KVG Laboratories

The Famous Cizek Q Switch

Back in the mid-'70s, there was rumored  to  be  a  most  amazing loudspeaker  designer  working out of the mid-west (Indianapolis) by  the  name  of  Roy  Cizek.  That  he  used  some  novel   and questionable   design   techniques   may   be   something  of  an understatement. For example, his solution to the problem of  cone break-up  (which  is,  essentially, standing wave patterns on the cone) was to slit the cone with a razor  blade.  Interesting,  if not somewhat misguided.

Well, one day, Roy Cizek shows up in the Boston area, and  starts haunting  our store, listening, asking questions, probing, and so forth. All in all, not  a  bad  fellow,  if  not  somewhat  of  a nuisance.   It   seems   he's   decided  to  design  yet  another loudspeaker. "Gee, Roy," we say, "that's nice."

Several months later, we get a call from Roy. How would we  like, he  asks,  to hear is new loudspeaker? Sure, why not, it's winter and nobody is coming into the store.  Roy  says  he'll  be  right down.  Maybe  15  minutes  later,  in  ambles  Roy,  carrying his speakers. The first thing I do is rip off  the  grill  cloth  and comment, "But Roy, the cone is in one piece!" Roy was not amused.
We sit down and listen to the speakers. Not bad, not  great,  but quite  inoffensive. The one obvious drawback is that they have no bass. Trying to be as diplomatic as possible, we say, "Roy,  your speakers  have  absolutely  no bass." Roy, surprisingly, replies, "Yeah, I know, I  can't  quite  figure  out  why.  But  they  are reasonably  efficient."  That they were, and that was the obvious clue as to the problem. It seems that Roy had selected  a  woofer that  was far to damped electro-magnetically for the enclosure he had designed.   Thus,  while  the  large  magnet  on  the  woofer contributed  to a high-effciency, it also meant that the bass was far too tightly controlled.

To me, the answer was obvious. If you wanted bass, and  you  have decided  that  you  want  a speaker of such and such a size using such and such a woofer, you got a choice, either  low  efficiency and  bass,  or efficiency and little bass. Opting for the former, my choice would have been to save money and order the woofer with a  smaller  magnet. Roy would hear none of that, however.  No, he wanted a big magnet to properly control  the  woofer,  which  was exactly his problem.

The discussion went on and on, Roy not wanting to  hear  anything about efficiency/bandwidth/power-handling trade-offs. Finally, in frustration, I said, "Well, Roy, why don't you just  stick  an  8 Ohm,  50  watt  resistor  in  series with the whole damn speaker. That'll give you some bass!" Feeling even more bold, I said,  "In fact,  why  don't  you  put  a  big switch in there, and convince customers they have a "Q" switch?" Well, everybody laughed,  even Roy, just a little bit, though, and we closed up and went home.
A year or so later, I  was  working  at  another  store  when  in marches the sales rep for Cizek Loudspeakers. The speakers looked the same and, of course, had no bass.  When  that  objection  was raised,  the  rep  said,  "No  problem,  Cizek has developed this revolutionary new method for increasing bass response. They  have added  a "Q" control switch." He promptly threw the toggle switch on the back of the enclosure,  and,  obligingly,  the  efficiency dropped  in  half and the bass came back! I turned to the rep and the store manager and said, "I'll bet you $1000 that that  switch is  connected  to  an 8 ohm, 50 watt resistor." They looked at me incredulously. I just said to check it out.

About half an hour later, the manager and the  rep  came  running into  my  lab  yelling  "DICK!  DICK! Look! You were right!" Sure enough, Roy had taken any advantage that his big magnet  had  and thrown  it  out  the window with a big resistor. I figured at the time the retail price of  the  speaker  could  easily  have  been reduced  by $100 a pair by not having the resistor and having the right sized magnet to begin with.

And  the  speaker,  in  the  "High-Q"  position  was  not  a  bad loudspeaker, not a great one, but quite inoffensive. Although, it did have reasonable bass.

—Dick Pierce