Jump to content
The Classic Speaker Pages Discussion Forums
npt3

AR Turntable thread

Recommended Posts

Hi.  I KNOW that these forums are for speakers (it's in the title!) but I don't know of a good, lively community for discussing the AR Turntable.  I've got questions.  Does anyone have any good suggestions?  Thanks! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You certainly can ask your question here. Many of us own AR tables.

 

You can also go here http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?forums/turntables.28/    Lots of knowledgeable folks, and at least one, Marc Morin, who is a true blue expert when it comes to AR turntables. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey npt

I have 3 AR TTs--1 that I bought new in 1970 and "plan" to refurbish, and 2 in pieces. I had 2 tonearms rebuilt by Steve Frosten. Ask your questions--should lead to some good discussion.

-Kent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. In my main system, I've got the classic reissued AR turntable configuration, i.e., outfitted with the Linn Basik Plus arm and Shure V15VMR cartridge that I bought new in 1986.  A couple of years ago, I had Dave Archambault at Vinyl Nirvana upgrade the springs, replace the Hurst motor with a much quieter upgrade, and replace the metal pulley with a polymeric version.  Both very worthwhile upgrades. 

  • I was looking at the Linn Trampolin baseboard (with the adjustable feet) and wondering if it would fit my deck?  It seems to me that the '86 AR plinth dimensions were (deliberately?) comparable to the Sondek.
  • Alternately, I'd like to see if anyone knows good adjustable feet to replace the stock ones I have.  I'm not talking about the enormous pontoons (or spikes) that are out there, something about, say, 1" diameter at the base.

2. And JK's comment about his '2 in pieces' leads me to my next project, getting an AR to restore.  I've just restored a pair of beautiful Allison CD6s and want those to be part of a future, smaller system I want to put in a study that I'd share with my wife.  I'd like to find an AR "project" deck, maybe an XB (with the cuing lever) or, more ambitiously, adding a more modern arm.  I've heard that the stock classic AR arm is way better than its simple appearance would indicate, but if I could fit a modest arm like the Linn, I think that would be fun to try.

  • Is there an analog of "Restoring The AR3a" for the AR turntable?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, npt3 said:

Is there an analog of "Restoring The AR3a" for the AR turntable?

And our own "Xmas111" has TWO nice write-ups with lots of pictures: http://johnsweather.com/Turntable.html

There's a link to the 1st write-up in the above.

4 hours ago, npt3 said:

I've heard that the stock classic AR arm is way better than its simple appearance would indicate

Yes. But there are 2 weaknesses: The damping and the headshell. Fortunately there are ebay sellers who have nice repro headshells but I had Steve Frosten install a Technics wand so I can mount a universal SME-type headshell. He also disabled the damping, installed sapphire pivot bearings and rewired with Cardas wire. All at a very fair price. I haven't installed it yet, but one of these days.......

-Kent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a AR-XA/Shure M97xe and a AR-ES1/ Shure V15vmr.

I rebuilt the XA using the LA Audio Society pdf as a guide.  I also read a great deal about the table, so I knew its limitations etc.   As others point out, the weak points are the arm, and wiring. However the  arm is not as bad as reported.   Key is removal of the damping pin, and careful cleaning, rebuild and adjustment.   Everything comes apart using jewelers screwdrivers.    The teflon bearings screw out, and screw back in.   Take your time when reassembling the arm.  The bearings are easy to incorrectly adjust.  One commenter posted that there is just one "correct" alignment for the bearing points, and that position seems to snap into place if you are careful.   It took me 2 times to get it right, but once I did, alignment has been steady for several years.  Arm is medium mass and suitable for most cartridges.  

After 45+yrs stock wiring can be brittle, and leads corroded.  Single biggest improvement comes from soldering in new connection cables to the connection block under the chassis.   Some go so far as to rewire the arm from headshell back.   This is a tedious process.   

The stock headshell does not allow for cartridge alignment.  There is a grub screw under the arm tube, near the pivot housing.  This screw can be loosened, and the arm tube headshell assembly can be moved front to back for alignment, and rotated for azimuth as needed.   Height is not adjustable.   I have heard of others mounting a Technics or Pioneer S tube into the AR pivot housing.  This would allow use of a universal headshell, and probably facilitate replacement of all internal wiring.

I mounted a Shure M97 cartridge and checked alignment using a paper protractor.  Alignment was correct.  That was a surprise, so I rechecked using another method, and again, alignment was dead spot on.   Great for me !    Further research brought out that AR recommended use of Shure cartridges and some theorized that AR adjusted arms at the factory for correct alignment with Shure cartridges.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  But it seemed to work for me.

I acquired my ES1 about 15 years ago.  Other than new oil and belts, it has been trouble free and continues to deliver great sound.   Benefit of this table is it comes with a removable armboard, allowing for the installation of different arms.  I have a Rega 300 arm and appropriate board on hand, and one of these days I will make the change.

These are good basic simple tables that will rival most Thorens TD series if properly set up, and come close to a Linn if fully tweaked.   A general summary is that an AR table will get you to the point of diminishing returns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonearms:

I can scour the boards, but does anyone know off the top of their head which arms can be mounted to the XA/B (or, which ones can't)?  I like the Linn Basik Plus, which I've seen for quite reasonable prices used.  (I know the LA Audiofile article calls out the Maywire Formula 4 and the Grace 707.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No other arms can be mounted without modding the table's subchassis and top plate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Check out this thread started by Steve Frosten https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=14435

Sadly, his photos seem to have disappeared but if you click on the little arrow icons they take you to his Photobucket page.

As we've discussed, the original AR arm is really quite good, with a few mods. And as Gene just noted, "no other arms can be mounted without modding the table's subchassis and top plate".

Steve really is an expert on this subject.  You can PM him from his Vinyl Engine page: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=26081   I found him very willing to share info and he may have tonearms for sale. Worth checking.

-Kent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, genek said:

No other arms can be mounted without modding the table's subchassis and top plate.

Got it!  That will be the most interesting part of the project.  I might try to find a "junk" T-bar on which to practice ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice 'table Jason!  The XB has the advantage of having the cuing mechanism. The weaknesses of the XB are

  1. the tonearm--not as good as the XA but you remedied that with the Marc Morin mod (Steve Frosten also does these mods). The Technics tube "looks" original but allows the use of universal headshells. Sometimes a heavier counterweight is needed but those are available from Larry Spence (Vintage Analog Restoration).
  2. the base. The XA had an awful-looking vinyl clad particleboard base. YOURS OTOH is BEAUTIFUL! Did you build that yourself?

Do I see a deer hide mat on there? And what are you using for feet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/18/2018 at 12:36 PM, JKent said:

Nice 'table Jason!  The XB has the advantage of having the cuing mechanism. The weaknesses of the XB are

  1. the tonearm--not as good as the XA but you remedied that with the Marc Morin mod (Steve Frosten also does these mods). The Technics tube "looks" original but allows the use of universal headshells. Sometimes a heavier counterweight is needed but those are available from Larry Spence (Vintage Analog Restoration).
  2. the base. The XA had an awful-looking vinyl clad particleboard base. YOURS OTOH is BEAUTIFUL! Did you build that yourself?

Do I see a deer hide mat on there? And what are you using for feet?

Yep, I built the base out of oak. Deer hide mat, MM reworked the arm, AT-F7 cart, currently sorbothane feet, although I'd like to add "spike" style(or whatever they're referred to) feet. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, jason4300 said:

Yep, I built the base out of oak. Deer hide mat, MM reworked the arm, AT-F7 cart, currently sorbothane feet, although I'd like to add "spike" style(or whatever they're referred to) feet. 

I like how you kept the lines of the new base along those of the original.  WAY nicer wood, same great shape!  When I find a specimen to rehab, I may do that too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I’ve found a great XA. More once I get it, but it’s got the “stock” Shure M91ED cartridge, which I’ve heard good things about, but was wondering if there’s a good modern substitute folks have used with the AR arm. I’m partial to Shures (I have a V15VMR on my ‘83 AR deck) but have open ears :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats!

Like you, I have a Shure V15V. I understand a good modern Shure is the Shure M97XE. Ortofon and AT are popular. I would "like" to use a Grado but they can hum with AR 'tables. Lots of people report having no problem with Grados but I wrote to Grado labs and THEY said not to use their cart with an AR 'table.

If you Google "best cartridge for AR turntable" you'll see a lot of recommendations and you can sift through to look for consensus. I'd probably go for the Shure M97 or Ortofon but YMMV.

Kent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, JKent said:

Congrats!

Like you, I have a Shure V15V. I understand a good modern Shure is the Shure M97XE. Ortofon and AT are popular. I would "like" to use a Grado but they can hum with AR 'tables. Lots of people report having no problem with Grados but I wrote to Grado labs and THEY said not to use their cart with an AR 'table.

If you Google "best cartridge for AR turntable" you'll see a lot of recommendations and you can sift through to look for consensus. I'd probably go for the Shure M97 or Ortofon but YMMV.

Kent

I've seen the same comment about the Grados.  I love Grado, but it's good to hear that they DON'T recommend their carts with the AR.  :(  I've been looking at three things:

  1. getting a new JICO elliptical stylus for the M91ED;
  2. the Shure M97XE; or
  3. the Ortofon 2M Red (if I keep the AR arm) or Blue (if I decide to mod the 'table with a new arm.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, npt3 said:

I've seen the same comment about the Grados.  I love Grado, but it's good to hear that they DON'T recommend their carts with the AR.  :(  I've been looking at three things:

  1. getting a new JICO elliptical stylus for the M91ED;
  2. the Shure M97XE; or
  3. the Ortofon 2M Red (if I keep the AR arm) or Blue (if I decide to mod the 'table with a new arm.)

There is no problem with Grado's on AR's, as long as the table is properly grounded. Over at Audiokarma,  the foremost expert/engineer on AR restorations is Marc Morin, and Grado carts, especially with an 8MZ or 8MR stylus are highly recommended by him. I use one on my AR TX(early, 2 motor version of the XA) without any issues. They do need to be loaded down some to sound best. Well worth heading over there for additional input by him and others if you have not already done so(not to say the folks here, many of whom post over there as well, aren't equally as qualified). 

That said, I also use an M91ED with both an original stylus and Jico SAS. Both sound great, the Jico's are pretty much spot on replica's of the original. Can't go wrong. 

I don't like the 97XE. Found it bland. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, samberger0357 said:

There is no problem with Grado's on AR's, as long as the table is properly grounded. Over at Audiokarma,  the foremost expert/engineer on AR restorations is Marc Morin, and Grado carts, especially with an 8MZ or 8MR stylus are highly recommended by him. I use one on my AR TX(early, 2 motor version of the XA) without any issues. They do need to be loaded down some to sound best. Well worth heading over there for additional input by him and others if you have not already done so(not to say the folks here, many of whom post over there as well, aren't equally as qualified). 

That said, I also use an M91ED with both an original stylus and Jico SAS. Both sound great, the Jico's are pretty much spot on replica's of the original. Can't go wrong. 

I don't like the 97XE. Found it bland. 

 

 

 

What's the JICO part number for the SAS stylus?  I was on their site yesterday; I searched for "M91ED" and only found the elliptical stylus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think they make a SAS anymore. The elliptical is fine. In fact, my understanding(I haven't heard it) is that Jico's N91E for $33 is as good as the $56 option. I believe the only difference is that the ED is nude. Shouldn't make any audio difference. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, samberger0357 said:

I don't think they make a SAS anymore. The elliptical is fine. In fact, my understanding(I haven't heard it) is that Jico's N91E for $33 is as good as the $56 option. I believe the only difference is that the ED is nude. Shouldn't make any audio difference. 

Well, that explains it!  I may check the elliptical out first - $56 for a new elliptical stylus on an arguably better cartridge (i.e., compared to $99 for a new M97XE) seems like a better deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...