This syndicated article first appeared in the July 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this
visit to Musikelektronic Geithain in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at the end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of or ME Geithain. - Ed.

Geithain's headquarters served as cloister in earlier times

Geithain. You don't know this tiny town of about 6,000 souls south-east of Leipzig? The webpage calls their 800-year existence a "secret tip for culture/history buffs". Though not likely in the context of swank city walks, certain hifi fans will have heard of Geithain when discussing pro-audio speakers. In broadcast plants and recording studios, Musikelectronic Geithain GmBH or ME Geithain for short is a domestically quite dominant A-list player. Geithain chief Joachim Kiesler punned that the ARD is by now 80% fitted with his speakers. Perhaps we should pay a visit and start counting?

The Saxons' good pro rep has migrated into hifi (we've previously reviewed their MR 150) and such 'bi-continental' grounding with one foot in either camp is interesting in its own right. But there's more. Anyone who has crossed paths with Kiesler live or on the phone before knows this thinker and steerer of the outfit to be a true character. He's someone who turns each talk into something interesting and informative. To re-invoke the earlier cultural attraction bit -- and before we step into R&D, manufacture and special demonstration facilities -- this firm's culture today extends back nearly half a century. At age 18, Kiesler and two collaborators launched PGH Fernsehen, Rundfunk, Uhren wherein PGH was short for Produktionsgenossenschaft Handwerk or a handcrafter's cooperative.

Watches weren't a true specialty item even then nor were loudspeakers. Yet. The first real product a few years after launch was the transistorized TMV1 microphone preamp during a period when valves still dominated the sector. But it's not just the TMV1 which nowadays greets visitors to the company's lounge display. There are many more treasures and even the young employees (Geithain's 17-strong team includes a number of those) are well informed to present plenty of info on those oldies by request.

It was to be 20 years post launch before Joachim Kiesler got serious with his first hifi and pro speakers. Prior -- we're now into the early 70s -- he dove into organ building. To this day and for curious visitors, the man will lean into the keys of his EO 1002 on display replete with matching organ speakers whose appearance could revive UFO theories. This type of organ was quite galactic in scope. Kiesler's biggest church model relied on 70,000(!) parts (one such organ remains active in Zschopau). A smaller version remains busy in Geithain's church. Though no longer in the current catalogue of course, organ repair and maintenance continue unbroken and in house.

Things acoustical turned high fidelity by the early 80s but Kiesler first attacked car audio and very successfully so. His Uni 15 car speaker became stock dashboard trim in the Trabant car and sold by the millions (upper right). "Dissatisfaction with available solutions at the time" drove Joachim Kiesler to develop his own paper membrane and, by the mid 80s, his first home audio speaker. That enjoyed success also in the West and the BR25 went by the hundreds of thousands. Our resourceful inventor got truly serious with the later RL 900 whose outer appearance presaged today's models. Certain popular acting stages and opera houses like the Dresdner Semperoper ran the RL 900 of the day.

So yes, historically relevant and adaptive are two words that could describe the rise of this speaker house (including a forced government takeover and subsequent re-acquisition and privatization which today is water under the bridge). One last item bears mention. Geithain's business culture relies on significant recruitment of very young collaborators, many more or less fresh-baked university alumni. Responsible for enclosure concepts, Steffen Tränker for example is one such recruit and was promptly solicited to show us around the measurement facility.

This in-house construction commenced operations in 1984 and, except for the floor, is trimmed out over all surfaces in five-thousand 1-meter-long wedges crafted from Stellan, a material used for thermal insulation on ships but here run in an even denser variant. While the wire-mesh ground under my feet seemed solid enough, it actually floats above a 4-meter cellar to trap certain reflections. After mentioning to Tränker that I wasn't used to quite such dry acoustics, he drove home their point by having a colleague roll shut the door from the outside. This air lock seemed like a giant wedge covered by many smaller ones to conjure up visions of archaic battering rams. I had to revisit my previous judgment of dry. We'd obviously progressed from merely semi sec to now extra sec or bone dry.