Our Mentors

In reference as to why we have become so hugely clever in the audio or rather electronics industry it is pertinent to point out whom our mentors are….

The answer to this one is not as simple as what was originally thought.  One thing is certain though we need to give credit to the magazines of our time and maybe yours as well, Popular Electronics, Practical Wireless, Practical Electronics, ETI (Electronics Today International) and Elektor. There’s hardly a schoolboy or student in the 70s, 80s and 90s whom would not have picked up or subscribed to one or more of these magazines.

In a discussion with a group of like minded fellows,  work colleagues actually, the one name that popped up frequently was Rod Elliott of Elliott Sound Products. This is interesting because he is not American, German, French or even British but Australian.  Just what is it that makes these Australians tick. What I like about this gentleman’s work is that he keeps it straight and simple. I do believe that some of the brightest minds in this industry are those that can break down sometimes difficult subject matter into easy to grasp parts. This guy is legend.

If one has been actively involved in electronics and audio at that to know that Mr. Elliott’s been on the web for at least the last 15 years you would also have come across Pass Labs, a commercial enterprise belonging to Nelson Pass. Mr. Pass has been actively involved in the DIY community for many years and much of his earlier works is now available online. The less mainstream website for those wanting to ensure that their first watt does indeed sound glorious is found here.

How about the legendary John Linsley Hood?  We attach the link to Wikipedia. Which schoolboy or student in the 70s interested in any form of electronics had never heard of him?

One company we could not let go is Mars Amps based in Paarl, South Africa. Not having met the gent, Karel Mars although I lived in Brackenfell for almost twenty years I think Mars Amps have become legendary within the hi-fidelity and music scene. Popular Mechanics wrote up a great article here. Karel Mars regularly hosts workshops for the DIY community.

Bob Carver, who copied and made better the signature of the Conrad-Johnson Premier Five and at a much lower price. The 400W and 700W Phase Linear amplifiers were testament to his talent, the 700 Watter used by many big bands of the time. (to be cooled by dry ice as folklore goes).

Please feel free to pass on your legends and mentors – we would prefer them not be mainstream like Bose, Bowers (except for Bob Carver) and to be individuals representing us, the DIYer, then by all means.

And me, well I’m not a mentor. I worked in marine telecommunications for twenty years repairing and blowing up all forms of navigation equipment, VHF and SSB (my tube experience), radar and automation systems. One thing that has always appealed to me is that enormous amount of power dissipated by a tube, whether a klystron, magnetron or power tetrode. Yes digital electronics has it’s place – we would never have moved so far ahead in technology if it wasn’t for our chemical and electronic engineers but analog for audio remains king. Keep it straight and simple.

Some interesting titbits on the Zen amplifier below, a bit of comic relief – bear in mind that often our mentors often take their work very seriously: