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I posted this in here, because as I understand it, Norman Labs was started by a couple of engineers who previously worked for AR. Anyhow, my father has a great sounding pair of speakers I believe they are Norman Labs Model 10's. They have a pair of 10" woofers and a pair of tweeters in a sealed cabinet. A google search turns up next to nothing on Norman Labs, much less the speakers. Does anyone have any information on this company, or the particular speakers? Thanks,

Scott

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r_laski    0

Scott, try a search on “Norman Laboratories” in webcrawler.com (Include the quotes). You should find this link:

22. Speaker Asylum - Norman 432 Loudspeakers from Norman laboratories.ink. - Ben, February 24, 2002 at 04:25:31

Norman 432 Loudspeakers from Norman laboratories.ink. Posted by Ben (A) on February 24, 2002 at 04:25:31 Hello desperatly seeking for anything concerning Norman Laboratories.

http://www.audioasylum.com

Read j_thunders reply for just a little more info on Norman Labs. Here is a part of it:

Here is my understanding of the story behind Norman Labs speakers: It was a company started and owned by a bunch of engineering students at the University of Oklahoma, which is located in Norman Ok. I bought mine from a defunct home theater installation company that was having a going out of business sale when purchased, back in about '90 or so.

I’m very certain this is a more accurate account of the startup of this company. However, I cannot confirm or deny any AR engineers joining this company. When I lived in Oklahoma in the late 70s it seemed like every stereo store in the Oklahoma/North Texas was selling this company’s speakers. They were quite the rage in that area of the country. The company address was: Norman Laboratories, 1905 Atchison Dr, Norman, OK 73069.

I happen to have the 1990 Audio Mag Annual Equipment Directory mentioned in one of the replies to the query above (earliest one I have). From what I can see in the Norman Labs listings, the drivers array you describe for the “Model 10” had evolved to the model 435 by then.

Another link from webcrawler lists Norman Labs

2. Automobile Radio & Stereo Systems Wholesale - The DIRECTory

... Add a Business. Secondary Resources (Oklahoma), [Automobile Radio & Stereo Systems Wholesale]. Norman Laboratories Inc Norman, OK 73069-8225 (405) 321-3205. http://www.okdirect.com/Biz/5/5013T.html

You can try the phone number at you own risk, the only date I could find on this web site was 1997. They don’t show up in the current web based yellow pages for Norman, or Oklahoma City, OK. The internet isn’t very helpful for this type research. A better method may be the “old-timers way.” If you have access to a very large library, (major city or big university) they may have bound copies of old issues of audio related magazines. You can “browse” the table of contents of each issue for reviews of Norman Labs speakers. You can also check the “index of advertisers” at the back of each issue for ads, a good source of information.

Its also quite possible they will have audio related magazines on microfiche/microfilm. If you’re not familiar with it, have a librarian help you with the “Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature” in the mid-late 70’s through the mid 90s, probably also on microfiche, CD or web based and accessible only from the library’s internal computer network. Almost every library has these in one form or another. I’m sure Stereo Review and/or Audio did reviews of this company’s speakers. Their review would include company information. The only drawback to this is you will find articles on the speakers, not the ads. Hope this helps and good luck with you search. Let us know if you find an AR connection to this company.

Rich Laski

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Guest jimbolong   
Guest jimbolong

I can provide the information you are looking for because I was one of the founders of Norman Labs. The company was started in 1971 by myself and Leonard Bernstein (not the former music director of the New York Philharmonic). I was an engineerng graduate of the University of Oklahoma but was not a student at the time we started the company. I graduated in 1965 and worked in the audio field for a few years, including a stint with Altec, before we formed Norman Laboratories. I handled the engineering and production and Leonard Bernstein handled sales and marketing. We sold the company to an investment group from Ft. Worth, Texas, in about 1981 and I left the company in about 1984. Until I left the company I did all of the design work (including the Model 10 that was mentioned above). The company was sold again a few years later and was closed down about 8 or 10 years ago.

Jim Long

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dynaco_dan    0

Hi Jim;

Welcome aboard.

This site is fabulous.

Someone asks a question and years later the answer comes forth.

Thank you for coming forward with your information, Jim.

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Guest billw   
Guest billw

wow Jim!!

I have to say the Norman Lab 10's are my favorite speakers of all i have ever heard!! The only thing i've heard come close was a set of Martin Logans with an ML subwoofer or possibly that set of enormous Carvins driven by an equally enormous Krell. I have just done a side-by-side compare with Snell Type-C's and the Snells are now looking for a new home. have also done a couple of side-by comparos with other 'comparable(?)' speakers - Cambridge for one, no contest. I wish i could have afforded the 9's(?) when i bought the 10's in 1979... i think the 9's had the 2 front firing woofers and single rear firing with a triple tweeter array similar to the 10's double tweeter.

I bought mine in Little Rock (i forget the name of the store) along with a Luxman 1050 (it's still kicking too); when i walked in with my poor old burned out Sansui and the salesman put Linda Ronstadt "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" through that setup... well i just couldn't leave without it!! my favorite demo now is Chris Rea's "Road to Hell" parts 1 and 2; that low frequency drone in the background is fairly deep, the voice comes in crisp and deep, then the drums hit at the start of part 2 - those Normans just sparkle!! and at much less wattage than the Snells require. You did a fabulous job!! Thank you!!

billw

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Guest wjhonson   
Guest wjhonson
I can provide the information you are looking for because I was one of the founders of Norman Labs. The company was started in 1971 by myself and Leonard Bernstein (not the former music director of the New York Philharmonic). I was an engineerng graduate of the University of Oklahoma but was not a student at the time we started the company. I graduated in 1965 and worked in the audio field for a few years, including a stint with Altec, before we formed Norman Laboratories. I handled the engineering and production and Leonard Bernstein handled sales and marketing. We sold the company to an investment group from Ft. Worth, Texas, in about 1981 and I left the company in about 1984. Until I left the company I did all of the design work (including the Model 10 that was mentioned above). The company was sold again a few years later and was closed down about 8 or 10 years ago.

Jim Long

I few weeks ago I picked up a pair of Norman Labs 332

You can see my discussion here

Norman Laboratories Model 332 Floor-Standing Speakers

Can you tell me what year these were made? Or what year range? Did you design these Jim ?

Can you confirm that the cabinets are solid oak?

Will Johnson

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speakerman1    0

I few weeks ago I picked up a pair of Norman Labs 332

You can see my discussion here

Norman Laboratories Model 332 Floor-Standing Speakers

Can you tell me what year these were made? Or what year range? Did you design these Jim ?

Can you confirm that the cabinets are solid oak?

Will Johnson

I'm reopening this discussion. In 1978 I was going to buy a pair of Labs. They were towers and had a marble top if I remember right. I would like to know what model they were. I have a pair of model 11s that are cherry. If I can find these speakers I would like to buy them. Also has anyone done any mods to their labs like installing binding posts?

Larry

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Naldo    0

I'm reopening this discussion. In 1978 I was going to buy a pair of Labs. They were towers and had a marble top if I remember right. I would like to know what model they were. I have a pair of model 11s that are cherry. If I can find these speakers I would like to buy them. Also has anyone done any mods to their labs like installing binding posts?

Larry

Hi, first post here-

I can share a bit of what I know about these fine speakers, hopefully without crossing too much into lines of personal info. The company was the brainchild of a Norman, Ok. entrepeneur named Leonard Bernstein, as noted elsewhere. Leonard was and is a real classical audiophile, although he doesn't get out much anymore.

Before starting up Norman Labs he had been the owner of a Norman hi-fi store Thompson Sound, which he operated from the late 50's iirc, into the early 70's. Thompson's carried an impressive line of hi-fi equipment ranging from the casual listening range to high-end serious audiophile. Its salesmen were there because they loved the audio experience and the equipment. So Leonard and these guys knew quality stereo equipment, what worked with what, how to finesse setups, etc.

From what I understand, he decided in the early 70's to move on from that to building his own speaker line, and passed, sold, gave Thompson's on to his salesmen, depending on who you talk to.

The early years of Norman Labs were basically experimentation with design and trying to get sales set up in a general area of the Southwest, and their early efforts were predictably rough looking and sounding.

Their speaker philosophy was to build different variations of a 2-way box using a single crossover point and excellent Phillips tweeters that would cover the majority of the audio range. Word is they further tweaked those tweeters with their own innovations.

So that's what the models 7,8,9,10,11, were, different arrays of Phillips tweeters and Creedence woofers in different dimension boxes to get different variations of what would become their signature sound. Also there's some sort of reset in just about all the original speaker boxes. And I'd have to say it was/is more aligned to the East-Coast sound in the tradition of AR, Advent, KLH,etc, i.e. a balanced sound best for classical or jazz, since that was Leonard's own preference.

However- and again, this is anecdotal- a bad early review by an audiophile magazine of some of their speakers spooked Leonard, and he decided to sell. Basically their speakers were not quite ready for prime-time at that point, and he was pretty heavily invested in the company.

From what I heard, the investment group from Forth Worth which bought him out included a member of the Bass family of Dallas, fwiw, and they basically told the employees to stay the course, keep tweaking and experimenting.

Some time in the later 70's, it clicked and they found their 'signature sound.' For mainstream high-end speakers, Norman Labs had quality cabinetry with nice walnut veneering (rather than the hideous vinyl fake veneer), and sometimes used oak later on. They're solid, sturdy, attractive. The model 7 went away for basically the same setup in the model 8 & 11- a single woofer and dual tweeters or 1 of each.

The model 10 has an array of 2 tweeters and 2 woofers, and their flagship model 9 towers had 3 of each with 1 woofer rear-firing. They had a removable glass top. Then there were naturally improvements and enhancements over time in those models.

Some time after Jimbo Long left, say in the late 80's or so, NL decided to experiment with other setups. The model 331,332,431,432, 435,631,632, etc. all evolved from their original lines, but also using mid-ranges and sometimes ribbon tweeters.

Those were built until probably the early 90's when the dream began to die, and stereo audio equipment was cheapened out to home surround, etc. :( They tried a few lines using cheaper methods and components. By that time the ownership had changed hands to a colorful salesman who moved operations to Arkansas, Gail Dixon.

They also dabbled a bit in car and truck speakers, a few eq's, some this, some that.

I've never heard of Norman Labs using cherry veneer, which is not to say it didn't happen- I'd be intrigued to see pics of such a thing.

Personally, the only mods I've done to my model 9's was to upgrade the caps to Soniccaps, an easy fix, and to build solid wood pedestals to get them off the floor- my own idiosyncrasy since they're some 42" tall anyway. :)

For the guy thinking he has some solid lumber cabinets, that's highly doubtful. NL used good quality veneer MDF, not the paper-thin stuff. The experts all say that MDF is superior to solid wood in deadening ability, but I've got the electronics from a 435 set I intend to build into a combo veneer plywood/solid wood cabinet...one of these days... so, whatever. :)

One of the really knowledgeable guys about Norman Labs on Audiokarma is a guy named BasicBlues, and there's several informative threads there.

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bobmorton    0

Hi. I can share some information about Norman Labs Model 10's. Just check if this is the same with the speakers that you have, it is the same with what I have - pair of 10" woofers and a pair of tweeters in a sealed cabinet.

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speakerman1    0

When I said cherry. I meant in perfect shape. Not cherry wood. Well I just modded my one. Will start the other one tomorrow. I pulled all the CBs and the tweeter switch plus the light bulb in the X-over. I put new Solen caps in and went with a very simple 2nd order. I used their inductors; but I will change them in the future. I also used a blank off plate and put 5 way binding posts in. I used 12 ga silver coated ofc hook up wire inside.

Well I got the one done an hour a go and hooked it up to my Creek. They have really opened up. They sounded good before. They sound so much better now. I have model 11s. I paid no attention to the box inside. It could be MDF. I will look tomorrow when I open the other one up.

Larry

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speakerman1    0

When I said cherry. I meant in perfect shape. Not cherry wood. Well I just modded my one. Will start the other one tomorrow. I pulled all the CBs and the tweeter switch plus the light bulb in the X-over. I put new Solen caps in and went with a very simple 2nd order. I used their inductors; but I will change them in the future. I also used a blank off plate and put 5 way binding posts in. I used 12 ga silver coated ofc hook up wire inside.

Well I got the one done an hour a go and hooked it up to my Creek. They have really opened up. They sounded good before. They sound so much better now. I have model 11s. I paid no attention to the box inside. It could be MDF. I will look tomorrow when I open the other one up.

Larry

Well I got them both done and my PL 700B is hooked to them. All I can say is wow. I have never seen the woofer move like it does now. I had the 700B up to almost 1/2. My floor was vibrating. I have no idea what the 11s are rated at; but they weren't missing a beat. I don't know if it was going to a 2nd order and removing everything else or what. These speakers came to life. Even on some of the highs they made my ears chirp. I would like to get hold of some 9s and really push the 700B.

Larry

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Dan    0

Geez! Just came across this site after Googling Norman Labs. I bought a pair of 7's when I was a student @ OU in '72 & had them hooked up to a Kenwood 7500 (still have)...what a sound! I purchased a pair of 10's & 85's off Craig's List I found in AR. Then several years ago I bought a NL Equalizer Model Five on Ebay, but had no manual. I have no idea about its possible uses or applications. If anyone might have knowledge of this equalizer it would be most helpful. Needless to say, my wife isn't as enthusiastic about Labs & just says I'm lost in the 60's...

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whboyd    0

Anyone have any data or manuals for the Norman Labs model 5 equalizer? I have one & could use some help figuring it out.

thanks!

Bill Boyd

Cary, NC

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TRANSAMMAN    0

Help, newby to the forum, but  have a set of 631's I bought new. (Way back in 1985 at Thompson Sound in Okla City).I replaced the woofers with a similar model, but I don't remember how the wiring was plugged in to the woofers. Any help would be appreciated. 

A green wire comes from the negative input on the inside of the speaker, with 2 spade connectors to attach to the woofers. There's are also a blue wire with 2 connectors, and it comes from the crossover. Do I connect the greens to the negatives and the blues to the positives on the woofers, or do they hook up in a series? 

And, yes these are the most indestructible best sounding speakers I have ever heard without spending big bucks.

As a side note, I bought a pair of 1974 models from the original owner who bought them new in 1974. Very primitive in construction, but they put my 631's to shame.

If you ever want to test them, use Fleetwood Mac Rumors, followed by Dire Straits Brothers in Arms. 

In the words of Ferris, if you have the means, I highly recommend them...

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JKent    0

Welcome Trans

Disclaimer: I never heard of Norman Labs until today but from what I've read they sound fascinating.

A photo would help. Does the 631 have 2 woofers? From your description I'd say yes--greens to negs and blues to pos but I'm flying blind here. Is this a 2-way or 3-way? are the tweeters (and mids?) hooked up, so all you have unhooked are the 2 woofers? A little more info....

-Kent

PS. OK, Google found a photo of the outside. 3-way with 2 woofers. A photo of the innerds would help but I'd say your guess is correct.

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TRANSAMMAN    0

2 woofers. 3 ways and wires are still connected to the mids and tweets. I removed the 2 woofers in each speaker, but didn't pay attn to how they were wired. Thanks for responding!!

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Raymanfh    0

I have a pair of 7s I purchased in Enid Ok in 1975. Love them. Had a Pioneer 1010 reciever with a Phase Linear 700 amp at the time.  More power than I needed but so clean when not pushing at all.  Still have all with quite a collection of others. When I bought the labs I compared them with so many different ones and liked the labs best. I'm from New York but was stationed in Enid at the time. interesting to read the story behind the Norman Labs company.  also thought it was great to get a response from one of the original owners. 

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JohnE    0

I have a pair of Norman Labs model 10's I bought in the late 70's (powered by a Pioneer SX-1080 receiver) and my wife is nagging me to get rid of them.  It's funny how times change but my wife was my then girlfriend and she used to love the way they looked!  (Now she hates them!!!)  I am wondering if anyone has any idea of what these are worth so I can decide if they're worth selling or trashing?  Thanks!

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Thanks for the information everyone! My grandpa just gave me a pair of model 8s. I love the history behind the company!

Until now I only had the consumer version of their history: My grandpa brought them home for Christmas one year. This would have been late 60s. My mom thought her family was now "up-town" in her words. She talks about how when everyone left the house how she would blast them.  

 

I'm currently working on repairing one of the woofers. The foam has deteriorated. I guess my mom's jam sessions paired with time took a toll on them. I don't think they've been used much in the last 10 years or so. They will be now! 

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Lance    0

The light bulb serves as a damper to prevent overheating of the voice coil. At high volume, the bulb begins to light, thus adding resistance. If you remove it, you will hear a bit more dynamic range at high volume, but you risk damaging the speaker. When I was manager of the repair department at a shop in Dallas that sold Norman Labs, customers would bring in speakers with burned out light bulbs, probably related to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer or Led Zeppelin.

The Norman Labs 10 used a long-throw woofer. This allowed very low and strong bass response, exactly what a college kid wants.

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