When touring, KISS use speakers from Toronto audio gurus Canadian Speaker Works Pro
When touring, KISS use speakers from Toronto audio gurus Canadian Speaker Works Pro

When Shane Shah was three, he blew up his first speaker. “My Dad taught me how to join two wires together so I wired up all the speakers in the house,” he says. “After they blew up I opened them up to try and fix them.”

Ever since, Shah, worked to hone his skills repairing and designing his own speakers. Now he runs Canadian Speaker Works Pro, a design and manufacturing studio in Toronto. His speakers are used by musicians as diverse as the Black-Eyed Peas, Shania Twain and KISS.

“Many of these artists will stipulate as part of their performance contracts that the stage be equipped with CSW speakers,” says Shah. In response, AV companies in the States are starting to use CSW speakers exclusively, to give them an edge over their competitors.

Usually, speaker manufacturers order pre-made components from all over the world and assemble them before they hit the market. Since Shah’s shop designs, manufacturers and assembles all their own components, the specifications are much tighter. “We’ve built the ideal box for speakers,” says Shah. “We go through a long testing process… to make sure the audio is the best it can be.”

And louder: “Our speakers are four times louder in the front than in the back.” Usually, he explains, speakers leak sound around them in a circle, making it difficult for musicians on stage to hear properly. “90% of the time, when you hear feedback at a concert it comes from the bass,” he says. “We direct the bass to the front of the speaker, which benefits the industry by reducing feedback.”

Now this industry innovation has been formally recognized in Canada. Shah was recently nominated for a 2011 Manning Innovation Award for “Canadian citizens who have demonstrated recent innovative talent in developing a successfully marketing a new concept.”

Named after the former Alberta Premier, the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation was created in 1980 by former CEO of Alberta Energy Company, David E. Mitchell.

Since its inception, the Foundation has sifted through over 2,500 nominees, and doled out $4 million in prizes to 216 winners, all in order encourage and recognize Canadian innovators like Shah.

Think you’ve got the next game-changing innovation? Nominations for the 2012 Manning Innovation Award are open until December 1, 2011 – click here for eligibility and judging criteria.

Joseph Wilson

Joseph was an education advisor at MaRS Discovery District. He writes on topics of science, culture and city issues for NOW Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Spacing and Yonge Street. He is the Executive Director of the Treehouse Group, dedicated to fostering innovation by hosting cross-disciplinary events. See more…