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EAW Co-Founder Kenton Forsythe Passes

Kenton Forsythe, revered loudspeaker engineer and co-founder of EAW, died Sunday, July 9, at the age of 78.

Kenton Forsythe in 2019. Photo: EAW.
Kenton Forsythe in 2019. Photo: EAW.

North Smithfield, RI (July 12, 2023)—Kenton Forsythe, one of the most revered loudspeaker engineers in the field, died Sunday, July 9, at the age of 78. Best known for co-founding mainstay speaker manufacturer Eastern Acoustic Works, Forsythe designed live sound loudspeakers—most notably the venerable KF850—that arguably changed the pro-audio industry forever.

His passing was announced online by his son, Jeremy Forsythe, who noted:

It is with a heavy heart that I have to share the news that my father, Kenton Forsythe, passed away this Sunday, surrounded by family. He lived vibrantly until the end – focused as much on making sure the lawn was mowed as he was on learning about the latest transducer technologies – and will be missed by many people in many different ways. For the legacy he leaves to an industry that he loved, Dad always prioritized his family and friendships first. We will all miss and remember his impact on our lives forever.

Forsythe first made his presence known to the pro-audio industry in 1975 when he introduced the Forsythe Audio SR215 dual 15-inch bass horn, before going on to create two-way compact loudspeaker systems and a vented subwoofer that featured an interchangeable tube venting system that allowed the enclosure to be reconfigured for different drivers.

Three years later in 1978, Forsythe and Ken Berger co-founded EAW inside a former Framingham, MA automotive plant, debuting the new company with the SR109 loudspeaker and BH212 subwoofer as their first products.

Nonetheless, it was the KF850, introduced in 1985, that truly made EAW a force to be reckoned with. Taking its name in part from Forsythe’s initials, the three-way, tri-amped, horn-loaded box was a stock touring-level loudspeaker that live sound companies could buy “off the shelf.” At the time, this was still a revolutionary move in an era where concert sound providers usually had to design and build their own PA systems.

The KF850 became a runaway hit for the company and as the years progressed, the KF Series had a substantial impact on both the company’s bottom line and the live sound industry at large. In the 1990s, Forsythe followed that success up with the development of multiple loudspeaker solutions for the stadium market. Through many iterations of the company—and corporate owners—Forsythe remained as EAW’s EVP of strategic engineering through his retirement in 2016, though he opted to return part-time to the company three years later.

The Forsythe family is planning a memorial service in late August, but asks that those wishing to remember him consider making a donation to the North Smithfield Public Library in Slatersville, RI.