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TimmyTonga

AR-5 and 2ax

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I currently have a pair of 5's on the bench; they're not yet in a condition whereby I've been able to listen to them, although I am hugely curious to hear how they differ from the 3a. But who would consider it necessary to have both 5s and 2ax's? Are they that different? Does anyone prefer one over the other? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

It would be really great if everyone said they are virtually interchangeable, or that 5s were way better. Cos then it would save me a lot of money. And space.

T

 

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5's are better than 2ax's, but most listeners probably won't say "way better, " which was why the 5 was a failure in the market next to the 2ax. I've never A/B'd them, so couldn't say how they compare. The dealer I bought my 2ax's from back in 1975 didn't stock 5's because they didn't sell.

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I was going to say pick up a pair of 2ax mids and find out for yourself but the crossovers are entirely different except for the tweeter. The 5's dome crosses in the 550-650Hz range while the 2ax's cone crosses in the 1400-2000Hz range with a very minimalist design shown below.

sp B recap v.1:2.jpg

ar2ax.jpeg

More complex AR-5 crossover.

AR-5 xover.jpg

Opposite of Gene I bought the 5's in 1974 and don't even remember the 2ax's which I suspect had a more defined sweet-spot due to the characteristics of the drivers.

I passed on a pair of 2ax's this year due to over-crowding issues ...

Roger

 

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Although I've never compared my 2ax's to 5's, I do have a pair of 3a's, and the difference between these two models with regard to mids and highs is actually not terribly pronounced in a listening space of moderate size.

The 5 is often described as a 3a designed for smaller listening spaces where the 3a's bass might be overwhelming and its price was much closer to the 3a's than the 2ax's. AR would probably have done better to order the 5's mid in much larger volumes to enable them to replace the 2ax with the 5 at a price closer to the 2ax's.

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Roy Allison brought on the 3a and 5 models during the early Teledyne transition years. The 2ax had a little history going for it by that time besides the price difference and it appealed to a different audience.

Fleet of foot with AR-2ax: AR-2ax.AnnMargret.jpg

Fleet of mind with AR-5:

AR-5.ArthurFiedler.png

Ann Margret is from a TomT post in which he mentioned it could be a 2x model while Arthur Fiedler is from AR's 1971 brochure.

Roger

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I'd guess that the 5 marked as a "2bx" or something similar with Ann-Margret would have been the way to go instead of the two models.

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I beg to differ. There is a great deal of difference between the 5 and 2ax. I remember very distinctly in 1973 when my cousin got his 3a’s and he brought them over our house to A-B against my 2nd-gen 2ax’s.

 

The bass differences were to be expected. What we didn’t expect was the difference in midrange detail, openness and delineation. I remember it like yesterday: Playing Weather Report’s album Sweetnighter, the cut “Boogie Woogie Waltz,” the contrast between the two speakers couldn’t have been more striking. That tune has multiple layers of percussion, densely packed. The percussion is the heart and soul of the cut.

 

Switching from the ‘good’ 2ax to the 3a was a revelation: The percussion—which is all midrange—just “jumped” out of the speaker. It was like removing blankets from around the 2ax. Detailed and open, but without a trace of harshness, the 3a really showed its acoustic mastery on this cut. The 2ax was a very good mid-priced speaker, but the 3a was in another class.

 

That was the midrange difference between the 3 ½-inch 2ax crossing over at 1400 and the 1 ½-inch dome crossing over at 575. If anything, the midrange difference between the 5 and 2ax would be even greater, since the 5 had slightly less of that upper bass/lower mid “heaviness” of the 3a, so the 5’s midrange performance would be even better.

 

I loved my 2ax’s, but the 5/3a’s mid performance was far superior. As to the 5’s value at $175 vs. the $128 2ax and the $250 3a, that’s another discussion for another time.

 

Steve F.

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1 hour ago, Steve F said:

 

I loved my 2ax’s, but the 5/3a’s mid performance was far superior. As to the 5’s value at $175 vs. the $128 2ax and the $250 3a, that’s another discussion for another time.

That's probably why I don't remember the 2ax's ... an extra $47 for the better driver and extra crossover components seems about right.

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I think the price is the big discussion. There's no doubt that the 5 outperforms the 2ax, but in the ears of the speaker-buying consumer of the period, it just wasn't 35-40% better, especially with the 2ax in the line.

My point is, had AR sourced the components for the 5 in the same volumes they did for the 2ax, intro'd the 5 as the "next gen" model in the 2 series, and priced it in the $150s, a markedly better speaker for 15-20% more that traded on the 2s' name recognition and wasn't trying to compete with another 10" 3-way AR at $128 would probably have saved them from the 5's marketing debacle.

They obviously realized that having two 10" models competing against each other was a bad move when they put together the ADDs, but it wasn't until the AR-92 that we finally saw them have just a single 10" speaker with a dome mid in their line.

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When making comparisons between 5s and 2ax's, do you think we need to differentiate between the two versions of the 2ax? I can't help thinking that the orange-dome tweet versions of the 2ax, having only one driver in common with the 5, surely MUST sound substantially different.....

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I would think that how the actual speakers you have in hand compare to each other is the most important consideration. Since you already have the 5's, fix them up and listen to them and then if you don't feel you need both 5's and 2ax's, sell off the ones you prefer the least.

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I started to respond to this thread earlier today with this comment, but then decided to let the discussion play out a bit more:

One thing that has been left out of this discussion is the many differences between the two basic versions of the 2ax: different tweeters; different woofers; different x-o frequencies. Basically, two similar, but different speaker models IMO, but for this discussion, only the later version which shares the 5's tweeter and woofer should be compared with the AR-5. The OP has not specified which version of 2ax he might own.

The early version of the 2ax (orange dome tweet and cloth surround woof) had no similar drivers that were used in the AR-5, but the later 2ax did have identical tweeter and woofer.  

Edit: almost forgot to post this thought.

Roger, you were obviously the rare buyer who felt the increased cost of the AR-5 was money well spent. Many more speaker purchasers saw the same cabinet and woofer in a three-way design and chose not to spend the extra $100 per pair for the 5's, and therein lies the crux of the huge sales success of the 2ax. It was a decision based on cost only, not performance evaluation. (And, thanks for posting the pic of my 2ax crossover!)  

 

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If I were looking for a pair they would be the first version. I think RoyC mentioned the second version of the 2ax used the 5's drivers without any changes to the crossover. Actually he said the 5's used the 2ax woofer which could be a bit confusing for someone that hasn't inhaled a lot of fiberglass.

Roger

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One of the ironies of life is that things that failed the first time around often end up becoming more desirable than things that succeeded wildly because of their rarity.

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5 hours ago, owlsplace said:

If I were looking for a pair they would be the first version. I think RoyC mentioned the second version of the 2ax used the 5's drivers without any changes to the crossover. Actually he said the 5's used the 2ax woofer which could be a bit confusing for someone that hasn't inhaled a lot of fiberglass.

Roger

The AR-5 and 2ax eventually shared the same woofer, though this woofer was first used in the 2ax.

There are essentially three variations of the AR-5. The first used a woofer specifically designed for the AR-5 (the 5 was the first AR model to use a woofer with a foam surround). The second was the use of the woofer shared with the AR-2ax. The third had a crossover change related to the inductors in the woofer and midrange circuits (earlier #6 and #8 vs later #10 and #11).  Interestingly, the crossover change, which resulted in a steeper electrical cut-off between the woofer and midrange does not appear to correspond with the initial change to the 2ax woofer.

Roy

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Thanks to everyone for their very useful and informative input - it has helped to crystallise my thinking. It seems to me that for someone who already has a pair of 5s, it makes more sense to go for an early pair of 2ax's with the orange-dome tweets, as they will offer a more distinctly different listening experience. ra-ra addresses this key point in his post above - and the answer is; all the 2ax's for sale in the UK seem to be the later models.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/201724832107

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/152321643752

So here's a thing. Given how few 2s of any sort appear in the UK, how practical is it to turn a later version 2ax into an early one? Whenever I see decabbed orange-domed tweets for sale in the US, I am always surprised at how cheap they are compared to say, the classic 3a tweets. But then I would have late woofers with early tweets, but perhaps the difference in sound between the cloth-surround and foam-surround woofers is not very huge.....

Happy to do xo mods, but the OD tweets wouldn't just drop in.....would they?

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You guys have all those lovely teak cabs over there. AR-2ax.teak.euro.jpg

I think the tweeters will drop in just fine judging by the photos.

AR-2ax.20161008.03.jpg

Here is a crop from a local pair the seller wants $450 for complete with original boxes and a refinish job.

AR-2ax.20161125.02.c.jpg

The screw heads are different for the plastic pot but I imagine the size and pitch are the same.

The 2a would interest me more at this point for a bookshelf speaker:

AR-2a.20161125.01.c.jpg

Roger

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Regarding conversion of a later 2ax into an earlier one, by far the most impractical issue would be the required modifications to the cabinet in order to accommodate the early woofer. The early woofer's outer basket frame has a larger diameter and a different screw pattern (six vs. four), and (typically) will not fit the later vintage cabinet. It would require a sophisticated set-up and appreciable woodworking skills to pull this task off properly - - I can imagine the need for a router with fresh, sharp bits and a precisely constructed jig would be needed to create the recessed opening for the cloth surround woofer, and then you'd need to install six T-nuts per cabinet.

The exception to this would be if you had 2ax cabinets that had originally been prepared for the early woofer but had actually been assembled using the rare foam woofer with the extra wide basket flange and six screw holes, as shown below. These cabinets could immediately accept the early cloth woofer with no modifications necessary.      

10%22 woof wide flange basket.jpg

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Early version 2ax's are available in the Emerald Isles -- one pair anyway for £10:

IMG_0628.jpg

Forum member Ibis was originally going to cannibalize these to repair a set of 5's. There is a discussion of the tweeter crossover frequency in the link below.

Roger

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Thanks ra.ra and Roger; these are both very helpful posts which give me plenty more to think about (In fact, I shall reread that Ibis thread tomorrow morning when my brain is fresh).

on the subject of 5s, does anyone know off the top of their head whether the white dot values are the same as the 3a? 

 

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1 hour ago, TimmyTonga said:

... on the subject of 5s, does anyone know off the top of their head whether the white dot values are the same as the 3a?

Different ... six ohms for the mid and four ohms for the tweeter.

Roger

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3 hours ago, owlsplace said:

Different ... six ohms for the mid and four ohms for the tweeter.

Roger

Hi Roger,

Where did you acquire this info? 6 ohms is about right for the mid, but the tweeter is more like the 3a, which is 1.75 ohms in series (13.25 parallel).

Roy

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9 hours ago, RoyC said:

Hi Roger,

Where did you acquire this info? 6 ohms is about right for the mid, but the tweeter is more like the 3a, which is 1.75 ohms in series (13.25 parallel).

Roy

Roy,

It is on the AR schematic diagram in the files. I can post if you want.

Roger

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6 hours ago, owlsplace said:

Roy,

It is on the AR schematic diagram in the files. I can post if you want.

Roger

Hey Roger,

That would be great. 4 ohms simply does not jive with any AR-5's I've worked on in recent memory, and in practice would knock the already reticent tweeter down much too far. I would like to see which schematic you are referring to. There are a few questionable ones floating around.

See attached photos below of two different era AR-5's with pots set to maximum. They show the tweeter pots set to about the same maximum position as the 3a (just shy of 2 ohms). The max point of the mid pots, as stated in your post, are in keeping with a higher resistance value than the 3a's 3.25 ohms.

Roy

 

AR-5 pots.JPG

AR-5 pots 2.JPG

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