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Everything posted by tysontom

  1. "I find lacquer to be a beautiful finish on the right piece. Not ARs, though." Peter, if you have seen a Steinway piano in lacquered walnut, black-lacquer or mahogany, the finish is smooth with a satin luster and no pores showing -- reflecting the proper technique for sealing before applying numerous coats of lacquer spray. AR's supplying cabinet shops applied those finishes prior to delivering the cabinets to the AR factory for completion. Lacquered AR cabinets are really beautiful, but lacquered finishes are extremely high maintenance and prone to scratching. You can almost look at one and a scratch will appear. AR cabinets had lacquer finishes applied the same way as Steinway & Sons pianos, but probably not with as much manual attention and hand-polishing, etc. The technique was the same, however. Ironically, an AR-3 in lacquered mahogany was somewhat less expensive than the same speaker in walnut when, if fact, it was much more expensive to finish with a lacquer coat than boiled linseed oil. It's just that African mahogany was more common and a less-expensive wood than American black walnut back at that time. The problem is that today, 50 to 60 years down the road, these cabinets have dulled, turned opaque, become scratched and generally left to deteriorate, and this is true of many old Steinway pianos, too. But if you could see how beautiful these AR cabinets were when new, you would think very differently. Tom
  2. That does resemble mahogany -- and it could be -- but I think it is walnut-stained birch. In any event, the cabinets look great! Tom
  3. Yes. Villchur had a pair of oiled-walnut AR-3as that he used for many years in his den/living room in Woodstock, New York. With them, he had an AR Turntable, AR Amplifier, Marantz 10B FM tuner and a Tandberg tape recorder. The speakers were recessed part-way into the wall on both sides of the fireplace. At some point in the mid-to-late 1970s, quite some time after Roy Allison left AR to start his new company, Allison Acoustics, Villchur contacted him to see if any parts were available to repair the AR-3as, as one had a problem. In the conversation, from what I understand, Roy said that he no longer had access to AR parts, but that he would be glad to retrofit the AR-3a speakers with Allison: Three midrange and tweeter, plus the crossover parts to make the change—which subsequently occurred at Allison Acoustics. The new crossover for the woofer would therefore be 375 Hz rather than 550 Hz, etc. I suspect that RA went to get the speakers and returned with the new versions for Edgar Villchur. I would surmise that Villchur’s son Mark or friends of his daughter Miriam now have those speakers, but I don’t know. —Tom
  4. You know, I rattled on about refinishing these cabinets, but you mentioned that you might just enjoy them like they are now for awhile. There are several things you can do, but first and foremost is to get a scratch-covering solution such as the all-time favorite -- and still among the best -- Old English Scratch Cover. Get the dark wood or mahogany version, and you will be amazed at how much better it will make the cabinets look! Sorry I didn't mention this at the beginning. https://www.amazon.com/Old-English-Furniture-Polish-Scratch/dp/B01J05XFSO?ref_=fspcr_pl_dp_5_15524341011 -Tom Tyson
  5. Bingo! I think we actually discussed this a few years ago. AR (Roy Allison) found that many AR-2-series speakers were being returned to the factory for warranty service with the woofer cones displaced out of the pole piece, and at first the thought was that customers were wildly overpowering the speakers and damaging the woofers. These were nevertheless fixed under warranty, but RA found that the boxes were nearly air-tight when sealed, and when a box was handled roughly or dropped, sometimes the pressure change could force the woofer in or out, particularly the very compliant 10-inch (actually 11-inch) Alnico woofer. Allison decided to put a cardboard piece in front of the grill to suppress the sudden pressure change, and it worked. The other AR speakers were not as adversely affected, but all received the cardboard panel in front of the grill. —Tom
  6. Here's something for Acoustic Research audiophiles: do you know why AR said that the flat piece (above) had to be placed in front of the grill on the AR-2/AR-2a/2ax? This will be the real test for AR historians. —Tom Tyson
  7. Those would likely be international versions made in Europe. I don't believe that mahogany was used for the few wood versions that were made in Cambridge, Mass. Can you send some pictures? Thanks.
  8. I agree with Roy. I think these are oiled-walnut cabinets with quarter-cut grain, giving the straight sap lines -- with all of the veneer flitches from the same lot, likely. I also think I see the "demarcation" line between the molding and the side-veneer panel. It is very close. Tom
  9. This is partially correct. After AR moved operations to Norwood and the new blue labels appeared, the AR-3a serial numbers no longer had the "3a-XXXXX" designation, simply the serial number. But to the left of the number was the model number and wood finish. The first AR models used an alpha-numeric numbering scheme, so AR tried different ways over the years. —Tom
  10. One other note: The AR-7 was originally available in vinyl and wood cabinets. The wood cabinet, only made for a few years, was walnut-stained birch veneer.
  11. This is the least-common optional AR cabinet finish: korina. I believe that AR made some custom-order rosewood-finished cabinets as well, but very few. This wood was often used for guitars and other musical instruments, but it had a beautiful grain that was very popular in the early 1950s. Much like mahogany, it (as well as other blond finishes) fell out of favor for cabinet finishes in the mid-to-late 1960s when walnut became so popular. American black walnut is one of the finest woods of any type for furniture use, and the fact that it takes an oiled finish makes the wood ideal for speaker finishes! The finish was durable and scratch-resistant and easily restored. AR was a pioneer in the use of "oiled-walnut" finishes, but numerous other speaker companies also made it available by the late 60s. By the way, I've graduated to "Rookie" status. Tom
  12. Yes, these are 100% birch-veneer cabinets (note that unfinished pine and birch cabinets usually were made with plywood panels) with solid-birch molding. There were not a huge number made, but they are not "rare" in the AR-3. Very rare cabinets would be an AR-3 in Korina, but they are out there. I had a pair of KLH Fours in Korina, and it was a beautiful cabinet. It was great that Acoustic Research had such a large variety of cabinet choices, but having one of the cabinet makers next door to the plant helped quite a bit! Tom
  13. There is almost a faint outline of the cabinet molding in some of these images, particularly in the black-finish picture, which I assume is one of the speakers in question. Yet perhaps the molding on these speakers was covered with veneer all the way to the edge of the speaker cabinet, as with some of the AR-2-series cabinets (and most of the KLH cabinets, but without actual solid-stock moldings as with ARs). This must have been European-only (Holland or UK) characteristic in cabinet design for the 3a, as I'm pretty confident that the US-built AR-3as had the cabinet molding attached directly to the front baffle and sanded smooth with the sides of the cabinet. Covering the solid-stock molding with veneer would also have been wasteful on the AR-3a, so it doesn't make sense. Tom
  14. Those scars are very typical of old lacquered-mahogany cabinets, and there is a history in each case for the battle scars. My first AR-3 was in mahogany (it was a mono unit, all I could afford at the time), and I had it perched on a metal stand with a towel under it. A family member needed the towel for something and moved the AR-3 and managed to make the bottom look almost exactly like the scratched bottom of this AR-3. After many years, lacquer-finished mahogany (or black walnut) will not only easily scratch, but it dulls as well, as shown in the pictures here. I think that a mahogany veneer could be coated with something like Mohawk's M603-3016 Pour-N-Wipe finish: https://www.amazon.com/Mohawk-Finishing-Products-M603-3016-Pour-N-Wipe/dp/B07NC7VTJ3/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&gclid=CjwKCAjw3riIBhAwEiwAzD3TidYRTb0r-3uIRIFhG9p4B_oj1TYatND7JE4037fFYbaFvkqi43XmPhoCWiYQAvD_BwE&hvadid=418676322453&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9009599&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=1095600853971296636&hvtargid=kwd-883475645436&hydadcr=7693_9898649&keywords=mohawk+pour+and+wipe&qid=1628391453&sr=8-2 This Mohawk finish was developed for the marine industry, and the finish gives a satin finish that is difficult to scratch. I've used Mohawk on oiled-walnut and oiled-teak veneer with great success, and it would probably work well with mahogany as long as the wood was carefully prepared prior to application. Lacquer is wonderful and is the ultimate may to finish this wood, but it's difficult to apply. Tom
  15. Roy, it feels reassuring to begin as a "newbie" again; I notice that you are a class higher as an "apprentice." Congratulations on your ranking! Your AR-3s are yet another interesting variation in the AR production scheme. Production AR-3s went up to at least serial number C70228, but serial numbers may have been changed when the company moved to Norwood, perhaps in line with the hand-written serial numbers. When AR moved from Cambridge to Norwood in 1973, some of the old-style parts went there, but soon production was changed quite a bit. As you know, AR began to run out of original AR-3 2-inch midrange drivers in late 1973 or early 1974, so AR-3s were supplied with the modified 3a midrange and instructions for updating the crossover in order to "pad" down the output of the newer midrange to match the old unit in output. Never a dull moment in the AR hobby! By the way, do you have any pictures of those AR-3a cabinets in lacquered mahogany or lacquered walnut? Those cabinets are not common. I don't think I have any pictures of AR-3as (or AR-5s or AR-2axs) in those finishes, but they were available for several years. Tom
  16. That is an excellent point! There were different moldings used for the AR-3, one thicker (deeper) than the other but always a molding: but with the AR-3a, the molding was standardized in size (depth) but made from different types of solid-stock wood, be it mahogany, walnut, birch (for unfinished cabinets), teak or cherry (or Korina in very eary cabinets). This does not show that at all, you are right. The European cabinets (and moldings) were different, of course, and this is another reason it would be great to see other images, especially of the front and back of the cabinet.
  17. Do you have some other images of the speakers, such as from the front and possibly a 3/4 view? The molding should be a clue, too. If you take a damp cloth and whipe down part of the sanded surface, what color do you get? Is it reddish or brown in tint? The walnut veneer used for these speakers was sometimes wavy and figured and sometimes very straight, depending on whether it was half-round slicing, quarter sliced, etc. —Tom Tyson
  18. The grain does resemble mahogany, but AR-3as in lacquered mahagony are rare, even though the finish was available from 1967 until 1973 (move to Norwood). Nearly all AR-3as were done in oiled walnut, lacquered walnut, cherry, oiled teak or unfinished birch. There were many thousands of AR-3s and AR-2as done in mahogany, but few AR-3as. It's likely oiled-walnut veneer. AR-3 in lacquered mahogany. All of the AR "black" cabinets, such as the AR-6s and AR-LSTs used in The Royal Danish Opera House, were black-lacquer finish over walnut. I wonder if anyone here has a pair of mahogany AR-3as or even pictures of the 3a in mahogany. —Tom
  19. The original AR "cloth" surround was made of treated-linen material, heat-pressed in a mold for the "half-round" curvature. The initial treatment kept the material pliable but helped it retain its shape. After attachment to the woofer cone and frame, the surround was then treated with a butyl-rubber sustance, originally not water-soluable. Later butyl-rubber materials, such as LORD Aqualast BL-100 treatment, work equally well on urethane-foam as well as linen materials. The BL-100 cures to a clear color, but lamp black (carbon dust) was usually mixed to make the material black. BL-100 is relatively expensive and doesn't have a long shelf life, so getting a quantity of it might be diffucult. Aqualast® BL-100 butyl elastomer emulsion is an anionic emulsion of butyl rubber which offers broad latitude in formulating waterborne coatings. It is used as a modifier to enhance the flexibility and adhesion properties of many anionic emulsions. Aqualast BL-100 emulsion can also be used as a coating for a variety of woven and non-woven fabrics to enhance barrier properties, improve fabric strength and handling properties. Typical commercial/industrial applications include: awnings, tents, carpet backing, protective clothing and upholstery. Typical medical applications include: bed sheets, operating room apparel, hospital gowns and incontinence pads. Tom Tyson (ARHPG files)
  20. Ha, ha! This was so typical of Ed Villchur. He could care less what the drivers looked like as long as they performed as designed! Early ARs did not have removable grills, as we know, so it was not intended to the owner to go inside to look at anything. In fact, during those early years, a warning was gently posted on the speaker that the speaker was a sealed unit, etc., and that repair would have to be made directly by AR or by an authorized service center, not the owner. So while the drivers might seem to be ugly (actually, some were quite beautiful), the performance was simply unsurpassed. I know of no manufacturer who had loudspeakers that could measure as flat or uniform, both on- and off-axis, as the ARs of that period. Believe me, I've looked for decades. Nothing JBL made came even remotely close, but some of their drivers were very finely crafted transducers and very handsome. However, only a precious-few manufacturers published anechoic response and distortion measurements of their products. AR loved to do it. The AR Archives probably have 50,000 response measurements scattered throughout the files of various speakers. The 2-inch midrange tweeter and the 1-3/8-inch super tweeters shown in the disclosure article were the prototype drivers that EV had at his lab for testing, and even the magnets were painted black originally for some reason. That very first prototype AR-3, with the single cast-aluminum plate to house both drivers, was used as a show piece in Chicago during the summer of 1958 -- even before the speaker was introduced at the New York High Fidelity Music Show. AR quickly redesigned that plate and used separate mounting flanges for the drivers. Love to know whatever happened to that prototype AR-3, but it's long-gone. The first prototype AR-1W that was shown in the patent drawing (19" x 19" x 11") later ended up in the men's room at the AR plant in Cambridge. Tom Tyson
  21. tysontom

    ADS L1590

    The ADS L1590/2 Loudspeaker Great that you found this thread! It’s amazing to me that there have been so many views on this topic alone—now over 100,000! There are very few topics of any kind that have had more viewers. I really enjoyed my ADS L1590/2s, and I had them for many years before finally selling them a few years ago. I miss them, but I simply did not have a place for them in recent years. They were in Rosewood and were beautiful in appearance and spectacular in performance, particularly with good electronics. Midrange and treble clarity and smoothness probably not surpassed by anything I know of during this period of time—perhaps even to this day. 1590s shown in later life. I made dollies to move them. Prior to the 1590s, I had a pair of AR9s, stacked AR-LSTs and a pair of Allison: Ones (not all at once, of course). I had been driving these speakers with various Crown, Adcom and McIntosh amplifiers, and by the time of the 1590s, I had a MC2500 power amp which was capable of prodigious output power into the 1590s. On several occasions—usually while entertaining friends—the McIntosh “Power Guard” would activate on large peak power to prevent clipping or damaging drivers. That is very loud, but my listening room was large (25' x 18') and well-damped. The 1590s (the AR9s and LSTs even more so) could handle large amounts of output power effortlessly and without audible strain, so the Power Guard was a welcome design. Once, while playing a sustained below-20 Hz organ passage (Mendelssohn Organ Works, Peter Hurford, Argo CD 414-420-2) at near-live levels, the 15-amp 120V circuit tripped, which truly startled me! When the house circuit breaker trips, you know you've got one foot into the abyss. After that, I wired a dedicated 20-amp circuit for my electronics, and this never occurred again. The 1590s were (and are) excellent, capable and beautifully designed speakers. There has been some comment about the L980 (a great bookshelf speaker) being seemingly more potent than the 1590, but that’s simply nonsense. The 1590 has a lower system resonance and uses two 10-inch, long-excursion woofers capable of moving much more air than a single 12-inch woofer, all at lower distortion. The motor structure of the L1590s 10-inch woofer. It's built much like a 12-inch heavy-duty woofer, but uses a 10-inch cone with long-excursion capability. Air-moving capability of a single 15-inch woofer. Showing one (of two) 10-inch woofer effortlessly pumping air at 20 Hz. It’s really that simple. Of this genre of tower loudspeakers, only the AR9 technically has more power in the deep bass, but not very audibly so. I felt that the two were very close! —Tom Tyson [20May2021]
  22. Roy, it is one of the early versions. But what about that transformer? It almost looks a little like a "special" AR-6. Well, you were the only one at this point to mention anything about it, but it was one of several AR-6s specially built by AR in Holland for the old Royal Opera House in Copenhagen. I think when they were building the new $500 million opera house or before, they took out all of the old stuff, but I'm not sure of the actual history. Klause was on hand to get many of the older ARs when they were removed several years back. Through a little woofer "horse trading" with Klause, I got one black AR-6 a few years ago, but I never looked inside of it until recently, and that's when I noticed the transformer. That is a line-matching (likely 70-volt) transformer, and I guess all of these AR-6s and the many AR-LSTs also had those transformers due to the big distances between speakers and power source. The original woofer was replaced with a newer ferrite version, which I re-foamed, but the tweeter and crossover are still original. In most installations such as this, the transformer is usually attached to the back of a speaker, but in this case it was integral with the crossover internally. AR installed the transformers, painted the oiled-walnut (probably before oiling) cabinet in flat black and sprayed the grill with black paint as well. Hope everyone is staying safe! --Tom Tyson
  23. Do you AR recognize this AR-6 and anything different about it? --Tom Tyson
  24. I've done just that with many drawings, but you may not realize the scope of the number of drawings that would have to be done this way. I've used my Canon 5D-MkIII to take pictures of several drawings with great results -- and this camera is very precise with high resolution -- but it is very cumbersome and time-consuming to mount a drawing on the wall or tape each drawing to a drafting table with the camera on a tripod above (which is the way I've done it most of the time). A large-format scanner is much faster will give much better results because there is little lens distortion or light variation, but even that is a real problem.
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