Genius! Brought to you by the makers of
Celebrating the inventors and innovators who shaped the world of pro audio
Editorial and contributors
John Stadius and the DiGiCo SD7
Rupert Neve and the Mixing Console
Bruce Hofer and the Audio Precision System One Georg Neumann and the CMV-3
7 Crown’s Gerald Stanley and the DC300
21 Soundcraft’s Graham Blyth and the Flightcase Mixing Console
Dave Martin and the ‘Philishave’
Peter Neubäcker and Melodyne DNA Stefan Kudelski and the Nagra I
Andy Hildebrand and Antares Auto-Tune Miller Puckette and Max
PMC’s Pete Thomas and ATL
Kees Schouhamer Immink and the CD
David Dearden and the Audient ASP8024 Ahren Hartman and Shure Axient
Peter Burkowitz and the EMI REDD.17 Ray Dolby and Noise Reduction
Funkion One’s Tony Andrews and the Mid-Range Horn
Klas Dalbjörn and Lab.gruppen PLM
Jesper Lind Hansen and the Pascal S-PRO2 John Meyer and Self-Powered Speakers
Paul Van Hees and the PE-133 Herbert Jünger and the Jünger Audio D1
Ivor Drawmer and the DS201
Michael Gerzon and Ambisonics
Rog Mogale and Void Acoustics’ Air Motion Jeff Byers and MIDAS
George Massenburg and Parametric EQ Dan Dugan and the Automixer
16 CEDAR’s Christopher Hicks and “De-Everything”
Aidan Williams and AV Networking (Dante)
30 The Geniuses’ Geniuses!
Prof. Karlheinz Brandenburg and MP3
18 Gerrit Buhe and Sennheiser Digital 9000
ALL HAIL THE BOFFINS!
Cover image of Michael Gerzon with Revox machine Paul Hodges
The brainy ones. The backroom boys. The boffins. Genius! is all about celebrating those clever people whose inventions have transformed the world of professional audio. Too often – and it’s not just in this industry, let’s be clear – when we hear or read about new technologies, the messaging is accompanied by a large dollop of marketing spin and a sizeable side order of superlatives. It’s only later, when we reﬂect, that we can make a valid judgment call as to what that technology as really done for us. Hence our aim here: to recognise the smart people in pro audio and marry them up to key products, technologies or features. To shine some light on the magic, if you will: to examine where our ‘genius’ was when the ‘lightbulb moment’ happened; how that spark became a reality; and what happened next, for the ‘genius’ themselves and for the wider industry. Of course, there are an awful lot of bright people out there, so this is just one swathe. There are plenty more for another time... Dave Robinson, editor
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Our contributors and their choices of genius, in pro audio and beyond…
Erica Basnicki “David Edward Hughes, inventor of the ﬁrst ever microphone. Microphones are by far my favourite piece of kit and I love that each has its own particular nuance. Not unlike wine, which I also love. “I would also choose Dorothy Parker: She could cut you in half with just a few words, then casually sit there and wait for you to get it. She also validates how I feel each month around deadline, having famously said, ‘I hate writing. I love having written.’”
David Davies “A musical innovator responsible for the birth of a new genre – ambient – as well as groundbreaking collaborations with the likes of David Bowie and Talking Heads, Brian Eno was also one of the ﬁrst people to realise the recording studio’s potential as an instrument in its own right. Away from music/pro audio, I’d nominate astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who was the ﬁrst person to observe pulsars in the late 1960s – but who was sadly excluded from Nobel Prize recognition at the time.”
Mike Hillier “Daphne Oram. She founded the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and pioneered much of British electronic music long before many people even knew what the phrase meant. But her real genius lay in the Oramics synthesizer, which used waves drawn onto ﬁlm to control the amplitude, timbre, frequency and note duration. “For my non-industry genius, I’ve decided on Ada Lovelace. She was the only (legitimate) child of Lord Byron and a well-known mathematician, who counted among her fans Charles Babbage and Michael Faraday. In 1843 she translated an article by Luigi Menabrea, about Babbage’s Analytical Engine, adding her own notes. These notes include the ﬁrst ever computer program.”
Kevin Hilton Without magnetic audio tape, which Fritz Pﬂeumer invented in 1928, there would have been no pre-recording on the likes of Revox, Studer and Nagra, and no efficient sound editing, which most likely would have meant no musique concrète and no BBC Radiophonic Workshop. And interviews would have been long and full of ‘ums’ and ‘ers’. “Away from audio? Nigel Kneale, the visionary writer of the Quatermass series fascinated by what happens when the rational world meets the supernatural head-on. He foresaw the coming of reality TV in The Year of the Sex Olympics (1962), while The Stone Tape (1972) used the search for a new audio recording medium as the basis of a chilling ghost story.”
Marc Maes “Audio-wise, Jim Marshall of Marshall Ampliﬁcation, because rock music wouldn’t have existed without the famous EL-34 valve amps and 4 x 12” stacks. “I would also choose Carlos Santana. He’s been around since my ﬁrst vinyl purchases. His natural craftsmanship and ability to create emotions with nothing but six strings are pure genius. Throughout the ages, Carlos gave proof of mastering multiple facets and musical styles, within his signature sound.”
Phil Ward “John Lennon: Given that any of the geniuses in actual pro-audio design that I would nominate already appear elsewhere on these pages, and that Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter wasn’t born in my home town, it has to be Lennon. The Picasso of rock, with an even sharper bite. “And then, the genius of Søren Kierkegaard. No, he didn’t just sit there biting the heads off whippets. He shook off prescriptive idealism and made existence something you’ve got to sort out for yourself – with or without a bible.”
Rupert Neve and the Mixing Console It seems rather obvious now, but the idea of channelling disparate audio signals through a device that would let you listen to them simultaneously, and even begin to blend them harmoniously together, was a radical one. But thatâ€™s exactly what British composer Desmond Leslie required at the beginning of the 1960s: as a musique concrĂ¨te specialist, his sound sources were not instruments but multiple tape recorders. The one-off solution provided to him by Rupert Neve was nothing less than the future in a box. â€œI met Desmond in a London recording studio when I was touting for business,â€? remembers Neve today. â€œEveryone thought he was a nutcase. He looked at me and said â€˜Have you heard that transmission from Jupiter?â€™ â€“ I had no idea, but I indulged him by saying â€˜Yes, and how about that other one from Mars?â€™â€Ś He took me entirely seriously, but thatâ€™s how we got on the same wavelength. He told me about an important commission from EMI, and that led to a fairly simple,
line-level mixer.â€? And that might have been that, were it not for the explosion of pop music as the â€™60s took off. Two London studios in particular â€“ Bryonstone Street and Recorded Sound â€“ followed Desmond Leslieâ€™s lead and saw the advantages of Neveâ€™s invention for a much more commercial output. The early models were valve-based, and included studio and outside broadcast iterations. But by the time another studio, Phillips Records, became a client, Neve had moved on to transistorbased designs and, furthermore, the addition of equalisation to the consoles to enable much more creative reinterpretation of a recording â€“ and a means of re-visiting the music without having to book the musicians all over again. â€œThey asked if there was any way I could â€˜liftâ€™ the guitar out of the mix â€“ bearing in mind that everything was in mono then,â€? Neve continues. â€œThe equaliser was essentially a steep-sided â€˜presence curveâ€™,
a mid-frequency lift centred between 1kHz and 2.5kHz. The real innovation was that it was tunable to the guitar frequencies; up to then the standard type of EQ was a kind of low-frequency broadcast ďŹ ltering. It was an amazing opportunity. With hindsight I would say that was the breakthrough â€“ although I didnâ€™t realise it at the time! The classic Neve equalisers that followed that were all based on the same approach, and became an integral part of the consoles that just took off beyond my wildest expectations. By 1973 we had over 500 employeesâ€Ś.â€? The work continues today at Rupert Neve Designs, based in Texas, and has latterly produced Neveâ€™s ďŹ rst discrete analogue
mixer in 30-plus years: the 5088. With its signature single-sided, fully discrete ampliďŹ cation and transformer isolation, the product aims to supply all of the qualities admired in the classic consoles but without the â€œfulltime occupationâ€? that seems to go with them: maintenance. â€œJust as in 1963,â€? Neve adds, â€œI hope and believe that some of the things Iâ€™m working on now will have strategic importance. The current resurgence in highquality audio needs us to address the signiďŹ cant performance specs so that the market will have concrete information to eliminate the subjective hype.â€?
Detail of the channel strip from the (current) 5088
Rupert Neve: â€œJust as in 1963, I hope and believe that some of the things Iâ€™m working on now will have strategic importanceâ€?
Gerald Stanley and… the Importance of Answering That Knock at The Door A young Gerald Stanley in his early days with Crown
Since landing his ﬁrst job at Crown in 1964, Gerald Stanley has racked up an impressive line of credits, not least of which is being selected, in 2008, by the Audio Engineers Society for the distinguished AES Fellowship Award recognising signiﬁcant contributions to power ampliﬁer design. While still an undergraduate at Michigan State University, Stanley joined Crown as a part-time tape recorder line technician, draftsman and ampliﬁer design engineer. At the university, Stanley developed ampliﬁer designs, at a time when transistor failure mechanisms (and solutions) weren’t known. His work would initially result in an ampliﬁer that was reliable, but when taken to a hi-ﬁ show in 1966 was criticised as being too “small” in relation to other 75 watts-per-channel models appearing at the time. In the spring of 1966, with a Master’s degree in hand, Stanley went to work on the size problem as Crown’s
full-time designer of tape recorder electronics but, most importantly, power ampliﬁers. The electronic protection methods to be used were now adequate, and with a newly forming knowledge base on semiconductor failure mechanisms, it was possible to deploy paralleled single-diffused power transistors in a circuit (Class-AB+B) that had ample speed and previously unattained reliability which allowed for the creation of the DC300. It would become the ﬁrst reliable, solidstate, high power ampliﬁer. By 1968, the product was shipping in quantity and ﬁnding new markets for DC coupled power. Some of the early adopters were makers of jet engines and makers of sonar transducers for the military. With all other models either smaller or unreliable, Crown had the market to themselves for a time. Since then, Stanley played a pivotal role in most of Crown’s major lines, starting with the DC 300 and including the Macro-
The DC300 would become the ﬁrst reliable, solid-state, high power ampliﬁer, and set Crown on the road to success Tech, K, CTs, I-Tech, I-TechHD and ComTech DriveCore series ampliﬁers. He’s also contributed to the design and development of tape recorders, signal processors and audio test equipment. In over 50 years working away at Crown, he has been named as an inventor on 49 patent families (many families represent several patents due to foreign versions). The patents line the offices of Crown’s Elkhart Indiana HQ. Stanley takes a holistic view of the industry’s evolution. “The
ﬁrst Crown power ampliﬁers were accessories to the tape recorders,” he says. “But over time, the accessories outsold the original products.” Stanley says he’s proud of Crown’s unwavering focus on customers. “Each product we’ve added has brought a unique value and performed in support of the other products,” he says. “The incorporation of digital signal processing is a natural for adding value to most signal processing products. Power ampliﬁer
systems are no exception.” Stanley’s words of wisdom? Have fun. And answer your door. “I started as a kid, using old radios that were being discarded around the neighbourhood, and it was a lot of fun trying to determine why the designers had done this or that,” he recalls. “The lesson: If a kid comes to your doorstep asking for an old PC, give it to them. Your old PC may transform the world in due time.” www.crownaudio.com
Dave Martin and the ‘Philishave’ The late Dave Martin will be best remembered for kick-starting the modular, horn-loaded revolution – heralding a new era in sound reinforcement after a generation of WEM columns. Believing that bands could deliver a better audience experience at ever-increasing capacity venues, Martin’s early inspiration came from seeing the RCA W folded-horn cinema cabs when Iron Butterﬂy ﬁrst toured with them. Because they measured seven feet high and weighed 500lbs they didn’t want to pay the return freight back, and so the system was sold to British rock band Yes. The Australian rethought the folded-horn concept and produced his famous 215 Mk1 (2 x 15”) bass cab, which was later transformed into the iconic 115 (1 x 15”), he quipped, “by sawing it in half.” The bass crossed over into Vitavox horns with JBL2482 compression drivers around 500Hz. Martin’s horn-loaded systems proved to be a big step up from the earlier direct radiator columns, which couldn’t keep pace with the demands of the emerging progressive scene. With early adopters including Pink Floyd, ELP and The Who, Martin bins and horns joined rock royalty through the ‘progressive’ era of the early-tomid-70s. Yet Dave Martin’s most iconic product was arguably the legendary MH212 ‘Philishave’ – so named because of its resemblance to the Philips electric razor of the time. And the band that put it on the map was Supertramp – one of a number of bands who had been seeking more power in the vocal midrange region. So how did it come about? The design brief was to develop a mid-range device that was compact, loud and crossed over into the HF horn well above 800Hz. Initial designs using ATC 12” direct radiators in the MR212 twin-angled mid and MR312 ‘threepenny bit’ were less efficient than the horn-loaded bass and HF sections and didn’t go much above 800Hz. Martin’s imaginative solution was to look to the compression driver principle to increase efficiency and extend frequency response upwards by matching a speaker diaphragm to a smaller throat by means of a phase plug.
Introduced in 1978, the twindriver MH212 was the ﬁrst ever dedicated cone midrange horn, and with the 115 or 215 Mk2 bass bins and HF2M treble horn completed the modular system. The name ‘Philishave’ resonated louder than the components from which it was made – and quickly became an industry standard around the globe. Another pioneering principle that Dave Martin adopted was to stack the bass, mids and highs in separate columns. The 1980 Dire Straits’ tour in Italy was a perfect example of the science of stacking,
with the Philishaves and horns arranged in columns to throw further – a forerunner of line array thinking, while for the Free Mandela concert at Wembley stadium in 1988, seen in over 40 countries, Concert Sound ﬁelded a colossal 98 x 215 Mk2 bins, 60 Philishaves and over 60 HF horns plus JBL bullets. And so with his early mission fulﬁlled, the heritage and pedigree have been handed down to subsequent generations of development engineers within the company, and the quest to achieve the same
7,000W Martin Audio rig for Pink Floyd, Earl’s Court 1973
pioneering excellence through innovation remains intact. For these are truly legacy systems, and to this day, Dave Martin’s horn-loading philosophy continues to be a key principle
in the touring products of Martin Audio, the company he founded in Covent Garden in 1971. www.martin-audio.com
A young Martin with classic ‘Philishave’ stack
Andy Hildebrand and Auto-Tune Love it or loathe it, pitchcorrection software is here to stay, having made an impact
on the industry even before Auto-Tune was released in 1997. “Two months after I started
development I took the half completed product to the NAMM trade show and demonstrated it at the Digidesign booth. Several producers insisted on getting it NOW, one explaining he’d just paid $60,000 to make [unnamed superstar] sing in tune. AutoTune would have done the job perfectly in minutes.” Now a permanent ﬁxture in studios, pitch-correction software such as Auto-Tune is as likely to be used to gently push a performance into pitch as it is to be creatively abused to create an almost synthetic, vocoder-like effect. Dr Andy Hildebrand got his Ph.D in Electrical Engineering specialising in signal processing in 1976, then went on to work at Exxon doing seismic data processing research and by 1980 had co-founded Landmark Graphics Corporation, which he left in 1988 to go back to school to study composition at Shepard School of Music in Rice University, then founding Jupiter Systems, which became Antares in 1990. Much ink has been
The latest version of the ubiquitous software wasted trying to link his time at Exxon with the development of Auto-Tune by Dr Andy (as he is affectionately known) laughs this off; “the reality is there was 17 years in between and they have nothing to do with each other”. But Dr Andy isn’t afraid of extending beyond his comfort zone, and recently while examining guitar waveforms was inspired by his daughter,
a cardiologist, into developing tools for pacemakers. “It turns out that deﬁbrillating pacemakers make errors based on not correctly computing the pulse rate: sometimes they shock what they shouldn’t, which can be problematic. Sometimes they don’t shock when they should, which can be fatal. So now I’m working on pacemakers as well.” www.antarestech.com
Miller Puckette and Max While computer-generated music can be traced back as far as the 1950s, by the late 1970s, when a young mathematician named Miller Puckette took a Computer Music course at MIT, the hardware and software necessary to create music in realtime on a computer still wasn’t available. “I was frustrated by having to wait for the sound to come out of the computer. So I got busy trying to ﬁnd a way to get the sound to come out in real time.” That development wasn’t easy. While at IRCAM in the mid-80s Puckette developed Patcher, a GUI programming environment which could control MIDI, but still had no real-time audio of its own. The patching style however, caught on as it enabled musicians to quickly visualise what they were programming without having to learn a complex coding language. “I wanted Max to be easy to use so that musicians would be able to work directly with it without having to rely on a
technical assistant.” Not until 1989 did the IRCAM Signal Processing Workstation – a NeXT computer with three expansion DSP cards – ﬁnally provide Puckette with the necessary DSP to run realtime audio and Max/FTS (Faster Than Sound) was born, enabling real-time audio signal creation and processing. The original version of Max, without the FTS extensions, was licensed to Opcode in 1990. In the mid-90s Puckette, now at the University of California San Diego, sought to remedy some of the weaknesses of Max/FTS, and began work on Pure Data (Pd) as an open-source patching language. Inspired by Puckette’s real-time audio in Pd, David Zicarelli then re-used the audio side of Pd in Max, and in 1997 launched Max/MSP which is now developed and maintained by Cycling ’74 (cycling74.com). “It was pretty clear to me from the beginning (1998-ish)
Miller Puckette in Taiwan that Max/MSP was going to be widely used. The Macintosh and MIDI synth platform was catching on quickly and there weren’t any other
easily useable programming environments for it.” Puckette continues to work on and with Pd at the University of California San Diego.
Kees Schouhamer Immink and the Compact Disc In the 1970s, South African born Kees Schouhamer Immink worked at Philips Research in the Netherlands on the videodisc: an optical disc that could store up to 60 minutes of analogue video and sound. It was a technical success, but a marketing disaster. The next format, however, would change the audio world foreverâ€Ś
Immink is now president of Turing Machines, where he has been granted around 10 US patents for new coding technology
What happened next? When we ďŹ rst brought them to market, sales of CDs were very slow. There were only two factories in the world actually producing them: Phillips and Sony. Nobody else had any interest. It took at least three years before I heard of a third factory starting and I thought, â€œnow, weâ€™re getting somewhereâ€?. But there was initially lots of opposition from the music industry. It was understandable; they were selling vinyl records, making money and the industry was happy with that. Shops had no interest either: they had to make room for CDs, and they were happy selling vinyl. So why change? Eventually it was a success, of course, and in 2000 it reached its peak. Sales are only 20% down from that peak, so itâ€™s not doing so badly.
How did you end up with Philips Research working on the Compact Disc? At that time, research was split up into three main groups: physics, chemistry and electronics. I am an electronic engineer and optical recording was being investigating in the physics group. Electronic engineers werenâ€™t allowed to work in the physics group â€“ I was the ďŹ rst one who did. Apparently, management found out that a multidisciplinary group would be better. There was a vacancy so I applied and was accepted, and for about ďŹ ve or six years I was the only electronic engineer there. What led to the development of the actual CD format? The physicists and myself were working very hard on the â€˜video discâ€™. At some point, the Audio industry group asked if we could also make a disc that contained sound only. We were very academic at the time, and very independent, so we said, â€œSure, we can. But we donâ€™t. Itâ€™s trivial.â€? So we just said â€œnoâ€? to the people who actually gave us to money to do all the research! A few months, later two engineers from the Audio industry group came to do some experiments with these sound-only discs. It was absolutely the initiative of the Audio industry group to investigate the possibility of a sound-only disc. Is it true that the playing time of the CD was designed to accommodate a Beethoven symphony? At some point in time we received a message from the top brass that the playing time
blooper I had ever seen! But the CD was, and we were able to develop that in a year because we had so much experience with the video disc.
What do you think about your contribution to the audio industry? Maybe I was too serious when I did all this work. I shouldâ€™ve taken more time to do something else. Thatâ€™s one of those regrets people in their ďŹ nal days always have. The number one regret is always not spending more time with the family. But when youâ€™re in your 30s and 40s, you donâ€™t have time for your family. [Laughs] Iâ€™m jokingâ€Ś but itâ€™s fantastic if you can look back at a career that has so many highlights and has changed the world of consumer electronics so much with digitisation that all started with the introduction of the CD. www.turing-machines.com http://www.exp-math. uni-essen.de/~immink/pdf/ beethoven.htm
should be 74 minutes. Later, I heard about the Beethoven storyâ€Ś have you ever heard the recording? [The Ninth Symphony, recorded during the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1951] Itâ€™s horrible! Itâ€™s a noisy, mono recording that nobody wanted to listen to. Why someone would use that as a yardstick for the playing time of the CD, I donâ€™t know! [Laughs] Was there a speciďŹ c moment when you realised this was something special? Well, thatâ€™s difficult because Iâ€™ve had those moments before. I believed that the video disc would become a very great commercial success, but it wasnâ€™t. It was the greatest
Immink at Philips research in 1980, developing the Compact Disc with an Apple II computer
Immink received an Honourary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg in June this year, in recognition of the remarkable contributions he has made to intellectual and public life
Peter Burkowitz and the EMI REDD.17 Console Recognition that stereo separation was set to effect a profound change on studio recording techniques, EMI established a new design team to ascertain and act on these new expectations – the REDD: Record Engineering Development Department – in the mid-1950s. The REDD.1 – Abbey Road’s ﬁrst dedicated stereo mixing system – was an early result of the initiative, but it was 1958’s REDD.17 (below) that truly marked the beginning of a new era. Through the analogue and digital eras, the design and feature set of recording consoles has changed dramatically. The
10-input REDD.17, however, is arguably the desk that created the basic template, with a row of faders, bass and treble EQs on each of the eight channels. Interestingly, the technical mastermind behind the REDD.17 wasn’t even based in the UK. Peter Burkowitz worked out of EMI Electrola in Germany, where he fashioned a modular design that would allow the REDD desk to be easily assembled and disassembled. Burkowitz and the team back in London – which was led by Abbey Road Studios technical engineer and REDD project founder Lenn Page – worked closely together on a desk that
Burkowitz (right) with former Abbey Road technician Brian Gibson, who kindly supplied this picture soon became the default Abbey Road recording desk. Perhaps most importantly in the long term, the REDD.17 also provided the groundwork for the REDD:37, the console that marked Abbey Road’s entry into four-track recording. Additional EQ on each channel
The original REDD.17 (pic courtesy of Abbey Road)
was among the features of a desk that soon became a legend of the studio world thanks to its use on The Beatles’ EMI material up until the end of 1963 – a hugely exciting period that saw the release of the Fabs’ ﬁrst two long-players, Please Please Me
Ray Dolby and Noise Reduction There aren’t too many ﬁgures in pro audio who can be said to have crossed over into the mainstream and become household names. But the late Ray Dolby – whose remarkable 50-plus US patents had a seismic impact on both consumer and professional audio – was indisputably one of that select band. In the professional studio world, it will be for Dolby’s pioneering work in noise reduction technologies that he will be most fondly remembered. The ﬁrst of these Dolby NR (Noise Reduction) systems, Dolby A, came into use in the mid1960s at the same time as multi-track recording was becoming ubiquitous, and quickly became a recognised benchmark in studios worldwide. Subsequent versions, such as Dolby HX-Pro, served to broaden its usage considerably.
While the company he founded in 1965 and which bears his name, Dolby Laboratories, retains a strong presence in the studio market, its position in cinema audio now seems particularly unassailable. Having launched the Dolby Digital surround sound compression scheme in the early 1990s, the company has gone on to introduce widely-adopted systems for 5.1 and 7.1 conﬁgurations. Now it looks set to usher in a new era for both cinema and home audio with Dolby Atmos, its object-based audio technology designed to deliver three-dimensional sound that has already been implemented in hundreds of cinemas. Conﬁrmation of Dolby’s popular status was abundant in his later years, with the Hollywood venue that hosts the Oscars being renamed the Dolby Theatre in 2012. Slightly less exaltedly, he was also the
and With the Beatles. Meanwhile, many of The Beatles’ subsequent recordings were captured on the next generation of REDD desk, the REDD.51, which was introduced in 1964. www.abbeyroad.com
Ray Dolby in his workshop inﬂuence for a setpiece joke (“you don’t do heavy metal in Dubly, you know!”) in classic 1984 rockumentary, This Is
Spinal Tap. Described as a “friend, mentor and true visionary” by current Dolby Laboratories
president and CEO Kevin Yeaman, Ray Dolby passed away aged 80 in September 2013.
Klas DalbjĂśrn and PLM Series Klas DalbjĂśrn is fondly known as â€˜The Brainâ€™ by his colleagues at Lab.gruppen, where he currently holds the position of product research manager, a company he joined as an engineer back in 1992. DalbjĂśrn holds an MSc EE degree from Chalmers in Gothenburg specialising in electroacoustics and digital signal processing, and it was here, in the 1980s, that he ďŹ rst began working with Lake Processing, an avenue of research that was to change the face of the company and, arguably, the live sound market. The Lake FDP-1 was an early Lake implementation, allowing emulation of long convolution ďŹ lters. Working with the Lake FDP-1 to be able to evaluate ďŹ lters to compensate for speakers within rooms, his academic work brought him into contact with David McGrath, one of Lakeâ€™s founders. â€œThis gave me the knowledge and courage to approached Lab.gruppen in 1991 with the
promise that I could design a really good loudspeaker processor for them. Dan BĂ¤vholm, one of the Lab.gruppen founders, knew that they would eventually need to incorporate this into the ampliďŹ ers, so I got hired and I started working in February 1992, actually thinking I could do it in a few months. At this time Lab.gruppen was still small and all previous design efforts had been made by the founders themselves. Luckily they knew that things donâ€™t happen overnight and I was allowed to spend most of my time to work on this â€˜product for the futureâ€™.â€? It took ďŹ ve years, in fact: the innovative loudspeaker processor, the DSP24 (which emulated four 8192 FIR taps at 48kHz); while the industry wasnâ€™t quite ready for such a sophisticated device in 1997, it marked DalbjĂśrn out as a superior technical talent on the rise. â€œAround 2003 my work task focus shifted towards deďŹ ning
DalbjĂśrn is known as â€˜The Brainâ€™ to his colleagues
and specifying new products,â€? he continues. â€œI was quite sure that I didnâ€™t want Lab.gruppen to deliver an â€˜ampliďŹ er with DSP insideâ€™ â€“ I wanted to create a â€˜loudspeaker processor system with ampliďŹ er blocks insideâ€™.â€? And so it was in 2007, PLM (Powered Loudspeaker Management) introduced the world to Lab.gruppenâ€™s most powerful four-channel ampliďŹ er platform, integrated with the industry-leading digital sound manipulation features of Lake Processing. The result was a seamlessly uniďŹ ed sound reinforcement core that offered unprecedented ďŹ‚exibility, pristine digital ďŹ ltering and delay, plus effortless ability to drive difficult loads. When compared to conventional approaches
PLM10000Q (later version with Dante capability) using separate components, the PLM Series afforded signiďŹ cant advantages in sonic performance, user functionality, rental inventory practicality, and long-term cost savings in a package that has since gone on to power some of the biggest tours on the planet, including U2â€™s mammoth 360â ° Tour. In his role as product research manager, DalbjĂśrn continues to nurture product ideas for the Lab.gruppen and Lake brands. In 2014 â€“ as Lab.gruppen celebrated its 35th anniversary â€“ DalbjĂśrn helped introduce two new ampliďŹ er platforms, D Series and PLM+, both of which feature new technologies straight from â€˜The Brainâ€™ including Rational Power Management (RPM), a technology that ensures the most efficient and logical use of total ampliďŹ er resource. Rack after rack of PLM on the legendary U2 360Â° tour
Paul Van Hees and the PE-133 With the Apex PE-133, Belgian audio manufacturer Apex designed the ﬁrst ever and still unsurpassed EQ combining fullparametric and graphic equaliser in one device. And contributed to the pro-audio vocabulary: the ‘paragraphic equaliser’ was born. The idea to develop a new equaliser came in 1988, when Paul Van Hees, as sales manager with production house EML’s sales division, was looking for an alternative product for the HIT (Harrison Information Technology) equaliser. “They were the pre-digital times, mind you, everything was analogue,” remembers Van Hees. “We needed a hardware solution… Of course, you had the stand-alone versions of both the graphic and parametric equalisers – the combination we had in mind was really innovative: the ﬁrst device combining the two EQs.” From the very ﬁrst development, Van Hees had the feeling of going beyond the trend. “The PE-133’s parametric section featured unprecedented ﬁne frequency tuning, offering notch ﬁltering
up to -45dB,” he says. “Specially manufactured precision faders, frequency adjustable high-pass and low-pass ﬁlters added to the efficiency of the new type equaliser, aiming at both the sound reinforcement and studio market.” The PE-133 was ﬁrst shown at the 1989 Hamburg AES – one year later, the PE-133 was awarded by the King Boudewijn Foundation, underlining the importance for the further development of the pro-audio industry. First clients to order the PE- were the Belgian national broadcaster, the Videaudio recording studio in Brussels and The Dutch National Film and Audio Service in The Hague. Next came the Disneyland Paris park with an order of 70 PE-232 (the PE-133 stereo version). “They were fun times then – pro-audio was in full development and the whole industry was less organised and structured,” Van Hees looks back. “It was really the storming spirit of business.”
Paul Van Hees (left) with Apex technical director HendrikJan Gieleis
The PE-133 paragraphic equaliser
Herbert Jünger and the D1 Herbert Jünger grew up in the old East Germany, or the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as it was formally known. During the mid-1970s he studied electronic engineering and then worked for a high frequency measurement company. He also played in bands, where his knowledge of electronics was useful to his fellow musicians. “There was nothing available
in the GDR at that time so everything had to be re-built or copied,” he explains. The same was true in broadcasting and Jünger’s talent for creating equipment that was becoming commonplace in the West brought him to the attention of television and radio engineers. At the beginning of the 1980s Jünger produced the ﬁrst analogue compressor in East
Germany, based on the VCAs of a dbx unit that had been brought in via his aunt. This was followed by the analogue Dynamic Transponders that made his name among broadcast engineers looking to reduce the wide dynamic range of CDs for FM transmission. The algorithm Jünger developed for these units also formed the basis of the
GENIUS ﬁrst digital products products produced by his new company, Jünger Audio, which was formed with his wife Irmgard in 1990 following the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous year. The D1 was among the ﬁrst digital compressor-limiters and addressed what Jünger saw as a distinct need in the German market: “There were the ﬁrst digital recorders and mixers but
no processors. With the growth in CD mastering there was a great need to use all the headroom of 16-bit without clipping and artefacts.” The D1 was short-lived but led to the D01, D02 and D03, which were used widely in broadcasting and mastering. www.junger-audio.com Herbert Jünger, who created Jünger Audio in 1990
The D01, D02 and D03 processors from the early ‘90s
Tragically, Michael Gerzon did not live long enough to see his greatest achievement, Ambisonics, become part of the quest for a truly immersive audio experience. Born in Birmingham at the end of 1945, Gerzon had, like many geniuses, many interests and brought his undoubtedly immense intelligence to bear on other areas of audio. He was involved in the early development of digital compression and processing that formed the basis of Wavesâ€™ ďŹ rst products. But it is his work on Ambisonics that cements Gerzonâ€™s place in the sound pantheon. Gerzon was both a mathematician and a recording engineer. His father, David, who had studied physics and chemistry, gave the shy,
introverted Michael his ďŹ rst reelto-reel tape recorder, which both helped in his school studies and began a life-long interest. While studying mathematics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Gerzon joined the University Tape Recording Society (OUTRS) with like-minded fellow student Peter Craven, who would work with him on future developments. It was the now defunct Studio Sound magazine that published Gerzonâ€™s tonguein-cheek glossary of audio terms, including his observation that stereo was an obsolete format with two loudspeakers missing. Gerzon was dismissive of the quadrophonic systems that were produced in the early to mid-70s. Working with others, including Professor Peter Berners Fellgett of the University of Reading, he set out to overcome
Michael Gerzon and Ambisonics
Todayâ€™s TSL SPS200 Software Controlled Microphone â€“ but it all started with Michael
the technical and acoustic shortcomings of quad and create something that captured and reproduced an accurate sound picture. His conclusion was that proper spatial imaging could only be achieved if the actual acoustical signals contained in the recording environment were recorded. He deďŹ ned the soundďŹ eld as comprising the absolute sound pressure level and the three pressure gradients: left/right, front/back and up/down. Having calculated such a system, which was named Ambisonics (both syllables from Latin, â€˜ambiâ€™ for â€˜aroundâ€™ or â€˜surroundâ€™ and sonic for sound), Gerzon and his colleagues needed a specialist microphone to record the necessary information. The resultant SoundďŹ eld microphone, which has four capsules mounted on the faces of a tetrahedron, was manufactured ďŹ rst by Calrec Audio, then SoundField and now TSL PPL SoundField. The Core Sound TetraMic is also based on Gerzonâ€™s patents and for some time both it and the SoundďŹ eld were the only practical realisations of Ambisonics. Despite enthusiasm for it among studios and record companies, the recording and mastering format itself faded away in the early 1980s. Gerzon was downhearted at this, something not helped by persistent ill health and stays in hospital. His later work with Waves raised his spirits, and supplied necessary income. The irony is that multichannel systems such as Dolby Digital and DTS were becoming established for the cinema when Gerzon died in May 1996. Nearly 20 years after his death Ambisonics has a new lease of life as todayâ€™s researchers attempt to produce a fully immersive soundscape. The SoundField mic (with a capital â€˜Fâ€™) also continues to evolve. As its current designer, Pieter
Michael Gerzon in playful mood Schillebeeckx, says, Michael Gerzon was a genius because of his wide range of interests, including Ambisonics, lossless compression, music recording and poetry, which gave him core visions beyond just mathematical equations, although he did ultimately use mathematics to solve the technical problems he faced.
With thanks to Michael Gerzon: Beyond Psychoacoustics by Robert Charles Alexander, Dora Media Production 2008; www.michaelgerzonphotos.org. uk; and Paul Hodges for the use of his photographs www.ambisonic.net
The OUTRS group (L-R): Gerzon, Paul Hodges, Peter Craven and Stephen Thornton. Hodges: â€œThis was taken in June 1968, when Stephen and I were just starting ďŹ nals, and getting ourselves distracted!â€?
George Massenburg and Parametric EQ A recording engineer who has worked on more than 400 records over ﬁve decades – including landmark releases by Little Feat, Mary
Chapin Carpenter and Randy Newman – George Massenburg is nonetheless most closely identiﬁed with his groundbreaking work in the ﬁeld
The GML 8200 parametric equaliser of parametric EQ. Equipped to make more precise adjustments than other types of equalisers, parametric EQs allow users to control three primary parameters: amplitude, centre frequency and bandwidth. Their capabilities have seen them become defaults for studio recording and live sound. In 1972 Massenburg completed the writing of an inﬂuential technical paper, entitled ‘Parametric Equalisation’, which was presented at the 42nd AES Convention. Massenburg’s ﬁrm, George Massenburg Labs (GML), has subsequently released a long series of parametric EQs, including the industry-standard 8200. To this day, channel
EQs based on the designs of Massenburg or fellow pioneers Daniel N. Flickinger and Burgess MacNeal remain ubiquitous. Founded in 1982, GML has gone on to develop an extensive range of console automation devices, analogue signal processors, microphone preampliﬁers and power supplies, all based on Massenburg’s original circuit designs. Among the ﬁrm’s most celebrated products is the GML 8900 Dynamic Range Controller, which is designed to react to loudness in the way our ears do – rather than to voltage levels. Still deeply involved with R&D, Massenburg was awarded a further patent in 2013 for a
variable exponent averaging detector and dynamic range controller. Underlining academic credentials that include several visiting professorships, Massenburg also serves as the CTO of METAlliance (the Music Engineering Technical Alliance), a union of music producers and engineers focused on achieving the highest standards of audio and music delivery. Rounding out a fulsome CV, Massenburg continues to design major recording studios, with credits including The Complex and George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound in California, and Blackbird Studio in Nashville. www.massenburg.com
Dan Dugan and the Automixer Genius is often more than one idea or ﬂash of brilliance. Creative and technological greatness can be seen as when a person creates other things or continues to improve the original invention. Dan Dugan had the initial spark that led to the auto mixer, which, 40 years later, is still evolving. Dugan sees himself as an inventor but, unlike John Meyer, who he regards as a genius, one who did not have formal engineering training. The young Dugan made “smelly chemistry experiments” and “played with electricity”. He was also interested in the combination of the artistic and the technical. “When I went to the theatre I always wanted to go backstage and see the lighting board,” he says. Dugan went on to work in theatre lighting and sound but audio later took over completely. In 1968 he was the ﬁrst person in US regional theatre to be called a sound designer. While on a touring
production of Hair soon afterwards Dugan began to consider the problem of handling multiple channels at the same time. “I started working on how to deal with many open mics and what to do with them when they weren’t needed,” he explains. This led to an adaptive threshold with mic gain adjustment, which he patented in 1974 and demonstrated as the Dugan Music System at the New York AES the same year. This was based on the ﬁrst practical automatic mixing algorithm but Dugan knew it could go further. While “tinkering” with the logarithmic level detection of the Music System he decided to see what effect using the sum of all the active input mics as a reference would have. This did away with the need for an external reference and produced the Dugan Speech System, which he patented in 1975. “I almost didn’t understand what I had done,” he comments. “But when I was
Dan Dugan in his workshop writing the patent and had to do the mathematics it turned out to be quite simple. It was a discovery rather than an invention.”
Dugan says he has “been mining that vein every since” and feels there is “still a way to go with it”. At the age of 71 he expects to be
working for “20 more years”, so the genius of the automixer burns on. www.dandugan.com
Christopher Hicks and the â€œDe-Everythingâ€? Range CEDAR AUDIOâ€™s Series 2 products â€“ the DC-1 Declicker, CR-1 Decrackler, AZ-1 Azimuth Corrector and DH-2 Dehisser â€“ rescued historic audio archives while improving audio ďŹ delity for a new format.
Dr Christopher Hicks (right) with engineering director Dave Betts and their Academy Awards for technical achievement in 2005
How did you end up at CEDAR Audio and working on the original â€œDe-Everythingâ€? products? CEDAR in its original form grew out of research carried out in the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge, opening officially in February 1988. I was a student in the right place at the right time. I heard about what was going on and was interested in it, so I arranged for my ďŹ nal year project to be with the professor who did the original research. He was sufficiently pleased with my work that he introduced me to CEDAR. So how did the De-Everything products end up on the market? They were originally a solution to a problem at the British Libraryâ€™s National Sound Archive. The Archive has a huge collection of historic recording media, some of which had been stored badly, others of which had just deteriorated naturally through being played, so they approached the university to see if anything could be done to remove the effects of this degradation. Having done that, we rapidly realised that people have a lot of other audio problems, and thatâ€™s where the idea of â€˜De-Everythingâ€™ came from. Was there a particular point at which you realised this was something quite special? That came very early; one of the prototype systems was featured on a 1988 BBC television programme called Tomorrowâ€™s World, and suddenly we had people clamouring at the door asking â€œwhen can I have one?â€? We also attended many tradeshows in the early â€™90s,
Promo shot of Series 1 DC-1 Declicker from 1992
and being able to demonstrate a digital signal processing system that could remove the scratches, crackle or hiss from a recording in real-time while visitors were on the exhibition stand listening to itâ€Ś that really made peopleâ€™s jaws drop. What happened next? All of this was happening at the time that the record companies wanted to extract
value from their back catalogue by re-releasing it on CD, so our real-time restoration products were also in the right place at the right time. But we soon started ďŹ nding other uses that suggested interesting and signiďŹ cant developments for CEDAR as a company, taking us into new areas such as postproduction, audio forensics and security. Today, you can divide CEDARâ€™s activities into three
areas, and the company works very closely with national (and other large) archives as well as the ďŹ lm and TV industries, plus law enforcement, counterterrorism, and other security forces worldwide. What are your thoughts on having contributed something so important to the audio industry? Itâ€™s great to have been there
right at the start of audio restoration. Everyone takes it for granted nowadays that you can remove noise from an old recording, but being involved ďŹ rst-hand with the original PhD research that grew into those ďŹ rst products was really exciting and is of course something to be very proud of â€“ personally as well as part of the company. www.cedar-audio.com
Professor Karlheinz Brandenburg and MP3 Sometimes the academics strike pure gold. The Working Group for Electronic Media Technology in Ilmenau, between Frankfurt and Leipzig, is just one of 56 Fraunhöfer Institutes established by the post-war German Government speciﬁcally to bridge research and industry: to kick-start new business with good ideas. It worked. And one of the most commercially successful ideas became MP3, or Layer 3 of the Motion Picture Expert Group standard for compressed audio, to give it full billing. Professor Karlheinz Brandenburg led the team that developed it. Compressing audio became a good idea as soon as the Fraunhöfer placed Integrated Circuits at the heart of its agenda. “For me it started with my PhD in 1982,” reveals the professor, “when my thesis advisor suggested – theoretically – ISDN for music as well as speech. I did, eventually, prove to the exam
board that it was possible!” It all kicked off with ISDN codecs, with Fraunhöfer supplying software for both the Telos Zephyr and Dialog4’s MusicTaxi in groundbreaking OEM deals. Research has led the organisation into every area of media delivery from digital broadcasting to internet streaming, but MP3 changed the world. Published in 1993, MP3 offered the nascent World Wide Web audio ﬁles a fraction of the size of those used in CDs. The exchange of ﬁle formats ending ‘.mp3’ quickly caught on and, although professionals pointed to an unacceptable breaching of psychoacoustic barriers, consumers didn’t mind at all. “It became an avalanche that nobody could stop,” reﬂects Professor Brandenburg, who remains very positive about the commercial future. “Overall people spend more money on ‘industry content’, especially if you include live sound,” he
says. “It’s just that they expect it to be with them everywhere, on portable devices. In other words, it’s still something to be valued.” Now that digital delivery is ubiquitous, the vested interests in every layer of audio and video transport have exponentially compounded. Still, while Fraunhöfer pushed MPEG-21 towards “a complete framework for multimedia in a commercial environment”, MP3 players had a clear run until just recently. However: whether the smartphone really suits MP3 usage remains to be seen. www.iis.fhg.de
Gerrit Buhe and Digital 9000 Buhe was building his own radio receivers in his teens
it has found favour in theatres and musicals (the huge 14-18 musical in Belgium for instance), with classical producers and leading event production companies too. Around 10 years of research and development went into the Digital 9000 system. Looking back, what was Buheâ€™s greatest challenge? â€œThe greatest challenge was at the same time an ever-present one: developing a wireless microphone system with digital transmission and really outstanding audio characteristics meant going close to the limits of physical feasibility. And once we are at these physical limits, technical complexity positively explodes. We went into a huge amount of detail in many places and developed a lot of small solutions that enabled us to achieve higher data transfer rates for the audio data than is usually the case.â€? Does he think that his Sennheiser team has now developed the ideal digital wireless microphone? â€œThe absolutely ideal digital wireless microphone doesnâ€™t exist â€“ but I think we are very close to it!â€? he laughs. â€œBut
seriously, there is no such thing as the ideal microphone for all applications because, due to the physical limitations that I mentioned before, a digital microphone must always make a sensible compromise, for example as regards the operating time, size and weight, or range. But â€“ never before has such high audio quality been transmitted wirelessly in the UHF band as with Digital 9000.â€? Digital makes things easier then..?
â€œI would rather say that digital is one of those modern magic words that make things appear simple, which are in reality based on or require highly complex internal processes.â€? Nevertheless, the magic will continue with further extensions planned to the Digital 9000 familyâ€Ś At press time, the company had just announced the launch of the D1 instrument wireless series. www.sennheiser.com Buhe delivered the technical presentation at the 9000 launch in 2012
The 9000 Series was used extensively at a staging of Verdiâ€™s La Traviata near Masada in Israel last year Gerrit Buhe obtained his amateur radio (â€˜HAMâ€™ radio) licence at the age of 14 and built his own ďŹ rst own short wave transceiver shortly afterwards. Heâ€™d already learned Morse Code three years earlier. No surprises then that he decided to make his hobby his profession, studying electrical engineering with a focus on communications technology. After his professional start in a small engineering office in Rostock, he moved to Siemens in Munich where he developed Mobile Radio Base Stations as an RF and DSP engineer, eventually broadening his experience to include software systems engineering with the University of Paderborn. Buhe joined
Sennheiser in 2002 with the challenge of introducing digital transmission technology into demanding wireless microphone systems. The result, 10 years later, was the Digital 9000 Series. Buhe started with a team of four, swelling to 20 towards the ďŹ nalisation of the product. Since its launch in late 2012, Digital 9000 has been implemented in events all over the world: The Voice and X Factor recording in several different territories; prestigious awards shows in Switzerland, Malaysia and Australia; and of course, the last two Eurovision Song Contests. As a leading wireless systems delivering fullbandwidth uncompressed audio,
John Stadius and the SD7 The industryâ€™s wholesale transition from analogue to digital mixing is often traced back to the pioneering work done at Soundtracs, the UK-based studio desk maker spearheaded by business visionary Todd Wells. From 1980, Surrey University graduate John Stadius was Wellsâ€™ technical director, and therefore directly involved in the conception, design and execution of the ďŹ rst digitally controlled analogue and later fully digital consoles ever produced. Soundtracs evolved into DiGiCo, and with it Stadius turned his attention to the live sound sector for both touring and ďŹ xed installation. On 5 September 2007, DiGiCo revealed the â€˜future-proofâ€™ SD7 console. It wasnâ€™t the companyâ€™s ďŹ rst, and followed both the D5 Live and ďŹ ve years of vigorous evangelising about mixing live concerts digitally. But it featured something called Stealth Digital Processing, and nothing would be the same againâ€Ś â€œThe D5 Live was essentially based on the original Soundtracs digital platform for postproduction,â€? says Stadius. â€œIt was when we adopted the FPGAs for the SD7 â€“ and beyond â€“ that
the paradigm shifted: just look at how the feature set has changed since then, without changing the hardware. By deďŹ nition, you reconďŹ gure the FPGA. You can reconďŹ gure channel counts, featuresâ€Ś â€œWe designed it so it wasnâ€™t full up at the beginning and we could add these things. If itâ€™s ďŹ xed DSP, youâ€™ve got a ďŹ xed amount of processing. FPGA is ultimately ďŹ‚exible, provided you choose the right device in the beginning â€“ which we did.â€? The â€˜rightâ€™ device was one big enough to accommodate the feature sets demanded by customers, such as dynamic EQs, valve emulation and other musical priorities. Making that choice was trickier than it would be today, as the chips now are generally more powerful. It had to be future-proof, as was Stadiusâ€™s vision â€“ â€œand it still isâ€?, he adds. The emphasis on ďŹ‚exibility in all current designs bears this out, although not all of them embrace the FPGA model. â€œYou have to place some restrictions on customisation,â€? Stadius points out, â€œotherwise users can simply lose their way! You can make it too complicatedâ€Śâ€?
Since the SD7 DiGiCo has been able to develop a â€˜suiteâ€™ of consoles that all run on the same software, making upgrades a lot easier for every size of product and â€“ a real industry contribution â€“ unrestricted ďŹ le exchange between them. â€œWeâ€™ll not move away from FPGAs now,â€? Stadius continues, â€œwhile others use PC cores or SHARC-based engines for processing. You canâ€™t build those into the work surface,
which gives us a great advantage â€“ we have no external rack for the processing. Itâ€™s one chassis, one power supplyâ€Ś less to go wrong. â€œAlso, if youâ€™re running the operating system on the same core, or chip, as the audio processing, you lose the audio if the operating system has a fault. With our solution, you can reboot the whole surface and the audio carries on running. Thatâ€™s
pretty fundamental in live sound, and why we have dual engines on the SD7.â€? For Stadius himself, â€˜geniusâ€™ is personiďŹ ed by none other than Albert Einstein. â€œHe was a patent clerk with no technical training,â€? Stadius says, â€œso how he came up with all these explanations of the Universe is just mind boggling.â€? www.digico.biz
Bruce Hofer and the AP System One Thomas Edison said genius was “one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration”. Bruce Hofer cites this as a deﬁnition and has proved it over a long career designing T&M (test and measurement) equipment. He has been behind many measuring devices but it is the System One (S1) frequency analyser and waveform generator that encompasses his technical vision. Hofer worked as an assistant in the Labs Instruments Division of Tektronix while studying electronics at Oregon State University. After graduating in 1970 he joined Tek fulltime, working on units for the 7000 Series of oscilloscopes.
Eight years later he switched to audio and was lead engineer on the SG505 audio oscillator and AA501 distortion analyser. But when Tek began to focus on video T&M and dismantled Hofer’s audio team, he three colleagues decided to set up their own company. Audio Precision was founded in 1984 with the S1 as its initial focus. The IBM personal computer had just come on the market and Hofer saw its potential for controlling the system. “It was an impediment to selling the S1, though,” he says. “People weren’t convinced PCs would be long-term and didn’t like having it on the bottom of the invoice.”
When AP became a reseller for Compaq it bundled those PCs with the original S1 without mentioning the fact. “Most of my contribution to the design was the program that ran in the GUI,” Hofer comments. Hofer says the innovation process is “hard to verbalise”, perhaps because “some of my best ideas come while I’m asleep”. After that inspiration comes the perspiration of simulations and development. AP has pushed on into the digital age with products including the APx Series but the S1 was only discontinued in 2002 and is still listed in the archive of the company’s website. www.ap.com System One (top), Two and Cascade
GENIUS Georg Neumann and the CMV-3 Condenser Microphone An early interest in making things and conducting experiments presaged Georg Neumann’s entry into precision engineering training aged just 15. A further 15 years later, Neumann and business partner Erich Rickmann became a part of the then-unfolding revolution in recorded sound by establishing Georg Neumann & Co. Much of their early R&D was focused on improving the poor quality of sound recordings, which at that time were frequently made with carbon mics. The Reisz Microphone was an early success, but
it was with the CMV-3 Neumann Bottle Condenser Microphone in the mid-’30s that the company really began to make its global mark. Using a capsule diaphragm originally consisting of a collodion foil with a thin layer of gold, and able to accept multiple capsules including the iconic M7, the CMV3’s merits included “the complete absence of noise, the absence of a response threshold, a scarcely detectable level of distortion, and a very linear frequency response” (in the words of a 1939 operating manual). Crucially, the design was also the ﬁrst condenser mic that could be manufactured in large quantities. Worldwide distribution was established
and the mic rapidly became a staple of news and radio reports, including the Berlin Olympics of 1936, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s notoriously ill-founded ‘Peace for our Time’ speech of 1938, and countless broadcasts during World War II. Neumann’s factory was badly damaged during the war, but once relocated to the Allied part of Berlin after 1945 and re-established under the name of Georg Neumann GmbH a further highly productive period ensued. The M49 and M50 were among the celebrated designs to emerge under the watchful eye of Neumann during the subsequent decade. Still passionate about sound, Neumann remained closely involved with new R&D efforts until his death in 1976. www.neumann.com
Graham Blyth and the Flightcase Mixing Console Graham Blyth with one of his Soundcraft creations
using ribbon cable to replace the traditional motherboard as a means of connecting all the modules to the large number of audio buses and power rails. How do you feel about your overall contribution to pro audio? Well, it just kind of happened! My career path was not particularly typical; at university I studied electrical engineering, rather than electronics, so I obtained plenty of maths and engineering
How did the Series 1 desk come into existence? My ďŹ rst work on building consoles had been undertaken with Bill Kelsey, who I met when I was working at the Compton Organ Company in the late â€™60s; it was during this period that we constructed the large mixing desk that was used by Emerson, Lake & Palmer at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. By the time we got to the Series 1 in 1974, Phil [Dudderidge, Soundcraft co-founder] and I were building nice-looking modular consoles that shipped in Cripple Creek aluminium ďŹ‚ight cases. I think it was Phil who suggested â€˜why not build the mixer into a ďŹ‚ightcase?â€™ and so we did. Remember that this was a discreet, transistor-based design and that all parts were often quite expensive then, but we still managed to get the mixer built into a ďŹ‚ightcase with multicore and stagebox for the original price of ÂŁ992. It was the product that really began to make Soundcraftâ€™s name.
knowledge generally, but only did a short course on transistors and was essentially caught between [the demise of] valves and the rise of the op-amp. It wasnâ€™t until I started working with Bill Kelsey that I ďŹ rst got involved with designing the building blocks of audio, and it was Bill who showed me how to lay out circuit boards. The result is that I really learned the art of electronics by doing it, and in retrospect I feel that was a big advantage.
It allowed for the possibility of signiďŹ cant breakthroughs as I was not loaded down with any classical notions of what you could or couldnâ€™t do. Coupled with my â€œwhat ifâ€? nature, it meant that all kinds of options were open and Soundcraft was able to progress pretty rapidly. Further reading: http://www.soundcraft. com/products/product. aspx?pid=64
How soon did you realise that it was a hit? Almost immediately â€“ it caught on quickly across the industry. It also provided a template for what was to follow, with a lot of the new circuitry being shared by the Series 1S and Series 2. The Series 1S also introduced the four-band EQ with two swept mids and was the ďŹ rst to use transformer-less mic preampliďŹ ers. Removing the need to have transformers meant a dramatic cost-saving per channel, plus they sounded so quiet and good. With Soundcraft ďŹ rmly established as a major industry player, what do you regard as the next landmark console in its history? Probably the 1624 recording console from the late â€™70s which allowed engineer and producer to work side-by-side at the console. It introduced the idea of using ďŹ‚at ribbon cables to connect the internal patchbay to the input/output modules. This idea was taken further by also
Peter Neubäcker and Melodyne Direct Note Access Munich-based Celemony was founded in late 2000 and soon became a familiar name in the DAW-based studio environment through its popular pitch correction software, Melodyne. Then the company’s Peter Neubäcker introduced DNA (Direct Note Access) to the package, and suddenly users could grab individual notes of audio in polyphonic arrangements and shift them around as if using a MIDI editor. And it’s all down to some wrongly recorded percussion… How did you get started? I have always been interested in studying the mathematical relationships in music. At ﬁrst, I used paper, a pencil and a pocket calculator. Then, in the mid ’80s, I realised that a computer would be the ideal tool to help me with my research, so I taught myself to program. At the beginning of the ’90s, I switched to a NeXT computer with the integrated DSP, audio processing also then became possible. [NeXT was a shortlived business created
by Steve Jobs when he ﬁrst left Apple.] The question that interested me above all at the time was what a “sound” actually is and how one can shape it. I developed a process for handling sound independently of its pitch and evolution over time. Even before Direct Note Access, Melodyne was gaining traction as one of the preferred pitch correction tools. Was polyphony always a goal? At the start, Melodyne was not conceived as a correction tool at all: my idea was rather that you could use existing audio material to compose freely with; that in the process of composition you could position sounds freely in terms of time, duration and pitch. But Melodyne then came to be perceived by users as above all a correction tool. The editing of polyphonic material was, of course, always an implicit objective. There were no rational grounds for anyone saying: “I only want to edit monophonic material”, but based on what I knew at
the time I did not at ﬁrst even consider it possible. Having said that, I had long reasoned that if we, as listeners, are capable of identifying the individual notes in polyphonic music, there must be indicators in there somewhere. What lead to the breakthrough that resulted in DNA? One day a friend sent me a recording of a track with a marimba, the problem he had was that in the performer’s part one of the notes had been miscopied. Unfortunately the marimba had been hired for the session and was no longer
available, so they were stuck with a wrong note in the recording. And because successive notes played on the marimba run into each other, it could not be rescued with the existing monophonic Melodyne. By this time, my thoughts on the subject of audio separation had advanced at least to the point where I could conceive of having a go at solving the problem. It often happens that I have ideas that go on fermenting for years without my writing anything down or doing any actual programming. Even though I had not yet written a line of
code, once I began it all went very quickly: only a week later, I was able to send the user the marimba notes as individual audio ﬁles. What are the next challenges you hope to tackle? With our future tempo detection feature, a new workﬂow is possible: a musician can play the music freely in their own tempo when recording, and the tempo track with its beats and bars is later extracted automatically from the recorded material. This then makes it possible to copy notes from any one passage into another or synchronise a drum track to the recording later. www.celemony.com
Stefan Kudelski and the First Professional Quality Portable Tape Recorder While a couple of people on our list have become household names, there are many more who have still yet to receive their due mainstream recognition. One of this number is Stefan Kudelski, whose 1951 patent ushered in both the ﬁrst portable recording device and the company that continues to bear his name – the Kudelski Group. Born in Poland but educated in engineering in Switzerland, Kudelski was at university when he patented the Nagra I. Generally regarded as the ﬁrst portable recording device, the Nagra I was a compact (approximately the size of a shoebox) reel-to-reel tape recorder. Word of its quality and portability soon spread, with radio stations in Switzerland among his earliest customers. But it was the Nagra III –
which emerged in 1958 – that arguably had the greatest impact of Kudelski’s designs. Able to synchronise sound with the frames on a reel of ﬁlm, the Nagra III can be claimed to have changed the entire dynamic of ﬁlm production for the ensuing generation. The mechanics of capturing high quality sound had previously meant that many ﬁlms were effectively studio-bound; alongside the then-emerging 16-millimetre camera, the Nagra III helped to pave the way for a new era of ﬁlmmaking in which much more shoots would take place on-location. Directors to adopt the Nagra III in its early years included D. A. Pennebaker, who used the recorder during production of Don’t Look Back – his 1967 Bob Dylan tour ﬁlm that arguably counts as the ﬁrst classic
music documentary. Kudelski and his ﬁrm continued to innovate in the ﬁeld of miniature recording. Increasingly, security and surveillance became critical markets for the ﬁrm, with the early SN Serie Noire machine reportedly adopted by the American secret services. Today, Kudelski Group is under the leadership of Stefan’s son, André. Stefan himself passed away aged 83 in 2013.
The Nagra I, regarded as the ﬁrst portable recording device
Stefan Kudelski was born in Poland but educated in Switzerland
Peter Thomas and the Advanced Transmission Line Peter Thomas was born to be a designer of audio equipment. A passionate music lover and hi-ďŹ fanatic from an early age, his fascination with audio technology endures in his current day job as owner and chief designer at UK monitor manufacturer PMC. Visitors to the companyâ€™s former factory in Bedfordshire got used to sidling past additions to his ever-growing archive of vintage speakers, recording devices, microphones and other recording ephemera (in their new HQ, the collection has a barn to itself). Moving after engineering college to the BBC, Thomas eventually became responsible for the technical upkeep of Maida Vale studios, home of the legendary Radiophonic Workshop, and was tasked with sourcing a high-output, low-distortion main monitor for the studio. He met many loudspeaker designers to discuss designs, but became convinced he could improve on their products â€“ a common milestone on the path from engineer to designer. Eventually, he decided to try to design the required monitors himself. The clean highs and mids of electrostatic panels were appealing, but lacked power and level, while ported designs
offered the bass response, but were too distorted for reference monitoring. Drawing on the best acoustic attributes of these designs, Thomas returned to the concept of the transmission line loudspeaker, ďŹ rst within the BBC, and then at PMC, which he co-founded in 1991 to continue his design work commercially. Transmission line speakers were popular in hi-ďŹ circles in the 1960s and â€˜70s for their low-distortion, high-output characteristics, but fell from favour by the â€˜80s for being too complex to realise practically. Thomasâ€™s vision was to recognise their potential, while simultaneously coming up with engineering solutions to remedy their past deďŹ ciencies. For years, different speaker designers had been focused on honing sealedcabinet and ported designs, but no-one had attempted to reimagine the transmission line with modern materials or design principles. â€œThey were cabinets with labyrinths inside, crudely damped with long-haired wool,â€? explains Thomas today. â€œThey sounded OK â€“ not great. But the theory made sense. I thought that if we got rid of the wool and got the absorption right with some with some properly engineered bespoke damping, we might get somewhere. It was the start of a
long, expensive journeyâ€Śâ€? Thereâ€™s a reason PMCâ€™s ďŹ rst speakers and active electronics â€“ built by Thomas himself and still in use at Maida Vale 24 years later â€“ were called the BB5s. â€œThe BB1, BB2, BB3 and BB4 didnâ€™t really cut the mustardâ€Śâ€? explains Thomas today with characteristic modesty. The Advanced Transmission Line (ATL), PMCâ€™s reďŹ nement of the concept, features in all their designs, from largescale studio monitors to hi-ďŹ models. Integrating crossovers and drivers into an ATL cabinet requires high-speciďŹ cation engineering, and still has to be tailored speciďŹ cally to each product. â€œThatâ€™s probably why the concept failed in the 1970s,â€? comments Thomas. â€œPut simply, itâ€™s easier and cheaper to build speakers another way! Perfecting transmission line designs demands persistence, a holistic approach, and obsessive attention to detail. But after 23 years, we must be doing something rightâ€Śâ€?
PMC owner and chief designer Peter Thomas, with the high-frequency dispersion ďŹ‚ange from the QB1-A
The QB1-A system
The damping in the long cavity or labyrinth of a transmission-line speaker is an important aspect of the design. The cavity is connected to the bass driver with a non-resonant cabinet vent at the other end, and theoretically, by the time audio has passed through the labyrinth, the damping should have removed
all of the low-mid frequencies. (The diagram shows the ATL for PMCâ€™s new twotwo6 box.) If the transmission line is properly designed, the remaining lowfrequency audio emerges from the vent in phase with the bass driver output, extending the speakerâ€™s LF response and overall SPL capability, and producing a speaker that goes very low for its size, but remains accurate, free of distortion across its entire frequency response compared to ported designs, and tonally consistent irrespective of level. However, getting the TL design right for a given speaker is notoriously diďŹƒcult in engineering terms. Hence â€œan expensive journeyâ€?â€Ś!
David Dearden and the ASP8024 Console “Analogue console design – that’s probably what I’ve done more of than anything else,” says David Dearden, best known as designer of Audient’s ﬂagship ASP8024. Affable, supremely knowledgeable and humble to the last, fate seems to have earmarked him for consoles from the outset. Dubbing himself “a highschool drop-out”, his ﬁrst job was at a Johannesburg studio in 1968 where he quickly established himself. “I knew a bit about electronics, so I was commandeered into helping to build their new valve console.” On arrival in the UK in 1970 for what was intended to be a short work experience, 20-year-old Dearden secured a position as junior maintenance engineer at Advision Studios where he was involved in converting the studio’s in-house built 8-track console into a 16 track system. In 1973/74 he speciﬁed the design and construction by Quad Eight of two new consoles for Advision, one of which was arguably the ﬁrst automated console in the country. By 1997
he found himself honing his skills at console manufacturer MCI, then Soundcraft. In 1981 he joined forces with Gareth Davies to form DDA. It is testament to their design that many Dearden-designed DDA and MIDAS consoles are still in use today, but it was the culmination of his 30 years’ experience with analogue consoles – and the formation of a brand new company Audient, with the accompanying clean sheet of paper - that brought his most signiﬁcant design, ASP8024 into existence. Introduced in 1998, it was unashamedly analogue and described by Dearden as “…a very ﬂexible, good sounding, simple to operate console”. True enough, ASP8024 is a straightforward, inline design with no digital accoutrements thus ensuring a futureproof design which is still manufactured today (over 500 sold!). “In essence it has barely changed, just a few additional frame sizes, optional patchbay and the DAW interface option.” Early customer feedback
conﬁrmed that ASP8024 was something special: “Customers were saying how easy it was to use, how they never had to look at the manuals.” In particular, educational facilities across the board praised the console’s versatility and easy intuitive signal path. Dearden has just celebrated a ‘signiﬁcant’ birthday yet is still up to his elbows in future Audient product design. “I haven’t been put out to pasture yet!” he quips. www.audient.com
Audient ASP8024: over 500 shipped!
Ahren Hartman and the Axient Wireless Microphone System “It’s a wireless microphone system that is intelligent enough to know if it’s being interfered with, and then capable enough to do something about it to resolve the interference,” says Ahren Hartman, senior director of engineering for Axient. Speciﬁcally, Axient combines spectrum analysis, channel allocation and device management into one networkbased platform for fail-safe wireless audio. As more and more users ﬁght for fewer available frequencies, Axient has truly earned a place on the Genius list. Getting Axient to market took “the better part of ﬁve years”, says Hartman. “It was, and probably still is Shure’s biggest R&D productisation effort. The team size at the peak was upwards of 70 different engineers, marketing
and operations people.” Hartman, whose education was in wireless engineering, joined Shure in 1989 when the A complete Shure Axient system company entered the wireless market with the great team. Looking back on L-Series. His focus has been on it, it was a very large company wireless products ever since, effort. There were deﬁnitely including SLX, PGX, UHF-R, times when I know a large Wireless Workbench 6, and the part of the team thought I was recently introduced PSM300. literally crazy for trying to get For the past 10 years, he’s also us to build a system that didn’t been working with regulators in seem like it could be built from Washington, including the FCC an engineering standpoint. and Congress, “getting them to There were deﬁnitely points understand who we are, who in the project when I thought, our markets are and who our ‘well, this is just never going to users are,” he says. work. What am I doing? I am As far as a career highlight, crazy!’ [Laughs] At the end of “Axient was deﬁnitely the peak the day you need a little insanity as far as depth of engineering to keep you going.” and the impact on the market,” www.axient.net explains Hartman. “We had a
Tony Andrews and the Mid-range Horn Fascinated by sound generation since the 1960s, Tony Andrews is associated with some of the best point source PA solutions ever made and, with a team of loyal colleagues, has brought to market several systems to garner the epithet â€˜legendaryâ€™. Beginning with the Festival System, which grew out of early solutions for both the Isle of Wight and Glastonbury, Andrews went onto develop the TMS-3, Flashlight and Floodlight systems as a co-founder of Turbosound. Heâ€™s now at the helm of UK independent manufacturer Funktion One and continues his pursuit of ultimate point source sound. What was the big breakthrough? It was when we discovered the mid-range cone-loading technique: the efficient loading of cone drivers instead of compression drivers. It ďŹ rst went into the Festival
Tony Andrews in Ibiza
to decline in volume at all. It was blindingly obvious that the cohesion, and the projection, was way ahead of everything else weâ€™d ever made or heard. Where did you go from there? Itâ€™s evolved with every generation, but the one that really did it was the TMS-3. That was an all-in-one box, evolved from the separate 15s, 10s and HF pieces of the Festival System. It just went global, and was the benchmark for most of the â€™80s.
System, used at the re-started Glastonbury in â€™79, then into the Turbosound TMS-3 â€“ and weâ€™re using derivatives and developments of it today. Weâ€™d been very disenchanted
with large-format compression drivers in the early â€™70s, and we liked the sound of cone drivers a lot more. Credit where itâ€™s due, [Turbosound co-founder] Tim Isaac had the inspiration for
the loading technique: we were experimenting with small-ish cone drivers â€“ about 8-inch â€“ and Tim placed a rolling pin right in front of it! Suddenly a lot of sound came together. It allowed us to horn-load the cone driver and get as much as a 10dB increase in efficiency, which is a lot. I suppose you could call it a â€˜wave organiserâ€™. When did you realise you were onto something? Once weâ€™d made a proper prototype in 1976, we were testing it on the back lawn at Ridge Farm Studios. I walked from one end of the grounds to the other and it hardly seemed
Stack for Genesis gig in Bochum, Germany 1979, with experimental point source high frequency elements
What has been its main contribution? A generally heightened awareness of mid range intelligibility. As now, to some extent, the mid was very â€˜thereâ€™ and people werenâ€™t used to it. Itâ€™s still a challenge, but at least itâ€™s now a part of the whole picture. What are you working on now? Weâ€™re beta-testing a new system called â€˜Veroâ€™, which is very much the next generation of what weâ€™ve been developing at Funktion One â€“ with all the heritage right back to that moment on the back lawn in â€™76. It evolved into what we called Axehead technology, ďŹ rst used in Floodlight, but next year youâ€™ll see just how well reďŹ ned it has now becomeâ€Ś www.funktion-one.com
Test set-up in Ben Duncanâ€™s workshop circa 1979
Jesper Lind Hansen and the S-PRO2 For all the advantages of selfpowered speakers, in almost every sound reinforcement application, there are constraints in terms of power to form factor, efficiency, and other performance and quality related issues that limit just how compact, loud and affordable they can be. Launched in 2013, the Pascal S-PRO2 represents a major leap forward in the design of the Class D ampliﬁer modules that power all kinds of active professional speaker systems. Almost 40% smaller than a “regular” professional ampliﬁer
module with half the power output, at the time of its launch, the scale of miniaturisation is remarkable; and at just 215mm x 80 mm x 25mm, it remains the smallest commercially available 1,000W professional ampliﬁer module around. 36-year-old Jesper Lind Hansen, senior R&D specialist – and co-founder of the Danish professional ampliﬁer manufacturer, with CEO Lars Rosenkvist Fenger and senior VP of business development Peter Frentz – was lead designer on the project. As a gigging DJ in his spare time, Hansen appreciates
The S-PRO2 module mounted on an ampliﬁer plate
design objectives from the perspective of an end-user of professional audio equipment: “They want a product to be as compact and as loud as possible.” As remarkable as its compact size, is the S-PRO2’s optimum electronic performance and stability, audiophile sound quality, simplicity of design and ease of integration, not to mention an affordable price tag; a combination of design attributes that greatly reduces the barriers of entry for manufacturers to the professional self-powered speaker market. As a direct consequence of Pascal’s design, third-party manufacturers can now produce more compact, portable, higher SPL loudspeaker boxes than ever before. “The design of our power supply was inspired by looking at the approach of other industries, such as LED lighting,” continues Hansen. “This led to a process of optimisation
Jesper Lind Hansen with the Pascal S-PRO2, the smallest commercially available 1,000W amp module today
to produce a new audio speciﬁc power supply that was far more efficient and therefore smaller.” Ampliﬁers are deﬁnitely Jesper’s ‘thing’, he says: “I have always been doing ampliﬁers and power supplies. I started at university and I haven’t stopped.”
Stranger perhaps is what he does for kicks: “I like to go to concerts to listen to sound systems that have our ampliﬁers in them. I get a strange sense of gratiﬁcation.” www.pascal-audio.com
John Meyer and the Self-Powered Speaker In the 1970s, sound companies were building most of their own loudspeaker and console equipment speciﬁcally for the type of music they were supporting. To conﬁgure a system for a show, technicians had to combine ampliﬁers and speakers and make all of the proper electronic settings. The degree of success depended largely on the technicians’ experience, and it wasn’t uncommon for shows to be interrupted or end prematurely by failure of the sound system. Self-powered systems were the solution presented in 1990 by John Meyer, Meyer Sound co-founder and CEO. Meyer had researched low-distortion horns and integrated, largescale loudspeaker systems while working at the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. Building self-powered systems was a controversial move at the time, as the concept was brand new in live sound. By advancing selfcontained loudspeakers with built-in ampliﬁers for recording
John Meyer with a LYON array, just one recent incarnation of his self-powered design
studios, large concerts and beyond, Meyer believed selfpowering would eliminate heavy, expensive ampliﬁer racks and large loudspeaker cables, thereby lowering costs. Without
the need to calibrate gain and crossover settings, these selfpowered systems would also be much easier to use. However, the biggest motivator for Meyer to build such systems was
their sonic advantages, as his goal has always been to build high-quality linear systems that would deliver a consistent performance show after show and reproduce a variety of
materials with extremely low distortion. “We hired an ad agency in the early 1990s to research how people felt about powered speakers for sound reinforcement, and they came back after a survey and said that nobody wanted them.” The industry has come a long way since the 1970s. Self-powered systems have proven their worth and are here to stay. From palm-sized loudspeakers to large-scale arrays, self-powered systems are heard around the world, in diverse applications from theatrical tours to museums and stadiums. “Bill Graham used to say that in the end, with all of the work it takes to do a concert, and all the effort it takes for fans to come to a show, it’s got to be worth going. It’s easy to forget that our goal as technology providers is to create a fun experience for the audience so they will keep coming back.” www.meyersound.com
Ivor Drawmer and the Frequency-Conscious Gate Thereâ€™s a story online that suggests Ivor Drawmerâ€™s world-beating gate processor was born of frustration after a session in the studio. It goes along these lines. A sound engineer couldnâ€™t get the result he wanted when recording a drum kit because the cymbal crash kept opening the mic on the toms. Young Drawmer, a keyboard player on the session, realised he could ďŹ x the problem, and returned the next day with a hastily assembled circuit board with a couple of connector leads attached. When the engineer wired in the device, he was stunned to ďŹ nd the toms opened the gate, but the cymbals did not. Bang, the frequency-conscious gate had arrivedâ€Ś. Is this how it happened, Ivor? Did you really solve the issue â€˜overnightâ€™? Iâ€™m afraid the story is not quite correct. Itâ€™s true that engineers wasted an inordinate amount of time trying to gate the drums. I saw a lot of that: trying different placement of mics and ďŹ ddling with the gate threshold to get a reliable take. So I discussed the problem with engineers and wondered how it would be if the gate didnâ€™t hear the cymbals and vice versa. I concluded that separate low and hi pass ďŹ lters working in conjunction with the gate would be the most versatile solution to this and I started work on a design. But triggering wasnâ€™t the only problem. Most gates on the market at the time had a slow attack time and only attenuated to 40dB, leaving unwanted noise in the background. The result was better than nothing, but, well, letâ€™s just say there was room for improvementâ€Ś. I had made a single channel prototype which we still have â€“ and it works! The ďŹ rst demo I did of the gate was at Fairview Studios near Hull. Iâ€™d known the owner, Keith Herd for a few years: a
When Ivor Drawmer couldnâ€™t afford his own Hammond organ, he set about building one instead... On the desk, the ďŹ rst design of the gate sits atop the more familiar DS201 model
lovely guy, and technical, having built his own desk in the â€™70s. We rigged up the gate and he played a track with the gate shut. Nothing! So he wound up the gain and the gate opened, nearly taking out his speakers! Impressing Keith wasnâ€™t easy. Heâ€™s heard it all and built plenty of gear himself. So when he went â€˜WOW!â€™, I knew I was on to something. That was a good feeling â€“ so I went into production with the DS201 gate. That was in 1982. You can hear the difference in drum sounds between pre and post 1983/4 as studios bought them.
Were you a natural with electronics and circuit design, or was it something you came to through long periods of learning and experimenting? I was interested in electronics from the age of 11 and it has remained my hobby ever since. I worked as a test engineer at Tektronix and did a couple of short courses there. Then I decided to start a band. I wanted a Hammond organ but couldnâ€™t afford one, so I set about building an organ and learned a lot during that process. The rest I learned along the way, repairing
ampliďŹ ers in the van on the road from one gig to another. Making little sound effect boxes in tobacco tins!
were the DL221 and DL231, now discontinued, followed by the 1960, which is still selling after 30 years.
What impact did your invention have on your business/company? It changed everything. Suddenly the business had to expand and get serious. We turned pro. From a guy in a basement to a small factory in a couple of months.
What are your thoughts on having contributed something so important to the recording industry? There are a few pro-audio products over the years which could be described as landmark products. If the DS201 is regarded as one of those, Iâ€™m proud of that. Fantastic.
What was your next move as a designer/inventor? Compressors. The ďŹ rst two
Rog Mogale and Air Motion Not your average speaker designer: that’s Rog Mogale, founder of Void Acoustics, for whom the pursuit of audio technology seems to have been in his DNA at an early age. While most young kids were getting to grips with wooden blocks, at two years old Mogale was drawing drivers and horns on old shoe boxes and wiring them together with string, in what could well have been the very ﬁrst disco sound system. Paradoxically, he was at the time profoundly hard of hearing. “Deafness delayed my speech and it wasn’t until I was nine that anyone could really understand what I was saying,” he reﬂects. “This gave me a totally unique perspective on life, and later, on speaker design.” Mogale rapidly acquired a wholly different set of skills as his hearing improved, becoming not only a highly proﬁcient multi-instrumentalist, but also developing an innate sense of aesthetics that was later responsible for making the loudspeaker a form of visual inspiration.
Mixing live and producing records for some of the seminal acts of the ’80s and ’90s, he was simultaneously honing his acoustic design skills; it was with the formation of Void Acoustics in 2002 that Mogale’s dream of creating loudspeakers that reﬂect and relate to their surroundings became reality with the threeway sculpted Air Motion loudspeaker. “I couldn’t take going to great looking clubs only to see an ugly
The utterly distinctive Air Motion system
Mogale says his deafness as a child gave him a unique view on life
black box hidden away in a corner” he explains. “Everything had moved forwards in club land – even the moving lights had style – but where was the aural equivalent of the shift in
visual awareness?” This acute observation led to the creation of the Air Motion. “First, I threw away the box. No box, no resonance. Then I selected the very best transducers I could ﬁnd and matched them to horns with minimal colouration. I’m proud that we achieved a product totally without compromise, either sonically or visually,” he explains.
Jeff Byers and the Founding of MIDAS A remarkable 44 years have now elapsed since Jeff Byers and Charlie Brooke established MIDAS with an original focus on the design and manufacture of musical instruments and ampliﬁers. But it was in no small part thanks to Byers’ engineering expertise and vision that the company evolved to become the pro-audio giant it subsequently became. In fact, it was in Byers’s own London ﬂat that the ﬁrst powered MIDAS consoles were painstakingly put together. A collaboration with Martin Audio that saw calibrated MIDAS/ Martin Audio systems become a stalwart of concert tours helped precipitate the next phase of the company’s development, but it was the speciﬁc introduction of the PRO4 that really catapulted MIDAS into the next phase of its evolution. High-quality signal processing, rugged construction and a compact form-factor masterminded by Byers’s team were among the elements that endeared the PRO4
to a generation of acts and sound engineers. AOR titans Supertramp were the ﬁrst band to take the PRO4 out on the road, in 1974, but during the ensuing decade the landmark tour credits piled up thick and fast: The Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Pink Floyd’s historic The Wall (1979-80) tour. The PRO4 cemented MIDAS’s quality credentials and paved the way for several busy decades of R&D that yielded countless ﬂagship analogue consoles, including the XL3 and – most successfully of all – the XL4. A further reﬁnement of MIDAS’s vision of portability and high-spec components, the Heritage 3000 emerged in the early 2000s and further consolidated MIDAS’s live market status, with Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Sir Paul McCartney among those taking either the XL4 or Heritage 3000 out on the road. Post-2006, MIDAS has continued to ﬂourish in the digital era with desks including the PRO6 and PRO2.
Jeff Byers (left) with customer ‘Mark’ and Chris Rogers (right) in the Stanhope Street HQ in London, in the early 1970s
Air Motion and its triangular cousin Tri Motion, with their unique palette of ﬁnish and colour options, are now one of the leading choices for EDM events and high-impact nightclubs, proving that outstanding audio quality and iconic aural art can grace any interior. www.voidaudio.com
Aidan Williams and AV Networking What would we do without the internet? Each day we rely upon the rapid and accurate execution of thousands of digital transactions with scarcely a concern, as IP technology has proven so incredibly fast and reliable. Despite this proven robustness, the audio world has remained largely unaffected for years, as practitioners of sound design continued to use pointto-point analogue connections and pre-IP digital formats, with the accompanying problems of noise, weight, complexity and cost. In 2003, Aidan Williams considered a different possibility. An amateur musician and producer with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Williams was working at the Motorola Australian Research Center in Sydney, Australia developing plug-and-play networking technologies. â€œI looked at my audio gear, my computer running Logic, and the various MIDI and audio cables connected it together and thought, â€˜this should be a network, and itâ€™s not,â€™â€? he recalls. The ubiquitous Ethernet port with standard TCP/IP protocols had everything needed to replace all the cabling with a plug and play network: that is where AV belonged.
Combining his passions and expertise, Williams and four other former Motorola network engineers began to develop the ideas and technologies that would become, by 2006, Dante by Audinate. Physical media pathways were replaced with logical ones, using existing IP standards and readily available network hardware. The team reďŹ ned their solution to operate at scale, covering large areas and connecting hundreds of devices, transporting thousands of channels of tightly synced, low latency uncompressed audio. The native qualities of IP technology allow complete integration of networked audio with computers, so that everything from device control, monitoring and signal routing is now done with easy-to-use software on an ordinary Mac or Windows PC, eliminating the need to handle devices, move cables or input â€œmagic numbersâ€?. â€œWe just couldnâ€™t see the point in having specialised â€˜AV switchesâ€™ or â€˜AV Network Cardsâ€™ when our aim was to use the ordinary IT equipment all around us,â€? recalls Williams. â€œOne of the biggest contributions Dante has made is to show that ordinary IT technology can do signal processing, and ordinary IP networking can transport audio,
Audinate CTO and Dante developer Aidan Williams each with outstanding quality,â€? says Williams. â€œThereâ€™s a mindset in the industry that AV is such a special category of â€˜thingâ€™ that ordinary computers or networks arenâ€™t sufficiently capable or reliable â€“ but weâ€™ve shown that simply isnâ€™t so.â€? Today the system that Williams and Audinate conceived is the most widely adopted and fastest growing IP media transport
solution in the world, with over 160 OEMs now licensing Dante, and new Dantecompatible products being released from major manufacturers on a regular basis. Finally: that name. Dante comes from Digital Audio Networking TEchnology, right? â€œActually, there is no meaning. It is just a name. We thought of it having the same ďŹ‚avour
as names like MANET (Mobile Adhoc Networking),â€? reveals Williams. â€?I sometimes joke that the rest of the team refused to copy my preferred name â€“ Advanced IP Digital Audio Network, or AIDAN â€“ so we ended up with Dante. But, and let me stress this, that is only a joke!â€? www.audinate.com
(Left) The ďŹ rst FPGA-based prototype made by Williams and his team. (Right) Earlier still, a prototype based on a BlackďŹ n processor
The Geniuses’ Geniuses! Who do the smart people look up to? Who inspires the brainiaks? To conclude, here are the collected revelations of some of our boffins… BRUCE HOFER (Audio Precision) “Tomlinson Holman, Peter Baxendall, who developed tone control circuits; Robert Adams of Analog Devices, Stanley Lipschitz and John Vanderkooy. They all have the ability to think out of the box.”
JOHN STADIUS (DiGiCo) “Old Ray Dolby did pretty well for himself, didn’t he? He certainly had the right marketing plan… He worked out how to overcome all the problems of noise in tape-based systems, which was clever. It’s purely historical, now, because you just record onto a USB key.”
DAN DUGAN “Chuck Butten. He was largely responsible for the ﬁrst multiway amp in concert sound. He also produced a summing bus for intercom and the ﬁrst really successful interface at a time when everyone was using carbon telephone mic headsets.”
HERBERT JÜNGER (Jünger Audio) “Bob Orban. He came up with the ﬁrst analogue compressors for FM radio and it is still a major brand. But his processors are diﬀerent to ours: they make the FM signal very dense, even loud.”
TONY ANDREWS (Funktion One) “It has to be [Serbian-American inventor] Nikola Tesla – such a visionary, and a real polymath. He was walking in a park and ‘saw’ the ﬁrst AC motor in the sky; went home and built it; and it worked. He’s responsible for all the AC in the world. He emigrated to New York, and overturned Edison’s campaign to establish DC as the power supply. AC won out, but everyone remembers Edison! He’s what you call ‘unsung’ – and a bit nuts: one time, during a quest for broadcast power, he built a giant ‘Tesla coil’ and used the whole Earth as a capacitor. It generated bolts of reverse lightning over 100ft long – taking out the local generator. You’ve gotta love that kind of ambition…”
ANDY HILDEBRAND (Antares) “I think my fellow plug-in developers Gilad Keren and Meir Shaashua are geniuses. They founded Waves and programmed a number of excellent algorithms. They are genius because of their expertise and forward-looking technology.”
GERRIT BUHE “Claude Elwood Shannon, the father of modern digital communications and information theory. His work laid the foundation for today‘s information age. He also had a whimsical vein and invented things like rocket-powered Frisbees, a juggling machine, a mechanical mouse that can navigate a maze, a Rubik’s Cube puzzle solver and the well known ‘useless machine’.”
KEES SCHOUHAMER IMMINK “My genius is Rudy Van Gelder, because his recordings of jazz music are of ever-lasting beauty.”
PETER THOMAS (PMC) “Alan Blumlein. Among much else, he developed binaural recording for reproduction on disc, and a lot of stereo recording theory. But he wasn’t just a theoretical engineer. He got his hands dirty, and wouldn’t give up on an idea until it worked as well in the real world as it did in his head. Brilliance and tenacity – that’s what the best designers need, and Alan was one of the best this country has ever had.”
ROG MOGALE (Void Acoustics) “The father of British PA, Charlie Watkins.” GRAHAM BLYTH (Soundcraft) Bruce Jackson, who designed the Clair Folding Mixer. It was a great piece of engineering and he was a lovely man, too.
MILLER PUCKETTE (Max/DSP) “Eric Lindemann, the man behind the Synful software synthesizer. He was my boss for a few years at IRCAM, but then left to start his own company. His new synth has the most natural sounding instruments I’ve heard – much more natural-sounding than samplers. He’s somehow ﬁgured out how to get the transitions from note to note in synthetic imitations of orchestral instruments to sound natural.”
IVOR DRAWMER (Drawmer Electronics) “There are quite a few really talented designers out there. Back in 1970, the band I was with bought an Orange PA, so we went to the Huddersﬁeld factory, where I met Mat Mathias, who started Matamp. A very clever guy indeed.”
Celebrating the inventors and innovators who shaped the world of pro audio