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Toronto AES Bulletin

Oct 2001

Meeting Preview

Acoustics Of Musical Instruments For Audio Engineers

For those of us who were fortunate enough to see John Eargle's original presentation on "The Acoustics of Musical Instruments for Audio Engineers" in April 1993, you will be pleased to know that Mr. Eargle will treat the Toronto Section to an update of that discussion on Oct 23rd at Ryerson.

Mr. Eargle will review all the instruments of the orchestra and explain how each of the families of instruments (string, woodwind, brass, percussion, etc.) produces sound and how the musician is able to vary the pitch and loudness of each instrument.

Mr. Eargle will compare the dynamic ranges of various instruments and will show how an instrument's dynamic range can vary depending on the pitch being played and explain why some instruments have a wider dynamic range than others depending where they fall in the spectrum.

Mr. Eargle will also explain why each instrument has its own "forment" or resonant frequency and describe the timbre of each of the families of instruments. Mr. Eargle will explain that each type of instrument has a formant or series of formants and its own unique timbre or " "attack" which help create that instrument's sound unique.

Mr. Eargle will also discuss the complex radiation patterns of each of the families of instruments and how they are produced. Different components of an instrument's sound are radiated in many different directions from the instrument. These patterns can vary depending on what note is being played.

With the theory in mind, Mr. Eargle will then offer some practical tips for recording musical instruments in terms of microphone technique and signal metering. He will discuss close micing vs. room mic and choice of one microphone and particular polar pattern over another to record specific instruments.


John Eargle holds degrees in music and electrical engineering from the Eastman School of Music (BM), University of Michigan (MM), University of Texas (BSEE), and Cooper Union (ME). He is a member of the Acoustical Society of America, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, a senior member of the IEEE, and a Fellow and honorary member of the Audio Engineering Society. He is also a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is a past president of the AES and is a reviewer for the AES Journal. He worked for RCA Records and Mercury Records during the 1960's.

During the 1970's he worked for the Altec Corporation and founded his own company, now called JME Consulting Corporation. He has been associated with JBL Incorporated since 1976. Since 1982 he has expanded his activities in recording engineering and producing, and he has engineered and/or produced over 250 Compact Discs. He has published numerous technical articles, and his books, Handbook of Recording Engineering, Microphone Handbook, Loudspeaker Handbook, Music, Sound, and Technology, Electroacoustical Reference Data, and Handbook of Sound System Design, have long been used as texts at the university level. In1984 Mr. Eargle was awarded the AES Bronze Medal, and in 2001 he received the Grammy Award in the category of Best Classical Engineering for the year 2000.

He currently holds the position of Senior Director of Product Development and Application for JBL Professional. He has participated prominently in the development of systems for motion picture application and has made extensive measurements of those systems. He has also been prominent in the development of music recording for surround sound applications.

Presented by Grammy Award Winning Producer John Eargle
Date 23 Oct 2001
Time 7:30 pm
Place Ryerson Eaton Lecture Theatre, Rogers Communications Building
Address 80 Gould Street, Toronto, ON
corner of Gould and Church, one block east of Yonge St (Dundas Subway)
Pre-Meeting Dinner 5:30 pm
Baton Rouge Restaurant - 218 Yonge St.
(in the Eaton Centre with an entrance on Yonge St.)
pdf file Meeting Announcement in Adobe Acrobat Format
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Originally posted: 13 Oct 2001
Last update: 13 Oct 2001