Steve F Posted November 10, 2015 Report Share Posted November 10, 2015 Why did AR do the LST? That’s an intriguing question. The first thing you need to know is that products take a very long time to go from a ‘napkin sketch’ to finished goods that are shipping out the door. If it’s a product based on an existing product—filling in a gap in an existing product line, like, say, the AR-5—then those can be done in perhaps 9 months to a year, at the very fastest. It just takes longer than people realize to design things, prototype them, get sample parts in, approve them, fend off the inevitable schedule-ruining interference from the “higher-ups,” etc. etc. That’s for an AR-5, about as “simple” a design/introduction process as a company is likely to have.The LST was intro’d in fall 1971, meaning it was probably a glimmer in someone’s eye at AR in 1969. In 1969, AR still ruled the roost. Advent and EPI hadn’t yet made any impact and the 4x-[1st-gen]2ax-3a were the stars of the day.So did Roy Allison say to someone, “You know, we could do this speaker with four ea. of the 3a’s mids and tweets, angle them and the thing would have truly flat power response in the forward hemisphere. Recording studios would eat it up, they’d jump at the opportunity to have a recording monitor as accurate, and repeatable as their best electronics.”Maybe he or someone else actually said that.Or maybe it was something like, “You know, if we took 4 ea. of the 3a’s mids and tweets, angled them, we’d have a speaker that could handle enough power in the mid-high end to have a flat power response in the forward hemisphere. We could do it. It’d be cool.”“Why would we want to do that? What the heck would we do with it? Who’d buy it?”“Beats the heck outta me. But we’d get great reviews and publicity for having the “World’s Best Speaker,” and we could leverage that PR to the bank. Who knows? Maybe some recording studio would want the thing.”And then in a very rare stroke of marketing genius, AR decided to sell the LST to individuals only by “special permission”: the customer had to place an order at an ‘authorized’ AR LST dealer, pay for them up front, and then IIRC, AR would ship them directly to the customer’s home. Ooooooo…..so secret…..so special. (In time, of course, you could simply buy them at the store.)As a product, the LST was one of the truly great audio products of all time. The autotransformer feature must’ve taken quite a while to design and perfect, as did the decision on what the spectral balance would be for each of the six transformer positions. I can imagine hours of listening and many hours of arguing. I’ve been there, many times. I’ve read that AR minimized the inevitable interference between all those closely-spaced mids and tweeters and that also must’ve taken a lot of prototype cabinets and a lot of listening and measuring.Remember also, the LST was done eons before there was today’s degree of automated computer analysis and measurement, so every curve was swept individually, mic placed by hand, the pen scrolling out the curve on the moving graph paper. Tedious.Considering the amount of discussion over exactly what to make, how many drivers, pointing in what direction at what angle (this is known as the ‘product definition,’ and settling on a hard def—a “frozen def” as we say— is often the hardest part of the entire process), the drawing of the cab, sending it out for samples, getting quotes from prospective vendors (assuming anyone even wanted to make a crazy cabinet like that!), doing all the measurements and listening, etc.----man! I’m surprised they could do this in just two years. Maybe they started the LST in 1965!Gentlemen, you simply listen to and enjoy the LST as a finished speaker. But as someone who has spent many decades on the inside and has been part of the conception/engineering/manufacturing/marketing process for countless products from Bose, BA and Atlantic Technology, I can’t even begin to imagine the complexity involved in bringing an earth-shattering product like the LST to market. Even beyond the “Manhattan Project” nature of the nearly-equally-impossible AR9, because the LST was done mostly by hand. (Much like Apollo 13 that flew to the moon in 1969, being designed and engineered mostly by hand.)However much you respect and admire this speaker, double it. No, quadruple it.Steve F. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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