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Bozak, Inc. 1963-1979
The beginning: A dream come true.
This really isn’t a blog. It’s just some of my recollections over the almost 17 years I was
associated with Bozak. As time and space, as-well-as my memory, permit, I’ll add to this story
of a young man’s dream come true … and the twists of fate and destiny that none of us can
predict. Time permitting, I’ll add some photos from back in the days that we called “The Golden
Age of Audio.”
I had just graduated from tech school where I studied electronics for 4 years. All through the
late 1950s, and during the time in tech school, audio was my main hobby. I had already built
several loudspeaker systems and a few different preamps and stereo power amps, but this
day in June of 1963 was to be different than just hobby enthusiasm.
It was after the factory shift had gone home as Rudy Bozak and I walked through the quiet
speaker shop. He was interviewing me for a job as technician/draftsman and asking all sorts of
questions about my hobby activities. I was expecting to be grilled about my technical
education, but he didn’t seem to be very interested in that. He wanted to know about everything
I had done on my own. He explained to me that ever since his employment with Cinaudagraph
Corporation, where he served as chief engineer, that audio experimenting had been his only
hobby as well. We walked the darkened shop, stopping here and there while he would
sporadically pick up a loudspeaker component and hand it to me, asking, “…and do you know
what this is?” By the time we returned to his office, I was feeling pretty proud of myself having
not missed a beat during our little Q & A session. On his desk sat an “N-10102” crossover. It
was a convertible crossover designed to be strappable for various impedances and crossover
frequencies, a foundational requirement the Bozak method of building and upgrading your own
system. He slid it across the desk and asked if I knew what it was. I saw the two inductors and
the three sets of output terminals and immediately responded, “Well, it looks like a 3-way
crossover … probably 6 dB per octave.” A big smile came over his face as he proceeded to
describe the flexibility of the device. We parted that evening with a handshake and a promise
to call me after he interviewed some other applicants.
It wasn’t too many days later that Rudy’s sales manager (and production monitor), Phil, called
me to tell me to report to work after the summer shutdown, the first week of August.
My first day at work for the (then) R.T. Bozak Mfg. Co. was to assemble a prototype product for
the newly established commercial line of speakers, the upcoming concept in public area
sound, columnar loudspeakers. I was shown the entire operation which consisted of the
speaker assembly shop, the machine shop where the magnets were fabricated, the furniture
shop which was massive and completely self-contained, and the final assembly area where
the speakers met the cabinets. The entire facility kept about 60 people very busy. I was
assigned to the lab with a gentleman who, at that time was the resident chief engineer. We
spent the next several weeks running axial response and polar curves in the anechoic
chamber. The Bozak lab was a very complete laboratory, having several areas of
specialization. There was the obligatory acoustics area with anechoic chamber and racks of
test equipment, the electronics area for prototyping various circuit designs, and a section for
spot checking crossover components such as the “Q” of crossover chokes and “ESR” of
capacitors. There was a well-stocked chemistry lab and a small mechanical workshop. One of
the most intriguing areas for me was the physics section where we routinely weighed driver
components … down to the milligram level, spot tested magnets for gap density, measured
voice coil temperatures during over drive conditions with a thermocouple, examined our own
cold drawn ribbon wire under a microscope, and specified driver parameters in terms of linear
travel, BLI product, compliance, and all the other factors required for system design prior to
the standardization of the universally accepted Thiele-Small parameters.
Having never worked in a “real” industrial lab, I was learning a lot. It was about this time I was
starting college. Since I had a full time day job, I elected to attend college nights. My days were
about 18 hours long, so I got to sleep 6 hours … minus the homework time. This is a schedule
only for the young. One thing that I remember well is how I knew my way around the college lab,
having been with Bozak for only 6 weeks, and getting to work with all this great equipment.
It was sometime around Thanksgiving, I had been with the company about 3 or 4 months when
I arrived one Monday morning to discover that the chief engineer had been let go. When Rudy
arrived, he explained the conditions of that particular separation and told me that, “…you are in
charge now – you answer directly to me.”
I was, at once, elated, frightened, and sad. I really felt bad for the guy who was my mentor and
friend during those all too short months. But at the same time, somewhat bewildered as to my
future. Could I handle this? My immediate supervisor was one of the giants of the very industry I
had longed to be a part of – my brain was in overload.
But it gets better. Sometime that fall I attended my first IHF audio convention. Wandering the
booths of the Hotel New Yorker with Rudy Bozak, I met some of his cronies; Paul Klipsch, Joe
Grado, Saul Marantz, many of the McIntosh Labs clan, the Stanton and Pickering crews, some
guys from Utah Speakers, Electro-Voice, Jensen, ESL, Shure Brothers, Bogen, JBL, Altec
Lancing and other notables whom escape my memory. I must tell you that sitting in the hotel
lounge with Mssrs. Bozak, Marantz, and Klipsch was a memory I shall never forget – My gawd,
and I was only 18 years old!
The World's Fair
One morning Rudy came to me and asked me to travel to Brewster, New York and pick up
some plans. When I returned to the office, he and I sat down and went over the proposed layout
for several pavilions for the upcoming 1964-65 World’s Fair in new York, most notably, the
Vatican Pavilion. My first assignment was to help him develop a ceiling mounted loudspeaker
that would provide a full hemisphere of audio with reasonably flat response – at any angle. It
was to be omnidirectional within a half-space. Considering that we were dealing with 8 or 9 of
the 10 audio octaves, and knowing the physics of dealing with wavelengths from 30 feet to
fractions of an inch, I felt that we pretty much had an impossible task ahead of us. Rudy
thought otherwise. About 6 weeks, and several iterations later the CM-109-2 was born.
I just had my first lesson in physical acoustics and the nature of reflected sound. Another
lesson he unwittingly taught me was that “the difficult takes a little while, and the impossible
takes a little longer.” The next task was to build and wire the power and control console and
racks for the Vatican Pavilion. We used McIntosh amplifiers, Altec mixers and several hundred
feet of interconnect patch panel wiring. I hoped none of my wiring was faulty, for to find a bad
run or connection amongst the bundles of coaxial cables would be a nightmare-in-the-works.
But the angels were with me … errr us – the NYWF ’64 was a great success for Bozak.
Over the next 2 years, we took on many special projects. Rudy loved to experiment and put our
brains through some serious exercises. Remember, these are the days of pencil, paper, and
slide rule – no calculators. Ironically, many of the special R&D projects were funded by
taxpayer’s money, since these were usually governmental requests.
One of the more challenging was the requirement for an ultra sonic radial compression horn
driver that was flat (+0/-6 dB) from 10 kHz to 40 kHz for a company who thought sonar was a
better approach to police speed guns than radar. B&K supplied us with a condenser
microphone that was flat out there for our R&D program. Each voice coil, of 40 gauge aluminum
wire, was hand wound by me in the lab. It was a slow tedious process, but we delivered the
drivers on time for testing. In the final analysis, it turned out that harmonics of highway noise
gave false readings at the receiving transducer. It was a futile plan as Rudy anticipated, but
business is business. It’s difficult to appreciate a speaker you can’t hear, so I’d occasionally
test them by catching a house fly and restraining him/her in a bottle. I found that by sweeping
through various frequencies, up there in that ultra sonic octave, that I could variously make the
subject fly very annoyed or very subdued. That was noted in my lab book.
Another project was for the US Navy Department. We had to design a submarine woofer for
inter-vessel communications. Much of this was shrouded in secret veil so I can only imagine
the other uses. It turned out to be a 12-inch aluminum cone epoxied to a 3-inch voice coil motor
and a 16-pound magnet structure. The front of the driver was covered with a latex diaphragm
for protection. All components were either anodized aluminum, plated steel, or stainless steel.
The center net (spider) and edge suspension (surround) were bakelite impregnated phenolic.
The device would handle several hundred watts of RMS power, continuously, at room
temperature. The compliance-to-mass ratio was very high and on a half-space baffle it was
fairly flat from 90 Hz down to below 30 Hz. Of course, under water it was an effective pump
down to 1 Hz!
One other project worth mentioning was the “Shaker.” It was basically a B-199A motor with an
inverted aluminum cone fixed to the voice coil. Picture an ice cream cone sticking out of a
speaker basket. The apex of this cone has a small platen to which various miniature devices
could be fastened. Depending on the frequency and excursion, the customer could subject his
various devices to predetermined G-forces. Again, I don’t know much about the end user … it
was Uncle Sam again.
Speaking of which, President Johnson’s Vietnam situation was escalating and at the age of 20,
I had the draft breathing down my neck. I elected to join the US Army in the tradition of my dad
and many of my uncles. I enlisted for 3 years with a guarantee of schooling with the Signal
Corps and Air Defense Command under NORAD and CONAD. The third year I decided to
volunteer for Vietnam rather than take pot luck with a reassignment. That landed me in the
Fourth Infantry Division up in the Central Highlands of that otherwise beautiful country – just in
time for the Tet Offensive. All during that time I corresponded with Rudy, his wife Lillian, and a
few of the office folks. It was nice to hear what was going on in “the real world.”
Back Home: Chief Engineer
Upon my discharge in the summer of 1968, I visited the factory at 587 Connecticut Avenue in
South Norwalk, Connecticut. Rudy immediately offered me my job back, but this time as Chief
engineer. The company was changing from “The R.T. Bozak Mfg. Co.” to “Bozak, Inc.” But other
things had changed, too. In my absence there had been a couple of other chief engineers, none
of which were still there – he didn’t tell, I didn’t ask. Bozak, in conjunction with CM Labs
(Chou/Morris) had created the first of what was to be a long line of mixers, power amplifiers,
and integrated units.
Eventually we built another department for electronics assembly and testing and CM Labs was
phased out of the picture. From there we designed the CMA-6-1, CMA-10-1 mono mixers, then
the stereo versions, CMA-6-2 and CMA-10-2. Our power amps covered the range of 50, 80, 120,
and 150 watt versions, then later in stereo configurations.
Sometime around 1970, a well known American car maker called us looking for a transducer
that was reasonably flat from 20 Hz to 20 kHz and capable of 120+ dB at 1 meter for indefinite
periods.. Their intended purpose was to test new car models for BSR (buzz, squeak, rattle).
They would roll the vehicle on to a net of aircraft cable with the speaker below it, facing up.
Then they’d subject the car to various frequencies, transients, and power levels. We had a
meeting with some of their engineers and told them we had a system that would probably meet
their spec and measured +/- 4 dB from 11 Hz to about 19 kHz. This was Rudy’s famous 8-
woofer “Thumper” (called Big bertha in 1953). We decided to upgrade his two-decade old
design with components which were tougher, add a second midrange, and a more robust B-
200y array. They immediately ordered two of them. Rudy cautioned the chief engineer of the
testing facility that high energy audio, particularly at the lower frequencies, can affect human
muscles and other tissue, and, in fact, there was a whole science of acousto-physiology that
they should understand. He cautioned that when the Thumper was in use, no one should be
allowed in the anechoic chamber with it.
Sometime later we received a call from the chief. Apparently someone did not heed our advice
and entered the chamber at the wrong time. His muscles were definitely affected by the high
energy audio. Luckily it wasn’t his heart muscle, but rather his bowel muscles. The report
stated that he left the test chamber a bit soiled, but with bowels cleanly evacuated.
Chambers! If you have never been in a true anechoic chamber, then you have never heard
“quiet.” For some people, it can be a bit unnerving when you hear the blood flow through your
temples. After the Army, we built a new, bigger “sound room.” The shell was 20’ x 18’ x 12’ as I
recall. It was a room within a room with a 3” barrier of air between. The wedges were 3-foot
thick fiberglass. The room was still quite adequate down at 20 Hz.
One BIG speaker!
Right next to my lab desk was a speaker that would never see the inside of our new chamber.
It was the old Cinaudagraph Corporation’s 30” driver that Rudy worked on for the 1939 World’s
Fair in New York. High power speakers always released a little extra serotonin in my head—
this was no exception. That behemoth was actually a 450-pound electrodynamic magnet with a
huge, heavy cast iron pot covering the windings, and a forged eye bolt affixed at its center of
gravity, with a 30” basket mounting the 27” cone. The voice coil was 8” diameter, as I recall.
That speaker was delivered just days before. My prototype machinist and I had welded up an
angle iron frame, with dolly wheels, to support and display the monster. Rudy was proud of that
thing, and I could see why. We did play it once. I forget the DC power supply requirements, but it
was high voltage and considerable amperage. I drove it with a Mac 2300, feeding the aluminum-
wound voice coil in small, judicious increments. It was amazingly efficient as it blasted out
“Muskrat Ramble” from an LP I had on my desk. Hi Fi? Nope. Loud? Yup. That was fun. Every
time I mentioned that afternoon, Rudy would smile.
My Favorite Cabinet Design
The early 1970s were a very busy time. In 1968 and 1969, I designed the Mediterranean line of
furniture. I was quite proud of that and had only minor changes imposed on my original design. I
will qualify the word "I" since it was Rudy and me that visited several furniture stores making
sketches of various "Med" pieces and their tooling details. Anyhow, as I recall, there were
about 54 pieces of wood in each cabinet, plus the black iron scroll work.
I had some experience doing this kind of thing since my beginning with Bozak furniture styles
of Early American, Colonial (never produced), Italian Provincial, French Provincial, Century,
Modern, Moorish, and Urban, which all were professionally designed. I cannot lay claim to many
of the things I would have loved to play with, particularly those early Bozak models, which I
think were quite elegant. But I did get to document all the bits and pieces of those earlier styles,
on the drafting table. Most of my creative contributions to them were hidden, in the form of joint
design, tooling fixtures, drill and routing jigs, assembly procedures, and specialty miter joint
We finally got into ROCK 'n' ROLL
Somewhere along the way, my never-ending needling caused Rudy to give in to my rantings
and allow us to design products for the “rock’ market. Rudy would resist it, but occasionally
would spin a bit of Simon & Garfunkle. he also liked a little of BS&T. Heretofore, every show,
demo, and exposition we ever did involved the playing of classical music – concert music. "It's
the distinguished thing to do." he'd remark, with the faintest little smirk on his lips. This was
before the CES shows, when we only showed at AES and IHF conventions. I can’t tell you how or
why the barriers finally dropped, probably because he figured the time had come, but we did
finally get to demo jazz and some mild-ish rock. This immediately led me, with free reins, and
Rudy's personal blessing, to scurry to the drafting board and design a bulletproof speaker
system for "all this loud electronic music," as he would say. I came up with the Monitor C, a
virtually indestructible, very loud speaker system. At the first AES showing of it in New York,
Rudy proudly dubbed it “The Sledge.”
It was sometime in the mid-70s when Saul Marantz joined us as a consultant. Saul and I
became quite good friends. Saul was not an engineer – he was more than that. He was a
visionary, an artist, and a very accomplished musician. He drove up to the shop most every day
from his home in Queens New York. I really can’t tell you his resume at Bozak except for his
guidance and advice in many of the esthetic details of some of our products. Saul and Rudy, on
the road together was a real crowd maker.
Can you Dance?
With the increased interest in club activity and the threat of early disco we designed the still
famous CMA-10-2DL and the CMA-6-2S. These were designed for the new industry of clubs-
with-DJs. Interestingly, the 10-2DLs are still showing up on eBay.
The speaker line continued to grow as well. The Senora was upgraded. The Rhapsody and
Tempo was added along with the Concerto. Of course the venerable B-302A, B-4000A, and
B310A (and ‘B’), B-410, and B-4005 remained in various configurations and furniture styles.
A New Tweeter
We had been experimenting with a curvilinear tweeter diaphragm for more than a year. It was
to be the model B-200Z. The conical diaphragm of the B-200Y was made of 2-mil dead soft
aluminum, hardened with a clear anodize coating, then damped with a flash of black latex. As a
diaphragm, it was critically damped and produced a true mass-controlled response curve
which resonated at about 1.8 kHz and then fell off at 6 dB per octave until the wavelengths
reached the diameter of the voice coil (.75”), at which point the aluminum voice coil dome
became active, resonating at about 12 kHz. The problem with the potentially superior B-200Z
was manufacturing a suitable rear dampener. We eventually had an open cell latex foam part
molded which worked consistently. The cone forming dies were somewhat problematic, but in
time we fixed that as well. The new “Z” tweeter, as it was called, was vastly superior to
discerning ears and we began to receive accolades from the beta sites around the counter
that we selected. By the summer of 1974 its design was finished. But the manufacturing
change over wasn’t as fast as expected and the “Z” didn’t get (officially) released until around
the end of summer 1975, maybe 1976, as I recall.
My Own Business
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. By the fall of 1974 the disco movement had gotten serious. I
had received offers to design systems for various clubs around the country, beginning in
Detroit (naturally). I talked to Rudy about the very full-rounded, and complementary, line of
products we had developed over the past 12 years, and how they were naturals for this “new
disco thing.” He agreed. I told him that I, like himself, thought I owed it to myself to venture out
and see what I could do on my own. He gave me one of those smiles of approval. This was a
first for Bozak. I was to be a free-lance dealer with no geographical restrictions. Whatever I
sold to a club got shipped to the site with me as a middle man. It was a little adventurous, a lot
frightening, but it payed superbly.
By early 1977 I figured that the disco market had been saturated as things began to taper off
and the dollar bills weren’t flying quite as freely. I returned to Bozak as a full timer. Another
chief engineer came and went in the meantime. I don’t know the circumstances – nor did I ever
ask. I was back at my Chief Engineer's desk.
My Job Changes (The Beginning of 'Not So Much Fun Anymore')
Since the product line now included the 900-series of home electronics, a very well rounded
home speaker lineup and a very comprehensive commercial, public area electronics and
speaker (columns) catalog, Rudy thought it best if I continued my quasi-sales, a la the disco
venture. He reinstated me as Chief Engineer, but wanted me to travel and visit the reps and
dealers part time. The products were becoming more specialized and hi-tech - he felt that the
dealers and reps needed more guidance, especially for some of the larger venue installations
of our commercial products. When I was in town, my job was to entertain visitors. We had
really expanded our market place with importers in England, France, Italy, Germany,
Switzerland, and Japan to name a few. Our little office was always busy. It was a lot of work. By
now, Saul Marantz had left - both gents were senior citizens anyway. Rudy had openly
confessed that I, and who ever was the sales manager at the time (we had many) would have
to carry the ball.
That meant more late night dinners with guests from all over the globe – lots of martinis, lots of
travel, lots of going to bed after midnight. I had one foot on the slope … and I knew it.
Empires come and go.
In less than half a year, I learned that Rudy was planning on selling the business. I organized a
committee consisting of one of his relatives who worked there, the accountant, the purchasing
agent and myself. We were going to see if we could raise enough money to do the buy-out. But
the process lagged and our combined capital became questionable. In time Rudy sold to a
Beginning of the End for Me
The new guys (no names) released many of the original employees, including some Bozak
family, having brought their own with them, and relegated Rudy’s desk to a dark, dusty corner
in another building. I talked to him about that. He indicated that he would stay on partly as a
hobby and partly to advise the new guys, He mentioned to me that he hoped they wouldn't
"screw up the place." They kept me on as Chief Engineer (that was to be a mistake for both
parties). I think it was because they knew I had many of the secrets—and probably because
Rudy put in a word for me. The same responsibilities held for me as before. Lots of travel, late
nights, and martinis with faceless foreigners. I was slipping off firm ground. The playboy life-
style, possibly combined with some Vietnam-induced insomnia, turned me into a machine. I
functioned, but not with my head and heart – it was all so mechanical. I was constantly sick, no
appetite, no sleep, and an occasional insulin over run from acquired hypoglycemia … and I
wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing, designing audio stuff!
Later in 1977 I left the company and pursued a more reasonable life-style—back to consulting.
My health returned to normal in short time.
Then, in about 18 months, early 1979, I received a call from the new owner asking me to return.
He wanted to “freshen up” the consumer lines. I said "No." That night, Rudy called me and told
me that he and I could do a lot of good for the "new guys" and make a decent income as well. I
loved Rudy, like a father, but my heart wasn't in it. I told him I'd try it, but I wasn't up to all the
traveling, entertaining, late nights, etc. And if he (the new owner) would chain me to the lab, and
not push me back into sales, I'll give it a shot. The corporation offered me double my old salary
- I hoped this might work. I returned, but with weights hanging from my soul. I wondered, “How
could this have gotten better.”
A Real Downer
Entering the same old building that captured my heart 16 years earlier was a dismal
experience. The lab, my wonderful lab, was gone. All that precision equipment was either sold
or stolen—no one was talking. The product line included non-Bozak drivers, OEM drivers from
somewhere offshore. The test equipment outside the anechoic chamber was in disrepair ...
some of it just plain missing. The new company had brought in some good people, beside me,
there was only one technical guy - this one fellow impressed me (no names), but the
corporation wasn't playing the old game. Over the next few weeks, I witnessed enough fast-
handed maneuvers so familiar with corporate America that I couldn’t assimilate. It was all so
depressing. The once giant of all things good and holy in the audio business had melted into a
corporate money mill. Management-types with little or no understanding of the business had
come to play ... and make cash. Eventually the other shoe dropped, when i was asked to do
some more of the old stuff; traveling, entertaining, and morphing back into the nocturnal
playboy. I did for a short while, but this wasn't for me. I had words with the president and, he
fired me just as I quit—to this day, am not sure which it was. Sad and discouraged, I left before
the end of 1979.
Caveat to other Employees
I have seen blogs of certain individuals who came after me, in those dark years after the 1977
takeover and on into the early 1980s. I have read their accounts of what they “think” Bozak
was … especially concerning the “new company”—post Rudy. Well, just as beauty is in the eye
of the beholder, I suppose reality can likewise suffer subjective distortions - especially when
they didn't know how it was when Rudy was at the reins. The thing I do know is that some of
them tried ... they really did, and I could see that.
I certainly would not disparage any of my successors. I know that most of them—especially the
technical few, under the influence of the corporation, did put their collective hearts and souls
into maintaining the product quality, freshness, and honesty. And I certainly will not tell you that
anything made after 1977 was bad. In fact, in those 4 years or so, there were some very nice
products developed, especially in the compact and bookshelf systems. There was one
gentleman that I met in those last days who was very sincere and working in earnest for
survival with the new owner. He has a story on the Internet also, and I empathize with many of
his words. I’d like to thank him for his fortitude and the many honest and sincere coworkers I
had all those years.
I lost track of Bozak once the company moved from Norwalk, to upstate Connecticut, and then
with the tooling being acquired by NEAR, so I can’t comment on subsequent products.
It Was a Great Ride...
Well, not all stories have to end sadly, and it was not my intention to paint this one as such. The
Bozak empire was just that – an empire – for at least 25 years … I’ll say 1952 through 1977, a
very golden quarter century. But things happen—things change—things that I may not like may
be just fine for someone else.
Am I bitter? No, not at all. The one thing I always remember is that nothing stays the same.
Things change. I love capitalism; I think it’s Nature’s way in the survival scheme for humans.
And sometimes the pure and idealistic things we hold so close and dear become tarnished in
the eyes of the purist.
So where am I now? Well, I’m a survivor. At 61, I’m still in the audio business, almost 44 years
later, happily designing commercial audio products for another company, and offering back
everything I had the privilege to learn, from the best there ever was. Thank you for everything
you taught me Mr. R.T.B.
I would also like to thank all those individuals who keep the memory of "The Very Best in
Sound" alive, through all their hard work here on the Internet ... thanks guys.
Me at age 20 at the equipment
rack outside the upstairs
Here I'm at the reactance bridge
testing an inductor.
Checking the weight of a wool
woofer cone - it better be 38
Measuring the flux density of a
woofer, 6-pound magnet.
Me in the QA dept. with some of
our visiting Japanese importers.
Omni sound: The hallway to the
Vatican Pavilion at NYWF-64, 65
Rudy in 1953 with "Big Bertha,"
later tagged "The Thumper." Rudy
and I upgraded this system with
dual B-209B midranges utilizing
double magnets (12 Lbs) and
silver-epoxy assembled B200Z
tweeters for higher heat
dissipation. There were also a
few special horizontal versions of
this model made for commercial
The Monitor C loudspeaker
system was my contribution to the
high-power world of the 1970s.
This was our first full-hearted
offering to the rock 'n' roll market.
"The Very Best in Music"
Bozak Home - Outside the Factory