THIEL Audio is an American privately held high performance loudspeaker (hi-end audio) manufacturer founded in Lexington, Kentucky, but now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Thiel Audio products are distributed to over 30 countries. All products by the founders were designed and built in their 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) facility located in Lexington. There are no products being made in the original facility. There is little to no support for owners of the Thiel line of subwoofers. The new staff of Thiel are not available by telephone.
THIEL Audio was formed by three college friends: Jim Thiel, Tom Thiel, and Kathy Gornik, who started in 1976 with equipment in the Thiels' garage on Georgetown Road in Lexington. THIEL Audio was formed with $25,000 borrowed from the partners' parents and some friends. Jim Thiel graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1968, majoring in physics. THIEL Audio first exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1977 (the year the company is commonly stated as being founded, although they had been selling since 1976), with the introduction of the 01 full-range speaker. A year later, in 1978, the model 03 introduced the principles of time, phase, and frequency coherence, which would become the basis for all of Jim Thiel's designs and the fundamental idea for which Thiel would be known.
A skilled woodworker, Tom Thiel built the speaker boxes. Their first hi-fi product was a two-way speaker with an equalizer to give it high-quality bass response. Jim Thiel soon realized that he would need someone to do the sales part of the business, so Gornik sought to sell them in her city, Washington, D.C.
Over the life of the company, Thiel had a number of long-lived series including the CS 2 which was first introduced in 1982 and updated through 2012 with the introduction of the CS 2.7.
In March 2006, THIEL unveiled the culmination of the CS 3 series, the THIEL CS 3.7, a high performance speaker in the Middle East, at an event hosted by Emirates Computers, one of Dubai's leading technology companies.
In 2007, THIEL Audio announced that it would offer its high performance line of loudspeakers in Crutchfield retail stores, the Crutchfield site, and through their catalogs. At the time, the primary lineup that THIEL was to offer through Crutchfield was priced from about $990 to $5,450. Thiel's products in general range from about $990 to $6,450.
Jim Thiel died of cancer on September 17, 2009.
In 2012, THIEL Audio was sold to a private equity company in Nashville, and later that year, Gornik was replaced as president of the company. Since the purchase, THIEL has had three CEOs, and has discontinued all of Jim Thiel's original designs. The company has since reintroduced themselves as a high-end lifestyle brand, focused on surround sound systems based on more traditional engineering. The new company's speakers do not follow Jim Thiel's time/phase coherency premise, and do not use the custom-designed drivers.
Former president of THIEL Audio Kathy Gornik was also the chairwoman of the Consumer Electronics Association.
THIEL Audio won many awards, including the International Consumer Electronics Show Innovations Design and Engineering Award, for which THIEL had been honored 22 times, and the Image Hi-Fi speaker of the millennium award in 2000. THIEL also won BizRate's coveted "Circle of Excellence" award seven times.