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Two years to get the AR-3a blues ...


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Frank, any room in your knitting class? I distinctly remember saying I wasn't going to buy anymore speakers this year ... Picked up a set of AR-3a's with lots of issues today. It was almost two years ago to the day that I was reintroduced to the AR family with the AR-5 Formica project which was supposed to take its final form this year but has been waylaid once again.

This is the first pair of AR-3a's I've seen in the area in those two years -- I passed on them the first time, but hey, if there is anything that I learned from Frank it is that, life is short -- art is long.

So, since I was in the neighborhood I thought I would drive by beautiful Lake Tahoe which has succumbed to California's aerial pollution...


Hyatt Regency at Incline Village (center) with South Lake Tahoe obscured by smokey haze.


AR-3a set in the 12,000 serial number range -- cabs with water marks but no major damage and random drivers. I can predict there will be a considerable passage of time before this project takes shape.




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If clean grilles do not hide nasty surprises... they don´t look too bad to start project. Actually they look quite good. Do you really have time for knitting class?


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""but hey, if there is anything that I learned from Frank it is that, life is short -- art is long.""

I'm so happy that you have learned something from my ramblings, there was a hidden message and you have found it grasshopper.

Now Mr. Phelps, your mission is, should you and you better decide to take it, is to buy the set of four more and forget the knitting class. This mission will not be impossible.

Make it a listening class instead.

I do recommend a good vinyl front-end and with your new purchase you can celebrate 'Happy Vinyl Day'  which is a national holiday today. http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-vinyl-record-day-august-12/


I'm truly happy for you Owlsplace. Not to disgrace anyone about the myth of the AR-2ax's bass being better in certain systems, the AR 12 inch woofer is without doubt the speaker to listen to, and is without peer.

 Owning over 20+ spares I have to believe I'm a lover of this almost ugly looking woofer as I believe it's actually beautiful in its own way.


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On 8/12/2016 at 6:46 AM, ra.ra said:

Lookin' good so far.... but "random drivers"? That might be the real challenge here.

You're on to it ... the photo was posed to make them look good; however, ...

Off the top, thought I would sneek a peek this morning before people track me down ... no acoustic seal apparent.

The mids were replaced with 8-ohm Taiwanese domes which were attached using drywall screws after moding the baffle to fit. One tweeter is original but has a bashed in dome and the other tweeter was replaced with a 1983 1-1/4" AR 200038-0 driver with a makeshift ring to fill the space. The rear tabs were broken off and Solder-wik braid soldered to the front for leads. Instead of back wiring the mids the baffle was drilled to pass wires through to original front wiring tabs which is a bit low-ball.


The original driver dates appear to be from June to November 1968 -- always had a fascination with that year for some reason.


The original ICC crossover caps, or at least the ones I measured were within spec surprisingly. The other surprise was the pots -- looks like they are worth the price by themselves. They appear to have been replaced by the later version Pollack pots with double wipers and they look rather nice. Anyone know who Precision Audio is/was? They appear to have done the work.


It looks like the original grills were sacrificed for the refoam operation and one was replaced by a later version with velcro tabs only it was glued back in with a hard, brittle glue which is probably why one of the grills is missing as it was trashed during removal no doubt. At least the front frames were not marred.

Now you know why I said this project would take a while. The guy I got them from had a full wood shop and was doing custom home interiors -- too busy to play around with these.


Trivia Update:

There is a Precision Audio listed in Seattle:

Precision Audio & Video Service

6215 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

(206) 522-7607

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Yep, it will take a while to get these back together to your satisfaction, but you're a little more than half way there already. The 1-1/2" mid drivers are so often the missing link in these restoration efforts, and they are becoming rare and expensive. You may have different ideas already, but one thought I would pursue is to consider adapting a later version of this mid driver (p/n 028 or 032, same driver as the 044 in your AR-58s) to use in this effort.

Hark!... there just happens to be a well-priced pair up for public sale at the moment (auction 232046066121). These were developed for the "9" series of big-boy speakers and are excellent drivers. I may be mis-remembering, but I think I recall an instance where Roy used this driver in a "3" project - - - he even went so far as to pop off the plastic diffuser and replace it with a wire cage to more closely replicate the original driver.  


AR-9 series ad.jpg

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I was thinking along similar lines as I have a spare set of 58s mids and can always put some Hi-Vi's in there if necessary. No hurry at any rate as I'm still working on the 58s when I have the time.


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Great idea, Roger, for both the mids and tweets. Not sure if there might be small modifications to be made if using those drivers, but I'm sure you'll figure it out once this project moves up the priority list. In the meantime, you've snagged yourself a very decent pair of 3a cabs and pots and woofers! :)

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Had a little casual time today and played around with some odd jobs and hacked the crushed tweeter dome. Not sure what it is going to sound like but at least it looks like a dome.


Here is the other tweeter that was in this mashup. Notice the 38 tweeter shows a little inductance. I imagine it is brighter than the original tweeter also. Be curious to remeasure without the braided lead-in wires.


I did mention the original caps looked to be within tolerance on the speaker I measured -- well, I guess that depends on the equipment you are using. Here they don't look very good for the most part.


Almost forgot, polished up the pots -- they are minty looking -- pics later.


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2 hours ago, DavidDru said:

Looking forward to what you can put together on these Roger.  Some good parts to work with.

We've got the smoke here today coming back down to us from a fire northeast of here.  Sucks.

That time of year ...

Will have to pick up a copy of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" to break these back in on when the time comes around since they are from the same era. He appeared in one of the AR-3 ads back in the day. And like the speaker an "appealing thing about Kind of Blue, though it's also a heartbreaking thing: There was no sequel."



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Thanks very much.

I Tweeted the link to my review to Don Cheadle and he appreciated it so much--that I 'got' the movie so completely--that he Tweeted me "Thanks" and then re-Tweeted my link to his 300k+ followers. Made me feel good that I was able to give him the knowledge that at least one person got every single last subtle detail of what he was doing. Right down to Hancock's glasses.

Steve F.

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Nice article, Steve - - haven't yet seen the movie myself, but you should know that Herbie is still sporting distinctive eyewear - - - here's how he looked at a fairly recent series of six lectures he gave at Harvard (note the title of the first lecture.....er, I mean "set"). I was barely out of diapers when Kind of Blue was released, but I've been fortunate to have seen each member of Miles' second great quintet. I look forward to seeing the Cheadle portrayal.

And back to regularly scheduled programming..... Roger, I like that little gizmo you use for measurements, and while the 038 tweeter is definitely not the right tweeter for your project, it's nice to see the attention paid to create the adapter plate to make it a proper fit. It sort of reminded me of this image of a rare AR-1x speaker with a similar plate to fit a smaller driver to a factory cut-out.



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I enjoyed your article, Steve - more than a few people were confused/annoyed by "Miles Ahead", but they were probably looking for something closer to a documentary than a film that riffed on his life. If you haven't already, try listening to the film with headphones (sacrilege!), there's a lot of detail in the mix that's easier to pick up with 'phones.

There's a pretty good UK documentary production from a few years ago that takes a look at Kind Of Blue, as well as Time Out, The Shape Of Jazz To Come, and Charles Mingus' Ah Um. It's available on YouTube:


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/17/2016 at 1:17 AM, VintageMan said:

I just did, and so should you ^_^

Great album!

Some of the family was visiting and we were slumming around Mid-town and stopped into Recycled Records and I bought a copy of "Kind of Blue." My great-nephew who is playing jazz bass? informed me it is the best selling jazz album of all time ...

(ra.ra) somehow I missed your post ... I like that AR-1x (looks like it could be an AR-3) 2-way conversion ...


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On 8/16/2016 at 3:47 PM, ar_pro said:

more than a few people were confused/annoyed by "Miles Ahead", but they were probably looking for something closer to a documentary than a film that riffed on his life.

I was one of those people. Love Miles Davis, loved Don Cheadle's portrayal, hated the fictionalized story.

Steve, your article helped me "get it" a little. Still disappointed, but I sort of get it.


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On 8/16/2016 at 2:53 PM, ra.ra said:

Roger, I like that little gizmo you use for measurements

search ebay for mega328. I have one. They're about $8 shipped from China. You can build your own case for it. Nifty little do-everything gadget.


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