Reminiscences
A sample article from the archives of the B.A.S. Speaker

John A. Thompson (Vermont) johnthom@wcvt.com

The last issue, with the 25-year memories, is great! I would have to say that the spirit of Peter Mitchell lives. Since most BAS founders are more or less my contemporaries in age and audio experience, I really enjoyed reading the personal anecdotes. After reading David Ranada's piece, I checked the nameplates on my original Advent speakers. They are still straight and secure! I have thought of driving down to the meetings but have not reached a decision yet; as you well know, winter driving is a problem.


Jack Reed (Illinois)
What It's Meant to Me

I remember visiting the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound, in the Library of the Performing Arts' Research Division of the New York Public Library, at Lincoln Center in New York City, and browsing the foreign and domestic publications on display in the corner of the study room. The BAS Speaker was there, intelligently written, neatly produced, and its contributors seemed to share my point of view on audio: You get better results (in less time) if you know what you're doing and how things work. Even better, I was interested in some of the specific topics addressed. This was for me, and I was happy to join in, as a member to receive and read The Speaker, and, in March 1980, as a contributor.

Reading on the printed page what I had written, I saw it afresh, but sometimes with chagrin at not having said what I meant. My latest contribution (v21n1), for example: I really think, and thought when I wrote it, that the Allison effect is a major factor to be dealt with to achieve an overall flat response from speakers, no maybes about it. Thus, writing for the Speaker has contributed to my education in a basic way -- improving my ability to express my ideas -- in addition to what I have learned about audio by reading about it in the Speaker, not to mention the intellectual strengthening I get from the mental exercise involved in reading anything with as much substance as its articles contain.

Through the Speaker, I obtained a kind of surrogate association, amplified by occasional phone conversations with stimulating people, that became more real when I met some of them at the 1989 Consumer Electronics Show, in Chicago. The marathon aspects of C.E.S. were not for me, but a few years later I had the considerable pleasure of taking Peter Mitchell, and a year later a larger group of BAS visitors (including Ira Leonard and David Ranada), to the suburban campus of Northwestern University to hear a demonstration of arbitrarily localized sound achieved by synthesized pinna cues. It has always been a source of great satisfaction to introduce people to ideas or other experiences they were glad to have, and when several visitors commented that the demonstrations and ensuing discussions were more interesting than anything at that year's CES, I was delighted.

For the past several years, the pressure of other projects has kept me from doing much with audio, or even contributing to the Speaker. Recently, I've even been able to resist disrupting my life by reading it through as soon as it arrives (when it does) -- resistance increased by the use of acronyms I don't understand, like LARES (v20n5) [Lexicon Acoustic Reinforcement and Enhancement System], and the devotion of much space to topics I don't particularly care about, like home theater (I wouldn't for a moment deny this coverage to others). But I still want and hope to "pay some back" with more than my dues, and I think some of my projects (soundproofing a house, neutralizing listening-room acoustics) will make good topics for some of my future contributions. And I still hope to do something I've never done in my 17 years of membership in the BAS: attend a meeting!


BASS Immortal
by Daniel Shanefield (New Jersey)

In my reminiscences printed in v21n3/4, I forgot to mention a philosophical thought that might be of interest to some of the members: any scientific principles that are first published in the BASS, if they are later verified by other researchers and if they prove to be broadly useful, will live pretty much forever-or at least as long as there is civilization. Not only do these new principles then get existences of their own, spreading almost like living beings, but in many cases a trail of "literature references" builds up, which brings a certain level of fame and glory to the original publications. (You can see by my use of the word "glory" that I take these things seriously!) However, I don't think that is exaggerated, when it involves a big battle between truth and untruth, or if a new methodology is made available that will help future designers innovate better equipment for all of us.)

One example is the equalized double-blind (d-b) listening test, which was first suggested in my BASS article of November 1974, with results of such a test then reported in June 1975, and with a further summary appearing in January 1976. That seems like a long time ago, but scientists tend to keep meticulous track of these things, partly to give credit wherever it is due (including a legal necessity for the worldwide patent system), but also to aid in the important task of keeping a network of tricky ideas nicely straightened out for all to see (and maybe improve upon later).

The trail of the now famous (or infamous) d-b test can be traced through an article by BAS member Stanley Lipshitz, who has been president of the Audio Engineering Society (AES). Lipshitz, with John Vanderkooy, wrote about the d-b test in the Journal of the AES (July 1981). This detailed article listed 10 previous BASS articles on the subject, starting with my 1974 piece. A lively discussion, by Lipshitz and me and others, of some of the ideas (mostly relating to the audibility of polarity) was then printed in the JAES (June 1983). The trail was marked further when BAS member Les Leventhal explained improvements in the understanding of d-b statistics (JAES, June 1986). And even as recently as April 1994, BAS member Dick Greiner (with Douglas Melton) wrote further about polarity in the JAES and dutifully referred to the 1983 discussion mentioned above, in which I had invoked some blind-testing reports in the BASS while trying to prove a point. So, as you can see, printed references to these BASS moldy oldies continue into the '90s.

Just for fun, I have occasionally checked university libraries in several countries to see if they have microfilm copies of those old JAES articles mentioning the BASS. They do have these bits of proof that we exist (perhaps in the future it should be said we "existed"), and they will still be present all over the industrialized world from Australia to Russia, almost forever.


 

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updated 11/11/04