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The Lansing Legacy is for ALTEC, JBL, and UREI too!

Discussion in 'The Lansing Legacy' started by hjames, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. hjames

    hjames dancing madly backwards ... Staff Member Moderator Subscriber

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    Who was James Bullough Lansing?? (a VERY brief bio)

    James Martini was born on January 14, 1902. His mother died on November 1, 1924, when he was 21, he then left home and met his future wife, Glenna Peterson, in Salt Lake City in 1925. At the time he was working for a radio station as an engineer. He also worked for the Baldwin Radio Company and met his future business partner, Ken Decker in the city.

    Martini and Decker moved to Los Angeles where they set up a business manufacturing loudspeakers. It was called the Lansing Manufacturing Company. Just before the company was registered on March 9, 1927, Lansing changed his name from James Martini to James Bullough Lansing at the suggestion of his future wife, Glenna. Most of his brothers had adopted the surname Martini, two of which (Bill and George) came to LA to work with him.


    Decker was killed in an airplane crash in 1939 and Lansing Manufacturing Company began to suffer financial difficulties without his business guidance. Altec Service Corporation bought Lansing Manufacturing Company in 1941, seeing the company as a valuable source for loudspeaker components. The combined company was named Altec Lansing. James B. Lansing was made VP of Engineering with a five-year contract.

    In 1941, when the Altec Service Corporation bought the assets, goodwill and trade names of the Lansing Manufacturing Company, Lansing agreed that he would not go into business for himself for a period of at least five years. While there were continuing disagreements between Lansing and Carrington, Lansing did honor this commitment and in 1946, five years after the acquisition, he left Altec Lansing to form a new company. Everyone at Altec Lansing wished him well; they had known that he would eventually leave after the five-year commitment had been met

    In 1946, Lansing left the company on the day his contract expired and started a new company called "Lansing Sound, Incorporated". Altec Lansing had a problem with that name's similarity to trademarked brands they had developed, so James Bullough Lansing renamed his new company "James B. Lansing Sound, Incorporated". Eventually, this became shortened to JBL on product branding and then officially as the company name.

    James Lansing was noted as an innovative engineer, but a poor businessman. As a result of deteriorating business conditions and personal problems, he took his own life by hanging himself in his home in San Marcos on September 24, 1949.

    But what about ALTEC (?)

    Most early theater audio as we know it was due to Western Electric. They were the grand-Daddies of "pro sound." Engineers at Western Electric developed the technology for motion picture sound that was introduced in 1927 with the release of "The Jazz Singer".
    In 1936, Western Electric divested ERPI division - and management formed "All Technical Services" Company, Altec Service Company, to service the theater sound systems the company founders had helped develop.

    The Altec Services Company purchased the nearly bankrupt Lansing Manufacturing Company and melded the two names, forming the Altec Lansing Corporation on May 1, 1941. The first Altec Lansing power amplifier, Model 142B, was produced that same year. James Bullough Lansing worked for Altec Lansing, then in 1946 when his 5 year contract ended, he left to found another manufacturer of high-quality professional loudspeakers, the James B. Lansing Company (JBL), which competed with Altec Lansing (but thats another story) ...

    Altec Lansing produced a line of professional and high-fidelity audio equipment, starting with a line of horn-based loudspeaker systems. First developed for use in motion picture theaters, these products were touted for their fidelity, efficiency and high sound level capability. Products included "biflex" speakers where frequency range was increased by a flexible "decoupling" of a small center area of the speaker's cone from a larger "woofer" area; the 604-series of coaxial speakers employed a high efficiency compression driver mounted to the rear of the 604's low-frequency magnet, and exited through a multicellular horn that passed through center of the woofer's cone.

    Altec Lansing also made the Voice of the Theatre systems. The design was the result of a collaboration between John Hilliard and Jim Lansing. The smallest of these, the A-7, used a medium-sized sectoral metal horn for high frequencies, which featured dividers (sectors) to provide control sound dispersion, plus a medium-sized wooden low-frequency enclosure, which functioned as a hybrid bass-horn/bass-reflex enclosure. The most often used Voice of the Theatre system was the A-4, many of which are still in use in motion picture theaters today. The efficiency of all of these products originally provided high sound pressure levels from the limited amplifier power available at the time. The original Voice of the Theatre series included the A-1, A-2, A-4, and the A-5. The A-7 and A-8 were designed for smaller venues.

    The early products were revised and enhanced over time with the addition of rubberized speaker surrounds and other modern features. Bill Hanley used Altec high frequency drivers and horns along with JBL bass drivers in his custom built loudspeaker system for the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Some professional Altec Lansing products remained in use well into the 1990s.

    Corporate-wise, the Altec Lansing Corporation was purchased by James Ling in 1958, who made it part of LTV Ling Altec. LTV spun off Altec which it loaded down with debt first. By 1974, the company was saddled with debt. It was reorganized under Chapter 11 as Altec Corporation and continued for 10 years. Altec filed a second bankruptcy. In 1984, Gulton Industries purchased the brand out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Since then, there has been a string of owners, purchased in 1995 by Telex Communications, 2000 by Sparkomatic, 2005 by Plantronics, 2009 by Prophet Equity, owned since 2012 by the Infinity Group, a company which acquires struggling consumer brands

    And how does UREI fit in?

    Bill Putnam, Sr. founded Universal Recording Corporation in 1946 in Evanston, Illinois for the purpose of investigating new recording techniques and the development of specialized recording equipment. The design and manufacturing side was accomplished by Putnam's parallel business, Universal Audio. In 1947, Putnam and company relocated to Chicago where they recorded the first popular song with artificial reverberation: Peg o' My Heart by The Harmonicats. Chicago blues labels such as Vee-Jay, Mercury and Chess were coming to Universal Recording to make their hit recordings. Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter, and Chuck Berry appeared to cut tracks. On the jazz side, Stan Kenton, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole came through. Bill Putnam was Duke Ellington's favorite engineer.

    By 1955, Universal Recording hit its stride. It was the most advanced and largest independent recording facility in the country. Putnam's clients had been suggesting he build a West Coast studio and in 1957, he made the jump. He sold his interest in Universal Recording and started United Recording Corporation in Hollywood, California, building new studios within an existing structure. By 1958, Studio B was completed, including two reverb chambers.
    Insulated from the recording studio changes, Universal Audio was thriving upstairs in the first Hollywood building under the new name United Recording Electronics Industries (UREI).
    By 1976, UREI had moved their manufacturing and service center to Sun Valley, California.

    Edward M. Long of E.M. Long Associates in Oakland, California collaborated with UREI to create the 813 family of time-aligned studio monitor speakers in 1977. The 813 used Altec Lansing, and later, JBL loudspeaker drivers. The UREI Time Aligned series included the 809s with 12 inch coaxial speakers, 811s with single 15 inch coaxial, the 813 (which added a 15 inch woofer to the 15 inch coaxial speaker), and the 815 (which added two 15 inch woofers to the 15 inch coaxial speaker).
    see http://www.jblproservice.com/navigation/UREI Time Align Series.html

    In 1985, Putnam sold the studios as well as the manufacturing division and left the business. JBL picked up the UREI name and service contracts, releasing "JBL-UREI" branded products such as the 5547A graphic equalizer in 1986. Putnam died in 1989.


    Historical details courtesy of the library at Lansing Heritage Forum, Wikipedia, and others.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
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  2. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    James Martini eh? That explains why classic JBL's were so stylish...:beatnik:
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
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  3. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    Actually, If Lansing died in 1949, who was responsible for all of the cool looking enclosures of the 50's and 60's?
     
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  4. hjames

    hjames dancing madly backwards ... Staff Member Moderator Subscriber

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    Someone else! Actually, MANY someone elses!
     
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  5. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Arnold Wolf.

    (Actually he did the JBL Metregon. I just liked the sound of having a one named answer to the question)
     
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  6. mhardy6647

    mhardy6647 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    It all goes back to Western Electric - the art & science of sound reproduction owes so much to WE, and so few of its modern practitioners either realize it or recognize it.
     

     

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  7. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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  8. toddalin

    toddalin Super Member

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  9. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    JBL enclosures of the 50 and 60's were, in my humble opinion, some of the most elegant designs I have seen.

    The size of an enclosure is a by-product of the design, and not necessarily the driving force.

    I have a pair of A-7's which I think are pretty awesome, but they ain't going in my living room.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
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  10. BMWCCA

    BMWCCA AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Many of the early "Danish" looking cabinets were attributed to George Nelson, especially the aluminum legs:

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    I have the horizontal version of those, C38's.
     

     

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  12. slow_jazz

    slow_jazz AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Great write up.

    Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  13. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan AK Member Subscriber

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    The Altec Capistrano was pretty cool.

    683D875B-592D-4DAE-9F81-D28ACDED1BB2.jpeg
     
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  14. asilker

    asilker Bible Reader Subscriber

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    Heather, thanks for the fantastic intro

    I'm looking forward to more "migrated" history info from the Altec forums to here
     
  15. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Lansing's time in SLC and his association with Nathaniel Baldwin is presently unclear. Folks who could provide first hand information are long past on, but NB was a meticulous diarist, and I'm hoping the person going through his diaries can provide information on at least their possible association.
    I suspect his time in SLC was the genesis of his interest in loudspeaker technology, and Baldwin's facilities were the center of such interest. Actual advances came instead from Jensen-Pridham at Magnavox, Rice-Kellogg at General Electric, and Thuras and Wente at Western Electric. Baldwin's balanced armature drivers were used primarily in high sensitivity earphone drivers, home horn radio speakers, and "transitional" and "budget" cone speakers. The Knowles type balanced armature miniature drivers used in modern hearing aids and some high quality in-ear phones are based on the earlier Frank Capps suspended leaf armature pattern rather than Baldwin's fully balanced leaf armature pattern.

    Otherwise, Baldwin's work doesn't directly fit the progressive chain from Magnavox to the modern bobbin coil loudspeaker drivers, and I'd like to know where and how Lansing made the jump from SLC based Baldwin balanced armature technology to the modern moving bobbin coil drivers that he adopted and refined.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  16. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan AK Subscriber

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    These weren't too shabby either:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Otis Records

    Otis Records AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Right to the very first electrically recorded records as well.
     
  18. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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  19. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  20. bowtie427ss

    bowtie427ss arigato gozaimashita Subscriber

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    Let's go back a little further, Bell Laboratories.

    Probably a little realistic bio on Dr J.K Hilliard, the actual engineer who mentored these other names so lovingly inflated to larger than life scale wouldn't hurt either. I mean, if we wanted to be truly comprehensive about it. :)
     
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