Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Austin AR Discoveries.....


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Anthropologo

Anthropologo

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 34 posts

Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:25 PM

AR Acquisition #1
Growing up in the 70’s I was big into stereo – home and car. Lots of components, lots of music, but all Japanese equipment. I knew of the more esoteric (for me) audiophile stuff built in the states, but that was well beyond my budget at the time. Nonetheless, I read the magazines and I lusted. Then life came along and lots of gear, cables, big speaker boxes, yards of LPs, and jamming tunes were slowly downsized and eliminated; the core of the albums boxed and stored.

CDs came along and everything got smaller; my last memory of a stereo in the house was a black Sony all in one (no turntable) with speakers placed for aesthetics rather than sound. For the last couple of years everything has been played through a Sony soundbar connected to the Xbox.

A couple of months ago I was driving home and happened across an “Estate Sale” sign. Deciding to take a chance I made the u- turn, parked the car, and went in. The house was a nice bungalow and what was left reflected people who were reasonably well off all the way back to the 60’s; clothes, luggage, briefcases, furnishings all dated to the period but were obviously up-scale.

Electronics were a downer as it looked like they had re-upped sometime in the late 70’s or early 80’s with an all in one radio-record-cassette ensemble. Nonetheless, I kept wandering and was down to one bedroom with things looking grim. Walked in, spun around a couple of times and was just about to leave when I saw buried in the corner three speaker-looking shapes in dark wood veneer.

These revealed themselves as two bookshelf-sized speakers marked AR-1 and a more oddly, fan-shaped speaker that was wider than tall with four distinct front panels marked Janszen I-30. I knew of AR and that the AR-3’s and later AR-9 vertical series were good speakers (but again, out of my price range at the time) but had never heard of AR-1’s and knew nothing of this Janszen device. However, it was only $22 for all 3 pieces and there was no way I was letting these go. So, I scrounged $22 in 5’s, singles, and change from my pockets, briefcase, and car (everything with a debit card, it seems and estate sales rarely take them) bought the speakers and took them home.

AR-1-04_006.JPG AR-1W-04_019.JPG Janszen 1-30-01_028.JPG

As I was moving them from car to office I noticed that even though both of the AR’s were marked AR-1, they were quite different front and back as one was 2-way and the other had but a single woofer in the cabinet.

AR-1-06_008.JPG AR-1-08_010.JPG AR-1-10_012.JPG AR-1-12_014.JPG AR-1W-01_016.JPG AR-1W-03_018.JPG AR-1W-05_020.JPG AR-1W-09_024.JPG AR-1W-10_025.JPG AR-1W-11_026.JPG

Once inside I immediately began internet research and grew happier by the web page as I came to realize exactly what I had stumbled upon. As I did not have a stereo receiver at that time, I scooted over to my cousin Tommy’s who is not only a musician but also has a nice Bogen tube amp, good turntable, and Bowen and Wilson speakers that we thought sounded quite fine. We hooked these up, flipped the switch, and just stared at each other upon the sound coming out of these boxes. The Bowen & Wilson’s are good, these were just audibly way better.

We then discovered that the Janszen was not working. Tommy, however, is also an accomplished electrical repair guy and I left them with him to see if he could get it to work and enjoy the speakers till I could find a receiver.

The next day I got a call that everything was working. Zoomed over to listen to the entire set and it was even more amazing; just really clean, clear, music with presence and depth. The only problem was that past a certain point, the Bogen just could not push these speakers.

I finally acquired power to push them (Pioneer A-88X), a turntable for my heretofore boxed and stored vinyl (Kenwood KD 5100) and a Harman Kardon HD 7525 cd player (Burr Brown DAC – in my opinion sounds better than the Philips CDB 630 [TDA 1541a DAC] that I found at Goodwill – actually the HK and the Kenwood, as well).

Here is speaker data:
  • The AR-1 was purchased sometime in 1955 (based on s/n 480). As far as I can tell, the grill has never been removed.
  • AR-1-07_009.JPG AR-1-05_007.JPG
  • The AR-1W has s/n 12863 and, as already mentioned, is mis-labeled as an AR-1. I have noted reference to at least two more (s/n’s 12792 and 13195) that were also described as mis-labeled. So that would seem to provide a starting range for this error.
  • AR-1W-12_027.JPG
  • The Janszen I-30 Electrostatic tweeter has no serial number. The back is the mirrored silver finish which does not photograph well.
  • Janszen 1-30-02_029.JPG


#2 Carlspeak

Carlspeak

    Forum Moderator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,885 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Central Connecticut

Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:33 PM

It would appear you acquired someone's monaural speaker system. The AR-1 is particularly valuable; especially the Altec driver. It alone is worth hundreds. The Jensen tweeter unit was probably the predecessor to the Microstatic array or, a later add on by the owner of the AR-1.

Stick around, you'll get lots of help with info and restoration ideas.

BTW, I once converted a pair of AR1-Ws into AR3a's. So, I know it's possible.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC!

Carl
Carl's Custom Loudspeakers

#3 Tom H.

Tom H.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 76 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bismarck, ND

Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:39 AM

I've been curious as to exacty why but nice examples of those AR-1's with the altec mid/tweeter driver go for $1000 or more on Ebay. At first glance you wouldn't think that altec driver would be that special especially when compared with the later dome tweeters of the AR-3 and AR-3a which also are highly regarded.

That's a major score you made there. I'm surprised that the estate people didn't figure a better value for the speakers.

Great story, I hope you intend to hang on to those. You "HI FI" life story is similar to mine.

#4 ar_pro

ar_pro

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 665 posts

Posted 03 May 2012 - 06:07 AM

The JansZen electrostatic tweeter coupled with the AR-1 was a very high-end system in its day - I've seen them advertised and reviewed in Hi-Fi magazines from the late '50s, and there was nothing that came close.
The giant Altec, JBL and Bozak systems of the era certainly had their supporters (and attributes), but the AR/JansZen system was clearly the most technically-advanced, and musically accurate.

I purchased a pair of the JansZen electrostatic tweeters at a flea market a few years back - since I had no practical use for them, they didn't stay around long. My impression was that sounded very much like the original QUAD electrostatic, but with a limited LF response - they were absolutely meant to be added to a speaker like the AR-1.

I've also owned the Microstatic array that Carl mentioned, and the JansZen is a superior product in every imaginable way - in a smaller room, I could be very happy with the AR-1 and a pair of properly-functioning electostatics!

#5 genek

genek

    Advanced Member

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,607 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Marcos, CA

Posted 03 May 2012 - 06:32 AM

The Janszen was a different animal from the later Microstatics in that the MS was designed as an auxillary or supertweeter to add onto a full-range speaker system while the Janszen could actually replace the Altec driver or turn an AR-1W into a full range system.

The current collector value of the Altec driver in the AR-1 is a mystery. It's a perfectly ordinary speaker with a range from around 80Hz to 12kHz that was once common as dirt in the ceilings of thousands of school and office building PA systems. They're highly prized in Japan, where they are often used in big single-driver systems, but I've heard them and there's nothing special about the sound..

#6 ar_pro

ar_pro

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 665 posts

Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:55 PM

Here are the specs on the JansZen 1-30 speaker.

The 1-30 was a true electrostatic loudspeaker, with a built-in 500 Hz (cps) crossover, and AC power supply.

Attached Thumbnails

  • janszenspecs.jpg
  • jar1.jpg


#7 JKent

JKent

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,514 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northwest NJ

Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:12 PM

UNBELIEVABLE find! Congratulations!

More on the electrostatics: The JansZen units were the brainchild of Arthur Janszen. He collaborated with Henry Kloss early on, and was instrumental in designing the KLH Model Eight tube radio (my fave). He also designed the KLH Model Nine Electrostatics. Later he sold his own JansZen speakers under the Neshaminy brand. There were some nice acoustic suspension speakers, about the size of AR3s, that had an Alnico woofer and an electrostatic array for the mids & highs. These are sought after. He also produced a 2-way with a nice looking alnico, cast aluminum frame woofer and a phenolic tweeter. Despite the advertizing hype these did not measure up to the electrostatics. Probably the most collectible JansZen speakers are the ones you have. JansZen is still in business, still building electrostatic speakers! http://www.janszenloudspeaker.com/

The "Microstatics" are an entirely different animal, as Gene pointed out. Forget about truth in advertising! They are NOT electrostatic and I'm sure their shape and name were pure rip-offs of the JansZen electrostatic. That being said, they are perfectly nice little auxilliary supertweeters (I have 3 pair) intended to augment the rolled-off highs of the AR and KLH speakers.

Kent
J. Kent Hollingsworth

#8 genek

genek

    Advanced Member

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,607 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Marcos, CA

Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:08 AM

I think the MS name and shape were more of a "homage" sort of thing than a rip-off, since the original Janszens had long been out of production at the time and the original Janszen company had been absorbed into KLH in 1959 and no longer operated under that name.

The current Janszen company isn't actually "still in business." The brand was resurrected by Arthur Janszen's son David in 2005.

#9 JKent

JKent

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,514 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northwest NJ

Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:09 PM

I don't know what their motivation was but "homage" may be too kind. Reviewers at the time commented that the MS looked like "earlier electrostatics". In their brochure, Micro/Acoustics claimed the "microstatic name" was derived from electrostatic but that their little cone drivers were better (see attachment). Pretty faint praise ;)

And JansZen speakers were still being made when the MS came out. Although the JansZen company was absorbed by KLH, Neshaminy continued to make JansZen speakers well into the 70s. An interesting History may be found here: http://www.audiocirc...e-Audio/JansZen

Micro/Acoustics did make good products. Their cartridges were nice and I do think the MS array provided high frequencies and the elusive "dispersion" many classic speaker fans seek.

But we're getting a bit OT. Again--GREAT find Anthropologo!!

Kent

Attached Thumbnails

  • MS QA.jpg

J. Kent Hollingsworth

#10 tysontom

tysontom

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,375 posts

Posted 04 May 2012 - 03:33 PM

I think everybody is missing the point here: this guy is crowing about purchasing the AR-1/AR-1W and JansZen 130 electrostatic combination for a mere $22. If that is the case—somewhat improbable—this buyer got an absolute "steal," and the sellers were incredibly ignorant of the value of old vintage equipment. Perhaps this sort of thing occasionally happens, but what's the chance of making this sort of "barn" find? Probably one-in-a-million.

Ironically, I have two AR-1s of about the same vintage. Both are in Mahogany, the standard finish for the early 1950s. I paid $5 each for them (I wish!).

—Tom Tyson

Attached Thumbnails

  • AR-1_07210_AR-1_14394_19Sep2010 004c.jpg
  • AR-1_07210_AR-1_14394_19Sep2010_022c.jpg


#11 genek

genek

    Advanced Member

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,607 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Marcos, CA

Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:36 PM

I think the part about the $22 just generates too much jealousy to dwell on for very long...

#12 ar_pro

ar_pro

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 665 posts

Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:00 PM

I really enjoy reading about great deals!

In the last 3 years, I've found the following on Craigslist and at Hamfests:
AR-3 (working & original) $50/pr
AR-90 $100 & $150
AR-9 $100, $100, and $150 (ha!)
And God knows how many AR-4, 2, 2ax, etc.
The JansZens were $100/pr in blonde wood, which I thought to be a very good deal at the time.
I wound up selling them to a Japanese collector six months later, for quite a bit more. :D




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users