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ADS L980 vs AR-91

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SteveF, anybody,

Anyone up on the ADS crowd over in Wilmington, history, reputation, etc. ?

I looked on the ADS forum but couldn't find anything on the L-980 and am curious as to how it compares to contemporaneous AR offerings like the AR-91.

Wonder how those ferrofluid drivers are holding up? Will take a listen to the L-980s tomorrow and post on the ADS forum.

Roger

edit: I guess I found out part of what I was looking for in the meantime browsing the web. Just need info on comparable AR models:

"Would say they are not really a rock or heavy electronic sound speaker. Best for serious classical or jazz where a rich unaltered clean and accurate sound is desired. They are the most pleasurable and non-fatiguing speakers I have ever owned! At the time they were seemingly high tech with top notch parts and looked at as a modern extension of what the classic AR-3's started; and most thought only German engineering could produce such fine speaker components inside the cabinets." ...

Apparently ADS was originally made up of Deutschlanders. They weren't ... "owned by lots of various entities - starting in Germany as a speaker division of Braun. When their manufacturing production was moved to the states and became its own entity away from Braun they took the ADS (Analog & Digital Systems) name. Also for many years they were manufactured in Wilmington, Massachusetts and had a distinctly New England sound to them.
Much like Snell, these were made with quality natural straight grain, light to medium colored walnut, by pride-filled inhouse cabinet shops.
ADS/Braun had its own distinctively clear sound -- warm and naturally unadulterated, flat but not dead. And not at all technical sounding like the hi-tech hard material tweeters of today -- nothing like the west coast mass-market speakers, emphasizing tight, controlled dynamics and liquid midrange over punchy, strong, but less-detailed bass and more forward pronounced highs like JBL... most of ADS's best known and revered speakers are probably the more cabinet-type speakers they produced in the early to mid 80s and were hugely cherished.
ADS for a long time were some of the most musical, balanced, detailed, non-fatiguing speakers you could hope to buy."

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The ADS speakers of that time period were extradinarily neutral, smooth, fine-sounding speakers. In every way, the equal--at least--of the best AR speakers. I knew two people very well who were engineers at ADS in the early 1990's, when I was at BA and ADS was still in Wilmington MA, making their own drivers. We'd argue (good naturedly) about which company made better, more uniform drivers.

I have never heard the 980 for an extended period of time, and never A-B'd it against the AR-91 (or 58s, which was a "bookshelf"-sized 91--same drivers, same x-o).

My general overall characterization of those ADS models would be that they were very clean, very precise, but not harsh or edgy. Subjectively, the ARs seemed to be a little "warmer," and seemed to have a touch more body or weight through the lower midrange. My very-likely accurate guess is that the 980 had bass about midway between the 5 and 3a, (or 12 and 11 or 92 and 91), but with a slightly sharper mid-high end than the AR-11 or 91.

I'd think it would be a great find.

Steve F.

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The ADS speakers of that time period were extradinarily neutral, smooth, fine-sounding speakers. In every way, the equal--at least--of the best AR speakers. I knew two people very well who were engineers at ADS in the early 1990's, when I was at BA and ADS was still in Wilmington MA, making their own drivers. We'd argue (good naturedly) about which company made better, more uniform drivers.

I have never heard the 980 for an extended period of time, and never A-B'd it against the AR-91 (or 58s, which was a "bookshelf"-sized 91--same drivers, same x-o).

My general overall characterization of those ADS models would be that they were very clean, very precise, but not harsh or edgy. Subjectively, the ARs seemed to be a little "warmer," and seemed to have a touch more body or weight through the lower midrange. My very-likely accurate guess is that the 980 had bass about midway between the 5 and 3a, (or 12 and 11 or 92 and 91), but with a slightly sharper mid-high end than the AR-11 or 91.

I'd think it would be a great find.

Steve F.

Steve F,

Now you have definitely pumped me up to hear these...

Roger

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The ADS speakers of that time period were extradinarily neutral, smooth, fine-sounding speakers. In every way, the equal--at least--of the best AR speakers. I knew two people very well who were engineers at ADS in the early 1990's, when I was at BA and ADS was still in Wilmington MA, making their own drivers. We'd argue (good naturedly) about which company made better, more uniform drivers.

I have never heard the 980 for an extended period of time, and never A-B'd it against the AR-91 (or 58s, which was a "bookshelf"-sized 91--same drivers, same x-o).

My general overall characterization of those ADS models would be that they were very clean, very precise, but not harsh or edgy. Subjectively, the ARs seemed to be a little "warmer," and seemed to have a touch more body or weight through the lower midrange. My very-likely accurate guess is that the 980 had bass about midway between the 5 and 3a, (or 12 and 11 or 92 and 91), but with a slightly sharper mid-high end than the AR-11 or 91.

I'd think it would be a great find.

Steve F.

Steve F,

I'd say you were spot on, even with the amp cranked up to 11 on the dial (Netflix finally delivered a copy of Spinal Tap) they are not harsh so I had to pick the L-980s up. Listening to Telarc's Ring cycle highlights I feel like I'm in the middle of the orchestra, well, 5th row-center maybe, and I'm sure the neighbors are gritting their teeth at the moment.

They are showing some abuse with white paint hastily removed with heavy grit sandpaper, dents, rust, etc.; however, I'm sure I haven't ever had a pair of mirror imaged speakers with under 4000 serial numbers... had to drag out an old Denon amp to get an idea of what their potential is, the Fisher Studio Deluxe couldn't pull these, although it handles the AR-5s fine. I guess I have to put a SAE amp and a pair of AR-303s on my bucket list now.

Roger

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Hi Steve and Roger, this thread is very old but useful on the internet so want to add. As a Classical musician and professor I have a living room with wood floors and a grand piano. My wife, who is not a musician, has had to deal with that piano whenever we moved. In that room, I have a Luxman 1050, Technics turntable and AR91s carefully restored by me…they sound great. I just picked up some ADS L1590s and am blown away by their sound. Yes, generally, they sound a bit like warmer ARs but their midrange and tweeter talents…well, livelier. I still remember the sweetness of my former AR3 speaker tweeters in that same location but they couldn't take much stress. I don't listen to too much loud music anymore but the volume can creep up on sunny days.

Just confirming that AR and A/D/S are lateral kind of moves. Though, the cabinet beauty of the A/D/S is where AR could/should have been in later days. -Joseph

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These must sound great. I know what you're thinking............

But this is sacrilege, as I am a devout AR speaker man!

Rare Pair ADS M12 Monitor Audio Speakers

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rare-Pair-ADS-M12-Monitor-Audio-Speakers-Walnut-Org-Owne-r-Great-shape-/281809002075?hash=item419d201e5b

Before those came out, there were the interesting L810's. I also wanted a pair back then but, I had my 3a's and that was 'great' enough!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-ADS-L810-VINTAGE-LOUD-SPEAKERS-A-D-S-810-/271994769298?hash=item3f5426cf92

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Well, quite a bit of water under the bridge since my last post on this thread. I saw another pair of L-980's recently that were in better shape than the ones here which are still awaiting refinish. Not something I needed to do and it was a long drive to pick them up. I managed to find (3) tweeters for these which I hear is no easy task. One was new in the box and the other two were from a parted out speaker set which also donated its grills. Someone had replaced the original ADS tweeters with what appeared to be Peerless drivers which were too small for the cutouts.

I did put on an SAE amp which is now playing after some restoration work and an Adcom, also rebuilt, so I could use the 980's bi-amp feature if I were motivated.

The 1590's use the same drivers and were highly regarded. The M12's look more like 1290's at a glance.

I would be favoring a pair of AR-9's if an appropriately sized room is available, just because of their legacy.

Not enough free time/resources at the moment and summer has vanished before half my projects materialized.

Roger

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Passed on a pair of 980's a couple months back, thinking I didn't really want to get myself into another brand. Maybe I should have got them. He was asking $400.

Also passed on a pair of AR91's this week that were listed at $250.......

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Passed on a pair of 980's a couple months back, thinking I didn't really want to get myself into another brand. Maybe I should have got them. He was asking $400.

Also passed on a pair of AR91's this week that were listed at $250.......

The ADS L980s were a sort of monitor speaker at the time -- around the 1986 time-frame -- and I think they were designed to be used in recording studios and to compete pretty much with the likes of AR's later 12-inch models, with bass roughly comparable to the 12-inch ARs. I've heard them several times but never owned them; they were excellent, well-balanced speakers, using the same 2-inch midrange dome and 3/4-inch dome as the tower versions, L1090, L1290 and L1590 speakers. The ADS 12-inch woofer was slightly less robust than the venerable and well-known AR 12-inch woofer, but the 980 cabinet was slightly larger, so the bass resonance was down in the low-40s, roughly comparable to the AR-3a woofer system. The 980 12-inch woofer was also similar to the 12-inch woofer ADS used with a powered subwoofer at the time, but the subwoofer version was built to heavier specs. The ADS 980 woofer used a 1.5 inch diameter voice coil, whereas the subwoofer version used a larger magnet and 2-inch voice coil. The AR 12-inch woofer, of course, is a rugged 2-inch version with a more robust motor assembly. Overall, however, the ADS and AR versions were probably very similar in bass performance except for the deepest-bass frequencies, where the AR 12-inch woofer has set the standard for many, many years. The midrange and treble of the L980s was extremely smooth and flat with fine off-axis dispersion throughout the entire range. ADS's 3/4-inch tweeter was certainly among the best dome tweeters available during this period.

The specs I have show that the 980s sold new for $1100/pair in "black" finish and $1150/pair in oiled-walnut veneer, so they were "serious" and indeed excellent speakers. One eBayer (see link below) said the speaker was the rarest of all ADS speakers, but this is hyperbole and bull crap. He had his auction started at $1950, which is ridiculous, and it's clear that he was trying to "engineer" the eBay marketplace for that speaker. That eBayer said he sold his pair for $1500, but it was not shown as sold for that amount. I've read that this speaker is usually sold for around $500-600 a pair in good condition.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/201446089093?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

post-100160-0-25733300-1446001363_thumb.

From the internet: ADS L980.

post-100160-0-80949700-1446001425_thumb.

Another from the internet: ADS L980

--Tom Tyson

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The ADS L980s were a sort of monitor speaker at the time -- around the 1986 time-frame -- and I think they were designed to be used in recording studios and to compete pretty much with the likes of AR's later 12-inch models, with bass roughly comparable to the 12-inch ARs. I've heard them several times but never owned them; they were excellent, well-balanced speakers, using the same 2-inch midrange dome and 3/4-inch dome as the tower versions, L1090, L1290 and L1590 speakers. The ADS 12-inch woofer was slightly less robust than the venerable and well-known AR 12-inch woofer, but the 980 cabinet was slightly larger, so the bass resonance was down in the low-40s, roughly comparable to the AR-3a woofer system. The 980 12-inch woofer was also similar to the 12-inch woofer ADS used with a powered subwoofer at the time, but the subwoofer version was built to heavier specs. The ADS 980 woofer used a 1.5 inch diameter voice coil, whereas the subwoofer version used a larger magnet and 2-inch voice coil. The AR 12-inch woofer, of course, is a rugged 2-inch version with a more robust motor assembly. Overall, however, the ADS and AR versions were probably very similar in bass performance except for the deepest-bass frequencies, where the AR 12-inch woofer has set the standard for many, many years. The midrange and treble of the L980s was extremely smooth and flat with fine off-axis dispersion throughout the entire range. ADS's 3/4-inch tweeter was certainly among the best dome tweeters available during this period.

The specs I have show that the 980s sold new for $1100/pair in "black" finish and $1150/pair in oiled-walnut veneer, so they were "serious" and indeed excellent speakers. One eBayer (see link below) said the speaker was the rarest of all ADS speakers, but this is hyperbole and bull crap. He had his auction started at $1950, which is ridiculous, and it's clear that he was trying to "engineer" the eBay marketplace for that speaker. That eBayer said he sold his pair for $1500, but it was not shown as sold for that amount. I've read that this speaker is usually sold for around $500-600 a pair in good condition.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/201446089093?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

attachicon.gifADS_L980_001.jpg

From the internet: ADS L980.

attachicon.gifADS_L980_003.jpg

Another from the internet: ADS L980

--Tom Tyson

I spoke with the ebayer who claimed to sell his L980s for $1500. He stated someone local in the Seattle area was a HUGE ADS collector and was more than happy to pay $1500. If this is the case, it was simply a "right place in the right time" occurance. I have seen them sell on ebay within the past years for the 600 range with $150 or so for shipping. If he was located in the middle of nowhere they would have sat on ebay for a long long time....

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I spoke with the ebayer who claimed to sell his L980s for $1500. He stated someone local in the Seattle area was a HUGE ADS collector and was more than happy to pay $1500. If this is the case, it was simply a "right place in the right time" occurance. I have seen them sell on ebay within the past years for the 600 range with $150 or so for shipping. If he was located in the middle of nowhere they would have sat on ebay for a long long time....

Perhaps he found a buyer for that amount, he claims, and that's fine, but to say the ADS L980s were the rarest of all ADS speakers in the product line was an enormous stretch. Did he think they were rarer than a/d/s/ M30s, for example?

Whatever the case, the L980s were great speakers, as were the L880s below them in the product line.

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Hi Steve and Roger, this thread is very old but useful on the internet so want to add. As a Classical musician and professor I have a living room with wood floors and a grand piano. My wife, who is not a musician, has had to deal with that piano whenever we moved. In that room, I have a Luxman 1050, Technics turntable and AR91s carefully restored by me…they sound great. I just picked up some ADS L1590s and am blown away by their sound. Yes, generally, they sound a bit like warmer ARs but their midrange and tweeter talents…well, livelier. I still remember the sweetness of my former AR3 speaker tweeters in that same location but they couldn't take much stress. I don't listen to too much loud music anymore but the volume can creep up on sunny days.

Just confirming that AR and A/D/S are lateral kind of moves. Though, the cabinet beauty of the A/D/S is where AR could/should have been in later days. -Joseph

Joseph,

In case you have not read my analysis of the ADS L1590 loudspeakers, go to this Classic Speaker Pages link:

http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Board/index.php?showtopic=4429

I go into excruciating (and probably painfully tedious to some) detail about this loudspeaker and how it was designed and what it was capable of doing, etc., and I now see that there have been upwards of 46,000 "hits" on that one thread alone, quite a large amount of interest. The ADS L1590 is an exceptionally fine loudspeaker.

Of all of the loudspeakers that I've owned, the ADS L1590/2s have been among the most satisfying. I would place them up there with the AR-LSTs and AR9s (both of which I still own) in terms of satisfying, natural sound reproduction. The midrange and treble detail and smoothness is remarkable. I also own a pair of ADS L1290/2s -- nearly equal to the 1590s -- but there are sonic differences (less deep-bass reproduction, of course, and a higher woofer-to-midrange crossover). The tweeter balance seems nearly identical.

Note that I made a mistake about the ADS logo when I started that thread (above) on the L1590s: I said "a/d/s/" instead of "ADS." I wasn't paying attention. The company had not changed its logo until the introduction of the M-series tower speakers and the compact-monitor versions of the CM-7, 6 etc. at the end of the 1980s, after the L-series tower speakers.

post-100160-0-43316000-1446263409_thumb.

L1590/2 SN 5101-5102

post-100160-0-04140400-1446263953_thumb.

L1590/2 Hookup

--Tom Tyson

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...

My general overall characterization of those ADS models would be that they were very clean, very precise, but not harsh or edgy. Subjectively, the ARs seemed to be a little "warmer," and seemed to have a touch more body or weight through the lower midrange. My very-likely accurate guess is that the 980 had bass about midway between the 5 and 3a, (or 12 and 11 or 92 and 91), but with a slightly sharper mid-high end than the AR-11 or 91.

I'd think it would be a great find.

Steve F.

I'd say SteveF is spot on about the bass response and overall "timbre" of the 980. I go through periods where I don't listen to them for a long while and then I switch them in and remember how nice they sound... would not hesitate to take the tower version given the opportunity but more eager to hear the AR-9's.

Roger

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I am thrilled to say I am now a proud owner of ADS L1590's!

Will pick them up on Friday.

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