2007 Heyser Award

Gold Line is pleased to announce Russ Berger as the 2007 recipient of the Heyser Award.
russ2hey.jpg - 59221 BytesRuss Berger (Right) receiving the Heyser Award from Doug Jones.

Russ Berger is president of Russ Berger Design Group, an acoustical and architectural design firm in Dallas, Texas, that has established itself as one of the industry’s premier studio/facility design firms. The recipient of eight TEC awards for acoustics and facility design, Russ has more than 2,500 projects to his credit, including recording, video, post production, radio and television broadcast studios, creative production spaces, home theaters and critical listening environments. Projects include NFL Films, National Public Radio, Sony Music Entertainment, World Wrestling Entertainment, RadioShack, Lakewood Church, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, NBC, ABC and CBS. He has provided studio design for Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Steve Miller, Don Henley, and John Fogerty, as well as countless recording studios across the United States. His past experience in the studio as musician, engineer, and owner gives him unusual insight as a consultant into all aspects and phases of technical facility design.

Russ is President-Elect of the National Council of Acoustical Consultants, and serves on several university advisory boards. Other professional memberships include the Audio Engineering Society, the Acoustical Society of America and CEDIA. Russ has lectured extensively on facilities planning, studio acoustics, audio electronics, audio monitoring, and microphone technique, and has taught graduate-level seminars on studio design. He frequently contributes articles to industry journals and trade publications, covering topics on acoustics, architecture, and design. Russ is one of the original licensees for performing TEF measurements, licensed through the Jet Propulsion Lab.

Russ Berger acceptance of the 2007 Heyser Award:
Those of us in audio who are familiar with Dick Heyser outside of his work for the Jet Propulsion Lab and NASA, know him best through his gift to us of the time delay spectrometry measurement system. This measurement technique was born from Dick’s truly remarkable and curious mind. He possessed the philosopher’s gift for perspective and the teacher’s talent for illustration, generously sharing his insight and discovery with anyone who showed interest, at a level that always matched his audience’s academic and intellectual understanding. A sharp whit and active sense of humor rounded out this legendary genius of a man, making him whole, complete, mortal, and instantly likable. For all his incredible accomplishments, it is who this man was, that makes this award so very special to me.

More than 25 years ago, Dick visited me at JRG, an acoustical design and consulting firm. I was honored and excited to have the opportunity of an afternoon together with one of my all time heroes. Nervously I toured Dick around our office showing him several of our active projects, some of the past work we had performed, and pointed out things of special interest to me in our technical library. He was particularly interested in our lab area with all the test gear, including my original TEF rig and sporting the “new” Techron TEF-10 dedicated analyzer, one of the first ones off the line. Dick then surprised me by asking to inspect our hydraulics lab. I explained to him that we were primarily an acoustical consulting firm and did not offer mechanical engineering services nor underwater acoustics. With a twinkle in his eye he exhorted, “No, the hydraulics lab, man -- The Bathroom, The Bathroom!” …and that was Dick, always looking for the humor in a situation. But even with something as mundane as a bathroom with fixtures, he didn’t see it as we do, but instead saw an engineering challenge that resulted in a system of pipes and valves comprising a complete, practical, and significantly personal hydraulic system.

Science studies phenomena from within a closed system – it’s a basis for the scientific method. Dick always worked from the perspective of a larger frame of reference, outside the box. Dick didn’t just think outside the box, he lived outside the box. As a trouble shooter for the JPL and NASA, Dick was called on whenever a particularly niggly problem escaped reasonable solutions. A good example is the Mars lander mission so many years ago. The much anticipated pictures that returned to earth from the craft were garbled with noise and rendered almost unintelligible. After significant amounts of talented effort were expended with poor results, Dick was called in to help. He apparently recognized the random noise patterns as something that would respond to a version of Hilbert transform and managed to eliminate the noise, transforming the useless bits of information into the stunning images we all recall.

It wasn’t so much what Dick thought that amazed me, but how his mind worked in approaching a problem and visualizing a solution. Some people have the gift to just “see” the answer, great minds like Mozart or Einstein for example that were able to see or hear the result before it was all worked out. A prize possession is a book Dick shared with me from his own library, Flatland by Edwin Abbott, a fairy tale setting, written in simple terms describing the very complex concept of multidimensional space. Dick was a master in reducing complicated mathematical relationships and concepts into simple terms that those of us less intellectually endowed could understand. And he delighted in generously sharing his vast knowledge with anyone who showed interest.

I’m deeply honored to receive this award and to have my name mentioned in the same breath with Dick Heyser. Whatever is seen in me that would make me worthy of this award is a reflection of others, and I’d like to tell you about a few of those special people and thank them for this honor.

My Mom was a teacher and Dad an aeronautical engineer. They supported and encouraged my interests in everything I pursued. They taught me through example the meaning of God’s unconditional love for me. In encouraging me to follow my passion for music through drums and percussion as my instrument of choice, they again taught me through example, by listening to me practice, about God’s infinite patience.

My wife’s love and belief in me provided the energy and courage to pursue my dreams. Newly married some 29 years ago, Elisa was enthusiastic and encouraging when Dick’s TDS invention captured my imagination and supported my decision to sell much of my prized studio equipment to afford the nearly $30,000 of test gear required to assemble a JPL-licensed working TEF system. Back in the mid to late ‘70s, this was no small financial commitment. The birth of our daughter Danna allowed Elisa and I to experience the joy of loving someone more than oneself. My family has always been there for me and is great source of happiness, inspiration, and hope in my life.

In 1975 I attended my first SynAudCon and there had my life’s direction in audio confirmed and a career launched in design. Don and Carolyn Davis have touched so many lives though their audio ministry (what else could you better call it?), addressing not only the scientific aspects of audio, acoustics, and perception, but also the needs of the whole person. They have taught, inspired, and motivated so many of us who have found a home in audio and they are loved dearly for their efforts.

Of course, it is Don who is responsible for recognizing the genius of Dick’s work and for introducing the TDS technique to the audio community. Through SynAudCon I’ve met and had the pleasure of learning and sharing with so many other bright and curious audio friends. Together, we had the honor to sit at the feet of many great and inspiring men like Dick.

Thirty years ago our primary audio metrics were amplitude and bandwidth, with only an inkling that there was more going on here than we understood. TDS grew that notion to a source and receiver as the foci of a multidimensional ellipsoidal relationship with the architecture. That vision changed everything for me and has informed our acoustical, architectural, and interior design efforts ever since. I can’t overstate the profound impact that Dick’s TDS tools have had on my understanding of how sound behaves in a bounded space.

Nothing has ever come particularly easy for me and most of the time I probably make it harder than it should be. TDS didn’t make life easier for me, but it most certainly pointed me in new directions, filled me with insight, confirmed what I heard, and helped identify what I oftentimes only knew in my heart. With audio, acoustics, and design, doing it right is hard work, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed pursuing all my life. Thanks again for this great honor. I promise to spend the rest of my life trying to live up to it.

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