Acoustic Research AR3 Floorstanding Speakers

Acoustic Research AR3 Floorstanding Speakers 

DESCRIPTION

3-way Tower w/built-in 300W powered 12 inch subwoofer

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 23  
[Jul 06, 2008]
Bob D
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Bass sounds, from a bass, a drum, or even a French Horn or a tuba have always been phenomenal/ The midrange and upper registers are wonderfully clear, and beyond the range of my hearing (these days, unfortunately).

Weakness:

Actually, none. I had the L-pad replaced two years ago, because it was corroded, and muddied the sound. The technician said that the soft (non-vinyl) cone supports were of a better quality than present day materials, and would be good for years to come.

I bought my AR3 speakers somewhere around 1965. and have been using them ever since. They are still in use, now powered by a Carver HR742 receiver, but originally powered by an Eico St-70, which I built from a kit, and a Dynaco AM-FM tuner. The sound was full-range and superb from the beginning, from guitars, harps pianos, and violins. Percussion sounds were always ( and still are) clean and precise, and I love these speakers. I originally had a third AR3, and connected the three of them to give a center-channel effect, but one speaker was damaged during my move to florida, when it was dropped from the moving van, and was not in a condition to be repaired.

Customer Service

Except for that repair, I never had to contact AR for any problems.

Similar Products Used:

None

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 10, 2003]
Ryan L
AudioPhile

Strength:

Price - Who are we kidding? This is a lot of speaker for half the price of a Sunfire sub on its own. Vocals: Whether in music or movies, the AR3s resolve exceptionally well. The bass: No brainer. Really deep. Applications Jazz: This is really the AR3s' forte. Especially small group and vocal jazz. These really do perform fantastically. Carmen McRae and Diana Krall never sounded so good. Their voices have so much nuance and resolution with the AR3s. Movies: Fantastic. Very believable and engaging. Rock and other hard studio music: Also great, but nothing sounds as good as jazz. Classical: Here is where you will notice that the soundstaging is a bit forward and shallow.

Weakness:

I hate to say it, but I also have to put the bass in this catefory, too. It is really, really low and deep, but it sounds a bit loose boomy and unfocused sometimes. As best I can tell, this is probably just a problem indemic to side-firing subs, and the fact that these go so low at such high levels may just accentuate the fact that my room accoustics are not optomized. There are a lot of concerns out there about AR as a company. I have nothing to add, but it does concern me. Luckily I have never been in need.

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.

Similar Products Used:

BTW, I have been driving the AR3s with 120 watts each from a Kenwood Sovereign receiver. Others I've auditioned: Klipsch Reference KEF Q-series Definitive Technologies (a bunch) Wilson Audio WATT puppies 7.0 B&W Nautilous 800, 801, 802, 805 . . . Infinity Intermezzo Revel Salon, F50, F30 Martin Logan Ascent Magnepan 20.1 Thiel 3.6 Genelec powered monitors and a bunch of others

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Aug 08, 2003]
Alex
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Very warm clean sound

Weakness:

None that i can think of except for the idiots writing bad reviews on these speakers

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.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jul 02, 2003]
water
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Great paperwieghts, or fire wood

Weakness:

weak tweeters poor cross-overs

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

OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
[Jun 24, 2003]
James
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Cheap

Weakness:

Weak tweeters, cheap crossovers

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.

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
[Apr 17, 2002]
Roland
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Bang for the buck (I paid under $1000), awesome bottom end.

Weakness:

still looking

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.

Similar Products Used:

ADS, Klipsch

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 09, 2001]
jade nguyen
Casual Listener

I am looking for some advice for my new system that can do HT, music and some karaoke. I listened to Klipsch SF2, RF3 klf20 and Definitive Technology BP2006tl. I like the Technology Definitive BP2006tl more. I also heard good things about Acoustic Research AR3. I call the manufacturers up and they all said these speakers are designed for HT and music only. Please give me some advice. Thank you very much.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 19, 2001]
LEE PATRICK
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

LOUD,CLEAN ,PRESCISE. A FULL BODY SOUD THAT IS JUST ABOUT THE BEST AROUND

Weakness:

NONE. AN INSULT TO SAY THERE IS ANY.

THESE SPEAKERS ARE THE VERY BEST I'VE EVER HEARD. WHEN I REDID MY HOME THEATRE SETUP, I WAS DEVASTATED THAT MY BELOVED EPICURE WERE TOO LARGE. I INSTALLED A 61IN HD TV AND THEY WOULD NOT FIT. I LOOKED AT EVERYTHING NOTHING SOUNDED LIKE THE EPICURES.THEN I STUMBLED ON THE AR'S. I HAD AN AR SUB AND WAS VERY PLEASED.MY WIFE AND I ,SHE HAS THE GOOD EAR,WERE LISTING TO ALL THE VERY HIGH END STUFF WHEN I SPOTED THE AR'S. THEY WERE THE RIGHT SHAPE AND THE QUALITY WAS GREAT. THE SALESMAN SAID THEY WERE NOT SO GOOD.
HE PLAYED THEM AND THEY DID SOUND AWFULL. HE WENT AWAY AND I LOOKED BEHIND THE SPEAKER AND I SAW THAT THE AMP WAS NOT PLUGGED IN, AND THEY HAD THESE VERY SMALL WIRES.AS SOON AS THEY WERE HOOKED UP AND PLUGGED IN I KNEW THESE WERE THE ONES.THEY DO NOT SOUND EVEN AS GOOD AS THE CHEAPEST SPEAKERS WITHOUT THE AMP PLUGGED IN. I ALSO INSTALLED THE AR-2 CENTER SPEAKER. I INTEND TO REPLACE THE SURROND INFINITYS WITH ARS ALSO. MY HOME THEATRE SOUNDS BETTER THAN SOME CUSTOM DESIGNS I HAVE HEARD AND MUCH BETTER THAN A MOVIE THEATRE ITSELF.THE SOUD IS SO BIG AND FULL THAT I CAN'T BELIEVE IT MYSELF.THE BEST KEPT SECRET. MY ADVISE BUY THESE OR THEIR LARGER BROTHERS THE AR1.

Similar Products Used:

EPICURE(EPI),BOSE,INFINITY,HEIL

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jun 05, 2000]
Steve
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Great sound, mids are fluid, highs are crisp.Bass is deep. Bought on-line for $1175 including shipping.

Weakness:

Level trim knob in back is cheesy.

Have them hooked up as my fronts to my strdb930. Superb for playing DVD. Basically rocks the house. Have a cambridge soundworks center channel and a pair of aura's in the rear. Using audioquest type 4 cable with banana plugs. DVD players suck when used as CD players,but they aren't bad when playing singers like Billie Holiday with these speakers. Speakers sound great with each and every DVD. Am looking forward to hooking up a real cd player. Great value for speakers that I will have for a long time!

Similar Products Used:

None.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 05, 2001]
mike
Audiophile

Strength:

monsterous lows and extremely detailed mid and highs and who can beat having a sunfire amp in a tower? not many at anywhere near this price range

Weakness:

heavy as hell but that might be a good quality now that i think about it did you ever know anything heavy to be of bad quality?

i just got these speakers and haven't even had time to break them in yet and i am already ecstatic. i'm listening to music all over again and cursing the day that i ever bought a different pair of speakers. i am using this pair as fronts in my system and i never thought i would say this but i seriously do not even need a sub these things kick serious butt. i am running them with a pioneer elite vsx 27 with only 120 watts per channel and that is nowhere near satisfying these monsters all my movies sound different all my music sound more clear i am just waiting for star wars to come out on dvd and i will be in heaven (well until something better comes out) i consider this one battle won in the never-ending war against the goal of being satisfied with what i have in my home theater. now on to the dvd player-tv-cd player-wiring-eventual seperate amp pre amp and subwoofer so i can hook up 4 subs at once well a fella can dream can't he?

Similar Products Used:

little bit of this and that i've tried em all at this price range

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 23  

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