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Cabinet supplier for KLH, Advent, Bose, EPI and Acoustic Research


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#1 DaveD

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 09:25 PM

In reply to another post which poses the question of what company manufactured cabinets for KLH and Acoustic Research, I wrote that I remembered being told that it
was a company in my home town of Jasper, Indiana. The company is now called Kimball International. The name comes from the W.W. Kimball piano company which was purchased by the Jasper Corporation in 1959. They manufactured pianos and also electronic organs under the Kimball brand name. The company also had other lines and did contract work.
http://www.classicsp...?showtopic=5132

After getting a "we don't know" answer from the public relations department of the company, I contacted the wife of the former CEO and present Chairman, Doug Habig. His family is one of the principals in the company. She wrote back to say that the Stylemasters division of the Jasper Corporation did make cabinets for KLH, Advent and Acoustic Research. She suggested that I phone Dick Lampert, who managed that division during the 1960s, to get some details.

Mr. Lampert was happy to talk about his company's work for the hi-fi giants of the day. After he had been at Stylemasters for a few years, they contracted to supply wood veneered cabinets to KLH in 1962. This venture was a success for both companies and in a couple of years Stylemasters started supplying cabinets to Acoustic Research. When Henry Kloss left KLH to form Advent, cabinets were supplied to that new company by Stylemasters from the very start. Dick also mentioned supplying amplifier and receiver cabinets to H.H. Scott and others. Bose also became a customer during this time period. When EPI started, that company contracted with Stylemasters for cabinets. Stylemasters perfected the tight sealing technique for acoustic suspension cabinets and a testing procedure for finding and rejecting leaking ones. Stylemasters had special assembly lines and conveyors for the speaker cabinets.

The best customers for wood veneered cabinets were KLH, Advent, Bose and EPI. Stylemasters may not have made all cabinets for these companies, because it was in the interest of the speaker manufacturers to always be looking for another supplier and a better price. But, it was a very large volume of business and many, many different models over many years time. For Acoustic Research, Stylemasters made a much lower amount of their cabinets for only a couple of years. This company was not as interested in marketing quality wood veneered cabinets as the other four speaker companies were.

The hardwood veneers became thinner over the years due to cost and this made the manufacturing more difficult and expensive. When the hi-fi companies started to want vinyl wrapped cabinets, Stylemasters built a new plant to accommodate the special techniques needed to produce a good looking vinyl wrapped cabinet.

After Singer bought KLH, they had the idea to have their own Singer line of speakers to sell in sewing centers. These Singer models contained drivers supplied by KLH and were fully assembled at Stylemasters, with help from the Kimball Electronics division. The line of speakers was a flop because nobody shopping for a stereo ever thought to look for speakers at a sewing machine store! I asked if these Singer speakers were exact re-badged versions of regular KLH models or different designs with different drivers, but he wasn't certain of the answer.

Up until 1981, when Dick Lampert left Stylemasters for the corporate main office, a large volume of cabinets were being produced for KLH, Advent and EPI. Bose was also still a customer, but had moved some of its cabinet production to its own Canadian plant at some point. Work for the audio companies continued for some years past 1981. There was a constant flow of cabinets from Jasper to New England for about 25 years. Hundreds of thousands of cabinets. He traveled to meet with customers often and spent time with Amar Bose, Winslow Burhoe at EPI and with Henry Kloss. He was in Kloss' lab during the development of the Video Beam projection TV, right after the screen itself had first been successfully produced.

Stylemasters also manufactured television cabinets for the major brands for many, many years.

Mr. Lampert told me that he is available to answer in more detail any questions about his work with these companies, if he is able to remember. Apparently no records have been kept. He doesn't want me to post his phone number, but members of this forum can contact me by personal message. I can relay a message to Dick and help to put him in touch with forum members. So, even though southern Indiana feels like the audiophile wilderness to those of us who live here, woodworkers in Jasper did play a large part in the manufacture of the equipment that we all appreciate.

#2 tysontom

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 02:51 PM

In reply to another post which poses the question of what company manufactured cabinets for KLH and Acoustic Research, I wrote that I remembered being told that it
was a company in my home town of Jasper, Indiana. The company is now called Kimball International. The name comes from the W.W. Kimball piano company which was purchased by the Jasper Corporation in 1959. They manufactured pianos and also electronic organs under the Kimball brand name. The company also had other lines and did contract work.
http://www.classicsp...?showtopic=5132


The best customers for wood veneered cabinets were KLH, Advent, Bose and EPI. Stylemasters may not have made all cabinets for these companies, because it was in the interest of the speaker manufacturers to always be looking for another supplier and a better price. But, it was a very large volume of business and many, many different models over many years time. For Acoustic Research, Stylemasters made a much lower amount of their cabinets for only a couple of years. This company was not as interested in marketing quality wood veneered cabinets as the other four speaker companies were.


DaveD,

"This company was not as interested in marketing quality wood veneered cabinets as the other four speaker companies were." I assume you mean that AR wasn't as interested in marketing quality wood-veneered cabinets as the other companies. I know you are relaying what this fellow told you, but regarding AR, this is incorrect. AR cabinets were, if anything, more expensive to manufacture than any of the other cabinets, such as KLH, EPI, Advent and Bose. The main reasons: (1) AR required the use of extensive bracing inside and (2) AR used solid-stock wood for the cabinet moldings on top-of-the-line models, something that (except for some versions of the Advent) none of the other companies did. This gentleman from Stylemasters may have some hard feelings regarding AR, but the company really didn't use Stylemasters cabinets to amount to anything. The primary supplier (of AR cabinets) was Cab Tech of Nashua, New Hampshire (owned at one time by the family of Senator Warren Rudman), and as many as 10,000 cabinets-per-month were supplied to AR by this company alone. There were other suppliers, as well. These cabinets were principally wood-veneered cabinets in Mahogany, Birch, Walnut, Cherry, Teak, Korina and Utility Cabinets in Ponderosa Pine. By the way, the Walnut veneer mostly came from Indiana, the source of most of the quality American Black Walnut for many years. The Walnut veneer "flitches" were supplied to panel companies (usually not directly to the cabinet companies), formed into 4 x 8 plywood or MDF panels, then supplied to the cabinet shops.

--Tom Tyson

#3 DaveD

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Posted 31 March 2009 - 12:48 PM

Perhaps it was a mistake for me to post this under five different speaker manufacturers, but I wanted to be thorough. I am unable to keep track of things this way, if there are any posts to which I am requested to reply.

Please, let us continue this topic on the KLH forum, for any questions directed to me.

I should have set it up this way as a consolidation at the beginning, and I apologize for my ineptitude. So, all AR, Advent, Bose and EPI readers, jump over to the KLH posting of this topic if you want me to reply.

http://www.classicsp...?showtopic=5269

I have subscribed to the email notification for personal messages and topics. This service is not working for me, with regard to topics for sure, and I do not get the notifications. I have checked my junk mail and my ISP's spam filter. I will return to this topic occasionally as time and physical ability permit.




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