OBITUARY: E. J. ‘Ted’ Jordan. 18 February 1929 – 28 June 2016

 

Edward James ‘Ted’ Jordan, the famous British loudspeaker designer and engineer, best- known for his pioneering work with full-range metal-coned drive units, died on 28 June, 2016, following a long illness, aged 87.

Although Jordan had been working in the loudspeaker industry for many years, he didn’t come to the attention of the audio world at a large until the publication of his definitive textbook ‘Loudspeakers’ in 1962 (Focal Press), still available on Amazon.

It was the first book that included first principle derivations of all important loudspeaker parameters (which are now referred to as Thiele-Small parameters, because they’re used in the equations used to match drivers to enclosures). Loudspeakers rapidly sold out and quickly became the loudspeaker industry’s ‘bible’.

Jordan was born in London in 1929 and began his career at General Electric before joining Goodmans Industries in 1952 in the position of chief engineer. It was at GEC that he was first exposed to the potential of metal-coned drivers, because GEC’s head of research, Hugh Brittain, had developed one (the GEC-8) for the company. Jordan declared that it was ‘the closest approach to live concert sound he had heard’ and promptly designed a double transmission line enclosure for it. He published an account of their development in The Journal of The British Sound Recording Association in 1951.

After joining Goodmans, one of Jordan’s first tasks was to design the Axiette loudspeaker for which he designed an enclosure that used an unusual aperiodic loading technique. He also designed an electrostatic speaker that was intended to compete with the Quad ESL. It was shown to the public for the first time at the London Hi-Fi Show in 1956. Jordan was also responsible for the design of the Goodmans Maxim, a two-way mini-monitor that was used by the BBC before it developed its own mini-monitor, the renowned LS3/5a, though he was helped in this task by Laurie Fincham, who was also working for Goodmans at the time (Fincham later moved to KEF and is currently Senior VP of R&D at THX Ltd).

After ten years at Goodmans, Jordan, together with Goodmans’ export manager Lesley Watts, left to form the company known as Jordan-Watts, which the two founded to commercialise the famous ‘Jordan-Watts module’, a full-range, aluminium-coned loudspeaker that was the best-selling driver of its type at the time, selling many thousands of units around the world. In 1975, Jordan established his own company, E.J. Jordan Designs, to market a 50mm alloy-coned drive unit that operated from 150Hz to 20kHz, obviating the need for separate midrange drivers and tweeters and simultaneously eliminating the need for a high-frequency crossover. These speakers, and later models based on the same design, were used by many companies, including Elite Townshend, Electrofluidics and Credo.
 
Not limiting himself to loudspeaker design, Jordan also designed a novel Class-A/B power amplifier. [Pictured at right is E.J. Jordan (wearing headphones) in 1931, listening to a crystal radio set built by his father, on whose knees he is sitting.]

In 1991, Jordan formed a partnership with German loudspeaker manufacturer ALR, forming a separate corporate entity now known as ALR-Jordan, in which Jordan collaborated with famous German speaker designer Karl-Heinz Fink on foil cones and in 1995 introduced the Jordan JX Series.

Jordan retired in 2005, but couldn’t stop designing, coming out of retirement to spear-head the development of a brand-new full-range drive unit, known as the Eikona 1, with the intention of having it manufactured entirely in the UK, which it was until its sales exceeded his company’s factory capacity. Jordan then re-designed the Eikona and out-sourced production to Danish manufacturer ScanSpeak.

Jordan intended that his company would continue after his death and used the time enabled by his illness to map E.J. Jordan Designs’ future direction. ‘Ted was investigating new ideas and products right to the end,’ said a company spokesman, ‘and we’re proud to continue his legacy of innovation and original thinking, which built on the cornerstone of one of his favourite sayings, which was ‘Don’t follow the sheep.

Jordan combined an enquiring mind with a deep understanding of his subject and an artist’s feel for his craft, and was also renowned for his mischievous sense of humour, which would have come in handy at his funeral, where the music he’d planned for his funeral was played through Bose speakers—a detail he had overlooked in his otherwise meticulous arrangements for the service. ‘I don’t think Ted would have approved,’ said one mourner, ‘but he’d have certainly appreciated the funny side of it.’ •