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AR XA

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AR XA

Postby Stevie342000 » 29 Dec 2017 14:40

I have posted some pictures of my new AR XA here: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=14435&start=570

I am very certain that I am going to ask nothing here that has not been asked already.

I was fortunate enough to get some spares with this as well, in total I got 3 more black head shells - two of which have screws in them of differing lenghts, in total I have 4 head shells. As an added bonus I got a XA spare arm wand as well.

The unit came fitted with a Stanton 691E which whilst fine, it is not a new stylus.

The issues are:
1. From a distance the arm looks like it is lower at the bearing end, is that correct or is it missing the 7/32" ball bearing?
2. Slight wobble in the platter in the vertical plane, what is the cause and can it be corrected?
3. There are no feet on this of any kind, I am thinking of adding some spikes, will that Help?
4. I can not find a stylus for the Stanton 691E but can find 681E which I assume is a step down? Has anyone experience of using a Stanton on the AR XA?
5. Is there a ball bearing in the main platter shaft? Is it the same size as the arm bearing shaft 7/32"?

To put this all in perspective, the turntable was transported by car about 10 miles or so. I left it until yesterday before I connected it up to the current system, which is Technics SU-V3 (which I picked up at an auction house with a Brenell STB-1), I had to change the round 2 pin mains plug on that. The speakers are Kef Cantor III from the early-mid 1980s.

I have the Williamson Amps to rebuild and a set of Dynastatics with Shackman electrostatics which I am going to re-house in a new cabinet.

When I fired the turntable up yesterday, I was very impressed that the suspension did not need adjusting and all seems to be fine, no binding or sticking from platter or tonearm bearing.

I have been listening to a wide range of music, it loves jazz and classical but dislikes records that are worn. As none of this has been used in 20 years plus it is going to take some time for it all to balance out sound wise. But first impressions are that I am impressed. The last turntable I had was Garrard 401 with SME 2 and I think this is way better, more cohesive.

As I have so many head shells, I have options for cartridges are differing ones will suit differing discs and musical styles. I currently have a Denon DL103 but need to connect up my Project Phono USB and a Goldring G800E, I may have another cartridge but at this moment no idea as I recently moved house.

So the other questions are:
1. other than cleaning out the bearings and re-oiling.
2. has anyone tried a Goldring Cartridge in the AR XA?
3. Are my assumptions that the Denon will work the best the right assumptions, is there any thing I need to do, like adding shims or extra weight at counterbalance end?

As for the condition of this deck you can see from the pictures how well looked after it has been, the top plate finish is on the lighter side of black, could it be a changer over model from the brown paint still left in the system? The finish is slightly raised with what can only be described as glass like bubbles, no wearing or rubbing. The only modification I have come across so far (as I have not had a look inside for fear of breaking tone arm wires), is that it has had phono sockets added on the back.

I have listened to a number of old recordings: Mercury Living Prescence, RCA Living stereo, not tried a UK Decca yet but Ella never sounded better US Verve 1956. The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy was the first disc I popped on. Kate Bush was good too but I think that I can improve on what I have already.

I have no desire to go poking around underneath, the belt needs to be replaced it is a little slack but not overly so. Well off to the industrial place across the street to get some bearings, and into town for IPA and sewing machine oil. I got some with it but it may be old and past its best, I have some somewhere already.

AR XA Turntable 7.jpg


AR XA Turntable 5.jpg


AR XA Turntable 8.jpg


AR XA Turntable 6.jpg
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Re: Help & Advice

Postby noisefreq » 29 Dec 2017 15:35

Wow, nice AR!

Looks like it's been refurbished at some point which might account for the different colored top plate. But it looks real nice.

I can't answer your Goldring or Stanton questions but I've heard good things about the 600 series. Should be a very good match.

I believe the DL103 is way too low compliant for the AR tonearm. The Stanton should be a much better choice.

Having extra headshells is great!
Invest in a cheap digital scale for quick setups.

That cueing lever is a really nice bonus!

I would check the tonearm bearing for the ball bearing AND the white delrin disc (thrust plate) in the bottom of the well.

There should be a thrust plate in both wells.

The platter spindle does not use a ball bearing, it has a rounded tip.

A new belt is always the first thing I do.
It should be just tight enough that it does not fall off. "Stretched on" too tight is not good.

Also, coating the belt in talcum power is called for.

Clean off any belt residue from the inner platter and motor pulley.

Feet are not necessarily a must but I would go with rubber feet rather than spikes.

Spikes couple the base to the shelf which is not good for suspended tables.

If you don't have any hum then the wiring should be good but don't be afraid to pull off the bottom plate.
The suspension could probably stand to be tuned.

There are many sights that address this procedure.

You've got a very nice turntable here and coupled with the 401, two very coveted machines. Enjoy.
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Re: AR XA

Postby Stevie342000 » 29 Dec 2017 17:47

Thanks for that, yes I thought it was in remarkably good condition as well. I am not sure that it has been modified other than the phono lead changed to sockets on the back. Of course if I take the bottom off I would then find out exactly what has been done to it after it left the factory. As it has sat unused for over 20 years which means any modifications predate the Internet and most of the magazine articles. Those would be my assumptions based on what I know to be fact and what I have been told by the vendor.

Right got all the way into town to find I had left my method of payment at home and no cash on me. So bit the bullet and ordered, some 7/32" bearings, rubber feet, sewing machine oil, IPA and a new belt.

All should arrive in the next 10 days, which means in the mean time I can continue to listen to it and assess how it is performing.

I am not sure that the suspension needs adjusting, it rides a lot lower with a record on and it looks to be set about right to me. It moves up and down freely at the rate it is supposed (I've checked the videos out). It is not like a Linn LP12 which I had access to at one point. I did have an Ariston RD80S and that was as temperamental as the LP12, you had to keep resetting the suspension.

So I am familiar with suspended sub-chassis decks.

Once I get all the bits I have ordered I will report back on any changes.

There are mixed reports about the arm and what cartridges to use but it is a low mass design so you should stick to high compliance cartridges which usually restricts you to Moving Magnet. I checked out Ortofon website last night and it offers suggestions for the make of turntable and for the AR XA it suggests the OM series, Red 2M (but not sure about mountings on that one unless you can take off the stylus guard and then fit screws in, there is a different version as well so perhaps it meant that), the other 2 options were both moving coils they are the MC Red Quintet & the MC-1 Turbo.

There is no mention in the user manual about these cartridges and of course the Denon DL103. However their is mention of the SL15 and SPUGT both of which are low compliance.

The compliance of the Denon DL103 is 5 x 10-6 cm/dyne at 100 Hz what is that in English?

I am glad I chose the AR XA it was a good choice, I was toying with The AR Legend, Rega Planar 3 or 3 all about the same price on the well known auction site. Why did I chose the AR XA over all of them, it was the styling I preferred it to the AR Legend although that and the others allow a lot more choice of tone arm and thus cartridge choice.

But I do not think the arm is as bad as is made out and its part of the system as a whole as it was designed to be.

Other cartridges that I am looking at is the Audio Technica AT95HE, as with the Stanton which I know works in this arm. Choices Choices.....the Grado Black is not an option not available cheaply on line in the UK and import costs make it not an option. I may pop into the local hifi shops and see what they have to say, both are less than 1 mile from my home on foot and are across the street from each other.

The Goldring range in the UK is the equivalent of Grado. I think that is about all, I did not order any new longer wood screws for the feet as I have those in stock.
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Re: AR XA

Postby Stevie342000 » 29 Dec 2017 17:49

Does anyone know where you can get the overhang protractor from that came with this deck originally?
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Re: AR XA

Postby noisefreq » 29 Dec 2017 21:58

Overhang is 226mm from center of pivot to stylus tip.

Flip it over onto it's back and measure.
You can adjust the length by loosening the Allen screw holding the arm wand in the pivot block.
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Re: AR XA

Postby cre009 » 30 Dec 2017 00:02

The spare arm has the aluminium block as the pivot rather than the more common brass pulley. The block is a simpler mechanism that I understand was introduced quite late and is probably easier to adjust and therefore superior.
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Re: AR XA

Postby derspankster » 30 Dec 2017 00:43

cre009 wrote:The spare arm has the aluminium block as the pivot rather than the more common brass pulley. The block is a simpler mechanism that I understand was introduced quite late and is probably easier to adjust and therefore superior.


Interesting spare arm. I've never seen one like that one.

der
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Re: AR XA

Postby snfrosten » 30 Dec 2017 01:03

The spare arm is from an XB as is the black headshells.
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Re: AR XA

Postby Stevie342000 » 30 Dec 2017 01:11

cre009 wrote:The spare arm has the aluminium block as the pivot rather than the more common brass pulley. The block is a simpler mechanism that I understand was introduced quite late and is probably easier to adjust and therefore superior.



That's useful to know, there may be enough of the tone arm wire left to splice in some new leads long enough to solder to the phono sockets. There is a difference between the two arms in the arm pillar on the one that is fitted to the deck currently it is ribbed like the original. I've just had the arm off and had a look to see if the ball bearing was in place, it is. It was of course not in the bearing well but on the end of the arm pillar.

There is a second difference as well in the fitted arm, the bearings are not a square block but round like the brass original but is not in brass it is aluminium.

Had a look in the platter bearing as well I could not see much but oil in the bottom, will take a look in daylight but see attached picture. You can see the top plate finish better as well, it is a sort of dark brown rather than black but it borders on more black than brown and you can see the glass like bubble finish. Is it original?

20171229_2336131_edited.jpg
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Re: AR XA

Postby Stevie342000 » 30 Dec 2017 02:05

snfrosten wrote:The spare arm is from an XB as is the black headshells.


That would make perfect sense as the person I bought off was the 2nd owner and they bought it about 35 years. They said it was in good condition when the bought it and as the AR turntable had not been long out of production he was able to get spares when he bought the turntable.

I knew the black head shells were from the later AR XB. The fact that the spare arm is complete with leads (not sure if the leads are long enough to mount as is), would suggest it was a factory spare.

There is a lot of lateral play in the spare arm bearings, I suspect they need to be tightened, that is in the manual or info available on line.

Useful to have a spare arm should the leads go on the other, plus the extra head shells mean I can have different cartridges lined up, should I be waiting or spares or repair. As it stands now I think this turntable is a keeper and I can not see me replacing it any time soon. I do however have others, the Garrard 401 however went a few years back.
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Re: AR XA

Postby cre009 » 30 Dec 2017 10:20

I checked with Marc about the aluminium block and it was apparently a later modification for XAs.

http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php? ... t-10666015
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Re: AR XA

Postby cre009 » 30 Dec 2017 10:55

I believe that the later XAU's were sold with the black headshells at least in the UK. I now have 4 headshells in total. The one which came with my first XA was black but on a second XA I bought a few months ago the headshell was grey. The one from my XB was black.

I also purchased the arm components from an XA that someone split up. The headshell was black and it also came with the block pivot. I saw pictures of the deck so know it was an XA.
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Re: AR XA

Postby Stevie342000 » 30 Dec 2017 11:47

cre009 wrote:I checked with Marc about the aluminium block and it was apparently a later modification for XAs.

http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php? ... t-10666015


I assume you are referring to the arm that is fitted to the AR XA currently and not to the spare AR XA tone arm?

I have contacted Marc Morin Direct via email to see what he has to say and to seek his advice. I do have an Audio Karma account but I have enough forums to deal with and do not wish to duplicate threads. Not getting any younger and all.......

I have sent an email to Stanton see if I can find any info on the Stanton D 691 AL, it is not in their discontinued list, I need to check but from memory I could not find replacement styli or info on line model at all.

Is it actually Stanton 681, it needs a new stylus whatever it is and I assume that the 681 stylus would fit? Not sure of what the Pickering equivalent is.
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Re: AR XA

Postby Stevie342000 » 30 Dec 2017 19:42

Having been to the local Hifi Shop to ask about what the best current options are for cartridges I was told that the best I could get in Moving Magnet class for a not unreasonable £120 was the Audio Technica 520. They did not rate the Stanton, Shure, or AT95E said it was entry level which it is and better to spend a bit more on a decent cartridge.

I asked about the Denon DL103 and they did not think there would be too many issues with using that although it might not be the best match. To which they suggested the Hana moving coils - they are highish compliance 20 x 10-6 cm/dyne. The AT520 is 35 that is static it's dynamic compliance is the same as the Denon DL103 which suggests that it is no such a mis-match as you might at first think.

So apart from waiting for the spare parts not much else to say for now except really enjoying vinyl again.

I was advised not to put feet on the deck either, it is better to take the base off completely and to mount the deck on a solid surface. Oh well I have other uses for them anyhow so no biggy.

Thanks all for now, I may report back once I have put the new parts on and cleaned up the bearings but it is all subjective really.
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Re: AR XA

Postby derspankster » 01 Jan 2018 17:52

I use small rubber feet on mine with the bottom cover off. Originally they came with felt dots that quickly wore away. The feet I use raise the deck up less than a half inch. Grados can sound very good with the stock arm but I don't know how readily available they are overseas. Grados don't seem to get much respect in this forum but many enjoy them.
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