The Art & Science of Audio & Video

James B. Lansing (Altec & JBL)

James B. Lansing

From the 1920s to the 1950s, James B. Lansing was at the forefront of creating leading speaker systems used in motion-picture theaters. In the 1930’s, Lansing named his company James B. Lansing Sound Corp. (JBL).

JBL has a long history of building speakers for recording studios as well as movie theaters. In fact, the speakers developed for use with the first ”talkie”, ”The Jazz Singer,” in 1928, were from JBL. Historically, the main challenge for JBL was to make speakers that could fill a theater using only the few watts available from the amplifiers of the day, and still be intelligible when playing from behind a screen. The same speakers were used in the studios where movie sound was mixed so the producers could hear what the moviegoers would hear.

This ability to build speaker systems for listening both to music and movie sound tracks is especially important today with home theater. The main aim of the equipment is to make your system sound more like a movie theater and less like a concert hall.

Lansing’s name lives on in at least two brand names: Altec Lansing and JBL. JBL’s speakers provide the sound effects for Universal Studios’ King Kong attraction, Dodger Stadium, the Houston Astrodome and myriad concert halls, churches, movie theaters and rock concerts.

Audio-conglomerate Harman International is headquartered in Washington state, but most of its operations are in Northridge, Calif. which is home to Harman’s biggest subsidiary, stereo speaker-maker JBL Inc.


March 2, 2008 - Posted by | Pioneers in Audio | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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