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).
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I agree with the previous mentions:
i would like to add:
There’s so many who have established and inspired new innovations and techniques, I couldn’t list just three.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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!
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.