This year's winner of the What Hi-Fi? Outstanding Contribution Award isn't a household name exactly, but his company, Fink Audio, is probably the most influential speaker engineering company in the business.
What does Fink Audio do? It designs, engineers and even facilitates the manufacture of loudspeakers for its clients. Many of these clients are famous household brands that would like Fink's involvement to remain secret. But we can tell you that up until a few years ago the development and tuning work on all Q Acoustics speakers was carried out by Fink Audio. The current Award-winning Wharfedale Diamond 12 range is the company's work too, as are various models from the likes of Mission, Denon, Tannoy and Castle over the years. If you have ever sat in a modern Volkswagen Group car, there is a fair chance you've listened to something in it that has been designed by Fink Audio, too.
Karl-Heinz's interest in hi-fi began early. He was experimenting with speaker design through his teenage years and originally started working in the industry by importing DIY speaker kits, something that was popular at the time. A stint of reviewing hi-fi followed and then led to design work at a small speaker company. It was while working there that contact with Yamaha (in Germany) was first made, which was the catalyst for Fink Audio to be formed.
Fink Audio consisted of just eight people when we last visited its headquarters in Essen, Germany, but its technical knowledge and measurement techniques still shade much of what we see from most well-known speaker brands. The company's remit now runs wider than just speakers now, with the development of electronics and even turntables already undertaken.
Fink Audio also has its own range of high-end speakers under the Finkteam banner. Amusingly, their names are all associated with Star Trek in some way. It seems Karl-Heinz is a fan of the sci-fi series! Not long ago, the company acquired the Epos brand, too, and is busy developing new models to get that up and running again. Having heard an early sample of the ES14n, things seem promising.
Karl-Heinz continues to be at the heart of it all, and long may that continue. He is a worthy recipient of our Outstanding Contribution Award this year.
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