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AR3A and RCF BR45


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Probably not many know the italian brand RCF

despite living in Italy i definitely didn't really know much about them, apart from the fact that they existed , were renown for the their components but less so for their speakers.....untill i bought a pair of RCF BR45 for 100€ on Friday while browsing through a used articles shop.....

Bought them  on a whim, they looked in very good nick and discovered at the shop after compressing the woofer and observing the slow return that they were acoustic suspension.

Spec wise i believe the RCF to be a clone of the AR3a/AR5 with crossover frequencies of 500 and 5000hz but with mid and treble pots on the front face.

I own a pair of AR3A improved that i re foamed and recapped using material and guides from this formum. in 2019 these speakers made me sell off my other speakers (audio monitor bronze BX6 and JBL40), so wasn't expeting much from the RCF....but boy was i mistaken.

I have spent the past two days comparing the speakers incessantly, both by ear and trying to get some measurements down.....why? ultimately because i feel bad that i prefer them to the AR3A. I even coerced the wife into a blindfolded A-B test and guess what.....she prefers the RCF.

Now i will keep listening to both speakers and maybe broaden the range of genres i have used for comparison and I'll try and find out more about these RCF BR45 speakers, but regardless of personal taste these speakers should definitely have  a place on a forum like this. They have a 10" woofer as opposed to the AR3a's 12" and maybe they sound like an AR5? only thing i can say for certain is that the bass guitar  is tighter and clearer and so easier to pick out, which is what I've heard about the ar5.

i did a frequency sweep up to 4khz and the response in the listening position is fundamental the same apart from a dip at 700hz on the RCF...which i fixed simply by moving the mid pot from "flat" to "normal" position. The tonal similarity is uncanny, with the ar3a feeling maybe fuller but the RCF clearer with greater accuracy in instrument spacial positioning.....


i know its blasphemy but there it is

ar3a_vs_rcf BR45.jpg

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Nice! I had to check out their website https://www.rcf.it  Looks like they no longer make the 3-way. Those seem to be really nice speakers.

Here's some (very little) info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCF_audio

I see RCF speakers are available here in the US on Amazon.

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Yeah...it's an older model...they had br35-41-45 etc...also some really massive speakers the 120 and 150


I've contacted RCF asking for info manuals or whatever they may still have and was reassured  they have info in their "paper" archives....should get some info in the next few days.


My father in law, that was an AR man and followd the hi-fi scene at the time, mentioned rcf as manufacturers of really good speaker components but not speakers....seems they didnt have  great appreciation from the specialised press at the time.

The rcf have a slightly lower output for a given amp volume which confirms their low sensitivity of 87db...possibly less if compared to the ar3a which sounds louder for a given volume setting.

As additional info I'm using twin NAD 2155 power amps.


Now listening to budgie, in for the kill, first on the ar3a  and now on RCF BR 45...maybe the ar3a feels a little more natural while the RCF a little more artificial or modern....I like the bass better on the RCF...maybe mids on the ar3a are alittle more natural/controlled? Or maybe just more familiar..... But it really is nitpicking...

I think I'll need to delve deeper into measured responses, and decay....by my ear they are both fantastic. Any suggestions are welcome.



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Also in my opinion RCF, an excellent speaker and component manufacturer has built some excellent speakers, I own one of the first examples of HiFi speakers built by RCF around 1967: RCF BR-20 have an 8 woofer in air suspension and an excellent tweeter at cone of about 6 cm. and sound like the AR4x (RCFs are more efficient and have 20 watts max applicable).
In the photos I am attaching they are compared in size to the AR4xa, it would be better if I photographed them together with the AR4x of the same age!


Photo from the 1967 advertisement


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  • 2 months later...

After 2 months of going back and forth between the rcf BR45;and the ar3a, I have picked my favourite.......and selling the other   ..... Ok, tried to be as analitycal and superpartes  as possible but in the end I chose the ones I thought had a better balance, greater varsatility  and sounded more "real".... And Chris Cornell's voice and Leslie West's guitar made it clear..... The rcf BR45!...and looking into the rcf BR55 just out of curiosity... Ar3a is a great speaker, just a little too blurred/soft  compared  to the rcf for the music I listen to.  


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On 11/7/2021 at 11:02 AM, Guesstimator said:

Looking of any possibl information about these speakers


Looked at their website. They've been around since 1949. Lots of forums in Italian discussing the speakers but little authoritative info. Enjoy the music!


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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi all


had some time off today so thought I'd try a slightly more detailed comparison between the ar3a improved and the RCF BR45. I used my new mike for the test and brought out the speakers from their normal positioning into the middle of the room. tested one speaker at a time in the same position. Mic is aligned with woofer axis at a distance of 50cm from speaker front face (woofer mounting surface). During the test i noticed that for a given signal strength the ar3a are actually louder than the rcf so definitely more efficient. First test is a sweep from 20 to 4khz (higher frequencies become annoying when performing multiple sweeps...especially for the neighbours). The rcf has all controls on FLAT and the ar3a always has the high freq switch boost on. I then repeated measurements with the rcf mids set to normal and then maxed out.

Then i saw the neighbours leave while i had the ar3a on the stand so did a wider sweep up to to 10Khz with switch on and off. when i get a chance i will repeat for RCF.

Before doing this test, i simply played around checking if the mic worked and did close-field measurements of woofer up to 600 hz at 25cm from speaker front face. interestingly in this test the ar3a had a stronger response below 100 hz

Anyway, it's all good fun. keeping my eyes peeled for the BR55 at bargain price like these!

ar3a_vs_rcf BR45 Flat at 50cm.jpg

ar3a_vs_rcf BR45 Normal mids at 50cm.jpg

ar3a_vs_rcf BR45 maxed mids at 50cm.jpg

ar3a improved switch effect.jpg

ar3a_low switch vs_rcf BR45 Flat at 50cm.jpg

ar3a_vs_rcf BR45 0.25m 0-600hz.jpg

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Bravo for the intuition had and for the comparison made between AR3a imp. and RCF BR45 with reports and graphs testifying to the almost overlapping of the sound performance of two speakers that are almost contemporary but more distant than an ocean.
Probably in the setting of the BR45 the Italian technicians of the time will have taken Acoustic Research as a reference !!
You had a good ear and a good intuition.

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Ciao a tutti,

 mio figlio non vuole liberarsene...temo abbia capito il loro valore!

Dal 1978 ad oggi solo un cambio sospensione woofer...

Le alterno con le 10pi, ed ancora non so quali scegliere, ( a mio modestissimo avviso)....

Disposizione momentanea.......IMG20220222194610.thumb.jpg.aaa004bc80fcbb43c7d41560f907dbf0.jpg

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