Acoustic Research AR-4x Speakers

What are they? When were they made? What are they worth?

The AR-4x speakers were made by Acoustic Research sometime in the 1960s or perhaps 70s. This article will research this.


Today (28 Nov 2009) my partner Bill Newell picked up a pair of AR-4x bookshelf speakers.  They have a nice veneer on the outside, two thumb-screw connections on the back for the wires, and a blond weave grill.  On the back are the two original glued-down papers which describe them.

I cleaned them up and started doing research and found this article in Kiplinger's Personal Finance dated July 1965 which mentions the "Acoustic Research AR-4", and stating that at that time, a pair of them cost $114.  I'm not yet certain that the "AR-4" is the same as the "AR-4x".  Oddly however, I found this article from Billboard dated 14 May 1966 discussing the San Francisco High Fidelity Music Show which had been held in April, and then stating that Acoustic Research was then "debuting" the AR4 to retail at under $60.  Possibly they here mean under $60 each, not for the pair.  At any rate, I don't know why they are claiming they they were debuting them several months after Kiplinger's already stated that they exist.  This snippet view of an article from the Saturday Review dated 1966, appears to explain it, evidently the AR-4xs were "this years" model of the AR-4s "introduced a year ago".

That woofer you see there has a treated cloth surround, not foam.  Treated cloth either does not, or at least takes a very long time to deteriorate.  These surrounds are forty years old, and still look and sound fine.  Foam surrounds have to be re-done every ten to fifteen years at least, your mileage might vary, but it's likely to vary on the worse side.

At this link at epinions there is a review for the AR-4x, originally written Jan 2007, by Horswispr.  He there specifies that it has an 8" woofer and small cone tweeter. He there guesses that their dimensions are something like "maybe 19" tall, 10 1/2" wide and 9 1/2" deep".  I measured the pair I have and the dimensions are 19" tall, 10" wide and 9" deep.

The blond-weave grills come off, but originally AR glued these directly to the front baffle with a strong glue.  So apparently someone in the past, had pried these screens off very carefully.  The grills do not appear to be remade, they appear to me to be the original cloth and frame.

The veneer is a walnut, and evidently these, along with others of this time period, mark a change in the way speakers were designed and marketed.  The nice veneer appealed, according to Billboard, to women, who now saw that speakers could be a piece of beautiful furniture, instead of just an industrial-looking toy for their husbands to listen to, in the den.  The badges (logos) screw into the front of the cabinet, through the grill cloth.  They are almost always the first things to go, and of course the pair I picked up didn't have them.  A replica badge, but glue-on, is available on ebay.

Here is one guy's story about refinishing his AR-4x's here, but notice that these have new grill cloth, several shades "whiter" then the original blondish cloth.   One parts website at at this link appears to have several items for sale and sold related to this speaker and it's siblings.   It's unusual that I find this, but there is apparently a guy who has carved out his niche as a premier dealer in vintage AR equipment.  Link to his profile page on ebay.  And a link to his items for sale on Ebay.