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AR-3/A Upgrade


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(Re-posted from email with permission of the author.)

From: "Frank Lew"

Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 10:09 PM

Subject: AR-3 restoration


Found your webpage -

http://www.arsenal.net/speakers/ar/ar-3a/ar3a.txt - interesting.

It didn't have a date, so I wonder if the restoration is old

history, or a fairly recent project. If your restored 3a's are

still in use, I'd be interested in any opinion you may have on

how they compare sonically with contemporary speakers of similar

physical size.

I bought a pair of 3's around 1959, used them for some 15 years,

then stored them in a closet when I went to an all McIntosh

system. Sometime in the early '70s, I added a pair of Microstatic

tweeters (external units that are wired in parallel to the 3's,

and which, if I recall, purported to make the 3's performance

comparable to the 3a). I'm about to move to a retirement condo

that is about one-third the size of my house. Much of my gear,

including a pair of large Mac MLC-4 speakers (each with 4 - 12"

woofers) aren't going to fit, and must go. I expect to get a

smaller system, including more compact speakers. After reading

your account, I'm wondering if it'd make any sense to restore

the 3's for use as primary speakers in the condo. For sentimental

reasons, I'd be willing to accept less than hi-end performance,

but I'd want at least moderately decent performance by today's

standards. Hence my interest in your opinions.

btw, how much did the restoration wind up costing?

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Don't get me wrong, I think the AR-3's and AR-3a's are great speakers, even when used with modern music and digital sources. I am just really picky about a couple of my favorite bands and high frequency reproduction.

My situation was this:

1.) I had one AR-3 and one AR-3a. (When one of them was damaged in the 70's, AR upgraded it during repair.)

2.) I listen to some electronic and more modern music (Tool, techno from Defcon, Peter Gabriel's newer stuff, etc.) which I thought would be better reproduced by a more modern tweeter. When I listened (at the time) to these, I listened to them loud. I was concerned about power handling, especially in the 3.

So ..

My philosophy on the upgrade project was that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it big. (And it turns out, long .. since the "project" has been going on for five plus years. Mostly in my closet.)

Now that I am long since done with speaker repairs and upgrading (it was a hobby in college) I am sending them to Layne Audio to have Stephen finish them properly. I hope to setup a section of the website detailing the work. The two major expenses will be a pair of AR 12" woofers and shipping, I imagine. I pirated the woofers they had over the years.

This last week my crossover components and drivers went out in the mail. In a couple weeks, the cabinets go out. And then Stephen will finally finish my dusty vision! Their final resting place will be near a pair of AR-303a's. I am not sure if this is a fair comparison. I am finally content with the 303a's as my main speakers and free of my audio buying obsession, so I may not give anything else a fair chance. I may have to have someone else come over and A-B the hybrids.


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