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Top high-end stereo magazine speaks of AR turntable…..


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6-20-18   12:21 EST

"Top high-end stereo magazine speaks of AR turntable"…..

The July/August issue of ‘The Absolute Sound’ magazine has a half page op/ed on the AR-XA turntable.

Although both my multiple Technic’s SL-1100 and SL-120mk1 turntables are much more natural sounding with a faster sounding pace and quickness, more fluidly detailed and with lightning fast transients more so than as with my Thorens TD-125 tables which seem a touch slower and reserved sounding comparatively speaking. In contrast, the AR did have some good qualities of its own though not fully equaling the tables mentioned.

Not to overlook the many including the TD125 turntables of which the AR-XA inspired along with many other brands to copy and create their own version of.  And compared to what I was replacing in 1972, a Garrard Lab40, which was lesser than basic sounding, the AR was my first good sounding turntable in my early formative years.

I purchased a new Garrard Lab40 turntable in fall of 1967 having newly graduated high school and taken on a job as a ‘open-order-clerk’ for a popular stock trading house on Wall Street in NYC. I was finally able to drive a car and look into the attractive world of high-fidelity and, I was able to assemble my first real entry into high-fidelity..

 Along with a self-built Dynakit tube PAS-3X pre-amplifier and a Dynaco ST-35 tube amplifier, I was ready to take-on the big boy’s stereos in my neighborhood and around the world. Or so I immaturely thought.

Diverted and resuming only after military service to my country was fulfilled, I set out to further develop my long desired stereo system.

At the time, going to college on the ‘GI’ bill, by 1972 I saved up enough mulla to purchase two AR-3a speakers and a AR-XA turntable. I was now listening to music with a better clarity, it was much more natural and clear sounding like never before. I had such confident feelings that my system was better than anyone’s that I knew in the area or with-in my group of friends that I would invite folks to have a listen, all of which were impressed by the clear and natural sounding system I had assembled that I always had a beaming ear to ear smile with every listen we had, and my system’s audiences were always pleased.

With-in a short time later I ventured into turning the volume control up to further test the ability of my new and great sounding system but, that’s when the trouble began. For anything above a moderate listening level produced a howling irritating low frequency noise called ‘acoustic-feedback’.

I had wrestled with this new to me phenom and had tried many possible remedies to cure this awful noise. I even placed the AR-Xa on four inches of medium density foam rubber 24X24 inches, I mounted it on soft rubber component feet and tried any number of other possible cures but, nothing helped to rid my system of this horrible condition.

I even wrote in to “Audio” magazine editor’s reader’s help section and there my story was published for all to see. Their few recommendations didn’t help either. So, I plodded on, going up the chain of quality phono cartridges hoping that would somehow help.

I went from my first installed Shure M3D, to a Shure M55 to a Shure M91ED, and even a new 'Empire' SE/X cartridge and nothing seemed to help except for lowering the bass controls on my pre-amp and keeping the volume control at a lower level, frustrating at best. Well, at least for me as a 22 year bass guitar player who wasn’t very satisfied with minimal bass coming out of from my stereo system that I was so enthusiastic and devoted to and spent so much money on. It was all new to me and I had to find a cure.

By the time I finished school and I had a better job, I built a more powerful amplifier in the form of a Dynakit ST-120 which only served to increase the volume level of the ‘acoustic-feedback’, I was ready to upgrade to a better turntable and at that point in time, there were many to choose from as vinyl was king. And for me, it will always be.

Oddly, I had considered the very same Technics tables I presently use but, they were to me at the time, too ‘industrial’ looking and expensive, nor did  trust this new invention  called 'direct-drive'. I looked at the Thorens TD125 but, it was too costly for a 24 year older’s budget so, I waited. I thought that perhaps new components would make a change and rid me of that dreaded acoustic-feedback. I bought into the ‘new-world’ of high power amplifiers that had emerged onto the hi-fi scene in the 1970-72 time period and bought a brand new Phase Linear PL-400 amplifier.

As much as it had improved the sound quality over that measly Dynaco ST-120 amp of 60 watts per-side, it only served to amplify the level of acoustic-feedback, in addition to making every record I put on sound huge, and at least my AR-3a's were sounding better than they ever did so, I was happy about that back then. Several months later I purchased the beautiful and oh so intricate Phase Linear 4000 pre-amp. It had all of the bells and whistles and with the amazing degree of control flexibility I was only slightly able to quell the still present and dreaded acoustic-feedback at higher listening levels.

Being on a roll of fast purchases I had saved enough money and once more started considering other turntables. Like I always did, I had studied every brochure and magazine article and test-report I could find. I also continued to haunt the many hi-fi and stereo shops like I normally did in Manhattan searching for a viable replacement turntable and asked questions in almost every store I walked into. Downtrodden and woeful, I felt I was the only person who had the dreaded 'acoustic-feedback' disease.

Until, one day I found my life-changing table from a manufacturer that I wasn’t familiar with. A company called “Micro-Seiki”, it had introduced along with another company I had been aware of out of England, “Tannoy”, a wonderfully beautiful and sleek table, the TM-55 replete with a beautiful rose-wood veneer plinth and a ‘real’ feeling and operating precision tonearm. My prays were to be answered!  Absent were the feeble feeling tonearm of the AR-XA that never could find it’s silly damping ability. Gone was the cheap little generic power switch and also gone was the first push-start I had to do with my hand on the AR-XA to alleviate wear on the belt as this new table was a ‘direct-drive’ and started turning instantly. However, beyond its lovely and outward beauty of appearance the biggest feature was the awful ‘acoustic-feedback’ was gone once and for all. I suddenly had more and a real sounding bass response and I could turn-up the volume to hear a real bass sound. So, with-in a month's time I went once again and bought the fairly recent Shure V15 Type III cartridge and so continued my life-long quest for better quality sound, except now I was in possession of it. I mean com-on, AR3a's. plus Micro-Statics and 400 RMS watts per-channel, a Shure Type III, an upper-tier direct-drive table, really? What could compare to that in a thriving middle-class neighborhood?

Also, through the amazing flexibility of the Phase Linear 4000 pre-amp and the humongous driving power of the Phase Linear PL-400 amplifier I was finally able to hear bass response like I never did before from my two AR-3a’s. My commitment to AR-3a speakers was now more than concrete.

Yes, I was a happy camper as they say,  and to further confirm my well made decisions from all those years ago, my system is still mostly the same brands with Phase Linear amps and pre-amps along with AR speakers in two huge life-like sounding systems. If anything, I am true to certain brand name components and they have stood the test of time both electrically and mechanically but, most importantly of all the sound quality has improved as I have mostly only improved the ‘input’ source quality with higher-end moving coil cartridges coupled with a regimented policy of absolutely clean vinyl and certainly the addition of high quality tonearms such as the S.M.E 3009 Pre-Improved and the Dynavector DV-505, the Grace F840 and the Fidelity Research FR54 tonearms at the ready to please my demands of any listening of any type of music.  All vintage mind you, but these are tonearms I had always dreamt of so many years ago and certainly will hold up against many newer quality tonearms of today,(though not the super astro-priced high-end arms), of course. All coupled with higher quality interconnect cables. And now, I'm happier than ever before with my stereo system(s). Geez, it took decades to get where I am today but mostly, I enjoyed every one of those moments even though I continually hungered for more at the time. Presently, I look no further as I appreciate what I do have. Of course, phono cartridges and interconnects can and do make worlds of differences so, I will always keep an open ear for next best affordable ones.

Do read this short article about the AR table as it’s nice to see the reviewer (one of my favorites) giving sincere and deserved credit to Ed Villchur.





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The Absolute Sound write-up of the AR XA  was by the talented Paul Seydor, who gives proper credit to Edgar Villchur, and mentions that he still enjoys his XA with a Shure V-15 Type VxMR cartridge. It would be nice to see a modern test report on the quality of a stock, rebuilt XA and original arm.

Oddly, this is the only photo in the article (sorry about the wrinkles - my copy got rained on ^_^ ): 


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2 hours ago, frankmarsi said:

I even wrote in to “Audio” magazine editor’s reader’s help section and there my story was published for all to see. Their few recommendations didn’t help either.

And through the miracle of the Internet, here's your old letter, Frank: 


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ar_pro,  OMG, OMG, holy geez, and well, I'll be darned too!  I have many other words to express my joy with but, lately, I'm struggling to be civil and find I generally curb my enthusiasm before I unleash a barrage of, well, you understand.  So, you located my article that I sent to "Audio" magazine so many years/decades ago.

If I were a struggling author, I'd say that I have been published!   Yeah-Rite.

I have searched everywhere and on the few sites that enable one to read old magazines w/o paying, I never found it. I did find 'the 'readers-question' section of August 1972 'Audio' as I recall it being in but, strangely that column was deleted out


P.S. Many thanks to you "ar_pro" as that was very kind and considerate of you. 

If you have a moment, could you please tell me the actual date of the magazine, I am still convinced it was August 1972 issue of Audio Magazine.


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I am fortunate to own an AR 77-XB.It is mint and unmolested. It sports a Rega wool mat(making it look at bit like an LP-12) and an Acrylite dust cover that looks great and is tall enough to allows its use while playing records. It has a GE VR 1000 cartridge mounted. I have not tried one of the styli that I reverted back to Peter E Pritchard's original design with the AR. I will have to try one of my styli in it as well as connecting the AR 77-XB to my larger(NAD C162/C272 and AR 3a's) system.  

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