Vintage AR3 speakers with AVR and power amp?

DavidFleminger

DavidFleminger

Audiophyte
Hi. I'm putting together a system with older components and would love any advice.

First, the set up: I recently restored a lovely pair of vintage AR3 speakers, inherited from my uncle. They sound great! I currently have them connected to an old AVR (Yamaha RX-V467). I haven't connected any other speakers apart from a subwoofer (don't need surround sound).

The audio signal goes from the TV to the AVR via HDMI. I stream everything through the TV (not a gamer, so no other inputs). I might add a CD player at a later stage. The TV doesn't have analogue outs.

First question: is it risky to drive the AR3s with the AVR? It's a big room but I don't listen at very high volumes. I've also set the speaker size to small and have a subwoofer. There is no sign of clipping so far but when I turn the volume up a bit, certain sounds seem to 'ring' and sound harsh (e.g. high trumpet notes, top notes in Opera arias, etc.). My main worry is that the AVR will blow the tweeters in the AR3s. Is this a legitimate concern?

I have been told that due to the low impedance AR3s, I should connect a separate power amp. So, a friend gave his old Cambridge Audio Azur 640A. It has the right specs for the AR3s. Only problem is that the Yamaha AVR only has a pre out for subwoofer and back surround. There are other Audio outs but 'digital audio cannot be transmitted from these jacks'. Is there any way to connect the Yamaha AVR to the power amp? I really don't want to spend the money on a new AVR when all I'm going to do is drive stereo speakers and a subwoofer.

Hope this all makes sense.

Any opinions welcome. Thanks for your time.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Hi. I'm putting together a system with older components and would love any advice.

First, the set up: I recently restored a lovely pair of vintage AR3 speakers, inherited from my uncle. They sound great! I currently have them connected to an old AVR (Yamaha RX-V467). I haven't connected any other speakers apart from a subwoofer (don't need surround sound).

The audio signal goes from the TV to the AVR via HDMI. I stream everything through the TV (not a gamer, so no other inputs). I might add a CD player at a later stage. The TV doesn't have analogue outs.

First question: is it risky to drive the AR3s with the AVR? It's a big room but I don't listen at very high volumes. I've also set the speaker size to small and have a subwoofer. There is no sign of clipping so far but when I turn the volume up a bit, certain sounds seem to 'ring' and sound harsh (e.g. high trumpet notes, top notes in Opera arias, etc.). My main worry is that the AVR will blow the tweeters in the AR3s. Is this a legitimate concern?

I have been told that due to the low impedance AR3s, I should connect a separate power amp. So, a friend gave his old Cambridge Audio Azur 640A. It has the right specs for the AR3s. Only problem is that the Yamaha AVR only has a pre out for subwoofer and back surround. There are other Audio outs but 'digital audio cannot be transmitted from these jacks'. Is there any way to connect the Yamaha AVR to the power amp? I really don't want to spend the money on a new AVR when all I'm going to do is drive stereo speakers and a subwoofer.

Hope this all makes sense.

Any opinions welcome. Thanks for your time.
Yes, you do have a legitimate concern. Those speakers are pre ferro fluid in the VC gap which cools the VC. If I remember correctly those tweeters were made for AR by Peerless. Those tweeters are known to be somewhat frail. I have come across AR3 with blown tweeters. Amp powers back then were much lower than they are now, so you do need to take care.

They are a classic speaker, but probably now better kept for show than regular use. From what you say, you are probably overdriving that speaker, although it is hard to know. You can not drive that amp with your current AVR, you need one with preouts.

If you are an opera buff, those speakers are probably not suitable for your purposes. There has been a lot of progress since those speakers appeared.

However you need to be careful, as you have tastes for the most demanding program material, as do I.

You do need to be discriminating in a new speaker search. There are far more speakers than not, that will fail to satisfy on that type of program.
 
DavidFleminger

DavidFleminger

Audiophyte
Thanks. I do love the sound they make, just want to make sure they have the support they need. Would a high-low converter be a terrible idea, to bridge the AVR and the amp?
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Yes, you do have a legitimate concern. Those speakers are pre ferro fluid in the VC gap which cools the VC. If I remember correctly those tweeters were made for AR by Peerless. Those tweeters are known to be somewhat frail. I have come across AR3 with blown tweeters. Amp powers back then were much lower than they are now, so you do need to take care.

They are a classic speaker, but probably now better kept for show than regular use. From what you say, you are probably overdriving that speaker, although it is hard to know. You can not drive that amp with your current AVR, you need one with preouts.

If you are an opera buff, those speakers are probably not suitable for your purposes. There has been a lot of progress since those speakers appeared.

However you need to be careful, as you have tastes for the most demanding program material, as do I.

You do need to be discriminating in a new speaker search. There are far more speakers than not, that will fail to satisfy on that type of program.
Yes, it would be an absolutely terrible idea. If you want to use those speakers, just keep the volume low. If it sounds harsh on the highs, then it is time to turn the volume down.

I don't think you want to be wedded to those speakers for regular use. I restored a set of those for someone years ago. My honest opinion was that they were nothing very special, they were just not a bad as most of the other speakers of that era. I was designing and building speakers that would ace those, even when they were new.

Keep them as a memento and move on. OK, they are a classic of the era, but now they are a curio and museum exhibit.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I have been told that due to the low impedance AR3s, I should connect a separate power amp. So, a friend gave his old Cambridge Audio Azur 640A. It has the right specs for the AR3s. Only problem is that the Yamaha AVR only has a pre out for subwoofer and back surround. There are other Audio outs but 'digital audio cannot be transmitted from these jacks'. Is there any way to connect the Yamaha AVR to the power amp? I really don't want to spend the money on a new AVR when all I'm going to do is drive stereo speakers and a subwoofer.

Hope this all makes sense.

Any opinions welcome. Thanks for your time.
I can't find the specs for the AR3 but I would assume, like most AR speakers, certainly the AR3a, are 4 ohm rated.
The AR3a, if well preserved would be a treasure, for me anyway.

The Azur 640A is not that much more powerful than your Yamaha AVR (for two channel use) but it is definitely a safer bet. Ultimately you are in control, just don't turn the volume up too high if you don't want to damage your new found treasure.

Those speakers are really not suitable for HT use imo, so why not just use it with the 640A.
 
DavidFleminger

DavidFleminger

Audiophyte
Thanks. Yeah, the AR3s are rated 4 ohm and I know they're an odd choice.

Truth is I was just using the internal TV speakers, which sounded terrible, and decided on a whim to try my uncle's old AR3s (they'd been sitting in a cupboard for 12 years). They worked and sounded great so I took them in for a service and fell down a rabbit hole!

Now, they've had a cone treatment, the crossovers have been rewired and the tweeters and mid ranges have been re-seated. All original components, as far as I can tell. And I just love the sound.

So, I want to use them for my TV, basically. Just as stereo speakers with a subwoofer to handle the very low frequencies. I stream everything through the TV (Netflix, Spotify, etc.). And the AR3s handle everything beautifully. One day, I'll connect a CD player. I don't have or want any surround sound drivers.

The current issue started when I heard some random audio dropout, which I assume was clipping. That's when I found out that I shouldn't use an AVR to drive the AR3s. And here we are...

A weird setup? Probably, but I wasn't in the market for new speakers, AVR, etc. Was just trying to use what's available to me. And did I mention that I love the sound? :)
 
Last edited:
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
So, I want to use them for my TV, basically. Just as stereo speakers with a subwoofer to handle the very low frequencies. I stream everything through the TV (Netflix, Spotify, etc.). And the AR3s handle everything beautifully. One day, I'll connect a CD player. I don't have or want any surround sound drivers.

The current issue started when I heard some random audio dropout, which I assume was clipping. That's when I found out that I shouldn't use an AVR to drive the AR3s. And here we are...

A weird setup? Probably, but I wasn't in the market for new speakers, AVR, etc. Was just trying to use what's available to me. And did I mention that I love the sound? :)
You can certainly use it in you hometheater setup, just remember that the AR acoustic suspension (truly acoustic suspension, not just sealed..) speakers are inherently not very efficient. And being truly 4 ohm nominal, they need more current to sound good, but if the amp is pushed to its clipping point you risk blowing the mid range and/or tweeters and if not, more than their 100 W rated power handling, you risk blowing the woofers. Basically they are not designed to play loud, relatively speaking.
 
DavidFleminger

DavidFleminger

Audiophyte
Thanks for all the feedback. Much appreciated. Learning as I go...
 

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