Help! AR9s sound terrible! [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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03-22-2008, 09:35 PM
Hi all,

I recently received a component system consisting of a NAD T752 powering late-model AR9s - and it sounds horrible! I'd describe the sound as flat, harsh, and a bit cloudy. Another observation is that it seems like the speakers don't project sound into the room correctly. It sounds nothing like when I hook up my headphones to the receiver, which sound warm and beautiful. It also doesn't matter if the volume is soft or loud (but generally, I think that the speakers should be louder than they are - if you compare the sound output @ +0 db of the AR9s with my rear speakers (see below), its maybe 5-7db louder with the rears).

Basically, I am trying to figure out if something is wrong with the speakers (the speakers had been moved a number of times and were also in a non-heated garage for some cold months--could the cold have done something bad?), or if the NAD is just not a good match and buying an amp will fix it. Some people have told me that an amp would be a good idea, but also that the NAD is a good receiver and that it should be able to provide clean signal to the AR9s without a problem (just not too loudly).

A few more details - I am testing the speakers with the receiver in stereo mode; there are no other outputs involved. I have tested the source (I've mainly been using an iPod for music tests) using headphones (Senne HD-595), as well as hooked up the rears I have (I believe they are AR Sequels ( as mains and those sound a lot better than the AR9s (ah, the speakers are to blame!) - they sound normal, albeit its quite clear they're not very good speakers. :) The AR9s are bi-wired with decent speaker wire. I've tested the speakers with normal and backwards polarity (in case something was mis-wired), and I've played with only powering HF to see how that sounds (still terrible). I've also tested only 1 speaker at a time, and the problem seems equivalent on both speakers (ah, the receiver is to blame!). Obviously, my tests are still inconclusive. :)

Any tests you can suggest to see if the problem lies with the speakers? Maybe get a recording of a tone going from 20 Hz to 20 kHz (anyone have one)? Granted I don't have another receiver/amp, else I'd tried that. :)

Please help!

03-23-2008, 05:03 AM
More power. The AR 9's with their large side firing woofers and multiple drives need power. What you describe sounds like a speaker that is underpowered or a receiver straining to drive a speaker.

03-23-2008, 08:53 AM
Unfortunately the NAD T752 is a notoriously inconsistent product. When all is well, it's quite good; however, it seems to have one of the highest complaint rates of any product in its class. Key issues include not turning on from standby, shutting down after a few minutes of operation, some outputs not working in some modes while working in others, volume randomly resetting at different levels, sound dynamics becoming reduced or muted in certain modes, burning smell, etc.

Many of these problems were blamed on software issues, though newer software didn't seem to help much.

Of course, it's impossible to diagnose from afar, but my money would be on the NAD as the culprit. At least that's where I would look first. My first step would be to get everything to factory default settings and go from there. There must be a way to reset all settings in the manual.

I'd also un-bi-wire the speakers and run them at full range to see if things change. Running only the HF section still won't give you a clear idea of how the whole speaker sounds when run through one wire.

Brett A
03-23-2008, 11:32 AM
I owned a pair of AR 93s for 23 years. (They are the little sibling of the AR9s)
Like the AR 9s, they are a 4 ohm speaker with a sensitivity rating of 87db. So more power may be your issue, or it may not.

I drove my 93's for years with a little NAD 3020 integrated. (20wpc) and never thought anything was wrong.

As far as moving them around and storing them in the cold, I did both plenty in the years I owned mine, and it never caused any problems. (I even had them hooked up in my VW bus through a Maine winter back when I was a hippie). They served me well until I bought my B&W 683's seven months ago.
You can follow this link to an old AR 9x spec sheet I dug up:

Good luck!

03-23-2008, 01:30 PM
Thanks all for the feedback.

One thing I will note first is that these are newer AR9s. I think they were bought new in maybe 2002? I found some info on the differences, etc, over here (

Another note, I am looking into getting a power amp, and the guy who is selling one has been nice enough to agree to let me bring up my AR9s to see if the power amp solves the problem. Hopefully that will determine, once and for all, what is really going on here!

JohnMichael - I would be inclined to agree, with the one exception that volume, etc, doesn't matter. I can turn up the speakers and they do get quite loud, I can feel the bass in my chest, etc. If power was a problem, shouldn't it be okay at lower volumes? I could be completely wrong here, my experience is limited. The review here on the T752 ( I am using even give the NAD high marks for power output.

filecat - I can't un-bi-wire the speakers as I don't have anything to connect the two terminals on the speakers. However, note that the signal going to each pair is the same as on the receiver end, the wires are lightly soldered together and go into the same speaker terminal. Thus I have no control over what the speaker does with the signal, it does its own internal crossover or however it works. I did connect only the HF (and LF too) to see if I could discern anything, but that is not normally how I was testing the speakers.

I did reset all the settings to no effect. I don't have the remote (yet - it is coming) so my ability to change settings is limited; I am not sure if the remote will more settings that I can't access through the front panel. The front panel allows me to adjust source, tone (bass/treble - I normally use 0 db, although it helps the AR9s sound a bit better when I pump up treble), surround mode (set to stereo), and adjust individual speaker levels (all at 0 db). I know this receiver is plagued with problems and I am inclined to blame it too, but I also can't overlook that it sounds fine when driving different speakers.

Brett - thanks for the relief that the cold didn't do anything. I am not sure how the AR93s compare with the AR9s but they seem to be fairly different spec-wise. The AR9s are 8 ohm with 92 db sensitivity. The NAD receiver is 100 wpc (not sure if its 100x5 or really 100x2, but I am in stereo mode anyway).

Brett A
03-23-2008, 02:38 PM
Brett - thanks for the relief that the cold didn't do anything. I am not sure how the AR93s compare with the AR9s but they seem to be fairly different spec-wise. The AR9s are 8 ohm with 92 db sensitivity. The NAD receiver is 100 wpc (not sure if its 100x5 or really 100x2, but I am in stereo mode anyway).

Ahhh, didn't get the "newness" of your ARs. The specs I quoted were for the AR9s of, like 1983.

03-23-2008, 04:30 PM
Yes the AR 9's I am familiar with were from the early 80's when I sold audio. We used Phase Linear power amps to make them sing. I was not familiar with a current speaker with the same name. All my comments were based on my experience with the original and quite large AR 9's.