As a Thiel and ATC owner I too am ;hoping this doesn't happen at ATC. I do think that it has become clear that the people who bought Thiel were very inept. They didn't continue making real Thiel products and run the company similar to how Jim did. Nor did they transform it into something more mainstream that could compete by selling lifestyle products. Rather, they made some me too products that have no reason to exist. First they made the over-priced psb line designed by Mark Mason and then they made over-priced mini wireless speakers. What a bunch of dopes.
What do these executives think is going to happen? They're trying to make the exact same crap as Bose and Harman. They'd have to be able to compete on price but of course they won't be able to because they're much smaller operations. They need to have something that occupies a niche that the large companies can't or don't want. Is this not obvious?
I wish some of these smaller companies could merge and keep the ideas of the founders alive longer. Say Thiel sold everything relating to the Jim Thiel designs to Vandersteen or another smallish manufacturer so Vandersteen could build and sell real Thiels. Both companies have a significant following and different house sounds. I'd think they could be more complementary than direct competitors. I would think that modern manufacturing techniques could facilitate manufacturing a wider variety of products in smaller numbers.
I'm probably just dreaming. I do think ATC has a better chance of surviving the eventual retirement of Billy Woodman. They will have to adapt to the changing market but they have a more traditional engineering approach and sell to a more diverse market since they're so big in pro audio as well as domestic. I hope they can continue on. If they do end up selling I think it's unlikely they'll find investors as dim as the ones that bought Thiel.
Bill and Lew at CJ did it right. Sold the operation to Jeff Fischel who is w/the company for 30 years. Now plenty of new products are coming out consistent w/the CJ brand. On the Thiel article Dennis Crosson the Chief engineer at Thiel stated on his Facebook page that Thiel has ceased operation. The CEO has denied this. Wonder what is true.
Thiel traditionally shuts down for a few weeks this time of year so it's possible they are planning to open back up but it does seem that they let their chief engineer go. He was only with the company since 2014, though, so he's not really a Thiel guy.
The CEO is a joke. Judging by the facebook page she's trying to sell $700 mini speakers to trendy women. We all know how chicks love gadgets.
Well said jon_5912. This news seems to make my 1986 Thiel CS 2's more special. I would believe the chief engineer over the CEO. Closure headlines should not be far off.
The new Thiel management has made decisions I think are typical of the cold, unimaginative corporate guys I used to work for. They appear to know nothing about the concept, nature of a brand in history and going forward. Produce a speaker line that does not resemble the venerable products designed by Jim expecting the consumer to fall in line to buy because they bear the Thiel name.
Definitely a sad turn of events for one of the most highly regarded high-end audio companies to have come down the pike...
Unfortunately, the history of this industry shows time and time and time again such entities rise up through the force of character of visionaries like Jim Thiel, but their descent comes just as quickly and sharply once that person no longer steers the ship
sold Jims great works in the late 70’s and brother still has a pair of 02
when Jim passed the firm missed a key decision point on retention of KEY design first principles which set Thiel apart from the pack -mostly in alignment with Vandersteen and Dunlavy....and so now here we are left with one.....I can assure you that team Vandersteen includes family members steeped in those first principles and VERY aware of the continuing importance of them.
Jim Thiel was also only 61 when he died. He had most likely been sick for a few years. He probably thought he had 10-15 years left when he was diagnosed. Who knows what his plans were. It's one of those things that just sucks and there's not that much that can be said about it. The idiots that bought the company wrecked it immediately. At this point the best we can hope for is that it gets resurrected to some degree by someone who has some appreciation for what he accomplished.
I find this whole sorry affair so annoying and yet I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t entirely predictable.
The dilemma now is does one send off parts to be serviced at Kentucky never to see them again if the place suddenly shuts down?
I’ve watched their website and social networking with a growing sense of horror. Quite unbelievable how they’ve veered so far from what the Thiel name is all about. Bluetooth speakers for goodness sake...
They initially relaunched with a clearly overpriced and profoundly unoriginal speaker range that threw out every one of Jim’s design ideals. Total commercial suicide.
If if it weren’t for the fact that I’m passionate about helping to keep Jim’s legacy alive by maintaining my CS 3.5s, I’d actually say good riddance to this sad apology for an audio manufacturer.
I thought I’d seen every form of incompetence in over 30 years in commerce, but this woeful bunch are rewriting the rule book on stupidity in business.
We just have to hope they are bought out by someone who understands and will honor the legacy.
Despite all the marketing spin manufacturers claim, the 2 channel audio market hasn't been healthy for many years. It's like musical chairs in which a manufacturer gets left out each time the music stops. Thiel is the latest victim to not have a seat.
Brick & mortars audio shops are rare and likely only viable for store owners who own their store or have low rent or have already shifted to providing custom audio/video/home automation services.
Very little new blood in the hobby. Millennials have no interest or patience for it. They'd rather multitask using Beats headphones while using social media phone apps. Just ask yourself what was the average age of people at a recent 2-channel audio event you attended.
The brand "Thiel" grew in prominence due to a specific, and generally rare, approach to loudspeaker design. The whole cache of that name was from the fans who appreciated that particular design. The idea of taking over the Thiel name to abandon the design and produce just another "me-too" speaker, expecting to benefit from the Thiel name is sheer insanity. (Actually, the word for this case is "ignorance" as anyone could see from who bought the company and interviews with those folk).
It’s like buying MBL and abandoning the Omani-directional technology to produce cookie-cutter life-style box speakers.
I had great respect for Jim and his speakers, and I got to speak with him at length years ago and he was a true gentleman. I just can't understand why he didn't groom someone else to take over to grow his legacy into the future and avoid this exact situation from occurring. Unless maybe the business was suffering and no one was interested? Sad all around.
Jim's wife Kathy Gornick handled the business end from the very beginning, and did so rather well! Jim's brother Tom was an instrument builder was involved early on in the cabinetry, but left some time ago. Jim and Kathy' s daughter Dawn was involved in the business end as well. The economy and market conditions (Jim died in 2009) were getting more challenging just as Jim's health began deteriorating. Jim was a uniquely talented man, and as time has proven not easily replaced.
Does anyone know who is running the show? I'm really curious. Is it all just The Thomas Group LLC? Is this one idiot the whole story? It's hard to believe it's just this one cretin who bought the company a few years ago and is the one behind this entire string of decisions. I'd have thought this much stupid would require a bunch of consultants.
They made the decision a few years ago that lifestyle speakers were the future. That is consistent w/the current CEO in charge. They are in a show this weekend in Nashville. Thiel is the only electronics rep. Other vendors include upscale foot ware, custom hats, trendy Jewlery and a business called Otis James they're known for making custom tweed bow ties. The one positive was whiskey tasting will also be there. So if your in the area get a Thiel Aurora Home for the reduced price of $675 a tweed bow tie to wear and a bottle of premium whiskey while listening to some tunes.
So I went to their website for the first time ever - having only a passing experience with Thiel. What struck me most was its sparseness and lack of any depth. Huge emphasis on the small bluetooth monitors; large emphasis on merchandise and swag; not a lot of anything on the speakers I knew. I'm not sure if they're just assuming this is where audio is heading - bluetooth monitors designed to look like anonymous household items marketed to well-off suburban women - but there's nothing on that site that would make me want to buy its products any more than any other audio website. And I'm not sure if their "lifestyle" products are marketed enough to differentiate from the Bose saturation.
It’s not only that they are not selling anything like the actual Thiel speakers: what they even are selling just leaves you scratching your head. Like "who needs yet another bland me-too wireless speaker?"
There’s just nothing compelling about the site or brand on any level at this point, even to differentiate it from competitors selling the same products. I get a palpable sense of folks who are confused about what to do with the brand. Can’t see it lasting much longer.
Take a look at their "3rd Avenue Collection" in the Shop section of the web site. These are the speakers that were developed post-acquisition, prior to their recent pivot into life-style and blue-tooth. They are already referring to the 3rd Avenue Collection as "legacy" models. What's left of audiophile in the company smells like burned toast.
And they don't even sell what might have been their best "new" product, the last version of the Thiel Smartsub:
It got an excellent review and I have to admit it's about the only good-looking sub I've ever seen (I generally don't like the looks of subwoofers).
That is quite a review. They're banking on females to buy it because the ceo is a female and apparently the mechanical engineer who designs the products is too.
I love this quote. How many women are there who want to spend an extra $500 over the price of Bose so they can get a little less bass? I'm guessing 3.
"I've had many speakers in the past, from Bose to B&O, and can confidently say the Aurora competes with the best of them. I used to love Bose back in college given its signature robust bassy sound. In comparison, the Aurora isnâ€™t quite as bass filled, which is awesome, as I feel the sound is much more authentic as a result."
The moment they released the 3rd Avenue series as a replacement for all prior lines, it was over and done with. Jim Thiel speakers were special and it revolved around the principles that was engineered into each product.
Coincident drivers, time and phase alignment, first order crossovers, low distortion drivers that displayed high bandwidth capability and powerful under hung motors. There was passion evident in these designs and its genuine disappointment to see his company and brand brought down like this. Even if they decided to chase the lifestyle market, they shouldn't have stopped design speakers that made a Thiel speaker all it was known for. But I fear its much too late at this point to bring it back from the brink.
Al Griffen of Soundstagenetwork.com had a review of the Thiel $899 Aurora Home Wireless speaker. Okay at normal levels but the top end tended to be harsh. He compared the Thiel w/the Naim Mu-so Qb and the $499 Riva Audio Festival both of which gave a wider presentation w/better more defined base. His final conclusion was the Thiel was overpriced for what it delivered. However he did like the looks.
The new floors standers and the monitor are pretty much gone. They are made to order. Looks like there are no takers. Thiel Facebook and twitter have been very quiet since mid December. They were betting on the wireless speakers and it seems that they lost. Not a lot of current and former Thiel owners flocking toward the new products.
I wish someone would/could pick up where Jim Thiel left off. They don't need to come out with new stuff every couple of years like other brands but when a real upgrade is possible I wish it could be brought to market. I'm thinking the only way is if the company gets bought by another speaker manufacturer and a few Thiel philosophy speakers are sold for people who are fans of Jim's designs.
It does seem like the wireless speakers they were trying to sell are about done. The website has the $900 Home listed at $675 and the top says 40% off your order so it looks like they're blowing these turds out at less than half price. A sure sign that there's no demand. What a bunch of dopes.