What to do with 25 year old AR-9s

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lorne, Feb 20, 2002.

  1. Lorne

    Lorne Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2002
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have inherited a pair of AR-9 tower speakers that have to be at least 20 years old and are probably closer to 25 years old. The main speaker cone on one of them is ripped, I'm guessing just from wear associated with age since these speakers have not been physically moved nor really even played all that much since my dad originally bought them. The question is, now that I have them, what do I do with them?
    Is it cost-effective to repair the one that has the ripped cone, or would it make more sense to get a decent pair of new tower speakers? Has technology progressed so much that even basic or middle-of-the-line modern towers will surpass the AR-9s of yesteryear? Can a repairshop even find the parts needed for this 20-25 year old speaker or are the parts needed to repair the speaker generic enough that it's not an issue?
    I'm building my first HT system with middle of the line components to start and this is my first posting here so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Lorne
     
  2. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 1999
    Messages:
    377
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The AR-9 was an exceptional loudspeaker when it was produced. I still own a pair that I purchased new in about 1981. They're used only occasionally today, but they still can provide goosebumps. I am happy to say that they outperform many new floorstanding speakers in the $2,000-6,000 range that I've auditioned recently.

    They're a 4-ohm speaker, so make sure your receiver or amplifier is happy driving a 4-ohm load. They also like a bit of power, so if you play music loud at least 100+ watts of solid amplification is in order.

    Keep in mind that the AR-9s are very detailed, revealing loudspeakers, so the better the associated components, the better they will sound. Harsh, edgy, low-powered receivers should be avoided at all costs.

    AR (acoustic-research.com) still sells replacement drivers for the AR-9, so replacing that damaged woofer is easy. The most common problem is that the foam around the woofers and upper-bass driver usually dries out and crumbles after about 15-20 years. One could buy AR's replacement drivers, of course, or have them refoamed by Newfoam.com or other such repair shops.

    Happy listening!
     
  3. Lorne

    Lorne Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2002
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi Alex, thanks for the great reply. Since you're a fellow AR-9 owner and you mentioned finding a receiver to pair up with these speakers, do you think the Denon 1802 or Onkyo 595 or upcoming 600 would do them justice or would I really need to make a greater investment? If so, what would you suggest, and while we're at it, what should I do for a center channel? Stay with a modern AC center speaker?
    LT
     
  4. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 1999
    Messages:
    377
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Lorne:

    Sorry for the delay, but this is my first opportunity to respond.

    As I said earlier, the AR-9s love to be teamed with excellent components. For several years I used them with some of the best available preamps and power amps (costing $2,000 or more per component), and the ARs responded with glorious reproduction.

    More recently, for my wife's use, they've been teamed with a Carver receiver (a high-current design, conservatively rated at about 120 watts/channel @ 4 ohms), and they still sound quite fine. Of course, the receiver cannot compete with the high-end separates in sound quality or maximum output levels, but the sound is still very enjoyable. My wife loves the system. Thus, my answer is yes, feel free to use a receiver. Just be sure it has a high-current power amp section rated for 4-ohm use (Denon's 1802 probably is; I'm not familiar with the Onkyos you mentioned).

    As for center-channel (or surround) speakers, it will be impossible to find a perfect ready-made match, of course. I've thought about what would blend most closely (I've heard a lot of speakers over the past year or so) and feel that any Vandersteen center would work very well, though they're a bit costly. Any Polk would probably be quite good, too.

    Keep in mind that the AR-9 plays with enormous power, and most centers, with their typically small bass drivers, cannot come close to keeping up. Thus, I would use a Vandersteen or one of Polk's best centers (the LSi, especially) OR skip a center speaker altogether and use the ARs in the receiver's "phantom" mode. If you do buy a center, make sure you can return it for a refund if it doesn't blend well enough.

    Good luck!
     

Share This Page