Monitors

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For monitoring the sounds he captured on tape, Rudy Van Gelder and the session producers would hear the playback of each take on massive 15-inch monitors. The Altec 604B can be seen in Van Gelder’s control room as early as 1953, and the Altec 604C first appears around 1955.

Introduced in 1954, the legendary 604C is a 15-inch coaxial design with a bass-reflex cabinet. It was capable of handling 35 watts RMS/50 peak, and its frequency response was 30-22k Hz, In 1954 the speaker was listed as $165 (about $1,500 in 2020).

The musicians needed to hear the music too, but the control room was too small for all the band members to pile into. So Rudy set up a pair of Jim Lansing (JBL) C-34 monitors in the Hackensack living room so musicians could assess the quality of their performances. Beginning in late 1956 we see photos of numerous famous jazz musicians sitting adjacent to the large C-34 speaker cabinets in Van Gelder’s living room, listening intently to the music they had just laid to tape.

The C-34 enclosures were introduced in 1952, and they contained a 15-inch 130A subwoofer, a 175 DLH acoustical lens tweeter, and had an RMS power rating of 25 watts. At the time they costed $365 each (about $3,350 in 2020). As seen here, the speakers remain in the Englewood Cliffs live room to this day.

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