valkyrie Posted March 3, 2017 Report Share Posted March 3, 2017 A few months back there was some discussion concerning which AR three way was the definitive, best sounding unit. As I recall the author had mentioned that he thought the AR-91 was that model, since it was the outcome of the ADD research and used the same midrange and tweeter as the AR-9 family. This discussion piqued my interest as I was looking for a nice AR three way with the 12" woofer to replace my second system AR-2ax. AR3/a are out of the question due to their high prices (> $1000). Rarely does one see an AR-10pi or an AR-11 for sale. Lo and behold - shortly after this topic appeared I found a "nice" set of AR-91 on flea bay. The guy wanted $600 - but this was a cherry set - with the original absorptive pads on the baffle - all of them. Very rare. Cabinets were good - no chipped veneer - some water stains on the top of one speaker - but overall very good. That small still voice told me; "BUY THESE". So I took a flyer and did so. Received them in good shape and put them into play. I was amazed at how good they sounded - just knocked back. The woofer had been new surrounds and I "suspect" that the crossover had been updated - they had that brighter, more forward sound that I associate with a freshened crossover caps (I do not know for sure whether or not this is the case - I have not been into the speakers). So I took them to my audiophile friend's house - and we tested them in his dedicated listening room. Full ARC stack (including the REF-40 preamp and the mono-bloc 210 watt tube amps). A very nice setup. My friend has a FR measurement system so we ran some pink noise plots on these beauties. BTW: there was NO ATTEMPT on our part to optimize the location of the speakers for the room - it was strictly "first seat available" which, in this case meant they were located about 6' apart on a TV stand - with a giant flat screen between them. The rake (or toe in) was arbitrary and the attenuators were set to zero dB. Here is a picture of the setup - looking towards the speakers from the position of the mike - the 91s are on the shelf on each side of the flat screen (I cannot seem to place a photo "in line" so the first attachment is the test setup. The mike is on a boom leaning over the couch with its position about where a head would be. The black panels to the side of the 91s are a set of Tympani I-D (the model without the ribbon tweeter) and the two small speakers on stands are Spendor SP1-2 (English three way from the same approximate era). All of these speakers were compared to the 91s. But first here is the F/R plot - again - no attempt was made to optimize speaker setup - and the speaker cables were BB 14 gauge - no upscale stuff. But the ARC stack was first rate by any standard. The humps and bumps from 120 Hz or so down were no doubt room driven. But really good performance from a very old speaker (I figure about 36 years young). This plot was a done with smoothing - but I cannot remember the value. Overall an excellent performance - both objectively and subjectively imo. Subjectively the 91s crushed the Spendor speakers - rendering the Spendors as rather mechanical and unable to pull out musical textures in complex lines. Against the Maggies the results were equivocal. If you like the Maggie "sound", lots of sound bouncing around all over the place, limited dynamics, and not much in the way of bass - the Maggies were good - but my friend used every tweak and adjustment known to man in setting up the Maggies - while the 91s were just located without any effort at room optimization (and such makes a huge difference in speaker sound). Overall? The 91s are a great bargain - if you like the classic AR sound then that model is indeed a superb speaker. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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