Gallery: Specimen’s Hand-Crafted Horn Speakers Are Made from Recycled N...

Founder of Chicago-based Specimen Products, Ian Schneller, and his team craft unexpected materials like dryer lint and recycled newsprint into sonically wonderful and highly sculptural horn speakers. These amazing sound vibrators are showing up on stage with indie music artists like Andrew Bird, table-side at the hangouts of Chicago's most serious foodies, and winning space inside modern art museums and the tech-geek offices of Instagram. We recently spoke with Schneller to get the inside scoop on how Specimen's speakers buck the electronic trends for miniaturization, high wattage output and planned obsolescence.

Not only are Specimen’s horn speakers visually intriguing with their flared newsprint protrusion, but they project larger-than-life sound using only 3 watts of power. The technology employed was common in old movie theaters when speakers were placed behind the movie screen to give bold, room filling sound with very little energy usage. Today, performers will use a handful of horn speakers to greatly reduce their energy usage as compared with PA systems typical of today’s clubs and concert venues — these easily use 5,000 watts.

With a background in art, Ian Schneller began Specimen Products in 1981. Combining a love of handmade art with the practicality of building and repairing instruments for his friends and members of his own band, the business grew to become a manufacturer of specialized music equipment.


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