AR Acoustic Research turns 50

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Joe Nino-Hernes, Aug 8, 2004.

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  1. Casino

    Casino Senior Member

    Right, Joe. Time and time again, you hear about how much better speakers are supposed to be these days, but sometimes I wonder...

    You can certainly get much better mini speakers at reasonable cost these days (there were very few really good small speakers a few decades ago) and the ultra-high end these days can really sound terrific, but popularly-priced speakers sometimes don't seem to match the sound of the speakers of the 60's and 70's. Sure, there are likeable speakers being made now, but I sure did find those older acoustic-suspension speakers to be very musical - not as analytical as many of today's designs.
  2. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    The AR's really were not popularly priced back in the late 50's and 60's. A pair of fully finished AR-3's in 1960 would cost around $600. My AR-2's were about $200 for the pair, in 1959. The AR-2's were considered the budget AR loudspeaker, until the AR-4 came out in 1965.
  3. Casino

    Casino Senior Member

    Well, I'd call them popular-priced - for people into hi-fi reproduction. I didn't mean "popular-priced" as in for the "general public." Even in the late 60's, early 70's, $400 to $600 was not considered to be ultra-expensive. Many speakers cost more.

    There was a vast array of speakers available in the price range of the AR-5's which I owned. I remember auditioning $400 and up speakers from: ESS, JBL, KLH, Advent, Ohm Acoustics, etc. etc.
  4. Taurus

    Taurus Senior Member

    Houston, Texas
    Cambridge SoundWorks still manufactures many sealed systems:

    Cambridge SoundWorks speaker page

    Adire Audio sells a 12" sealed subwoofer, the "Rava", with surprisingly good specs for only $400. Made in Lynnwood, Washington State. :thumbsup:

    I think Thiel's subs are sealed: Thiel sub page

    Check out all their new ones, especially the SS4: TWO 15" woofers in a 290lb cabinet! Yikes!!
  5. audio

    audio New Member

    Great thread, Joe! I was just about to go to bed....but now I have to plug in these AR2s again and listen to them right now. You're really making me think twice about selling these.....seriously.
  6. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    Update to the timeline.

    Following are product introductions and milestone dates during the first twenty years of AR from 1954 through the end of the “Classic AR” period:

    • 1954 Villchur files for acoustic-suspension patent on March 15, 1954.
    • 1954 AR is co-founded by Edgar Villchur and Henry Kloss. Villchur owns 51% of stock, is president, patent-holder (consigned to AR), director of product development and promotion; Kloss becomes head of production design and operations.
    • 1954 AR is incorporated on August 10, 1954.
    • 1954 AR introduces the AR-1 and AR-1W at the October New York Audio Fair.
    • 1954 *Audio* publishes disclosure article by Villchur on the acoustic-suspension loudspeaker system used in AR-1 and subsequent models.
    • 1954 AR has sales of $0 and net loss of $4,059.
    • 1955 AR ships first AR-1 production units in the spring.
    • 1955 AR has sales of $56,773 and a net income of $1,587.
    • 1956 AR moves from one-story loft to four-story factory building at 24 Thorndike Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Employment increases during this time from six to about fifty workers.
    • 1956 Patent on acoustic-suspension loudspeaker is granted on December 25, 1956.
    • 1956 New York Audio League conducts AR-1/Aeolian-Skinner live-vs.-recorded Organ concerts at St. Marks Episcopal Church, Mt. Kisco, NY.
    • 1956 AR has sales of $383,258 and a net income of $26,418.
    • 1956 Crisis develops between Kloss and Villchur over irreconcilable policy issues.
    • 1957 AR co-founder Henry Kloss and associates (Malcolm Low and Anton Hofman) depart AR in February 1957 after stock interests are purchased by Villchur and group of associates with Abe Hoffman, company vice president and treasurer. Harry Rubinstein becomes plant manager in January, 1957.
    • 1956 AR introduces the AR-2 in the fall.
    • 1957 AR ships first AR-2 in March, losing money on the first 1500 units.
    • 1957 AR hires Emmanuel (Manny) Maier as first purchasing agent.
    • 1957 AR sales skyrocket to $973,262 with net income of $37,160.
    • 1958 USAF uses 30 AR-1s to accurately reproduce sound of jet engines for testing.
    • 1958 AR displays prototype AR-3 at the Chicago Hi-Fi Show.
    • 1958 AR officially introduces the AR-3 on October 3 at New York High Fidelity Music Show. The AR-3 considered by all the “hit” of the famous October hifi show. By November AR had received over 500 firm orders for the “hit of the show,” AR-3.
    • 1958 *Consumer Reports,* 11/20/58 issue, check-rates both AR-1 and AR-2 as best-in-class.
    • 1958 *Audio* publishes disclosure article by Villchur on the dome tweeters used in the AR-3.
    • 1959 Roy Allison begins at AR as assistant to the president.
    • 1959 AR begins production on AR-3 and ships first units (footnote: the Smithsonian Institution places the AR-3 on permanent display on September 13, 1993, in The National Museum of American History).
    • 1959 AR begins series of live-vs.-recorded concerts (AR-3s) with Fine Arts Quartet that totals more than 75 concerts conducted in five different cities.
    • 1959 AR opens the AR Music Room in Grand Central Terminal, NYC.
    • 1959 AR introduces the AR-2a; AR sales increased 217% during this year.
    • 1959 AR introduction the AR-3t and AR-3st.
    • 1960 AR opens the AR Music Room on Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    • 1961 Roy Allison becomes AR plant manager; Harry Rubinstein departs to return to teaching.
    • 1961 AR extends the speaker guarantee from one year to a five-year *Full* guarantee. that includes shipping to and from factory (retroactive to products bought back to 1956).
    • 1962 AR introduces the AR-TA Turntable.
    • 1962 *Audio* publishes disclosure article by Villchur in *Audio* on AR Turntable.
    • 1963 AR begins live-vs.-recorded concerts with guitarist Gustavo Lopez.
    • 1962 Patent on AR dome tweeter diaphragm support system is granted on May 8, 1962.
    • 1962 AR conducts live-vs.-recorded music with AR-3/Fine Arts Quartet at Chicago’s World’s Fair of Music and Sound.
    • 1963 AR introduces the AR-XA, two-speed turntable.
    • 1963 AR begins publishing books *Reproduction of Sound* and *High Fidelity Systems.*
    • 1964 AR introduces the AR-4, AR-2x and AR-2ax.
    • 1965 AR introduces the AR-4x.
    • 1965 AR opens a music room in the Better Living Center at the New York World’s Fair, featuring live-vs.-recorded session with guitarist Gustavo Lopez.
    • 1966 AR conducts live-vs.-recorded demonstrations with the 1910 Nickelodeon (AR-3s and AR-4xs) at New York High Fidelity Music Show.
    • 1966 AR adopts Johnny Walker Black Label as standard “adult” beverage of choice.
    • 1966 AR achieves a remarkable 32.20% loudspeaker commercial-market share during thirty-year period of 1960-1990, highest ever by one manufacturer during this period.
    • 1967 Teledyne, Inc., a large aerospace conglomerate, acquires AR on June 20th.
    • 1967 AR introduces the AR-3a.
    • 1967 AR introduces the AR Amplifier.
    • 1967 AR extends the Turntable warranty from one to three years.
    • 1968 AR introduces the AR-5.
    • 1969 AR opens manufacturing plant in Amersfoort, Holland.
    • 1969 AR introduces the AR Receiver.
    • 1970 AR introduces the AR-Deutsch-Grammophone GmbH Contemporary Music Project.
    • 1970 AR introduces the AR-6.
    • 1970 AR introduces the AR-2x and AR-2ax new versions.
    • 1970 AR introduces the AR Tuner.
    • 1971 Introduction of the AR-LST.
    • 1971 AR opens manufacturing plant in Bedfordshire, England.
    • 1973 AR introduces the AR-7.
    • 1973 AR introduces the AR-4xa.
    • 1973 AR introduces the AR-8.
    • 1973 AR Closes the Music Room on Brattle Street, Cambridge, Masachusetts.
    • 1973 AR phases out electronic products to concentrate on loudspeakers and turntables.
    • 1974 AR introduces the AR-LST-2.
    • 1974 AR introduces the AR-XB Turntable.
    • 1974 AR closes the Music Room in Grand Central Terminal, NYC – end of classic period.

    Second period in AR history, beginning with the Advanced Development Division years:

    • 1975 AR introduces new line, “Advanced Development Division.”
    • 1975 AR introduces AR-10Pi, AR-11 and AR-MST/1
    • 1976 AR introduces additional models in ADD, AR-16, then AR-12, 14, 15, 17.
    • 1976 AR conducts the AR-10Pi – drummer Neil Grover live-vs.recorded concert at Summer CES in Chicago.
    • 1978 AR introduces AR-9 “Vertical” loudspeaker; reclaims lost market share.
    • 1979 AR introduces AR-90, AR-91 and AR-92.
    • 1980 AR introduces AR-93 and AR-94
    • 1982 AR introduces “improved” AR-9, the Lambda-tweeter, dual-dome AR-9Ls.
    • 1985 AR introduces Ken Kantor’s remarkable “Magic” loudspeaker.
    • 1985 AR introduces the high-performance and handsome Connoisseur Series.
    • 1987 AR introduces the TSW series
    • 1993 AR acquired by International Jensen, Inc., and moved from Canton, Massachusetts to Benicia, California with NHT.

    Thanks to Tom Tyson from the AR fourm!
  7. Terence

    Terence New Member

    Lithonia, Ga
    I love AR i was imformed about this threas from HTF. Glad i ran acrossed it and it's great info. I'm running AR Hi-Res in my HT, for those who don't know what there look like here's a picture.


    The new ones look pretty good, how there will sound will be another thing.
  8. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Welcome to SH.TV! :)
  9. Terence

    Terence New Member

    Lithonia, Ga
    Thx glad to be here. :edthumbs:
  10. Taurus

    Taurus Senior Member

    Houston, Texas
    I learned a lot about AR and acoustic-suspension from this page. For example, I was surprised to learn they used dome mids & tweeters all the way back in 1958 (actually it looks like its the first time EVER a speaker used such a design).
  11. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    Yup, Edgar Villchur of AR invented the dome tweeter, for the AR-3. That is a very good website. Many of the pics that I posted here came from it. AR's engineers were top notch and invented many things that are still used on loudspeakers today. Edgar Vilchur invented the acoustic suspension woofer and the dome tweeter. A few years later, Roy Alison invented fluid cooling for tweeters. AR was a very inovative company.
  12. Lorne

    Lorne New Member

    ARlington, VA
    A little help with AR-9s

    Hi, I inherited a pair of 20-30 year old AR-9s and am wondering what I should do. They were sitting in my mother's house for years unused. The foam had crumbled away around the woofers so I refoamed them with material from newfoam, but the material covering the midrange and tweeter is gone and I'm not sure what to do there, although filter material from home depot should be close to what was originally used. The problem is that I think these need some real refurbishing beyond the paltry work I havce already done. The sound is not all that commanding (I'm using an Outlaw 950 and 7100 combo) and at the high end there is noticeable distortion. I have no idea what I would need to do to refurb these things so I figured I'd come looking for help. I'm not that handy but I can use a soldering iron if need be. Alternatively, I was weighing the possibility of selling them, but would anyone have an idea of what they are worth?

  13. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    If they are in good condition, they are easily worth over $1000. Post your question here, on the AR fourm. There is a huge wealth of AR knowledge there. I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to the AR-9, I know more about the workings of "classic" AR stuff than I do the later stuff. The AR-9's are a great system. After restoration, you will be very happy.
  14. ddarch

    ddarch Senior Member

    Introducing an AR Turntable website

    New member here.

    Just wanted to add to this fine thread on AR turning 50 by mentioning a friend and I recently created a website in homage to the AR Turntable. Feedback appreciated. If so inclined, please check it out. This is our first website effort, so please be kind ;)

  15. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    How nice of you to join us. Welcome. I saw you over at the AR forum. You have a great website!
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