Recording - March 2017 - 26

JBL Celebrates

70 years Of Monitor Design

An interview with PETER CHAIKIN and MARK GANDER
I N T E R V I E W S B Y M I K E M E T L AY

The year 2016 marks the 70th anniversary of JBL, a company that's been at the forefront of monitor design pretty
much since we started talking about "studio monitors". The company is celebrating its birthday with exciting new product
releases (see our NAMM Show report elsewhere in this issue) and by taking a thoughtful look back at its storied history.
I recently had the chance to chat with Peter Chaikin and Mark Gander about the long and fascinating JBL journey. Peter is a long-standing friend of Recording, starting his career as tape operator for Stevie Wonder and later as
engineer for Quincy Jones and other luminaries. He's now working as Director of Recording Solutions for Harman
International, JBL's parent corporation. Mark is JBL's Director of Technology for Harman Professional Solutions.
I'd like to start with a little bit of history. Mark, what was
JBL's first product?

Mark Gander: JBL is named for its founder James B. Lansing. He
had been at the Altec company, making Altec-Lansing speakers, and
before that in the Twenties and Thirties he was making his speakers
under his own label, The Lansing Manufacturing Company.
When he started our company in 1946, first he did a new
woofer, the D-101 15" woofer, but he very quickly said, "I want
to do things differently than I did them at Altec." The second
speaker was actually perhaps his most famous... that was the
D-130. That's a 15" full-range loudspeaker with a 4" aluminum
center dome on that 4" voice coil. And that's the one that really
put JBL on the map, because it was so efficient, it was so smooth
and responsive, with wide bandwidth and low distortion. That's
the one that was used for the early days of Hi-Fi, and it was used
for early PA systems.
In the Fifties, Leo Fender and lots of other guitar manufacturers
found out that that speaker would work wonderfully as an upgrade,
or in some cases a premium standard speaker, in guitar amplifiers.
So that really set the tone for other components that JBL did:
compression drivers, and integrating the drivers and woofers into systems for studio monitoring and sound reinforcement.
The D-130 set the tone for what the JBL products were in the
Forties when Lansing was alive. Lansing died in 1949 and his
partner, and the people associated with him who carried on into
the 1950s, did brand-new things like acoustic lenses. You may
remember some old JBL studio monitors with these slanted plate
things in front of the horns? That was a JBL innovation. These
innovations, materials, and techniques, became significant products.

The classic JBL console top monitor, first brought out in 1968,
was called the 4310. It was a 3-way 12". Before that, the standard was the 15". Just as in the Thirties and Forties, where the
cinema business had taken what were giant cinema speakers
from behind the screen and shrunk them down to be relatively
small 15" studio monitors, some of the people that were using
two or three of these monitors to do their 2-track or 3-track recording thought they actually wanted to have four or eight speakers
above the console to monitor each track of the tape machine! They
needed a smaller monitor if they wanted to have eight speakers
across, and the 4310 3-way 12" studio monitor was created for
this. They were first used at a studio in New York, Fine Recording,
and became immediately very successful on both coasts, in the LA
recording scene and in New York. It was quickly upgraded to the
4311, which is a tremendously successful monitor.
Peter Chaikin: Bruce Swedien had an original pair of 4310s
that he travelled with, working for Michael Jackson and other
artists, so he always had a consistent monitor setup.
MG: The 4310 and its subsequent 4311 became extremely
popular as 8-track and later multitrack recording developed. It
was relatively large; these days only a very large studio would
have a 3-way 12" on top of a console. But it was the studio monitor
and the first console top monitor.
PC: When I came to LA in the early Seventies, 4310s and
4311s were on the console tops of most of the studios in town.
It was kind of the bookshelf reference. So we'd be using them
in Studio A, in Studio B of the Record Plant... many of the house
engineers used them. When I showed up, there were a bunch of

Fantastic. Now let's focus a little bit more on the particular
interest of our readers, which is the small to medium-sized
studio. What would JBL's first dedicated near-field product
have been?

MG: The first big studio monitors that JBL made in the 1960s
were adopted by Capitol Records and other people that were just
moving from two and three tracks to 4-track and 8-track recording
and needed multiple high quality monitors with low distortion.
26

RECORDING MARCH 2017

Peter Chaikin (left) and Mark Gander
(right) with famed engineers Elliot
Scheiner and George Massenburg



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - March 2017

Contents
Recording - March 2017 - Intro
Recording - March 2017 - Cover1
Recording - March 2017 - Cover2
Recording - March 2017 - 1
Recording - March 2017 - 2
Recording - March 2017 - 3
Recording - March 2017 - 4
Recording - March 2017 - 5
Recording - March 2017 - Contents
Recording - March 2017 - 7
Recording - March 2017 - 8
Recording - March 2017 - 9
Recording - March 2017 - 10
Recording - March 2017 - 11
Recording - March 2017 - 12
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Recording - March 2017 - 15
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Recording - March 2017 - 18
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Recording - March 2017 - Cover3
Recording - March 2017 - Cover4
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