Tag Archives: paul w klipsch

Good Poop: Dining with a Legend

During the late 1970’s and early 80’s, it was a fairly regular Friday night event for Klipsch engineers to “eat fish” with Paul W. Klipsch (PWK) and his wife, Valerie, at the Hope Holiday Inn (now a Super 8).

It was the typical southern buffet, including cat fish, frog legs, shrimp, oysters and much more. At the time, Klipsch had four engineers, and usually three or more were eagerly present at these informal events. Other employees from sales, purchasing, and manufacturing were welcome, as were their spouses.

While speaker design and manufacturing was an unavoidable topic for a geek-centric gathering, the conversation roamed from current events to the history of loudspeakers. It was here that PWK convinced me to try slurping a raw oyster from the shell. I haven’t stopped.

I learned later that Paul was introduced to the practice while in the oil prospecting business. He was on a small exploration boat in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico just to insure functioning of the electronic equipment. The “captain” of the boat reached over the side and brought up an oyster. He quickly shucked it open, added salt from a shaker kept warm by the engine, and slurped it down.

PWK followed suit. He couldn’t be outdone, of course.

Do you have your own Paul W. Klipsch story that would be good for “Good Poop”? Post it in the comments below.

What is “Good Poop”?



Good Poop: Why Me?

In 1978, Paul W. Klipsch’s interest in building his own drivers resulted in my invitation to Hope for an interview that summer. I was working at Rola, one of the oldest OEM driver suppliers, having commenced operations in 1926. 

Klipsch was courting Rola as a second supplier to the established Eminence products, and I was the Rola engineer assigned to the Klipsch account. The interview was a tag-team affair with PWK in the last round.

While I entered his office “properly intimidated” in the presence of “A Legend in Sound”, he quickly put me at ease. 

One question I remember was to the effect: “What have you learned while employed at Rola?” My answer was: “I’ve learned how much I didn’t learn in college.” 

This seemed to please him.

His demeanor, and that of the rest of the staff, were “like waving a bull in front of a red flag” for me (his cracked quote). I was hired & reported to work on October 2, 1978.

Ironically, after a few months of study I convinced everyone that Klipsch did not yet have the volume to economically support in-house driver manufacturing!  Paul reviewed the numbers, and had to agree that his intentions were financially premature. 

Fortunately a new lab with anechoic chamber was under development, which kept me gainfully employed.

Do you have your own Paul W. Klipsch story that would be good for “Good Poop”? Post it in the comments below.

What is “Good Poop”?

Good Poop: The First Time I Saw Paul W. Klipsch

Way back in 1976, I found myself in Philadelphia for my first professional society meeting –  the Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing, IEEE International Conference on ICASSP. (Whew! What a mouthful.)

As a “green kid” of nearly 25, I was still working as a driver engineer at Rola, one of the USA’s earliest original equipment driver suppliers. Believe it or not, there was a substantial speaker driver manufacturing industry in the USA before Mexico, and then China, assumed dominance respectively.

I was surprised to see this somewhat scruffy old guy walking down the aisle during a paper presentation handing out some kind of trinket. Later I discovered that he was the presenter of the paper I had had come to see: “Loudspeaker Distortion” (included in our Audio Papers collection).

This was the first time I laid eyes on Paul W. Klipsch.

The trinket was nothing less than the little yellow BS button! In the context of a “sophisticated society event”, it was a bit mind-bending to this youngster.

Two years later I would meet him formally for an interview in Hope, Arkansas, and also learn the meaning of his little yellow button.

Do you have your own Paul W. Klipsch story that would be good for “Good Poop”? Post it in the comments below

Mini Klipsch La Scala Speakers

Klipsch engineers are always up to something crazy. Most of the time, we cannot tell you about it – top secret stuff and all – but this time we’ll share a cool project from the desk of Jay Lawyer.

Mini Klipsch La Scala desktop computer speakers.

One could consider them a love child between the original PWK-designed Klipsch La Scala II and the award-winning ProMedia computer speakers.

The original Klipsch La Scala was unveiled in 1963 and designed as an alternative to the Klipschorn for applications in the theater, recording studio, nightclub, etc. It boasted a smaller cabinet than the Klipschorn and a design that did not require a corner location. The Klipsch La Scala II is still made today in Hope, Arkansas with only cosmetic changes from the original.

Having been at Klipsch for just under 15 years, Lawyer is currently the Associate Development Engineer. He has been one of the main engineering minds behind the signature Klipsch sound during this time period, working on speakers, soundbars and subwoofers.

Lawyer created the Mini La Scalas simply because he was bored one day. The La Scala is one of his favorite speakers and he figured a Mini La Scala at his desk would be a cool homage to Paul W. Klipsch.

After running through just a few prototypes, the final design for the Mini La Scala speaker was set. Measuring 9” x 6” x 6”, it’s a quarter-scale replica of the La Scala, but made in a 2-way design.

Mini Klipsch La Scala Speaker

Unlike the original La Scala, they are ported out the top. The horn-loaded woofer’s “dog house” is opened at the top, which allows extra air space from behind the tweeter horn. To create the low-end output that Lawyer desired, he needed the woofer to have a larger enclosure volume to compensate for the speaker’s small horn.

The speakers are constructed from Masonite and hot metal glue, while featuring woofers and tweeters from the well-regarded Quintet 4 speakers. These mini La Scala speakers may appear rudimentary and plain; however, the speakers certainly pack quite a punch.

Lawyer modestly says that they sound “pretty good.” He would even stack them up against award-winning Klipsch Promedia desktop computer speakers.

Before you even ask, no, these aren’t going to be going into mass-production – sorry! Just Klipsch engineers doing Klipsch engineering things.

Mini Klipsch La Scala speaker

Mini Klipsch La Scala Speaker

Mini Klipsch La Scala Speaker

Mini Klipsch La Scala Speakers

Have a question or comment about the Mini La Scala speakers? Post in the comments below!


Good Poop: The Orr Auction

J. Herbert Orr of Opelika, Alabama started the Orradio manufacturing company after WWII. According to Wikipedia, he produced “the first commercially available audio tape, video tape and computer tape in the world.”

Orr had been one of three soldiers that “captured” the Magnetophones in Germany after the war, which essentially started the modern tape recording business in the USA.

Paul Klipsch was a friend of Mr. Orr, and used Orr tape for his short-lived KlipschTape venture in the late 1950’s.

After Orr’s death in 1984 there was an auction of his vast radio paraphernalia collection. Naturally, Paul and I found ourselves there with a bidding card. The crown jewel of the sale was one of the original Magnetophones. I probably could have been arrested for my jabbing at Paul to bid!

Unfortunately the minimum bid was set at $10,000, and while he could afford it, he abstained (dammit!).

Some dozen or so of the items acquired at this sale can be found in the Klipsch Museum of Audio History. They include test equipment, radios, horns, and tape players.

Do you have your own Paul W. Klipsch story that would be good for “Good Poop“? Post it in the comments below.


Good Poop: PWK the Practical Joker

In the fall of 1974, future Klipsch Chief Engineer Gary Gillum sent PWK a present. At the time Gary worked for Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO contributing to rides and illusory attractions. The gift looked exactly like a brick but was made out of foam.

On Nov. 25, 1974 PWK wrote to Gillum:

“Thanks for the brick. I have thrown it at Ruth (his secretary), Bob (President), and a couple of guys in the shop. I’m planning on (as you suggest) trying it on a police car windshield — that might be the way to meet the new chief.”

Belle Klipsch typed this letter to Gary and added her own P.S.:

“Paul had a great time throwing the “brick” at the plate glass window at the Trade Winds Café this afternoon!”

This incident pre-dates my tenure by 4 years (he was only 70!). In my experience, this type of mischievous humor was Paul’s calling card until the end.

Anyone have a PWK practical joke to relate?

Good Poop: PWK Car Loan

In 1979, returning from our first vacation while working for Klipsch, my wife and I encountered a deer at 70 MPH. That was in Nashville, TN, and it extended our vacation by a few days.

We patched up with the car with a used radiator and it limped home. The car died soon after and we had to cancel our planned weekend trip to Fayetteville, AR for a concert. When PWK heard our situation – he immediately offered to loan us his Audi. That’s the kind of guy he was. I had been working at Klipsch for less than a year and was as “scruffy” as the rest of his employees, yet he was willing to go out of his way to help me.

Traveling between Hope and Fayetteville still requires mostly two-lane highways. Additionally, crop-dusters are very common in this part of the country.

We were on a slightly elevated section of the highway when I looked out of the driver’s side window straight into the propeller of a bi-plane! I ducked, but didn’t swerve. He climbed.


New to Good Poop? You can learn more here.

Klipsch at CES 2015: Launch Day

Day 1 of the 2015 edition of the Consumer Electronics show was one to remember for us all.

We teased you repeatedly that 01.06.15 would be the day of our biggest launch in years and we believe full-heartedly that we delivered. Honestly, we can’t believe that we kept it all a secret this well. (Although, some of our cunning forum members managed to scoop us!)

Here is what we introduced to the world:

Klipsch Reference Premiere (Available now)

Klipsch Reference On-Ear (End of January)

Klipsch Reference Premiere with Dolby® Atmos (Projected Q2)

Klipsch Reference Premiere Wireless (Projected Q3)

So much awesomeness.

Klipsch CES Demo Room

Time after time, we took people into our sound room and blew them away with our new Atmos and Wireless demos. We heard from several representatives that we were the only ones who are displaying audio correctly at CES.

We are genuinely proud of that. Hearing really is believing.

Klipsch Reference Premiere

Klipsch Reference Premiere speakers are not just a facelift. This is a whole new line of speakers that are redesigned from the ground-up

We couldn’t fit everything in the demo room, but we were able to showcase a ton of other speakers out on the floor. The Reference Premiere speakers drew people in with their big ol’ copper cones and BIG sound. The R-115SW was definitely “pissing off the neighbors.” (Our apologies to Ericsson and Toshiba!)

The noisy floor environment of CES did allow us to demonstrate the noise isolation capabilities of our in-ear headphones AND the new Reference On-Ear Headphones.

Time after time, people would try out the in-ears and be amazed at their noise isolation abilities. People are misinformed to believe that big cans deliver superior noise isolation. That’s not necessarily true and we were happy to prove it.

Klipsch Reference On-Ear

Klipsch Reference On-Ears are the best sounding and most comfortable on-ears we have ever made.

Comments regarding the Reference On-Ear largely stemmed from its ridiculous comfort level. The cushioning is outrageous and the sound quality is what you would expect from Klipsch. Oh, and people kept mentioning they were happy that they didn’t look like a teenager when they had them on their head unlike some other brands’ headphones – you know who you are.

Heritage Inspired Towers

These Heritage-inspired towers are conceptual (but functional!) speakers.

That’s not all. CES is often about producing concepts and gauging reaction from the audience. We designed Heritage-inspired wireless speakers that intrigued everyone who checked them out. We put them across from our Heritage lineup, which really got the message across that WE are the classic American speaker brand. We have great old stuff and we have great new stuff. These conceptual speakers offer a bridge between the past and the present. They are designed, engineered and built in the United States.

Hell, yah!

Bob Heil Runt La Scala

PWK made this runt La Scala for Bob Heil (pictured) to use with Jeff Beck.

Marky Ramone Colleen Murphy

Marky Ramone poses with Colleen Murphy in the WPWK Radio booth. Outside of products on display, we had Bob Heil and Marky Ramone drop by WPWK Radio to talk with Colleen Murphy of Classic Album Sundays about a whole smattering of topics. We can’t say enough good things about Bob and Marky. They are class acts that GENUINELY love Klipsch and we love them.




Tomorrow, Colleen will be talking with Steve Dobo from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame as well as Michael Burrato (Reference Premiere Product Manager) and Vlad Grodzinsky (Reference On-Ear Product Manager). You can check out the schedule here. Once again, we will be posting the interviews as podcasts after the completion of CES, so don’t worry if you’re not in Vegas!

Klipsch audio museum

The Klipsch audio museum has all sorts of PWK treasures.

One more thing…In this blogger’s humble opinion, the Klipsch audio museum that was oh-so-carefully curated by Klipsch historian Jim Hunter stole the show. 

CES is filled with sterile, white environments with flashy lights and obnoxious videos. The Klipsch audio museum was the opposite. It was authentic, honest-to-goodness fun.

People took their time strolling through the isle and snapping pictures of the collection. We even had a live demo of the 13th Klipschorn that was ever built – and it still sounds great! People were sampling a true piece of audio history.

Phew! That’s a lot of information to process, but we’ll have another blog post where we’ll dive into more detail about everything and about some of the stuff I missed.

There’s truly so much going on here with Klipsch at CES 2015. It’s genuinely a great time to be an employee here and we hope you guys love everything that we showed off here!

Good Poop: Cultural Dynamic Range

Back in the seventies when a new engineer or salesman was hired at Klipsch, part of the on-boarding program was dinner at Paul W. Klipsch’s.

Not long after I started, my wife Becky and I were invited to Paul and Valerie’s relatively modest home. Valerie’s mastery of Austrian cuisine was at work, making dinner outstanding. Strudel for dessert as I recall. After dinner was over libations were in order and Paul stuck with one of his favorites, Glenlivet whiskey.

Shortly we adjourned to the living room to audition his Klipschorn/Belle Klipsch three channel set-up. The Klipschorns were in false corners, as the room had doorways at every corner, not to mention a grand piano. Naturally the program material was reel-to-reel masters that he had recorded. At least some of it was the “Arkansas Sympathy” (his twist on words). Without question it was the finest reproduced music I had ever heard.

The Klipsch family home in Hope, Arkansas.  - The Klipsch Joint

The Klipsch family home in Hope, Arkansas.


After several symphonic selections were savored Paul got up and shuffled over to the equipment rack mumbling about some other material he had. What came next was clearly “out of phase” culturally.

I knew I had made the right decision in moving to Arkansas. We were listening to various verbal descriptions of farts, followed by their sonic signature. I am aware of the “Great Crepitation Contest of 1946” recording and this could have been what we were hearing, but after 36 years I am not certain. If anyone can shed additional light on “farts and their descriptions”, it would be most appreciated.

New to Good Poop? You can learn more here.