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AR Bi Amp Hybrids (ActiveXover Stacks) CR65, AR581w, AR51w, AR358s, AR98T


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Occasionally the question arises as to which AR speaker sounds the best. Of course, the answer is a subjective judgement but if one reads the product literature from the classic period, a stated goal of AR was to make their speakers sound the same.      

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The graphs above, taken from the 1975 product brochure, show the AR5, 3a, LST and LST2 will all sound the same, above 500hz, to a listener positioned, in relation to the speakers, as depicted in Fig2

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Below 500hz, they will also sound the same except at lower frequencies where woofer size and room boundaries affect bass performance.   Additionally, if the Allison guidelines for 2pi placement are followed, all these models can be made to sound indistinguishable to the limits of their performance capabilities.

The graphs also apply to the ADD dome systems and even to the AR9 Vertical series, though the area of uniform power response of the Verticals was intentionally narrowed.  

Beginning with the AR3a and ending with the AR58S, all AR speakers that used dome mid-ranges can be made to sound the same because the drivers are fundamentally the same units, only modified in appearance and sturdiness.

 

The Main Differences: The top-of- the-line speaker of each generation made it easier to achieve deep flat bass performance in a home listening room.  The LSTs could be placed against a wall, rather than in it, as required by the 3a and 11. The AR10pi had circuitry to achieve 2Pi bass output without regard to boundaries.  The AR9 and AR90 yielded near automatic, very deep, flat bass if placed asymmetrically against the narrow wall of a rectangular room.  The 91 and 92 had their woofers positioned higher off the floor with additional circuitry to give pretty good results when placed on the floor near a rear wall.

All these speakers can be made to sound the same or practically the same above 200hz, if their placement is identical with respect to the listener as suggested in Fig2.

Technically, there is no best sounding AR speaker from the roughly 15-year span in question. There are only differences in the amount of futzing around with placement, level controls and electronics required to achieve the sound that pleases you.

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