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The AR 12" woofer cone/voice coil assembly has greater inertial mass than the 10 inch woofer. This is of benefit at the low end of the woofer's range at the price of the high end. Recall one reason for the redesign of AR3 to AR3a was to cut the woofer's "ragged" response at the high end of the range. This required an improved midrange dome driver. Not only can the AR 10" woofer respond all the way to 650 hz to cross over smoothly to the midrange which BTW is less taxed not having to reproduce the frequencies between 575 and 650, in AR2ax it responds all the way to 1 kHz. In the same way KLH model 17 was superior transitioning from the smaller woofer to the tweeter than KLH model 6. AR5 should be a better speaker converting it to a 4 way with the addition of a subwoofer than AR3a alone. In Fact AR9 is a kind of AR5 where the size of the woofer used as an LMR is that of the even smaller AR4 series and the AR3a woofer is used (doubled) as a subwoofer. The audible superiority of AR5 over AR3a reproducing certain lower toned instruments like cellos has been noted by more than one reviewer. AR5 is therefore an overlooked "gem", an unwanted ugly duckling whose deep bass wasn't good enough for those wanting AR3as and too expensive for those who could only afford AR2ax.

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Dear Tom

It is nice to see that we can agree most issues. There is so much information that it is hard to tell if information is relevant or not. Dispersion issues are important and first of all, you have to choose what you want. Having owned AR9`s in the mid 80´s, I can tell that these were very nice speakers, even they needed more space than I could afford these days.

Steve F

Your note that HF response does affect how bass will sound is absolutely correct. When woofer is working alone with 3rd order crossover at 250Hz, all bass transients seems to be missing from sound.

One other thing that can make AR3a sound different to AR5 is weight of cabinet. AR3a is heavier than AR5. Therefore AR3a cab can absorb and release more energy than AR5 cab. There is also more energy available in AR3a due to better LF extension. If cabs can not absorb this energy they will release it sooner or later, making them sound different.

Best Regards

Kimmo

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The AR 12" woofer cone/voice coil assembly has greater inertial mass than the 10 inch woofer.

This is the transient response/"faster driver" argument.

Show me the specific measurements that support this. Show me the scientific data proving the 10" woofer's superiority in the 300-600 Hz region due to this characteristic. And, just for the sake of discussion, what are those performance parameters that cause the sound characteristic that is being attributed to the 12" woofer? Rise time? Overshoot? Something else altogether? How much? What should we look for?

I remain skeptical that the 12" woofer was so inadequate in these performance aspects compared to the 10" woofer that the 3a had a marked tendency towards "thickness." Roy Allison said in a letter to Stereo Review that the 3a and 5 sounded absolutely identical on program material that had no low bass.

BTW, the AR-3--whose "heavy, slow" woofer went up to 1000 Hz--was not criticized by CU as being "thick and heavy" sounding. They made a very specific point in their 3a review to say that the 3 did not suffer from this problem.

Steve F.

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It would be nice to have measuremments on hand to support preferences and subjective differences between these speakers. We don't.

There are differences between the slopes and frequency points of tone controls, so to say any old treble control simply clears up the difference without measurements to support the statement is no more valid than any other "opinion" in this discussion. Why not bring in an equalizer and make the subjective difference(s) even less apparent? (Btw, my tone controls do not eliminate the 3a/5 differences in the lower midrange.)

We do know differences have been identified by more than a few folks between the AR-5 and the AR-3a, all having to do with midrange response. Is this a design flaw in the 3a? What are the technical reasons? I doubt anyone here is qualified to answer that question, but I have read a number of articles over the years addressing the difficulty of transitioning large woofers to dome midranges or cone tweeters. The gist of the discussion runs along the lines of what Soundminded has posted above.

Steve, It should also be noted that in 1970 CU stated that the AR-2ax was a "better" speaker than the AR-3a, citing midrange character as the reason. see below....

Roy

post-101150-0-17299000-1409595514_thumb.

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If measurements in 1975 brochures show clearly that AR5 lower crossover frequencies overlapped more than AR3a did. On the other hand AR5 had smoother upper stop band on mid range. AR3a mid seems to have resonance at 15K only 8dB below tweeter level.

Best Regards

Kimmo

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I have read a number of articles over the years addressing the difficulty of transitioning large woofers to dome midranges or cone tweeters.

Steve, It should also be noted that in 1970 CU stated that the AR-2ax was a "better" speaker than the AR-3a, citing midrange character as the reason.

Given that the AR-3 was not cited by CU as having the 3a's "thickness" problem and the AR-2ax (which at that time, 1970, was the original "old" 2ax, with a woofer-to-mid x-o of 2000 Hz), if it's not a spectral balance issue, then the problem is likely over-driven midranges from a too-low W-to-M x-o.

The AR-3 went to 1000 Hz and the old 2ax went to 2000 Hz, so in neither speaker is the midrange driver being stressed like it is in the 3a.

In the LST, both problems are solved--having four mids takes the power-handling (and thus distortion) strain off the 1 1/2" dome, and having four tweeters means that the HF section can be driven harder than in the 3a, despite no FF cooling.

In the 5, the w-to-m x-o is not that much higher (575 to 650, or 525 to 550) that that should make such a dramatic difference. Crossover frequencies as close as 525/550 are within parts tolerances. I still think that spectral balance plays a far larger role in the 3a-5 mid balance/thickness issue than people want to think.

Again, the 11/91/58s have no "thickness" issues at all, and they all have significantly higher HF output than the 3a. The thing about the 91 and 58s is a w-to-m x-o of 700Hz, so could be that's enough higher than 525/575 of the 3a to relieve the dome mid just enough so it's not getting into PH/resonance problems and emitting a lot of cr*p.

Conventional wisdom says cross a driver over at least an octave above resonance, right? The 1 1/2" dome FAR was around 400 Hz, so a 525/575 x-o was just totally nut, nuts, nuts. X-o should be 800 Hz if you follow the 'octave rule.' AR was asking for trouble, and I guess they got it. Apparently, the 700Hz x-o of the 91 and 58s was high enough to be ok.

But......the 11 still crossed over at the idiotic point of 525 Hz--just like the 3a--and the 11 sounded great. Great. No thickness or heaviness. Explain that one, if you can. The 11 (well actually, the 10 Pi, but set to 2 Pi, which is an 11) pulled off the Neil Grover Live-v-Recorded demo of a jazz drumset in 1976 in very convincing fashion, about a 1000 times more difficult task than the AR-3/string quartet demos from the early 1960's.

The only big difference between the 3a and the 11 was...spectral balance.

Just sayin'.

Steve F.

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Steve, I didn't mean to start a flame war....and I never said the sound of the AR3a was thick. The lower dynamic mass of the 10" woofer is easy to infer from the fact that the free air resonance is 26 hz against the 12" woofer's 18 hz. This is on the same page as the graphs I referenced. As one would assume the compliance of the two drivers is substantially the same having similar outer suspension and spider material, only more mass would account for a lower resonance frequency. This business about "speed" is so mixed up and confused among audiophiles it has gotten way out of hand. Let's start off with a fact. If two speakers of the same cone size and shape are playing the same signal at the same amplitude regardless of anything else they will travel at exactly the same speed at every corresponding instant. What may be different is called "group delay" which is the time elapsed between the application of voltage to the voice coil and the corresponding motion of the cone or membrane. There are many factors involved, mass being only one of them. Magnetic field strength is another. So is compliance. I have yet to see any demonstrated proof that so called time aligned or phase coherent speakers were better or even detectable from those that are less aligned. This test could only be performed with the same speaker using variable digital time delays between the drivers. Transient response and frequency response are two ways of looking at the same thing. It is the system response that is of interest to the user, not those of the individual drivers. If AR3a and AR5 woofers had the same FR at their high end the midrange would have had the same crossover point and slope and so would the two woofers. The only component differences would be to account for their different voice coil impedances. Frankly a 1 1/2 " dome driver is tough at its low end. Going by the same rule of thumb as for tweeters response should not extend below twice its resonant frequency. But looking at high quality dome midrange drivers from Morel, Hi Vi, and Dayton it's tough matching these drivers as low as 575 hz as in AR3a. AR5 pushed it up to 650. AR 9 pushed it up to 1.5 kHz and the tweeter to 7khz. Whatever difference does exist between the two speakers in this woofer to midrange crossover region can likely be reduced or eliminated with judicious equalization.

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There is no flame war. Not even close. This is an interesting discussion among informed people who like this subject matter and who enjoy getting down into nitty-gritty details with the only other people on the planet with whom we can share this. Thank you to everyone for your spirited, intelligent participation!

My feelings are very well stated by this point, so I won't repeat myself. A few historical details, just to keep the discussion absolutely faithful to the the old specs (whether we think those old specs were accurately reflective of actuality is another matter):

The AR-5's x-o changed by 1973 to 550 Hz from 650 Hz. AR told me (see in the Library "AR letters to Steve F.") that the spec change refelcted a production change made 'some time ago.' So it wasn't 650 for that long. It was 550 for at least half of its market life, lower than the original 3a x-o of 575. Like I said, the difference between 525 (later 3a's) and 550 (later 5's) is parts tolerance, so the 3a and 5 crossed over at the same point. The same point.

The AR-9 x-o from the 8" LMR to the 1 1/2" UMR was 1200 Hz, not 1.5 kHz. But that's not this discussion.

OK, I'll repeat one thing, then I'm done:

But......the 11 still crossed over at the idiotic point of 525 Hz--just like the 3a--and the 11 sounded great. Great. No thickness or heaviness. Explain that one, if you can. The 11 (well actually, the 10 Pi, but set to 2 Pi, which is an 11) pulled off the Neil Grover Live-v-Recorded demo of a jazz drumset in 1976 in very convincing fashion, about a 1000 times more difficult task than the AR-3/string quartet demos from the early 1960's.

The only big difference between the 3a and the 11 was...spectral balance.

Spectral balance.

Steve F.

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But......the 11 still crossed over at the idiotic point of 525 Hz--just like the 3a--and the 11 sounded great. Great. No thickness or heaviness. Explain that one, if you can. The 11 (well actually, the 10 Pi, but set to 2 Pi, which is an 11) pulled off the Neil Grover Live-v-Recorded demo of a jazz drumset in 1976 in very convincing fashion, about a 1000 times more difficult task than the AR-3/string quartet demos from the early 1960's.

The only big difference between the 3a and the 11 was...spectral balance.

Just sayin'.

Steve F.

Steve,

What is your definiton of "spectral balance"? Should the 3a carton have included instructions to have treble controls available to make the 3a sound as "good" as the AR-2ax or the AR-5? :)

<<Explain that one, if you can>>

Hmmm...what is your explanation?

Roy

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RoyC, In setting goals for a conventional high fidelity stereophonic sound system I chose a single objective to which everything else is subordinate. That objective is to accurately reproduce the tonality of acoustic musical instruments from recordings. For me if a sound system can't do that, whatever else it can do hardly matters, it isn't high fidelity by my definition. The more I studied the problem the more complicated it got. Timbre is only one aspect of tonality and spectral balance which affects timbre is a far more complicated subject than it first appears. The intuitive concept audiophiles have is a gross oversimplification to the point of being erroneous. Based on the understanding I developed, I have concluded looking at countless designs and no longer bothering to audition consumer audio equipment this problem has also defied engineering analysis of those working in the industry. No commercially available product or combination of products now or in the past when used as intended by their manufacturers can achieve this goal, that is they invariably fail almost every time. There may be a few experimental systems out there including my own which can come a lot closer when carefully adjusted for each recording. They take into account variables in parameters other designers haven't considered. Among these parameters is the three dimensional geometry of sound fields we hear. The inadequacy of equipment to control these variables satisfactorily is plainly obvious from their design. it doesn't mean they can't be enjoyed but they are not accurate, they can't be expected to sound like the real thing.

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I'm really not trying to get anyone worked up with my comments, and I'm certainly not trying to be difficult or stubborn. I happen to think that the "AR-3a is thick and heavy sounding compared to the AR-5" issue is at the very heart of the way the original Classic ARs were perceived and therefore, this is an illuminating discussion.

With the invention of the dome radiator, AR broke new ground for dispersion, uniform FR off axis, and accuracy within the respective drivers' passbands.

The downside was that the domes were inefficient and had limited power-handling (before FF cooling), so they had to be "padded down" a bit through the crossover, resulting in the Classic ARs being somewhat reticent and laid-back.

I'll let others decide on the chicken-and-egg aspect of this scenario: Did AR come up with the dome invention, realize that they couldn't maintain HF energy at the same level as LF energy, so they invented the "concert hall slope" rationale to explain away their soft highs, while still being able to boast about their super-wide dispersion (which was a great competitive marketplace edge)?

Or was it the other way around: They truly believed in "concert hall slope," and they wanted as wide dispersion as possible, so the domes lower HF level didn't really matter to them?

I don't know. I wasn't present at those meetings. Doesn't actually matter. It was what it was. The original domed ARs were laid back-sounding, had reticent HF, and very wide dispersion.

But.....as soon as AR was able to bring up the HF energy level (with the ADDs in 1975-76), they did. Right away. Ferro-fluid cooling gave those little 3/4" tweeters the ability to safely defy drive levels that fried many a 3a tweeter. OK, the soft-dome of the 11 didn't have quite the dispersion of the 3a's hard paper dome, but it was still quite excellent.

The AR-12 had a correspondingly brighter top end than did the 2ax/5 as well.

So it would seem that by 1975, AR felt that the 3a/5/2ax reticent high end was "wrong," because the ADDs were voiced with much more prominent highs. They didn't have to be--the 10 Pi/11/12 could have still been "laid back" if AR wanted them to be, just with a greater "safety margin" with the ferro-fluid cooling of the tweeters.

Did AR feel that way in the early '70's/late '60's? Maybe, maybe not. The AR-3a Technical Bulletin (I think that's what it was called--it's a 4-page tech doc with lots of great info, but it was not widely distributed) shows a 3a composite system frequency response taken with the AR amplifier's treble control advanced to 2:00!! The 3a's curve with this boost is very impressive, and seems to indicate without any question that AR "knew" the 3a needed a treble boost.

Infer what you will.

Steve F.

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AR knew long before 10pi and 11 it had a problem. This was why LST was created. Mid and high frequency power output capabilities where increased by a factor of 4. Horizontal dispersion, the best in the business at the time was also substantially increased. The cost of the angled cabinet had to be more than a rectangular box. The front panel adjustment of FR balance was rethought. Even so a certain individual who may have confused AR LST with Cerwin Vega blew those tweeters up on a regular basis (why didn't he fuse them?) My hunch is it got to the point when the counter men saw him coming they didn't wait to be asked, they started pulling replacement tweeters from under the counter knowing exactly what to expect. When it became obvious that this strategy was getting expensive and they didn't want to single him out by charging him for those replacements AR did the only thing it could do to recoup its losses on him...they hired him. Ken, you still out there? :D

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I'm really not trying to get anyone worked up with my comments, and I'm certainly not trying to be difficult or stubborn. I happen to think that the "AR-3a is thick and heavy sounding compared to the AR-5" issue is at the very heart of the way the original Classic ARs were perceived and therefore, this is an illuminating discussion.

...

Did AR feel that way in the early '70's/late '60's? Maybe, maybe not. The AR-3a Technical Bulletin (I think that's what it was called--it's a 4-page tech doc with lots of great info, but it was not widely distributed) shows a 3a composite system frequency response taken with the AR amplifier's treble control advanced to 2:00!! The 3a's curve with this boost is very impressive, and seems to indicate without any question that AR "knew" the 3a needed a treble boost.

Infer what you will.

Steve F.

After reading all this I'm not sure why the AR-3s still command the price they do ... not sure I want to dig up the cash for a pair at this point either just to voice an educated opinion since Roy C has already done that well enough.

Just going back through the history a bit, what little I am familiar with, Eddie V sold AR, Inc to Teledyne in '68 and insured that Roy Allison got a five year contract out of the deal. So, Roy decided to retire in '73 rather than accept a new contract. The day of the cottage speaker business was ending and Teledyne no doubt wished to recapture ARs fading marketshare. Certainly they needed to adapt to the changing tastes of the time.

Roy Allison went on to design the Allison One, sort of a taller, slimmer version of the LST. He was aware of problems in the listening environment that affected speaker response.

My solution on my original 5s was to add an ten band equalizer. I would have preferred a 1/3 octave unit but cash flow was an issue.

I believe all the frequency response graphs that are available were done in an anechoic chamber to prove the drivers we capable of producing a flat response in an ideal environment. The problem is no one listens in that kind of environment so you are putting a pair of speakers designed to create a sound stage inside another box (room) and now you have a new set of variables. This is where the differences between the 5 and 3 become apparent. We don't usually think of air as having mass since we are constantly walking through it with little to no resistance but that is how sound is transmitted. With a room's six reflecting surfaces resonances will form standing waves. Not rocket science here. The standing waves will change air pressure at that point with a greater or lesser affect depending on the frequencies either reinforcing or damping them. This was amply demonstrated to me with the previously mentioned extreme exhibition put on with four JBL 100s and a Marantz cranked to the max in a small room. It became impossible to breathe normally in that environment. You can expect frequency response to suffer accordingly. The effect would of course be much more subtle at normal listening levels.

Given that the 3 and 5 upper range drivers were basically the same, I would suggest that the extra 1/3rd octave of bass response on the 3s was also capable of attenuating the high frequency response in the sound field. The LSTs and the Allison Ones attempted to overcome this limitation by increasing the sound field of the upper range. Or, Steve, as you suggest you could also boost the upper range ala Bose 901 which came on the scene in '68 with its active equalization scheme which had its own set of soundfield problems. The idea the AR crossovers were designed to attenuate high frequency response doesn't seem to follow here if you are just going to boost it anyway.

Obviously a new generation of designers and speakers was on the way.

Now that we are aware that the AR-3a just can't cut the mustard I will gladly offer $100 to anyone wishing to have me properly dispose of theirs just to satisfy my curiosity.

Roger

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One minor correction about the original Bose 901 Roger, A speaker I'm very familiar with. The problem with that speaker's high end is...it doesn't have one. It cannot reproduce the top octave of sound no matter how much treble power boost is poured into it. Gordon Holt hit the nail on the head when he said the drivers had to much inertial mass. In plain language that means what we now call a 4" midwoofer makes one stinkeroo of a tweeter. At its indicated flat setting it does have a slight peak in the lower treble which is easily corrected by clicking the rotary treble control back one notch. Its other equally unacceptable problems are in the bass. Those are correctable with equalization but require massive amounts of power and multiple units.

It should be noted when talking about AR3 and AR3a that many speakers of that era that were also highly regarded had a muted high end. That was the norm. Others that didn't, like Altec A7 were harsh. In the 1970s and 1980s the fashion became to produce speakers that were bright to the point of being shrill. These sold well to tyros in A/B shootouts in acoustically dead showrooms compared to better more accurate speakers. So did the booming ported designs that do not produce the deep undistorted flat bass AR speakers do. It wasn't until the customer got them home and listened to them for awhile that he became irritated by them. This created whole new opportunities of "fixes" for the industry including special wires, a rebirth of vacuum tubes, and the concept of break in. Ironically what facilitated this was the adapting dome tweeters by recessing them into small horns that narrowly beamed their highest frequency energy and making the domes out of metal that resonated, When CDs came along of course they sounded shrill. This gave rebirth to the phonograph record playing equipment industry but by then the recording companies had decisively abandoned vinyl production in favor of CDs.

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After reading all this I'm not sure why the AR-3s still command the price they do ...

Roger

Hi Roger,

The price of the AR-3a is being driven by collectors and those who perceive them as the best of an era. Many are going to Asia. The model is also very visually attractive to its fans. It is a beautiful piece of furniture when properly refinished and clothed with new oem type linen. Larry/Vintage AR can sell them all day long at $1000+/pr.

As an aside, unless the cabinets are perfect (and they always have rotten foam grilles), he uses AR-11's for parts. If he can sell them at all, AR-11's seldom sell for more than $400/pr.

Roy

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Hi Roger,

The price of the AR-3a is being driven by collectors and those who perceive them as the best of an era. Many are going to Asia. The model is also very visually attractive to its fans. It is a beautiful piece of furniture when properly refinished and clothed with new oem type linen. Larry/Vintage AR can sell them all day long at $1000+/pr.

As an aside, unless the cabinets are perfect (and they always have rotten foam grilles), he uses AR-11's for parts. If he can sell them at all, AR-11's seldom sell for more than $400/pr.

Roy

They are definitely collectables. That's funny about the AR-11s. There is a pair listed on CL locally for $850. The AR-3s were always popular in Asia if I remember correctly. I'm surprised the Chinese aren't cranking out replicas ;)

Roger

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Hi Roger,

The price of the AR-3a is being driven by collectors and those who perceive them as the best of an era. Many are going to Asia. The model is also very visually attractive to its fans. It is a beautiful piece of furniture when properly refinished and clothed with new oem type linen. Larry/Vintage AR can sell them all day long at $1000+/pr.

As an aside, unless the cabinets are perfect (and they always have rotten foam grilles), he uses AR-11's for parts. If he can sell them at all, AR-11's seldom sell for more than $400/pr.

Roy

Roy is correct.

The AR-3 and 3a are iconic products, the AR-11, not so much.

It's rarely a question of absolute quality-of-performance with vintage speakers (otherwise, the AR-9 would sell for thousands of dollars), but usually some more indeterminate principle of aesthetics & perception.

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....

It should be noted when talking about AR3 and AR3a that many speakers of that era that were also highly regarded had a muted high end. That was the norm. Others that didn't, like Altec A7 were harsh. In the 1970s and 1980s the fashion became to produce speakers that were bright to the point of being shrill. These sold well to tyros in A/B shootouts in acoustically dead showrooms compared to better more accurate speakers. So did the booming ported designs that do not produce the deep undistorted flat bass AR speakers do. It wasn't until the customer got them home and listened to them for awhile that he became irritated by them. This created whole new opportunities of "fixes" for the industry including special wires, a rebirth of vacuum tubes, and the concept of break in. Ironically what facilitated this was the adapting dome tweeters by recessing them into small horns that narrowly beamed their highest frequency energy and making the domes out of metal that resonated, When CDs came along of course they sounded shrill. This gave rebirth to the phonograph record playing equipment industry but by then the recording companies had decisively abandoned vinyl production in favor of CDs.

Soundminded,

Sounds like a vicious cycle... glad I missed it.

I had some time to play around today so I did my first refoam on some old Infinity RS-125 bookshelf speakers I bought back in the 80s for rear channel use. I have more time than money these days so rather than get rid of them years ago they have been sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Not a perfect refoam job but they are back in service and I got some experience. I didn't change out the two electrolytics in the xo.

Roy C: I didn't foam the 5s yet. If I get panicky after the next set of junkers I'll be sending them to you.

Perching them on top of the AR-5s I did an A/B comparison -- they are definitely brighter, perhaps a little edgy. The 5s are silky by comparison. So, I flipped the Infinitys on their backs on top of the 5s (they are smaller than the top of the cabinet on the 5s) and played them both together. That opened the sound up quite a bit since ceilings are highly reflective. Would need to reduce the sensitivity on the Infinitys to even things up though.

I can listen to the 5s all day -- the Infinitys by themselves would tire me out in short order at the sound levels I prefer so I think I'll hang on to my old stuffy AR-5s and reminisce about the old days.

Then again, maybe I'll park a set of FPS planars on top in dipole mode :rolleyes:

Oh, I still have lots of vinyl around but the turntable needs some belts... haven't seen a tube since my 2-way radio work back in the 70s.

Roger

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The AR-3 and 3a are iconic products, the AR-11, not so much.

It's rarely a question of absolute quality-of-performance with vintage speakers (otherwise, the AR-9 would sell for thousands of dollars), but usually some more indeterminate principle of aesthetics & perception.

Agreed...

By the time the AR-11 showed up, there were many other choices in speaker land. AR later tried to recapture the old days with the AR-3a Limited around 1990 and shortly thereafter, the AR 303 (both of which I personally prefer over the 11), but it was apparently too late for such things.

Roy

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Agreed...

By the time the AR-11 showed up, there were many other choices in speaker land. AR later tried to recapture the old days with the AR-3a Limited around 1990 and shortly thereafter, the AR 303 (both of which I personally prefer over the 11), but it was apparently too late for such things.

Roy

Well, if I ever chance to find some AR-303s out this way that I can afford I will definitely grab them. It may be easier to find Black Bart's hidden gold stash though.

On the other hand I can't seem to get enough of the 5s at the moment and snagged this pair out of Bellevue, WA. They look like a clean set of Loverly's.post-173498-0-30646600-1411269726_thumb.

Added: These were disappointing after getting into them. Later post showing fried vc's: http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Board/index.php?showtopic=8205&p=103376

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when you are done Roger, the four together will be a veritable wall of sound! I am looking forward to working on the set I picked up a little while back as well.

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when you are done Roger, the four together will be a veritable wall of sound! I am looking forward to working on the set I picked up a little while back as well.

I'm planning on putting the HiVi tweeter conversion in this pair.

? for Roy C -- I was reading through the AR-3a Restoration guide pdf and noticed that series resistors were suggested for the pp capacitor replacements to compensate for the change in ESR. I failed to do that on the first pair. How is that affecting the sound output?

Also the woofer I picked up on the bay suffered a cone meltdown. Are these worth reconing? The cone material is really soft on these. I can see how the cones would actually change shape when driven hard. I don't imagine there are any cones like this being produced these days so using a stiff cone will change the timbre of the AR5s nice taut bass response.

Roger

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I have experience with both the 5 and 3a. Both are great speakers, but different. I found the 5 to be an easier speaker to drive and position in room. Bass was not as prominent, which meant fewer room nodes were excited better integration with the midrange and treble was achieved. The 5 could be adequately driven by a modest amp that was stable into an 8ohm load- essentially the same drive requirements as the 2ax. The 3a on the other hand, required lots of clean power from an amp capable of driving a 4ohm load.

I think the relative lack of market success for the 5 was driven by price. Back in the day, the cost of the 5 was very close to the cost of the 3a, while the 2ax thrived at a much lower price point. Most listeners could not hear enough of a difference between the 5 and 2ax to justify the higher cost of the 5. While if they could afford the 5, a few dollars more purchased the 3a and all of the bass response that the 3a was known for.

My understanding of the design requirements for the 3/3a/5/2ax is that they were designed to deliver a "10th row" concert hall experience- a mix of direct and reverberant energy. While the one axis response of the speakers was stepped down, off axis dispersion was superb. What one heard from a listening distance of 10-15ft away was mixture of direct and reflected off axis sound. In fact the in room response of these speakers was subjectively flatter than the on axis response curves would indicate because of the impact of strong off axis response impacting what was head by the listener.

By the early 70's the market and the preferences of the listener had changed. There was more emphasis on flat on axis response from speakers. The LST was an attempt to deliver flat on axis response. Unfortunately the limits of the AR dome drives meant that a flat response design brief called for mulitiple AR dome drivers, with associated crossover complexity and high current drive requirements. Judged by the specs, the LST was a success- contemporary reports noted a flat on axis response from 50hz-15khz. Consumers felt it was power hungry and difficult to position properly. The AR 9 brought flat response into the real world and to many represented the culimnation of AR speaker achievement.

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I have experience with both the 5 and 3a. Both are great speakers, but different. I found the 5 to be an easier speaker to drive and position in room. Bass was not as prominent, which meant fewer room nodes were excited better integration with the midrange and treble was achieved. The 5 could be adequately driven by a modest amp that was stable into an 8ohm load- essentially the same drive requirements as the 2ax. The 3a on the other hand, required lots of clean power from an amp capable of driving a 4ohm load.

I think the relative lack of market success for the 5 was driven by price. Back in the day, the cost of the 5 was very close to the cost of the 3a, while the 2ax thrived at a much lower price point. Most listeners could not hear enough of a difference between the 5 and 2ax to justify the higher cost of the 5. While if they could afford the 5, a few dollars more purchased the 3a and all of the bass response that the 3a was known for.

My understanding of the design requirements for the 3/3a/5/2ax is that they were designed to deliver a "10th row" concert hall experience- a mix of direct and reverberant energy. While the one axis response of the speakers was stepped down, off axis dispersion was superb. What one heard from a listening distance of 10-15ft away was mixture of direct and reflected off axis sound. In fact the in room response of these speakers was subjectively flatter than the on axis response curves would indicate because of the impact of strong off axis response impacting what was head by the listener.

By the early 70's the market and the preferences of the listener had changed. There was more emphasis on flat on axis response from speakers. The LST was an attempt to deliver flat on axis response. Unfortunately the limits of the AR dome drives meant that a flat response design brief called for mulitiple AR dome drivers, with associated crossover complexity and high current drive requirements. Judged by the specs, the LST was a success- contemporary reports noted a flat on axis response from 50hz-15khz. Consumers felt it was power hungry and difficult to position properly. The AR 9 brought flat response into the real world and to many represented the culimnation of AR speaker achievement.

Sounds like a good take on the big picture.

The AR-5's were the first speakers I bought off the show room floor. Here is a comment from someone who started with 4's and ended up with 9's but kept his 5's through the years: "... the sound of the AR-9's for my taste is about the best I heard -- even a few days ago I hooked up my AR-5's and they gave a good account of themselves next to the AR-9's...."

I gave up my original 5's on my westward migration. I paid less than $15 for my current pair plus the rebuild costs. Quite a bargain.

I have a pseudo pair of AR-9's as the 5's are sitting on top of a pair of ADS L-980's so when I'm looking to entertain the neighbors both pairs go online. They complement each other quite well. I find an equalizer to be a big plus and once the room is optimized for the speakers I'm sure I'll be able to while away the hours listening to music... wow, that's a fantasy from times gone by... most of my listening time is while I'm on the computer these days. Always looking for another set of classic AR's to love again but quite happy where I'm at ... :rolleyes:

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