From Milton State School to Audio Revolutionary: The Legacy of Neville Thiele

Dr Neville Thiele
Photo Credit: Audio Engineering Society Inc/YouTube

Have you ever wondered how the captivating audio experiences that enrich our everyday lives came to be? The answer lies in the transformative work of Neville Thiele, an Australian audio engineer, who studied in Milton and whose story exemplifies the power of unwavering passion, insatiable curiosity, and tireless commitment to one’s craft.

Albert Neville Thiele, born in Brisbane in 1920, discovered his love for music and performance at the tender age of 12 when he and his brother, Leonard, began singing on local radio stations. This early exposure ignited a lifelong fascination with the technology behind radio and a desire to improve sound reproduction.

A Fateful Collaboration: The Birth of the Thiele-Small Parameters

After serving in World War II, Mr Thiele pursued engineering education and joined EMI as a television engineer, where he led the design team for Australia’s earliest TV receivers. However, his true calling was in audio, and a fateful meeting with Richard Small and Ernest Benson led to the formation of the “Sydney Loudspeaker Mafia.”

Together, they developed the groundbreaking Thiele-Small parameters, which revolutionised loudspeaker design and remain an essential tool for engineers worldwide.

Thielle-Small Parameters
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout his illustrious career, Mr Thiele made numerous contributions to the field of audio engineering. His pioneering work on active filters, loudspeaker enclosures, crossover networks, and influential papers on television testing and coaxial cable equalisation solidified his status as an industry leader.

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Mr Thiele’s innovative spirit and dedication to the craft earned him countless accolades, including the Silver Medal of the Audio Engineering Society and the Order of Australia.

A Legacy of Innovation: Neville’s Contributions to Audio Engineering

In his later years, Mr Thiele shared his knowledge and expertise with the next generation of audio engineers as a teacher at the University of Sydney’s Graduate Audio Program. He continued to push the boundaries of audio technology, exploring new frontiers in radio, television, and electronic filter design.

Mr Thiele’s admiration for the work of his colleagues, such as Dr Wolfgang Klippel’s research on loudspeaker nonlinearities, demonstrated his commitment to lifelong learning and collaboration.

Mr Thiele’s favourite loudspeaker systems over the years included Quad electrostatics, Greg Cambrell’s electrostatic design, Altec Lansing 604-B, and RCA LC1As. He believed that future trends in loudspeaker design would lean towards active designs with equalization, lower crossover frequencies, and omnidirectional radiation patterns.

Remembering a Pioneer: Neville Thiele’s Lasting Impact

Dr Neville Thiele
Photo Credit: University of Sydney

Mr Thiele’s extraordinary journey from a young performer at Milton State School to an audio revolutionary, reminds the public of the transformative power of passion, curiosity, and dedication. His legacy continues to inspire and shape the world of audio engineering, encouraging future generations to strive for excellence and push the boundaries of what is possible.

Neville Thiele embodied the highest standards of competence, attitude, and kindness – qualities that will forever be remembered and cherished by those who had the privilege of knowing him and being touched by his work. 

Published 2-June-2024