Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Loudspeaker Part 2

When people talk about loudspeakers people talk about Jensen, Siemens and the other big names. Nobody mentions Clair Loring Farrand. Who the hell is that guy? He invented the coil-driven direct-radiator loudspeaker. It was (in my opinion) the next big step in speaker evolution.

Farrand is better remembered for his work at Warner Bros. in Hollywood during the transition from silent films to sound pictures. He died not that long ago in 1981 at the age of 85. his New York Times obit read "Farrand was founder and president of Farrand Industries Inc. of Valhalla, N.Y., and his companies had control of roughly 1,000 patents. They ranged from bombsights for the B-52 bomber to windows for space program simulators." It's true. What they don't tell you is that before inventing the loudspeaker, Clair was a Marconi Company radio operator. He quit at the age of 23 in 1918 before perfecting that speaker.

He invented the Phonetron based on patent No. 1,847,935. His patent was filed Apr. 23, 1921. "An elliptically tapered tube or funnel shaped element is fixed to a loudspeaker so that its large diameter end overlies a central region of the loudspeaker diaphragm and such that its small diameter end extends away from the diaphragm. The loudspeaker diaphragm need not extend beyond the line on which it is connected to the funnel element, but does in the preferred embodiment. The funnel element has a cross-sectional shape that differs on planes parallel to the plane of the base which lie at different distances from the base. A funnel that is circular in cross-section at all of those parallel planes does not exhibit high fidelity response with the brilliance and clarity that distinguishes speakers having the non-uniform cross-sectional shape."

Blah Blah Blah.. The important part is that it's a paper cone. One just like the one in your speakers at home. It worked well, and was accepted by consumers. It successfully competed with the horns used by existing table radios


  1. Thanks for posting this info on Farrand. I'm restoring one of his early speakers.

  2. Please do share updates on your progress. that's quite an undertaking!