Category Archives: Vintage

Craiglist Encounter: Klipsch Heresy Speakers

Klipsch Heresy speakers inside Steve Bales' home.

Klipsch Heresy speakers inside Steve Bales’ home.

From tickets to couches to TVs to…err…“encounters”, you never know what you’re going to get with Craigslist.

Rewind about two and a half years ago when Steve Bales purchased his first set of Klipsch speakers – a pair of Reference RF-62 II floorstanding speakers.

“I was impressed by the detail and lifelike sound in our high-ceiling living room,” Bales said.

Bales was so impressed that he joined the Klipsch Forums, engaging with a bustling online community of Klipsch devotees.

“I learned about the different capabilities of each line and Heritage intrigued me. At a time when many consumer goods are manufactured overseas, they continue to be manufactured Hope, Arkansas. That was appealing. The quality construction, efficiency and musicality of the Klipsch Heritage Series were even more attractive.”

Thus, a quest to find a pair of vintage Klipsch speakers was born.

With no audio shop stocking the Heritage Series near his home in Peachtree Corners, Georgia (north side of Atlanta), Bales inevitably found himself scanning Craigslist where he could easily scour the surrounding areas and find the object of his new-found affection.

“I thought I could sample what the Heritage Series had to offer by purchasing on the used market to see what all the fuss was about.”

Bales found a listing in the little town of Ball Ground for a pair of Klipsch Heresy speakers that were made in 1980. This was a very meaningful year to Bales, as he received his graduate degree, began his career and married his beloved.

Of course, Bales auditioned the speakers first to make sure they were in working condition. After all, no one wants to get burned after driving an hour and back.

They sounded amazing which didn’t surprise Bales, but what did surprise him is their astounding pedigree.

Robert Moulson performing in Of Mice and Men

Robert Moulson performing in Of Mice and Men

Turns out, the speakers had belonged to the owner’s father-in-law, Robert Moulson. Moulson was an American classical tenor who performed in operas and concerts in the United Sates and Europe from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Bales also learned that Moulson performed a great deal in Germany and is perhaps most famous for his role of Lenny Small in Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men.

“I can imagine Mr. Moulson enjoying all genres of music on these Klipsch speakers, but particularly opera and the show tunes he loved to sing.”

The trip to Ball Ground was entirely worth it for the speakers and ended up meaning much more.

“I loved meeting Mr. Moulson’s daughter and son-in-law and learning about him. I might even develop an interest in opera!  I would have bought the speakers anyway, but the story added a dimension I was not expecting.”

Two years after his trip to Ball Ground, the Heresy speakers remain in Bales’ home office paired to a vintage Sansui receiver (also from 1980). He still owns the newer Reference speakers as well, but the Heresy speakers claim a special place in Bales’ heart.

“Klipsch has re-kindled my enjoyment of music all over again.”

Not bad for a Craiglist encounter.

Do you have an interesting story on how you acquired your Klipsch speakers? Post it in the comments below or email alex.leopold@klipsch.com.

WARNING: Purchases of used or new Klipsch speakers or headphones at garage sales, Craigslist, eBay or any other unauthorized dealers void the warranty of the product. Warranties are non-transferrable. To learn more, go to http://www.klipsch.com/policies 

Made in America: An Introduction

“Made in America” is a phrase these days that few companies have the ability to say. American engineers, craftsmen and builders construct some of the finest-quality products ever made.

Heck, Paul W. Klipsch designed and hand-built the legendary Klipschorn in a tiny tin shed in Hope, Arkansas. He was an American audio pioneer and a true eccentric.

Klipsch  began in a tin shed in Hope, Arkansas.

Klipsch began in a tiny tin shed in Hope, Arkansas in 1946.

Since 1946, Klipsch has continued to proudly build speakers in the heart of America. And to honor PWK’s patriotic spirit, we’d like to acknowledge other brands that can proudly say their products are made in America.

So be on the lookout for our blog to feature quality products built in our nation that display the true craftsmanship that can only be found in the U.S.A.

What companies or products do you have or support that are American made?

Good Poop: PWK as Heil Mentor

Bob Heil and Heil Sound were clearly at the forefront of the modern touring sound industry. The four-channel system for The Who’s Quadrophenia, and the Heil Talk Box (can you say Frampton?), are two of his credits. The Grateful Dead’s use of Bob’s system might even be credited for inspiring their “wall of sound.” If it rocked in the 70’s, he was all over it.

Bob freely credits Paul W. Klipsch (PWK) with steering him in the right direction technologically. In the early 70’s, Paul telephoned Bob “out of the blue”, asking if there was a nearby cornfield he could land his plane in. When the shock wore off, Bob said “sure!”

A few days later, PWK landed near Marissa, IL to check out exactly what this whipper-snapper was doing. He must have been impressed, as he flew Bob and one of his employees back to Hope, AR to get some schoolin’. Two days in Hope had Bob reeling from the classic audio references Paul brought to his attention. The Bell Labs work in the “Symposium on Auditory Perspective” was central to Bob’s education.

Klipsch Runt LaScala custom made for Bob Heil

Klipsch Runt LaScala

Some years later, as Heil Sound essentially “took over the world”, Bob returned to Hope and begged PWK to build him some special, smaller LaScala speakers for monitors that would satisfy his client Jeff Beck. Paul begrudgingly complied, although he apparently did not reveal that he had made “runt” LaScala speakers sporadically since 1966.

In later years Paul would emphatically express his distaste for rock music. However, during one of Bob’s visits to Hope, he must have been keeping his personal opinions to himself since the outdoor testing that he vigorously participated in was fueled with good old rock & roll!

Do you have mentoring stories involving PWK? Let us know below! And if you’re new to Good Poop, you can learn more here.

Garage Sale Gems: Heresy

We’re not gonna lie. Even though the Klipsch Heresy is the most affordable of the Heritage Series of vintage speakers, it’s not for penny-pinchers.

No wonder. Each one is hand-crafted to order in Hope, Arkansas with the finest materials and thus requires a little bit more from the ol’ paycheck.

But they’re worth it.

Noted audiophile and professional reviewer Steven Guttenberg calls the Heresy III a “a rock’n’roller’s dream speaker” in a Stereophile editorial. He lavished even more praise on the Heresy in his CNET.com post: “The sound in my listening room was closer to a live rock concert sound system than I’ve heard from a lot of much more expensive and bigger speakers. That’s what the Heresy IIIs do so well, and once you experience that sort of sound at home, a set of Sonos wireless speakers won’t cut it anymore.”

Nice.

That being said, like any other speaker, you can find used Heresy speakers on Craigslist, eBay, the Klipsch forums, or even local garage sales.

Exhibit A: Klipsch forum member Chris Setlock came across a garage sale on Craigslist with about a dozen or so photos and spotted some nice Sansui components for $25 a pop.

Being a “die hard bargainer,” Chris headed over to the house to negotiate the price of the components. The reply was, “My husband will be down in a minute, he is bringing the speakers.”

Sure enough, said husband comes back with the first speaker in tow and wouldn’t you know what it was…

“I could barely contain myself when the owner appeared with the first speaker,” Chris said.

Chris: How much?

Owner: Eh, $20 each, they’re Klipsch.

Chris: Oh, really?

Owner: Yeah, and they’re heavy.

Chris: You don’t say…

Twenty dollars. For butt-kicking-made-in-the-USA speakers designed by the one and only Paul W. Klipsch.

Throw in $50 worth of Sanui components and Chris walked out with a complete system, and a huge grin on his face, for a mere $90. Of course, he is a bonafide “Klipschster” with 20 pairs of Klipsch speakers at home, including a pair of Heresys, even before this amazing find.

Bottom line: the cliché about garage sales is true: “You never know what you’re going to get.” Or is that a box of chocolates?

Tell us about your amazing finds in the comments below.


WARNING: Purchases of used or new Klipsch speakers or headphones at garage sales, Craigslist, eBay or any other unauthorized dealers void the warranty of the product. Warranties are non-transferrable. To learn more, go to http://www.klipsch.com/policies 

Anatomy of a Record Player

Before there were MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes — heck, even before eight-track tapes — there was the record player. Although today, unless we have an affinity for vinyl, we think of record players as “old-school”, often forgetting they revolutionized music and the music industry as much as MP3s have today. Record players allowed for listening to music at home for the first time; before the record player, it was live or nothing. It made such an impression, we still call music releases “records” and “albums,” and the spinning album phrase “getting rotation” still means a song is heard on the radio.

Once record players came onto the scene in 1877, they didn’t leave until almost a century later — although they never fully left. Nostalgia as well as preference for the sound quality has kept vinyl alive, and DJs and hip hop artists still use turntables as part of their music-making. We celebrate the beauty of albums with our recent collaboration with Classic Album Sundays – monthly active listening sessions of entire albums in a studio setting with the best equipment available. It’s a truly unique experience.

So how does a record player work? What are the different components, and how do they work together to produce sound? Let’s take a closer look at this amazing game-changing contraption.

The Turntable

Although “turntable” and “record player” today are used almost synonymously, a turntable is technically the part of the record player where the record sits. Sometimes the turntable is also called the “revolving platter.”

The center of the turntable includes a metal rod, holding the record in the center as it turns. The plate of the turntable itself is generally metal, typically covered with plastic or rubber so the record isn’t inadvertently scratched.

The least expensive record players use steel for the turntable. The steel plates used in record players are light and cheap to produce, however, the consequence is that these plates have a low inertia, meaning any instability with the motor speed are quite pronounced.

A more expensive turntable plate is aluminum. Aluminum plates have better balance, reduce vibration, and don’t accentuate motor speed instabilities.

The turntable’s rotation is controlled by the turntable drive system. The two main types of drive systems are the belt-drive system and the direct-drive system. The belt-drive system goes a long way in reducing noise heard from the motor, because the elastometric belt helps to absorb vibrations and other low-frequency sounds. A direct-drive system, by contrast, doesn’t use intermediary gears, wheels, and belts. The advantage of a direct-drive system is later models had stronger motors and pitch control sliders. For this reason, direct-drive turntables were favored by disc jockeys for decades.

The Stylus

turntableThe stylus is the needle that rests against the record. Ideally, a stylus is a cone-shaped component made from diamond, which is the hardest natural material on Earth. Besides diamonds, sapphires are also commonly used for record needles. The stylus is connected to the tone arm by a flexible strip of metal. The flexibility in the middle allows for the stylus to ride up and down within the record grooves.

The stylus can be either spherical or elliptical. Elliptical styli have the advantage of increasing the fidelity of the music by allowing for more contact with the record groove. A spherical stylus provides less fidelity but is more sensitive.

Even a diamond-tipped stylus will need to be replaced after a while. Experts recommend changing the stylus after every 1,000 to 2,500 hours of listening pleasure.

The Tone Arm and the Cartridge

The tone arm is the arm of the record player that holds the stylus and, together with the cartridge, it is responsible for actually producing the sounds. Tone arms can be straight or curved. Which one is better? It depends who you ask. Some people insist curved tone arms produce better sound, but DJs and hip hop artists usually prefer straight arms because they’re easier to scratch with.

As the stylus follows the grooves of the record, vibrations travel through the metal wires inside the tone arm and arrive at the cartridge at the tone arm’s end. The cartridge contains coils within a magnetic field, and when the vibrations hit these coils, they are transformed into electrical signals. These electrical signals can be amplified and broadcasted through the speakers.

Amplifiers and Preamplifiers

Today, most audio receivers are designed for the signals that come out of a CD, DVD, or MP3 player. That means that they are not well-equipped to play the audio signal coming out of a traditional record player. Older audio receivers included what was called a phono preamplifier (also known as a preamp or phono stage) to boost record player signals to appropriate levels, but modern receivers lack phono preamps. Some record players include built-in preamps to solve this problem; talk to a true audiophile, however, and they will insist that you get a dedicated preamplifier for the best sound quality.

The right preamp depends upon the cartridge. Modern cartridges will play well with preamps at the 100pf to 150pf level; older cartridges, such as those from the 1980s, work better with preamps of the 200pf level. It should be noted, though, that if your cartridge hasn’t been changed since the 1980s, you should go ahead and replace it anyway!

Summary

In short, the vinyl record is placed upon the revolving platter. As the record revolves, the stylus bumps up and down within the groove, sending its vibrations along metal wires within the tone arm and into the cartridge. The cartridge converts these vibrations into an electrical current using a magnetic field. This current is sent into the preamp, which boosts the signal on its way to the speaker. When the amplified current hits the speaker — presto! — we hear music or whatever is recorded onto the vinyl.


We hope you enjoyed this short tour of the anatomy of a record player. Did we leave out anything crucially important? Do you still listen to vinyl? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Klipsch Joint

You know the feeling when you discover something completely epic and you try to explain it to someone and you just get a blank stare? Then you realize you’re the only one who knows…and it makes your discovery all that much cooler.

It’s the underground. It’s the speakeasy. It’s the club everyone wants to belong to, but doesn’t know it yet. And you have the secret handshake.

Welcome to the joint.

12 things you should know about us before you attempt to impress your friends:

          1. Don’t embarrass yourself. It’s pronounced Clip-shh. Not Clips. Not e-clipsh, not Klipish. You can do this.
          1. We are not German, although they make great stuff too. We are American, founded by an American. 1946 was the year we changed how the world listens.
          1. We were born in a tin shed in Hope, Arkansas out of our founder’s desire to bring live music into his home. Because let’s face it, dressing up for the symphony can be daunting. Especially in Arkansas.
          1. About our founder… It’s no stretch to guess his name was Klipsch. Paul Wilbur, to be exact. An eccentric genius. A true audio pioneer. An Engineering and Science Hall of Fame inductee. A no-bullshit artist who was proud to piss off his neighbors.
          1. You can absorb all of PWK’s madness here. Don’t get lost.
          1. When nothing on the market fit his needs, he built his own speakers. Because that’s what brilliant people do. Enter, the Klipschorn. To get techy for just a second, the fully horn-loaded design is a patented technology that established industry standards and is the driving force behind our stunningly precise and efficient sound. So successful, so unique, so fabulously vintage…we still hand-make them today in the same town where it all started. Hope. You can geek-out more here.
          1. While our history is rich, storied and frankly amazing, we continue to kick ass. Our stuff simply sounds better because PWK’s founding sound principles still guide us in everything we do today. Engineering perfection never goes out of style.
          1. Our pro speakers are in movie theaters. Lots of movie theaters. The really cool ones, anyway.
          1. Our in-ear headphones are the most comfortable in the world. Of course that’s an opinion, but it’s the correct one. We have the patented oval ear-tips to back it up, and the testimony of, well, about everyone who has tried them. They are oval because our ear canals are oval. It was our smack on the forehead moment that changed in-ear headphones forever.
          1. Countless high-profile artists love and use our stuff. That’s how good we sound.
          1. Movies, TV shows, and even video games feature our stuff without asking. That’s how good we look.
          1. Our community forum boasts some of the most brilliant and helpful audiophiles in the industry, many of whom have been posting daily for years. We listen to them. We respect them. We would not be who we are without them.

We think that’s enough to get you started. When you are ready to dive in, visit the links below. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Klipsch: Keepers of the Sound