TAS Legacy: Arthur Janszen and the KLH Model Nine

TAS Legacy: Arthur Janszen and the KLH Model Nine

The 1950s were abuzz with electrostat activity and Arthur Janszen was in the middle of it all. In 1954, he resigned his position at Harvard and founded JansZen Labs in North Cambridge, Massachusetts. That same year he garnered much attention with a presentation titled “An Electrostatic Speaker Development” given at the annual convention of the Audio Engineering Society in New York City. One of the most popular products described was the Z-130 add-on tweeter array, which used four treble elements angled over a 120-degree arc to approximate a curved panel to reduce beaming. It was considered to be state-of-the-art and offered consumers the sweetest and most transparent treble money could buy. The model number is said to correspond to the radiating area in square inches, both front and back.

In 1959, Janszen licensed the rights to manufacture and use the tweeter in its own products to the Neshaminy Electronic Corporation. Neshaminy offered a range of hybrid designs; the Z-600 was one of its commercially most successful hybrids. It combined a two-panel electrostatic array with an 11-inch woofer, while the Z-900 mated four JansZen elements with two woofers. The Z-130 remained in production after Electronic Industries acquired Neshaminy’s assets in the mid-1970s and continued to market speakers under the JansZen brand name. Incidentally, Dr. Roger West worked for Electronic Industries before going on to found Sound Lab.

Between the period of 1957 to 1959, JansZen Labs developed full-range electrostatic prototypes that so attracted the attention of KLH that the company made Arthur Janszen a buy-out offer he couldn’t refuse. In short order JansZen Labs’ assets were transferred to KLH and Janszen became a Vice President there. He continued work on what was to become the KLH Model Nine, a spare-no-expense flagship product.

Today Arthur Janszen’s son, David, continues the legacy by manufacturing a modern electrostatic speaker based on the technology his father pioneered. In 2017, David Kelly (a longtime Klipsch veteran) acquired the rights to the entire KLH lineup, and David Janszen agreed to help him make the Model Nine a viable product again. The new KLH will not only comprise refurbished original units, one of which was shown to great acclaim at CES 2018, but also brand-new Model Nines built from scratch.