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Edgar Villchur: American Inventor, Educator and Writer

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Edgar Villchur: American Inventor, Educator and Writer

Miriam Villchur Berg, daughter of the late Edgar Villchur, has assembled two excellent historical websites about her famous dad: edgarvillchur.com and her blog, villchurblog.com. There is a great deal of wonderful Villchur information in these websites, correcting many historical inaccuracies in the Wikipedia website (which I am going to correct soon). Aside from Roy Allison's excellent article, "A Glorious Time," the "best" article is my little tribute to Edgar Villchur:

http://edgarvillchur.com/a-tribute/

—Tom Tyson

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Excellent sites! Thanks for the links.

Steve,

Thanks for your comments. You will see references to your father in my tribute to Edgar Villchur, especially regarding the AR-1 and the AR-3. Your father recognized excellence, and he quickly began to admire and appreciate the remarkable achievements of Edgar Villchur and such speakers as the AR-1 and the AR-3.

Probably the most iconic sentence ever written about a single high-fidelity product was written by your father when describing the then-new AR-3 loudspeaker system in High Fidelity magazine, fifty-five years ago this month: "...The sounds produced by this speaker are probably more true to the original program than those produced by any other commercially manufactured speaker system we have heard...." I suspect your dad wanted to come right out and just simply say that the AR-3 was "the finest loudspeaker in the world," but he could not be so indiscreet and had to parse his words somewhat. There is little doubt that by the early 1960s he had heard every speaker of consequence during those years, so he had a great reference background.

One of the things I wanted to do with my article about Villchur and Acoustic Research was to show the "spirit" and work "atmosphere" at AR during those formative years of the 1950s and 1960s. It was very different from most other places, and those who worked there always commented on the great experience of working at this fine company. My article goes into details about the uniqueness of Acoustic Research.

—Tom Tyson

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I have to disagree. That was a great comment, but it referred to only one speaker.

IMO, Julian's best comment was:

"AR speakers set new standards for low-distortion, low-frequency reproduction, and in our view have never been surpassed in this regard."

I believe that was from the AR-3a review [1968], but it shined down upon the entire line, all models.

Steve F.

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I have to disagree. That was a great comment, but it referred to only one speaker.

IMO, Julian's best comment was:

"AR speakers set new standards for low-distortion, low-frequency reproduction, and in our view have never been surpassed in this regard."

I believe that was from the AR-3a review [1968], but it shined down upon the entire line, all models.

Steve F.

Well, I certainly agree with you that Julian's statement, "setting new standards for low-distortion, low-frequency reproduction..." is very important and very significant, but it is more of a generalized description of the excellence of AR's renowned low-frequency accuracy.

It is akin to the stunning original AR-1 test in The Audio League Report, January 1956, in which Julian Hirsch described, with great detail and clarity, the bass performance of the AR-1: "At the risk of getting a little ahead of ourselves, we can point out that at 25 cycles, and below, the '1% efficient' AR-1 is actually more efficient than the '50% efficient' Klipschorn. The latter gives up rather abruptly somewhere in the vicinity of 30 cycles and produces little fundamental energy, while the AR-1 can generate relatively undistorted fundaments down to 20 cycles and below." This was a bellwether moment in the world of high-fidelity sound, and it signaled the beginning of the end of the behemoth, refrigerator-sized loudspeakers—such as the big Bozaks, Altec Lansing, JBL, Klipschorn, Electro-Voice, Jensen and University—in the hi-fi market place, even prior to the advent of modern, commercial stereophonic sound in November, 1957. But even this great test didn't have the overall impact on sound reproduction as the 1960 Julian Hirsch review of the AR-3 and his famous quote, "The sounds produced by this speaker are probably more true to the original program than those produced by any other commercially manufactured speaker system we have heard." This is certainly the most specific quote of excellence that could be placed on any high-fidelity product, and it just falls short of saying that the AR-3 was unsurpassed in the world of high-fidelity loudspeakers.

With this review among many others that followed (especially the Larry Zide review and the Popular Science speaker comparison), the CU ratings and the famous Live-vs.-Recorded concerts across the country, the AR-3 soon became known for a period of more than 10 years as the most accurate loudspeaker available at any cost.

—Tom Tyson

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