The Hub: Big speakers with lots of Drivers?

What makes a a collectible piece of audio gear collectible? Why do some brands and models bring five-figure prices, and others aren't deemed worthy of the cost of shipping?

Even in the geekified world of audio there are fashion trends; the funny thing is that once an old piece of gear achieves "Classic" status, it rarely falls from favor again (unlike wide ties or wingtips). Does that mean audio collectors are a bunch of sheep?

Maybe. Or maybe it just means that as we've progressed from mailed-out mimeographed collections of classified ads to Audiogon and internet coverage of EVERYTHING, the number of potential buyers has increased. And when it comes to old gear, there just isn't any NEW old gear.

Still, there are brands which have the performance, the build-quality and the heritage, all the elements which contribute to demand, but somehow just haven't reached the ranks of the exalted...yet. Bozak is one of those.

Rudy Bozak started his career with Allen-Bradley in Milwaukee in 1933; A-B parts were found in most of the equipment that defined the audio industry, including Western Electric and, later, Marantz. In 1935, Bozak went to work as a speaker-designer for Cinaudagraph; as the name implies, the company made sound systems for movie theaters. Cinaudagraph was based in Stamford, Connecticut, a bedroom community outside NYC which was also home to CBS Labs, where years later, the LP was born.

Bozak was named chief engineer in 1937, and designed a huge 2-way PA system for the 1939 World's Fair. Would you believe 27" woofers with 450-lb. field coils, loading horns with 14-foot-wide mouths, driven by 500-watt tube amps? Yikes! (more details are in Bob Betts' Bozak history site:

Bozak went on to work on radar projects during the war, then developed speakers for the Conn and Wurlitzer organ companies, McIntosh, and finally, his own company. He went his own way, designing and making his own drivers with such advanced features as tapered, variable-density woofer cones and spun-aluminum midrange and tweeter cones. The same drivers were used in various configurations and multiples, with the ultimate culmination being the big boys shown here.

The "Concert Grand" model first appeared in 1951, and had four 12" woofers, two midranges and eight tweeters. Originally the tweeters were positioned in an arc mimicking the front of a horn(as on the ones shown here); later models had them mounted in a vertical linear array. Through the years, they were used in demos with Saul Marantz and Emory Cook, amongst others.(An interesting and enjoyable piece on a later model B-410 Concert Grand appeared in Stereophile in 2005, with input from Peter Breuninger, Wes Phillips and JA. Highly recommended:

My sole experience with the Grands was at a St. Louis dealership, around 1973. They did a remarkable job of conveying the sense of scale of symphonic music, with nice dynamics and compelling bass. The then-new heartbeat from Dark Side of the Moon was frightening. Compared to Magneplanar Tympanis in another room, the sound was somewhat diffuse and indistinct, with vocals nowhere as precisely-located as the Tympanis (not exactly known for pinpoint placement, themselves).

In a large room with proper amplification, the Concert Grands could be very impressive, indeed, thrilling. For what they cost on the collectible market, they are a screaming deal. Get 'em while you can!
William, you are on the ball with this one. I knew an accuaintance who had these gems and WOW what a sound. Unbelievable soundstage that they produce. I have been looking for a set of these for the past 5 or so years.
Peter Breuniger did a marvelous review of these classics recently in Stereophile. I hope that I am not violating an Audiogon policy by posting the link:

It's good to see classic gear covered in the mainstream press. Now how about a HUB about Klipsch and Altec?
Guys, thanks as always for your comments.

Viridian, if you'll take a look at the end of the second-to-last paragraph, you'll see that I posted a link to that Stereophile article.

Klipsch and Altec will show up, soon enough. I only wish I still had the yellow button PWK gave me in 1980....Okay, I wish I still had Uncle Art's Altec Lagunas, too. ;->
Bill, ya I'm not too bright....... You were quite thorough.

I am currently looking for some nice Valencias or similar. I am sure they will come around soon enough. Just missed out on some Flamencos.
ah! bozaks - i owned and loved a pair of these in the 80s-90s era. sorry i sold but needed to downsize, have shahinians now and love them too. jack, san diego
I see ads for "big speakers with lots of drivers' in Stereophile.. even now. What I think as a grimace is: "That guy must have a very small penis." (currently two 'small P' guys run ads.. one show the dude with his hand arched up over the top of the ugliest chunk of crap I have seen. The other shows a slightly 'hipper' small P dude sitting on the top of his 7 foot tall creation.
As for 'classic' and your disparagement of how stuff becomes classic, and why it remaines classic: sorry your wrong. Stuff gets called classic because it is stuff a lot of long time 'philes have, or keep, or want. McIntosh. Levinson (early), ARC, Infinity IRS (only), Conrad-Johnson, Certain Marantz, Krell, Threshold, JBL, Altec Lansing..
Certainly a few folks just parrot what they hear about. But that stuff had a following, and a 'waiting list' of hopeful buyers. I am afraid I would pass up a pair of your speakers even at a rummage sale for $100. As would most folks (unless they hoped to grab them, hype them up.. them offer them for sale. ? Is that what you are doing? (if not, I apologize, and congratulate you on being true to what you like. But I do have to say your post sounds more like a sales pitch than a love affair)).
Always glad to hear from contrarians, even when giving me hell!

I won't comment on your first paragraph except to say you may be right. You may also be wrong. I suspect, however, if I were to make similarly sexist comments about women, you'd be grievously offended. Whatever.

Second paragraph: different strokes for different folks. I'd think we could disagree without saying the other is wrong, but again...whatever.

Sorry if it sounds more like a sales-pitch than a love affair. I thought it was an observation on a design which is often overlooked, and has some merit.

Are you always this contentious? You GO, girl!
As a reformed vintage audio collector, I may shortly fall back into my recidivist behavior. Most of the demand for the vintage audio world was driven by the far east. Bozak was never on their radar screen probably due to their lack of using horns. I would love to hear a pair of the Concert Grands. Don't know what using Beveridge speakers (6' tall!) says about my manliness!
Actually Elizabeth is right. I have very big speakers and quite a small penis.
That's weird, Veridian; my penis has *grown* since I got big speakers! ;)

I wasn't really sure about Elizabeth's (who I think runs the pretty large Maggie 3.6s) point: is it that big box/many driver speakers sound bad, or that they should be dismissed as pathetic expressions of a distinctively masculine inadequacy, regardless of how they sound?

Are you still in StL, Bill?