Sargent Rayment 2050 Amplifier
Image and Courtesy of Arnold Wolf

Arnold Wolf was born in San Francisco on April 30, 1927. Soon thereafter, his father, a photographer by trade, moved the family to Los Angeles in order to take up a position in the still photography department of RKO Pictures. In the early '30s, the family relocated to New York, where they remained until 1943. Mr. Wolf was educated at the Bentley School in Manhattan and at the Bronx High School of Science. In the years 1940-1943 he performed as an actor in juvenile roles on network radio. Returning to Los Angeles during World War II, Wolf worked briefly in the Art Department (set design) at RKO and then enrolled at Los Angeles City College for three semesters before being drafted into the Army Air Force. He served primarily in a radio production unit based at the Pentagon Building. After discharge, Wolf entered the University of California at Berkeley where his academic emphasis was in theatre arts, with a minor centered on historical decorative arts. He graduated in 1952 and spent several years working in academic theatre which included two years as Director of Drama at St. Mary's College, Moraga, California.

With a growing family, Wolf was obliged to leave theatre activity and seek other opportunities. His interest was captured by the infant high-fidelity industry due, in large part, to a lifelong interest in music. He soon found employment, in 1955, at one of the pioneering retail audio outlets in Berkeley (The Audio Shop), where he worked as a record-changer repairman, custom installer of equipment, and salesman. This situation brought Wolf into direct contact with a number of the early component manufacturers such as Herman Hosmer Scott (electronics), Rudy Bozak (loudspeakers), and Joe Grado (phono cartridges). Also present was Will Rayment, who had inherited a radio manufacturing business in Oakland, California, from his father. Rayment began to build state-of-the-art tube tube electronics and soon gained a foothold in the burgeoning California market. Observing this, Wolf felt that the Sargent-Rayment equipment had technical merit but suffered from a lack of eye appeal. He then suggested to Rayment that they both might benefit from a modest appearance redesign program.

Sargent Rayment Brentwood
 Image and Courtesy of Arnold Wolf

Wolf's first assignment from Rayment was the industrial design of a tuner-preamplifier marketed under the "Brentwood" model name (shown at right). It did not succeed in the marketplace and investigation revealed an unexpected reason. People liked the design well enough, but the fact that the projecting shape would not permit its being mounted into a panel cutout of an equipment cabinet was the crucial negative factor. Further investigation showed that most of those same people never actually mounted their components -- even when they were fully adaptable -- in any sort of furniture piece. They almost invariably stacked their equipment on top of the furniture.

Fortunately, this setback was only temporary. Subsequent Rayment designs from Wolf gained a good deal of favorable attention and helped to increase sales. The relationship continued through the second generation of product introductions and involved, at the later stages, the development of a low-cost exhibit structure for use at consumer shows.

2000 Arnold Wolf