Article by E. Little from In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi
For a while the Klipsch Speaker company in Hope, Arkansas not only built and sold some of the world’s finest loudspeakers, but also peddled a $5 lapel button that read, simply, “Bullshit.” According to company lore, it’s a word that the company’s founder, legendary audio engineer Paul Klipsch, regularly lobbed at competitors making outlandish claims about their so-called audio innovations.
Founder Paul W. Klipsch, who died at 98 in 2002, single-handedly built one of history’s great loudspeaker companies. A sonic Stradivarius, the craftsman, engineer, businessman and inventor holds dozens of patents for his breakthroughs, many of which he harnessed when introducing the Klipschorn loudspeaker in 1946. Known to obsessives as a corner-horn speaker, Klipschorns are built with a Klipsch-invented horn-loaded tweeter and midrange compression driver. The company’s patented folded-horn 15″ woofer produces low-frequencies that seem to flood the floor.
Like many geniuses, Klipsch had an extremely organized mind but – as illustrated in the two-part documentary below – worked among a mess of scattered gear, papers, prototypes and experiments.
In 1991, a semi-retired Klipsch invited a videographer into the company’s Hope manufacturing plant (where the company’s headquarters remain) for a (very) casual tour of the facility, including Klipsch’s lab and its hand-built anechoic chamber. Though it’s hardly a professionally-made documentary, the video is a revelatory glimpse at how one visionary, armed only with curiosity, ambition, brains and drive, created exquisite products, the kind that not only produced magnificent sound but whose minimalist design were visually stunning.
Watch part 1 here:
This article originally appeared at insheepsclothinghifi.com.
- Paul W. Klipsch Story: A Life of a Genius and his Pursuit of Audio Perfection (Klipsch.com, March 2016)
- An Afternoon with Paul Klipsch (PDF, Audio Engineering Society, Los Angeles, May 1980)