Category Archives: Music

Good Poop: Joe Edwin Holland

Legendary drummer Joseph “Joe” Holland has a unique and colorful origin and story, to the say the least. His career has been a string of interesting stories, celebrity encounters and time spent with Paul W. Klipsch (PWK). Let’s start from the beginning…

Joe was born November 2, 1927 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He attended Centenary College in Shreveport, as well as Louisiana Tech in Ruston, LA, and Texas Western in El Paso, TX (now UT El Paso).

Joe began drumming all the way back in grade school. In those days, the Shreveport schools did not have a junior high. Elementary graduates went directly to high school. There was a push to prepare these elementary students for high school music programs. Joe’s first music teacher was a type of “circuit teacher” – one that makes the rounds. He had just graduated from college and he admitted to Joe “I don’t know anything about drums at all, about how to play, but I know how to teach it.” He gave Joe a book and told him: “Do what it says here and I’ll be back next week and check on you.”

Joe practiced from the book’s instructions the whole week, and when the teacher came back, Joe had learned a great deal. Joe continued the year in this manner very successfully. There were three levels of bands in high school. Joe was admitted to the A level.

Joe’s first brush with celebrity occurred when he was only 10 years old. His father was a builder and built their family home on Scoville Court. Across the street, on Dalzell, lived “Bubba” Broyles, owner of a profitable music store. It was the gathering place for local and transient musicians. He had a fine home and also owned the house next door, which he would occasionally offer to hard-up musicians who needed a place to stay.

Pud Brown, a tenor sax man of some repute, was there at the time, and he was a close friend of Louis Armstrong. Louis was having trouble dealing with threats from the owner of a Chicago nightclub. It seems that Louis had received a better offer from another club and gave the owner his two-week’s notice. He called his old buddy, Pud Brown, and was invited to Shreveport to use the “sleepin’ porch” until things cooled down. Bubba gave his OK and Louis felt safe there.

Joe said, “I awoke to the sound of Louis’ trumpet and followed the sound to the sleepin’ porch. There sat Satchmo’ himself, smiling and playing his horn.” Of course “Jim Crow” was the order of the day in the Deep South, but Louis felt safe there because Bubba and Pud were his friends. Joe continued, “I had recently seen him in a movie short featuring Louis and his band, and I was fascinated by the man. He played for me and soon there were half-a-dozen other kids lined up at the door, equally wide-eyed. Bubba came over to get Louis and take him down to his store in the entrance of the Inn Hotel. I spent the afternoon listening and talking to Louis. I kept calling him Lou-ee until he corrected me, saying, “Joe, mah name, spelled L-O-U-I-S, not L-O-U-E-E! Say it: Lou-ISS.”

I have forever after called him LouISS. The last time I saw Louis, he and his band were featured in a performance at Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium. He had “Big Sid” Catlett, one of our finest, playing drums. Sid played a fabulous drum solo and dedicated it to me, a 14-year-old kid with tears in his eyes.”

World War II was only months away when Joe got a job in Shreveport playing in a “low-down honky-tonk band.” His parents never paid much attention to his musical activities and knew nothing of his job, which paid $100.00 a week. At the time, this was more than many executives in Shreveport made. Joe saved his money and opened a bank account, which soon grew into the thousands.

Riding home on a city bus one afternoon, Joe noticed a new Packard in front of a house with a sign on the windshield: “Buy this car for $300.00, I have been drafted into the army, Must Sell.” Joe hopped off the bus, rang the doorbell, looked at the car, drove it around the block and paid $300 cash.

His parents were astonished when he drove the car home and they asked him where the money came from. They both drove “mere Dodges.” This also prompted his mother to find a good, tough military academy. Schools with a military mission were becoming popular because of the looming certainty of war.

They decided on a military school in Gulfport, MS. When the family car arrived, a sign greeted them: “Send us the boy and we will return you the man.” It proved to be the low point in Joe’s life. He said it was like being in jail with a bunch of little boys from Mississippi, all being treated like prisoners. It even involved hazing from upper classmen that escalated. Joe credits the presence of his drums for “saving his life” and sanity. After a year or so, around 16 years of age, he “escaped in broad daylight” by taking a bus about 60 miles to New Orleans. He went straight to the musician’s union, signed up and had a job offer in a matter of hours. They kept him busy with good jobs that paid well and put him in association with a variety of celebrities.

These celebrities included Rosemary Clooney, Earl “Fatha” Hines and Candy Candido. The latter was a comic personality who had done many voice-overs, including work in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” After this months-long tour concluded, the union recommended Joe to an all-girl band that had lost its drummer.

Mickey Stevens was the leader of the ten-member group. In order to maintain its all-girl status, the press releases said “All girl band. Featuring Joe Holland on drums.” “We worked well together,” said Joe, “We had a great time playing fancy resort hotels in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida before Mickey found a fine female drummer.”

After their tearful goodbyes, Joe moved on to a luxury hotel in Kansas City for the drum spot in a Mickey Mouse Band. Translation: very corny music but even higher pay scales, plus room and board were on the house! Just for kicks, he dropped in on some of Kansas City’s top jazz clubs.

Joe got to sit in with the likes of Count Basie, Earl Hines and many other greats of the day. However, he would not be able to work with black musicians again until his army days. That would come in 1957, the night after the 101st Airborne’s occupation of Central High School in Little Rock. It was the night he met the great Art Porter Sr. at a club in downtown Little Rock.

Joe Holland v01Joe will never forget the feeling of working with such a great jazz personality. “Art should have been an internationally known pianist, but he did not want to leave Little Rock and his children,” said Joe. His son, Art Porter, Jr. became known internationally for his skill with the alto saxophone.

One of his early jobs in 1944 was in a “hillbilly band” for Jimmie Davis’ run for Louisiana governor. Joe says it was just by luck that Davis secured the “world’s greatest guitarist,” Snoozer Quinn. Joe and Snoozer became personal friends and worked together several times. Snoozer taught Joe one of his greatest lessons, how to integrate his skills with other band members. They continued playing Davis’ rallies right up to a successful election.

As soon as he was ensconced in office, Governor Davis left his advisors in charge while he made a beeline to Hollywood, where he starred in some of the worst movies ever made. There were two other notable musicians in the Jimmie Davis Band: brothers Hoke and Paul Rice. They wrote one of the greatest country music songs of all time, “You Are My Sunshine.” This beautiful, sentimental ballad was shopped around to top country singers of the day, but no one recorded it. The boys needed money so badly that they sold the song to Jimmie Davis for a mere twenty-five dollars!

The rest, as they say, is history.

Davis recorded the tune and both he and the song became instant hits, selling in the hundreds of thousands. Davis listed himself as the composer of the song and wouldn’t pay anything more to the Rice brothers.

“In 1946, just before I left New Orleans I got to spend five days working with The Three Stooges when they were booked into the St. Charles Theatre. Curly had had a stroke, Moe was worn out and Larry Fine had been cheated out of most of the money he was due from the movie company they worked for.

They did very little hitting and spent most of their time on stage singing! They were very good at that. I was on stage with them, using the bass drum pedal to enliven their stomping around on stage and providing sound effects with Korean temple blocks to provide sound for what little hitting they did do. Just a few months later I saw Curly’s obit in the paper,” Joe said.

In 1960, Joe found himself working in another “colorful” Louisiana governor’s race. This time it was with Earl Long. Earl had carried on an embarrassing tryst with a stripper named Blaze Starr. The band didn’t see much of Ol’ Earl. The routine was to get to the dusty towns first, set up on the rail freight platform, play and draw a crowd.  As soon as they saw the white Chevy sedan they’d load up and move on to the next town. Joe said, “These things started mid-morning and continued until around 5 pm. The old boy was a trooper, as long as he had his glass of “amber colored liquid.”

In 1967, Joe broke with his tradition of Louisiana governor’s races and worked with the future governor of Arkansas, Winthrop Rockefeller. This was Rockefeller’ third and most difficult run. Joe provided the musical background for all of his commercials and 33 rallies around the state. Johnny Cash and Cal Perkins appeared at many of those rallies. On several occasions when Johnny’s drummer failed to show up, guess who sat in? Much later, in 1980, Joe worked with Frank White in his campaign that unseated Bill Clinton as governor of Arkansas. Initially, Frank was still wearing his tired plaid “country boy” suits and work shoes. Joe ended up being Frank’s advisor on how to dress for success.

The music business has been a central part of Joe’s life for over 70 years. However, Joe has held several “day jobs,” mostly in sales positions. According to Joe, “Music was always been something I was trying to escape from. The minute I’d escape, I couldn’t stand it. I had to go back and play. As a young musician, I received a lot of advice from older, experienced musicians. They always said to have a back-up plan.” Joe explained that the dependency of the music business on the liquor business must be recognized. “Once a club starts to fail…the first thing they do is lay off musicians.”

Joe’s first day job was with Revlon, representing the Louisiana area and continuing over to Dallas, Texas. This put him in contact with Neiman-Marcus, a company Joe paid careful attention to, learning a lot of the fundamentals. At the time there were many popular quiz shows, one of which was sponsored by Revlon. There was some cheating involved in the show, and it really hurt Revlon.

Joe’s next job was with Playtex covering a bigger area for two to three years. The pressure for greater sales was intense so Joe moved to Yardley of London. This was a great job, including trips to Great Britain and Europe. Yardley’s head executive in London had a daughter who married a businessman in Little Rock. Through this connection, Joe managed to meet him and escorted him on a visit to Little Rock. When Joe took him to the airport the man asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Joe asked him for a job in London.

Unfortunately, the British did not look kindly on giving their jobs to foreigners. However after some consideration, it was worked out that Joe would come over as a consultant, for which Joe admits he was not qualified. The British stint included trips to Paris, Belgium, and a several-week-long trip in 1970 to Russia. He returned to the U.S., continuing to work for Yardley, until they closed their U.S. operations. Prior to this, Yardley had a practice of rewarding employees with a Cadillac. Joe got one.

Joe was an early Hi-Fi buff and had naturally heard of Paul Wilbur Klipsch. Joe built his own speakers but is quick to say that they were nothing compared to what PWK was doing. In early 1955, he drove from Shreveport to Hope on the off chance that he might meet Paul. He was amazed that PWK invited him in, and later took him to lunch.

Paul was “easy to meet, easy to talk to, and easy to get along with, just a great guy. I could sense that he was going to be a fun guy because I never knew what he was going to do or say.”

When Paul discovered that Joe had his drums in the car, he asked Joe to play them in a live versus recorded scenario during their first encounter. PWK said he wanted to play some records and asked Joe to bring his drums inside. He pointed a speaker right at Joe. He wanted Joe to play along with his Glen Miller music. Fortunately, Joe had just gotten out of the Army Band and knew all of the arrangements by heart!

Joe played along with the recorded drummer exactly, which fascinated PWK. This exercise was conducted in the hallway of what is now Klipsch’s Hope office building, with Joe not being able to see whether the source materials were records or tapes (dammit). The result was the beginning of a serious dialog on possible collaborations.

Shortly after, they were doing a live versus recorded demo for a large audience in an auditorium at Centenary College. Dealers and the public were invited. Curtains hid a speaker on one side and a drum set on the other. Joe would play and then a recording of Joe would be alternated. The audience was asked to identify the live performance. Several more of these demonstrations were staged.

Soon Paul suggested a recording session. On the morning of June 19, 1955, Joe and the short-lived Joe Holland Quartet entered KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. At the same time, Elvis Presley was exiting the studio. He and his band recorded all night due to Elvis’ proclivity to put five notes in a four-note bar. The band members were afraid to call him out, so they just kept telling him that they had made a mistake and needed another take. [Do not irritate Elvis!] Elvis’ drummer, D.J. Fontana was a good friend of Joe’s and related the events of the previous night.

The recording session lasted most of the day, but included no pictures or other documentation – just the music. All songs were recorded straight through without mixing. Playback at the studio was via a pair of Klipsch Rebels as they were small enough to fit in the back of Paul’s airplane. If there were a serious mistake or flaw noted in the initial playback, the whole number would be repeated. Only a few required retakes. Extraneous noises were left in some of the recordings. One noise that was thought to be the drummer’s chair squeaking was actually a pedal. Joe used a Ludwig Speed King, which has also been referred to as a “Squeak King.” Unfortunately, it is not known if any of the band members ever heard their finished product on Klipschorns. [Joe has not, but I plan to remedy that!] Joe had Rebels………………

In 1957, a second recording session was arranged with a reunited Joe Holland Quartet. Paul explained to Joe that during his demos at frequent dealer visits, many people would request a copy of the material. At the time, the KlipschTape division had just been created with the help of John Eargle. Joe recalls that John represented himself as an A&R man from RCA. As with the earlier recording session in 1955, PWK utilized a Berlant tape recorder and two widely spaced, omnidirectional Stephens microphones. The second session did not seem to impress the band like the first. A “been there, done that” mentality could have been at play.

PWK and Joe remained in contact for many years. Joe knew some generals at Barksdale Air Force base. He arranged to take a General Westmoreland (the “lesser” Westmoreland) up to Hope to visit with PWK. The General was a huge Klipsch fan, so it was somewhat amusing to see his “subservient posture” in Paul’s presence. Joe gave at least another general the same “audience with King Klipsch.” Much later, PWK orchestrated, pun intended, an invitation from Arthur Fiedler for Joe to play with the Boston Pops. Unfortunately, this never materialized due at least in part to the pressure of Joe’s day job.

In the 1980’s PWK ran into Joe at Cajun’s Wharf in Little Rock. It had been 20 years since they had seen each other but Paul instantly recognized Joe. At 88, Joe lives on the west side of Little Rock, and is still getting paid to play his drums.

 

The Klipsch Guide to Record Store Day 2016

Record Store Day (RSD) is treated differently by each independent record store across the country, but it’s safe to say that your local independently owned record store will likely have a whole bunch of activities planned for its visitors.

Our friends at Indy CD & Vinyl are located in Indianapolis, just a few miles from Klipsch HQ, and have a whole slew of fun stuff planned on Saturday: live music, product giveaways, food, drink, and of course, all of the vinyl you would ever need. Indy CD & Vinyl is co-owned by Andy and Annie Skinner, who were gracious enough to give us some additional insight into Record Store Day. (Schedule)

Here’s a taste of what Klipsch is looking forward to on Record Store Day on local and national fronts.

Indy CD & Vinyl Sign

WHY IS RECORD STORE DAY IMPORTANT?

“Record Store Day is important to Indy CD & Vinyl because it gives us a chance to show our appreciation to all our customers that shop here all year long. It is also a chance to show new customers all that we have to offer, both as a retail record shop and as a community center. We are proud of our role in our music community and are thankful for all that our customers do to support us – RSD is a way to give thanks and show off our place!” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Indy CD & Vinyl inside 1 social

MOST WANTED VINYL ON RECORD STORE DAY

“We have been getting buzz about quite a few of the limited releases, like Dr. Who, an Iron Maiden picture disc, a David Bowie picture disc, a Twentyone Pilots 7″, and the box set from the band Lush. That box set is beautiful! There also is a unique item from hip-hop legends Run The Jewels, it’s a virtual reality box called RTJVR, it looks awesome and it is nothing we’ve ever seen before! Even a piece from The Monkees will probably go quickly, it’s a really cool, clear die-cut picture disc.” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Oreo Jones

MUST-HEAR ALBUMS ON RECORD STORE DAY

“Although not a sanctioned Record Store Day item, local hip-hop sensation Oreo Jones plans to hide a copy of his new album “Cash For Gold” somewhere in the store for a lucky customer to find. He is definitely someone to watch out for nationally this year.” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Devil to Pay band

Devil to Pay (Photo via theobelisk.net)

LIVE MUSIC ON RECORD STORE DAY

Klipsch is proud to sponsor the main stage at Indy CD & Vinyl, utilizing our kick-ass graffiti PA speaker system. Some people think it’s too much for a small space, which we don’t really get. After all, there really isn’t such a thing as “too much” speakers.

Regardless, Record Store Day is a great opportunity for you to check out amazing artists in an intimate setting without being price-gouged. Better yet, you may stumble upon some artists you’ve never heard before who will blow your mind. That’s all part of the magic.

The music will be kickin’ from 10 AM – 7 PM with Shoobee Loo, Mr. Daniel, Sweet Poison Victim, Moor.dub, Veseria, Desert Planet, Devil To Pay and U.S. Bastards rockin’ the Klipsch Stage. “Each band is amazing in their own right, but together we can hear music from many genres all in one day,” Andy Skinner said.

It is also a family-friendly affair with kids music available along with face painting, games and crafts for music lovers who would like to bring their little ones.

R6 On-Ear Vinyl

PRODUCT GIVEAWAYS ON RECORD STORE DAY

We’re assuming companies are giving away tons of crap (ok, maybe not only crap) all over the country to help celebrate and promote Record Store Day, but we’re pretty sure you won’t get anything that sounds better than the Reference R6 In-Ear and Reference R6 On-Ear headphones that we’ll be giving away at Indy CD & Vinyl.

You’ll have to be in attendance to enter to win (sorry!), but it’s totally worth it because you have to eat something from Kuma’s Corner Burger in order to be eligible to win. That’s what we like to call a “win-win.”

Unfortunately, we won’t be giving away any of our vaunted new Reference R-15PM powered monitors that have internal amplification and a built-in phono pre-amp (which means no receiver or separate phono pre-amp required). The good news, though, is that the R-15PMs are available for $50 OFF from Indy CD & Vinyl, Klipsch.com and participating dealers through the month of April. The aforementioned Klipsch Reference headphones are also available at Indy CD & Vinyl for a special price.

rocket 88 doughnuts

Photo via IndyStar.com

FOOD & DRINK ON RECORD STORE DAY

No one wants to listen to music on an empty stomach, right? We’re looking forward to loosening our belts and stuffing our faces with burgers from Kuma’s Corner and doughnuts from Rocket 88 doughnuts. Indianapolis has been developing a serious food-scene and it extends into Record Store Day.

Of course, you have to wash it all down with something and yet another Indianapolis company is partnering with Indy CD & Vinyl – Hubbard & Craven’s Coffee. That’ll do quite nicely. (P.S. You’re missing out if you haven’t dipped a glazed yeast doughnut into coffee before eating it.)

To top it all off, Indy CD & Vinyl’s good friends, Dogfish Brewing Company, will be supplying the adult beverages for the evening. We have no complaints on this matter whatsoever.

Reference R-15PM Phono Pre-Amp

WHAT TO DO AFTER RECORD STORE DAY IS OVER

OK, so you have a bunch of new vinyl. What’s next? Well, we would advise that you get yourself a real pair of speakers. Enough of those crappy all-in-one solutions. It’s time to stop vinyl abuse.

While any Klipsch speakers would be suitable partners for a proper audiophile-grade turntable setup, we’ve created a couple of handy guides that will help you make the best decision.

The Best Record Player Speakers

Turntable Setup Guide for Passive and Powered Speakers

What are you doing for Record Store Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Recap: 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Presented by Klipsch Audio

While the Klipsch partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame extends far beyond the Induction Ceremony, the event is certainly one of our favorite moments of the year. It gives us (and fans across the world) the chance to honor legendary musicians who have delivered endless amounts of joy through their music.

Before we round up everything that happened this past week, we would like to once again congratulate Bert Berns, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, NWA and Steve Miller on their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To learn more about the inductees, please click here.

Klipsch Audio Presents Intimate Conversations with John Varvatos

Intimate Conversations with John Varvatos

PHOTOS

The week’s festivities kicked off with a collaborative listening event involving Klipsch, John Varvatos, Soundstage Direct and The Musician’s Ear. It took place at the John Varvatos retail location in NYC at 315 Bowery St, which you may recall, is the former site of legendary punk rock club CBGB. It’s practically impossible to count the number of legendary musicians who once played at this location, giving the event the ideal backdrop.

Together, we all pulled together for a night that exceeded all expectations. John Varvatos himself interviewed Hall of Famers Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Rob Zander (Cheap Trick) about being inducted in the Rock Hall, their music (past and present), the importance of quality sound and many other topics. Varvatos even managed to lure Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to come on stage for a few words. Having known all of these artists for years, Varvatos was completely at ease talking to the three legends of rock.

It legitimately became a conversation between friends. At one point, Hughes even shared a crazy story about a female police officer who allegedly handcuffed him for doing cocaine in public, undressed in front of him and sexually “prosecuted” him. (By the way, Hughes’ wife, who was laughing hysterically in the second row, chose the word “prosecuted”.)

It was that kind of night. Just a bunch of fun people sharing a laugh, some drinks and a bunch of memories.

Music and audio was played through Klipsch Heresy III speakers that were custom-designed for the John Varvatos flagship location in Detroit.

Steve Miller Klipsch Gifting Suite Rock Hall

Rehearsals at the Barclays Center

PHOTOS

You may be surprised but many of the inducted bands are still playing together and at an extremely high level. In fact, Cheap Trick’s brand new album Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello is getting great reviews. Regardless, there is always the need for rehearsals especially at the 18,000 seat capacity Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

After sweating it out on stage, the artists swooped on down to where we were all hanging out backstage to check out the latest and greatest Klipsch speakers and headphones, including the musician-pleasing R-15PM powered monitors, Klipsch Groove portable Bluetooth speaker and Reference On-Ear headphones. Oh, and many of them were down to share a celebratory Smart Beer and snacks with us.

We shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but it’s still always a treat when famous musicians get excited to hear our name and tell us a story about their first Klipsch speakers, like Steve Miller, when told us all about his love for Klipsch La Scala speakers.

Special shout-out to Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty fame, who came by a few times during rehearsals. He’s a lot of fun!

2016 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony

2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Presented by Klipsch Audio

The main event for the week was, as you expect, an awesome show. A sell-out crowd at the Barclays Center was on-hand to celebrate the legendary musicians who shared the stage.

We were happy to show the Klipsch video “Tiny Spark” to the thousands in attendance because, after all, we are celebrating the Hall of Fame musicians, as well as each and every person who has had that tiny spark to create their own piece of musical magic.

There were too many moments to pick an absolute favorite with every inductee (minus N.W.A.) playing some of their most beloved songs. Of course, surprise performances from David Byrnes (accompanied the Roots) and Sheryl Crow (with Grace Potter) also added to the evening’s shine.

We are definitely suckers for the all-star jam band tradition at the end of each Induction Ceremony. All of the artists get on stage and perform together. It may sound like a total cluster, but the nearly overwhelming amount of talent on stage makes it all come together into something truly special. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

HBO will air the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Klipsch Audio on April 30.

Best Speakers for Your Record Player

Vinyl is back in a big way. After all, vinyl made more money than free streams in 2016 with sales rising to their highest level since 1988, according to the RIAA. The record player is becoming practically as ubiquitous as the television in living rooms across the world.

Whether you own one record or 1,000 records, a pair of quality speakers for your record player is exactly what you need. After all, what’s the point of investing in analog audio if you’re just going to push the sound through some crappy all-in-one solution?

We’re here to help you get the very most of out of this new-again medium.

While almost any pair of Klipsch bookshelf or floorstanding speakers would be terrific partners for a record player, we have broken down several situations to find the best speaker for your record player. 

Reference R-15PM Phono Pre-Amp

Easiest Speakers to Set Up With Your Record Player

Reference R-15PM

Some people don’t want to mess around with a bunch of wires and separate devices. We get it. You just want to hear your burgeoning vinyl collection in all of its glory. With internal amplification and built-in phono pre-amp, the new R-15PM powered monitors are the best option for someone looking for the easiest way to hook up their turntable properly. These are the new standards in record player speakers.

RP Uturn blog

Best Passive Bookshelf Speakers for Your Record Player

Reference Premiere RP-160M

One of the biggest reasons why people get into vinyl is the desire to free themselves from overly compressed music. The RP-160M bookshelf speakers over top level performance that provides a true audiophile-grade setup. They feature 90×90 hybrid Tractrix horns, Tractrix ports, Linear Travel Suspension titanium tweeters and spun copper Cerametallic woofers. Old school meets new school in the best possible way.

R-14M blog

Best Budget Speakers for Your Record Player

Reference R-14M

Maybe you haven’t notice – or don’t care – but vinyl isn’t cheap. We completely understand if you want to spend more on your album collection rather than speakers for your record player. The R-14M bookshelf speakers from the Reference series will deliver a surprising amount of output, filling your room with any record you please. Everyone could use a little more copper and black in their life.

70th Anniversary Heresy - 1 social

The Ultimate Speakers for Your Record Player

Heresy III / La Scala II / Cornwall / Klipschorn

You owe it to yourself to listen to a record through Klipsch Heritage Series speakers. Whether it’s the Heresy III, La Scala II, Cornwall or Klipschorn, we can pretty much guarantee that your mind is going to be blown. All of the reasons why people prefer vinyl are put on full display with an exceedingly pleasing, warm and textured sound. You truly aren’t going to find better record player speakers. To top it all off, each of these speakers is handcrafted in our Hope, Arkansas factory.

What do you think are the best speakers for your record player?

Meet the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2016 Inductees

The performers who will be joining the music elite as inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 are: Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller and N.W.A. Bert Berns will receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement for his contributions to rock and roll as a writer, producer and record executive. This talented and diverse group of artists will be honored during the 31st ceremony for their roles in creating music that have become part of rock and roll history.

Cheap Trick

Photo: RollingStone.com

Cheap Trick – 40 Years of Classic Rock

Since Cheap Trick released their first self-titled album in 1977, they have produced 17 more albums and are still playing shows today. In fact, they just released a new album: Bang, Zoom, Crazy … HelloTheir longevity is due to their passion for rock and roll, and also their catchy guitar riffs, memorable lyrics and their relentless touring.

Cheap Trick is best known for their song, “I want you to want me” off of their 1977 album “In Color.” The band’s core members, Robin Zander on lead vocals, Rick Nielsen on lead guitar, Bun E. Carlos on drums and Tom Petersson on bass, have remained consistent since the band was formed in Illinois in 1974.

Chicago the Band

Photo: RollingStone.com

Chicago – Revolutionizing Rock & Roll with Horns

The band Chicago is best known for incorporating horns into soft rock ballads. The founding members from 1967 are Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider and Danny Seraphine. However, many members have joined and left the band over the years.

The band won a Grammy for their best-known 1976 hit “If you leave me now.” Other hits include, “Make Me Smile”, the powerful “25 or 6 to 4” and the catchy “Saturday in the Park.” Chicago’s music is easily identifiable by the use of brass instruments, woodwinds and piano.

Deep Purple

Photo: RollingStone.com

Deep Purple – Best Known Guitar Riff in the World

The opening chords of Deep Purple’s iconic hit “Smoke on the Water” defines heavy metal. Formed in 1968 in Hereford England, Deep Purple started as an orchestral band that quickly embraced a darker sound. The aggressive “Highway Star” and heavy bass of “Space Truckin'” off of their 1972 album “Machine Head” have inspired generations of hard rockers.

Steve Miller Band

Photo: RollingStone.com

Steve Miller – Infectious Pop Rock

Steve Miller is the singer, harmonica player and lead guitarist of the Steve Miller Band. As a child, Steve Miller was encouraged to experiment with music, especially by family friend Les Paul. The 1968 hit “Living in the USA” was inspired by the San Francisco’s psychedelic music scene.

Steve Miller found commercial success with his platinum 1973 album “The Joker.” The optimistic bluesy storytelling of the title track “The Joker” hit number one in the US and later in the UK. His other hits include “Take the Money and Run,” “Rock’n Me” and “Fly Like an Eagle” off of the 1976 album “Fly Like an Eagle.”

NWA

Photo: RollingStone.com

NWA – Bringing Gangster Rap to Mainstream America

The success of N.W.A. undeniably changed rock and roll history. Controversial, rude, even shocking, N.W.A. has inspired rap artists for generations, legitimizing and popularizing the genre Gangster Rap. Their first studio album “Straight Outta Compton,” featured the song “Fuck the Police” sending shockwaves through America. The album was one of the first to receive a parental advisory label for explicit content and even solicited a protest letter from the assistant director of the FBI.

Meanwhile, N.W.A.’s gritty, if not romanticized street tales, enthralled America’s youth. Beyond their success as a group, NWA members Eazy E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have become musical royalty. Their protégés, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Bone Thugs N Harmony, 2Pac, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar make up some of the most talented rap artists of the last 25 years, ensuring the legacy of N.W.A. for years to come.

Bert Berns

Photo: RollingStone.com

Bert Berns – Interpreting Cuban Rhythms into Pop Music Hits

Bert Berns put a lifetime of talent into the seven years that he worked as a writer, producer and record executive. Inspired by Cuban music, he wrote the hits “Cry to Me,” covered by Solomon Burke and the Rolling Stones and “Twist and Shout” covered by the Beatles. He also wrote “Cry Baby” and “Piece of my Heart,” both hits for Janis Joplin.

Berns became a producer for Atlantic in 1963 and started his own record label, BANG, in 1965. His love of rhythm and blues became his trademark, producing “Hang on Sloopy” performed by the McCoys and “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters. With an eye for talent, Berns recorded Neil Diamond’s hit “Cherry, Cherry,” as well as Van Morrison’s hit “Brown Eyed Girl.” Until his death in 1967, Bert Berns contributed classic songs that have made rock and roll history.

 

Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables and Klipsch speakers.

Five Bands Who Are Long Overdue For A New Album

While music fans generally expect a few years between albums for most bands, some of the world’s biggest and most creative bands have gone far too long without a new release. Although these delays are tough on fans of the bands, it is often expected that releasing a quality album can take a fair amount of time for songwriting, rehearsing, recording and production. Here is a list of five bands that are long overdue for a new album.

Radiohead social

Photo via Science-All

Radiohead

Last releasing the experimental rock opus “The King of Limbs” in February of 2011, the seminal alternative band has been unexpectedly quiet for the past few years. Although frontman Thom Yorke released a solo album in 2014, Radiohead fans are still thirsting for the next album, which the band has reportedly been working on since early 2015. As a small consolation, fans were treated to the release of the track “Spectre” on Christmas Day 2015, which was an unused track from the recent James Bond film of the same name.

LCD Soundsystem

Photo via The New Yorker

LCD Soundsystem

Just five years after the upbeat dance-punk band announced their breakup and played a raucous and high profile final show at Madison Square Garden, they have reunited and are hitting the road in 2016. The day after announcing the reunion tour, eccentric bandleader James Murphy also announced that a new album would be forthcoming. Fans of the band who brought us such infectious rump-shakers as “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” are already sporting their dancing shoes and patiently waiting.

Tool social

Photo via MetalInjection.net

Tool

It’s hard to believe that Tool’s last release was “10,000 Days” all the way back in the spring of 2006, but that is indeed the case. Perhaps with the album selling over 500,000 copies in its first week, Maynard James Keenan and his band of morbid hard rockers deservedly thought they could use an extended break. Though the band has cited family reasons and an ongoing lawsuit as primary reasons for the delay on a new album, Keenan has also been very active recording and touring with his experimental side project Puscifer, of which he is the only permanent member. Although Tool fans are as devoted as any fan base in music, a decade long wait is certainly a lot to ask.

The Shins social

Photo via The Consequence of Sound

The Shins

The Shins and the band’s only original member James Mercer have been relatively quiet since the spring 2012 release of the impressively successful “Port of Morrow.” Although Mercer has released an EP and full length album with side project Broken Bells, a collaboration with Danger Mouse, fans of The Shins’ jauntily adolescent pop-rock anthems are indeed itching for a new album. Mercer and his now rotating cast of band members did release the single “So Now What” in conjunction with the release of actor/director Zach Braff’s film “Wish I Was Here.” However, this little taste from The Shins just left fans aching for more, although hardcore fans of the band were excited with the 2014 remastered release of Flake Music’s “When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return,” which was essentially an early release by the founding members of The Shins.

Gorillaz social

Photo via conversationsabouther.net

Gorillaz

Promoted as a “virtual band” made up of four animated members, the rock/pop/electronic/hip-hop quartet masterminded by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett has been incredibly quiet since the early 2011 release of fourth studio album “The Fall.” After arguably cranking out two unstoppable hits over the years with the contagiously optimistic stoner anthem “Clint Eastwood” and dance jam “Feel Good Inc.”, the pixelated tour de force has been incredibly quiet. Although Albarn has been quoted by numerous sources that he has been working on new Gorillaz material since 2014, he reported in the fall of 2015 that he is in the “early stages” of the songwriting process on any new Gorillaz material. Fans of the band are collectively holding their breath for the next update.

 

Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables and Klipsch speakers.

No Bullshit: Steve Cropper

The day before we exhibited at the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) tradeshow, we held a special event in Dallas for our tireless sales team and to honor a few select people. We were lucky enough to have the legendary Steve Cropper put on a show for all those in attendance.

Rolling Stone magazine called Cropper one of the top 100 guitarists of all time and he certainly didn’t disappoint us. In his decorated career as an American guitarist, songwriter and producer, he has collaborated with some of history’s finest musicians, like the late Otis Redding.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Steve Cropper, enjoy a glass of wine and line up five questions for the on-going “No Bullshit” series.

What was the first album you bought with your own money?

When I grew up there were only singles available, so the first album I bought was by Johnny Mathis. The first record I ever bought was Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley.

What would you be if not a musician?

Probably an architectural engineer because that was what I was studying in college. I drafted in high school for four years. I then spent two-and-a-half, almost three years in college doing it. I loved to draw and draft. I didn’t want to build houses and become an architect. I actually wanted to do machine parts and design things.

Do you ever see yourself exiting the music industry?

[Laughs] I don’t think my fans are going to let me do that. I would like to golf and fish for the rest of my life. I just tease myself with the thought of it. There’s just too much demand [for my music]. I think the success of the Blues Brothers has a lot to do it. We’re still together. Lou Marini and I are still out there beating the bushes with the original Blues Brothers band. It’s kind of fun to be able to look back and say “yes, I’m an original and I’m still here.”

Speakers or headphones?

Honestly, it just depends on the quality. I am very fortunate to have both [speakers and headphones]. I’m just getting accustomed to the new designs Klipsch has put together and I’m really enjoying them. They’re great!

How would you define quality sound?

I want to say whatever the listener enjoys most, but there are so many uneducated ears out there. Rather than say “do you even know what you’re listening to?,” I don’t comment unless they ask for me for help. A lot of these young minds and ears aren’t accustomed to growing up with hi-fi systems and high fidelity audio. I can hear a dB or a couple dBs, which is almost impossible for the human ear to hear. I’m very lucky to be able to hear those signals. Like what’s going on right now [Editor’s note: there was a band playing during the background of the interview], it’s very hard for my ears to tune out the music. I can’t do that. I don’t listen to music nonchalantly. I listen to every note. My brain downloads every note in every record for whatever reason. I’m just an odd duck, I guess.

I think Klipsch has the right idea. We can educate these younger ears to appreciate high-fidelity audio and get them to really think about what they’re listening to from a scientific standpoint, as well as musical standpoint. It’s not always all about the groove, even though I’m a stickler for that. Most of my hits are built around groove and melody. I really think quality sound has a lot to do with it.

We have dubbed this question and answer series “No Bullshit” in honor of Paul W. Klipsch who famously wore a yellow “Bullshit” pin underneath his lapel, flashing it to anyone who was full of it. It is an expression of the Klipsch commitment to deliver world-class speakers and headphones that are high on quality and short on fluff. In this series, we will cut through the nonsense with legendary musicians. To learn more about the origins of the Klipsch “No Bullshit” slogan, click here.

 

 

 

No Bullshit: Green Day’s Mike Dirnt

Klipsch was honored to be part of the festivities when Green Day was inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame in 2015.

In between rehearsals before the induction ceremony, Green Day’s legendary bass player Mike Dirnt visited the Klipsch green room backstage and heaped praise upon us, saying he has always loved our speakers and headphones. It was flattering, to say the least.

In 1986, Dirnt formed the band alongside Billie Joe Armstrong that would end up being one of the true icons of the punk rock era. Green Day still sells out shows across the world with fans flocking to see Dirnt, Armstrong and Tre Cool, the green-haired (at the time) drummer who joined the band in 1990.

The California native fell in love with the Reference Premiere RP-160M speakers we had on display backstage and has since outfitted his entire home theater room with Klipsch speakers. (Stay tuned for more on that install.)

Meanwhile, we have caught up with the freshly minted Rock Hall inductee to ask him five questions. Short and sweet. No bullshit. Just the way Dirnt and Klipsch like it.

What was the first album you bought with your own money?

The first album I bought with my own money was the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey. I purchased it when I was five years old at Goodwill for 25 cents. Funny thing…in 2011, it was our stage walk-on music for the 21st Century Breakdown tour.

What is the one album or artist you can’t live without on the road?

David Bowie.

What is the best live concert you have ever experienced? 

The Rolling Stones at a small club, the Echoplex in Los Angeles.

Speakers or headphones?

On the go, definitely headphones, so I can be in my own world. At my home or in a hotel, speakers always!

How would you define quality sound?

In my opinion, quality sound is the truest representation of the original recording! I like to hear music the way the artist intended for it to he heard, not overly enhanced.

We have dubbed this question and answer series “No Bullshit” in honor of Paul W. Klipsch who famously wore a yellow “Bullshit” pin underneath his lapel, flashing it to anyone who was full of it. It is an expression of the Klipsch commitment to deliver world-class speakers and headphones that are high on quality and short on fluff. In this series, we will cut through the nonsense with legendary musicians. To learn more about the origins of the Klipsch “No Bullshit” slogan, click here.

Digital vs Analog Audio: An Overview

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, both digital analog recording have their merits.

We felt it necessary to break down the two recording methods to give you a better understanding – so the next time you’re in a heated audiophile debate, you will have more ammo to hold your position.

Digital vs Analog Recording Processes

No matter which recording process used, analog or digital, both are created by a microphone turning air pressure (sound) into an electrical analog signal.

An analog recording is made by then imprinting that signal directly onto the master tape (via magnetization) or master record (via grooves) – from which copies can be made into cassette tapes and vinyl records.

Digital recordings take that analog signal and convert it into a digital representation of the sound, which is essentially a series of numbers for digital software to interpret.

After the analog signal is digitalized, the recording can be copied and placed onto a compact disc, hard drive or streamed online.

Audio Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the ability of a recorded signal to be reproduced at varying degrees of resolution. Think of it like enlarging a low-resolution image versus a high-resolution image. After a certain point, enlarging a lower-resolution image will become pixelated and difficult to see, where the hi-resolution image will resize clearly.

Like images, audio signals can have a limited bandwidth if recorded digitally. Once a digital recording is made, the bandwidth is set in place.

An analog recording is considered unlimited. Therefore, it can move to a higher and higher resolution without losing its original quality.

Why does bandwidth matter? It really depends on what you’re listening to your music with. If you have a pair of overpriced earbuds that cost $8 to make but you paid $200 to cover the company’s advertising budget, then you’re probably ok with any mediocre bandwidth.

On the contrary, if you’ve invested in quality audio reproduction speakers (like the Klipsch Reference Premiere series speakers) – the greater the bandwidth, the greater potential you have for sound.

Digital vs Analog Audio

Signal-to-Noise Ratio

The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is the amount of noise generated by the recording’s signal to your speakers. Digital recordings can have a greater signal-to-noise ratio depending on the bit depth of the recording.

What the hell is bit depth, you say? Think of a sound wave in a digital recording format to looking more like a set of stairs, rather than smooth hills

Digital vs Analog Sound WaveThe digital wave must walk up and down stairs, as opposed to smoothly roll over hills. This jump in elevation can create a digital noise.

The smooth analog signal matches the recorded sound wave better than the steps of a digital recording. However, the analog medium (vinyl or magnetized tape) the recording is imprinted on can have tiny imperfections that cause cracking and popping noise.

Mobility of Media

Digital music can be stored, played and streamed on multiple transportable digital products (CD’s, phones, mp3 players, etc.). Outside of tape players, analog-recorded music is fairly immobile.

Loss of Audio Quality

Digital recordings can be played and copied endlessly without ever losing their original quality. Over time, vinyl records and tapes can lose their audible value when being played or copied.

So where do you stand on the matter of digital vs. analog recording? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.