The 3 best of the best Audio (HiFi) Designers ?

Hi All,

I hope the title is self explanatory,

In no particular order my shout goes out to:
Max Townshend (Townshend Audio)
DR Roger West (Sound Labs)
Ralph Karsten ( Atma-Sphere Music Systems, Inc )

Whats your suggestions please ?

Please join in there are some real greats out there we should all thank for there genius designs bringing music closer to our emotions/hearts.

Thanks all, please take care!

Ecdf2a68 3c9f 49ae 8ca9 b1ee522036c7Ag insider logo xs@2xtownshend-audio
John, are you speaking only of living designers? If so, I'd have to leave out many of my all-time faves. Your three choices are definitely Top 10 contenders, as are Nelson Pass, Roger Sanders, Bruce Thigpen (Eminent Technology), Brian Ding (Rythmik), and Danny Richie (GR Research).
Nelson Pass, Tim de Paravicini, Andrew Jones.
Sorry i should of been clearer, living or passed over.
Some of my favorites are already listed! A few others:

Bill Dudleston (Legacy Audio)
Dan Wright (Modwright)
Paul McGowan (PS Audio)
If your favorites are already listed please list them again, let's all let the geniuses know their hard work is very much appreciated.
Post removed 
Peter Walker (Quad), David Hafler (Dynaco and Hafler) and Bob Carver (Phase Linear, Sunfire and Carver)
Peter Walker (of course!), Robert Fulton (loudspeaker design and recording engineering), D.T.N. Williamson, Julius Futterman, Roger Modjeski, Tim de Paravicini (neglected him above), Doug Sax, Kav Alexander (Water Lily). 
I agree with the previous mentions:
  • Peter Walker - Quad
  • Nelson Pass - Pass Labs / First Watt
  • Paul McGowen - PS Audio
  • Bob Carver - Carver / Sunfire
  • Andrew Jones - KEF / ELAC

i would like to add:
  • Paul Klipsch & Gary Gillum - Klipsch
  • Ivor Tiefenbrun & Julian Vereker - Linn / Naim
  • Artie Nudel - Infinity / PS Audio
  • Junji Kimura - 47 Laboratory
  • Jorma Salmi - Gradient

Honorable Mentions:
  • Vinnie Rossi - Vinnie Rossi / Red Wine
  • Alan Shaw - Harbeth
  • Franco Serblin - Sonus Faber / Franco Serblin
  • John Curl - Mark Levinson / Parasound
  • Robert Koch - Robert Koda

There’s so many who have established and inspired new innovations and techniques, I couldn’t list just three.
Interesting. No young/alive guys?
One of the younger designers that I’ve been paying attention to is Michal Jurewicz at Mytek. I’m not sure his age, so I could be misled in thinking he is younger.

I would love to know more about younger designers. The issue that I’ve noticed is most of the new people in the industry are chasing the “high end” expensive/stylized market, and I feel uncomfortable calling some of these new people/companies “high fidelity”.
Danny Richie and Brian Ding are relatively young.
Advances in audio recording and playback have been a collective effort right from the days of Edison and before.

So many unsung heroes and pioneers it’s almost unfair to name but three.

Edgar Villchur - who possibly did more for turntables and loudspeakers than anyone else before or since.

Gilbert Briggs - a huge influence in promoting loudspeakers through his company Wharfedale and the numerous lucid books he wrote.

Alan Shaw - a designer himself who has done stirling work in promoting and elucidating upon the great work done by his great BBC pioneers such as DEL Shorter, Spencer Hughes and Dudley Hardwood among others.

HI All,
Great point regarding 3 is such a hard choice from many Geniuses out there,

Great point not many young geniuses mentioned,

Maybe we could state in which area or areas we respect our Geniuses work and efforts. YMMV

1) Max Townshend: Seismic Isolation, Rock 7 TT, Passive Pre Amps, Supertweeters, Cryogenic treatment applied to Copper (DCT Fractal) Loudspeakers.

2) DR Roger West: Electrostatic Loudspeakers,

3) Ralph Karsten: Amplification.

James Bongiorno, Jack Elliano, Eddie Vaughn.
Julius Futterman. Harvey Rosenberg.
Kevin Hayes - VAC
Charles Hansen - Ayer
David Hafler - Dynaco, Hafler
Peter Walker
Ralph Karsten
The ZYX cartridge guy? Should have looked it up before replying. Papa San ????
 Jim Fosgste - Dynaco has to be considered,the land mark        best selling vacuum tube  integrated of all time over 300k sold
Nelson Pass , John Curl , that is just in the U.S ,Japan has their great designers,as well as in Europe .
1) Bill S. Preston Esq. (Circle Kay Designs) 
2) Roger Podacter (Ace Audio) 
3) William Frawley (ViVance Technologies) 

Rich Modafferi-  engineer on the MR77 and MR78 tuners. Also- inventor and patent holder of the infinite slope crossover. Nice guy too

 Nelson Pass and Wayne Colburn of Pass Labs

Rich Sequerra

Brian Zolner

John Curl

Sid Smith

Sid Cordesman

edgar vilchur

henry kloss

Peter Walker

Roy Gandy

Edgar Villchur   in the beginning
Bob Carver   
Tommy O'Brien   digital

Wow. Not one mention of dan d’agostino? I’m shocked. He’s top 5. 
Dan D'Agostino
John Curl
Nelson Pass
Thomas Pavarcini
Fredrik Lejonklou

Andrew Jones
Roger Sanders
Alan Shaw
Michael Borresen

This is a very parochial perspective.
I am quite ignorant of the world's
list of contributors. Even more so of
all those who came before.

There is a move afoot to build an audiophile
museum to recognize all the contributors
of audio discoveries and achievements.

If you support this movement please comment so here.

Eric Alexander--Tekton speakers
Brian Cheney--VMPS speakers
Dan Wright--Modwright CD players and electronics

Bob Smith--SP Tech speakers, Aether Audio, TDSS upgrades to Nuforce   and Nuprime electronics
Bob Grost--Matrix cables
Taras Kowalcyzk--Teo cables
Tim Mrock--Perfect Path Technology products

My favorites:


Vince Bruzzese. -  Totem
Andrew Jones.  -  Elac
John Bowers. -  Bowers and Wilkins 


David Hafler
Dan D'Agostino
Nelson Pass

Great topic, but no love for Steve McCormack? 
Benno Baun Melgaard--Gamut & Raidho Acoustics
Richard Shahinian--Shahinian Loudspeakers --Great Guy. Miss him.
Sean McCaughan-- ESP Loudspeakers --own them
Jon Larsen-- Larsen Loudspeakers --own them
Roy Allison--Allison Acoustics --my 1st high end speakers
Ditto on Rich Modafferi --owned his (& John Soliceto's) JSE speakers (precursors to Joseph Audio) and visited him once             Roger West--also owned Sound Labs and exhibited with him a few times
Nelson Pass
John Curl
Walter Jung

Just to make it more colourful:

Louis Motek, LessLoss (Cables, Filters, DAC, ...) very creative and great guy from Lithuania

Kevin Scott, Living Voice (Loudspeakers), UK

Gérard Perrot (passed), Lavardin (Amplifiers, cables, ...) "memory distortion", France

Richard Fryer, Spectral Audio (Amplifiers, ...), USA

Jim Thiel (passed), Thiel Audio (Loudspeakers), USA

George Tice, Tice Audio R.I.P. (Power cables, ... "Tice Clock"), USA

OK, I have products from them which I like. So only my personal hall of fames.
Cheers from Germany,

I will add Flemming Rasmussen of Gryphon and Vladimir Shushirin of Lamm. And whoever designs FM Acoustics and Wavac electronics. Also, Nagra and Kharma designers.
Steve McCormack.
Jim Thiel.
Nelson Pass.
David Reich.
Bruno Putzeys ? He is my audio hero.

- Hypex amplifier designer
- Purifi  amplifier designer
- Mola-Mola DACs
- Kii Speaker design
William Z. Johnson - Audio Research
You can pretty much credit him for any tube audio in use today.
John Bedini - Bedini audio
Dennis   Boyle - chimera labs
Spencer Hughes 
Bill Johnson
Nelson Pass
Nelson Pass
David Berning
John Curl
William Z. Johnson
Jim Winey
Ivor Sigmund Tiefenbrun

Shows my age I guess.
John Iverson of Electro Research and Electron Kinetics.
Here are my 2 cents as to the most significant contributions to my Audio journey over the last 40 - 50 years:

Power - Dave Hafler Dynaco
              James Bongiorro - Dynaco 400 kit and PAT 4 and 5 Preamp
              Dan D’Augistino - Krell 
Speakers - Jim Winey - Magnapan

Digital - LUMIN - they cover the Streamer and DAC in one unit - the upgrade to the Sabre DAC in the T2 is world class. They marry the two components seamlessly.

Based on my personal experience - this list will get you to a world class system for the least money. IMO

Happy Listening and social distance folks!

  1. Harvey Rosenberg
  2. Nelson Pass / Wayne Colburn
  3. Roger Modjeski

I can only speak of "designers" who created products that have had a lasting impact on my personal enjoyment of audio and audio equipment. I nominate:

Ivor Tiefenbrun of Linn Products, Ltd. 
Jim Thiel of Thiel Audio
Paul McGowan of PS Audio

All created products that made huge incremental changes in my listening pleasure.
Maybe not pure "designers" but for bringing fine products to the marketplace:
Aether JansZenJim Stricker
Roger Grodinsky
It's a little known fact that...

George Gobel was the muse of most/all the people mentioned in this thread.

Richard Vandersteen - "baffleless", first order crossover speakers with amazing staging
Steve McCormack - The DNA (Distributed Node Amplifier) concept now optimized by SMc Audio.
Paul McGowan - father of Power Plant AC regenerators as well as SOTA electronics line
Harold Beveridge Beveridge Audio
Leo Spiegel Apogee Acoustics 
Arnie Nudell Infinity