Paul Klipsch

Get it right

When I arrived at his hotel room, he ushered me in, asked me to sit in a lone chair in the center of the floor, and greeted me with, "Sit here. Eyes shut. Don't move. Point to the sound." He then bounded all over the room, from floor to ceiling, snapping his fingers and asking me to point to the location. Finally, after several minutes of these antics, he announced:

opening shot

"That proves we're better at horizontal auditory discrimination than vertical probably because our ancestors were more likely to be attacked from the sides than from above and our ears only evolved to differentiate threats auditorially in a horizontal mode hello I'm Paul Klipsch and I'm hungry as hell lets go eat now."

Paul was helping a mutual friend open the first store in Atlanta, Georgia, selling high-fidelity sound systems. I was elected as Paul's dinner guest because of our mutual interests. We left immediately and headed for one of my favorite restaurants.

Before our meal even began, a patron at the next table innocently asked us if we knew the time. This inquiry could have been a setup by anyone who knew Paul's fascination with clocks, time, and all things chronological, but I think it was just a coincidence. As Paul checked the time, I noticed he was wearing two wristwatches side by side on his wrist as he turned to answer the question.

"Here in Atlanta, it's 7:14. In Hope, Arkansaw, it's 6:14."

Paul's Local Time kept track of dinner reservations and other appointments. The Hope Time kept abreast of when to get hungry.

After returning to his hotel room, Paul introduced still another means of keeping time. His Acutron watch was the most precise instrument commonly available. But even that was not enough to ensure accuracy. Opening his suitcase, he removed a short-wave receiver and checked the Acutron against the national time standard, just in case.

The lessons I learned that evening were twofold. It is essential to play and freely experiment to fully explore the creative potential. Creative ideas are supreme and most precious. The ultimate goal is getting it right. As Paul explained:

"I heard that a major loudspeaker company was using a variation of my design. I called their head of engineering, introduced myself, and asked if that were true. At first, their engineer seemed worried that I might object, but I quickly assured him that my only concern was that my designs and concepts were recreated correctly. At no cost and with my blessing, I visited their company and worked with them to fully utilize the full scope of my designs, knowledge, and experience. It was, and is, my goal to achieve the highest form of musical excellence."

“Audio was a hobby and then a profession, but I still consider myself as an amateur in that an amateur is one who practices his art for love.” — Paul W. Klipsch

It's been a delight to share my experiences with Paul Klipsch. You can share his official commemorative T-Shirt here.

The importance of play in achieving the highest form of creativity is well described by John Cleese here.

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