Jim Thiel Passes Away

The audio industry lost an icon today as Jim Thiel of Thiel Audio has passed away.

Jim Thiel
Julie Jacobson · September 18, 2009

Jim Thiel, the soft-spoken founder of Thiel Audio, passed away on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2009, losing his battle against cancer.

Best known for the high-performance speakers and subwoofers that bear his name, Jim was known in smaller circles as a heck of a nice guy.

He took great pride in the Lexington, Ky. shop he built with partner Kathy Gornik and a team of pros that cares about its customers.

CE Pro extends our condolences to the extended Thiel family. CES won’t be the same without Jim.

Thiel Audio is welcoming everyone to leave their thoughts and memories of Jim on the Thiel Audio blog.

Donations in honor of Jim Thiel can be made to the Rosenberg Integrative Cancer Treatment and Research Institute.

Here’s Thiel Audio’s official statement on Jim’s passing:

James Edward Thiel 1947-2009

Jim Thiel co-founded THIEL Audio Products of Lexington, KY in 1976, and the company has grown to become one of the most respected manufacturers of loudspeakers in the world. Jim’s passion for music and his interest in electronics can both be traced back to childhood, when he began a lifelong love affair with the piano and also began to build and repair radios and other electronic gear. His academic background in physics and mathematics along with his naturally creative and inquisitive nature led him to pioneer the principle of time and phase accuracy in loudspeaker design. Over the last three decades, Jim Thiel’s speakers have received countless awards from the most prestigious audio publications worldwide, highlighted by Stereophile Magazine having adorned the THIEL CS3.6 as one of the Hot 100 – a group of the most important and influential audiophile components of all time.

“Not only was Jim Thiel a supremely talented and inventive speaker engineer, he was one of high-end audio’s true gentlemen, a gentle man. Had we not been divided by the gulf between reviewer and manufacturer, I would have been proud to have counted Jim Thiel as a friend.” - John Atkinson, Editor, Stereophile Magazine

When THIEL would host their dealers for training events in Lexington, many remarked that their favorite moments were spent with Jim in his lab, where he would detail his complex work in friendly and digestible language. Jim was known to listen thoughtfully and challenge gracefully, and he garnered a deep level of respect and affection from those who worked at his company. His employees remarked that he was so genuine—he was always fair, kind and reasonable. Jim was a man of science, possessing a profound respect for individuality and personal freedoms.

“Anyone who dealt with Jim Thiel had to admire his integrity, his firm dedication to real-world engineering, and his equal concern that the end result sound as much like live music as possible. He was truly dedicated to advancing the state of the art in loudspeakers, and he made steady breakthroughs during his career without ever losing a sense of quiet modesty and being unwilling to listen to comments and criticism. Virtually every new design he created marked a further step forward in his personal approach to the absolute sound, and it is a real tribute to him that his last major design—the Thiel C3.7—was not only his best speaker yet, but is one of the most outstanding speakers ever made. Jim will be deeply missed for his qualities as a person, his integrity, and his constant search to perfect his designs. He exemplified all the best in the high end.” —Anthony Cordesman, The Absolute Sound

Jim would like to thank Dr. Mark Rosenberg who extended the length and quality of his life. Jim felt strongly that Dr. Rosenberg’s alternative approach to cancer treatment was viable and would like to encourage anyone challenged by the disease to learn more about Dr. Rosenberg’s work at Donations in honor of Jim Thiel can be made to the Rosenberg Integrative Cancer Treatment and Research Institute at the above URL or to:

2512 North Federal Highway
Suite 105
Del Ray Beach, FL 33483-6147

Jim is survived by everyone who ever loved him and a legion of devoted THIEL fans around the world…

THIEL welcomes everyone to share their thoughts or memories of Jim at

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at

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