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MaineJim

AR-1 curbside

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Hello all from a total newbie here. Great forum and have enjoyed browsing. I have a couple questions about a single speaker I scored from the free pile at our recycle center today. The speaker is labeled AR-1 and the box is in un-finished condition. The serial # is 07979. The speaker appears to be in fairly good condition except the grill is a bit stained. There are quite a few connection options on the back which is my first question. How to connect to a basic Yamaha SS amp. My worry is there may be a way to burn the thing out by accident. Another question is any idea of the age of it. And finally are there any comparable modern speakers out there that could be matched with it? Any help appreciated.

Thanks

Jim

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If it's an AR-1 with the 8" mid/tweeter, this one speaker on ebay will get you at least one and possibly 2 pair of AR-3 or AR-3a speakers. This handles a couple of your questions: the 3 is the same (or equivalent) woofer as the 1 with better mid and high end response. It's also the same cabinet. And, of course, it gets you a matching pair (or pairs).

If it's the woofer-only unit (AR-1W), the AR-3 or AR-3a will be the match. You'll need something to reproduce the mids and highs for the 1W, but otherwise, you'll have your pair. The other option is finding another AR-1 or 1W.

As far as power, you really need a stout amp capable of an honest 4 ohms (and lower). Most people are saying around a 100 watts FTC-rated is the starting point. Yes, it's possible to burn things out by accident. Match the impedance of the amp to the speaker.

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Unbelievable the "finds" people come up with! Another member recently stole--um, I mean "bought"--a pair of AR-1s and a JansZen electrostatic for $22: http://www.classicsp...?showtopic=7252

Check this page in our Library and at the bottom is the AR Model History: http://www.classicsp...ustic_research/ Also follow the link on that page for the Original Models Pictures and you'll see Tom Tyson's AR-1.

The AR-1 was introduced in 1954 and was the first modern hi-fi speaker. Before that, to get bass you needed a speaker the size of a Volkswagen. You can read about the history. It's all quite fascinating: Edgar Vilchur, Henry Kloss et al started Acoustic Research in Cambridge Mass to manufacture and sell Vilchur's revolutionary acoustic suspension speaker. He'd been turned down by the biggies of the day, like Bozak, who thought he was a crackpot. Kloss was one of Vilchur's students and he convinced Edgar to go into business himself. ALL of the classic New England speakers that followed (that we celebrate in this forum) are direct descendants of the AR-1.

What you have is a true find. A museum piece. A single AR-1 just sold on ebay for $1,000 (see item # 140751578197).

You can make a wonderful mono system with it, as long as you use a powerful enough amp, rated for 4 ohms. Maybe Tom Tyson or another member who knows this speaker will chime in. Is the hookup instruction still on the back of yours? Apparently the AR-1 (unlike the AR-3 or 3a) COULD be driven by an amp rated for 8 ohms. The instructions, visible in Tom's photo, indicate one way to hook it up for 4 ohms and a different hookup for 8 ohms.

Congratulations and welcome to the CSP! How about posting some photos?

Kent

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Thanks for the answers. There is a large paper instruction pasted on the back. On the label it reads AR-1 without a W so I think this is the model. I will take a few photos tomorrow and post them. I wasn't aware it was worth this much. I will also connect it to the amp I have and see if it can drive it.

Jim

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Congratulations. You just beat out Austin, TX for the most envy-inspiring AR find of all time. :)

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Thanks for the answers. There is a large paper instruction pasted on the back. On the label it reads AR-1 without a W so I think this is the model. I will take a few photos tomorrow and post them. I wasn't aware it was worth this much. I will also connect it to the amp I have and see if it can drive it.

Jim

Hi there

As the speaker you have may be in undamaged condition with full functioning drivers, all caution must be used.

Allowing that the drivers are original and undamaged you may have a classic speaker worth $1,000.00+.

Please be certain of your connections and use low power in listening to lessen the chance of driver damage.

Do not remove either driver and keep anything metallic away from the front of the drivers.

The cloth/paper driver fronts may be easily damaged if they are touched, even gently.

If you can wire a 1 amp fast blow glass fuse inline with either wire.

You have a classic speaker which started hifi at an affordable price and small package.

Congrats.

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I've got a few photos here. You can see the stain I mentioned and everything fairly clearly. I still haven't connected it for a test as I am going to get the fuse before attempting.

Jim

AR1LAbel3.jpg

AR1Label2.jpg

AR1Lable.jpg

AR1back.jpg

AR1Front.jpg

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Nice grab, MaineJim.

You have stumbled upon a truly rare and exceptional find, and as others have already noted, do treat your speaker with care. Your pics are very good and despite the obvious grille stain and signs of age, this old lady is holding up remarkably well. It is astounding that the paper labels are in good shape and that the jumper wires and grille badge are also intact. It appears to me that you can see two driver cut-outs thru the grille cloth, so I suspect your speaker is very similar to this one from the library, belonging to member Tom Tyson.

post-112624-0-08717800-1338181024_thumb.

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Very early AR speakers were available in a variety of finishes, including Walnut, Mahogany, Birch, Cherry, Korina, Teak and an unfinished pine "utility" (aka plywood). The walnut was available oiled, lacquered or unfinished. The unfinished walnut allowed the consumer to save a few bucks compared to the finished hardwoods.

Kent

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Hi Jim,

First off, what a great find!

I've followed AR-1 production watching auctions over the past few years. The AR-1 with serial # 5684 had a date stamp of Jan 1957 on the 755A. The AR-1 with serial #7538 had a date stamp of May 1957 on the 755A. I think it's reasonable to guess that if production stayed at or near that rate through the year, your speaker was produced in 1957.

You could also remove the grill and check the date stamp on the tweeter but from the data I've gathered it wasn't long after this that Altec stopped putting a date stamp on the 755A so your sample may not have it. If it was mine, I'd leave the grill on.

Jeff S

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Does anyone have a suggestion on how to clean the speaker grill on this speaker?

I would remove the grille. You may want to send a PM to Tom Tyson (member tysontom) and ask him, since he's one person who has dealt with these. But I'm assuming they are similar to the AR-3 in which case the grille has material glued onto a masonite or plastic frame. The material is wrapped around the short sides of the frame but hangs over the long sides about 1/2" The frame is a bit narrower than the front opening on the speaker and a tad longer. The speaker's front molding has a space or groove behind it on all 4 sides. The grille slips under the short sides and just the material slips into the grooves on the long sides. To remove: shift the grille as far to one short end as possible then try to get something flat under the middle and bow it outward until the other end pops out. Be careful not to break the frame.

The AR-3 had plastic Saran grille material in off-white. If the AR-1 also has plastic material I would use Fantastik, 409 or similar but only after you remove it. Those stains look stubborn. Another option might be to replace the material with new polypropylene Acoustone material. I bought a ton of it for members' AR-3 speakers and could provide a piece for your AR-1 if that is appropriate.

Again--let's see what Tom or some other member familiar with these first-hand has to say.

Kent

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Yea I was thinking the same thing about the stains looking stubborn so I was hoping there might be a couple tricks on this material. I want to keep them as original as possible so I am reluctant to replace the grill with new.

Thanks

Jim

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Yea I was thinking the same thing about the stains looking stubborn so I was hoping there might be a couple tricks on this material. I want to keep them as original as possible so I am reluctant to replace the grill with new.

Thanks

Jim

Jim,

Kent is pretty much correct regarding the grill-removal process. The grill panel is a masonite-type board that is glued to the front baffle board, and to get the grill off, that glue bond has to be broken. Part of the grill material slips under a groove that goes the entire distance around the grill molding, but the panel is not attached quite the same as the later AR-3, which first used a masonite panel and later a high-tech, molded plastic panel that is prone to snap into several pieces when trying to remove. However, some AR-1s are much easier than others. By the way, whenever you see a cabinet constructed of plywood (you can see the layers on the ends of the cabnet on the rear side), it will nearly always be a "Utility" cabinet fashioned in Ponderosa Pine with no veneer. This cabinet was intended for the no-nonsense professional user or someone who would paint the speaker an opaque color, such as flat black or flat white, or simply mount the speaker out of general sight in a cabinet. This plywood surface was never intended to be stained, but thousands did just that. Except for the first versions of the AR-1, veneered cabinets were constructed of NovaPly or earlier versions of MDF board, veneered in Mahogany or Birch (at first) and somewhat later available in Lacquered Walnut, Oiled-Walnut, Cherry, Birch and the quite-rare Korina (a Blond finish similar to Birch). Nearly all of the first run of the AR-1s was finished in Lacquered Mahogany.

One thing you might try before removing the grill: take a tooth brush and dip it in a solution of 409 cleaner or similar, and carefully try to see if you can clean the stained portion of the grill. Take a clean cloth and dry the area as you clean. Be careful not to get to much solution on the grill such that it can penetrate and stain the drivers below, but if you are very careful and patient, you might be able to clean some of that stain without removing the grill. It looks like a simple water stain, but you never know how hard it will be to remove.

--Tom Tyson

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