ar 4x [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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04-11-2004, 08:32 PM
hey, could ya all tell me how many watts these speakers can handle. ive looked all over to find out but to no avail. im just discovering half way decent stereo equipment so please bear with me. thanks for the time. j.

04-15-2004, 01:04 AM
hey, could ya all tell me how many watts these speakers can handle. ive looked all over to find out but to no avail. im just discovering half way decent stereo equipment so please bear with me. thanks for the time. j.

I owned a pair of 4x's from 1968 through 1971. If you picked up a pair of the 4x's, I would imagine that they date back to that approximate era. I drove them with a 60 watt per channel (continuous IHF rated) integrated stereo amp and they would play cleanly as loud as I ever cared to listen at in about a 12' X 18' room (a fairly small room). They, as was the case with all of the original Acousitic Research speaker designs (the AR name has been sold several times since), are acoustic suspension (sealed box) design speakers, so one would expect that a significant amount of wattage would be needed. Curiously, with the first acoustic suspension speakers, the smaller the size, the more wattage that was required to produce an equivalent volume.

The original AR speakers were quite rugged (I had also owned a pair of AR2a's and a pair of AR2ax's at various points in time way back when), so I think that it would be safe to just let your ears be the judge. Assuming that the speakers are in like-new condition (an improbable assumption), your ears would give out before the speakers gave out. Also, clean watts rarely blow speakers. What will blow speakers is driving an amplifier to the limit of its capability--particularly solid-state (versus tubed) amps. So high powered amps are usually kinder on speakers than are lower wattage amplifiers.

The problem that you have is the age of the speakers--if we both are referring to the same product. Assuming that the surrounds (the flexible ring that connects the outside diameter of the paper cone to the metal basket) have not been replaced on the woofers with surrounds made from modern materials, that were properly installed (real tricky), and that didn't alter the mechanical charateristics of the woofers, then the surrounds on your woofers are gone or worthless. The materials used to make the surrounds of most older speakers were destroyed by age and oxidation. The same thing happens to human beings. If you haven't removed the grilles on the speakers and checked out the surrounds, do it now! If they show any sign of aging, they are truly worthless. Frankly, I would be suprised if the surrounds still even exist on your speakers.

Speakers don't work without surrounds. There are some companies that make replacement surrounds for do-it-yourselfers (I advise you to punt on that idea) that you can find on the Internet and there are companies that do speaker cone and surround replacement (if you live in a major metropolitan area, there will be one or more listed in the Yellow Pages). If you replace the surrounds, let a professional do it.

The other consideration is that the electrolytic capacitor(s) in the crossover network will have degraded so much by now that they probably are shorted or nonfunctional (they dry out with time). If you are new to audio, you need to be aware that the crosover network determines which frequencies are sent to the woofer and which frequencies are sent to the tweeter. The 4x was a two-way design--it has a woofer and a tweeter. The capacitor(s) need to be replaced with new capacitor(s) of equivalent value (microfarads of capacitance--"mfd" ), working voltage (should be printed on the capacitor with a WV or WVDC suffix), and type (generally only nonpolarized capacitors are used for which replacements are a little harder to find). Unfortunately, the crossover network is inside the speaker cabinet and the woofer has to be removed to gain access. Also, the inside of the cabinet will probably be filled with some type of dampening material, such as acoustic fiberglass, and care must be taken not to damage that material and to return in to its original location when the work inside is completed.

The AR4x was a nice sounding speaker for its size. If a brand new one could magically appear, it could hold its own (the the exception of high frequency extension capability) with most speakers of similar size say, for example, in the Polk or Infinity product lines. The AR4x was quite clean and revealing, as I recall, with accurate, well blended bass (not over-emphasized or "boomy" and with not much "doubling") to the low frequency limit that the design allowed.

I just doubt that yours are in any kind of condition that would allow them to work. Unless you have some expertise, I suggest that you have them restored by a professional. And that will be expensive. For the expense of restoring the speakers, you could buy a very nice pair of similar-size speakers from the modern era. On the other hand, the restoration payoff would be that you would have a pair of nice sounding "vintage" (although probably not "classic"--an AR1 or one of the AR3 series would be a "classic" ) speakers from the company that pioneered the acoustic suspension speaker design. If you took the time to research the original Acoustic Research company, you would probably find it fascinating.

I wish you good luck, Rodan1994!


P.S.: I am a horrible speller and I did not proof read this reply. That excuse should get me off the hook for probable mistakes.