JBL TO 1981

James B. Lansing
© Harman International, Courtesy Mark Gander and John Eargle


In the parlance of today’s popular psychology, one is tempted to label Lansing’s wide mood swings as "bipolar." Many of the classic symptoms were certainly present: long bouts of depression followed by periods of extraordinary energy and creativeness. Many weekends were literally spent in the old McKinley Avenue plant, with Lansing waking up on Monday morning when the first secretary to arrive found him sleeping on the sofa in the ladies lounge!

Lansing Family Home in the 1930's - 7515 Brighton Avenue Los Angeles
© and Courtesy, Glenna Garrett

Lansing’s tombstone is inscribed with the words "loving father," and this is clearly the sentiment of his children and Mrs. Lansing as they recall the all-too-rare weekends he spent with them in San Marcos.

Bill Thomas describes the numerous sales trips he and Lansing made to dealers during their relatively short association. Lansing relished being spokesman for his own products and took the stage with great command. His knowledge, sincerity, and personal warmth were key points of his presentations, and long after his death these events were still remembered and talked about.

We often wonder where Lansing’s vast store of knowledge came from. People such as John Blackburn, Robert Arnold, and Ercil Harrison (Peerless Transformers) certainly taught him a great deal about basic engineering, magnetics, and network design – but when it came to manufacturing engineering and tooling, he was the one who taught others. As we review Lansing’s contributions in those immediate post-war years, we think of the engineering and design contributions of such men as Olson of RCA, Vincent Salmon of Jensen, along with Paul Klipsch and Rudy Bozak. But it was Jim Lansing who ultimately figured out how to make the product consistently and efficiently.

Jim Lansing Design Notes1
© Harman International, Courtesy Mark Gander and John Eargle

At its 1958 Convention in New York, the Audio Engineering Society awarded one of its very few posthumous Citations to Lansing "for contributions to loudspeaker design." Mrs. Lansing was on hand to accept the award. The other posthumous awardee at the same event was Alan D. Blumlein, the father of modern stereo.

© 1981 John Eargle
(updated 2003)

Note 1) The last two design notes above illustrate an interesting enigma. They appear to depict the geometry for a 4" diaphragm compression driver with a 2"  throat exit. However there is no record of Lansing Sound producing any such driver until the 375 of 1954.