From the big cities to the farms and small towns, American life in the post-WWII era was good. Besides the return of thousands of GIs from overseas, an end to wartime shortages and rationing meant that people could live it up and enjoy life without feeling guilty. Hollywood was booming and the theater business prospered, offering an evening of entertainment everyone could afford. So the timing was perfect when Altec co-founder Alvis A. Ward announced the original Voice of the Theatre Series in 1947.
Designed by John Hilliard, Voice of the Theatre was a line of high-performance, two-way cabinets made up of a number of huge (9- to 10-foot-tall) low-frequency enclosures that put one to four 15-inch Model 515 woofers on a wide-flare bass horn. The LF boxes supported large multicell horn(s) with the new Model 288 HF compression drivers, and could be mated with bolt-on wing panels that extended the bass response. It worked. In fact, the sonic improvements that Voice of the Theatre speakers offered made them an immediate hit with studios, theater owners and the general public. Approved by the Research Council at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, they became the industry standard for decades.
In the early 1950s, Altec unveiled the Voice of the Theatre A7, a compact (5-foot/180-pound!) two-way product suited for smaller cinemas and multichannel installs in the burgeoning stereo theater market, as well as for studio monitoring and home systems—the latter offered in a walnut cabinet model. The A7’s high 103dB (1W/1m) sensitivity made them an ideal match for the low-wattage power amps available at the time, and they became the popular P.A. choice of a zillion bars, clubs and rock bands throughout the 1960s and ’70s. More recently, Altec has reissued the A7 in a special “A7 Legacy” edition for the home stereo/pro market.