Jump to content

Reminiscing about AR9's


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone,

I have been trading exchanges with some of the senior members concerning caps and what not - and briefly told Pete B about how I came to know of these wonderful transducers. He suggested I share my experience with the group as some colorful history surrounding a personal experience with these speakers. In that vein, I have penned the story below for your entertainment.

I am a professional musician with over 2000 performances in my lifetime. Some snippets of "15 seconds of fame" include a television interview with Yo Yo Ma and performing at Carnegie Hall at the age of 10. My first operatic role was the part of Amahl in Gian Carlo Menotti's, Amahl and the Night Visitors, with the Corpus Christi Opera Company. I continued my classical vocal training throughout my youth and adult years performing 2 seasons with the Fort Worth Opera and 1 season with the Dallas Opera. I continue to perform to this day. My current occupation (i.e. day job :-) is in technical software sales (the starving artist does not fit me!).

My youth experiences occurred from the ages of 9-14 in the mid-seventies to early eighties in the Texas Boys Choir. At that time, the Texas Boys Choir (TBC - http://www.texasboyschoir.org/), took 2 singing tours a year. The tours lasted 6-7 weeks and in my tenure as a performer covered 38 of the 50 states and 3 different countries. The Tour Choir consisted of 30 boys with 6 chaperones: an accompanist, choir director, manager, wardrobe, bus driver/handyman and a tutor. The boys were responsible for all aspects of the 2 hour show which consisted of: 1 hour of stand-up repertoire both secular and non-secular music, a 15 minute intermission filled by our pianist with a classic piano interlude/concerto, followed by 1 hour of choreography backed up with orchestral soundtrack. All of the music for the 2 hour show was memorized (no sheet music/songbooks/cheat sheets, etc.) and the choreography portion was without conductor. Schoolwork was done on the bus and mailed weekly back to our respective schools. In addition, the boys had responsibilities for all aspects of the show. We did everything. We were responsible for the stage equipment, wardrobe cases, set-up and break down and loading and unloading of the bus, and even room checks and hotel room assignments. It was a pivotal experience of my life and has had a positive impact on every facet of my career/life journey.

So what has this got to do with AR? In 1978, the TBC acquired a brilliant director who was a concert organist and wonderful arranger: Jack Noble White (do a google search). Jack wanted to update all of our repertoire with new compositions and update our touring equipment. While I was not privy to all of the business decisions (being a child!), I do know what the final configuration was as my job on the Touring Choir was on the sound crew. The TBC contracted with Teledyne to supply 4 AR9's as part of our performance gear. There was a large custom anvil crate that housed the electronics ( a Teac 4 track open reel with newly arranged and fully orchestrated master studio tapes and 4 600 watt monoblock Crown amps along with a multi-band parametric EQ). Each AR9 had its own custom anvil crate to be transported on the bus to stage and back for the tour.

During those years in the Tour Choir with the TBC, I packed, unpacked, and set-up those speakers hundreds of times. I was the lead boy on sound crew, so it was my responsibility to measure the stage, mark it off, setup the speakers, cable the electronics and perform a sound check. So why did the TBC "contract" with AR? Our speakers were unique in the fact that the speaker termination was a balanced connection along with a screw in fuse terminal. The finish and fit was the same as the consumer version; walnut veneer with the classic AR grills complete with logos powered by 2400 watts of Crown power! The balanced connection was done to make it easier for the boys to hook up - and of course - gave one single cable for each tower. One of the unique challenges with this sound reproduction configuration was finding adequate AC power in some of the smaller venues (high schools, civic centers, etc.) that we performed in across the country.

Needless to say, I was "bitten" at an early age. I had never heard a more musical speaker and vowed that some day I would own a pair. Fast-forward 2.5+ decades and I have finally acquired a pair of AR90's. I realize that they do not have the 12's, but the upper cabinet is identical to those speakers that enamored me so many years ago (and they fit my space!). And I have spent over 10 years looking for them. Over the years I have found the AR's only to be blocked by the unwillingness of the sellers to ship them. I still had to drive 2 hours in each direction to acquire them and even then it was due to a fluke of insomnia in the wee hours of the morning on fleebay. They are worth every penny!

The cosmetics are great complete with grills and veneer. All of the woofers were reconed in the last 2 years and the upper range all work. Of course, the caps are WAY off - hence my joining the forum and seeking the excellent advice and guidance within this group.

Pete B asked some questions that I will take a moment to answer here. "How did they Sound?". They sounded like no other speaker I have ever heard then or now. I have been fortunate in my career and have been able to own, listen, play with speakers that cost orders of magnitude greater than these, and yes they were/are all great in their own right. However, this is an emotional/phsychological experience for me that far transcends the various nuances of accuracy, imaging, tonal balance, etc. The other question was, "Did they ever fail". Not once in 3 years, hundreds of performances and hundreds of thousands of miles, did the AR's ever sonically fail. This is not to say we did not have our casualties. By the end of my years in Tour Choir the AR's were looking worse for wear in the veneer and grill covers and various other cosmetic issues. Grills were "fixed" on the road with the usual methods of duct tape, etc, so they would conceal the drivers and have the appearance of these black monolithic towers on the back of the stage. One has to remember that it is was pre-adolescent boys moving, pushing, shoving, carrying, etc. these things for each and every performance. In retrospect, it is also relevant to note these were used for background orchestral scores and had to be balanced with 30 boys performing un-amped/un-miked in a live stage performance. In reality, we never pushed the speakers to bleeding decibel levels. In fact, we never blew a fuse!

So you see, in the particular journey of this AR lover, it is not only about the music but a feeble - yet very satisfying attempt - to recapture a portion of my youth. Once my speakers are recapped and all drivers resealed in the cabinet, I will revel in the late night moment of breaking out the LP of Four Slices of America of which my picture as a boy performer/member is on the cover sleeve (and my voice on the recording) - and go back to a time when the only thing that mattered to me was music.....

I hope you enjoyed the story and this reflection of the past...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting your experiences with the AR-9s. I find the applications/uses of the technology at least as interesting as the technical details.

Thanks again, enjoyed the read!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope you enjoyed the story and this reflection of the past...

I did enjoy reading your story. It's a great one.

There have been several times during performances in our local auditorium that I have wondered what a pair of AR9s on stage might sound like from my seat. The reason for my wondering is that a big place takes lots of energy to "fill" and I know that the 9s will go to amazing volumes without hinting of breakup.

I'm not implying that a single pair of AR9s would fill a large auditorium to ear-bleed volumes, but that to get a "room filling" sound out of them in a room of that size they would have to be operating at what would be high volume in a home.

Thanks for confirming for me that they are up-to that task.


(PS - I'm jealous of your opportunity to hear what the bass drivers will do in a room that large)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...