Roy F. Cizek (January 29, 1943 – April 12, 1993) was an American inventor who developed high end audio loudspeakers throughout the late 1960s and up to the 1990s. Despite being blind, he produced a line of speakers under his own name that are even today considered groundbreaking in their high definition and clarity.
Cizek was not blind from birth. He had normal vision as a youngster until the age of 2 or 3 years, but suffered eye damage when his cowboy suit caught fire. His worst affliction, however, was his legs, which were ulcerated from the fire and never healed well. They had to be soaked every day. Friends reported that Cizek was his worst enemy; drinking several cases of Coke weekly, which caused him to become a type 2 diabetic. Cizek's closest friend and constant side-kick was Ron Whaley, who was also legally blind though he could see to a limited degree.
Raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Roy Cizek was in the band at Indiana University, and is listed as an alumni member of the Alpha Zeta Chapter of the Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity, a National Honorary Fraternity for college band members, operating exclusively in the field of the college and university bands. Cizek's father, Fred Cizek, was an up and coming trumpet player who played in big bands back in the 1940s.
Cizek, his wife Fran, and their sons Fred, Carl, and Mitchell moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the 1970s. He worked in the HiFi industry as a consultant at companies like Acoustic Research. Between 1978 and 1980, he worked as an engineer at Audio Dynamics in Connecticut. Later in his career, he moved away from New England to work for Altec Lansing.
Fellow workers considered Roy Cizek a spectacular engineer, acoustician, music buff and intriguing fellow to know. Some writers on the Internet refer to Cizek as "The Golden Ears of Altec Lansing." Cizek could tell more about a part by fondling it for a minute than most people could tell by measuring it. His ability to visualize internally, spatially and conceptually and turn that vision into a product was a marvel to witness. His design process was rigorous and he was a bit of a perfectionist. He knew quite precisely what he wanted and knew how to hold out to get it. He would drive those driver manufacturers nuts in getting just the exact right spiders, cones, pole pieces, coils and so on to meet "his spec." While working as a consultant at Acoustic Research, Cizek was largely ignored by the engineers and was looked upon as a nuisance. He knew nothing about how companies were run and the internal politics that were prevalent there, so Cizek was considered a threat to many engineers and did not realize that he had to make them feel as if they contributed to his efforts rather than make them look bad. He showed how he could extend the range (low-end response) by 6–7 Hz with their speakers without sacrificing anything or increasing costs. Fellow workers lauded Cizek's talent at producing "good quality sound without making the speakers too high priced."
In 1976 Roy Cizek produced his most successful product: "The Cizek Model One". A later model, the KA-1, was produced in KOA wood. Many sound engineers considered The Cizek Model One one of the best 2-way speakers ever produced: they had a special cross-over with a flat impedance which gave fantastic sound to these system.
Cizek's skills were not limited by his lack of vision and he often said he would much rather have healthy legs before sight. Cizek married three times, including a woman from Haverhill, Massachusetts, who moved away with him from New England when he got a job working for[Altec Lansing. Roy Cizek's last official residence was in Torrance, California, where he died on April 12, 1993. A scholarship was created in Roy's name at the Indiana School for the Blind by his two stepdaughters, Julie and Christa DeBoer in 2002.