AR 303 Series Comments from Ken Kantor

Email thread between Ken Drescher and Ken Kantor regarding the AR 303 Series design.

Hi Ken,

Can you tell me about your involvement with the AR 302, AR 303 etc. line of speakers?

I bought out some remaining stock and wanted to understand your involvement with the design. How far did you go in copying the originals? I can't really locate a good AR-3a to do a fair comparison.

Nice speaker by the way, I really like the cherry veneer finish.


Ken Drescher,

> Hi...
> Thanks! And thanks for writing.
> My involvement was, mmmm, very intimate. Of course there was a team
> of maybe 5 core people who all deserve a great deal of credit. But
> my involvement with these particular products was very hands on, from
> the original marketing concept, to driver and crossover development
> to the final listening. As is the case in any such project, most of
> my attention went to certain key products in the line up (303, 318,
> etc.), while others tended to be more of a routine engineering job
> once the major design benchmarks were established.
> We didn't try to copy the originals, per se. What we did was to
> learn all we could about the original design goals of the 3a, etc,
> then try to implement them as best as modern technology permitted. I
> read public and private engineering definitions of the original
> products, talked extensively to Vilchur, some to Kloss, and other
> early employees and followers. Measused a great deal, then jumped in.
> In some cases, we decided that a very close match to original design
> was the best idea... for example the essentials of the woofer and
> midrange. In other cases, like the crossover and tweeter, we decided
> that we could get closer to the intent of the 3a, et al, by taking a
> more modern route. The results, I believe, are speakers that are
> audibly distinct, not clones, yet are clearly in the family, and
> likely to appreciated by those who like subscribe the original
> approach.
> Hope this helps. Feel free to write with any questions or comments
> you have.
> Ken Kantor

> Ken,
> Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed reading them.
> I do have one more question. Was the mirror image design of the AR
> 302's and 303's more for marketing or did you feel it made a big sonic
> difference? The original AR's didn't have that feature. Please be
> honest with me in your response.
> Also, you must be proud of the near cult following of certain NHT
> speakers (zeros and ones). Sounds like you hit the jackpot with
> those!
> Regards,
> Ken Drescher

You can trust and expect that all my responses will be honest (unless
I specifically state that they are dishonest....). Since that has been
my "marketing" approach for years, I don't feel any contradiction or
stress explaining my motives. At least regarding audio.

The use of mirror image drivers isn't a "big" sonic difference, in the
sense that a different tweeter might be. But it is sometimes audible,
especially listening in the near field, or when listening to recordings
that make use of micing/imaging techniques that rely on inter-aural time
differences (as opposed to inter-aural level differences). So, it was
considered to be an improvement that had no influence on the target
frequency response, and no penalty other than a slight increase in
inventory complexity. No marketing motive, as it never came up as
something that would sell more, or fewer, speakers. How significant a
benefit it turns out to be really depends on how one listens, and to

Yeah, I'm proud of the early NHT's. Thanks. I hope they brought some
energy back to the "affordable high end" market. And just last week I
bought two pair of SuperZeros from a friend there to try with the sub I
am working on. Anyway, I'm happy to answer questions. Latency might
sometimes be high, but it isn't ever bothersome.

Ken Kantor
Intelligent Audio Systems, Inc.

If God wanted us to go to concerts, He would have given us tickets.  AR circa 1980.