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is the AR9 a flawed design?


dingus
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no, absolutely not. but i lack the technical expertise to explain this simple fact to one who contends the multiple driver array and dual side-firing woofers leads to "inaccurate sound" and "ill-defined" bass. unfortunately the logistics dont allow the other party to pay a visit to my home to listen for himself and my attempts to convey the quality sound of the AR9 is not making a dent in his assessment of the speaker which he has heard only a few times and initially from a pair in poor condition suffering from driver problems.

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no, absolutely not. but i lack the technical expertise to explain this simple fact to one who contends the multiple driver array and dual side-firing woofers leads to "inaccurate sound" and "ill-defined" bass. unfortunately the logistics dont allow the other party to pay a visit to my home to listen for himself and my attempts to convey the quality sound of the AR9 is not making a dent in his assessment of the speaker which he has heard only a few times and initially from a pair in poor condition suffering from driver problems.

In that case, you have two alternatives:

1. Buy him a ticket

2. Tell him to go to hell.

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The AR-9 just might not be to his taste, or perhaps he's unfamiliar with a legitimate, full-range loudspeaker.

My experience has shown that many "audiophiles" are scared off by systems with true deep-bass capability, believing such a thing to be at odds with "tunefulness", "rhythm", "pace", or whatever other BS expression they've learned to regurgitate from the High-End press.

Shrill, thin-sounding, loudspeakers that "image" are now common, and extended LF reproduction is not considered to be the attribute that it once was.

What sort of speaker does your pal prefer?

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no, absolutely not. but i lack the technical expertise to explain this simple fact to one who contends the multiple driver array and dual side-firing woofers leads to "inaccurate sound" and "ill-defined" bass. unfortunately the logistics dont allow the other party to pay a visit to my home to listen for himself and my attempts to convey the quality sound of the AR9 is not making a dent in his assessment of the speaker which he has heard only a few times and initially from a pair in poor condition suffering from driver problems.

That seems to bother you. The fact is, that there are few other speakers ever made whose bass capabilities can match that of AR9 for loud deep low distortion output. I know from first hand experience. One day I nearly shattered all 28 panes of glass in my music room simultaneously with the opening chord of Copland's Organ Symphony. But they do require careful placement to get the best from them and not 4 feet from the wall behind them, more like 2 inches. Other than that, they have refined the best attributes of a direct firing loudspeaker pioneered by the heritage of AR3, AR3a, AR10pi, and AR303. They solved the problem of coupling the woofer to the dome midrange by adding an 8" lower midrange. This allowed both the 12" drivers and dome upper midrange to restrict their operation to frequency bands they are best suited for. The tweeter does not have the dispersion of AR3a, 10pi and certainly not LST but it is better than most 1" tweeters commonly used today. Other than that it has similar assets and shortcomings of other direct firing speakers. The alternative of a single driver (one way) systems does not work. Every one I heard had a miserably inaccurate and inadequate treble and except for further modifying original Bose 901 and pumping even more power into it, most have inadequate bass as well. Systems requiring an outboard subwoofer to reproduce the lowest frequencies do not have the advantages of AR9's unique method of system integration. Read Tim Holl's excellent write up in the library section of this site and you will see how ingenious it is.

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The AR-9 just might not be to his taste, or perhaps he's unfamiliar with a legitimate, full-range loudspeaker.

....

What sort of speaker does your pal prefer?

had he said that he doenst like the sound of the AR9 or that he prefers the sound of speaker x there would be no debate. he contends the 9 is incapable of producing good sound because of its flawed design.

his speaker of choice is the Yamaha NS-1000 which is a completely different animal, but having heard it, one that i could be happy with.

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That seems to bother you.

...

Read Tim Holl's excellent write up in the library section of this site and you will see how ingenious it is.

indeed. regardless of my impressions of the sound, character and quality of the 9 he maintains that it cant deliver what i say it does. i need to supply him with technical proof of concept that went into the design. i'll forward Tim Holl's paper to him as a start.

btw, i have repeatedly asked him to investigate the resources of this site in order that he gain an understanding the design of the 9. afaik he has not.

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here is the basis of his argument ...

I heard the AR9 in a comparo against the NS-1000M and the AR2 with mulitple amps and a Concept 16.5 receiver. What I have conveyed here and elsewhere is what I heard and my opinion has not changed. IMO, the AR9 is an interesting speaker that deserves attention but is in no way audiophile. I found the AR9 to be dull with artificially augmented bass that smothered the midrange and crushed the trebles.

Too many drivers, too many woofers, and a flawed layout mean the AR9 will never be accurate. Dual woofers have phase problems because no two drivers perform exactly the same. The cone excursions also has cross effects due to internal pressure either causing extra or reduced resistance to the other cone. These are the basic flaws of all multi-driver speakers like the L-810, the Polk SDA-1, and the 901 none of which are known for delivering crisp, accurate bass. Side firing woofers means that the sound has to be reflected to travel in the same direction as the mids and highs. This introduces a lag which affects cohesion and also the dead spot directly in front of the speaker. The other problem is the unpredictability of reflecting surfaces which has the potential of introducing standing waves.

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Your friend sounds like he's grinding an axe: "dull with artificially augmented bass that smothered the midrange and crushed the trebles".

How could his criticism be farther from the truth?

The midrange on the AR-9 is smooth, smooth, smooth, and the system's HF reproduction is well-balanced - neither beamy, nor diffused.

And the low bass is well-integrated, and natural-sounding - it's strong when a strong signal is present, and disappears when it's not.

Adequately-powered & properly-positioned, the AR-9 provides a very pleasing result - authoritative, tonally balanced, capable of sustaining a lifelike SPL on dynamic recordings, and asking very little of the listener in the way of special consideration.

The system has a small footprint, its drivers are quite reliable, and when correctly restored, the loudspeaker should provide high-quality sound for another 30 years.

And here's the kicker: it's entirely possible to put together a beautiful pair of restored AR-9s for under $2,000!

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Guest Lorin

I have three pairs of speakers that all produce very good bottom end, and all of different application principles and all very musical but, all require a great deal of time finding the proper location; JBL 250Ti in my master Bedroom using a Yamaha M80, VMPS Tower II, an eight driver configuration with an active 15 and passive 15 in each cabinet and about 250 pounds each driven with a McIntosh MC352. The bass on the VMPS is tight, low, fast and very tunable to room characteristics. And, my AR9s, in my primary system using a Cary V12 on top and a Yamaha MX-D1 on the bottom using an active crossover.

That said, I have come to the conclusion that manufactures simply can't produce good bass at a price range that most can afford or is profitable. In turn they have over the years convinced folks with their buzz words and jargon that full range speakers are a negative. With an all too anxious sales staff to blindly echo the sentiments in an attempt to push the latest inventory. My conclusion is one of a bit more cynical nature but, having heard what good full range speakers can do when blended with the correct amplification it leaves me with no other conclusion. I will say, the AR9, seems to be the most revealing or sensitive to different amplifiers. Additionally, I find it necessary to use active equalization in all my systems with the aid of a pink noise generator. Of the three, the AR9 is the most musical IMHO. However, I have not yet driven the others with tubes.

What really frosts me is the general prejudice against AR9s from folks that in all honesty have probably never heard them. And if they did, what are the odds they were driven by a truly adequate amplifier? There are a lot of flat out snobs in the arena and that is unfortunate. I'm glad I can come over from Audiogon on occasion when I need to hear from a more grounded group of folks.

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Technically, the AR9 is a flawed design in that every speaker ever built is also in some way, form or fashion flawed. Current speaker design is an art of compromise as several members have pointed out over many posts.

The trick is to pick a set of speakers whose shortcomings you can either live with or actually like.

A local business in my area had a request to audition a $30,000 pair of speakers in a customers home. In this circumstance, they sounded worse than the lesser speakers the customer already owned. Both were made by the same company.

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Technically, the AR9 is a flawed design in that every speaker ever built is also in some way, form or fashion flawed. ...

true, but the contention is the 9 is somehow unable to deliver good sound due to its design as compared to conventional 3-way designs using only forward firing drivers.

the antagonist hasnt made a peep since i posted the link to the Holl paper ....

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true, but the contention is the 9 is somehow unable to deliver good sound due to its design as compared to conventional 3-way designs using only forward firing drivers.

the antagonist hasnt made a peep since i posted the link to the Holl paper ....

And the practical difference between this and option 2 is...?

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But aren't all loudspeakers flawed to some extent? Sure, it's a matter of degree, I suppose.

My own informal poll based on reading threads around the net and here as well, is the 9's are probably the best speaker AR made which when you consider the AR3, 3a, 5, 10Pi, etc... that's saying a lot!

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  • 8 years later...
On 4/4/2009 at 10:32 PM, soundminded said:

That seems to bother you. The fact is, that there are few other speakers ever made whose bass capabilities can match that of AR9 for loud deep low distortion output. I know from first hand experience. One day I nearly shattered all 28 panes of glass in my music room simultaneously with the opening chord of Copland's Organ Symphony. But they do require careful placement to get the best from them and not 4 feet from the wall behind them, more like 2 inches. Other than that, they have refined the best attributes of a direct firing loudspeaker pioneered by the heritage of AR3, AR3a, AR10pi, and AR303. They solved the problem of coupling the woofer to the dome midrange by adding an 8" lower midrange. This allowed both the 12" drivers and dome upper midrange to restrict their operation to frequency bands they are best suited for. The tweeter does not have the dispersion of AR3a, 10pi and certainly not LST but it is better than most 1" tweeters commonly used today. Other than that it has similar assets and shortcomings of other direct firing speakers. The alternative of a single driver (one way) systems does not work. Every one I heard had a miserably inaccurate and inadequate treble and except for further modifying original Bose 901 and pumping even more power into it, most have inadequate bass as well. Systems requiring an outboard subwoofer to reproduce the lowest frequencies do not have the advantages of AR9's unique method of system integration. Read Tim Holl's excellent write up in the library section of this site and you will see how ingenious it is.

What ever happened to Tim Holl?

 

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On 4/4/2009 at 7:26 PM, ar_pro said:

The AR-9 just might not be to his taste, or perhaps he's unfamiliar with a legitimate, full-range loudspeaker.

My experience has shown that many "audiophiles" are scared off by systems with true deep-bass capability, believing such a thing to be at odds with "tunefulness", "rhythm", "pace", or whatever other BS expression they've learned to regurgitate from the High-End press.

Shrill, thin-sounding, loudspeakers that "image" are now common, and extended LF reproduction is not considered to be the attribute that it once was.

What sort of speaker does your pal prefer?

'Shrill, thin-sounding, loudspeakers that "image" are now common, and extended LF reproduction is not considered to be the attribute that it once was.'  That is exactly what I heard at a 'high end' stereo store here in Phoenix. I wanted to run out screaming. I always say that bass costs money. Whether it is speakers, amplifiers, or even phono cartridges(the stylus has to be able to handle those wild excursions), it will cost. As far as imaging, my AR 3a's and 6's image very well. To the point where it seems that I could reach out and touch some 3D entity. I just use that old method of aiming the speakers so that the left tweeter is aimed at my left ear and the right tweeter is aimed at my right ear. In short, just the slight and right amount of toe-in. 

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Pull a pair of AR9's or AR90's away from the walls, toe them in a bit, and they image extremely well...between, behind and even sidewall-imaging when the program material allows for it.   It's the same trick used by the audio salons with their top-end speakers.   The AR's bass suffers a bit but is still epic.   Besides, that's what tone controls/equalizers are for.   AR even mentions as much in their instructions for those who cannot place the speakers against the back of the long wall as recommended.

I never tried this with my AR5's or 3a's when I had them, but Phxjohn is getting those imagine results with his classics.

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