Tag Archives: paul w klipsch

Good Poop: Arkansas Longhorn

On October 2, 2014 we started the Good Poop series with “Meet Jim Hunter – Klipsch Historian”. The photo included with that initial blog was of a large plywood and foam horn.

It took nearly a year, but finally someone (Jon in Mpls) had to ask: “What the Hell is that?!”

Well, the photo was taken in February of 1986 when our anechoic chamber was only about 6 years old. We wanted to explore the effects of folding in the Klipschorn woofer cabinet.

The pictured monstrosity is basically an “un-folded” Klipschorn woofer .

Yes, the Klipschorn really is a compact speaker for its performance level. Obviously this was too large to measure inside the chamber, so we pointed it skyward and mic’d it from 20-30 feet up.

Admittedly, this was a “low-budget production”, but the goofy structure did allow us to get a good idea of what our driver would do, particularly at the higher frequencies, without folding.

No changes were implemented to the Klipschorn, but this could be considered the first step leading up to the Jubilee (better folding) some 14 years later.

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

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Learn more about 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.

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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.

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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.

– JRH

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