Acoustic Research AR 303 loudspeaker System & Setup

Sidebar 2: System & Setup

The ARs were auditioned in my dedicated listening room driven by a pair of Mark Levinson No.20.6 monoblocks, a Krell KSA-50S, a Conrad-Johnson Premier Eleven A, and a Cary Audio Design CAD-300SEI integrated amplifier (see RH's review of the Cary elsewhere in this issue). The preamplifier in my room was the remote-controlled Mark Levinson No.38S, with a Mod Squad Phono Drive EPS used to amplify LP signals from a Linn Sondek/Cirkus/Trampolin/Lingo/Ekos/Arkiv setup sitting on an ArchiDee 'table.

Digital sources were Mark Levinson No.30.5 HDCD and Parts Connection Assemblage D/A processors driven by a Mark Levinson No.31 transport via Madrigal and Illuminati AES/EBU cables, and an Audio Alchemy DTI•Pro or a Sonic Frontiers UltraJitterbug.

Interconnects used were AudioQuest's AudioTruth Lapis x3 alternating with XLO 1.1 Signature; speaker cable was a doubled run of AudioTruth Sterling. All source components and preamps used in my listening room were plugged-in to a Power Wedge 116 Mk.II, itself plugged-in to a dedicated AC circuit and fitted with the Power Enhancer option. The amplifiers were plugged-in to a Power Wedge 100, again fitted with the Power Enhancer.

The speakers sat on 11"-high sand-filled bases, which in turn sat on Mod Squad Tiptoes. This combination placed the 303s' tweeters 35" from the floor—a sideburn below my seated ear level.—John Atkinson

Acoustic Research
Division of Audiovox

65DegN's picture

Regarding this statement; "...It was also, by all accounts, an amplifier-killer, its impedance featuring a punishing combination of low magnitude and high phase angle!..."

During a period in the early 1970's I ran a service center for a major audio distributor in northern Ohio called Bullet Distributing (Tokyo Shapiro). I never saw an amplifier get killed by an AR 3a. I owned a pair of 3a's myself and my amps never had any difficulty driving them. 

However what was an amp killer was the EPI (Epicure) line. These speakers dropped down to around 2.5 ~ 3 ohms at certain low frequencies and we were at times unindated with blown amps from these. I remember the Sherwood Darlington oputput amps were particularly popular but they kept tripping the protect relay when used with the EPI's. Their answer to this was to change the tripping point which resulted in a massive number of smoked output stages.

Salesmen in our company gave me grief because they wanted to sell these two in combination and I was telling my customers why their Sherwood amps were blowing up. I got called to the carpet for telling the truth.