Through a series of comprehensive, objective science tests I demonstrate what makes the legendary AR-XA turntable top-notch, even by today's standards, in my Youtube turntable tutorial. Some of the performance tests I conduct in this video must be listened to either with full-size headphones or with large
speakers (or subwoofer system) capable of ~30Hz deep bass, in a dead quiet room. Otherwise you won't properly hear the improvement the AR turntable offers.
WARNING: Some of the tests are EXTREME "obstacle courses" which could put your stylus in peril.
[Good point Scott.]
Time marks of the objective demo/tests, with clickable links if watched at Youtube [or in post 37
- sub-chassis ground strap to dissipate static charges [just a still photograph of it, no demo], reducing pops and ticks
- neutral balance tonearm (instead of typical stable balance) maintaining a non-varying tracking force even on dips/warps
- heavy platter for momentum (speed regulation) yet light enough to be driven with a precision, synchronous clock motor
- An added perk of the neutral balance arm is the constant tracking force obtained even if the XA is relocated to a tilted shelf in the room.
- ULTRA low mass, acrylic headshell for low inertial mass in order to track difficult/imperfect records
- very rigid and inflexible, "box-construction" headshell design to minimize microscopic flexing (distortion) despite its low mass
- AR's white paper "Skating Force: Mountain or Molehill?"- R. S. Oakley Jr., Audio magazine, Mar. 1967 summarized: waveform tests show it's unimportant if using an adequate tracking force from the get go, however a DIY design like a weight suspended by a thread draped over a bent paper clip, attached to the arm, may be added for those who are still concerned.
- Dead accurate speed and very low wow & flutter, including actual stylus drag during the test. [Even with oxide on this one's pulley and a cheap, aftermarket belt instead of AR's original belt, which were frozen solid and then machined on both sides for precise surface uniformity.]
- Despite looking flat, a closer examination reveals that micro warps (surface bumps/dips) exist on most LPs. This is why the AR-XA keeps its pivot height much lower than the competition in order to minimize "warp wow". A demo compares the XA pivot height to that of a $28,000 tonearm using a 1 kHz test tone on the CBS STR-100 test record with an artificial warp.
- immunity to shock and vibration hammer test.
- Acoustic feedback "howl" immunity even at VERY high playback levels and when mounting close to, or even ON a speaker, including immunity to incipient acoustic feedback distortion, preventing boominess and murkiness, found at lower playback volumes with some designs
- Ultra low mass headshell/arm: McProud Test at 33 RPM. [WARNING:
May fling the arm off the record and damage the stylus on the competition!]
- Full-size, NAB broadcast quality spindle diameter to minimize groove eccentricity wow.
- Artificially induced 1mm eccentricity audibility demonstrated
THE FOLLOWING TEST REQUIRES EITHER SPEAKERS WITH GOOD, DEEP BASS IN A QUIET ROOM OR FULL SIZE HEADPHONES.
- 3-pt. floating sub-chassis immunity to ROOM noise rumble, not reflected in a traditional rumble spec. [An ON/OFF demo of the suspension shows what it eliminates via spectral analysis.]
- Nailing wood on the top plate [aka the "plinth"] demo!
"Despite being cheap, the AR turned out to be the single most important turntable of all time."
-HiFi News Magazine
[the oldest HiFi magazine in the world and I believe the largest in the UK] May, 2009, page 41. Note: their veteran reviewer who wrote these words has reviewed turntables which cost $100,000, so he is intimately familiar with price-no-object designs.