Sisters in Sound

We all know that women generally have better hearing than men and enjoy music at least as much as men do, but women are conspicuously absent from every segment of the high-end audio scene. The vast majority of high-end companies are owned by men, and any head count of female designers, retailers, reviewers, or consumers will yield a pitifully small number. High-end audio is a man's, man's, man's world.

Yet, among manufacturers, there are notable exceptions to this all-boys club, and I thought I might learn a thing or two if I spent some time chatting with some of the more prominent female veterans. John Atkinson and I agreed on a short list of interview candidates in less than a minute—we had to include Rondi D'Agostino of Krell Industries, Thiel Audio Products' Kathy Gornik, and Transparent Audio's head honcho, Karen Sumner, all of whom have played a major role in the growth of high-end audio in the past 20 years.

My interview topics ran the gamut—everything from multichannel audio to the difficulties associated with starting and running a business. I focused a large chunk of the discussions on how to expand the High End beyond a male-dominated audience. I also noted a spontaneous consensus that our industry, to its detriment, devotes too much energy chasing technology enthusiasts rather than lovers of music. The increasing sway of the home-theater market over the most steadfast audiophile manufacturers was brought up again and again.

Finally, I hope that you guys, the overwhelmingly male readership of Stereophile, will share these views with your wives, girlfriends, moms, sisters, and female friends. Maybe they'll then feel it's okay to join us in the pursuit of what could be a mutual passion.