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Acoustic Research XA Reviews

displaying reviews 1 to 14 of 14

Acoustic Research XA

Acoustic Research XA

10/10 by lenjack

My first when it came out, with an ADC cart. Was perfect, until I decide I needed some automation and cueing.

8/10 by marcmyword

This is a great turntable for what it is. A completely manual piece of music playing technology designed in the 60's and able to withstand the test of time. If you can put up with a lack of cueing lever, you will be rewarded with an understatedly good looking turntable thats easy to work on with relatively easy to get parts, considering its age.

8/10 by Gareth W

I bought one of these new, in 1974, from 'John Ham Sound Studio' in Swansea. As with Barryl's turntable above, mine was also delivered by the shop's Morris 1000 van, same shop I wonder? I used it with a Shure M75EDII for 5 years until upgrade fever got the better of me. I sold it to a friend who still has it to this day, along with my old AR6 speakers, also purchased from John Ham at about the same time.

9/10 by barryl

I bought one of these new in 1973, It was £41.90 and AR had just had a major reduction in all it's range of Hi-Fi. I still have it, despite trying to sell it on eBay a few years back, fortunately it didn't sell !

It's back in its shipping box at the moment, awaiting set-up of our new upstairs room - I read the reports of shaking floors and skipping - I know ! Incidentally, if you still have the original packaging as I do, or buy such a deck so-equipped still, read the instructions for removal from the box carefully, to prevent damage to the fine tone arm wires.

The local dealer (actually 17 miles from my house back then) delivered it in his own little Morris Minor van, as it was deemed too delicate to post and I was charged about £1.50 extra for this.....

Yes, the headshell does strip its thread easily - I have two, the original light brown one I repaired and the new one from AR was a grey colour. Incidentally, I always used a Shure M75ED, at about 1.25 g.

The belt, I did get a new one at some stage, but will probably need another when I get it going again, should be coated in talc, though with cancer scares associated with talc, corn starch might be more sensible ? The reason is simple - the belt must be allowed to slip as it takes up the drive and if the slippage is lacking or nil, the belt will wear unduly and just as the platter gets up to speed it will suddenly cog and jump alarmingly, which is not conducive to record and stylus life !

When I last looked, the flock finish on the platform was going sticky, the way of lots of aged plastic compounds I'm afraid and may have to be removed with a solvent - I need to choose a safe one which still has efficacy !

I also have a Garrard 401 with a Rega 300 arm and Goldring 1042 cartridge and a Thorens 166 (I think) with a Transcriptors fluid arm (no cartridge at present), so when I get going again I may report back with a comparison ?

8/10 by northgater

I could not afford a new Thorens; bought AR-XA w/Shure M91ED for 1/3 the price. Simple design with high performance. Give it a spin to start and drop the tone arm. Only issue is the cartridge wires which tend to break, but AR sold new tone arms so that I could afford replacing as needed.

Quite surprised that these are worth more than my Thorens TD-165 which I picked used for $175 with Shure V15/IV. Would I trade a Thorens for an AR? Never.

My Thorens is on the 2nd floor and bounces as badly as the AR. Solution is two sheets of Stainless or wood with foam core to isolate and also level. Select a useful open-cell long-life single ILD or low/high ILD sandwiched foam - spend $25.

9/10 by desertdog

Top dollar. Top draw. A classic from the start. Posted 2015

8/10 by James22-23

My 8 out of 10 rating is based on this turntable's value: It sounds good and is CHEAP. That said, it's like the original Land Rover: there are no luxury features at all. It doesn't even have a cueing lever, and the dust-cover is not hinged. The arm is very massive, so cartridges have to chosen with that in mind. Anti-skating CAN be provided through artful twisting of the braided audio wire exiting the rear of the arm. As mentioned by other reviewers, it is susceptible to skipping if the surface that it is sitting on is able to move at all. At one time, I lived in a house on a bus route, and it would skip whenever a bus went by. If i wanted to record an LP side without interruptions, I had to wait until the buses stopped running, late at night. Works well with most Shure cartridges.

10/10 by caputto70

This review is just for the bearing. I got a AR XA that was broken, just tested the bearing of the platter. FANTASTIC. I just took the metall T that holds the bearing for the platter and tonearm and put it on my kitchen floor. Gave it a spinn... and I could drink a big cup of coffee before it stoped spinning. Best bearing in any of the belt driven turntables I had. Robert Sweden

9/10 by RobotB9

What can I say? It's quiet, spins the record at a stable, constant speed and it doesn't pickup acoustic vibration. What more do you want your record player to do? Yes, it's completely manual, but it gets the basics right. It's a shame parts (headshells in particular) are getting hard to come by. I only sold mine because I bought an AR-XB - okay, I wanted the cueing lever and an arm rest that wasn't so easy to break. It's still the same table.

9/10 by Ragnwald

Love this turntable.

8/10 by anmpr1

I rate this high from an historical standpoint, but in the context of today's turntable design, the AR is pretty minimalistic. In fact, short of something you crank, it would be difficult to find anything more minimalistic. Like my comments on the Thorens TD-160, the springy subchassis design has its drawbacks depending upon listening room construction--solid concrete slab floors work best. The arm is a blast from the past--not easy to adjust, no anti-skating, cheap plastic headshell, no cueing, but good bearings. The turntable itself has no torque to speak of, and speed changes require removing the platter. The good news is that you can use Shell 10W motor oil (it says here) to lubricate the parts. Back in the day I used a Shure M-seventy something E, if I recall correctly. Fit and finish were high. It was the exact opposite in engineering thinking than my Garrard Zero-100. The fact that this sort of thing sounds as good as it does shows you that it doesn't take a whole lot of engineering whiz in order to play a record, if the basics are done right.

8/10 by tomvette

The ARXA should be purchased for what it is. It is a ground breaking design dating back to the 50s.

This is the initial suspended platter/arm design that opened the door for Thorens and Linn turntables. The turntable has very low rumble and wow specifications, excellent acoustic isolation and delivers very detailed, balanced sound reproduction. That said it is very basic and susceptible to bouncing floors that can cause skipping (think second story floors that are not solid). This is a piece of history.

8/10 by tallone1944

I have had my AR XA turntable since the '70's and have had excellent results. The turntable is simple but quite good. I would reccomend it still today as an excellently engineered device. S/N ratio is great and I recorded all my LPs the day I bought them. I transferred them to reel to reel tape deck which I still own.

5/10 by nat

Though it looks clunky and lacks many modern conveniences like anti skating, cuing, and tracking force readout, the AR arm on the original series of AR tables is a surprisingly capable piece of equipment. It's relatively low mass, can be aligned easily, the counterweight is rigidly mounted, and bearings are low friction, and the leads provide some antiskating force if dressed properly. But look out for the bearing pins in the pivot block -- they can loosen themselves very easily. And the headshell bayonet can be very very easily stripped.

The arm works well with cartridges over a surprising range. Plenty of people used it with Shure V 15s and other very high compliance cartridges, but plenty of others used it with low compliance cartridges, including the Decca (Ken Kessler).

I don't know of anyone who mounted an AR arm on another turntable, and there was a veritable cottage industry mounting other arms on the XA etc., but I believe there was and is a synergy with the X series and their arms, and the effort of changing arms isn't necessarily repaid in improvement in sound.


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