out of the closet: I seem to be an AR4x fan (?!)

mhardy6647

Señor Member
So -- late last fall (if memory serves) Mrs. H and I were drivin' down the Brook Road in our microscopic town, en route to our daughter & son-in-law's place (about 1/2 hour away). Brook Road, with characteristic Yankee nominative directness :), follows the course of a brook and is, not coincidentally, kind of windy (with a long "i" sound). As I rounded a bend, I espied a small pair of walnut boxes with white linen-ish grilles. Speakers! My sense from their morphology and form factor: perhaps a pair of Dynaco A25s. Manifesting great willpower, I kept going -- but of course I started grumbling with regrets almost immediately. "Ah, well, maybe they'll be there when we come home!" I remarked wistfully to Mrs. H.

They were. Turns out, they were a pair of AR4xs, in pretty good condition for left by the side of the road (and on a day with some sporadic rain). I grabbed them suckas, put 'em in the back of the Soobie, and schlepped 'em on home. At home, I dried 'em off and put 'em in a corner of the basment, where they spent the winter.

Fast forward to late spring 2021. As we made ready to visit our son & his new(ish) wife in their first home together in VA, he mentioned that, now that he was/they were in a proper house for the first time, he kinda sorta wanted a proper hifi. I started thinking about small-ish, good-ish speaker options, and the aforementioned orphaned AR4xs were on my mental short list. I had never even peeked under the grilles, much less tried them. I went downstairs and found that the grilles were already loose. First disappointment -- the tweeter in one of them had been replaced with a small coax car speaker (branded Pioneer, IIRC). Well, that's unfortunate. I tried 'em anyway and discovered a couple-three things. All drivers were working, the "replacement tweeter" was considerably brighter than the other AR4x's tweeter, and the tweeter adjustment on the hacked AR4x was inoperative. As it turned out, the pot had been bypassed in the hacked speaker, although a low-resistance (2 ohm, if memory serves) power resistor was added in (??) an attempt to pad the treble down a bit.

Undaunted, I sourced a pair of AR4x tweeters from one of the vacuum tube hifi gurus down in western Massachusetts. When I got it, I was disappointed to see that the tweeter cutout on the hacked AR4x had been enlarged a bit -- to the point that the AR4x tweeter would drop right through it, albeit just barely.

Well... hack begets hack, so I took a scrap of thin plywood I had (which happens to be painted white) and freehanded an adaptor ring for the correct tweeter using a jigsaw.

Now -- I wouldn't tell you all of this if there weren't a happy ending. The reanimated AR4x worked fine (although, in full disclosure, I just left the tweeter level pot out of the circuit... 'cause I am preternaturally lazy, as y'all know). As it happens, I don't ever recall having ever heard, or even seen, a pair of any of the AR4 family members in the flesh before. My expectations were fairly low -- I was expecting distant, reticent, polite, power-hungry, and undynamic loudspeakers. Here's the thing: I really like these. Mind you: the tweeter pots are bypassed (which is probably a Bad Idea on paper, but, for the time being, at least, I actually don't much care). The crossovers are unrestored (other than my removing the added resistor from the hacked speaker) -- but these are really, really pleasant to listen to. I am using that old, dump-find Yamaha AVR that has become my go-to "high power" amplification source to drive them: the pairing sounds good quiet or (yes, even) loud.

I... I... like these things. There, I "said" it. :o
Feels good to get that off my chest.

DSC_0804 (2) by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
(Sorry that things upstairs are in even more disarray than usual -- it's that time of year when we're busier outside than inside.)

They were, truth be told, one of three pairs of potential candidate loudspeakers I had identified for our son & daughter-in-law. When all was said & done, I decided to take them a pair of CSW Sixes that have been taking up space here for a couple of decades because they (also) sounded good and were clearly more sensitive than the ARs (good for the amplifier they'll be using).

I actually thought this story would be more interesting than it's turned out to be! Sorry about that.
At any rate: I was surprised by enjoyability of the lowly AR4x.

Thoughts? :)
 
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kirk57

Junior Member
AR February 1971 Brochure P12
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
yup.
Good enough for Judy Blue Eyes = good enough for me.

PS We saw her & Stephen Stills a couple of years back at the Lebanon (NH) opera house, and you know what? As old and road-worn as they both are... it was a quite enjoyable show. :)
 
A friend recently acquired housing, after a few years living with relatives and then being displaced due to rising rates and shrinking square footage per dollar.

Doug, another friend, and myself gifted the fella a housewarming gift of a vintage KLH receiver, a Pioneer CD player, a repaired Technics Turntable (with an Audio Technica cartridge, lower model, of which I fitted an aftermarket no-name Japanese stylus and surprisingly ended up sounding very competitive with some pricy carts I’ve heard), and a set of AR4x. Lastly, a fistful of CDs and a short stack of records.

Later, when I asked my friend what he th out of the stereo setup, his response was one word- revelatory.

After a decades long auditory diet of run of the mill noise generators and most recently sound squawking out of portable pitiful players, the AR4x were the high water mark in his listening experiences and he’s amassed 76 records in… “record” time.

It’s a truly transformative experience when one goes from a loud, boisterous and showy speaker, or a strictly budget based noise box with sound seemingly an afterthought, to something crafted, albeit with budget constraints in mind, to actually fulfill the goal of sounding honest, pleasant and correct.

This is the AR4X.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I heard a pair once at a get together and liked them. But I myself had two pairs that, as found, didn't sound anything like those pairs...and I didn't like them. That's one of the hazards of this vintage stuff- we're often not really discussing the same thing, because of the damage that time and condition can inflict.

I'm hopefully going to have a home office soon and I'm debating whether to try to wedge my Harbeth SHL-5s in there, or whether to do a full vintage setup....which I haven't had in years.
 
I heard a pair once at a get together and liked them. But I myself had two pairs that, as found, didn't sound anything like those pairs...and I didn't like them. That's one of the hazards of this vintage stuff- we're often not really discussing the same thing, because of the damage that time and condition can inflict.
Absolutely true, but does it ever stop us from doing it?

So... here's my apples to bananas take on a bunch of vintage speakers. Of the four major bookshelf speakers of this era pitched at more or less the MSRP of 4Xs, I like the 4Xs the best. In fact, I might even like them better than the other ARs I've heard.

In short, I like 4Xs. Were any of the speakers I'm talking about operating optimally? Kinda doubt it.
 

Fran604g

Just Call Me Junior
I have a pair-and-a-half that I restored several years ago, and like them very much. 2 of them teamed up with the Topping TP60, is lacking nothing other than true ear drum bursting SPL. A little light in the low range, but then I have 604s and AR3as for my main system.

The pots will cause fits of frustration if, like me, you try to salvage them instead of replacing them.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I liked my Dynaco A25s....were they in the same price bracket? But I also had the earlier ones with the vent on the top of the baffle- and don't know what they sound like compared to the later ones. My AR4xs sounded really dull and flat but who knows what was going on with them? They were from the same seller, but other than that I have no idea about their history and never really checked their condition as at the time I was almost walled-in by a tower of vintage speakers and their as-found sound didn't intrigue me enough to do much with them. But, as I said, I'd heard a pair later on that I liked so?
 
I liked my Dynaco A25s....were they in the same price bracket?
My guess is that they were, give or take a little. The other speakers in this group that I had in mind were the Smaller Advent, Epi 100, and Dynaco A25, and, for me, it was always a close call between the Dynacos and the ARs. Of course, it's been a long while since I've had all of the above around here at the same time, so, who knows, I might even rank them in some other order if I did. They all had their strengths, they all had their weaknesses. None of them were bad.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
Dynaco A25 vs. AR4x prices, you ask?
You know, there's this thing called teh webz... it's amazing. Y'all should check it out sometime.
:smoke


LRE 1971 speaker comparo bw.jpg

In seriousness, prices were unstable during much of the '70s, and so comparing two products' prices really has to be done in the same calendar year (at least!). The 1971 Lafayette catalog, fortuitously, contained both the AR4x and the A25, so we can compare them "apples to apples".

As a not-unrelated aside, the third pair of speakers I considered for our son & daughter-in-law was a surplus pair of A25s that are here. This particular pair I hadn't tried before. When I did fire 'em up, I found, to my chagrin, that one had a dead tweeter. :( Also, they're quite a bit larger than either the CSW Six or the AR4x. I decided not to work on re-tweetering them at this time.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member

Get to work!
"Get thee behind me, Satan!"

;)

Besides the aforementioned, hemi-tweetered pair, there is (umm, are?) a fully functional pair of A25s here -- a pair which I bought, used, for my parents ca. 1979 or 80 from Gramophone, Ltd. just north of Baltimore (for $75). They were like new when I bought them -- my parents used 'em for basically the rest of their lives, but they're pretty beat up now. They work fine, though. Plus, there's a dump-find pair of A35s here that look pretty good & work fine, so I am not all that motivated at the moment.
But thanks for the link! :)

There're also, as I think I've mentioned before, three pairs of KLH Sixes here, too -- of which I have only one pair with both tweeters working. So... lots of opportunity, you know? :cool:
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
"Get thee behind me, Satan!"

;)

Besides the aforementioned, hemi-tweetered pair, there is (umm, are?) a fully functional pair of A25s here -- a pair which I bought, used, for my parents ca. 1979 or 80 from Gramophone, Ltd. just north of Baltimore (for $75). They were like new when I bought them -- my parents used 'em for basically the rest of their lives, but they're pretty beat up now. They work fine, though. Plus, there's a dump-find pair of A35s here that look pretty good & work fine, so I am not all that motivated at the moment.
But thanks for the link! :)

There're also, as I think I've mentioned before, three pairs of KLH Sixes here, too -- of which I have only one pair with both tweeters working. So... lots of opportunity, you know? :cool:
You sound like somebody with a basement.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
You sound like somebody with a basement.
sadly, yes.
And a big attic, but so far we've I've* been pretty good about not putting much cr@p up there.
So far.

EDIT: PS That's a pretty good B-I-N price for that Dynaco tweeter... :confused::rolleyes:
_________________
* I am, not surprisingly, the major problem when it comes to utilization of available space here. :confused: :o
 
I started this dance of ours with a discovery of just how good a set of AR 2ax were. Led me down the AR fanboy aisle for several years culminating with the granddaddy of them all the AR9. Amongst all of that yes, the 4x were special indeed, especially for a small bookshelf speaker. There are several that have been browlifters along the way including the KLH 17, AR18s and the aforementioned Dynaco A25.
Yes, as hinted at above, JUST REPLACE THE DAMN OLD POTS! And removing any limits on the tweeters is sometimes needed as these tweeters are old and not quite up to the original task otherwise.
I still have a few sets of AR including of course the set of AR3's that I fully restored and spent way too much $ on doing so (had to source a failed mid). When I did those the tweeter restoration hadn't been figured out yet so I should get those done I guess as they really do need it.
The AR9's were moved on after enjoying them immensely, but chasing the correct amps for those just got tiring and I felt they were too big anyway for my lounge. So I made the logical move to big Altecs and KHorns.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
This thread has really made me nostalgic for my early days in this hobby (which were all of 15 years ago). The satisfaction of realizing that old things are better than those who’d written them off had suggested they were- if maybe not as revelatory as the most exuberant would suggest, either. Those were good times, when the next hit didn’t cost thousands.
 

JoeThePop

Known member
You people are killing me here. Every time I have given up the notion of buying some vintage speakers for my basement system, a thread like this starts and I get the itch all over again. I have yet to find anything in the usual places that isn't overpriced (in my opinion anyway). Put vintage in front of anything these days, and people think their old crap is priceless.
 
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