Friday, December 21, 2012

Acoustic Research MGC-1 Restoration


(Many more photo links below)

A HiFiCollector community member recently wrote me an email and sent me some photos of a terrific AR MGC-1 speaker restoration. I thought I'd share this with you. Please comment and he will get to read what you think. 

Hi Tom,
I recently ran across your webpage and thought the following would make for a good addition to your library.

Early in 2010 i crossed paths with Ken Kantor online at The Classic Speaker Pages who was the former head of R&D at Acoustic Research in the mid-80's. He also designed the AR MGC-1 speaker system and had generously offered up his personal pair to a new owner (which ultimately became me), because they were in dire need of restoration and he no longer had an interest in such a project.  in order to obtain the speakers i had to drive to Berkeley, CA (800 miles each way) and retrieve them from a storage locker. I borrowed a truck from my son-in-law and made the trip in early April 2010.

The speakers looked pretty bad, but except for one missing mid-range driver and surrounds needing replacements on several others, they were operationally intact.  the grills were missing and would have to be rebuilt from scratch, and a special controller amplifier for the side speaker arrays (MGC-1e) was missing as well, but advances in technology had rendered it obsolete and it was not necessary for proper operation of the speaker system. I eventually obtained an MGC-1e, but it was non-functional and I've never heard the system with this unit in place, though it makes for a good historical piece.

speakers as they were when i got them home.

Due to lack of space, no tools and a healthy appetite for procrastination it took me almost a year to complete the restoration and i had lots of help from Ken, who supplied all the advise i needed and a pair of mid-range drivers for the one that was missing, and a friend supplied the work space, tools, and about 60% of the labor needed to finish the project.

Even though Ken was instrumental in the restoration, he did not have any paperwork, manuals, schematics or other documentation, so he supplied it all from memory. This meant that I had no data on how to construct the grill frames.  Luckily another MGC-1 owner found me (Andreas from the Canary Islands of all places) and supplied the dimensions and detailed photo's of his grills.

speakers after drivers were refoamed.

MGC-1e controller amp.

grill frames and early work on the cabinets.

cabinets during refinishing.

finished project.

On Ken's suggestion i also added a powered sub woofer as the MGC-1 only gets down to the mid 30hz.  I was lucky enough to find an M&K V-1b that matches extremely well sonically and the cabinet just happens to match well too.

final system in place.
Aside from the following 2 links, there is scant little information to be found on the MGC-1.

Some brochures at the Classic Speaker Pages Library.

Kens technical article on the speakers in .pdf.

A side note on this project.  as I was going to be visiting Ken in person when I picked up the speakers, I thought it would be good to interview him for the audio e-zine, Affordable$$Audio.  I knew the editor and they were always on the lookout for interesting guest articles and I thought an interview with Ken could be very good.  Ken graciously agreed to do the interview and it was published as a two-part feature in the May and June 2010 issues. The article was subsequently picked up by Australian Hi-Fi and ran in their March/April and May/June 2011 issues.

i hope you have found this interesting enough to include on your site, and if i can answer any questions or give more details i would be happy to do so.

[ community member]

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