Jeffrey W. Jackson by Pascal Perich

Jeffrey W. Jackson by Pascal Perich

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I was born smack dab in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, right near the intersection of highway 8 and highway 61, in 1972…  I spent my childhood riding my bicycle up and down those roads… and building forts… picking up turtles and running from snakes in the ditches that ran along and between the cotton fields… 

my father drove a Schlitz beer delivery truck and covered all of the Delta.. therefore he has likely been in as many juke joints as anyone alive… although rarely was he there to hear the music… and certainly never late at night… but Schlitz and Schlitz malt liquor were king in the 70’s… he says in towns like Mound Bayou every other house had a liquor license… the irony is thick that these are the exact kind of spots that I wish I could hang out in… and that I am trying to recreate the feel of with the parties here in upstate New York… far away from their Mississippi inspiration… 

at night and on weekends he made side money building custom vans in the garage… he would buy stripped down delivery vans with no interior and only a driver’s seat and deck them out with moon roofs, overhead consoles… carpeting on the walls and ceilings… overhead consoles… paint them in layers of 70’s colors like tan, orange, brown, and navy… and of course: cassette stereos with booster amps and lots of 6x9 speakers… 

sometime in here was where I learned to rebuild my first speaker as I blew my dad’s treasured Technics with a Kiss Alive cassette that my aunt had given me… his Marantz receiver did the deed… I was maybe ten… 

age 12… parents inform me we are moving to Memphis.. I am scared... no, utterly terrified!… to everyone in the Delta, Memphis was “the big city”…. 

turns out it was great…. big cities have more things to see and do and experience… 

met Lisa in high school… learned to install car stereos, how crossovers worked, and how to size woofer boxes... had a three way in my car that was bi-amped and spent hours and hours driving around listening to music with that amazing girlfriend who is now my wife… 

we were accepted and attended the University of Virginia… Lisa studying liberal arts and I was studying engineering… specializing in Mechanical Design… 

I now had a place to set up my first hifi…. used all of my lawn mowing money to buy a pair of Klipsch KG4’s… went into the hifi shop with a stack that was literally mostly one dollar bills… the amp that I picked up for it came from the guys that ran Speakers Services down on Madison… I bought a beat up old MacIntosh from T.C. that had been used in the old Hi Records studio as a monitor amp.. used to monitor Al Green, Nina Peebles, Otis Clay.. and was of course engineered by Willie Mitchell…. I will never forget going into those collapsing rooms (like ten foot diameter holes in the floor) to get my amp… vivid memory to this day… so off to college I went with Mac, Klipsch, and an 18” subwoofer I built to fit under my dorm bed…. lots of fun was had with that rig.. sincere thanks to Glen and TC at Speaker Services… 

in college I spent every free moment and every dime on going to see live music… in town and all up and down the east coast… improvisational music was so alive… I was hooked… 

Lisa and I got married in 1994... had our first baby in 1995…. and graduated to a life of living in a van on Phish summer tour…..  by the time the second baby arrived in 1997, we had settled down to life in one spot… back in memphis.. I had a job and a family to support… 

so back to making a hifi… I bought some well received ribbon speakers… so excited.. but even though the tonal balance was smooth smooth, I could not get the life and fun that I had with the Klipsch speakers… but having heard the smooth, I could not live with the rough and tumble….  at this point I also realized that I could not just buy what I needed (or thought I needed)… early twenties, two kids, and did not have the scratch… would have been irresponsible anyway… luckily I found Sound Practices and started building.. no mentor and no real web those days meant that I did it on my own… and thank goodness!  I formed my own opinions… I spent endless hours with patent papers of Bell Labs and electrical engineering textbooks from the forties… 

I also owe much to my understanding family as we were constantly dining in our laps or on one corner of the kitchen table as the rest of it was covered in amp projects and tools.. 

and then one day the guy that ran the local hifi shop came by… flipped out… asked if he could bring some friends next time… before I knew it, people were offering me real money to make amplifiers for them… or wanted clones of my speaker projects… by day I was designing the conveyor mazes for FedEx, “Sort Systems Conceptual Design”, but it was turning into more meeting time than design time, so my high school sweetheart and I jumped from the steady paycheck to full time hifi... I built under Experience Music, Inc for more than a decade… then met Rob, who not only was among the first to not tell me I was making too many things (turntable, phono, line, amps, and speakers were of my hands at that point), but said we could be making more!  bigger!  crazier!  He really wanted to set up a shop that could prototype and make small runs of nearly anything you could dream up.. said had a team of creative people who work with their hands… and he is a total hifi junkie…  so from the banks of the Mississippi River to the banks of the Hudson River I went…