About Phil Jones

For the love of music

Born & raised in London, England in the heyday of music’s great British Invasion, Phil Jones aspired to become a famous bass player in his early days, inspired by all the great bass players. While fulfiling his dream to play bass in his youth, he was destined for other things too. Today, the name Phil Jones is synonymous with Acoustic Energy’s AE1s, and his decades long career in sound reinforcement and speaker development, has garnered him many awards and fans worldwide.


The early days...


"For over 45 years I have had a love affair with the electric bass. I first picked one up and began learning to play at the age of 13. It was the time of Jimi Hendrix and Motown. This was when I first heard on the radio the great Motown bass legend James Jamerson and this gave me the inspiration and desire to become a bass player.


It was no easy start. Back then as a schoolboy I could not even afford to buy my own bass and amp and my folks saw this as a road they did not want me to take. I soon ran out of opportunities to borrow and had no choice but to build my own instruments and sound equipment.


So I studied all I could about bass construction, amplifier electronics (even winding bass-guitar pickups on my Dad’s gramophone when he was out) and how loudspeakers worked. I never knew that this passion was to take me down such a long road living and working in 6 countries.

After graduating from college in electronics in the early 70’s, I enrolled into The Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, Wales where I was living at the time. The WCM&D then had a very conservative view on music. They did not even consider the bass guitar a real instrument! So I opted for learning the Upright Bass classical-style and taught by Earnest C. Haigh. (He was an 81-year old musician with 60 years of bass playing experience and a former principle bassist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)."


Phil started his first sound reinforcement company in London in his 20s.


I had been working for almost a year at the old British company Vitavox where I had learnt a lot about horn compression drivers from David Young who was the managing director and also a loudspeaker design engineer. I had at the time read about magnetic liquids in a scientific journal and it occurred to me that we should explore the feasibility of improving the performance of compression drivers for horns. 


So I invested in my own company providing sound for rock concerts. I soon realized that there would be a benefit to using Ferro-fluid, particularly in compression drivers. I contacted the company Ferro Fluidics in Nashua, New Hampshire where I was able to get a variety of samples to test. Ferro-fluid has mainly different viscosities from honey to water and I embarked on doing many tests which would have the greatest benefit of cooling the voice coil by altering the frequency response, as compression drivers work under air compression to feed a horn, usually about a 16:1 ratio.


The air gap in the voice coil was the Achilles heel because it leaked the compressed air wave . By filling the magnet gap, the ‘leak” was sealed and this actually flattened out the frequency response and also improved the dynamic range of transients.


But the greatest benefit was the huge increase in power handling and therefore delivering greater acoustic output. I was using Western Electric 2080 ALNICIO magnet compression drivers fitted with Altec Lansing 288G diaphragms at that point. The materials of these diaphragms did not react with the FerroFluid and the Kapton suspension allowed for huge power handling.

It was quite an art to determine what viscosity fluid and the amount that would work best, and I still keep this a closely guarded secret to this day.


The AE-1 near-field monitors are held in high regard and cemented Phil's reputation as a gifted speaker designer and sound engineer.  


The very first prototypes of the Acoustic Energy Ae1s were not developed by Acoustic Energy. In fact, I had built these by hand in my own lab back in 1985. I had built a recording studio in London and was working with musicians as recording engineer and producer. During that period, I They were used for 2 years prior in my recording studio when I was a recording engineer and record producer. Every client I had coming through remarked on how good the recordings sounded after they took them home or to cutting studios, which led to my setting up the company with partners. 


I came up with the name Acoustic Energy and designed the logo which is still used today. 


PJ: After running a concert sound hire company in London I was getting burnt out. So I was looking for something that would connect me more closely with music and sound reproduction. I build a recording studio in London. At this time I realized the importance of near field monitoring. But all commercial designs that were available in 1984 were heavily compromised in performance in my opinion. So I started working on my own design of near field monitor. As the only was I knew how to build speakers was from parts from my previous learnings. I was building my own transducers! Conveniently I lived five minutes away from Rogers loudspeakers and they were very kind and charged up the magnets on my first prototype woofers. I worked with Elac in London who was a supplier to KEF and several prototypes later I was satisfied with the nearfields. Many people came in and out of the studio and a few inquired if they could buy a pair of these monitors because they felt they sounded quite good. At this time I met a couple of businessmen who were put in touch with me from one of my recording studio clients. This is how Acoustic Energy was born.The first product was the AE-1 which was basically the same as the nearfield studio monitor that I had built.



History of airpulse

Phil Jones went on to design and produce the titular Platinum Air Pulse 3.1 loudspeaker system in 1998 that challenged the minds and hearts of audiophiles worldwide for its innovative design methodology. A pair of which sold at a cool $275,000 and awarded Phil Jones the Golden Sound Award for best loudspeaker developed in a 100-year history of loudspeakers, from the Japan Audio Society.