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Anyone have/had/or remember ~{Karns}~ hand built speakers

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Geoff L

Geoff L


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Posted December 24 2004 - 06:31 AM

I was curious if anyone had/has or remembers ~{Karns}~ speakers that where all hand built in a small mom & pop type shop in GR Michigan. As best as I can remember they where still around till at least the late 70's early 80's.. I remember hearing them for the first time at a friends house on a vintage mid-70's beautiful Marantz Separates System & big Teac reel to reel.. It was just after Christmas at a neighbors home who was a few years out of the service and now a full blown audio junkie. I was just in awe of his HE goodies. This was sometime around 78-79 as best as I recall. Beautiful speakers, but very heavy & kind of a large-ish bookshelf speaker that sounded incrediable. The ones I heard anyway, were a little larger than todays average sized 6/6½/7" woofed bookshelf speaker & were a Sealed design. They where definitely not shaped like the more typicaly well known JBL of that era. You know, wide, tall and shallow in depth. More like todays larger bookie shape, 8-9" wide by 15-16" tall by 10-11" deep. These are guesstimates, I know not what the dimensions of the speakers really where, just that they were different sized than most popular box speakers of that era. They were a bit pricey, but like all things of higher quality and all hand built, usualy not cheap. At that time I could only dream of spending that much for a pair of speaks...For some reason, like 400.00 or so sticks in my mind. That would be quite allot for a pair of bookies during that time, 20 plus years ago. You had to place an order for your speakers (they had a few bookself models) & a wood selection, then wait a period of time for them to be built. I belive they had a lifetime warranty also on everthng but the cabinet finish. I'm not 100% sure on that as ones, well my memeorie for full details, dose fade..:b I was much youger then, (a whole 18 to 19 years in this world) and know not what was used for drivers in his Karns speaks, but do remember those gorgious hand rub real exotic wood cabinets, their serious heft, and the amazing sweet sound that came from them threw his system. Might anyone else remember this little company & their bookshelf style speakers?? Merry Xmass Geoff ¥
~{ Speak of what you know, listen to what you don't.! }~  

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Crankshaft1



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Posted January 06 2012 - 09:45 AM

Hey Geoff, I stumbled into Rays shop in GR one day by accident. Spent the whole afternoon and part of the next day there and when I left I was selling his speakers. I lived in Petoskey and he set me up with 4 speakers and a switch box that would enable me to set his speakers next to a potential customers speakers and they could flip a switch and compare Karns against whatever. They were originally $200 per pair and ended up at $250 per pair. The only speakers I set them up against that I liked the opposing brand better was a pair of Klipsch La Scala's at $1,500 per pair. Rays speakers trounced all the other popular brands of the day - like Bose 901's, Advents, and many more. I still use them in my basement but the woofers need to be relaced the foam outer rim is shot. Ray was around until at least 1990 because I still had contact with him then. I started selling them in I think 1978, Great stuff! Richard

#3 of 5 OFFLINE   KarnsRock



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Posted January 27 2012 - 02:02 PM

I own a pair of the bookshelf speakers. Purchased at the shop in 93 or 94. Paid about $600 for them, still have them and they are holding up great. I know of one other person with a pair, but I think they've had to do some work to them.. Exterior is black carpet like material, my wife hates the look, but I love the sound. The owner passed away a few years after I bought them. I remember having a large conversation about Christianity with him as I was wearing a cross necklace. The shop has been long gone. Torn down and replaced with either a car wash or a laundromat. Been a while since I've been past the place. Great speakers!

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   hifilar



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Posted February 27 2012 - 07:52 AM

I met Ray in the very early 90's. Loved his shop, though, in those times Ray wasn't doing as much business. In my talks with him I found out he worked for Belmont Radio in Chicago. That really perked my interest as I have several radios made by Belmont. (mostly Wards and Sears sets). Ray told me he was employed by Belmont Radio Corp. as an aligner in production and an analyzer diagnosing production troubles in circuitry. He work there in 1935-36 and 1941-43. At one time he said he had a lot of the old Belmont items after they closed that he bought at auction, but by the time I met him it was long gone as he couldn't afford the storage cost.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   ThirdCoastAudio



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Posted March 21 2012 - 09:28 AM

I see how old this thread is and I'm laughing about wondering for the past week what that speaker company was in Grand Rapids. After all this time I see a few others have memories as well. What i remember is how Mr. Karns would sell the concept of stacking multiple speakers on each channel for even greater effect. Isn't that what the 70's and early 80's audiophile experience was. Go big or go home, even with a small monitor size speaker. Thanks for the memories. If you're in Grand Rapids or West Michigan please look into getting your name on the list for our newest local audio group. www.thirdcoastaudiosociety@gmail.com. Jim 616-828-3567

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