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AR4x restoration (was a tale of misery)


bfastr
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I finished the restoration of my old AR4x speakers today.  This was previously mentioned in the topic of My Misery.

a basic re-cap is these were my Dad's speakers.  in the early 70's he bought four AR4x speakers for a multi room setup.  somewhere in the late 80's he moved on to Advents and I snagged a pair of the AR4x speakers.  Way back when I did the unthinkable and gutted the speakers and put in some Scanspeak woofers and tweeters.  I knew better than AR right?  The modified speakers served me well as extra units that I didnt pay much attention to.  At one time I augmented them with a giant 15" subwoofer that would shake my house.  the wife hated that. crank it up!!  

well time passes and I started to get interested vintage speakers. So I happen across a pair of AR2-ax speakers in really fantastic shape locally on craigslist.  So after doing a little work on those ( also outlined on here) I started to think it would be cool to turn back the clock on my non original, but in very nice condition AR4x's.  So, after sourcing drivers and tweeters off ebay I decided to restore these to original. Well, I did one at a time and after replacing the whole crossover board in the back ( I had gutted that too..) I cleaned up the mounting flanges and epoxied the holes I had drilled for the other speakers and refitted the original drivers. 

The original 20uf caps both measured around 21uf, but I decided to use new caps anyway.   I also bought a pair of the phenolic ring tweeters, even installed one when I messed with the first speaker, I ended up settling on that tweeter and went back to the Scanspeak woofer.  and there they sat for a month, one still as I had "improved" it back in the 80's and the other with an original crossover but still non AR speakers.  I tried the old AR tweeter, but it just sounded weak, so I used the PR tweeter.  for a month.

that brings us to today.  I decided the heck with it, I am going ALL AR4x on them.  So the only thing new is the Solen 20uf cap, but both speakers are back to original AR speakers.  

The sound..  VERY Pleased!  the woofers seem to have a lower bottom end than the Scanspeaks did, at moderate volumes they sound fuller, The original tweeters sound balanced and much like the AR2-ax speakers I have,  with both speakers properly configured and playing I find the overall balance perfect.  Playing alongside the AR2-ax speakers they are fantastic. I also noticed the AR tweeter sounds brighter with the new caps versus when I tried using the original wax cap. But the balance once built as designed is very pleasant. 

I am really glad to now have two variations of AR speakers as designed. Its amazing how good the old AR4x speaker really was, I can see why they were so popular.  It would have been cheaper to buy another set of all original AR4x speakers off ebay than what I probably spent on speakers, caps, wire and all the other stuff I bought and didnt use. But thats the fun of doing this sort of thing, plus these cabinets were my dads.. worth more than the sum of the parts to me.

 

Bob F

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Job well done Bob. What do the grills look like? Are they original or have you recovered them? I have one pair of original AR 4 speakers, two pairs of 4x's, and a pair of 4xa's. The 4x is my favorite. What I find amazing is how well these match up and with other AR speakers. I  have run 4x's with some AR18S speakers in parallel. The 18S tweeter gives the high end some sizzle and the 4X woofer extends the bass further downward. They blend together seamlessly.  No wonder these have been referred to as giant killers and one member here gave them the label of "unfair speakers" The originality factor makes them more desirable and valuable, but another thing your restoration has done is make them available to be enjoyed for the next twenty plus years.  

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No wonder these have been referred to as giant killers and one member here gave them the label of "unfair speakers."

Yes, that was what my Dad and I called them. He'd bought a pair in 1969 and a high school friend of mine bought Large Advents shortly after. Twice the size and twice the price of the 4x's. He'd come over to our house and hear the 4x's with familiar records and he'd say, "They sound so good--as good as my Advents. It's not fair!"

A few years ago at a Boston Audio Society meeting, we had a small speaker "shootout," old and new speakers, any price but limited to 'small bookshelf' size. Mostly 5 1/4, 6 1/2 and 8-inch 2-ways. The 4x finished 4th out of 16! It was in the hunt all the way. The eventual winner was the Atlantic Technology AT-2, a 5 1/4-inch 2-way with their quite revolutionary H-PAS bass loading system. I think the last list price for them was $1200/pr. The AT-2 goes down to a legit 45Hz from a 16"-tall box and a 5-in woofer. It's overall voicing signature and tonal balance is remarkably similar to the 4x's, however and it's quite a nice speaker.

That the 4x is still competitive with today's best says everything you need to know about its basic quality. I remember one of our members here (Speaker Dave--former head engineer at Snell) re-doing the 4x's crossover (without AR's original cost constraints) using the stock 4x drivers and attaining essentially a dead flat response from about 60-13kHz.

"Not fair" indeed.

Steve F.

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Larrybody,    my frames were original, however, an interesting note is that one was made from hardwood and the other a thick masonite,  my dad had four of these and it could be I took one from each set by accident.  back in the day I didn't pay any attention to serial numbers,  in fact I scraped off the AR paperwork and painted the backs flat black when I originally gutted them.  I painted the fronts black too because I was into the no Grill look for a while.  Thankfully I did save the grills, but I had recovered them with black speaker cloth. SO for this round I went with the linen from 123 Stitch.  Here is a finished product sitting next to my AR2-ax with what I think are original grills.  ( everything else was unmolested ).

My wife thinks I should recover those with new cloth, but I cant bring myself to remove the original material since it isnt ripped or badly stained.  I will probably make a second set of frames for those and cover them with new material and then save the originals as they are.

the more I listen to all these speakers in unison the better they sound.

Bob F 

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