Mid-80s AR Distinguishing Notes

Notes distinguishing the mid-eighties AR Turntables.

The AR Turntable, that is as a model designation, was introduced in 1984. It is NOT an ES-1, but VERY close to it. This table, which was the reintroduction of the AR TT to the market, hence its nomenclature, came with a removable headshell and arm for $475.00 or without arm for $350. It’s cable capacitance was 82 pF as measured, 85 pF reported by AR. Pivot to stylus distance was 9 inches.  It is completely veneered.

By 1985, there were three AR’s on the market, and by late 1987, rumors were heard that the tables would be discontinued. They were: The AR Series’ EB-101 ($399.00), which came with an arm/removable headshell; The “Connoisseur Series” with two versions of the ES-1, (armless; $350.00 with Japanese arm/fixed headshell; $475). This table improved on the EB-101 with its sapphire bearing and a tighter sound; and finally, The “Research Series” ETL-1, a larger table with a spindle to pivot distance of 9.5 inches compared with the former tables’ 8.4. That table sold for $700.00, but was phased out in early 1987.

The “The AR Turntable” was favorably reviewed by Peter Mitchell in Audio magazine (1984), but he did complain that the vertical pivots were nearly a half-inch above the record surface, meaning that some warp wow may be audible when playing imperfectly flat records. However, the perfect match for that arm was the Shure V15, and the resonance with the damping brush down gave a 2dB rise in the 11-16Hz range, rolling off below 9Hz. Not bad – the damping factor of this particular combo. A few finishes were offered, mostly oiled walnut in the states and a deeper cherry finish in the UK. The edges of the AR TT are rounded, as is the ES-1, the EB-101 being a bit boxier looking and an inch smaller all around.  The ES-1 featured solid wood sides, not veneered.

An earlier model of the AR TT would sometimes develop bearing noise after a while. The problem was strictly QC, and a new motor was introduced in 1985, with better bearing materials and finish. Most of the tonearms developed severe sticking problems. The cueing devise was redesigned and field replaced under warranty.

Many thanks to Kurt Wolf for this information first published at www.audioasylum.com