JBL Paragon

JBL D44000

1 9 5 7 1957
1 9 8 4

[ paragon ] : model, accomplished type

A word inherited from the 12th century italian [paragono], through the 13th century anglo-normand [paragone], with a spanish variant [parangòn] giving way to the 15th century french [parangon] and, in parallel, the english [paragon].

The anglo-normand source meant "touchstone", or that to which other things are compared. In one word : the model, the reference.

If fairly often used in french, that word since the sixth decade of the 20th century mainly describes a loudspeaker made in California.
Only about a thousand were produced but many people do remember that Paragon, even if they haven't seen one.

Hand-made like only the 1960s allowed to, it is probable that no two Paragons are alike, from the glorious days when high-efficiency ruled and DIY audio still was most of what was to become a market : high-fidelity.

Between 1958 and 1984, a team of six people adjusted and assembled the parts, laminated veneers, rubbed the finish and made sure that each was perfect - a parangon of human craftsmanship.

Several versions were made during a continous production run which lasted for twenty-seven years and ended with specific models (re)made for the ever JBL-hungry japanese market : C44 Metregon, C44 Metregon with a built-in JBL SE405 amplifier, C46 Minigon and even a mini Paragon miniature made, this time, by Fostex.

Even if the project wasn't exactly born at JBL, that brand made it come true, with the help of a wonderful designer named Arnold Wolf, a man who, among other design gems, made the L88 Nova or Aquarius 2A.

Retrospectively, the Paragon probably is the one and only loudspeaker deserving a place in any museum's sculpture department.

The history of the Paragon and where it came from at lansingheritage.org ; Arnold Wolf and JBL also there and another Paragon here.

JBL Paragon, image 1 JBL Paragon, image 2 JBL Paragon, image 3
JBL Paragon specifications
Title Value
May 16, 1984 May 16, 1984
Dear Readers of Stereo Sound,
I have been with JBL for over twenty-two wonderful years now and for twenty-one of those years, I have been responsible for the production of the Paragon. It is very exciting and fulfilling to be associated with such a magnificent product. My wife, Kazuko, and my two boys see in my face the love and pride I have for my craft.
The Paragon is extremely difficult to build and takes many long hours to assemble. We use a special team of six people to produce the Paragon and each person has some sort of special skill. We carefully laminate veneers and hand fit many pieces in addition to using some carefully constructed tooling to assemble all the parts. In addition, we use only the best woods and veneers possible and spend many hours hand rubbing the finish.
So specialized is the Paragon production that we have a separate area in our furniture factory set aside just for this product and it takes nearly 72 hours to manufacture just one unit.
Because of the amount of exacting work and the special nature of the Paragon, our team has a terrific working relationship. We feel that there is a little part of each of us in each one that leaves our factory. This puts the Paragon in a class by itself and makes the product one of the finest examples of crafsmanship in the world. If you already own one you know this and if you don't, you really have something to look forward to.
Kind regards,
Fred K. Kato
Paragon Lead
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page online since : january 2007
page updated : august 2010
page type : LGT / KNB
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