AMP to match AR-12 good old SPEAKERS


Standard Member
>>> slogan :
the foundation of your hi-fi system are your speakers !!!
need : a stereo AMP for my refurbished Acoustic Research AR-12 speakers ; spec excerpt reads [per DIN-standard] :

freq. = 36 Hz -> 30 kHz
imp. = 8 ohm
sensitivity = 9 watt
nominal and max. power = 100 watt per unit
efficiency = 1watt gives 85 db SPL at 1,0 meter
system :
drivers : 250mm woofer, 56mm cone mid.,19mm dome tweeter.
crossovers : midrange and tweeter switchable 0, -3, -6 db.
low freq. response = -3db at 44Hz
eff. sys. Q = 1,15
box vol. = 42 liter

the AMPLIFIER with :
- preamp-out, rec.-out select, twin speaker-pairs select,
full basic sound-color controls
- no gimmicks well legible [silver-] front-panel controls
- RCA/cinch connects + remote control


- room is 45 sq. meters, 4m. high => 180 cubic meters and
fairly 'bouncy' acoustically.
- input material : classics, jazz, mellow-pop, moody
- input sources: digital [cd/br, network]
- aged 65, i need an undistorted and lively, but a balanced
and uncolored sound, though somewhat juicy
- price not far in excess of EUR 400,-


much obliged for any hints ! - 'hazelem'


Distinguished Member
If I recall correctly, the AR are true Acoustic Suspension speakers. That is, the cabinets are sealed and they have special surround syspensions on the woofers. Typcally it will be more accordian pleat than the more common half-round rubber/foam roll.

If you look at the Sensitivity/Efficiency of about 85dB, that is not exceptionally low, just typically lower than a similar sized ported Speaker. As such, you need a decent amp to drive them.

As a guideline on the amp, it doesn't necessarily have to have exceptional power, rather I would say any decent mid-powered amp that is 4 ohm rated. And yes, I am aware that the speakers are rated at 8 ohms, but an amp being 4 ohm rated tells us something about the Power Supply.

€400 Euro is about £350. That limits the number of amps available. The first to come to mind at that price is the Yamaha AS700 with 90w/ch, which should be a Quality step up from the much lower priced Yamaha AS500 which is 85w/ch (~£250).

Now, if this is a pure music system, that indicates one step of features in the amp. But, if you want to integrate TV/Movie watching into the system, that might imply a slightly different set of features.

Next, we weight quality vs quantity. That is, do you want basic quality and high power, or higher quality and basic power? Or perhaps, a compromise of the two?

For example -

The Harman Kardon HK3490 RECEIVER, AM/FM is basic consumer quality but very very high in features. It has PHONO input, Digital Inputs with DAC, plus a massive 120w/channel. That is a lot of amp and the current price is about £350. Though I have seen it for less. Worth doing a Google Shopping Search in your Country.

Again, simply illustrating the range of features, the Onkyo TX8050 AM/FM has a basic amount of power. Though rated at 130w/ch to 6 ohms 1% distortion at 1khz, that is a bit inflated. Realistically though, you can probably expect a solid 80w/ch from this amp. But it has Digital Inputs + DAC, and it has Wired and Wireless Streaming of Audio over a computer network. That's probably not a set of features you need, but is shows the range of what is possible.

The Yamaha while a nice amp, does not seem to have Pre-Amp outputs, is there a specific reason why you need that feature?

Your budget puts you in something of an odd spot. There are good amps for less, and good amps for more, but only a few amps at that particular price range.

Here are two amps for considerably more money, but they are also considerably more amp -


From Superfi in the link provided, there is a £320 discount on this amp. But even with the discount the price is £680 or €795.

The next amp is a bit less, but still a very substantial £599 or €699.


The more basic Marantz PM7004, 70w/ch, is closer to about £480 to £500 from the right source. (€560 to €585)

Well over budget... admittedly, but something to consider.

For what it is worth.

Last edited:

Cable Monkey

Prominent Member
I would look at the period during which your speakers were made and look at what was doing the rounds then by the likes of Pioneer, Sony, Marantz, Sansui etc. Your budget should bag you a fine example of a top of the line amp or receiver from that era. A little research should find you something suitable. I personally think 4 ohm 85 dB is a tough old task for a lot of modern amps but a good old un was built specifically for that task!


Standard Member
many thanks to blue-wiz for your thorough and fast bounceback !

the prime issue here was also well depicted in a very concise way by cable-monk ;
taking it on from there :

1.- what do you do with old-type speakers today ?
.... and yes, blue-wiz, it's a sealed enclosure .....
they need a 'punchy' amp to 'trigger' them, but 'thereafter' one with a smooth
torque-curve - in order to give you a velvety drive, that i want.
sorry friends, i had made a mistake by naming any pricetag - it is NOT decisive !
(-as it was made up upon my brief visit to a large-chain consumer store in budapest,
where i saw a denon-pma-710-ae going for eur 350). thus the eur 400 price is not
the ceiling, but rather an order-of-magnitude level,, i.e. not 4000.
the above amp is dubbed 'high-current-circuit' also rated to give 85 w/ch at 4 ohms
(50 w/ch at 8 ohms),- which is why it caught my eye. it's a simple+pure 'in/out'
preamp+amp with NO additional functions, but does have a few useful features :
* power-amp pre-outs - for dual driving the speakers, if needed
* and/or switching for two pairs of speakers - like for adding monitors for tv-sound
* out-select for dual recorders - disk / network
* headphone jack and remote control
what puts me off is a supposedly ? heavy bass presence (according to a '
review), which i could perhaps ? counter by cutting the bass on the speaker's-crossover .
a plus for this amp is its old-style very legible (silver) front panel.
facit : if the bass can be harnessed and a tuner plus a digitising-box added, could this amp
be one of the solutions, in your opinion ?? - or should i stay away here.

2.- blue-wiz has a strong point in view of connectivity and additional functions, thus;
it may be worthy of consideration for the setup :
a.- integrating a radio-tuner
b.- catering for digital in-out connectivity, especially so since i won't go phono/tape !!

3.- pertains to any solution : my hearing is not so 'good' anymore therefore i have to
drive up the volume somewhat -, but i can't accept an unbalanced endstage ;
i do like a strong and mellow-ish bass, but certainly not a 'thumping' one !

regards and thanks from budapest,


Established Member
the biggest problem with ALL the acoustic research range of speakers is they are not a bright sounding speaker
the top end always sound a little subdued for want of a better word
i find a bright sounding amplifier helped quite a bit making the speakers come alive

over the years ( mainly the 80's ) i have owned quite a few of the AR range namely the AR 8s , AR 48s , AR 915 , AR 925 , AR 98 LS and finally the AR 9LS which a close friend of mine still owns and have been refurbished to their forma glory and they ALL have the same top end character

i always thought they sounded better on British amps than they did on jap amps
i wouldn't be too concerned about driving them it was only the larger pairs of AR speakers from the 915's and above that had a tendency to offer an awkward load but the 9LS were the main culprit for that dropping impedances below 2 ohms at times but the smaller end of the range were fine
i used to drive a pair of 48s which look like a newer generation of th AR12's with the meridian 103's which were rated at 35 watts and i have heard them being driven quite successfully with one of the nytech 20 watt amps of the day

if i was looking for an amp today on the second hand market that i knew would go well with those speakers it would probably be the audiolab pre power combo ( 8000 i think ) from that era


Distinguished Member
The Denon PMA-720 is probably a good choice. In the UK, right now, the Denon 720 can be purchased as low as £199 (€233). The normal price on the Denon 720 is about £350, so one would expect reasonable quality. At that price it is very attractive. The next step up is the Denon PMA-1510 for about £799 (€937) with 70w/ch.

In a British amp, consider the Cambridge Audio 651A with 75w/ch priced at £449 (€527) -

Cambridge Audio AZUR 651A Black | Stereo Amplifier | Richer Sounds

Azur 651A Stereo Amplifer for Hi Fi Stereo Through Speakers

The Cambridge includes a USB interface for both USB media and a computer. That is a plus, but no other digital connections - no optical or coaxial.

I hate to keep mentioning the Marantz PM-KI Pearl Lite, but in the UK, it is available for deep discounts. Not sure if the same is true where you are though. This is a £1000 amp for about £680 (€797). Well above your budget, but an amp worth considering.

I think we can safely assume your budget range is €400 to £600, but if you can clarify the range and/or the limit, so much the better for us.

Next, on the range of additional features. Tone Controls? Yes or No? DAC (digital to analog converter)? Yes or No? As to a Receiver, (amp with radio) while there are models available, these are uncommon in the UK. Don't know about the rest of Europe though. In the USA, Receivers are common and plain amps are rare.

The Harman Kardon HK3490 is a very high featured very high powered amp that comes in at a pretty modest price. This is certainly something worth considering. The Harman Kardon are exceptional value.


HK 3490 - Harman Kardon

Again, while the Rotel RA12 is a modest 60w/ch, I heard it effortlessly drive 4 ohms speakers in an audition. Priced in the UK at about £599 (€702). A bit outside your budget, but it does have a DAC and the other features I previously mentioned. Plus the quality standard is pretty high.

The best we can do is tell you what is available in the UK and what the price are. What is available locally to you and what local prices are is hard to predict.



Established Member
Don't think anyone's picked up on the size of room involved here. Only area and height is given, but if I assume the room to be rectangular then the dimensions are 30' long, 16' wide (or similar) and 13' high. A very large room that will need something special to fill it !

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