William (Bill) Hecht, inventor of the soft dome tweeter (patented in 1967) and founder of United Speaker Systems and Phase Technology, died on September 12, after a brief illness and hospitalization in New York. Born January 3, 1923, Hecht was 89.
United Speaker System, a U.S. OEM speaker/electronics manufacturer was known as the “manufacturer’s manufacturer,” as it created and built more than 600 different handcrafted speaker systems during Hecht’s 50-plus innovative years. His work has helped more than 50 audio/video companies produce high-quality handcrafted speakers and systems.
In 2006, Bill was inducted into Dealerscope Magazine’s Hall of Fame.
According to McIntosh Laboratories’ Roger Russell, Hecht’s career began with his involvement in the development of cinemascope stereo technology for motion-picture projection in the early 1950s. He worked for General Projection Company in New York and was involved in installing projectors and sound systems in many of America’s great theaters, including Radio City Music Hall. In 1955 the company went on strike, and Hecht decided to use his knowledge to develop loudspeakers for the burgeoning home audio market. He began building one speaker by hand per week, selling them through a local radio and hi-fi dealer in New York City, and exhibiting at local hi-fi shows. As an example of amazing prescience in 1955, his tag line on literature and in his ads was “Theater sound for the home.”
As a result of some good reviews, Avery Fisher commissioned Hecht’s United Speaker Systems in 1959 to build the first Fisher loudspeakers. The result was the legendary XP-1 bookshelf system, which established Fisher as a major brand in the home audio marketplace. The first year saw Hecht’s company producing 10,000 speakers for Fisher Radio.
In the years that followed, USS grew into a vertically integrated speaker designer and manufacturer. With clients ranging from small high-end manufacturers to some of the biggest names in the business, USS gained its reputation as the “manufacturers’ manufacturer.” Today, the company continues to serve some of the most familiar brands in audio.
Hecht is one of the industry’s early pioneers of speaker system design and driver development. He began building his drivers by hand and has actually engineered several new designs to solve specific problems. The soft dome tweeter (US Patent # 3328537) may be Hecht’s best-known innovation, and has been the most widely used tweeter design worldwide for the last 30 years. His four additional patents include: the self-damping woofer voice coil, a manufacturing process for solid, flat piston drivers, silicone-injected drivers for resonance damping, and a basket-less woofer/midrange driver mounting system.
A gentle and humble man, Bill Hecht will forever remain an icon in the consumer electronics industry.
Funeral services will be held Friday, September 14, 2012, 2:00p.m., at Greenlawn Cemetery, 4300 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32207, 904.396.2522.