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Help identify my ARs


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No, the 8's were not available in 1971. The photo of your father's speakers indicates a Velcro grille attachment, which AR only switched to in the '73 or '74 time frame. I had 2ax's that I'd purchased in Feb '72, and their grilles were glued on, as were all AR grilles at that time.

I'm not questioning your family's time line, but there is a conflict between this photo of AR-8's, their 73-74 intro date, their Velcro grille attachment, and your father's ownership of AR speakers prior to April 1971.

I suppose it is possible that he had 2x's and someone modified them to use the 1 1/4" tweeter and a Velcro grille attachment. (The 2x had a back-wired 2 1/2" cone tweeter; these have a front-wired 1 1/4" tweeter. Someone would have had to have gone to a lot of trouble to do that kind of modification, but it is possible, I guess.)

2x's had real walnut veneer cabinets; 8's were vinyl. What are these?

Steve F.

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Looking at your photos again, I'm reasonably certain these are AR-8's. The 8 had a 2-position tweeter control like the one shown in your photo; the 2x had a variable potentiometer, from 'Decrease' to 'Increase.' I'm leaving it to you to reconcile the 8's intro date ('73-'74) with your father's AR ownership date (prior to April 1971).

Here is my post from August 2004:

The AR-8 has always held a special, if dubious, place in the succession of AR speakers. It was arguably the very last of the original “classic” line. It followed the AR-7 by about a year, being introduced in the late ‘73/early ’74 time frame. Roy Allison had, of course, departed AR in late 1972; I’m not sure who did the 8. It certainly wasn’t one of Roy’s designs!

The 8 marked the beginning of AR’s marketing “dark period” from 1973-1975. AR struggled horribly during this time, completely blindsided and unprepared for the college-age baby-boomer stereo buying spree that took place on campuses across the country from 1968-1977. What a time for the stereo industry! Kids would put their speakers in their dorm windows and shower the Boston sidewalks with music on Saturday mornings—Alman Brothers, ELP, Carly Simon, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tower of Power, Santana. To be of college age and living in Boston (the highest concentration of college kids AND speaker manufacturers in the country) in the early 70’s was a rare treat indeed. Once in a lifetime.

And poor AR missed the party even though it was held on their home turf of Boston-Cambridge. Stuck in their hopelessly outdated mode of advertising and marketing stogy old speakers to middle-aged engineers, AR watched helplessly as Advent and EPI zoomed past them with timely, modern products marketed and aimed at the younger audience—college kids, not 50 year-old GE engineers—and advertised those products with a hip, relaxed, with-it attitude. Were AR speakers good products? You bet. But did AR blow a once in a lifetime opportunity with misdirected marketing? You bet.

So there was the AR-8, the quintessential symbol of AR’s confusion and marketing ineptitude. It was introduced with the worst advertising tagline in the history of the high-fidelity industry: “The first accurate speaker for rock music.” In the body copy of the ad, AR went on to say, to virtually ADMIT, that their past speakers were lacking in highs, even though rock music lovers have “long appreciated the deep, strong bass of AR speakers.” They then proceeded to say that the “increase” position of the AR-8’s tweeter level control would produce the “more exaggerated, sharper, harder high frequencies” appropriate for rock music.

Huh? What happened to AR’s legendary musical accuracy? What a confused message. It appealed to no one. The 8 didn’t sound particularly good, it looked just like a vinyl-wrapped 2ax, it was no match for the Large Advent, it wasn’t profitable for the dealer to sell—it was a forgettable failure. But the 8 is interesting in historical retrospect for precisely those reasons. The 4xa also falls into this time frame and was likewise a speaker without any particular reason for being, since AR had the 6 and 7 already covering the 8” 2-way market.

Not until the 1975 introduction of the ADD line did AR get back on track, but the BIG market bubble had pretty much burst by then. The VCR came on the scene in 1976-77, the decade-long stereo component heyday was over, and AR had missed it. Most of the baby-boomers were out of college by the late ‘70’s, and they were getting married, buying VCR’s and getting cable TV for the first time. Timing is everything and AR’s was lousy.

Steve F.

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