Jim Thiel: A Coherent Source Page 9

Atkinson: The contrast is between the public perception of audio manufacturing, which is of large offshore companies producing commodities, and the reality, which is that America is a hotbed of relatively small, high-technology companies, like Thiel, making products with a huge amount of quality designed in. How does that perception get out to the wider America?

Thiel: That's a question I think no one has been able to answer, because our industries are not large enough to afford large advertising budgets. And also because the price ranges of the products are such that they are not really within the grasp of most people.

Gornik: Right. But we are more and more aware of the mass market because the mass market is becoming more interested in sound reproduction via new and different mediums. We're all going, "Gee, the world just seems to have gone to a new low level of mediocrity," but in fact I think that the opposite is true—that more people are getting into audio, and that a certain percentage of them will want to improve the quality once they've been exposed to it. I feel very optimistic. I think the opportunities are terrific for companies like ours.

Atkinson: Where is Thiel going to be in 10 years?

Thiel: I hope we will be continuing to advance the quality of music reproduction. I hope we will be producing speakers that sound so good that we will look back on the products that we're producing today and say, "Boy, that really doesn't sound very good." [laughs]

Atkinson: Will people still be listening to music in 10 years' time? Or will music just be a minor part of their integrated computer/web-crawler/HDTV/multimedia/home-entertainment experience?

Thiel: I believe they will. People have been listening to music for many thousands of years, and music is a very important part of a lot of people's lives—young people, old people. I certainly do believe that people will be listening to music in 10 years. And in 100 years. In 10,000 years!

Gornik: There is no way that music is going to go away. We currently live in a society where we are inundated with stimuli. We're like kids in a candy shop—we have to be aware of it, to own it, to interact with it, to have the latest and the greatest. This a very shallow and very broad kind of experience and does not address our humanity. And music clearly does. So once we tire of the current stimuli, I think that there will definitely be a renewed energy toward experiencing music because it addresses our spirits, it addresses our souls!