Heil Sound, a name that’s probably synonymous within the Amateur Radio community for its microphones and “boom set” microphone/headset combinations, is marking its 50th anniversary this year. Heil Sound came into being in 1966 as Ye Olde Music Shoppe — a music store in Marissa, Illinois, the home town of its founder Bob Heil, K9EID. The celebration — being called “50 Years of Maximum Rock ‘N Roll” — kicked off at the winter NAMM show. A commemorative series of interviews, packaged as podcasts, also debuted with the new year. The series highlights the history of Heil Sound.
Heil initially made a name for himself working with music performers to provide sound reinforcement for their live gigs, initially supplying full sound system packages for venues and festivals throughout the Midwest and later working with world-class acts, such as Humble Pie, The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Joe Walsh, WB6ACU. Heil said it was the Dead’s Jerry Garcia who suggested changing the name of his enterprise to Heil Sound. Among other innovations, Heil created the quadraphonic sound system for The Who’s “Quadrophenia” tour as well as the Heil Talk Box made famous by Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton.
By 1982 Heil Sound had curtailed the touring side of the business and began concentrating on developing products for the Amateur Radio market. He also launched a home theater division. Amateur Radio and professional audio came together in 2006, when Walsh suggested that Heil Sound develop microphones for concert use. Heil Sound designed and manufactured high-quality microphones and has gained a reputation among music performers for its professional microphone products, such as the PR30 and PR40.
Bob Heil and his wife and business partner Sarah — who is the president of Heil Sound — are frequent visitors at major Amateur Radio conventions and gatherings.