Acoustic Research Returns

Article by Dick Tan


For many of us who are old enough to remember, one of the most popular speakers eagerly sought after by audiophiles was Acoustic Research.


Edgar M. Villchur


Founded in 1954 by Edgar M. Villchur and Henry Kloss, both equally iconic names in the annals of high fidelity, with a string of innovations to their names, the first Acoustic Research speaker was the AR-1.


A plain looking but solidly built speaker, the AR-1 is today remembered as the world’s first speaker to feature the acoustic suspension bass loading principle.


The idea behind the acoustic suspension speaker was surprisingly elementary. It involved designing a highly rigid enclosure with a certain amount of air trapped within that acted as a sort of ‘spring’ that loaded the woofer. This method of bass loading enabled a compact speaker to reproduce a level of bass extension normally associated only with much larger speakers.


Immensely successful and well received by audiophiles the world over the AR-1 went on to become one of the most successful speaker ever made, concurring more than a third of the loudspeaker market in the United States alone.


Acoustic Research AR-1, the first acoustic suspension speaker


In addition to the acoustic suspension system, Villchur and Kloss also introduced the world’s first dome tweeter that first debuted in their AR-3 speaker around 1959.


The AR-3 is so successful that today a pair is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute in the U.S.


Villchur’s contributions to the science of high fidelity were numerous and did not stop with the loudspeaker. Most of you would be surprised to learn that Villchur also researched and developed what is recognised as the world’s first belt driven turntable with a proprietary T-bar sub-chassis suspension. Villchur’s turntable design offered significant performance improvements, particularly in areas of mechanical and airborne vibration that plagued turntables of that era that were designed mainly around the idler wheel format.


Both Villchur and Kloss left AR around 1967 and the iconic name has undergone numerous changes in ownership since.


Its presence in Malaysia has been extremely low key until recently when a new acquisition has put it back in the worldwide map.


Today the AR product range includes not only speakers but a premium line of accessories and interconnects.


The speaker range is wide and includes dedicated Home Theatre as well as Hi-Fi series designed to meet every budget level.


For those with a constrained budget, AR offers the S40 Series which comprises the S40i-T, a large floorstanding speaker measuring 1000 x 317 x 206 mm. It features dual 6.5”mid/bass drivers and a 22 mm dome tweeter.


The S40i-T is highly sensitive, requiring only 1 Watt to produce a 92dB sound pressure level.


To adapt the S40i-T to a multichannel home theatre application, the S40 Series also includes the S40i-C centre speaker with the same drive units in a horizontal enclosure measuring 205 x 272 x 550 mm.


Present day Acoustic Research model S40i-T


Surround sound duty is taken up by the S40i-S surround speaker with dipole dispersion capability.


Anchoring the S40 Series is an S40i-X subwoofer with a 12”woofer driven by a built in 300 Watts RMS Class D power amplifier.


For those where budget constrain is not an issue, AR also offers their top of the line 80 Series which comprises the 1100 mm tall 80-TG floorstanding speaker. The 80-TG is followed by the smaller 80-T at 967 mm tall, the 80-B bookshelf speaker which could double as a surround speaker and the 80-X subwoofer featuring a 12” aluminium cone woofer driven by a powerful built in 500 Watts RMS Class D power amplifier.


The 80 Series feature superbly finished natural wood enclosures with state-of-the-art finely tuned drive units.


For more information contact:


Jermaine Zhu

Consultant – Asia Pacific

Acoustic Research


Article by Dick Tan

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