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

Specimen products are unique in the electronics world because they are designed to be serviceable and are intended to last for decades. Schneller is appalled that so many products seem to have planned obsolescence. He points out in particular that we should never see Specimen tube amplifiers in a landfill. Although we may not see them at the dump, we should see them in museums. This collection was displayed at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2011 in an exhibit call Sonic Arboretum.

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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