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sarals

Hi, New With New To Me AR-2ax Pair

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@lakecat, thank you!  Oh, I have been bitten by that AR bug.  There will be others!!

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I did some extended "lights off" listening last night.  There were things I loved about the 2ax's, things that were surprising and frankly just stunning, and then other things that were a little disturbing, where I found myself thinking "what was that?".  I listened to Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" through my Oppo DVD player (my Marantz SA8260 SACD refused to play the disc, what a surprise), followed by some Telarc symphony offerings, and then Joni Mitchel "Ladies of the Canyon".  First and foremost, they are a very smooth sounding speaker system.  They roll off at the bottom and top, but they do it gracefully.  Their tonal balance is quite neutral, especially through the midrange.  Piano and brass are gorgeous through them, female vocals are, too.  And goodness, can they throw an image!  The "what was that?" came when I played some program material that contained impact and massed instruments (Telarc CD).  They didn't do so well on that.  They presented very little to no "attack", and they tended to get very congested when the music got complex.  I'm not 100% convinced that was all the 2ax's, some (or much) may have been the 2270.  That receiver IS unrestored, and the old caps in it may slow it down, perhaps quite a lot.  I'll have to try them with a modern high powered amplifier to see if they can keep up.  And no, I do NOT play them loud!  They don't care to do that, and they are just too old and too valuable to push around.  I have way too much respect for them to risk harming them.

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12 minutes ago, sarals said:

I'm not 100% convinced that was all the 2ax's, some (or much) may have been the 2270.  That receiver IS unrestored, and the old caps in it may slow it down, perhaps quite a lot.

Very possible. That baby's over 4 decades old. I had the similar (but 4 channel) 4270 that a friend gave me when he switched to a little Bose system. It had been VERY well cared for and although beautiful I just had no use for it so I took it to a tech for refurb, then sold it (then gave the friend a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant). Point is, even having been well cared for the Marantz needed a little work.

I'll be interested to hear your impression of the speakers with a modern high power amp. My guess is you'll be pleased but keep us posted!

Kent

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Hi all!  I did listen to my 2ax's through my SCS 2150 power amp (it's a commercial version of a Muse MOSFET design, 150W/Channel).  The preamp was my Audible Illusions Modulus 2, with my Schiit Mani phono preamp providing gain for my VPI Scout/Shelter 501 combination.  I listened to a gamut of LP's through the system, and came away impressed overall.  They're pretty remarkable speakers given the era they come from!  First, the "congestion" I heard with the 2ax's being driven by my Marantz 2270 was not there, so that answers that question.  Second, the 2ax's are obviously inefficient and quite power hungry.  They seemed to like that high current SCS amp, and believe me, I was very judicious with the volume control(s), keeping the level in check at all times.

I need to step away from the speakers for a few days to allow some notions to clear, however, early impressions are as follows.  As I told a couple of folks here via email, to me the overall sound of the speakers is veiled, I described it as "smokey", as if they were light diffused by smoke.  They really roll off on the bottom and top.  The tweeter seems to be the best driver in the cabinets, even though it does little more than overtones.  The midrange has a nice balance, but it doesn't start and stop very quickly.  The speakers exhibited very little impact, even with some power behind them.  They also seemed to smear the music, not in huge way, but it affected their overall articulation.  I found the mids to have a distant/dry character, which correlates with the warm presentation the speakers give.

I am impressed with how well they throw a left/right image.  It's stable, and it presents what the recording intended.  Its pretty flat front to back (that has to do with the slow response of drivers, not a lot of nuance, in my opinion), but side to side?  Wow!

They're easy to listen to, they don't do anything terribly wrong.  They have definite sweet spot in so far as the music they do well with...jazz, piano, orchestra. female voices.  Complex, vibrant, and powerful they don't do.

I feel they'd present better in a fairly live listening room, which I do not have.  I may try them in the near field one day to see what I think there.

 

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really enjoy your review here. you will find near field to be enjoyable as well. listening environment and source (sounds like your source is awesome) will obviously effect your experience.

keep us informed and good luck on your interest/quest for some 5s.

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I haven't yet placed the 2ax's properly, so they've been hindered a bit by where they're sitting.  However.  Because I can't yet move them, I moved me, a little closer to them, and my goodness do they have a sweet spot, which I have, much to my delight, fallen into.  I removed the grills and listened in the dark a couple of evenings ago, and those old speakers, like old me, just disappeared.  They're a different beast with the grills off, and combined with my better listening position, I have decided that they are very good!!!

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Interesting review, sarals. I have a 2265B and AR-2Ax speakers that were recently hooked up to a restored Fisher 500-C.  I found the 2265B very difficult to setup so that the entire frequency range was well-represented especially in the low bass and mid ranges.  The Fisher sounds fabulous and pulls in more FM radio stations.  The 2265B fell a little short with its FM reception comparatively. I just hooked up the restored 2265B today so I'll give it more time to settle in, but I'm quite surprised at how different the 2 receivers sound when driving the 2Ax speakers.

UPDATE: After acclimating myself to the sound of the 2265B, I find that I was wrong about not getting a close to flat frequency response.  Because I was listening to the Fisher with the  loudness switch on, THAT was the colored sound.  With the MID control on the 2Ax turned up a bit and the bass cranked on the 2265B, I've got a nice natural sound.

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I'm pretty sure my 2270 needs a restoration.  I'm not familiar with the "Marantz Sound", all I have is a notion based on what I've read.  I did listen to a friend's Marantz based system way back when I was in school, which consisted of a Marantz pre and power amp driving a set of AR-3a's.  Back then I tended to listen with loudness engaged and bass turned up, so my aural memory of that experience is not what I'd term accurate!  I have on hand a Harmon Kardon 630 "Twin Power", which I've mentioned.  It's okay, but not great, tending to sound kind of hard.  I also have a Pioneer VSX something home theater piece, and with all of the DSP settings that thing has I'd hardly term it reference!  What I'm trying to say (poorly) is that I'm not familiar with the sound of either classic receivers or modern ones.

My 2ax's need tweaking.  Not electrically or physically, but they need to be properly placed, wherever that might be, and I do need to experiment with the level controls once I've found that proper placement.  It's all part of the fun, isn't it?  

My bottom line is that I am quite impressed with the quality and accuracy of the sound of those old dudes.  Sure, modern speakers are "better", but only in some ways.  AR had it close to right back then.  IMHO, of course (and I don't care what Stereophile reviewers say...)  ;)

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Speaking of speakers. I spent the day listening to a re-issue of Pink Floyd (really Roger Waters) The Final Cut LP thru my various AR's and Adcom setup. Lacking the stereophile thesaurus I can only say that to me it seems that album has a wide dynamic range of quiet to hard hitting passages, maybe not the prettiest vocals to use for listening, but I have always liked Rogers angst and anger. The range of the album gave my re-furbed 2-ax's a work out. I am impressed with the ability of the old speakers to deliver the punch I like with 10" speakers.  I also ran the pair of AR4x's in tandem to compare the one basically stock speaker (with the PR tweeter) and my old modified unit with the Scanspeak woofer and Vifa tweeter.  I am really liking the AR4x woofer better now, and even as loud as the PR tweeter could be un-restrained, I like to be able to dial it down on the speaker.  Suffice to say, I too am impressed with how speakers made in 1968 can still shine.  I really think the original AR4x woofer is doing a better job of reaching lower than the modern Scanspeak in this enclosure.  I have had systems with subs, even had a giant dual voice coil 15" monster I think was called the Sledgehammer in a giant sealed enclosure once.  that was a beast.  but as I re-learn to appreciate balanced music and systems I really like the sound of these AR2-ax speakers.  These puppies can get loud and still sound remarkable. I am really enjoying my old school AR's regardless of what may be "better" in todays world.  In the next week or so I hope to get after my other modified AR4x and return it to more or less original specs.  I may try a 10uf cap on the tweeter in that one just to compare the two. 

In the end its just as Sarals says.  its all about the fun

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sarals... As it was explained to me, Marantz's, because they don't use tubes, have a more natural and flat response sound. Tubes tend to increase to around 1% harmonic distortion which in part gives tube receivers like Fisher's that warm sound.  Marantz' harmonic distortion is way less.  However, both receivers put out a very full sound and both are great with my AR-2Ax speakers.  I have the tweeter control full out and the mid control at about 1/2 in a 9'x9' room.  I like to hear those cymbals !

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Sorry I've been away, folks.  I've been dealing with an injury.  It's had me out of pocket for almost ten days now.  I'm just getting back on my feet.

In the interim, I asked a friend to move my AR's to my mantle piece for me, which puts their backs against the wall.  It's not the most ideal position for any speaker in this room, because the acoustic at that end does nothing to help the woofers couple to the room.  But, the speakers are ear level when I'm standing, and I can get close or far from them, whichever.  They're up there now, connected to my newer electronics (not the Marantz), and they're not bad.  They still have a degree of "fuzziness" in the upper bass/lower mid (woofers?), and some of the smearing that they exhibited was corrected by giving the level controls on the back a good working out (thanks to @jessiAV for that tip!).  Still, there is some fuzz there.  I'm becoming resigned to the cold fact that the woofers are the source, which means they're unhappy.  Well...

The Marantz 2270 is now driving my small Advents.  With a good source playing through that receiver, they are pretty darned impressive (and they're only four years younger than the AR-2ax's, 1975 is their build date).  That Marantz is perfectly happy.  It's not injecting any artifacts that I can hear into the signal.  It's a very nice piece.  Smooth, sort of rounded in it's presentation, not a lot of slam, but just really, really nice.

So.  At some point I have to explore what's going on with the woofers in my 2ax's.  But, not yet.  I'm going to have some medical bills I'll need to attend to first.  Once I get my life back on track, I'll get back to my vintage speakers.  I have a pair of OLA's that I promised I'd buy from someone here, as well, and that will come right after my medical obligations.

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sarals... Perhaps air is escaping around the woofer.  How is the seal?  You know 2Ax' require an air tight enclosure, right?

 

Good luck with your healing.  Thorne

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On 4/13/2018 at 5:55 AM, thornev said:

sarals... Perhaps air is escaping around the woofer.  How is the seal?  You know 2Ax' require an air tight enclosure, right?

 

Good luck with your healing.  Thorne

Thank you for that, Thorne.  It's possible, and worth investigating.

And thank you for the well wishes!  Broken ribs take time, unfortunately....

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This thread has been very enjoyable to follow from the very beginning, but what has struck me most is the sheer number of hits and posts that it has received in such a short period of time. Thousands!  Yes, the 2ax is among AR's very most popular models from the 'classic' era,  but I believe it is the enthusiastic and respectful tone and expertise of the OP that characterizes the uniqueness of this thread.

sarals, best wishes from me for a full and speedy recovery, and like you, I owned a pair of AR-4x's in college in the '72-73 time frame. In fact, I still have mine and play them often. Get well soon.

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Heartfelt thanks!  Very sweet of all of you!

I know you wonder what I did to injure myself.  I'm a little embarrassed to explain, I don't want to sound disingenuous.  I'm a competitive track cyclist.  I was in a training session at the velodrome in Carson, California, VELO Sports Center, on the 4th of April, and I was caught up in a crash.  A rider above me went down, slid down the banking, and took the rider ahead of me me out, and I had no where to go except hit them both - at 28 miles an hour.  I broke five ribs, non displaced, thank goodness, and had a myriad of skin tears and bruising as well.  One of the other riders was knocked out and concussed.  Thank goodness for helmets, that saved her, and it did me, too.  I had a large dent in my helmet, and there was paint from the track surface on the top of my helmet, as well.  I'm on the mend, in fact, I just finished an hour of "spinning" on my trainer for the first time since the mishap.  I have a very large support system of friends and fellow athletes, who have looked after me.  Their help made life much more bearable, because as some of you may know, broken ribs are difficult!  But, I'm feeling very good at this point in time, and my healing is progressing nicely.

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14 hours ago, ra.ra said:

This thread has been very enjoyable to follow from the very beginning, but what has struck me most is the sheer number of hits and posts that it has received in such a short period of time. Thousands!  Yes, the 2ax is among AR's very most popular models from the 'classic' era,  but I believe it is the enthusiastic and respectful tone and expertise of the OP that characterizes the uniqueness of this thread.

sarals, best wishes from me for a full and speedy recovery, and like you, I owned a pair of AR-4x's in college in the '72-73 time frame. In fact, I still have mine and play them often. Get well soon.

That was very, very nice of you @ra.ra!  Thank you!

I LOVE audio and the associated gear.  I grew up, as many of us did, as the home audio world was maturing, and I became enamored with the wonderful gear of those formative days, and the people behind it.  I have respect for it, yes - as well as love!  It's genuine, believe me.  I'm still struck, to this day, how close to "right" the gear I had as a young woman fifty years ago really was.  It's a joy to be able to revisit that!

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Hi @philip Salisbury!  Thank you for the well wishes and the tip!

Are you currently an FOH engineer?  I'm a former FOH mix engineer, from way before it was even called that.  I do only recording these days, very sporadically, an on my terms.  I like it that way!

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I've been letting the AR-2ax's play for several days now, the idea being to allow them to perhaps "break in" the new surrounds.  Today I did some extended listening to them with Pandora through my iPhone 6 as the source.  Now, don't scoff too loudly!  The signal from the headphone jack is quite clean, and even though Pandora uses a compression scheme (I don't know which one), the sound is still very good.  I listened to a series of random songs featuring cello pieces, as well as small ensembles such as Kronos Quartet, Pale White Moon, The Piano Guys, etc.  The 2ax's were absolutely in their sweet spot with that music.  With intimate cello, such as Zoe Keating, they were simply stunning, I mean stunning, and produced a very involving experience.  Music that I connect to can take me to a very emotional space, and the AR's let me do that today.  I was simply swept away, involved, and had a wonderful time listening.

With the right program material, these are simply wonderful speakers.

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If you ever have the chance, try the 2ax's with some vintage tube gear. I'm running mine with a Fisher X-100-B integrated as I type this and the sound is silky smooth and extremely realistic. Toe tapping to be sure. Of all the AR speakers that I have heard, the 2ax's(and original 2's, too) seem to really thrive on quality tube power. 

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On 3/1/2018 at 7:30 PM, sarals said:

The second grill is off.  I used the drywall screw method, which worked like a charm.  The drivers look the same as the other speaker, and the woofer foam is just as rotten.  I avoided disappointment there!  I checked the tweeter with my VOM, 6.7 ohms.  I did order Rick Cobb's surround kit, or did I tell you that?  Night shift last night, and I'm a little scattered.

I do like all of the colorful clamps you fellas used when gluing your surrounds!  Very festive!

I was interested to see @larrybody's method of "fortifying" the woofer cone.  I'm wondering if the cone has deteriorated somehow to where it would need that?  They are discolored from age.  I have no way of knowing if they are less stiff than they were when new.

Thank you, all!

I would not add any coating to the cones.  This was done deliberately at the factory with the Spica TC-50s

and it caused a very large peak in the high frequency response which was measured and notched out in

the crossover.  I just wouldn't use such a coating.

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On 2/21/2018 at 11:33 AM, sarals said:

I should talk a little about my history.  I was fascinated with audio reproduction as far back as I can remember.  My parents didn't foster it, but they didn't dissuade me, either.  In 1965, my dad, who was in Vietnam at the time, sent me a Garrard A-70.  I still have it.  In college I really became involved in the "chase", but having little (NO) money, I had to scrap around to acquire gear.  That lead to things like a low end Pioneer receiver (an SX-770), those (damn) Southwest Technical Universal Tigers (time bombs and speaker killers), some Lafayette (ugh) gear, AR4x's, and finally Larger Advents.  I also glommed on to a Sony TC-153SD and Crown DC300A.  After college, I started into a solid career (after the pro audio phase) and was able to start to gather the gear that I lusted after and deemed great (my ear, no one else's).  I had Ohm F's for a long time, a Dyna Stereo 410 (oh, that thing was muddy), an Advent 300 receiver, and a Sony PSX-7 turntable with an Ortofon cartridge.  I moved out of that phase and into Perreaux gear, a VPI Scout turntable with a Shelter 501II cartridge, a Marantz SA8260 CD player (with it's attendant service headaches), a Hsu 12V subwoofer, and Legacy Classic speakers. 

Hi, noticed your mention of the SWTPC Universal Tigers, I built them and rebuilt them when they blew

up as a very young kid in the early 70s.  I thought I read about tweeter pot shafts melting here, was 

that you, and do you think it was from oscillations in the Tiger amps?

I came up with a SPICE simulation of the Tiger amps here at DiyAudio:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/solid-state/93637-swtpc-universal-tiger-improved-simulation.html

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