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jcmorrison's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 25 2011 - 7:30am
Why can't AR quality be reproduced today at an equivalent price?

Does anyone know why some enterprising manufacturer couldn't reproduce the design specs and quality of the original AR speakers today, manufacture them in China, and sell them for what would be equivalent prices today? Are there patent restrictions? Other legal barriers?

Taking 1971 as a base year, and adjusting for inflation, today the $250 AR-3a would cost about $1,400, the $128 AR-2ax would cost around $717, and the $63 AR-4x would cost around $353.

Given the cheap labor market in China, one would think that you could get such value at least as cheaply today. But today's speakers at the equivalent quality levels of the ARs seem to cost much more, and speakers that go for equivalent amounts these days don't match the performance.

Or am I wrong? Are there any speakers today that match AR quality for comparable prices?

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Last seen: 3 hours 53 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
I am not sure there is a real

I am not sure there is a real reason to do this since I believe that the overall quality of performance can be exceeded today by modern speakers at the same price.  With modern materials/drivers and what we learned about acoustics, the ARs are fairly dated.  I would much rather have a pair of PSBs, Revels, etc., for that money than the ARs you mention.

jgossman's picture
Last seen: 9 months 5 days ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 6:21am
JM Labs/Focal Chorus

JM Labs/Focal Chorus line. 


Many made in the east, some made in EU/USA.  Not are they just inexpensive, they are for the most part all better than most of our favorite vintage speakers, save some Tannoy, JBL, Jensen, Martin Logan, etc., which were all pretty expensive in thier day.  Rose colored glasses aside, I think you'll find that modern entry level stuff, not just measures better, but sounds better and plays music better.

This can also be said of all but the absolute least expensive of audio electronics, tube or solid state.  It turns out engineers really do keep learning as they go, and we are the benifitiaries of thier hard work.  The good old days weren't always all that great.

jcmorrison's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 25 2011 - 7:30am


I'm glad that you know of some brand names that meet the criteria I have in mind, but actual models for all of those price points aren't obvious.

Does the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1, at $350, compare to the AR-4x, with respect to both accuracy and frequency coverage?

What $700 speaker today does what the AR-2ax did, and still does?

Is there a $1400 full-range speaker today that compares with the AR-3a in what it did, and does, best?

I'm willing to believe, but having looked for such values among the many speakers Stereophile has reviewed in the past 15 to 20 years, I'm at a loss.

Josh Hill
Josh Hill's picture
Last seen: 4 months 6 days ago
Joined: Jan 12 2011 - 2:32pm
Speakers really have gotten better

I had a pair of AR-11's when I was a kid. They were good for the time, but the $600 MMG's make them sound like a joke, and it just gets better from there, whether you like a planar or dynamic presentation.

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