Bill Thomas at CES with the ground-breaking coaxial HF/MF unit designed by Jim Thiel (Photo: John Atkinson)
We reported last November that Thiel Audio Products, the Kentucky-based speaker manufacturer founded by Kathy Gornik and the late Jim Thiel, had been had been acquired by a private equity firm based in Nashville, TN, and that Gornik was no longer with the company. At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, held January 811 in Las Vegas, the Thiel display at the Sands Convention Center was packed. I met up with Thiel's new CEO, 55-year old Bill Thomas, and asked him what had led him and his two partners to acquire the company.
I am writing this copy on a venerable Radio Shack TRS-100 portable computer while flying via TWA from St. Louis to Albuquerque, the very fact of doing so having reminded me of what I wanted to write about in this month's column: hardware reliability. J. Gordon Holt touched on this subject in last June's "As We See It," but I felt it worth readdressing in light of recent events.
The affair started quietly enough, with the following exchange that appeared in Stereophile's January 2001 "Letters" section, following my decision to put the Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe high-end PC soundcard on the cover of our September 2000 issue:
Swedish manufacturer Sjofn was luring visitors into its room with an attractive woman drawing their attention to a poster on the wall outside the door announcing (the clue). Inside the room was a pair of unprepossessing stand-mounted speakers, driven by a Hegel amplifier via Supra cables. The two-way, ported Sjofn speakers ($999/pair) were taking full advantage of their boundary loading to produce a big sound.
For the seventh consecutive year, Stereophile has named a select few audio components the "Products of the Year." In doing so, we recognize those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period.
One of the themes of the 2005 CES, which we touched on in our first day's coverage, regarding Thiel's new version of its best-selling PowerPoint loudspeaker, is the increasing importance of the custom-install market to manufacturers best known for their two-channel products.
The 2006 edition of the Stereophile Buyer's Guide is out now. Listing the specifications of more than 5000 audio components within its 212 large-format pages, the Buyer's Guide is exclusively concerned with products for music reproduction, as opposed to the bangs, bonks, and battle noises typical of movie soundtracks.