I have been a member of the SFAF since last year. As a neophyte, interviewing some of the industry veterans seemed like a great way for me to dive into the culture and knowledge base that this collection of audiophiles represents. And, since I’ve volunteered to contribute to the Muse from time to time, I’ve been thinking about how it would be a great way for me to learn about some of these folks by reaching out to them to find out a bit about who they are, and how they became involved in their part of the world of audio. In doing so, I also thought I might perhaps glean some interesting tidbits that others would also enjoy reading about.
Though my goals are modest; almost philosophical; I’m looking for such intangibles as how to listen better, how to evaluate if I’m getting the best out of my system, and whether there are glaring errors in my acoustics I’m not aware of, rather than learning all the minutia of the technical specs of preamps, amps, turntables and so on. What I didn’t realize, was that while pursuing my goals I was going to be meeting some of the people within our audiophile group who have historical significance and stature in the industry at large. What a privilege!
One such member is Don Naples, a delightful member I became intrigued with during an SFAF zoom call. He was charming and extremely knowledgeable and seemed to have the respect of the other members on the call. I reached out to him later and asked if he would be willing to share a bit about who he is, and what he has been involved with for an article for the Muse. He graciously agreed.
As fate would have it, I knew almost nothing about his world of Linkwitz speakers and the woodworking craft and manufacturing skills he brought to them. So, this was also a learning opportunity for me to become familiar with open baffle dipole speakers, so that I could at least be somewhat conversant with Don.
I asked Don to write a bit about his biography, as I feel these are the elements that shape who we are and the interests that compel us, and then to write about his meeting and ensuing friendship with Siegfried Linkwitz the engineer who developed the DIY, open baffle dipole speakers that some of our members proudly own.
I’ll let Don take it from here in his own words.
“My start in woodworking began when I had a woodshop course in fifth grade. That school was in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, and was very forward thinking. I also learned to throw the discus (full size) in 5th grade. and won a gold medal. I have never heard of another school teaching those skills at such a young age. By the time I reached high school, I was machining parts on a metal lathe for use in the manufacture of luxury class aluminum boats. That was a business my father started and he needed special rollers for shaping chines, splash guards, and keels.
My professional career was in the computer industry. I started working on solid state digital computers in the Navy (1961 to 1966) where I was trained on the operation and maintenance of the computers used for launching Polaris missiles. After my service, I worked for GE at the Space Technology Center in King of Prussia, PA mostly on military satellites.
I had been an audiophile since 1958 when I first heard my cousin’s University speakers driven by a Scott amplifier. After I left the Navy, I purchased a pair of Braun speakers and built a Scott amp to drive them. I wanted better high frequency performance so I answered an advertisement that listed some tweeters for sale. They were the high frequency horns used in the A7-500 Voice of The Theater speakers. I then built a pair of the VOT speakers. I also recorded my neighbor’s band https://www.bangmusic.com/. They were later signed with Capital Records.
My next build was replacing the gigantic Altec speakers with JBL S-8 Studio Monitors. Their performance surpassed what I heard on the Altec speakers. I was happy with their sound until I heard the Magnapan MG-IIIA speakers. The dipole sound is open and avoids the resonance of the cabinets heard with box speakers. That was fine until we decided to move and my wife said those speakers are not going in our new (moving from a home built in 1887 to one built in 1895) house’s living room. I had to get something smaller so chose Wilson Watt/Puppies. She said “Those are the ugliest speakers. They look like trash cans.” They were smaller so I kept them but my wife was not happy.
In 2003 I started a company, Wood Artistry, LLC, manufacturing a high quality sharpening system to be used by woodworkers who wanted really sharp tools but wanted to avoid the labor intensive water stone process. The system could sharpen to finer than one micron. (An 8000 grit water stone is 1.2 microns.)