TECnology Hall of Fame

2012 Inductees and profiles
2010 Inductees and profiles
2008 Inductees and profiles
2007 Inductees and profiles
2006 Inductees and profiles
2005 Inductees and profiles
2004 Inductees and profiles

9th TECnology Hall of Fame
Induction Ceremony

Saturday, January 25, 2014
1:30– 2:30pm
2014 NAMM Show
Anaheim Convention Center
NAMM H.O.T. Zone
2nd Floor, Room 203

The TECnology Hall of Fame was established in 2004 to honor and recognize audio products and innovations that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of audio technology. Inductees to the TECnology Hall of Fame are chosen by a panel of more than 50 recognized audio experts, including authors, educators, engineers, facility owners and other professionals. Products or innovations must be at least 10 years old to be considered for induction.

2014 TECnology Hall Fame Inductees

1915 — First Practical Audio Amplifier
(Western Electric)

Lee De Forest invented the Audion (early triode) tube, yet when higher currents were applied, the air molecules within the glass envelope exhibited a bluish haze, greatly limiting its effectiveness. This was solved when Western Electric researcher Harold Arnold evacuated the air from the Audion, creating a "vacuum tube" (a process concurrently developed by Irving Langmuir of General Electric). With his higher voltage vacuum tubes, Arnold was granted a patent on the first practical audio amplifier in 1915. This wasn't in the sense that we think of amplifiers today, but more as an in-line preamplifier (then referred to as a "repeater") for amplify telephone signals. This made possible Alexander Graham Bell's first transcontinental telephone call in January of 1915, as he spoke from Boston to his assistant Mr. Watson in San Francisco via 3,100 miles of copper wire interconnected by seven of Arnold's thermionic repeaters. Later that year, Arnold patented a means of mass-producing vacuum tubes and a new industry was born.

1930 — Bass-Reflex Loudspeaker Patent (Bell Labs)
Bell Labs researcher Albert Thuras is hardly a household name, but his many inventions — including co-developing the first high-frequency compression driver in 1926 — should be enough for a Hall of Fame induction. However, his patent filed in 1930 was no less significant. In his patent #1,869,178 for a "sound translating device," Thuras' spells out the foundation for the first bass reflex speaker enclosures. This employs single or multiple tuned ports to create a small amount of phase cancellation at the woofer’s resonant frequency, which increases bass response at a lower frequency. The results is a larger perception of bass emanating from a speaker cabinet, as compared to sealed (acoustic suspension) or open-back enclosure designs. Thanks to Thuras, speaker designs would never be the same.

1959 — Echoplex Tape Delay (Mike Battle)
One of Les Paul's favorite studio — and live — guitar techniques was using a modified tape recorder to create echo and doubling effects to create the illusion of someone playing twice as many notes as were actually performed. Les used this method to great success, although the process wasn't exactly easy, requiring mounting a second playback head on a recorder and then adjusting the tape speed to match the required tempo and echo times. Some years later, seeking a simpler and more portable means of accomplishing echo effects, inventor Michael A. Battle used self-learned electronics skills from his boyhood repairing radios (and later with the Army Signal Corps during World War II) to develop the Echoplex. The first version in 1959 combined an endless loop cartridge of 1/4-inch recording tape that moved past a sliding playback head that allowed the user to easily vary the echo/delay times. Best of all, the original Echoplex (and later EP-2 model) were simple to use, featured tube electronics and became a staple of rock, jazz and surf guitar players everywhere. Today, they live on in digital form as software recreations, such as the EP-34 Tape Echo plug-in from Universal Audio.

1963 — Mellotron Tape-Replay Keyboard Instrument
Sampling instruments are commonplace today, but in the pre-digital days any kind of realistic-sounding orchestra in a box was simply a pipe dream — almost. The first analog sampling instrument was created by Harry Chamberlain, who developed the concept of an instrument that could trigger actual notes of real instruments — played by a series of tapes strips, with one for each keyboard note. Known as The Chamberlain, these were wonderful, considering the technology of the day, but were cantankerous and prone to problems. Eventually, one of Chamberlain's associates took an instrument to the U.K., where the concept was sold (without Harry's knowledge) to a new company called Mellotronics and after some "creative" negotiations, the improved Mellotron debuted in 1963. Often used for sound effects production, Mellotrons soon became popular in the studio (and occasionally on the road!) with bands such as The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman, King Crimson and dozens more. Probably the most famous user was Paul McCartney, who used John Lennon's Mellotron to play the intro and other parts on The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever." Eventually Mellotronics folded, but a new (unrelated) Mellotron company formed in 1999 to continue building both original analog and new digital versions.

1964 — Studer J37 Recorder
Keeping with the legacy of excellence founded by Dr. Willi Studer in 1948, the Studer J37 recorder was built as solid as a tank. Debuting in 1964, the 1-inch, 4-track J37 had switchable 7.5 and 15 ips tape speeds. Its 300+ pound weight included 52 tubes for its record and reproduce amplifiers. The J37 was used on hundreds of hit records, but is best known for its role in The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, where producer George Martin and crew spent 129 days in 1967 using two J37s in Abbey Road Studio Two to create a masterpiece. A certain irony stems from the fact that 8-track technology had been commercially available for at least five years prior. Yet given four tracks to work with, the Sgt. Pepper's album was crafted using creative editing, track bouncing and was ultimately mixed using two decks manually synced together, leading to a mystique about the J37 that continues unabated, even a half century after its debut.

1984 — Klark Teknik DN360 Graphic Equalizer
Klark Teknik began in 1971 by Terry and Phillip Clarke as Klark Equipment producing non-audio gear, such as heaters and vacuum cleaners. Soon after, recording engineer and musician Terry began expanding services into modifying pro audio gear. With some success in this area, the company began making outboard devices. The Klark Teknik name began in 1974, and two years later, the DN27 graphic equalizer debuted. Although mono and three rackspaces, it sold thousands of units over the next decade. Unveiled in 1984, was the DN360 graphic EQ (originally called the DN3030), a dual-30 band unit, but also in a 3U chassis. The DN360 was a huge hit with studio and sound reinforcement users and has sold tens of thousands of units. The brothers sold the company in 1992, yet even 30 years later, the DN360 remains in production and continues to set the world standard for graphic equalizers.

1986 — Yamaha SPX90 Digital Multi-Effect Processor
Debuting in 1986, Yamaha hit a home run with its SPX90, a programmable effects processor with 30 preset sounds and 60 user memory slots. In addition to offering natural sounding reverbs, and delay sounds, the SPX90 featured a host of effects, included the must-have gated reverb (that was so popular in the 1980s), along with flange, chorus, phasing, tremolo, vibrato, autopanning, pitch change and freeze (sampling). Another plus was the SPX90's MIDI control implementation, which besides simple preset recall, also provided some interesting possibilities for creative control. At a then-amazing price point of $745, the SPX90 quickly became a standard in touring and studio racks for years to come.

1988 — Akai MPC60 Sequencer/Drum Machine
At Summer NAMM in 1987 electronic percussion pioneer Roger Linn unveiled his latest collaboration with Akai — the ADR15, an all-in-one 12-bit/40k Hz drum sampler (with a then-astounding) 26 seconds of sampling time), 32-channel stereo drum mixer and 60,000-note MIDI sequencer with the ability to capture real-time or stepped performances — all in a single unit. The ADR15 was a prototype, but months later emerged as the MPC60 MIDI Production Center, and it was an immediate smash, with its 16 drum pad keys, simple tape-style transport controls and intuitive operation. The product continued to evolve over the years (MPC 2000, MPC 3000, etc.), with more tracks, improved fidelity and continues today as the Akai MPC Renaissance, which also features PC and Mac integration.

1991 — Genelec 1031A Active Studio Monitor
The 1031A was not Genelec's first monitor (that was 1978's S-30) or active system that employed the innovative Directivity Control Waveguide (DCW) — a nod that goes to 1984’s 1022A mid-field tri-amp and later 1989's large-format 1035A system. However in 1991, when Genelec debuted the 1031A — a compact, yet high-performance monitor that applied the DCW approach into a self-powered near-field design, a classic was born. At just over 15 inches tall, the 1031A offered flat response (out to 23k Hz), 120 watts of onboard biamplification and the ability to reach 120 dB peaks. All of these made the 1031A a popular choice with top engineers and producers, studios and broadcasters worldwide and it stayed in production for 15 years, eventually being replaced by Genelec's 8000 series Minimum Diffraction Enclosure (MDE) technology monitors.

1998 — Royer Labs R-121 Ribbon Microphone
In the late 1990s, inventors David Royer and Rick Perrotta set out to create a ribbon microphone that was compact, rugged and uncolored. Debuting in 1998, the result was the Royer R-121 (patent #6,434,252), which not only accomplished all of those aims, but its proprietary offset ribbon technology offered a warm and natural sound that quickly became a favorite choice among top engineers, producers and studios and helped forge a revival in the use of ribbon microphones on recording sessions. The R-121 was followed by the R-121L version which uses a slightly thicker ribbon element more suited for live sound reinforcement applications. Royer Labs continues to perfect its ribbon technologies and now also offers active ribbon mics with onboard preamplification electronics. In 2013, Royer Labs was the recipient of a Technical Grammy award for its developments in ribbon microphones.




Home | Site Map