April 1993: Volume 1, Number 4

Bryston Limited: The Tour

Pre-meeting "Dutch Treat" dinner, 6:00 pm at Unique India Restaurant, 130 Westmore Drive, Rexdale, Ontario

What's Inside

This Month's Meeting Preview

Bryston and the Meaning of Quality Control

This meeting will give AES members and guests a chance to see for themselves the design and production procedures responsible for Bryston's line of amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, cross-overs and other products. The tour will be presented by Christopher Russell, Vice President of Engineering of Bryston Limited.

Virtually anyone associated with the professional audio industry on this continent, and abroad, will be familiar with Bryston products. For instance, the Bryston 4B amplifier is considered by professionals to be one of the most reliable, high quality amplifiers available anywhere. Andrew Marshall, in Audio Ideas Guide sums up the opinion of the audiophile: "The 4B has neither a tube nor transistor sound, just great neutrality, focus, clarity and power."

Recognizing that a good design does not inherently carry through to the finished product, Bryston has for the last twenty years focussed its efforts on producing consistantly high quality products, which they back with a bold warranty: 20 years parts and labour. The company has remained in business because this warranty rarely needs to be tested by a Bryston owner.

All Bryston products are subjected to a meticulous construction procedure. Critical electronic components are bench tested before assembly. Parts are inspected at every production step. Each assembled amplifier and preamplifier is "burned in" for 100 hours under high-stress loads to test for component longevity and electrical connection integrity. As well, each is tested for distortion and the results are recorded. A signed test summary accompanies every Bryston component.

Bryston started out in 1962 as a custom electronics design and production facility. Some of its first products, usually private-labeled with the customer's logos, included control electronics for industrial dishwashing equipment, logic-controlled automated welding units for ship-building, blood-testing apparatus for checking clotting-time, and many other interesting and unusual items.

John W. Russell, a former NASA engineer, acquired the company in 1968, at which point his son Christopher joined the firm. Chris' own interest in sound equipment led him to investigate this market beginning in the early 1970s with a 100 watt-per-channel stereo amplifier first sold to Eastern Sound in Toronto. This unit contained many of the linearity-first, dual power supply, symmetrical circuitry philosophies Bryston still follows. The amplifier did well in both the home and professional markets, establishing themselves as both rugged and good sounding.

Bryston has expanded into numerous other products in the intervening years, including several other sizes of amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, crossovers, special portable packages for Dolby SR noise reduction units, DAC-type remote level controls, and so on.

Mr. J.W. Russell passed away in 1983, and the company is now in the hands of three Russell brothers and one minority investor, James Tanner, our Marketing Vice President.

Christopher Russell's background includes "lots of on-the-job experience combined with a small amount of university-level education and a great deal of motivated interest."

This promises to be an interesting tour especially for those who use pro amplifiers.

Come early for a good seats!

What's Inside

Last Month’s Meeting Summary

About 70 AES members and guests turned out on Tuesday, March 23 to hear noted recording engineer and author John Eargle give a presentation The presentation on The Acoustics of Musical Instruments for Audio Engineers, or What Every Engineer Should Know About Sound. Only a handful of people left early before the meeting finished up around 11:00 pm, and Mr Eargle spent the entire break and some time after his talk answering more questions.

During his talk, Mr Eargle reviewed all of the instruments of the orchestra and then some. He explained how each of the families of instruments (string, woodwind, brass, percussion, etc) produces sound and how a musician is able to vary the pitch and loudness on each instrument.

Overheads were used to compare the dynamic ranges of different instruments and showed how an instrument's dynamic range varies depending on what pitch is being played. For example, the bassoon has a limited dynamic range when playing its lowest notes, but has a wide dynamic range once it moves up in pitch. Both the saxophone and the clarinet are capable of a very wide dynamic range, whereas the piccolo has a very limited dynamic range (it is always loud!).

A formant is a resonance an instrument produces no matter what note it is playing. Each type of instrument has a formant or series of formants which help make that instrument's sound unique. For example, the string bass has a formant at 100 Hz, while the oboe has a formant near 1 kHz.

Another fascinating aspect of musical instruments is their complex radiation patterns. 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.

All of this background theoretical information led Mr Eargle to offer some practical tips for recording engineers. For example, he described how a piano's soundboard acts as a dipole radiator at low frequencies. To get more bass from a piano, he advised removing the lid and micing the instrument from above, on-axis to the dipole. But he also pointed out that this option is not always practical since many pianists are not comfortable playing with the lid off. They are used to hearing the sound of their instrument reflected back to them off the lid.

Considering the complex radiation patterns of instruments, there is only one wind instrument to which one can successfully attach a close microphone: the saxophone. Because of the instrument's shape, a close mic on the bell can also pick up sound radiated from the holes in the sax's body. Mr Eargle told a story of how this technique enable him to achieve a consistant sound from a sax player who moved constantly while playing... until the musician switched to soprano sax! (The soprano sax is straight like a clarinet, and does not pick up well with an attached close mic).

Many bass players prefer playing on a raised platform. They think that the vibrations they feel under them produce a better sound, but as Eargle pointed out, the vibrating surface represents wasted energy which could be put to beter use as sound. He recommended putting bass players against a wall when possible, or placing a solid baffle behind them so that the sound is reflected back into the recording venue.

Microphones and microphone techniques are a favourite topic of every recording engineer and John Eargle is no exception. His current omnidirectional microphone of choice is the Sennheiser MKH 20. This mic has a double backplate creating a push-pull diaphragm that produces a very high level output.

Subcardiods have come into vogue recently, but Mr Eargle says that this pattern is very difficult to maintain at all frequencies. By contrast, a hypercardioid is a relatively easy pattern to design. And, because of the increased directionality of the hypercardiod, it is not necessary to angle a pair as widely to get good separation. The advantage here is that sound sources in the middle of the stereo image are less likely to suffer from off-axis colouration.

Mr Eargle has some suggestions on how to deal with close micing, when it is necessary. He keeps the microphone level low when the instrument is playing out, and brings it up only when necessary. He say artificial reverberation should be used on close mics, since the direct to reverb ratio changes when the instrument is highlighted. By using a post-fader send to reverb device, the more the level is brought up, the more reverb there is to compensate.

Anyone interested in learning more from John Eargle is encouraged to investigate any of his excellent books, including Sound Recording, Handbook of Recording Engineering, The Microphone Handbook, and Handbook of Sound System Design.

Another way to learn is by listening. You can get a good overview of Eargle's classical work with a sampler CD from Delos, or his jazz work on another CD called Gems of Jazz (Delos DE 3507).

In Toronto, Peter Cook

What’s Inside


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN FOR THE EXECUTIVE: Introducing The Nominees (So Far) for 1993/94

Next month, the Toronto AES Section will determine the Executive for 1993/94 year. A vigorous nomination campaign conducted within the pages of this bulletin for the last several months has netted one candidate for each Executive post. This month, Toronto AES Section Bulletin introduces you to each of these candidates.

Tom Shevlin is nominated for the position of Chairman. He is our current Vice Chairman.

He writes: "I was bitten by the audio bug in 1971 at the tail end of a short career as a bar band guitarist. This led to getting my electronic technician's papers, doing a lot of sound reinforcement mixing and installation, running my own live sound/recording company for four years, and being resident maintenance tech for the CBC Toronto multi-track mobile.

"Inspired by my difficulty in understanding articles in the AES Journal, I entered the University of Toronto's Electrical Engineering program in 1981, graduating in 1986 (after doing much more PA at Harbourfront in the summers).

"Since 1987, I have been a Systems Design Engineer for the new CBC Broadcast Centre, designing Radio studio electronic systems (primarily multi-track rooms and the Glenn Gould Studio).

"I have been a member of the Toronto section of the AES starting in the mid-seventies. I would like to see a lot of membership feedback so that the committee can serve the members' needs in the most effective way."

Denis Tremblay is nominated for the position of Vice Chairman. He is our current Membership Secretary.

A former resident of Sudbury, Denis has been involved in consumer and professional audio since the early seventies. Denis has worked for Northern Auto Sound in both Sudbury and North Bay as installer and technician, for Professional Sound and Acoustics (Sudbury) installing and maintaining public address systems, and is a former technical director of the Northern Lights Festival Boreal (Sudbury) where he made several field recordings in genuine fields (careful of them cowpies, boy!).

Denis has been employed by EMI Music Canada (formerly Capitol-EMI Canada) for the last eight years, maintaining the tape duplicating plant, as well as designing and building machinery and electronics for the facility. Denis' personal interests are music, books, writing computer software, and the quest for the perfect loudspeaker.

Glenn Specht is nominated for the position of Treasurer. He is currently a Committee Member.

Glen has been involved in the pro audio business in some form or another for the last twelve years. A one-time student at Ryerson in Electronics and Business, at George Brown College in Acoustics, and at the Toronto Campus of The School of Hard Knocks, Glen has variously served as Front of House sound reinforcement engineer, service technician at numerous music stores, audio specialist at a systems house, and is presently employed as Technical Support for Rupert Neve Canada, which distributes AMS and, of course, Neve.

His current all-encompassing project is the installation of digital and analogue mixing desks at the CBC Broadcast Centre. He likes theatre, music (fortunately), getting out of the city, good food, and good beer. He dislikes compressed digital audio.

He has also so far, to his knowledge, managed to rebuke the call of Genesis. No other AES Executive treasurer in recent memory has been able to maintain this status once elected.

Peter Cook is nominated for the position of Membership Secretary.

Peter is currently Digital Audio Editor with the CBC Broadcast Centre, and is a recent new member of the AES Toronto section.

Formerly an instructor in the Sound Recording program with McGill University, Peter received his Master of Music in Sound Recording degree from McGill, and worked as digital editor for McGill Records. He worked in New York at Classic Sound as editor, and since joining the CBC, is editing their SM5000 recordings on the Sonic Solutions CD pre-mastering system.

Peter is a founding member and former Chairman of the AES McGill Student Section.

Janine Walton is nominated for the position of Public Relations Co-ordinator.

A graduate of the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, she has served as Studio Administrator/Receptionist at McLear Place in Toronto, and most recently as partner at the Toronto audio post-production facility Synergy Sound Production. Projects she has worked on include Roger Whittaker's Celebration, Frank Mill's Christmas, and a three album recording of Songs for the Soul, with Eric Robertson, Marek Norman and the Toronto Orpheus Choir.

Earl McCluskie is nominated for the position of Secretary. He is our current Treasurer, and Editor of this humble letter.

Earl studied Theory and Composition at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario and Sound Recording at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He began his involvement with audio in 1980 as studio and remote recording engineer at UWO.

After working for the CBC in the Audio Quality Control section of the Film Services department, he taught Sound Recording at the State University of New York in Fredonia and also worked on the design of their new 24-track recording facility. He developed programs and trained student technical staff for concert production and recording at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo in its new music department facilities, and then worked at the Banff Centre for the Arts on audio and video projects in its new Media Arts facilities in 1989.

Earl has earned credits on many live and studio recordings, including broadcasts for National Public Radio in the US and CBC Stereo, and independent CD and LP releases, and is an avid french horn player. He currently is consultant and project manager for Audio Design and Production, which specializes in the design of custom home audio and video theatres.

Good News for the Hard of Hearing

An accidental discovery that could bring new hope to the hearing impaired and perhaps an end to hearing aids was announced recently by the VirginiaVirginia Bloedel Hearing Research Centre in Seattle.

Edwin Rubel, Director of Research, reported that three separate groups have reported finding evidence that hair cells in the ear can be regenerated in mammals.

It is the hair cell inside the ear that transforms sound waves into electrical signals which are fed to the brain. Dr Rubel suggests that "instead of a hearing air", in the future, we may be able to treat deafness by simply injecting a chemical into the ear.

In Toronto, Leo Lobo

General Notices

If you are moving, or have moved recently, please advise AES New York of your new address. We receive a handful of returned newsletters each month, and we have no way of forwarding them unless you inform headquarters of your address change.

If you wish to pay your dues by cheque, please send us the amount owing plus the US exchange rate at the time of submission, in Canadian funds (for the time being) to AES Toronto Section 131 Bloor Street W, Suite 200-292, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1R8.

Now, about paying those dues...

Several members of our Toronto section have had difficulty paying for membership renewals or applications with money orders or cheques.

Due to the "zest for profit" (apologies to Don Plunkett) of some American banks, it now costs the AES International office in New York fifty dollars ($50.00) to cash a Canadian money order or cheque.

Obviously it is not practical for the AES to do this, as only fifteen dollars of the membership fee would remain after the (dis)service charge. In order to allow our members the convenience of paying by cheque or money order if they wish, we have made arrangements with AES New York to accept the cheque or money order at the Toronto section level, and we will then wire the money to New York.

This system is common in Europe and other parts of the world. For members who pay by credit card nothing will change: send your renewal directly to New York. For members who wish to pay by cheque or money order, submit both your renewal slip and the cheque or money order (+US exchange) to the Toronto Section's Membership Secretary, who will then take care of the arrangements. Do not send a Canadian cheque or money order of any kind to AES New York, as they will not be accepted and will be returned to you.

We apologize for any inconvenience this alternate arrangement may cause you, but until the New York banks change their policies, it appears to be the only practical solution.

In Brampton, Denis Tremblay

Letter to the Editor

Congratulations on the interesting and graphically appealing newsletter you produce for the AES Section.

Over the last few years, the section newsletters have become more vital in the information they dispense, and more visually stimulating. Newsletters such as yours have led the way to this improvement.

Best regards,

Donald Plunkett

AES Executive Director

What's Inside

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Copyright 1993, Audio Engineering Society Toronto Section Bulletin

Articles may be used with the Author's Permission. Contact the Bulletin Editor: earlm@hookup.net

Editor: Earl McCluskie Assistant Editor: Anne Reynolds Layout Editor: Lee White

The Bulletin is prepared in print by Lee White, and on Horizon and the Internet by Earl McCluskie.