Here are archive information relating to persons that have operated in or around the audio business, the motives for having a separate page for this is partly to honour the memories of those that have passed but also provide linkage between companies, products and technologies that are difficult to trace directly unlike companies or ideas that usually have a lineage, history and people actively collecting those histories, or making them up, that kind of interest is seldom given to persons which is a bit of a shame since their histories often provide a thread between companies and concepts that are not obvious otherwise. To add to that some people are just interesting per se or have lived interesting lives, although admittedly an alarming number of people in the audio business fit neither of these 2 groups ....
Some of the information here can be a bit terse especially if the persons are not the owner of a company, but that is simply because this sort of information is a bit difficult to get hold of and unlike companies where you can and should put all the info and opinions you can find on a page, there is a need to thread a bit more carefully when it comes to people, especially if they are no longer around to defend themselves.
Note when we list a company name or a trademark they are always listed by the first name of the company or brand regardless if it's a person’s name or not, this is because these are no longer people’s names but brands and thus rules governing how personal names are classified no longer apply and they are sorted as written. Here however we try to follow the sorting rules of the cultural sphere of the person listed, so those countries that use the German style tribal, place or family name tradition they are arranged alphabetically according to their family name, Icelanders and others that do not have family names are listed by first name etc., people from the Hungarian and Korean language areas get their family names listed before their given names and so on.
Despite primarily having been interested in digital electronics beforehand and in fact his master’s thesis being on CPU design he found it difficult to find work in that sector in Norway at the time and in the end took a job with the Norwegian State Radio designing custom equipment for the recording and broadcast studios of that organisation. Hr. Borbély became a naturalised Norwegian citizen in 1964 and found the time to marry fellow Hungarian refugee Irene in 1966. Left for the USA in 1969 after a chance meeting with David Hafler led to a firm job offer and he started work at Hafler’s Dynaco the same year, but during his tenure there that lasted until 1973 he worked on a number of products including the Dynaco QD1 and the ill-fated Dynaco 400.
In 1973 he moved to Switzerland and started work as an Applications Manager for Motorola (now On Semiconductor) but his job primarily involved designing applications for Motorola semiconductor products and choosing and editing the applications designed by others into application notes, given his work and interests prior and since it will not be a surprise that most of his application notes were in the audio field and some of them, in particular those on FET amplifier design became quite influential in the long run, but Moto had been introducing a number of new FET designs in the 70’s that were ideal for audio usage.
Another job offer from David Hafler led Hr. Borbély to leave his post at Motorola and to return to the USA in 1978 to take the post of head designer at David Hafler Co. where he designed the classic Hafler DH101 and Hafler DH200. He only lasted there for a year however, a dispute arose over share options that had been promised to Borbély when he took the job and it resulted in him resigning from his post and moving to Germany in 1980 and starting work for National Semiconductor as a European Training Manager and remained there until the division was closed in 1997. It is interesting to note that the David Hafler Company never managed to properly replace him, all of their amplifier products were variants on the Borbély designs until they started building amps based on designs they acquired from Acoustat in 1987 even though rapid advances in semiconductor technology had made the original designs out-dated by the early 80’s.
As the work he was doing for Natsemi was not audio related unlike most of his former jobs he found an outlet for his audio designs and ideas in the Danish magazine High Fidelity that started publishing his articles in 1980, and by 1982 he was contributing to American publication Audio Amateur. His designs became quite influential initially amongst the designers of commercial amplifiers, not the least due to his use of FET transistors and advanced shunted power supplies, his love FET’s was such that by the 21 century all his designs were based around them, any bipolars had been banned from the power supplies and even the valve amplifier designs were MOSFET hybrids.
In the 90 and the 00’s the DIY crowd however increasingly woke up to the potentials of his work, although the refinement and complexity of some of the designs meant that they were pretty much confined to high-end hi-fi equipment in the commercial sector it also meant that by building them yourself you could end up with a high end product for the price of a mid-end one. By the late 80’s the DIY sector had partially run out of steam, especially the kit manufacturing and audio part supply branches of it, since it was by that time cheaper to buy a fully built product than a kit and in addition you got a guarantee with them as well. The Borbély designs were thus one of the few designs available that represented a real cost saving but most audio kits could by that time only offer a sense of accomplishment and educational value, but when you finished building and housing them ultimately were not cost effective. So even if they were fairly expensive, the Borbély designs and later kits alongside the valve amplifier designs from Belgian company Velleman ushered in the age of the high end audio kit but during the 70’s the terms “kit” and “high end” were considered opposites and not something you put in the same sentence.
As some of the transistors he used in the designs were difficult to source except in quantity he founded Borbely Audio in 1984 initially to supply DIYers with uncommon parts but later started to offer partial and complete kits of his designs, he and his wife Irene ran the company until 2010 when they decided to retire. After 1997 his work has primarily been designing products for other companies, amongst other things he designed amplifiers for PBN Audio and Aural Audio and more recently he has done designs for the Light Harmonic DAC's. Hr. Borbély has primarily written articles, courseware and application notes and to the best of our knowledge he has only authored one book, and that was on semiconductor technology in general rather than on audio applications in particular, however his articles published by Audio Amateur are still in print and can be bought from the publisher.
John Dunn Collinson (19.10.1923 - 21.08.2010)
Mr. Collinson had managed to procure himself a multispeed Telefunken tape recorder salvaged from a German submarine and after getting hold of technical drawings for the studio version of the same had rebuilt it to the specifications of the latter, giving him the only studio quality tape recorder in the UK at the time, while Mr. Brown had a portable record cutter and had been moonlighting as an engineer for a few years. The usual record business related problems with unpaid invoices etc. forced them to split up in 1953 and Collinson to seek permanent employment, but a number of the spoken word recordings they made together have been donated to the Wessex Film and Sound Archive and can be accessed there in digitised form.
Later in n 1953 John joined Acoustical Manufacturing Co. as an engineer and amongst other things worked with G.A. Briggs of Wharfedale Wireless Works on the famous 1954 Royal Festival Hall demonstration, by 1958 he was made the head engineer of the company and responsible for the designs of all of the Quad electronic products from then on until 1966 when Mr. Collinson left Acoustical for Rank Wharfedale. The details of his departure are interesting, in 1964 he started work on a transistorised amplifier to replace the Quad II and Quad 22 valve pre/power amplifier combo, but in 1966 when it was finished the owner of the company, Peter Walker refused to release it on the grounds that it was inferior to the II/22 and that valves in general were superior to transistors, this lead to Mr. Collinson’s departure but interestingly enough Acoustical went on to release the Quad 33/Quad 303 combo just a year later. Apparently some of the circuits from the aborted design survive in the Quad 33
Mr Collinson worked as chief design engineer for Rank until he left with 2 of his colleagues in 1973 to found Castle Acoustics, he later took over the helm at the company and ran it until it was sold in 1993. Married Rosemary Christine Cummings in 1956 and they had 2 children together, Michael John and Margaret Christine Collinson.
David Hafler (07.02.1919 - 25.05.2003)
In 1949 he went on to found Acro Products in association with his childhood friend Herbert I. Keroes and together they wrote a number of technical papers dealing with amplifier design that became rather well known in the North American audio world.
After a disagreement with Keroes on the future direction of the company Hafler left Acro and teamed up with Ed Laurent to found Dynaco but that company became quite successful, initially as a manufacturer of amplifier kits and transformers, but later for the Dyna ST70 design that the partners designed together but that is the quintessential American push-pull valve amplifier design
Sold his part of the company to Tyco in 1970 or 1 and stayed on there until 1972 as an adviser but left to join Ortofon, he founded the David Hafler Co. in 1972 but did not start the manufacture of products under the Hafler brand unthil 1977 when he hired Ed Gately formerly of Gately Electronics to run the company and he turned it into a manufacturer of amplification products for the home hi-fi and professional markets.
Mr. Hafler has an enviable reputation in the USA both as a businessman and as a technologist, he is in fact considered one of the greats from the golden era of hi-fi from the 50’s and 60’s. In Europe he had a sterling reputation as a businessman and as a person but his technical credentials were not taken as seriously as in the West, his best known papers on “ultra” linear amplifiers from the 50’s and on surround sound in the sixties while generally accepted in North America were controversial to say the least in Europe.
It is important to realise that this is partly due to a misunderstanding, Mr. Hafler more or less stopped designing products in the early-mid 60’s and products that are often attributed to him like for instance the Dynaco QD1, the Hafler DH101 and Hafler DH200 were actually designed by Ernö Borbély and other products that are attiributed to him were actually concieved and designed by other employees. Mr. Hafler was primarily a financier from the early 60’s and onwards on and had little to do with the day to day running of the David Hafler Co. or other companies that we associated with, although he remained the principal owner of the DHCo. company and had the last word on any major decisions.
The David Hafler Co. did rather well even though their product designs were outdated compared to European and Asian competition, they were like the Dynaco products before them however keenly priced and Mr. Hafler sold the company to Rockford in 1987 for a top price.
Hafler was already a millioner when he sold Dynaco in the early 70’s and from then on sort of semi-retired although he kept his paws in the audio industry via Ortofon and David Hafler Co. but never went back to a full time position, but rather enjoyed life in his residences in Merion Station, just outside Philadelphia, in Boca Raton, Florida where he spent most winters and his pad in London, England. In his spare time he collected chess sets and had a collection of over 240 by the time he died. Sadly Mr. Hafler was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the 1980’s and this eventually leads him to sell most of his business interest and to retire to his home in Rittenhouse square that he had bought in 1990, and in 2003 at 84 years of age , he passed away due to complications related to his illness. Mr. Hafler married Gertrude Schwinger in the early 1940’s and together they had 2 daughters, Joan and Diane and a son named Eric, Gertrude Hafler passed away in 2001
Resources : http://www.ictv1.com/chess/ -- Halfer’s chess collection.
Herbert I. Keroes (02.04.1918 – 11.1971)
One of these was Acro Products that Mr. Keroes founded in 1949 in partnership with David Hafler and with financing from his mother. The company manufactured transformers initially but after Mr. Hafler left the partnership in 1954 the company also turned towards the manufacture of amplifiers, in particularly in kit form. Later that decade M. Keroes founded a company called Keroes Enterprises that held the IP rights to his amplifier designs, patents and writings.
Mr. Keroes is still active in publishing technical and DIY articles in 1963 but after that we lose sight of him, he passed away in 1971 long before his time at only 52 years of age.
From 1985 to 1991 Mr. Shur made guitars in Rudy Pensa's workshop under the Pensa-Shur brand and after that operation stopped making guitars he moved to California and went to work for Custom Audio Amplifiers and in 1994 started working for Fender as a Senior Master Builder at their custom shop but left in 1996 and currently runs the Shur Guitars company.
Resources : http://www.synergyguitars.com/Suhr-Guitars/Suhr-Guitars-Interview.htm - Interview with the man.