| English Knol Project |
This article written by Will Johnson, email@example.com
Today (30 Aug 2009) I picked up a pair of Norman Laboratories Model 332 Floor-Standing Speakers. They have a woofer, mid-range and tweeter which are black and the cabinets are a sort-of mapleish-colored wood. The seller told me that the cabinets are solid oak and they certainly are heavy enough. Each speaker weighs 35 pounds. The cabinets are 32" tall, 12 3/4" wide and 8 3/4" deep.
Google search for "Norman Labs" 332
Google search for "Norman Lab" 332
An old posting to classicspeakers.net from 21 May 2007 states : "I can provide the information you are looking for because I was one of the founders of Norman Labs. The company was started in 1971 by myself and Leonard Bernstein (not the former music director of the New York Philharmonic). I was an engineering graduate of the University of Oklahoma but was not a student at the time we started the company. I graduated in 1965 and worked in the audio field for a few years, including a stint with Altec, before we formed Norman Laboratories. I handled the engineering and production and Leonard Bernstein handled sales and marketing. We sold the company to an investment group from Ft. Worth, Texas, in about 1981 and I left the company in about 1984. Until I left the company I did all of the design work (including the Model 10 that was mentioned above). The company was sold again a few years later and was closed down about 8 or 10 years ago. -- Jim Long "
Then this old posting to AudioKarma from 2 Mar 2005 states : "Norman Labs entered defunct status in early 1998. The owner, Gail Dixon, also owned Audio World in Little Rock, AR. I worked at Audio World for several months in 1990/91 and maintained contact with Gail and his daughter until 2000. Their speakers were considered "audiophile" quality until the early 90's. The changes that were required to compete with mass producers like Infinity, Bose, JBL, and the like caused the degradation of quality and the eventual closure of the production and research facilities in Norman, OK."
An old posting at AudioKarma from 2006 states that when Norman Labs went out-of-business, their remaining inventory was purchased by David Miller of Speakerworks, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In April 2009, a pair of 332s sold on ebay.es for $182 (U.S.dollars)
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Norman Lab's most common
This page at usedprice.com tells us that the 332s were made in 1987 :
ACOUSTIC SUSPENSION, 10" WOOFER, 5.25" MIDRANGE, 1" TWEETER
It also lists speakers from Norman Labs from 1977 to 1993 although the posting cited above states that the company actually started in 1971. The label states they were made in Norman, Oklahoma.
The pair I picked up, have no badges. The badge picture here, was sent to me by a correspondent.
The pair I picked up had a nasty square black discoloration right on the top of one cabinet, about 3 inches by 3 inches. I first used Goop which is probably the mildest thing you can use on wood to remove tar, wax and oil. I like Goop the best for cleaning wood because it doesn't harm your bare hands. So Goop and my fingernails got most of the mark off. Do NOT use a metal tool to try to scratch something off wood. Metal is harder than wood and you'll be displeased by the result -- a lot of little nasty scratch marks all over your beautiful wood grain. You can however use Goop with something like a cloth or even the kind of soft scrubber you use on dishes, but don't use steel wool! Only the soft scrubbers like what you might use on a Teflon pan.
So after 20 minutes or so, this first method got off a lot of the mark, then I tried Grease Grisly and a soft scrubber, which got off more. Now the mark was just a dull reminder of what it had been, so I sanded using a pumice stone. After all of the mark was gone (making sure to evenly sand the entire top surface so as not to leave a "pit"), I applied Wesson Oil over the entire surface to bring back the luster.
One note to those who might want to follow me on this. Only do this on solid wood cabinets, not veneer. If you try this sort of technique on veneer, it's possible you will end up going right through the veneer to the plywood underneath and then... you're screwed. I mean you can always try to stain it to match, but now your small project is much bigger.
Both woofers were blown, typical for older speakers you pick up for small money, even if they "work perfectly the last time I tried them." That's the luck you get, so if you're not prepared to redo them, don't shop at the bargain places. At any rate, the surrounds had deteriorated. I tested the speakers anyway, and they sound good even without surrounds, so I knew they'd be killers after being redone.
Here's the deal with redoing surrounds. Try it first on speakers you don't care about. New surround-repair kits will cost you maybe $8 to $20 per speaker and you can use a variety of glues. A friend of mine used just Elmer's glue, but you might also try a 2-part epoxy if you want a stronger hold. I'm fairly sure the Elmer's won't hold up long with the constant flexing of the surrounds. One interesting product you might try, at a good price is called Shoe Goo. It's not made for redoing speakers, but shoes. It stays flexible, yet provides a decent hold. At any rate, I've done a few surrounds, but these are so hot, I wanted a professional to redo them. So I will have to shell out $30 each. But when finished they'll be worth $150 to $200 so it's worth it, to get that high-quality vintage sound out of these monsters.
I finally got these back from the shop. They had told me at first it would take a few days, well now it's three weeks later ! My audiophile partner tells me "they sound crisp, very clear, like you're right there". "Much more crisp sounding than any other speaker I've ever heard."