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ar 4,4x,4ax


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The AR-4x was the successor to the AR-4, AR’s first "small" speaker. The 4x was introduced in the 1965-6 timeframe. It had an 8" woofer with a treated cloth surround and a 2 1/2" tweeter. The change from the original 4 to the 4x entailed the replacing of the 4’s 3 1/2" tweeter (the same driver used as the midrange in both old and new 2ax's, and used as the tweeter in the original 2x) with the 2 1/2" cone tweeter (the same driver as in the ‘new’ 2x and the 1x.) The AR-4 crossed over at 2000 Hz to its 3 1/2" tweeter.

In the May 1966 Consumer Reports magazine, the 4x received a spectacular rating, clearly outdistancing all the other speakers tested in a 22-model comparison roundup. "…the best of the lot, the AR-4x, handled these upper ranges as well as any other speaker, no matter how big or expensive, ever put through its paces in our laboratory," they said. And also, "The smoothest response in the test, and one of the smoothest, widest-range loudspeakers ever tested by Consumer Reports."

Julian Hirsch, speaking in Stereo Review said, "This frequency response would be remarkable for any speaker, and in our experience is unique for any speaker in the price class of the AR-4x…We know of no competitively-priced speaker that can compare with it."

High Fidelity magazine said in 1967, "In direct A-B comparison with the costlier AR-2ax, there are moments when the two are indistinguishable."

The 4x was a truly groundbreaking product, delivering first-rate smoothness and musical accuracy in a manageable size at an affordable price.

The 4x’s 8" woofer had a free-air resonance of 30Hz, and it was mounted in an enclosure of .654 cu. ft. volume, resulting in a system resonance of 65Hz. The woofer crossed over to the 2 1/2" tweeter at 1200Hz. The low crossover frequency allowed the 4x to maintain an extremely smooth power response in the midrange, because the tweeter was brought in long before the directional effects of the woofer’s midrange response became objectionable. Some people claim that the low tweeter crossover caused the tweeter to be fragile and prone to blowing, but we never once had a problem in 7 years (1968-1975), playing a wide variety of jazz and classical music at healthy volumes, using a 60 watt RMS/channel Sherwood S-7900A receiver.

In 1973-4, AR changed the 4x to the 4xa. The biggest change was to replace the 2 1/2" tweeter with the same 1 1/4" tweeter used in the 6 and 7. The 4xa had a crossover of 1600 Hz, a bit higher than the 4x's 1200 Hz.

Also, by time of the 4xa, the woofer had a foam surround, whereas virtually all 4x's and the 4's had cloth surrounds.

The 4 was $ 51/57 unfinished/finished.

The 4x started out the same price as the 4, but went to $57/63.

I don't remember the price of the 4xa, because, quite frankly, that model never caught my interest. The 6 above it and the 7 below it were far better values and the 4xa was a redundant, unnecessary model.

Steve F.

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Great write-up by Steve F! I would only add that the AR-4x was introduced in October, 1965, only one year after the AR-4 was introduced. Although the AR-4 had great reviews, the AR-4x's sonic performance was significantly improved in most regards. The AR-4x was used along with the AR-3 (one at a time) in the live-versus-recorded demonstration of the 1910 Nickelodeon at the 1966 New York High Fidelity Music Show, and it did nearly as good a job as the AR-3 in reproducing the nickelodeon.

The AR-4xa was introduced mid-year in 1973 in "Walnut Grain" (read "vinyl") at $75.00 SRP alongside the AR-4x, which was still listed at $68. As Steve implied, the AR-4xa never caught great interest and did not sell in great numbers as had the AR-4x. The AR-4xa was not a great improvement over the AR-4x—and cost more—but by this time the AR-6 and AR-7 filled the niche for low-cost, high-performance loudspeakers.

--Tom Tyson

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