John Atkinson to give Heyser Memorial Lecture at the 131st AES Convention

Stereophile editor John Atkinson has been honored by being invited to give the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture at the 131st Audio Engineering Society Convention, held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. The Memorial Lecture was established in May 1999 to honor the memory of the famed audio theorist, engineer, reviewer, scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, inventor of Time Delay Spectrometry, and AES Silver Medal recipient. The Memorial Lecture has previously honored Ray Dolby, recording engineer Phil Ramone, futurist Ray Kurzweil, mathematicians Manfred Schroeder and Stanley Lipshitz, film sound pioneer and editor Walter Murch, Andy Moorer of Sonic Solutions and Adobe, Roger Lagadec, Kees Schouhamer Imminck, who developed the optical data-reading technology used in the CD, and acoustician Leo Beranek. The lecture will be at 7pm on Friday, October 21. The Convention program and details can be found here.

Even a cursory reading of the academic literature suggests that all that matters in audio has already been investigated and ranked in importance. But John Atkinson's 40-year career of performing music, engineering and producing recordings, reviewing audio components, and editing audio magazines has led him to believe that some things might be taken too much for granted, while other things have been ignored or misunderstood. The title of Atkinson's lecture, "Where Did the Negative Frequencies Go?", is a metaphor: all real numbers have two roots, yet we routinely discard the negative root on the grounds that it has no significance in reality. Perhaps some of things we discard as audio engineers bear further examination when it comes to the perception of music, says Atkinson, adding that his lecture will offer no real answers but perhaps will allow some interesting questions to develop.

We believe the lecture is being video'd, so for those who can't make it in person, it should be available on-line after the Convention.

JA will also be a panelist in a workshop Saturday October 22 at 11am on "The Loudness Wars," chaired by Thomas Lund of TC Electronic, the Danish company that recently introduced a loudness monitoring meter that conforms to ITU Recommendation 128 (R128) from the European Broadcast Union. Other panelists include legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig; Bob Katz, whose book on mastering did so much to bring attention to this seemingly ubiquitous problem; and Dr. Susan Rogers, of Berklee College of Music.

hifitommy's picture

hi john,

i am realy looking forward to seeing the video of this lecture.  i was ecstatic when he began reviewing speakers for AUDIO magazine which i subscribed to from about 1971 until its lamented demise. 

richards fearless stance was confidence inspiring.  when roy allison dissented about heyser's review of one of his speakers, richard replied with the challenge to set up a lab ANYWHERE, ANYTIME for a repeat of the results he found. 

i believe it was hp who brought to fore the  concept that his and tas' reviewing style of equipment was OBSERVATIONAL, just as scientists like richard heyser's are.  hp did not reference heyser, i do. 

i will be watching this space.

John Atkinson's picture

Just to clarify, my AES lecture will be in honor of the late Richard Heyser, _not_ about Richard Heyser. Dick was indeed an inspiration to many of us professionally involved in audio, but I was free to choose my own topic for the lecture.

BTW, the AES has available a posthumous anthology of Dick's writings. "Time Delay Spectrometry" gathers together many of his essay from the JAES and Audio magazine, as well as unpublished material: see


John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile