Ess Company


I worked at Ess in Sacramento California which was located at the time on Oates Drive just off of Bradshaw Road. There was also the "Vinyl Plant" located off of Folsom Blvd. Memory not as good now but I worked there for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 years from 1979 to approximately 1982. I started off in the "wood shop" routing  holes for the speaker fronts. Very soon after the warehouse had an opening. Worked in the warehouse for most of my time there. Great job! I was saddened when we were told the plant was shutting down. They gave us severance pay for I believe was 2 months. Also made several runs to an Oakland Ca. machine shop for some type of speaker parts. Still have many fond memories of ESS Sacramento. 
jimess
I've been curious about ESS speakers.  I know they've been reborn recently, and I'm looking forward to hearing them at AXPONA next month.  
Yep. They're back at it in the L.A. area. They've put together a new line up of exclusively 2-way systems from book shelves to floor standers, including a modern interpretation of that AMT1 called the AMT Limited. I've got a pair of 1975 first generation AMT1's sitting about 12 feet from me as a write this. They're the originals, with the 10 inch alnico magnet drivers, ported cabs, and boxed in AMT unit. They most certainly have a mid-range weakness. However, that giant dipole AMT does something my 40 year newer Focals don't. Properly placed, they create an amazingly spacious sound comparable to what you might get from a big dipole planar. That lack of mid-range is hard to get past though. I'm not sure if they've solved that problem or not. 
I was jonesin' for a pair of their Transtatics in ’71 (pre-Heil era, it was a transmisionline loaded Kef B139, a Kef B110 5" mid, and three RTR ESL tweeters), but didn’t have the $ (they were $1200/pr at the time). I finally got a pair in ’82, and still have ’em!
I owned the Rock Monitors way back when.  
They were cool speakers.  
ESS Sacramento, when I worked there, had a once a year employee sale. Everything for sale was placed in the parking lot. Salary employees got the first pick. Us hourly employees had to wait till we were off of work. I scored a pair of 4-12T  (tower) speakers for 30 dollars each. Happy days, only to have them stolen 6 months later. R and R. (Research and development) had speakers from other companies.... to see what made them tick. Had so many there I asked them if they had any they wanted to sell. Happy days again. They did not give them away (almost) but I paid much much less than in retail stores. I bought a few speakers that were in dusty box’s. I met Mr. Oscar Heil there. ESS also had a live band there once set up in the warehouse. They also paid for get together’s (food and drink..... mainly drink) at a local park every now and then. Those were the days.
@jimess  Thank you for starting this thread.

My dad got a pair of AMT1 when I was a child, and I have them in my house here.  We used to rock out pretty good with them.  Really nice speakers at that time, but even better memories
The ESS speaker I would still like to find is the Super Quad. It used the original Quad ESL for the midrange, with the same transmissionline-loaded Kef B-139 woofer and RTR tweeters as did the Transtatic. Not many were made---it retailed for $2000 in the early 70's, same as the Infinity Servo-Static, to which it was intended to provide competition.
Had the ESS Rock Monitors as well in my  rock days with Kenwood 700 amp sounded great.
I worked at ESS in the early 80s on the assembly line.  I still play a bit with custom builds today.  More recently, last week I had the opportunity to evaluate some of the newer version speakers made by ESS and visited SoCal location a few months ago. Right now ESS has a focus on headphones. 

Over the next few months hope to work on some new designs and configurations.  Good fun.  
Did you work off of Oates drive or at the vinyl plant? Remember the Coubal family that ran the small cafatera and made home made yummy food?
I was there mid '83 at Oates at the main bldg far area assembly. Don't recall a cafeteria.  That must have been part of the glory days there before my time I guess. I heard stories about how it was before I got there, but missed some of that fun stuff I guess.  We cranked up the music a bit, stood on the assy line with air lines/tools and just assembled speakers as they came on down the line.  Was there a short time that year but it was fun.  

I had a long relationship with ESS AMT1 towers 1975-1989. Spent most of my summer income between college years on those speakers. I’ve heard the "new" models at several recent shows. Their performance doesn’t measure up to memories of youth... but what does?

I sold them to a fellow whose cats destroyed them by using the tall wrap-around grill cloth as climbing posts.

I also had a pair of AMT 1's. My first "real" audiophile speaker as a young man. I nicknamed them "boom and sizzle". I had great enjoyment from them. I eventually sold them to a friend who really wanted them and bought Magneplanar speakers. 

@statman

Interesting. My move after a decade with ESS was to Magnepan 3.3R. However, I became less patient with Maggy than with ESS, and progressed very quickly to Wilson and beyond.

@dgarretson

Wow indeed we have taken similar paths in audio. I had the Martin Logan Odyssey after the Magneplanars and then Wilson. I was so impressed at the time of the AMT1 speakers but needed more! All of them served a purpose.