What makes you make the claim today?
George Merrill offered a great mod for the original XA. I cut the arm well out of the subchassis on my XA, and mounted a Formula 4 Unipivot. In the 1980’s Acoustic Research reintroduced the table as the ES-1, which included a separate arm mounting board. I had one with a Rega RB300 mounted on it, a good combo.
bdp, I think the Mayware Formula 4 was a popular replacement for the standard AR arm. Likely because it was also light weight (no impact on the suspension if done properly) and a good performer.
I changed to that arm too with the help of a buddy with access to a machine shop. He was able to modify the T-bar for the Mayware arm and punch a larger hole in the steel top plate. It looked like a factory installation when he finished.
@pryso, I too had a machine shop do the actual cutting of the subchassis, removing the AR arms bearing well and leaving a hole just the right size for the Mayware. I then took a file and enlarged the hole in the tables top plate, to accommodate the different length of the arm. I little dark brown paint on the exposed aluminum of the plate, and it looked factory! The Mayware was a much better arm than the AR, and corrected the only serious flaw in the XA table.
I had earlier had first a Thorens TD-125 MK.2, which I had nothing but trouble with. It’s electronics were too complicated, and trouble-prone. I replaced it with a TD-150, which was about equal with the AR XA, but had a pretty good arm, much better than that of the XA. About then the Linn showed up, then the Oracle, then the VPI. The era of really good turntables had begun (ignoring the now-resurging Thorens TD-124 and Garrard idler-wheel tables, which I am too young to at the time have known about).
bdp, Your story is interesting to me. I would have said that the TD125 came way after the AR XA and was much much better, although not without its own warts. I guess this tells us that I am older than you. I owned both, at different historical timepoints in my own evolution, or devolution. I think it went AR first of all, then Transcriptors Reference, then TD125, then etc. Because of the long production run enjoyed by the AR XA, it could be placed differently according to the age range of the audiophile, kind of like the Highlander of turntables.
I can see why my post was confusing Lew. The AR XA I modified was not my first, it was one I got in the 80’s. I got my first AR new in ’69, then the Thorens TD-125 in ’72 (with an SME 3009 Mk.2 Improved mounted on it). I sold the 125 and replaced it with the simpler TD-150, which I had for quite a while. I was out of hi-fi for a while, and then as I said got the second (used) AR in the mid-80’s, modifying it for the Mayware arm. I then replaced it with the reissue AR ES-1 and a Rega 300, which I had until I got myself a VPI HW-19 in the very early-90’s. The VPI sold me on high mass turntable design---Eric.
vinny, don't know why you have a burr under your saddle about the AR tables? But I wonder how much you know about them and if you ever even heard one in a decent playback system?
The AR-XA was introduced in 1961. That was a time dominated by rim-drive systems such as Garrard, Thorens, Dual, Lenco, etc. As we learned years later, those models were capable of much better performance with higher mass plinths and other upgrades. But at the time the AR offered a high level of performance relative to its modest price, primarily reducing feedback present in most other tables. Similar designs by Linn, Ariston, etc. came later and were copies of the AR engineering, albeit with some improvements.
Moving ahead in time the AR tables became recommended because they were plentiful, reliable, inexpensive, and offered good basic sonics. Yes some elements could be upgraded, mainly the arm, but a stock unit restored to proper playing condition is still a musically satisfying component when matched with an appropriate cartridge.