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Thread: AR-9 review

  1. #1

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    Default AR-9 review

    Running the risk of talking too much about my new toys, I thought I'd give a more thorough rundown of my new toys. I've had 'em a couple weeks now so I thought I'd share.

    Rather than cut and paste, for the tech info on them click HERE.

    Really, it's tough for me to accurately describe these. As I've said before, I've heard or owned speakers that, individually, exceeded the performance of the AR-9's in a particual fashion. For example, the DQ-10's were more holographic in the mids. The SDA's, obviously, throw a much wider soundstage. The Carver's dug deeper. The AL-III's (and Maggies) more transparent. However, in EACH case, the AR-9 isn't bested by a lot. However, a more complete speaker, I don't know if I've encountered.

    True, the upper registers ulitmately lack SOME air however the smooth rolloff does make some recordings that include a lot of tape hiss more palatable nor does it detract from the enjoyment of, say, Paganini's Violom Concerto #1 that LIVES in the upper registers. That particular recording can EASILY become harsh and fatiguing but the AR-9's soften it just enough to really enjoy.

    The premise of the acoustic blanket is to improve imaging. Without getting into the tech mumbo jumbo, I'd say it works in spades. These things image like nobody's business. Precise and not very placement critical. While I would say the Carver Amazings probably convey the presence of an entire symphony better, again, I'd say not by much and precise localization within the symphony is maybe just a tad better with the AR's. The 1812 Overature by Telarc is a good example. The Carver's had better scale but the AR's have a little better micro dynamics within the frame of the orchestra.

    The AR-9's are far and away the flattest speakers I've ever heard in my living room. The way the drivers are crossed over is said to counteract resonances within the speaker to give it flat response. Dahlquist addressed this by other methods and was successful, IMHO, until the bottom end. The woofer never integrated, IMHO, as well as the other drivers. The overall sound while not as transparent as a planar design appears as seamless and coherent as any I've heard except maybe a true full range electrostat. Rossini's overatures, particularly William Tell, have a lot of dynamic range and it's easy for a speaker with an emphasis in one range to let that portion dominate the music, however, I've yet to encounter that with the AR-9's. The bass as good as it is (think of the William Tell finale), doesn't seem to obscure the rest of the performance.

    Now, as good as the bass performance is on the AR's, which is DAMN good the best part, for me, is the layering and soundstage depth. I've yet to hear a speaker that projects depth front to back as good as the AR-9. On single mic'd recordings (VTL - Josh Sklair) I'm actually hearing things BEHIND me. No ****, behind me. I've got sound projecting, I'd swear, yards, behind the speakers. The size and scale of the sounds correspond precisely to the distance relative to the front of the soundstage. Eerie, I tell you.

    Well, that's about it for now. I'm going to stop short of saying these are my all time favorite speakers because I just don't know. Too much to factor in plus there is the element of sentimentality. I think it is fair to say that they will not be embarrased in any department by any speaker at any price and that's pretty damn good.

    BDT

    Associated equipment:

    Sources: Philips DVD963SA (primary), ARXA TT, Jolida JD100, Polk XM tuna
    Preamp: Sunfire Classic Vacuum tube
    Amp: Classe Model 25
    Wires/cables: Kimber/Signal
    Last edited by TroyD; 12-19-2005 at 10:21 AM.
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  2. #2

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    Those sound like really nice speakers, can't wait to hear your new stuff.

    Hold on, when did you get that Sunfire? Man you are getting all new stuff!
    Last edited by hoosier21; 12-19-2005 at 10:27 AM.
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    Where is the remote? Where is the $%#$% remote!

    "I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us have...very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad..."

  3. #3
    Old Polk
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    Very nice review, BDT! Another speaker I'd love to hear.

    Can you elaborate on this from the specs, please?

    "The output of the lower-midrange, upper-midrange and highrange drivers are controlled by switchable resistor networks."

  4. #4

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    "The premise of the acoustic blanket is to improve imaging. Without getting into the tech mumbo jumbo, I'd say it works in spades."

    I have always thought that stuff is a great idea, I wonder why it's not used more often?
    Dodd - Battery Preamp
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    Sony DVP-NS999ES - SACD player
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    DIY Stereo Subwoofer towers w/(4) 12 drivers each
    Crown K1 - Subwoofer amp
    Outlaw ICBM - crossover
    Beringher BFD - sub eq

    Where is the remote? Where is the $%#$% remote!

    "I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us have...very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad..."

  5. #5

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    Gee, I wonder where that Sunfire came from... :D

    Mike,

    They have attenuators switchable from 0db, +3db, +6db. I run them flat.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  6. #6
    Old Polk
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    Ah! Have you tried any other settings?

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    You perfectly described my feelings of my 1980-something AR9Lsi's. At first they seem a bit veiled or overly neutral (if there is such a thing), but after extended listening you really appreciate the listenability and smooth integration of all the drivers--they almost sound like a single full-range driver setup. What a great speaker. Enjoy!

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    I've tried tricking up the top end but didn't care for it. The others, why mess with a good thing?

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  9. #9

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    Nice Review, lets set something up for a personal listening experience reel soon.

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    Cool!!!

    I love acoustic suspension speakers. Own a few myself. Once I get the surrounds redone on the Advent Maestros, I'll put them in the main rig for a good listen. I've never got to hear them with a tube pre and 315 wpc. I'll bet they will sound incredible. They can handle up the 750 peak and 250 or so rms. I know that when I brought them back home with me, I hooked them up to the little AMC 2100 and they sounded great, even with the surrounds being bad. They were always run on HK seperates back in the day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    I'm actually hearing things BEHIND me. No ****, behind me. I've got sound projecting, I'd swear, yards, behind the speakers.
    You dumbass,
    That is the neighbors pounding on the door because of all the noise!

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    Wasn't this supposed to be like the "original" NHT 3.3?

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    Quote Originally Posted by marker
    Wasn't this supposed to be like the "original" NHT 3.3?
    Aside from Ken previously working at AR, among others....what on earth does the 3.3 have to do with the AR9?

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    I'm not aware of a relationship between the NHT 3.3 and the AR9. I'm not sure when Ken came on board at AR, but the AR9 was designed by Tim Holl.

    The NHT may well have sought to recreate some of the features of the AR9 but I really couldn't tell you.

    Big Ted,

    C'mon up.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai
    Aside from Ken previously working at AR, among others....what on earth does the 3.3 have to do with the AR9?
    Well besides what you already pointed out yourself, can't you see the very obvious similarities between them?

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    I'm not aware of a relationship between the NHT 3.3 and the AR9. I'm not sure when Ken came on board at AR, but the AR9 was designed by Tim Holl.

    The NHT may well have sought to recreate some of the features of the AR9 but I really couldn't tell you.

    Big Ted,

    C'mon up.

    BDT
    I believe it clearly played a big role, whether intentionally or subconsciously, in Ken's initial vision and design of the 3.3.

    The AR9 was IMO clearly WAY ahead of it's own time as to how it tried to seperate the lower bass from the upper frequencies, almost as a harbinger of the things to come in subsequent sub/sat world we live in today.

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    Clearly? How exactly.

    Does that mean everything with a side firing woofer was inspired by the AR9? I think not.

  18. #18
    Old School
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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    I think it is fair to say that they will not be embarrased in any department by any speaker at any price and that's pretty damn good.
    I just had a Julian Hirsch flashback. :D

    Nice write up.
    More later,
    Tour...
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai
    Clearly? How exactly.

    Does that mean everything with a side firing woofer was inspired by the AR9? I think not.
    They have FAR more in common than simply low, side-firing woofers. To name a few: acoustic suspension design (even for the woofers), relatively narrow front cabinets that extend the upper frequency drivers "out" into the room and away from the rear wall almost like a seperate mini-monitor on stands, very similar driver sizes and configurations, etc.

    It's not like Ken just conjured up all of this new stuff on his own from out of the blue. From the 3.3 (and even the 2.9 for that matter), to the VT-3/VT-2 (and VT-2.4), through to the current NHT T6/T5, and even the soon to be released new Classic Four tower, they all have had these same basic traits and characteristics.

    I'm talking off the cuff here without actually looking up the specs on driver sizes for sure, but NHT T6 is probably the best, closest actual current production resurrection of the AR9 concept going today - dual 12" sealed woofers, dual 6", 4", tweeter.

  20. #20

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    In terms of tonal character, listen to Energy's Connoisseur line; talk about "AR-like" from top to bottom.

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  21. #21

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    Marker - I can see where you're coming from in that respect, sure. I digress...it's certainly utilizing similar ideas. I remember a discussion on AVS about AR and NHT similarities.
    Last edited by dorokusai; 12-20-2005 at 08:23 PM.

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    Isn't someone selling NHT's in the flea market? Or trying to rather?

    They have no more to do with each other, than any other 2 large speakers. Lots of similarities in the speaker world, doesn't make them copies of each other.
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuSsMaN
    Isn't someone selling NHT's in the flea market? Or trying to rather?
    Not anymore, they are long gone now:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/NHT-VT3-speaker-...QQcmdZViewItem

    Quote Originally Posted by RuSsMaN
    They have no more to do with each other, than any other 2 large speakers.
    Really? I can certianly see some similarities in them. Obviously, you must not. Oh, wait, maybe you do after all, as evidenced in your next line here:

    Quote Originally Posted by RuSsMaN
    Lots of similarities in the speaker world, doesn't make them copies of each other.
    This is seemingly contradicting yourself from your previous line, but in any case, where did anyone say they were exact copies of each other?

    Anyways, back to topic (and sorry for the hijack Troy), are there any newer updated driver replacements for the AR9's, like Polk's new tweeters for SDA's?

  24. #24

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    I've read that some NHT woofers are drop in replacements for some older AR models....I don't know anymore than that. I think that was also on AVS.

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    Never heard that, but the 1059 and 1259 NHT woofs are legendary in their own right. They pretty much owned the DIY sub market for some time, and are still big players today.

    I still miss my 2.5's and dual Sub Two's. Why did I sell those again?
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

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    Some have used, from what I gather over on the AR forum, the 1259 NHT woofer as a replacement to the original AR woofer but it's not the same and not something that I would do. I general don't care to 'Hunter-up' ;) speakers. For the most part, especially with higher end speakers, they were designed with a purpose.

    BDT
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  27. #27

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    Hunter up. GOLD There's a wack job from days gone by.

    The original AR/ Advent/ Boston woofs, although not very fancy, or technically advanced by todays standards, are near bullet proof. I can't tell you how many speakers from the aforementioned manufacturers I've had roll through rancho de audio, with ZERO foam left and sagging - that came RIGHT back to life with a new surround.

    God love the paper cone, I'm still not sure it can be beat for tone, even with all the new composite materials in use today. BIG paper woofs. Yeah. Tone baby.
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuSsMaN
    God love the paper cone, I'm still not sure it can be beat for tone, even with all the new composite materials in use today. BIG paper woofs. Yeah. Tone baby.
    Ain't that the truth, 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. Amazing with all the tecnological advancements that many of these old dogs are still king of the hill.

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  29. #29

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    The "9 inch" woofer from the Smaller Advents is one of the most amazing designs I've ever seen/heard. Now they are almost impossible to replace, so if you have any, you'd better take care of them, because they are what made that little speaker what it is/was.
    My pair have been restored except for the cabinets. They got new voice coils and surrounds and simply sound fabulous for 33 year old speakers. Give them about 75-100 clean high current watts and they'll sing you a beautiful tune. :)
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  30. #30

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    Great review, BDT! Glad you're enjoying the speakers. Do you have pics?
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