Early Systems (1928 - 1931)

I write a history of Klangfilm from a viewpoint of an audiophile. In my unskillful English, you can find not only the system constructions but also the actual sound characters based on my practices. Comments and advices from readers are wellcome because my knowledge is insufficient.

The photos from klangfilm Home! website are licenced by the founder and the owner. Thank you very much!
(Perhaps year numbers described in the articles contain some errors)

Klangfilm v.s. Western Electric (KL-L301 and WE594A)
Klangfilm v.s. Western Electric (KL-L301 and WE594A)

History of audio in the meaning of sound reproduction was started by the invention of a phonograph by Thomas Alva Edison on November 21st, 1877. Almost same period as this invention, the early audio technology on loudspeakers was started with the competition between the two great ancestors of Western Electric and Klangfilm.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the first loudspeaker as a part of a telephone. The loudspeaker also performed as a microphone. The sound was generated by a moving iron rod in acid water. In 1877, Ernst W. Siemens followed the invention by a improved loudspeaker having a moving coil and a diaphragm with a trumpet horn. Siemens had invented a moving coil in 1874.

Establishment of Klangfilm G. M. B. H. (1928)



After around a half century from above inventions, Klangfilm G.M.B.H. was established by a joint investment of Siemens & Halske and AEG in Berlin at 8th Oct. 1928. In the next year, Klangfilm got a partnership with Tobis (Tonbild syndicate AG) which had major patents on optical sound-film technology invented by Tri-Ergon. Then 'Tobis-Klangfilm' was used as the bland name of sound-films and 'Klangfilm-Tobis' was used as that of the equipments.

Blatthaller Loudspeaker (normal size model, Siemens & Halske, 1926)
Blatthaller Loudspeaker (normal size model, Siemens & Halske, 1926)

When ERPI (the supplier of Western Electric equipments) started installations of optical sound-film systems in Europa in 1929, Tobis made a trial that the system infringed the patents of Tri-Ergon. Then a patent war occurred between German union of the two companies and American union including Western Electric (ERPI) and RCA. The competition between Klangfilm and Western Electric was restarted.

At 6th June 1930, the patent war was suspended by 'Paris sound-film peace treaty' which contained agreements on interchangeability of sound-films and a divide of the world into exclusive markets. Tobis and Klangfilm got implicit rights to use American patents on sound-film technologies and a large market: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Balkan and Scandinavia.

[ref.] Kreimeier, K. (translation: Hill and Wang). 1999. THE UFA STORY. London: University of California Press.

In the early age, Klangfilm supplied many sound-film equipments, but most equipments were OEM from Siemens & Halske, AEG and Telefunken. The oldest loudspeaker used by Klangfilm was Blatthaller (Siemens & Halske, 1926) which was a very heavy planer loudspeaker. One Blatthaller in near perfect condition is displayed in NHK Broadcast Museum in Tokyo.

Riffel Loudspeaker (1930)



Riffel loudspeaker ELL13 (normal size model, Siemens & Halske,1930)
Riffel loudspeaker ELL13 (normal size model, Siemens & Halske,1930)

Inside of Riffel loudspeaker ELL13 (without the rear cover, 1930)
Inside of Riffel loudspeaker ELL13 (without the rear cover, 1930)

Sound-film systems with Riffel loudspeakers (Siemens & Halske, 1930) were used in the Klangfilm's product lineup for large theaters until 1931. Several old type loudspeakers like Blatthaller or Riffel were combined and were driven by a big amplifier such as a 200 W amplifier having a parallel single ended final stage of Telefunken RV230 tubes: H = 21.5 V x 12 A, Eb = 2500 V, Ib = 120 mA, Pp = 300 W. Bass drivers (used as full-range without a crossover) were added to the combination loudspeakers from 1930.

A big amplifier of  an early sound-film system (ca. 1930)
A big amplifier of an early sound-film system (ca. 1930)

Terefunken RV230 direct heat triode tube (1928)
Terefunken RV230 direct heat triode tube (1928)

Tone character of Riffel loudspeakers is completely different from normal paper cone loudspeakers. The bass volume is relatively poor, but the treble is clear and attractive. Adjustment of the large diaphragm is difficult because the long linear voice coil (voice ribbon) gap is very narrow.

A conbination loudspeaker system with Riffel and bass drivers (1931)
A conbination loudspeaker system with Riffel and bass drivers (1931)

The oldest known bass driver having a Klangfilm embrem (Typ 44003, 1931, from Klangfilm Home!)
The oldest known bass driver having a Klangfilm embrem (Typ 44003, 1931, from Klangfilm Home!)

Rice-Kellogg (AEG, ca. 1928)



Though a combination loudspeaker of Riffel and bass drivers sounded excellent bright tone, it was too much for small theaters. Therefore small full-range loudspeakers such as Rice-Kellogg made by AEG was used in such small and middle theaters at the age of Blatthaller or Riffel until 1931. Rice-Kellogg loudspeakers were licenced by GE which had invested to AEG in order to have influence on Klangfilm. These full-range loudspeakers were driven by a small amplifier such as RE604 single ended.

Rice-Kellogg by AEG is a 8 inch full-range driver having a heavy field-coil magnet. The weight is 11.5 kg. It sounds nice mild tone as good as Klangfilm 42006 driver except the bass below 100 Hz.

AEG Rice-Kellogg loudspeaker (full-range driver, ca. 1928)
AEG Rice-Kellogg loudspeaker (full-range driver, ca. 1928)

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