Jump to content

14's from the landfill


Recommended Posts

I finally got around to working on the 14's that I brought home from the dump.  I was originally going to just salvage the woofers but you guys convinced me that they should be restored.

Stripped the cabs which were not too bad, got tweeters from the bay and made masonite grills.  Woofers were done with the boston foams. Caps are waiting for a larger order but they sound pretty good as is.

These will be in my garage system.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations on your find and the superb finishing work.  As AR's answer to the Large Advent Speaker, I'd love to get my hands on a pair!  I sold my AR-3a's in 1976 due repetitive driver blow-outs (I was severely under-powering the speakers) and replaced them with Large Advents, which although I tried to talk my self into, never really pleased me.  Knowing their lineage, those AR-14's likely address the main failing of the Large Advent - uneven and edgy response in the upper mid-range and treble.


Rich W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The AR-14 was introduced in 1976 as part of the second wave of the ADD family of products, following the AR-10π, 11 and MST/1. The 12, 14 and 16 came out more or less together, in the spring of 1976.

The 12 and 14 used the newest version of the 10-inch woofer, mounted, as AR put it in their lit, “in a cabinet the same size as we use for our 12-inch models.” The thought was that the slightly larger internal volume would enable the 12 and 14 to respond a bit deeper than the 2ax and 5. The 12 and 14 were spec’d as -3dB @ 44Hz, which was not directly comparable to the 2ax and 5 since AR never actually spec’d those models’ 3dB down point.

In any event, any “improvement” in LF response over the 2ax and 5 was minimal at best. The 12 and 14’s bass sounded exactly the same as the 2ax and 5, to my ears, and nowhere near in the same league as the 3a/11.

Yes, the 14 was an all-out assault on the Large Advent, but it missed the mark quite badly from a sales and marketing perspective. First of all, the Advent’s success was based on its 3a-level bass at half the price of a 3a. Loud pounding rock music in your dorm room at BU in 1974? Yup, the Advent delivered, in spades. The 2ax was dull in comparison and didn’t have the bass of the Advent. Secondly, the dealers didn't trust AR, since the Classic series before the ADDs was unprofitable for retailers to sell because of wide-spread mail-order discounting, while the Advents were very selectively-distributed, which assured the dealers' profitability.

Was the Advent a little uneven and hard-sounding in the mids-lower treble? I guess so, but not to an extent that anyone really objected to, given its amazing sales.

The 14 (and 12) were incredible improvements over the Advent in M-HF smoothness. The 14 started out life with the then-popular Peerless 1” dome tweeter, but changed shortly to an AR-built 1” dome. The tweeters had a resonance of around 1050Hz and crossed over at 1300Hz, which was idiotic design. Conventional wisdom says cross over a minimum of one octave above resonance, which meant around 2000Hz.

I remember A-B’ing them vs. the Large Advent in Harvard Square in Cambridge in 1976 and the ARs made the Advent sound like a honky, over-midrangy mess. But the Advent had that bass, and the ARs couldn’t match that.

Also, the Large Advent in Utility (vinyl) finish was $102 ea. The Advent in real walnut veneer was a steal at $116 each. The AR-14 was $140 each—way, way off the mark for the typical 18-25 year-old customer. The AR-12 was $225 each and I’d venture to say that it was as big and total a sales flop as the AR-5 had been before it.

AR continually misread the market and misread their own product strengths. AR’s biggest market strength was their 12-inch bass. Look at the AR products that made its reputation and still today command the big collector’s dollars: The AR-1, 3, 3a, LST, 11, 10π, 9. Far, far more than the 2ax, 5, 12, 14.

If AR had wanted to really take on the Large Advent in the 1971-1977 timeframe, they would have needed to do a speaker that had equal or very close to 3a/11-like bass. The “smooth mid-treble” response of the 12 and 14 didn’t do it. Not by a long shot.

Steve F.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apropos of the thought in this thread that the AR-14 was supposed to battle the Large Advent, but failed, I am of the opinion that it was the famous and desirable AR 12-inch bass that made the biggest difference in salability (at a given price), not smoothness of AR’s MF-HF response.

The AR-5 and AR-12 were complete sales flops in spite of their MF-HF acoustic excellence, because at their relatively high prices, the customer demanded 12-inch bass response.

Let’s look at a phrase I coined several years ago when discussing the 4xa and LST-II:

“Parts bin engineering”

That’s the thought that you literally take a look in your parts bin, see what you already have (no inventing/tooling brand-new parts is allowed), and re-shuffle them into a new product.

With the goal of combating the Large Advent, let’s look at the (then recently discontinued) AR-1x:

12-inch Woofer? Yup, existed.

1x/3a Cabinet? Yup, existed.

AR-14 1” tweeter? Yup, existed.

2-way crossover? Yup, existed.

(OK, this is the one exception to the “no new parts allowed” rule, because a slightly different crossover is merely a matter of ordering different value caps and chokes from your supplier, and you’re doing that every week anyway, just like ordering pens and paper from Staples.)

So the “AR-1ax” will have the 12-inch woofer with the 1” dome tweeter. It’ll sound great. It’ll cross over at 1300Hz, a tad high for the 12” woofer, but know what? it’ll make it, just fine. Really.

(And before you howl about midrange dispersion from a 12-inch woofer, do the math, ok? 13560/Driver piston diameter = Frequency limit of good dispersion. AR’s “small” 12-inch woofer has a mid-surround-to-mid-surround piston diameter of about 10 inches. 13560/10 = 1356Hz. So a 1300Hz x-over is fine. And no, the AR 12-inch woofer is not too “slow” to reproduce those frequencies.)


Now, the cost analysis, using the AR-5 as a basis of comparison (from the AR Parts Price List):

Go from the 5’s 10-inch woofer to the 12-inch woofer: +$20

Go from the 5’s 1 ½-inch dome mid to the AR-14’s 1-inch dome tweeter: -$27

Eliminate the 5’s 3/4-inch dome tweeter: -$24.5

Go from the 5’s 3-way crossover to a 2-way crossover: -$20

That’s a net cost reduction of $51.50 relative to the 5. Divide that by two to get wholesale cost, because those are retail prices, so the actual cost differential is $25.75 lower cost than the AR-5. That translates into a retail differential of about $50 per speaker.

That means instead of the non-selling flop of an AR-5 at $175 ea, AR could have had an “AR-1ax” at $144 ea. (the 1x’s $194 retail price—which was obviously insanely inflated, since the AR-2x was $102—less $50), with AR’s famous 12-inch bass and the smooth upper mids and highs of the AR-14. (A tad rough in the midrange? Maybe....but no worse than the large Advent.)

$144 for the 1ax instead of $175 for the 5? Now you’re talkin.’

And the parts were just sitting there, waiting to be used.


Steve F.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...