The Omega Man's practical fantasy
Now, it turns out that Louis not only knows how to build speakers that make music, he is a practical kind of guy, too. So much so that while his dream car is the 50s Porsche 550 Spyder -- and he says can't afford a real one -- he's found a way to get pretty damn close. He's saving pennies for a kit that he thinks would be really fun to build - and drive. "The great thing is", he says, "for less than a Harley I can get this car. I drove the kit and it was incredible. At the time, I had a 1973 Porsche 911S and it was no comparison. The 550 weighs in at 1300 pounds and with 150hp, it was amazingly fast and agile. It's a high-efficiency car because of its light weight and fantastic chassis. It makes the most use of its available power."

The Beck Spyder not only looks like a great ride, it is. And more importantly with respect to where this review is headed, it's compa-ratively affordable, fun and efficient. Yes, say it with me: It's a bargain. Louis elaborates, "I found out about them some time ago and the kits are pretty inexpensive. A good quality kit from Beck goes for about 14K, and all you need to do is install the mechanicals. A type 1 VW motor and tranny isn't too expensive unless you go crazy with mods. A 150hp engine is pretty easy to do and the car would do 0 to 60 in about 5.3 seconds." (He also thinks it would be more fun to drive than the Porsche Boxster.)
<< 2002 Beck Spyder: According to, it's a "retro roadster for the James Dean in all of us."

The Omega Story
Speaking of fun, let's get back to the music.
I was now curious to learn about the ever-practical Mr. Chochos' musical background. When he told me that he started building speakers when he was around 13 years old, I flashed back to my interview with Terry Cain who said it all started for him when he was 12: "I was listening to a Lafayette 4-inch speaker. I couldn't afford woofers and tweeters on a paper route, so I bought a 4-inch driver and ran my Fisher tubes through it." End of flashback. Sorry, dude.

Louis continued: "My parents had an old console from the 60's and that was the first to get torn apart. It was a tubed unit that had 3-way speakers and that pretty much got me started. From there, I tinkered with speakers in relatives' homes and moved on to reading as much as possible and building my own using drivers from Radio Shack. The first ones were all built without power tools and looking back, I wish I still had them.

By the age of 16, I was building speakers for cars. At the time, the Kicker boxes were pretty popular and I started doing them for a lot of my friends. Through trial and error and hand calculations from TS parameters, I learned a lot. In the woodworking arena, I graduated to power tools with my first radial arm saw and was still building home speakers, basically 2 ways with 8" mid-bass and dome tweeters. Some of these had unusual cabinets such as triangles, pyramids and hexagons, like one of the later Dunlavys; that one had a down-firing bass driver and a separate 2-way on the front side, sort of like a passive sub-sat system in a single enclosure. By this time, I was thinking "Why not visit some of the manufacturers in the area and try to get them made?" Not realizing they would be more interested in building their own designs, I struck out repeatedly 'til I lucked out with Ohm in Brooklyn and Becker in upstate New York. This gave me the opportunity to learn a great deal more about speaker design. They pointed me in the right direction by teaching me about measurements and testing, driver integration and production. They also gave me drivers to tinker with and sources for better parts. I can't thank them enough for all the help they gave at the time.

So at 20, I got very serious about putting together a model and selling it to dealers. The speaker was the first Marathon speaker. It was a floorstander with a Seas P21 Re and a Focal T90K in a sealed box, .707 Q, with a second-order crossover at 2K. All the crossover parts were Solen and wired point to point. The cabinets were MDF with walnut veneer and had the old Mod Squad Tip Toes on the bottom as well as a termination which everyone hated. Hard to connect the cabling, but it looked very clean. I made 25 pairs, a bit prematurely, as this is also about the time that I figured out that the speaker industry was extremely crowded and competitive. I went to all the local dealers and pretty much heard the same thing over and over, "Great sounding speaker but no name brand". I did wind up selling a number of them, but then backed off and pretty much started to concentrate more on woodworking and school.

I learned woodworking on my own and started to build small pieces of furniture and jewelry boxes. I always loved working in wood and thus got involved with craft shows and sold some pieces. I then got involved with a catalogue company to sell a particular jewelry box. That went well, but about 5 or 6 years ago, the itch to have more fun and get back into speakers returned and the Marathon name was revived. This time, I found a company who was selling music and home theater gear through a group of stores. I built only 2-ways stand mounts and they did pretty well [above].

I had my own shop and was doing well with the 2-ways but had a desire to get into low-powered SET amps and wound up buying a 2A3 amp. I'll never forget an article I read then about a Jensen engineer describing a 6x9 full-range car speaker and how great it would sound with SETs. So I got a pair of 6" round Jensen full-range drivers and tinkered with them. I learned a lot about them and cabinet construction for these drivers: how different MDFs sound; the different types and combinations of damping; how decoupled baffles and backs and different glues can effect the sound - in short, many of the mechanical means of tailoring the sound of the speaker. I did this all by trial, error and listening.

Then I found Fostex. At the time, they were selling drivers out of their HQ in California. I picked up a pair of FE207s and the first Omega speaker was born, the TS1. After seven different cabinets, I went into full production with single-driver designs and never made another traditional multi-way speaker again."