Prelude: World War II, South Pacific Campaign, Marine Squadron VMF-212

Water buckled the fuselage of his F4F Wildcat, as Charles Quilter,

newly married Marine aviator, ditched his bullet-riddled aircraft in the

nearest lagoon. Although shocked by the rapidity of the inrushing

water, he remembered his training, grabbed the survival kit and managed

to deploy the life raft just as the plane's tail disappeared under the

waves. He paddled ashore, ever fearful of enemy outposts, and was

greeted by two French children, crying for fear he would be eaten by the

"big fish" (sharks) in the lagoon. After rejoining his unit he

participated in the epic air defense of Guadalcanal, eventually earning

the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In 1945, Charles J. Quilter would return from WW2 to a loving wife, a

growing family and a long and distinguished career culminating in an

appointment as the commanding general of the First Marine Aircraft Wing

in Vietnam. It is remarkable to consider how one near disaster in a

distant and forgotten land would ultimately change the history of

professional audio.

Early years

Patrick H. Quilter was born to Elizabeth and Charles Quilter in the

late '40s, the third of four boys. Every two years the family moved to a

new and exotic location, but two places in particular had a profound

impact on Pat. Living in Laguna Beach, California and Honolulu, Hawaii

connected with Pat in ways that none of the other homes had. Surrounded

by the lush green hills of the Manoa Valley, Pat began to discover the

music of Hawaii, which left an enduring impression on him. Although the

hipper kids were listening to the Beach Boys and Beatles, playing their

chiming guitars through now-classic amplifiers, few knew that the

earliest guitar amps were developed in the 1930s for Hawaiian steel

guitar players, so they could be heard in boisterous tropical night

clubs. Pat fell in love with the instrument and the sound.

In his high school physics class, Pat learned the fundamentals of

electronic components. As a physics nerd, it was expected that Pat would

proceed on to college and a major in science, but the lure of music and

audio began to take over his fevered mind. Poring over the pages of

hobby electronics magazines and primitive car-radio schematics, Pat

began the process of shaping a long-lasting career that would ultimately

change how we all experience audio. Pat took great pleasure in

re-tracing the steps of the pioneers of electronics from the early

1920s, teaching himself the basic principles by trial and error.

After a stint in Washington DC, General Quilter was stationed in

Southern California, this time as Commanding General of El Toro Marine

Corps Air Station, followed by a tour in Vietnam. The overseas

deployment meant that the family needed to resettle again in dear old

Laguna Beach. Pat attended classes at Long Beach State College and soon

began to feel like something of a California boy. His college career

gradually buckled under the distractions of learning hands-on

electronics, and when his younger brother Matt started a high school

rock band, the "Blown Mind", the challenge to combine musical

appreciation and technical skills proved irresistible.

Number OneIn 1967, of course, the cranked-up electric guitar erupted like a

volcano onto the musical scene, blasting away a mountain of traditional

respectability. Steeped in the music of the Yardbirds, Cream, and

Hendrix, a whole new realm of youthful high energy was emerging. The

Blown Mind's bass player complained that he couldn't afford a decent

name brand amp. After ascertaining how much he actually had to spend,

and mentally adding up the parts cost, Pat agreed to make him a suitably

powerful unit. After all, "How hard could it be?"

The first "Quilter Sound Thing" took shape over the summer of 1967 and

although everything needed to be done over twice, the end result, crude

as it was, managed to impress friends and even some experts. Even more

amazingly, it continued to function for many years, eventually returning

to Pat's hands as a trade-in for a newer model.

Quilter Sound Company

"Flushed with success", Pat embarked upon a journey to build bigger

and louder amps, using solid state technology which at the time was

clearly the wave of the future. On a shoestring budget, augmented by

funds from his mother and older brother Charlie, Quilter Sound Company

was born. Pat assembled a ragtag band of friends who shared a vision of

"serving show business" without having to get a real job.

Pat and his early partners, John and Barry Andrews, often found

themselves up against pretty big odds in the early '70s, given the

fierce competition in guitar amplifiers. Despite the impact of negative

cash flow, their eternal optimism and persistence kept them going, even

when "returning to square one" became heartbreakingly common. Then came

the ultimate blow. "I remember Barry calling me one morning and asking

if by any chance I had taken home all our inventory.", Pat recalls.

It turns out that thieves had cut a hole in the roof and cleaned out

their small warehouse, just after they had finished building a

respectable collection of all their best models. But these setbacks just

strengthened their resolve to "make it" and it never diverted them from

their values of hard work, honesty, and integrity. If there was one

thing they believed it was that "Nice guys finish first (eventually)."

QSC Audio Products

By the early seventies, it became obvious that business setbacks

precluded Quilter Sound Company from becoming a market leader in guitar

amps. Other, better-financed firms had gained the upper hand. Although

Pat had made significant progress in building high energy solid-state

amps with better reliability than still-popular tube amps, the guitar

amp scene was highly fractured and it was time to look for a steadier


Looking back on what they had learned, Pat and his partners identified

the power amp section as their most challenging accomplishment.

Knowledge from the "school of hard knocks" could serve as the foundation

for products focused to the pro-audio market. Quilter Sound Company was

re-born as QSC Audio Products and a small but reliable series of power

amps began to give QSC a solid reputation in pro-audio . An ever-growing

line of good, reliable, and reasonably priced power amps would remain a

mainstay of QSC's business for decades to come.

QSC HeadquartersAs QSC stretched out from the world's leading power amplifier company

to the world's leading pro audio systems company, Pat never lost his

love for music or those who make it. As the decades passed, Pat

developed, tested and shelved many prototype guitar amplifier designs,

each demonstrating small yet signification improvements over the last

one. Since these products fell outside QSC's main focus, the guitar amps

remained nothing more than a spare-time project.

As QSC continued its stellar rise to prominence in the world of pro

audio and continued to add more engineering talent in multiple

disciplines, Pat began to contemplate the possibility of retirement. But

if retirement means "doing what you enjoy", Pat could think of nothing

more enjoyable than finally solving the problem that got him started in

the audio business. Surprisingly, after all this time and despite many

alternative approaches and claims, no other researcher seemed to have

the combination of technical experience and musical appreciation that

would enable the development of a modern lightweight guitar amp that

"thinks it's a tube amp".

After decades of developing top-line QSC products, Pat had become a

world-class designer of compact, high power amplifiers. The final years

of Pat's QSC career saw his mastery of Class-D technology, the third

wave of power technology that would replace traditional solid state,

just as solid-state had replaced tube amps, except in the guitar field

where tube amps continued to be respected as having the best and most

natural tonal properties. Having built tube amps, Pat was well aware of

the properties that they brought to the game. As a veteran of analog

design, he could see what it would take to duplicate the behavior of

tubes, but using modern, high efficiency, lightweight technology to

design an amp that would serve the needs of musicians better than

anything else on the market.

Quilter Laboratories

Using some of the proceeds of a long and profitable career, Pat Quilter, with several partners and long-time friends, founded Quilter Laboratories at the stroke of midnight, January 1st, 2011. With all the supplier relationships and manufacturing expertise of QSC, this new company could be focused on research and development and not be burdened by managing a large corporate infrastructure. With these foundations, developing, manufacturing, marketing and selling great products should be well in hand. And in the true California tradition, the partners planned to have some fun along the way!