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A-B comparison of old vs new 2ax


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I finally got my first genneration 2ax's up and running. I was pleased when the 38 year old beasts powered up with no problems. Thanks again Tom for the all your advice.

I did promise Steve F that I would do an a-b comparison with my second genneration 2ax's. Here is what I noticed:

The later version has a slightly brighter tweeter. It also seems to have a slightly more open sound. If one is listening very close, the different crossovers are apparent. I also think one can sense the slightly better dispersion. Both versions are very smooth. The two versions had identical bass response. It was exactly like Tom said it would be.

Note: Both versions were bone stock examples

I even tried the dreaded "unmatched pair." Conclusion: Most audio buffs would object to having one of each if they were aware of the differences. For practical purposes, it's not a big deal.

Despite some past criticism on this forum, I don't think the 1 3/8" tweeter is a liability. I am pretty sure it's not "dead above 13k" and I don't think it needs to be replaced by a more "modern" aftermarket unit.


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Brad—Thanks for the follow up!

As you know, the first generation 2ax crossed over from the woofer to the 3 1/2” CTS-built midrange at 2000Hz, and from the mid to the 1 3/8” tweeter at 7500Hz. (I read that “dead above 13kHz” comment about the 1 3/8” tweeter somewhere—I forget where—but I thought it was a ridiculous, inaccurate comment, based on 3rd-hand rumor and hearsay. It certainly has no basis in fact or experience.)

The second-generation 2ax used a new woofer with a foam surround (actually the same woofer as in the AR-5), the new 3/4” tweeter (also the same as in the AR-5), but the same midrange as the older 2ax.

The new 2ax crossed over at appreciably lower frequencies than the previous version: Woofer to mid at 1400Hz; mid to tweeter at 5000Hz. “All things being equal” (now there’s a phrase guaranteed to get you in trouble when talking about speaker design), lower crossover points bring the smaller, wider-dispersion drivers into play earlier, giving the speaker a more open, less “boxy” sound.

From the way you describe their sound, it seems as if the new version is a little less “stuffy,” but they’re both eminently musical, smooth and accurate. If someone owned older 2ax’s, they certainly wouldn’t need to run out and trade in their speakers for new 2ax’s. But the new 2 was a legitimate improvement on an already solid design.

I have always had a soft spot for the new 2ax, since it was my first “real” speaker, and I loved A-B’ing it against all my friends’ Large Advents. Those were fun times.

Good work Brad.

Steve F.

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Although the first genneration 2ax is slightly less open sounding than its predesessor, It is important to note that it in no way lacks clarity.

Upon further review, I noticed that a portion of the older model's midrange is a tad bit brighter. That Diana Krall portion.

I did say that I thought the newer tweeter was slightly brighter. This is a very slight difference and it may have a lot to do with the different crossover point.

I think it's a given that the newer model has higher power handleing capabilities. However, I think someone shopping for a used set of 2ax's, is better off worring more about cabinet condition than which version they should buy.

By the way, who was this CTS company that AR was sourcing drivers from. Didn't they also supply the dual mids of the 2a ?

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The two 5-inch drivers in the AR-2 were inexpensive units made by Carbonneau Industries. From what I’ve read in the past, they were nothing particularly special, having a fairly peaky response and a rising upper end. AR treated them with a damping compound at their outer edge, and I think the undersides of the drivers were damped with fiberglass, which made them suitable for AR's purposes.

Villchur’s goal with the original AR-2 was solid bass and smooth response up to about 13-14kHz; the angled positioning of the 5” drivers provided a broader horizontal dispersion pattern than would have been possible with a single forward-facing 5” driver (when the speaker was lying on its long side, in classic 1950’s-era “bookshelf” configuration).

CTS was an offshoot of a speaker plant that was started by Magnavox in Kentucky in the 1950’s. The plant was later turned over to Chicago Telephone Company (“CTS”). CTS was run by Robert Gault, and the company flourished in the 1960’s, with sales increasing to the $30 million level by the middle of the decade. Gault, by the way, later went on to found Eminence in 1966, an outstanding OEM speaker company. Mr. Gault just recently passed away at the age of 77.

The 3 1/2” driver (the tweeter in the AR-4 and first generation 2x, and the midrange in all the 2ax’s) was a CTS driver. I believe one of the early AR-2x and 2ax series 10” woofers were as well.

Chuck McShane, who worked at AR with Roy Allison on many of his famous designs, came to AR by way of CTS.

Steve F.

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