Having celebrated its 40th birthday in 2018, Eastern Acoustic Works gave itself a special birthday present, convincing EAW cofounder and former vice president of Strategic Engineering Kenton Forsythe to rejoin the company.
“When I left three years ago, I took a year off, and my wife and I worked on our ‘honey do’ list-and we’re still working on that,” laughs Forsythe. “But I want to make more speakers. A couple of years ago I started looking around but I didn’t find the right situation. Then EAW president TJ Smith gave me a call. EAW is pursuing some advanced product development, and TJ asked me to contribute.”
Long known for his innovative designs, Forsythe’s mid-1970s vintage BH215 dual 15-inch bass horn became the basis of some of EAW’s earliest products.
“When we started EAW, we kept on going with some of the designs we had used in our previous company, Forsythe Audio Systems,” he relates. “We designed the CS-3 for Carlo Sound, an integration of the BH215 dual 15-in low-frequency horn with an MR102 12-inch mid-frequency horn and a Community BRH90 high-frequency horn in one big box. It probably was the world’s first integrated, flyable touring rig.”
But it was EAW’s KF850 that really put the loudspeaker manufacturer on the map. “The KF850 was an outgrowth of those previous designs,” explains Forsythe. “It was a very good cabinet for its day and was time coherent throughout it’s full range. The KF850 helped us develop a lot of traction. It was the standard for tours for quite awhile, and it got us into the install world.”
Although Forsythe is not returning full time -“I don’t want to work that hard,” he quips-he is back in his element. “I kind of reclaimed my role as the transducer guru,” he explains. “Our head of engineering, Geoff McKinnon, is excellent, and he provides the leadership and vision. I collaborate with suppliers on component designs as well as new product development concepts, working with and under Geoff and director of Product Management Jeremy Forsythe.”
Forsythe notes that EAW’s current ownership brings benefits not available to the company in the past. “Now we’re owned by Arturo Vicari, who also owns RCF and db Technologies, which opens a new toolkit,” he details. “We operate independently but are part of a group of companies, and the technology can be shared amongst the groups. RCF also has really good components that are now available to us. So we have resources we didn’t have previously.”
As an EAW cofounder, Forsythe links the company with its past, but his return is all about the future.
“We’re not getting the team back together,” he clarifies. “We are assembling a new group of much younger people who have the energy and the passion that we brought to it 30 or 40 years ago. We’re trying the stretch the boundaries of what can be done with the technology, and we’re working on new products that are going to knock your socks off.”