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Sansui 500a --- and now? A pair of AR-2ax Speakers!

Discussion in 'Exclusively Sansui' started by Knucklehead, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. Knucklehead

    Knucklehead The Village Idiot Subscriber

    Messages:
    292
    Location:
    Central Washington State
    I bought a very nice Sansui 500a about a month ago - something near and dear to my heart! The 500a was the very first piece of audio gear I ever bought. It was brand new so I'm dating myself! I was an 18yo USN sailor when I bought the Sansui - got it in the Naval Exchange in Yokuska Japan in 1965. The first pair of speakers I bought for the Sansui was some used AR-2s. A very nice combo that I enjoyed for the next 6-7 years until the solid state stuff made me wanting more power. I sold the Sansui and the AR-2s.

    Fast forward to today - I stopped by a second hand store that I hadn't been in for 3-4 years just to see what they had in stock in the way of audio gear. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw what they had. A pair of AR-2ax speakers. Asking price? $87.50 plus tax - just shy of $95 with tax.

    Done deal!

    The cabinets are a bit rough but I think they can be reconditioned. The grills are missing the badges but repops are available so that's no biggie. I connected them up to my bedroom setup - a Yamaha RX-V773 AVR. WOW! These things sound as good as I remember. I need to do some work on them - the mid and high pots have some dead spots on one speaker for the highs. I plan on using these with the Sansui - of course! I never thought I'd run into a pair of these in my Podunk little town!
     
  2. smurfer77

    smurfer77 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    971
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Sansui and east coast speakers are a good match! I go for Allison speakers but the signature comes from Acoustic Research days of Roy Allison
     
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  3. larryderouin

    larryderouin Do I get Food, Med's, or more gear this Month? Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,348
    Location:
    Glen Burnie Md.
    I use my 1000A either with Bozak 207's?(coax with the 2 aluminium tweeters) or New Large Advents depending if it's downstairs in the basement or upstairs in the living room. Got a pair of 2ax's but the tweeters and mids are shot. I haven't got around to seeing if I can find equivalent new stock. Got the Sansui from a Ret. LCDR Airdale who got it in Summer of '66 with 2 Kanazawa cabinets with Coral drivers. The Woofers were shot (cones tore, and voice coils burned) but the tweets and mids good. So I stuffed the Bozaks in them and hooked up the mids to them. Oh WOW!

    Knucklehead. Take a look at my thread on 1000A Power resistors. http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/1000a-power-resistors.536768/ I used chassis mount metal resistors and mounted them on the chassis up front and on the tuner string cover. Cut the heat in the back by roughly 1/2. This will work on the 500A with minor differences. Plus added aluminium HVAC Tape on the sides of the transformers that faced the tubes. Individual tube bias on Tung-Sol 7591's and running at 75% of max dissipation. I run it close to 20 hours a day 6 days a week, and am still using the same tubes that came with it since 2008, except for the output's. I was using EH7591's and using them between a Fisher 800c and the 1000A. Then I got the Tung-Sols. A whole lot better tube, original size, and less heat radiated due to size. Sound quality is equal to or better than the EH's, and pretty much about the same as old stock Westinghouse tubes.
     
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  4. Knucklehead

    Knucklehead The Village Idiot Subscriber

    Messages:
    292
    Location:
    Central Washington State
    My 500a was reconditioned in 2014 by forum member Danimal. I bought it several months ago from forum member Jean-Marie. All capacitors were replaced and those troublesome resistors were taken care of at that time and was much of the focus on that build thread that I posted below. I'm getting sweet sweet music from the 500a and it has an almost dead silent floor. Cosmetics are pretty danged good too -- especially when you factor in the age of this thing. It's held up better than I have over the years! You can see the restore thread here: http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/my-sansui-500a-restoration.567262/ --- I see you've posted in that thread so you're obviously somewhat familiar with my 500a.

    I wasn't sure I'd like the Russian 6P14P output tubes but I understand the 7189a tubes are all but impossible to find without a huge pricetag hung on them. The 6P14P tubes sound fine to me - plenty of output - lots of bass and good mid-bass too. I'm quite happy with it. I haven't taken the time to connect the AR-2s up to it yet. I'm still trying to figure out how the grills come off for a good inspection. They must have the cloth surrounds - I haven't heard any 'funny' noises from them - yet!
     
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  5. larryderouin

    larryderouin Do I get Food, Med's, or more gear this Month? Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,348
    Location:
    Glen Burnie Md.
    IIRC, the grills are nailed on or stapled on. Get out the Magnifier and a bright light. No self respecting Ex Squid would be without one. Need'em to pi** on a Cold night! Back to the AR2's. More than likely stapled on to the front. And I do believe the surrounds are butyl rubber or doped cloth.

    Get yerself a quad of EL=84M's. They are the modern equivalent of the 6p14p-EV/EB. I've got them in a few Fisher's right now and they sound real sweet. They are a very nice replacement for el-84's and 7189's.

    If you do get a quad, get them from Jim McShane. He goes over all output tubes and matches them at operating voltages and currents, so you know they'll bias up right the 1st time. I noticed that dananimal still had the original bias pots in it at the time of closing the thread, or at least that's my impression. You might want to replace them to stabilize the drifting bias if they haven't been done already.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
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  6. Knucklehead

    Knucklehead The Village Idiot Subscriber

    Messages:
    292
    Location:
    Central Washington State
    I've done some reading on the AR-2ax speakers. Seems that some grills were stapled on and some were anchored with hot glue, 3 spots each side. Looking closely I don't see any staples.

    I've been playing the ARs for a few hours each evening and haven't heard any strange sounds. I'm guessing I have the cloth surrounds or they've been refoamed at some point prior to my buying them. The grill cloth is in excellent condition, almost new in fact. Both badges are missing but the posts are still embedded in the grills. Perhaps I can find a pair of original badges, or maybe some repops.

    I didn't know that the 6P14P tubes are equivalent to the EL84s. Is that a direct swap or would I need to modify connections?

    Once I get some new rheostats in the speakers and make sure the surrounds are good to go I'll turn my attention to the 500a and see if I can do some fine tuning on it. Like I said though, the power tubes sound pretty decent. At the least I need to check the bias and record what I find.

    Between this Sansui and a new tube amp I just bought tube rolling could get quite expensive! I bought a Bob Latino VTA ST-120 stereo amp - it's 60wpc and uses Sovtek 6550 output tubes. I'll be used on a daily basis for up to 15 hours per day, driving my Salk speakers. That's if I find it works at least as well as the Acurus amp which I like a lot. The Acurus doesn't have that nice tube glow so I don't think it has a chance! Not sure I can put the Acurus up for sale either. I've owned 4 Acurus amps prior to owning this one. Each one has worked flawlessly and all sound very good. I'll probably squirrel it away 'just in case'.

    I'm new to tube gear even though I owned a 500a prior to this one - many years ago in a land far away...
    Never thought much about tube gear after turning to solid state back in the early 70s so I'm woefully uninformed when it comes to tubes. I'm hoping the 500a and the AR-2s will play well together. I had the 500a and the AR-2s for 5-6 years or so way back when and was quite happy with them. I can't imagine not liking this setup - just got to get things moving along. First up is to get the grills off so I can inspect the surrounds and clean the pots.

    Thanks for all the information.I really appreciate the help.
     
  7. larryderouin

    larryderouin Do I get Food, Med's, or more gear this Month? Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,348
    Location:
    Glen Burnie Md.
    A really neat trick for the speaker grills is to use a metal paint can opener (the type with the slightly hooked end and the bottle top opener on the other end. Slip it in under the grill and slide it along the edge. When you're done it's an excuse to open a CORONA or Dos Equis with the opener. :naughty:
     
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  8. Knucklehead

    Knucklehead The Village Idiot Subscriber

    Messages:
    292
    Location:
    Central Washington State
    I tried to get a paint can opener to fit in there. The grills are a very tight fit into the speaker - that gap is too narrow for the can opener to fit without cosmetic damage. I need something like a metal shipping band with a slight hook on the end. I have several second hand stores nearby with lots of old tools and stuff (junk too) - I may be able to find something in one of them. A piece of metal banding with a small hook on one end would be perfect. Hard to believe the grills have never been off. Here's a shot of just how tight these fit. Both speakers fit just as tight all the way around just like this corner.

    DSCN1961.jpg
     
  9. larryderouin

    larryderouin Do I get Food, Med's, or more gear this Month? Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Last time I saw something that tight was in a bangkok wh........ Uh, let just say the spec was about 1 micron. Never seen a speaker grill THAT tight!

    Did you check the perimeter with a magnet in case they used brads and pulled the cloth over them? Seen that done too. If not it's most likely glued on, and it' gonna be a gold plated bitch to get it off.
     
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  10. Knucklehead

    Knucklehead The Village Idiot Subscriber

    Messages:
    292
    Location:
    Central Washington State
    I finally found the time to devote some attention to these AR speakers. I took some very small & slender wood screws to two corners - screwed them in as far as I thought was necessary to get a grip on the grill frame. Pulled gently up and the hot glue let go with no argument. It appears that the grills have never been off. The hot glue was used in 11 places - one dab on each corner, two dabs between the corners in the long side, and one dab between each corner on the short side, and one just about center just under the woofer.

    The woofer on the one I removed the grill on has the cloth surrounds and appears to be in good shape. It has no serial number with it - the other speaker does. The woofer surround is flexible and there are no tears in it. I started on this speaker since it has a loose middle speaker wire terminal so I have to remove the woofer to get to the insides. I removed the screws holding the woofer on and did a little prying around the edges. The woofer is stuck solid! Looks like AR used a lot of monkey schitt to seal the box up. Does anyone know of a good way to remove the woofer without damaging the wood baffle?

    I'm going to renew the crossovers or re-cap them. Is there anyone that supplies ready to go crossovers and rheostats for the tone controls? I'm not sure of the condition of the old pots but I can't imagine there would be an improvement with new components. I have no idea what the values are on the pots or caps.

    Thanks for the help so far guys! I really appreciate it.
     
  11. larryderouin

    larryderouin Do I get Food, Med's, or more gear this Month? Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,348
    Location:
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    Screwdriver under the speaker frame with a block of wood or similar that goes across the width of the face so you're not putting the downward force on the edge of the hole, but on the block. It can be as thin as a 1/4" door wedge. I use a medium width baseboard trim. Use the block as the fulcrum point for the screwdriver, or tool under the speaker frame. Don't try to lift the speaker frame from one spot (just re-enforcing the point), but lift around the whole thing. If the adhesive stretches so that you can see it stretching, cut it with a knife to get the speaker out.
     
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  12. Knucklehead

    Knucklehead The Village Idiot Subscriber

    Messages:
    292
    Location:
    Central Washington State
    I have both grills off now. I'll take the woofers out later today. One speaker has just the woofer working - the other one has the woofer and the mid range working. Not sure why the tweeters aren't working but I'll find out why after lifting the woofers out. I worked the pots on the highs and didn't hear anything from them. I have a refurbish manual for the AR-3a which are very similar to the 2ax speakers so I have something to help test the drivers. I have the cloth surrounds on both woofers. The Tweeters are the red dome variety - which from what I'm reading is better than the 3.5" cone tweeter. Both mids have that 'muffler' on them. Funny - when I had the AR-2 speakers many years ago I never bothered to pull the grills off so I have no idea whether they were paper cone or a dome tweeter. It had pretty decent sound but I've owned better speakers.
     

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