Tom Colangelo: 1949–2007

Thomas P. Colangelo, designer of some of the best regarded solid-state components of the last three decades, died in a single-car collision on September 5.

Colangelo started his career in audio designing circuitry for Rudy Bozak. He joined Mark Levinson Audio Systems in 1976, becoming MLAS's chief design engineer and designing many components that are credited as significant in re-establishing American hi-fi's world stature. Among them were the pivotal Levinson models ML-1 through ML-12—many of them co-designed with Paul Jayson.

When Mark Levinson left MLAS and founded Cello, Colangelo and Jayson joined him, continuing their string of acclaimed audio products, including the Audio Suite preamplifier, Performance and Encore 150 amplifiers, the Stradivarius loudspeakers, and the legendary Audio Palette.

The Palette, which was based upon an engineering concept of Dick Burwen's, was emblematic of Colangelo's approach, Mark Levinson noted. The Palette consisted of more than 6000 parts, with nine 59-position hand-built attenuators. In addition, it boasted Swiss made Fischer connectors; hand-machined, hand-engraved knobs and panels; all discrete class-A circuitry; and Teflon-jacketed wiring throughout, adding up to a component with channel tracking within 0.1dB and a dynamic range of over 110dB. The Palette cost $7500 upon its introduction in 1984, which increased to $25,000 by the end of its 25-year production. It remains in use in many homes, at recording labels, and by audio manufacturers as a reference component.

Jayson and Colengelo continued their 27-year collaboration at Viola Laboratories, designing, among other components, the Symphony power amplifier and Cadenza preamplifier.

"There will never be another Tom Colangelo," said Mark Levinson. "He was a truly unique and inspired individual with talents, perceptions, and gifts that cannot be replaced. Tom was a combination of so many things—down-to-earth, humble, practical, loyal, full of vitality and brilliance, with many struggles and pain, and always striving to do his best for his loved ones and his work."

A service of remembrance was held Saturday, September 15. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to