Refurbishing Acoustic Research AR-3's

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I was just given a pair of AR-3's. I am aware of the options to upgrade this classic but how the
hell does one actually get those drivers out without destroying them in the process?
They are all mounted with that black goop (looks like black modeling clay to me) instead of

In my youth my best friend and I tried unsucessfully to do just that on his father's AR-3's
(for educational purposes mind you) and we had the smarts enough to stop trying even
after scraping out as much of that stuff from around the mounting flanges as we could.
Memory tells me the drivers don't give in easily after literally decades mounted to the cabinets.

Any pointers?

Also, has anyone actually done any of the upgrades and reported on the results?
I'm open to any opinion on these artifacts, positive or negative.
Thanks for the feedback.
AR3(a) Upgrade.

Hi Timo,
Many, many years back I was the happy owner of a pair of AR3a's. I sold them after I purchased Klipschorn monsters. My father also bought a pair of AR3a's. My mother is still using them after my dad deceased.
The AR3a's can rather easy be opened by removing the woofer. Try to remove the clay like stuff and remove the scews holding the woofer. Insert a flatbladed screwdriver under the woofergasget and lift the edge all around. It might be a bit sticky but not as bad as the Wilson Grand Slamm. Here the middrivers are literally glued to the cabinet!
The sound of the AR3a's can be improved very much by replacing the bipolar electrolytics and the metallised paper caps by polypropylene caps. Most woofers after all that years suffer from a completely detoriated cone surround. These can be replaced by a specialised firm like Total Speaker Repair in our country. This is much cheaper than buying new woofers, if still available.
Though efficiency of the AR's is very low I still like the sound.:)
diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
Joined 2001
There is a whole forum about refurbishing old speakers, including a whole section on old AR speakers, at the following:

Many interesting links about classic AR speakers are available from the following link:

Just for the sake of completeness, the site also deals with other brands of classic speakers which you might come across:

Kits to replace the surround are available at Parts Express for $23 a pair:

Along with standardized replacement surrounds, Speaker City also offers a specialized replacement kit for the AR speaker-11.0 inch model. I have no idea what they mean, but here it is:
Unfortunately, with the exception of the "Parts Express" link above, all the others are now dead.

I have recently purchased a repair kit from Parts Express to repair the surrounds of my 3a's, but am puzzled by the job. The instructions are generic, but the speakers are unique. I was hoping for a more targeted procedure to arrive with the kit, but will soldier on none the less.

The old foam is attached using a 'glue' which appears to remain 'wet' at even this advanced age. It is very difficult to remove as it is still VERY sticky. Now that I have most of it removed, the new surround is supposed to be attached to the inner paper cone 1st, however the cone sits lower in the basket now and the surround does not reach it. It's like I should be doing it upside-down so the cone meets the surround. The dimensions of the new foam appear correct (OD - ID), but I am left wondering if the paper cone will rest in a new position after the repair, potentially changing the way it works.

What I was really hoping to find is a procedure that does not require removal of the central dust cap. I understand the necessity of doing so, but if I could figure a way to maintain alignment of the cone while attaching the new foam without dismantling the immediate area surrounding the most sensitive part of the device (voice coil) I'd be more comfortable about this repair.

Still, it should be worth the effort. If you have a good ear for such, you would truly marvel at the sound these things make.
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Thanks John. I had actually just located that particular article.
While it's open, there appears to be significant advantages to be gained from replacement of the XO capacitors and restoration of the pots (these do crackle). I guess I have my work cut out for me. Some are adding ESR resistors in series with the replacement caps and moving the chokes around. Good thing my Advents still work - this is going to take a while.


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