- Written by Scott Wilkinson
- Published on 26 June 2013
Speaker designer Paul Hales talks about the flaws inherent in broadband room EQ used to "correct" sound systems in home theaters, direct vs. reflected sound, speaker directivity and sensitivity, dynamic range, standing waves, the difference in behavior between low frequencies and higher frequencies in a room, the problems of an overly damped room, the concept of directional bass, answers to chat-room questions, and more.
Run Time: 1:09:08
Paul Hales became an audiophile at the early age of 12 and by age 16 had already designed and built his first pair of loudspeakers: an ambitious 4-way, 5-driver system that, for reasons he still can't quite understand, performed better than most of the commercial speakers of the day. Perhaps it is because of this stroke of luck that 30 years later, he's still passionate about loudspeaker design.
In the mid-1980s, Paul studied mechanical engineering at the University of California, Davis, where he specialized in vibrations and material science. It was at UC Davis in 1988 that he designed, as a senior project, what would become his first commercial loudspeaker product, the Hales System Two. He was 22 years old.
During the late 80s and throughout the 90s, Paul designed many commercial loudspeakers for his company, Hales Design Group, which garnered praise from the audiophile community and which were officially recommended by Stereophile Magazine in their annual "Recommended Components" listing. Among them were the System Two and Signature as well as the Revelation and Transcendence series of the late 90s. To this day, the Revelation Three model is still regarded by many as the best loudspeaker under $2500 per pair and is widely sought after on the used market.
While at Hales Design Group, Paul designed loudspeakers for Samsung Electronics and consulted BMW on automotive loudspeaker systems. In 1997, Paul was interviewed for a feature story in Stereophile magazine, entitled "A Passion for Speakers".
In 1998, as surround sound came to the scene, Paul took an interest in professional loudspeaker systems and systems for commercial cinema in particular. In that year, he developed the Cinema Reference loudspeaker, a large, professional-grade system with a large format horn and high-output 15" woofer. Though its dealers, Hales Design Group sold many Cinema Reference systems to Hollywood industry professionals for their personal screening rooms.
To further explore loudspeakers for professional applications, in 2000, Paul joined QSC Audio, the leading manufacturer of professional audio power amplifiers, to establish a Research and Development department for loudspeaker systems. From 2000 to 2004 Paul's team at QSC developed loudspeaker systems for commercial cinema, installed sound, and touring applications. In 2002, QSC participated in an audio "shootout" to try to earn the opportunity to supply loudspeakers for the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Despite having less than half the time to prepare than the competition, QSC won the shootout against industry veterans JBL, Community, EAW, and Electro-Voice and was rewarded the contract for the new multi-million-dollar system.
In 2004, Paul left QSC to found Professional Home Cinema, LLC, with long-time friend and very-first Hales Design Group customer, Larry Reagan, to develop professional-style loudspeakers for residential installed systems. PHC loudspeakers and DSP processor/amplifiers quickly became the choice of many A-list movie stars, producers, directors and studio executives for their personal residential screening rooms. In 2010, PHC adopted the brand name "Pro Audio Technology," a name which better fit the company's long-term strategic objectives.
Throughout his career, Paul has consulted such companies as BMW AG in Munich, Germany, BMW Designworks in Newbury Park California, Samsung Electronics in Seoul, Korea and Compton California, Madrigal Audio Laboratories, makers of the Mark Levinson brand of hi-fidelity equipment, and Dolby Laboratories, industry leader in surround sound for commercial and residential cinema environments, on the subjects of acoustics, loudspeaker development and design.