are made possible through the facilities of The Rogers Communications
Centre of Ryerson University.
E I L M U N C Y 1 9 3 8 - 2 0 1 2
Neil Muncy, Audio Engineer, 1938
Muncy, was a friend,
colleague, teacher, and mentor to several generations of audio
practitioners. He died peacefully on Friday, August 10, 2012 at York
Central Hospital in Toronto in his 74th year after a long illness.
AES Life Fellow Member and Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient,
teacher at Eastman School of Music Summer Advanced Recording Institute,
and studio guru, Neil's love of jazz drew him to a life of getting the
best sound out of the audio technology of the time.
As a one-time chair, and organizer of and participant in many section events, Neil was a huge friend of the Toronto AES.
He will be missed.
Toronto AES on
Neil Muncy: A Tribute
On December 18, 2012, the Toronto AES presented a tribute evening to the memory of Neil Muncy. It
was an opportunity for those who knew him as a friend, who worked with
him as a colleague, to share their thoughts and memories.
Thanks to all who contributed written or podcast
submissions expressed how Neil influenced their lives.
know how many of you have had personal contact with Neil through his
years in Toronto, but he certainly has made his mark in audio. The most
substantial by far, I've recently come to realize (again and again) is
that no matter where I am and plug in a number of pieces of audio gear,
link them together with whatever is lying around and power it up and
crank the volume..............NO HUM........
We have Neil and
Bill Whitlock to thank for that. For their relentless work and
pontification that manufacturers "do it right" with respect grounding
and balancing. These days even unbalanced gear works...
This should and will help keep Neil living on in our memory, certainly
will in mine. -
(VP Operations, Manta Sound)
passed away this evening shortly after 8PM peacefully with a smile on
his face. Mary Muncy asked me to thank everyone for their thoughts,
prayers, and phone calls of support. She welcomes the opportunity to
talk with any of Neil's friends.
She did mention today how
proud and happy Neil was upon receiving the signed get well card and
photograph from AES Toronto Section in June. We can find some small
comfort in the fact that he is no longer suffering. -
was glad to speak with Mary for a while yesterday afternoon, a few
hours before Neil passed, and say a few final words to Neil.
gave me the courage to just do my job, even though I didn't have any
letters behind my name like the rest of my colleagues did. He
encouraged me to ask the stupid, obvious questions anyway, and had a
way of explaining things in a way that didn't come off as pompous or
condescending (something so many teachers could learn from).
became fast friends, and little did I know that the writings I
'polished up' as favours to Neil, like the articles he wrote for
Professional Sound magazine, would become one of the most popular
papers presented by the AES. No, I don't have a degree in anything, but
I had Neil as a teacher, who helped me with everything from learning
how to write and navigate patent applications, Technical, and Engineer
specs to raising heirloom veggies to coping with chronic pain.
was there at my wedding, and my husband John and I used to visit Neil
quite often when we lived in Ballantrae and then Wilfrid, as we
travelled through Markham en route to the city. John did some
framing/wiring in Neil's basement to facilitate his teaching classes
from home and built the ramp he used to get into his car.
spent a lot of evenings at Neil's with our daughter Deirdre and
Sneakers the cat, watching stuff like 'True Lies' on his Surround Sound
system with SpiderVision hooked up. Good food, wine and great stories
and conversation from Neil. I wish that I'd had more opportunity to see
him in recent years since our latest move, but I can tell you that
teaching was always Neil's passion, and he was the best there was in
this industry. I am blessed to have known him and to have had him as a
mentor and friend. I wouldn't know half of you as well as I do if it
wasn't for Neil.
Shortly after Neil passed, my area
experienced a ferocious lightning storm, which I watched in darkness
off my front porch, and I knew that Neil was already at work on the
sound system up there.
See you later, Scooter. Your friends will never forget how wonderful
I knew Neil for about 13 years. The quotes I remember best are:
Neil was asked how he was doing, the answer was always "Within 3dB!"
The answer was predicable but still funny no matter how many times I
I shall also never forget other gems of Neil's wit
such as: "As busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest" or "As
nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs". Great
There was also the one about crossing Gingko with Viagra but I don't
think you want the answer to that on your web site!
I learnt so much from Neil, and it was an honor to have known him. RIP
Neil was my friend.
used to come hang out at my shop in the early 80s (Straight Wire Audio,
Arlington VA) and loved to teach this inexperienced kid how things
The Neil quote I love best was his response
to a question I had about a bogus spec sheet. It stated an EIN of 135
dB @ 150 ohms or some other impossible number. I innocently asked Neil
what instrument he thought they used to get such a low noise
He simply said "A typewriter!"
RIP Neil; my teacher and life long friend.
Bill Sacks, CPBE
first met Neil in 1994 when he was speaking at a local AES event in Los
Angeles. He seemed to identify me right away as one who shared his
passion and he quickly persuaded me, in spite of my intense fear of
public speaking, to "get out there and tell those folks what you know
about balanced interfaces". In retrospect, he was one of the most
influential people in my life since he essentially kick-started my
writing and lecturing about interfaces. We had many lively discussions
about the associated topics that spurred both of us to dig deeper and
He was always kind, generous, and respectful, even
when we disagreed. I have so much to thank him for. I'm grateful to
have spent several days in his home in November 2011, enjoying
conversation, movies, and a party where I served as his robotic hands
in the kitchen. He was a fine, warmhearted man that I'll always miss.
Many thanks and warm regards,
Bill Whitlock, President & Chief Engineer
Jensen Transformers, Inc.
AES Life Fellow - IEEE Life Senior
(from my home office in Oxnard, CA)
was designing audio wiring for a large new broadcast centre when Neil's
landmark AES Journal article about the "pin 1 problem" (re grounds on
XLR connectors) was the talk of the audio industry. It had a
large influence on the eventual system design.
called Neil on a number of acoustical and audio electronics issues over
the years, and he was always extremely generous in giving as much time
as was needed to make sure you understood him.
very passionate about broadcast audio quality. He gave me
an education on TV audio problems, which enabled me to successfully
retune the sound of an educational broadcaster, and also to make a
long-term practice of landing very hard on cable companies for audio
problems, as he did often and for many years. My wife was a
fan of Neil (who was a gracious host to the Toronto audio community),
but had some reservations when I followed his lead and installed a pile
of audio test equipment next to the TV set. My wife, who
his house looked a lot like ours in this respect, remembers him as "an
old-fashioned gentleman with an active, inquiring mind that never
Neil walked me through an electronic assisted
acoustics system which he engineered for a significant but problematic
concert hall for an article I was writing. Not only did he
me down to the most microscopic elements of the system, he was
strikingly modest, as always, about his rather noteworthy
achievement. I had known Neil for a number of years before I
about most of the things he had done in his career.
I will miss him, as will we all.
Thomas Shevlin, P.Eng.
Senior Noise Review Engineer
Ministry of the Environment
Environmental Approval Services Section
Neil at home was always an interesting experience. Invariably
you'd go home well fed, enlightened on some technical detail - and when
the season was right with a basketful of fresh tomatoes and
Following the meals we would often adjourn to the
home theatre, called the "fun room" in Neil-speak and either listen to
some tunes or watch some TV. For someone who's artistic
sensibilities ran heavily to Jazz Neil had a fondness for NASCAR that
was a bit out of character. I watched a few races with him
always had some insight into the effects that were added to the image
or some other detail of the production. He didn't make a big
of the fact that he had consulted to NASCAR, he just enjoyed the
His ability to coin amusing expressions that would
not have sounded out place in a Milton Berle monologue was
legendary. My favourite was his description of the ready-made
gazebo he had in his yard as a "ga-cheapo".
became confined to a wheelchair I built a plywood ramp so he could come
over to my place for a meal or celebration. He was here for
Christmas one year and attended a couple of parties too. That
ramp was designed to perform double duty, I built it with folding legs
attached so it could double as a long table. I still have it
the garage set up as a work table.
Electrical and Audio Engineering Team Leader at IMAX Corporation
and I met in Washington in '61 when we both were just getting started
"in the business." We would go to a bar on Wisconsin Avenue named
the Zebra Room and order separate pitchers of beer.
his many accomplishments was to build the console for studio A2 at A
& R (he built a second console for studio R2), The first
session in that studio included the Guess Who's "These Eyes."
I could go on but to me he was unquestionably the best systems man in
the business. A lovable curmudgeon, he is greatly missed.
A&R Recording, Mantat Sound, Magnetic North
was sometime in the mid 1990s. I had this big project out in Victoria,
B.C. We had an acoustic scale model built for the renovation of the
Royal Theatre. It took up the space of an entire office, here
Toronto. The conductor, the architect and some members of the
board of directors were due on Monday morning to review what we had
done. The pressure was on. But I was alone in the
a Saturday afternoon and couldn't get anything to work. The
15,000 V spark source crashed my computer every time I snapped a
spark. I called Neil, he invited me up to his house and,
even then, he was having trouble moving around, he saved my bacon.
Saved my bacon big time.
the guru of grounding, put together an aluminium foil shield around our
pre-amp that gave us 10 dB (or more) isolation from the spark source
EMI. With that I was able to move forward and by Monday
everything was fine.
Neil was a kind, intelligent and gentle man. He was always
good to me.
I shall never forget him.
Principal, Aercoustics Engineering Ltd.
don't have much on my plate to remember Neil by, but I do remember very
much his glowing endorsement of the surge protector that could tame
even horrific input transients, and suffer absolutely no
degradation. He was involved in its development, possibly its
Some years ago I set the parts aside to make
one of these, and especially the inductor is quite challenging to
make. The parts just sat there for some years and inevitably
forgotten until recently
when I decided to finish the project, about a month before Neil
I have found the parts and it is now something I must finish, partly as
a tribute to him.
Professor, Physics and Astronomy
Audio Reseach Group
University of Waterloo
shook hands with Neil Muncy at the first Toronto AES section's Overview
in 1986. Based on that encounter, I used his name as a
on a job application for a teaching position, and the university called
Neil. He then called me, and said that we needed to do
he drove to where I was working, we had lunch, and he recommended me
for the job. He became my life-long mentor and friend.
That's the kind of guy Neil was.
Prouducer, Chestnut Hall Music
Bulletin Editor, Toronto AES
have a few stories I will leave until I can share them at the Tribute
(now I remember why tequila is my preferred drink, when I do, which is
not very often.) One was a night I was at his house with my husband and
our daughter. Neil was working with Modulation Sciences, and
been showing SpiderVision to anyone he could drag into the 'fun room'.
evening, John was doing some framing in the basement. Neil and I were
upstairs, I was crocheting on the couch, he was watching sports and my
daughter was having a tantrum and wanted to watch cartoons. Neil found
a compliant station running cartoons (kinda funny, because we'd been
discussing how few there were over dinner...i guess this was in late
He then proceeded to hook up SpiderVision and
basically did a whole presentation...to my 6 year old...with cartoons
in the background as an example. I fell asleep on his couch that night,
Deirdre on the floor with Sneakers. The men were up yacking half the
night, and my husband (John 'Skully' McIntosh, bass tech for Geddy Lee
of Rush) learned a lot from Neil that has helped him as an amp and
I also remember Neil noticing me flirting once when
he was presenting a paper at the AES San Fran Convention back in 91/92?
(hey, I took my opportunities where they came) Being the coy,
don't-miss-a-trick guy he was, I wound up somehow steered into a social
situation that evening which included Neil....and the guy I was sharing
go-go eyes with...and we ended up dating briefly until life took him
across the border, off the continent and out of my clutches. haha. Neil
was at my wedding, and shortly afterwards, when John was going over
there a lot with me and helping him in the basement, Neil said
something to me like, "I always thought you and Paul would have been an
excellent match, but I think you and John were made for each other. I
really like that guy". That meant a lot to me. Bizarrely, I met John
through Martin Van Dijk, who I met through Neil and Dave Clark.
was also the one who encouraged me (and was my reference) when I
applied at Adamson. I wasn't going to because of the history Brock and
I had (I punched him in a bar during an EAW party one year - others can
tell *that* story). But Neil was like, "So what? You think the guys
don't have situations like that? I've pissed off thousands of people. I
wouldn't let that stop me."
(You can use those I guess, for the
tribute, or send this reply on to anyone (Neil's friends who might get
a kick out of those stories) wondering about my times and 20+ year
friendship with Neil).
thanks for this opportunity.
Muncy accomplished so much through others as he was a natural team
builder and a positive catalyst for change. His enthusiasm to
solve problems kept him ever vigilant for potential matches of
like-minded individuals that could work together to achieve their
engineering and research challenges and dreams.
synergistic bonds forged by Neil not only contributed to amplified team
effectiveness but also many wonderful friendships and experiences.
His influence and friendship will be treasured forever.
am adding our mutual friend and colleague, Paul Blakemore to this
thread, because he may be able to add more detail about the period of
Neil’s life that you’re researching.
What I can tell you
is that he was involved in summer recording institutes at Eastman
School of Music for a number of years c. late 70s (which is
I first met him), organized by Ros Ritchie, with a cast of other
visiting audio industry luminaries (e.g., Ed Greene, Val Valentin, Don
Puluse, Mel Sprinkle). At that time he was based in the Washington, DC
When we organized the NPR Music Recording Workshops
(late 70s through mid 80s), we hired Neil as our go-to guy for the
under-the-hood tech classes (and a lot of system design for our
presentation/demo tech). Paul, the late Curt Wittig, and I were the
other workshop regulars, with a rotating cast of others including Ken
Pohlmann, Dave Moulton, Dave Glasser, Shawn Murphy, and the late Roy
I know he had a business that built small custom
recording consoles (and other gear) of very high audio quality for a
number of recordists at this time. He also developed some unique stereo
audio monitoring systems during this period.
Finally, I have a
vague recollection that he was engaged by the Library of Congress to do
some work for their audio archive department around this time.
Consultant, New Media and Digital Transition
Technology Editor, Radio Ink magazine
The Sayings of Neil Muncy
Neil inspired a whole lexicon of descriptive phrases and epithets.
Here is a start:
“Plus or minus 3 dB”
“If you looked up ‘so and so’ in the Yellow
Pages, you’d find a full-page colour picture of them.”
“It will knock your socks off, they’ll need a
bucket at the door to collect them.”
room is so large, it has its own weather system. (Studio 40 at CBC,
during the tour that Neil organized as chair when the facility was
being built in 1991).”
"And, like that!"
Jewelry" (an appropriate name for the plethora of rein stones that
exist in the world of audio accessories and components)
"As busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking
"As nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full
of rocking chairs"
"A typewriter" (when asked what instrument was
used to get an impossible low noise measurement)
"Audio problems are like onions. You peel a
layer, you cry a little, and then you peel another one.”
“A pin one problem is like letting the fox in
the hen house, and giving him a Gold Mastercard.”
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Muncy (1938-2012) studied Electrical Engineering at the George
University and the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute in Washington,
began his professional career in 1959 as a member of the technical
staff of the
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the areas of
analog instrumentation, radar, and other related communications
projects. In 1966, after further studies in Physics & Business
Administration at the American University, he founded SSI, Inc., a
which pioneered in the application of operational amplifier technology
custom-built multichannel recording consoles, real-time and high speed
recording and duplicating systems, and related equipment.
Muncy Associates specialized in the design of recording and broadcast
facilities, the development of solutions to acoustical and technical
including particular expertise in the elimination of grounding, EMI and
problems in completed installations, and the presentation of papers,
and training seminars on audio-related topics.
1968 to 1986, Mr. Muncy was a guest instructor at the Eastman School of
in Rochester, NY, participating each summer in the Eastman Recording
Institutes, one of the very first college-level courses in Recording
Technology. From 1980 to 1989, he also served as one of the principal
instructors in the Music Recording Workshop Program sponsored by
Public Radio, in Washington D.C. Recent seminar clients include the
Institute for the Arts in Toronto, the Fanshawe College Music Industry
Program in London, Ontario, and the Recording Program at the State
of New York at Fredonia.
Muncy has contributed to a number of U.S. and International patents,
TEF licence from the California Research Institute Foundation, and was
contributor to the development of the Reflection Free Zone (RFZ�)
design concept. He has authored articles and papers on various audio
and earned credits on several Direct-to-Disc, live Jazz, and classical
Professional affiliations include the Acoustical Society of America,
Engineering Society (AES), The Canadian Acoustical Association, and the
of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
the most enduring legacy of Mr Muncy's contribution to the world of
his tireless efforts towards reducing hum and EMI in audio systems. The
"Pin 1 Problem" was first coined by Mr Muncy in his June 1995 paper
titled "Noise Susceptibility in Analog and Digital Signal Processing
Systems" which appeared in the Journal of the AES's Special Issue on
Grounding and Shielding and became the best-selling publication in AES
Muncy has served as Chair of the Washington, D.C. & Toronto AES
Facilities Chair of the AES International Conference on Digital Audio
Toronto, and Co-Chair of AES-Toronto's Audio Overview-II. He created
position of Membership Secretary of the Toronto AES section, and is the
Vice-Chair of the AES Standards Committee SC-05-05 Working group on
and EMC practices. In 1997, Mr. Muncy was elected to the position of
Eastern Vice President.
2007, Mr Muncy was presented with The Fellowship Award from the AES,
shared that year with Phil Ramone and Bob Ludwig. He also holds the
of having authored the best-selling publication in the history of the
Neil Muncy was principally involved in include: the Reverberation
Enhancement System for the restoration of the Elgin Theatre in Toronto;
Sound Recording Studio for the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts in
York, Ontario; the analog disc mastering installation for Acoustic
Record Technology Inc., Camarillo, CA; design and development of the
Reverberation/Acoustics Project (RAP) Studio for the University of
Ontario Department of Applied Music & Performance, &
the design of the
largest-to-date Multichannel Sound Enhancement System for Toronto's
Centre for the Performing Arts.
projects included the evaluation of the Eureka 147 digital audio
system with the CBC in the early 90s as part of the corporation's plans
implement DAB in its transmission grid; the yearly position of
Designer for the Toronto International Film Festival; a survey of
off-cable television audio, with the goal of developing improvements at
points along the TV audio distribution chain, and research into the
of audio wiring & installation practices since the dawn of the
industry a century ago.