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AR90’s vs Paradigm Sound


AmA732MX1
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Hello

Are there any AR90 owners who have heard Paradigm Studio towers? Like later model 60’s or 100’s?  How would you compare the sound between these two towers? I used to sell AR’s about 40 years ago and I remember that they were very nice, but I am concerned about the top end possibly being too laid back for my current taste? I am considering buying a pair to restore, but I have no way to listen to them to be sure I will love them. I know they are very good and very accurate. We had 90’s and 9’s hooked up to a 150W ch. SAE amp and they sang very nice. I have a great sub, but I miss that incredible bottom end and warm signature they have. 

Patrick

 

 

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2 hours ago, AmA732MX1 said:

Hello

Are there any AR90 owners who have heard Paradigm Studio towers? Like later model 60’s or 100’s?  How would you compare the sound between these two towers? I used to sell AR’s about 40 years ago and I remember that they were very nice, but I am concerned about the top end possibly being too laid back for my current taste? I am considering buying a pair to restore, but I have no way to listen to them to be sure I will love them. I know they are very good and very accurate. We had 90’s and 9’s hooked up to a 150W ch. SAE amp and they sang very nice. I have a great sub, but I miss that incredible bottom end and warm signature they have. 

Patrick

 

 

Early models of the big Paradigm Studio 100 tended to be a bit bright. Not hard and bright, but with a little too much top end energy, to my ears.  However, this brightness was tamed in the models after the second version. The later model Paradigm 60 and 100 will destroy the AR 90's, in nearly every important to me way, except bass impact. The Paradigm Studio 100 is a single woofer speaker, and the AR 90 has a pair of woofers. Plus, the AR 90 is designed to go right against the back wall, for even more bass loading.

However, in my experience with the AR 90's, this close to the back wall placement compromises Imaging Depth, even with the acoustic blanket.  The Paradigm Studio 60 and Studio 100's are voiced to be out several feet into the room, away from the back wall. They walk away from the AR 90's, as far as imaging depth goes. 

Plus, the Paradigm's are higher in efficiency , and use better drivers. They are also better designed speakers, paying attention to all the research done by the Canadian National Research Council, that was unknown back in the days of the AR 90.

I have owned both the AR 90 and the AR 9.

To me, the AR 90 is a wanna be AR 9.

My God, it is almost 40 lbs lighter.

The AR 9 is a real room rattler, going way down to 18 hz. The AR 90 will not do that. 

 

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25 minutes ago, ka7niq said:

The AR 90 will not do that. 

So not happy with 23Hz ?

The AR90 was never meant to be an AR9. It holds it own and like the 9 it may not be the best in highs or mids or bass but nobody put it all together in one cabinet like the AR9.

Is it a fair comparison with a 40 y.o. speaker vs a new one ?

A recap of an AR9 or 90 will certainly liven them up.

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2 minutes ago, DavidR said:

So not happy with 23Hz ?

The AR90 was never meant to be an AR9. It holds it own and like the 9 it may not be the best in highs or mids or bass but nobody put it all together in one cabinet like the AR9.

Is it a fair comparison with a 40 y.o. speaker vs a new one ?

No it isn't fair to the AR 90, but the original poster asked for an opinion, in the first post in this thread. So, having owned both the AR 9 and the AR 90, as well as both the Paradigm models he asked about, I thought I would give him my opinion.

 

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Thank you for your opinion. It is what I was afraid I would hear. I wanted AR90’s so bad 40 years ago and now that I can finally afford them, I am thinking I may be in for a bit of a let down if I were to obtain them and restore. I realize it is not fair to compare them to new technology,  but I don’t think I can retrain my ears after years with the Paradigm’s. They are a very good imaging speaker for sure. One of the things that made the AR’s so magical was the bass extension. Back then there werent any powered subs. At least none that I ever heard. 

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3 minutes ago, AmA732MX1 said:

Thank you for your opinion. It is what I was afraid I would hear. I wanted AR90’s so bad 40 years ago and now that I can finally afford them, I am thinking I may be in for a bit of a let down if I were to obtain them and restore. I realize it is not fair to compare them to new technology,  but I don’t think I can retrain my ears after years with the Paradigm’s. They are a very good imaging speaker for sure. One of the things that made the AR’s so magical was the bass extension. Back then there werent any powered subs. At least none that I ever heard. 

Yes, a pair of either the AR 9's, or the AR 90's , with enough power, will literally rattle the room ! 

But you need a powerful amp, and one that will not crap out, into 4 ohms.  

The Paradigm's are designed for uniform off axis dispersion. The AR 90's not so much. Their dome midrange driver plays down to 200 hz, and clear up to 7000 hz, before the big dome hands off to the small tweeter.  This wreaks havoc with the off axis dispersion. The guy I sold my old AR 90's to re designed his crossovers, to cut that big dome off  sooner by dropping the crossover point from 7000 hz down to 3000 hz. This greatly improved the off axis dispersion, and the tweeter had no problem going down to 3000 hz either.

Perhaps stay with the Paradigm's, and satisfy your craving for Bass with a good Subwoofer ?  SVS, Hsu, Velodyne, and Outlaw all make fine affordable subwoofers, to name a few.  

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The early versions of the Paradigm Studio 100 had a pair of 8.5" woofers port tuned to 

a very low 20 Hz.  They have tremendous power handling around 20 Hz but could probably

use a little boost there to get the most out of them.

There was an excellent review many years ago in Audio magazine.

Here is another review:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/paradigm-reference-studio100-v2-loudspeaker-measurements

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6 hours ago, ka7niq said:

Yes, a pair of either the AR 9's, or the AR 90's , with enough power, will literally rattle the room ! 

But you need a powerful amp, and one that will not crap out, into 4 ohms.  

The Paradigm's are designed for uniform off axis dispersion. The AR 90's not so much. Their dome midrange driver plays down to 200 hz, and clear up to 7000 hz, before the big dome hands off to the small tweeter.  This wreaks havoc with the off axis dispersion. The guy I sold my old AR 90's to re designed his crossovers, to cut that big dome off  sooner by dropping the crossover point from 7000 hz down to 3000 hz. This greatly improved the off axis dispersion, and the tweeter had no problem going down to 3000 hz either.

Perhaps stay with the Paradigm's, and satisfy your craving for Bass with a good Subwoofer ?  SVS, Hsu, Velodyne, and Outlaw all make fine affordable subwoofers, to name a few.  

Th AR90 and AR9 both ran the UMR dome from 1200Hz to 7KHz.  Only the LMR driver responded to the woofer crossover frequency of 200Hz.

 

Specifications

Type: 4 way, 5 driver loudspeaker system

Frequency Response: 23Hz to 30kHz

Power Handling: 250W

Recommended Amplifier: 50 to 300W

Crossover Frequency: 200, 1200, 7000Hz

Impedance: 4Ω

Sensitivity: 87dB

Bass: 2 x 250mm acoustic suspension

Midbass: 1 x 200mm acoustic suspension

Midrange: 1 x 38mm hemispherical dome

Tweeter: 1 x 19mm hemispherical dome

Dimensions: 1102 x 368 x 386mm

Weight: 37kg

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1 hour ago, Stimpy said:

Th AR90 and AR9 both ran the UMR dome from 1200Hz to 7KHz.  Only the LMR driver responded to the woofer crossover frequency of 200Hz.

 

Specifications

Type: 4 way, 5 driver loudspeaker system

Frequency Response: 23Hz to 30kHz

Power Handling: 250W

Recommended Amplifier: 50 to 300W

Crossover Frequency: 200, 1200, 7000Hz

Impedance: 4Ω

Sensitivity: 87dB

Bass: 2 x 250mm acoustic suspension

Midbass: 1 x 200mm acoustic suspension

Midrange: 1 x 38mm hemispherical dome

Tweeter: 1 x 19mm hemispherical dome

Dimensions: 1102 x 368 x 386mm

Weight: 37kg

That is correct. It has been quite awhile since I have had either AR 9's or AR 90's, and I forgot about the lower midrange cone, that plays from 200 to 1200 hz. 

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About all that can be said for certain about the speakers mentioned, is they are all capable of 10 octave performance and they are towers.   The only meaningful way to compare their performance is by ear in the same room in the same position with the same source.  A properly operating AR9 or 90 can image just fine in the near field if you are willing to compromise flat bass performance by toeing them in away from walls.  If Paradigm is truly comparable there will little difference between it and the the 9s.  The big variable here is subjective taste and the human ear.

Adams

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6 hours ago, Pete B said:

The early versions of the Paradigm Studio 100 had a pair of 8.5" woofers port tuned to 

a very low 20 Hz.  They have tremendous power handling around 20 Hz but could probably

use a little boost there to get the most out of them.

There was an excellent review many years ago in Audio magazine.

Here is another review:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/paradigm-reference-studio100-v2-loudspeaker-measurements

Actually, I think ALL versions of the Paradigm Studio 100 had dual woofers, and so did the Studio 60. Regardless, they are not a pair of 12's like in the AR 9's or AR 90's. Few speakers can match the bass of properly powered AR 9 or AR 90's. 

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15 minutes ago, Aadams said:

About all that can be said for certain about the speakers mentioned, is they are all capable of 10 octave performance and they are towers.   The only meaningful way to compare their performance is by ear in the same room in the same position with the same source.  A properly operating AR9 or 90 can image just fine in the near field if you are willing to compromise flat bass performance by toeing them in away from walls.  If Paradigm is truly comparable there will little difference between it and the the 9s.  The big variable hear is subjective taste and the human ear.

Adams

Very true! I found that they needed to be toed in, and they did need to be out from the back wall, before I got image depth. However, they lost too much Bass to leave them that way. I wound up with them toed in, but the corner of the speakers right against the back wall.  I still lost a little bass, compared to them being all against the wall, but the improvement in imaging was worth it, to me. Still, I never gould get that "spooky" imaging out of them. I have been a "speaker junkie" since the 80's. I always seem to have between 3 and 5 pairs hanging around. I seem to remember that back when I had the old AR's, I also had B&W Matrix 801's and Vandersteen 2C Speakers, maybe I still had my old Celestion SL 6's ?  All 3 of the speakers I just listed are capable of "Spooky Imaging". IOW, the speakers "Disappear" in the room. I was never able to get the AR's to image like that, in my room. YMMV

However, I remember the AR 9 and the AR 90 as big, pleasant sounding speakers, with room rattling bass. 

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I recently found a pair of AR58S speakers, via Craigslist, at a very good price.  The young millennial I bought the speakers from, was replacing them with Paradigm Studio 40 V2's.  Unfortunately, the Paradigms were not hooked up, so I didn't get the opportunity to hear them.  And hopefully, not unfortunately for the new owner, he hadn't heard his new speakers either.  A friend had recommended them, and said they were better than his AR's.  The millennial took him for his word, which allowed be to be the happy new owner of the 58S's...!

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26 minutes ago, ka7niq said:

Very true! I found that they needed to be toed in, and they did need to be out from the back wall, before I got image depth. However, they lost too much Bass to leave them that way. I wound up with them toed in, but the corner of the speakers right against the back wall.  I still lost a little bass, compared to them being all against the wall, but the improvement in imaging was worth it, to me. Still, I never gould get that "spooky" imaging out of them. I have been a "speaker junkie" since the 80's. I always seem to have between 3 and 5 pairs hanging around. I seem to remember that back when I had the old AR's, I also had B&W Matrix 801's and Vandersteen 2C Speakers, maybe I still had my old Celestion SL 6's ?  All 3 of the speakers I just listed are capable of "Spooky Imaging". IOW, the speakers "Disappear" in the room. I was never able to get the AR's to image like that, in my room. YMMV

However, I remember the AR 9 and the AR 90 as big, pleasant sounding speakers, with room rattling bass. 

I've had similar experiences to you.  AR Vertical speakers can be hard to position, to get a good blend of frequency response and soundstage balance.  But, AR's are more resolving than I think they're sometimes given credit for.  The better their associated gear, the more their sound improves, including image width and depth.

I found this out by accident.  I had just purchased a new-used preamp.  I wasn't expecting anything drastic sound wise.  But when I did a quick and dirty set up, for the new pre, and switched everything on, I was floored by the improvements I heard.  Especially imaging.  That quick session produced the best, most palpable imaging that my AR90's had ever produced, to that point.  Very realistic.  Holographic.  I never knew the speakers had been capable of that type of performance.  I've been chasing my tail, ever since, trying to improve that experience, when I should have left well-enough alone...!

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5 minutes ago, Stimpy said:

I recently found a pair of AR58S speakers, via Craigslist, at a very good price.  The young millennial I bought the speakers from, was replacing them with Paradigm Studio 40 V2's.  Unfortunately, the Paradigms were not hooked up, so I didn't get the opportunity to hear them.  And hopefully, not unfortunately for the new owner, he hadn't heard his new speakers either.  A friend had recommended them, and said they were better than his AR's.  The millennial took him for his word, which allowed be to be the happy new owner of the 58S's...!

Cool, and a great find ! I have never owned those, but have heard them, way back when. Do you plan to update their crossovers ?

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3 minutes ago, Stimpy said:

I've had similar experiences to you.  AR Vertical speakers can be hard to position, to get a good blend of frequency response and soundstage balance.  But, AR's are more resolving than I think they're sometimes given credit for.  The better their associated gear, the more their sound improves, including image width and depth.

I found this out by accident.  I had just purchased a new-used preamp.  I wasn't expecting anything drastic sound wise.  But when I did a quick and dirty set up, for the new pre, and switched everything on, I was floored by the improvements I heard.  Especially imaging.  That quick session produced the best, most palpable imaging that my AR90's had ever produced, to that point.  Very realistic.  Holographic.  I never knew the speakers had been capable of that type of performance.  I've been chasing my tail, ever sense, trying to improve that experience, when I should have left well-enough alone...!

I have done that too, tore apart great sounding systems, when I should have left well enough alone. 

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3 minutes ago, ka7niq said:

Cool, and a great find ! I have never owned those, but have heard them, way back when. Do you plan to update their crossovers ?

Yes, I've already refreshed the crossovers.  I used ClarityCap CSA polys on the dome tweeters, and ClarityCap ESA's on the dome mids.  The parallel shunts were Bennic NPE's.  I added Dayton foil bypass caps on all caps too.

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13 minutes ago, Aadams said:

How would you characterize "spooky imaging"?  Is it in the category of "you are there" or "they are here"?

Both, as long as the speakers "disappear". Actually, few speakers can "get out of their own way". 

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4 minutes ago, ka7niq said:

Both, as long as the speakers "disappear". Actually, few speakers can "get out of their own way". 

Hey ka7niq,

Off Topic.  Didn't you used to hang out over at the VMPS Forum?  I seem to remember you there?  A RM40 owner?  I remember you and Brian used to go to war at times.

Good stuff.

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14 minutes ago, Stimpy said:

Yes, I've already refreshed the crossovers.  I used ClarityCap CSA polys on the dome tweeters, and ClarityCap ESA's on the dome mids.  The parallel shunts were Bennic NPE's.  I added Dayton foil bypass caps on all caps too.

Cool !

I was just reading a thread by Carlspeak, where he tested some new ERSE Mylar Caps, and found fairly high ESR. On a recent order from ERSE, I needed to meet the minimum order requirement, so I ordered some ERSE Mylars I really did not need.

I just got an ESR Meter, so just for the hell of it, I measured the ESR of the new ERSE Mylar Caps. I was surprised how high it was, especially since they were right on the money as far as measured value goes.

As Carlspeak mentioned, this high ESR makes them an excellent choice for NPE replacement ! 

 

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2 minutes ago, Stimpy said:

Hey ka7niq,

Off Topic.  Didn't you used to hang out over at the VMPS Forum?  I seem to remember you there?  A RM40 owner?  I remember you and Brian used to go to war at times.

Good stuff.

Yes, Brian and I have had our disagreements, but many agreements too :) I miss Brian, really I do. 

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2 minutes ago, ka7niq said:

Cool !

I was just reading a thread by Carlspeak, where he tested some new ERSE Mylar Caps, and found fairly high ESR. On a recent order from ERSE, I needed to meet the minimum order requirement, so I ordered some ERSE Mylars I really did not need.

I just got an ESR Meter, so just for the hell of it, I measured the ESR of the new ERSE Mylar Caps. I was surprised how high it was, especially since they were right on the money as far as measured value goes.

As Carlspeak mentioned, this high ESR makes them an excellent choice for NPE replacement ! 

 

Higher than typical ESR, was why I tried the ClarityCaps.  For poly's, they measure very similar to NPE's.

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17 minutes ago, Stimpy said:

Higher than typical ESR, was why I tried the ClarityCaps.  For poly's, they measure very similar to NPE's.

I see so many people make the big mistake of replacing high ESR NPE Caps, with very low ESR Poly Caps, then wonder why their speakers sound like crap. 

 

 

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