Wolfson Microelectronics

Wolfson Microelectronics plc was a microelectronics and fabless semiconductor company headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland. It specialised in signal processing and mixed-signal chips for the consumer electronics market and had engineering and sales offices throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the United States. In 2014, it was acquired by Cirrus Logic for £291 million.[2]

Wolfson Microelectronics plc
Company typePublic limited company
Digital signal processing,
Mixed-signal integrated circuits
FoundedEdinburgh (1984)[1]
Defunct28 April 2014 (2014-04-28)
FateAcquired by Cirrus Logic
HeadquartersEdinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Key people
Mike Hickey (CEO)
Andy Brannan (CCO)
David Milne (Co-founder)
Jim Reid (Co-founder)
Number of employees
ParentCirrus Logic
SubsidiariesSonaptic Ltd
wolfsonmicro.com at the Wayback Machine (archived July 3, 2014) (prior to acquisition).

Wolfson chips have found applications within the digital audio player market, such as in Apple's iPod product line, Microsoft's Zune, Cowon's line of mp3 and PMP players, and Sony's PSP. Wolfson chips have also found place in the Microsoft Xbox game console, Logitech Squeezebox Duet[3] and the PalmOne Treo smartphone, and early versions of the iPhone and iPod Touch.



Wolfson Microelectronics plc was started in 1984 by David Milne and Jim Reid. Within a year, the company had 20 employees and a deal with Fujitsu.[4] Wolfson grew and floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 and be listed in the FTSE 250. Both Milne and Reid had connections with the University of Edinburgh; Reid attained a First Class Honours degree in EEE, and Milne directed the Wolfson Microelectronics Institute at King's Buildings from 1973 to 1985.[5] In February, 2007, when Milne chose to step down, he was replaced in his CEO role by Dave Shrigley, previously Vice-President at Intel Corporation. His departure was one of a number of executive changes in late 2006, as Financial Director George Elliott also stood down.

In 2006, Milne was declared Entrepreneur of the Year by the CBI, and Wolfson named Company of the Year.[6] In November 2006 David Shrigley became the CEO of Wolfson, his first appointment at this level: he had previously worked for Intel in the Asia-Pacific region, and held directorships elsewhere.[7]

In 2007, Wolfson acquired Sonaptic Ltd,[8][9] consisting of former Sensaura employees, intending to expand the companys audio market and reach.[10] Sonaptic specialized in 3D positional audio for mobile devices, which lead to the acquisition.[9]

In September 2008, Mike Hickey joined Wolfson as Chief Executive Officer Designate and became Chief Executive Officer on 1 January 2009. Mr Hickey joined Wolfson from Motorola Inc, where he had held various senior positions in Motorola's mobile device business.[11] In July 2009, Andy Brannan joined Wolfson as Chief Commercial Officer. Mr Brannan previously held the position of VP of Nokia's SOSCO business, and prior to that spent eight years as Executive VP of Sales & Customer Operations at Symbian Ltd.[12]

Cirrus Logic acquired the Wolfson for 235p per share in April 2014, valuing the company at £291 million.[13][14]


analog-to-digital converter WM8775 made by Wolfson placed on an X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro sound card.

Wolfson products have found applications within the digital audio player market, such as in Microsoft's Zune product line, including the Zune 30, Zune 80,[15] and Zune HD, Cowon's line of mp3 and PMP players, as well as providing the codec functionality for much of Apple Inc.'s iPod series (with the exception of the iPod shuffle[16] and iPod classic[17]) and Sony's PSP.[18] Wolfson chips have also found place in the Microsoft Xbox game console, Logitech Squeezebox Duet[19] and the PalmOne Treo smartphone, with the Apple connection continuing with the earlier versions of the iPhone[20] and iPod Touch.[17][21]

Wolfson audio products can also be found in most Tegra 2 SoC devices and some devices like the Samsung Wave S8500 and Samsung i9000 Galaxy S smartphones[22] as well as a number of LG phones including the LG-LB4400 music phone and the Android-powered LG Optimus GT540 smartphone.[23]

In April 2010, Wolfson signed a licence agreement with Tensilica to create a low power, high-definition (HD) sound platform.[24]

Wolfson's chipsets were known for delivering high-quality sound that matched or surpassed the offerings of well-established manufacturers like Cirrus Logic. After replacing Wolfson's chip with a chip from Cirrus Logic there was a minor decline in Apple's iPod sound quality when connected with high-end audio gear despite the improved board design.[25][26][27]

Wolfson Audio Card for Raspberry Pi

Wolfson Microelectronics also produced the Audio Cards for Raspberry Pi Model B Rev 2 named Wolfson Audio Card.[28][29] After Wolfson Microelectronics was purchased by Cirrus Logic the Audio Card for Raspberry PI Model B+ was renamed Cirrus Logic Audio Card.[30]

IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal


With initial funding from Wolfson, an award called the IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal was established in 2006 by the IEEE and Royal Society of Edinburgh. This award recognizes work with "exceptional impact on the development of electronics and electrical engineering or related fields".[31][32][33]


  1. ^ a b Scotsman 30 April 2014, US firm chips in for takeover of Wolfson Micro, retrieved 2020-08-02; sometimes access via Google necessary.
  2. ^ "Wolfson Microelectronics is to be taken over by Cirrus Logic". BBC News. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  3. ^ "Squeezebox Duet Network Music System". Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2008.
  4. ^ Petrie, Gordon (3 February 1986). "Wolfson's Fujitsu deal first of several ventures". The Glasgow Herald. p. 15. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Wolfson Press Release". Wolfsonmicro.com.
  6. ^ "Chip hooray as Wolfson scoops double honour". Edinburgh Evening News. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Meet the new man at Wolfson". electronicsweekly. 28 November 2006. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Wolfson invests in IP with Sonaptic acquisition". Growth Business. 24 July 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Sonaptic Acquisition by Wolfson". GrowthPoint. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  10. ^ Sonaptic 3D Positional Audio Technology - Presentation(see page 2)
  11. ^ "Appointment of Mike Hickey as Chief Executive Officer Designate". Investegate. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  12. ^ "Former VP of Nokia to lead Sales & Product Marketing at Wolfson". Investegate. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  13. ^ "An audio chip giant is born: Cirrus Logic buys Wolfson Microelectronics in $467M deal". VentureBeat. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  14. ^ "Cirrus Logic completes Wolfson Microelectronics takeover". BBC News. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  15. ^ "Photos: Zune guts and more". cnet.com. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  16. ^ "Wolfson Microelectronics again supplies the audio codec with headphone amp". Electronic Engineering Times. 5 January 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  17. ^ a b "Wolfson sales on track as it plays down iPod blow". scotsman.com. 12 September 2007. Archived from the original on 17 September 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Chips hot as iPod sales soar". zdnet.co.uk. 26 October 2005. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  19. ^ "Squeezebox Duet Network Music System". Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2008.
  20. ^ "Wolfson set to ring up profits from iPhone sales". scotsman.com. 12 January 2007. Archived from the original on 2 October 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  21. ^ Arnott, Sarah (28 March 2008). "'Wolfson slumps on loss of Apple contracts". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  22. ^ "Samsung selects Wolfson's WM8994 for latest Bada and Android smartphones". CIE: Components in Electronics. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  23. ^ "Wolfson's world-leading audio devices selected for LG mobile phones". eejournal.com. 27 July 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  24. ^ "Wolfson licenses Tensilica HiFi Audio to provide a high quality, power efficient sound platform". electronicspecifier.com. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  25. ^ Eliot von Buskirk (18 September 2007). "IPOD CLASSIC'S SOUND QUALITY CALLED INTO QUESTION". Wired. Wired Mag.
  26. ^ Marc Heijligers. "iPod Classic Audio Measurements". Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  27. ^ "Expert audio quality test: 5th gen iPod vs. iPod classic". 17 September 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Cirrus Logic Audio Card | element14". Archived from the original on 24 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Wolfson Audio Card User Documentation" (PDF). Cdn-reichelt.de. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  30. ^ "Cirrus Logic Audio Card | element14". Archived from the original on 20 January 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  31. ^ Jason Laday (11 January 2007). "IEEE/Royal Society of Edinburgh And Wolfson Microelectronics Create New Award". The Institute. IEEE. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  32. ^ "IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal". IEEE. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  33. ^ "IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award". Royal Society of Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2011.