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Steve F

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Everything posted by Steve F

  1. AR was founded in 1954, not 1952. The few places that say "1952" (I think Wikipedia, an old Cambridge Sound catalog, maybe a few others) are in error. 1954 is the correct date. This is how things get distorted over time. Inexact "facts" are stated and repeated until the real facts are obscured forever.
  2. To the best of my knowledge, there was no such thing from Boston Acoustics as a "CR8c." Definitely not while I was there, and I was there for the transition of the CRx series to the CRx5 series. Are you sure you're not looking at the serial number label and perhaps the 'c' is part of the s/n string? If "CR8c" is an actual model number, my suspicion would be that it's a knock-off made somewhere else. As I said, not from when I was at BA and I was there for the entire life of the CR8. Oh, BTW, to answer TWB's question above--the CR6 had the small Tonegen hard dome tweeter. The next-gen entry-level CR's--the "x5's" had a BA-built 3/4" Kortec dome. Much better tweeter. Steve F.
  3. It is not quite accurate to simply say that the 3a Improved used the same 3a drivers, a Euro-styled cabinet and switches instead of pots and that was it for differences between it and the original 3a. The 'slightly changed crossover' was supposed to deliver a flatter power response than the U.S. 3a. I have a 3a Improved ad that says that and I will endeavor to dig it out. In any event, the differences weren't that great and the U.S. arm of AR decided against marketing it here, since the ADD's (11's and 10π's) were due at pretty much the same time. One of my "Steve F Letters to AR" in the library covers this and AR's response to me. Steve F.
  4. Answering the "what is a fair price" question is always difficult. If you really wanted something, it was difficult to find and you found it in good shape, then whatever it was is worth almost any price, right? If I remember, the VR40's were $1400/pair and the VR12 was $400. So that's $1800 new "list." BA wasn't really discounted very much and generally was not available at the time via mail-order for cheaper pricing. So as a regular retail customer buying these speakers new through an authorized BA dealer, you could expect to pay the full $1800. $600 strikes me as a reasonable price, especially if they are in good shape, no major cabinet scratches or torn grille cloth. They are really nice speakers. BTW, the VR12 was the industry's very first 3-way center channel speaker with a vertically-aligned mid and tweeter. I was proud of that one. Steve F.
  5. Those are good receivers. I suspect you'll be fine. Will you be using a subwoofer? One thing to remember (and people forget this all the time) is if you are using a sub in a home theater system, it is the sub that is handling the demanding low-frequency information. You'll probably be high-passing the VR40's and VR12 at 80Hz or so, and in that region, your receiver will not be asked to put out the high current that a full-range signal (20-20k) would demand. We never had any issues with VR40's + VR12 in a good system with good equipment. As to how the 40's compare to the Aperions, I've never heard them, so I can't comment. The 40 + 12 combo is quite excellent, however. Steve F.
  6. I was at BA when the VR towers were done. In fact, I was in charge of the project. The VR40's impedance in the heart of the midrange was around 2.7 ohms. Two 8-ohm woofers paralleled (4 ohms) crossing over to a 4-ohm midrange unit. Add in a little resistance for the crossover and the Ω sweep was around 2.7 at 500Hz. Good luck to your average AV cheapo receiver. Not a chance in a million above the most modest of volumes. We called it "8 ohms." Everyone did that kind of thing. But with a good amp, the VR40 was one heck of a terrific speaker. For smoothness and uncolored musical accuracy, I'd put it up against anything three times its price. The crossovers were 400 and 3300Hz.
  7. This is a much better article, far more relevant, IIDSSM. https://www.audioholics.com/loudspeaker-design/most-influential-speakers
  8. I subscribe to Stereophile and have for decades. Although the $25,000 speaker and $30,000 amp reviews are indeed irrelevant, they do, in fact, review 'normal-priced' equipment every month. As a matter of fact, normal-priced reviews outnumber the esoteric stuff. In this issue, they review a $500 pair of JBL floorstanders. Can't get more down-to-earth than that. The thing I like about the magazine is that their instrumented printed measurements and graphs of speakers under review are quite good. They show a FR in a 30˚ window of on-tweeter axis (a very useful, relevant measurement), they show port contribution, they show room response, step response, all kinds of very solid info. Editorial like Dudley's is inane, but like any magazine or paper or on-line pub, you, as the reader, are free to simply pick and choose what you want to read and what you find interesting. Dudley gets so much wrong about acoustic suspension that it's not even worth my time to list it all and rebut it. But the instrumented tests of normal-priced loudspeakers are great and it's the only audio mag I subscribe to.
  9. "Lots of people tell me they got rid of their vintage gear and bought a little Bose system that "sounds just as good." Then I invite them to listen to their favorite music through my AR=91s and they're left speechless ?" We had a friend and his wife over from out of state. She's a classical concert pianist and teacher. My friend and I were listening to jazz trio recording in my 1st floor "music room." The French doors were closed, but you could still hear in the rest of the house. My wife and his wife were in the kitchen, talking. All of a sudden, the door bursts open. It's my friend's wife. "Where is that piano? Who's playing? What......?" AR9's, powered by 400 distortion-free Parasound 2250 watts per side. Me, smiling. JKent is about, oh, 100% correct. People just don't know how absolutely stunning truly great audio is. Stunning. Jaw-dropping.
  10. "I know that in 1969 speakers were not always sold as matched pairs, and that stereophonic sound was not widespread yet. So often people just bought one for their current mono system, and bought a second one later when they upgraded to stereo." This is incorrect. Stereo was introduced in 1958 and was an immediate success. Part of the reason that AR had such market dominance in the mid-60's (over a 30% market share in 1965) is that with AR speakers, a listener could easily fit two compact speakers into a living room and enjoy deeper, better bass than from a single older-design bass-reflex speaker. By 1969, there were virtually no mono systems at all. Everything was 2-channel/2-speaker stereo.
  11. What did Mark Twain say? "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." We're certainly glad that's the case here! This is quite the august group, without question. The amount of collective technical, historical and anecdotal knowledge about AR is extraordinary, in my view. And quite unlike most other social platforms, even when there is the rare disagreement, they're generally handled in a most agreeable fashion, with no bridges being permanently burned. I've been here for 17 years and have enjoyed every minute. If I live another 17 years, I plan on continuing to visit every day.
  12. When I was at Atlantic Technology for around 10 years starting in 2003, we used Bravox cone drivers in our TOTL 6200 and 8200 speakers, both of which were THX-certified (during the days when THX cert really meant something, in terms of stringent FR, THD, max SPL, etc. requirements). They were great drivers, really uniform and refined. We used 12", 10, 8, 6 1/2 and 5 1/4. BTW, the TSW-410 got a great review from High Fidelity magazine in 1989, I believe. I'm sure I have that edition in my stash. I'll dig it out and post it. Steve F.
  13. DavidR, that's actually good to know. If I ever decide to replace or retire my 9's, I will contact you. I'm in Foxboro (as in "Home of the World Champion New England Patriots"). You may kid around about "haul away free of charge," but they would be. I wouldn't want money for them. They've given me so much enjoyment for so long that just the knowledge that they're going to a good home, so to speak, would be more than enough. It ain't happenin' too soon, however, so I wouldn't be holding my breath if I were you. Steve F.
  14. Aadams' tale of Villchur's humor is interesting. When I worked at Boston Acoustics, I wrote all the owner's manuals, training guides, magazine ads, etc for my products. One of them was the Recepter radio, a really good AM/FM mono table-top radio that sold for $159.00 (around 2001 or 2, if I recall). When we did the manuals, before we sent them out to print, we'd pass the draft around to people to see if they made sense. I put a "hook" in the Recepter's draft, to see if people were really reading it. For the FM antenna, I wrote something like, "Orient the antenna to the position that delivers the best reception, which is guaranteed by Murphy's Law to be the worst-looking location, like draped over the front of the kitchen counter." Well, BA's president came to my office holding the draft of the manual. I thought I was done for, in big trouble for joking around. "I love this!" he said. So it stayed in the final manual, packed with every product. It even made it into the next product's manual, which was done after I'd left the company. People love humor, if it's done intelligently and tastefully. People are people.
  15. I'm not touchin' 'em. I was just wondering. My feeling is that the AR9 is akin to boxer Muhammad Ali. When young, the untouchable heavyweight champion of the world. No one even close. When old, he was still good enough to knock out George Foreman and and become champion again. Was the 32-year-old Ali of 1974 as good as the 25-year-old Ali of 1967? Maybe not quite, but he was still the best in the world. Those are my 9's: a 32-year-old Muhammad Ali. Steve F.
  16. It posted strangely, for some reason. This is the rest of the post:
  17. The Kortec tweeter should work well in the VR30. There would be no reason to use the AMD on the Kortec, since, as you surmised, it is strictly for removing the resonances of a metal dome. In all the time I was at BA (1992-2003) we never had to replace a single VR tweeter due to burnout. Not one. Ever, from the time of the VR's introduction (fall 1994) until I left in March 2003. Not a single tweeter. VR20, 30, 40, VR950, 960, 970, 965, 975, VR12, 10, VR910, 920, VR-M50, 60, 80, 90, VR-MC, VR surrounds, MR90 sats, MR90 Center, probably a few models I'm forgetting. Not one tweeter. Ever. You (or the previous owner) must have driven the ever-lovin' cr*p out of these things. That tweeter was both bullet-proof and ruler-flat from 2kHz to 20kHz. It put every tweeter from every company I was at to total shame. Steve F.
  18. When I was at BA, our head transducer engineer had previously been at AR and he was one of the lead system engineers for these Classic models. He did a lot of work on the 30. He did say that they were a bear to ship because of the unusual cabinet shape, the way all the panels sloped in and down. A lot of early shipping damage before they got the packaging straightened out. I only heard them briefly, during a tour of the AR plant when it was at 330 Turnpike St in Canton MA, just before they left for CA. They sounded clean and detailed, but I wasn't using my own "test" material and I couldn't form a definite opinion. I always wondered about the low end--with two 10" woofers, did this have 90-like bass? I have reason to doubt it. The AR3 Limited came out in the same timeframe as the Classics and the 3 was a very "audiophile-ish" speaker with a 12" woofer and a MTM array with 3" dome mids and a dome tweeter. It had that off-standing metal screen grill that made it look like an electrostatic speaker. Anyway, true to its early-90's timeframe, the Limited 3 was a 'lean' sounding speaker in the audiophile tradition, not a gutsy, powerful-sounding speaker like the 3a, 11 or 9/90. Can anyone give me a real, accurate assessment of the Classic 30's sound character? Steve F.
  19. That TSW brochure is the very first one. There were others that followed. There was, in fact, a TSW710 with dual 8-in woofers. There was also a TSW brochure where all the speakers model numbers ended in '15,' not '10.' You probably have TSW710's. The TSW x15's were all dual-woofer units--315, 415, etc. Dual 5 1/4", dual 6 1/2", etc. I think the other speaker is one of those. I'll check to see if I can find that x15 brochure and I'll post pics.
  20. Thank you for the kind words. Except for those 2nd-gen CRs (which were in development when I was still there although not completed), I was involved with all the others. The Recepter was a really great radio. We had big arguments over that one, for many reasons. I voiced it, but at the last minute, the President came in and added 2 dB to the EQ below 100Hz. Now it's a little bass-heavy, in my opinion. Nonetheless, I have three of them scattered around the house. The very first production run will lose 20-30 seconds per month on the clock and after 6 months, the clock will be a few minutes slow. Annoying. It was because there was an inefficient circuit design that pulled a hair too much voltage from the timing circuit in order to power some other part of the radio. Starved for voltage, the clock runs just a tad slow. It was corrected on the second run. That's "inside info" you'll never hear anywhere else, that's for sure! The Micro90x sub-sat family was the best-selling (from a $ standpoint) family of products in the company's history. I was incredibly proud of those, although the President never wanted to do them and never really enjoyed their success. I really liked the VR-M series. I own 50's and 60's. The VR-M90 remains one of my all-time favorite floorstanding speakers ever. We were going to do a "VR-M100" at $4000/pr--would've been killer!--but 2-ch stereo was dying as HT was taking over, so we never did it. Steve F.
  21. I was the new product development manager for the VR Series when I was at BA from 1992-2003. I supervised the engineering and did all the voicing on the speakers. I do not remember the two 7" drivers being much different, if at all. The "woofer-only" lower driver may have had a larger dustcap just to distinguish it visually. The dustcap would only affect the upper-end of that driver's response around 1.5-2kHz or so, which wouldn't make any difference in that driver, since it was rolled off around 800Hz. Both woofers handle the bass and the system is a conventional dual-woofer ported system. It's just that the lower woofer is rolled off with a choke above 800Hz, so you don't have the two 7" drivers interfering with each other in the midrange. "2 1/2-way" means two woofers, only one of them going up into the midrange, and then a tweeter. It was not a BA-exclusive design. Several AR TSW's in the 80's, like the TSW410, were 2 1/2-ways. Currently, the Paradigm Prestige 75-85-95 are 2 1/2-ways. Pretty well-known design approach. BA moved from Lynnfield to Peabody in 1996. The VRs came out in late 1994 and were discontinued in 1997 or 8. Great speakers, all of them. The 40 is truly great, but the 30 was quite excellent as well. 40-50 solid watts/ch is enough in a normal-sized room as long as you don't want heavy-metal at ear-splitting levels. They're closer to 4 ohms, regardless of what the specs may say. Steve F.
  22. I grew up in central CT. Big jazz lover. Used to go to Integrity 'n Music all the time. Amazed that they're still there. That's nice. Are you from CT? Bought my first 'good' speakers--AR-2ax's--from Fred Locke Stereo in Avon CT in Feb 1972. They were huge Infinity dealers and were quite annoyed that I preferred the 2ax's over the Infinity 1001's. Steve F.
  23. You better be ready to defend the statement about “Allison” himself saying that the 3a needed 5dB more tweeter output for flat response. There are many fanatical AR defenders here who are going to jump on any criticism of the 3a as sacrilege and imply that its performance was essentially perfect in its day and if functioning at factory-designed level today, would still be among the very best speakers available anywhere in the world. In fact, AR’s own system curves of the 3a’s own drivers shows that on-axis, the 3a tweeter is down at least 5 dB from the woofer. Off-axis, the reduction in level compared to the woofer is even more, of course. Full credit to AR for publishing such honest and accurate curves, both the technical specs curves of the individual drivers overlaid into a system curve and the Berkovitz-Allison curves done for the AES paper on listening rooms. Both show the tweeter down 5dB. Even the Technical Paper on the 3a , which has a “full system” response (not individual drivers), says that the amplifier’s treble control needs to be advanced to 2:00 for flat response. AR's own curves show exactly why the 3a sounded the way it did— powerful bass with very low THD, widely-dispersed mid and HF, reticent overall tonal character. A total lack of harshness. Advance the treble control to 2:00—about a 3-4 dB increase for most amps—and the 3a sounded incredible. Play it too loud with that tonal adjustment and you blew the tweeter. Today’s hard paper ¾” tweeters? Likely down another 3-5dB from factory level, at best. That’s my WAG. I’d have them rebuilt by Chris, not go the HiVi route. Something about that original ¾” tweeter that’s just so nice. Steve F.
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