Vintage Audio Technology for the Modern Studio
History of TFK Products

Why Historic Telefunken Designs?

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People often ask us as to why AMI has chosen to almost unilaterally build our products based on the circuit designs of the historic Telefunken line of products.  It's no wonder given that most folks in the United States are less familiar with the name of Telefunken AG and its sub-suppliers (such as Siemens and TAB) than they are with the various US and UK based audio equipment manufacturers.  In this section of our website, we will hopefully explain why our passion lies with the historic V and U series of products and hopefully get you excited to discover the equipment that helped make The Beatles and Pink Floyd the legends that they are today.

Before we jump into the history of Telefunken AG and its products, we should probably come clean on a couple of points.  First off, Oliver Archut, was born in Germany and so was Telefunken AG.  Secondly, early in his career, Oliver worked for AEG, formerly AEG Telefunken.  Through this opportunity, Oliver was able to meet many of the old electrical engineers and factory managers as he went about doing his job-- dismantling old technology that ended up in a scrap yard.

That’s right.  Before Oliver’s career of reviving historic V72’s and building new products based on them, he was responsible for destroying them to make way for the “new digital technology” replacing them.  Talk about karmic justice…

But it was during this time that one of the more pivotal moments occurred.  Oliver was working one day at the former Telefunken archives when they decided to throw away all of their schematics, technical spec sheets and manufacturing manuals into the dumpster.  Oliver pulled them all out and asked his boss if he could keep them.  He eventually received approval to keep the documentation as Telefunken AG was never going to use that old stuff again.  It was at that point that Oliver developed an interest to understand how all of these components actually work.

Despite the personal connection to Telefunken AG and the fact that having all of the original schematics makes manufacturing more convenient, that is not the reason why we based our line on the historic V series products.  Simply put, we believe that they were the highest quality audio products made in the 20th century.  Telefunken AG benefitted from a suite of competitive advantages that their counterparts in the US and the UK never received.  This allowed them to spend unfathomable amounts of money building audio equipment at the Rolls Royce level of quality.  These advantages were:

  • Telefunken had exclusive and unlimited access to scientific resources from state universities, private companies and all branches of the military regarding radio broadcast and audio production
  • Telefunken had no competitors in Germany and throughout most of continental Europe
  •  As such, they received generous research funding from the German government as well as the governments of several other European nations
  • These same governments spared no expense to have the highest quality broadcast equipment made and installed for their use
  • Telefunken AG had its own record label that would pour profits from record sales into improving recording equipment technology

All of these financial and sceintific advantages led to Telefunken AG holding almost all of the European patents relating to radio and audio electronic circuits, further stifling their competition up into the early 1960's.  While some audio manufacturers may have had access to some of these benefits (i.e. RCA had a record label, Western Electric had some government contracts) no other audio manufacturer received all of these benefits all at once.   We will probably never see this level of concerted commitment (scientific, funding, and suppression of competition) ever again in our lifetimes.  But the end result is that almost every analog piece of equipment used in the studio today is using some electronic circuit or component that was originally pioneered and patented by Telefunken AG at some point in its long history.  When given the choice as to which classic vintage company on which to base your product designs, we decided to choose the best funded and supported pioneer of broadcast and recording equipment.