Where Are They Now?

Written by Bill Leebens

For anyone who has been around audio for any length of time, the parallels to spectator sports are obvious. As with sports, conversations about the biz often revolve around the moves of significant players (“Who’re they with now? Really? What happened to —-?”). The movements of superstar designers or creation of new start-ups by industry vets often put companies on the audiophiles’ radar.

For example, few designers can match Richard Vandersteen’s four decades of designing speakers for his own company;  most careers resemble that of Andrew Jones (except for the level of talent), moving from KEF to Infinity to Pioneer/TAD to ELAC. Andrew seems to like acronyms…. 

Having now written about  the career paths of a number of talented and versatile designers after their demise, working from second- and third-hand sources, I’ve decided to interview designers who had significant influence on audio, back in the day and continuing to this day , and hear their stories firsthand.

I’m not abandoning audio history: on the contrary, I’m trying to approach it with more insight and accuracy than before, simply by going directly to those who lived it and shaped the industry. To be brutally frank, I’m no longer young, and there are a lot of important figures in audio who have a quarter-century on me. What happens to their stories when they—inevitably—pass on?

Having struggled to find something—anything!—on a number of important figures in audio, the prospect of more blank spaces in the big picture doesn’t  thrill me. At all.

I’m not abandoning the company history format; I just hope to flesh out some of the histories with more insider info. Some pieces will be interviews, others our standard form. Some subjects will be company founders; others, utility infielders (if you will) who played on a variety of teams. Some will likely be hard to find, but some info is better than no info.

Here are some of the folks I’m thinking of, in no particular order:

  • Dick Sequerra (Marantz, Sequerra)
  • Mitchell Cotter (AR, Marantz, Verion/Cotter)
  • John Bicht (Mission, Versa Dynamics)
  • Sao Win (Win Labs)
  • Nelson Pass (Threshold, Pass Labs, First Watt)
  • Harry Weisfeld (VPI)
  • John Grado (Grado Labs)
  • Peter Ledermann (RAM, Bozak, Soundsmith)
  • Mike Moffat (Theta, Schiit)
  • Bob Carver (Phase Linear, Carver, Sunfire)
  • John Curl (the Dead, Mark Levinson, Vendetta, Parasound….)
  • Richard Schram (Pacific Stereo, Parasound)
  • Sandy Gross (Polk, Definitive Technology, GoldenEar)
  • Richard Vandersteen (Vandersteen)
  • Lew Conrad and Bill Johnson (conrad-johnson)

I normally try to avoid anything resembling bias, and I work with the next three…

but all three have been significant figures in American audio for nearly 50 years:

  • Paul McGowan (PS Audio, Genesis)
  • Arnie Nudell (Infinity Systems, Genesis)
  • Bascom King (Infinity, Marantz, Constellation, PS Audio….)

So: who would you be interested in hearing from, and reading about? Let us know!

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