Conversation with Sound Engineer Scott Dunn

>Date: Tue, 08 Sep 1998
>From: Los Coyotes <>
>Subject: In Empathy

>Dear Sir,

>Having read your essay "Why Are Audio Engineers The Enemies Of Our
>Ears?" I must write and give a hearty "Bravo!" Being an audio
>"engineer" myself over the last decade, you accurately describe what I
>have witnessed all too many times in this industry. Deaf engineers,
>hubris, petty bureaucracy, disallowance of the health of the audience,
>etc.are all certainly rampant in today´s entertainment industry. Why
>must we be continually clobbered over the head with the bass drum, or
>the guitar, or the human voice, particularly in the 1K to 5K bands?

>All too often I have witnessed sound engineers who are sensory
>deficient, holding on to glory days long since past and literally
>torturing audiences with their mixes. I believe I am definining a new
>level of audio mixers when I refuse to turn it up beyond 100db peak;
>this is unheard of in my business of rock ´n roll, etc. Unfortunately, I
>fear it is too late to have limited my exposure to 115 db mixes, as I am
>often the victim of being the "system" tech, with no real power to hold
>the decibels in check. Occasionally, I have limited and reduced gains
>with some success, but most moronic engineers merely over drive the
>system even harder in this situation.

>I heartily agree with your new ethic, and will post your sensible
>advice in halls and shops in my area, possibly with the hope of it
>having some effect on the all too self-righteous and entrenched
>"engineers" in the industry here. Once again, I commend you and keep up
>the good work.


>Scott Dunn
>Sound Engineer and Technical Advisor

To: Los Coyotes <>
From: Ron Pellegrino <>
Subject: Re: In empathy
Date: September 9, 1998

Hi Scott:

Thanks for your message in response to my essay Why Are Audio Engineers The Enemies Of Our Ears?. What I find especially valuable is the expression ("new ethic") you use to describe the driving force of the Quest for Audio Excellence. What you've added to the mix with the expression "new ethic" is a powerful conceptual link that ties fundamental audio engineering issues to a higher level notion, a code of ethics. Any decent dictionary will define ethics as a code or system of principles or rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions including the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of those actions. To anyone reading the majority of responses from audio engineers (Conversations With Audio Engineers) to my essay, it should be readily apparent that the field of audio engineering has no code of ethics, implicit or explicit. Individuals may but the field doesn´t. Yet it sorely needs one; and it needs one that serves both music and the music-loving audience.

A likely candidate for drawing up a respected code of ethics for audio engineers is the Audio Engineering Society with input from its members, any practicing audio engineer, any interested musician, any music presenting organization, anyone from the music-going public, and anyone with a background in the physics of sound and psychoacoustics. With good publicity to draw attention to the project, a properly designed website would be the perfect vehicle for gathering ideas that might be included in a code of ethics for audio engineers. A wisely composed and widely distributed code would be a powerful educational resource for improving the field of audio engineering and possibly a good source of leverage with clients for those audio engineers who commit to change the field for the better.

Thanks for the "new ethic" spin; it could provide the energy to raise the field of audio engineering to a higher level.

Ron Pellegrino

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