Project of the Month: Infinity IRS II
Most small business owners will testify that any phone call in which the caller on the other end utters the words “IRS” is usually cause for panic followed by several rounds at the local Beer Stube. Over here on Planet Loudspeaker we are fortunate to have another far less mortifying meaning for the initials: Infinity Reference Standard.
Owners of the IRS form a small club of music aficionados, or rather music gourmets, who find that they are unwilling to have the sound of any carefully recorded performance damaged by an inferior speaker. It is a small club mostly because of the investment required to obtain them, but also due to the fact that they stand nearly eight feet tall and have two rosewood towers per channel, one containing six twelve-inch woofers, the other dozens of EMIT® ribbon tweeters and EMIM® ribbon midranges. The Mid/Tweet tower is shaped like a three feet wide curved wing that places the drivers at the middle of the curve in a line from top to bottom. Isn’t this sort of overdoing the woofer-midrange-tweeter thing a little bit? Sure – just like a Hummer is overdoing the S.U.V. thing a little bit.
This speaker would not be expected to have a high “S.A.F.” or “Spousal Acceptance Factor”, and the few club members with spouses willing to tolerate the IRS should consider themselves some of the luckiest people on Earth. Or any other planet.
We are fortunate to have two IRS club members (that we know of) right here in the Great Pacific Northwest. One of them, Dick Wilcox, was referred to The LoudSpeaker Store by the gracious sales staff at Magnolia Hi Fi in Tacoma after the inevitable demise of the 12-inch woofers’ foam surrounds. After having replaced them once several years ago, he found that Infinity (now part of the Harmon International Audio Conglomerate) no longer offers parts for this particular model. The look of relief on his face when we told him “Yeah, we can fix those” was the same look you see when a kid’s folks tell him he can keep the puppy that followed him home.
Dick’s passion for music is deep and lifelong – he has been involved in live music most of his life. I asked him what made him decide on the IRS. “I had played lead guitar in a rock band for 5 years and needed the adrenaline that accompanies extremely loud and accurate music.” The IRS has “exquisite sound with the ability to play LOUD”. He made his acquisition at Jonas Miller Sound in Santa Monica, California for $21,600 in 1981. Now, in the year 2004, Dick still gets his Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin M via his newly restored Infinity IRS II.
You may ask yourself, how do I work this? (Sorry, Talking Heads on the brain.) The question is why would anyone invest enough money to buy a nice car on a set of speakers? It’s all about the difference between listening to music and experiencing it. If you like music live and in person, it’s possible to understand. Dick recalls his most memorable live music experience: “ In the early 60’s I was playing a gig in Clearwater, Florida where we opened for Roy Orbison and his band. Man that guy could sing!” Getting back to the music while it was actually being performed right in front of you – that’s why the Infinity IRS exists. The total body involvement in the music is not unlike plugging an electrical socket into the wall receptacle and grabbing the bare wire ends – except that the IRS convulses your insides with music instead of 60Hz AC.
In addition to lead guitarist, Dick has been an engineering tech for Honeywell Aerospace, Manager of software for Western Digital, co-founded a computer company in Irvine, California in 1977 and wrote the operating systems, assemblers, compilers, etc. Since 1990 he has been a hardware/software programmer/consultant. “My most enjoyable and rewarding job has been designing and continually updating a computer system which controls and digitally records old theater pipe organs. I built a house in Gig Harbor which featured a 4-manual, 48-rank Wurlitzer in the living room run by this computer system.” His favorite recreational activity is aerobatic flying in high performance biplanes.
Ask Dick how important music is to his daily life . I did, he responds, “I work at home designing computer software. Directly in front of my desk about 10 feet away is the IRS system. To the left of me are 4 Hammond organs, 4 Leslie speakers, 4 JBL SR8 speakers and miscellaneous amps and synthesizers. You figure it out!” Another example of why music should be considered one of the basic food groups.
And of course, we like to get on about what a great job we did on the repair. After all, that’s what keeps the CDs and DVDs spinning and the beer and Margaritas flowing. Dick says, “After critically listening to my "new" IRS woofers I would not hesitate for one second in recommending The LoudSpeaker Store to anyone who needs high-quality or unusual speaker rebuilding. I would be happy to speak with anyone about the type of quality workmanship you do. The IRS woofers you so painstakingly rebuilt are performing flawlessly”
Thanks Dick, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
For Pictures of the Infinity IRS II system and the repair process, click on the links below.
For more information on Dick’s “Wurlitzer Manor”, see the web site http://www.pstos.org/instruments/wa/gig-harbor/wurlitzer-manor.htm
If you would like to contact Dick Wilcox, you may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253.588.2465
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