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Sunday, January 31, 2016

a/d/s/ R1 receiver and L470 series one speakers

Sorry to mislead anyone.  I had mentioned that I was going to listen to the B&W DM610i speakers this weekend, but I wound up doing something entirely different.  In fact I only got to spend about an hour in the listening room anyway, but it was time well spent.  There is a ton of great gear from the eighties, but I have always been a huge fan of a/d/s/ (which stands for Analog and Digital Systems) speakers.  My uncle still owns a pair of L/1590s and I think they are every bit as good as my Dynaudio Focus 220, if not better.  The 1590s are much bigger and are an acoustic suspension design, but both the 1590 and the Focus 220 have soft dome tweeters with extended high frequency responses that (at least where I have heard them) are clean, airy and never strident.  I had heard the 1590s with Hafler and NAD Monitor series amps, and it was not until recently that I spent any time listening to a/d/s/ amplification.  Well, that has changed, so if you're interested, stick with me!

 I have a copy of the December 1987 issue of Stereo Review that contains a special test report by Julian Hirsch of the a/d/s/ R4 .  I remember reading it originally in the local library, probably over winter break from school (As a very poor college student I wasn't a subscriber.  You can buy a lot of Ramen Noodles for the $1.95 cover price.  Although back then it was Kraft Mac and Cheese not Ramen, which reminds me of a Kids In the Hall skit . . . ).  It's a five page review with a really nice full color photo of the unit.  Hirsch concluded the review by writing: " . . . it is easily the most sophisticated product of its type currently on the market, and it is audibly superior, especially under less than ideal conditions, to any other receiver we have used."  I think that is very high praise indeed for Stereo Review.  They were especially impressed with the machine's "engineering excellence," which I can only appreciate in stereo components from a non-engineering point of view.  Nonetheless, I hoped in 1987 to hear the R4, if not own it some day.  Fast forward many years, and still no R4, but I have managed to acquire two of the R1 stereo receivers, one of which resides with my brother.  The second lives with me, and is the object of our current post.

When I find neat vintage gear at a thrift store (an increasingly rare occasion) I accept that it may be rough around the edges, and certainly will lack a manual and maybe the remote if one was originally provided.  Boxes and packing material are usually non-existent at the thrifts.  If I buy something on EBay however (also an increasingly rare occasion, for many reasons) I am a lot more picky.  I always try to get the complete package if possible, but as you are no doubt aware, that can be pretty tough.  "Mint" rarely means mint, and prices can be ridiculous.  Such is the world of the collector. Every now and then I break down and buy something that isn't quite perfect.  The first R1 I bought had no box, and no manual, but was in nice shape and under $100.  The second I bought was a little pricier and still had no manual or packing, but it did come with the hinged rear cover that this series of a/d/s/ components included:

The cover (unfortunately scratched) is labeled: "Atelier R1."  My trusty 1986 Equipment Buying Guide in the February 1986 issue of Stereo Review (written by W. Burton with R. Krueger and W. Schaub) provides the following info:

ADS Atelier R1 35-watt Receiver

5 AM/FM station presets, manual flywheel tuning and amplifier clipping indicators.  Features connections for two tape decks and two sets of speakers; LED digital display.  FM usable sens mono 1.0 microvolts (11.2 dBf); 50-dB quieting sens mono 1.8 microvolts (16.5 dBf), stereo 21 microvolts (37.7 dBf); THD mono less than 0.15%, stereo less than 0.25%; S/N mono greater than 70 dB, stereo greater than 67 dB; channel separation greater than 40 dB at 1,000 Hz; capture ratio 1.8 dB; Frequency response 15-14,000 Hz +0.5, -1dB.  Amplifier section: 35 watts per channel continuous average power output into 8 ohms from 20-20,000 Hz with 0.1% THD; 40 w/c into 4 ohm load.  FR tape, 10-75,000 Hz +0, -1.5dB, phono conforms to RIAA EQ +/- 0.5 dB from 40-20,000 Hz; input sens tape 50 microvolts into 200k ohms, phono 400 microvolts at 1,000 Hz into 47k ohms; S/N tape greater than 83 dB, phono greater than 73 dB; 17.52" W x 2.76" H x 14.84" D; 17.4 lbs, $500.00.

Whereas the R1 is not a remotely controlled unit (the R4 has a system remote which included quite a few programming features), it nonetheless shares some interesting features with its more modern cousin.  They are styled in a similar fashion, which means very compactly and with clean lines, in a kind of gray-green not that different from the NAD gear of that era.  

As you can see in the pictures above, the R1 has connections for two sets of speakers, and as the diagram on the fold down door shows, the spring-clip left and right speaker terminals for each set of speakers are stacked on top of one another.  There are a series of round push buttons on the face of the R1, and they are made of a smooth, shiny black plastic.  To the left of the radio presets is a button marked "key," except that it isn't a button at all, it is indeed a key or peg that pulls out from the R1 and is inserted in the hole under each preset when favorite stations are being assigned.  I would imagine that this key will be missing from quite a few surviving examples, even though it fits quite snugly and does not fall out when the R1 is shifted in the equipment rack.  

An interesting and quirky (I think) feature is the "Linear" button, which I believe operates as a sort of loudness or bass boost feature.  It is defeated by pressing the button, as opposed to being activated when pressing the button.  When I hooked the R1 up to my a/d/s/ L470 speakers it was obvious that there was a boost in the bass region, and I discovered that by engaging the Linear button the bass sounded more natural, to me at least.  The 30Hz button may provide more boost but I did not play with that one this time around as it was getting late.  In fact, I am seeing that this post is getting a bit long, and as it is nearly 23:00 Eastern Standard Time, this will have to be a part 1 post.  feel free to drop me a line if you are familiar with this machine or have specific questions.  And if you are an a/d/s/ expert, definitely let me know!  I'll leave you with a picture, and more on this topic tomorrow!



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