The title of Today’s History Lesson may give you the impression that we’re headed to the Bible for a discussion of Christianity’s greatest missionary. His writings are known world-wide, his travels were extensive, and the effects of his life are still being felt. All of these serve to make Paul worthy of print, but unfortunately, there really aren’t any solid dates to grab onto. So it’s really hard to lock down a “this-day-in-history” topic about this most famous of Apostles.
But there’s another Paul we can discuss with more specificity. He was also a missionary of sorts, a pioneer in his field. His life, which spanned nearly a century, also affected millions (including me), and continues to do so. And while I won’t pretend to know this Paul’s theological positions or worldviews, there’s little doubt that he understood “sound” doctrine.
I’m referring, of course, to Paul Klipsch. If you’re an audiophile, his name is instantly recognizable as the founder of one of the world’s most famous and enduring lines of loudspeakers. Born in Elkhart, Indiana on March 9, 1904, Klipsch was an engineering wizard who, while in the Army, began working on loudspeaker designs. At the time, theaters and concert halls had the best speaker setups, but they were colossal horn systems, not at all suited to a home.
Paul Klispch’s idea was to fold the horn and use a room’s corner as an extension of the speaker and, in 1945, the Klipschorn was born. And the Klipschorn still lives today, which is a tribute to the long-standing quality and consistent ability of the speaker to deliver. Many of Klipsch’s other speakers, like the La Scala and the Belle Klipsch, were also horn-loaded. Later designs used more traditional cone drivers for the bass end of things, but continued to use horns for their midrange and tweeter sections.
Klipsch speakers were (and still are) among the most efficient ever made, able to generate sound levels well over 100 dB with just one watt of power. The founder often lamented that what the audio world really needed was a high-quality 5-watt amplifier.
Paul Klipsch was a bit of an eccentric genius. Numerous stories exist of his antics…I’ll repeat one taken from the company website: Klipsch co-workers tell and retell the famous story of Klipsch stripping down to his skivvies and turning up the temperature in his office to broiling so that he could dissect a calculator to discover why its manufacturer said it wouldn’t work in extreme temperatures. (Klipsch, incidentally, found the answer and wrote the company’s president to tell him how to fix the problem.)
I don’t own any Klipsch speakers today, but I’ve owned three models in the recent past. The first set, a pair of KG 5.2’s, were absolutely perfect for my apartment. Something about the living room’s acoustics made them really rip. I sold those to my older brother (and kind of miss them), replacing them with a pair of Quartets, a smoother speaker from Klipsch’s Heritage line, purchased from a guy upgrading to Cornwalls.
The Quartets left a year later when Klipsch had a limited run of Forte II 3-way speakers in the mid 1990s. They had all the hitting power of the 5.2’s, with the smooth delivery of the Quartets. I kept those for 7 or 8 years and replaced them only when my new apartment proved too small for them.
Numerous speaker companies have come and gone over the years (including the one that created the speakers I now own), but Klipsch soldiers on, building on the foundation started by its own “apostle” Paul.
Happy Birthday, Paul Klipsch!!
I need to add another “Happy Birthday!!” to my younger brother, whose middle name also happens to be “Paul”.
Recommended Reading: www.klipsch.com – Read about the founder, then peruse their speakers.