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AR's TSW line (1980s)


claudel
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I was wondering whether any of the members here have owned or had experience with any of the speakers in the TSW line. Recently, eBay has been listing quite a few of the first-generation models from the line (i.e., without the A or B suffix), and some of them are going for very attractive prices.

Thanks in advance for any comments.

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I bought a pair of TSW610 for my son. I had to refoam the 12" woofer and 6" mids. They sound pretty decent. We did an A/B test with a pair of AR91. They held their own. Bass was a tad better in the 91 and tweeter was pretty even. The mid on the 91 was much better. My son loves them.

<edit> The 91's had been recapped w/ poly film caps but not the 610's

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4 hours ago, Carlspeak said:

I upgraded the TSW 910 crossover.

My hat's off to you! Even when I was younger (much, much younger), I lacked both the expertise and steady hands to have a go at something like that.

Alas, the 910s are way too large and inappropriate for my present space—an apartment with paper-thin walls, floors, and ceilings and neighbors on every side. If I had more seclusion and/or sound isolation, I'd have no trouble using my Acoustat Spectra 1100s (I've used nothing but headphones for ten years), which stand like silent sentinels in my living room, or my AR58Bs, whose woofers have needed refoaming for a heck of a long time. I thought that, given the eBay prices, a pair of smaller TSW speakers (100, 110, 210) might enable me to shed the headphones, especially if they were seated on styrofoam and further isolated with Sorbothane.

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7 hours ago, DavidR said:

I bought a pair of TSW610 … They sound pretty decent. We did an A/B test with a pair of AR91. They held their own. Bass was a tad better in the 91 and tweeter was pretty even. The mid on the 91 was much better. …

Thanks for the comparison, David. I too have always liked the AR91.

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I posted this back in Nov 2013. You may find it interesting. I owned TSW105's and 110's, which I used as extension speakers around the house. They were ok, but nothing special.

 

The TSW ("Titanium Solid Wood" series, although AR insiders referred to them as the "This Sh*t Works" series) speakers were intro'd around 1987 and was a line that went from the 6" 2-way TSW100 all the way up to the double-12" TSW910. Other models were dropped in after the original family was introduced--a powered and passive TSW105, a double-8" TSW710 and then an upgraded series that featured a 15 numerical suffix, instead of the 10 (215, 315, 415, etc.)

They were ok 'conventional' speakers--not groudbreaking, but not offensive.

The 810 was a double 10" model, sort of the "90" to the 910's "9," if you will. I do not remember if the 810 is bi-ampable, but I know the TSW lit is in the CSP Library.

Here's what I just recently said about the 910:

Posted 10 November 2013 - 10:23 PM

I have written extensively about the 910 and their place/reason for being in AR's history. Do a search.

The TSW series from 1987-ish was an ok line of product, but it broke no new ground, nor did it try to. A "play it safe" line of speakers. The 910 was a pure formulaic product: you could almost hear the Head of Marketing saying, "OK we need a big floorstander, with two 12's and a model number with a '9', so people remember the original AR-9.Oh, and let's bring back that Blanket thing, too. We got some good credit for that."

That was the 910. In a June 1987 review, Julian Hirsch--the biggest AR booster there ever was--struggled vainly to find good things to say about it, closing his review with a damn-with-faint-praise line of "Few would tire of its easy smooth sound."

Really, Julian? "Few would tire"? That's the best you could muster? "Few would tire"?

For the 3, 3a, LST and 9, it was the "best I have ever measured or heard." For the 910, it's "Few would tire."

Don't break the bank getting the 910's.

Steve F.

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I worked at BA with two engineers who were at AR at the time of the TSW's. Both were great engineers and great guys. One of them became BA's head transducer guy, developing all sorts of terrific drivers during the time I was there. A great curmudgeon, never really happy with anything, but he pursued driver design with a relentless desire to make great-sounding units that could be easily manufactured at reasonable costs. We had some astonishing drivers that didn't cost an arm and a leg, and could zip off our production line in high volume with under a 1% reject rate to +/- 1dB tolerances. That's what world-class engineering is all about.

The other went on to become BA's lead system engineer, and did/oversaw the majority of finished products engineering. He was a major player in the TSW's. Apparently right after the Connoisseurs in the 84-85 timeframe, AR was toying around with pulling out all the stops and doing a line of self-powered/EQ'd speakers of incredibly high performance (and no doubt, pretty high pricing as well).

But they chickened out, played it safe, and did the TSW's instead. I almost bought TSW810's, but I bought Connoisseur 50t's instead. I ended up giving the 50's to my dad, who got rid of them in favor of some nice BA VR40 towers. I have since gotten 9's, which I like about a light year or two more than the Connoisseur 50t's.

Steve F.

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Steve, if I may go off topic and as a question....

Did BA develop the filleted foam surround? Those foam surrounds I bought from MWA were all referred to as BA surrounds. I've used them for other woofers as well. They worked and fitted great as replacements for AR4x fabric or foam surrounds.

I'm presuming whomever, developed the filleted surround was inspired by AR's use in later years of applying a clear soft polymer bead around the inside of the foam's roll. It's clearly specified on some of the AR woofer drawings. Of course, I strongly suspect AR found out that filling in of the inside corner of the foam's roll significantly dampened cone edge break up modes. 

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Yes, those were surrounds from the HD series of bookshelf speakers, I believe. The CR (Compact Reference series) of bookshelf speakers that came out in 1994 to replace the HDs used butyl rubber surrounds, as did all BA speakers from that point on (except for a few subwoofers here and there).

The name "filleted foam" was not a BA name; it's a name that has been given to these surrounds for ID purposes by aftermarket suppliers and hobbyists/restorers. Internally at BA, it just had a part number.

Steve F.

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In addition to my 3a's, I own a set of TSW 610's. The voice of these speaker systems is totally different. While the 3a's are bass heavy and laid back, the 610's are much, much, much brighter. 

There is no question those titanium domes put out far more SPL than the 3a domes.

Last December when my 30 year old amp died, I bought a new amp that allowed for extremely easy bi-amping. In short, with the remote, I can vary power sent to each half of the 610's. (Now to do this required that I bring out a separate terminal/wire to separate the woofers from the other drivers. The 610's don't come with that three terminal system found in the older AR's. They also don't come with those "self-destruct" pots.)

So now I can balance the 610's to my liking (my amp has digital volume controls so getting equal or unequal voltage to each side is very simple ... oops forgot to mention, all 4 amps are in a single box). So how do I balance?  What's most pleasurable to me is the mids/tweeter amp slightly behind the woofer amp. Again that's what I like in my room, on my set of 610's, listening to music I like.

Obviously, YMMV.

Now, the "elephant in the room" is which system sounds better?  Well, that is not a simple question to answer. Each system has it advantages and disadvantages. If you want raw SPL, the 610's will run rings around the 3a's. No question power was a design consideration in the 610's. Unfortunately, that means nothing to me! Both systems can played far louder in their respective rooms than I would find comfortable.

Another huge difference is sound dispersion. Here the 3a's really shine. That is, when you get a little ways off axis on the 610's, high frequencies really drop off and it's quite noticable. My den is quite small and I am forced to separate the speakers way too much. The 610's sounded awful in that room, yet the 3a's work just fine. In my large family room, the 610's are positioned mid wall and separated the recommended distance vs the listening position. In this room, the 610's with their focused mid frequencies sound great.

In summary, I like both systems and each performs well in the rooms they currently reside. In terms of voicing, via bi-amping both systems, I find I adjust as follows:

1. 3a - I always prefer the mid/tweeter amp ahead of the woofer amp (i.e. more voltage to mids/tweeters than to woofers)

2. 610 - just the reverse, more voltage to woofers than to mids/tweeters

Once the systems are adjusted as above, it's remarkable how similar they sound. There are minor differences, however, such as the 610's still exhibit superior high frequencies while the 3a's do a better job on the very lowest frequencies. Again, let me emphasize, these differences are very, very minor and require listening very closely with multiple recordings.

Regards,

Jerry

 

 

 

 

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I don't know about the rest of you but I hate the way they did the xover board. I much prefer the point to point style. On the 610's I'm going to have to un-solder the pcb from the terminal posts (and replace the posts for sure) and will probably relocate the pcb on the bottom of the speaker cabinet using some stand-offs.

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17 hours ago, Steve F said:

They were ok 'conventional' speakers--not groundbreaking, but not offensive.…

Really, Julian? "Few would tire"? That's the best you could muster? "Few would tire"?

Steve F.

Thanks to Steve and everyone else for very revealing comments. I am persuaded that the smart play is to give the TSW series a pass, whatever the price.

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23 hours ago, DavidR said:

I don't know about the rest of you but I hate the way they did the xover board. I much prefer the point to point style. On the 610's I'm going to have to un-solder the pcb from the terminal posts (and replace the posts for sure) and will probably relocate the pcb on the bottom of the speaker cabinet using some stand-offs.

David, if you are going to all that effort, you might as well bring two terminals out as well. This way you could at some time in the future, bi-amp the 610's. Since the 610's come with no controls, why not provide some?

Regards,

Jerry

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6 hours ago, DavidR said:

How much are they selling for?

There are half a dozen auctions, variously for the 100, 110, and 210, with prices ranging from fifty to one hundred fifty bucks, usually plus shipping. The best price, $50, is for a pickup-only pair of the 100s. The gent selling them lives only fifteen miles away from me.

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49 minutes ago, onplane said:

David, if you are going to all that effort, you might as well bring two terminals out as well. This way you could at some time in the future, bi-amp the 610's. Since the 610's come with no controls, why not provide some?

Regards,

Jerry

Thanks for the idea Jerry. They are my son's and I doubt he'd be interested in that. He was a kid who thought all he ever needed was his Apple mp3 player. Then I gave him my Carver MXR150 receiver and an original pair of Klipsch Heresy with a docking station for his iTouch. You've never seen such a big smile. And today he knows what is better. Also, he loves vinyl the best.

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