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Austin AR Discoveries....2nd...


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AR Acquisition #2

This hobby being a borderline obsession, I quickly came to realize that I wanted (needed) another AR-1 to see what a pair playing back at me would be like. The AR-1W and Janszen are nice, but there is something about the Altec that is more pure and neutral than anything else I have come across (to my ears).

However, with going e-bay rates of between $800 to $1800 for a single, seemingly "good condition" AR-1 (plus shipping/handling) that route to making the pair was nigh impassable. While I could easily justify the expense (to myself) successfully communicating that fact to the other owner of our joint funds would prove problematic at best.

Plan B was to find something “just as good” (to my ears) and then sell the AR-1/AR-1W/Janszen combination to pay for it.

I was wandering through a local Goodwill a couple months ago when I came upon a pair of AR-92s for $29.99. I read up on their pedigree (smart phone with internet connection has proven invaluable in making these types of thrift decisions - speed is essential as good gear rarely stays more than a day). They seemed a potential candidate for replacement and came home with me.

The cabinets were in not great shape but the woofers, mids, and tweeters were spotless. Each mid was slightly dimpled, but quick pass with shop vac brought those out. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take "before" photos until "after"...


I think these were stored hard rather than played hard; no water rings, no cigarette burns, etc. On each the protective peel-off plastic covering the AR-92 badges was/is still in place. What they did have were many nicks and scrapes in places where stacking and unstacking would prove hazardous – corners, straight edges, etc.


Biggest issue was a three inch strip at the bottom of one cabinet where it had absorbed water only there and the MDF (sigh, not real wood) had swollen. I used a razor saw to cut the bulge off flush with the rest of the cabinet back, removed the remaining soft/loose water damaged mdf and then used body filler for the void – just like rust in a vehicle. Some sanding and painting and all is good on the cabinet. The vinyl (plastic?) veneer was in good shape, no missing chunks and only marred on the aforementioned edges.


The grill cloth was also trashed so I ordered some almond colored material from e-bay and recovered the grills. I think they look different and somewhat elegant in that color. It was relayed to me that last week's Bunco players (all female, I run from that event) gave almond grills collective thumbs' up over black cloth.

But, while they sound really good, they did not sound as good as my AR-1 setup on an A/B comparison. To me they lacked a stripped down/neutral presence that makes almost anything played on the AR-1/AR-1W/Janszen combination seem to be just the music as live as possible. They did, however, sound better than either a KLH 17 or 23; which are no slouches and we are perhaps treading on subjectivity here. Nonetheless, if I did not have the AR1 combo I would have kept these - but at 4 ohms they too need a lot of power to shine.

The AR-92s I plan to soon sell as there are a pair of Klipsch KG-4s sitting in a thrift for just over 100$ and I have never heard Klipsch.....

On the weekend adventurer side, my hunt for a matching AR-1 within my budget (which means the estate/garage sale circuit here in Austin) continues......

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Anthropologo Bravo! re: your finds. The guys are just fooling with you. Many have no doubt found and saved wonderful speakers at "the right price." I'm a very big fan of the town dump (AR3a's for $0, and my introduction to the classic speaker addiction), as well as the curbside when driving around (KLH17's for $0). Like you, I'm hugely relieved to be back in the future with hugely magnificient great sound. Keep on cruising! Nice descriptions, BTW....

If, like me, you're not a techno-wiz, you'll find an abundance of true expertise on this web forum. I'm happy to have been guided through the rebuilding process of my classic speakers.

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