Founded in 2004 by George Petersen and presented since 2015 by the NAMM MUSEUM of Making Music, the TECnology Hall of Fame honors and recognizes audio products and innovations that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of audio technology. Inductees to the TECnology Hall of Fame are selected by a panel of more than 50 recognized audio experts, including authors, educators, engineers and other professionals. Products or innovations must be at least 10 years old to be considered for induction.
Listen to the sound of silence. Leo Beranek, the then Director of Harvard’s Electro-Acoustic Laboratory, developed an echoless room in pursuit of such an oddity. Famed composer John Cage famously described the experience: “In that silent room, I heard two sounds, one high and one low. Afterward, I asked the engineer in charge why, if the room was so silent, I had heard two sounds. He said, “Describe them.” I did. He said, “The high one was your nervous system in operation. The low one was your blood in circulation.” Originally designed to test loudspeakers for military purposes, the concrete and fiberglass chamber has inspired modern adaptations for commercial music purposes. Mr. Beranek’s advancement in the science of acoustics inspired recording studios, manufacturers and even musical works such as John Cage’s “4’33”.”
In the early 1960’s, James West and Gerhard Sessler developed the foil electret transducer, a technology present in 90 percent of all microphones built today. Electret circuits, derived from the words electrostatic and magnet, permanently charge an electrical insulator in response to an electrostatic field. In essence, this process allows electret microphones to operate with little reliance on external power, and modern electrets are remarkably durable. In fact, most of us carry these microphones everywhere we go via our cell phones.
One of the longest-running microphones still in production, the beyerdynamic M160 began as a unique offering in the world of ribbon microphones. The M160 features a hypercardioid polar pattern, which means it strongly rejects sounds emanating from behind the microphone and at its sides. For this reason, famed producer-engineer Eddie Kramer recorded Jimi Hendrix’s vocals and amplifier with this beyerdynamic classic, thereby cutting the amount of drum and bass bleed into Jimi’s live signal. Likewise, Andy Johns reached for the M160 to obtain John Bonham’s massive drum tone for Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” This is but a small sampling of the variety of its use throughout music history. The microphone features a broad frequency sensitivity ranging from 40Hz to 18kHz. For reference, the spectrum of the human hearing range is considered to be 20Hz to 20kHz.
The premiere line array system, JBL’s VerTec has found a worldwide application. Mounted in a line of modularized speakers, the system is fed in phase to create an evenly-distributed sound output that travels farther than traditional horn-loaded loudspeakers. These JBLs are easily coupled and deployed in hanging or ground-based applications.
The SIM II (Source Independent Measurement) system is a marvel of mathematics. Utilizing a Fast Fourier Transformation, the Meyer Sound Labs device computes a signal over time and measures the frequency components on a graph. From there, an engineer can monitor an incoming audio signal with precise detail.
The first choice of classical music, the Millennia Media HV-3 brings an ultra-high-fidelity tone into the recording studio. Noted for its crisp, transparent replication, the HV-3 has become a modern classic ubiquitous in high-end studios worldwide.
Composer Herbert Deutsch approached technologist Bob Moog in 1963 with a simple proposition: build something wildly unique and experimental. Moog combined existing synthesis technology through a modularized design and opted to control the signal via a keyboard. This early synth became the first to crossover from the avant-garde to contemporary music. Wendy Carlos’ recorded her LP “Switched on Bach” entirely on the Moog synthesizer, and her album soon became a smash success. The Beatles, Mick Jagger and countless others heard this groundbreaking work and purchased the 1967 edition of the Modular Moog. The rest is history.