Richard Powers, 1952–2006

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Richard "Dick" Powers on April 5, 2006, in Fremont, CA after a short battle with cancer. Dick was just 53.

UltraAnalog, the company Dick founded in 1988 with Rémy Fourré to bring to market the high-oversampling 20-bit A/D converter designed in the late 1980s by Robert Adams, was a major player in the high-end digital audio arena, with Accuphase, Audio Research, PS Audio, Sonic Frontiers, and Madrigal/Mark Levinson using its 20-bit and later 24-bit D/A modules with considerable sonic success. The company also developed the low-jitter I2S-Enhanced digital interface, first utilized in the Sonic Frontiers Transport 3. UltraAnalog also manufactured complete products for high-end audio companies—when I visited their Fremont facility in 1993, I saw a complete production line dedicated to the then best-selling Assemblage DAC1.

I lost touch with Dick Powers following the sale of UltraAnalog to Wadia Digital in 1998. He apparently spent some years in Florida before returning to California to work at high-performance analog semiconductor manufacturers Semtech and Intersil Corporation. A recent colleague of Dick's, Jeff Strang, offers the following thought: "Richard, along with UltraAnalog's chief engineer, Rémy Fourré, was driven by a burning desire to improve the quality of commercially available audio DACs and ADCs. UltraAnalog upped the ante for the rest of the industry by introducing high-resolution, high-speed data converters that helped bring true audiophile-grade digital audio to both the recording and consumer markets. Richard will be missed, but his products' beautiful music lives on."

Amen to that, Jeff. According to the obituary in the April 7 issue of Florida Today, Richard Powers is survived by his mother, Ella Akerson of Caribou, ME; his brothers, Charlie Powers of Maine, Mike Powers of Virginia, and John Akerson of North Carolina; nephew Bill Powers of Virginia; as well as many other family members. Richard's ashes will be sprinkled into the Pacific Ocean on a date to be determined, at Ocean Cove, a place where he loved to dive for abalone and camp with friends.