John Morgan Eargle: 1931–2007

On May 10, members of several pro audio Internet bulletin boards read the following post from Gary Margolis: "It is with great sadness that I inform you that John Eargle, one of the finest audio engineers and teachers it's been my privilege to know, has passed away.

"He was scheduled to speak to an Audio Engineering Society chapter in Minnesota on Tuesday evening, and when he failed to communicate with them, his JBL colleagues went to his home and found his body.

"John had a Masters in Music from Eastman and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He was a fine pianist—he had a Bösendorfer Concert Grand with extended bass in his living room, and it shared the room with his Steinway D until the latter was sold. His superb musicianship was evident in the many recordings he engineered for Delos.

"I met him when we worked together at JBL, and we quickly became friends as well as colleagues. Although he retired from recording a few years ago, he continued to consult for Harman International as well as write and revise his superb textbooks on audio. He was a regular lecturer at the Aspen Recording Institute every summer, and he was a frequent speaker at both Acoustical Society of America and Audio Engineering Society meetings.

"For the past two decades, I had the privilege of assisting him with his computing needs. He was expert in computer technical drawing—he did all of his own book illustrations—and, with the changes in technical publishing, he became fluent in page layout as well. In recent years, he took up photography with typically excellent results.

"Because he lived alone and was concerned about what could happen if he had a medical emergency, he recently decided to sell his home in the hills above the Hollywood Bowl and move into a retirement community. Ironically, his concern was justified.

"Requiescat in pacem, my friend..."

Stereophile, like all of the audio community, seconds that sentiment.

Eargle recorded more than 275 CDs for Delos, RCA, and Mercury—indeed, there are few audiophiles who do not own many of his recordings. He received a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Clasical in 2001—the year he also received a Scientific and Technical "Oscar" from the academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his work on constant-directivity, direct-radiator motion picture loudspeakers. He literally wrote the book on audio engineering—many of them, in fact, including The Handbook of Recording Engineering, The Microphone Book, The Handbook of Sound System Design, Electroacoustical Reference Data, and Music, Sound and Technology. He also wrote The Loudspeaker Handbook, The JBL Story: 60 Years of Audio Innovation, and many articles for the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society and the SMPTE Journal.

Since 1976, Eargle had been a leading light at JBL and its current parent company, Harman International Industries. He also headed his own consulting firm.

Eargle's funeral will be private, but there will be a memorial convocation for friends and associates in the near future, according to JBL. It will need to be held in a very large room.

A remembrance website has been established where friends and colleagues can share their memories of one of audio's true class acts.

John Atkinson adds: "I first met John Eargle when I was visiting JBL in Northridge in 1982. He was both charming and helpful to this then-tyro writer, with his encyclopedic knowledge of both the audio and recording industries. I last met up with John at the January 2007 CES launch of JBL's monumental Everest speaker system, and was concerned by how frail he had become. But he was still a giant in intellectual stature and in achievements."