything done to this fine pair is top notch. You will never lose a dime buying them at this excellent price. And you are concerned on how they sound compared to the 3? Call me confused but they would already be in my living room if it was me....:)

Not afraid. I read a number of comments on various forums that preferred the 3 over the 3a. While I haven't heard  the 3a's, I have the 3 and the comments were very accurate in how they depicted that speaker.

But all of this doesn't mean I won't get the 3a's anyway. Just got busy today and didn't have a chance to get over there. I also have a couple pairs of other speakers that I enjoy so I'm a little up in the air whether I need them. Just doing some thinking is all. 

 

 

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Thank you.

I've spoken to the seller, and cleared my morning and will be picking them up tomorrow. 

 

I'd still be interested in what folks think about sonic differences between the original 3a, and the later edition. The High Fidelity review is specific to the early version, noting that the "same woofer is used" as the 3. 

 

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Yes, that would be the alnico version, with damper ring and cast frame.

Although I've owned a couple of pairs of AR-3 systems over the years, I've not had personal experience with early-version AR-3a speakers using this woofer. These speakers are less-common, and I believe Tom Tyson has written that the foam-surround ferrite woofer was put into use in 1969, so there were only a couple of years of alnico-woofer AR-3a production.

A claimed preference for the AR-3 over the 3a might be an attempt to rewrite things a bit; my recollection of the era is that guys who went from the AR-3 to the 3a didn't look back. That said, I can certainly understand how someone could be very happy & satisfied with the AR-3.

Looking forward to your initial impressions, especially with the Mac receiver.

 

 

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The topic of 3 vs. 3a will no doubt get lots of people here to chime in.

 

This statement by ar_pro certainly rings true:

“...my recollection of the era is that guys who went from the AR-3 to the 3a didn't look back.”

That said, let me give you my impressions. While the 3 was an incredibly important and successful speaker, to my ears, the 3a was a definite advancement. Yes, it was a bit “thicker” in the lower midrange than the 3 (despite the 3 crossing over much higher, 1000 Hz compared to 575 Hz), but the much wider dispersion of the mids and highs of the 3a gave it a notably ‘unboxy’ sound and in this regard, it was an improvement over the 3. I also found the 3a tweeter to be a bit more detailed and “sweeter” than the 3. The 3 had no obvious audible vices, but the 3a just sounded a bit more open, even with the trace of lower-mid heaviness.

Later 3a’s had a different woofer choke that reduced the output at very upper end of the woofer’s passband by about 2dB. That change seemed to correspond to the re-spec’ing of the 3a’s woofer-midrange crossover from 575 to 525 in 1974.

From a bass extension and impact standpoint, I never noticed any real difference between early alnico/cloth woofers and later foam/ceramic woofers, as long as they were all made in MA. Later Tonegen Japanese woofers—from the early 80’s on—seemed to have very slightly less extreme deep bass, but that was in the 91 era, not the 3a era.

 

Steve F.

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Thanks again for all of your feedback and prodding. I just got home from picking these guys up, and I'm quite sure I made the right decision. One never really knows when one enters into an arrangement to buy used stuff, restored stuff, whatever, but having the ability to go and listen and pick up a few miles from my home is an advantage that I can't put a price on. Not only does it save me from outlaying the extra $$ for shipping, but it allows me to meet and talk with the seller. And this case, the seller/restorer was the real deal. You've seen some of his gear in the pictures that provided. Those monster speakers are Altec 604's. His very unassuming and modest house is filled to the brim with some of the most esoteric gear that I have ever seen. Amazing turntables(EMT, Thorens, Garrard 301, etc), speakers,  modified or rebuilt by him, tube gear galore, a jazz vinyl library to die for. I could go on and on but I don't have the time. And a very nice guy to boot. These were his last 3a's. He's had and restored 4 pairs in the last couple of years. I certainly felt confident that I was buying from a guy who not only knows his stuff, but is passionate about it as well. 

As for the speakers, well they sound great. I'm not getting  the overwhelming bass bump that I was somewhat concerned about. Rather, I'm hearing what sounds like quite a neutral speaker. I've got the pots on both turned just past the midway point on both the high and mid for both speakers, and that seems about right, at least for starters. 

So I'm happy to have another pair of AR's in the house. I'm looking forward to getting my 3's back, hopefully back to normal, and be able to compare them with these. I will say that yes, I think the 3's did go a little deeper then what I"m hearing from these '74 3'a(SN#'s in the 90xxx range), but I'm very early on into my listening session so that might change. I also didn't have a chance to really test the 3's with the 4100 before I had to bring them in and the amps that I was using for them were mostly larger watt amps(150-350 watts) then the 100 watts that the 4100 pumps out at 4 ohms. I will be trying other amps with them down the line just for kicks. 

That's it for now. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well, congratulations on your new AR-3a's!

The perceived difference in bass seems to be consistent with the development of AR's top systems; that is, the woofer appears to call less attention to itself than in the earlier AR-1 or AR-3. This, I believe, is the neutrality that you've mentioned, and is the result of an excellent balance between the AR-3a's three drivers. The later 3-way AR-11 and AR-91 might appear even "more neutral" in comparison to earlier models, as that sonic signature was further refined. Don't get me wrong - these speakers are all of a family, but with subtle differences in presentation, for sure.

When you get your AR-3's up & running again, you'll need to recruit some muscle for quick-switch A/B testing. ^_^

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The 12" AR woofer, over about a 20 year period, gradually lost Hz in Fs / resonance,
as they tightened, presumably, the spider and surround in the interest of higher power
handling / protecting the voice coil. As I understand it.

I have a pair of early and late 3a systems. I prefer the cloth surround, perhaps
entirely on aesthetics. They are the mains; foam ones are the surrounds. I haven't
attempted A/B testing. Yet.

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My initial comments came after playing a vinyl copy of Ornette Coleman's "Dancing On Your Head", a 1977 album that has terrific music, but is not the best recorded lp. After that, I played a 200g reissue of Ike Quebec's "Bossa Nova", and the bass hit me in the face like a brick. I've been playing with the pots a bit to align them where they sound best(hi's just off max, mids just above the white dot) and the sound is rich, but with a sparkling high end. Again, not at all what I had convinced myself they would sound like. Lesson learned. 

On 10/28/2016 at 7:40 PM, ar_pro said:

When you get your AR-3's up & running again, you'll need to recruit some muscle for quick-switch A/B testing.

That's my exercise. Do it all the time with several other pairs of speakers that I own. Much more satisfying then just going to the gym and lifting barbells. 

 

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5 minutes ago, dxho said:

The 12" AR woofer, over about a 20 year period, gradually lost Hz in Fs / resonance,
as they tightened, presumably, the spider and surround in the interest of higher power
handling / protecting the voice coil. As I understand it.

I have a pair of early and late 3a systems. I prefer the cloth surround, perhaps
entirely on aesthetics. They are the surround pair; cloth ones are the mains. I haven't
attempted A/B testing. Yet.

I would love to hear an early pair of 3a's. Some day. 

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I decided to connect my Crown XLS 1000 amp, using the Mac 4100 as a pre, to see if the higher current/higher wattage, might increase the bass response a bit. It did. I would the 4100 alone would be plenty for the 3a's at a conservative 100wpc @ 4 ohms. But there's no doubt that the 350 watts that the Crown provides makes a significant difference. Is it possible that the 4100 just doesn't have enough steam to adequately power the 3a's on it's own? I find it hard to believe, but it's the tuner and preamp capabilities that I'm most interested in, so if the 1000 is the key to opening up these speakers a l ittle more so be it. 

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