This is Dan Ashcraft standing beside JBL's Ti10k loudspeaker. Since 1985, Ashcraft Designs has been responsible for the distinctive industrial design of the majority of JBL speakers. This includes such significant systems as the Everest, the entire K2 series (including the new K2-S9800), and the entire Tik series. Dan graciously spent around three hours describing his involvement with JBL, the design process, and his firm's approach to industrial design. We were able to tour his facility and view illustrations that depicted the evolution of the new K2-S9800 design. The input he provided will be used in an article on current industrial design practice for JBL.
John Eargle (left) and George Augspurger (right) provided some of the most valuable and enjoyable input of the entire tour. George and John spent an entire morning discussing the history of JBL in the professional market that will be developed into the single most significant article to result from this tour. George's recollections of his involvement in establishing and managing the Professional Division were invaluable. John also acted as our guide at Northridge for two full days providing a wealth of information that will be used in a number of articles under development.
I am pleased to be able to relay the news that John Eargle, along with Don Keele and Mark Engebretson, will be awarded a Scientific and Engineering Award as part of the 74th Annual Academy Awards. The award is for their work at JBL in:
"...the concept, design and engineering of the modern constant-directivity, direct radiator style motion picture loudspeaker systems.
The work of John Eargle, Don Keele and Mark Engebretson has resulted in the over 20-year dominance of constant-directivity, direct radiator bass style cinema loudspeaker systems."
This is John's second major award in as many years. Last year, John won the 2000 Grammy award for "Best Engineered Album, Classical".
Doug Button is Vice President of Research and Development at JBL Professional. Doug is arguably the most accomplished transducer designer of the past decade. This is not my opinion. Virtually everyone we met in the pro sound industry (many with no affiliation to JBL), expressed this view. The products he has developed speak for themselves. A short list includes the first neodymium bass driver, vented gap cooling for loudspeaker motors, differential drive speakers, and a new beryllium compression driver that outperforms any that JBL has previously produced, yet weighs under 3lbs.
Doug spent an hour with us patiently explaining the concepts behind the new bass and midrange driver incorporated in JBL's latest consumer, statement speaker; the K2-S9800. The midrange driver is the above mentioned beryllium compression driver and the bass driver is based on a revolutionary new concept he developed. That concept is for an Alnico magnet driver that is immune to demagnetization from overdriving.
His input will be used to develop an article on recent technology developments at JBL.
Greg Timbers is one of our favorite people at JBL. He is a legend within the JBL community – responsible for the most significant JBL consumer products of the last three decades. More important to us, he is an incredibly frank and generous source that goes beyond the bare facts to give us a context for his and JBL's major accomplishments.
The above photo shows Greg with his latest system design – the K2-S9800. This is JBL's current statement speaker and had its official introduction a couple of weeks before our visit. This meant that all of the production units were out at international exhibitions, and the development system above was the only pair on site. Because of this, we didn't have an opportunity to audition the system during this tour. However, that opportunity would come later (see below).
Greg spent an hour with us going over the design philosophy and development history of this system. This information will be used on an article that will profile the S9800.
Jerry Moro was responsible for developing the 1500AL bass driver (that he is holding) for the K2-S9800. As previously described, this is a revolutionary driver that marks the first Alnico magnet driver from JBL in nearly 25 years. More importantly, it is the first to eliminate the problem of demagnetization from overdriving that plagued all Alnico drivers of the past. Jerry was responsible for taking this concept and developing it into workable product. He developed a remarkable driver that has an 8lb Alnico magnet, an underhung coil, and a magnetic gap 1½ deep that accommodates 1"of travel. Gerry was also responsible for developing JBL's newest GTi series of car audio subwoofers based on a differential drive magnetic motor. Jerry's input will be used in the K2-S9800 profile that is under development.
Mark Gander is our mentor and champion within JBL. His early and continuing support has been responsible for our site becoming a comprehensive history of Jim Lansing's legacy. Mark has provided numerous contacts that is resulting in a flood of information. He secured the support of Harman International in providing access to their employees and archives in addition to gaining copyright clearance in using proprietary JBL information.
During this tour, Mark spent an hour with us detailing his perspective on JBL's history that will be used as input to the previously mentioned article on JBL's involvement in the professional market. Mark just celebrated his 25th year at JBL making him one of the longest serving, senior staff at the company. Mark has recently been named Vice President of Marketing for JBL Professional after previous tenures as Vice President of Engineering and Vice President of Strategic Development.
Michael McDonald is the President of JBL Professional. We had an interesting, unplanned meeting after being introduced by Mark Gander and John Eargle. Michael took time from his busy schedule to show us a fascinating video interview with Les Paul that had been commissioned for JBL's 50th anniversary. He was eager to share his understanding and enthusiasm for the rich heritage of the company that he runs.
My taking this photo caused a bit of an incident. This was taken after hours at around 6:00 p.m. after finishing our second day of interviews at Northridge. If you look carefully at the entrance, you will see a security guard carefully scrutinizing my picture taking. Moments later, he came out and ordered me into the building. I was grilled on who I was, why I was taking pictures and who gave me permission (you have to remember this was only three weeks after 9/11). After a call to the security supervisor, and more grilling, I was instructed to leave and not take any more photos. I heeded those instructions. However, as we drove away, the guard came running out again. I didn't stick around to find out why.
This tour offered an opportunity to finally meet in person with one of our first contacts in the development of this site. We met with Rich May over dinner and he regaled us with three hours of stories on his involvement and that of his father, Ed May, at JBL. Rich worked at JBL at three separate times over a period of nearly 30 years. He was a participant, or witness to, many of the pivotal developments at JBL. Rich was able to provide detailed biographical information on his father that will be developed into a profile in the "People" section of this site.
Meeting up with Drew Daniels has become a greatly anticipated highlight of our Lansing Heritage Tours. Drew met with us for dinner and then took us back to his home/studio for a demonstration of his latest recording work. Here he is in his control room with a copy of his recent CD "Too Blue" peeking out at the bottom right hand corner. We ended up purchasing copies after an extended listening to this remarkable work. Drew was responsible for recording, mixing and mastering this CD in addition to playing bass on all tracks. I highly recommend this recording. Drew was also kind enough to present us with a copy of the rare double LP "JBL Sessions" album, remastered to CD.
Dr. Bruce Edgar had just moved to a new facility when we met up with him. Here he is demonstrating his Titan system and new 35hz subwoofer in his soundroom. As would be expected, the entire system is horn loaded from tweeter to sub and is viscerally dynamic. The 35hz sub is a bit of a misnomer. The name refers to the flare rate of the horn. However, it is equalized to be flat to 20hz. Dr. Edgar's demonstration using the "Jurassic Lunch" soundtrack was proof enough for me. It was a stunning example of the clear, articulate bass that would plumb the deepest octave in the most forceful manner I have ever experienced.
As longtime readers of our site will know, Garry is the spark that resulted in the start of the Lansing Heritage website. He was responsible for soliciting the support of Mark Gander and John Eargle that allowed our site to grow, from a simple collection of Altec and JBL literature, into a comprehensive history site. Garry spent most of his career at JBL, before branching into consulting. He is currently the President of the Acoustical Engineers Society (AES).
There was a three year break in Garry's JBL service that was of particular interest to us on this tour. From 1981 to 1983, Garry was Director of Sales for UREI. Garry was kind enough to describe his detailed knowledge on the evolution of UREI monitors. For those that are unaware, UREI monitors, from the later 70's and into the 80's, became industry standards. They were originally based on Altec drivers, but later used JBL drivers. In 1983 became an all JBL product after Harman International's acquisition of the company.
This is an interesting story from our perspective since it spans both the Altec and JBL themes of our site. Garry's input is being developed into an article for on our "Perspectives" section that will document the "UREI" story.
On the last day of our tour, we held out an open invitation to any of our site readers in the LA area to meet with us over dinner. This year, we were only able to draw out one reader. However, that person was a pleasant surprise. Glen Claybrook, a longtime JBL fan and Disney employee met up with us. Glen would ultimately be responsible for developing the winning entry in our logo contest. Glen is shown here on the left with my co-developer Steve Schell.
In January 2002, I attended my first CES. It was here that I finally had the opportunity to audition JBL's K2-S9800. They were part of the HALCRO display at the Home Theatre Expo in the Tuscany Hotel. They were very dynamic and detailed, but the resonant hotel room was not the best venue. The demonstration was arranged for us by Bruce Scrogin who is the former President of JBL International. He now works as a consultant for which HALCRO is one of his clients. Later, were able to spend an extended time interviewing Bruce on his involvement with JBL. Bruce was a longtime, senior employee and was responsible for concepts behind JBL's statement speakers (the Everest and original K2). His input will show up in a number of articles under development. We also met up with the delegation from Harman Japan. This was an opportunity to gain a firsthand perspective on the impact of JBL in East Asia. Harman Japan was very generous in providing detailed artwork on JBL's current and past statement speakers.
2001 Don McRitchie