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Henry Kloss

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Biography

Henry Kloss was an audio engineer whose speakers and radios won a devoted following for introducing the smooth, deep tones known as the “Boston sound” to home audio.

Kloss was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and received an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the early 1950s, he partnered with engineer Edgar Vilchur, his former teacher, to form Acoustic Research. They developed a revolutionary product, the AR-1. Sized for a bookshelf, it was an “acoustic suspension” speaker whose quality challenged the conventional wisdom that rich bass tones required large cones and magnets and giant boxes.

His next venture, in the 1960s, was KLH, a company he formed with two partners that reimagined the radio. KLH’s Model 8 FM radio had high selectivity, meaning it could grab stations otherwise lost in a crowded dial. KLH also created some of the original audio devices to use transistors. Kloss then founded another company, Advent, where he designed premium-quality loudspeakers and sold the first cassette player to use Dolby B noise reduction.

Kloss was an audio engineer who claimed to never watched television, yet he was a pioneer of the projection television industry. His efforts to build cutting-edge projection television systems at Advent failed to make a commercial success. They did, however, earn him an Emmy for technological achievement.

In 1988, Kloss founded Cambridge SoundWorks, where he developed surround sound technology using small multiple speaker systems. This product became a hit with only a small marketing budget, as Kloss loyalists were willing to buy the product without even hearing it in a store. He sold this venture to Creative Labs in 1997.

In 2000, he teamed up with audio maker Tivoli to bring out another design marvel: The Model One radio, which impressed listeners with its elegant three knob design, small wooden cabinet, rich sound, signal-grabbing technology derived from cellphones, and $99 price tag.

Further Reading

Stephen Williams, "Kloss' Impact Can Be Heard All Over," Newsday, 26 Feb 2002.

John Schwartz, "Henry Kloss, 72, Innovator In Audio and Video, Dies," NY Times, 5 Feb 2002.