Dean Roumanis

Dean Roumanis, chief operating officer and part owner of Krell Industries, died Sunday, July 30, of a heart attack, one day after being taken to the hospital following chest pains he experienced after a long bicycle ride. He was 52.

Roumanis, an avid cyclist, had taken up long-distance biking in recent years to stay healthy. He rode "centuries," day rides of 100 miles, with Team in Training, an organization that rides to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. His teammates have established a memorial page, including many photos of Roumanis engaged in his favorite activities: playing music, riding bikes, and enjoying the company of his family and friends.

I first became aware of Dean Roumanis in the early 1980s, when I was working at an audiophile record press. Checking the production line one day, I noticed we were pressing a jazz LP by Richie Bierach and George Mraz called Rendezvous. Intrigued by a duets album featuring a bass player and pianist, I grabbed a copy and headed into one of the QC booths. I was stunned at how lifelike and dynamic it sounded—it very well may have been the first time I suspected a recording could re-create the experience of two musicians in a room. Dean Roumanis was the recording engineer who made Rendezvous.

Many of his recordings remain audiophile classics: Dr. John's Brightest Smile In Town and Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack; Jane Ira Bloom's We Are; and Legend by the Andy Laverne Piano Trio with Joe LaBarbera. Other than the recordings, the other significant product of Roumanis Recording was an audio component: world-class line-level switchboxes.

It may be difficult for audiophiles in 2006 to fathom, but in the early 1980s, few high-end preamplifiers offered sufficient line-level inputs for real-world systems. Many had but a single AUX input and, possibly, a single tape loop. Audiophiles with multiple line-level sources learned to position their preamps where they could plug and unplug interconnects easily. Roumanis Recordings manufactured what may have been the only "serious" source switcher on the market. Housed in a beautifully annodized aluminum chassis, the RR boxes contained the best available rotary switches and RCA inputs—and pretty much nothing else.

The Roumanis Recording boxes weren't cheap, but they were beautifully made and artfully finished. Audiophiles didn't have a word for that kind of construction in the early '80s, but the RR components were built to a standard we now call "Krell-like." Given that philosophical common ground, therefore, it wasn't a stretch for Dean Roumanis to join Krell in 1986.

Krell's founder and CEO Dan D'Agostino and president Rondi D'Agostino both credit Roumanis with helping Krell grow and thrive over the last 20 years. Many industry insiders concur; in an industry filled with "colorful" mavericks, Dean Roumanis was universally liked and respected.

Dean remained an active musician, playing acoustic bass in the jazz band Acoustic Suburbanites, which also featured guitarist Paul Neri. He also played piano and drums.

As serious as Dean Roumanis was about business and audio, I don't think I ever had a conversation with him that didn't drift toward music and fun. When Krell debuted the Evolution series of components at an event for the audio press, Dean noticed my Pearl Izumi jacket and we talked about bicycling to the exclusion of audio. Realizing that we had run out of time, Dean said, "I'll email you my notes about the gear tomorrow, but I really want to tell you more about my last ride."

I spoke to Dean a few days before his death. He'd called to follow up on the delivery of several Krell Evolution components for review in Stereophile. We touched on a few aspects of the components' technology and got sidetracked by the topic of the heatwave then assaulting the East Coast. I mentioned that the Evo 600 monoblocks threw off a lot of heat and that I might have to make a choice between running my air conditioner and his company's flagship components. Without a pause, he said, "My gosh, I hope you aren't so foolish as to choose hi-fi."

That was Dean, He was a man who definitely had his priorities straight.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.