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My Newbie AR 152 Spirits


Guest redsedfred
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Guest redsedfred

Hello and greetings from a UK based newbie. I'm a long time admirer of AR, never before an owner, but I have a pair of cosmetically immaculate Spirit 152(UK) on their way to me. I was wondering if anyone might comment on what I can look forward to. Not from the classic era I appreciate, but a hefty $950 srp in their US incarnation back in 1991. These have a 1992 date stamp on them.

I run two main systems currently - Linn Keilidh floor standers with my seedee system (Musical Fidelity E200/300 amps)and Royd Eden 'bookshelf' stand mount with my Linn Sondek (MF Nu-vista/E300 amps). My son has a seedee front end, Creek 4140 amp and Acoustic Energy AE109's and I thought maybe he could benefit from the AR's.

You don't see many AR's for sale in the UK and I picked these up mis-described as A&R (Arcam)as part of an unsold eBay system. If I eBay what's sellable of the rest of the vintage budget system, the AR's will have cost me c$40 max, which seems a snip to me. If I sell my second t/t and replace it with the as-new NAD one I picked in the system (just to test charity shop records) then effectively the speakers come free.

Cheers

Rich in Bedford, old-England

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Guest redsedfred

Yes did get them. Not bad as speakers go. No quite so musical and well defined as my Royd Eden's or my Keilidh's, but pretty okay. I haven't had a chance yet to compare them to may son's AE109's, and though I won't be swapping out either of my own better speakers for them I suspect they might be a better all round package than the AE's, what with being stand mounted.

I think I might be getting some AR 14's fairly cheaply soon too.

Rich

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I posted this in March of 2003, thought you might be interested:

Steve F Sat Mar-08-03 08:36 PM

Member since Sep 27th 2002

330 posts

#1. "RE: AR 142 Information"

In response to Reply # 0

The Spirit Series also dated from 1990, but I never actually saw it in any store here in the Boston area. They came and went very fast.

There were 6 models. The 142 was one down from the top of the line 162. It was interesting to read Julian Hirsch's review of the 162 in Stereo Review. He was such an AR fan, he loved the classic ARs, and correctly felt the AR-1 was the turning point for modern speaker design. I almost felt bad for him as he struggled vainly to find something good to say about the 162. This was the absolute end of the AR we all knew from years past. Forgettable boxes stuffed with OEM drivers. Very sad.

The 142 was a small floorstanding speaker, with an 8" woofer, a 6 1/2" woofer/midrange, and a 1" (not 1 1/4") dome tweeter. It was a "2 1/2" -way configuration. LF response was rated to -3dB @ 52Hz. Dimensions were 25 5/8 x 9 1/8 x 11" HWD.

There was also a full line of Spirit electronic components--integrated amps, a receiver, tuner, tape deck, and CD player.

Steve F.

As you can tell, I was no big fan of this line. Not offensive-sounding, but not particularly memorable in any way, either.

If you can find and restore a pair of AR-14's, then I think you'll have something special.

Steve F.

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FYI on the AR-14, from a post of mine in Dec 2003:

"RE: How good are AR14 speakers?"

Author Steve F

Author Info Member since Sep 27th 2002

331 posts

Date Wed Dec-17-03 07:44 AM

Message

In response to Reply # 2

The AR-14 was introduced in early 1976, as part of the "second wave" of Advanced Development Division introductions. The 10Pi, 11, and MST were the first ADD intros in March 1975. The 16, then the 12 and 14 followed shortly thereafter.

The 14 was designed mostly as AR’s assault on Advent’s market leadership position with their hugely successful Large Advent. AR decided to use the 10" woofer in a slightly larger enclosure—the same volume as the cabinet for the 12" woofer—in order to extend the low-end response a little deeper. The lowered system resonance had to be balanced against the potential for over-excursion of the 10" driver, so ultimate power-handling was a major consideration during the 12’s and 14’s development.

In the end, the low-end response came out to –3db @44Hz, very good performance for a 10" system, but still a ways away from the –3dB @35Hz of the 11 and 10PI, and still not as deep as the Large Advent.

The 14 crossed over to the 1" dome tweeter at 1300Hz, a remarkably low crossover, considering the tweeter’s 1050Hz resonance. Ordinarily, one could expect either high distortion at the bottom of the tweeter’s operating range or limited power handling, but I never recall the 14 suffering from these problems, so apparently the crossover was well designed. The 1300Hz crossover point allowed the speaker’s energy response to be reasonably uniform, since a woofer of that diameter won’t become severely directional until about 2000Hz.

Unfortunately, the 14 never achieved the marketplace success that AR had envisioned. This was probably due to the bitter taste left in dealers’ mouths from AR’s horrendous marketing and sales policies of the 60’s and early ‘70’s—too many "burned bridges" to repair. The ADD line was supposed to be a limited distribution, high dealer profit line, but AR couldn’t convince enough dealers to come on board for them to recapture their marketplace dominance of the late 50’s to mid 60’s.

I do not remember ever seeing a test report of the 14 by any of the "Big Three"—Stereo Review, High Fidelity, or Audio. It was an excellent-sounding speaker, however: smooth, uncolored, open, in other words, all the best AR traits. It was a very worthy successor to the 2x (which had never really caught on), and considerably less money than the 12. I remember in direct A-B with the Large Advent, it was stunningly superior (except for the very bottom), far more natural, and left the Advent sounding strikingly honky and nasal by comparison.

Overall, a relatively unheralded speaker, but a very good one.

Steve F.

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Guest redsedfred

The 14's are on eBay, on the South Coast, a long way from home, but my son is moving job to Cornwall soon and I'll be driving him and his gear down there, so I could swing by these 14's on the way home. I must say I really am tempted. Just a question of deciding what my maximum bid should be, though I suspect it won't have to be too much.

Back to the 152's, they really are in excellent condition. The` black vinyl is unmarked, and I've had the covers off and the rubber surrounds look like there's years left in them yet. From what I can research it looks like they were a late addition to the Spirit range and only around for a year or so. They really don't sound that bad and considering what little I paid for them something of a bargain. trouble is I don't really need this many speakers :( At least my son's AE109's have a s/h value so if we switch them there'll be a few quid left over for him to buy some new seedees and to treat his old dad to a beer into the bargain.

I picked up a pair of Allison 105's as part of a cheap system on eBay too. They need refoaming though. I''m looking forward to hearing what they can do once I get the repairs sorted.

Rich, (all of a sudden an American speaker collector)

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  • 10 years later...

Hi, I realise this is an old thread. But here goes.

I also acquired via EBay an almost mint pr of 152s. Having listened to all the Spirit range (which were certainly built to a price point!) and kept and refurbished the biggest of the range, the 162s with coupled 8" drivers, mid and same 1" cloth dome tweeter used in all these models. I still think this is a lovely sounding lively speaker despite being an economical product and will have none of this snootiness quoted in the description of the 142 above. Fact is - AR speakers were ALWAYS mass produced consumer items abd technology and processes chabge as well as markets.....

 

Geting back to the 152. Just got it out of hibernation and its perched on top of my AR91s singing its heart out. Unusual in the rubber surround on the woofer. Does need help from the amp (Sansui 717) as its bass light - of course. But it's a very precise controlled sound which as I listen to Chiu'sxChopin Etudes Op25 on Harmonia Mundi resolves the piano and the reverberation on the recording very well. Clarity rather than warmth. But the tweeter is a gem - nothing shabby about the treble on this speaker (or the other Spirits) and I remember veryvwell auditioning the 162s against a similar rival floorstander back in the early 1990s with a metal dome tweeter which was all the rage then. I walked out with the AR162s. 

Since these 152s had little prior use and have been stored for some time they can only improve with use! Very impressed. Also capable of bi wiring. 8ohm instead of the 4-6 ohm ofvthe rest of the range. 

This was definitely a serious bid to inject a better speced "audiophile" speaker into the range. I agree that the lower end isn't really bothering with - the 122 and 142 are dismal in sound and build quality - the black vinyl is particularly poor quality and doesn't last starts peeling at corners etc.

The wood effect versions are much preferable. And as a last word .........

The AR162 which is rare now (IN WOOD VENEER) will always be the love of my music life - if you find one grab it and refurbish the woofers and mids need refoaming, but the crossovers and tweeters are indestructible - just as the Everest SDBR 3009 LP of Stravinsky's Symphony on 3 Movements/Ebony Concerto started my addiction to ED1 vinyl. But the 152 as its junior buddy iscalso well worth cherishing.

The AR152 is a KEEPER!

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