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Reviews of TSW-910

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I have both the Stereo Review and High Fidelity reviews of the TSW-910. If you send me an address, I will mail copies to you. (Strictly for non-commercial purposes, of course. Wouldn't want to infringe on any copyrights.)

I have always felt the 910 was a very good--but not great--speaker.

Some past comments of mine:

Steve F Sat Dec-13-03 10:03 AM

Member since Sep 27th 2002

271 posts


In response to Reply # 5

I’ll reprise an entry I made about a year ago giving the complete history of the TSW Series, and how it fit into AR’s chronological succession of product families, and then add some additional comments at the end.

First, my comments from Dec 2002--

"The TSW series was introduced in 1987. It was the next line after the BXi series of product. TSW, of course, stood for "Titanium/Solid Wood," a reference to their titanium tweeters and solid walnut or oak top and bottom cabinet panels.

(It should be noted that the Connoisseur Series overlapped the BXi and TSW families of products. The Connoisseur Series was AR’s attempt at very high end, sophisticated audiophile-type speakers, utilizing real wood veneer cabinetry, multi-input binding post terminals, and expensive component crossovers. I had a pair of the model 50T’s (a very large 12", 3-way floorstander with dedicated angled pedestal stands), which featured 1" thick cabinet walls and tri-amp (!) input connections. They were $1500/pr. including the stands in 1986, which was pretty pricey. Did they sound good? Yes, they were good, but when I refurbished my 11’s a few years later, I gave the 50‘s to my Dad...)

The TSW was a very comprehensive range of products, and went through several generations over the years. Although most people remember the 910, 810, 610, and 510, there was also a 710 (dual 8-inchers in a very slender cabinet), a 115P (the same guts as the Powered Partner, but in the TSW-style wood cabinet instead of the Partner’s aluminum cabinet), and a later-generation of models with "15" suffixes, instead of "10" suffixes, i.e., the TSW-215, 315, 415, etc. (A humorous aside—I was speaking with a former AR marketing executive of that era, and he said that internally at AR, "TSW" stood for "This S**t Works!"

When the TSW line was developed, AR’s VP of engineering was Alex DeCoster. There were several extremely talented individual engineers who carried out the specific design work on the different models, such as Mark Nazar, Andy Lewis, and others. Mark and Andy have continued their distinguished work with other companies since they’ve left AR, although I don’t know what Mr. DeCoster is doing these days.

I bought both TSW-110’s (a 6 1/2" 2-way) and TSW-105’s (a 4" 2-way) to use as extension speakers around my house. They’re both considerably smaller than even the smallest of the classic models like the AR-7, and they’ve served me well in that non-critical role.

All in all, the TSW line was a respectable, presentable hi-fi product, but nothing about it was spectacularly different or better than similar speakers from other good companies of that era. And for AR speakers to be merely "as good as" those of other reputable companies, was for me, a real disappointment.

The last truly groundbreaking, envelope-pushing AR product was, of course, Mr. Kantor’s MGC-1 (and I suppose to a lessor extent, the MGC-2 of 1988, although I’m not sure how much Ken had to do with that one). The Magic Speakers were apart on their own, totally independent of the BXi, TSW, or Connoisseur speakers. In the June 1985 Stereo Review, Julian Hirsch said of the MGC-1, "The MGC-1 is one of the best-sounding speakers you are likely to find." And High Fidelity said in their May 1986 review, "We rank the MGC-1 among the world’s great loudspeakers." The Magic Speakers represented creative thinking and inventive execution in the best tradition of previous AR innovations."

To that entry from last year, let me add this:

The TSW-910 was not quite the same class of product as the original 9 or the 9LS. The 9 was a spectacular leap to a new level of performance for AR, and it set the industry on it collective ear.

But the 910 was a somewhat formulaic product, born more from a marketing sense of "Well, I guess we should have a big floorstander, sort of like the 9, with a couple of 12-inchers" than from a genuine desire to explore new territory. I know first-hand how corporate product planning sessions work. It’s not that the 910 or any of the TSW’s were bad products—just the opposite, they were pretty good in fact—it’s that they were conceived and built more to fill marketing slots than anything else. That’s the way most day-in, day-out products are done. That’s NOT how the 1, 3, 3a, LST, 9, or Magic were done, and the difference is obvious.

I encourage you to read the 910 reviews in High Fidelity from April 1988 or in Stereo Review in June 1987. They’re good reviews, but the product is damned with faint praise. Julian Hirsch’s concluding sentence in his report was, "We never tired of its easy, smooth sound." Well, if you are familiar with his test reports over the years, especially the 3a, LST, and 9, Julian was usually much more effusive and unequivocal in his comments when he REALLY liked something. "…easy, smooth sound…" is Hirsch-speak for "Not bad, but I was hoping for more."

The 910 is a "B+/A-" product, which is fine, but it’s not in the same category as the 9, either from a performance refinement standpoint or from an industry impact standpoint. It’s been 40 years since the 3a was introduced, and we’re still enamored with it. The 910 will be long since forgotten 40 years after its introduction.

Steve F.

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  • 2 weeks later...



>I never received your reviews you were sending me. Still

>waiting to read them.



Dear Supercooper188.

As I said above,

"I have both the Stereo Review and High Fidelity reviews of the TSW-910. If you send me an address, I will mail copies to you. (Strictly for non-commercial purposes, of course. Wouldn't want to infringe on any copyrights.)"

A mailing address and they're yours. I can't post them on the Forum because Mark says that Stereo Review and High Fidelity reviews are still covered by copyright considerations. I respect Mark's desire to adhere to the "letter of the law" and I prefer not to be the one who breaks the copyright.

Steve F.

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