Where is the next generation of audio engineers?
Every tree grows from a seed and depends on its roots.

I started my audio journey at age 5, when I watched my dad assemble a Heathkit Williamson amplifier, a 12AX7 preamp, and an FM tuner. He also built a large speaker box with a JBL D-130 and put the electronics in a beautiful Brunswick cabinet that once housed a very fine Radiola/phonograph. Since my dad is a Professor of Dentistry and his dad was an accountant at Brunswick (hence the Radiola), his interest was just a hobby. He simply liked to build things. As it turned out, when the equipment needed repairs, that job fell to me. At age 9, I was chasing down noisy resistors and capacitors. I spent a lot of time on those repairs, but 9 year olds have plenty of time for whatever interests them, even today.

After graduating from the University of Virginia and a short stint as an engineer at IBM, I decided to shun the professional engineering world and become a high-end audio service technician, a lowly job that paid better than being an engineer. The greatest benefit of that job was getting my hands on more equipment that I could ever imagine. I didn't have to buy any of it and I got paid for studying and fixing it. I studied every failure in detail, always asking myself: could I have prevented this failure? In many cases, the answer was yes, especially where I saw the same part failing over and over.

Then I opened a high-end store in Richmond, VA. I managed the store, and sold and fixed equipment. I met Harold Beveridge and found him to be the brightest light of sound engineering at the time. When I offered to work with him, he only had to think about it for 2 weeks; I agreed almost immediately. For a less money than I could live on, I accepted the job from him in Santa Barbara along with a dozen other young men who loved audio. Rich Riccio and Mike Elliott went on to form Counterpoint, John Fermin bought a store in San Diego, and Mike Detmer has had a great career in sales for several high-end companies. Harold Beveridge was my mentor in engineering, and a mentor to everyone else in his own way. In the late 1970s and early 80s there was talent, enthusiasm-- a willingness to discover real things, not just swapping parts and gilding lilies. (Top)

This convergence of economy and efficiency is further evidenced by output tube life that exceeds 10,000 hours.

In 1980, I started Music Reference because I thought I had learned enough to go out on my own. I hired a few people from Beveridge and the rest is history you can read at www.ramlabs-musicreference.com.

For 20 years, I have put out the call to young people all over the world to come and work with me. A few have come, but as the years go by, they are fewer and fewer.

Thomas Edison had a permanent ad in the New York Times stating (paraphrased): "Any young man with an interest in science and inventing should apply to the Edison Laboratories". I have run much the same ad, once in Stereophile, and in all of my recent letters, comments and even on our website. I have gotten little reply. Yes, I understand that Mr. Edison did more than Music Reference.

Now is the time for you to show up. This industry needs new talent, new blood, and there is opportunity here, great opportunity to learn from the few who have mastered the complexity of good design. Opportunity for young men interested in research, marketing, sales, management, growth and the satisfaction of making something real in a world where most products are going to hell in a Chinese hand-basket.

Music Reference has openings in every area of its business. You will be paid what you are worth. The education you can get here is priceless. I address this to younger people who come without the expectation of making more than they did at their last job. This is not the corporate world, there are no "positions" to be filled here. Everyone does most everything. Frank Lloyd Wright started Taliesin to teach what he had learned. I have taught there, and it is a wonderful place. I would like to do much the same here. If that interests you-- call, write, email, get in touch. Do it now. If you truly love audio, what else are you doing that is so much more important?

It's time for a new tree to grow.

The Virtues of Power Tube Matching

Some amplifiers don't have enough range on the bias pots to handle the range of tubes so that selection must be made from a particular part of the curve to achieve bias. In the "good old days," I'm told, the spread of values was much less, allowing reasonable performance with random selection. Today, however, random selection is certainly not recommended.

Read article

Tube Improvements: Emmission Labs

These tubes are full-wave rectifiers of a special kind, and electrically equivalent to the original Western Electric historical tubes. The series connection makes the middle of the filaments to be virtually grounded, when using a filament supply winding with a center tap.

View tubes

Meet Roger Modjeski

"When I select a product, I consider that I am buying the experience and knowledge of the designer who conducted or led the engineering on the product, along with the skills of the people who crafted it..."

Read Roger's bio

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