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myles
12-04-2009, 10:12
I have just bought an AR-XA turntable on ebay, which needs a little bit of cosmetic work. Im not necessarily concerned about that, but anyone that knows this TT knows that it needs the original headshell only, due to the connection between it and the arm. They will also be aware that the thread can go, which makes the head loose in the tonearm, rendering it useless. Mine has this problem. I plan to give it a service, overhaul, perhaps change the springs, and a new cart. Does anyone have any tips on working with the XA, especially the headshell?

The Grand Wazoo
12-04-2009, 22:43
Hi Myles,

I'm sorry but I can't say I have any particular wisdom to give you on the headshell.
What I do know is that you've snagged yourself an absolute classic (in the true sense of the word) turntable. I've played about with a couple of these quite a bit and there are an awful lot of people who've made an awful lot of money by selling their take on the old AR.

The Grados are a particularly good match for the original AR arm - if you can overcome hum with the careful earthing that George Merrill suggested.

The usual trick is to get yerself a new subchassis that'll allow you to stick a different arm on it, or saw off the old tonearm bearing housing & drilling it out so you can mount a new one - then add some damping to it. Next, sort out a 1/2 decent power supply. Match the sub-chassis springs to the weight of your arm and try out some different materials for arm boards.

Cosmetically, you usually need to remove the horrendous 'mock flock' finish on the top plate. .....Oh, and a decent clamp / weight does a fair bit of good.

I found out most of this stuff by a combination of mistakes / fumbling / trial & error and talking to folk! But nowadays, there's plenty on the web about them - you may even find a few odd photos of my old mod jobs!

This turntable can be taken a looooooooong way into the high end with more torquey motors different platters etc.

It will take a very exotic arm & cartridge combination.

http://www.vinylnirvana.com/ar_models_xa.shtml

Pay special interest to the pdf's about George Merril's mod's.

Also, this month's HiFi News has an article by Ken Kessler about this very TT, one that he has great respec for, both historically & as a piece of audio gear per se.

I also had, for a long time, the resurrected version of this TT, eventually ending up with it mounted with the Zeta arm I still use & a Koetsu Black - it made a very credible combination.

myles
12-04-2009, 23:05
Many thanks, a lot to digest there!

The Grand Wazoo
12-04-2009, 23:26
No problem. Let us all know how you get on with the daddy of the sprung chassis belt drives!

Anything else I can help with, just give us a yell - I'll see what I can do.
Also...........there may be well be more to come from others - I can't believe with the breadth & depth of the combined knowledge of the folks on here, that I have the sum total of experience with this turntable!

Just don't let the folks with the Scottish, Japanese or cuckoo clock turntables tell you that you've invested in a piece of junk & that their way is the best!! There is no best - just the best for you.

Marco
13-04-2009, 07:41
No chance of that, Chris. The AR is 'proper'.

I'd rather have one of those any day before the fruitbox copy! ;)

Got any pics, Myles? We wanna see some pron :eyebrows:

Marco.

The Grand Wazoo
13-04-2009, 09:22
Myles,

Which version is it?
Do you know how to tell?

The very first ones had two motors. A main motor to drive the platter, & a 'donkey motor' intended to start up the main one in the right direction. If you remove the platter, you can see the smaller drive pulley offset from the main one, connected by a belt.

The most obvious differences between later versions were mainly in the plinth.
The originals had beautiful solid American walnut. From there, it went to ply with walnut veneer - chipboard with walnut veneer - chipboard with vinyl veneer.

Under the bonnet, the older ones had substantial webbing running up and down the 'wings' of the sub-chassis.


http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/3710/aradvert.jpg

The Grand Wazoo
13-04-2009, 10:15
No chance of that, Chris. The AR is 'proper'.

I'd rather have one of those any day before the fruitbox copy! ;)

Marco.

It's great to see how so much could be made so fundamentally correct on a product designed to be cheap enough to be affordable to the masses.

I guess this is a hallmark of a true classic - VW Beetle, Fender Telecaster, Zippo lighter, Remington 700 rifle.............

DSJR
13-04-2009, 14:23
I came along to serious audio in 1973, many years into the AR XB's lifetime.

The arm isn't anything like as bad as you'd think and a box style headshell is just right for low mass and reasonable rigidity too I think.

Look on the vinylnirvana/ar_models website for details on AR decks and their mods... You may be able to get a headshell from one of these people. They have pdf's of the instruction manuals too.

The best cartridges for one of these decks in the mid-seventies were the ADC XLM II which sounded lovely and the Shure M91ED, which was better to me for some reason than the 75ED which is supposedly mechanically identical.

Today, an Ortofon OM series cartridge would be worth looking at, along with the AT120E I think and possibly the Shure M97XE. As the only bias correction is composed of horizontal bearing friction coupled with careful cable dressing, you can't use too low a compliance artridge needing up to 2g playing weight. Something medium to high compliance tracking at a gramme and a quarter would be ideal.

myles
13-04-2009, 14:27
No chance of that, Chris. The AR is 'proper'.

I'd rather have one of those any day before the fruitbox copy! ;)

Got any pics, Myles? We wanna see some pron :eyebrows:

Marco.

I am waiting on delivery, damn Easter and all that it stands for! Here is the link for the auction though.......may not be as prono as you hoped!
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&item=120393431568
I also got a few spares with it! Spare arm, spindle, motor, and AR badge!

myles
13-04-2009, 14:30
Myles,

Which version is it?
Do you know how to tell?

The very first ones had two motors. A main motor to drive the platter, & a 'donkey motor' intended to start up the main one in the right direction. If you remove the platter, you can see the smaller drive pulley offset from the main one, connected by a belt.

The most obvious differences between later versions were mainly in the plinth.
The originals had beautiful solid American walnut. From there, it went to ply with walnut veneer - chipboard with walnut veneer - chipboard with vinyl veneer.

Under the bonnet, the older ones had substantial webbing running up and down the 'wings' of the sub-chassis.


http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/3710/aradvert.jpg

Chris, the link on the post above has a couple of pics, you may be able to enlighten me! It looks like a walnut veneer to me, and Im sure its not old enough for the double motor setup.

DSJR
13-04-2009, 14:35
For 32 you have a potential bargain here I reckon.

Get the bearing oiled with whatever is recommended and try for a replacement headshell. The mat isn't original either but may be better than the foam one originally supplied. A NAS Spacemat is cheap and worth a try, as is the thinner Rega woolly mat for the P3 possibly.

Get this thing cleaned up and working again and you'll be very surprised how good it can be.

By the way, the other reason for using a fairly low downforce cartridge is that it minimises slowing under (musical) load - something that upsets the lovers of high-torque idler and good direct driven decks.

The Grand Wazoo
13-04-2009, 14:38
Cracking bargain for 20 quid mate.
You'd be looking at 70-80 for a cuckoo clock.

myles
13-04-2009, 14:45
Im a sucker for cheap turntables at the mo. I originally had (still have) a Kenwood Trio KD1033 which I thought was ok, its the PL 12D competitor. Last week I bought a Pro-Ject Debut II for 30 which I had to do a tonearm rewire on. I like this deck. Well, that wasn't enough, I bought a Pro-Ject 1.2 for 30.99, which has a better arm, platter and a plinth which I haven't seen before on a Pro-Ject. I will set this one up in a bit, when I get the motivation, o few too many vodkas/rums last night! Now I need to be getting rid of a couple!

What is a cuckoo clock by the way?

DSJR
13-04-2009, 14:54
The Pro-ject II was a better regarded turntable than the Rega 3 prior to the later motor mods in the P3/2000 version, with a good solid plinth, balanced platter and good quality arm, if not as exalted as the RB300.

The current bargains in the springy rubber band drive department are the AR EB101 and well kept AR Legends (later ones with close fitting bearing). The latter, if on song, is more like a PT than a Linn and far better for it IMO!

Beechwoods
13-04-2009, 15:08
What is a cuckoo clock by the way?

I assume it's an endearing reference to Lenco, seeing as they're Swiss made, and the price is right :)

myles
13-04-2009, 15:19
The tonearm looks like the 8.6c, but I think its an alloy arm. The plinth looks like solid wood with a black thin veneer on top, unlike the cheaper MDF plinth. All in all, not a bad deck. Has an Ortofon 510, but I have an OM10 on the Debut, so I may swap them about.

DSJR
13-04-2009, 16:06
The 510 supposedly had a slightly lower compliance to suit more recent arm designs. The OM10 really ought to be turned into an OM20, but styli are 75 or so these days, which is far too high IMO and around the same as the new series "Red" I believe.

Don't be tempted by a VMS20e. These sell for silly money on fleabay and really shouldn't, as they sound thick and clogged today. The VMS30 and M20FL aren't much better either.

The one thing I dislike about the current Ortofon mm's is that for a couple of quid each step in factory cost, they can double the retail price of each successive model up to 320 or so for the top one in the range. Rega used to buy their cantilevers in with diamonds ready fitted (from Switzerland I think) and showed us how few quid extra it was for a better diamond profile...

Cuckoo Clock? 70 - 80 normally gets you a Swiss made TD150 or 160 these days doesn't it?

Beechwoods
13-04-2009, 16:14
Cuckoo Clock? 70 - 80 normally gets you a Swiss made TD150 or 160 these days doesn't it?

Hmm. Thorens. Yes, they fit the bill too :doh: The 150 fits that price range. I think you'll need to be looking at over a ton for a 160 these days. Maybe double for one with a half decent arm and headshell :scratch:

DSJR
13-04-2009, 16:17
The TD125 I bought before Christmas has doubled in value since then. I really ought to give it some use before selling it on..

The Grand Wazoo
13-04-2009, 16:19
A TD 160 with a bog std arm on a weekday gets ~ 60-70 on Ebay - if you're patient (& lucky!)
Sorry, I'm tiling a floor at the mo'!!

Beechwoods
13-04-2009, 16:23
Patient... Lucky... pah!

The Grand Wazoo
13-04-2009, 16:34
It's a little known fact that as well as turntables, Dual also have a long and illustrious history of manufacturing annoying as hell avian related instruments of horology.

myles
14-04-2009, 17:09
Update:
The XA has arrived! It needs a new plinth for sure, it looks like water has got in and eaten the wood. It doesnt turn the platter, even though the motor is turning a smaller wheel beside the inner platter. That smaller wheel spins on the motor drive. Dont know what gives there. The top plate is in good nick, not sticky at all, and the platters could do with a bit of work. Things to think about. I will strip it down and take whats left of the plinth to the carpenter in work to see if he can knock up a new one from some nice wood. Any suggestions, a template would be even better!

The Grand Wazoo
14-04-2009, 17:12
Update:
The XA has arrived! It needs a new plinth for sure, it looks like water has got in and eaten the wood. It doesnt turn the platter, even though the motor is turning a smaller wheel beside the inner platter. That smaller wheel spins on the motor drive. Dont know what gives there. The top plate is in good nick, not sticky at all, and the platters could do with a bit of work. Things to think about. I will strip it down and take whats left of the plinth to the carpenter in work to see if he can knock up a new one from some nice wood. Any suggestions, a template would be even better!


Remember what I said back there?


Which version is it?
Do you know how to tell?

The very first ones had two motors. A main motor to drive the platter, & a 'donkey motor' intended to start up the main one in the right direction. If you remove the platter, you can see the smaller drive pulley offset from the main one, connected by a belt.

myles
14-04-2009, 17:41
Remember what I said back there?

Got the base off, and there is only one motor! It is a smaller pulley which connects the belt to the motor/platter. I wonder if it should have a circlip or something to hold it steady on the motor shaft?

The Grand Wazoo
14-04-2009, 20:22
Hi Myles,
Sorry, I misread your post - I thought you were describing a 2nd pulley.
(Really busy at the mo' - trying to get this floor tiled before a mad dash across the Pennines tonight).

myles
14-04-2009, 20:49
Thats ok! Still flummoxed about this pulley being fastened to the motor shaft.

The Grand Wazoo
14-04-2009, 21:07
I never had that problem.
I think it may just be a friction fit - If so you could try wrapping some PTFE tape around the spindle, using some silicon sealant or building the spindle up with a tiny amount of solder. The pulley is aluminium, so you probably won't get solder to stick to it.
I do know there were replacement synthetic pulleys available which were better machined & added mass - they're probably still available, try the Vinyl Nirvana website I gave you the link for.

myles
14-04-2009, 21:28
The shaft is loose in the pulley so I will try those tips, when I have done the cosmetics. No point in fitting the pulley permanently until I have the top plate perfect, but its in pretty good nick to be fair.

The Grand Wazoo
14-04-2009, 21:37
For the plinth, I did one with some solid birch timber floorboards. The tongue-in-groove allows you to rebate the top plate. You have to plane down the insides of the groove back to solid wood & the outside to the same depth as the top plate. Make mitred joints & put some equilateral triangle cross-sectioned corner braces - use No More Nails or similar to glue it & Bob's yer auntie's live-in lover.

myles
18-04-2009, 14:00
Right, another update. Im attacking this knackered old TT on a number of fronts. I am seeing the Station Carpenter on Monday, to see if he can knock up a plinth. I am going to take the remains for him to have a look at, but I plan on making it about a half inch taller. The old plinth looks kind of puny. A couple of questions on the plinth:-
What wood would you suggest I use?
Does anyone have plans or a template for an AR-XA plinth, or pics that the carpenter could make head or tail of?

Next front is a new tonearm. I have just bought an RB250 for 70, which makes my outlay so far 100 give or take a few quid. I plan to have a go at the t-bar myself, grinding the spindle well off and making a slot for the 250 to fit in, if that is all that is required. Im expecting to have to have the tonearm hole onthe top plate widened to accept the tonearm, but does the whole setup need a modified armboard, or can I fit the arm straight on the subchassis?

I also expect to have to upgrade the springs, the old ones, although in good condition, are only man enough for the current tonearm!

I look forward to all your replies, all help and advice appreciated!

DSJR
18-04-2009, 14:15
OUCH!!! I'd really be inclined to keep all original and just build a decent new plinth for what's there. really I would...

What you really need is an EB101. The arm is quite acceptable (think Linn LVX) and can be removed for alternatives. I'm sure the Rega board fro the Legend can be retro-fitted and I believe the two turntables to be almost identical.

Have you looked here yet?

http://www.vinylnirvana.com/ar_models.shtml

http://www.vinylnirvana.com/ar_manual_xa.shtml



P.S. The instructions for the XA are amazingly well written and the arm design should be much easier to understand - It really isn't a bad arm, despite its crudeness.

Interesting that the UK EB101 seems different to the US one. Didn't stop it getting an enthusiastic recommendation in HiFi Choice however..

The Legend appears to be the AR-ES1 model

myles
18-04-2009, 14:21
OK, that is an option too. I have seen the work done by some on the vinyl nirvana site, and aftermarket arms seem to be readily used. I really fancy doing a biit of DIY on it, and from what I have seen, the RB250 is a likely candidate. Unfortunately the XA headshell is not in a good way thread wise, and when they come up for sale, go for a small fortune. This is what swayed me in the end, towards having a hybrid, blending the classic sprung chassis with a newer arm setup, hopefully achieving the best of both worlds.

DSJR
18-04-2009, 14:29
Good luck, and post pics when you're done :)

myles
18-04-2009, 14:42
Good luck, and post pics when you're done :)
Thanks, but it could be a while, we both know that!;)

Martyn Miles
18-12-2013, 14:06
No problem. Let us all know how you get on with the daddy of the sprung chassis belt drives!

Anything else I can help with, just give us a yell - I'll see what I can do.
Also...........there may be well be more to come from others - I can't believe with the breadth & depth of the combined knowledge of the folks on here, that I have the sum total of experience with this turntable!

Just don't let the folks with the Scottish, Japanese or cuckoo clock turntables tell you that you've invested in a piece of junk & that their way is the best!! There is no best - just the best for you.

I bought one that had lain in a loft for twenty-five years. The top plate was a 'mottled ' finish due, I suspect, to alternate heat and cold in said loft. I bought a belt, dismantled the main bearing to lubricate and purchased a new ( felt ) mat.

As I have a comprehensive American article on re-furbishing the XA, I followed it to the letter.
Result, with a NAD elliptical ( read ADC ) cartridge, it sounds wonderful. OK, no Linn with an MC cartridge, but at about 100 total expenditure it is superb. Ed. Villchur knew what he was doing...

rkay5
07-01-2014, 07:52
There a guy on US ebay who had new AR head shell made link:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/AR-XA-XB-Headshell-Acoustic-Research-Turntable/291047634598?rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222002%26algo%3DSIC.FIT%26ao%3D1%2 6asc%3D163%26meid%3D3943701435250418987%26pid%3D10 0005%26prg%3D1088%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D261368 966536%26

seoirse2002
07-01-2014, 10:35
OK, that is an option too. I have seen the work done by some on the vinyl nirvana site, and aftermarket arms seem to be readily used. I really fancy doing a biit of DIY on it, and from what I have seen, the RB250 is a likely candidate. Unfortunately the XA headshell is not in a good way thread wise, and when they come up for sale, go for a small fortune. This is what swayed me in the end, towards having a hybrid, blending the classic sprung chassis with a newer arm setup, hopefully achieving the best of both worlds.

I love the XA!! ....got 2 of them...Ive got a shure m91 in one and Nagaoka mp11 in the other....BUT...Ive also got a spare original headshell that I may be willing to part with...by the way,some plumbers tape around the threads works wonders

Martyn Miles
01-09-2014, 12:06
I bought one that had lain in a loft for twenty-five years. The top plate was a 'mottled ' finish due, I suspect, to alternate heat and cold in said loft. I bought a belt, dismantled the main bearing to lubricate and purchased a new ( felt ) mat.

As I have a comprehensive American article on re-furbishing the XA, I followed it to the letter.
Result, with a NAD elliptical ( read ADC ) cartridge, it sounds wonderful. OK, no Linn with an MC cartridge, but at about 100 total expenditure it is superb. Ed. Villchur knew what he was doing...

I have now fitted a Denon 110 MC cartridge and it works beautifully. Through my Quad 33/303 and into Harbeth P3ESRs it all sounds wonderful...

Non-Smoking Man
13-01-2015, 19:53
I've modded a couple of AR turntables in the past. I've still got one here.
What many did was to drill out the subchassis to get rid of the truly terrible arm and drop in a Hadcock - a perfect fit so no need to do much work.
On another one we tried a Linn LVV - for this we sawed off the end of the subchassis and bolted on an attachment to take the Linn. That one sounded very good. In both cases you have to enlarge the hole in the top plate.
The current one has been drilled for a Rega fit arm. I used a Tabriz for its height adjustment - I wouldnt fancy trying to adjust a standard Rega arm for height as you would have to keep assembling and disassembling to get it right. Plus what if you wanted a cartridge change? You'd have to go through that all over again.

Mr Kipling
13-01-2015, 20:20
Have to say I wouldn't agree that the original arm is terrible. I modified one and it sounded little worse than a Thorens 160 + Hadcock. The headshell is the weak point - even more-so the later "fish-tail" one. The single strand wiring is another factor too, I'd say.