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Acoustic Research AR3
23 Reviews
rating  4.04 of 5
MSRP  2500.00
Description: 3-way Tower w/built-in 300W powered 12 inch subwoofer


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Reviews 1 - 5 (23 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Ryan L a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: December 10, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I have had my AR3s for about 2 years and I still really enjoy them. Even though all audio reviews are subjective, it would be pretty ridiculous to say that they are unbelievable and the best speakers ever. That's a pretty narrow perspective on what a speaker ought to be. I would however say that they are right on the cusp of audiophile (an intro to high end, if you will), and will perform very well when set up right, but they aren't perfect. No speakers are. Don't get me wrong, I really love these speakers, but I am aware of their limitations. For the price, I really don't know of any speaker that gives you so much for this amount, especially given that retailers have been liquidating these for a song.

The build/finish: The Ar3s come packaged very well and are a very impressive 87 pounds each. Mine are black and the laminate finish is of average quality (where sections of the laminate meet at the corners is smooth, but not very smooth), but the cabinet itself is strong and feels very rigid from reinforcement. The back panel is very impressive, as it looks more like a powered sub than a speaker. The terminals are very high quality and lock very positively on any spade. The spiked feet are rather weak where they join the screw post. Any accidental dragging across carpet (even a little--by an unknowing roomate) can break the post as I have done with one of mine. You have to walk them slowly, which is a pain when setting them up.
The grills are decent, they fit well, and make the speakers look rather menacing. I do think that the plastic AR logo insert on the grills is a little . . . well, plasticky.

The Setup: I have experimented a lot with these, and I have found that they are very placement sensitive (just like every reviewer), but not just for the bass. These need to be about 1 foot away from your back wall, at least 6 feet apart, and should be toed in. Mine are so toed in that I can't see the inside side panels from my listening position. This creates a rather narrow sweet spot, but the imaginng is fantaistic. These really responded to upgrades in cables. I started with cheapo stuff, upgraded to Monster Z1 and saw a huge improvement in the soundstaging and dynamics. I recently switched to The Music Cable - Gold Reference, and wow, that really improved the imaging MUCH more than I expected. I guess that's kind of a plug for TMC products, but well deserved.

The sound: They tend to be a bit warm in mid-high range, and then trail off at the very extreme high end. This is common for speakers in this price category and you usually have to spend a lot to get really crisp highs that extend way up there (to get the feel of the leading edge of those cymbal crashes). At the bottom end of the mids (just before you get to the crossover point for the subs) is a bit mushy. You can really tell this when you listen to THX filter sweeps. The sounds starts to trail off and sound a little confused just before the tone gets into the "feel it just as much as hear it" range (probabaly around 100-150Hz).
Then there is the bass. I initially bought these just because of the subs, and they really are spectacular. They extend very, very low, down to 20Hz. You hear the 20 Hz claim made on a lot of white sheets for subs, but often they don't deliver. These will bring a grin from ear to ear the first time you hear then make the drop. I have a lot of friends with nice systems, and they never fail to be impressed by how low these get. I will admit that they can sound a bit confused and boomy at the very bottom end, but I suspect that is just as much a product of my room accoustics as it is the AR3s. All side-firing subs are prone to placement issues. It is really noticeable with these. If you walk around the room while a hard techno track is being played, you can hear a dramatic difference in both the depth and focus depending upon where you stand. Unfortunately, at my listening position, I can hear a little bit of 'trail-off' in the low notes (focused kick drums recorded in the studio can sound more like tympany for an orchestra recorded in a concert hall in the way there is a sort of 'decay' to the sound). I know that sounds negative, but I am just being as critical as possible.
The soundstage is quite good, especially with a small number of instruments, like a jazz quartet. Once you get into large groups like orchestras, then it starts to sound a bit shallow.

I really like these speakers and they continually impress my guests, even those who are enthusiasts. That is not to say that they are Class A. They simply wet your appetite because they start to show you what is possible in high end sound. When I can afford Wilsons or Revels or Martin Logans or Nautilous 800s, then I will buy those speakers, but for now, I can sit and immensely enjoy my AR3s and know that I got them for a song.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $700.00

Purchased At:   ubid



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Alex a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 8, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Very clean, warm sound. Sound quality is up there with speakers in the 1,000 -2,000 dollar range. I am not sure who keeps writing those fake reviews saying the tweeters have blown out. I have never had a problem with the tweeters on mine. The people who had problems with the tweeters probably created the problems themselves by abusing the speakers. I'm sure AR would be out of business if they produced 1500 dollar speakers that had the tweeters blow out.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1000.00



Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by water a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: July 2, 2003

Bottom Line:   
These speaker are crap both tweeters quit working and AR has no customer service.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2002



Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by James a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 24, 2003

Bottom Line:   
The speakers were cheap ($700) and you get what you pay for. I have been running these at moderate volume level for about a year and both tweeters stopped working. I haven't gone over 1/3 volume on my 100 watt Harmon reciever. Also the crossover is poorly designed making the bass a but muttled for me.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2002



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Roland a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: April 17, 2002

Bottom Line:   
These speakers sound better every time I play them. They get very loud but remain clean and not harsh, very easy on the ears at loud volume. Use them as mains for stereo and fronts for HT, no Sub required. They have great bottom end (among the best I've ever heard) and the mids and highs are smooth (not as pronounced as my ADS L980). Overall I am very satisfied.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast




Reviews 1 - 5 (23 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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