Siegfried Linkwitz RIP

We have received the sad news that loudspeaker maven Siegfried Linkwitz, co-inventor of the innovative Linkwitz-Riley crossover network, has died. He had been suffering from prostate cancer for some years and had been receiving hospice care at his home.

Michael Fremer visited Siegfried last June and wrote about the visit in the September issue of Stereophile: "Linkwitz had a 'straight job' outside of audio, working for Hewlett-Packard. Audio was his passion. He made many significant innovations in addition to the Linkwitz-Riley crossover, including complete designs for the innovative open-baffle magicLX521 and other speaker models—which I got to hear in his living room. While for one reason or another Linkwitz never managed to build a successful speaker business, as we talked I got the impression that he'd tried. (He never clearly stated or affirmed it.) He wasn't bitter. He laughed about it.

"Today Linkwitz's designs, including the magicLX521, are offered as DIY projects through Linkwitz Lab. Though he remains protective of his designs, Linkwitz is more an idealist inventor than a businessman. All of his designs and materials are copyright-protected for the personal noncommercial use of the buyer.

"One thing Linkwitz said stuck with me. I'd asked him about measurements, and the often considerable difference between what's seen in measurements and what's actually heard in listening. 'What is important to the eye is not necessarily important to the ear,' he said. 'Why should it be? Nature makes sure each does its job and does its job perfectly. You get cues from the eye, but some things that look gross in the frequency response, the ear says, "I don't care".'

"That from a guy who's more a scientist than an artist. Never forget those words when you look at measurements, in Stereophile or elsewhere. Measurements are useful tools, but don't let them hold you hostage."

Michael also discussed his visit with Siegfried on our AnalogPlanet site, including a video, and you can find more about Siegfried here.

COMMENTS
eriks's picture

In addition to speakers and kits on his site, Mr. Linkwitz innovations were also heavily used in THX professional products as well as in home speaker specifications. The Linkwitz-Riley crossover was foundational to the THX professional gear, and the electro-acoustic LR4 crossover is the fundamental specification for THX satellite speakers.

It is not unfair to say this man deserves an Academy Award in innovation and technology as his work was used to help rebuild the motion picture industry and create the entire home theater industry.

Godspeed Sir, I'm sad we never met.

SpeakerScott's picture

Editors: You need to correct the spelling of Linkwitz's co-inventor on their ground breaking crossover design.

Russ *Riley*

Scott

John Atkinson's picture
SpeakerScott wrote:
Editors: You need to correct the spelling of Linkwitz's co-inventor on their ground breaking crossover design.

Fixed, thank you - post in haste, regret at leisure. :-(

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

jeffbook's picture

I would differ from your observation that Mr. Linkwitz did not build a successful business. It depends on what you consider a successful business. He chose to cater to the DIY builder. He also realized that his use of active crossovers and EQ necessary for dipole speaker systems required multiple channels of amplification of typically lower output capacity. This was a totally different paradigm compared to the standard use of one massive 2 channel amplifier driving a multi-way speaker.

His offering of the Phoenix, Orion, Pluto, Thor subwoofer, LX521 and LXmini systems sold hundreds of sets of plans to those who studied his website, heard his speakers at RMAF or Burning Amp, and to those who auditioned completed systems from DIY builders or at his home in Marin County, California. This allowed him to continue his research on the basic fundamentals of 2 channel music reproduction in small rooms (i.e., the home) and to develop new designs free of established market constraints.

The knowledge gained from this research and his willingness to share this knowledge and to educate others make up a great part of his legacy to the world of audio reproduction.

JRT's picture

In response to what jeffbook wrote here, "I would differ from your observation that Mr. Linkwitz did not build a successful business. It depends on what you consider a successful business. He chose to cater to the DIY builder."

I would point out that Mr. Linkwitz was also involved with Audio Artistry for several years in the mid/late 90s. The gradient/dipole designs were good designs, and were well received by reviewers, but were not wildly successful in the marketplace. And my point in mentioning this is that I suspect that if Audio Artistry had been more successful in selling Mr. Linkwitz's commercial designs, perhaps that might have occupied more of Mr. Linkwitz time and effort, perhaps resulting in less content on his excellent Linkwitz Lab website, and I think that would have been a much greater loss.

http://www.audioartistry.com/aboutus.htm

http://www.linkwitzlab.com/B-Elite.htm

https://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/328/index.html

The build-it-yourself Linkwitz Lab Phoenix design came after Linkwitz's Audio Artistry design efforts. The early version of the Phoenix dipole woofer borrowed much from the dipole woofer bins used in Linkwitz's Audio Artistry designs, including using the same 12 inch woofer (Madisound 1252DVC or Gefco X6100). Those woofers became unavailable from Madisound by 2002, and Linkwitz redesigned the Phoenix dipole woofers to utilize the then-new Peerless 830500 12 inch XLS woofers which not only offered much more excursion, but were also much better behaved at high excursion, operating with lower nonlinear distortion.

http://www.linkwitzlab.com/woofer.htm
http://www.linkwitzlab.com/woofer2.htm
http://www.linkwitzlab.com/woofer3.htm

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Mr. Linkwitz, will be missed. I was deeply saddened by news of his death, and would like to extend my sincerest condolences to his family and to his many friends.

Dcbingaman's picture

God Bless and Godspeed, sir. You were an innovator, a terrific engineer and a friend to all of us DIY audiophiles who want to understand why as well as what. For those who have not visited the Linkwitz Labs website, you are missing something special. Linkwitz came at the problem of audio reproduction in the home from his own vector. His thinking and his loudspeaker designs are simply brilliant. His genius and wonderful spirit will be missed.

Russell Dawkins's picture

From all appearances Siegfried was a gentleman, too, and that's worth a lot.
At one stage, about 10 years ago, he also rented a couple of beachside cottages equipped with stereo systems employing his speakers, so you could audition them at your leisure while enjoying a little get away at the same time.
A life well lived, I think.

labjr's picture

Was an amazing person. His contributions to audio were enormous.

Regretfully, I always thought I would meet him, but never took the opportunity to go to one of his auditions in his home or Burning Amp festival. Though I joined his forum a few years back.

Peace.

Douglas_Harrison's picture

One of the seminal Fathers of Sound.
The dearth of posts is an indication of how unheralded & unselfish this man was but is no indication of how respected he was by his true peers.

Fokus's picture

One of the few truely Great Audio Minds.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I had multiple sweet interactions with Siegfried and his lovely wife at Burning Amp and also at their home. Regardless of the quality of sound on any occasion, being with them left a warm feeling in my heart. They were generous, on so many levels.

Godspeed to you, dear man.

jason

alparls's picture

I unfortunately never had the chance to meet Siegfried Linkwitz in person, but I have spent countless hours reading through his freely available research online. From what I can gather from his writings and website, he was a kind person who had a lifelong passion for high quality music reproduction and was generous enough to share his invaluable research with everyone.

I have been a subscriber and reader of Stereophile for many, many years. I attend the shows (Munich every year) and I thoroughly enjoy reading about and experiencing this "spectacle" that we all call the high end world. But the unfortunate reality is I just simply cannot afford to purchase many of the products featured in this magazine or at the shows.

About 6 months ago I took the plunge and built Linkwitz's cheapest loudspeaker - the Lxmini. In total is spent just under $2000 for everything - the license plans, materials, dsp and amplification. I couldn't be happier with the sound.

My intent is not to bash the high-end world. There are many talented companies and designers out there producing high quality and innovative products. And we must remember that many of these companies are boutique operations with high overhead expenses and salaries to pay.

My only point is that without the passion and generosity of someone like Mr. Linkwitz I wouldn't have had the opportunity, in my own home, to experience the high quality sound reproduction I am now so thoroughly enjoying.

For this alone I am very grateful to Mr. Linkwitz.

May he rest in peace!

Wavelength's picture

When I was in College at Ohio Northern we had a number of Bell Labs professors who encouraged building and design of various projects. We had labs we could work on any day or night with test equipment and so forth.

I think it was my Junior year so 1980 spring quarter I did my first paper on the Linkwitz-Riley xover and built the following 3 way speaker system:

I modified a Dynaco SCA-35 to have a line output and I inserted the Linkwitz-Riley xover and feed back the high pass to the SCA-35 output and drove a pair of micro monitors I built based on Audax drivers. I sent the low pass to a single Dynaco Mark III amp and a 12" subwoofer in a rather smallish cabinet.

I used the DEC11/780 to test the system and modified the xover to bump the bass response so it was even to 20Hz.

Funny story that I told Siegfried years later was that to do the simulation code I had to write a little bit of assembler in the 11/780. Well I didn't really understand that much about the stack and forgot to pop off the correct number of variables and it caused the system to crash. Well the whole university was on that one system and I got in a bit of trouble and was banned from that system.

Good news was I already had a Z80 system running and was working on my next audio creation.

Siegfried thanks for all your technical papers, you will be missed.

Gordon

riverdinaudio's picture

You owe it to the man to find someplace you can hear the LX521 speaker system. Hold dear the joy he freely gave to so many thru his publications and detailed DIY projects. A life very well lived!

zwizardofoz's picture

I have built the Pluto, Lxmini and LX521 and own a preloved pair of Wood Artistry built Orions. None of them will be sold but all are working and give so much listening pleasure. They sound amazing!

Several times I had tried to visit SL but timings or travels just didn't work out. But in many personal emails we exchanged, he was one of the most giving people in the audio industry I ever had the opportunity to to meet - I just wish I had made that happen in person.

Goodbye Siegfried

Gayle's picture

Siegfried was one of those few great engineers that really understood the science and the intuitive listening process.....I enjoyed reading from his web site and came away learning something new or finding affirmation of the real fundamentals every time..

You are deeply missed.

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