The 2011 Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture: "Where Did the Negative Frequencies Go?" Summing Up

Summing Up
First, I would like to thank the Audio Engineering Society, not only for inviting me to give this lecture but also for making a wealth of invaluable information on audio available on its website. Second my thanks to DRA Labs, Audio Precision, and Miller Audio Research, for allowing me to make use of their measurement tools—absolute accuracy and repeatability are the twin goals of those who measure components, and these companies' tools have been a major help over the years; Larry Archibald, for more than a quarter century ago making me an offer to move to the US that I couldn't refuse; the staff and writers of Stereophile, for their inspiration and support; all the musicians I have worked with over the years, for allowing me to participate in the capturing of their dreams; Hugh Davies, for teaching me how to edit recordings; Tony Cox, Jerry Boys, Peter McGrath, and Erick Lichte, for teaching me what is important in capturing sound and creating a recorded soundstage; and my longtime copyeditor, Richard Lehnert, for making me appear more erudite in my writings than I am in person.

Third, one well-known skeptic sitting in the audience tonight criticized my abstract a few weeks back on the grounds that I am just offering "hypotheses about stuff that might be just to stir the pot, while offering no real explanations." I hope I have done more than just stir the pot. I hope I have opened people's eyes to the elegance of so much that matters in audio, and caused them perhaps to think a little about matters that might have been taken too much for granted.

Finally, looking back at the individual areas I have been discussing, it would seem that if you want to make and play back recordings that people will prefer, you use spaced omni mikes to capture the sound at at least 176.4kHz, and play it back through an NOS DAC, a zero- or low-negative-feedback amplifier with very low static distortion below 1W and primarily second-harmonic distortion at higher powers, driving large panel speakers via exotic cables.

With that bombshell, I will end by playing one of my recordings that I hope encapsulates the goal that we audio engineers strive to reach. To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, a life without music would be a mistake. Here is some sweet music: Cantus performing a modern setting of a poem by Tennyson:


Cantus in 2007, with engineer John Atkinson (far right) and producer Erick Lichte (front center, with slapstick)

[Play Daniel Gawthrop, "There is Sweet Music," (excerpt) from While You Are Alive CD, Cantus CTS-1208 (2008)]

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