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Historical audio engineers

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Michael Prasuhn:
Michael 'Bink' Knowles wrote on Tue, 11 March 2008 13:41
[snip]
Bob Cavin (McCune, Apogee, Furman; console designer, digital amplifier control; first "blackbox" amp/crossover/limiter; first monitor mixer; first multi-angle stage wedge)



So is he the one responsible for that pair of prototype SM6s that everyone tried to hoard all the time?

They had a vertical orientation with the horn appearing above the woofer, instead of beside it. I don't believe they could pole mount. Probably number ASM6001 and ASM6002. Supposedly they sounded way way better than the standard SM6s.


Last time I was in the Anaheim they were trying to figure out how to keep 'em around and not ship them back to the main office.

-Mikey P

Michael 'Bink' Knowles:
Michael Prasuhn wrote on Tue, 11 March 2008 20:00
So is he the one responsible for that pair of prototype SM6s that everyone tried to hoard all the time?

They had a vertical orientation with the horn appearing above the woofer, instead of beside it. I don't believe they could pole mount. Probably number ASM6001 and ASM6002. Supposedly they sounded way way better than the standard SM6s.


Last time I was in the Anaheim they were trying to figure out how to keep 'em around and not ship them back to the main office.

-Mikey P





Yeah, those ones rocked. I don't know if Bob designed them. I, too, think the wooden cabinet on that revision sounded better. In my memory, they were modified McCune SM5s, not SM6es. Last time I used those was on a Black and White Ball gig back in the early '90s. Jeez, that was a long time ago.  

Before the SM6 was the SM4... a multi-angle bi-amped monitor that used an Altec 604B co-axial. It sounded great at medium volume but it was big, its center of gravity was lopsided, it was awkward for one guy to lift, its seams tended to crack and leak air and it was not at all suited to the louder customers. Ernie Heckscher loved 'em.  

The SM3 was a boxy lightweight mid-high bi-amped pup and the SM2 was a very compact passive design with a 10" and a piezo horn. Neither of them had monitor wedge pretensions apparent in their construction, though someone had fabbed a few collapsible wooden cradles that tilted them up for stage usage. I don't know what the SM1 was; I never saw one. Or if I did, I didn't know what I was seeing. There was a lot of dusty stuff in the way back.  

You might want to write Bob Cavin and ask him if there was some multi-angle monitor speaker predating the SM4. Maybe the first multi-angle stage wedge was a single prototype. I sure don't know! Bob's website: http://bobcavin.com/

-Bink

Chad Johnson:
Back when I got into live sound I used a lot of Apogee, so Ken DeLoria would be worthy of a designer entry. The early Apogee stuff was cutting edge. Maybe Jeff Berryman for application? I'm sure there are lots of Japanese engineers that I've never heard of. The SPX crew? It would be an interesting thread to know the pedigree of specific designers, ie as they've changed companies over their careers what products are they reponsible for.
--Chad

John Roberts {JR}:
I applaud this effort.

I don't think a few hour session at an AES show could do justice to even a small fraction of this list.

This strikes me as perhaps a good longer term project for local AES chapters. First to identify important contributions made by people in their region and then to document that. These local efforts could be consolidated into a larger whole. Certainly AES efforts could be cross linked to WIKI, etc.

I regret that some of these individuals are already gone so they can't be interviewed but associates and subordinates may still be findable. This should be an ongoing project, not just a one time deal. The IEEE from time to time published a historical overview along similar lines across the broader category of electronics.

There was (is?) an Audio Museum that IIRC was associated with the AES, but this was more old hardware than "engineer" organized. Perhaps a more logical organization of this is by tracing the progress of technology and people associated with those technology milestones can be cross linked. Many companies also have corporate museums either formal or informally, that could be documented by willing employees.

This is a potentially massive project and you will get different short lists from different people, but that's fine. It's better to have too many entries than not enough.

In many cases the historical individual will be associated with one major series of products or technology, like Dan Dugan with his automatic mixing invention, so this alternate organization may be academic, the people and what they do/did is inextricably linked together.

JR

Michael 'Bink' Knowles:
John Roberts  {JR} wrote on Wed, 12 March 2008 07:46
I applaud this effort.

I don't think a few hour session at an AES show could do justice to even a small fraction of this list.

This strikes me as perhaps a good longer term project for local AES chapters. First to identify important contributions made by people in their region and then to document that. These local efforts could be consolidated into a larger whole. Certainly AES efforts could be cross linked to WIKI, etc.

I regret that some of these individuals are already gone so they can't be interviewed but associates and subordinates may still be findable. This should be an ongoing project, not just a one time deal. The IEEE from time to time published a historical overview along similar lines across the broader category of electronics.

There was (is?) an Audio Museum that IIRC was associated with the AES, but this was more old hardware than "engineer" organized. Perhaps a more logical organization of this is by tracing the progress of technology and people associated with those technology milestones can be cross linked. Many companies also have corporate museums either formal or informally, that could be documented by willing employees.

This is a potentially massive project and you will get different short lists from different people, but that's fine. It's better to have too many entries than not enough.

In many cases the historical individual will be associated with one major series of products or technology, like Dan Dugan with his automatic mixing invention, so this alternate organization may be academic, the people and what they do/did is inextricably linked together.

JR



AES has its Historical Committee; they do some mighty fine activities such as assembling vintage gear for demos.  In 2000, they hosted "When Vinyl Ruled" with a rotary-knob Putnam remote recording mixer, a pair of Ampex 300 tape recorders and three Altec 604s for playback. There was a vintage microphone demo in 2001. Before that, Jack Mullin would bring all the oldest gear he could find and demonstrate each one by itself.

AESHC also invests effort in organizing scraps of the past; they're improving digital online access to historic patents, for instance. They have a lot on their plate.  

Bill Wray and Gene Radzik co-chair the AES Historical Committee and John G. "Jay" McKnight (Magnetic Reference Laboratory) is Chair Emeritus. Check it out here:
AES Historical Committee (AESHC) website. Volunteers don't have to be members!

I agree that this should be a long-term project. Our most important pioneer engineers are sometimes lauded in popular media but more frequently given only a few paragraphs of PR copy or a final "In Memoriam" in an industry publication. I would like to see more of a public face put to what we do and who we are.

JR, you mention people linked to their hardware inventions: in many cases, important new hardware developments were put forward by a team of clever cats who remained relatively nameless following the effort. My organization of this list by individuals will miss these stories but that doesn't mean the stories shouldn't be told. It would be great to read about the various team development efforts at Bell Labs, for instance.

Non-hardware conceptual and methodological developments are important, too. There's software pioneers, too. It's not just voicecoils and formers.  

A big challenge moving forward will be to sort the classic EE engineers from the much larger list of recording and mixing engineers. At this point on Wikipedia they're all jumbled together.  

I'm going to ping the AESHC guys and let them know we're mounting this effort. Perhaps they'll be interested in putting a generous helping of AES information out on Wikipedia; perhaps they'll opt to play it closer to the chest.

-Bink

P.S. More engineers worthy of an article or expansion:

William J Halligan (Hallicrafters)
Lincoln Walsh (Bozak) transmission-line loudspeaker
Harold Rhodes (electric piano)
James Edward Maceo West (electret mic)
Gerhard M. Sessler (electret mic)
Wally Heider (concert remote recording)
John M. Eargle (JBL)
Sidney Harman (JBL)
John G. "Jay" McKnight (MRL, AMPEX)
Myron Stolaroff (AMPEX)
John Leslie (AMPEX)
Jack Mullin (tape recorders)
John Herbert Orr (magnetic tape)
Walter Weber (1907-1944) (Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG)) or German Broadcasting Company. Bias implementation and stereophony in magnetic recording.
Hugh Knowles (miniaturized transducers)
Lee DeForest (triode "Audion")
Heinz K. Thiele
Willi Studer
Dick Heyser (TDS)
Avery Robert Fisher (hifi)
Herman Hosmer Scott (hifi)
Leo Fender (Stratocaster)
Tom Dowd (recording engineer and innovator)
Peter Baxandall (tone control)
Jim Gamble (mixing console)

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