®

 

The Venerable Klipschorn. If ever there was a loudspeaker system that deserves a place in the Smithsonian, this has got to be it. Originally patented in 1941 it is still on the market. Now, I ask you, can ANY other loudspeaker manufacturer make that claim?

 

I guess I fall into that category of people seen whenever Mr. Klipsch makes an appearance at a local hi-fi store as 'an interested wag'. OK. I am. But the interest can better be described as admiration.

It all started around 1972 in Wappinger's falls, NY, when I used to attend shows at the Camelot Inn, once a month, hosted by manufacturers of high fidelity gear. Well, one of these demonstrations was given by one Mr. Paul Wilbur Klipsch. My familiarity with the Klipschorn goes bach to the '60s where I read about them in a magazine and that was it. I had never heard them, although I had heard about them. So there I was in a double conference room with another 300+ people waiting for things to start. From the rear, in walks this tall man in his 60's, wearing jeans, a casual shirt and he had a bulging right rear pocket containing a notebook. I didn't know who he was until the room got quiet and then everybody clapped. My friend told me that was Paul Klipsch. So that was he. All right. I was somewhat surprised as all the previous corporate reps. dressed and look like - corporate reps. You know, 3 piece suits, white shirts, ties and the entourage of people wearing white lab. attire posed like peacocks in front of their array of Tektronix, Hewlett Packard and Bruël & Kjaer test equipment. Mr. Klipsch had nothing of the sort. He was confident of his loudspeakers' ability to literaly speak for themselves. And speak they did. I still have the London Phase Four recording of the 1812 that was used then.

Before and after the command performance of various kinds of music, which, if I recall, included Dave Brubeck's Take Five, Mr. Klipsch spoke to the the audience explaining the arrangement of the system. There were two corner horns, spaced about 30 to 40 ft. apart and a Cornwall® used as a center 'phantom' channel. The flanking horns were driven by an SAE 100w per channel amplifier. The center was derived by passive means from the left and right, a method described in one of many of Mr. Klipsch's (sporadic) papers, DOPE FROM HOPE©.¹

After the performance was over. Mr. Klipsch availed himself to questions. He explained the use of "false walls" in the corners to mention one. Managing to get near Mr. Klipsch, I asked why the VU meters on the SAE weren't indicating anything despite the 100+ db spl. And he explained, but not in 25 words or less. Before long, we were sitting on the floor with several interested onlookers as I was given the dissertation of my life. I was in seventh heaven. My wife said later that when she tried to find me, she had to look no further than the crown in the middle of the room. She just knew who was in the middle of it.

During that illustrious moment, out came the little black book. It was full of very worn leaves and several opened up to a few square feet. I was told that it was his reference book as every time he made mention of his memory, it was always followed by the phrase, "such as it is".

The conversation lasted about a half an hour, perhaps a little more. But after it was over, he did say that he would be at Brindley's Custom Stereo the next day and actually invited me over. Being on the road all day, I took him up on his offer. And that turned out to be another memorable experience, even moreso than the first, as this one was personal.

When I walked in, I introduced myself to the proprietor, David, and was directed to the listening room where sat Mr. Klipsch on a sofa. the room was rather long, or perhaps wide, as the horns were about 20 ft. apart. However, the room was only about 8 ft. wide, or long, depending on one's point of orientation. Be that as it may, after exchanging proprieties with Mr. Klipsch, he gestured with his hand saying, "Come here, young man." Patting his right hand on the sofa he continued, "Here, sit down."

He elaborated at great length in his responses to my questions, which he seemed to savour with great relish. I thought I was boring him with all those questions, but he assured me I wasn't. And by his detailed responses to them, I knew he wasn't just being polite. It was during that meeting that he invited me to visit his works as I did a lot of traveling then. However, it wasn't until I moved to Arizona a few years later that I was to take him up on his offer.

It was also during that momentous meeting that he bestowed upon me an honest to goodness genuine BULLSHIT pin. It's similar to a political pin, about 2 inches in diameter and yellow with the word BULLSHIT written in old gothic letters. When he pinned it on my lapel, (I wore a suit in those days) he said, "Remember this, 90% of what any audio salesman tells you is right here." I still have that pin, pinned on the front grille of one of my "erzatz" horns.

 

There's more. Just click on the BS pin if I haven't bored you enough already.

So now you know what the famous pin looks like.

 
The copyrights and registered trademarks to which I make reference on this page are those of Klipsch and Associates, Hope, Arkansas.
1. DOPE FROM HOPE - BRIDGED CENTER LOUDSPEAKER or WHO PUT THE SOLOIST on A FLYING TRAPEZE? Vol.14, No. 4 Revised July 1974. Supercedes Vol. 11, No. 3 July 1971.